More Astray Than Cattle: Ibn al-Qayyim

Allah presents the following description of the disbelievers by way of comparison in surah al-Furqan:

أَمْ تَحْسَبُ أَنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ يَسْمَعُونَ أَوْ يَعْقِلُونَ ۚ إِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا كَالْأَنْعَامِ ۖ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ سَبِيلًا

Or do you think that most of them hear or reason? They are nothing more than like cattle. In fact, they are even more astray from the path. [25:44]

Commenting on this ayah, the great scholar ibn al-Qayyim wrote:

فشبه أكثر الناس بالأنعام والجامع بين النوعين التساوي في عدم قبول الهدى والانقياد له

Allah has compared most of mankind to cattle here, and the characteristic that both groups have in common is their lack of accepting the truth and conforming to it.

وجعل الأكثرين أضل سبيلا من الأنعام لأن البهيمة يهديها سائقها فتهتدي وتتبع الطريق فلا تحيد عنها يمينا ولا شمالا والأكثرون يدعوهم الرسل ويهدونهم السبيل فلا يستجيبون ولا يهتدون ولا يفرقون بين ما يضرهم وبين ما ينفعهم والأنعام تفرق بين ما يضرها من النبات والطريق فتتجنبه وما ينفعها فتؤثره

And He stated that most people are even more astray from the path than cattle. That is because a herder drives the livestock, resulting in them being guided and following the path without deviating to the right or left. However, for most people, despite the messengers calling them and guiding them, they do not respond to the call nor do they adopt their guidance, nor do they even distinguish between what is harmful or beneficial to them. Meanwhile cattle do distinguish between what harms them, such as certain plants and paths which they thus avoid, and what benefits them, which they then take an interest in. Continue reading

Allah Addressing the Prophet vs Allah Addressing the Believers

Badr al-Deen ibn Jamaa’ah, one of the teachers of al-haafidh ibn Kathir, wrote the following point of benefit in his book discussing the slight differences of wordings between otherwise similar ayaat:

مسألة: قوله تعالى: (قُولُوا آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْنَا). وفى آل عمران: (قُلْ آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَيْنَا). ـ

Question: Allah says:

قُولُوا آمَنَّا بِاللَّـهِ وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْنَا

Say (O believers), “We have believed in Allah and what has been revealed to us …” [2:136]

but in surah Aal ‘Imran He says:

قُلْ آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَيْنَا

Say (O Prophet), “We believe in Allah and what has been revealed on us …” [3:84]

جوابه: لما صدر آية البقرة بقوله: (قُولُوا) وهو خطاب المسلمين ردا على قول أهل الكتاب: (كُونُوا هُودًا أَوْ نَصَارَى) قال: (إلينا) . ولما صدر آية آل عمران بقوله: قل قال: (علينا) . والفرق بينهما: أن (إلى) ينتهي بها من كل جهة، و (على) لا ينتهى بها إلا من جهة واحدة وهي: العلو. والقرآن يأتي المسلمين من كل جهة يأتي مبلغه إياهم منها، وإنما أتى النبى ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ من جهة العلو خاصة، فحسن وناسب قوله: (علينا) لقوله: قل مع فضل تنويع الخطاب. وكذلك أكثرها جاء في جهة النبى ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ ب (على) ، وأكثر ما جاء ق جهة الأمة ب (إلى) . ـ

Response: That is because the ayah in surah al-Baqarah begins with Allah’s statement:

قُولُوا

Say (O believers) … [2:136]

which is addressing the believers in response to what the Ahl al-Kitab said, which was: Continue reading

There has Certainly Been an Excellent Example for You in Ibrahim

One of the valuable books of Badr al-Deen ibn Jamaa’ah (d. 733AH) was Kashf al-Ma’aani fee al-Mutashaabih min al-Mathaani, which focused on providing explanations for the slight differences in otherwise similar ayaat. What follows are his notes related to surah al-Mumtahinah [60]:

مسألة: قوله تعالى: (قَدْ كَانَتْ لَكُمْ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ فِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ) ثم قال تعالى: (لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِيهِمْ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ) كرر ذلك مرتين، فما فائدة تكراره؟ . ـ

Question: Allah says

قَدْ كَانَتْ لَكُمْ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ فِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ

There has certainly been an excellent example for you in Ibrahim and those with him … [60:4]

and then He says:

لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِيهِمْ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ

There has certainly been an excellent excellent for you in them … [60:6]

This has been repeated twice, so what is the benefit of it being repeated? Continue reading

Levels of Explanation Needed for the Qur’an: al-Zarkashi

In his famous handbook to the Qur’anic sciences, al-Burhan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an, sheikh Badr al-Deen al-Zarkashi dedicated one chapter to discussing the different levels of explanation needed for different parts of the Qur’an. We have added a numbering system to this translation in an effort to facilitate navigating the the sections and many examples it includes:

ينقسم القرآن العظيم إلى : ما هو بين بنفسه ، بلفظ لا يحتاج إلى بيان منه ، ولا من غيره ، وهو كثير . ومنه قوله – تعالى – : التائبون العابدون ( التوبة : 112 ) الآية ، وقوله : إن المسلمين والمسلمات ( الأحزاب : 35 ) الآية ، وقوله : قد أفلح المؤمنون ( المؤمنون : 1 ) ، وقوله : واضرب لهم مثلا أصحاب القرية ( يس : 13 ) ، وقوله : ياأيها الذين أوتوا الكتاب آمنوا بما نزلنا مصدقا ( النساء : 47 ) . ـ

The Qur’an can be divided into the following categories:1. Those parts which are clear in and of themselves, with wordings that do not require any further clarification, and these are very common.

Some examples include:

Ex 1. Allah’s statement:

التَّائِبُونَ الْعَابِدُونَ الْحَامِدُونَ السَّائِحُونَ الرَّاكِعُونَ السَّاجِدُونَ الْآمِرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَالنَّاهُونَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَالْحَافِظُونَ لِحُدُودِ اللَّـهِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ

They are those who repent, worship, praise, fast, bow, prostrate, command the good, forbid evil, and observe the regulations of Allah. And give glad tidings to the believers [9:112]

Ex 2. and His statement: Continue reading

A Question about the Length of the Makki Surahs

I posed the following question to sheikh ‘Abdullah al-‘Awaaji, a professor of Tafsir at the Islamic University of al-Madinah, via Twitter on the @ConsQuran channel on November 2, 2019:

احسن الله إليكم . ذكر السيوطي في الاتقان : “أخرج الطبراني ، عن ابن مسعود : نزل المفصل بمكة ، فمكثنا حججا نقرؤه ، لا ينزل غيره .” كيف نفهم هذا اثر وسور طويل نزلت قبل الهجرة كسورة الكهف و سورة يوسف وسورة الأعراف ونحوها . بارك الله فيك . ـ

[Question] May Allah be good to you. al-Suyooti mentions the following quote in al-Itqan:

al-Tabarani brought a report from ibn Mas’ood that:

The Mufassal surahs were revealed in Mecca, so we remained reciting these for years without anything else being revealed.

How should we understand this narration when long surahs such as surah al-Kahf, surah Yusuf, surah al-A’raf and others were revealed before the Hijrah?

May Allah bless you.

أولًا في ثبوت ذلك عن ابن مسعود رضي الله عنه نظر والراجح تضعيفه وقد مال محققو الاتقان ط المجمع الى تحسينه تساهلًا لانه يتعلق بالتفسير ،وممن ضعفه لعلتين مؤثرتين المحقق أد/ سعد الحميد في ج ١ من تخقيقه لسنن سعيد بن منصور وهذه صورة كلامه ـ

[Response] Firstly, there is some question as to whether this is actually an authentically transmitted statement of ibn Mas’ood. The predominant opinion is that it is weak, though the verifier of al-Itqan inclined towards grading it as acceptable due to his more relaxed standards with material related to tafsir. One of those who graded this report as weak due to two problems in its chain was the verifier Dr. Sa’d al-Humayd in the first volume of his critical edition of the Sunan of Sa’eed ibn Mansoor, and you can see the image of his comments below. Continue reading

A Parable of Two Slaves: Ibn al-Qayyim

Allah strikes the following parable in surah al-Zumar:

ضَرَبَ اللَّـهُ مَثَلًا رَّجُلًا فِيهِ شُرَكَاءُ مُتَشَاكِسُونَ وَرَجُلًا سَلَمًا لِّرَجُلٍ هَلْ يَسْتَوِيَانِ مَثَلًا ۚ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ ۚ بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

Allah presents an example of one man owned by quarreling partners and another man belonging exclusively to a single man – are they equal in comparison? Praise be to Allah! But most of them do not know. [39:29]

The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim commented on this ayah by writing:

هذا مثل ضربه الله سبحانه للمشرك والموحد فالمشرك بمنزلة عبد يملكه جماعة متنازعون مختلفون متشاحون والرجل المتشاكس الضيق الخلق فالمشرك لما كان يعبد آلهة شتى شبه بعبد يملكه جماعة متنافسون في خدمته لا يمكنه أن يبلغ رضاهم أجمعين . ـ

Allah has made this parable about one person who associates others with Allah and another person who singles Him out for worship. The one who associates partners with Allah is like a slave owned by a group of clashing, conflicting, and quarreling people. The word mutashaakis used in this ayah means one who has stiff and inflexible character. Similarly, when a person tries to worship multiple deities, he is like a slave owned by a group of people all competing with one another for his service, thus preventing him from being able to please them.

والموحد لما كان يعبد الله وحده فمثله كمثل عبد لرجل واحد قد سلم له وعلم مقاصده وعرف الطريق إلى رضاه فهو في راحة من تشاحن الخلطاء فيه بل هو سالم لمالكه من غير تنازع فيه مع رأفة مالكه به ورحمته له وشفقته عليه وإحسانه إليه وتوليه لمصالحه فهل يستوي هذان العبدان . ـ

On the other hand, when a person worships Allah exclusively, then he is like a slave with a single master. Such a person is completely at the service of his master and knows what his master wants and how to please Him. He is free from any joint-owners quarreling over him and is instead entirely in the service of his owner without any others clashing over him. At the same time, he enjoys the care, mercy, kindness, and goodness that his owner has towards him, and the fact that his owner considers his best interests. Continue reading

Reciting Surah al-Sajdah and Surah al-Insan on Fridays: ibn Taymiyah

Ibn Taymiyah was asked the following questions about the recitation for the Fajr prayer on Fridays:

وسئل عن الصلاة يوم الجمعة بالسجدة : هل تجب المداومة عليها أم لا ؟ . ـ

There is a question about making sajdah in the [fajr] prayer on Friday – are we required to always put this into practice or not?

فأجاب : الحمد لله . ليست قراءة { الم } { تنزيل } التي فيها السجدة ولا غيرها من ذوات السجود واجبة في فجر الجمعة باتفاق الأئمة ومن اعتقد ذلك واجبا أو ذم من ترك ذلك فهو ضال مخطئ يجب عليه [ ص: 205 ] أن يتوب من ذلك باتفاق الأئمة . وإنما تنازع العلماء في استحباب ذلك وكراهيته . فعند مالك يكره أن يقرأ بالسجدة في الجهر . والصحيح أنه لا يكره كقول أبي حنيفة والشافعي وأحمد ; لأنه قد ثبت في الصحيح { عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه سجد في العشاء بـ { إذا السماء انشقت } } وثبت عنه في الصحيحين { أنه كان يقرأ في الفجر يوم الجمعة { الم } { تنزيل } و { هل أتى } } . وعند مالك يكره أن يقصد سورة بعينها . وأما الشافعي وأحمد فيستحبون ما جاءت به السنة مثل الجمعة والمنافقين في الجمعة . والذاريات واقتربت في العيد والم تنزيل وهل أتى في فجر الجمعة . ـ

Response: al-hamdulillaah. Neither reciting surah al-Sajdah which contains a sajdah nor reciting any other surah containing a sajdah is mandatory for the Fajr prayer on Fridays. This is the unanimous position of the scholars, and whoever believes that it is mandatory or that whoever does not practice this is blameworthy is misguided and mistaken and needs to repent from that. This is also the unanimous position of the scholars.

The only area of disagreement among the scholars is whether it is encouraged or disliked to do this, for Malik disliked recited surahs with a sajdah in the audible prayers, however the correct opinion is that this is not disliked, which was the position of Abu Hanifah, al-Shafi’ee, and Ahmad. That is because of what has been authentically transmitted in the Saheeh that the Prophet made sajdah in the ‘Ishaa’ prayer when he recited surah al-Inshiqaaq. And is has also been authentically transmitted in both al-Bukhari and Muslim that he used to recited surah al-Sajdah and surah al-Insaan in the Fajr prayer on Fridays. Continue reading

Gentle Speech in the Qur’an: ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar ibn al-Qayyim wrote the following beautiful words regarding some qualities of the da’wah of the Prophets and the language found in the Qur’an:

كثير من الناس يطلب من صاحبه بعد نيله درجة الرياسة الأخلاق التي كان يعامله بها قبل الرياسة فلا يصادفها فينتقض ما بينهما من المودة وهذا من جهل الصاحب الطالب للعادة وهو بمنزلة من يطلب من صاحبه إذا سكر أخلاق الصاحي وذلك غلط فإن الرياسه سكرة كسكرة الخمر أو أشد ولو لم يكن للرياسة سكرة لما اختارها صاحبها على الآخرة الدائمة الباقية فسكرتها فوق سكرة القهوة بكثير ومحال أن يرى من السكران أخلاق الصاحي وطبعه

Many people would like it if a friend of theirs who has reached some level of leadership would treat them the same way that he used to before becoming a leader; however the friend will not agree and this leads to a break in the affection between them. But this is a result of the first person’s ignorance of reality. What he did is like if he were to ask a friend to behave the same way drunk as when he was sober. This is a mistake. Leadership is an intoxication, just like the intoxication of alcohol, or perhaps even stronger. For if leadership were not intoxicating, then no one would choose and prioritize it over the everlasting and eternal hereafter. Its intoxicating effect is much stronger than that of coffee. And it is impossible for a drunken person to exhibit the same behavior or character as a you would see from a sober person.

ولهذا أمر الله تعالى أكرم خلقه عليه بمخاطبة رئيس القبط بالخطاب اللين فمخاطبة الرؤساء بالقول اللين أمر مطلوب شرعا وعقلا وعرفا ولذلك تجد الناس كالمفطورين عليه وهكذا كان النبي رؤساء العشائر والقبائل وتأمل امتثال موسى لما أمر به كيف قال لفرعون هل لك إلى أن تزكى وأهديك إلى ربك فتخشى فأخرج الكلام معه مجرج السؤال والعرض لا مخرج الأمر وقال إلى أن تزكى ولم يقل إلى أن أزكيك فنسب الفعل إليه هو وذكر لفظ التزكي دون غيره لما فيه من البركة والخير والنماء ثم قال وأهديك إلى ربك أكون كالدليل بين يديك الذي يسير أمامك وقال الى ربك استدعاء لأيمانه بربه الذي خلقه ورزقه ورباه بنعمه صغيرا ويافعا وكبيرا ـ

It is for these reasons that Allah commanded one of his most honorable created beings to address the leader of the Egyptians with gentle speech. Addressing those in leadership positions with gentle speech is a positive thing according to the sharee’ah, according to reason, and according to custom. Because of that, you find that people are naturally inclined to do so. And that was how the Prophet behaved towards the leaders of the different tribes and clans. Consider the example of Moosaa when he received this command, look at how he addressed Fir’awn: Continue reading

Tafsir of the Closing of Surah al-Baqarah: Sheikh Faisal Aal Mubarak

Sheikh Faisal Aal Mubarak (d. 1376Ah/1957CE) set out to author a book of Qur’anic explanation for beginning students composed of carefully selected statements of the salaf and excerpts from Tafsir al-Tabari, Tafsir al-Baghawi and Tafsir ibn Kathir, three of the most reliable books of tafsir available. He divided his book into 313 lessons for further ease of reading. What follows is a complete translation of his 35th lesson, covering the final ayaat of surah al-Baqarah:

الدرس الخامس والثلاثون
Lesson #35

لِّلَّهِ ما فِي السَّمَاواتِ وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ وَإِن تُبْدُواْ مَا فِي أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوْ تُخْفُوهُ يُحَاسِبْكُم بِهِ اللهُ فَيَغْفِرُ لِمَن يَشَاءُ وَيُعَذِّبُ مَن يَشَاءُ وَاللهُ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ * آمَنَ الرَّسُولُ بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْهِ مِن رَّبِّهِ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ كُلٌّ آمَنَ بِاللهِ وَمَلآئِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ لاَ نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّن رُّسُلِهِ وَقَالُواْ سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا غُفْرَانَكَ رَبَّنَا وَإِلَيْكَ الْمَصِيرُ * لاَ يُكَلِّفُ اللهُ نَفْساً إِلا وُسْعَهَا لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ رَبَّنَا لاَ تُؤَاخِذْنَا إِن نَّسِينَا أَوْ أَخْطَأْنَا رَبَّنَا وَلاَ تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْنَا إِصْراً كَمَا حَمَلْتَهُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِنَا رَبَّنَا وَلاَ تُحَمِّلْنَا مَا لاَ طَاقَةَ لَنَا بِهِ وَاعْفُ عَنَّا وَاغْفِرْ لَنَا وَارْحَمْنَا أَنتَ مَوْلاَنَا فَانصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ

To Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth, and whether you disclose what is in your own selves or conceal it, Allah will call you to account for it. Then He forgives whom He wills and punishes whom He wills. And Allah is Able to do all things. [2:284]

The Messenger believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, as do the believers. Each one believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers. They say, “We make no distinction between any of His messengers.” – and they say, “We hear and we obey. We seek Your Forgiveness, our Lord, and it is to You that we shall return!” [2:285]

Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that which he has earned, and he is punished for that which he has earned. “Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error. Our Lord! Do not lay a burden on us like that which You did on those before us. Our Lord! And do not put any burden on us greater than we have strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us Forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people. [2:286]

قوله عز وجل: {لِّلَّهِ ما فِي السَّمَاواتِ وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ وَإِن تُبْدُواْ مَا فِي أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوْ تُخْفُوهُ يُحَاسِبْكُم بِهِ اللهُ فَيَغْفِرُ لِمَن يَشَاءُ وَيُعَذِّبُ مَن يَشَاءُ وَاللهُ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ (284) } . ـ

○ Allah’s statement:

Continue reading

Paying Attention to Who the Qur’an is Addressing: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote:

تحت عبارة: اتباع كلام الله، وكلام الله أولى! ومثلها عبارة: أريد حديثاً أن الرسول فعله أو قاله؛ تحت هاتين العبارتين ترد شريعة الله ، ويخالف دينه! يصدق على هاتين العبارتين أنهما: كلمة حق يراد بها باطل! وتوضيح ذلك؛ ـ

Consider the phrase, “Follow the Speech of Allah, for the Speech of Allah comes first!” or the phrase, “Give me a hadith that the Prophet did that or said that!” Both of these phrases run counter to the sharee’ah that Allah legislated and go against His religion! It would be accurate to say that both of these phrases are true statements which are used to support falsehood.

Let me explain:

لا خلاف في أن الأصل هو اتباع كلام الله، وليس ذلك أولى بل هو الواجب على المسلم؛ ولكن ذلك محله فيما كان محكماً لا متشابهاً، وإلا كنا من الذين في قلوبهم زيغ، فيتبعون المتشابه منه. ـ

There is no disagreement that the very foundation of the religion is following Allah’s Speech. That is not just something good; it is something binding on every Muslim. However, the place for that is when it comes to the clear and definitive verses, not the ambiguous verses. If we were to do otherwise, then we be among those people who have deviation in their heart and follow the ambiguous parts of the Qur’an as a result.

ومن المتشابه أن تأت إلى الآية التي ليست في حق عموم المسلمين إنما خاصة بالحكام، أو خاصة بفئة من المسلمين في حال معين، فتأت وتجعلها عامة في حق كل المسلمين. ـ

An example of this ambiguity which some people follow is that they take an ayah that is not directed at the Muslims as a whole but is exclusively dealing with the rulers or specifically directed at military units of the Muslims in a particular circumstance and then treat it as if it applied generally to all Muslims. Continue reading