The Arrangement of the Final Chapters of the Qur’an: Ibn Taymiyah

Sheikh al-Islam ibn Taymiyah mentioned the following benefits in one of his writings:

السور القصار في أواخر المصحف متناسبة . فسورة ( اقرأ هي أول ما نزل من القرآن ; ولهذا افتتحت بالأمر بالقراءة وختمت بالأمر بالسجود ووسطت بالصلاة التي أفضل أقوالها وأولها بعد التحريم هو القراءة وأفضل أفعالها وآخرها قبل التحليل هو السجود … ـ

The shorter surahs at the end of the mushaf have a certain logic and reasoning to their organization and arrangement. Surah Iqraa’ [96] was the first part of the Qur’an to be revealed, and so it opens with the command to recite and closes with the command to make sujood. And in its middle is the prayer, whose best spoken part and the first of them after the initial takbeer is the recitation of the Qur’an, and whose best physical parts and the last of them before its conclusion is the sujood. …

فلما أمر في هذه السورة بالقراءة ذكر في التي تليها نزول القرآن ليلة القدر وذكر فيها تنزل الملائكة والروح وفي ( المعارج عروج الملائكة والروح وفي ( النبأ قيام الملائكة والروح . فذكر الصعود والنزول والقيام ثم [ ص: 478 ] في التي تليها تلاوته على المنذرين حيث قال : { يتلو صحفا مطهرة } { فيها كتب قيمة } . فهذه السور الثلاث منتظمة للقرآن أمرا به وذكرا لنزوله ولتلاوة الرسول له على المنذرين . ـ

So after Allah commands the recitation of the Qur’an in this surah, in the following surah [97 – surah al-Qadr] He mentions the sending down of the Qur’an on Laylah al-Qadr. And in that surah He also mentioned the descending of the angels and the Rooh. Continue reading

The Meaning of “Laylah al-Qadr”: Sheikh ibn ‘Uthaymeen

The term Laylah al-Qadr has been translated into English in a number of different ways, leading to some potential confusion as to the correct and intended  meaning of the word “qadr” in this phrase. In part of his explanation of surah al-Qadr, sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen brought the following clarification of this issue:

وقوله تعالى: {في ليلة القدر} من العلماء من قال: القدر هو الشرف كما يقال (فلان ذو قدر عظيم، أو ذو قدر كبير) أي ذو شرف كبير، ومن العلماء من قال: المراد بالقدر التقدير، لأنه يقدر فيها ما يكون في السنة لقول الله تعالى: {إنا أنزلناه في ليلة مباركة إنا كنا منذرين. فيها يفرق كل أمر حكيم} [الدخان: 3، 4] . أي يفصل ويبين. ـ

Regarding Allah’s statement:

فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ

… during Laylah al-Qadr [97:1]

There are some scholars who say that al-qadr means “honor”, just as one might say, “So-and-so has tremendous qadr” or “has considerable qadr” – meaning: considerable honor. Continue reading

The Types of Tafsir: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad ibn ‘Umar Bazmool wrote and posted the following on his personal blog:

أنواع التفسير
The Types of Tafsir

ـ 1 – التفسير نوعان : ـ
ـ = تفسير بالرواية ، ويقال له تفسير بالمنقول، تفسير بالمأثور. ـ
ـ = تفسير بالدراية، ويقال له تفسير بالمعقول، تفسير بالرأي. ـ
والمراد بالتفسير بالمأثور: أن يقتصر المفسر على نقل معنى الآية إما من آية أخرى، أو من حديث، أو من قول صحابي، أو من قول أجمع عليه التابعون. ففي التفسير بالمأثور لا يأتي المفسر بشيء بمعنى من عنده أصلاً. ـ
والمراد بالتفسير بالرأي ، أن يأتي المفسر بمعنى الآية من جهة اللغة والعقل. يعني من عنده باجتهاده. ـ

Tafsir falls into two broad categories:

Tafsir bi’l-Riwayah [Narration-Based Tafsir], which is also known as Tafsir bi’l-Manqool and Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor.

Tafsir bi’l-Dirayah [Opinion-Based Tafsir], which is also known as Tafsir bi’l-Ma’qool and Tafsir bi’l-Ra’yi.

What is meant by Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor is that the mufassir restricts himself to transmitting the meaning of the ayah either by means of another ayah, or a hadith, or a statement of a Sahabi, or a statement which the Tabi’oon agreed upon. So in Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor, the mufassir does not bring anything which originates from himself regarding the meaning of an ayah.

And what is meant by Tafsir bi’l-Ra’yi is that the mufassir brings the meaning of an ayah from the angle of linguistics and intellectual reasoning, i.e. from his own efforts of independent reasoning.

 ـ 2 – طرق التفسير بالمأثور
للتفسير بالمأثور أربعة طرق وهي التالية: ـ
الأولى : تفسير القرآن بالقرآن. ـ
الثاني : تفسير القرآن بالسنة. ـ
الثالث : تفسير القرآن بقول الصحابي. ـ
الرابع : تفسير القرآن بقول التابعين إذا اتفقوا واجمعوا!. ـ

The ways of making Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor [Narration-based Tafsir]:

There are four ways to make Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor, which come as follows:

First: Explaining the Qur’an by means of the Qur’an itself.

Second: Explaining the Qur’an by means of the Sunnah.

Third: Explaining the Qur’an through the statement of a Sahabi.

Fourth: Explaining the Qur’an by a statement from the Tabi’oon, if they agreed on that and had consensus.

Continue reading

A Relationship between Surah al-Ma’oon and Surah al-Kawthar: al-Zarkashi

In his famous handbook of the sciences of the Qur’an, sheikh Badr al-Deen al-Zarkashi – a student of the famous mufassir al-haafidh ibn Kathir – mentioned the following point:

وَمِنْ لَطَائِفِ سُورَةِ الْكَوْثَرِ أَنَّهَا كَالْمُقَابِلَةِ لِلَّتِي قَبْلَهَا لِأَنَّ السَّابِقَةَ قَدْ وَصَفَ اللَّهُ فِيهَا الْمُنَافِقَ بِأُمُورٍ أَرْبَعَةٍ الْبُخْلِ وَتَرْكِ الصَّلَاةِ وَالرِّيَاءِ فِيهَا وَمَنْعِ الزَّكَاةِ فَذَكَرَ هُنَا فِي مُقَابَلَةِ البخل {إنا أعطيناك الْكَوْثَرِ} أَيِ الْكَثِيرَ وَفِي مُقَابَلَةِ تَرْكِ الصَّلَاةِ {فَصَلِّ} أَيْ دُمْ عَلَيْهَا وَفِي مُقَابَلَةِ الرِّيَاءِ {لِرَبِّكَ} أَيْ لِرِضَاهُ لَا لِلنَّاسِ وَفِي مُقَابَلَةِ مَنْعِ الْمَاعُونِ {وَانْحَرْ} وَأَرَادَ بِهِ التَّصَدُّقَ بِلَحْمِ الْأَضَاحِيِّ فَاعْتَبَرَ هَذِهِ الْمُنَاسَبَةَ الْعَجِيبَةَ

One of the subtle points of surah al-Kawthar [108] is that it is like a counterpart to the surah that preceded it [i.e. surah al-Ma’oon – 107]. For in the previous surah, Allah had characterized the munaafiq [hypocrite] with four qualities:

1) stinginess,

2) abandoning the prayer,

3) performing the prayer only to be seen by others, and

4) withholding the zakah.

○ But then in this surah, as a counterpart to stinginess He mentioned:

إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ

Indeed, We have granted you al-Kawthar [108:1]

meaning: an abundance.

○ And as a counterpart to abandoning the prayer, He said:

فَصَلِّ

so turn in prayer …

meaning: always be consistent in it.

○ And as a counterpart to the desire to be seen by people, He said:

لِرَبِّكَ

… to your Lord …

meaning: for His pleasure, not for the sake of people.

○ And as a counterpart to withholding neighborly acts of kindness, He said:

وَانْحَرْ

… and sacrifice. [108:2]

and what is intended here is the charitable distribution of the sacrificial ‘Eid al-Adhaa meat.

So the parallels and the relationship between these two surahs is something amazing.

[al-Burhan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an 1/39]

See also: A Benefit of General Language in Surah al-Duhaa: Sheikh ibn ‘Uthaymeen

See also: Four things for you and Three things against you

See also: “If there had been a concession for anyone in leaving off dhikr…”

See also: The Relationship between Supplication and Fasting: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Supposed Contradictions in the Qur’an: ibn ‘Uthaymeen

In part of his primer of the science of Qur’anic interpretation (al-Tafsir), sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen dedicated one chapter to discussing suspected contradictions in the Qur’an:

موهم التعارض في القرآن
Supposed Contradictions in the Qur’an

التعارض في القرآن أن تتقابل آيتان، بحيث يمنع مدلول إحداهما مدلول الأخرى، مثل أن تكون إحداهما مثبته لشئ والأخرى نافية فيه.ـ

A contradiction in the Qur’an would be that two verses are placed side by side with what one indicates being opposed by what the other indicates. For example, one of them would affirm something while the other would negate it.

ولا يمكن أن يقع التعارض بين آيتين مدلولهما خبري، لأنه يلزم كون إحداهما كذبا، وهو مستحيل في أخبار الله تعالى، قال الله تعالى: (وَمَنْ أَصْدَقُ مِنَ اللَّهِ حَدِيثاً) (النساء: الآية 87) (وَمَنْ أَصْدَقُ مِنَ اللَّهِ قِيلاً) (النساء: الآية 122)) ولا يمكن أن يقع التعارض بين آيتين مدلولهما حكمي؛ لأن الأخيرة منهما ناسخة للأولى قال الله تعالى (مَا نَنْسَخْ مِنْ آيَةٍ أَوْ نُنْسِهَا نَأْتِ بِخَيْرٍ مِنْهَا أَوْ مِثْلِهَا) (البقرة: الآية 106) وإذا ثبت النسخ كان حكم الأولى غير قائم ولا معارض للأخيرة. ـ

But it is not possible for there to be any contradiction between the information that two different verses present because this would entail that one of the two verses contains false information, which is impossible when it comes to the information that Allah has provided. Allah has said:

وَمَنْ أَصْدَقُ مِنَ اللَّهِ حَدِيثاً

And who is more truthful in statement than Allah? [4:87]

وَمَنْ أَصْدَقُ مِنَ اللَّـهِ قِيلًا

And who is more truthful in speech than Allah? [4:122]

Nor is it possible for there to be any contradiction between the rulings that two different verses present because the latter of the two would abrogate the earlier. Allah said: Continue reading

Tafsir of the Qur’an and its Connection to the Qiraa’aat: al-Suyooti

Sheikh Jalal al-Deen al-Suyooti mentioned the following point in his famous manual of Qur’anic Sciences, al-Itqaan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an:

 من المهم معرفة التفاسير الواردة عن الصحابة بحسب قراءة مخصوصة ، وذلك أنه قد يرد عنهم تفسيران في الآية الواحدة مختلفان ، فيظن اختلافا وليس باختلاف ، وإنما كل تفسير على قراءة ، وقد تعرض السلف لذلك . ـ

An important issue is being aware that the explanations transmitted from the Sahaabah are according to specific qiraa’aat (variant recitations of the Qur’an). So because of that, perhaps there might be two different explanations of a single ayah and therefore one might think that these two explanations are in conflict when in fact there is no conflict – rather it is only that each one is an explanation of a particular recitation. And this is something which the salaf were aware of.

فأخرج ابن جرير في قوله تعالى : لقالوا إنما سكرت أبصارنا [ الحجر : 15 ] . من طرق عن ابن عباس وغيره أن سكرت بمعنى سدت ومن طرق أنها بمعنى أخذت . ـ

For in his explanation of Allah’s statement:

لَقَالُوا إِنَّمَا سُكِّرَتْ أَبْصَارُنَا

They would surely say, “our eyes have been sukkirat” [15:15]

ibn Jarir [al-Tabari] brought an explanation from ibn ‘Abbaas and others from more than one route of transmission that the word “sukkirat” carries the meaning of “sealed up”, while in other narrations also from ibn ‘Abbaas and also from multiple routes of transmission it comes that he held it to mean “enchanted”.

ثم أخرج عن قتادة قال : من قرأ سُكِّرَتْ مشددة ، فإنما يعني سدت ، ومن قرأ : سُكِرَتْ مخففة ، فإنه يعني سحرت ، وهذا الجمع من قتادة نفيس بديع . ـ

But then ibn Jarir brought an explanation from Qataadah who said: whoever recites it as “sukkirat” with a shaddah, this means “sealed up”, while whoever recites it as “sukirat” without a shaddah, this means “enchanted”. And this is a wonderful reconciliation of these two explanations by Qataadah. Continue reading

Ashaab al-Aykah and the People of Shu’aib: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah begins recounts the story of His prophet Shu’aib in surah al-Shu’araa’ by saying:

كَذَّبَ أَصْحَابُ الْأَيْكَةِ الْمُرْسَلِينَ * إِذْ قَالَ لَهُمْ شُعَيْبٌ أَلَا تَتَّقُونَ

The Ashaab al-Aykah denied the messengers * when Shu’aib said to them, “Won’t you have taqwaa?” [26:176-177]

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir mentioned the following point in his discussion of these verses:

 هؤلاء – أعني أصحاب الأيكة – هم أهل مدين على الصحيح . وكان نبي الله شعيب من أنفسهم ، وإنما لم يقل هنا أخوهم شعيب ; لأنهم نسبوا إلى عبادة الأيكة ، وهي شجرة . وقيل : شجر ملتف كالغيضة ، كانوا يعبدونها ; فلهذا لما قال : كذب أصحاب الأيكة المرسلين ، لم يقل : ” إذ قال لهم أخوهم شعيب ” ، وإنما قال : ( إذ قال لهم شعيب ) ، فقطع نسبة الأخوة بينهم ; للمعنى الذي نسبوا إليه ، وإن كان أخاهم نسبا . ومن الناس من لم يتفطن لهذه النكتة ، فظن أن أصحاب الأيكة غير أهل مدين ، فزعم أن شعيبا عليه السلام ، بعثه الله إلى أمتين ، ومنهم من قال : ثلاث أمم . … والصحيح أنهم أمة واحدة ، وصفوا في كل مقام بشيء ; ولهذا وعظ هؤلاء وأمرهم بوفاء المكيال والميزان ، كما في قصة مدين سواء بسواء ، فدل ذلك على أنهم أمة واحدة . ـ

These people – meaning the Ashaab al-Aykah [the People of the Thicket] – are the people of the city of Madyan according to the correct opinion. The prophet of Allah Shu’aib was one of them, and the only reason why he is not referred to here as “their brother Shu’aib” is because here they are being described in relation to their worship of the aykah, which is a sort of tree – and some say it is a twisted sort of tree like a thicket -, which they used to worship.

So it is because of this that when Allah said, “The Ashaab al-Aykah denied the messengers“, He did not then say, “when their brother Shu’aib said to them…”, but instead said, “when Shu’aib said to them…“. So He cut off the relationship of brotherhood between Shu’aib and his people in the sense of them being referred to as “his people” even though he was in fact related to them as their brother. Continue reading

A Common Theme of the Disconnected Letters: Sheikh ibn ‘Uthaymeen

Sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen was asked the following question:

 السؤال: أشكل عليَّ حين قلت بأنه لا يوجد في القرآن شيء لا يعرفه أحد من علماء الأمة أو أجمع الناس على عدم معرفته، فماذا نجيب على الحروف المقطعة (ألم)، و(ق)، و(يس)، وغيرها مما كان فيه الخلاف وأشكل على أهل العلم؟ ـ

Question: I was confused when you said that there is nothing in the Qur’an which none of the scholars of this ummah know or which no one of mankind understands. So how do we respond when it comes to the Disconnected Letters [al-Huroof al-Muqatta’ah] – alif lam meen, qaf, ya seen, and other such things – which have been the subject of differing and which have been difficult for some of the scholars?

الجواب: نجيب على هذا أنه لا إشكال في هذا إطلاقاً؛ لأن الله تعالى قال: ﴿بِلِسَانٍ عَرَبِيٍّ مُبِينٍ ﴾[الشعراء:195] ومن المعلوم أن هذه الحروف دون تركيبها كلمات ليس لها معنى، (ق) ليس لها معنى، (ص) ليس لها معنى، (ن) ليس لها معنى، (ألم) ليس لها معنى، فهي بمقتضى اللسان العربي ليس لها معنى، لو قال لك الرجل العربي: (ق) وهو يريد الحرف الهجائي هل له معنى؟ ليس له معنى، إذا كان ليس لها معنى والله -عز وجل- أخبرنا أن القرآن نزل بلسان عربي مبين علمنا أنه ليس لها معنى، لكن على هذا يبقى عندنا إشكال: كيف يكون في القرآن ما ليس له معنى والقرآن حق؟ نقول: نعم ليس لها معنى في ذاتها، لكن لها معنى في غرضها ومغزاها، كأن الله -عز وجل- إذا قال (ق)، (ن)، (ص) وما أشبه ذلك كأنه يقول: هذا الكتاب العظيم الذي أعجزكم أيها العرب لم يأت بحروف جديدة، فالحروف التي فيه هي الحروف التي تركبون منها كلامكم، ومع ذلك أعجزكم؛ ولهذا قال شيخ الإسلام ابن تيمية: لا يوجد سورة مبدوءة بهذه الحروف إلا وبعدها ذكر القرآن، أو ما لا يعلم إلا بالوحي. ـ

Response: We respond by saying that there is no problem regarding this issue at all, for Allah has said:

بِلِسَانٍ عَرَبِيٍّ مُّبِينٍ

In the plain Arabic language [26:195]

and it is well-known that these letters do not carry any meaning when they are not arranged together into words. Qaf does not have any meaning, Saad does not have any meaning, Noon does not have any meaning, Alif Lam Meem does not have any meaning. So these things, according to the Arabic language, do not have any meaning of their own. If an Arabic-speaking person were to say to you, “Qaf” and all he meant by it was a letter of the alphabet, does that carry any meaning of its own? No, it does not have any meaning of its own. So it does not carry any meaning of its own, and Allah has informed us that the Qur’an was sent down in the clear Arabic language, teaching us that these do not carry any meaning. Continue reading

Do the Disconnected Letters Carry Meaning?: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

During question and answer session of his explanation of the book Lum’ah al-I’tiqaad, sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh responded to the following question:

سؤال: هذه الحروف في أوائل السور ما معناها؟

Question: The letters at the beginnings of some surahs – what are their meanings?

الجواب: هذه الحروف في أوائل السور تسمى الحروف المقطعة، والراجح في معناها أنها للإشارة إلى أن هذا القرآن كلماته متألفة من جنس هذه الأحرف، وإذا كان كذلك وهذه الأحرف هي التي يتكلم العرب بها ويؤلفون بها كلامهم، فإن ذلك يدل على أن القرآن معجز، فكأن الله – سبحانه وتعالى- يقول للناس: هذا القرآن مكون من هذه الأحرف التي تتكلمون بها وتنشئون بها كلامكم، وليس من أحرف أخر، ومع هذا أنتم لا تستطيعون أن تأتوا بمثله، ولا بمثل عشر سور، ولا بمثل سورة منه، وهذا يدل على عظم الإعجاز، ويدل على هذا التفسير الاستقراء، والاستقراء أحد أوجه الأدلة التي ينبغي العناية بها، فتجد أن معظم السور التي في أولها الأحرف المقطعة يعقبها ذكر القرآن أو الكتاب، قال جل وعلا:) الم * ذلك الكتاب لا ريب (. [البقرة: 1-2]. ـ

Response: These letters at the beginnings of some surahs are called the “Disconnected Letters” [al-Huroof al-Muqatta’a], and the strongest position regarding their meanings is that they are a sign indicating that the words of this Qur’an are composed of these types of letter. So then if that is the case and these are the very same letters which the Arabs use to speak and of which their speech is composed, then this demonstrates that the Qur’an is miraculous and inimitable. It is as if Allah is saying to mankind, “This Qur’an is made up of these very same letters which you use to speak and which make up your discourse – not any other letters. However, despite that, you are not able to produce the likes of it, nor the likes of ten of its chapters, nor the likes of even one of its chapters.” So this points to the grand miraculous nature of the Qur’an

And detailed scholarly examination of the Qur’an also points to this same position, as detailed scholarly examination is one form of evidence which should be given due consideration. For you find that most of the surahs that begin with the Disconnected Letters immediately follow them up by mentioning the Qur’an or the Scripture. Allah said: Continue reading

Applying Allah’s Guidance regarding the News of the Faasiq: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

In surah al-Hujuraat, Allah commands the believers by saying:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ

O you who believe! If a faasiq (rebellious evil person) comes to you with a news, verify it, lest you harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful of what you have done. [49:6]

alhamdulillah, we have previously translated the explanations of sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee and sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di for this ayah, which we would encourage you to read if you are not already familiar with the meaning and implications of this ayah before continuing on with this article.

In what follows below, Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool provided a brief explanation demonstrating an application of this ayah. He said:

أليس الله عزوجل يقول : (إن جاءكم فاسق بنبأ فتبينوا) ، وفي قراءة : ( فتثبَّتوا )! هل ردَّ الله في هذه الآية خبر الفاسق؟ لم يردَّه ، والمعنى : خبر الفاسق إذا جاءكم انظروا في القرائن، فإذا دلَّت القرائن على قبول خبره اقبلوه، وإذا دلَّت القرائن على ردِّ خبر رُدُّوه، بخلاف خبر العدل، فالأصل في العدل : أن خبره مقبول، وهذا مفهوم المخالفة في الآية. ـ

Doesn’t Allah say:

إِن جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا

If a faasiq comes to you with a news, verify it

and in one variant reading, “authenticate it“? Is Allah rejecting the news of the faasiq in this ayah? No, He is not rejecting it. What is meant is: if the news of a faasiq comes to you, then look into the related circumstances and evidences. Then if the outside evidences indicate that his news is acceptable, accept it. But if the outside evidences indicate that his news is not acceptable, then reject it. This is in contrast to the news of an upright honest person, for the norm when it comes to an upright honest person is that his news is accepted, and this is understood from this ayah by implication.

إذاً هذه الآية ليس فيها : أن خبر الفاسق مردود ، بل فيها : أن خبر الفاسق يتثبَّت فيه ، يعني : ينظر في القرائن . ـ

So then, this ayah is not saying that the news of a faasiq is rejected automatically. Rather, it is saying that the news of a faasiq should be checked, meaning, the outside evidences should be investigated. Continue reading