Central Themes of Surah al-Baqarah: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

In a discussion on the connections between different sections of individual surahs, Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool provided an example in this quick outline of the contents of surah al-Baqarah:

مثال آخر: الآيات من آية رقم ( ١)، إلى الآية رقم ( ٢٠ ) من سورة البقرة تعتبر المقدمة بالنسبة لمحتوى السورة، حيث وصف القرآن بما هو أهله، ووصف متبعيه ومخالفيه كلا بما يستحقه. ـ

Another example of the relationships between different groups of ayaat to one another within a surah comes in surah al-Baqarah[1].

Ayaat 1-20 can be considered as an introduction to the contents of this surah as it describes the Qur’an in the way that it deserves and characterizes the followers and violators of the Qur’an in ways appropriate for each of them.

ثم يأت المقصد الأول من آية رقم ( ٢١-٢٥ ) في دعوة الناس كافة إلى الإسلام. ـ

Then we come to the first section, from ayah 21-25, which is inviting all of mankind to Islam.

ثم يأت المقصد الثاني من آية رقم (٤٠ -١٦٢ ) في دعوة أهل الكتاب، دعوة خاصة إلى ترك باطلهم والدخول في هذا الدين الحق. ـ

Then we come to the second section, from ayah 40-162, which is inviting the Ahl al-Kitab. More specifically, it is inviting them to abandon their false beliefs and enter into this religion of truth. Continue reading

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A Recurring Sequence in the Qur’an: al-Zarkashi

Muhammad al-Zarkashi, the author of a famous work on ‘uloom al-Qur’an, mentioned the following point of benefit therein:

وَعَادَةُ الْقُرْآنِ الْعَظِيمِ إِذَا ذَكَرَ أَحْكَامًا ذَكَرَ بَعْدَهَا وَعْدًا وَوَعِيدًا لِيَكُونَ ذَلِكَ بَاعِثًا عَلَى الْعَمَلِ بما سبق ثم يذكر آيات التوحيد والتنزيه لِيُعْلَمَ عِظَمُ الْآمِرِ وَالنَّاهِي . وَتَأَمَّلْ سُورَةَ الْبَقَرَةِ وَالنِّسَاءِ وَالْمَائِدَةِ وَغَيْرَهَا تَجِدْهُ كَذَلِكَ . ـ

A recurring feature of the Qur’an is that when it mentions some legislative rulings, it will then follow that up with a promise and/or a threat so that this could be an incentive to act on what was just mentioned. It will then mention verses on the subject of Allah’s sole right to be worshiped and His freedom from any faults or defects in order that the greatness of the One sending these commands and prohibitions might be known.

Consider surah al-Baqarah, al-Nisaa’, al-Maa’idah and others as well and you will find this pattern.

[al-Burhan fee al-‘Uloom al-Qur’an pg. 40]

See also: Connections and Links between Surahs: al-Zarkashi

See also: ‘Ilm al-Munasabat and its Proper Place: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

See also: How to Contemplate the Qur’an: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Read more posts about al-munaasabaat, or the connections and relationships among ayaat and surahs, here.

Connections and Links between Surahs: al-Zarkashi

In his well-known manual of the Qur’anic sciences, Burhan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an, sheikh Badr al-Deen al-Zarkashi dedicated an early chapter to the discussing the munasabat, or relationships and connections between different verses and surahs of the Qur’an. After defining the topic, discussing some of its history and mentioning some of the different opinions regarding this field of study, he wrote the following:

قال : والذي ينبغي في كل آية أن يبحث أول كل شيء عن كونها مكملة لما قبلها أو مستقلة ، ثم المستقلة ما وجه مناسبتها لما قبلها ؟ ففي ذلك علم جم ، وهكذا في السور يطلب وجه اتصالها بما قبلها وما سيقت له ” . ـ

He [Wali al-Deen al-Malwi] said:

What one ought to do with every ayah is first to look at whether this functions as a completion of what came before it of as an independent ayah on its own. Then, if it is an independent ayah on its own, how does it relate to the ayah before it? There is considerable knowledge to be found in this. And it is like this for the surahs too; one should look for how each is linked to what preceded it and how it supports it. Continue reading

How and Why the Sahabah used Israa’eeliyyaat Narrations: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

In his book devoted to the subject of Narration-based tafsir (al-Tafsir bi’l-Mathoor), sheikh Muhammad Bazmool included the following question and answer in response to an issue that has confused some people:

الاشكال الرابع : كثرة الروايات الاسرائيلية عن الصحابة ، ألا تمنع من اعتماد التفسير بالمأثور والرجوع إليه ؟

The Fourth Concern: There are many Israa’eeliyaat [Judaeo-Christian] stories transmitted from the Sahabah? Shouldn’t this stop up from relying of Narration-based Tafsir and making it our reference point?

والجواب : لا يصح عن الصحابة الكثير من الروايات الاسرائيلئة ، وما صح عنهم من ذلك لا يمنع اعتماد التفسير بالمأثور ؛ لأنهم إنما كانوا يوردونها تعجبا واستشهادا ، لا أصلا واعتمادا . ـ

The Response: There are actually not a large number of Israa’eeliyaat stories authentically transmitted from the Sahabah, but the material of this sort which has been authentically traced back to them does not stop us from relying on Narration-based tafsir. That is because they only relayed these stories out of amazement or as secondary supporting evidence, not as the basis for their understanding or the foundation of the explanations.

والموقوف الشرعي من الاسرائيليات بحسب نوعها . ـ

And the proper legislated approach towards Israa’eeliyaat narrations differs according to what kind of Israa’eeliyaat narrations they are.

فما خالف ما جاءنا في القرآن العظيم والسنة النبوية نوده . ـ

○ Whatever goes against what has come to us in the Qur’an or the Prophetic Sunnah or contradicts it, then we reject it. Continue reading

The Principles of al-Salafiyyah in Surah al-Fatihah: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

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

الصراط المستقيم له أركان دلت عليها سورة الفاتحة ؛ بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ (1) الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (2) الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ (3) مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ (4) إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ (5) اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ (6) صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ (7) ـ

There are certain pillars of the Straight Path (al-Siraat al-Mustaqeem) which are indicated in surah al-Fatihah:

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ (1) الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (2) الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ (3) مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ (4) إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ (5) اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ (6) صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ (7)

In the name of Allah, al-Rahman, al-Raheem * All praise is due to the Lord of all creation * al-Rahman, al-Raheem * The Owner of the Day of Recompense * You alone do we worship, and You alone do we ask for help * Guide us to the Straight Path * The path of those upon whom You have bestowed Your favor, not those who have warranted wrath, nor the misguided ones.

فقوله تعالى: (إياك نعبد وإياك نستعين) دل على الإخلاص لله سبحانه وتعالى. ـ

Allah’s statement:

إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ

You alone do we worship, and You alone do we ask for help

indicates sincerity (ikhlaas) towards Allah.

وقوله تعالى: (صراط الذين أنعمت عليهم) دل على المتابعة لما جاءت به الرسل. ـ

And His statement:

صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ

The path of those upon whom You have bestowed Your favor

indicates following what the Messengers came with. Continue reading

‘Ilm al-Munasabat and its Proper Place: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh, current minister of Islamic Affairs for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, mentioned what follows in part of a lecture entitled discussing thematic tafsir of the Qur’an:

فما المقصود بعلم مقاصد السور؟ معلوم أن الله جل جلاله هو الذي تكلم بهذا القرآن وأن القرآن كلامه ﴿وَإِنْ أَحَدٌ مِنْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ اسْتَجَارَكَ فَأَجِرْهُ حَتَّى يَسْمَعَ كَلَامَ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ أَبْلِغْهُ مَأْمَنَهُ﴾ فالقرآن كلام الرب جل جلاله، ومقاصد السور يُعنى بها عند أهل هذا العلم: الموضوعات التي تدور عليها آيات سورة ما. يعني أن سورة من السور التي في القرآن أو أن معظم السور أو كل السور لها موضوع تدور عليه الآيات والمعاني التي في هذه السورة، إذا عُلم هذا المقصد؛ يعني هذا الغرض هذا الموضوع، فإن فهم التفسير سيكون سهلا، بل سيفهم المرء كلام الأولين، وسيفهم كلام المحققين بأكثر مما إذا أخذ الآيات مجردة عن موضوع السورة كما سيأتي في مثال نستعرضه إن شاء الله تعالى. ـ

What do we mean by “the study of the themes of surahs”? We all know that Allah is the One who spoke this Qur’an and that the Qur’an is His speech:

وَإِنْ أَحَدٌ مِنْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ اسْتَجَارَكَ فَأَجِرْهُ حَتَّى يَسْمَعَ كَلَامَ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ أَبْلِغْهُ مَأْمَنَهُ

And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah. Then deliver him to his place of safety [9:6]

So the Qur’an is the speech of the Lord, and according to experts in this field, what is meant by the “major themes of the surahs” are the topics and subjects which the ayaat are centered around. Meaning, at least one of the Qur’anic surahs, or most of them, or even all of them have certain topics which their ayaat are centered around and certain meanings which the surah contains. So if this theme or this objective or this point is known, then understanding the meanings of the surah becomes easy. Even more than that, a person will be much better able to understand the statements of the early generations as well as those of the later-day scholars who weigh the various opinions compared to if he had just looked at the individual ayaat themselves without knowing the larger theme of the surah, as we will see by looking at some examples, inshaAllaah.*

وأصلا في بحث مقاصد السور لم يكن بحثه في تاريخ العلم مبكرا، فإنما بحث قبله بُحث يسمى المناسبات، والعلماء اختلفوا في موضوع المناسبات، ويعنون بها مناسبات الآي؛ هل الآية هذه جاءت بعد الآية لمناسبة؟ هل بين الآية الأولى والثانية رابط؟ والثانية والثالثة بينها مناسبة؟ هل هذه الآيات في نظامها بينها وبين موضوع السورة اتصال؟ هذا يبحث في علم التفسير ويبحث في إعجاز القرآن، ولهذا عد طائفة من العلماء أن من وجوه إعجاز القرآن، وهو المنزل آية وبرهان ومعجز للخلق أجمعين، أنّ من وجوه الإعجاز أن يكون للسورة موضوع تدور عليه، وأن يكون بين الآيات ترابط هذه الآية بعد تلك، هذه القصة بعد تلك لغرض معلوم. ـ

The start of investigating the maqaasid al-suwar [themes/objectives of surahs] did not begin at the earliest stages of Islamic scholarship. The research in this area that preceded this was known as “al-munasabat” [relationships, links, connections], and there are different views among the scholars regarding the subject of munasabat.

And when one talks about the munasabat of some ayaat, what they mean is: did this ayah come after that ayah for a certain reason? Is there a link between the first ayah and the second one? Or a relationship between the second and the third? Is there some sort of connection between the ordering of these ayaat and the theme of the surah as a whole? Continue reading

Assorted Qur’an Benefits #2

What follows are a collection of assorted benefits originally posted on our social media page in June, July and August of 2014:

♦ It is part of Allah’s kindness that He warns His slaves of Himself

Allah mentions in surah Aali ‘Imran:

 وَيُحَذِّرُكُمُ اللَّهُ نَفْسَهُ وَاللَّهُ رَءُوفٌ بِالْعِبَادِ

And Allah warns you about Himself. And Allah is kind to His slaves. [al-Qur’an 3:38]

Imam ibn Kathir writes about this ayah:

[قال الحسن البصري : من رأفته بهم حذرهم نفسه . وقال غيره : أي رحيم بخلقه ، يحب لهم أن يستقيموا على صراطه المستقيم ودينه القويم ، وأن يتبعوا رسوله الكريم .]

al-Hasan al-Basri said, “Part of His kindness to them is that He warns them of Himself.” And others said: it means that He is Merciful to His creation. He loves for them to be firmly established on the Straight Path and Upright Deen, and for them to follow His noble Messenger. “

[Tafsir ibn Kathir 2/32]


♦ The Meaning of al-Dhikr

Sa’eed ibn Jubayr said:

الذكر طاعة الله ، فمن لم يطعه لم يذكره وإن أكثر التسبيح والتهليل وقراءة القرآن

al-Dhikr is obeying Allah, so whoever does not obey Him has not made dhikr of Him, even if he engages in an abundance of tasbeeh*, tahleel* and recitation of the Qur’an.

[Jaam’i li-Ahkam al-Qur’an 2/161]

*Translator’s note: ‘Tasbeeh’ refers to saying, “subhanAllaah”, and ‘Tahleel’ refers to saying, “laa ilaaha illallah.”


♦ The Muttaqoon Continue reading

“We showed him the way, either he will be grateful or ungrateful”: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote the following words regarding an ayah from the beginning of surah al-Insaan:

 قول الله تبارك وتعالى: ﴿إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِراً وَإِمَّا كَفُوراً﴾ (الإنسان:3). في هذه الآية الكريمة يعلمنا الله جل وعلا أنه هدى الإنسان إلى طريق الشكر وإلى طريق الكفر، فأرسل رسله صلوات الله عليهم وسلامه، يعلمون الناس السبيل، ويدعونهم إلى الصراط المستقيم، ويحذرونهم طريق الكفر والضلال طريق أصحاب الجحيم . وفي الآية وقفات : ـ

There is Allah’s statement:

إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِراً وَإِمَّا كَفُوراً

We showed him the way, either he will be grateful or ungrateful [76:3]

In this noble ayah, Allah is teaching us that He has guided mankind to the path of shukr (gratitude) and the path or kufr (ingratitude/disbelief), for He sent His messengers (may Allah’s peace and salutations be upon them) who taught mankind the way, called them to the Straight Path, and warned them against the path of kufr, misguidance and the way of the people of the Hell-fire.

And this ayah contains a number of points:

الأولى : الهداية المقصودة هنا هي هداية الدلالة والإرشاد ؛ وذلك ما جعله الله تعالى في بعثة الرسل الكرام عليهم الصلاة والسلام، يعلمون الخلق ويرشدونهم إلى طريق الحق: الصراط المستقيم. ومن هذه الدلالة ما أنعم به سبحانه على الإنسان من نعمة العقل، والفطرة التي جبله عليها ليقبل الخير والحسن. وليس المراد بالهداية في الآية هنا هداية التوفيق لقبول الحق، أو هداية التوفيق للعمل، أو الثبات على الحق، أو هداية السبيل لدخول الجنة. ـ

First: What is intended by “guidance” here is the guidance of directing and showing, and that is what Allah did in sending the Messengers. They taught the people and directed them to the path of the truth – the Straight Path. And another aspect of this type of direction is that He blessed man with the gift of intellect and the innate disposition towards the truth and goodness (the fitrah) which He instilled in him. So the intended meaning of “guidance” here in this ayah is not the guidance of granting one success in accepting the truth or granting success in acting according to the truth or being steadfast upon the truth, nor is it referring to the guiding one to path of entering al-Jannah. Continue reading

Assorted Qur’an Benefits #1

What follows are a collection of assorted benefits and short quotes originally posted on our Facebook page in the months of May and June of 2014:

Three Great Sins

Muhammad ibn Ka’b al-Qarthi said:

 الكبائر ثلاثة: أن تأمن مكر الله، وأن تقنط من رحمة الله، وأن تيأس من روح الله . ـ

There are three great sins: 1) feeling secure from the plan of Allah, 2) despairing of the Rahmah of Allah, and 3) giving up hope in the relief from Allah.

[al-Bidayah w’al-Nihayah 9/286]

Muhammad ibn Ka’b al-Qarthi (d. 108 AH) was a scholar of Tafsir among the Taabi’oon, and the three issues that he mentioned are similar to these statements of Allah:

 أَفَأَمِنُوا مَكْرَ‌ اللَّـهِ ۚ فَلَا ‏يَأْمَنُ مَكْرَ‌ اللَّـهِ إِلَّا الْقَوْمُ الْخَاسِرُ‌ونَ

Then did they feel secure from the plan of Allah? But no one feels secure from the plan of Allah except the losing people. [7:99]

 قَالَ وَمَنْ يَقْنَطُ مِنْ رَحْمَةِ رَبِّهِ إِلَّا الضَّالُّونَ

He said, “And who despairs of the Rahmah of his Lord except for those astray?” [15:56]

وَلَا تَيْأَسُوا مِن رَّ‌وْحِ اللَّـهِ ۖ إِنَّهُ لَا يَيْأَسُ مِن رَّ‌وْحِ اللَّـهِ إِلَّا الْقَوْمُ الْكَافِرُ‌ونَ

And despair not of relief from Allah. Indeed, no one gives up hope in relief from Allah except the disbelieving people. [12:87]


The Meanings of Hopelessness and Despair

Allah says in surah al-Fussilat:

 لَا يَسْأَمُ الْإِنْسَانُ مِنْ دُعَاءِ الْخَيْرِ وَإِنْ مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ فَيَئُوسٌ قَنُوطٌ

“Man does not get tired of praying for good, but if an evil touches him, then he gives up all hope and is in despair. ” [41:49]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, Imam al-Qurtubi wrote: Continue reading

Follow Allah’s Path, and Do Not Follow Other Paths: Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan

Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan was asked the following question:

السؤال: ما تفسير قوله -تعالى-: (وَأَنَّ هَذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيماً فَاتَّبِعُوهُ وَلا تَتَّبِعُوا السُّبُلَ فَتَفَرَّقَ بِكُمْ عَنْ سَبِيلِهِ ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ)؟ ـ

Question: What is the explanation of Allah’s statement:

وَأَنَّ هَذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيماً فَاتَّبِعُوهُ وَلا تَتَّبِعُوا السُّبُلَ فَتَفَرَّقَ بِكُمْ عَنْ سَبِيلِهِ ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

And this is My path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow other ways, for you will be separated from His way. This has He instructed you in order that you may exercise al-taqwa. [6:153]

الجواب: بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، الحمدُ لله ربِّ العالمين، وصلَّى الله على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وأصحابه أجمعين. ـ

Response: In the name of Allah, al-Rahman al-Raheem. All praise belongs of Allah, Lord of all creation. May Allah’s salutations be upon our Prophet, Muhammad, and upon his family and all of his companions.

ذَكَرَ اللهُ -جلَّ وعلا- في هذه الآية الوصيةَ العاشرة مِنَ الوصايا العشر التي جاءت في سورة الأنعام؛ حينما قال – تعالى-: (قُلْ تَعَالَوْا أَتْلُ مَا حَرَّمَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ أَلاَّ تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئاً) هذه الأولى، وهي النهي عن الشرك، والعاشرة هذه الآية: (وَأَنَّ هَذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيماً). ـ

In this ayah, Allah mentions the tenth of ten commandments which come in surah al-An’aam, beginning with Him saying:

قُلْ تَعَالَوْا أَتْلُ مَا حَرَّمَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ أَلاَّ تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئاً

Say, “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. That you not associate anything in worship or divinity with Him … [6:151]

That is the first of them, which is a prohibition of al-shirk, and the tenth is this ayah: Continue reading