Dhikr is a Protection from Nifaq: Ibn al-Qayyim

In part of his enumeration of the benefits of dhikr in his book al-Wabil al-Sayyib, Ibn al-Qayyim wrote:

إن كثرة ذكر الله عز وجل أمان من النفاق؛ فإن المنافقين قليلوا الذكر لله عز وجل، قال الله عز وجل في المنافقين: { ولا يذكرون الله إلا قليلا} (النساء:142)، وقال كعب: من أكثر ذكر الله عز وجل برئ من النفاق. ولهذا ـ والله أعلم ـ ختم الله تعالى سورة المنافقين بقوله تعالى:{يا أيها الذين آمنوا لا تلهكم أموالكم ولا أولادكم عن ذكر الله ومن يفعل ذلك فأولئك هم الخاسرون} (المنافقون:9)، فإن في ذلك تحذيرا من فتنة المنافقين الذين غفلوا عن ذكر الله عز وجل فوقعوا في النفاق. وسئل بعض الصحابة رضي الله عنهم عن الخوارج: منافقون هم؟ قال: لا، المنافقون لا يذكرون الله إلا قليلا. فهذا من علامة النفاق ، والله عز وجل أكرم من أن يبتلي قلبا ذاكرا بالنفاق، وإنما ذلك لقلوب غفلت عن ذكر الله عز وجل ـ

Being prolific in remembering Allah is a form of protection from nifaq, for the munafiqoon are sparse in remembering Allah. Allah described the munafiqoon by saying:

وَلَا يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّـهَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا

… and they only remember Allah a little [4:142]

Ka’b said, “Whoever does a lot of dhikr of Allah is free of nifaq.”

And that is why – and Allah knows best – Allah concluded surah al-Munafiqoon by saying

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُلْهِكُمْ أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُكُمْ عَن ذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ ۚ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ

O you who have believed, let not your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah. And whoever does that – then those are the losers. [63:9]

for that contains a warning against the trial of the munafiqoon who have chosen to neglect the remembrance of Allah and as a result have fallen into nifaq.

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“Whoever Allah Wants to Guide, He Opens his Chest to Islam”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah strikes the following parable in surah al-An’aam:

فَمَن يُرِدِ اللَّهُ أَن يَهْدِيَهُ يَشْرَحْ صَدْرَهُ لِلْإِسْلَامِ ۖ وَمَن يُرِدْ أَن يُضِلَّهُ يَجْعَلْ صَدْرَهُ ضَيِّقًا حَرَجًا كَأَنَّمَا يَصَّعَّدُ فِي السَّمَاءِ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يَجْعَلُ اللَّهُ الرِّجْسَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ

So whoever Allah wants to guide, He opens his chest to Islam. And whoever He wants to misguide, He makes his chest tight and constricted as though he were climbing up the sky. Thus does Allah place wrath upon those who do not believe. [6:125]

In his commentary on this parable, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di wrote the following beautiful words:

يقول تعالى -مبينا لعباده علامة سعادة العبد وهدايته، وعلامة شقاوته وضلاله-: إن من انشرح صدره للإسلام، أي: اتسع وانفسح، فاستنار بنور الإيمان، وحيي بضوء اليقين، فاطمأنت بذلك نفسه، وأحب الخير، وطوعت له نفسه فعله، متلذذا به غير مستثقل، فإن هذا علامة على أن الله قد هداه، ومن عليه بالتوفيق، وسلوك أقوم الطريق. ـ

Here, Allah is making it clear to His servants what are the signs of a slave’s ultimate joy and guidance and what are the signs of a slave’s ultimate misery and misguidance. So He says that whoever’s chest has been opened up to Islam – that is, it has been made wide and spacious – then it becomes enlightened with the light of faith and enlivened with the light of certainty. So his heart becomes at peace with that, loves good, and becomes compliant in doing it – taking enjoyment from it, nor at all feeling burdened. So this is a sign that Allah has guided such a person and blessed him to be rightly guided and traversing the most upright path.

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How the Believers Respond to the Qur’an: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah says in surah al-Zumar:

اللَّـهُ نَزَّلَ أَحْسَنَ الْحَدِيثِ كِتَابًا مُّتَشَابِهًا مَّثَانِيَ تَقْشَعِرُّ مِنْهُ جُلُودُ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُمْ ثُمَّ تَلِينُ جُلُودُهُمْ وَقُلُوبُهُمْ إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُدَى اللَّـهِ يَهْدِي بِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَمَن يُضْلِلِ اللَّـهُ فَمَا لَهُ مِنْ هَادٍ

Allah has sent down the best speech: a consistent and reiterating Book. The skins of those who fear their Lord shiver from it, then their skins and hearts soften to the remembrance of Allah. That is Allah’s guidance, through which He guides whom He wills. And whomever Allah leads astray, then there is no one to guide him. [39:23]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir wrote:

وقوله : { تقشعر منه جلود الذين يخشون ربهم ثم تلين جلودهم وقلوبهم إلى ذكر الله } أي هذه صفة الأبرار ، عند سماع كلام الجبار ، المهيمن العزيز الغفار ، لما يفهمون منه من الوعد والوعيد . والتخويف والتهديد ، تقشعر منه جلودهم من الخشية والخوف ، { ثم تلين جلودهم وقلوبهم إلى ذكر الله } لما يرجون ويؤملون من رحمته ولطفه ، فهم مخالفون لغيرهم من الكفار من وجوه : ـ

Allah’s statement:

تَقْشَعِرُّ مِنْهُ جُلُودُ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُمْ ثُمَّ تَلِينُ جُلُودُهُمْ وَقُلُوبُهُمْ إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ

The skins of those who fear their Lord shiver from it, then their skins and hearts soften to the remembrance of Allah.

this is a characteristic of the righteous ones upon hearing the words of the Almighty, the Preserver, the All-Powerful, Oft-Forgiving. As a result of the promises, threats, and intimidation that they find in the Qur’an, their skins shiver over out reverence and fear.

ثُمَّ تَلِينُ جُلُودُهُمْ وَقُلُوبُهُمْ إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ

then their skins and hearts soften to the remembrance of Allah

due to the mercy and kindness of Allah that they hope and wish for. So they are distinct from from the disbelievers in a number of ways:

أحدها : أن سماع هؤلاء هو تلاوة الآيات ، وسماع أولئك نغمات لأبيات ، من أصوات القينات . ـ

Firstly: The believers listen to the recitation of these ayaat, while those disbelievers listen to the tunes of poetry by female singers. Continue reading

Making the Most of your Nights and Days in the Last Ten Nights of Ramadan

The following question was posed to sheikh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr during the Noor ‘Alaa al-Darb program:

س ـ كيف يستطيع الإنسان في العشر الأواخر أن يجمع بين إحياء الليل كله بالطاعة والعبادة، وبين استغلال وقت الصيام بالقراءة والخير والعمل الصالح، مع حاجة جسمه إلى النوم والراحة في النهار؛ للتقوي على قيام الليل؟

Question: In the last ten nights of Ramadan, how can a person both be engaged in acts of obedience and worship throughout the entire night and take advantage of his time while fasting to recite, do good and perform good deeds since his body still needs to sleep and rest during the day in order to enable him to stand during the night? Continue reading

Those Who Seek Forgiveness in the Last Part of the Night: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

In part of surah Aal ‘Imraan, Allah describes His believing slaves with the following characteristics:

الصَّابِرِينَ وَالصَّادِقِينَ وَالْقَانِتِينَ وَالْمُنفِقِينَ وَالْمُسْتَغْفِرِينَ بِالْأَسْحَارِ

The patient ones, the truthful ones, the devout ones, those who spend, and those who seek forgiveness in the last part of the night. [3:17]

Imam al-Qurtubi began his commentary on this ayah by writing:

الصابرين يعني عن المعاصي والشهوات ، وقيل : على الطاعات . والصادقين أي في الأفعال والأقوال والقانتين الطائعين . والمنفقين يعني في سبيل الله . وقد تقدم في البقرة هذه المعاني على الكمال . ففسر تعالى في هذه الآية أحوال المتقين الموعودين بالجنات .ـ

الصَّابِرِينَ

The patient ones …

i.e. those who steadfastly abstain from acts of disobedience and lusts. And some explained it as those who steadfastly perform acts of obedience.

وَالصَّادِقِينَ

… and the truthful ones …

i.e. those who are truthful in their actions and statements

وَالْقَانِتِينَ

… and the devout ones …

i.e. the obedient ones Continue reading

I Read The Qur’an But It Does Not Move My Heart: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr

The follow Q&A was posed to sheikh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars and teacher in Riyadh:

سؤال: أقرأ القرآن في رمضان مرتين، ومع ذلك لا أتأثر به، ولا أخشع، وأشعر بقسوة في قلبي، فما نصيحتكم لي جزاكم الله خيرًا؟ ـ

Question: I have completed the Qur’an twice this Ramadan, but despite that I do not find myself affected or moved by it and I feel a hardness in my heart. So what advice would you give me, may Allah reward you well?

الجواب: هذه حال كثير من الناس -حتى من ينتسب إلى العلم وطلبه- وذلك لكثرة المشاغل والملهيات والران الذي طغى على القلوب، والمكسب الذي دخله ما دخله -والله المستعان-، ولا بد من علاج القلب للتغلب على هذه المشكلة، وذلك بالتأمل في آيات الله المتلوّة، وآياته المشهودة، كما قال ابن القيم –رحمه الله-، فيتأمل الإنسان في القرآن، ويتلوه بالتدبر والترتيل على الوجه المأمور به، ويتأمل في آيات الله الكونية، فإذا تأمل ذلك ونظر فيه وتفكر واعتبر استفاد كثيرًا في علاج قلبه، وليطالع السائل ما كتبه ابن القيم -رحمه الله- في في أوائل “الجواب الكافي” فسيستفيد كثيرًا، وعليه أن يسد جميع المنافذ التي تشغل القلب وتلهيه ومن ذلكم فضول الكلام، وفضول النظر، وفضول السمع، وفضول الطعام، وفضول النوم، وفضول الخلطة، كل هذه تشغل القلب، فليتخفف منها المسلم، ويقتصر من ذلك على قدر الحاجة، وليطب مطعمه، وحينئذٍ يطيب قلبه -إن شاء الله تعالى-. ـ

Response: This is the state of many people, even those who describe themselves as people of knowledge or students, and that is result of preoccupations, distractions and rust which has formed over the heart, as well as their deeds which have let whatever has entered the heart enter it. Allahu’l-musta’aan.

The heart needs treatment in order to overcome this problem, and that treatment is – as ibn al-Qayyim mentioned – contemplating the ayaat of Allah’s Book and the ayaat of Allah’s creation. So the person should reflect on the Qur’an and recite it with contemplation and with a measured recitation as it is supposed to be recited, and he should reflect on the ayaat of Allah’s creation. Continue reading

The Muttaqoon do not Persist in Sin: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In part of surah Aal ‘Imraan, Allah describes the muttaqoon with the following characteristic:

وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا فَعَلُوا فَاحِشَةً أَوْ ظَلَمُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ ذَكَرُوا اللَّـهَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا لِذُنُوبِهِمْ وَمَن يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا اللَّـهُ وَلَمْ يُصِرُّوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلُوا وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ

And they are those who, when they commit an immoral act or wrong themselves, they remember Allah and so ask for forgiveness of their sins. And who forgives sins except Allah? And they do not persist in what they were doing while they know. [3:135]

The famous mufassir al-haafidh ibn Kathir explained the final phrase of this ayah by writing:

وقوله : ( وهم يعلمون ) قال مجاهد وعبد الله بن عبيد بن عمير : ( وهم يعلمون ) أن من تاب تاب الله عليه . وهذا كقوله تعالى : ( ألم يعلموا أن الله هو يقبل التوبة عن عباده ) [ التوبة : 104 ] وكقوله ( ومن يعمل سوءا أو يظلم نفسه ثم يستغفر الله يجد الله غفورا رحيما ) [ النساء : 110 ] ونظائر هذا كثيرة جدا

Regarding Allah’s statement

وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ

… while they know

Mujaahid and ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Ubayd ibn ‘Umayr explained this by saying, “While they know that whoever turns in repentance, Allah will turn to him in forgiveness.”

And this is like Allah’s statements: Continue reading

A Command to Be Patient and the Means to Do So: Tafsir al-Sa’di

At the end of surah Taha, Allah says:

وَلَوْلَا كَلِمَةٌ سَبَقَتْ مِن رَّبِّكَ لَكَانَ لِزَامًا وَأَجَلٌ مُّسَمًّى * فَاصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَا يَقُولُونَ وَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ قَبْلَ طُلُوعِ الشَّمْسِ وَقَبْلَ غُرُوبِهَا ۖ وَمِنْ آنَاءِ اللَّيْلِ فَسَبِّحْ وَأَطْرَافَ النَّهَارِ لَعَلَّكَ تَرْضَىٰ * وَلَا تَمُدَّنَّ عَيْنَيْكَ إِلَىٰ مَا مَتَّعْنَا بِهِ أَزْوَاجًا مِّنْهُمْ زَهْرَةَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا لِنَفْتِنَهُمْ فِيهِ ۚ وَرِزْقُ رَبِّكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَىٰ * وَأْمُرْ أَهْلَكَ بِالصَّلَاةِ وَاصْطَبِرْ عَلَيْهَا ۖ لَا نَسْأَلُكَ رِزْقًا ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُكَ ۗ وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ

And were it not for a command that has previously come from your Lord and a decreed term, then punishment would be incumbent. * So be patient with what they say and exalt the praises of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting. And also during period of the night give praise, and at the ends of the day, that you may be pleased. * And do not extend your eyes to what He has given to some others, the beauty of this worldly life, in order to test them through it. And the provision of your Lord is better and more lasting. * And enjoin your family to pray and be steadfast in it. We do not ask you for provision; We provide for you. And the good end is a result of al-taqwa. [20:129-132]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote the following commentary of these ayaat:

ـ [وَلَوْلَا كَلِمَةٌ سَبَقَتْ مِن رَّبِّكَ لَكَانَ لِزَامًا وَأَجَلٌ مُّسَمًّى * فَاصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَا يَقُولُونَ وَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ قَبْلَ طُلُوعِ الشَّمْسِ وَقَبْلَ غُرُوبِهَا ۖ وَمِنْ آنَاءِ اللَّيْلِ فَسَبِّحْ وَأَطْرَافَ النَّهَارِ لَعَلَّكَ تَرْضَىٰ] هذا تسلية للرسول، وتصبير له عن المبادرة إلى إهلاك المكذبين المعرضين، وأن كفرهم وتكذيبهم سبب صالح لحلول العذاب بهم، ولزومه لهم، لأن الله جعل العقوبات سببا وناشئا عن الذنوب، ملازما لها، وهؤلاء قد أتوا بالسبب، ولكن الذي أخره عنهم كلمة ربك، المتضمنة لإمهالهم وتأخيرهم، وضرب الأجل المسمى، فالأجل المسمى ونفوذ كلمة الله، هو الذي أخر عنهم العقوبة إلى إبان وقتها، ولعلهم يراجعون أمر الله، فيتوب عليهم، ويرفع عنهم العقوبة، إذا لم تحق عليهم الكلمة. ـ

وَلَوْلَا كَلِمَةٌ سَبَقَتْ مِن رَّبِّكَ لَكَانَ لِزَامًا وَأَجَلٌ مُّسَمًّى * فَاصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَا يَقُولُونَ وَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ قَبْلَ طُلُوعِ الشَّمْسِ وَقَبْلَ غُرُوبِهَا ۖ وَمِنْ آنَاءِ اللَّيْلِ فَسَبِّحْ وَأَطْرَافَ النَّهَارِ لَعَلَّكَ تَرْضَىٰ

And were it not for a command that has previously come from your Lord and a decreed term, then punishment would be incumbent. * So be patient with what they say and exalt the praises of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting. And also during period of the night give praise, and at the ends of the day, that you may be pleased.

This is a consolation to the Messenger and something to encourage him to be patient despite how those who deny and turn away throw themselves into peril. It also makes clear that their denial and disbelief are a valid reason for punishment to be unleashed on them and to stay with them. For Allah has created factors which lead to punishment, and these factors arise out of sins and then stay attached to the one who committed them, and these people certainly have put those factors in place for themselves. However the thing which is holding the punishment back from them is the command of your Lord which involves leaving them without punishment for a time. But Allah has already set a fixed time, so it is just that fixed time and the authority of Allah’s command which holds back the punishment from them until its time comes. And perhaps they will return to Allah’s religion, in which case Allah would turn to them in forgiveness and lift the punishment from them, in which case His command would not be actualized.

Continue reading

Allah’s Comparison of the Dunya and Water: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

In surah al-Kahf, Allah presents the following comparison:

وَاضْرِ‌بْ لَهُم مَّثَلَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا كَمَاءٍ أَنزَلْنَاهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ فَاخْتَلَطَ بِهِ نَبَاتُ الْأَرْ‌ضِ فَأَصْبَحَ هَشِيمًا تَذْرُ‌وهُ الرِّ‌يَاحُ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّـهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ مُّقْتَدِرً‌ا

And strike an example of the life of this world for: It is like water which We send down from the sky, and the vegetation of the earth mingles with it. Then it becomes dry remnants, scattered by the winds. And Allah holds power over all things [18:45]

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

وقالت الحكماء : إنما شبه – تعالى – الدنيا بالماء لأن الماء لا يستقر في موضع ، كذلك الدنيا لا تبقى على واحد ، ولأن الماء لا يستقيم على حالة واحدة كذلك الدنيا ، ولأن الماء لا يبقى ويذهب كذلك الدنيا تفنى ، ولأن الماء لا يقدر أحد أن يدخله ولا يبتل كذلك الدنيا لا يسلم أحد دخلها من فتنتها وآفتها ، ولأن الماء إذا كان بقدر كان نافعا منبتا ، وإذا جاوز المقدار كان ضارا مهلكا ، وكذلك الدنيا الكفاف منها ينفع وفضولها يضر . ـ

Some of the wise ones have said: Allah only likened the life of this worldly life to water because:

1) Water does not does remain stable in any place, just as this worldly life does not remain in one place Continue reading

Treating Doubts in One’s Faith: Imam al-Sa’di

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di included the following hadith and explanation in his book of comprehensive hadith narrations:

عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «يَأْتِي الشَّيْطَانُ أَحَدَكُمْ فَيَقُولُ: مَنْ خَلَقَ كَذَا؟ مَنْ خَلَقَ كَذَا؟ حَتَّى يَقُولَ: مَنْ خَلَقَ الله؟ فإذا بلغه فليستعذ بالله، ولينته» . وفي لفظ «فليقل: آمنت بالله ورسله» متفق عليه. وَفِي لَفْظٍ «لَا يَزَالُ النَّاسُ يَتَسَاءَلُونَ حَتَّى يقولوا: من خلق الله؟» . ـ

On the authority of Abu Hurayrah, who said that Allah’s Messenger said:

The Shaytaan comes to one of you and says, “who created that?” and “who created that?” until he says, “who created Allah?” When it comes to that, then the person should seek refuge in Allah and give up such thoughts.

and in another narration:

The person should say, “I believe in Allah and His Messenger.”

This was reported by both al-Bukhari and Muslim. And in another narration:

People will continue asking one another until they say, “Who created Allah?”

احتوى هذا الحديث على أنه لا بد أن يلقي الشيطان هذا الإيراد الباطل: إما وسوسة محضة، أو على لسان شياطين الإنس وملاحدتهم. وقد وقع كما أخبر، فإن الأمرين وقعا، لا يزال الشيطان يدفع إلى قلوب من ليست لهم بصيرة هذا السؤال الباطل، ولا يزال أهل الإلحاد يلقون هذه الشبهة التي هي أبطل الشبه، ويتكلمون عن العلل وعن مواد العالم بكلام سخيف معروف. ـ

This hadith indicates that the shaytaan will certainly employ this wicked scheme: either simply through whisperings, or through the speech of some of the human shayaateen and heretics. And it has happened exactly as he said it would, for both of these things do occur. The shaytaan continuously prods and pushes the hearts of those without clear vision with such futile questions, and the heretics continuously introduce these doubts, which are the most vile form of doubts, always talking about the causes of things and the make-up of the universe with patently absurd speech.

وقد أرشد النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم في هذا الحديث العظيم إلى دفع هذا السؤال بأمور ثلاثة: بالانتهاء، والعوذ من الشيطان، وبالإيمان. ـ

In this wonderful hadith, the Prophet guides us to repel such question with three steps:

  1. Halting such questions
  2. Seeking refuge from the shaytaan
  3. Having eemaan Continue reading