The Story of Saalih as explained by Mujahid and Qatadah

In addition to co-authoring Tafsir al-Jalalayn, sheikh Jalal al-Deen al-Suyooti also has another book of tafsir to his name, entitled al-Durr al-Manthoor fee Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor. As one might suspect from the title, al-Durr al-Manthoor was dedicated to presenting the explanations of the Qur’an transmitted from the Prophet himself, his companions, and those who followed their way in the early generations.

What follows is an excerpt from his explanation of the story of the Prophet Saalih and his people as it comes in surah al-Nahl [27:45-53]. al-Suyooti collected a number of the statements from the two leading mufassiroon of the tabi’oon, Mujahid ibn Jabr and Qatadah ibn Di’amah, found in the previous books of narration-based tafsir and arranged them to present an explanation of the passage as a whole from each of these great figures.

As mentioned in a previous post, the early generations would often only explain those parts of an ayah which were not immediately clear to their audience. As such, the reader may find it helpful to have a mushaf and/or translation nearby to follow along with the entire passage:

قوله تعالى : ولقد أرسلنا إلى ثمود الآيات . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَىٰ ثَمُودَ

And We sent to Thamud … [27:45]

until the end of this passage [27:45-53].

أخرج الفريابي ، وابن أبي شيبة ، وعبد بن حميد ، وابن جرير ، وابن المنذر ، وابن أبي حاتم ، عن مجاهد في قوله : فإذا هم فريقان يختصمون قال : مؤمن وكافر؛ قولهم : صالح مرسل من ربه . وقولهم : ليس بمرسل . وفي قوله : لم تستعجلون بالسيئة قال : العذاب . قبل الحسنة قال : الرحمة . وفي قوله : قالوا اطيرنا بك قال : تشاءمنا . وفي قوله : وكان في المدينة تسعة رهط قال : من قوم صالح . وفي قوله : تقاسموا بالله قال : تحالفوا على هلاكه، فلم يصلوا إليه حتى هلكوا وقومهم أجمعين . ـ

al-Firyaabi, ibn Abi Shaybah, ‘Abd ibn Humayd, ibn Jarir [al-Tabari], ibn al-Mundhir, and ibn Abi Haatim reported the following from Mujahid:

فَإِذَا هُمْ فَرِيقَانِ يَخْتَصِمُونَ

… and at once they were two parties conflicting.[27:45]

meaning: believers and disbelievers. The first group said, “Saalih is sent from his Lord,” while the other group said, “He was not sent.” Continue reading

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A Frightening Ayah for the Leaders and Scholars: Tafsir al-Tabari

In part of surah al-Maa’idah Allah criticizes a number of characteristics of the Jews, and then says:

لَوْلَا يَنْهَاهُمُ الرَّبَّانِيُّونَ وَالْأَحْبَارُ عَن قَوْلِهِمُ الْإِثْمَ وَأَكْلِهِمُ السُّحْتَ ۚ لَبِئْسَ مَا كَانُوا يَصْنَعُونَ

Why don’t the rabbaaniyoon and ahbar forbid them from saying ithm and devouring suht? How wretched is what they have done! [5:63]

In his explanation of this ayah, the great mufassir Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari wrote:

قال أبو جعفر : يقول تعالى ذكره : هلا ينهى هؤلاء الذين يسارعون في الإثم والعدوان وأكل الرشى في الحكم ، من اليهود من بني إسرائيل ، ربانيوهم وهم أئمتهم المؤمنون ، وساستهم العلماء بسياستهم ، وأحبارهم وهم علماؤهم وقوادهم “عن قولهم الإثم ” يعني : عن قول الكذب والزور ، وذلك أنهم كانوا يحكمون فيهم بغير حكم الله ، ويكتبون كتبا بأيديهم ثم يقولون : “هذا من حكم الله ، وهذا من كتبه” . يقول الله : ( فويل لهم مما كتبت أيديهم وويل لهم مما يكسبون ) [ سورة البقرة : 79 ] . ـ

I, Abu Ja’far, say: Allah is saying: Why don’t they prohibit these people who rush to commit sin and oppression and those in authority who take bribes? Why those Jews from the Children of Israa’eel do this? The rabbaaniyoon are their commanders, their political leaders and those experts in political matters, and the ahbar are their religious scholars and moral role models. Why don’t they prevent those from saying ‘ithm, meaning: saying lies and deceptive things. That is because the rulings that these leaders made for their people were not according to Allah’s rulings; they wrote scriptures with their own hands and then said, “This is a ruling from Allah, this is part of His Book.” Allah says:

فَوَيْلٌ لَّهُم مِّمَّا كَتَبَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَوَيْلٌ لَّهُم مِّمَّا يَكْسِبُونَ

Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for that they earn thereby. [2:79]

وأما قوله : ” وأكلهم السحت ” ، فإنه يعني به الرشوة التي كانوا يأخذونها على حكمهم بغير كتاب الله لمن حكموا له به . ـ

As for Allah’s statement:

وَأَكْلِهِمُ السُّحْتَ

and eating suht

Then this is referring to bribes which these rulers used to take for issuing judgements and rulings contrary to Allah’s Book. Continue reading

Five Distinguishing Features of the Tafsir of the Companions: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

In one section of a lecture entitled, “Introduction to the Fundamentals of al-Tafsir“, sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh mentioned the following points:

ـ 8 – ما تميزت به تفاسير الصحابة ـ
8. What Distinguishes the Companions’ Explanations of the Qur’an?

تميزت تفاسير الصحابة بأمور منها : ـ

There are a number of things which set the Companions’ explanations of the Qur’an apart from that of others. These include:

ـ 1- أنها تفاسير من عَلِمُوا القرآن ، وعَلِمُوا السُّنَّة لأنهم شهدوا التنــزيل ، ويعلمون سنة النبي وهديه – عليه الصلاة والسلام -. ـ

1. Theirs were explanations from those who knew the Qur’an and knew the Sunnah, for they have been witness to the revelation and has learned the Sunnah and guidance of the Prophet (ﷺ).

ـ 2- الميزة الثانية : أنها تفاسير من شاهد التنــزيل وعلم أسباب النــزول ، وقد قال شيخ الإسلام ابن تيمية في معرض كلام له ، ” العلم بالسبب يورث العلم بالمسبَّب ” ([37]) يعني إذا عَلِمْتَ سبب الشيءِ عَرَفْتَ المعنى ، عرفت توجيه الكلام ، عرفت المراد منه ، فعلمهم بأسباب النــزول ومشاهدتهم لأسباب النــزول يحعل تفاسيرهم في الغاية ، لأنهم شاهدوا وعلموا فلن يفسروا القرآن بشيء يخالف أسباب النــزول ، أو يخالف سنة النبي – عليه الصلاة والسلام – . ـ

2. The second distinguishing feature is that their explanations were explanations coming from those who had witnessed the revelation and knew the circumstantial reasons for the revelation (asbaab al-nuzool). In the midst of discussing this topic, sheikh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyah said, “Knowledge of the circumstantial reason behind the revelation produces knowledge of the underlying reason for the revelation,” meaning that if you learn the causal factors behind something that you will realize the meanings, know who is being addressed, and understand what is meant behind it all. So knowledge of the circumstantial reasons for revelation and having been witnesses to these reasons places their explanations in a high station. For they witnessed the revelation and had knowledge of it, so they would never explain the any part of the Qur’an with something that contradicted the reasons for why it was revealed or with anything that contradicted the Prophet’s Sunnah (ﷺ). 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

The Great Attention that the Salaf gave to the Qur’an: Ibn al-Jazari

The famous scholar of the Qiraa’aat Abu’l-Khair Muhammad ibn al-Jazari began his most famous work with some narrations on the virtues of reciting the Qur’an, including the following:

وروينا أيضا في الطبراني بإسناد جيد من حديث عبد الله بن مسعود – رضي الله عنه – قال : قال رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : خيركم من قرأ القرآن وأقرأه ورواه البخاري في صحيحه عن عثمان بن عفان – رضي الله عنه – ولفظه قال : قال رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : خيركم من تعلم القرآن وعلمه وكان الإمام أبو عبد الرحمن السلمي التابعي الجليل يقول لما يروي هذا الحديث عن عثمان : هذا الذي أقعدني مقعدي هذا ، يشير إلى كونه جالسا في المسجد الجامع بالكوفة يعلم القرآن ويقرئه مع جلالة قدره وكثرة علمه ، وحاجة الناس إلى علمه ، وبقي يقرئ الناس بجامع الكوفة أكثر من أربعين سنة ، وعليه قرأ الحسن والحسين – رضي الله عنهما – ، ولذلك كان السلف – رحمهم الله – لا يعدلون بإقراء القرآن شيئا فقد روينا عن شقيق أبي وائل قال : قيل لعبد الله بن مسعود – رضي الله عنه – : إنك تقل الصوم . قال : إني إذا صمت ضعفت عن القرآن ، وتلاوة القرآن أحب إلي . ـ

We find the hadith of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him) transmitted to us in the collection of al-Tabaraani with a good chain of narration that he said: Allah’s Messenger said, “The best of you are those who recite the Qur’an [to others, teaching them] and have it recited to them [by students].”

And al-Bukhari also transmitted this in his Saheeh collection from ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affaan (may Allah be pleased with him) with the following wording, that Allah’s Messenger said, “The best of you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it.” Continue reading

Those who say “our Lord is Allah” and then have al-Istiqaamah: Tafsir al-Baghawi

In part of surah Fussilat, Allah praises:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ ثُمَّ اسْتَقَامُوا تَتَنَزَّلُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ أَلَّا تَخَافُوا وَلَا تَحْزَنُوا وَأَبْشِرُوا بِالْجَنَّةِ الَّتِي كُنْتُمْ تُوعَدُونَ

Those who say “our Lord is Allah” and then have al-Istiqaamah, then the angels will descend on them: “Do not fear and do not grieve! And have glad tidings of al-Jannah which you have been promised!” [41:30]

In his tafsir of this ayah, Imam Husayn al-Baghawi mentioned the following narrations:

 قوله عز وجل : ( إن الذين قالوا ربنا الله ثم استقاموا ) سئل أبو بكر الصديق – رضي الله تعالى عنه – عن الاستقامة فقال : أن لا تشرك بالله شيئا . وقال عمر بن الخطاب – رضي الله عنه – : ” الاستقامة ” أن تستقيم على الأمر والنهي ، ولا تروغ روغان الثعلب . وقال عثمان بن عفان – رضي الله عنه – : أخلصوا العمل لله . وقال علي – رضي الله عنه – : أدوا الفرائض . وقال ابن عباس : استقاموا على أداء الفرائض . ـ وقال الحسن : استقاموا على أمر الله تعالى فعملوا بطاعته ، واجتنبوا معصيته . ـ وقال مجاهد وعكرمة : استقاموا على شهادة أن لا إله إلا الله حتى لحقوا بالله . ـ وقال مقاتل : استقاموا على المعرفة ولم يرتدوا . وقال قتادة : كان الحسن إذا تلا هذه الآية قال : اللهم أنت ربنا فارزقنا الاستقامة . ـ

Allah’s statement:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّـهُ ثُمَّ اسْتَقَامُوا

Those who say “our Lord is Allah” and then have al-Istiqaamah

Abu Bakr al-Siddiq was asked about al-Istiqaamah and he replied by saying, “It is that you do not associate any partners with Allah at all.”

‘Umar ibn al-Khattab said, “al-Istiqaamah is that you steadfastly observe the commands and prohibitions, and that you do not swerve off into falsehood and deceit.”

‘Uthman ibn ‘Affaan said, “They make their deeds sincerely for the sake of Allah.”

‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib said, “They perform the obligatory duties.” 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

How the Sahabah Used to Divide the Qur’an: Tafsir ibn Kathir

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir began his tafsir of surah Qaaf (50) with the following discussion of how many of the Sahabah used to divide their nightly recitation of the Qur’an:

وهذه السورة هي أول الحزب المفصل على الصحيح ، وقيل : من الحجرات . وأما ما يقوله العامة : إنه من ( عم ) فلا أصل له ، ولم يقله أحد من العلماء المعتبرين فيما نعلم . والدليل على أن هذه السورة هي أول المفصل ما رواه أبو داود في سننه ، باب ” تحزيب القرآن ” ثم قال : حدثنا مسدد ، حدثنا قران بن تمام ، ( ح ) وحدثنا عبد الله بن سعيد أبو سعيد الأشج ، حدثنا أبو خالد سليمان بن حبان – وهذا لفظه – عن عبد الله بن عبد الرحمن بن يعلى ، عن عثمان بن عبد الله بن أوس ، عن جده – قال عبد الله بن سعيد : حدثنيه أوس بن حذيفة – ثم اتفقا . قال : قدمنا على رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – في وفد ثقيف ، قال : فنزلت الأحلاف على المغيرة بن شعبة ، وأنزل رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – بني مالك في قبة له – قال مسدد : وكان في الوفد الذين قدموا على رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – من ثقيف ، قال : كان رسول الله [ – صلى الله عليه وسلم – ] كل ليلة يأتينا بعد العشاء يحدثنا – قال أبو سعيد : قائما على رجليه حتى يراوح بين رجليه من طول القيام – فأكثر ما يحدثنا ما لقي من قومه قريش ، ثم يقول : لا سواء وكنا مستضعفين مستذلين – قال مسدد : بمكة – فلما خرجنا إلى المدينة كانت سجال الحرب بيننا وبينهم ، ندال عليهم ويدالون علينا . فلما كانت ليلة أبطأ عن الوقت الذي كان يأتينا فيه ، فقلنا : لقد أبطأت عنا الليلة ! قال : ” إنه طرأ علي حزبي من القرآن ، فكرهت أن أجيء حتى أتمه ” . قال أوس : سألت أصحاب رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : كيف تحزبون القرآن ؟ فقالوا : ثلاث ، وخمس ، وسبع ، وتسع ، وإحدى عشرة ، وثلاث عشرة ، وحزب المفصل وحده . ـ

This surah [surah Qaaf] is the first surah of the mufassal section of the Qur’an according to the correct opinion, though some say surah al-Hujurat is.

As for what some of the common folk say, that the mufassal section begins from Juz’ ‘Amma’, there is no basis for this and not a single scholar of repute has voiced this position as far as I know.

The proof that surah Qaaf is the beginning of the mufassal section is what Abu Dawud transmitted in his Sunnah collection, under the chapter of “The Division of the Qur’an”. He said:

… Aws ibn Hudhaifah said: We came upon the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) in a delegation of Thaqif. The signatories of the pact came to al-Mughirah ibn Shu’bah as his guests. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) made Banu-Malik stay in a tent of his.

Musaddad – who was in the delegation of Thaqif which came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) – said: The Prophet used to visit and talk with us every day after the night prayer. Continue reading

The Prohibition of Music in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

Near the beginning of surah Luqman, Allah says what can be literally translated as:

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ لِيُضِلَّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُوًا ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ

And among the people are those who purchase idle talk in order to mislead others from the path of Allah without knowledge and who take it as a mockery. For these ones, there is a humiliating punishment [31:6]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, the great mufassir imam Muhammad al-Qurtubi explained this ayah according to the understanding of the salaf by writing:

و ( لهو الحديث ) : الغناء ; في قول ابن مسعود وابن عباس وغيرهما . النحاس : وهو ممنوع بالكتاب والسنة ; والتقدير : من يشتري ذا لهو أو ذات لهو ; مثل : واسأل القرية . أو يكون التقدير : لما كان إنما اشتراها يشتريها ويبالغ في ثمنها كأنه اشتراها للهو . ـ

The phrase:

لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ

“idle talk”

means music. This is according to the statements of ibn Mas’ood, ibn ‘Abbaas, and others.

al-Nahhaas said: Music is prohibited according to the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

قلت : هذه إحدى الآيات الثلاث التي استدل بها العلماء على كراهة الغناء والمنع منه . والآية الثانية قوله تعالى : وأنتم سامدون . قال ابن عباس : هو الغناء بالحميرية ; اسمدي لنا ; أي غني لنا . ـ

I [Imam al-Qurtubi] say: This is one of three ayaat in the Qur’an which the scholars use as evidence for the position that music is something hated and prohibited. The second ayah is Allah’s statement: Continue reading

The Sahabah on Obeying the Muslim Ruler: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In part of his tafsir of surah al-Nur, al-Haafidh Abu’l-Fidaa’ Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir mentioned the following statements of the great mufassir from among the Taabi’oon, Qataadah:

وقال قتادة في هذه الآية : ( أن يقولوا سمعنا وأطعنا ) ذكر لنا أن عبادة بن الصامت – وكان عقبيا بدريا ، أحد نقباء الأنصار – أنه لما حضره الموت قال لابن أخيه جنادة بن أبي أمية : ألا أنبئك بماذا عليك وماذا لك؟ قال : بلى . قال : فإن عليك السمع والطاعة ، في عسرك ويسرك ، ومنشطك ومكرهك ، وأثرة عليك . وعليك أن تقيم لسانك بالعدل ، وألا تنازع الأمر أهله ، إلا أن يأمروك بمعصية الله بواحا ، فما أمرت به من شيء يخالف كتاب الله ، فاتبع كتاب الله . ـ

Regarding the ayah:

إِنَّمَا كَانَ قَوْلَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِذَا دُعُوا إِلَى اللَّـهِ وَرَ‌سُولِهِ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَهُمْ أَن يَقُولُوا سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا ۚ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ

The only saying of the faithful believers, when they are called to Allah and His Messenger, to judge between them, is that they say: “We hear and we obey.” And such are the successful ones. [24:51]

Qataadah said:

It was mentioned to us that when ‘Ubaadah ibn al-Saamit – and he was one of the Sahabah who was present for the Pledge of al-‘Aqabah and at the Battle of Badr, and was one of the leaders of the Ansar – was on his deathbed, he said to his nephew Junaadah ibn Abi Umayyah, “Shall I not inform you of what is incumbent upon you?” “Of course!”, his nephew replied.

He said, “Indeed, listening and obeying is mandatory upon you, whether it is regarding something easy for you or difficult, whether in good times or bad, even if the leader were to show favoritism towards certain people over others. And it is incumbent upon you limit your tongue to speaking with justice, and that you do not dispute with those in authority regarding their commands – unless they command you to perform a clear act of disobedience to Allah. Then, if they command you to do anything which conflicts with the Book of Allah, follow the Book of Allah.” Continue reading