The Relationship between Supplication and Fasting: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah devotes a series of ayaat in surah al-Baqarah [2:183-187] to the rulings of fasting. However, in the middle of these ayaat, He mentions the well-known ayah:

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ

And when My servants ask you (O Muhammad) about Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the call of the supplicant when he calls Me. So let them respond to Me and believe in Me that they may be rightly guided. [2:186]

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir shed some light on the relationship of this ayah to the surrounding ayaat of fasting by writing:

وفي ذكره تعالى هذه الآية الباعثة على الدعاء ، متخللة بين أحكام الصيام ، إرشاد إلى الاجتهاد في الدعاء عند إكمال العدة ، بل وعند كل فطر . ـ

So Allah’s mention of this ayah encouraging supplication in midst of the rulings of fasting contains a directive to exert oneself in supplication when the entire period of fasting is completed – as well as of course at the breaking of every fast.

 كما رواه الإمام أبو داود الطيالسي في مسنده : حدثنا أبو محمد المليكي ، عن عمرو هو ابن شعيب بن محمد بن عبد الله بن عمرو ، عن أبيه ، عن جده عبد الله بن عمرو ، قال : سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول : ” للصائم عند إفطاره دعوة مستجابة ” . فكان عبد الله بن عمرو إذ أفطر دعا أهله ، وولده ودعا . ـ

This is just as Imam Abu Dawud al-Tayaalisi recorded in his musnad … that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr said: I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) say, “At the time of breaking the fast, the fasting person has a supplication which is accepted.” And so when ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr used to break his fast, he would call the members of his household and supplicate. Continue reading

Preparing for Ramadan in Sha’baan: ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

al-Haafidh ibn Rajab al-Hanbali concluded his discussion of fasting during the month of Sha’baan (the eight month of the Islamic calendar, immediately preceding Ramadan) with the following notes:

وقد قيل: في صوم شعبان معنى آخر: أن صيامه كالتمرين على صيام رمضان لئلا يدخل في صوم رمضان على مشقة وكلفة بل قد تمرن على. الصيام واعتاده ووجد بصيام شعبان قبله حلاوة الصيام ولذته فيدخل في صيام رمضان بقوة ونشاط. ـ

Some have said that one of the effects of fasting during Sha’baan is that it acts like a training for the fast of Ramadan, in order that one can enter into Ramadan in good shape, being prepared for it and accustomed to fasting. And through fasting during Sha’baan, one will find and savor the sweetness of the fast, and so he will enter into Ramadan with vigor and determination.

ولما كان شعبان كالمقدمة لرمضان شرع فيه ما يشرع في رمضان من الصيام وقراءة القرآن ليحصل التأهب لتلقي رمضان وترتاض النفوس بذلك على طاعة الرحمن ـ

Sha’baan is like a precursor to Ramadan. The things which are legislated in Ramadan – such as fasting and reciting the Qur’an – are also legislated in Sha’baan so that one can be prepared to meet Ramadan and accustom himself to obeying al-Rahman. Continue reading

Those who do not witness al-Zoor: Tafsir al-Tabari

In surah al-Furqaan, Allah devotes a number of ayaat to describing the characteristics of the ‘ibaad al-Rahman (the slaves of the Most Merciful). Among these descriptions is His statement:

وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَشْهَدُونَ الزُّورَ وَإِذَا مَرُّوا بِاللَّغْوِ مَرُّوا كِرَامًا

And they are those who do not witness al-zoor, and if they pass by some ill talk, they pass by it with dignity. [25:72]

al-Haafidh ibn Kathir clarified the meaning of “those who do not witness” briefly in his tafsir by writing:

 والأظهر من السياق أن المراد : لا يشهدون الزور ، أي : لا يحضرونه; ولهذا قال : ( وإذا مروا باللغو مروا كراما ) أي : لا يحضرون الزور ، وإذا اتفق مرورهم به مروا ، ولم يتدنسوا منه بشيء ; ولهذا قال : ( مروا كراما ) . ـ

From the context, it appears that the intended meaning of “they do not witness al-zoor” is that they are not present for it or in attendance when it is happening. In line with this, Allah said:

وَإِذَا مَرُّوا بِاللَّغْوِ مَرُّوا كِرَامًا

and if they pass by some ill talk, they pass by it with dignity.

meaning: they are not in attendance when al-zoor occurs, and if they do happen to pass by it, then they do not let it sully them in the least. In this vein, Allah said:

مَرُّوا كِرَامًا

they pass by it with dignity.

[Tafsir ibn Kathir 6/132]

There were a number of different interpretations of the meaning of al-zoor among the salaf. Sheikh ibn al-Jawzi summarizes these different opinions as follows: Continue reading

The Most Hope-Inspiring Ayah in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

In surah al-Noor, in the midst of the ayaat revealed regarding the slander of the Mother of the Believers, ‘Aa’ishah bint Abi Bakr, Allah said:

وَلَا يَأْتَلِ أُولُو الْفَضْلِ مِنكُمْ وَالسَّعَةِ أَن يُؤْتُوا أُولِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَالْمُهَاجِرِينَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ ۖ وَلْيَعْفُوا وَلْيَصْفَحُوا ۗ أَلَا تُحِبُّونَ أَن يَغْفِرَ اللَّـهُ لَكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

And let not those of virtue and wealth among you and swear not to give [aid] to their relatives and the needy and the emigrants for the cause of Allah. Let them pardon and overlook. Wouldn’t you like that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. [24:22]

In part of his commentary of the ayaat regarding the slander, Imam al-Qurtubi mentioned the following beneficial discussion related to this ayah:

 السادسة والعشرون : قال بعض العلماء : هذه أرجى آية في كتاب الله تعالى ، من حيث لطف الله بالقذفة العصاة بهذا اللفظ . وقيل . أرجى آية في كتاب الله – عز وجل – قوله تعالى : وبشر المؤمنين بأن لهم من الله فضلا كبيرا . وقد قال تعالى في آية أخرى : والذين آمنوا وعملوا الصالحات في روضات الجنات لهم ما يشاءون عند ربهم ذلك هو الفضل الكبير ؛ فشرح الفضل الكبير في هذه الآية ، وبشر به المؤمنين في تلك . ومن آيات الرجاء قوله تعالى : قل يا عبادي الذين أسرفوا على أنفسهم . وقوله تعالى : الله لطيف بعباده . وقال بعضهم : أرجى آية في كتاب الله – عز وجل – : ولسوف يعطيك ربك فترضى ؛ وذلك أن رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – لا يرضى ببقاء أحد من أمته في النار . ـ

Point #16: Some of the scholars have said: This is the most hope-inspiring ayah in the entire Qur’an, from the angle of Allah’s kindness towards disobedient slanderous ones found in this phrase.

Others have said: The most hope-inspiring in the Qur’an is His statement:

وَبَشِّرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ بِأَنَّ لَهُم مِّنَ اللَّـهِ فَضْلًا كَبِيرًا

And give good tidings to the believers that they will have a great bounty from Allah. [33:47]

And in another ayah, Allah said: Continue reading

“The Signs of the Hypocrite are Three” in the Qur’an

Abu Hurayrah narrated that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said:

آيَةُ اَلْمُنَافِقِ ثَلَاثٌ: إِذَا حَدَّثَ كَذَبَ, وَإِذَا وَعَدَ أَخْلَفَ, وَإِذَا ائْتُمِنَ خَانَ

The signs of the hypocrite are three: when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he is entrusted, he betrays his trust.

[al-Bukhari and Muslim]

In part of his extensive commentary on al-Nawawi’s 40 ahaadeeth, ibn Rajab al-Hanbali brought the following point of benefit related to this hadeeth:

وقد روي عن محمد بن كعب القرظي أنه استنبط ما في هذا الحديث – أعني حديث : آية المنافق ثلاث – من القرآن ، فقال : مصداق ذلك في كتاب الله تعالى : إذا جاءك المنافقون قالوا نشهد إنك لرسول الله إلى قوله : [ ص: 490 ] والله يشهد إن المنافقين لكاذبون [ المنافقون : 1 ] ، وقال تعالى : ومنهم من عاهد الله لئن آتانا من فضله إلى قوله : فأعقبهم نقاقا في قلوبهم إلى يوم يلقونه بما أخلفوا الله ما وعدوه وبما كانوا يكذبون [ التوبة : 74 – 77 ] ، وقال : إنا عرضنا الأمانة على السماوات والأرض والجبال الأحزاب إلى قوله : ليعذب الله المنافقين والمنافقات [ الأحزاب : 72 – 73 ] . ـ

It has been related that Muhammad ibn K’ab al-Qurathi extracted the contents of this hadeeth – meaning the hadeeth “the signs of the hypocrite are three” – from the Qur’an. For he said: This is confirmed in the Book of Allah,

إِذَا جَاءَكَ الْمُنَافِقُونَ قَالُوا نَشْهَدُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُ اللَّـهِ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ يَعْلَمُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُهُ وَاللَّـهُ يَشْهَدُ إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ لَكَاذِبُونَ

When the hypocrites come to you, [O Muhammad], they say, “We testify that you are the Messenger of Allah.” And Allah knows that you are His Messenger, and Allah testifies that the hypocrites are liars. [63:1]

And He said: Continue reading

Notes on Perfecting One’s Deeds and their Acceptance: ibn Rajab

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali made the following beneficial points in one of his smaller monographic work:

وكان السلف يوصون بإتقان العمل وتحسينه دون مجرد الإكثار منه ، فإن العمل القليل مع التحسين والإتقان أفضل من الكثير مع عدم الإتقان ، قال بعض السلف : < إن الرجلين ليقومان في الصفّ بين الصلاتيهما كما بين السماء والارض ، كم بين من تصعد صلاته لها نور وبرهان كبرهان الشمس ، وتقول : حفظك الله كما حفظتني ، وبين من تلفّ صلاته كما يلفّ الثوب الخلق ويضرب بها وجه صاحبها ، وتقول : ضيعك الله كما ضيعتني > . ـ

The salaf used to advise one another to perfect their deeds and to beautify them rather than merely performing an abundance of them. For surely a small amount of deeds performed excellently and perfected is more virtuous than a large amount done without excellent performance. One of the salaf said:

Two men might stand to pray in the same row while the difference between their two prayers is as great as the distance between the heavens and the earth, such that one’s prayer will raise him up in honor with light and a proof like the sun for him and it will say, “Allah will preserve you just as you preserved me.” And such that the other’s prayer will envelope him just as a garment envelopes the body and strike him on the face and say, “Allah will neglect you just as you neglected me.”

ولهذا قال ابن عباس وغيره : < صلاة ركعتين في تفكر خير من قيام ليلة والقلب ساه > . ـ

And in this regard, ibn ‘Abbaas and others said, “Two raka’a of prayer with deep thought is better than standing the entire night in prayer with an inattentive heart.” Continue reading

Those who come to Allah with a Pure Heart: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

In surah al-Shu’araa’, the prophet Ibrahim made a du’aa in which he described the Day of Judgement by saying:

يَوْمَ لَا يَنفَعُ مَالٌ وَلَا بَنُونَ * إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّـهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ

The Day wherein neither wealth nor sons will avail, * Except him who brings to Allah a qalb saleem [pure heart] (26:88-89)

Commenting on this in his book of tafsir, Imam al-Qurtubi wrote the following:

قوله تعالى : يوم لا ينفع مال ولا بنون ( يوم ) بدل من ( يوم ) الأول . أي يوم لا ينفع مال ولا بنون أحدا . والمراد بقوله : ” ولا بنون ” الأعوان ; لأن الابن إذا لم ينفع فغيره متى ينفع ؟ وقيل : ذكر البنين لأنه جرى ذكر والد إبراهيم ، أي لم ينفعه إبراهيم . ـ

Allah’s statement:

يَوْمَ لَا يَنفَعُ مَالٌ وَلَا بَنُونَ

The Day wherein neither wealth nor sons will avail

– meaning, a day on which neither wealth nor sons will benefit anyone. And the intended meaning of his statement, “nor sons” is helpers, because if sons do not help you, then who else will? And some say, “he mentioned sons here because it comes along with mentioning Ibrahim’s father” – i.e. Ibrahim will not benefit him.

 إلا من أتى الله بقلب سليم هو استثناء من الكافرين ; أي لا ينفعه ماله ولا بنوه . وقيل : هو استثناء من غير الجنس ، أي لكن من أتى الله بقلب سليم ينفعه لسلامة قلبه . ـ

إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّـهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ

Except him who brings to Allah a qalb saleem [pure heart]

This is an exclusion of the disbelievers, i.e. their wealth and sons will not benefit them. But others say it is an exclusion without any exception, i.e. (on that day neither wealth nor sons will benefit) however whoever comes to Allah with a qalb saleem [pure heart] will benefit from the purity of his heart.

وخص القلب بالذكر ; لأنه الذي إذا سلم سلمت الجوارح ، وإذا فسد فسدت سائر الجوارح . وقد تقدم في أول ( البقرة ) . ـ

And the heart is mentioned specifically here because it is that which, if it is pure then one’s limbs are pure, but if it is corrupted then the rest of one’s limbs are corrupted. And this has already been mentioned in the beginning of surah al-Baqarah. Continue reading

Four things for you and Three things against you

Imam al-Qurtubi mentioned the following statement of the taabi’ and scholar of al-Shaam Makḥool[1] (d. 112 or 133AH) in his tafsir of surah al-Nisaa’ (4:147):

وقال مكحول: أربع من كن فيه كن له، وثلاث من كن فيه كن عليه، فالأربع اللاتي له: فالشكر والايمان والدعاء والاستغفار، قال الله تعالى: {ما يَفْعَلُ اللَّهُ بِعَذابِكُمْ إِنْ شَكَرْتُمْ وَآمَنْتُمْ} وقال الله تعالى: {وَما كانَ اللَّهُ لِيُعَذِّبَهُمْ وَأَنْتَ فِيهِمْ وَما كانَ اللَّهُ مُعَذِّبَهُمْ وَهُمْ يَسْتَغْفِرُونَ} وقال تعالى: {قُلْ ما يَعْبَؤُا بِكُمْ رَبِّي لَوْلا دُعاؤُكُمْ}. .ـ

There are four things that whoever has them has them in his favor, and there are three things that whoever has them has them against him.

The four things which are in his favor are: 1) gratitude, 2) eemaan, 3) supplication and 4) seeking forgiveness.

Allah said (1 & 2):

 مَا يَفْعَلُ اللَّهُ بِعَذَابِكُمْ إِنْ شَكَرْتُمْ وَآمَنْتُمْ

Why should Allah punish you if you have thanked (Him) and have believed in Him? [4:147].

And Allah said (4):

وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُعَذِّبَهُمْ وَأَنْتَ فِيهِمْ وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ مُعَذِّبَهُمْ وَهُمْ يَسْتَغْفِرُونَ

and Allah would not punish them while they seek forgiveness [8:33].

And He said (3): Continue reading

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

The Taabi’ and mufassir Muhammad ibn Ka’b al-Qurathi (d. 108AH) said:

لو رخص لأحد في ترك الذكر، لرخص لزكريا عليه السلام، قال تعالى: { آيَتُكَ أَلَّا تُكَلِّمَ النَّاسَ ثَلَاثَةَ أَيَّامٍ إِلَّا رَمْزاً وَاذْكُرْ رَبَّكَ كَثِيراً وَسَبِّحْ بِالْعَشِيِّ وَالْإِبْكَارِ } [آل عمران: 41]. ـ

If there had been a rukhsah (concession) for anyone in leaving off dhikr (remembrance of Allah), then there would have been a rukhsah for Zakariyyah (‘alaihi al-salaam). But Allah said:

آيَتُكَ أَلَّا تُكَلِّمَ النَّاسَ ثَلَاثَةَ أَيَّامٍ إِلَّا رَمْزاً وَاذْكُرْ رَبَّكَ كَثِيراً وَسَبِّحْ بِالْعَشِيِّ وَالْإِبْكَارِ

Your sign [that Allah will give you a son, Yahya] is that you will not [be able to] speak to the people for three days except by gesture. And remember your Lord much and exalt [Him with praise] in the evening and the morning. [3:41]

ولو رخص لأحد في ترك الذكر لرخص للذين يقاتلون في سبيل الله، قال تعالى: { يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا لَقِيتُمْ فِئَةً فَاثْبُتُوا وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيراً لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ } [الأنفال: 45] . ـ

And if there were to be a rukhsah for anyone in leaving off dhikr, then there would have been a rukhsah for those who fight in the path of Allah. But Allah said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا لَقِيتُمْ فِئَةً فَاثْبُتُوا وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيراً لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

O you who have believed, when you meet an (enemy) force, stand firm and remember Allah much in order that you may be successful. [8:45]

[al-Bidayah w’al-Nihayah 9/286. See also Jaami’ li-Ahkaam al-Qur’an 4/78, Tafsir ibn ‘Atiyyah 3/217, Hilyah al-Awliyah 3/215]

See also: Two things for which there are no concessions

See also: “O you who have believed, remember Allah with much remembrance”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

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

See also: Performing the Prayers in their Proper Times: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: “The Signs of the Hypocrite are Three” in the Qur’an

The relationship between al-Tawheed and al-istighfaar: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

In his discussion of the conclusion of the month of Ramadan, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali mentions the following points of benefit concerning the relationship between al-Tawheed and al-istighfaar (seeking Allah’s forgiveness). After mentioning some notes concerning what is conducive to freeing oneself from the hell-fire during Ramadan, he writes:

و فيه أيضا : [ فاستكثروا فيه من أربع خصال : خصلتين ترضون بها ربكم و خصلتين لا غناء لكم عنهما فأما الخصلتان اللتان ترضون بهما ربكم : شهادة أن لا إله إلا الله و الإستغفار و أما اللتان لا غناء لكم عنهما : فتسألون الله الجنة و تستعيذون به من النار ] فهذه الخصال الأربعة المذكورة في الحديث كل منها سبب العتق و المغفرة : فأما كلمة التوحيد : فإنها تهدم الذنوب و تمحوها محوا و لا تبقي ذنبا و لا يسبقها عمل و هي تعدل عتق الرقاب الذي يوجب العتق من النار و من أتى بها أربع مرار حين يصبح و حين يمسي أعتقه الله من النار و من قالها مخلصا من قلبه حرمه الله على النار

And on this topic also is, “So be prolific in four characteristics: Two characteristics by which you please your Lord, and two characteristics which you cannot do without. As for the two characteristics by which you please your Lord – they are they shahaadah that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah, and al-istighfaar [seeking Allah’s forgiveness]. And as for the two which you cannot do without – they are your asking Allah for al-jannah and seeking refuge in Him from the Hell-fire.” So all four of the aforementioned characteristics in this statement are causes of emancipation and forgiveness. As for the kalimah al-tawheed (i.e. the shahaadah), then verily it destroys sins and completely erases them and sin does not remain, and no action precedes it [in virtue]. It is equivalent to freeing a slave, which necessitates the freeing of one from the Fire.

Continue reading