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

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Preservation of the Wordings and Meanings of the Qur’an among the Salaf: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In surah al-Nisaa’, Allah informs us of the following:

وَرُسُلًا قَدْ قَصَصْنَاهُمْ عَلَيْكَ مِن قَبْلُ وَرُسُلًا لَّمْ نَقْصُصْهُمْ عَلَيْكَ ۚ وَكَلَّمَ اللَّـهُ مُوسَىٰ تَكْلِيمًا

And Messengers We have mentioned to you before, and Messengers We have not mentioned to you, – and Allah spoke to Moosaa directly. [4:164]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir mentioned the following points:

وقوله : ( وكلم الله موسى تكليما ) وهذا تشريف لموسى ، عليه السلام ، بهذه الصفة ; ولهذا يقال [ ص: 475 ] له : الكليم . وقد قال الحافظ أبو بكر بن مردويه : حدثنا أحمد بن محمد بن سليمان المالكي ، حدثنا مسيح بن حاتم ، حدثنا عبد الجبار بن عبد الله قال : جاء رجل إلى أبي بكر بن عياش فقال : سمعت رجلا يقرأ : ” وكلم الله موسى تكليما ” فقال أبو بكر : ما قرأ هذا إلا كافر ، قرأت على الأعمش ، وقرأ الأعمش على [ يحيى ] بن وثاب ، وقرأ يحيى بن وثاب على أبي عبد الرحمن السلمي ، وقرأ أبو عبد الرحمن ، على علي بن أبي طالب ، وقرأ علي بن أبي طالب على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ( وكلم الله موسى تكليما ) . ـ

Allah’s statement: Continue reading

Merits of Surah al-Nisaa’: Tafsir ibn Kathir

A number of the books of tafsir begin their explanations of each surah with a section on the virtues of that particular surah. However, most of these sections are largely made up of fabricated or weak narrations. The famous mufassir, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir, strove to avoid much inauthentic material in his tafsir or to follow up such material with notes as to its status and veracity. So when he did begin his explanation of surah al-Nisaa’ by mentioning some of its merits, he approached things in a different manner by bringing statements from some of the scholars of the Sahabah about this surah:

 وقال الحاكم في مستدركه : حدثنا أبو العباس محمد بن يعقوب ، حدثنا أبو البختري عبد الله بن محمد بن شاكر ، حدثنا محمد بن بشر العبدي ، حدثنا مسعر بن كدام ، عن معن بن عبد الرحمن بن عبد الله بن مسعود عن أبيه ، عن عبد الله بن مسعود ، رضي الله عنه ، قال : إن في سورة النساء لخمس آيات ما يسرني أن لي بها الدنيا وما فيها : ( إن الله لا يظلم مثقال ذرة ) الآية ، و ( إن تجتنبوا كبائر ما تنهون عنه ) الآية ، و ( إن الله لا يغفر أن يشرك به ويغفر ما دون ذلك لمن يشاء ) و ( ولو أنهم إذ ظلموا أنفسهم جاءوك ) الآية ، و ( ومن يعمل سوءا أو يظلم نفسه ثم يستغفر الله يجد الله غفورا رحيما ) ثم قال : هذا إسناد صحيح إن كان عبد الرحمن سمع من أبيه ، فقد اختلف في ذلك . ـ

○ al-Haakim said in his book al-Mustadrak: … that the grandson of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood narrated from his father who narrated from his father, ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him), that he said: In surah al-Nisaa’ there are five ayaat which are more pleasing to me than the entire world and all that is in it.

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَظْلِمُ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ ۖ وَإِن تَكُ حَسَنَةً يُضَاعِفْهَا وَيُؤْتِ مِن لَّدُنْهُ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا

Surely, Allah does not do an atom’s worth of injustice. But if you have some good, He multiplies it and give a great reward from Himself [4:40]

إِن تَجْتَنِبُوا كَبَائِرَ مَا تُنْهَوْنَ عَنْهُ نُكَفِّرْ عَنكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَنُدْخِلْكُم مُّدْخَلًا كَرِيمًا

If you avoid the major sins from which you are forbidden, We will expiate your minor sins from you and enter you into a noble entrance. [4:31]

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّـهِ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَالًا بَعِيدًا

Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly gone far astray. [4:116]

وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ إِذ ظَّلَمُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ جَاءُوكَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا اللَّـهَ وَاسْتَغْفَرَ لَهُمُ الرَّسُولُ لَوَجَدُوا اللَّـهَ تَوَّابًا رَّحِيمًا

And if, when they wronged themselves, they had come to you, [O Muhammad], and asked forgiveness of Allah and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah Accepting of repentance and Merciful. [4:64]

وَمَن يَعْمَلْ سُوءًا أَوْ يَظْلِمْ نَفْسَهُ ثُمَّ يَسْتَغْفِرِ اللَّـهَ يَجِدِ اللَّـهَ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا

And whoever does a wrong or wrongs himself but then seeks forgiveness of Allah will find Allah Forgiving and Merciful. [4:110]

And then al-Haakim said: This chain of narration is sound, so long as the grandson heard it from his father, and there is some differing as to whether he did or not. Continue reading

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