Three Transgressions which Turn Back on their Perpetrators: Tafsir ibn Kathir

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel Ibn Kathir mentioned in his famous book of tafsir:

وقد قال محمد بن كعب القرظي : ثلاث من فعلهن لم ينج حتى ينزل به من مكر أو بغي أو نكث ، وتصديقها في كتاب الله : ( وَلَا يَحِيقُ الْمَكْرُ السَّيِّئُ إِلَّا بِأَهْلِهِ ) [ فاطر : 43 ] . ( إِنَّمَا بَغْيُكُمْ عَلَى أَنْفُسِكُمْ ) [ يونس : 23 ] ، ( فَمَنْ نَكَثَ فَإِنَّمَا يَنْكُثُ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ ) [ الفتح : 10 ] . ـ

Muhammad ibn Ka’b al-Qurathi said:

There are three things which, if you do them, will come down on you and you will not be able to escape them: 1) plotting, 2) injustice to others, and 3) breaking your word.

All of these are affirmed in Allah’s Book

وَلَا يَحِيقُ الْمَكْرُ السَّيِّئُ إِلَّا بِأَهْلِهِ

But the evil plot only encompasses its own people [35:43] Continue reading

The Light of Eeman in the Heart of the Believer: Tafsir al-Tabari

Allah says in surah al-Nur:

اللَّـهُ نُورُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ مَثَلُ نُورِهِ كَمِشْكَاةٍ فِيهَا مِصْبَاحٌ ۖ الْمِصْبَاحُ فِي زُجَاجَةٍ ۖ الزُّجَاجَةُ كَأَنَّهَا كَوْكَبٌ دُرِّيٌّ يُوقَدُ مِن شَجَرَةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ زَيْتُونَةٍ لَّا شَرْقِيَّةٍ وَلَا غَرْبِيَّةٍ يَكَادُ زَيْتُهَا يُضِيءُ وَلَوْ لَمْ تَمْسَسْهُ نَارٌ ۚ نُّورٌ عَلَىٰ نُورٍ ۗ يَهْدِي اللَّـهُ لِنُورِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَيَضْرِبُ اللَّـهُ الْأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ

Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth. The likeness of his light is like a niche inside of which is a lamp. The lamp is inside of glass. The glass is like a bright star lit by a blessed olive tree which is neither of the east nor of the west. Its oil practically gives off light even though it has not been touched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides with His light whomever He wishes. And Allah strikes parables for mankind. And Allah is completely knowing of all things. [24:35]

The great mufassir Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari mentioned several different explanations of this ayah in his famous tafsir, including the following from some of the great scholars of the Qur’an among the Sahabah:

وقال  آخرون عنى بالمشكاة : صدر المؤمن ، وبالمصباح : القرآن والإيمان ، وبالزجاجة : قلبه . ذكر من قال ذلك : ـ

Others said that the niche is the chest of the believer, and that the lamp is the Qur’an and eemaan, and that the glass is his heart.

Among those who said that are:

حدثني عبد الأعلى بن واصل ، قال : ثنا عبيد الله بن موسى ، قال : أخبرنا أبو جعفر الرازي ، عن الربيع بن أنس ، عن أبي العالية ، عن أبي بن كعب ( مثل نوره كمشكاة فيها مصباح ) قال : مثل المؤمن ، قد جعل الإيمان والقرآن في صدره كمشكاة قال : المشكاة : صدره ( فيها مصباح ) قال : والمصباح القرآن والإيمان الذي جعل في صدره ( المصباح في زجاجة ) قال : والزجاجة : قلبه ( الزجاجة كأنها كوكب دري يوقد ) قال : فمثله مما استنار فيه القرآن والإيمان كأنه كوكب دري ، يقول : مضيء ( يوقد من شجرة مباركة ) والشجرة المباركة أصله المباركة الإخلاص لله وحده وعبادته ، لا شريك له ( لا شرقية ولا غربية ) قال : فمثله مثل شجرة التف بها الشجر ، فهي خضراء ناعمة ، لا تصيبها الشمس على أي حال كانت ، لا إذا طلعت ولا إذا غربت ، وكذلك هذا المؤمن قد أجير من أن يصيبه شيء من الغير ، وقد ابتلي بها فثبته الله فيها ، فهو بين أربع خلال : إن أعطي شكر ، وإن ابتلي صبر ، وإن حكم عدل ، وإن قال صدق ، فهو في سائر الناس كالرجل الحي يمشي في قبور الأموات ، قال : ( نور على نور ) فهو يتقلب في خمسة من النور : فكلامه نور ، وعمله نور ، ومدخله نور ، ومخرجه نور ، ومصيره إلى النور يوم القيامة في الجنة . ـ

Ubay ibn Ka’b said:

مَثَلُ نُورِهِ كَمِشْكَاةٍ فِيهَا مِصْبَاحٌ

The likeness of his light is that of a niche inside of which is a lamp …

the likeness of a believer. Allah has made emaan and the Qur’an in his chest like a niche. The niche is his chest Continue reading

Responding to Doubts About the Prohibition of Music: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

One of the most commonly-cited evidences for the prohibition of music is the ayah from surah Luqman

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 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]

and the “idle talk” in this ayah was explained to refer to music, as was explained by ibn Mas’ood, ibn ‘Abbaas and others. Another commonly-cited evidence is the hadeeth of the Prophet

لَيَكُونَنَّ مِنْ أُمَّتِي أَقْوَامٌ يَسْتَحِلُّونَ الْحِرَ وَالْحَرِيرَ وَالْخَمْرَ وَالْمَعَازِفَ

There will be some people from my nation who will consider illicit sexual intercourse, silk, alcohol and musical instruments to be permissible.

which is reported in Saheeh al-Bukhari (#5590). We have previously translated an explanation of this ayah from surah Luqman which brings several more pieces of evidence for the prohibition of music. We would recommend reading that article before proceeding, as it serves as a foundation for this topic.

After understanding the evidences for the prohibition of music, it bears mentioning that there are some who cast doubt on the validity of these primary pieces of evidence listed above. While these doubts may appear to be academic, they are ultimately without a sound foundation, as Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool explains below:

قال : هذا التفسير اجتهاد من ابن مسعود رضي الله عنه. وحديث المعازف مختلف فيه . ـ

Some say: This explanation of ibn Mas’ood is simply his personal scholarly opinion, and there is some differing as to the hadith of musical instruments.

قلت : لاحظ ان تفسير ابن مسعود رضي الله عنه للآية ليس فيه ما يخالف لفظها بل هو يقرر معناها فهو يقول : من لهو الحديث في الآية الغناء لانه يحصل به اضلال للناس في باب الشهوات. فاللام ليست للتعليل بل للعاقبة، كاللام في قوله تعالى: ({فَالْتَقَطَهُ آلُ فِرْعَوْنَ لِيَكُونَ لَهُمْ عَدُوّاً وَحَزَناً إِنَّ فِرْعَوْنَ وَهَامَانَ وَجُنُودَهُمَا كَانُوا خَاطِئِينَ }) (القصص:8). ـ

I say: It must be noted that ibn Mas’ood’s explanation of this ayah does not contain anything that is at odds with the ayah itself. Rather, his explanation affirms the ayah‘s meaning, as he is saying that one example of the “idle talk” mentioned in this ayah is music because it leads to the misguidance of people by way of lowly desires. So the preposition laam in the ayah is not meant to imply causation but rather consequence, like the laam in Allah’s statement: Continue reading

The Different Meanings of al-Thann in the Qur’an

The following question was posed to sheikh ‘Abdullah al-‘Awaaji, a professor of Tafsir at the Islamic University of al-Madinah:

روى ابن جرير وابن كثير عن مجاهد أنه قال : كل ظن في القرآن يقين . ماذا نفهم من هذا القول مع أن كلمة الظن وردت في القرآن بمعان أخر؟

Both ibn Jarir and ibn Kathir relate a narration from Mujahid in which he said, “Every instance of the word al-Thann [literally: thought, doubt, assumption, conjecture] in the Qur’an means Yaqeen [certainty].”*

How should we understand this statement in light of the fact that the word al-thann is used elsewhere in the Qur’an with other meanings?

The sheikh responded by writing:

عن الضحاك:كل ظن في القرآن من المؤمن فهو يقين،ومن الكافر فهو شك. وعن مجاهد:كل ظن في القرآن فهو يقين. وقول الضحاك أقرب وقد يحمل قول مجاهد على أن الذي يفيد اليقين:ما كان متعلقاً بأمور الآخرة،أما ما كان متعلقاً بأمور الدنيا فيفيد الشك وقد رويت رواية ثانية عن مجاهد تدل على هذا المعنى،وفيها:ظن الآخرة يقين، وظن الدنيا شك؛ ونحو هذا قول قتادة :ما كان من ظن الآخرة فهو علم . ـ

al-Dhahhaak said: Every time the word thann is used in the Qur’an in relation to the believers, it means yaqeen, and every time it is used for the disbelievers, it means “doubt”.

Mujahid said: Every time the word thann is used in the Qur’an, it means yaqeen.

However al-Dhahhaak’s statement is more accurate.

And Mujahid’s statement could also be interpreted to mean that thann takes the meaning of yaqeen when it is connected to matters of the Hereafter, but when it is related to matters of this worldly life it takes the meaning of “doubt”. Continue reading

Assorted Qur’an Benefits #20

What follows is a collection of various benefits originally posted on our Facebook page during August, September, October and November of 2017:

♦ The Knowledge of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee mentioned the following narration in part of his tafsir:

وقال ابن مسعود : إذا حدثتكم بحديث أنبأتكم بتصديقه من كتاب الله . أخرجه ابن أبي حاتم . ـ

ibn Mas’ood said, “If any of you were to narrate a hadeeth to me, I can tell you something from Allah’s Book which affirms it.” This was reported by ibn Abi Haatim.

[Adhwaa’ al-Bayaan 2/429]


♦ The Qur’an is the Spring of the Hearts

Imam al-Qurtubi mentioned the following quote in the last part of his tafsir of surah al-Shooraa [42]:

وكان مالك بن دينار يقول : يا أهل القرآن ، ماذا زرع القرآن في قلوبكم ؟ فإن القرآن ربيع القلوب كما أن الغيث ربيع الأرض . ـ

Malik ibn Dinar used to say, “O people of the Qur’an, what has the Qur’an produced in your hearts? For the Qur’an is the spring of the hearts, just as rain is the spring for the earth.”

[Jaami’ li-Ahkam al-Qur’an 16/53]


♦ Be Frequent in Seeking Allah’s Forgiveness

In part of his commentary on surah Aal ‘Imraan [03], Imam al-Qurtubi mentions the following words from the tabi’ee, Makhool: Continue reading

And Tell the Believing Women Not to Show off Their Adornment, Except for What is Apparent: ibn Taymiyah

Allah commands the believing women in surah al-Nur by saying:

وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا

… and tell the believing women not to show off their adornment except for that which is apparent [24:31]

The phrase “except for that which is apparent” has been explained in a number of ways by the salaf. The great scholar Abu’l-Faraj Ibn al-Jawzi summarized the different positions in his tafsir where he wrote:

قوله تعالى: ولا يبدين زينتهن أي: لا يظهرنها لغير محرم . وزينتهن على ضربين، خفية كالسوارين والقرطين والدملج والقلائد ونحو ذلك، وظاهرة وهي المشار إليها بقوله: إلا ما ظهر منها وفيه سبعة أقوال . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا

… and tell the believing women not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent [24:31]

meaning, to not display these things to non-mahrams. And there are two types of women’s adornment, or zeenah. There is the hidden zeenah such as ankle bracelets, earrings, bracelets, necklaces and so on, and then there is the apparent zeenah, which is what is being referred to in Allah’s statement here, and there are seven different opinions as to what this means:

أحدهما: أنها الثياب، رواه أبو الأحوص عن ابن مسعود; وفي لفظ آخر قال: هو الرداء . والثاني: أنها الكف والخاتم والوجه . والثالث: الكحل والخاتم، رواهما سعيد بن جبير عن ابن عباس . والرابع: القلبان، وهما السواران والخاتم والكحل، قاله المسور بن مخرمة . والخامس: الكحل والخاتم والخضاب، قاله مجاهد . والسادس: الخاتم والسوار، قاله الحسن . والسابع: الوجه والكفان، قاله الضحاك . ـ

1. Her clothing. Abu al-Ahwas transmitted this explanation from ibn Mas’ood, and in another narration he said that it meant her outer shawl covering.

2. Her hands, ring and face.

3. Her kohol [eye-liner] and ring. Sa’eed ibn Jubayr transmitted both explanations 2 and 3 from ibn ‘Abbaas. Continue reading

The Effects of Parents’ Actions on their Children: Ibn Rajab

In his famous collection of forty hadeeth, Imam al-Nawawi mentions the long hadeeth of ibn ‘Abbaas which begins with the Prophet saying:

يَا غُلاَمُ إِنِّي أُعَلِّمُكَ كَلِمَاتٍ احْفَظِ اللَّهَ يَحْفَظْكَ

Oh boy, I am going to teach you some words: Preserve [the limits of] Allah, He will preserve you …

Commenting on this in his explanation of al-Nawawi’s Arba’een, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali mentioned some of the different ways that Allah may preserve His servants, including preserving his offspring upon righteousness and protecting them from harm:

وقد يحفظ الله العبد بصلاحه بعد موته في ذريته كما قيل في قوله تعالى : وكان أبوهما صالحا [ الكهف : 82 ] : أنهما حفظا بصلاح أبيهما . قال سعيد بن المسيب لابنه : لأزيدن في صلاتي من أجلك ، رجاء أن أحفظ فيك ، ثم تلا هذه الآية وكان أبوهما صالحا

Due to one’s righteousness, Allah may even preserve a slave after his death as it relates to his offspring, as it is said concerning Allah’s statement:

وَكَانَ أَبُوهُمَا صَالِحًا

And their father had been righteous [18:82]

meaning, they were protected due to the righteousness of their father.

Sa’eed ibn al-Musayyib said to his son, “I increase in my [optional] salah for your sake, in hopes that you will be preserved as a result” and he then recited the ayah:

وَكَانَ أَبُوهُمَا صَالِحًا

And their father had been righteous [18:82]

[Jaami’ al-‘Uloom w’al-Hikam 1/468]

See also: Ibrahim’s interactions with his father: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: Know that your wealth and your children are but a trial: Tafsir al-Tabari

Iblees’ Promise to Misguide Mankind: Tafsir al-Baghawi

Allah recounts the story of Adam and Iblees in surah al-A’raaf, including in the following ayaat. This passage begins with Allah addressing Iblees by saying:

قَالَ فَاهْبِطْ مِنْهَا فَمَا يَكُونُ لَكَ أَن تَتَكَبَّرَ فِيهَا فَاخْرُجْ إِنَّكَ مِنَ الصَّاغِرِينَ * قَالَ أَنظِرْنِي إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ * قَالَ إِنَّكَ مِنَ الْمُنظَرِينَ * قَالَ فَبِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لَأَقْعُدَنَّ لَهُمْ صِرَاطَكَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ * ثُمَّ لَآتِيَنَّهُم مِّن بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ وَعَنْ أَيْمَانِهِمْ وَعَن شَمَائِلِهِمْ ۖ وَلَا تَجِدُ أَكْثَرَهُمْ شَاكِرِينَ

Allah said, “Descend from Paradise, for it is not for you to be arrogant therein. So get out; indeed, you are of the debased. * Iblees said, “Reprieve me until the Day they are resurrected.” * Allah said, “Indeed, you are of those who are reprieved.” * Iblees said, “Because You have put me in error, I will surely sit in wait for them on Your straight path. * Then I will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You will not find most of them grateful. [7:13-17]

In part of his commentary on these ayaat, the great mufassir Imam al-Baghawi wrote:

قوله تعالى : ( فما يكون لك أن تتكبر ) بمخالفة الأمر ، ( فيها ) أي : في الجنة ، فلا ينبغي أن يسكن في الجنة ولا السماء متكبر مخالف لأمر الله تعالى : ( فاخرج إنك من الصاغرين ) من الأذلاء ، والصغار : الذل والمهانة . ـ

Allah said:

فَمَا يَكُونُ لَكَ أَن تَتَكَبَّرَ

… for it is not for you to be arrogant …

in opposition to My command

فِيهَا

… therein.

meaning in Jannah, for it is not appropriate for a prideful opposer of Allah’s command to reside in Jannah or in the heavens Continue reading

The Meaning and Goal of Beautifying the Qur’an with Your Voice: Ibn Kathir

In addition to his valuable explanation of the Qur’an itself, the Tafsir of al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir also offers up a significant introduction that discusses many important areas of ‘Uloom al-Qur’an. One of those discussions is presented below – Ibn Kathir’s discussion of the hadith narrations which encourage us to beatify our voices when reciting the Qur’an. Some mistranslate or misconstrue these narrations to encourage “singing” the Qur’an, but ibn Kathir’s explanation provides clarity about how to understand and implement these Prophetic instructions in the desired way:

 وقال أبو داود : حدثنا عبد الأعلى بن حماد ، حدثنا عبد الجبار بن الورد ، سمعت ابن أبي مليكة ، يقول : قال عبيد الله بن أبي يزيد : مر بنا أبو لبابة فاتبعناه حتى دخل بيته فدخلنا عليه ، فإذا رجل رث البيت ، رث الهيئة ، فانتسبنا له ، فقال : تجار كسبة ، فسمعته يقول : سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول : ليس منا من لم يتغن بالقرآن . قال : فقلت لابن أبي مليكة : يا أبا محمد ، أرأيت إذا لم يكن حسن الصوت قال : يحسنه ما استطاع . تفرد به أبو داود . ـ

Abu Dawud said …’Abd al-Jabbar ibn al-Ward said: I heard ibn Abi Mulaykah saying: ‘Ubaydullah ibn Abi Yazeed said: Abu Lubabah passed by us so we followed him until he went into his home and so we went in to visit him. He was a man with run-down house and with an unkempt appearance. We spent some time with him and learned that he was a fruit merchant. I heard him say,

“I heard Allah’s Messenger say, ‘Whoever does not recite the Qur’an in a melodious voice is not one of us.” I [‘Abd al-Jabbar] said to ibn Abi Mulaykah, “O Abu Muhammad, what if someone doesn’t have a nice voice?” He replied, “He should make it as pleasant as he can.”

Abu Dawud was alone in reporting this narration.

فقد فهم من هذا أن السلف ، رضي الله عنهم ، إنما فهموا من التغني بالقرآن : إنما هو تحسين الصوت به ، وتحزينه ، كما قاله الأئمة – رحمهم الله – ويدل على ذلك – أيضا – ما رواه أبو داود حيث قال : حدثنا عثمان بن أبي شيبة ، حدثنا جرير ، عن الأعمش ، عن طلحة ، عن عبد الرحمن بن عوسجة ، عن البراء بن عازب قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : زينوا القرآن بأصواتكم . وأخرجه النسائي وابن ماجه من حديث شعبة ، عن طلحة وهو ابن مصرف به . وأخرجه النسائي من طرق أخر عن طلحة وهذا إسناد جيد . وقد وثق النسائي ، وابن حبان عبد الرحمن بن عوسجة هذا ، ونقل الأزدي عن يحيى بن سعيد القطان أنه قال : سألت عنه بالمدينة ، فلم أرهم يحمدونه . [ ص: 63 ] ـ

So it is understood from this narration that what the Salaf (may Allah be pleased with them) understood from “reciting the Qur’an in a melodic voice” was only to beautify one’s voice while reciting it and to recite it in a melancholy way. This is as the leading scholars (may Allah have mercy on them) said, and also as is indicated by what Abu Dawud relayed when he said … that al-Baraa’ ibn ‘Aazib said:

Allah’s Messenger said, “Beautify the Qur’an with your voices.”

al-Nasaa’i and ibn Majah also reported this from one route … and al-Nasaa’i also reported it via another route with a good chain of transmission. Continue reading

The Last Parts of the Qur’an to be Revealed: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

Imam al-Qurtubi concludes his explanation of surah al-Nasr [110] with the following narration:

وقال ابن عمر : نزلت هذه السورة بمنى في حجة الوداع ؛ ثم نزلت اليوم أكملت لكم دينكم وأتممت عليكم نعمتي [ ص: 208 ] فعاش بعدهما النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – ثمانين يوما . ثم نزلت آية الكلالة ، فعاش بعدها خمسين يوما . ثم نزل لقد جاءكم رسول من أنفسكم فعاش بعدها خمسة وثلاثين يوما . ثم نزل واتقوا يوما ترجعون فيه إلى الله فعاش بعدها أحدا وعشرين يوما . وقال مقاتل سبعة أيام . وقيل غير هذا مما تقدم في ( البقرة ) بيانه والحمد لله . ـ

Ibn ‘Umar said:

This surah [surah al-Nasr – 110] was revealed at Mina during the Farewell Pilgrimage, and then

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي

your religion and completed My favor upon you … [5:3]

The Prophet lived for 80 days after that. The ayah of al-Kalalah [4:176] was revealed next and the Prophet remained alive for fifty days after that. The ayah

لَقَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولٌ مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ عَزِيزٌ عَلَيْهِ مَا عَنِتُّمْ حَرِيصٌ عَلَيْكُم بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ

There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is what you suffer; he is concerned over you and to the believers is kind and merciful. [9:128]

was the next to be revealed and he remained alive for 35 days after that. Then Continue reading