A Parable of What the Disbelievers Spend in This Life: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah presents the following parable in surah Aal ‘Imran:

مَثَلُ مَا يُنفِقُونَ فِي هَـٰذِهِ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا كَمَثَلِ رِيحٍ فِيهَا صِرٌّ أَصَابَتْ حَرْثَ قَوْمٍ ظَلَمُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ فَأَهْلَكَتْهُ ۚ وَمَا ظَلَمَهُمُ اللَّـهُ وَلَـٰكِنْ أَنفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ

The example of what they spend in this worldly life is like that of a wind containing frost which strikes the harvest of a people who have wronged themselves and destroys it. And Allah has not wronged them, but they wrong themselves. [3:117]

Ibn al-Qayyim remarked on this ayah by writing:

هذا مثل ضربه الله تعالى لمن أتفق ماله في غير طاعته ومرضاته . ـ

Allah struck this parable about those who spend their wealth in other things besides obedience to Allah and seeking His pleasure.

[A’laam al-Mawqi’een 1/173]

Imam al-Qurtubi wrote:

ومعنى الآية : مثل نفقة الكافرين في بطلانها وذهابها وعدم منفعتها كمثل زرع أصابه ريح باردة أو نار فأحرقته وأهلكته ، فلم ينتفع أصحابه بشيء بعدما كانوا يرجون فائدته ونفعه . وما ظلمهم الله بذلك ولكن أنفسهم يظلمون بالكفر والمعصية ومنع حق الله تعالى . ـ

The message of this ayah is that the futility, waste and lack of benefit of the disbelievers’ spending is like a cultivated field which is struck with a frigid wind – or a fire – which scorches and destroys it, leaving its owners unable to benefit from it in any way after they had hoped to receive some fruits and benefit from it. And they did not wrong Allah with their spending; rather it was themselves that they wronged with the disbelief, sins and refusing to give Allah His due rights.

[Tafsir al-Qurtubi 4/169] Continue reading

Exhortations in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Allah says in surah al-Nahl:

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَيَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ ۚ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ

Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and He forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He exhorts you that perhaps you will be reminded. [16:90]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee went into some detail on each element of this ayah in his tafsir. What follows is one section of that explanation related to the mention of “exhortation” in the final part of the ayah:

وقوله ، يعظكم لعلكم تذكرون [ 16 \ 90 ] ، الوعظ : : الكلام الذي تلين له القلوب . ـ

Allah’s statement:

يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ

He exhorts you that perhaps you will be reminded

Exhortation – al-wa’th – is speech which serves to soften the heart.

تنبيه : فإن قيل : يكثر في القرآن إطلاق الوعظ على الأوامر والنواهي ; كقوله هنا : يعظكم لعلكم تذكرون [ 16 \ 90 ] ، مع أنه ما ذكر إلا الأمر والنهي في قوله : إن الله يأمر بالعدل ، إلى قوله : وينهى عن الفحشاء . . . الآية [ 16 \ 90 ] ، وكقوله في ( سورة البقرة ) بعد أن ذكر أحكام الطلاق والرجعة : ذلك يوعظ به من كان منكم يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر [ 2 \ 232 ] ، وقوله ( في الطلاق ) في نحو ذلك أيضا : ذلكم يوعظ به من كان يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر ، وقوله في النهي عن مثل قذف عائشة : يعظكم الله أن تعودوا لمثله أبدا . . . الآية [ 24 \ 17 ] ، مع أن المعروف عند الناس : أن الوعظ يكون بالترغيب والترهيب ونحو ذلك ، لا بالأمر والنهي . ـ

A Point Deserving of Attention:

[Question] One might point out that there are a number of places throughout the Qur’an where the term al-wa’th – exhortation – is applied to commands and prohibitions, such as Allah’s statement: Continue reading

Praise for Tafsir al-Tabari from Great Scholars of the Past

In his handbook to the Qur’anic sciences, Jalal al-Deen al-Suyooti concluded an overview of the famous scholars of tafsir of the past and their books by writing the following high praise for the great mufassir, Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari (died 310AH/932CE) and his famous book of tafsir commonly referred to as Tafsir al-Tabari or Tafsir ibn Jarir:

فِإِنْ قُلْتَ : فَأَيُّ التَّفَاسِيرِ تُرْشِدُ إِلَيْهِ وَتَأْمُرُ النَّاظِرَ أَنْ يُعَوِّلَ عَلَيْهِ ؟ قُلْتُ : تَفْسِيرُ الْإِمَامِ أَبِي جَعْفَرِ بْنِ جَرِيرٍ الطَّبَرِيِّ الَّذِي أَجْمَعَ الْعُلَمَاءُ الْمُعْتَبَرُونَ عَلَى أَنَّهُ لَمْ يُؤَلَّفْ فِي التَّفْسِيرِ مِثْلُهُ . قَالَ النَّوَوِيُّ فِي تَهْذِيبِهِ : كِتَابُ ابْنِ جَرِيرٍ فِي التَّفْسِيرِ لَمْ يُصَنِّفْ أَحَدٌ مِثْلَهُ .ـ

If one were to ask, “Which book of tafsir would you recommend for someone looking for something to rely on?” then I would say: the Tafsir of the Imam Abu Ja’far ibn Jarir al-Tabari. All the scholars worth any consideration agree that there hasn’t been anything else like it written in the field of tafsir.

al-Nawawi said in al-Tahdheeb, “The Tafsir of ibn Jarir – no one has authored anything like it.”

[al-Itqan 2/476]

al-Suyooti highlighted one of the reasons for the great merit of ibn Jarir and his tafsir earlier in the same discussion when he wrote: Continue reading

“We Have Made Some of the Prophets Exceed Others”: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah says in surah al-Israa’:

وَلَقَدْ فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَ النَّبِيِّينَ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۖ وَآتَيْنَا دَاوُودَ زَبُورًا

And We have made some of the prophets exceed others. And we gave Dawud the Zaboor. [17:55]

In part of his famous book of tafsir, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir wrote:

ـ ( ولقد فضلنا بعض النبيين ) ، كما قال ( تلك الرسل فضلنا بعضهم على بعض منهم من كلم الله ورفع بعضهم درجات ) [ البقرة 253 . ـ

وَلَقَدْ فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَ النَّبِيِّينَ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ

And We have made some of the prophets exceed others

This is like what He said:

تِلْكَ الرُّسُلُ فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۘ مِّنْهُم مَّن كَلَّمَ اللَّـهُ ۖ وَرَفَعَ بَعْضَهُمْ دَرَجَاتٍ

Those messengers – some of them We caused to exceed others. Among them were those to whom Allah spoke, and He raised some of them in degree. [2:253]

وهذا لا ينافي ما ثبت في الصحيحين عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال لا تفضلوا بين الأنبياء ؛ فإن المراد من ذلك هو التفضيل بمجرد التشهي والعصبية ، لا بمقتضى الدليل فإنه إذا دل الدليل على شيء وجب اتباعه ولا خلاف أن الرسل أفضل من بقية الأنبياء وأن أولي العزم منهم أفضلهم وهم الخمسة المذكورون نصا في آيتين من القرآن في سورة الأحزاب ( وإذ أخذنا من النبيين ميثاقهم ومنك ومن نوح وإبراهيم وموسى وعيسى ابن مريم ) [ الأحزاب 7 ] [ ص: 88 ] ، وفي الشورى في قوله : ( شرع لكم من الدين ما وصى به نوحا والذي أوحينا إليك وما وصينا به إبراهيم وموسى وعيسى أن أقيموا الدين ولا تتفرقوا فيه ) [ الشورى 13 . ولا خلاف أن محمدا صلى الله عليه وسلم أفضلهم ثم بعده إبراهيم ثم موسى على المشهور وقد بسطنا هذا بدلائله في غير هذا الموضع والله الموفق ـ

And this does not contradict what has been authentically transmitted from the Prophet in both al-Bukhari and Muslim that he said: Continue reading

Forms of the Qur’an Explaining the Qur’an: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, summarized the following points in a post of his social media:

صور تفسير القرآن بالقرآن : ـ
Forms of the Qur’an Explaining the Qur’an

ـ – ما أجمل في مكان يفسر بما فصل في مكان آخر. ـ

What is mentioned in a general way in one place is explained in further detail elsewhere.

 ـ – أن يفسر اللفظ بما جاء في تفسيره بعده مباشرة، كما في قوله تعالى: ﴿وما أدراك ما الطارق . النجم الثاقب﴾. ـ

A word or phrase could be explained by what comes immediately after it, such as with Allah’s statement:

وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الطَّارِقُ * النَّجْمُ الثَّاقِبُ

And what will make you know what al-Tariq is? * A strikingly bright star [86:2-3]

 ـ – أن يفسر بالمقابلة، كما في قوله تعالى: ﴿وَأَنَّهُ هُوَ أَغْنَى وَأَقْنَى﴾ (النجم: 48). ـ

Something could be explained by way of contrast, such as with Allah’s statement:

Continue reading

The Punishment of al-Rahman

Badr al-Deen ibn Jamaa’ah, one of the teachers of ibn Kathir, wrote the following in his book dedicated to explaining slight differences in the wordings of otherwise similar ayaat in the Qur’an:

مسألة: قوله تعالى: (أَنْ يَمَسَّكَ عَذَابٌ مِنَ الرَّحْمَنِ) ومناسبة مس العذاب: الجبار المنتقم؟ . وما فائدة تكرار ذكر ” الرحمن ” في هذه السورة أكثر من غيرها؟ . ـ

Question: Regarding Allah’s statement:

إِنِّي أَخَافُ أَن يَمَسَّكَ عَذَابٌ مِّنَ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ

[Ibrahim said to his father] “I certainly fear that a punishment from al-Rahman will touch you” [19:45]

Wouldn’t it be more fitting to use names like al-Jabbaar [the Mighty] or al-Muntaqim [the Vengeful] when discussing punishment afflicting someone?

Also, what should we understand from the repetition of the name al-Rahman [the Most Merciful] throughout this surah [surah Maryam] more than any other names? Continue reading

The Seven Qiraa’aat are all Part of One Harf: ibn Taymiyah

Sheikh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyah once received a letter with a series of questions about the qiraa’aat in it, including:

وسئل عن قول النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ” { أنزل القرآن على سبعة أحرف } ” ما المراد بهذه السبعة ؟ وهل هذه القراءات المنسوبة إلى نافع وعاصم وغيرهما هي الأحرف السبعة أو واحد منها ؟ وما السبب الذي أوجب الاختلاف بين القراء فيما احتمله خط المصحف ؟ وهل تجوز القراءة برواية الأعمش وابن محيصن وغيرهما من القراءات الشاذة أم لا ؟ وإذا جازت القراءة بها فهل تجوز الصلاة بها أم لا ؟ أفتونا مأجورين . ـ

The sheikh was asked about the Prophet’s statement, “The Qur’an was sent down in seven ahruf

(a) what is meant by these seven?

(b) Are the qiraa’aat attributed to Naafi’ and ‘Asim and others the seven ahruf or just one of them?

(c) What is it that causes there to be differences among the reciters within the bounds of the text of the official ‘Uthmani Mushaf?

(d) Is is permissible to recite the recitation of al-A’mash or ibn Muhaysin or other such shadh [non-canonical] recitations? If so, is allowed to pray with them?

We would greatly appreciate if you could deliver some verdicts for us.

[Majmoo’ Fataawaa 13/389]

What follows is part of Ibn Taymiyah‘s response to these questions, touching on the fourth question (d) and the second question (b) while also addressing a number of related topics such as the collection of the Qur’an:

وأما القراءة الشاذة الخارجة عن رسم المصحف العثماني مثل قراءة ابن مسعود وأبي الدرداء رضي الله عنهما ( والليل إذا يغشى والنهار إذا تجلى والذكر والأنثى كما قد ثبت ذلك في الصحيحين . ـ

There are the shadh [non-canonical] qiraa’aat which do not match with the text of the official ‘Uthmani mushaf, such as the recitation of ibn Mas’ood and Abu al-Dardaa’ (may Allah be pleased with them both) of: Continue reading

Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 58-66: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the sixth installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 58-66. In this passage, Allah reminds the Children of Israa’eel of His many blessing on them and of their responses to these blessings. See the series guide here for more information about this series.

وَإِذْ قُلْنَا ادْخُلُوا هَـٰذِهِ الْقَرْيَةَ فَكُلُوا مِنْهَا حَيْثُ شِئْتُمْ رَغَدًا وَادْخُلُوا الْبَابَ سُجَّدًا وَقُولُوا حِطَّةٌ نَّغْفِرْ لَكُمْ خَطَايَاكُمْ ۚ وَسَنَزِيدُ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

And when We said, “Enter this city and eat whatever you want of it in abundance. And enter the gate in prostration, saying, ‘relieve us.’ We will forgive you of your sins and We will increase the good doers.” [2:58]

واذكروا نعمتنا عليكم حين قلنا: ادخلوا مدينة بيت المقدس فكلوا من طيباتها في أي مكان منها أكلا هنيئًا، وكونوا في دخولكم خاضعين لله، ذليلين له، وقولوا: ربَّنا ضَعْ عنَّا ذنوبنا، نستجب لكم ونعف ونسترها عليكم، وسنزيد المحسنين بأعمالهم خيرًا وثوابًا. ـ

58. And remember our blessing upon you when We said, “Enter the city of Jerusalem and eat its wholesome food from any part of the city in enjoyment. And when you enter, be humble and submissive towards Allah, saying, ‘O our Lord, remove our sins from us!’ We will respond to you, pardon you, and cover your faults. And We will increase the good doers in goodness and rewards due to their good deeds.”

فَبَدَّلَ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا قَوْلًا غَيْرَ الَّذِي قِيلَ لَهُمْ فَأَنزَلْنَا عَلَى الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا رِجْزًا مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْسُقُونَ

But those who were unjust replaced that statement with something other than what had been said to them. So We then sent down a punishment from the sky on those who were unjust because of they crimes they used to commit. [2:59] Continue reading

A Parable of the Disbelievers and the Believers: Tafsir al-Tabari

Allah strikes the following parable in surah Hud:

مَثَلُ الْفَرِيقَيْنِ كَالْأَعْمَىٰ وَالْأَصَمِّ وَالْبَصِيرِ وَالسَّمِيعِ ۚ هَلْ يَسْتَوِيَانِ مَثَلًا ۚ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ

The example of the two parties is like the blind and the deaf, and the seeing and the hearing. Are these two equal in comparison? Will you not then remember? [11:24]

Imam Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari wrote the following in his tafsir of this ayah:

قَالَ أَبُو جَعْفَرٍ : يَقُولُ ، تَعَالَى ذِكْرُهُ : مَثَلُ فَرِيقَيِ الْكُفْرِ وَالْإِيمَانِ كَمَثَلِ الْأَعْمَى الَّذِي لَا يَرَى بِعَيْنِهِ شَيْئًا ، وَالْأَصَمِّ الَّذِي لَا يَسْمَعُ شَيْئًا ، فَكَذَلِكَ فَرِيقُ الْكُفْرِ لَا يُبَصِّرُ الْحَقَّ فَيَتَّبِعُهُ وَيَعْمَلُ بِهِ ، لِشَغْلِهِ بِكُفْرِهِ بِاللَّهِ ، وَغَلَبَةِ خِذْلَانِ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ ، لَا يَسْمَعُ دَاعِيَ اللَّهِ إِلَى الرَّشَادِ ، فَيُجِيبُهُ إِلَى الْهُدَى فَيَهْتَدِي بِهِ ، فَهُوَ مُقِيمٌ فِي ضَلَالَتِهِ ، يَتَرَدَّدُ فِي حَيْرَتِهِ . وَالسَّمِيعُ وَالْبَصِيرُ فَذَلِكَ فَرِيقُ الْإِيمَانِ ، أَبْصَرَ حُجَجَ اللَّهِ ، وَأَقَرَّ بِمَا دَلَّتْ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ تَوْحِيدِ اللَّهِ ، وَالْبَرَاءَةِ مِنَ الْآلِهَةِ وَالْأَنْدَادِ ، وَنُبُوَّةَ الْأَنْبِيَاءِ عَلَيْهِمُ السَّلَامُ ، وَسَمِعَ دَاعِيَ اللَّهِ فَأَجَابَهُ وَعَمِلَ بِطَاعَةِ اللَّهِ ، كَمَا : ـ

I, Abu Ja’far, say: Allah is saying: The comparison of these two parties – that of disbelief and that of belief – is like the comparison of a blind person whose eyes cannot see anything at all and a deaf person who cannot hear anything, for similarly, those in the party of disbelief cannot see the truth that they might follow and act according to it due to how distracted they are with their disbelief in Allah and because their act of forsaking Allah has come back against them. They do not hear Allah’s callers calling them to upright guidance so that they might accept that guidance and become rightly guided by it. Instead they remain in their misguided state, stuck in a perpetual state of confusion.

But the seeing and hearing one is the party of belief. They see Allah’s signs and proofs and therefore affirm that these signs demonstrate Allah’s sole right to be worshiped, His freedom from having any partners or associates, and His having sent prophets. They hear Allah’s callers and respond to the call and obey Allah.

This explanation is similar to the explanations of the salaf, such as: Continue reading

Being Patient During and After Trials: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah Hud:

وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ مِنَّا رَحْمَةً ثُمَّ نَزَعْنَاهَا مِنْهُ إِنَّهُ لَيَئُوسٌ كَفُورٌ * وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَاهُ نَعْمَاءَ بَعْدَ ضَرَّاءَ مَسَّتْهُ لَيَقُولَنَّ ذَهَبَ السَّيِّئَاتُ عَنِّي ۚ إِنَّهُ لَفَرِحٌ فَخُورٌ * إِلَّا الَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ كَبِيرٌ

And if We give man a taste of mercy from Us and then We withdraw it from him, indeed, he is despairing and ungrateful. * But if We give him a taste of favor after hardship has touched him, he will surely say, “Bad times have left me.” Indeed, he is exultant and boastful – * Except for those who are patient and do righteous deeds; those will have forgiveness and great reward. [11:9-11]

In his famous book of tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di commented on these ayaat by writing:

يخبر تعالى عن طبيعة الإنسان، أنه جاهل ظالم بأن الله إذا أذاقه منه رحمة كالصحة والرزق، والأولاد، ونحو ذلك، ثم نزعها منه، فإنه يستسلم لليأس، وينقاد للقنوط، فلا يرجو ثواب الله، ولا يخطر بباله أن الله سيردها أو مثلها، أو خيرا منها عليه. ـ

Allah is informing us of the nature of man, that he is ignorant and unjust because when Allah causes him to experience some of His mercy, such as health, provision, offspring, etc., and then later removes it from him, man gives in to hopelessness and lets himself be ruled by despair. He does not feel any hope for Allah’s reward, nor does it cross his mind that Allah might return that blessing to him, or might give him another similar blessing, or might even give him something better that what he had had. Continue reading