If They Incline Towards Peace, then Incline Towards it: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In surah al-Anfaal, Allah provides the following instructions to the Believers regarding their interactions with the disbelievers:

وَإِن جَنَحُوا لِلسَّلْمِ فَاجْنَحْ لَهَا وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّـهِ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ

But if they incline to peace, then incline to it as well. And place your trust in Allah. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower. [8:61]

Commenting on this in his famous books of tafsir, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir wrote:

يقول تعالى : إذا خفت من قوم خيانة فانبذ إليهم عهدهم على سواء ، فإن استمروا على حربك ومنابذتك فقاتلهم ، ( وإن جنحوا ) أي : مالوا ( للسلم ) أي المسالمة والمصالحة والمهادنة ، ( فاجنح لها ) أي : فمل إليها ، واقبل منهم ذلك ؛ ولهذا لما طلب المشركون عام الحديبية الصلح ووضع الحرب بينهم وبين رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – تسع سنين ؛ أجابهم إلى ذلك مع ما اشترطوا من الشروط الأخر . ـ

Allah is saying: If you fear betrayal from a certain people, then break the peace treaty with them, so that you are both on equal terms [c.f. 8:58]. If they continue being hostile and opposing you, then fight then [c.f. 8:60].

وَإِن جَنَحُوا

but if they incline …

meaning: lean towards

لِلسَّلْمِ

towards peace

meaning: towards ceasing hostilities, forming a treaty, and making peace

فَاجْنَحْ لَهَا

then incline to it as well

meaning: lean towards it and accept that from them. It was in line with this that when the Mushrikoon sought a peace treaty and to pause hostilities between them and Allah’s Messenger for a period of nine years during the Year of al-Hudaybiyyah, the Prophet accepted that while also stipulating a few other conditions. Continue reading

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“We showed him the way, either he will be grateful or ungrateful”: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote the following words regarding an ayah from the beginning of surah al-Insaan:

 قول الله تبارك وتعالى: ﴿إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِراً وَإِمَّا كَفُوراً﴾ (الإنسان:3). في هذه الآية الكريمة يعلمنا الله جل وعلا أنه هدى الإنسان إلى طريق الشكر وإلى طريق الكفر، فأرسل رسله صلوات الله عليهم وسلامه، يعلمون الناس السبيل، ويدعونهم إلى الصراط المستقيم، ويحذرونهم طريق الكفر والضلال طريق أصحاب الجحيم . وفي الآية وقفات : ـ

There is Allah’s statement:

إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِراً وَإِمَّا كَفُوراً

We showed him the way, either he will be grateful or ungrateful [76:3]

In this noble ayah, Allah is teaching us that He has guided mankind to the path of shukr (gratitude) and the path or kufr (ingratitude/disbelief), for He sent His messengers (may Allah’s peace and salutations be upon them) who taught mankind the way, called them to the Straight Path, and warned them against the path of kufr, misguidance and the way of the people of the Hell-fire.

And this ayah contains a number of points:

الأولى : الهداية المقصودة هنا هي هداية الدلالة والإرشاد ؛ وذلك ما جعله الله تعالى في بعثة الرسل الكرام عليهم الصلاة والسلام، يعلمون الخلق ويرشدونهم إلى طريق الحق: الصراط المستقيم. ومن هذه الدلالة ما أنعم به سبحانه على الإنسان من نعمة العقل، والفطرة التي جبله عليها ليقبل الخير والحسن. وليس المراد بالهداية في الآية هنا هداية التوفيق لقبول الحق، أو هداية التوفيق للعمل، أو الثبات على الحق، أو هداية السبيل لدخول الجنة. ـ

First: What is intended by “guidance” here is the guidance of directing and showing, and that is what Allah did in sending the Messengers. They taught the people and directed them to the path of the truth – the Straight Path. And another aspect of this type of direction is that He blessed man with the gift of intellect and the innate disposition towards the truth and goodness (the fitrah) which He instilled in him. So the intended meaning of “guidance” here in this ayah is not the guidance of granting one success in accepting the truth or granting success in acting according to the truth or being steadfast upon the truth, nor is it referring to the guiding one to path of entering al-Jannah. Continue reading

Follow Allah’s Path, and Do Not Follow Other Paths: Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan

Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan was asked the following question:

السؤال: ما تفسير قوله -تعالى-: (وَأَنَّ هَذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيماً فَاتَّبِعُوهُ وَلا تَتَّبِعُوا السُّبُلَ فَتَفَرَّقَ بِكُمْ عَنْ سَبِيلِهِ ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ)؟ ـ

Question: What is the explanation of Allah’s statement:

وَأَنَّ هَذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيماً فَاتَّبِعُوهُ وَلا تَتَّبِعُوا السُّبُلَ فَتَفَرَّقَ بِكُمْ عَنْ سَبِيلِهِ ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

And this is My path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow other ways, for you will be separated from His way. This has He instructed you in order that you may exercise al-taqwa. [6:153]

الجواب: بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، الحمدُ لله ربِّ العالمين، وصلَّى الله على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وأصحابه أجمعين. ـ

Response: In the name of Allah, al-Rahman al-Raheem. All praise belongs of Allah, Lord of all creation. May Allah’s salutations be upon our Prophet, Muhammad, and upon his family and all of his companions.

ذَكَرَ اللهُ -جلَّ وعلا- في هذه الآية الوصيةَ العاشرة مِنَ الوصايا العشر التي جاءت في سورة الأنعام؛ حينما قال – تعالى-: (قُلْ تَعَالَوْا أَتْلُ مَا حَرَّمَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ أَلاَّ تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئاً) هذه الأولى، وهي النهي عن الشرك، والعاشرة هذه الآية: (وَأَنَّ هَذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيماً). ـ

In this ayah, Allah mentions the tenth of ten commandments which come in surah al-An’aam, beginning with Him saying:

قُلْ تَعَالَوْا أَتْلُ مَا حَرَّمَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ أَلاَّ تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئاً

Say, “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. That you not associate anything in worship or divinity with Him … [6:151]

That is the first of them, which is a prohibition of al-shirk, and the tenth is this ayah: Continue reading

The Best Methods of Explaining the Qur’an: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote the following in a series of social media posts dealing with the fundamentals of al-tafsir:

افضل طرق التفسير ؛ ـ
The Best Methods of Explaining the Qur’an

ـ = تفسير القرآن بالقرآن وقد علمنا الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم هذه الطريقة كما مر في حديث استشكال الصحابة لقوله تعالى : (الذين ٱمنوا ولم يلبسوا إيمانهم بظلم) . فما أجمل في مكان فصل في آخر . ـ

Explaining the Qur’an by means of the Qur’an itself. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) taught us this method, as comes in the hadeeth where the Companions were confused by Allah’s statement:

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَمْ يَلْبِسُوا إِيمَانَهُم بِظُلْمٍ

They who believe and do not mix their belief with thulm [6:82]

For whatever is left general in one place is explained in further detail in another.

ـ = تفسير القرآن بالسنة . فإن من وظيفة الرسول بيان معاني ما نزل إليه. وما مات الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم إلا وبين جميع ما نزل بطريق البيان النبوي وقد سبقت الإشارة إليها. ـ

Explaining the Qur’an by means of the Sunnah. One of the tasks of the Messenger was to explain the meanings of what was revealed to him, and the Messenger did not die until after he had explained all of what had been revealed to him through some method of Prophetic explanation which we have discussed elsewhere. Continue reading

Examples of Blame-worthy Opinion-based Tafsir: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad ibn ‘Umar Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, discusses some examples of “blame-worthy Opinion-based Tafsir“. For those not familiar with this term, you may want to read this article – The Difference Between Narration-based Tafsir and Opinion-Based Tafsir: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool – before proceeding:

أمثلة من التفسير بالرأي المذموم؛ ـ

Some Examples of Blame-worthy Opinion-Based Tafsir

قول باطنية الشيعة في تفسير قوله تعالى: (إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَنْ تَذْبَحُوا بَقَرَةً ) [البقرة: 67]، قالوا: هي عائشة. وقولهم في تفسير قوله تعالى: {فَقَاتِلُوا أَئِمَّةَ الْكُفْرِ إِنَّهُمْ لَا أَيْمَانَ لَهُمْ} [التوبة: 12]؛ هم أبوبكر وعمر. وهذا التفسير يخالف ما تقرر في الشرع من فضل أمهات المؤمنين، زوجات الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم. ويخالف ما تقرر في الشرع من فضل أبي بكر وعمر رضي الله عنهما، فهذا التفسير باطل لمخالفته المتقرر في الشرع على خلافه. ـ

○ The position of the Baatini Shi’a [those Shi’a who search for hidden meanings in the texts, regardless of whether the texts support those meanings or not] regarding the explanation of Allah’s statement:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَنْ تَذْبَحُوا بَقَرَةً

Indeed, Allah commands you to slaughter a cow [2:67]

is that this is referring to ‘Aa’ishah. And their position regarding the explanation of Allah’s statement:

فَقَاتِلُوا أَئِمَّةَ الْكُفْرِ إِنَّهُمْ لَا أَيْمَانَ لَهُمْ

then fight the leaders of disbelief, for indeed, there are no oaths to them [9:12]

is that this is referring to Abu Bakr and ‘Umar.

This first explanation contradicts the great virtues of the Mothers of the Believers, the wives of the Messenger (ﷺ), which are emphasized in the sharee’ah. And this second explanation contradicts the great virtues of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) which are also emphasized in the sharee’ah. So these explanations are invalid and false due to their complete opposition to what the sharee’ah affirms. Continue reading

An Example of Reconciling Different Explanations from the Salaf: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote:

مثال لتفسير الصحابي: ابن عمر رضي الله عنه، وتفسير لرجل من أتباع أتباع التابعين الفضيل بن عياض رحمه الله في قوله تعال: (لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا)؛ ـ

Here is an example of the tafsir of a Companion is that of ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), as well as the tafsir from someone of the generation of the Atbaa’ al-Taabi’een, al-Fudhayl ibn ‘Iyyaadh (may Allah have mercy on him), regarding Allah’s statement:

لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا

that He may test you, which of you is best in deed [67:2]

روي عن ابن عمر وجاء مرفوعا و لا يصح، أنه قال: “(وأحسن عَمَلًا): أَحْسَنُ عَقْلًا، وَأَوْرَعُ عَنْ مَحَارِمِ اللَّهِ، وَأَسْرَعُ فِي طَاعَةِ الله”. وقال الفضيل بْنُ عِيَاضٍ: أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا أَخْلَصُهُ وَأَصْوَبُهُ. ـ

It is transmitted from ibn ‘Umar – and it has also been attributed to the Prophet, though not authentically – that he explained:

 أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا

… best in deed

to mean, “best in intellect, most detached from that which Allah has forbade, and quickest to obey Allah.” While al-Fudhayl ibn ‘Iyyaadh explained it as, “Best in deed – that is, the most sincere and correct of deeds.” Continue reading

The Difference Between Narration-based Tafsir and Opinion-Based Tafsir: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, posed and answered the following question:

ما الفرق بين التفسيربالمأثور والتفسير بالرأي ؟ التفسير بالمأثور هو الذي يقتصر فيه دور المفسر على مجرد النقل؛ فيفسر الآية بالآية = تفسير القرآن بالقرآن. ويفسر الآية بالسنة . = تفسير القرآن بالسنة. ويفسر الآية بقول الصحابي . = ويفسر الآية بما أجمع عليه التابعون. فقط ينقل ماورد من ذلك في تفسير الآية، كما تراه في تفسير عبدالرزاق وابن أبي حاتم، وابن المنذر. ـ

What is the difference between Narration-based Tafsir [Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor] and Opinion-based Tafsir [Tafsir bi’l-Ra’yi]?

Narration-based tafsir can be defined as that in which the role of the mufassir is limited to mere transmission. So he would:

  • explain one ayah with another, which is explaining the Qur’an by means of the Qur’an itself.
  • explain an ayah through the Sunnah, which is explaining the Qur’an by means of the Sunnah.
  • explain an ayah with the statement of a Companion.
  • explain an ayah according to a position that all the Taabi’oon agreed on.

So he only transmits what has been relayed through those routes regarding the explanation of an ayah, as you can see in the books of tafsir by ‘Abd al-Razzaaq, ibn Abi Haatim, and ibn al-Mundhir. Continue reading

Thematic Tafsir: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

In the introduction to a speech entitled, “Security and Fear in the Noble Qur’an“, Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh mentioned:

والتفسير له عدة علوم مختلفة يعلمها أهل الاختصاص، ومنها: التفسير الموضوعي للقرآن. ـ

The field of Tafsir – explaining the Qur’an – is comprised of a number of different sub-disciplines which are known by those who specialize in this area. One of these sub-fields is: Thematic Tafsir of the Qur’an.

والتفسير الموضوعي على قسمين: ـ

Thematic Tafsir can be divided into two main categories:

القسم الأول: التفسير الموضوعي باعتبار موضوع ما، كهذا الموضوع، وكما نقول مثلاً التوحيد في القرآن، الرسالة في القرآن، الإيمان باليوم الآخر في القرآن، القدر في القرآن، الصلاة في القرآن، الفتنة في القرآن، الرجال في القرآن، النساء في القرآن، وحتى إن بعض أهل العلم كتب: الجبال في القرآن. ـ

○ The first category is: thematic tafsir that is oriented around a particular theme, such as the subject of this lecture, or if we were to say, for example, “al-Tawheed in the Qur’an”, “Divine Revelation in the Qur’an”, “Belief in the Last Day in the Qur’an”, “al-Qadr in the Qur’an”, “Prayer in the Qur’an”, “Fitnah in the Qur’an”, “Men in the Qur’an”, “Women in the Qur’an”, and so on. And one of the scholars even wrote a book called, “Mountains in the Qur’an.” Continue reading

How the Prophet Explained the Qur’an: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote the following short discussion on how the Prophet (ﷺ) used to explain the Qur’an:

تعلم معني القرآن العظيم ومعاني السنة النبوية للعمل بذلك في عبادة الله وطاعته، هو الغاية التي يسعى إليها كل مسلم! والعمل بهذه المعاني هو حاصل من كل مسلم بالفعل وبالقوة. ـ

Learning the meanings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah in order to act in accordance with them in worship and obedience to Allah is the goal that every Muslim should work towards! Acting upon these meanings is what is required of every Muslim in his actions and efforts.

ولم يوكل الله بيان معاني القرآن العظيم إلا للرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم؛ قال تعالى: ({وَأَنْزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الذِّكْرَ لِتُبَيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ مَا نُزِّلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ } [النحل: 44]. فالرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم مامات إلا وقد بلغ الرسالة وأدى الأمانة، ومن ذلك بيان معاني القرآن الكريم؛ فالرسول فسر القرآن العظيم ، وبين معانيه؛ وذلك على وجوه ؛ ـ

Allah did not entrust anyone except for the Messenger (ﷺ) with explaining the meanings of the Qur’an. He said:

وَأَنْزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الذِّكْرَ لِتُبَيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ مَا نُزِّلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

And We revealed the dhikr to you in order that you may make what was sent down to the people clear to them and that they might give thought. [16:44]

And the Messenger (ﷺ) did not pass away until after he had conveyed the message and fulfilled his duty, and one part of that duty was clarifying the meanings of the Qur’an.

So the Messenger explained the Qur’an and clarified its meanings, and this was done in a number of ways: Continue reading

A Point on Numbering in the Qur’an: Ibn ‘Uthaymeen

In surah al-Kahf, Allah mentions the following ayaat during his discussion of the People of the Cave:

سَيَقُولُونَ ثَلَاثَةٌ رَّ‌ابِعُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ وَيَقُولُونَ خَمْسَةٌ سَادِسُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ رَ‌جْمًا بِالْغَيْبِ ۖ وَيَقُولُونَ سَبْعَةٌ وَثَامِنُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ ۚ قُل رَّ‌بِّي أَعْلَمُ بِعِدَّتِهِم مَّا يَعْلَمُهُمْ إِلَّا قَلِيلٌ

They will say there were three, the fourth of them being their dog; and they will say there were five, the sixth of them being their dog – guessing at the unseen. And they will say there were seven, and the eighth of them was their dog. Say, [O Muhammad], “My Lord is most knowing of their number. None knows them except a few….” [18:22]

In his explanation of Sheikh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiya’s “Introduction to Tafsir”, Sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen took some time to expand on this ayah and some of the points related to it. Below is one of these points:

وهنا نكتة في مسألة العدد، قال: {سبعة وثامنهم كلبهم} ولم يقل ثمانية ثامنهم كلبهم؛ لأن الكلب من غير الجنس، وإذا كان من غير الجنس فإنه لا يدخل في العدد ولكنه يجعل بعده، ولهذا قال الله عز وجل: {ما يكون من نجوى ثلاثة إلا هو رابعهم} ولم يقل: من نجوى أربعة إلا هو رابعهم؛ لأنه خالق وهم مخلوقون. ـ

And here there is a point about quantities. Allah said:

سَبْعَةٌ وَثَامِنُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ

there were seven, and the eighth of them was their dog [18:22]

And He did not say, “there were eight, and eighth of them was their dog”, because the dog was not of the same category of being. So since it was not of the same category of being, it was not included in their count but instead was mentioned afterwards. Continue reading