Birr and Ihsan towards Non-Muslims: Ibn al-Qayyim

Allah says in surah al-Mumtahinah:

لَّا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّـهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ * إِنَّمَا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّـهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ قَاتَلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَأَخْرَجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ وَظَاهَرُوا عَلَىٰ إِخْرَاجِكُمْ أَن تَوَلَّوْهُمْ ۚ وَمَن يَتَوَلَّهُمْ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ

Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who did not fight against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal justly. * It is only those who fought against you on account of religion and drove you out of your homes, and helped to drive you out that Allah forbids you to take as friends and allies. And whosoever will befriend them, then such are the wrongdoers. [60:8-9]

The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim mentioned the following point regarding these ayaat:

فإن الله سبحانه لما نهى في أول السورة عن اتخاذ المسلمين الكفار أولياء وقطع المودة بينهم وبينهم ، توهم بعضهم أن برهم والإحسان إليهم من الموالاة والمودة ، فبين الله سبحانه أن ذلك ليس من الموالاة المنهي عنها ، وأنه لم ينه عن ذلك بل هو من الإحسان الذي يحبه ويرضاه ، وكتبه على كل شيء ، وإنما المنهي عنه تولي الكفار والإلقاء إليهم بالمودة

When Allah prohibited the Muslims from taking the disbelievers as close friends and allies and cut off the affection between them at the beginning of this surah [60:1], some might think that birr and ihsan – good behavior and excellent treatment – towards them would fall under those prohibited categories of close friendship and affection.

So Allah clarified that these things are not part of the close relationships that He had prohibited, and that He does not prohibit the believers from them. On the contrary, birr and ihsan towards them falls within the excellent behavior which Allah loves and is pleased with, and which He has ordained for everything. What is prohibited is only taking the disbelievers as close friends and allies and meeting them with love and affection.

[Ahkaam Ahl al-Dhimmah 1/301] Continue reading

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“His Character was the Qur’an”: Ibn Kathir

In part of his work dedicated to the seerah of the Prophet (ﷺ), the famous historian, mufassir, and muhaddith al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir included the following at the beginning of one chapter:

فصل ـ أخلاقه الطاهرة

Chapter: His Purified Character

وأما أخلاقه الطاهرة، فقد قال الله سبحانه: {ن والقلم وما يسطرون * ما أنت بنعمة ربك بمجنون * وإن لك لأجرا غير ممنون * وإنك لعلى خلق عظيم} ، وفي الصحيح عن عائشة رضي الله عنها أنها قالت: كان خلق رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم القرآن. ـ

As for his purified character, Allah said:

ن ۚ وَالْقَلَمِ وَمَا يَسْطُرُونَ * مَا أَنتَ بِنِعْمَةِ رَبِّكَ بِمَجْنُونٍ * وَإِنَّ لَكَ لَأَجْرًا غَيْرَ مَمْنُونٍ * وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَىٰ خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ

Noon. By the pen and what they write * By the favor of your Lord you are not a madman * and indeed there will be an uninterrupted reward for you * and you are indeed of great moral character [68:1-4]

And in an authentic hadith, ‘A’ishah said:

The character of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) was the Qur’an. Continue reading

Fulfilling the Rights of Allah and His Creation: Tafsir ibn Kathir

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir wrote the following in part of his explanation of surah al-Haqqah:

وقوله : ( إنه كان لا يؤمن بالله العظيم ولا يحض على طعام المسكين ) أي : لا يقوم بحق الله عليه من طاعته وعبادته ، ولا ينفع خلقه ويؤدي حقهم ; فإن لله على العباد أن يوحدوه ولا يشركوا به شيئا ، وللعباد بعضهم على بعض حق الإحسان والمعاونة على البر والتقوى ; ولهذا أمر الله بإقام الصلاة وإيتاء الزكاة ، وقبض النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وهو يقول : ” الصلاة ، وما ملكت أيمانكم ” .ـ

Allah’s statement:

إِنَّهُ كَانَ لَا يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّـهِ الْعَظِيمِ * وَلَا يَحُضُّ عَلَىٰ طَعَامِ الْمِسْكِينِ

Indeed, he did not use to have eemaan in Allah, the Magnificent * Nor did he encourage others to feed the poor. [69:33-34]

meaning: He neither fulfilled the rights of obedience and worship that Allah had over him nor did he bring any benefit to Allah’s creation or fulfill their rights. For Allah’s right over His slaves is that they would single Him out in worship and not associate anyone in worship alongside Him, and the rights of that the slaves have over one another is to show good treatment and aid one another in righteousness and piety. It is in the same vein that Allah commanded us to both establish the prayer and give the zakah. And the Prophet’s soul was taken while he was repeating, “The prayer, and those whom your right hand possesses!”

[Tafsir ibn Kathir 8/216]

Were the Commands to Pardon and Excuse Abrogated?: Tafsir al-Tabari

In surah al-Ma’aarij, one of the Makki surahs, Allah commands His Prophet by saying:

فَاصْبِرْ صَبْرًا جَمِيلًا

So exercise beautiful patience [70:5]

The great mufassir Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari wrote the following in regards to this ayah:

وقوله : ( فاصبر صبرا جميلا ) يقول تعالى ذكره : ( فاصبر صبرا جميلا ) يعني : صبرا لا جزع فيه . يقول له : اصبر على أذى هؤلاء المشركين لك ، ولا يثنيك ما تلقى منهم من المكروه عن تبليغ ما أمرك ربك أن تبلغهم من الرسالة . ـ

Allah’ statement:

فَاصْبِرْ صَبْرًا جَمِيلًا

So exercise beautiful patience [70:5]

meaning: steadfastness free of any impatience. Allah is saying to the Prophet: Be steadfast in the face of the harm that these mushrikoon do towards you and do not let the unpleasant things you encounter from them dissuade you from conveying the message that your Lord has commanded you to convey.

وكان ابن زيد يقول في ذلك ما حدثني به يونس ، قال : أخبرنا ابن وهب ، قال : قال ابن زيد ، في قوله : ( فاصبر صبرا جميلا ) قال : هذا حين كان يأمره بالعفو عنهم لا يكافئهم ، فلما أمر بالجهاد والغلظة عليهم أمر بالشدة والقتل حتى يتركوا ، ونسخ هذا ، وهذا الذي قاله ابن زيد أنه كان أمر بالعفو بهذه الآية ثم نسخ ذلك ، قول لا وجه له ، لأنه لا دلالة على صحة ما قال من بعض الأوجه التي تصح منها الدعاوى ، وليس في أمر الله نبيه صلى الله عليه وسلم في الصبر الجميل على أذى المشركين ما يوجب أن يكون ذلك أمرا منه له به في بعض الأحوال; بل كان ذلك أمرا من الله له به في كل الأحوال ، لأنه لم يزل صلى الله عليه وسلم من لدن بعثه الله إلى أن اخترمه في أذى منهم ، وهو في كل ذلك صابر على ما يلقى منهم من أذى قبل أن يأذن الله له بحربهم ، وبعد إذنه له بذلك . ـ

But ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Zayd used to say something about this ayah which Yunus narrated to me. Yunus said that ibn Wahab told him that ibn Zayd commented on this ayah by saying: Continue reading

These are the Hudood of Allah: Sheikh al-Fawzan

Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan mentioned the following point of benefit in the midst of explaining the Mufassal surahs:

قال (وَتِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّـهِ) أي : محرماته ، فتطلق حدود الله على منهياته ، وتطلق على مباحاته . فإذا كانت الحدود المحرمات فإن الله قال : (تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّـهِ فَلَا تَقْرَبُوهَا) فلا تقرب . وإذا كانت الحدود من المباحات فإنها لا تتعدى ، قال : (تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّـهِ فَلَا تَعْتَدُوهَا ۚ وَمَن يَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَ اللَّـهِ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ) ، لا تتعد الحلال إلى الحرام . والمراد هنا إخراج المطلقة عن بيتها من غير مبرر شرعي . ثم بين الله جريمة من يتعدى حدود الله ، فقال : (وَمَن يَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَ اللَّـهِ فَقَدْ ظَلَمَ نَفْسَهُ) حيث عرضها لعقاب الله . ـ

Allah said:

وَتِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّـهِ

… These are the hudood of Allah … [65:1]

meaning the things which He has forbidden.

This term, the hudood of Allah – the “limits of Allah” – is sometimes used to refer to the things which He has prohibited and other times is used to refer to things which are permissible.

When it is referring to those forbidden hudood, then Allah says:

تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّـهِ فَلَا تَقْرَبُوهَا

These are the hudood of Allah so do not approach them [2:187]

so do not even get close to them.

When it is referring to those permissible hudood, then these limits should not be crossed. Allah said: Continue reading

The Link Between Seeking Forgiveness and Receiving Aid: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

One of the many sciences of the Qur’an is the study of its munasabat, meaning the links and connections between one ayah and the next, or one passage of ayaat and the next, or between one surah and the next, or between the beginning or a surah and its conclusion, and so on. In a short work devoted to this topic, Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool mentioned the following benefit related to surah al-Nasr:

سورة النصر : أولها ذكر النصر والفتح قال تبارك وتعالى : (إِذَا جَاءَ نَصْرُ اللَّـهِ وَالْفَتْحُ) وآخرها ذكر التوبة والاستغفار ، قال تبارك وتعالى : ( فَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ وَاسْتَغْفِرْهُ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ تَوَّابًا) ، والتوبة والاستغفار هي طريق النصر والفتح ، قال تبارك وتعالى : (يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن تَنصُرُوا اللَّـهَ يَنصُرْكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَكُمْ) {محمد 7}ـ

Surah al-Nasr

In its beginning Allah mentioned aid and victory, saying:

إِذَا جَاءَ نَصْرُ اللَّـهِ وَالْفَتْحُ

When the aid and victory of Allah has come … [110:1]

And in its end Allah mentioned repentance and seeking forgiveness, saying:

فَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ وَاسْتَغْفِرْهُ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ تَوَّابًا

Then make exaltation with the praise of your Lord and ask Him for forgiveness. Indeed, He is ever Accepting of repentance. [110:3]

And making repentance and seeking forgiveness is the route that leads to aid and victory. Allah said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن تَنصُرُوا اللَّـهَ يَنصُرْكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَكُمْ

O you who have believed, if you support Allah, He will support you and make your feet firm [47:7]

[‘Ilm al-Munasabat fee al-Suwar w’al-Ayaat pg. 193]

Continue reading

Ibn al-Qayyim’s Model for Contemplating the Qur’an

One of the many written works of ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah is his Risalah al-Tabookiyyah which centers Allah’s command at the beginning of surah al-Ma’idah for the believers to help one another in al-birr and al-taqwa [5:3]. After describing many aspects of this ayah and its implications, ibn al-Qayyim then wrote:

ورأس الأمر وعموده في ذلك إنما هو دوام التفكر وتدبر آيات الله حيث تستولي على الفكر وتشغل القلب فإذا صارت معاني القرآن مكان الخواطر من قلبه وجلس على كرسيه، وصار له التصرف، وصار هو الأمير المطاع أمره، فحينئذ يستقيم له سيره ويتضح له الطريق وتراه ساكنا وهو يباري الريح {وَتَرَى الْجِبَالَ تَحْسَبُهَا جَامِدَةً وَهِيَ تَمُرُّ مَرَّ السَّحَابِ صُنْعَ اللَّهِ الَّذِي أَتْقَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ إِنَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَفْعَلُونَ} . ـ

At the head of all of this and its very foundation is for one to always contemplate and reflect on the ayaat of the Qur’an, so much so that it overpowers one’s other thoughts and becomes the central concern of one’s heart. When the messages of the Qur’an take the place that mere passing thoughts previously held in his heart and begin to rule over it, being what turns his heart and the ruler that it obeys, then his journey becomes smooth and his course becomes clear. So even if it appeared that he was standing still he is in fact moving forward towards Allah fast as the wind.

وَتَرَى الْجِبَالَ تَحْسَبُهَا جَامِدَةً وَهِيَ تَمُرُّ مَرَّ السَّحَابِ صُنْعَ اللَّهِ الَّذِي أَتْقَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ إِنَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَفْعَلُونَ

And you see the mountains, thinking them rigid, while they will pass as the passing of clouds. It is the work of Allah, who perfected all things. Indeed, He is Acquainted with that which you do. [27:88]

فان قلت: إنك قد أشرت إلى مقام عظيم فافتح لي بابه، واكشف لي حجابه، وكيف تدبر القرآن وتفهمه والإشراف على عجائبه وكنوزه؟ وهذه تفاسير الأئمة بأيدينا، فهل في البيان غير ما ذكروه؟ ـ

Now if you were to say, “You have just described a great station, so open up its door for me and remove its veil for me – how does one contemplate and understand the the Qur’an grasp its amazements and great treasures? We have the explanations of the great scholars of tafsir with us, is there anything else to understand the Qur’an beyond what they have already done?”

[See also: Narration-based Tafsir before Opinion-based Tafsir: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh]

قلت: سأضرب لك أمثالاً تحتذي عليها وتجعلها إماماً لك في هذا المقصد، قال الله تعالى: {هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ ضَيْفِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الْمُكْرَمِينَ إِذْ دَخَلُوا عَلَيْهِ فَقَالُوا سَلاماً قَالَ سَلامٌ قَوْمٌ مُنْكَرُونَ فَرَاغَ إِلَى أَهْلِهِ فَجَاءَ بِعِجْلٍ سَمِينٍ، فَقَرَّبَهُ إِلَيْهِمْ قَالَ أَلا تَأْكُلُونَ فَأَوْجَسَ مِنْهُمْ خِيفَةً قَالُوا لا تَخَفْ وَبَشَّرُوهُ بِغُلامٍ عَلِيمٍ فَأَقْبَلَتِ امْرَأَتُهُ فِي صَرَّةٍ فَصَكَّتْ وَجْهَهَا وَقَالَتْ عَجُوزٌ عَقِيمٌ قَالُوا كَذَلِكِ قَالَ رَبُّكِ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْحَكِيمُ الْعَلِيمُ} . ـ

My response would be: Let me give you some things that you can take as an example and a model to follow for this goal.

Allah says: 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

Leaving the Remembrance of Allah: Sheikh al-Fawzan

While describing the munafiqoon in part of surah al-Mujaadalah, Allah says:

اسْتَحْوَذَ عَلَيْهِمُ الشَّيْطَانُ فَأَنسَاهُمْ ذِكْرَ اللَّـهِ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ حِزْبُ الشَّيْطَانِ ۚ أَلَا إِنَّ حِزْبَ الشَّيْطَانِ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ

The Shaytaan has overcome them and made them forget the remembrance of Allah. Those ones are the party of the Shaytaan. Indeed, surely the band of Shaytaan are the losers. [58:19]

Commenting on this, sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan said:

بين السبب الذي حملهم على هذا الكذب ، وهذه الأيمان الفاجرة وهو أن الشيطان استحوذ عليهم ، أي : تسلط عليهم وتمكن منهم فصاروا من جنده . ـ

Allah is explaining the reason which caused them to come to this disbelief and to make this false oath [see 58:17-18] – it is that the shaytaan has overcome them. Meaning he has prevailed over them and is in a position of power over them so they have become part of his band.

ـ [فَأَنسَاهُمْ ذِكْرَ اللَّـهِ] و إذا نسوا ذكر الله قلّ الإيمان في قلوبهم وقلت خشية الله في قلوبهم ، فلا يمتنعون من الكذب ومن الأعمال الرديئة ؛ لأنهم لا يذكرون الله إلا قليلاً ، فذكر الله يعصم الإنسان من الشيطان . ـ

فَأَنسَاهُمْ ذِكْرَ اللَّـهِ

So he caused them to forget Allah Continue reading

“So Turn Away From Them”: Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan

Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan mentioned the following in a part of a series of classes he gave on the explanation of the mufassal surahs:

ثم قال لنبيه محمد : (فَتَوَلَّ عَنْهُمْ) ، أي : لا تلتفت إلى أقوالهم ، واعتراضاتهم ، ولا تعبأ بها أبداً ، ولا تهمك ؛ لأنه كان يحزن على قومه ، أنهم يدخلون النار ، وأنهم يكفرون بالله ، (فَلَعَلَّكَ بَاخِعٌ نَّفْسَكَ عَلَىٰ آثَارِهِمْ) (لَعَلَّكَ بَاخِعٌ نَّفْسَكَ أَلَّا يَكُونُوا مُؤْمِنِينَ) ، أي : مهلك نفسك ، فالرسول كان حريصا ، وكان يحزنه ما عليه قومه ، لأنه يريد لهم السلامة ، والنصيحة ، ويريد لهم النجاة ، فإذا رآهم على ما هم عليه من العناد فإنه يحزن . ـ

Then Allah said to His Prophet Muhammad:

فَتَوَلَّ عَنْهُمْ

So turn away from them [51:54]

meaning: don’t pay heed to what they say and their opposition, don’t ever let it bother you or concern you. That is because the Prophet used to grieve for his people [i.e. the Quraish], worrying that they would enter the Hellfire and because they disbelieved in Allah.

فَلَعَلَّكَ بَاخِعٌ نَّفْسَكَ عَلَىٰ آثَارِهِمْ

Perhaps you would kill yourself in grief because of them [18:6]

لَعَلَّكَ بَاخِعٌ نَّفْسَكَ أَلَّا يَكُونُوا مُؤْمِنِينَ

Perhaps you would kill yourself with grief that they will not be believers. [26:3]

meaning: that you would destroy yourself. For the Messenger desired their guidance very much, and used to grieve for his people, because he wanted good for them and to advise them, and he wanted their salvation. So when he would see them in their state of obstinate refusal he would be saddened.

قال تعالى : (وَلَقَدْ نَعْلَمُ أَنَّكَ يَضِيقُ صَدْرُكَ بِمَا يَقُولُونَ) ، (قَدْ نَعْلَمُ إِنَّهُ لَيَحْزُنُكَ الَّذِي يَقُولُونَ ۖ فَإِنَّهُمْ لَا يُكَذِّبُونَكَ وَلَـٰكِنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّـهِ يَجْحَدُونَ) ، فهذه تسلية للرسول . ـ

Allah said: Continue reading