Did Fir’awn claim divinity, or worship other gods?: al-Shawkaani, al-Qurtubi, & al-Baghawi

In surah al-A’raaf, Allah says:

وَقَالَ الْمَلَأُ مِن قَوْمِ فِرْعَوْنَ أَتَذَرُ مُوسَىٰ وَقَوْمَهُ لِيُفْسِدُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَيَذَرَكَ وَآلِهَتَكَ ۚ قَالَ سَنُقَتِّلُ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ وَنَسْتَحْيِي نِسَاءَهُمْ وَإِنَّا فَوْقَهُمْ قَاهِرُونَ

The chiefs of Fir’awn’s people said: “Will you leave Moosaa and his people to spread mischief in the land, and to abandon you and your gods?” He said: “We will kill their sons, and let live their women, and we have indeed irresistible power over them.” [7:127]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Shawkaani briefly mentioned a question that arises from a careful reading of this ayah in his tafsir where he wrote:

واختلف المفسرون في معنى وآلهتك لكون فرعون كان يدعي الربوبية كما في قوله: ما علمت لكم من إله غيري، وقوله: أنا ربكم فقيل: معنى وآلهتك: وطاعتك، وقيل: معناه: وعبادتك، ويؤيده قراءة علي وابن عباس، والضحاك “وإلهتك” وفي حرف أبي “أتذر موسى وقومه ليفسدوا في الأرض وقد تركوك أن يعبدوك” وقيل: إنه كان يعبد بقرة، وقيل: كان يعبد النجوم، وقيل: كان له أصنام يعبدها قومه تقربا إليه فنسبت إليه ولهذا قال: أنا ربكم الأعلى. قاله الزجاج، وقيل: كان يعبد الشمس . ـ

The scholars of tafsir have differed regarding the meaning of “your gods” due to the fact that Fir’awn used to claim lordship for himself, such as in his statement:

مَا عَلِمْتُ لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَـٰهٍ غَيْرِي

I know of no other god for you besides me [28:38]

as well as his saying:

أَنَا رَبُّكُمُ

I am your lord… [79:24]

Some said the meaning of “aalihatak” [lit. “your gods”] is: obedience to you. And others said its meaning is: worship of you. This understanding is supported by a variant recitation (qiraa’ah) transmitted from ‘Ali, ibn ‘Abbaas and al-Dhahhaak:

وَإِلَهَتَكَ

wa ilaahatak

… and your divinity …

as well as what comes in the variant dialect (harf) recitation of Ubay:

 أَتَذَرُ مُوسَى وَقَوْمَهُ لِيُفْسِدُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَقَدْ تَرَكُوكَ أَنْ يَعْبُدُوكَ

… Will you leave Moosaa and his people to spread mischief in the land while they have abandoned you and worshiping you? … Continue reading

“O Messenger, Convey what has been Revealed to you”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

In his tafsir of surah al-Maa’idah, sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee mentioned the following brief point:

قوله تعالى : يا أيها الرسول بلغ ما أنزل إليك من ربك الآية . أمر تعالى في هذه الآية نبيه – صلى الله عليه وسلم – بتبليغ ما أنزل إليه ، وشهد له بالامتثال في آيات متعددة ، كقوله : اليوم أكملت لكم دينكم [ 5 \ 3 ] ، وقوله : وما على الرسول إلا البلاغ [ 24 \ 54 ] ، وقوله : فتول عنهم فما أنت بملوم [ 51 \ 54 ] ،  ـ

Allah’s statement:

يَا أَيُّهَا الرَّ‌سُولُ بَلِّغْ مَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِن رَّ‌بِّكَ ۖ وَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلْ فَمَا بَلَّغْتَ رِ‌سَالَتَهُ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ يَعْصِمُكَ مِنَ النَّاسِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْكَافِرِ‌ينَ

O Messenger, convey that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, and if you do not, then you have not conveyed His message. And Allah will protect you from the people. Indeed, Allah does not guide the disbelieving people. [5:67]

In this noble ayah Allah commanded His prophet (ﷺ) to convey what was revealed to him. And He affirmed his compliance concerning this matter in numerous ayaat, such as His statement:

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ

This day I have perfected for you your religion [5:3]

And His statement:

Continue reading

“Do not insult those they invoke other than Allah”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-An’aam:

وَلَا تَسُبُّوا الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ فَيَسُبُّوا اللَّـهَ عَدْوًا بِغَيْرِ‌ عِلْمٍ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ زَيَّنَّا لِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ عَمَلَهُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَىٰ رَ‌بِّهِم مَّرْ‌جِعُهُمْ فَيُنَبِّئُهُم بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge. Thus We have made pleasing to every community their deeds. Then to their Lord is their return, and He will inform them about what they used to do. [6:108]

Commenting on this ayah in his book of tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote the following:

ينهى الله المؤمنين عن أمر كان جائزا، بل مشروعا في الأصل، وهو سب آلهة المشركين، التي اتخذت أوثانا وآلهة مع الله، التي يتقرب إلى الله بإهانتها وسبها. ـ

Here, Allah is prohibiting the believers from something which is permissible – in fact, at its basis it is legislated – and that thing is insulting the polytheists’ objects of worship; those which are taken as idols and objects of worship alongside Allah, and those which the believers insult and hold in contempt thereby seeking nearness to Allah. Continue reading

The Consequences of Not Forbidding Wrongdoing: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah describes those among the Jews who disbelieved and received Allah’s curse in surah al-Maa’idah by saying:

كَانُوا لَا يَتَنَاهَوْنَ عَن مُّنكَرٍ فَعَلُوهُ ۚ لَبِئْسَ مَا كَانُوا يَفْعَلُونَ

They used not to forbid one another from wrongdoing that they did. How wretched was that which they were doing. [5:79]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di mentioned the following points of benefit related to this ayah in the midst of his tafsir of the surrounding passage:

ـ { كَانُوا لَا يَتَنَاهَوْنَ عَنْ مُنْكَرٍ فَعَلُوهُ } أي: كانوا يفعلون المنكر، ولا ينهى بعضهم بعضا، فيشترك بذلك المباشر، وغيره الذي سكت عن النهي عن المنكر مع قدرته على ذلك. ـ

كَانُوا لَا يَتَنَاهَوْنَ عَنْ مُنْكَرٍ فَعَلُوهُ

They used not to forbid one another from wrongdoing that they did

meaning: They used to commit wrongdoing but they did not forbid one another from doing that, and thus they were partnered in doing that – both the one who actually did the wrongdoing and the others who remained silent and withheld from forbidding the wrongdoing despite having the ability to do so.

وذلك يدل على تهاونهم بأمر الله، وأن معصيته خفيفة عليهم، فلو كان لديهم تعظيم لربهم لغاروا لمحارمه، ولغضبوا لغضبه، وإنما كان السكوت عن المنكر -مع القدرة- موجبا للعقوبة، لما فيه من المفاسد العظيمة: ـ

This indicates their indifference towards Allah’s commandments and that disobeying Allah was something that they took lightly. For if they had a sense of the greatness of their Lord, they would have been protective of His forbidden limits and they would have been angered by what angers Him. But remaining silent about wrongdoing – despite having the ability – necessitates punishment due to what it entails of serious negative consequences: Continue reading

Why Speaking about Allah without Knowledge is more serious than Shrik: Ibn ‘Uthaymeen

Allah says in surah al-A’raaf:

قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَالْإِثْمَ وَالْبَغْيَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَأَن تُشْرِكُوا بِاللَّـهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا وَأَن تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّـهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

Say, “My Lord has only forbidden immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed -, and sin, and oppression without right, and that you associate with Allah that for which He has not sent down authority, and that you say about Allah that which you do not know.” [7:33]

Sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen mentioned the following point of benefit during part of his discussion of this ayah in his primer on the sciences of tafsir:

مسألة : وهل هذه الآية من باب الترقي ، أو من باب ذكر الأعلى فالأعلى ؟ ـ

An issue: Is this ayah one of those whose ordering ascends from least to greatest in its listing, or is it one of those that starts with the highest matter and then moves down to the next highest?

الجواب : الأول ، يعني : أن أشد شيء أن يقول على الله ما لا يعلم . ـ

Answer: It is the first category, meaning that the most grave thing is to speak about Allah without knowledge.

فإن قال قائل : كيف يكون هذه أشد من الشرك ؟ ـ

But then someone might ask: How is that a worse offense than al-shirk? Continue reading

“And do not be like those who say, ‘We have heard,’ while they do not hear”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

In surah al-Anfal, Allah commands the believers by saying:

وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ قَالُوا سَمِعْنَا وَهُمْ لَا يَسْمَعُونَ

And do not be like those who say, “We have heard,” while they do not hear. [8:21]

Commenting on this ayah in his book of tafsir, Imam al-Qurtubi wrote:

قوله تعالى : ولا تكونوا كالذين قالوا سمعنا أي كاليهود أو المنافقين أو المشركين . وهو من سماع الأذن . وهم لا يسمعون أي لا يتدبرون ما سمعوا ، ولا يفكرون فيه ، فهم بمنزلة من لم يسمع وأعرض عن الحق . نهى المؤمنين أن يكونوا مثلهم . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ قَالُوا سَمِعْنَا

And do not be like those who say, “We have heard…” [8:21]

such as the Jews, the Munaafiqoon [hypocrites], and the Mushrikoon [polytheists]. And this is referring to the literal hearing of one’s ears. They are those who do not hear – meaning: they do not consider or reflect on what they have heard. So these ones are just like those who did not hear (at all) and who turn away from the truth. Allah prohibited the believer from being like them.

Continue reading

Does the term “al-Mushrikoon” include the Ahl al-Kitaab? – Imam al-Shinqitee

During a lesson that sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee once gave in Jordan, he was asked a series of three questions from one of the students of knowledge present. The second of these questions was:

هل يشمل لفظ المشركين أهل الكتاب؟

Does the term “al-Mushrikoon” include the Ahl al-Kitaab?

In response to this question, the sheikh answered:

وأما الجواب عن المسالة الثانية , فهو أن ما ذكرتم من أن القرآن فرق بين المشركين وبين أهل الكتاب , واستشهدتم لذلك بآية المائدة لَتَجِدَنَّ أَشَدَّ النَّاسِ عَدَاوَةً لِلَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا الْيَهُودَ وَالَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا وَلَتَجِدَنَّ أَقْرَبَهُمْ مَوَدَّةً لِلَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّا نَصَارَى (82) الآية ، فهو كما ذكرتم, لأن العطف يقتضي بظاهره الفرق بين المعطوف والمعطوف عليه. ـ

As for the answer to the second question, then it is regarding what some have mentioned that the Qur’an makes a distinction between the Mushrikoon and the Ahl al-Kitaab, and as evidence they cite the ayah of surah al-Maa’idah:

لَتَجِدَنَّ أَشَدَّ النَّاسِ عَدَاوَةً لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الْيَهُودَ وَالَّذِينَ أَشْرَ‌كُوا ۖ وَلَتَجِدَنَّ أَقْرَ‌بَهُم مَّوَدَّةً لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّا نَصَارَ‌ىٰ

You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers [to be] the Jews and those who associate others with Allah; and you will find the nearest of them in affection to the believers those who say, “We are Christians.” [5:82]

And it is as they say, because mentioning two items of the same part-of-speech category together [i.e. “the Jews” and “those who associate others with Allah”] entails that there is some distinction between the two when taken at its apparent linguistic meaning. Continue reading

“If you have taqwa of Allah, He will grant you a Furqan”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

In surah al-Anfal, Allah addresses His believing servants by saying:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن تَتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ يَجْعَل لَّكُمْ فُرْ‌قَانًا وَيُكَفِّرْ‌ عَنكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ‌ لَكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ ذُو الْفَضْلِ الْعَظِيمِ

O you who have believed, if you have taqwa of Allah, He will grant you a furqan [criterion] and will remove from you your misdeeds and forgive you. And Allah is the possessor of great bounty. [8:29]

Commenting on this ayah in his well-known book of tafsir, sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote the following:

قال ابن عباس ، والسدي ، ومجاهد ، وعكرمة ، والضحاك ، وقتادة ، ومقاتل بن حيان ، وغير واحد : فرقانا : مخرجا ، زاد مجاهد : في الدنيا والآخرة ، وفي رواية عن ابن عباس : فرقانا : نجاة ، وفي رواية عنه : نصرا . وقال محمد بن إسحاق : فرقانا أي : فصلا بين الحق والباطل ، قاله ابن كثير . ـ

Ibn ‘Abbaas, al-Suddi, Mujaahid, ‘Ikrimah, al-Dhahhaak, Qataadah, Muqaatil ibn Hayyaan, and others all said: Furqan means, “a way out”. And Mujaahid added to this “in this worldly life and in the hereafter.”

And in what was narrated from ibn ‘Abbaas: Furqan means, “salvation”. And in another narration from him, “aid”.

And Muhammad ibn Ishaaq said: Furqan, meaning a means of distinguishing between the truth and falsehood.

All of the above is what ibn Kathir said [see Tafsir ibn Kathir 4/43-44].

قال مقيده عفا الله عنه : قول الجماعة المذكورة : إن المراد بالفرقان : المخرج يشهد له قوله تعالى : ومن يتق الله يجعل له مخرجا الآية [ 65 \ 2 ] ، والقول بأنه النجاة أو النصر ، راجع في المعنى إلى هذا ; لأن من جعل الله له مخرجا أنجاه ونصره ، لكن الذي يدل القرآن واللغة على صحته في تفسير الآية المذكورة هو قول ابن إسحاق ; لأن الفرقان مصدر زيدت فيه الألف والنون ، وأريد به الوصف أي الفارق بين الحق والباطل ، وذلك هو معناه في قوله : تبارك الذي نزل الفرقان [ 25 \ 1 ] ، أي الكتاب الفارق بين الحق والباطل ، وقوله : وأنزل الفرقان [ 3 \ 4 ] ، وقوله : وإذ آتينا موسى الكتاب والفرقان [ 2 \ 53 ] ، وقوله : ولقد آتينا موسى وهارون الفرقان [ 21 \ 48 ] ، ويدل على أن المراد بالفرقان هنا : العلم الفارق بين الحق والباطل ، قوله تعالى في الحديد : ياأيها الذين آمنوا اتقوا الله وآمنوا برسوله يؤتكم كفلين من رحمته ويجعل لكم نورا تمشون به ويغفر لكم الآية [ 57 \ 28 ] . ـ

And the following is my speech: Continue reading

A Clarification regarding the Questioning on the Day of Judgement: Imam al-Shinqitee

In his book dedicated to clarifying difficult passages of the Qur’an and removing doubts concerning them, Imam Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote the following in his section on surah al-A’araaf:

قال تعالى : < فَلَنَسْأَلَنَّ الَّذِينَ أُرْ‌سِلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَنَسْأَلَنَّ الْمُرْ‌سَلِينَ > الاية . ـ

Allah said:

فَلَنَسْأَلَنَّ الَّذِينَ أُرْ‌سِلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَنَسْأَلَنَّ الْمُرْ‌سَلِينَ

Then We will surely question those to whom [a message] was sent, and We will surely question the messengers. [7:6]

هذه الآية الكريمة تدل على أن الله يسأل جميع الناس يوم القيامة . ونظيرها قولة تعالى : < وَرَ‌بِّكَ لَنَسْأَلَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ * عَمَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ > ، وقوله : < وَقِفُوهُمْ ۖ إِنَّهُم مَّسْئُولُونَ > ، وقوله : < وَيَوْمَ يُنَادِيهِمْ فَيَقُولُ مَاذَا أَجَبْتُمُ الْمُرْ‌سَلِينَ > . ـ

This noble ayah indicates that Allah will question all of mankind on Yawm al-Qiyaamah. And its parallel is Allah’s statement:

فَوَرَ‌بِّكَ لَنَسْأَلَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ * عَمَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

So by your Lord, We will surely question them all * About what they used to do. [15:92-93]

And His statement:

وَقِفُوهُمْ ۖ إِنَّهُم مَّسْئُولُونَ

And stop them; indeed, they are to be questioned. [37:24]

And His statement:

وَيَوْمَ يُنَادِيهِمْ فَيَقُولُ مَاذَا أَجَبْتُمُ الْمُرْ‌سَلِينَ

And [mention] the Day He will call them and say, “What did you answer the messengers?” [28:65]

وقد جاءت في آيات أخر تدل على خلاف ذلك  ، كقوله : <  فَيَوْمَئِذٍ لَّا يُسْأَلُ عَن ذَنبِهِ إِنسٌ وَلَا جَانٌّ > ، وكقوله : < وَلَا يُسْأَلُ عَن ذُنُوبِهِمُ الْمُجْرِ‌مُونَ > . ـ

And it has come in other ayaat that which indicates the contrary to that, such as His statement:

فَيَوْمَئِذٍ لَّا يُسْأَلُ عَن ذَنبِهِ إِنسٌ وَلَا جَانٌّ

Then on that Day none will be asked about his sin among men or jinn. [55:39]

And such as His statement:

وَلَا يُسْأَلُ عَن ذُنُوبِهِمُ الْمُجْرِ‌مُونَ

But the criminals, about their sins, will not be asked. [28:78]

والجواب عن هذا من ثلاثة أوجة : ـ

The answer to this comes from three angles: Continue reading

We Revealed the Qur’an as a Muhaymin over the previous scriptures: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah says in surah al-Maa’idah:

وَأَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَمُهَيْمِنًا عَلَيْهِ

And We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a muhaymin over it… [5:48]

Commenting on this ayah in his famous book of tafsir, Imam ibn Kathir wrote:

وقوله : ( ومهيمنا عليه ) قال سفيان الثوري وغيره ، عن أبي إسحاق عن التميمي عن ابن عباس أي : مؤتمنا عليه . وقال علي بن أبي طلحة عن ابن عباس : المهيمن : الأمين ، قال : القرآن أمين على كل كتاب قبله . [ ص: 128 ] ـ

His statement:

وَمُهَيْمِنًا عَلَيْهِ

and as a muhaymin over it

Sufyan al-Thawri and others said, on the authority of Abu Ishaaq, on the authority of al-Tameemi on the authority of ibn ‘Abbaas, “it means, entrusted over it.” And ‘Ali ibn Abu Talhah said, on the authority of ibn ‘Abbaas, “al-Muhaymin – the trustworthy.” He said, “The Qur’an is trustworthy over every book prior to it.”

وروي عن عكرمة وسعيد بن جبير ومجاهد ومحمد بن كعب وعطية والحسن وقتادة وعطاء الخراساني والسدي وابن زيد نحو ذلك . ـ

And that is [also] narrated from ‘Ikrimah, Sa’eed ibn Jubayr, Mujaahid, Muhammad ibn Ka’b, ‘Atiyyah, al-Hassan, Qataadah, ‘Ataa’ al-Khuraasaani, al-Suddi, ibn Zayd and others.

وقال ابن جريج : القرآن أمين على الكتب المتقدمة ، فما وافقه منها فهو حق ، وما خالفه منها فهو باطل . ـ

And ibn Jurayj said, “The Qur’an is trustworthy over the previous scriptures, so whatever agrees with it from them, then that is true, and whatever opposes it from them, then that is false.” Continue reading