“A Word They Say with Their Mouths”: Tafsir al-Shawkani

Allah says in surah al-Tawbah:

وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ عُزَيْرٌ ابْنُ اللَّـهِ وَقَالَتِ النَّصَارَى الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ اللَّـهِ ۖ ذَٰلِكَ قَوْلُهُم بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ ۖ يُضَاهِئُونَ قَوْلَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِن قَبْلُ ۚ قَاتَلَهُمُ اللَّـهُ ۚ أَنَّىٰ يُؤْفَكُونَ

The Jews say, “‘Uzayr is the son of Allah “; and the Christians say, “The Messiah is the son of Allah.” That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved [before them]. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded? [9:30]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Shawkani mentions the following benefit in his explanation of this ayah:

قوله : ذلك قولهم بأفواههم الإشارة إلى ما صدر عنهم من هذه المقالة الباطلة . ـ

Allah’s statement:

ذَٰلِكَ قَوْلُهُم بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ

That is their statement from their mouths

indicates that these things which have emanated from them are false statements.

ووجه قولهم بأفواههم مع العلم بأن القول لا يكون إلا بالفم ، بأن هذا القول لما كان ساذجا ليس فيه بيان ولا عضده برهان كان مجرد دعوى ، لا معنى تحتها ، فارغة صادرة عنهم صدور المهملات التي ليس فيها إلا كونها خارجة من الأفواه ، غير مفيدة لفائدة يعتد بها ، وقيل : إن ذكر الأفواه لقصد التأكيد كما في ” كتبت بيدي ومشيت برجلي ” ، ومنه قوله – تعالى – : يكتبون الكتاب بأيديهم ( البقرة : 79 ) وقوله : ولا طائر يطير بجناحيه ( الأنعام : 38 ) . ـ

The reason for saying “from their mouths” despite it being common knowledge that speech does not happen by any other means than the mouth is that this statement of theirs is nothing more than a claim since it is just a simple-minded statement without any further elaboration or supporting evidence. It is nothing more than an empty claim without any meaning beneath it, a careless utterance with no substance to it at all. It is just something that came from their mouths without actually having any real meaning to it. Continue reading

Advertisements

“O you who have believed, look after your own souls”: Tafsir al-Sa’di & al-Shinqitee

In surah al-Maa’idah, Allah commands the believers by saying:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَنفُسَكُمْ ۖ لَا يَضُرُّكُم مَّن ضَلَّ إِذَا اهْتَدَيْتُمْ ۚ إِلَى اللَّـهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ

O you who have believed, look after your own souls. Those who have gone astray will not harm you when you have been guided. To Allah is you return all together; then He will inform you of what you used to do. [5:105]

In his book of tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di commented on this ayah by writing:

يقول تعالى: { يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَنْفُسَكُمْ } أي: اجتهدوا في إصلاحها وكمالها وإلزامها سلوك الصراط المستقيم، فإنكم إذا صلحتم لا يضركم من ضل عن الصراط المستقيم، ولم يهتد إلى الدين القويم، وإنما يضر نفسه. ـ

Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَنفُسَكُمْ

O you who have believed, look after your own souls.

meaning: exert yourselves in their rectification, their perfection, and making them steadfast in traversing the Straight Path. For once you have rectified yourselves, then those who have strayed from the Straight Path and are not guided to the upright religion will not harm you; it is only themselves that they harm.

ولا يدل هذا على أن الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر، لا يضر العبدَ تركُهما وإهمالُهما، فإنه لا يتم هداه, إلا بالإتيان بما يجب عليه من الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر. نعم، إذا كان عاجزا عن إنكار المنكر بيده ولسانه وأنكره بقلبه، فإنه لا يضره ضلال غيره. ـ

However this does not mean that slacking off in commanding the good and forbidding the evil or abandoning it completely is something that does not negatively affect a slave. For the fact of the matter is that being guided is not complete unless one follows through with the commanding of good and forbidding of evil which that guidance demands of him. Yes, even if he is not able to take action against wrongdoing by means of his hands or his tongue and is only able to disapprove of them in his heart, then still the misguidance of others will not harm him.

وقوله: { إِلَى اللَّهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا } أي: مآلكم يوم القيامة، واجتماعكم بين يدي الله تعالى. { فَيُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ } من خير وشر. ـ

And Allah’s statement: Continue reading

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

Allah informs the believers in surah al-Anfal:

وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَأَوْلَادُكُمْ فِتْنَةٌ وَأَنَّ اللَّـهَ عِندَهُ أَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ

And know that your wealth and your children are but a trial, and that Allah has with Him a tremendous reward [8:28]

Commenting on this in his famous book of tafsir, Imam Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari wrote:

قال أبو جعفر : يقول تعالى ذكره للمؤمنين : واعلموا ، أيها المؤمنون ، أنما أموالكم التي خولكموها الله ، وأولادكم التي وهبها الله لكم ، اختبار وبلاء ، أعطاكموها ليختبركم بها ويبتليكم ، لينظر كيف أنتم عاملون من أداء حق الله عليكم فيها ، والانتهاء إلى أمره ونهيه فيها . ” وأن الله عنده أجر عظيم ” ، يقول : واعلموا أن الله عنده خير وثواب عظيم ، على طاعتكم إياه فيما أمركم ونهاكم ، في أموالكم وأولادكم التي اختبركم بها في الدنيا . وأطيعوا الله فيما كلفكم فيها ، تنالوا به الجزيل من ثوابه في معادكم . ـ

I say: Allah is telling the believers, “Know, O you believers, that the wealth which Allah has granted you and the offspring which Allah has given you are a test and a trial that has been given to you in order to test and try you by means of them. So look to how you behave when it comes to fulfilling Allah’s rights over you in relation to these things, and set your limits at what Allah has commanded and forbidden you regarding these things.”

وَأَنَّ اللَّـهَ عِندَهُ أَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ

… and that Allah has with Him a tremendous reward

Allah is saying, “And know that Allah has with Him tremendous good to be given as reward for obedience to Him in what He has commanded and forbidden regarding the wealth and offspring which have been used to test you in this worldly life. So obey Allah with what He has entrusted to you. Through doing so you will receive a great reward in the hereafter.

ـ 15934 – حدثني الحارث قال ، حدثنا عبد العزيز قال ، حدثنا المسعودي ، [ ص: 487 ] عن القاسم ، عن عبد الرحمن ، عن ابن مسعود ، في قوله : ” إنما أموالكم وأولادكم فتنة ” ، قال : ما منكم من أحد إلا وهو مشتمل على فتنة ، فمن استعاذ منكم فليستعذ بالله من مضلات الفتن . ـ

… ibn Mas’ood said about Allah’s statement:

وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَأَوْلَادُكُمْ فِتْنَةٌ

And know that your wealth and your children are but a trial

“There is not one of you who is not involved in some trial, so whoever wants to seek refuge, let him seek refuge in Allah from the misguidance of trials.”

ـ 15935 – حدثني يونس قال ، أخبرنا ابن وهب قال ، قال ابن زيد ، في قوله : ” واعلموا أنما أموالكم وأولادكم فتنة ” ، قال : ” فتنة ” ، الاختبار ، اختبارهم . وقرأ : ( ونبلوكم بالشر والخير فتنة وإلينا ترجعون ) [ سورة الأنبياء : 35 ] . ـ

ibn Zayd said about this statement:

The “trial” here is a test, meaning their test

and he recited:

وَنَبْلُوكُم بِالشَّرِّ وَالْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً ۖ وَإِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ

And We shall test you with evil and with good as a trial. And to Us shall you return. [21:35]

[Tafsir al-Tabari 13/486-487]

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

See also: Four categories of parentage and four categories of offspring: Tafsir ibn Kathir

The Qur’an Addresses Multiple Christian Creeds: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah says in part of surah al-Nisaa’:

يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لَا تَغْلُوا فِي دِينِكُمْ وَلَا تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّـهِ إِلَّا الْحَقَّ ۚ إِنَّمَا الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولُ اللَّـهِ وَكَلِمَتُهُ أَلْقَاهَا إِلَىٰ مَرْيَمَ وَرُوحٌ مِّنْهُ ۖ فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّـهِ وَرُسُلِهِ ۖ وَلَا تَقُولُوا ثَلَاثَةٌ ۚ انتَهُوا خَيْرًا لَّكُمْ ۚ إِنَّمَا اللَّـهُ إِلَـٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ سُبْحَانَهُ أَن يَكُونَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ ۘ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّـهِ وَكِيلًا

O People of the Book, do not go to extremes in your religion! And do not say anything about Allah other than the truth! The Messiah, ‘Eesaa the son of Maryam is nothing other than a Messenger of Allah, and a word of His which He sent to Maryam, and a soul from Him. So believe in Allah and in His Messengers. And do not say “three”. Stop! That is better for you! Allah is only one god; exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. And Allah is sufficient as a disposer of affairs [4:171]

In his famous book of commentary on the Qur’an, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir mentioned the following words in the midst of his explanation of this ayah. These words should serve to rebut the notion spread by some Christians that the Qur’an is confused about Christian beliefs. On the contrary, this passage demonstrates that the Qur’an addresses different beliefs of different Christian sects in different places:

وقوله : ( فآمنوا بالله ورسله ) أي : فصدقوا بأن الله واحد أحد ، لا صاحبة له ولا ولد ، واعلموا وتيقنوا بأن عيسى عبد الله ورسوله ; ولهذا قال : ( ولا تقولوا ثلاثة ) أي : لا تجعلوا عيسى وأمه مع الله شريكين ، تعالى الله عن ذلك علوا كبيرا . ـ

Allah’s statement:

فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّـهِ وَرُسُلِهِ

So have eemaan in Allah and His messengers

meaning: believe that Allah is One, singular with neither partner nor offspring, and know and have certainty that ‘Eesaa is a slave of Allah and His messenger. And so Allah says:

وَلَا تَقُولُوا ثَلَاثَةٌ

And do not say “three”

meaning: Do not make ‘Eesaa and his mother as two partners alongside Allah – high and exalted is Allah above such a thing. Continue reading

The Arrangement of the Qur’an: Tafsir ibn Kathir

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir mentioned the following in the introduction to his tafsir in a section entitled “The Gathering of the Qur’an” which focused on the preservation and collection of the Qur’an. This is the fourth of five sections of our translation of that discussion:

وكان عثمان – والله أعلم – رتب السور في المصحف ، وقدم السبع الطوال وثنى بالمئين ؛ ولهذا روى ابن جرير وأبو داود والترمذي والنسائي من حديث غير واحد من الأئمة الكبار ، عن عوف الأعرابي ، عن يزيد الفارسي ، عن ابن عباس قال : قلت لعثمان بن عفان : ما حملكم أن عمدتم إلى ” الأنفال ” وهي من المثاني وإلى ” براءة ” وهي من المئين ، فقرنتم بينهما ولم تكتبوا بينهما سطر بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم ، ووضعتموها في السبع الطوال ؟ ما حملكم على ذلك ؟ فقال عثمان : كان رسول الله مما يأتي عليه الزمان وهو ينزل عليه السور ذوات العدد ، فكان إذا نزل عليه الشيء دعا بعض من كان يكتب فيقول : ضعوا هذه الآيات في السورة التي يذكر فيها كذا وكذا ، فإذا أنزلت عليه الآية فيقول : ضعوا هذه الآية في السورة التي يذكر فيها كذا وكذا ، وكانت الأنفال من أول ما نزل بالمدينة ، وكانت براءة من آخر القرآن ، وكانت قصتها شبيهة بقصتها ، وحسبت أنها منها وقبض رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ولم يبين لنا أنها منها ، فمن أجل ذلك قرنت بينهما ولم أكتب بينهما سطر بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم فوضعتها في السبع الطوال . [ ص: 30 ] ـ

It was ‘Uthman who arranged the surahs in the mushaf – and Allah knows best. He placed the Seven Long surahs[1] first but inserted some of the Mi’oon surahs [surahs of roughly 100 ayaat] among them.

On this subject ibn Jarir, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nasaa’i relayed a narration from more than one of the great scholars of hadith, on the authority of ‘Awf ibn al-A’rabi, on the authority of Yazeed ibn al-Faarisee, that ibn ‘Abbaas said:

I said to ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affaan, “What led you to place surah al-Anfaal (08) where you did when it is one of the Mathaani surahs?[2] Likewise with surah al-Baraa’ah (09 – also known as surah al-Tawbah)  when it is one of the Mi’oon surahs? And then you put these two surahs next to each other without writing the line of bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem between them and placed them in the middle of the Seven Long surahs. So what prompted you to do all of that?” Continue reading

The Meanings of Kufr, Thulm, and Fisq: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

In surah al-Maa’idah, Allah repeats a similar phrase three times:

وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْكَافِرُونَ

And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, then they are the kaafiroon (disbelievers) [5:44]

وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ

And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, then they are the thaalimoon (wrong-doers) [5:45]

وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, then they are the faasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient ones) [5:47]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee devoted extensive space in his book of tafsir to discussing these and the surrounding ayaat in detail. In the last part of his discussion he condensed some of his main points, which we have translated below:

قوله تعالى : ومن لم يحكم بما أنزل الله فأولئك هم الفاسقون قد قدمنا أن هذه الآية في النصارى ، والتي قبلها في اليهود ، والتي قبل تلك في المسلمين ، كما يقتضيه ظاهر القرآن . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, then they are the faasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient ones) [5:47]

we have already mentioned that this ayah is referring to the Christians, the one before it is referring to the Jews, and the one before that is referring to the Muslims, as follows from the outward meanings of the ayaat. Continue reading

Know that Allah is Severe in Punishment and that Allah is Forgiving and Merciful: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-Maa’idah:

اعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّـهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ وَأَنَّ اللَّـهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

Know that Allah is severe in punishment and that Allah is Forgiving and Merciful [5:98]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di commented on this in his tafsir by writing:

أي: ليكن هذان العلمان موجودين في قلوبكم على وجه الجزم واليقين، تعلمون أنه شديد العقاب العاجل والآجل على من عصاه، وأنه غفور رحيم لمن تاب إليه وأطاعه. فيثمر لكم هذا العلمُ الخوفَ من عقابه، والرجاءَ لمغفرته وثوابه، وتعملون على ما يقتضيه الخوف والرجاء.ـ

meaning: Let these two pieces of information be present in your hearts with certainty and assurance – that you know that He is severe in punishment – whether it be immediate or delayed – towards those who disobey Him, and that He is forgiving and merciful towards whoever repents to Him and obeys Him.

So this knowledge should produce a fear of His punishment and a hope for His forgiveness and reward in you, and you should behave in a way that reflects that fear and that hope.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 271]

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

See also: Imam al-Nawawi on Hope and Fear

A Frightening Ayah for the Leaders and Scholars: Tafsir al-Tabari

In part of surah al-Maa’idah Allah criticizes a number of characteristics of the Jews, and then says:

لَوْلَا يَنْهَاهُمُ الرَّبَّانِيُّونَ وَالْأَحْبَارُ عَن قَوْلِهِمُ الْإِثْمَ وَأَكْلِهِمُ السُّحْتَ ۚ لَبِئْسَ مَا كَانُوا يَصْنَعُونَ

Why don’t the rabbaaniyoon and ahbar forbid them from saying ithm and devouring suht? How wretched is what they have done! [5:63]

In his explanation of this ayah, the great mufassir Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari wrote:

قال أبو جعفر : يقول تعالى ذكره : هلا ينهى هؤلاء الذين يسارعون في الإثم والعدوان وأكل الرشى في الحكم ، من اليهود من بني إسرائيل ، ربانيوهم وهم أئمتهم المؤمنون ، وساستهم العلماء بسياستهم ، وأحبارهم وهم علماؤهم وقوادهم “عن قولهم الإثم ” يعني : عن قول الكذب والزور ، وذلك أنهم كانوا يحكمون فيهم بغير حكم الله ، ويكتبون كتبا بأيديهم ثم يقولون : “هذا من حكم الله ، وهذا من كتبه” . يقول الله : ( فويل لهم مما كتبت أيديهم وويل لهم مما يكسبون ) [ سورة البقرة : 79 ] . ـ

I, Abu Ja’far, say: Allah is saying: Why don’t they prohibit these people who rush to commit sin and oppression and those in authority who take bribes? Why those Jews from the Children of Israa’eel do this? The rabbaaniyoon are their commanders, their political leaders and those experts in political matters, and the ahbar are their religious scholars and moral role models. Why don’t they prevent those from saying ‘ithm, meaning: saying lies and deceptive things. That is because the rulings that these leaders made for their people were not according to Allah’s rulings; they wrote scriptures with their own hands and then said, “This is a ruling from Allah, this is part of His Book.” Allah says:

فَوَيْلٌ لَّهُم مِّمَّا كَتَبَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَوَيْلٌ لَّهُم مِّمَّا يَكْسِبُونَ

Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for that they earn thereby. [2:79]

وأما قوله : ” وأكلهم السحت ” ، فإنه يعني به الرشوة التي كانوا يأخذونها على حكمهم بغير كتاب الله لمن حكموا له به . ـ

As for Allah’s statement:

وَأَكْلِهِمُ السُّحْتَ

and eating suht

Then this is referring to bribes which these rulers used to take for issuing judgements and rulings contrary to Allah’s Book. Continue reading

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

The False Qiyaas of Iblis: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In the beginning of surah al-A’raaf, Allah mentions the well-known story of Iblis refusing to obey Allah’s command to bow towards Adam. After the initial refusal, Allah informs us of the following dialogue:

قَالَ مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلَّا تَسْجُدَ إِذْ أَمَرْتُكَ ۖ قَالَ أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِّنْهُ خَلَقْتَنِي مِن نَّارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِن طِينٍ

Allah said, “What prevented you from prostrating after I had commanded you?” Iblis said, “I am better than him; You created me from fire, and him You created from clay.” (7:12)

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di mentioned the following points of benefit under his tafsir of this ayah:

فوبخه اللّه على ذلك وقال: { مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلَّا تَسْجُدَ } لما خلقت بيديَّ، أي: شرفته وفضلته بهذه الفضيلة، التي لم تكن لغيره، فعصيت أمري وتهاونت بي؟ ـ

Allah reprimanded Iblis for this behavior and said:

مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلَّا تَسْجُدَ

What prevented you from prostrating

to that which I created which My own hands? Meaning, I have honored and favored him with this honor which was not done for any other, but you disobey My command and treat it so flippantly?

ـ { قَالَ } إبليس معارضا لربه: { أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِنْهُ } ثم برهن على هذه الدعوى الباطلة بقوله: { خَلَقْتَنِي مِنْ نَارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِنْ طِينٍ } وموجب هذا أن المخلوق من نار أفضل من المخلوق من طين لعلو النار على الطين وصعودها، وهذا القياس من أفسد الأقيسة، فإنه باطل من عدة أوجه . ـ

قَالَ

Iblis said

in response to his Lord Continue reading