“Ask the Ahl al-Dhikr if You Don’t Know”: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

The following question was posed to sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca:

سؤال: ما التقسيم والمفهوم الصحيح في قول الله تعالى:{فسئلوا أهل الذكر إن كنتم لا تعلمون} النحل ؟ ـ

Question: What is the division of people and correct understanding regarding Allah’s statement:

فَاسْأَلُوا أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِن كُنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

So ask the ahl al-dhikr if you do not know [16:43]

جواب : الحمد لله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على أشرف الأنبياء والمرسلين سيدنا محمد وعلى اله وصحبه وسلم. أما بعد: فإن قوله تعالى: {فسئلوا أهل الذكر إن كنتم لاتعلمون}النحل[7] يدل على أمور: ـ

Answer: All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all creation. May peace and blessings be upon the most noble of the prophets and messengers, our leader Muhammad, as well as upon his family and companions.

To proceed: Allah’s statement:

فَاسْأَلُوا أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِن كُنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

So ask the ahl al-dhikr if you do not know [16:43]

points to a number of things:

الأمر الأول : أن المسلمين ينقسموا إلى قسمين قسم هم أهل العلم ،وقسم هم ليس من أهل العلم وهم الذين يسمون بالعوام. ـ

Point #1: That Muslims can be divided into two categories. One category is the people of knowledge, and the other category are those who are not the people of knowledge, those who are referred to as the laypeople. Continue reading

Surah Yusuf and the People of al-Madinah

In part of his famous manual of the Qur’anic sciences, al-Burhan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an, Badr al-Deen al-Zarkashi wrote:

ما حمل من مكة إلى المدينة
Those Parts of the Qur’an which were Transmitted from Mecca to al-Madinah

أول سورة حملت من مكة إلى المدينة سورة ” يوسف ” ، انطلق بها عوف بن عفراء في [ ص: 291 ] الثمانية الذين قدموا على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم مكة ، فعرض عليهم الإسلام فأسلموا ، وهو أول من أسلم من الأنصار ، قرأها على أهل المدينة في بني زريق ، فأسلم يومئذ بيوت من الأنصار ، روى ذلك يزيد بن رومان ، عن عطاء بن يسار ، عن ابن عباس ، ثم حمل بعدها : ( قل هو الله أحد ) ( سورة الإخلاص ) إلى آخرها ، ثم حمل بعدها الآية التي في ” الأعراف ” : ( قل ياأيها الناس إني رسول الله إليكم جميعا ) إلى قوله : ( تهتدون ) ( الآية : 158 ) ، فأسلم عليها طوائف من أهل المدينة ، وله قصة

The first surah to be taken from Mecca to al-Madinah was surah Yusuf. ‘Awf ibn ‘Afraa’ was the one who brought it there, and he was one of eighty men who came to Allah’s Messenger in Mecca where he presented Islam to them and they accepted and became Muslims, and he was the first one of the Ansaar to enter Islam. He recited this surah to the people of Banu Zurayq in al-Madinah and as a result a number of households of the Ansaar accepted Islam on that day.

This was narrated by Yazeed ibn Ruman, on the authority of ‘Ataa’ ibn Yasar, on the authority of ibn ‘Abbaas.

After that, surah al-Ikhlaas was the next surah taken from Mecca to al-Madinah. Next after that was an ayah from surah al-A’raaf:

قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّـهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا الَّذِي لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ يُحْيِي وَيُمِيتُ ۖ فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّـهِ وَرَسُولِهِ النَّبِيِّ الْأُمِّيِّ الَّذِي يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّـهِ وَكَلِمَاتِهِ وَاتَّبِعُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ

Say: O mankind, I am certainly Allah’s messenger to all of you, the messenger of the One who possesses the dominion of the heavens and the earth. There is no deity worthy of worship except Him; He gives life and He causes death. So believe in Allah and His messenger, the illiterate prophet who believes in Allah and His words, and follow him so that you would be guided. [7:158]

And so a number of segments of the people of al-Madinah accepted Islam, and there is a larger story around this.

[al-Burhan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an 1/290-291]

In the beginning of his explanation of surah Yusuf, al-haafidh ibn Kathir – who was a teacher of al-Zarkashi – mentioned the following report: Continue reading

Shall We Force You to Believe?: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

In surah Hud, Allah recounts the story of His prophet Nuh, beginning with his calling his people to tawheed, a list of their doubts as to why they disbelieved in him, and then Nuh’s responses to their doubts. Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee comments on the first part of Nuh’s response to his people by writing:

قوله تعالى : قال يا قوم أرأيتم إن كنت على بينة من ربي وآتاني رحمة من عنده فعميت عليكم أنلزمكموها وأنتم لها كارهون . ـ

Allah’s statement:

 قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِن كُنتُ عَلَىٰ بَيِّنَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّي وَآتَانِي رَحْمَةً مِّنْ عِندِهِ فَعُمِّيَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أَنُلْزِمُكُمُوهَا وَأَنتُمْ لَهَا كَارِهُونَ

Nuh said, “O my people, what do you think if I am on clarity from my Lord, and a Mercy has come to me from Him, but that has been obscured from your sight – shall we compel you to accept it while you have a strong hatred for it? [11:28]

ذكر تعالى في هذه الآية الكريمة عن نبيه نوح : أنه قال لقومه : أرأيتم [ 11 \ 28 ] ، أي : أخبروني إن كنت على بينة من ربي [ 11 \ 28 ] ، أي : على يقين ونبوة صادقة لا شك فيها ، وأعطاني رحمة منه مما أوحى إلي من التوحيد والهدى ، فخفي ذلك كله عليكم ، ولم تعتقدوا أنه حق ، أيمكنني أن ألزمكم به ، وأجبر قلوبكم على الانقياد والإذعان لتلك البينة التي تفضل الله علي بها ، ورحمني بإيتائها ، والحال أنكم كارهون لذلك ؟ يعني ليس بيدي توفيقكم إلى الهدى وإن كان واضحا جليا لا [ ص: 178 ] لبس فيه ، إن لم يهدكم الله جل وعلا إليه . ـ

In this noble ayah, Allah mentions that His prophet Nuh said to his people:

أَرَأَيْتُمْ

Do you think … Continue reading

We gave Ibrahim good in this life: Tafsir al-Shawkani

In the end of Surah al-Nahl, Allah describes Ibrahim with several attributes, including:

وَآتَيْنَاهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً

And We gave him good in this world [16:122]

The scholars of tafsir have brought a number of explanations for this phrase, and Sheikh Muhammad al-Shawkani collected the majority of them in his tafsir where he wrote:

وآتيناه في الدنيا حسنة أي خصلة حسنة أو حالة حسنة ، وقيل هو الولد الصالح ، وقيل الثناء الحسن ، وقيل النبوة ، وقيل الصلاة منا عليه في التشهد ، وقيل هي أنه يتولاه جميع أهل الأديان ، ولا مانع أن يكون ما آتاه الله شاملا لذلك كله ولما عداه من خصال الخير

وَآتَيْنَاهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً

And We gave him good in this world

i.e. good qualities or a good condition.

  • Some have said that it refers to righteous offspring.
  • Some have said that it refers to good praise and commendation.
  • Some have said that it refers to the station of prophethood.
  • Some have said that it refers to our prayers upon him during the tashahud.
  • And still others have said that it refers to the people of all religions inclining towards him in affection.

And there is nothing to prevent that which Allah gave him from including all of these good qualities or even more.

[Fath al-Qadeer 1/808] Continue reading

Using the Past Tense to Refer to the Future: Tafsir ibn ‘Uthaymeen

In part of surah al-Saffaat, Allah describes the events of the Day of Recompense by saying:

وَقَالُوا يَا وَيْلَنَا هَـٰذَا يَوْمُ الدِّينِ

This can be literally translated as:

And they said: Woe to us! This is the Day of Reckoning! (37:20)

In his explanation of this surah, sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen said:

وقوله تعالى (وَقَالُوا يَا وَيْلَنَا هَـٰذَا يَوْمُ الدِّينِ ) قالوا أتى بفعل الماضى مع أنه القول المستقبل ، لتحقق وقوعه ، وهذا كثير في اللغة العربية ، والقرآن الكريم يعبر عن المستقبل بالماضي لتحقق وقوعه ومثاله قوله تعالى(أتى أمر الله)فإن أمر الله لم يأت بدليل قوله تعالى(فلا تستعجلوه)لكن أتى هنا بمعنى يأتي وعبر عن المستقبل بالماضي لتحقق وقوعه

Allah’s statement:

وَقَالُوا يَا وَيْلَنَا هَـٰذَا يَوْمُ الدِّينِ

And they said: Woe to us! This is the Day of Reckoning!

the word “they said” comes as a past tense verb despite the fact that it is a future statement. This is done to affirm that this definitely will take place. This is a common practice in the Arabic language, and the Qur’an will refer to a future event by using the past tense in order to affirm that it certainly will come to pass. An example of this is Allah’s statement: Continue reading

Asking for ‘Aafiyah: Tafsir al-Baghawi, al-Qurtubi, & al-Aloosi

In surah Yusuf, Allah informs us that when Yusuf was being tested by the wife of his master and the women of Egypt, he supplicated to his Lord by saying:

قَالَ رَ‌بِّ السِّجْنُ أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ مِمَّا يَدْعُونَنِي إِلَيْهِ ۖ وَإِلَّا تَصْرِ‌فْ عَنِّي كَيْدَهُنَّ أَصْبُ إِلَيْهِنَّ وَأَكُن مِّنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ

He said, “My Lord, prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me. And if You do not avert from me their plan, I might incline toward them and [thus] be of the ignorant.” [12:33]

Commenting on this in his book of tafsir, Imam Abu Muhammad al-Baghawi mentioned:

وقيل : لو لم يقل : السجن أحب إلي لم يبتل بالسجن ، والأولى بالمرء أن يسأل الله العافية .ـ

Some say: if only he had not said

السِّجْنُ أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ

prison is more to my liking

then he would not have been tested with prison. And the most appropriate thing for a person to ask Allah for is ‘aafiyah – the absence of any ailment or troubles.

[Tafsir al-Baghawi 4/240]

Imam Abu Muhammad al-Qurtubi also commented on this phrase by saying:

ـ ” أحب إلي ” أي أسهل علي وأهون من الوقوع في المعصية ; لا أن دخول السجن مما يحب على التحقيق . وحكي أن يوسف – عليه السلام – لما قال : السجن أحب إلي أوحى الله إليه ” يا يوسف ! أنت حبست نفسك حيث قلت السجن أحب إلي ، ولو قلت العافية أحب إلي لعوفيت ” . ـ

Allah’s statement

 أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ

… more to my liking …

i.e. that it easier and less weighty on me than to fall into sins, not that going to prison is something that he would want otherwise. Continue reading

A Warning Against Innovating and Giving Rulings Without Knowledge: ibn Kathir & al-Shawkaani

In surah al-Nahl, Allah lists a number of foods which He has forbidden, and then follows that up by saying:

وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَا تَصِفُ أَلْسِنَتُكُمُ الْكَذِبَ هَـٰذَا حَلَالٌ وَهَـٰذَا حَرَامٌ لِّتَفْتَرُوا عَلَى اللَّـهِ الْكَذِبَ ۚ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَفْتَرُونَ عَلَى اللَّـهِ الْكَذِبَ لَا يُفْلِحُونَ

And do not say that which your tongues falsely put forth, that this is halaal and this is haraam. Then you would falsely attribute untruth to Allah. Those who attribute untruth to Allah will not succeed. [16:116]

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

ثم نهى تعالى عن سلوك سبيل المشركين ، الذين حللوا وحرموا بمجرد ما وضعوه واصطلحوا عليه من الأسماء بآرائهم ، من البحيرة والسائبة والوصيلة والحام ، وغير ذلك مما كان شرعا لهم ابتدعوه في جاهليتهم ، فقال : ( ولا تقولوا لما تصف ألسنتكم الكذب هذا حلال وهذا حرام لتفتروا على الله الكذب ) ويدخل في هذا كل من ابتدع بدعة ليس [ له ] فيها مستند شرعي ، أو حلل شيئا مما حرم الله ، أو حرم شيئا مما أباح الله بمجرد رأيه وتشهيه . ـ

Then Allah prohibits following the way of the Mushrikoon who used to declare things to be permissible or impermissible based on nothing more than some specialized terms to name and classify different types of creatures – specialized terms that they contrived based on their own whims. For example, they had various names they came up with for camels and other things according to their religious beliefs in the period of Pre-Islamic Ignorance. So Allah said:

وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَا تَصِفُ أَلْسِنَتُكُمُ الْكَذِبَ هَـٰذَا حَلَالٌ وَهَـٰذَا حَرَامٌ لِّتَفْتَرُوا عَلَى اللَّـهِ الْكَذِبَ

And do not say that which your tongues falsely put forth, that this is halaal and this is haraam. Then you would falsely attribute untruth to Allah. Continue reading

“For that He created them”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Near the end of surah Hud, Allah says

وَلَوْ شَاءَ رَ‌بُّكَ لَجَعَلَ النَّاسَ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً ۖ وَلَا يَزَالُونَ مُخْتَلِفِينَ * إِلَّا مَن رَّ‌حِمَ رَ‌بُّكَ ۚ وَلِذَٰلِكَ خَلَقَهُمْ ۗ وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَةُ رَ‌بِّكَ لَأَمْلَأَنَّ جَهَنَّمَ مِنَ الْجِنَّةِ وَالنَّاسِ أَجْمَعِينَ

And if your Lord had willed, He could have made mankind one community; but they will not cease to differ. * Except whom your Lord has given mercy, and for that He created them. But the word of your Lord is to be fulfilled that, “I will surely fill Hell with jinn and men all together.” [11:118-119]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di commented on these ayaat by writing:

يخبر تعالى أنه لو شاء لجعل الناس كلهم أمة واحدة على الدين الإسلامي، فإن مشيئته غير قاصرة، ولا يمتنع عليه شيء، ولكنه اقتضت حكمته، أن لا يزالوا مختلفين، مخالفين للصراط المستقيم‏,‏ متبعين للسبل الموصلة إلى النار، كل يرى الحق، فيما قاله، والضلال في قول غيره‏.‏

Allah informs us that had He wished, He could have made all mankind one nation upon the religion of Islam. For Allah’s will is in no way limited or prevented from doing anything. Rather, His wisdom necessitates that the people would remain differing and going contrary to the Straight Path, following other paths which lead them to the hell-fire, all the while believing the truth to be with them and misguidance to be with others.

‏{‏إِلَّا مَنْ رَحِمَ رَبُّكَ‏}‏ فهداهم إلى العلم بالحق والعمل به، والاتفاق عليه، فهؤلاء سبقت لهم، سابقة السعادة، وتداركتهم العناية الربانية والتوفيق الإلهي‏.‏

إِلَّا مَنْ رَحِمَ رَبُّكَ

Except whom your Lord has given mercy

thus guiding them to know the truth, to act according to it, and to be in agreement on it. For these people, Allah has already decreed that ultimate joy for them, and He gives them extra attention of protection and caring and grants them success. Continue reading

The Stories of the Messengers Fortify the Heart: Tafsir al-Baghawi

Allah mentions the following ayah at the end of surah Hud:

وَكُلًّا نَّقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ مِنْ أَنبَاءِ الرُّ‌سُلِ مَا نُثَبِّتُ بِهِ فُؤَادَكَ ۚ وَجَاءَكَ فِي هَـٰذِهِ الْحَقُّ وَمَوْعِظَةٌ وَذِكْرَ‌ىٰ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

And each story We relate to you from the news of the messengers is that by which We fortify your heart. And there has come to you, in this, the truth and an instruction and a reminder for the believers. [11:120]

Imam al-Baghawi wrote in his book of tafsir:

  وكلا نقص عليك من أنباء الرسل ما نثبت به فؤادك   معناه : وكل الذي تحتاج إليه من أنباء الرسل ، أي : من أخبارهم وأخبار أممهم نقصها عليك لنثبت به فؤادك ، لنزيدك يقينا ونقوي قلبك ، وذلك أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا سمعها كان في ذلك تقوية لقلبه على الصبر على أذى قومه

وَكُلًّا نَّقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ مِنْ أَنبَاءِ الرُّ‌سُلِ مَا نُثَبِّتُ بِهِ فُؤَادَكَ

And each story We relate to you from the news of the messengers is that by which We fortify your heart

meaning: Everything which you need is in the stories of the prophets. i.e., in the information about them and about their nations. Continue reading

The Straight Path Leads to Allah: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In the beginning of surah al-Nahl (16), Allah devotes several ayaat to the blessings which He has created for mankind, and in particular He mentions certain livestock and riding animals, before saying:

وَالْخَيْلَ وَالْبِغَالَ وَالْحَمِيرَ لِتَرْكَبُوهَا وَزِينَةً ۚ وَيَخْلُقُ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ * وَعَلَى اللَّـهِ قَصْدُ السَّبِيلِ وَمِنْهَا جَائِرٌ ۚ وَلَوْ شَاءَ لَهَدَاكُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ

And [He created] the horses, mules and donkeys for you to ride and as adornment. And He creates that which you do not know. * The straight path leads to Allah, but among the various paths are those which deviate. And if He willed, He could have guided you all. [16:8-9]

Commenting on this second ayah and the switch in content between the two, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir wrote the following in his tafsir:

لما ذكر تعالى من الحيوانات ما يسار عليه في السبل الحسية ، نبه على الطرق المعنوية الدينية ، وكثيرا ما يقع في القرآن العبور من الأمور الحسية إلى الأمور المعنوية النافعة الدينية ، كما قال تعالى : ( وتزودوا فإن خير الزاد التقوى ) [ البقرة : 197 ] وقال : ( يا بني آدم قد أنزلنا عليكم لباسا يواري سوآتكم وريشا ولباس التقوى ذلك خير ) [ الأعراف : 26 ] . ـ

After making mention of the riding animals which are used to traverse the physical paths, Allah draws our attention to the figurative religious pathways. And this type of shifting from concrete matters to abstract religiously beneficial matters occurs frequently in the Qur’an. For instance, see Allah’s statement:

وَتَزَوَّدُوا فَإِنَّ خَيْرَ الزَّادِ التَّقْوَىٰ

And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is al-taqwa [2:197]

or His statement: Continue reading