The Sahabah and Tabi’oon known for their Tafsir: al-Suyooti

In his famous work detailing the sciences of the Qur’an, sheikh Jalaal al-Deen al-Suyooti included a section on the different generations of mufassiroon (Qur’anic exegetes). What follows is a condensed and streamlined presentation of the first part of this chapter, as prepared by sheikh Muhammad ibn ‘Umar Bazmool:

طبقة الصحابة
The Level of the Sahabah

اشتهر بالتفسير من الصحابة عشرة : الخلفاء الأربعة ، وابن مسعود ، وابن عباس ، وأبي بن كعب ، وزيد بن ثابت ، وأبو موسى الأشعري ، وعبد الله بن الزبير . ـ

Those who are well known among the sahabah for tafsir are ten: the four Khulafaa’ [Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, and ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib], ibn Mas’ood, ibn ‘Abbas, Ubay ibn Ka’b, Zayd ibn Thaabit, Abu Moosaa al-Ash’ari, and ‘Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr.

أما الخلفاء ؛ فأكثر من روي عنه منهم : على بن أبي طالب ، والرواية عن الثلاثة نزرة جداً ، وكان السبب في ذلك تقدم وفاتهم ، كما أن ذلك هو السبب في قلة رواية أبي بكر رضي الله عنه للحديث ، ولا أحفظ عن أبي بكر رضي الله عنه في التفسير إلا آثاراً قليلة جداً ، لا تكاد تجاوز العشرة ، وأما على ؛ فروي عنه الكثير . ـ

As for the Khulafaa’, then the one from whom the most is transmitted is ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib, while what is transmitted from the other three is very little. The reason for that is because those three died earlier, just as that is the reason why there is little in the way of hadeeth narrated from Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), nor was much preserved from Abu Bakr in the way tafsir except for a very few statements which hardly even amount to ten in total. But as for ‘Ali, then a great deal was transmitted from him. Continue reading

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The Sacred Months

Allah سبحانه وتعالى informed the believers in His Book when He said:

إِنَّ عِدَّةَ الشُّهُورِ‌ عِندَ اللَّـهِ اثْنَا عَشَرَ‌ شَهْرً‌ا فِي كِتَابِ اللَّـهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْ‌ضَ مِنْهَا أَرْ‌بَعَةٌ حُرُ‌مٌ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ ۚ فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا فِيهِنَّ أَنفُسَكُمْ

Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion, so do not wrong yourselves during them” [9:36]

Ibn Kathir mentions in his great book of tafsir:

وقال علي بن أبي طلحة، عن ابن عباس قوله: {إِنَّ عِدَّةَ الشُّهُورِ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ اثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا} الآية {فَلا تَظْلِمُوا فِيهِنَّ أَنْفُسَكُمْ} في كلِّهن، ثم اختص من ذلك أربعة أشهر فجعلهن حراما، وعَظم حُرُماتهن، وجعل الذنب فيهن أعظم، والعمل الصالح والأجر أعظم

‘Ali ibn Abi Talhah narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas about the statement, “Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months” until “so do not commit injustice against yourselves therein” [meaning] in any of them, then He specified four months* from those and he made them sacred, and He emphasized their sacredness, and made sins in them magnified, and righteous actions and the reward (also) magnified. Continue reading

We preserved these limbs in our youth, so Allah preserved them for us in old age

The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said in part of his famous hadeeth to ibn ‘Abbaas:

احْفَظْ اللَّهَ يَحْفَظْك

“Preserve the limits of Allaah and He will preserve you…”

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, while explaining this hadeeth, mentions an amazing story about the famous judge and Shaafi’ jurist, Abu al-Tayyib al-Tabari:

و كان أبو الطيب الطبري قد جاوز المائة سنة وهو ممتع بعقله وقوته ، فوثب يوما من سفينة كان فيها إلى الارض وثبة شديدة. فعوتب على ذلك ، فقال : هذه جوارح حفظناها عن المعاصي في الضغر ، فحفظها الله علينا في الكبر

Abu al-Tayyib al-Tabari exceeded the age of 100 yet his intellect remained very much intact, as did his strength. One day he leapt off a large ship he was on onto the ground. When reprimanded for this, he said, “We preserved these limbs from disobedience in our youth, so Allaah preserved them for us in our old age.”

[Majmoo’ al-Rasaa’il ibn Rajab 3/100]

And Ibn Kathir mentions the same story with the wording: Continue reading

A Clarification on Kissing the Black Stone

Imam al-Bukhari, in his Saheeh, brings the following narration in the chapter on Hajj:

عُمَرَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ أَنَّهُ جَاءَ إِلَى الْحَجَرِ الأَسْوَدِ فَقَبَّلَهُ، فَقَالَ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ أَنَّكَ حَجَرٌ لاَ تَضُرُّ وَلاَ تَنْفَعُ، وَلَوْلاَ أَنِّي رَأَيْتُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يُقَبِّلُكَ مَا قَبَّلْتُكَ

`Umar came near the Black Stone and kissed it and said “No doubt, I know that you are a stone and can neither harm anyone nor benefit anyone. And had I not seen Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) kissing you I would not have kissed you.”

[Saheeh al-Bukhari #1597]

al-Haafidh ibn Hajar, in his famous commentary on Saheeh al-Bukhari, writes the following in his explanation:

قوله : ( لا تضر ولا تنفع ) أي إلا بإذن الله ، وقد روى الحاكم من حديث أبي سعيد أن عمر لما قال هذا قال له علي بن أبي طالب : إنه يضر وينفع ، وذكر أن الله لما أخذ المواثيق على ولد آدم كتب ذلك في رق ، وألقمه الحجر ، قال : وقد سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول : يؤتى يوم القيامة بالحجر الأسود وله لسان ذلق يشهد لمن استلمه بالتوحيد ، وفي إسناده أبو هارون العبدي وهو ضعيف جدا ،

His statement, “You can neither harm nor benefit” – meaning, except by the permission of Allah.

And al-Haakim has narrated a hadeeth from Abu Sa’eed that when ‘Umar said this, ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib said to him,

“Verily it does harm and benefit,” and he mentioned that when Allah took the covenants from the children of Adam (i.e. mankind), He wrote that out of compassion, so the Stone is fed bit by bit by them (i.e. their sins). He said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say, ‘On the Day of Resurrection, the Black Stone will be brought with an eloquent tongue, bearing witness for those who touched it while having al-Tawheed.'”

But in the isnaad there is Abu Haaroon al-‘Abdi, and he is da’eef jaddan (i.e. very weak).

وقد روى النسائي من وجه آخر ما يشعر بأن عمر رفع قوله ذلك إلى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ، أخرجه من طريق طاوس ، عن ابن عباس قال : رأيت عمر قبل الحجر ثلاثا ، ثم قال : إنك حجر لا تضر ولا تنفع ، ولولا أني رأيت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قبلك ما قبلتك . ثم قال : ” رأيت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فعل مثل ذلك ” .

And al-Nasaa’i has narrated it by another route by which it is known that the statement of ‘Umar is taken from the Prophet (ﷺ). It comes by way of Taawoos, that ibn ‘Abbaas said,

I saw Umar bin Al-Khattab doing that, then he said: You are just a stone that can neither cause harm or bring benefit; were it not that I saw the Messenger of Allah kissing you I would not have kissed you.’ Then Umar said, ‘I saw the Messenger of Allah doing that.'” [al-Nasaa’i #2938, Saheeh]

قال الطبري : إنما قال ذلك عمر لأن الناس كانوا حديثي عهد بعبادة الأصنام ، فخشي عمر أن يظن الجهال أن استلام الحجر من باب تعظيم بعض الأحجار كما كانت العرب تفعل في الجاهلية ، فأراد عمر أن يعلم الناس أن استلامه اتباع لفعل رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ، لا لأن الحجر ينفع ويضر بذاته كما كانت الجاهلية تعتقده في الأوثان ،

al-Tabari said: ‘Umar only said that because the people had recently come from the era of worshiping idols, so ‘Umar feared that the ignorant ones that his touching the Stone fell under into the magnification of certain stones as the Arabs had done in the era of al-Jaahiliyyah (pre-Islamic ignorance). So ‘Umar wanted to teach the people that touching the Stone is following the actions of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), not because the Black Stone can bring benefit or harm in and of itself as it had been believed about idols during al-Jaahiliyyah. 

وقال المهلب : حديث عمر هذا يرد على من قال : إن الحجر يمين الله في الأرض يصافح بها عباده ، ومعاذ الله أن يكون لله جارحة ، وإنما شرع تقبيله اختيارا ليعلم بالمشاهدة طاعة من يطيع ، وذلك شبيه بقصة إبليس حيث أمر بالسجود لآدم .

And al-Muhallib said: the hadeeth of ‘Umar is a refutation of those who say, ‘Verily the Stone is the right hand of Allah on the earth and ‘shaking hands with it’ [i.e. touching it] is ‘ibaadah,” and refuge is sought with Allah from that. And kissing it was only legislated as a choice in order that the obedience of those who obey may be known and witnessed, and that resembles the story of Iblees when he was commanded to prostrate to Adam.

وقال الخطابي : معنى أنه يمين الله في الأرض أن من صافحه في الأرض كان له عند الله عهد ، وجرت العادة بأن العهد يعقده الملك بالمصافحة لمن يريد موالاته والاختصاص به ، فخاطبهم بما يعهدونه .

And al-Khattaabi said: it means that it is the right hand of Allah on the earth, that whoever touches (lit. ‘shakes hands with’) it on the earth, then there is a pact for him with Allah. And traditionally, a pact was made with a ruler by shaking hands for the one who desires his patronage, and doing that exclusively with him, so they agreed to the pact they had made.

وقال المحب الطبري : معناه أن كل ملك إذا قدم عليه الوافد قبل يمينه ، فلما كان الحاج أول ما يقدم يسن له تقبيله نزل منزلة يمين الملك ، ولله المثل الأعلى

And al-Muhibb al-Tabari said: its meaning is that whenever a guest comes before any ruler, he kisses his hand. So when the pilgrim comes, it is more befitting for him to kiss what has been sent down in place of the hand of the ruler, and Allah is above such comparisons.

 وفي قول عمر هذا التسليم للشارع في أمور الدين ، وحسن الاتباع فيما لم يكشف عن معانيها ، وهو قاعدة عظيمة في اتباع النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فيما يفعله ولو لم يعلم الحكمة فيه ، وفيه دفع ما وقع لبعض الجهال من أن في الحجر الأسود خاصة ترجع إلى ذاته ، وفيه بيان السنن بالقول والفعل ، وأن الإمام إذا خشي على أحد من فعله فساد اعتقاد أن يبادر إلى بيان الأمر ويوضح ذلك ، وسيأتي بقية الكلام على التقبيل والاستلام بعد تسعة أبواب . .

And in the statement of ‘Umar is submission to the source of Divine Legislation in the affairs of the deen, and beautiful following (al-ittiba’) in those things which did not disclose their meanings. And this is a great foundational point in following the Prophet (ﷺ) in what he does, even if one does not know the wisdom underlying it.

And in this is a refutation of some of the ignorant ones who claim that the Black Stone has a nature  of its own. And in this is a clarification that the sunnah is by both speech and action (i.e. on the part of ‘Umar), and that if the imam fears that one of his actions would corrupt the beliefs, that he would take the steps to explain the affair and clarify that. And the rest of the statements concerning kissing and touching the Black Stone will come after nine chapters.

قال شيخنا في ” شرح الترمذي ” : فيه كراهة تقبيل ما لم يرد الشرع بتقبيله ، وأما قول الشافعي : ومهما قبل من البيت فحسن ، فلم يرد به الاستحباب ، لأن المباح من جملة الحسن عند الأصوليين

And our sheikh said in Sharh al-Tirmidhi : In this is the dislike of kissing that which the sharee’ah does not prescribe to kiss. And as for the statement of al-Shaafi’: and whomever one kisses from his household, then that is fine, rather it is recommended, because it is value-neutral (mubaah) from good things with those who study usool al-Fiqh.

  تكميل  : اعترض بعض الملحدين على الحديث الماضي ، فقال : كيف سودته خطايا المشركين ، ولم تبيضه طاعات أهل التوحيد ؟ وأجيب بما قال ابن قتيبة : لو شاء الله لكان ذلك ، وإنما أجرى الله العادة بأن السواد يصبغ ، ولا ينصبغ على العكس من البياض . وقال المحب الطبري : في بقائه أسود عبرة لمن له بصيرة ، فإن الخطايا إذا أثرت في الحجر الصلد فتأثيرها في القلب أشد . قال : وروي عن ابن عباس : إنما غيره بالسواد لئلا ينظر أهل الدنيا إلى زينة الجنة ، فإن ثبت ، فهذا هو الجواب . قلت : أخرجه الحميدي في فضائل مكة بإسناد ضعيف ، والله أعلم .

A supplement: some of the heretics have objected to the previous hadeeth [which states that the Black Stone was blackened by the sins of the sons of Adam], they say, “How can the sins of the mushrikoon blacken it, while the obedience of the people of al-Tawheed do not whiten it?” And Ibn Qutaybah responded to this by saying, “If Allah has wished for that, then it would be so, But Allah has caused it to be the case that black usually changes other colors and its not changed itself, which is the opposite to what happens with white.”

And al-Muhibb al-Tabari said, “In its remaining black is a lesson for those who have insight, for verily if the sins are able to leave a mark on a hard rock, then its marks marks on the heart are more severe.”

He said: narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas: It was only changed to black in order that the people of this world might look forward to the beauty of al-Jannah. And if this is true, then this is the answer. I [Ibn Hajar] say: this has come from al-Humaidi concerning the virtues of Mecca through a weak isnaad. And Allah knows best.

[Fath al-Baari #1520]

And Imam al-Nawawi, after mentioning some of the various fiqhi positions on the issues, commented on the same hadeeth by writing:

 وأما قول عمر – رضي الله عنه – : ( لقد علمت أنك حجر وإني لأعلم أنك حجر وأنك لا تضر ولا تنفع ) فأراد به بيان الحث على الاقتداء برسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم في تقبيله ، ونبه على أنه لولا الاقتداء به لما فعله ، وإنما قال : وإنك لا تضر ولا تنفع ؛ لئلا يغتر بعض قريبي العهد بالإسلام الذين كانوا ألفوا عبادة الأحجار وتعظيمها ورجاء نفعها ، وخوف الضرر بالتقصير في تعظيمها ، وكان العهد قريبا بذلك ، فخاف عمر – رضي الله عنه – أن يراه بعضهم يقبله ، ويعتني به ، فيشتبه عليه فبين أنه لا يضر ولا ينفع بذاته ، وإن كان امتثال ما شرع فيه ينفع بالجزاء والثواب فمعناه أنه لا قدرة له على نفع ولا ضر ، وأنه حجر مخلوق كباقي المخلوقات التي لا تضر ولا تنفع وأشاع عمر هذا في الموسم ؛ ليشهد في البلدان ، ويحفظه عنه أهل الموسم المختلفو الأوطان . والله أعلم .

And as for the statement of ‘Umar (raadiAllaahu ‘anhu), “I knew that you are only a stone and verily I know that you are a stone and that you are not able to harm nor benefit anyone“, then the intention by that is to clarify the eagerness to emulate the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) in kissing it, and to point out that he would not have emulated that if the Prophet (ﷺ) had not done it. And he said, “And verily you cannot harm not benefit” lest it mislead some of those who were new to Islam who were used to worshiping and magnifying stones, hoping for their benefit and fearing harm in falling short in their magnification. And is was still close to that era, so ‘Umar feared that some of them would see him kissing it, and they would be concerned about it and imitate him in it (i.e. without the correct intention), so he clarified that the stone is not able to harm nor benefit anyone in and of itself. And if one complies with what has been divinely legislated concerning it, then he it will benefit him with rewards, so the meaning is that is does not have any power over benefit or harm, and that it is a created stone like the rest of the created things which can neither harm nor benefit anyone, and ‘Umar propogated this message during the Hajj season, in order that it would be known throughout the lands, and so the people of the season would protect the various lands from that (shirk). And Allah knows best.

[Al-Minhaaj bi Sharh Saheeh Muslim #1270]

See also: The Black Stone was blackened by the sins of the children of Adam

See also: Two Qur’anic proofs that Ismaa’eel is the sacrificed son: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

“Do not insult those they invoke other than Allah”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

Allah commands the believers in His Book when He says:

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]

Imam al-Qurtubi, in his book of tafsir, writes about this ayah:

قوله تعالى‏{‏ولا تسبوا الذين يدعون من دون الله‏}‏ نهي‏.‏ {‏فيسبوا الله‏}‏ جواب النهي‏.‏ فنهى سبحانه لمؤمنين أن يسبوا أوثانهم؛ لأنه علم إذا سبوها نفر الكفار وازدادوا كفرا‏.‏ قال ابن عباس‏:‏ قالت كفار قريش لأبي طالب إما أن تنهى محمدا وأصحابه عن سب آلهتنا والغض منها وإما أن إلهه ونهجوه؛ فنزلت الآية‏.‏

His statement, “And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah” – a prohibition. “Lest they insult Allah” – the condition for the prohibition. So Allah (Exalted is He) prohibited the believers from insulting their idols, because He knows that insulting them will drive the kuffaar away in aversion and increase them in kufr. Ibn ‘Abbaas said, “The kuffaar of Quraish said to Abu Taalib, ‘why don’t you prohibit Muhammad and his companions from insulting our gods and belittling them, and we will assume a similar attitude towards his god.” So the ayah was revealed. Continue reading

O Allah! This is my division in what I have control over…

The Mother of the Believers ‘Aaishah bint al-Siddeeq narrated that:

أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم كَانَ يَقْسِمُ بَيْنَ نِسَائِهِ فَيَعْدِلُ وَيَقُولُ ‏”‏ اللَّهُمَّ هَذِهِ قِسْمَتِي فِيمَا أَمْلِكُ فَلاَ تَلُمْنِي فِيمَا تَمْلِكُ وَلاَ أَمْلِكُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

The Prophet (ﷺ) would divide (his time) equally between his wives and he said: “O Allah! This is my division in what I have control over, so do not punish me for what You control and over which I do not have control.

[al-Tirmidhi #1140, Saheeh. Abu Dawood #2134. Ibn Maajah #1971. Ibn Hibban declared it to be Saheeh” (#4192), as did al-Haakim (2/187), and al-Dhahabi agreed.]

Abu ‘Eesaa al-Tirmidhi, after mentioning the hadeeth and some discussion of its isnaad, he then commented:

وَمَعْنَى قَوْلِهِ ‏”‏ لاَ تَلُمْنِي فِيمَا تَمْلِكُ وَلاَ أَمْلِكُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ إِنَّمَا يَعْنِي بِهِ الْحُبَّ وَالْمَوَدَّةَ كَذَا فَسَّرَهُ بَعْضُ أَهْلِ الْعِلْمِ ‏.‏

And as for his saying, “Do not punish me for what You control and over which I do not have control” – he meant love and affection; this is how it was explained by some of the people of knowledge.

Sheikh al-Mubarakfoori, in his commentary on Jaami’ al-Tirmidhi, wrote:

هن زوجات الرجل ؛ لأن كل واحدة تتضرر بالأخرى بالغيرة والقسم ، كذا في المجمع .

They are the wives of men, because each one is affected by the others and jealous of the division [of the husband’s time, money, affection, etc], and they are as such collectively.

قوله : ( كان يقسم بين نسائه فيعدل ) استدل به من قال أن القسم كان واجبا عليه ، وذهب بعض المفسرين إلى أنه لا يجب عليه ، واستدلوا بقوله تعالى ترجي من تشاء منهن الآية ، وذلك من خصائصه ( ويقول اللهم هذه قسمتي فيما أملك ) أي : أقدر عليه ( فلا تلمني ) أي : لا تعاتبني ، ولا تؤاخذني ( فيما تملك ، ولا أملك ) أي : من زيادة المحبة والميل ، قال ابن الهمام : ظاهره أن ما عداه مما هو داخل تحت ملكه وقدرته يجب التسوية فيه ، ومنه عدد الوطآت والقبلات والتسوية فيهما غير لازمة إجماعا .  .

The statement, “he would divide (his time) equally” – this is cited by those who say that the division [of a husband’s time, money, affection, etc.] is obligatory upon him, and some of the mufassireen [commentators of the Qur’an] say it is not obligatory upon him, and they cite Allah’s statement “You, [O Muhammad], may put aside whom you will of them…” [33:51], and that is something specific to him. “And he said: “O Allah! This is my division in what I have control over” – meaning: what I have power over – “so do not punish me” – meaning: do not blame me or seize me (in punishment) – “for what You control and over which I do not have control” – meaning: from my excess of love and inclination (towards one over another). Ibn al-Humaam said, “It is clear that everything else which falls under ones power and ability, then he must be equitable therein, and this includes pillow talk and kisses and equity therein is not absolutely necessary.”

After some discussion of the takhreej of the hadeeth, Mubarakfoori continues:

قوله : ( كذا فسره بعض أهل العلم ) أخرج البيهقي من طريق علي بن طلحة عن ابن عباس في قوله : ولن تستطيعوا أن تعدلوا بين النساء قال : في الحب والجماع ، وعند عبيدة بن عمرو السلماني مثله

His statement, “this is how it was explained by some of the people of knowledge” comes from al-Bayhaqi through the route of Talhah from Ibn ‘Abbaas in his explanation of Allah’s statement, “And you will never be able to do perfect justice between wives…” [4:129] – he said, “in terms of affection and sexual intercourse,” and ‘Ubaydah ibn ‘Amr and al-Salmaani gave similar explanations.

[Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi p. 247-248]