“If there had been a concession for anyone in leaving off dhikr…”

The Taabi’ and mufassir Muhammad ibn Ka’b al-Qurathi (d. 108AH) said:

لو رخص لأحد في ترك الذكر، لرخص لزكريا عليه السلام، قال تعالى: { آيَتُكَ أَلَّا تُكَلِّمَ النَّاسَ ثَلَاثَةَ أَيَّامٍ إِلَّا رَمْزاً وَاذْكُرْ رَبَّكَ كَثِيراً وَسَبِّحْ بِالْعَشِيِّ وَالْإِبْكَارِ } [آل عمران: 41]. ـ

If there had been a rukhsah (concession) for anyone in leaving off dhikr (remembrance of Allah), then there would have been a rukhsah for Zakariyyah (‘alaihi al-salaam). But Allah said:

آيَتُكَ أَلَّا تُكَلِّمَ النَّاسَ ثَلَاثَةَ أَيَّامٍ إِلَّا رَمْزاً وَاذْكُرْ رَبَّكَ كَثِيراً وَسَبِّحْ بِالْعَشِيِّ وَالْإِبْكَارِ

Your sign [that Allah will give you a son, Yahya] is that you will not [be able to] speak to the people for three days except by gesture. And remember your Lord much and exalt [Him with praise] in the evening and the morning. [3:41]

ولو رخص لأحد في ترك الذكر لرخص للذين يقاتلون في سبيل الله، قال تعالى: { يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا لَقِيتُمْ فِئَةً فَاثْبُتُوا وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيراً لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ } [الأنفال: 45] . ـ

And if there were to be a rukhsah for anyone in leaving off dhikr, then there would have been a rukhsah for those who fight in the path of Allah. But Allah said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا لَقِيتُمْ فِئَةً فَاثْبُتُوا وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيراً لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

O you who have believed, when you meet an (enemy) force, stand firm and remember Allah much in order that you may be successful. [8:45]

[al-Bidayah w’al-Nihayah 9/286. See also Jaami’ li-Ahkaam al-Qur’an 4/78, Tafsir ibn ‘Atiyyah 3/217, Hilyah al-Awliyah 3/215]

See also: Two things for which there are no concessions

See also: “O you who have believed, remember Allah with much remembrance”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: Four things for you and Three things against you

See also: Performing the Prayers in their Proper Times: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: “The Signs of the Hypocrite are Three” in the Qur’an

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The sad story of ‘Imran ibn Hittaan

There was an interesting individual from the time of the Tabi’een, whose name was ‘Imran ibn Ḥiṭṭān. Both Imam al-Dhahabi and Imam Ibn Kathir mentioned his biography in their historical works.

Ibn Kathir, in his massive work of history, al-Bidayah w’al-Nihayah, summarized ibn Ḥiṭṭān’s biography by writing:

عمران بن حطان الخارجي، كان أولا من أهل السنة والجماعة فتزوج امرأة من الخوارج حسنة جميلة جدا فأحبها. وكان هو دميم الشكل، فأراد أن يردها إلى السنة فأبت فارتد معها إلى مذهبها

“‘Imran ibn Ḥiṭṭān al-Khaarijee. He was originally among Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah, but then he married a woman from the Khawaarij who was extremely beautiful, so he loved her. And he himself was ugly and misshapen. So he intended to return her to the sunnah, but she adamantly refused, so he apostatized with her to her way (i.e. became a Khaarijee after have been a scholar of Ahl al-Sunnah!).”

[al-Bidayah w’al-Nihayah 9/64]

Imam al-Dhahabi wrote about him saying: Continue reading

“Mukhayreeq is the best of the Jews”

In his monumental book chronicling the entire span of human existence, al-Haafidh ibn Kathir mentions the following in his coverage of the battle of Uhud:

قال ابن إسحاق‏:‏ و كان ممن قتل يوم أحد مخيريق، وكان أحد بني ثعلبة بن الغيطون، فلما كان يوم أحد قال‏:‏ يا معشر يهود، والله لقد علمتم أن نصر محمد عليكم لحق‏.‏ قالوا‏:‏ إن اليوم يوم السبت‏.‏ قال‏:‏ لا سبت لكم، فأخذ سيفه وعدته وقال‏:‏ إن أصبت فمالي لمحمد يصنع فيه ما شاء‏.‏ ثم غدا إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فقاتل معه حتى قتل، فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فيما بلغنا‏:‏ ‏(‏‏(‏مخيريق خير يهود‏)‏‏)‏‏.‏

Ibn Ishaaq said: One of those who was killed on the day of Uhud was Mukhayreeq, and he was a member of the Banu Tha’labah ibn al-Ghaytoon clan. So on the day of Uhud, he said, “O Jewish people! By Allah, you well know that aiding Muhammad is a duty upon you!” They said, “Verily today is the day of the Sabbath (a day of rest for the Jews)” He replied, “May there be no rest for you,” then he took his sword and his accoutrements and said, “If I am killed (during the battle), then my wealth goes to Muhammad, who may do with it what he wishes.” Then he went out to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and fought alongside him until he was killed. So the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said about him, “Mukhayreeq is the best of the Jews.”

قال السهيلي‏:‏ فجعل رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أموال مخيريق – وكانت سبع حوائط – أوقافاً بالمدينة لله‏.‏

al-Suhayli said: Then the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) made the wealth of Mukhayreeq – and it was a significant amount – as a waqf (charitable trust) for the sake of Allah in al-Madinah.

قال محمد بن كعب القرظي‏:‏ وكانت أول وقف بالمدينة‏.‏

Muhammad ibn Ka’b al-Qarthi* said: That was the first waqf in al-Madinah.

[al-Bidayah w’al-Nihayah 4/42] Continue reading

The story of the two sons of Adam: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah سبحانه وتعالى informs us of one of the stories of earlier times in surah al-Maa’idah when He says:

وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ ابْنَيْ آدَمَ بِالْحَقِّ إِذْ قَرَّ‌بَا قُرْ‌بَانًا فَتُقُبِّلَ مِنْ أَحَدِهِمَا وَلَمْ يُتَقَبَّلْ مِنَ الْآخَرِ‌ قَالَ لَأَقْتُلَنَّكَ ۖ قَالَ إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللَّـهُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِينَ ﴿٢٧﴾ لَئِن بَسَطتَ إِلَيَّ يَدَكَ لِتَقْتُلَنِي مَا أَنَا بِبَاسِطٍ يَدِيَ إِلَيْكَ لِأَقْتُلَكَ ۖ إِنِّي أَخَافُ اللَّـهَ رَ‌بَّ الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿٢٨﴾ إِنِّي أُرِ‌يدُ أَن تَبُوءَ بِإِثْمِي وَإِثْمِكَ فَتَكُونَ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ النَّارِ‌ ۚ وَذَٰلِكَ جَزَاءُ الظَّالِمِينَ ﴿٢٩﴾ فَطَوَّعَتْ لَهُ نَفْسُهُ قَتْلَ أَخِيهِ فَقَتَلَهُ فَأَصْبَحَ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِ‌ينَ ﴿٣٠﴾ فَبَعَثَ اللَّـهُ غُرَ‌ابًا يَبْحَثُ فِي الْأَرْ‌ضِ لِيُرِ‌يَهُ كَيْفَ يُوَارِ‌ي سَوْءَةَ أَخِيهِ ۚ قَالَ يَا وَيْلَتَىٰ أَعَجَزْتُ أَنْ أَكُونَ مِثْلَ هَـٰذَا الْغُرَ‌ابِ فَأُوَارِ‌يَ سَوْءَةَ أَخِي ۖ فَأَصْبَحَ مِنَ النَّادِمِينَ

And recite to them the story of Adam’s two sons, in truth, when they both offered a sacrifice [to Allah], and it was accepted from one of them but was not accepted from the other. Said [the latter], “I will surely kill you.” Said [the former], “Indeed, Allah only accepts from those who have taqwa (27) If you should raise your hand against me to kill me – I shall not raise my hand against you to kill you. Indeed, I fear Allah, Lord of the worlds. (28) Indeed I want you to obtain [thereby] my sin and your sin so you will be among the companions of the Fire. And that is the recompense of wrongdoers.” (29) And his soul permitted to him the murder of his brother, so he killed him and became among the losers. (30) Then Allah sent a crow searching in the ground to show him how to hide the disgrace of his brother. He said, “O woe to me! Have I failed to be like this crow and hide the body of my brother?” So he became of the regretful. [5:27-31]

Imam al-Sa’di, in his book of tafsir, expounds upon these ayaat by writing:

أي‏:‏ قص على الناس وأخبرهم بالقضية التي جرت على ابني آدم بالحق، تلاوة يعتبر بها المعتبرون، صدقا لا كذبا، وجدا لا لعبا، والظاهر أن ابني آدم هما ابناه لصلبه، كما يدل عليه ظاهر الآية والسياق، وهو قول جمهور المفسرين‏.‏

Meaning: Recite to the people and inform them in truth of the matter which took place between the two sons of Adam. And recitation is considered by those who are thoughtful, the truthful ones and not the liars, the prescient and not the fool-hearty. And it is clear that the two sons of Adam are his sons from his (own) loins, as is clearly shown from the ayah and the context, and this is the opinion of the majority of the mufassireen (exegetes).

أي‏:‏ اتل عليهم نبأهما في حال تقريبهما للقربان، الذي أداهما إلى الحال المذكورة‏.‏

Meaning: Recite to them the story of these two about when they sought nearness [to Allah] through a making a sacrifice, which they both performed in the incident mentioned.

Continue reading

A beautiful hadith: “To Allah, you are valuable”

Imam ibn Kathir mentions in his massive work of history, al-Bidayah wa’l-Nihayah, the following narration from the Musnad of Imam Ahmad on the authority of Anas ibn Maalik:

أَنَّ رَجُلا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْبَادِيَةِ كَانَ اسْمُهُ زَاهِرًا، وَكَانَ يُهْدِي إِلَى النَّبِيِّ ﷺ، هَدِيَّةً مِنَ الْبَادِيَةِ، فَيُجَهِّزُهُ النَّبِيُّ ﷺ، إِذَا أَرَادَ أَنْ يَخْرُجَ

There was a man of the desert whose name was Zaahir. Whenever he would visit the Prophet (ﷺ), he would bring gifts from the desert, and the Prophet (ﷺ) would provide for him when he intended to depart.

فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ ﷺ: إِنَّ زَاهِرًا بَادِيَتُنَا وَنَحْنُ حَاضِرُوهُ وَكَانَ يُحِبُّهُ وَكَانَ رَجُلا دَمِيمًا

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Zaahir is our man of the desert, and we are his townspeople.” He was beloved to the Prophet (ﷺ), and he was very ugly due to a physical deformity. 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

The story of Banu Shaibaan

Following the death of his uncle and protector Abu Taalib, the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and his followers in Mecca were left especially vulnerable to the persecution of the Quraish. It was during this time that the Prophet (ﷺ) sought out the protection of other Arab tribes to give a safe haven for the religion of Allah. Prior to reaching an agreement with the Aws and Khazraj tribes of Yathrib (later to become al-Madeenah), the Prophet (ﷺ) sought to solicit this aid from other tribes during the Hajj season.

Imam ibn Kathir, in his monumental work of history al-Bidayah wa’l-Nihayah, collected the following story from Abu Na’eem and narrated by ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib about one such meeting between the Prophet (ﷺ) and the tribe of Banu Shaibaan:

قال‏:‏ لما أمر الله رسوله صلى الله عليه وسلم أن يعرض نفسه على قبائل العرب، خرج وأنا معه، وأبو بكر إلى منى حتى دفعنا إلى مجلس من مجالس العرب، فتقدم أبو بكر رضي الله عنه فسلم، وكان أبو بكر مقدماً في كل خير، وكان رجلاً نسابة‏….‏

‘Ali said: When Allah ordered His Prophet (ﷺ) to present himself to the Arab tribes, he left (to go speak to one of them) and I went with him, as did Abu Bakr, until we reached Mina and we came to one of the gathering of the Arabs [i.e. one of the camp sites of an Arab tribe]. So Abu Bakr went ahead of us and greeted them, and Abu Bakr was the foremost in all sorts of goodness, and he was a man who was well-versed in genealogy. …

قال‏:‏ ثم انتهينا إلى مجلس عليه السكينة والوقار، وإذا مشايخ لهم أقدار وهيئات، فتقدم أبو بكر فسلم – قال علي‏:‏ وكان أبو بكر مقدماً في كل خير – فقال لهم أبو بكر‏:‏ ممن القوم‏؟‏

Then we went to another gathering over which there was a sense of calmness and dignity. When the leaders of their affairs came Abu Bakr wet on ahead to greet them – and Abu Bakr was the foremost in all forms of goodness – and Abu Bakr said to them, “Who are these people?”

قالوا‏:‏ من بني شيبان بن ثعلبة‏.‏

They said, “The tribe of Bani Shaibaan ibn Tha’labah.” Continue reading

If you see a man speak ill of the Companions, then suspect his Islam

Imam Ismaa’eel ibn ‘Umar ibn Kathir wrote in his famous work of history, al-Bidayah w’al-Nihayah:

قال الإمام أحمد رحمه الله:  إذا رأيت رجلا يذكر أحدا من الصحابة بسوء فاتهمه على الإسلام

Imam Ahmad said, “If you see a man speak ill of the Companions, then suspect his Islam.”

[al-Bidayah w’al-Nihayah 8/142]

The story of Ilyaas: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In surah al-Saffaat, Allah tells us the story of His prophet Ilyaas (Elijah):

وَإِنَّ إِلْيَاسَ لَمِنَ الْمُرْ‌سَلِينَ ﴿١٢٣﴾ إِذْ قَالَ لِقَوْمِهِ أَلَا تَتَّقُونَ ﴿١٢٤﴾ أَتَدْعُونَ بَعْلًا وَتَذَرُ‌ونَ أَحْسَنَ الْخَالِقِينَ ﴿١٢٥﴾ اللَّـهَ رَ‌بَّكُمْ وَرَ‌بَّ آبَائِكُمُ الْأَوَّلِينَ ﴿١٢٦﴾فَكَذَّبُوهُ فَإِنَّهُمْ لَمُحْضَرُ‌ونَ ﴿١٢٧﴾ إِلَّا عِبَادَ اللَّـهِ الْمُخْلَصِينَ ﴿١٢٨﴾ وَتَرَ‌كْنَا عَلَيْهِ فِي الْآخِرِ‌ينَ ﴿١٢٩﴾ سَلَامٌ عَلَىٰ إِلْ يَاسِينَ ﴿١٣٠﴾ إِنَّا كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ ﴿١٣١﴾ إِنَّهُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ﴿١٣٢﴾ ـ

And indeed, Ilyaas was from among the messengers, (123) When he said to his people, “Will you not fear Allah? (124) Do you call upon Ba’l and leave the best of creators – (125) Allah, your Lord and the Lord of your first forefathers?” (126) So they denied him, so indeed, they will be brought, (127) Except the sincere servants of Allah. (128) And We left for him  among later generations: (129) “Salaam upon Ilyaaseen.” (130) Indeed, like so do we reward the doers of good. (131) Indeed, he was one of Our believing servants. (132)

Imam al-Sa’di brings out some of the salient points of this passage in his tafsir when he writes:

يمدح تعالى عبده ورسوله، إلياس عليه الصلاة والسلام، بالنبوة والرسالة، والدعوة إلى اللّه، وأنه أمر قومه بالتقوى، وعبادة اللّه وحده، ونهاهم عن عبادتهم، صنما لهم يقال له ‏”‏بعل‏”‏ وتركهم عبادة اللّه، الذي خلق الخلق، وأحسن خلقهم، ورباهم فأحسن تربيتهم، وأدرَّ عليهم النعم الظاهرة والباطنة، وأنكم كيف تركتم عبادة من هذا شأنه، إلى عبادة صنم، لا يضر، ولا ينفع، ولا يخلق، ولا يرزق، بل لا يأكل ولا يتكلم‏؟‏‏”‏ وهل هذا إلا من أعظم الضلال والسفه والغي‏؟‏‏”‏

Allah the Exalted is praising His slave and messenger, Ilyaas‘alaihis salaatu was salaam – with prophethood and messengership, and calling to Allah, that he commanded his people with taqwa and the worship of Allah alone, and forbade them from the worship of an idol of their which they called “Ba’l” and (thereby) abandoning the worship of Allah, who created the creation and is the best creator for them, and He nurtured them and is the best nurturer for them, and he provided them with blessings both apparent and hidden. So how could you abandon His worship in light of all this, for the worship of an idol, which neither can harm nor benefit, neither create nor provide or sustain, rather it cannot even eat or speak? And what is this except for the greatest misguidance, foolishness and error?

‏{‏‏”‏فَكَذَّبُوهُ‏”‏‏}‏ فيما دعاهم إليه، فلم ينقادوا له، قال اللّه متوعدا لهم‏:‏ ‏{‏فَإِنَّهُمْ لَمُحْضَرُونَ‏}‏ أي يوم القيامة في العذاب، ولم يذكر لهم عقوبة دنيوية‏.‏

So they denied him” concerning that to which he invited them, so they did not think critically about it. Allah said, promising them, “so indeed, they will be brought” meaning on the Day of Resurrection for punishment, and He did not mention their punishment in this world.

‏{‏إِلَّا عِبَادَ اللَّهِ الْمُخْلَصِينَ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ الذين أخلصهم اللّه، ومنَّ عليهم باتباع نبيهم، فإنهم غير محضرين في العذاب، وإنما لهم من اللّه جزيل الثواب‏.‏

Except the sincere servants of Allah” – meaning: those who are sincere to Allah, and He provides them with the blessing of obediently following their prophet, so they are certainly not those who will be brought for punishment. For them there will certainly be a great reward from Allah.

‏{‏وَتَرَكْنَا عَلَيْهِ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ على إلياس ‏{‏فِي الْآخِرِينَ‏}‏ ثناء حسنا‏.‏

And We left for him” – meaning: for Ilyaas – “among later generations” praise and goodness.

‏{‏سَلَامٌ عَلَى إِلْ يَاسِينَ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ تحية من اللّه، ومن عباده عليه‏.‏

“‘Salaam upon Ilyaaseen‘” – meaning: greeting from Allah, and from His slaves upon him.*

‏{‏إِنَّا كَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ إِنَّهُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا الْمُؤْمِنِينَ‏}‏ فأثنى اللّه عليه كما أثنى على إخوانه صلوات اللّه وسلامه عليهم أجمعين‏.‏

Indeed, like so do we reward the doers of good. Indeed, he was one of Our believing servants.” Thus Allah praised him just as He praised his brothers – salawaat Allaah was salaamahu ‘alaihim ajma’een.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman]

*And concerning the rendering of Ilyaas as ‘Ilyaaseen’ in ayah 130, Ibn Kathir wrote:

العرب تلحق النون في أسماء كثيرة، وتبدلها من غيرها، كما قالوا‏:‏ إسماعيل وإسماعين، وإسرائيل واسرائين، وإلياس وإلياسين، ومن قرأ‏:‏ سلام على آل ياسين أي‏:‏ على آل محمد

The Arabs attach the letter ‘noon’ to many names, and it replaces what would be there instead, such as when they say ismaa’eel and ismaa’een, israa’eel and israa’een, ilyaas and ilyaaseen. And one of the recitations is “salaam upon aal yaaseen (the family of Yaaseen)”, meaning upon the family of Muhammad.

[al-Bidayah wa’l-Nihayah 1/397]

See also: The story of the town by the sea: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: The story of the two sons of Adam: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: The Orator of the Anbiya: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: The story of Nuh and his son

See also: Two disbelieving women and two believing women: Tafsir al-Sa’di