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

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The Early History of the Qiraa’aat: al-Suyooti

In his famous handbook to the Qur’anic sciences, al-Itqaan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an, Jalal al-Deen al-Suyooti included the following discussion in his chapter, “Knowing the Memorizers and Transmitters of the Qur’an”. In this excerpt, al-Suyooti gives a brief history of how the qiraa’aat that are widely-used today were meticulously passed down from teacher to student with chains of transmission going back to the Prophet until they became the list of the seven well-known qiraa’aat around the beginning of the fourth century after the Hijrah:

المشتهرون بإقراء القرآن من الصحابة سبعة : عثمان ، وعلي ، وأبي ، وزيد بن ثابت ، وابن مسعود ، وأبو الدرداء ، وأبو موسى الأشعري . كذا ذكرهم الذهبي في طبقات القراء . قال : وقد قرأ على أبي جماعة من الصحابة منهم أبو هريرة ، وابن عباس ، وعبد الله بن السائب وأخذ ابن عباس عن زيد أيضا وأخذ عنهم خلق من التابعين . ـ

The Sahabah most well-known for reciting the Qur’an were seven:

  • ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan
  • ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib
  • Ubay ibn Ka’b
  • Zayd ibn Thabit
  • ibn Mas’ood
  • Abu al-Dardaa’
  • Abu Moosaa al-Ash’ari

al-Dhahabi also mentioned these seven in his book, Tabaqaat al-Qurraa’.* He further said:

A number of the Sahabah also learned from Ubay, including Abu Hurayrah, ibn ‘Abbaas, and ‘Abdullah ibn al-Saa’ib. Ibn ‘Abbaas also learned from Zayd, and then a number of the Taabi’oon also learned from them.

فممن كان بالمدينة : ابن المسيب وعروة وسالم وعمر بن عبد العزيز وسليمان وعطاء بن يسار ، ومعاذ بن الحارث المعروف بمعاذ القارئ ، وعبد الرحمن بن هرمز الأعرج ، وابن شهاب الزهري ، ومسلم بن جندب ، وزيد بن أسلم . ـ

○ In al-Madinah, these Taabi’oon included: ibn al-Musayyib, ‘Urwah, Saalim, ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, the brothers Sulayman and ‘Ataa’ ibn Yasaar, Mu’adh ibn al-Haarith – more commonly known as Mu’adh the reciter -, ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Hurmuz al-A’raj, ibn Shihab al-Zuhri, Muslim ibn Jundub, and Zayd ibn Aslam.

وبمكة : عبيد بن عمير ، وعطاء بن أبي رباح ، وطاوس ، ومجاهد ، وعكرمة ، وابن أبي مليكة . ـ

○ In Mecca: ‘Ubayd ibn ‘Umayr, ‘Ataa; ibn Abi Rabaah, Taawoos, Mujahid, ‘Ikrimah, and ibn Abi Mulaykah. Continue reading

Prayer is the Root of Every Good: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

In surah al-Ma’aarij, Allah mentions a series of qualities of the believers wherein He begins with al-salaah [prayer] by saying:

 إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ خُلِقَ هَلُوعًا * إِذَا مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ جَزُوعًا * وَإِذَا مَسَّهُ الْخَيْرُ مَنُوعًا * إِلَّا الْمُصَلِّينَ * الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَىٰ صَلَاتِهِمْ دَائِمُونَ

Indeed, man was created haloo’a * when harm touches him, he is impatient * and when good touches him, he is withholding * Except for those who pray * who are constant in the performance of their prayer … [70:19-23]

and He concludes the list with al-salaah by saying:

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَىٰ صَلَاتِهِمْ يُحَافِظُونَ * أُولَـٰئِكَ فِي جَنَّاتٍ مُّكْرَ‌مُونَ

And those who are careful maintainers of their prayers – They will be in gardens, honored. [7:34-35]

In his commentary of this surah, sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee addressed this by writing:

وصف الله تعالى من استثناهم من الإنسان الهلوع بتسع صفات : [ ص: 269 ] اثنتان منها تختص بالصلاة ، وهما الأولى والأخيرة ; مما يدل على أهمية الصلاة ، ووجوب شدة الاهتمام بها . وهذا من المسلمات في الدين ; لمكانتها من الإسلام ، وفي وصفهم هنا بأنهم : ( على صلاتهم دائمون ) ، وفي الأخير : ( على صلاتهم يحافظون ) [ 70 \ 34 ] . ـ

Allah describes those people who are excluded from being characterized as haloo’a [anxious for gains, impatient with losses] with nine qualities – two of which are connected to the salaah, those being the first and the last of them.

These are among the evidences which show the great importance of salaah and the requirement to give great attention to it. This is something well-known about the religion due to the place that prayer has in Islam. So here Allah describes them as:

عَلَىٰ صَلَاتِهِمْ دَائِمُونَ

those who are constant in their prayers

and at the end of the list as: 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

The Great Attention that the Salaf gave to the Qur’an: Ibn al-Jazari

The famous scholar of the Qiraa’aat Abu’l-Khair Muhammad ibn al-Jazari began his most famous work with some narrations on the virtues of reciting the Qur’an, including the following:

وروينا أيضا في الطبراني بإسناد جيد من حديث عبد الله بن مسعود – رضي الله عنه – قال : قال رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : خيركم من قرأ القرآن وأقرأه ورواه البخاري في صحيحه عن عثمان بن عفان – رضي الله عنه – ولفظه قال : قال رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : خيركم من تعلم القرآن وعلمه وكان الإمام أبو عبد الرحمن السلمي التابعي الجليل يقول لما يروي هذا الحديث عن عثمان : هذا الذي أقعدني مقعدي هذا ، يشير إلى كونه جالسا في المسجد الجامع بالكوفة يعلم القرآن ويقرئه مع جلالة قدره وكثرة علمه ، وحاجة الناس إلى علمه ، وبقي يقرئ الناس بجامع الكوفة أكثر من أربعين سنة ، وعليه قرأ الحسن والحسين – رضي الله عنهما – ، ولذلك كان السلف – رحمهم الله – لا يعدلون بإقراء القرآن شيئا فقد روينا عن شقيق أبي وائل قال : قيل لعبد الله بن مسعود – رضي الله عنه – : إنك تقل الصوم . قال : إني إذا صمت ضعفت عن القرآن ، وتلاوة القرآن أحب إلي . ـ

We find the hadith of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him) transmitted to us in the collection of al-Tabaraani with a good chain of narration that he said: Allah’s Messenger said, “The best of you are those who recite the Qur’an [to others, teaching them] and have it recited to them [by students].”

And al-Bukhari also transmitted this in his Saheeh collection from ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affaan (may Allah be pleased with him) with the following wording, that Allah’s Messenger said, “The best of you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it.” Continue reading

Those who say “our Lord is Allah” and then have al-Istiqaamah: Tafsir al-Baghawi

In part of surah Fussilat, Allah praises:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ ثُمَّ اسْتَقَامُوا تَتَنَزَّلُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ أَلَّا تَخَافُوا وَلَا تَحْزَنُوا وَأَبْشِرُوا بِالْجَنَّةِ الَّتِي كُنْتُمْ تُوعَدُونَ

Those who say “our Lord is Allah” and then have al-Istiqaamah, then the angels will descend on them: “Do not fear and do not grieve! And have glad tidings of al-Jannah which you have been promised!” [41:30]

In his tafsir of this ayah, Imam Husayn al-Baghawi mentioned the following narrations:

 قوله عز وجل : ( إن الذين قالوا ربنا الله ثم استقاموا ) سئل أبو بكر الصديق – رضي الله تعالى عنه – عن الاستقامة فقال : أن لا تشرك بالله شيئا . وقال عمر بن الخطاب – رضي الله عنه – : ” الاستقامة ” أن تستقيم على الأمر والنهي ، ولا تروغ روغان الثعلب . وقال عثمان بن عفان – رضي الله عنه – : أخلصوا العمل لله . وقال علي – رضي الله عنه – : أدوا الفرائض . وقال ابن عباس : استقاموا على أداء الفرائض . ـ وقال الحسن : استقاموا على أمر الله تعالى فعملوا بطاعته ، واجتنبوا معصيته . ـ وقال مجاهد وعكرمة : استقاموا على شهادة أن لا إله إلا الله حتى لحقوا بالله . ـ وقال مقاتل : استقاموا على المعرفة ولم يرتدوا . وقال قتادة : كان الحسن إذا تلا هذه الآية قال : اللهم أنت ربنا فارزقنا الاستقامة . ـ

Allah’s statement:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّـهُ ثُمَّ اسْتَقَامُوا

Those who say “our Lord is Allah” and then have al-Istiqaamah

Abu Bakr al-Siddiq was asked about al-Istiqaamah and he replied by saying, “It is that you do not associate any partners with Allah at all.”

‘Umar ibn al-Khattab said, “al-Istiqaamah is that you steadfastly observe the commands and prohibitions, and that you do not swerve off into falsehood and deceit.”

‘Uthman ibn ‘Affaan said, “They make their deeds sincerely for the sake of Allah.”

‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib said, “They perform the obligatory duties.” Continue reading

Assorted Qur’an Benefits #1

What follows are a collection of assorted benefits and short quotes originally posted on our Facebook page in the months of May and June of 2014:

Three Great Sins

Muhammad ibn Ka’b al-Qarthi said:

 الكبائر ثلاثة: أن تأمن مكر الله، وأن تقنط من رحمة الله، وأن تيأس من روح الله . ـ

There are three great sins: 1) feeling secure from the plan of Allah, 2) despairing of the Rahmah of Allah, and 3) giving up hope in the relief from Allah.

[al-Bidayah w’al-Nihayah 9/286]

Muhammad ibn Ka’b al-Qarthi (d. 108 AH) was a scholar of Tafsir among the Taabi’oon, and the three issues that he mentioned are similar to these statements of Allah:

 أَفَأَمِنُوا مَكْرَ‌ اللَّـهِ ۚ فَلَا ‏يَأْمَنُ مَكْرَ‌ اللَّـهِ إِلَّا الْقَوْمُ الْخَاسِرُ‌ونَ

Then did they feel secure from the plan of Allah? But no one feels secure from the plan of Allah except the losing people. [7:99]

 قَالَ وَمَنْ يَقْنَطُ مِنْ رَحْمَةِ رَبِّهِ إِلَّا الضَّالُّونَ

He said, “And who despairs of the Rahmah of his Lord except for those astray?” [15:56]

وَلَا تَيْأَسُوا مِن رَّ‌وْحِ اللَّـهِ ۖ إِنَّهُ لَا يَيْأَسُ مِن رَّ‌وْحِ اللَّـهِ إِلَّا الْقَوْمُ الْكَافِرُ‌ونَ

And despair not of relief from Allah. Indeed, no one gives up hope in relief from Allah except the disbelieving people. [12:87]


The Meanings of Hopelessness and Despair

Allah says in surah al-Fussilat:

 لَا يَسْأَمُ الْإِنْسَانُ مِنْ دُعَاءِ الْخَيْرِ وَإِنْ مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ فَيَئُوسٌ قَنُوطٌ

“Man does not get tired of praying for good, but if an evil touches him, then he gives up all hope and is in despair. ” [41:49]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, Imam al-Qurtubi wrote: Continue reading

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

Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan was asked the following question:

السؤال: ما تفسير قوله -تعالى-: (وَأَنَّ هَذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيماً فَاتَّبِعُوهُ وَلا تَتَّبِعُوا السُّبُلَ فَتَفَرَّقَ بِكُمْ عَنْ سَبِيلِهِ ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ)؟ ـ

Question: What is the explanation of Allah’s statement:

وَأَنَّ هَذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيماً فَاتَّبِعُوهُ وَلا تَتَّبِعُوا السُّبُلَ فَتَفَرَّقَ بِكُمْ عَنْ سَبِيلِهِ ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

And this is My path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow other ways, for you will be separated from His way. This has He instructed you in order that you may exercise al-taqwa. [6:153]

الجواب: بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، الحمدُ لله ربِّ العالمين، وصلَّى الله على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وأصحابه أجمعين. ـ

Response: In the name of Allah, al-Rahman al-Raheem. All praise belongs of Allah, Lord of all creation. May Allah’s salutations be upon our Prophet, Muhammad, and upon his family and all of his companions.

ذَكَرَ اللهُ -جلَّ وعلا- في هذه الآية الوصيةَ العاشرة مِنَ الوصايا العشر التي جاءت في سورة الأنعام؛ حينما قال – تعالى-: (قُلْ تَعَالَوْا أَتْلُ مَا حَرَّمَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ أَلاَّ تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئاً) هذه الأولى، وهي النهي عن الشرك، والعاشرة هذه الآية: (وَأَنَّ هَذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيماً). ـ

In this ayah, Allah mentions the tenth of ten commandments which come in surah al-An’aam, beginning with Him saying:

قُلْ تَعَالَوْا أَتْلُ مَا حَرَّمَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ أَلاَّ تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئاً

Say, “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. That you not associate anything in worship or divinity with Him … [6:151]

That is the first of them, which is a prohibition of al-shirk, and the tenth is this ayah: Continue reading

The Themes and Contents of Surah Maryam: ibn Taymiyah

Sheikh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyah wrote the following words discussing the major themes of surah Maryam and outlining its contents. We would recommend reading this article with a Qur’an close by in order to better follow the different themes and topics mentioned:

سورة مريم قال شيخ الإسلام رحمه الله فصل ” سورة مريم ” مضمونها : تحقيق عبادة الله وحده وأن خواص الخلق هم عباده فكل كرامة ودرجة رفيعة في هذه الإضافة وتضمنت الرد على الغالين الذين زادوا في النسبة إلى الله حتى نسبوا إليه عيسى بطريق الولادة والرد على المفرطين في تحقيق العبادة وما فيها من الكرامة وجحدوا نعم الله التي أنعم بها على عباده المصطفين . ـ

Surah Maryam includes the following topics:

Affirming worship for Allah alone, and that the best of creation were those who devotedly worshiped Him. For every honor and elevated station lies in this relationship of the creation worshiping the Creator.

This surah also includes a rebuttal of those fanatical people who claim various additional and higher forms of relationship with Allah, to such an extent that they link ‘Eesaa (Jesus) directly to Him as an offspring.

It also includes a refutation of those who go to extremes in their affirmation of sevanthood and who deny the various blessings – such as the miracles given to righteous people – which Allah has bestowed upon His chosen servants.

افتتحها بقوله : { ذكر رحمة ربك عبده زكريا } وندائه ربه نداء خفيا وموهبته له يحيى ثم قصة مريم وابنها وقوله : { إني عبد الله } . . إلخ بين فيها الرد على الغلاة في المسيح وعلى الجفاة النافين عنه ما أنعم الله به عليه ; ثم أمر نبيه بذكر إبراهيم وما دعا إليه من عبادة الله وحده ونهيه إياه عن عبادة الشيطان وموهبته له إسحاق ويعقوب وأنه جعل له لسان صدق عليا وهو الثناء الحسن وأخبر عن يحيى وعيسى وإبراهيم ببر الوالدين مع التوحيد وذكر موسى وموهبته له أخاه هارون نبيا كما وهب يحيى لزكريا وعيسى لمريم وإسحاق لإبراهيم . ـ

Allah begins this surah by saying:

ذِكْرُ رَحْمَتِ رَبِّكَ عَبْدَهُ زَكَرِيَّا

a mention of the mercy of your Lord to His servant Zakariyyah [19:2]

and his calling His Lord with a private supplication, and Allah’s granting him Yahya, and then the story of Maryam and her son, and that son’s statement:

إِنِّي عَبْدُ اللَّـهِ

Indeed, I am a servant of Allah… [19:30]

until the end of the story. In this part of the surah, Allah makes a clear refutation against those who go to extremes regarding the Messiah, as well as rebutting those ill-mannered ones who deny the various blessings which Allah did bestow upon him. Continue reading

Investigate and Verify: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah commands the believers in surah al-Nisaa’ by saying:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا ضَرَبْتُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ فَتَبَيَّنُوا وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَنْ أَلْقَىٰ إِلَيْكُمُ السَّلَامَ لَسْتَ مُؤْمِنًا تَبْتَغُونَ عَرَضَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا فَعِندَ اللَّـهِ مَغَانِمُ كَثِيرَةٌ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ كُنتُم مِّن قَبْلُ فَمَنَّ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْكُمْ فَتَبَيَّنُوا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا

O you who have believed, when you go forth in the cause of Allah, investigate; and do not say to one who gives you a greeting of peace “You are not a believer,” seeking the goods of worldly life; for with Allah are many bounties. You yourselves were like that before before Allah conferred His favor upon you, so investigate. Indeed Allah is ever acquainted with what you do. [4:94]

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

يأمر تعالى عباده المؤمنين إذا خرجوا جهادا في سبيله وابتغاء مرضاته أن يتبينوا ويتثبتوا في جميع أمورهم المشتبهة. فإن الأمور قسمان: واضحة وغير واضحة. فالواضحة البينة لا تحتاج إلى تثبت وتبين، لأن ذلك تحصيل حاصل. وأما الأمور المشكلة غير الواضحة فإن الإنسان يحتاج إلى التثبت فيها والتبين، ليعرف هل يقدم عليها أم لا؟ ـ

Allah is commanding His believing slaves to investigate and verify the facts in any and all situations which are not completely clear whenever they go out for jihaad in His path and seeking His pleasure.

And things can fall into one of two categories: either they are clear or unclear. Those things which are plain and clear do not require any extra verification or investigation, because clarity has already been achieved. But as for those matters which are not entirely clear and somewhat thorny, then a person must seek to ascertain what is really the case and seek clarity so that he can known whether he should proceed with his plan or not. Continue reading