Uthman’s Service to the Qur’an: Tafsir ibn Kathir

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir mentioned the following in the introduction to his tafsir as the third part of his section entitled “The Gathering of the Qur’an” which focused on the preservation and collection of the Qur’an:

قال البخاري ، رحمه الله: حدثنا موسى بن إسماعيل ، حدثنا إبراهيم ، حدثنا ابن شهاب ، عن [ص: 28] أنس بن مالك ، حدثه أن حذيفة بن اليمان قدم على عثمان بن عفان رضي الله عنهما وكان يغازي أهل الشام في فتح أرمينية وأرجان مع أهل العراق ، فأفزع حذيفة اختلافهم في القراءة. فقال حذيفة لعثمان: يا أمير المؤمنين ، أدرك هذه الأمة فأرسل عثمان إلى حفصة أن أرسلي إلينا بالصحف تنسخها في المصاحف ثم نردها إليك ، فأرسلت بها حفصة إلى عثمان ، فأمر زيد بن ثابت وعبد الله بن الزبير وسعيد بن العاص وعبد الرحمن بن الحارث بن هشام فنسخوها في المصاحف ، وقال عثمان للرهط القرشيين الثلاثة : إذا اختلفتم أنتم وزيد بن ثابت في شيء من القرآن فاكتبوه بلسان قريش ، فإنما أنزل بلسانهم . ففعلوا ، حتى إذا نسخوا الصحف في المصاحف رد عثمان الصحف إلى حفصة وأرسل إلى كل أفق بمصحف مما نسخوا ، وأمر بما سواه من القرآن في محل صحيفة أو مصحف أن يحرق . ـ

al-Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on him) said: … that Anas ibn Maalik relayed that:

Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman came to ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affaan (may Allah be pleased with both of them) while the people of Syria were fighting in the Conquest of Armenia and Azerbaijan alongside the people of Iraq. This was because Hudhaifah was concerned about their differing recitations. Hudhayfah said to ‘Uthman, “O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, save this ummah!” So ‘Uthman sent a request to Hafsah asking her, “Send us the sheets of paper so that we can transfer that into some bound copies and then we will return it to you.” Hafsah then set the sheets to ‘Uthman and he instructed Zayd ibn Thaabit, ‘Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr, Sa’eed ibn al-‘Aas and ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Haarith ibn Hisham to transfer its contents over into bound copies. And he said to the three Qurayshi men of the group, “If you and Zayd ibn Thaabit differ about any part of the Qur’an, then write it down in the dialect of the Quraysh for it was revealed in their dialect.” They carried this out, and then when they had copied over the sheets into these bound copies ‘Uthman returned the sheets to Harsah and sent one of those bound copies which they had copied over in every direction and commanded that whatever else of the Qur’an had been written down on loose sheets or bound books should be burned.

قال ابن شهاب الزهري : فأخبرني خارجة بن زيد بن ثابت : سمع زيد بن ثابت قال : فقدت آية من الأحزاب حين نسخنا المصحف قد كنت أسمع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقرأ بها ، التمسناها فوجدناها مع خزيمة بن ثابت الأنصاري : ( من المؤمنين رجال صدقوا ما عاهدوا الله عليه ) [ الأحزاب : 23 ] ، فألحقناها في سورتها في المصحف . ـ

ibn Shihab al-Zuhri said: Continue reading

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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

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

“Close friends, that Day, will be enemies to each other- except for the muttaqoon”

Allah informs us about one of the features of the Day of Recompense in surah al-Zukhruf when He says:

الْأَخِلَّاءُ يَوْمَئِذٍ بَعْضُهُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ إِلَّا الْمُتَّقِينَ

Close friends, that Day, will be enemies to each other – except for the muttaqoon

[al-Qur’an 43:67]

In his tafsir of this ayah, Imam al-Baghawi brings a statement from ‘Ali (raadiAllaahu ‘anhu) concerning this ayah where he said: 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

The Inscription on the Sword of the Prophet (ﷺ)

ʿAli ibn Abi Taalib mentioned:

لَمَّا ضَمَمْتُ إِلَيَّ سِلاَحَ رَسُولِ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَجَدتُّ فِي قَائِمِ سَيْفِ رَسُولِ اللهِ صلَّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّمَ رُقْعَةً فيها: ((اُعْفُ عَمَّنْ ظَلَمَكَ، وَصِلْ مَنْ قَطَعَكَ، وَأَحْسِنْ إِلَى مَنْ أَسَاءَ إِلَيْكَ، وَقُلِ الْحَقَّ وَلَوْ عَلَـــى نَفْسِكَ)). اهـ

When I put the weapon of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) to my chest, I found inscribed on the hilt of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ)’s sword: “Pardon those who have oppressed you, keep in contact with those who have cut you off, behave excellently towards those who have done evil to you, and say the truth even if it’s against yourself!

(Authenticated by Sheikh al-Albaani in Silsilah al-Ahaadeeth al-Saheehah #1911; Saheeh al-Targheeb wa’l-Tarheeb 2467 (saheeh li-ghayrihi); also graded as saheeh by al-Suyuti in al-Jaami’ al-Sagheer #5004]