Those Messengers whom Allah Raised in Degree: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Towards the end of surah al-Baqarah, Allah informs us:

تِلْكَ الرُّ‌سُلُ فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۘ مِّنْهُم مَّن كَلَّمَ اللَّـهُ ۖ وَرَ‌فَعَ بَعْضَهُمْ دَرَ‌جَاتٍ

Those Messengers! We preferred some to others. Among them were those to whom Allah spoke, and He raised some of them in degree [2:253]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee commented at length on the contents of this ayah in his book of tafsir. In the first of the three sections, he discussed those messengers to whom Allah spoke. What follows is the second section of his tafsir of this ayah where al-Shinqitee discusses those messengers whom Allah raised in degree:

وقوله تعالى : ورفع بعضهم درجات ، أشار في مواضع أخر إلى أن منهم محمدا – صلى الله عليه وسلم – كقوله : عسى أن يبعثك ربك مقاما محمودا [ 17 \ 79 ] ، أو قوله : وما أرسلناك إلا كافة للناس الآية [ 34 \ 28 ] ، وقوله : إني رسول الله إليكم جميعا [ 7 \ 158 ] ، وقوله : تبارك الذي نزل الفرقان على عبده ليكون للعالمين نذيرا [ 25 ] ، وأشار في مواضع أخر إلى أن منهم إبراهيم كقوله : واتخذ الله إبراهيم خليلا [ 4 \ 125 ] ، وقوله : إني جاعلك للناس إماما [ 2 \ 124 ] ، إلى غير ذلك من الآيات . ـ

And Allah’s statement:

وَرَ‌فَعَ بَعْضَهُمْ دَرَ‌جَاتٍ

 and He raised some of them in degree [2:253]

He indicated elsewhere that Muhammad (ﷺ) is one of them, such as His statement:

عَسَىٰ أَن يَبْعَثَكَ رَ‌بُّكَ مَقَامًا مَّحْمُودًا

It may be that your Lord will raise you to a praised station [17:79]

Or His statement:

وَمَا أَرْ‌سَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا كَافَّةً لِّلنَّاسِ

And We have not sent you except comprehensively to mankind [34:28]

until the end of the ayah. And His statement:

إِنِّي رَ‌سُولُ اللَّـهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا

indeed I am the Messenger of Allah to you all [7:158]

And His statement:

تَبَارَ‌كَ الَّذِي نَزَّلَ الْفُرْ‌قَانَ عَلَىٰ عَبْدِهِ لِيَكُونَ لِلْعَالَمِينَ نَذِيرً‌ا

Blessed is He who sent down the Criterion upon His Servant that he may be a warner to call the creation [25:1]

He indicated elsewhere that Ibrahim was one of them, such as His statement: Continue reading

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Moosaa, Muhammad & Adam – the Messengers to whom Allah spoke: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

In the latter part of surah al-Baqarah, Allah informs us:

تِلْكَ الرُّ‌سُلُ فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۘ مِّنْهُم مَّن كَلَّمَ اللَّـهُ ۖ وَرَ‌فَعَ بَعْضَهُمْ دَرَ‌جَاتٍ

Those Messengers! We preferred some to others. Among them were those to whom Allah spoke, and He raised some of them in degree [2:253]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee commented at length on the contents of this ayah in his book of tafsir. What follows is the first of three sections in which he discussed the messengers to whom He spoke:

قوله تعالى : تلك الرسل فضلنا بعضهم على بعض منهم من كلم الله ورفع بعضهم درجات ، لم يبين هنا هذا الذي كلمه الله منهم وقد بين أن منهم موسى عليه وعلى نبينا الصلاة والسلام بقوله : وكلم الله موسى تكليما [ 4 \ 164 ] ، وقوله : إني اصطفيتك على الناس برسالاتي وبكلامي [ 7 \ 144 ] . ـ

Allah’s statement:

تِلْكَ الرُّ‌سُلُ فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۘ مِّنْهُم مَّن كَلَّمَ اللَّـهُ ۖ وَرَ‌فَعَ بَعْضَهُمْ دَرَ‌جَاتٍ

Those Messengers! We preferred some to others. Among them were those to whom Allah spoke, and He raised some of them in degree [2:253]

Allah does not clarify here those of them to whom He spoke, but He did explain that among them was Moosaa (peace and blessings upon him and upon our prophet) by means of His statement:

وَكَلَّمَ اللَّـهُ مُوسَىٰ تَكْلِيمًا

And Allah spoke to Moses with [direct] speech. [4:164]

And His statement [to Moosaa]:

إِنِّي اصْطَفَيْتُكَ عَلَى النَّاسِ بِرِ‌سَالَاتِي وَبِكَلَامِي

I have chosen you over the people with My messages and My words [to you]. [7:144]

قال ابن كثير : منهم من كلم الله ، يعني موسى ومحمدا صلى الله عليهما وسلم ، وكذلك آدم كما ورد في الحديث المروي في ” صحيح ابن حبان ” عن أبي ذر رضي الله عنه . ـ

Ibn Kathir said: Continue reading

The Distinction Between a Prophet-King and a Slave-Messenger

Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di devoted a section of his thematic tafsir to Some of the Benefits Derived from the Story of Dawood and Sulaiman. In this chapter, he mentioned the following point:

ومنها: أن سليمان كان ملكا نبيا مباح له أن يفعل ما يريد، ولكنه لكماله لا يريد إلا الخير والعدل، وهذا بخلاف النبي العبد، فإنه لا يكون له إرادة مستقلة، بل إرادته تابعة لمراد الله منه، فلا يفعل ولا يترك إلا تبعا للأمر، كحال نبينا محمد ﷺ . ـ

And from the benefits: That Sulaiman was a Prophet-King, it being permissible for him to do what he wanted. However, due to his excellent completeness, he did not want anything other than good and justice. And this is in contrast to the Slave-Prophet, for that one does not have an independent will – rather his will characteristically follows what Allah wants of him. So he neither does nor leaves off anything except that he is following a command, like the case of our prophet Muhammad (ﷺ).

[Taysir al-Lateef al-Manaan pg. 356]

And he mentioned something similar in his well-known tafsir: Continue reading

The gratitude of a slave is better than the blessings of this world: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

Al-Haafidh Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali wrote the following in part of his great work Jaami’ al-‘Uloom w’al-Hikam, a detailed a thorough commentary on Imam al-Nawawi’s Forty Hadeeth:

وقال أبو بكر بن عبدالله ما قال عبد قط الحمد لله مرة إلا وجبت عليه نعمة بقوله الحمد لله فما جزى تلك النعمة جزاءها أن يقول الحمد لله فجاءت نعمة أخرى فلا تنفد نعماء الله

Abu Bakr ibn ‘Abdullah said, “A slave never says al-Hamdulillaah one time except that he must receive a blessing for his saying al-hamdulillaah.” So what is the proper response to that blessing? Its response is to say al-hamdulillaah, and so there will come another blessing, and so the blessings of Allah never cease.

وقد روى ابن ماجه من حديث أنس رضي الله عنه مرفوعًا إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ما أنعم الله على عبد نعمة فقال الحمد لله إلا كان الذي أعطى أفضل مما أخذ وروينا نحوه من حديث شهر بن حوشب عن أسماء بنت يزيد مرفوعًا أيضًا وروي هذا عن الحسن البصري من قوله

And Ibn Maajah has narrated the marfoo’ hadeeth of Anas (raadi Allaahu ‘anhu), “Allah never bestows a blessing upon a slave and he then the slave says ‘al-hamdulillaah‘ except that Allah gives him something better than that which he takes.” And we have also narrated the likes of that from the marfoo’ hadeeth of Shahr ibn Hawshab from Asmaa’ bint Yazeed. And this is narrated from Hasan al-Basri from his own statement. Continue reading

“Work, O family of Dawood, in gratitude”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In surah Saba’, Allaah سبحانه وتعالى recounts some of the great blessings and favors which he conferred upon His prophet Dawood (عليه السلام) and his family. After describing the amazing blessings upon this family, Allaah then commands:

اعْمَلُوا آلَ دَاوُودَ شُكْرً‌ا ۚ وَقَلِيلٌ مِّنْ عِبَادِيَ الشَّكُورُ‌

“Work, O family of Dawood, in gratitude.” And few of My servants are grateful.

[Surah Saba’ 34:13]

Imam ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Naasir al-Sa’di, in his book of tafsir writes the following in exegesis on this statement, saying:

فلما ذكر منته عليهم‏,‏ أمرهم بشكرها فقال‏:‏ ‏{‏اعْمَلُوا آلَ دَاوُدَ‏}‏ وهم داود‏,‏ وأولاده‏,‏ وأهله‏,‏ لأن المنة على الجميع‏,‏ وكثير من هذه المصالح عائد لكلهم‏.‏ ‏{‏شُكْرًا‏}‏ للّه على ما أعطاهم‏,‏ ومقابلة لما أولاهم‏.‏ ‏{‏وَقَلِيلٌ مِنْ عِبَادِيَ الشَّكُورُ‏}‏ فأكثرهم‏,‏ لم يشكروا اللّه تعالى على ما أولاهم من نعمه‏,‏ ودفع عنهم من النقم‏.‏

So when Allaah mentioned the blessings upon them, He commanded them with shukr (gratitude) for them, saying, “Work, O family of Dawood” – and they are Dawood and his children and his women, because the blessings were upon all of them, and many of these benefits had their effects on all of them. “In gratitude” to Allaah the Exalted who granted them, and as a return for His protective care over them. “And few of My servants are grateful” so most of them are not grateful to Allah the Exalted for His conferring of His blessings upon them, or for His protecting them from harms.

والشكر‏:‏ اعتراف القلب بمنة اللّه تعالى‏,‏ وتلقيها افتقارا إليها‏,‏ وصرفها في طاعة اللّه تعالى‏,‏ وصونها عن صرفها في المعصية‏.‏

And al-Shukr (gratitude) is: the heart’s recognition of the blessings of Allaah, realizing one’s desperate need of them, and using them in the obedience of Allaah, and restraining one’s self from using them in disobedience. Continue reading

The night of the middle of Sha’baan: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, in his discussion of the merits of the month of Sha’baan, writes the following concerning the magnification that some give to the night of the 15th of Sha’baan and performing extra special acts of worship therein:

وفي فضل ليلة نصف شعبان أحاديث أخر متعددة ، وقد اختلف فيها ، فضعّفها الأكثرون ، وصحّح ابن حبان بعضها وخرّجه في صحيحه

There are many hadeeth concerning the virtue of the night of the middle of Sha’baan, and there has been differing about them. The majority [of the muhaddithoon] have graded them as weak, but Ibn Hibbaan authenticated some of them and reported them in his Saheeh collection.

ومن أمثلها حديث عائشة ، قالت : فَقَدْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم لَيْلَةً فَخَرَجْتُ فَإِذَا هُوَ بِالْبَقِيعِ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ أَكُنْتِ تَخَافِينَ أَنْ يَحِيفَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكِ وَرَسُولُهُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنِّي ظَنَنْتُ أَنَّكَ أَتَيْتَ بَعْضَ نِسَائِكَ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يَنْزِلُ لَيْلَةَ النِّصْفِ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ الدُّنْيَا فَيَغْفِرُ لأَكْثَرَ مِنْ عَدَدِ شَعْرِ غَنَمِ كَلْبٍ . خرّجه الإمام أحمد والترمذي وابن ماجه ، وذكر الترمذي عن البخاري أنه ضعّفه.

An example of those is the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah, where she said, “I could not find the Messenger of Allah one night. So I left and found him at Al-Baqi. He said: ‘Did you fear that you had been wronged by Allah and His Messenger?’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! I thought that you had gone to one of your wives.’ So he said: ‘Indeed Allah – The Mighty and Sublime – descends to the lowest Heavens during the night of the middle of Sha’baan, to grant forgiveness to more than the number of hairs on the sheep of (Banu) Kalb.'” It was recorded by Imam Ahmad, al-Tirmidhi, and ibn Maajah, and al-Tirmidhi mentioned that al-Bukhari had graded it as weak. Continue reading

We revealed to you as We revealed to those before you: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah, in surah al-Nisaa’, provides His slaves with some information about His revelations and messengers when He says:

‏‏إِنَّا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ كَمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَى نُوحٍ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالْأَسْبَاطِ وَعِيسَى وَأَيُّوبَ وَيُونُسَ وَهَارُونَ وَسُلَيْمَانَ وَآتَيْنَا دَاوُدَ زَبُورًا * وَرُسُلًا قَدْ قَصَصْنَاهُمْ عَلَيْكَ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَرُسُلًا لَمْ نَقْصُصْهُمْ عَلَيْكَ وَكَلَّمَ اللَّهُ مُوسَى تَكْلِيمًا * رُسُلًا مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنْذِرِينَ لِئَلَّا يَكُونَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَى اللَّهِ حُجَّةٌ بَعْدَ الرُّسُلِ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَزِيزًا حَكِيمًا

Indeed, We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], as We revealed to Nuh and the prophets after him. And we revealed to Ibrahim, Ismaa’eel, Ishaaq, Ya’qoob, the Descendants, ‘Eesaa, Ayyub, Yunus, Haaroon, and Sulayman, and to Dawood We gave the Zaboor. And Messengers We have mentioned to you before, and Messengers We have not mentioned to you, – and to Moosaa Allah spoke directly. Messengers as bearers of good news as well as of warning in order that mankind should have no plea against Allah after the Messengers. And Allah is Ever Powerful, All­ Wise. [4:163-165]

Imam al-Sa’di, in his book of tafsir, wrote the following about these ayaat:

يخبر تعالى أنه أوحى إلى عبده ورسوله من الشرع العظيم والأخبار الصادقة ما أوحى إلى هؤلاء الأنبياء عليهم الصلاة والسلام وفي هذا عدة فوائد‏:‏

Allah informs His slaves that He has given Divine inspiration to His slave and messenger concerning the great legislation and information which is confirmed by what was divinely revealed to these prophets (‘alaihim al-salaatu w’al-salaam), and in this there are many benefits:

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Imam al-Shawkani on the Gospels

Allah says in surah al-Nisaa’:

يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لَا تَغْلُوا فِي دِينِكُمْ وَلَا تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّـهِ إِلَّا الْحَقَّ ۚ إِنَّمَا الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْ‌يَمَ رَ‌سُولُ اللَّـهِ وَكَلِمَتُهُ أَلْقَاهَا إِلَىٰ مَرْ‌يَمَ وَرُ‌وحٌ مِّنْهُ ۖ فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّـهِ وَرُ‌سُلِهِ ۖ وَلَا تَقُولُوا ثَلَاثَةٌ ۚ انتَهُوا خَيْرً‌ا لَّكُمْ ۚ إِنَّمَا اللَّـهُ إِلَـٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ سُبْحَانَهُ أَن يَكُونَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ ۘ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْ‌ضِ ۗ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّـهِ وَكِيلًا

“O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion and do not say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, ‘Eesaa (Jesus) , the son of Maryam, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Maryam and a ruh from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, ‘Three’; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.” [4:171]

Imam al-Shawkani, in his book tafsir, writes the following in part of his explanation for this ayah, :

قوله: {يأَهْلَ الكتاب لاَ تَغْلُواْ فِى دِينِكُمْ} الغلو: هو التجاوز في الحدّ، ومنه غلا السعر يغلو غلاء، وغلا الرجل في الأمر غلواً، وغلا بالجارية لحمها وعظمها إذا أسرعت الشباب فجاوزت لداتها. والمراد بالآية: النهي لهم عن الإفراط تارة والتفريط أخرى، فمن الإفراط غلوّ النصارى في عيسى حتى جعلوه ربا، ومن التفريط غلو اليهود فيه عليه السلام حتى جعلوه لغير رشدة، وما أحسن قول الشاعر

ولا تغل في شيء من الأمر واقتصد *** كلا طرفي قصد الأمور ذميم

His statement, “O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion” – ‘Excess’ is exceeding the limits. … And the meaning of the ayah: a prohibition to them from exaggeration on the one hand and negligence on the other, for from the excess of exaggeration are the Christians concerning’ Eesaa (Jesus) to the extent that they made him a lord, and from the excess of negligence are the Jews concerning him (‘alaihis salaam) to the extent that they made him other than rightly guided. And what is better that the speech of the poet:

Do not go to extremes in any affairs, nor be negligent,

Both of these groups have achieved lowly affairs

{وَلاَ تَقُولُواْ عَلَى الله إِلاَّ الحق} وهو ما وصف به نفسه ووصفته به رسله، ولا تقولوا الباطل كقول اليهود عزير ابن الله، وقول النصارى المسيح ابن الله . ـ

And do not say about Allah except the truth” and [the truth] is that with which He has described Himself and what His messengers have described Him with. And do not say falsehood, such as the statement of the Jews that ‘Uzair (Ezra) is the son of Allah, or the statement of the Christians that ‘Eesaa is the son of Allah.

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