More Astray Than Cattle: Ibn al-Qayyim

Allah presents the following description of the disbelievers by way of comparison in surah al-Furqan:

أَمْ تَحْسَبُ أَنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ يَسْمَعُونَ أَوْ يَعْقِلُونَ ۚ إِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا كَالْأَنْعَامِ ۖ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ سَبِيلًا

Or do you think that most of them hear or reason? They are nothing more than like cattle. In fact, they are even more astray from the path. [25:44]

Commenting on this ayah, the great scholar ibn al-Qayyim wrote:

فشبه أكثر الناس بالأنعام والجامع بين النوعين التساوي في عدم قبول الهدى والانقياد له

Allah has compared most of mankind to cattle here, and the characteristic that both groups have in common is their lack of accepting the truth and conforming to it.

وجعل الأكثرين أضل سبيلا من الأنعام لأن البهيمة يهديها سائقها فتهتدي وتتبع الطريق فلا تحيد عنها يمينا ولا شمالا والأكثرون يدعوهم الرسل ويهدونهم السبيل فلا يستجيبون ولا يهتدون ولا يفرقون بين ما يضرهم وبين ما ينفعهم والأنعام تفرق بين ما يضرها من النبات والطريق فتتجنبه وما ينفعها فتؤثره

And He stated that most people are even more astray from the path than cattle. That is because a herder drives the livestock, resulting in them being guided and following the path without deviating to the right or left. However, for most people, despite the messengers calling them and guiding them, they do not respond to the call nor do they adopt their guidance, nor do they even distinguish between what is harmful or beneficial to them. Meanwhile cattle do distinguish between what harms them, such as certain plants and paths which they thus avoid, and what benefits them, which they then take an interest in. Continue reading

The Battles of the Prophet Mentioned in the Qur’an: ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar ibn al-Qayyim mentioned the following in his biography of the Prophet, Zad al-Ma’aad:

فصل في غزواته وبعوثه وسراياه صلى الله عليه وسلم
Chapter on the Battles Led by Prophet, Military Expeditions in which No Fighting Occurred, and Battles Led by the Sahabah

غزواته كلها وبعوثه وسراياه كانت بعد الهجرة في مدة عشر سنين ، فالغزوات سبع وعشرون ، وقيل : خمس وعشرون ، وقيل : تسع وعشرون ، وقيل غير ذلك ، قاتل منها في تسع : بدر ، وأحد ، والخندق ، وقريظة ، والمصطلق ، وخيبر ، والفتح ، وحنين ، والطائف . وقيل : قاتل في بني النضير ، والغابة ، ووادي القرى من أعمال خيبر . وأما سراياه وبعوثه ، فقريب من ستين . ـ

All of the battles led by the Prophet, military expeditions in which no fighting occurred, and battles led by the Sahabah occurred after the Hijrah and took place over the course of ten years.

There were a total of 27 battles led by the Prophet, though some counted 25 or 29 or other numbers.

The Prophet himself fought in nine of them, which were:

  • Badr
  • Uhud
  • al-Khandaq
  • Quraythah
  • al-Mustalaq
  • Khaybar
  • al-Fath (the victory of Mecca)
  • Hunayn
  • al-Taa’if

And some say that he also fought in the battle of Banu al-Nadheer, the battle of al-Ghabah, and the battle of Wadi al-Quraa, which was part of the battle of Khaybar. Continue reading

A Parable of Two Slaves: Ibn al-Qayyim

Allah strikes the following parable in surah al-Zumar:

ضَرَبَ اللَّـهُ مَثَلًا رَّجُلًا فِيهِ شُرَكَاءُ مُتَشَاكِسُونَ وَرَجُلًا سَلَمًا لِّرَجُلٍ هَلْ يَسْتَوِيَانِ مَثَلًا ۚ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ ۚ بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

Allah presents an example of one man owned by quarreling partners and another man belonging exclusively to a single man – are they equal in comparison? Praise be to Allah! But most of them do not know. [39:29]

The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim commented on this ayah by writing:

هذا مثل ضربه الله سبحانه للمشرك والموحد فالمشرك بمنزلة عبد يملكه جماعة متنازعون مختلفون متشاحون والرجل المتشاكس الضيق الخلق فالمشرك لما كان يعبد آلهة شتى شبه بعبد يملكه جماعة متنافسون في خدمته لا يمكنه أن يبلغ رضاهم أجمعين . ـ

Allah has made this parable about one person who associates others with Allah and another person who singles Him out for worship. The one who associates partners with Allah is like a slave owned by a group of clashing, conflicting, and quarreling people. The word mutashaakis used in this ayah means one who has stiff and inflexible character. Similarly, when a person tries to worship multiple deities, he is like a slave owned by a group of people all competing with one another for his service, thus preventing him from being able to please them.

والموحد لما كان يعبد الله وحده فمثله كمثل عبد لرجل واحد قد سلم له وعلم مقاصده وعرف الطريق إلى رضاه فهو في راحة من تشاحن الخلطاء فيه بل هو سالم لمالكه من غير تنازع فيه مع رأفة مالكه به ورحمته له وشفقته عليه وإحسانه إليه وتوليه لمصالحه فهل يستوي هذان العبدان . ـ

On the other hand, when a person worships Allah exclusively, then he is like a slave with a single master. Such a person is completely at the service of his master and knows what his master wants and how to please Him. He is free from any joint-owners quarreling over him and is instead entirely in the service of his owner without any others clashing over him. At the same time, he enjoys the care, mercy, kindness, and goodness that his owner has towards him, and the fact that his owner considers his best interests. Continue reading

Gentle Speech in the Qur’an: ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar ibn al-Qayyim wrote the following beautiful words regarding some qualities of the da’wah of the Prophets and the language found in the Qur’an:

كثير من الناس يطلب من صاحبه بعد نيله درجة الرياسة الأخلاق التي كان يعامله بها قبل الرياسة فلا يصادفها فينتقض ما بينهما من المودة وهذا من جهل الصاحب الطالب للعادة وهو بمنزلة من يطلب من صاحبه إذا سكر أخلاق الصاحي وذلك غلط فإن الرياسه سكرة كسكرة الخمر أو أشد ولو لم يكن للرياسة سكرة لما اختارها صاحبها على الآخرة الدائمة الباقية فسكرتها فوق سكرة القهوة بكثير ومحال أن يرى من السكران أخلاق الصاحي وطبعه

Many people would like it if a friend of theirs who has reached some level of leadership would treat them the same way that he used to before becoming a leader; however the friend will not agree and this leads to a break in the affection between them. But this is a result of the first person’s ignorance of reality. What he did is like if he were to ask a friend to behave the same way drunk as when he was sober. This is a mistake. Leadership is an intoxication, just like the intoxication of alcohol, or perhaps even stronger. For if leadership were not intoxicating, then no one would choose and prioritize it over the everlasting and eternal hereafter. Its intoxicating effect is much stronger than that of coffee. And it is impossible for a drunken person to exhibit the same behavior or character as a you would see from a sober person.

ولهذا أمر الله تعالى أكرم خلقه عليه بمخاطبة رئيس القبط بالخطاب اللين فمخاطبة الرؤساء بالقول اللين أمر مطلوب شرعا وعقلا وعرفا ولذلك تجد الناس كالمفطورين عليه وهكذا كان النبي رؤساء العشائر والقبائل وتأمل امتثال موسى لما أمر به كيف قال لفرعون هل لك إلى أن تزكى وأهديك إلى ربك فتخشى فأخرج الكلام معه مجرج السؤال والعرض لا مخرج الأمر وقال إلى أن تزكى ولم يقل إلى أن أزكيك فنسب الفعل إليه هو وذكر لفظ التزكي دون غيره لما فيه من البركة والخير والنماء ثم قال وأهديك إلى ربك أكون كالدليل بين يديك الذي يسير أمامك وقال الى ربك استدعاء لأيمانه بربه الذي خلقه ورزقه ورباه بنعمه صغيرا ويافعا وكبيرا ـ

It is for these reasons that Allah commanded one of his most honorable created beings to address the leader of the Egyptians with gentle speech. Addressing those in leadership positions with gentle speech is a positive thing according to the sharee’ah, according to reason, and according to custom. Because of that, you find that people are naturally inclined to do so. And that was how the Prophet behaved towards the leaders of the different tribes and clans. Consider the example of Moosaa when he received this command, look at how he addressed Fir’awn: Continue reading

The Meaning of Taghoot: Sheikh al-Fawzan

The following question was posed to sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan:

نص السؤال : ما معنى الطاغوت‏؟‏ وهل كل طاغوت كافر‏؟ ـ

Question: What is the meaning of “Taghoot“, and is every taghoot a disbeliever?

‏نص الإجابة : الطاغوت في اللغة مشتق من الطغيان وهو مجاوزة الحد ومجاوزة الحق إلى الباطل ومجاوزة الإيمان إلى الكفر وما أشبه ذلك والطواغيت كثيرون وكل طاغوت فهو كافر بلا شك‏‏  ـ

Response: Linguistically, the word “al-taghoot” comes from “al-tughyaan” which is overstepping the limits, crossing over from truth into falsehood, stepping out of eemaan into disbelief, and so on. There are many taghoots, and every taghoot is a disbeliever. There is no doubt about this.

والطواغيت كثيرون ولكن رءوسهم خمسة كما ذكر ذلك العلامة ابن القيم وغيره‏‏ الأول‏‏ إبليس – لعنة الله – فإنه رأس الطواغيت وهو الذي يدعو إلى الضلال والكفر والإلحاد ويدعو إلى النار فهو رأس الطواغيت‏‏

There are many taghoots but five of them are the main ones, as has been stated by the great scholar ibn al-Qayyim and others.

The first is Iblees, may Allah curse him. He is the head of all the taghoots, and he is the one who calls to misguidance, disbelief, and atheism, and to the hellfire. So he is the head of the taghoots.

والثاني‏‏ من عبد من دون الله وهو راضٍ بذلك فإن من رضي أن يعبده الناس من دون الله فإنه يكون طاغوتًا كما قال تعالى‏‏ ‏( ‏وَجَعَلَ مِنْهُمُ الْقِرَدَةَ وَالْخَنَازِيرَ وَعَبَدَ الطَّاغُوتَ ) ‏[‏المائدة : 60‏]‏ فالذي يعبد من دون الله وهو راضٍ بذلك طاغوت أما إذا لم يرض بذلك فليس كذلك‏‏

The second is anyone who is worshiped besides Allah while being pleased with that worship, for whoever is pleased with people worshiping him alongside Allah is a taghoot. This is as Allah said Continue reading

Birr and Ihsan towards Non-Muslims: Ibn al-Qayyim

Allah says in surah al-Mumtahinah:

لَّا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّـهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ * إِنَّمَا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّـهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ قَاتَلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَأَخْرَجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ وَظَاهَرُوا عَلَىٰ إِخْرَاجِكُمْ أَن تَوَلَّوْهُمْ ۚ وَمَن يَتَوَلَّهُمْ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ

Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who did not fight against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal justly. * It is only those who fought against you on account of religion and drove you out of your homes, and helped to drive you out that Allah forbids you to take as friends and allies. And whosoever will befriend them, then such are the wrongdoers. [60:8-9]

The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim mentioned the following point regarding these ayaat:

فإن الله سبحانه لما نهى في أول السورة عن اتخاذ المسلمين الكفار أولياء وقطع المودة بينهم وبينهم ، توهم بعضهم أن برهم والإحسان إليهم من الموالاة والمودة ، فبين الله سبحانه أن ذلك ليس من الموالاة المنهي عنها ، وأنه لم ينه عن ذلك بل هو من الإحسان الذي يحبه ويرضاه ، وكتبه على كل شيء ، وإنما المنهي عنه تولي الكفار والإلقاء إليهم بالمودة

When Allah prohibited the Muslims from taking the disbelievers as close friends and allies and cut off the affection between them at the beginning of this surah [60:1], some might think that birr and ihsan – good behavior and excellent treatment – towards them would fall under those prohibited categories of close friendship and affection.

So Allah clarified that these things are not part of the close relationships that He had prohibited, and that He does not prohibit the believers from them. On the contrary, birr and ihsan towards them falls within the excellent behavior which Allah loves and is pleased with, and which He has ordained for everything. What is prohibited is only taking the disbelievers as close friends and allies and meeting them with love and affection.

[Ahkaam Ahl al-Dhimmah 1/301] Continue reading

Guidance and Striving: ibn al-Qayyim

ibn al-Qayyim mentioned the following benefit in one of his many valuable written works:

قال تعالى: {والذين جاهدوا فينا لنهدينهم سبلنا} عَلَّقَ سبحانه الهِداية بالجِهاد، فأكمل الناس هِدايةً أَعظمهم جِهادًا، وأَفْرَضُ الجهاد: جهاد النَّفْس، وجهاد الهَوَى، وجهاد الشيطان، وجهاد الدنيا، فمن جاهد هذه الأربعة في الله هداه الله سُبُلَ رِضاهُ المُوصِلَة إلى جَنَّتِه، ومَن ترك الجهاد فاتَهُ مِن الهُدى بحسب ما عَطَّلَ من الجهاد. ـ

Allah said:

وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا

And whoever strives for Us, We will surely guide them to Our ways [29:69]

Allah has linked guidance to striving, so the people with the most complete guidance are those with the greatest striving. And the most necessary type of striving is

  1. Striving against oneself
  2. Striving against one’s lowly desires
  3. Striving against the shaytaan
  4. Striving against this worldly life

Whoever strives against these four things for the sake of Allah, Allah will guide him to the paths of His pleasure which lead to His Jannah. But whoever leaves off this striving has lost out on the guidance in a measure proportional how much he neglected striving.

[al-Fawa’id pg. 59] Continue reading

Surahs Recited on Friday and Their Themes: Ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim included a long section listing the merits of Friday in his wonderful and expansive biography of the Prophet. What follows is one of those points which discusses how the surahs that the Prophet recited on Fridays as well as the sermons that he gave fit with that day and its themes:

 الثالثة والثلاثون : إنه يوم اجتماع الناس وتذكيرهم بالمبدأ والمعاد ، وقد شرع الله سبحانه وتعالى لكل أمة في الأسبوع يوما يتفرغون فيه للعبادة ويجتمعون فيه لتذكر المبدأ والمعاد ، والثواب والعقاب ، ويتذكرون به اجتماعهم يوم الجمع الأكبر قياما بين يدي رب العالمين ، وكان أحق الأيام بهذا الغرض المطلوب اليوم الذي يجمع الله فيه الخلائق ، وذلك يوم الجمعة ، فادخره الله لهذه الأمة لفضلها وشرفها ، فشرع اجتماعهم في هذا اليوم لطاعته ، وقدر اجتماعهم فيه مع الأمم لنيل كرامته ، فهو يوم الاجتماع شرعا في الدنيا ، وقدرا في الآخرة ، وفي مقدار انتصافه وقت الخطبة والصلاة يكون أهل الجنة في منازلهم ، وأهل النار في منازلهم ، كما ثبت عن ابن مسعود من غير وجه أنه قال : ( لا ينتصف النهار يوم القيامة حتى يقيل أهل الجنة في منازلهم وأهل النار في منازلهم وقرأ : ( أصحاب الجنة يومئذ خير مستقرا وأحسن مقيلا ) ) [ الفرقان : 24 ] وقرأ : ( ثم إن مقيلهم لإلى الجحيم ) ، وكذلك هي في قراءته . ـ

Point 33: That Friday is the day on which the people come together and are reminded of their origins and their ultimate return to Allah. Allah had legislated a day of the week for each ummah to dedicate to worship and to gather together to remember their origins, their ultimate return to Allah, and the reward and punishment. Through this, they are reminded of their gathering together on the greatest day of gathering together when they will be standing in front of Lord of all creation. And the most fitting day for this purpose is the day on which Allah will gather the created beings all together, which is the day of Jumu’ah.

Allah saved this day for this ummah due to its merits and virtue and so He legislated that the people should gather together on it for the purpose of obeying Him. Furthermore, He also decreed that it would be a Friday that they, as well as the other nations, will be gathered up to receive His grace [i.e. that the Day of Judgement will be on a Friday]. So it is a day of legislated gathering in the life of this world as well as the day of divinely-decreed gathering in the next life.

And by the midpoint of that Day in the hereafter – equivalent to the time of the khutbah and prayer during the worldly life – the people of Jannah will be in their final places and the people of the Hellfire will be in their final places. This is as has been authentically transmitted from ibn Mas’ood via multiple routes of transmission, who said, “It will not reach the midpoint of the day of the Day of Judgement before the people of Jannah take their mid-day nap in their ultimate dwelling places and the people of the Hellfire are in their final dwelling places” and then he recited: Continue reading

Ibn al-Qayyim’s Model for Contemplating the Qur’an

One of the many written works of ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah is his Risalah al-Tabookiyyah which centers Allah’s command at the beginning of surah al-Ma’idah for the believers to help one another in al-birr and al-taqwa [5:3]. After describing many aspects of this ayah and its implications, ibn al-Qayyim then wrote:

ورأس الأمر وعموده في ذلك إنما هو دوام التفكر وتدبر آيات الله حيث تستولي على الفكر وتشغل القلب فإذا صارت معاني القرآن مكان الخواطر من قلبه وجلس على كرسيه، وصار له التصرف، وصار هو الأمير المطاع أمره، فحينئذ يستقيم له سيره ويتضح له الطريق وتراه ساكنا وهو يباري الريح {وَتَرَى الْجِبَالَ تَحْسَبُهَا جَامِدَةً وَهِيَ تَمُرُّ مَرَّ السَّحَابِ صُنْعَ اللَّهِ الَّذِي أَتْقَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ إِنَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَفْعَلُونَ} . ـ

At the head of all of this and its very foundation is for one to always contemplate and reflect on the ayaat of the Qur’an, so much so that it overpowers one’s other thoughts and becomes the central concern of one’s heart. When the messages of the Qur’an take the place that mere passing thoughts previously held in his heart and begin to rule over it, being what turns his heart and the ruler that it obeys, then his journey becomes smooth and his course becomes clear. So even if it appeared that he was standing still he is in fact moving forward towards Allah fast as the wind.

وَتَرَى الْجِبَالَ تَحْسَبُهَا جَامِدَةً وَهِيَ تَمُرُّ مَرَّ السَّحَابِ صُنْعَ اللَّهِ الَّذِي أَتْقَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ إِنَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَفْعَلُونَ

And you see the mountains, thinking them rigid, while they will pass as the passing of clouds. It is the work of Allah, who perfected all things. Indeed, He is Acquainted with that which you do. [27:88]

فان قلت: إنك قد أشرت إلى مقام عظيم فافتح لي بابه، واكشف لي حجابه، وكيف تدبر القرآن وتفهمه والإشراف على عجائبه وكنوزه؟ وهذه تفاسير الأئمة بأيدينا، فهل في البيان غير ما ذكروه؟ ـ

Now if you were to say, “You have just described a great station, so open up its door for me and remove its veil for me – how does one contemplate and understand the the Qur’an grasp its amazements and great treasures? We have the explanations of the great scholars of tafsir with us, is there anything else to understand the Qur’an beyond what they have already done?”

[See also: Narration-based Tafsir before Opinion-based Tafsir: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh]

قلت: سأضرب لك أمثالاً تحتذي عليها وتجعلها إماماً لك في هذا المقصد، قال الله تعالى: {هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ ضَيْفِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الْمُكْرَمِينَ إِذْ دَخَلُوا عَلَيْهِ فَقَالُوا سَلاماً قَالَ سَلامٌ قَوْمٌ مُنْكَرُونَ فَرَاغَ إِلَى أَهْلِهِ فَجَاءَ بِعِجْلٍ سَمِينٍ، فَقَرَّبَهُ إِلَيْهِمْ قَالَ أَلا تَأْكُلُونَ فَأَوْجَسَ مِنْهُمْ خِيفَةً قَالُوا لا تَخَفْ وَبَشَّرُوهُ بِغُلامٍ عَلِيمٍ فَأَقْبَلَتِ امْرَأَتُهُ فِي صَرَّةٍ فَصَكَّتْ وَجْهَهَا وَقَالَتْ عَجُوزٌ عَقِيمٌ قَالُوا كَذَلِكِ قَالَ رَبُّكِ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْحَكِيمُ الْعَلِيمُ} . ـ

My response would be: Let me give you some things that you can take as an example and a model to follow for this goal.

Allah says: Continue reading

What the Salaf Meant by “Abrogation”: Ibn al-Qayyim

In the midst of a discussion urging people not to be hasty or eager to issue legal rulings, ibn al-Qayyim mentioned the following narration about naskh – frequently translated as “abrogation” – and then added some valuable commentary afterwards:

وقال ابن وهب : حدثنا أشهل بن حاتم عن عبد الله بن عون عن ابن سيرين قال : قال حذيفة : إنما يفتي الناس أحد ثلاثة : من يعلم ما نسخ من القرآن ، أو أمير لا يجد بدا ، أو أحمق متكلف ، قال : فربما قال ابن سيرين : فلست بواحد من هذين ، ولا أحب أن أكون الثالث ـ

… ibn Sireen said: Hudhayfah said,

The only ones who issue legal rulings to the people are one of the following three types: 1) someone who knows which parts of the Qur’an have been subject to naskh, 2) a ruler who cannot find any alternative, or 3) an imbecile who fancies himself as being qualified.

The sub-narrator said: I think ibn Sireen said, “I am neither one of the first two, and I would not like to be the third.”

قلت : مراده ومراد عامة السلف بالناسخ والمنسوخ رفع الحكم بجملته تارة وهو اصطلاح المتأخرين ، ورفع دلالة العام والمطلق والظاهر وغيرها تارة ، إما بتخصيص أو تقييد أو حمل مطلق على مقيد وتفسيره وتبيينه حتى إنهم يسمون الاستثناء والشرط والصفة نسخا لتضمن ذلك رفع دلالة الظاهر وبيان المراد ، فالنسخ عندهم وفي لسانهم هو بيان المراد بغير ذلك اللفظ ، بل بأمر خارج عنه ، ومن تأمل كلامهم رأى من ذلك فيه ما لا يحصى ، وزال عنه به إشكالات أوجبها حمل كلامهم على الاصطلاح الحادث المتأخر . ـ Continue reading