Surah Yusuf and the People of al-Madinah

In part of his famous manual of the Qur’anic sciences, al-Burhan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an, Badr al-Deen al-Zarkashi wrote:

ما حمل من مكة إلى المدينة
Those Parts of the Qur’an which were Transmitted from Mecca to al-Madinah

أول سورة حملت من مكة إلى المدينة سورة ” يوسف ” ، انطلق بها عوف بن عفراء في [ ص: 291 ] الثمانية الذين قدموا على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم مكة ، فعرض عليهم الإسلام فأسلموا ، وهو أول من أسلم من الأنصار ، قرأها على أهل المدينة في بني زريق ، فأسلم يومئذ بيوت من الأنصار ، روى ذلك يزيد بن رومان ، عن عطاء بن يسار ، عن ابن عباس ، ثم حمل بعدها : ( قل هو الله أحد ) ( سورة الإخلاص ) إلى آخرها ، ثم حمل بعدها الآية التي في ” الأعراف ” : ( قل ياأيها الناس إني رسول الله إليكم جميعا ) إلى قوله : ( تهتدون ) ( الآية : 158 ) ، فأسلم عليها طوائف من أهل المدينة ، وله قصة

The first surah to be taken from Mecca to al-Madinah was surah Yusuf. ‘Awf ibn ‘Afraa’ was the one who brought it there, and he was one of eighty men who came to Allah’s Messenger in Mecca where he presented Islam to them and they accepted and became Muslims, and he was the first one of the Ansaar to enter Islam. He recited this surah to the people of Banu Zurayq in al-Madinah and as a result a number of households of the Ansaar accepted Islam on that day.

This was narrated by Yazeed ibn Ruman, on the authority of ‘Ataa’ ibn Yasar, on the authority of ibn ‘Abbaas.

After that, surah al-Ikhlaas was the next surah taken from Mecca to al-Madinah. Next after that was an ayah from surah al-A’raaf:

قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّـهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا الَّذِي لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ يُحْيِي وَيُمِيتُ ۖ فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّـهِ وَرَسُولِهِ النَّبِيِّ الْأُمِّيِّ الَّذِي يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّـهِ وَكَلِمَاتِهِ وَاتَّبِعُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ

Say: O mankind, I am certainly Allah’s messenger to all of you, the messenger of the One who possesses the dominion of the heavens and the earth. There is no deity worthy of worship except Him; He gives life and He causes death. So believe in Allah and His messenger, the illiterate prophet who believes in Allah and His words, and follow him so that you would be guided. [7:158]

And so a number of segments of the people of al-Madinah accepted Islam, and there is a larger story around this.

[al-Burhan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an 1/290-291]

In the beginning of his explanation of surah Yusuf, al-haafidh ibn Kathir – who was a teacher of al-Zarkashi – mentioned the following report: Continue reading

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The Qur’an Addresses Multiple Christian Creeds: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah says in part of 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 Book, do not go to extremes in your religion! And do not say anything about Allah other than the truth! The Messiah, ‘Eesaa the son of Maryam is nothing other than a Messenger of Allah, and a word of His which He sent to Maryam, and a soul from Him. So believe in Allah and in His Messengers. And do not say “three”. Stop! That is better for you! Allah is only one god; exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. And Allah is sufficient as a disposer of affairs [4:171]

In his famous book of commentary on the Qur’an, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir mentioned the following words in the midst of his explanation of this ayah. These words should serve to rebut the notion spread by some Christians that the Qur’an is confused about Christian beliefs. On the contrary, this passage demonstrates that the Qur’an addresses different beliefs of different Christian sects in different places:

وقوله : ( فآمنوا بالله ورسله ) أي : فصدقوا بأن الله واحد أحد ، لا صاحبة له ولا ولد ، واعلموا وتيقنوا بأن عيسى عبد الله ورسوله ; ولهذا قال : ( ولا تقولوا ثلاثة ) أي : لا تجعلوا عيسى وأمه مع الله شريكين ، تعالى الله عن ذلك علوا كبيرا . ـ

Allah’s statement:

فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّـهِ وَرُسُلِهِ

So have eemaan in Allah and His messengers

meaning: believe that Allah is One, singular with neither partner nor offspring, and know and have certainty that ‘Eesaa is a slave of Allah and His messenger. And so Allah says:

وَلَا تَقُولُوا ثَلَاثَةٌ

And do not say “three”

meaning: Do not make ‘Eesaa and his mother as two partners alongside Allah – high and exalted is Allah above such a thing. Continue reading

Using the Past Tense to Refer to the Future: Tafsir ibn ‘Uthaymeen

In part of surah al-Saffaat, Allah describes the events of the Day of Recompense by saying:

وَقَالُوا يَا وَيْلَنَا هَـٰذَا يَوْمُ الدِّينِ

This can be literally translated as:

And they said: Woe to us! This is the Day of Reckoning! (37:20)

In his explanation of this surah, sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen said:

وقوله تعالى (وَقَالُوا يَا وَيْلَنَا هَـٰذَا يَوْمُ الدِّينِ ) قالوا أتى بفعل الماضى مع أنه القول المستقبل ، لتحقق وقوعه ، وهذا كثير في اللغة العربية ، والقرآن الكريم يعبر عن المستقبل بالماضي لتحقق وقوعه ومثاله قوله تعالى(أتى أمر الله)فإن أمر الله لم يأت بدليل قوله تعالى(فلا تستعجلوه)لكن أتى هنا بمعنى يأتي وعبر عن المستقبل بالماضي لتحقق وقوعه

Allah’s statement:

وَقَالُوا يَا وَيْلَنَا هَـٰذَا يَوْمُ الدِّينِ

And they said: Woe to us! This is the Day of Reckoning!

the word “they said” comes as a past tense verb despite the fact that it is a future statement. This is done to affirm that this definitely will take place. This is a common practice in the Arabic language, and the Qur’an will refer to a future event by using the past tense in order to affirm that it certainly will come to pass. An example of this is Allah’s statement: Continue reading

ibn Mas’ood and the ‘Uthmani Mushaf: Tafsir ibn Kathir

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir mentioned the following in the introduction to his tafsir in a section entitled “The Gathering of the Qur’an” which focused on the preservation and collection of the Qur’an. This is the fifth and final section of our translation of that discussion:

وهذا – أيضا – من أكبر مناقب أمير المؤمنين عثمان بن عفان ، رضي الله عنه ، فإن الشيخين سبقاه إلى حفظ القرآن أن يذهب منه شيء وهو جمع الناس على قراءة واحدة ؛ لئلا يختلفوا في القرآن ، ووافقه على ذلك جميع الصحابة ، وإنما روي عن عبد الله بن مسعود شيء من التغضب بسبب أنه لم يكن ممن كتب المصاحف وأمر أصحابه بغل مصاحفهم لما أمر عثمان بحرقه ما عدا المصحف الإمام ، ثم رجع ابن مسعود إلى الوفاق حتى قال علي بن أبي طالب ، رضي الله عنه : لو لم يفعل ذلك عثمان لفعلته أنا . فاتفق الأئمة أبو بكر وعمر وعثمان وعلي ، رضي الله عنهم ، على أن ذلك من مصالح الدين ، وهم الخلفاء الذين قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : عليكم بسنتي وسنة الخلفاء الراشدين من بعدي . وكان السبب في هذا حذيفة بن اليمان ، رضي الله عنه لما كان غازيا في فتح أرمينية وأذربيجان ، وكان قد اجتمع هناك أهل الشام والعراق وجعل حذيفة يسمع منهم قراءات على حروف شتى ، ورأى منهم اختلافا وافتراقا ، فلما رجع إلى عثمان أعلمه وقال لعثمان : أدرك هذه الأمة قبل أن يختلفوا في الكتاب اختلاف اليهود والنصارى . ـ

And this gathering of the Qur’an is one of the greatest virtues of Ameer al-Mu’minoon ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affaan (may Allah be pleased with him). Abu Bakr and ‘Umar had preceded him in preserving the Qur’an so that none of it would be lost, while ‘Uthman united the people on one recitation so that they would not argue and differ regarding the Qur’an. And all of the Sahabah agreed with him on this. The only exception to that was a report of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood being angry at not having been chosen to be one of the writers of the official mushafs, and that he instructed his students to hide their mushafs [which they had copied from his or made on their own based on his recitation] when ‘Uthman ordered all mushafs besides the official mushafs to be burned. But later he recanted and returned back to the consensus position.

وأما عبد الله بن مسعود فقد قال إسرائيل ، عن أبي إسحاق ، عن حميد بن مالك قال : لما أمر عثمان بالمصاحف – يعني بتحريقها – ساء ذلك عبد الله بن مسعود وقال : من استطاع منكم أن يغل مصحفا فليغلل ، فإنه من غل شيئا جاء بما غل يوم القيامة . ثم قال عبد الله : لقد قرأت القرآن من في رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم سبعين سورة وزيد صبي ، أفأترك ما أخذت من في رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم . ـ

As for ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood, then Israa’eel relayed from Abu Ishaaq from Humayd ibn Maalik who said: Continue reading

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

Who Memorized the Qur’an During the Lifetime of the Prophet: Tafsir ibn Kathir

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

 ثبت في الصحيحين عن أنس قال : جمع القرآن على عهد النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أربعة ، كلهم من الأنصار ؛ أبي بن كعب ، ومعاذ بن جبل ، وزيد بن ثابت ، وأبو زيد . فقيل له : من أبو زيد ؟ قال : أحد عمومتي . وفي لفظ للبخاري عن أنس قال : مات النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ولم يجمع القرآن غير أربعة ؛ أبو الدرداء ، ومعاذ بن جبل ، وزيد بن ثابت ، وأبو زيد ، ونحن ورثناه . ـ

It is well-established in both al-Bukhari and Muslim that Anas said, “Those who memorized the Qur’an during the lifetime of the Prophet (ﷺ) were four, all of whom were Ansaar: Ubay ibn Ka’b, Mu’aadh ibn Jabal, Zayd ibn Thaabit, and Abu Zayd.” Someone asked, “Who is Abu Zayd?” Anas answered, “One of my uncles.”

And in the wording that comes in al-Bukhari, Anas said, “The Prophet (ﷺ) died and no one else had memorized the Qur’an except for these four: Abu al-Dardaa’, Mu’aadh ibn Jabal, Zayd ibn Thaabit, and Abu Zayd, and then we took it from them.”

قلت : أبو زيد هذا ليس بمشهور ؛ لأنه مات قديما ، وقد ذكروه في أهل بدر ، وقال بعضهم : سعيد بن عبيد . ومعنى قول أنس : ولم يجمع القرآن . يعني من الأنصار سوى هؤلاء ، وإلا فمن المهاجرين جماعة كانوا يجمعون القرآن كالصديق ، وابن مسعود ، وسالم مولى أبي حذيفة وغيرهم . ـ

I [ibn Kathir] say: This Abu Zayd was not someone well-known because he died early, and he has been mentioned among those who were present for the Battle of Badr. And some said that he was Sa’eed ibn ‘Ubayd.

And the meaning of Anas’ statement, “no one else had memorized the Qur’an” is that none of the Ansaar besides these four had memorized the Qur’an. Otherwise, there were a number of the Muhaajiroon who had memorized the Qur’an, such as Abu Bakr, ibn Mas’ood, Saalim Mawla Abi Hudhaifah and others. Continue reading

A Warning Against Innovating and Giving Rulings Without Knowledge: ibn Kathir & al-Shawkaani

In surah al-Nahl, Allah lists a number of foods which He has forbidden, and then follows that up by saying:

وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَا تَصِفُ أَلْسِنَتُكُمُ الْكَذِبَ هَـٰذَا حَلَالٌ وَهَـٰذَا حَرَامٌ لِّتَفْتَرُوا عَلَى اللَّـهِ الْكَذِبَ ۚ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَفْتَرُونَ عَلَى اللَّـهِ الْكَذِبَ لَا يُفْلِحُونَ

And do not say that which your tongues falsely put forth, that this is halaal and this is haraam. Then you would falsely attribute untruth to Allah. Those who attribute untruth to Allah will not succeed. [16:116]

Commenting on this in part of his tafsir, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir wrote:

ثم نهى تعالى عن سلوك سبيل المشركين ، الذين حللوا وحرموا بمجرد ما وضعوه واصطلحوا عليه من الأسماء بآرائهم ، من البحيرة والسائبة والوصيلة والحام ، وغير ذلك مما كان شرعا لهم ابتدعوه في جاهليتهم ، فقال : ( ولا تقولوا لما تصف ألسنتكم الكذب هذا حلال وهذا حرام لتفتروا على الله الكذب ) ويدخل في هذا كل من ابتدع بدعة ليس [ له ] فيها مستند شرعي ، أو حلل شيئا مما حرم الله ، أو حرم شيئا مما أباح الله بمجرد رأيه وتشهيه . ـ

Then Allah prohibits following the way of the Mushrikoon who used to declare things to be permissible or impermissible based on nothing more than some specialized terms to name and classify different types of creatures – specialized terms that they contrived based on their own whims. For example, they had various names they came up with for camels and other things according to their religious beliefs in the period of Pre-Islamic Ignorance. So Allah said:

وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَا تَصِفُ أَلْسِنَتُكُمُ الْكَذِبَ هَـٰذَا حَلَالٌ وَهَـٰذَا حَرَامٌ لِّتَفْتَرُوا عَلَى اللَّـهِ الْكَذِبَ

And do not say that which your tongues falsely put forth, that this is halaal and this is haraam. Then you would falsely attribute untruth to Allah. Continue reading

Hajj is ‘Arafah: Tafsir ibn Kathir

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kaathir mentioned the following points regarding the Day of ‘Arafah in his tafsir of surah al-Baqarah:

وعرفة : موضع الموقف في الحج ، وهي عمدة أفعال الحج ; ولهذا روى الإمام أحمد ، وأهل السنن ، بإسناد صحيح ، عن الثوري ، عن بكير بن عطاء ، عن عبد الرحمن بن يعمر الديلي ، [ ص: 552 ] قال : سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول : ” الحج عرفات – ثلاثا – فمن أدرك عرفة قبل أن يطلع الفجر ، فقد أدرك . وأيام منى ثلاثة ، فمن تعجل في يومين فلا إثم عليه ، ومن تأخر فلا إثم عليه ” . ـ

‘Arafah is a place of standing during the Hajj, and it is one of the pillars of the rituals of the Hajj. In support of this is the hadeeth with a sound chain of narration that was conveyed by Imam Ahmad and authors of the Sunan collections on the authority of al-Thawri, on the authority on Bukayr ibn ‘Ataa’, on the authority of ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Y’amar al-Dayli who said:

I heard Allah’s Messenger say, “Hajj is ‘Arafah” – three times – “so whoever catches ‘Arafah before the rising of dawn, then he has caught the Hajj. And the days of Mina are three, but whoever hastens to leave after two days, then there is no sin upon, and whoever waits, then there is no sin upon him.” Continue reading

Purifying the Ka’bah: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In surah al-Hajj, Allah informs us of his command to Ibrahim to purify the Ka’bah:

 وَإِذْ بَوَّأْنَا لِإِبْرَاهِيمَ مَكَانَ الْبَيْتِ أَن لَّا تُشْرِكْ بِي شَيْئًا وَطَهِّرْ بَيْتِيَ لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْقَائِمِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ

And when We designated for Ibrahim the site of the House, [saying], “Do not associate anything with Me and purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who stand and those who bow and prostrate. [22:26]

al-haafidh ibn Kathir commented on this ayah in his tafsir by writing:

( وطهر بيتي ) قال مجاهد وقتادة : من الشرك ، ( للطائفين والقائمين والركع السجود ) أي : اجعله خالصا لهؤلاء الذين يعبدون الله وحده لا شريك له . فالطائف به معروف ، وهو أخص العبادات عند البيت ، فإنه لا يفعل ببقعة من الأرض سواها ، ( والقائمين ) أي : في الصلاة; ولهذا قال : ( والركع السجود ) فقرن الطواف بالصلاة; لأنهما لا يشرعان إلا مختصين بالبيت ، فالطواف عنده ، والصلاة إليه في غالب الأحوال ، إلا ما استثني من الصلاة عند اشتباه القبلة وفي الحرب ، وفي النافلة في السفر ، والله أعلم .ـ

وَطَهِّرْ بَيْتِيَ

And purify My House …

Mujahid and Qatadah said this means: purify it from al-Shirk.

لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْقَائِمِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ

… for those who perform Tawaf and those who stand and those who bow and prostrate.

meaning: make this House exclusively for those who worship Allah alone without associating any partners with Him. Continue reading

The First Innovation: Tafsir ibn Kathir

The famous scholar al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir was especially well-known for his skills in the fields of hadeeth, tafsir, and history, with his honorific title of “al-haafidh” indicating his high status in the first of these fields and his two most famous works being in the latter areas. In the following brief excerpt from his tafsir of surah Aal ‘Imran, ibn Kathir combines all three of these knowledge areas:

وقال الإمام أحمد : حدثنا أبو كامل ، حدثنا حماد ، عن أبي غالب قال : سمعت أبا أمامة يحدث ، عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم في قوله : ( فأما الذين في قلوبهم زيغ فيتبعون ما تشابه منه ) قال : ” هم الخوارج ” ، وفي قوله : ( يوم تبيض وجوه وتسود وجوه ) . [ آل عمران : 106 ] قال : ” هم الخوارج ” . وقد رواه ابن مردويه من غير وجه ، عن أبي غالب ، عن أبي أمامة مرفوعا ، فذكره . ـ

Imam Ahmad said: Abu Kaamil told me that Hammaad told him that Abu Ghaalib said: I heard Abu ‘Umamah say that the Prophet (ﷺ) spoke about Allah’s statement:

فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ زَيْغٌ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ مَا تَشَابَهَ مِنْهُ

But as for those in whose hearts is deviation, then they follow those parts of the Qur’an which are ambiguous [3:7]

by saying, “They are the Khawaarij.” And also regarding Allah’s statement:

يَوْمَ تَبْيَضُّ وُجُوهٌ وَتَسْوَدُّ وُجُوهٌ

On the Day when some faces will become white and some faces will become black [3:106]

he said, “they [i.e. the latter group] are the Khawaarij“.

And ibn Mardawayh also transmitted this from more than one route from Abu Umamah by way of Abu Ghaalib as a narration attributed to the Prophet (ﷺ). Continue reading