Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 130-141: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the fourteenth installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 130-141. This passage calls mankind to follow the religion of Ibrahim and to turn away from other paths. See the series guide here for more information about this series and other installments.

وَمَن يَرْغَبُ عَن مِّلَّةِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ إِلَّا مَن سَفِهَ نَفْسَهُ ۚ وَلَقَدِ اصْطَفَيْنَاهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَإِنَّهُ فِي الْآخِرَةِ لَمِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ

And who would be averse to the religion of Ibrahim except one who makes a fool of himself? We have chosen him in the world, and in the hereafter he is one of the upright ones. [2:130]

ولا أحد يُعرض عن دين إبراهيم- وهو الإسلام- إلا سفيه جاهل، ولقد اخترنا إبراهيم في الدنيا نبيًّا ورسولا وإنه في الآخرة لمن الصالحين الذين لهم أعلى الدرجات.ـ

130. There is no one who turns away from the religion of Ibrahim, which is Islam, except for an ignorant fool. We have chosen Ibrahim as a prophet and messenger in this life, and in the hereafter he will be one of the upright ones who will be at the highest level.

إِذْ قَالَ لَهُ رَبُّهُ أَسْلِمْ ۖ قَالَ أَسْلَمْتُ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

And when his Lord told him, “Submit,” he said, “I have submitted to the Lord of all creation.” [2:131]

وسبب هذا الاختيار مسارعته للإسلام دون تردد، حين قال له ربه: أخلص نفسك لله منقادًا له. فاستجاب إبراهيم وقال: أسلمت لرب العالمين إخلاصًا وتوحيدًا ومحبة وإنابة.ـ

131. The reason that Allah chose him is because of his eagerness to submit without any hesitation when Allah told him, “Make yourself purely for Allah, completely obedient to Him.” So Ibrahim responded by saying, “I have submitted myself entirely to the Lord of all creation, singling Him out for worship, love, and always turning back to Him.

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Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 124-129: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the thirteenth installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 124-129. This passage recounts some events from the life of Ibrahim. See the series guide here for more information about this series and other installments.

وَإِذِ ابْتَلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ رَبُّهُ بِكَلِمَاتٍ فَأَتَمَّهُنَّ ۖ قَالَ إِنِّي جَاعِلُكَ لِلنَّاسِ إِمَامًا ۖ قَالَ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّتِي ۖ قَالَ لَا يَنَالُ عَهْدِي الظَّالِمِينَ

And when Ibrahim was tested by his Lord with some word and he fulfilled them. He said, “I have certainly made you a leader for mankind.” He said, “And those of my offspring?” He said, “My covenant does not extend to the wrongdoers.” [2:124]

واذكر- أيها النبي- حين اختبر الله إبراهيم بما شرع له من تكاليف، فأدَّاها وقام بها خير قيام. قال الله له: إني جاعلك قدوة للناس. قال إبراهيم: ربِّ اجعل بعض نسلي أئمة فضلا منك، فأجابه الله سبحانه أنه لا تحصل للظالمين الإمامةُ في الدين.ـ

124. And remember – O Prophet – when Allah tested Ibrahim with the legal responsibilities that He had legislated for him. So Ibrahim fulfilled and discharged those responsibilities in the best way. Allah said to him, “I have certainly made you an example for mankind.” Ibrahim said, “Lord, make some of my descendants leaders, out of Your graciousness.” Allah responded to him by saying that the wrongdoers do not attain leadership in the religion.

وَإِذْ جَعَلْنَا الْبَيْتَ مَثَابَةً لِّلنَّاسِ وَأَمْنًا وَاتَّخِذُوا مِن مَّقَامِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ مُصَلًّى ۖ وَعَهِدْنَا إِلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ أَن طَهِّرَا بَيْتِيَ لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْعَاكِفِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ

And when We made the House a place of return for mankind and a sanctuary. And take the station of Ibrahim as a place of prayer. And We charged Ibrahim and Ismaa’eel to purify My House for those who make tawaf and i’tikaaf and bow in prostration. [2:125]

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The Need for Safety and Security: Tafsir al-Shawkani

Allah recounts the following incident from the life of Ibrahim in surah al-Baqarah:

وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ رَبِّ اجْعَلْ هَـٰذَا بَلَدًا آمِنًا وَارْزُقْ أَهْلَهُ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ مَنْ آمَنَ مِنْهُم بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۖ قَالَ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَأُمَتِّعُهُ قَلِيلًا ثُمَّ أَضْطَرُّهُ إِلَىٰ عَذَابِ النَّارِ ۖ وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ

And when Ibrahim said, “O Lord make this city safe and secure, and provide its people with fruits – those of them who believe in Allah and the Last Day.” Allah said, “And those who disbelieve. I will grant him enjoyment for a short time and then I will force Him to the punishment of the Hellfire. What an awful end destination that it.” [2:126]

In his book of tafsir, Imam Muhammad al-Shawkaani commented on the first part of Ibrahim’s supplication by saying:

الْمُرَادُ بِالْبَلَدِ هُنَا مَكَّةُ : دَعَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ رَبَّهُ أَنْ يَجْعَلَهُ آمِنًا : أَيْ ذَا أَمْنٍ ، وَقَدَّمَ طَلَبَ الْأَمْنِ عَلَى سَائِرِ الْمَطَالِبِ الْمَذْكُورَةِ بَعْدَهُ ، لِأَنَّهُ إِذَا انْتَفَى الْأَمْنُ لَمْ يَفْرَغِ الْإِنْسَانُ لِشَيْءٍ آخَرَ مِنْ أُمُورِ الدِّينِ وَالدُّنْيَا

The city being referred to here is Mecca. Ibrahim supplicated to his Lord to make it safe and secure – meaning that it would have safety.

Ibrahim prioritized requesting this safety and security before all the other requests that he went on to make. That is because if there is no safety, people will not be able to attend to any other issues, neither religious nor worldly. 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 Arrangement of the Stories in the Qur’an: Ibn Kathir

In his epic book of history, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel Ibn Kathir arranges some of his early chapters in an unexpected way, mentioning the story of Ibrahim with his people, then Lut, then Shu’ayb, and then returning to discuss the offspring of Ibrahim. He explains this arrangement in the book by writing:

قَدْ قَدَّمْنَا قِصَّتَهُ مَعَ قَوْمِهِ، وَمَا كَانَ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ، وَمَا آلَ إِلَيْهِ أَمْرُهُ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ وَالتَّحِيَّةُ وَالْإِكْرَامُ، وَذَكَرْنَا مَا وَقَعَ فِي زَمَانِهِ مِنْ قِصَّةِ قَوْمِ لُوطٍ، وَأَتْبَعْنَا ذَلِكَ بِقِصَّةِ مَدْيَنَ قَوْمِ شُعَيْبٍ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ؛ لِأَنَّهَا قَرِينَتُهَا فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ فِي مَوَاضِعَ مُتَعَدِّدَةٍ يَذْكُرُ تَعَالَى بَعْدَ قِصَّةِ قَوْمِ لُوطٍ قِصَّةَ مَدْيَنَ، وَهُمْ أَصْحَابُ الْأَيْكَةِ عَلَى الصَّحِيحِ، كَمَا قَدَّمْنَا فَذَكَرْنَاهَا تَبَعًا لَهَا اقْتِدَاءً بِالْقُرْآنِ الْعَظِيمِ، ثُمَّ نَشْرَعُ الْآنَ فِي الْكَلَامِ عَلَى تَفْصِيلِ ذُرِّيَّةِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ؛ لِأَنَّ اللَّهَ جَعَلَ فِي ذُرِّيَّتِهِ النُّبُوَّةَ وَالْكِتَابَ، فَكُلُّ نَبِيٍّ أُرْسِلَ بَعْدَهُ فَمِنْ وَلَدِهِ

We have already mentioned the story of Ibrahim and his people, how they were, and what happened to him. We have also mentioned the story of the people of Lut which took place during Ibrahim’s time. We then followed that up with the story of Madyan, the people of Shu’ayb. We did that because these stories are often mentioned together in Allah’s Book. In a number of places throughout the Qur’an, after finishing the story of the people of Lut Allah will then mention the story of Madyan, who are the Ashaab al-Aykah according to the correct opinion. So we also decided to mention the story of Madyan after the story of the people of Lut in order to follow the way of the Qur’an. Now we will proceed to speak in detail about the offspring of Ibrahim, as Allah placed prophethood and scripture with some of his offspring and every prophet who was sent after Ibrahim came from his lineage. 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

We gave Ibrahim good in this life: Tafsir al-Shawkani

In the end of Surah al-Nahl, Allah describes Ibrahim with several attributes, including:

وَآتَيْنَاهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً

And We gave him good in this world [16:122]

The scholars of tafsir have brought a number of explanations for this phrase, and Sheikh Muhammad al-Shawkani collected the majority of them in his tafsir where he wrote:

وآتيناه في الدنيا حسنة أي خصلة حسنة أو حالة حسنة ، وقيل هو الولد الصالح ، وقيل الثناء الحسن ، وقيل النبوة ، وقيل الصلاة منا عليه في التشهد ، وقيل هي أنه يتولاه جميع أهل الأديان ، ولا مانع أن يكون ما آتاه الله شاملا لذلك كله ولما عداه من خصال الخير

وَآتَيْنَاهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً

And We gave him good in this world

i.e. good qualities or a good condition.

  • Some have said that it refers to righteous offspring.
  • Some have said that it refers to good praise and commendation.
  • Some have said that it refers to the station of prophethood.
  • Some have said that it refers to our prayers upon him during the tashahud.
  • And still others have said that it refers to the people of all religions inclining towards him in affection.

And there is nothing to prevent that which Allah gave him from including all of these good qualities or even more.

[Fath al-Qadeer 1/808] Continue reading

And We gave Ibrahim good in this life: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

In the end of surah al-Nahl, Allah describes Ibrahim with a number of attributes, including:

وَآتَيْنَاهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً

And We gave him good in this worldly life [16:122]

The scholars of tafsir have offered a number of different opinions to as what this is referring to. Ibn al-Jawzi summarized these opinions in his tafsir by writing:

قوله تعالى : ” وآتيناه في الدنيا حسنة ” فيها ستة أقوال : أحدها : أنها الذكر الحسن ، قاله ابن عباس . والثاني : النبوة ، قاله الحسن . والثالث : لسان صدق ، قاله مجاهد . والرابع : اجتماع الملل على ولايته ، فكلهم يتولونه ويرضونه ، قاله قتادة . والخامس : أنها الصلاة عليه مقرونة بالصلاة على محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم ، قاله مقاتل بن حيان . والسادس : الأولاد الأبرار على الكبر ، حكاه الثعلبي . ـ

There are six different opinions regarding Allah’s statement, “And We gave him good in this worldly life“.

1) That this means a good mention, and this was the opinion of ibn ‘Abbaas.

2) Prophethood, which was the opinion of al-Hasan.

3) Truthful speech, which was the opinion of Mujaahid. Continue reading

Those who come to Allah with a Pure Heart: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

In surah al-Shu’araa’, the prophet Ibrahim made a du’aa in which he described the Day of Judgement by saying:

يَوْمَ لَا يَنفَعُ مَالٌ وَلَا بَنُونَ * إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّـهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ

The Day wherein neither wealth nor sons will avail, * Except him who brings to Allah a qalb saleem [pure heart] (26:88-89)

Commenting on this in his book of tafsir, Imam al-Qurtubi wrote the following:

قوله تعالى : يوم لا ينفع مال ولا بنون ( يوم ) بدل من ( يوم ) الأول . أي يوم لا ينفع مال ولا بنون أحدا . والمراد بقوله : ” ولا بنون ” الأعوان ; لأن الابن إذا لم ينفع فغيره متى ينفع ؟ وقيل : ذكر البنين لأنه جرى ذكر والد إبراهيم ، أي لم ينفعه إبراهيم . ـ

Allah’s statement:

يَوْمَ لَا يَنفَعُ مَالٌ وَلَا بَنُونَ

The Day wherein neither wealth nor sons will avail

– meaning, a day on which neither wealth nor sons will benefit anyone. And the intended meaning of his statement, “nor sons” is helpers, because if sons do not help you, then who else will? And some say, “he mentioned sons here because it comes along with mentioning Ibrahim’s father” – i.e. Ibrahim will not benefit him.

 إلا من أتى الله بقلب سليم هو استثناء من الكافرين ; أي لا ينفعه ماله ولا بنوه . وقيل : هو استثناء من غير الجنس ، أي لكن من أتى الله بقلب سليم ينفعه لسلامة قلبه . ـ

إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّـهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ

Except him who brings to Allah a qalb saleem [pure heart]

This is an exclusion of the disbelievers, i.e. their wealth and sons will not benefit them. But others say it is an exclusion without any exception, i.e. (on that day neither wealth nor sons will benefit) however whoever comes to Allah with a qalb saleem [pure heart] will benefit from the purity of his heart.

وخص القلب بالذكر ; لأنه الذي إذا سلم سلمت الجوارح ، وإذا فسد فسدت سائر الجوارح . وقد تقدم في أول ( البقرة ) . ـ

And the heart is mentioned specifically here because it is that which, if it is pure then one’s limbs are pure, but if it is corrupted then the rest of one’s limbs are corrupted. And this has already been mentioned in the beginning of surah al-Baqarah. Continue reading

What is the wisdom of abrogating a command before it can be acted on?: Imam al-Shinqitee

In a session of tafsir delivered at his home which was recorded by his son and subsequently transribed, Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee discussed the following question:

هل يجوز النسخ قبل التمكن من الفعل أو لا يجوز ؟ والجماهير من العلماء على أنه جائز وواقع ، ومن أمثلته نسخ خمس وأربعين صلاة ليلية الإسراء بعد أن فرضت خسمسين ، ونُسخ منها خمس وأربعين بينما أُقرت خمساً ، ومن أمثلته قوله جل وعلا في قصة ذبح إبراهيم لولده : <  وَفَدَيْنَاهُ بِذِبْحٍ عَظِيمٍ > [الصفات 108] ؛ لأنه أمره أن يذبح ولده ، ونسخ هذا الأمر قبل التمكن من الفعل ، والتحقيق أن هذا جائز وواقع ، ولا شك أن فيه سؤالاً معروفاً وهو أن يقول طالب العلم : إذا كان الحكم يشرع ويُنسخ قبل العمل فما الحكمة في تشريعه الأول إذا كان ينسخ قبل العمل به ؟  ـ

Is the abrogation of a command before it is able to be carried out possible or impossible? The majority of the scholars hold the position that it is possible and that it actually happens, and one of the examples of this is the abrogation of forty-five prayers on the night of the Night Journey after fifty had been made obligatory and forty-five of them were abrogated, leaving only five remaining. And another example of this is Allah’s statement regarding the story of Ibrahim’s sacrificing his son:

وَفَدَيْنَاهُ بِذِبْحٍ عَظِيمٍ

And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice [37:107]

For Allah commanded Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, but He abrogated this command before Ibrahim was able to enact it. So the conclusion is that this is both possible and it occurs. And undoubtedly there is a well-known question regarding this, which is that the student of knowledge asks, “If a ruling is legislated and then abrogated before being acted upon, then what is the reasoning in its being legislated in the first place if it is abrogated prior to being carried out?” Continue reading