Fear the Fire Whose Fuel is Men and Stones: Tafsir al-Baghawi & Tafsir al-Qurtubi

In the beginning of surah al-Baqarah, Allah challenges the disbelievers that if they doubt the authenticity of the Qur’an to produce a single surah like it. He then follows this up by saying:

فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُوا وَلَن تَفْعَلُوا فَاتَّقُوا النَّارَ الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ ۖ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِينَ

But if you do not – and you will never be able to – then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers. [2:24]

Commenting on this in his book of tafsir, Imam al-Baghawi wrote:

ـ ( التي وقودها الناس والحجارة ) قال ابن عباس وأكثر المفسرين يعني حجارة الكبريت لأنها أكثر التهابا وقيل جميع الحجارة وهو دليل على عظمة تلك النار وقيل أراد بها الأصنام لأن أكثر أصنامهم كانت منحوتة من الحجارة كما قال ” إنكم وما تعبدون من دون الله حصب جهنم ” ( 98 – الأنبياء ) . ـ

 الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ

… whose fuel is men and stones

ibn ‘Abbaas and the majority of the mufassiroon have said that ‘stones‘ here means sulfur because sulfur is very prone to igniting and burning.

It is also said that it is referring to all kinds of stones and that this demonstrates the severity and intensity of this fire.

And it is also said that what is intended by ‘stones‘ here are idols because most of their idols used to be statues made of stone. This is like what Allah said: Continue reading

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The Names and Revelation of Surah al-Fatihah: Tafsir al-Baghawi

Before proceeding to explain surah al-Fatihah verse-by-verse, Imam Abu Muhammad al-Husayn al-Baghawi included a short discussion of its well-known names and when it was revealed:

 ولها ثلاثة أسماء معروفة فاتحة الكتاب وأم القرآن والسبع المثاني . ـ

Surah al-Fatihah has three well-known names, which are:

سميت فاتحة الكتاب ؛ لأن الله بها افتتح القرآن . وسميت أم القرآن وأم الكتاب لأنها أصل القرآن منها بدئ القرآن وأم الشيء أصله ، ويقال لمكة : أم القرى؛ لأنها أصل البلاد دحيت الأرض من تحتها وقيل لأنها مقدمة وإمام لما يتلوها من السور يبدأ بكتابتها في المصحف وبقراءتها في الصلاة والسبع المثاني لأنها سبع آيات باتفاق العلماء . وسميت مثاني لأنها تثنى في الصلاة فتقرأ في كل ركعة وقال مجاهد سميت مثاني لأن الله تعالى استثناها لهذه الأمة فذخرها لهم . ـ

It is called Fatihah al-Kitaab because Allah opens the Qur’an with it.

And it is called Umm al-Qur’an or Umm al-Kitaab because it is the foundation of the Qur’an with which the Qur’an begins, and the umm of something is its foundation. Mecca is called Umm al-Quraa because it was the origin of the cities which spread out across the surrounding land. And it is also said that surah al-Fatihah is called Umm al-Qur’an because it is an introduction and a leader for the surahs which follow it. Its text begins the mushaf and its recitation begins the prayer. Continue reading

Meanings of the words Yahood, Nasaara and Saabi’oon: Tafsir al-Baghawi

Imam al-Baghawi offers some linguistic definitions and benefits in his tafsir of surah al-Baqarah [2:62] by writing:

 ـ ( إن الذين آمنوا والذين هادوا ) يعني اليهود سموا به لقولهم إنا هدنا إليك أي ملنا إليك وقيل لأنهم هادوا أي تابوا عن عبادة العجل وقيل لأنهم مالوا عن دين الإسلام وعن دين موسى عليه السلام وقال أبو عمرو بن العلاء : لأنهم يتهودون أي يتحركون عند قراءة التوراة ويقولون : إن السماوات والأرض تحركت حين آتى الله موسى التوراة . ـ

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا

Verily! Those who believe and those who haadoo … [2:62]

meaning, the Yahood (Jews). They were called by that due to their statement

إِنَّا هُدْنَا إِلَيْكَ

indeed, we have hudnaa to You. [7:156]

meaning, we have turned to You.

And some say that they are called that because they haadoo [reconciled] – i.e. repented – from their calf-worship.

Some others say they are called that because they turned away from the religion of Islam and from the religion of Moosaa (peace be upon him).

Abu ‘Amr ibn al-‘Alaa’ said they are called that because they yatahawwadoon – meaning they rock and sway when they are reciting the Tawrah and because they say that the heavens and the earth shook when Allah gave Moosaa the Tawrah. Continue reading

Did Fir’awn claim divinity, or worship other gods?: al-Shawkaani, al-Qurtubi, & al-Baghawi

In surah al-A’raaf, Allah says:

وَقَالَ الْمَلَأُ مِن قَوْمِ فِرْعَوْنَ أَتَذَرُ مُوسَىٰ وَقَوْمَهُ لِيُفْسِدُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَيَذَرَكَ وَآلِهَتَكَ ۚ قَالَ سَنُقَتِّلُ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ وَنَسْتَحْيِي نِسَاءَهُمْ وَإِنَّا فَوْقَهُمْ قَاهِرُونَ

The chiefs of Fir’awn’s people said: “Will you leave Moosaa and his people to spread mischief in the land, and to abandon you and your gods?” He said: “We will kill their sons, and let live their women, and we have indeed irresistible power over them.” [7:127]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Shawkaani briefly mentioned a question that arises from a careful reading of this ayah in his tafsir where he wrote:

واختلف المفسرون في معنى وآلهتك لكون فرعون كان يدعي الربوبية كما في قوله: ما علمت لكم من إله غيري، وقوله: أنا ربكم فقيل: معنى وآلهتك: وطاعتك، وقيل: معناه: وعبادتك، ويؤيده قراءة علي وابن عباس، والضحاك “وإلهتك” وفي حرف أبي “أتذر موسى وقومه ليفسدوا في الأرض وقد تركوك أن يعبدوك” وقيل: إنه كان يعبد بقرة، وقيل: كان يعبد النجوم، وقيل: كان له أصنام يعبدها قومه تقربا إليه فنسبت إليه ولهذا قال: أنا ربكم الأعلى. قاله الزجاج، وقيل: كان يعبد الشمس . ـ

The scholars of tafsir have differed regarding the meaning of “your gods” due to the fact that Fir’awn used to claim lordship for himself, such as in his statement:

مَا عَلِمْتُ لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَـٰهٍ غَيْرِي

I know of no other god for you besides me [28:38]

as well as his saying:

أَنَا رَبُّكُمُ

I am your lord… [79:24]

Some said the meaning of “aalihatak” [lit. “your gods”] is: obedience to you. And others said its meaning is: worship of you. This understanding is supported by a variant recitation (qiraa’ah) transmitted from ‘Ali, ibn ‘Abbaas and al-Dhahhaak:

وَإِلَهَتَكَ

wa ilaahatak

… and your divinity …

as well as what comes in the variant dialect (harf) recitation of Ubay:

 أَتَذَرُ مُوسَى وَقَوْمَهُ لِيُفْسِدُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَقَدْ تَرَكُوكَ أَنْ يَعْبُدُوكَ

… Will you leave Moosaa and his people to spread mischief in the land while they have abandoned you and worshiping you? … Continue reading

Notes on the Books of Tafsir and their Sources: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad ibn ‘Umar Bazmool mentioned the following points on his personal blog:

 هل تعلم: أن غالبية كتب التفسير لها أصول تعتمد عليها؛ ـ

Did you know that most of the books of tafsir had primary sources which they relied on?

روح المعاني للألوسي عمدته تفسير أبي السعود، حتى إنه يجعله كالمتن ويعلق عليه من حواشي تفسير البيضاوي وخاصة حاشية الخفاجي. وإذا أطلق في هذا الكتاب لقب (شيخ الإسلام) يريد أبي السعود، وإذا أطلق (الإمام) يريد الرازي صاحب التفسير الكبير. ـ

○ The book Rooh al-Ma’aani” by al-Aloosi was based on the Tafsir of Abu Sa’ood, so much so that the latter was like an outline for it. And he also included notes from the super-commentaries written of Tafsir al-Baydhawi, especially al-Khafaaji‘s. And whenever he would use the term “sheikh al-Islaam” in this book, he was referring to Abu Sa’ood, and whenever he would use the term “al-Imam“, he was referring to al-Razi, the author of al-Tafsir al-Kabeer.

تفسير الشوكاني (فتح القدير الجامع بين فني الرواية والدراية في التفسير) عمدته تفسير النسفي وتفسير القرطبي في الدراية، والدر المنثور للسيوطي في الرواية. ـ

○ The tafsir of al-Shawkaani – “Fath al-Qadeer al-Jaami’ bayn fanay al-Riwayah wa’l-Dirayah fee Tafsir” – took Tafsir al-Nasafi and Tafsir al-Qurtubi as its base in terms of opinion-based tafsir, and relied on al-Suyooti’s al-Durr al-Manthoor in terms of narration-based tafsir. Continue reading

Why Allah began listing the prophets with Nuh: Tafsir al-Baghawi

Allah said in surah al-Nisaa’:

إِنَّا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ كَمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ نُوحٍ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ مِن بَعْدِهِ ۚ وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ إِبْرَ‌اهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالْأَسْبَاطِ وَعِيسَىٰ وَأَيُّوبَ وَيُونُسَ وَهَارُ‌ونَ وَسُلَيْمَانَ ۚ وَآتَيْنَا دَاوُودَ زَبُورً‌ا

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’qub, al-Asbaat, ‘Eesaa, Ayyub, Yunus, Haaroon, and Sulaiman, and to Dawud We gave the Zabur. [4:163]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, Imam al-Baghawi made the following point:

وأنزل : ( إنا أوحينا إليك كما أوحينا إلى نوح والنبيين من بعده ) فذكر عدة من الرسل الذين أوحى إليهم ، وبدأ بذكر نوح عليه السلام لأنه كان أبا البشر مثل آدم عليه السلام ، قال الله تعالى : ” وجعلنا ذريته هم الباقين ” ( الصافات – 77 ) ولأنه أول نبي من أنبياء الشريعة ، وأول نذير على الشرك ، وأول من عذبت أمته لردهم دعوته ، وأهلك أهل الأرض بدعائه وكان أطول الأنبياء [ ص: 311 ] عمرا وجعلت معجزته في نفسه ، لأنه عمر ألف سنة فلم تسقط له سن ولم تشب له شعرة ولم تنتقص له قوة ، ولم يصبر نبي على أذى قومه ما صبر هو على طول عمره . ـ

Allah revealed:

إِنَّا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ كَمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ نُوحٍ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ مِن بَعْدِهِ

Indeed, We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], as We revealed to Nuh and the prophets after him… [4:163]

So He mentioned a number of the messenger to whom He gave divine revelation and He began by mentioning Nuh (‘alaih al-salaam) because he was a father to mankind, similar to Adam (‘alaih al-salaam). Allah said [regarding Nuh]: Continue reading

The Meaning of the Title “al-Maseeh”

In his book of tafsir, Imam al-Shawkaani brought the following discussion about the meaning of the term al-Maseeh (the Messiah). Imam al-Shawkaani generally borrowed heavily – even word for word – from Imam al-Qurtubi’s linguistic discussions, often summarizing and simplifying them into a list format. Some supplementary notes from al-Qurtubi will be mentioned here in brackets [] for the sake of clarity:

[والمسيح لقب لعيسى ومعناه الصديق ; قاله إبراهيم النخعي . ـ]

[al-Maseeh is a title for ‘Eesaa (Jesus) and its meaning is al-Siddeeq (“the truthful one”) – this is what Ibrahim al-Nakha’ee said.]

والمسيح اختلف فيه مماذا أخذ ؟ فقيل : من المسح ; لأنه مسح الأرض ; أي : ذهب فيها فلم يستكن بكن ، وقيل : إنه كان لا يمسح ذا عاهة إلا برئ ، فسمي مسيحا ، فهو على هذين فعيل بمعنى فاعل ، ـ

al-Maseeh – there is differing as to where it was derived. So it is said: (it was derived) from al-mash (wiping), for he swept over the earth, meaning he traversed over it and did not take residence in any dwelling place.

And it is said: It was the case that he would not touch someone with an infirmity except that they would be cured, so he was called Maseeh.

So according to these two meaning, it takes the form of an adjective with the meaning of an active participle. Continue reading

The wisdom of not disclosing the date of Laylatu’l-Qadr: Imam al-Baghawi

In his tafsir of surah al-Qadr, Imam Abu Muhammad al-Baghawi mentions some of the different opinions regarding the date of Laylatu’l-Qadr and then concludes by writing:

وفي الجملة : أبهم الله هذه الليلة على هذه الأمة ليجتهدوا في العبادة ليالي رمضان طمعا في إدراكها ، كما أخفى ساعة الإجابة في يوم الجمعة ، وأخفى الصلاة الوسطى في الصلوات الخمس ، واسمه الأعظم في الأسماء ، ورضاه في الطاعات ليرغبوا في جميعها ، وسخطه في المعاصي لينتهوا عن جميعها ، وأخفى قيام الساعة ليجتهدوا في الطاعات حذرا من قيامها . ـ

In sum, Allah left the exact date of Laylah al-Qadr uncertain for this ummah in order that they might strive in worship during all the nights of Ramadan in hopes of attaining it. This is just as He concealed which hour of Friday is the hour in which supplications are accepted, and just as He concealed which of the five daily prayers is the middle prayer, or which of His names is the greatest. His pleasure is in acts of obedience, so let the people aspire to do them all, and His displeasure is in acts of disobedience, so let them abstain from all of them. And Allah also concealed the time of the Final Hour in order that the people would exert themselves in acts of obedience in watchfulness of its establishment.

[Tafsir al-Baghawi 8/491]

See also: The date of Laylatu’l-Qadr being unknown – “Perhaps that is better for you”: Ibn Kathir

See also: The Meaning of “Laylah al-Qadr”: Sheikh ibn ‘Uthaymeen

See also: Allah’s commendations for those who pray during the night

See also: “We are not able to perform qiyaam al-lail”: Responses from the salaf

See also: The Blessed Night is Laylah al-Qadr, not the Middle of Sha’baan

“Blessed is whoever is at the fire and whoever is around it” : Tafsir al-Baghawi

While recounting the story of Moosaa approaching the burning bush in surah al-Naml, Allah says:

إِذْ قَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِأَهْلِهِ إِنِّي آنَسْتُ نَارً‌ا سَآتِيكُم مِّنْهَا بِخَبَرٍ‌ أَوْ آتِيكُم بِشِهَابٍ قَبَسٍ لَّعَلَّكُمْ تَصْطَلُونَ * فَلَمَّا جَاءَهَا نُودِيَ أَن بُورِ‌كَ مَن فِي النَّارِ‌ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا وَسُبْحَانَ اللَّـهِ رَ‌بِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

[Mention] when Moosaa said to his family, “Indeed, I have perceived a fire. I will bring you from there information or will bring you a burning torch that you may warm yourselves.” * But when he came to it, he was addressed, “Blessed is whoever is at (lit. “in”) the fire and whoever is around it. And exalted is Allah, Lord of the worlds. [27:7-8]

Commenting on the second ayah in his book of tafsir, Imam al-Baghawi wrote:

ـ ( فَلَمَّا جَاءَهَا نُودِيَ أَنْ بُورِكَ مَنْ فِي النَّارِ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا ) أَيْ : بُورِكَ عَلَى مَنْ فِي النَّارِ أَوْ مَنْ فِي النَّارِ ، وَالْعَرَبُ تَقُولُ : بَارَكَهُ اللَّهُ وَبَارَكَ فِيهِ ، وَبَارَكَ عَلَيْهِ ، بِمَعْنًى وَاحِدٍ . ـ

فَلَمَّا جَاءَهَا نُودِيَ أَن بُورِ‌كَ مَن فِي النَّارِ‌ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا

But when he came to it, he was addressed, ‘Blessed is whoever is at (lit. “in”) the fire and whoever is around it’ [27:8]

Meaning: Blessings upon those at (lit. “in”) the fire. And the Arabs say, “baarak Allaahu” (God bless), “baarak feehi” (blessings ‘in’ him) and “baarak ‘alaihi” (blessings on him) all with the same meaning.

وَقَالَ قَوْمٌ : الْبَرَكَةُ رَاجِعَةٌ إِلَى مُوسَى وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ ، مَعْنَاهُ : بُورِكَ فِي مَنْ طَلَبَ النَّارَ ، وَهُوَ مُوسَى عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ ) ( وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا ) وَهُمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ الَّذِينَ حَوْلَ النَّارِ ، وَمَعْنَاهُ : بُورِكَ فِيكَ يَا مُوسَى وَفِي الْمَلَائِكَةِ الَّذِينَ حَوْلَ النَّارِ ، وَهَذَا تَحِيَّةٌ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ – عَزَّ وَجَلَّ – لِمُوسَى بِالْبَرَكَةِ ، كَمَا حَيَّا إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَلَى أَلْسِنَةِ الْمَلَائِكَةِ حِينَ دَخَلُوا عَلَيْهِ فَقَالُوا : رَحْمَةُ اللَّهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ عَلَيْكُمْ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ . ـ

A people said, “the barakah (blessings) refers to Moosaa and the angels”, meaning blessings on the one who sought the fire, and that is Moosaa (‘alaihis salaam).

وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا

Whoever is around it

and they are the angels who were around the fire, meaning ‘blessings on you, O Moosaa, and on the angels who were around the fire’, and this is a greeting of blessings from Allah to Moosaa, just as He greeted Ibrahim via the tongues of the angels when they entered upon him and said,

رَ‌حْمَتُ اللَّـهِ وَبَرَ‌كَاتُهُ عَلَيْكُمْ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ

May the mercy of Allah and His blessings be upon you, people of the house [11:73] Continue reading

The Prophet clarified much of what the Ahl al-Kitaab used to conceal: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Imam Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote in his book of tafsir:

قوله تعالى : يا أهل الكتاب قد جاءكم رسولنا يبين لكم كثيرا مما كنتم تخفون من الكتاب [ الآية [ 5 \ 15 ] ، لم يبين هنا شيئا من ذلك الكثير الذي يبينه لهم الرسول – صلى الله عليه وسلم – مما كانوا يخفون من الكتاب ، يعني التوراة والإنجيل ، وبين كثيرا منه في مواضع أخر . ـ

Allah’s statement:

يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَ‌سُولُنَا يُبَيِّنُ لَكُمْ كَثِيرً‌ا مِّمَّا كُنتُمْ تُخْفُونَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَيَعْفُو عَن كَثِيرٍ‌ ۚ قَدْ جَاءَكُم مِّنَ اللَّـهِ نُورٌ‌ وَكِتَابٌ مُّبِينٌ

O People of the Scripture, there has come to you Our Messenger making clear to you much of what you used to conceal of the Scripture and overlooking much. There has come to you from Allah a light and a clear Book. [5:15]

Nothing was explained here of the many things things which were clarified to them by the Messenger (ﷺ) of what they used to conceal of their scripture, meaning the Tawrah and the Injeel, but He clarified much of it elsewhere.

فمما كانوا يخفون من أحكام التوراة رجم الزاني المحصن ، وبينه القرآن في قوله تعالى : ألم تر إلى الذين أوتوا نصيبا من الكتاب يدعون إلى كتاب الله ليحكم بينهم ثم يتولى فريق منهم وهم معرضون [ 3 \ 23 ] . ـ

So from the things which they used to conceal of the legislative rulings of the Tawrah was the stoning of the virgin fornicator, and the Qur’an clarified this in His statement: Continue reading