Three Levels of Responding to People’s Harms: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-Shooraa:

وَجَزَاءُ سَيِّئَةٍ سَيِّئَةٌ مِّثْلُهَا ۖ فَمَنْ عَفَا وَأَصْلَحَ فَأَجْرُهُ عَلَى اللَّـهِ ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الظَّالِمِينَ * وَلَمَنِ انتَصَرَ بَعْدَ ظُلْمِهِ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ مَا عَلَيْهِم مِّن سَبِيلٍ * إِنَّمَا السَّبِيلُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ يَظْلِمُونَ النَّاسَ وَيَبْغُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ * وَلَمَن صَبَرَ وَغَفَرَ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ لَمِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ

The retribution of a harmful act is a harm like it. But whoever pardons and makes reconciliation, then his reward is due from Allah. Indeed, Allah does not love the unjust ones. * And whoever seeks revenge after having been treated unjustly, there is nothing against these ones. * The grounds for actions is only against those who wrong others and cause trouble in the earth without due right. For these ones there will be a painful punishment. * But whoever exercises patience and forgives; indeed, that is one of the ‘azm al-umoor. [42:40-43]

In his famous book of tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote:

ذكر الله في هذه الآية، مراتب العقوبات، وأنها على ثلاث مراتب: عدل وفضل وظلم. ـ

In this noble ayah, Allah mentions the different levels of retribution for harms, and that there are three different levels of responding to harms:

  • Justice
  • Goodness
  • Injustice

فمرتبة العدل، جزاء السيئة بسيئة مثلها، لا زيادة ولا نقص، فالنفس بالنفس، وكل جارحة بالجارحة المماثلة لها، والمال يضمن بمثله. ـ

The level of justice is that you repay a harmful action with a harm similar to the original harmful action without any increase or decrease. So a life for a life, or an equivalent piece of the body for piece of the body harmed, or wealth of an equal amount to that lost. Continue reading

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I have been Commanded to Worship the Lord of this City: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah concludes surah al-Naml with the following ayaat:

إِنَّمَا أُمِرْتُ أَنْ أَعْبُدَ رَبَّ هَـٰذِهِ الْبَلْدَةِ الَّذِي حَرَّمَهَا وَلَهُ كُلُّ شَيْءٍ ۖ وَأُمِرْتُ أَنْ أَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ * وَأَنْ أَتْلُوَ الْقُرْآنَ ۖ فَمَنِ اهْتَدَىٰ فَإِنَّمَا يَهْتَدِي لِنَفْسِهِ ۖ وَمَن ضَلَّ فَقُلْ إِنَّمَا أَنَا مِنَ الْمُنذِرِينَ * وَقُلِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ سَيُرِيكُمْ آيَاتِهِ فَتَعْرِفُونَهَا ۚ وَمَا رَبُّكَ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ

I have only been commanded to worship the Lord of this city, who made it sacred, and to whom belongs all things. And I am commanded to be one of the Muslims. * And that I recite the Qur’an. Then whoever is guided is only guided for the good of his own self. And whoever goes astray, then say, “I am only one of warners.” * And say, “All praise is due to Allah. He will show you His signs and you will recognize them. And your Lord is not unaware of what you do.” [27:91-93]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di commented on these ayaat by writing:

أي: قل لهم يا محمد إنما أمرت أن أعبد رب هذه البلدة أي: مكة المكرمة، التي حرمها وأنعم على أهلها، فيجب أن يقابلوا ذلك بالشكر والقبول وله كل شيء من العلويات والسفليات أتى به لئلا يتوهم اختصاص ربوبيته بالبيت وحده، وأمرت لأن أكون من المسلمين أي: أبادر إلى الإسلام، وقد فعل صلى الله عليه وسلم، فإنه أول هذه الأمة إسلاما وأعظمها استسلاما. ـ

Meaning: O Muhammad, say to them:

إِنَّمَا أُمِرْتُ أَنْ أَعْبُدَ رَبَّ هَـٰذِهِ الْبَلْدَةِ

I have only been commanded to worship the Lord of this city

i.e. Mecca, which Allah has sanctified, blessing it and its people. So one must respond to that with gratitude and acceptance. And Allah is the owner of all things, from the heights of His creation to its lowest parts. He mentioned this lest anyone wrongly assume that His lordship was restricted to only one place.

And I am commanded Continue reading

“For that He created them”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Near the end of surah Hud, Allah says

وَلَوْ شَاءَ رَ‌بُّكَ لَجَعَلَ النَّاسَ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً ۖ وَلَا يَزَالُونَ مُخْتَلِفِينَ * إِلَّا مَن رَّ‌حِمَ رَ‌بُّكَ ۚ وَلِذَٰلِكَ خَلَقَهُمْ ۗ وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَةُ رَ‌بِّكَ لَأَمْلَأَنَّ جَهَنَّمَ مِنَ الْجِنَّةِ وَالنَّاسِ أَجْمَعِينَ

And if your Lord had willed, He could have made mankind one community; but they will not cease to differ. * Except whom your Lord has given mercy, and for that He created them. But the word of your Lord is to be fulfilled that, “I will surely fill Hell with jinn and men all together.” [11:118-119]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di commented on these ayaat by writing:

يخبر تعالى أنه لو شاء لجعل الناس كلهم أمة واحدة على الدين الإسلامي، فإن مشيئته غير قاصرة، ولا يمتنع عليه شيء، ولكنه اقتضت حكمته، أن لا يزالوا مختلفين، مخالفين للصراط المستقيم‏,‏ متبعين للسبل الموصلة إلى النار، كل يرى الحق، فيما قاله، والضلال في قول غيره‏.‏

Allah informs us that had He wished, He could have made all mankind one nation upon the religion of Islam. For Allah’s will is in no way limited or prevented from doing anything. Rather, His wisdom necessitates that the people would remain differing and going contrary to the Straight Path, following other paths which lead them to the hell-fire, all the while believing the truth to be with them and misguidance to be with others.

‏{‏إِلَّا مَنْ رَحِمَ رَبُّكَ‏}‏ فهداهم إلى العلم بالحق والعمل به، والاتفاق عليه، فهؤلاء سبقت لهم، سابقة السعادة، وتداركتهم العناية الربانية والتوفيق الإلهي‏.‏

إِلَّا مَنْ رَحِمَ رَبُّكَ

Except whom your Lord has given mercy

thus guiding them to know the truth, to act according to it, and to be in agreement on it. For these people, Allah has already decreed that ultimate joy for them, and He gives them extra attention of protection and caring and grants them success. Continue reading

A Discussion of the People of Jannah: Tafsir al-Qurtubi & Tafsir al-Sa’di

In surah al-Tur, Allah describes the situation of the believers in Jannah by saying:

وَأَقْبَلَ بَعْضُهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ يَتَسَاءَلُونَ * قَالُوا إِنَّا كُنَّا قَبْلُ فِي أَهْلِنَا مُشْفِقِينَ * فَمَنَّ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْنَا وَوَقَانَا عَذَابَ السَّمُومِ * إِنَّا كُنَّا مِن قَبْلُ نَدْعُوهُ ۖ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْبَرُّ الرَّحِيمُ

And they will approach one another, inquiring of each other. * They will say, “Indeed, we were previously among our people, fearful. * So Allah conferred favor upon us and protected us from the punishment of al-samoom. * Indeed, we used to supplicate Him before. Indeed, it is He who is al-Barr, al-Raheem.” [52:25-28]

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

قوله تعالى : وأقبل بعضهم على بعض يتساءلون قال ابن عباس : إذا بعثوا من قبورهم سأل بعضهم بعضا . وقيل : في الجنة يتساءلون أي يتذاكرون ما كانوا فيه في الدنيا من التعب والخوف من العاقبة ، ويحمدون الله تعالى على زوال الخوف عنهم . وقيل : يقول بعضهم لبعض بم صرت في هذه المنزلة الرفيعة ؟ قالوا إنا كنا قبل في أهلنا مشفقين أي قال كل مسئول منهم لسائله : إنا كنا قبل أي في الدنيا خائفين وجلين من عذاب الله . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَأَقْبَلَ بَعْضُهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ يَتَسَاءَلُونَ

And they will approach one another, inquiring of each other

ibn ‘Abbaas said: when they are raised from their graves they will ask one another.

But others explained it to mean that they will ask one another in Jannah, meaning they will discuss the hard work and fear of the ultimate outcomes that they had during the worldly life and they will praise Allah for removing that fear from them.

Still others said: They will say to one another, “How did you get to this elevated station?” They will say, Continue reading

I did not Create the Jinn and Mankind Except to Worship Me: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Near the end of surah al-Dhaariyaat, Allah says:

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ * مَا أُرِيدُ مِنْهُم مِّن رِّزْقٍ وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَن يُطْعِمُونِ * إِنَّ اللَّـهَ هُوَ الرَّزَّاقُ ذُو الْقُوَّةِ الْمَتِينُ

And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me * I do not desire provision from them, nor do I want them to feed me * It is Allah who is the continual provider, the firm possessor of strength. [51-56-58]

Commenting on this in his well-known tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di wrote:

هذه الغاية التي خلق الله الجن والإنس لها، وبعث جميع الرسل يدعون إليها، وهي عبادته، المتضمنة لمعرفته ومحبته، والإنابة إليه والإقبال عليه، والإعراض عما سواه ـ

This is the purpose for which Allah created the Jinn and mankind, and all of the Messengers were sent to call to this: that is, the worship of Allah. Worship of Allah involves knowing Him, loving Him, turning to Him in repentance, dedicating oneself to Him, and turning away from the worship of any others.

وذلك يتضمن معرفة الله تعالى، فإن تمام العبادة متوقف على المعرفة بالله، بل كلما ازداد العبد معرفة بربه، كانت عبادته أكمل، فهذا الذي خلق الله المكلفين لأجله، فما خلقهم لحاجة منه إليهم. ـ

This involves knowing Allah, as complete worship is dependent upon knowing Allah. In fact, the more that a person increases in knowing His Lord, the more complete his worship will be. So it is for this purpose that Allah created these two legally-responsible beings [i.e. Jinn and mankind]; He did not created them out of any need for them. Continue reading

Know that Allah is Severe in Punishment and that Allah is Forgiving and Merciful: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-Maa’idah:

اعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّـهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ وَأَنَّ اللَّـهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

Know that Allah is severe in punishment and that Allah is Forgiving and Merciful [5:98]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di commented on this in his tafsir by writing:

أي: ليكن هذان العلمان موجودين في قلوبكم على وجه الجزم واليقين، تعلمون أنه شديد العقاب العاجل والآجل على من عصاه، وأنه غفور رحيم لمن تاب إليه وأطاعه. فيثمر لكم هذا العلمُ الخوفَ من عقابه، والرجاءَ لمغفرته وثوابه، وتعملون على ما يقتضيه الخوف والرجاء.ـ

meaning: Let these two pieces of information be present in your hearts with certainty and assurance – that you know that He is severe in punishment – whether it be immediate or delayed – towards those who disobey Him, and that He is forgiving and merciful towards whoever repents to Him and obeys Him.

So this knowledge should produce a fear of His punishment and a hope for His forgiveness and reward in you, and you should behave in a way that reflects that fear and that hope.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 271]

See also: Follow Allah’s Path, and Do Not Follow Other Paths: Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan

See also: Imam al-Nawawi on Hope and Fear

A Veil Between the Disbelievers and the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In surah al-Israa’, Allah addresses the Prophet Muhammad by saying:

وَإِذَا قَرَأْتَ الْقُرْآنَ جَعَلْنَا بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَ الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْآخِرَةِ حِجَابًا مَّسْتُورًا * وَجَعَلْنَا عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ أَكِنَّةً أَن يَفْقَهُوهُ وَفِي آذَانِهِمْ وَقْرًا ۚ وَإِذَا ذَكَرْتَ رَبَّكَ فِي الْقُرْآنِ وَحْدَهُ وَلَّوْا عَلَىٰ أَدْبَارِهِمْ نُفُورًا * نَّحْنُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يَسْتَمِعُونَ بِهِ إِذْ يَسْتَمِعُونَ إِلَيْكَ وَإِذْ هُمْ نَجْوَىٰ إِذْ يَقُولُ الظَّالِمُونَ إِن تَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا رَجُلًا مَّسْحُورًا * انظُرْ كَيْفَ ضَرَبُوا لَكَ الْأَمْثَالَ فَضَلُّوا فَلَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ سَبِيلًا

And when you recite the Qur’an, We place a concealing barrier between you and those who do not believe in the hereafter. * And We have placed a covering over their hearts so that they do not understand it, and deafness in their ears. And when you mention your Lord alone in the Qur’an, they turn away in aversion. * We are most knowing of what they listen to when they listen to you, and We are most knowing that when they discuss privately, then the wrongdoers say, “You are only following a bewitched man.” * Look at the comparisons they strike of you. So they are misguided, and they are not able to find a way. [17:45-48]

In his valuable commentary on the Qur’an, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote the following on these ayaat:

ـ(45 ) يخبر تعالى عن عقوبته للمكذبين بالحق الذين ردوه وأعرضوا عنه أنه يحول بينهم وبين الإيمان، فقال:ـ وإذا قرأت القرآن الذي فيه الوعظ والتذكير والهدى والإيمان والخير والعلم الكثير؛ جعلنا بينك وبين الذين لا يؤمنون بالآخرة حجابا مستورا يسترهم عن فهمه حقيقة وعن التحقق بحقائقه والانقياد إلى ما يدعو إليه من الخير. ـ

Allah is informing us of His punishment for those who deny the truth, those who reject it and turn away from it. He is informing us that He will come between them and eemaan, for He said:

وَإِذَا قَرَأْتَ الْقُرْآنَ

And when you recite the Qur’an …

that Qur’an which contains abundant admonitions, reminders, guidance, eemaan, goodness, and knowledge

جَعَلْنَا بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَ الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْآخِرَةِ حِجَابًا مَّسْتُورًا 

… We place a concealing barrier between you and those who do not believe in the hereafter.

which shields them from understanding its truth, from grasping its true nature, and from complying with the good that it calls to. Continue reading

The False Qiyaas of Iblis: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In the beginning of surah al-A’raaf, Allah mentions the well-known story of Iblis refusing to obey Allah’s command to bow towards Adam. After the initial refusal, Allah informs us of the following dialogue:

قَالَ مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلَّا تَسْجُدَ إِذْ أَمَرْتُكَ ۖ قَالَ أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِّنْهُ خَلَقْتَنِي مِن نَّارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِن طِينٍ

Allah said, “What prevented you from prostrating after I had commanded you?” Iblis said, “I am better than him; You created me from fire, and him You created from clay.” (7:12)

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di mentioned the following points of benefit under his tafsir of this ayah:

فوبخه اللّه على ذلك وقال: { مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلَّا تَسْجُدَ } لما خلقت بيديَّ، أي: شرفته وفضلته بهذه الفضيلة، التي لم تكن لغيره، فعصيت أمري وتهاونت بي؟ ـ

Allah reprimanded Iblis for this behavior and said:

مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلَّا تَسْجُدَ

What prevented you from prostrating

to that which I created which My own hands? Meaning, I have honored and favored him with this honor which was not done for any other, but you disobey My command and treat it so flippantly?

ـ { قَالَ } إبليس معارضا لربه: { أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِنْهُ } ثم برهن على هذه الدعوى الباطلة بقوله: { خَلَقْتَنِي مِنْ نَارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِنْ طِينٍ } وموجب هذا أن المخلوق من نار أفضل من المخلوق من طين لعلو النار على الطين وصعودها، وهذا القياس من أفسد الأقيسة، فإنه باطل من عدة أوجه . ـ

قَالَ

Iblis said

in response to his Lord Continue reading

Investigate and Verify: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah commands the believers in surah al-Nisaa’ by saying:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا ضَرَبْتُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ فَتَبَيَّنُوا وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَنْ أَلْقَىٰ إِلَيْكُمُ السَّلَامَ لَسْتَ مُؤْمِنًا تَبْتَغُونَ عَرَضَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا فَعِندَ اللَّـهِ مَغَانِمُ كَثِيرَةٌ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ كُنتُم مِّن قَبْلُ فَمَنَّ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْكُمْ فَتَبَيَّنُوا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا

O you who have believed, when you go forth in the cause of Allah, investigate; and do not say to one who gives you a greeting of peace “You are not a believer,” seeking the goods of worldly life; for with Allah are many bounties. You yourselves were like that before before Allah conferred His favor upon you, so investigate. Indeed Allah is ever acquainted with what you do. [4:94]

Commenting on this in his famous book of tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote:

يأمر تعالى عباده المؤمنين إذا خرجوا جهادا في سبيله وابتغاء مرضاته أن يتبينوا ويتثبتوا في جميع أمورهم المشتبهة. فإن الأمور قسمان: واضحة وغير واضحة. فالواضحة البينة لا تحتاج إلى تثبت وتبين، لأن ذلك تحصيل حاصل. وأما الأمور المشكلة غير الواضحة فإن الإنسان يحتاج إلى التثبت فيها والتبين، ليعرف هل يقدم عليها أم لا؟ ـ

Allah is commanding His believing slaves to investigate and verify the facts in any and all situations which are not completely clear whenever they go out for jihaad in His path and seeking His pleasure.

And things can fall into one of two categories: either they are clear or unclear. Those things which are plain and clear do not require any extra verification or investigation, because clarity has already been achieved. But as for those matters which are not entirely clear and somewhat thorny, then a person must seek to ascertain what is really the case and seek clarity so that he can known whether he should proceed with his plan or not. Continue reading

Qualities of the Successful Ones: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah describes the successful believers in surah al-Nur by saying:

وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّـهَ وَرَ‌سُولَهُ وَيَخْشَ اللَّـهَ وَيَتَّقْهِ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ

And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, fears Allah, and exercises taqwa of him – these ones are the successful ones. [24:52]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote:

فقال: ومن يطع الله ورسوله فيصدق خبرهما ويمتثل أمرهما، ويخش الله أي: يخافه خوفا مقرونا بمعرفة، فيترك ما نهى عنه، ويكف نفسه عما تهوى، ولهذا قال: ويتقه بترك المحظور؛ لأن التقوى -عند الإطلاق- يدخل فيها فعل المأمور، وترك المنهي عنه، وعند اقترانها بالبر أو الطاعة – كما في هذا الموضع – تفسر بتوقي عذاب الله، بترك معاصيه، ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّـهَ وَرَ‌سُولَهُ

and whoever obeys Allah and His messenger

so he affirms what they have informed him of and complies with their commands Continue reading