Pray As You Have Seen Me Pray: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

In part of his discussion of surah Hud, Imam al-Qurtubi included the following discussion:

ذكر الله سبحانه في كتابه الصلاة بركوعها وسجودها وقيامها وقراءتها وأسمائها فقال : أقم الصلاة الآية . وقال : أقم الصلاة لدلوك الشمس الآية . وقال : فسبحان الله حين تمسون وحين تصبحون وله الحمد في السماوات والأرض وعشيا وحين تظهرون . وقال : وسبح بحمد ربك قبل طلوع الشمس وقبل غروبها . وقال : اركعوا واسجدوا . وقال : وقوموا لله قانتين . وقال : وإذا قرئ القرآن فاستمعوا له وأنصتوا على ما تقدم . وقال : ولا تجهر بصلاتك ولا تخافت بها أي بقراءتك ; ـ

Throughout His Book, Allah mentions the prayer by referring to its bowing, prostrating, standing, recitation and by their names.

He says:

وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ طَرَفَيِ النَّهَارِ وَزُلَفًا مِّنَ اللَّيْلِ

And establish prayer at the two ends of the day and at the approach of the night … [11:114]

أَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ لِدُلُوكِ الشَّمْسِ إِلَىٰ غَسَقِ اللَّيْلِ وَقُرْآنَ الْفَجْرِ ۖ إِنَّ قُرْآنَ الْفَجْرِ كَانَ مَشْهُودًا

Establish prayer at the decline of the sun until the darkness of the night and the recitation of dawn. Indeed, the recitation of dawn is ever witnessed. [17:78]

فَسُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ حِينَ تُمْسُونَ وَحِينَ تُصْبِحُونَ * وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَعَشِيًّا وَحِينَ تُظْهِرُونَ

So exalted is Allah when you reach the evening and when you reach the morning. * And to Him belongs praise throughout the heavens and the earth. And exalted is He at night and when you are at noon. [30:17-18] Continue reading

Links Between Surah Yunus and Surah Hud: Sheikh Muhammad al-Rabee’ah

Sheikh Muhammad al-Rabee’ah, a professor in the College of Shree’ah at al-Qasim University, devoted one of his books to the study of themes of surahs. In one section on the link between a surah‘s name and its theme, the sheikh gave the following example:

وفي سورة يونس تركيز على الموعظة والدعوة بالترغيب ولذلك افتتحت بالتذكير بآيات الله تعالى وحال المكذبين بها، وتخلل ذلك عرض للطف الله تعالى بأوليائه، وعباده المؤمنين والتائبين، وتضمنت الموعظة بالقرآن كما قال تعالى (يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ قَدْ جَاءَتْكُم مَّوْعِظَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَشِفَاءٌ لِّمَا فِي الصُّدُورِ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ ) ]يونس: 57 [، ولذلك تضمنت قصة قوم يونس الذين آمنوا بعد ما دعاهم يونس وهددهم بالعذاب فكشف الله عنهم العذاب، فهذه القصة هي النموذج الإيجابي للغرض الذي تركز عليه السورة. ـ

Surah Yunus contains a focus on exhortations and calling the people to Islam through glad tidings and inspiring hope. That is why it begins with a reminder of Allah’s signs and how those who deny them respond to them. This is interspersed with mentions of Allah’s kindness towards His close ones and repentant believing slaves. And exhortations are a part of the Qur’an, as Allah said:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ قَدْ جَاءَتْكُم مَّوْعِظَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَشِفَاءٌ لِّمَا فِي الصُّدُورِ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

O mankind, an exhortation has come to you from your Lord, and a healing for what it is the chests, and a guidance and a mercy for the believers. [10:57]

That is why this surah includes the story of the people of Yunus who believed after Yunus had supplicated for their punishment and informed them of it, and then Allah lifted the punishment from them. So this story is a positive example of the central theme of this surah. Continue reading

Being Patient During and After Trials: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah Hud:

وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ مِنَّا رَحْمَةً ثُمَّ نَزَعْنَاهَا مِنْهُ إِنَّهُ لَيَئُوسٌ كَفُورٌ * وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَاهُ نَعْمَاءَ بَعْدَ ضَرَّاءَ مَسَّتْهُ لَيَقُولَنَّ ذَهَبَ السَّيِّئَاتُ عَنِّي ۚ إِنَّهُ لَفَرِحٌ فَخُورٌ * إِلَّا الَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ كَبِيرٌ

And if We give man a taste of mercy from Us and then We withdraw it from him, indeed, he is despairing and ungrateful. * But if We give him a taste of favor after hardship has touched him, he will surely say, “Bad times have left me.” Indeed, he is exultant and boastful – * Except for those who are patient and do righteous deeds; those will have forgiveness and great reward. [11:9-11]

In his famous book of tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di commented on these ayaat by writing:

يخبر تعالى عن طبيعة الإنسان، أنه جاهل ظالم بأن الله إذا أذاقه منه رحمة كالصحة والرزق، والأولاد، ونحو ذلك، ثم نزعها منه، فإنه يستسلم لليأس، وينقاد للقنوط، فلا يرجو ثواب الله، ولا يخطر بباله أن الله سيردها أو مثلها، أو خيرا منها عليه. ـ

Allah is informing us of the nature of man, that he is ignorant and unjust because when Allah causes him to experience some of His mercy, such as health, provision, offspring, etc., and then later removes it from him, man gives in to hopelessness and lets himself be ruled by despair. He does not feel any hope for Allah’s reward, nor does it cross his mind that Allah might return that blessing to him, or might give him another similar blessing, or might even give him something better that what he had had. Continue reading

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

Shall We Force You to Believe?: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

In surah Hud, Allah recounts the story of His prophet Nuh, beginning with his calling his people to tawheed, a list of their doubts as to why they disbelieved in him, and then Nuh’s responses to their doubts. Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee comments on the first part of Nuh’s response to his people by writing:

قوله تعالى : قال يا قوم أرأيتم إن كنت على بينة من ربي وآتاني رحمة من عنده فعميت عليكم أنلزمكموها وأنتم لها كارهون . ـ

Allah’s statement:

 قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِن كُنتُ عَلَىٰ بَيِّنَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّي وَآتَانِي رَحْمَةً مِّنْ عِندِهِ فَعُمِّيَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أَنُلْزِمُكُمُوهَا وَأَنتُمْ لَهَا كَارِهُونَ

Nuh said, “O my people, what do you think if I am on clarity from my Lord, and a Mercy has come to me from Him, but that has been obscured from your sight – shall we compel you to accept it while you have a strong hatred for it? [11:28]

ذكر تعالى في هذه الآية الكريمة عن نبيه نوح : أنه قال لقومه : أرأيتم [ 11 \ 28 ] ، أي : أخبروني إن كنت على بينة من ربي [ 11 \ 28 ] ، أي : على يقين ونبوة صادقة لا شك فيها ، وأعطاني رحمة منه مما أوحى إلي من التوحيد والهدى ، فخفي ذلك كله عليكم ، ولم تعتقدوا أنه حق ، أيمكنني أن ألزمكم به ، وأجبر قلوبكم على الانقياد والإذعان لتلك البينة التي تفضل الله علي بها ، ورحمني بإيتائها ، والحال أنكم كارهون لذلك ؟ يعني ليس بيدي توفيقكم إلى الهدى وإن كان واضحا جليا لا [ ص: 178 ] لبس فيه ، إن لم يهدكم الله جل وعلا إليه . ـ

In this noble ayah, Allah mentions that His prophet Nuh said to his people:

أَرَأَيْتُمْ

Do you think … Continue reading

Asking for ‘Aafiyah: Tafsir al-Baghawi, al-Qurtubi, & al-Aloosi

In surah Yusuf, Allah informs us that when Yusuf was being tested by the wife of his master and the women of Egypt, he supplicated to his Lord by saying:

قَالَ رَ‌بِّ السِّجْنُ أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ مِمَّا يَدْعُونَنِي إِلَيْهِ ۖ وَإِلَّا تَصْرِ‌فْ عَنِّي كَيْدَهُنَّ أَصْبُ إِلَيْهِنَّ وَأَكُن مِّنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ

He said, “My Lord, prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me. And if You do not avert from me their plan, I might incline toward them and [thus] be of the ignorant.” [12:33]

Commenting on this in his book of tafsir, Imam Abu Muhammad al-Baghawi mentioned:

وقيل : لو لم يقل : السجن أحب إلي لم يبتل بالسجن ، والأولى بالمرء أن يسأل الله العافية .ـ

Some say: if only he had not said

السِّجْنُ أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ

prison is more to my liking

then he would not have been tested with prison. And the most appropriate thing for a person to ask Allah for is ‘aafiyah – the absence of any ailment or troubles.

[Tafsir al-Baghawi 4/240]

Imam Abu Muhammad al-Qurtubi also commented on this phrase by saying:

ـ ” أحب إلي ” أي أسهل علي وأهون من الوقوع في المعصية ; لا أن دخول السجن مما يحب على التحقيق . وحكي أن يوسف – عليه السلام – لما قال : السجن أحب إلي أوحى الله إليه ” يا يوسف ! أنت حبست نفسك حيث قلت السجن أحب إلي ، ولو قلت العافية أحب إلي لعوفيت ” . ـ

Allah’s statement

 أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ

… more to my liking …

i.e. that it easier and less weighty on me than to fall into sins, not that going to prison is something that he would want otherwise. 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

The Stories of the Messengers Fortify the Heart: Tafsir al-Baghawi

Allah mentions the following ayah at the end of surah Hud:

وَكُلًّا نَّقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ مِنْ أَنبَاءِ الرُّ‌سُلِ مَا نُثَبِّتُ بِهِ فُؤَادَكَ ۚ وَجَاءَكَ فِي هَـٰذِهِ الْحَقُّ وَمَوْعِظَةٌ وَذِكْرَ‌ىٰ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

And each story We relate to you from the news of the messengers is that by which We fortify your heart. And there has come to you, in this, the truth and an instruction and a reminder for the believers. [11:120]

Imam al-Baghawi wrote in his book of tafsir:

  وكلا نقص عليك من أنباء الرسل ما نثبت به فؤادك   معناه : وكل الذي تحتاج إليه من أنباء الرسل ، أي : من أخبارهم وأخبار أممهم نقصها عليك لنثبت به فؤادك ، لنزيدك يقينا ونقوي قلبك ، وذلك أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا سمعها كان في ذلك تقوية لقلبه على الصبر على أذى قومه

وَكُلًّا نَّقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ مِنْ أَنبَاءِ الرُّ‌سُلِ مَا نُثَبِّتُ بِهِ فُؤَادَكَ

And each story We relate to you from the news of the messengers is that by which We fortify your heart

meaning: Everything which you need is in the stories of the prophets. i.e., in the information about them and about their nations. Continue reading

Whoever desires this world, We will repay them fully therein: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah Hud:

مَن كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا وَزِينَتَهَا نُوَفِّ إِلَيْهِمْ أَعْمَالَهُمْ فِيهَا وَهُمْ فِيهَا لَا يُبْخَسُونَ * أُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ لَيْسَ لَهُمْ فِي الْآخِرَةِ إِلَّا النَّارُ ۖ وَحَبِطَ مَا صَنَعُوا فِيهَا وَبَاطِلٌ مَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

Whoever desires the life of this world and its adornments – We fully repay them for their deeds therein, and they will not be deprived therein. * Those are the ones for whom there is nothing for them in the Hereafter except the Fire. Lost is what they did therein, and worthless is what they used to do. [11:15-16]

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

يقول تعالى: { مَنْ كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا وَزِينَتَهَا } أي: كل إرادته مقصورة على الحياة الدنيا، وعلى زينتها من النساء والبنين، والقناطير المقنطرة، من الذهب، والفضة، والخيل المسومة، والأنعام والحرث. قد صرف رغبته وسعيه وعمله في هذه الأشياء، ولم يجعل لدار القرار من إرادته شيئا، فهذا لا يكون إلا كافرا، لأنه لو كان مؤمنا، لكان ما معه من الإيمان يمنعه أن تكون جميع إرادته للدار الدنيا، بل نفس إيمانه وما تيسر له من الأعمال أثر من آثار إرادته الدار الآخرة. ـ

Allah said:

مَنْ كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا وَزِينَتَهَا

Whoever desires the life of this world and its adornments…

meaning: that all of such a person’s wants are limited to the life of this world and its adornments such as women, children, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land [c.f. 3:14]. He has directed his desires, efforts and exertions towards these things, while he does not have any desire at all for the enduring life of the Hereafter. This situation is only the case for a disbeliever, because if he were a believer then he would have some eemaan in him that would prevent all of his desires from being turned to the life of this world. Rather, the very presence of eemaan in him and the good deeds which that enables him to do is a consequence of his desire for the life of the Hereafter. Continue reading

The Means and Objectives of Calling to Allah: Imam al-Sa’di

In part of his small work of miscellaneous benefits derived from the Qur’an, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di mentioned the following valuable point:

الداعي إلى الله وإلى دينه له طريق ووسيلة إلى مقصوده ، وله مقصودان . فطريقة الدعوة : بالحق إلى الحق للحق فإذا اجتمعت هذه الثلاثة ، بأن كان يدعو بالحق أي بالحكمة والموعظة الحسنة ، والمجادلة بالتي هي أحسن ، وكان يدعو إلى الحق – وهو سبيل الله تعالى وصراطه الموصل لسالكه إلى كرامته – وكان دعوته للحق ، أي : مخلصا لله تعالى ، قاصدا بذلك وجه الله ؛ حصل له أحد المقصودين لا محالة ، وهو : ثواب الداعين إلى الله ، وأجر ورثة الرسل بحسب ما قام به من ذلك ، وأما المقصود الآخر ، وهو حصول هداية الخلق وسلوكهم لسبيل الله الذي دعاهم إليه ؛ فهذا قد يحصل وقد لا يحصل ، فليجتهد الداعي في تكميل الدعوة كما تقدم ، وليستبشر بحصول الأجر والثواب ، وإذا لم يحصل المقصود الثاني – وهو هداية الخلق – أو حصل منهم معارضة أو أذية له بالقول أو بالفعل ؛ فليصبر ويحتسب ، ولا يوجب له ذلك ترك ما ينفعه ، وهو القيام بالدعوة علة وجه الكمال ، ولا يضق صدره بذلك ؛ فتضعف تفسه ، وتحضره الحسرات ، بل يقوم بجدٍ واجتهاد ، ولو حصل ما حصل من معارضة العباد . ـ

There are certain ways and means for the one who calls to Allah and to His religion to achieve his goals, and his goals are twofold.

The methodology of calling to Allah is: with what is right, to what is right, and for what is right. So he calls with what is right – meaning with wisdom, good exhortations, and arguing with what is best -, and he is calling to what is right – which is Allah’s way and straight path which leads those who traverse it unto His ultimate goodness -, and he is calling for what is right, meaning that he is sincere to Allah and doing so while seeking the sake of Allah.

So if these three matters are all in place together, then he will definitely achieve one of his two objectives, the first of which is the reward which is given to those who call to Allah. And that reward is the inheritance of the Messengers, according to the level at which he fulfilled that role. Continue reading