“Thus Does Allah Strike a Parable of Truth and Falsehood”: al-Qurtubi, ibn Taymiyah, and ibn al-Qayyim

Allah strikes the following two parables in one ayah in surah al-Ra’d:

أَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَسَالَتْ أَوْدِيَةٌ بِقَدَرِهَا فَاحْتَمَلَ السَّيْلُ زَبَدًا رَّابِيًا ۚ وَمِمَّا يُوقِدُونَ عَلَيْهِ فِي النَّارِ ابْتِغَاءَ حِلْيَةٍ أَوْ مَتَاعٍ زَبَدٌ مِّثْلُهُ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يَضْرِبُ اللَّـهُ الْحَقَّ وَالْبَاطِلَ ۚ فَأَمَّا الزَّبَدُ فَيَذْهَبُ جُفَاءً ۖ وَأَمَّا مَا يَنفَعُ النَّاسَ فَيَمْكُثُ فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يَضْرِبُ اللَّـهُ الْأَمْثَالَ

Allah sends down rain from the sky and the valleys flow according to their capacity, and a torrent carries the rising foam. And out of that which they heat in the fire, seeking adornments and tools, is a similar foam. Thus does Allah strike a parable of the truth and falsehood. As for the foam, it vanishes, being cast off. But as for they which benefits people, then it remains on the earth. Thus does Allah strike parables. [13:17]

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

وهو أن المثلين ضربهما الله للحق في ثباته ، والباطل في اضمحلاله ، فالباطل وإن علا في بعض الأحوال فإنه يضمحل كاضمحلال الزبد والخبث . وقيل : المراد مثل ضربه الله للقرآن وما يدخل منه القلوب ; فشبه القرآن بالمطر لعموم خيره وبقاء نفعه ، وشبه القلوب بالأودية ، يدخل فيها من القرآن مثل ما يدخل في الأودية بحسب سعتها وضيقها . ـ

Allah struck these two parables about the truth and its firmness and falsehood and its transience. For even if falsehood may be ascendant at certain times and situations, it will pass away just as foam and filth pass away.

Some have said that the intended meaning of this parable is about the Qur’an and how it enters into the hearts. Allah likened the Qur’an to water due to how much good it brings and its enduring benefit, and He likened the hearts to river valleys. So the Qur’an enters the heart just as water enters the river valleys – that is, an amount matching with their width or narrowness. Continue reading

The Purpose of Parables in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

After explaining one of the parables in surah Ibrahim, Imam Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee brought the following discussion regarding the parables and comparisons that Allah uses in the Qur’an:

وبين في موضع آخر أن الحكمة في ضربه للأمثال أن يتفكر الناس فيها فيفهموا الشيء بنظرة ، وهو قوله : وتلك الأمثال نضربها للناس لعلهم يتفكرون [ 59 21 ] ، ونظيره قوله : ويضرب الله الأمثال للناس لعلهم يتذكرون [ 14 25 ] ، ـ

In another part of the Qur’an, Allah clarified that the wisdom in His striking parables is for the people to think over them so that they would understand something by considering the comparison. That comes in is His statement:

وَتِلْكَ الْأَمْثَالُ نَضْرِ‌بُهَا لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُ‌ونَ

And We present these parables to the people that perhaps they will give thought. [59:21]

Another similar statement comes in in His saying:

وَيَضْرِ‌بُ اللَّـهُ الْأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُ‌ونَ

And Allah presents parables for the people so that perhaps they will be reminded. [14:25]

وبين في موضع آخر أن الأمثال لا يعقلها إلا أهل العلم ، وهو قوله تعالى : وتلك الأمثال نضربها للناس وما يعقلها إلا العالمون [ 29 43 ] ، ـ

And elsewhere He clarified that the parables are only understood by the people of knowledge. This is in His statement:

وَتِلْكَ الْأَمْثَالُ نَضْرِ‌بُهَا لِلنَّاسِ ۖ وَمَا يَعْقِلُهَا إِلَّا الْعَالِمُونَ

And We present these parables to the people, but none will understand them except those of knowledge. [29:43] Continue reading

The Death of the Scholars: Tafsir al-Baghawi & al-Qurtubi

Allah says in surah al-Ra’d:

أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا أَنَّا نَأْتِي الْأَرْضَ نَنقُصُهَا مِنْ أَطْرَافِهَا ۚ وَاللَّـهُ يَحْكُمُ لَا مُعَقِّبَ لِحُكْمِهِ ۚ وَهُوَ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ

Have they not seen that We set upon the land, reducing it from its borders? And Allah decides; there is no adjuster of His decision. And He is swift in account. [13:41]

Commenting on this, Imam al-Baghawi wrote:

قوله تعالى ( أولم يروا ) يعني : أهل مكة ، الذين يسألون محمدا صلى الله عليه وسلم الآيات ( أنا نأتي الأرض ننقصها من أطرافها ) أكثر المفسرين على أن المراد منه فتح ديار الشرك ، فإن ما زاد في ديار الإسلام فقد نقص من ديار الشرك ، يقول : ( أولم يروا أنا نأتي الأرض ننقصها من أطرافها ) فنفتحها لمحمد أرضا بعد أرض حوالي أرضهم ، أفلا يعتبرون ؟ هذا قول ابن عباس ، وقتادة ، وجماعة . ـ

Allah’s statement:

أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا

Have they not seen …

i.e. Haven’t the people of Mecca, those who ask Muhammad for miracles, seen

أَنَّا نَأْتِي الْأَرْضَ نَنقُصُهَا مِنْ أَطْرَافِهَا

… that We set upon the land, reducing it from its borders?

Most of the mufassiroon held that the intended meaning here is Islamic conquests of the non-Muslim lands, for the increases of the Muslim lands took away from the non-Muslim lands. Continue reading

A Parable of the Disbelievers and the Believers: Tafsir al-Tabari

Allah strikes the following parable in surah Hud:

مَثَلُ الْفَرِيقَيْنِ كَالْأَعْمَىٰ وَالْأَصَمِّ وَالْبَصِيرِ وَالسَّمِيعِ ۚ هَلْ يَسْتَوِيَانِ مَثَلًا ۚ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ

The example of the two parties is like the blind and the deaf, and the seeing and the hearing. Are these two equal in comparison? Will you not then remember? [11:24]

Imam Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari wrote the following in his tafsir of this ayah:

قَالَ أَبُو جَعْفَرٍ : يَقُولُ ، تَعَالَى ذِكْرُهُ : مَثَلُ فَرِيقَيِ الْكُفْرِ وَالْإِيمَانِ كَمَثَلِ الْأَعْمَى الَّذِي لَا يَرَى بِعَيْنِهِ شَيْئًا ، وَالْأَصَمِّ الَّذِي لَا يَسْمَعُ شَيْئًا ، فَكَذَلِكَ فَرِيقُ الْكُفْرِ لَا يُبَصِّرُ الْحَقَّ فَيَتَّبِعُهُ وَيَعْمَلُ بِهِ ، لِشَغْلِهِ بِكُفْرِهِ بِاللَّهِ ، وَغَلَبَةِ خِذْلَانِ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ ، لَا يَسْمَعُ دَاعِيَ اللَّهِ إِلَى الرَّشَادِ ، فَيُجِيبُهُ إِلَى الْهُدَى فَيَهْتَدِي بِهِ ، فَهُوَ مُقِيمٌ فِي ضَلَالَتِهِ ، يَتَرَدَّدُ فِي حَيْرَتِهِ . وَالسَّمِيعُ وَالْبَصِيرُ فَذَلِكَ فَرِيقُ الْإِيمَانِ ، أَبْصَرَ حُجَجَ اللَّهِ ، وَأَقَرَّ بِمَا دَلَّتْ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ تَوْحِيدِ اللَّهِ ، وَالْبَرَاءَةِ مِنَ الْآلِهَةِ وَالْأَنْدَادِ ، وَنُبُوَّةَ الْأَنْبِيَاءِ عَلَيْهِمُ السَّلَامُ ، وَسَمِعَ دَاعِيَ اللَّهِ فَأَجَابَهُ وَعَمِلَ بِطَاعَةِ اللَّهِ ، كَمَا : ـ

I, Abu Ja’far, say: Allah is saying: The comparison of these two parties – that of disbelief and that of belief – is like the comparison of a blind person whose eyes cannot see anything at all and a deaf person who cannot hear anything, for similarly, those in the party of disbelief cannot see the truth that they might follow and act according to it due to how distracted they are with their disbelief in Allah and because their act of forsaking Allah has come back against them. They do not hear Allah’s callers calling them to upright guidance so that they might accept that guidance and become rightly guided by it. Instead they remain in their misguided state, stuck in a perpetual state of confusion.

But the seeing and hearing one is the party of belief. They see Allah’s signs and proofs and therefore affirm that these signs demonstrate Allah’s sole right to be worshiped, His freedom from having any partners or associates, and His having sent prophets. They hear Allah’s callers and respond to the call and obey Allah.

This explanation is similar to the explanations of the salaf, such as: Continue reading

Only the Creator is Deserving of Worship: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee brought the following discussion in his tafsir of surah al-Ra’d:

قوله تعالى : أم جعلوا لله شركاء خلقوا كخلقه فتشابه الخلق عليهم قل الله خالق كل شيء وهو الواحد القهار . ـ

Allah’s statement:

أَمْ جَعَلُوا لِلَّـهِ شُرَ‌كَاءَ خَلَقُوا كَخَلْقِهِ فَتَشَابَهَ الْخَلْقُ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ قُلِ اللَّـهُ خَالِقُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُوَ الْوَاحِدُ الْقَهَّارُ‌

Or do they assign partners to Allah who create like His creation, and so the creation appears similar to them? Say, “Allah is the Creator of everything; and He is the One, the All-Mighty” [13:16]

أشار تعالى في هذه الآية الكريمة إلى أنه هو المستحق لأن يعبد وحده ; لأنه هو الخالق ولا يستحق من الخلق أن يعبدوه إلا من خلقهم وأبرزهم من العدم إلى الوجود ; لأن المقصود من قوله : أم جعلوا لله شركاء خلقوا كخلقه فتشابه الخلق عليهم [ 13 \ 16 ] إنكار ذلك وأنه هو الخالق وحده بدليل قوله بعده : قل الله خالق كل شيء [ 13 \ 16 ] أي : وخالق كل شيء هو المستحق لأن يعبد وحده ، ويبين هذا المعنى في آيات كثيرة ، كقوله : ياأيها الناس اعبدوا ربكم الذي خلقكم الآية [ 2 \ 21 ] ، وقوله : واتخذوا من دونه آلهة لا يخلقون شيئا وهم يخلقون [ 25 \ 3 ] ، وقوله : أيشركون ما لا يخلق شيئا وهم يخلقون [ 7 \ 191 ] ، وقوله : هذا خلق الله فأروني ماذا خلق الذين من دونه [ 31 \ 11 ] إلى غير ذلك من الآيات ; لأن المخلوق محتاج إلى خالقه فهو عبد مربوب مثلك يجب عليه أن يعبد من خلقه وحده ، كما يجب عليك ذلك ، فأنتما سواء بالنسبة إلى وجوب عبادة الخالق وحده لا شريك له . ـ

In this noble ayah, Allah mentions that He is the only one entitled to be worshiped, for He is the Creator. And there is not anyone or anything which deserves to be worshiped by the creation except for the one who created them and brought them into existence out of nothingness. For the purpose of His statement: Continue reading

The Quraish’s Demand for a Sign: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee mentioned the following in part of his tafsir of surah al-Ra’d:

قوله تعالى : ويقول الذين كفروا لولا أنزل عليه آية من ربه . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَيَقُولُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُ‌وا لَوْلَا أُنزِلَ عَلَيْهِ آيَةٌ مِّن رَّ‌بِّهِ

And those who disbelieved say, “Why has a sign not been sent down to him from his Lord?” [13:7]

In this noble ayah, Allah explained that the disbelievers demand that the Prophet bring a sign sent to him from his Lord. And He made this meaning clear in numerous other places, such as His statement:

فَلْيَأْتِنَا بِآيَةٍ كَمَا أُرْ‌سِلَ الْأَوَّلُونَ

(The disbelievers said) “So let him bring us a sign just as those who were sent previously.” [21:5]

as well as other ayaat. And He also explained elsewhere that the Magnificent Qur’an contains that which precludes the need of any further signs, as He explained in His statement: Continue reading

The Deeds of the Disbelievers: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Imam Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee brought the following explanation of a parable in his tafsir of surah Ibrahim:

قوله تعالى : مثل الذين كفروا بربهم أعمالهم كرماد اشتدت به الريح في يوم عاصف الآية . ـ

Allah’s statement:

مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُ‌وا بِرَ‌بِّهِمْ ۖ أَعْمَالُهُمْ كَرَ‌مَادٍ اشْتَدَّتْ بِهِ الرِّ‌يحُ فِي يَوْمٍ عَاصِفٍ ۖ لَّا يَقْدِرُ‌ونَ مِمَّا كَسَبُوا عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُوَ الضَّلَالُ الْبَعِيدُ

The example of those who disbelieve in their Lord: their deeds are like ashes which the wind blows forcefully on a stormy day; they have no power over that which they have earned. That is what is extreme error. [14:18]

ضرب الله تعالى لأعمال الكفار مثلا في هذه الآية الكريمة برماد اشتدت به الرياح في يوم عاصف ، أي شديد الريح ، فإن تلك الريح الشديدة العاصفة تطير ذلك الرماد ولم تبق له أثرا ، فكذلك أعمال الكفار كصلات الأرحام ، وقرى الضيف ، والتنفيس عن المكروب ، وبر الوالدين ، ونحو ذلك يبطلها الكفر ويذهبها ، كما تطير تلك الريح ذلك الرماد . ـ

In this noble ayah Allah strikes a comparison between the deeds of the disbelievers and ashes which the wind blows forcefully on a stormy day, i.e. a severe wind. For indeed that severe stormy wind causes those ashes to fly and does not leave any trace of them. So likewise and the deeds of the disbelievers, such as maintaining the ties of kinship, hospitality towards guests, aiding the one in distress, being dutiful to one’s parents, and the likes of that are all invalidated and done away with by kufr (disbelief), just as that wind causes those ashes to fly away.

وضرب أمثالا أخر في آيات أخر لأعمال الكفار بهذا المعنى ، كقوله : والذين كفروا أعمالهم كسراب بقيعة يحسبه الظمآن ماء حتى إذا جاءه لم يجده شيئا [ 24 \ 39 ] ، وقوله : مثل ما ينفقون في هذه الحياة الدنيا كمثل ريح فيها صر أصابت حرث قوم ظلموا [ ص: 246 ] أنفسهم فأهلكته الآية [ 3 \ 117 ] ، وقوله : ياأيها الذين آمنوا لا تبطلوا صدقاتكم بالمن والأذى كالذي ينفق ماله رئاء الناس ولا يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر فمثله كمثل صفوان عليه تراب فأصابه وابل فتركه صلدا لا يقدرون على شيء مما كسبوا والله لا يهدي القوم الكافرين [ 2 \ 264 ] ، وقوله : وقدمنا إلى ما عملوا من عمل فجعلناه هباء منثورا [ 25 \ 23 ] ، إلى غير ذلك من الآيات . ـ

And Allah struck other comparisons of this meaning for the deeds of the disbelievers in other ayaat, such as His statement: Continue reading

The Universal Messenger: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote in his well-known book of tafsir:

قوله تعالى : وما أرسلنا من رسول إلا بلسان قومه ليبين لهم فيضل الله من يشاء . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَمَا أَرْ‌سَلْنَا مِن رَّ‌سُولٍ إِلَّا بِلِسَانِ قَوْمِهِ لِيُبَيِّنَ لَهُمْ ۖ فَيُضِلُّ اللَّـهُ مَن يَشَاءُ

And We did not send any messenger except [speaking] in the language of his people to state clearly for them, and Allah sends astray [thereby] whom He wills [14:4]

بين الله تعالى في هذه الآية الكريمة أنه لم يرسل رسولا إلا بلغة قومه ; لأنه لم يرسل رسولا إلا إلى قومه دون غيرهم ، ولكنه بين في مواضع أخر أن نبينا صلى الله عليه وسلم أرسل إلى جميع الخلائق دون اختصاص بقومه ولا بغيرهم ، كقوله تعالى : قل ياأيها الناس إني رسول الله إليكم جميعا [ 7 \ 158 ] ، وقوله : تبارك الذي نزل الفرقان على عبده ليكون للعالمين نذيرا [ 25 \ 1 ] ، وقوله : وما أرسلناك إلا كافة للناس الآية [ 34 \ 28 ] إلى غير ذلك من الآيات الدالة على عموم رسالته لأهل كل لسان ، فهو صلى الله عليه وسلم يجب عليه إبلاغ أهل كل لسان ، ـ

In this noble ayah Allah clarified that He did not send any messenger except with the language of his people, for He did not send any messenger except to his own people to the exclusion of any others. However, He also clarified elsewhere that our Prophet (ﷺ) was sent to all of the created beings rather than being exclusively for his people and not to others. For instance, His statement:

قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَ‌سُولُ اللَّـهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا

Say, [O Muhammad], “O mankind, indeed I am the Messenger of Allah to you all” [7:158]

And His statement: Continue reading

The Du’a of Ibrahim for Mecca and his Descendants: Tafsir al-Sa’di

After the Prophet Moosaa, there is no prophet who is mentioned more frequently in the Qur’an than Ibrahim (‘alaihis salaam). In surah Ibrahim, Allah informs us of one of the events in his life [see surah Ibrahim 14:35-41]. Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di, in his famous book of tafsir, wrote the following commentary on these ayaat:

‏ ‏{‏وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ رَبِّ اجْعَلْ هَذَا الْبَلَدَ آمِنًا‏}‏ أي‏:‏ ‏{‏و‏}‏ اذكر إبراهيم عليه الصلاة والسلام في هذه الحالة الجميلة، إذ قَال‏:‏ ‏{‏رَبِّ اجْعَلْ هَذَا الْبَلَدَ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ الحرم ‏{‏آمِنًا‏}‏ فاستجاب الله دعاءه شرعا وقدرا، فحرمه الله في الشرع ويسر من أسباب حرمته قدرا ما هو معلوم، حتى إنه لم يرده ظالم بسوء إلا قصمه الله كما فعل بأصحاب الفيل وغيرهم‏.‏ ـ

وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ رَبِّ اجْعَلْ هَذَا الْبَلَدَ آمِنًا

And when Ibrahim said, ‘My Lord, make this land secure

– meaning: “And” mention Ibrahim (‘alaihis salaatu was salaam) in this beautiful situation, when he said:

رَبِّ اجْعَلْ هَذَا الْبَلَدَ ‏آمِنًا‏

‘My Lord, make this land” -meaning the Haram – “secure”

so Allah answered his du’a both with His divine legislation and with His divine decree. For Allah sanctified it in the divine legislation, and (also) facilitated the means of its inviolability in terms of divine decree from what is well-known, to the extent that it would not repel an oppressor with harm except that Allah would crush them just as He did with the Companions of the Elephant and others.

ولما دعا له بالأمن دعا له ولبنيه بالأمن فقال‏:‏ ‏{‏وَاجْنُبْنِي وَبَنِيَّ أَنْ نَعْبُدَ الْأَصْنَامَ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ اجعلني وإياهم جانبًا بعيدًا عن عبادتها والإلمام بها، ثم ذكر الموجب لخوفه عليه وعلى بنيه بكثرة من افتتن وابتلي بعبادتها فقال‏:‏

And when Ibrahim supplicated to Allah for security, he supplicated for security for his himself and for offspring, for he said:

وَاجْنُبْنِي وَبَنِيَّ أَنْ نَعْبُدَ الْأَصْنَامَ

and turn me and my sons away from worshiping idols

– meaning: make for me and for them a great distance from their worship and familiarity with them. He then mentioned the reason for his fear he felt regarding himself and his children for the abundance of trials and tribulations of their worship, so he said, Continue reading

Consideration is given to the completeness of the conclusion, not the defects of the beginning

Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di authored a small book entitled Benefits Extracted from the Story of Yusuf (‘alaihi al-salaam). Composed of fifty chapters each detailing a specific benefit, he dedicated chapter six to the following topic:

الفائدة السادسة : العبرة في حال العبد بكمال النهاية

The Sixth Benefit: The Consideration of the slave’s state is according to the completeness of the conclusion

ومنها : أن العبرة في حال العبد بكمال النهاية ، لا بنقص البداية ، وذلك أن إخوة يوسف جرى منهم ما جرى من هذه الجرائم ، لكن في آخر أمرهم ونهاية تابوا إلى الله ، وطلبو السماح من أخيهم يوسف ومن والديهم الاستغفار ، فحصل لهم السماح التام والعفو الكامل فعفا الله عنهم و أوصلهم إلى الكمال اللائق بهم . ـ

And one of the benefits is: that the consideration of the slave’s condition is given to the completeness of his conclusion, not according to the deficiency of his beginning. That is because the brothers of Yusuf did what they did of their crimes, however in the end they repented to Allah, sought forgiveness from their brother Yusuf, and sought for their parents to seek Allah’s forgiveness for them. So he granted them total forgiveness and complete pardon, so then Allah pardoned them and caused them to attain a level of excellence which was appropriate for them.

قيل إن الله جعلهم أنبياء . كما قاله غير واحد من المفسرين في تفسير الأسباط : إنهم إخوة يوسف الاثنا عشر . وقيل بل كانوا قوما صالحين ؛ كما قال آخرون ؛ وهو الظاهر ، لأن المراد بالأسباط قبائل بني إسرائيل ، وهم اسم لعموم القبيلة لأولاد يعقوب الاثنى عشر فهم آباء الأسباط وهم من الأسباط . ـ

It is said that Allah made them prophets. As more than one of the mufassiroon have said concerning the explanation of “al-Asbaat” – that they are the twelve brothers of Yusuf. And it is also said: no (they were not prophets), rather they were a righteous people, as other mufassiroon have said – and this is what is apparent, because the intended meaning of “al-Asbaat” is the tribes of Banu Israa’eel (the Children of Israa’eel), and that is the general name for the tribes of the twelve sons of Ya’qub. So they are the forefathers of al-Asbaat and they are included in al-Asbaat. Continue reading