The Story of Yunus: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In his book of thematic tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di detailed a number of the stories of the Prophets along with mentioning various benefits derived from each of them. He would compile the details as they appeared in various places in the Qur’an to provide a straight-forward narrative of each story, and then list some extracted benefits from the story. What follows is his brief explanation of the story of the Prophet Yunus:

قصة يونس صلى الله عليه وسلم وهو من أنبياء بني إسرائيل العظام، بعثه الله إلى أهل نينوى – من أرض الموصل – فدعاهم إلى الله تعالى فأبوا عليه، ثم كرر عليهم الدعوة فأبوا، فوعدهم العذاب وخرج من بين أظهرهم، ولم يصبر الصبر الذي ينبغي، ولكنه أَبَقَ مغاضبا لهم، وهم لما ذهب نبيهم ألقي في قلوبهم التوبة إلى الله والإنابة بعدما شاهدوا مقدمات العذاب، فكشف الله عنهم العذاب. ـ

This is the story of Yunus (ﷺ), who was one of the great prophets of the Banu Israa’eel. Allah sent him to the people of Nineveh – in the area of Mosul [Iraq] – and he called them to Allah but they refused his call. He then repeated his call to them but they refused, so he promised them an impending punishment and left from their midst, and he did not exercise the steadfast patience which he ought to have exercised. On the contrary, he fled from them while in a state of anger. But after their prophet had left them, repentance and returning to Allah were placed in their hearts after witnessing an approaching punishment, and so Allah removed the punishment from them.

والظاهر أن يونس علم انكشاف العذاب عنهم، واستمر في ذهابه عنهم، ولهذا قال تعالى: {وَذَا النُّونِ إِذْ ذَهَبَ مُغَاضِبًا} [الأنبياء: 87] وقال تعالى: {إِذْ أَبَقَ إِلَى الْفُلْكِ الْمَشْحُونِ} [الصافات: 140] ـ

It appears that Yunus knew that the punishment would be lifted from them but still decided to leave them. This is according to Allah’s statement:

وَذَا النُّونِ إِذ ذَّهَبَ مُغَاضِبًا

And mention Dhu’l-noon, when he went off in anger… [21:87]

as well as His statement: Continue reading

Purifying the Ka’bah: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In surah al-Hajj, Allah informs us of his command to Ibrahim to purify the Ka’bah:

 وَإِذْ بَوَّأْنَا لِإِبْرَاهِيمَ مَكَانَ الْبَيْتِ أَن لَّا تُشْرِكْ بِي شَيْئًا وَطَهِّرْ بَيْتِيَ لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْقَائِمِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ

And when We designated for Ibrahim the site of the House, [saying], “Do not associate anything with Me and purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who stand and those who bow and prostrate. [22:26]

al-haafidh ibn Kathir commented on this ayah in his tafsir by writing:

( وطهر بيتي ) قال مجاهد وقتادة : من الشرك ، ( للطائفين والقائمين والركع السجود ) أي : اجعله خالصا لهؤلاء الذين يعبدون الله وحده لا شريك له . فالطائف به معروف ، وهو أخص العبادات عند البيت ، فإنه لا يفعل ببقعة من الأرض سواها ، ( والقائمين ) أي : في الصلاة; ولهذا قال : ( والركع السجود ) فقرن الطواف بالصلاة; لأنهما لا يشرعان إلا مختصين بالبيت ، فالطواف عنده ، والصلاة إليه في غالب الأحوال ، إلا ما استثني من الصلاة عند اشتباه القبلة وفي الحرب ، وفي النافلة في السفر ، والله أعلم .ـ

وَطَهِّرْ بَيْتِيَ

And purify My House …

Mujahid and Qatadah said this means: purify it from al-Shirk.

لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْقَائِمِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ

… for those who perform Tawaf and those who stand and those who bow and prostrate.

meaning: make this House exclusively for those who worship Allah alone without associating any partners with Him. Continue reading

“It is only revealed to me that your god is but one God”: Imam al-Shinqitee

In a work of his devoted to clarifying supposed contradictions in the Qur’an, sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee mentioned the following in part of his discussion of surah al-Anbiyah:

وَقَوْلِهِ تَعَالَى: قُلْ إِنَّمَا يُوحَى إِلَيَّ أَنَّمَا إِلَهُكُمْ إِلَهٌ وَاحِدٌ فَهَلْ أَنْتُمْ مُسْلِمُونَ [21 \ 108] . ـ

Allah’s statement:

قُلْ إِنَّمَا يُوحَىٰ إِلَيَّ أَنَّمَا إِلَـٰهُكُمْ إِلَـٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ فَهَلْ أَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ

Say, “It is only revealed to me that your god is but one God; so will you be those who submit to Him?” [21:108]

عَبَّرَ فِي هَذِهِ الْآيَةِ الْكَرِيمَةِ بِلَفْظِ: «إِنَّمَا» وَهِيَ تَدُلُّ عَلَى الْحَصْرِ عِنْدَ الْجُمْهُورِ، وَعَلَيْهِ فَهِيَ تَدُلُّ عَلَى حَصْرِ الْوَحْيِ فِي تَوْحِيدِ الْأُلُوهِيَّةِ. ـ

In this noble ayah, Allah uses the wording of “innama” which indicates a restriction [i.e. “it is only revealed to me…”] according to the majority opinion. So according to that position, this would seem to indicate that the divine revelation is restricted the matter of Tawheed al-‘Uloohiyyah – singling out Allah alone for deification and worship.

وَقَدْ جَاءَتْ آيَاتٌ أُخَرُ تَدُلُّ عَلَى أَنَّهُ أَوْحي إِلَيْهِ غَيْرَ ذَلِكَ كَقَوْلِهِ: قُلْ أُوحِيَ إِلَيَّ أَنَّهُ اسْتَمَعَ نَفَرٌ مِنَ الْجِنِّ الْآيَةَ [72] ، وَقَوْلِهِ: تِلْكَ مِنْ أَنْبَاءِ الْغَيْبِ نُوحِيهَا إِلَيْكَ [11 \ 49] ، وَقَوْلِهِ: نَحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ أَحْسَنَ الْقَصَصِ بِمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْآيَةَ [12 \ 3] . ـ

However, a number of other ayaat have come which show other things being revealed to him, such as Allah’s statement: Continue reading

The Difference between a Prophet and a Messenger: Imam al-Shinqitee

Imam Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote in part of his tafsir of surah al-Hajj:

 من أن النبي هو من أوحي إليه وحي ، ولم يؤمر بتبليغه ، وأن الرسول هو النبي الذي أوحي إليه ، وأمر بتبليغ ما أوحي إليه غير صحيح ; لأن قوله تعالى وما أرسلنا من قبلك من رسول ولا نبي الآية [ 22 \ 52 ] ، يدل على أن كلا منهما مرسل ، وأنهما مع ذلك بينهما تغاير . ـ

The position that a prophet (al-nabi) is one who is granted inspiration in the form of revelation and is not commanded to convey it, and that a messenger (al-rasool) is a prophet who is granted revelation and commanded to convey what was revealed to him – this is not correct. Because Allah’s statement:

وَمَا أَرْ‌سَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّ‌سُولٍ وَلَا نَبِيٍّ

And We did not send before you any messenger or prophet… [22:52]

– this statement demonstrates that both of them are sent (mursal), and along with that, that there is a distinction between the two of them.

واستظهر بعضهم أن النبي الذي هو رسول أنزل إليه كتاب وشرع مستقل مع المعجزة التي ثبتت بها نبوته ، وأن النبي المرسل الذي هو غير الرسول ، هو من لم ينزل عليه كتاب وإنما أوحي إليه أن يدعو الناس إلى شريعة رسول قبله ، كأنبياء بني إسرائيل الذين كانوا يرسلون ويؤمرون بالعمل بما في التوراة ; كما بينه تعالى بقوله يحكم بها النبيون الذين أسلموا الآية [ 5 \ 44 ]  . ـ

And some have shown that: Continue reading

A Mercy to All Creation: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

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

قوله تعالى : وما أرسلناك إلا رحمة للعالمين . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَمَا أَرْ‌سَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَ‌حْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِينَ

And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to all creation [21:107]

ذكر – جل وعلا – في هذه الآية الكريمة أنه ما أرسل هذا النبي الكريم – صلوات الله [ ص: 251 ] وسلامه عليه – إلى الخلائق إلا رحمة لهم ؛ لأنه جاءهم بما يسعدهم وينالون به كل خير من خير الدنيا والآخرة إن اتبعوه . ومن خالف ولم يتبع فهو الذي ضيع على نفسه نصيبه من تلك الرحمة العظمى . ـ

In this noble ayah Allah mentioned that He did not send this noble Prophet (ﷺ) to the created beings except as a mercy towards them. For he came to them with what would please them and with that by which they would achieve every good thing of the good of this life and the hereafter if they were to follow him. And whoever opposed him and did not follow, then he is one who has squandered his portion of this great mercy. Continue reading

Disputing about Allah without knowledge: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Imam Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee mentions in his tafsir:

قوله تعالى : ومن الناس من يجادل في الله بغير علم ويتبع كل شيطان مريد كتب عليه أنه من تولاه فأنه يضله ويهديه إلى عذاب السعير . ذكر جل وعلا في هذه الآية الكريمة : أن من الناس بعضا يجادل في الله بغير علم ؛ أي : يخاصم في الله بأن ينسب إليه ما لا يليق بجلاله وكماله ، كالذي يدعي له الأولاد والشركاء ، ويقول : إن القرآن أساطير الأولين ، ويقول : لا يمكن أن يحيي الله العظام الرميم ، كالنضر بن الحارث ، والعاص بن وائل ، وأبي جهل بن هشام ، وأمثالهم من كفار مكة الذين جادلوا في الله ذلك الجدال الباطل بغير مستند ، من علم عقلي ، ولا نقلي ، ـ

The statement of the Exalted:

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يُجَادِلُ فِي اللَّـهِ بِغَيْرِ‌ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّبِعُ كُلَّ شَيْطَانٍ مَّرِ‌يدٍ * كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ مَن تَوَلَّاهُ فَأَنَّهُ يُضِلُّهُ وَيَهْدِيهِ إِلَىٰ عَذَابِ السَّعِيرِ‌

And of the people is he who disputes about Allah without knowledge and follows every rebellious shaytaan* It has been decreed for every shaytaan that whoever turns to him – he will misguide him and will lead him to the punishment of the Blaze. [22:3-4]

In this noble ayah Allah mentioned that there are some among mankind who argue regarding Allah without knowledge, meaning: they dispute concerning Allah in that they attribute to Him that which is not befitting of His Majesty and Perfection, such as those who claim that He has offspring or partners, and they say, “verily the Qur’an is [just] the tales of old”, and they say, “it is not possible for Allah to give life to disintegrated bones,” as did al-Nadhr ibn al-Haarith and al-‘Aas ibn Waa’il and Abu Jahl ibn Hishaam and their likes from the disbelievers or Mecca who argued regarding Allah with false argumentation without any basis – neither of intellectual nor textual knowledge.

ومع جدالهم في الله ذلك الجدال الباطل يتبعون كل شيطان مريد ؛ أي : عات طاغ من شياطين الإنس والجن كتب عليه [ 22 \ 3 ] ؛ أي : كتب الله عليه كتابة قدر وقضاء أنه من تولاه [ 22 \ 3 ] ؛ أي : كل من صار وليا له ؛ أي : للشيطان المريد المذكور ، فإنه يضله عن طريق الجنة إلى النار ، وعن طريق الإيمان إلى الكفر ، ويهديه إلى عذاب السعير ؛ أي : النار الشديدة الوقود . ـ

And in addition to their disputing with that false argumentation in regards to Allah, they followed every rebellious shaytaan, meaning:  the arrogant and impulsive ones from among the shayaateen of mankind and Jinn. “It has been decreed for them“, meaning: Allah wrote for them a writing of decree and pre-ordainment “that whoever turns to him“, meaning: all those who would all become allies to him, meaning: to the rebellious shaytaan mentioned here, for verily he misguids them from the path of Jannah unto the Hell-Fire, and from the path of al-eemaan unto al-kufr, and he guides them to the punishment of the blaze, meaning: the Hell-Fire of extreme heat. Continue reading

The great blessing of being a guiding leader: Tafsir al-Sa’di

After mentioning the story of Ibrahim being thrown into the fire by his people, and his subsequent migration with Loot, Allah says in surah al-Anbiyaa’:

وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُ إِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ نَافِلَةً ۖ وَكُلًّا جَعَلْنَا صَالِحِينَ * وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِ‌نَا وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْهِمْ فِعْلَ الْخَيْرَ‌اتِ وَإِقَامَ الصَّلَاةِ وَإِيتَاءَ الزَّكَاةِ ۖ وَكَانُوا لَنَا عَابِدِينَ

And We gave him Ishaaq and Ya’qoob in addition, and all [of them] We made righteous. And We made them leaders guiding by Our command. And We inspired to them the doing of good deeds, establishment of prayer, and giving of zakah; and they were worshippers of Us. [al-Qur’an 21:72-73]

Imam al-Sa’di, in his great book of tafsir, writes about these ayaat by saying:

{‏وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُ‏}‏ حين اعتزل قومه ‏{‏إِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ‏}‏ ابن إسحاق ‏{‏نَافِلَةً‏}‏ بعدما كبر، وكانت زوجته عاقرا، فبشرته الملائكة بإسحاق، ‏{‏وَمِنْ وَرَاءِ إِسْحَاقَ يَعْقُوبَ‏}‏ ويعقوب، هو إسرائيل، الذي كانت منه الأمة العظيمة، وإسماعيل بن إبراهيم، الذي كانت منه الأمة الفاضلة العربية، ومن ذريته، سيد الأولين والآخرين‏.‏ ‏{‏وَكُلَا‏}‏ من إبراهيم وإسحاق ويعقوب ‏{‏جَعَلْنَا صَالِحِينَ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ قائمين بحقوقه، وحقوق عباده، ومن صلاحهم، أنه جعلهم أئمة يهدون بأمره، وهذا من أكبر نعم الله على عبده أن يكون إماما يهتدي به المهتدون، ويمشي خلفه السالكون، وذلك لما صبروا، وكانوا بآيات الله يوقنون‏.‏

And We gave Him” when withdrew from his people “Ishaaq and Ya’qoob” the son of Ishaaq. “In addition” – i.e. after he had become old and his wife was barren, then the angels gave him glad tidings of Ishaaq “and after Ishaaq, Ya’qoob” [11:71]. And Ya’qoob is Israa’eel, from whom there was a great ummah. And there was also Ismaa’eel ibn Ibrahim, from whom there was a blessed Arab ummah, and from whose offspring was the sayyid of the first and the last.

And all of them” – Ibrahim and Ishaaq and Ya’qoobWe made righteous” – meaning: establishing and fulfilling His rights and the rights of His slaves. And because of their righteousness, He made them leaders guiding by His command. This is one of the greatest blessings of Allah upon a slave of His, that he would be a leader by whom the guided ones are guided, and the traversers of the path would follow in his footsteps. And that is because they exercised sabr and had yaqeen in the ayaat of Allah. Continue reading

“And to Loot we gave judgement and knowledge”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah recounts the stories of many of His Messengers and Prophets in surah al-Anbiya and includes therein many benefits for those who reflect on them. In one place, He briefly mentions the story of His prophet Loot when He says:

وَلُوطًا آتَيْنَاهُ حُكْمًا وَعِلْمًا وَنَجَّيْنَاهُ مِنَ الْقَرْ‌يَةِ الَّتِي كَانَت تَّعْمَلُ الْخَبَائِثَ ۗ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا قَوْمَ سَوْءٍ فَاسِقِينَ  وَأَدْخَلْنَاهُ فِي رَ‌حْمَتِنَا ۖ إِنَّهُ مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ

And to Loot We gave judgement and knowledge, and We saved him from the city that was committing wicked deeds. Indeed, they were a people of evil, defiantly disobedient. And We admitted him into Our mercy. Indeed, he was of the righteous. [21:74-75]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di, in his book of tafsir, writes the following about these ayaat:

هذا ثناء من الله على رسوله ‏‏لوط‏‏ عليه السلام بالعلم الشرعي، والحكم بين الناس، بالصواب والسداد، وأن الله أرسله إلى قومه، يدعوهم إلى عبادة الله، وينهاهم عما هم عليه من الفواحش، فلبث يدعوهم، فلم يستجيبوا له، فقلب الله عليهم ديارهم وعذبهم عن آخرهم لأنهم ‏{‏قَوْمَ سَوْءٍ فَاسِقِينَ‏}‏ كذبوا الداعي، وتوعدوه بالإخراج، ونجى الله لوطا وأهله، فأمره أن يسري بهم ليلا، ليبعدوا عن القرية، فسروا ونجوا، من فضل الله عليهم ومنته‏.‏

This is commendation from Allah upon His Messenger Loot (‘alaihis salaam) for his knowledge of the divine law, and his judging between the people with truthfulness and uprightness. And Allah sent him to his people, to call them to the worship of Allah, and to prohibit them from those immoralities which they were upon. And he stayed there inviting them, but they did not respond to him, so Allah overturned their houses and punished them in the hereafter because they were “people of evil, defiantly disobedient“, denying the caller, and vowing to drive him out. But Allah saved Loot and his family, so He ordered him to travel with them by night, to get far away from the city, so they were concealed and saved by the favour and provision of Allah upon them.

Continue reading

The definition of Sabr: Imam al-Sa’di

Allah provides the most excellent examples for His slaves to imitate in His Book. Among them, He mentions the following specifically in surah al-Anbiyaa’ when He says:

وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِدْرِ‌يسَ وَذَا الْكِفْلِ ۖ كُلٌّ مِّنَ الصَّابِرِ‌ينَ  وَأَدْخَلْنَاهُمْ فِي رَ‌حْمَتِنَا ۖ إِنَّهُم مِّنَ الصَّالِحِينَ

“And [mention] Ismaa’eel and Idrees and Dhu’l-Kifl; all of whom were from the saabireen. And We admitted them into Our mercy. Indeed, they were of the righteous.” [21:85-86]

Imam al-Sa’di, in his book of tafsir, offers the followin points of benefit from these ayaat:

أي‏:‏ واذكر عبادنا المصطفين، وأنبياءنا المرسلين بأحسن الذكر، وأثن عليهم أبلغ الثناء، إسماعيل بن إبراهيم، وإدريس، وذا الكفل، نبيين من أنبياء بني إسرائيل ‏{‏كُلٌّ‏}‏ من هؤلاء المذكورين ‏{‏مِنَ الصَّابِرِينَ‏}‏ والصبر‏:‏ هو حبس النفس ومنعها، مما تميل بطبعها إليه، وهذا يشمل أنواع الصبر الثلاثة‏:‏ الصبر على طاعة الله والصبر عن معصية الله، والصبر على أقدار الله المؤلمة، فلا يستحق العبد اسم الصبر التام، حتى يوفي هذه الثلاثة حقها‏.‏

Meaning: And mention Our chosen slaves and Our sent prophets with the best of remembrance, and praise them with the most eloquent commendation; Ismaa’eel bin Ibrahim, and Idrees, and Dhu’l-Kifl – Prophets from the prophets of Bani Israa’eel, “all” from those who are mentioned “from the saabireen“. And al-Sabr: it is withholding the nafs and prohibiting it from that towards which it is inclined by its natural inclinations. And this includes three types of sabr: Continue reading