The Length of Surah al-Ahzab: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

Imam al-Qurtubi began his tafsir of surah al-Ahzab with the following:

سورة الأحزاب
Surah al-Ahzab

مدنية في قول جميعهم . نزلت في المنافقين وإيذائهم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ، وطعنهم فيه وفي مناكحته وغيرها . وهي ثلات وسبعون آية . وكانت هذه السورة تعدل سورة البقرة . وكانت فيها آية الرجم : ( الشيخ والشيخة إذا زنيا فارجموهما البتة نكالا من الله والله عزيز حكيم ) ; ذكره أبو بكر الأنباري عن أبي بن كعب . وهذا يحمله أهل العلم على أن الله تعالى رفع من الأحزاب إليه ما يزيد على ما في أيدينا ، وأن آية الرجم رفع لفظها . وقد حدثنا أحمد بن الهيثم بن خالد قال حدثنا أبو عبيد القاسم بن سلام قال حدثنا ابن أبي مريم عن ابن لهيعة عن أبي الأسود عن عروة عن عائشة قالت : كانت سورة الأحزاب تعدل على عهد رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم مائتي آية ، فلما كتب المصحف لم يقدر منها إلا على ما هي الآن . قال أبو بكر : فمعنى هذا من قول أم المؤمنين عائشة : أن الله تعالى رفع إليه من سورة الأحزاب ما يزيد على ما عندنا . ـ

It is a Madani surah according to consensus. It was revealed regarding the munafiqoon and their harm, abuse and insults, etc. towards Allah’s Messenger.

It is 73 ayaat long, but this surah used to be equal in length to surah al-Baqarah, and it used to contain the Ayah of Stoning. That is

الشيخ والشيخة إذا زنيا فارجموهما البتة نكالا من الله والله عزيز حكيم

And adult man and the adult woman – if they commit adultery, then stone them both completely. This is an edifying punishment from Allah, and Allah is Almighty, All Wise.

Abu Bakr al-Anbari mentioned this on the authority of Ubay ibn Ka’b.

The scholars have taken this to mean that Allah lifted whatever was beyond the amount of surah al-Ahzab that we have today back to Himself and that the wording of the Ayah of Stoning was lifted [i.e. it is no longer part of the Qur’an].

… A’ishah said: Continue reading

Reciting Surah al-Sajdah and Surah al-Insan on Fridays: ibn Taymiyah

Ibn Taymiyah was asked the following questions about the recitation for the Fajr prayer on Fridays:

وسئل عن الصلاة يوم الجمعة بالسجدة : هل تجب المداومة عليها أم لا ؟ . ـ

There is a question about making sajdah in the [fajr] prayer on Friday – are we required to always put this into practice or not?

فأجاب : الحمد لله . ليست قراءة { الم } { تنزيل } التي فيها السجدة ولا غيرها من ذوات السجود واجبة في فجر الجمعة باتفاق الأئمة ومن اعتقد ذلك واجبا أو ذم من ترك ذلك فهو ضال مخطئ يجب عليه [ ص: 205 ] أن يتوب من ذلك باتفاق الأئمة . وإنما تنازع العلماء في استحباب ذلك وكراهيته . فعند مالك يكره أن يقرأ بالسجدة في الجهر . والصحيح أنه لا يكره كقول أبي حنيفة والشافعي وأحمد ; لأنه قد ثبت في الصحيح { عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه سجد في العشاء بـ { إذا السماء انشقت } } وثبت عنه في الصحيحين { أنه كان يقرأ في الفجر يوم الجمعة { الم } { تنزيل } و { هل أتى } } . وعند مالك يكره أن يقصد سورة بعينها . وأما الشافعي وأحمد فيستحبون ما جاءت به السنة مثل الجمعة والمنافقين في الجمعة . والذاريات واقتربت في العيد والم تنزيل وهل أتى في فجر الجمعة . ـ

Response: al-hamdulillaah. Neither reciting surah al-Sajdah which contains a sajdah nor reciting any other surah containing a sajdah is mandatory for the Fajr prayer on Fridays. This is the unanimous position of the scholars, and whoever believes that it is mandatory or that whoever does not practice this is blameworthy is misguided and mistaken and needs to repent from that. This is also the unanimous position of the scholars.

The only area of disagreement among the scholars is whether it is encouraged or disliked to do this, for Malik disliked recited surahs with a sajdah in the audible prayers, however the correct opinion is that this is not disliked, which was the position of Abu Hanifah, al-Shafi’ee, and Ahmad. That is because of what has been authentically transmitted in the Saheeh that the Prophet made sajdah in the ‘Ishaa’ prayer when he recited surah al-Inshiqaaq. And is has also been authentically transmitted in both al-Bukhari and Muslim that he used to recited surah al-Sajdah and surah al-Insaan in the Fajr prayer on Fridays. Continue reading

Responding to Doubts About the Prohibition of Music: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

One of the most commonly-cited evidences for the prohibition of music is the ayah from surah Luqman

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ لِيُضِلَّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُوًا ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ

And among the people are those who purchase idle talk to mislead others from the path of Allah without knowledge and who take it as a mockery. For these ones, there is a humiliating punishment. [31:6]

and the “idle talk” in this ayah was explained to refer to music, as was explained by ibn Mas’ood, ibn ‘Abbaas and others. Another commonly-cited evidence is the hadeeth of the Prophet

لَيَكُونَنَّ مِنْ أُمَّتِي أَقْوَامٌ يَسْتَحِلُّونَ الْحِرَ وَالْحَرِيرَ وَالْخَمْرَ وَالْمَعَازِفَ

There will be some people from my nation who will consider illicit sexual intercourse, silk, alcohol and musical instruments to be permissible.

which is reported in Saheeh al-Bukhari (#5590). We have previously translated an explanation of this ayah from surah Luqman which brings several more pieces of evidence for the prohibition of music. We would recommend reading that article before proceeding, as it serves as a foundation for this topic.

After understanding the evidences for the prohibition of music, it bears mentioning that there are some who cast doubt on the validity of these primary pieces of evidence listed above. While these doubts may appear to be academic, they are ultimately without a sound foundation, as Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool explains below:

قال : هذا التفسير اجتهاد من ابن مسعود رضي الله عنه. وحديث المعازف مختلف فيه . ـ

Some say: This explanation of ibn Mas’ood is simply his personal scholarly opinion, and there is some differing as to the hadith of musical instruments.

قلت : لاحظ ان تفسير ابن مسعود رضي الله عنه للآية ليس فيه ما يخالف لفظها بل هو يقرر معناها فهو يقول : من لهو الحديث في الآية الغناء لانه يحصل به اضلال للناس في باب الشهوات. فاللام ليست للتعليل بل للعاقبة، كاللام في قوله تعالى: ({فَالْتَقَطَهُ آلُ فِرْعَوْنَ لِيَكُونَ لَهُمْ عَدُوّاً وَحَزَناً إِنَّ فِرْعَوْنَ وَهَامَانَ وَجُنُودَهُمَا كَانُوا خَاطِئِينَ }) (القصص:8). ـ

I say: It must be noted that ibn Mas’ood’s explanation of this ayah does not contain anything that is at odds with the ayah itself. Rather, his explanation affirms the ayah‘s meaning, as he is saying that one example of the “idle talk” mentioned in this ayah is music because it leads to the misguidance of people by way of lowly desires. So the preposition laam in the ayah is not meant to imply causation but rather consequence, like the laam in Allah’s statement: Continue reading

Guidance and Striving: ibn al-Qayyim

ibn al-Qayyim mentioned the following benefit in one of his many valuable written works:

قال تعالى: {والذين جاهدوا فينا لنهدينهم سبلنا} عَلَّقَ سبحانه الهِداية بالجِهاد، فأكمل الناس هِدايةً أَعظمهم جِهادًا، وأَفْرَضُ الجهاد: جهاد النَّفْس، وجهاد الهَوَى، وجهاد الشيطان، وجهاد الدنيا، فمن جاهد هذه الأربعة في الله هداه الله سُبُلَ رِضاهُ المُوصِلَة إلى جَنَّتِه، ومَن ترك الجهاد فاتَهُ مِن الهُدى بحسب ما عَطَّلَ من الجهاد. ـ

Allah said:

وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا

And whoever strives for Us, We will surely guide them to Our ways [29:69]

Allah has linked guidance to striving, so the people with the most complete guidance are those with the greatest striving. And the most necessary type of striving is

  1. Striving against oneself
  2. Striving against one’s lowly desires
  3. Striving against the shaytaan
  4. Striving against this worldly life

Whoever strives against these four things for the sake of Allah, Allah will guide him to the paths of His pleasure which lead to His Jannah. But whoever leaves off this striving has lost out on the guidance in a measure proportional how much he neglected striving.

[al-Fawa’id pg. 59] Continue reading

The Prophet is Closer to the Believers than Their Own Selves: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

Allah informs us of the following in the beginning of surah al-Ahzab:

النَّبِيُّ أَوْلَىٰ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ ۖ وَأَزْوَاجُهُ أُمَّهَاتُهُمْ

The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves, and his wives are their mothers [33:6]

Imam al-Qurtubi opens his discussion of this ayah by writing:

قوله تعالى : النبي أولى بالمؤمنين من أنفسهم هذه الآية أزال الله تعالى بها أحكاما كانت في صدر الإسلام ; منها : أنه صلى الله عليه وسلم كان لا يصلي على ميت عليه دين ، فلما فتح الله عليه الفتوح قال : أنا أولى بالمؤمنين من أنفسهم ; فمن توفي وعليه دين فعلي قضاؤه ، ومن ترك مالا فلورثته أخرجه الصحيحان . وفيهما أيضا فأيكم ترك دينا أو ضياعا فأنا مولاه . قال ابن العربي : فانقلبت الآن الحال بالذنوب ، فإن تركوا مالا ضويق العصبة فيه ، وإن تركوا ضياعا أسلموا إليه ; فهذا تفسير الولاية المذكورة في هذه الآية بتفسير النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وتنبيهه ; ولا عطر بعد عروس . قال ابن عطية : وقال بعض العلماء العارفين : هو أولى بهم من أنفسهم ; لأن أنفسهم تدعوهم إلى الهلاك ، وهو يدعوهم إلى النجاة . قال ابن عطية : ويؤيد هذا قوله عليه الصلاة والسلام : أنا آخذ بحجزكم عن النار وأنتم تقتحمون فيها تقحم الفراش . ـ

Allah’s statement:

النَّبِيُّ أَوْلَىٰ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ

The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves …

Allah eliminated some rulings that had been in place at the beginning of Islam with this ayah. One of those earlier rulings was that the Prophet used to not offer the funeral prayer for someone who died while still owing a debt.

… But then when Allah gave the Prophet some victories on his expeditions he said, “I am closer to the believers than their own selves. So whoever dies while still owing a debt, then the debt is on me and I will pay it. And whoever leaves any wealth, then that is for his inheritors.”

al-Bukhari and Muslim both reported this hadith, as well as the hadith:

Any one of you who dies and leaves behind a debt or a needy dependent, then I am his close one.

Ibn al-‘Arabi said, “Due to sins, the situation today is the complete opposite. If someone leaves behind wealth, then his people come after it, but if he leaves a needy dependent behind they wash their hands of him.”

So the explanation of the “closeness” mentioned in this ayah is the explanation that the Prophet gave and alerted us to, and there is nothing that can come later to surpass this. That being said, ibn ‘Atiyyah mentioned the following: Continue reading

Allah has subjected everything in the creation to mankind: Tafsir al-Shawkaani

Allah says in the middle of surah Luqman:

أَلَمْ تَرَوْا أَنَّ اللَّـهَ سَخَّرَ لَكُم مَّا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَأَسْبَغَ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعَمَهُ ظَاهِرَةً وَبَاطِنَةً

Don’t you see that Allah has subjected whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth to you and has amply bestowed His favors both apparent and hidden, upon you? … [31:20]

In part of his explanation of this ayah, sheikh Muhammad al-Shawkaani wrote:

 لما فرغ – سبحانه – من قصة لقمان رجع إلى توبيخ المشركين وتبكيتهم وإقامة الحجج عليهم فقال : ألم تروا أن الله سخر لكم ما في السماوات وما في الأرض قال الزجاج : معنى تسخيرها للآدميين الانتفاع بها . انتهى ، فمن مخلوقات السماوات المسخرة لبني آدم أي : التي ينتفعون بها الشمس والقمر والنجوم ونحو ذلك . ـ

After completing the story of Luqman, Allah returned back reprimanding and criticizing the mushrikoon and establishing proofs against them. So He said:

أَلَمْ تَرَوْا أَنَّ اللَّـهَ سَخَّرَ لَكُم مَّا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ

Don’t you see that Allah has subjected whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth to you?

al-Zujaaj said, “The meaning of ‘subjecting them to mankind’ is that they can benefit from them.”

Included in the created things of the heavens which have been subjected to mankind are all the things which they take benefit from, such as the Sun, the Moon, the stars, and so on. Continue reading

The Prohibition of Music in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

Near the beginning of surah Luqman, Allah says what can be literally translated as:

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ لِيُضِلَّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُوًا ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ

And among the people are those who purchase idle talk in order to mislead others from the path of Allah without knowledge and who take it as a mockery. For these ones, there is a humiliating punishment [31:6]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, the great mufassir imam Muhammad al-Qurtubi explained this ayah according to the understanding of the salaf by writing:

و ( لهو الحديث ) : الغناء ; في قول ابن مسعود وابن عباس وغيرهما . النحاس : وهو ممنوع بالكتاب والسنة ; والتقدير : من يشتري ذا لهو أو ذات لهو ; مثل : واسأل القرية . أو يكون التقدير : لما كان إنما اشتراها يشتريها ويبالغ في ثمنها كأنه اشتراها للهو . ـ

The phrase:

لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ

“idle talk”

means music. This is according to the statements of ibn Mas’ood, ibn ‘Abbaas, and others.

al-Nahhaas said: Music is prohibited according to the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

قلت : هذه إحدى الآيات الثلاث التي استدل بها العلماء على كراهة الغناء والمنع منه . والآية الثانية قوله تعالى : وأنتم سامدون . قال ابن عباس : هو الغناء بالحميرية ; اسمدي لنا ; أي غني لنا . ـ

I [Imam al-Qurtubi] say: This is one of three ayaat in the Qur’an which the scholars use as evidence for the position that music is something hated and prohibited. The second ayah is Allah’s statement: Continue reading

“And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah concludes surah al-‘Ankaboot with the following ayah:

وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا ۚ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways. And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good. [29:69]

Commenting on this ayah in his famous book of tafsir, Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote the following beneficial words for the student of knowledge:

ـ { وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا } وهم الذين هاجروا في سبيل اللّه، وجاهدوا أعداءهم، وبذلوا مجهودهم في اتباع مرضاته، { لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا } أي: الطرق الموصلة إلينا، وذلك لأنهم محسنون. ـ

And those who strive for Us” – and they are those who migrated in the path of Allah and struggled against their enemies and expended their efforts in following His pleasure – “We will surely guide them to Our ways” – meaning, the paths which lead to Us, and that is because they are the good-doers.

ـ { وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ } بالعون والنصر والهداية. دل هذا على أن أحرى الناس بموافقة الصواب أهل الجهاد، وعلى أن من أحسن فيما أمر به أعانه اللّه ويسر له أسباب الهداية، وعلى أن من جد واجتهد في طلب العلم الشرعي، فإنه يحصل له من الهداية والمعونة على تحصيل مطلوبه أمور إلهية، خارجة عن مدرك اجتهاده، وتيسر له أمر العلم، فإن طلب العلم الشرعي من الجهاد في سبيل اللّه، بل هو أحد نَوْعَي الجهاد، الذي لا يقوم به إلا خواص الخلق، وهو الجهاد بالقول واللسان، للكفار والمنافقين، والجهاد على تعليم أمور الدين، وعلى رد نزاع المخالفين للحق، ولو كانوا من المسلمين. ـ

And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good” by means of aid, support and guidance. This demonstrates that the most likely of people to coincide with what is correct are the people of striving. Continue reading