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

The Meaning of “Laylah al-Qadr”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Allah describes Laylah al-Qadr in the beginning of surah al-Dukhaan by saying:

إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ ۚ إِنَّا كُنَّا مُنذِرِينَ * فِيهَا يُفْرَقُ كُلُّ أَمْرٍ حَكِيمٍ * أَمْرًا مِّنْ عِندِنَا

Indeed, We sent it down on a blessed night. Verily, We are ever warning * On that night every hakeem matter is apportioned *  A command from Us … [44:3-5]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee discusses some of the issues related to these ayaat in his famous book of tafsir. We have already translated his explanation of ayah number 3 here, and what follows is his explanation of ayah number 4:

قوله – تعالى – : فيها يفرق كل أمر حكيم أمرا من عندنا . معنى قوله : يفرق ، أي يفصل ويبين ، ويكتب في الليلة المباركة التي هي ليلة القدر – كل أمر حكيم ، أي ذي حكمة بالغة ; لأن كل ما يفعله الله مشتمل على أنواع الحكم الباهرة . وقال بعضهم : حكيم ، أي محكم ، لا تغيير فيه ولا تبديل . [ ص: 173 ] وكلا الأمرين حق ; لأن ما سبق في علم الله لا يتغير ولا يتبدل ، ولأن جميع أفعاله في غاية الحكمة . وهي في الاصطلاح وضع الأمور في مواضعها وإيقاعها في مواقعها . ـ

Allah’s statement:

فِيهَا يُفْرَقُ كُلُّ أَمْرٍ حَكِيمٍ * أَمْرًا مِّنْ عِندِنَا

On that night every hakeem matter is apportioned * A command from Us … [44:4-5]

The meaning of Allah’s statement

يُفْرَقُ

… is apportioned …

is that every hakeem matter is determined, made clear, and written during that blessed night which is Laylah al-Qadr.

Continue reading

The Blessed Night is Laylah al-Qadr, not the Middle of Sha’baan

Allah opens surah al-Dukkhaan (44) by mentioning “a blessed night” during which He sent down the Qur’an. The majority of the salaf and prominent interpreters of the Qur’an have indicated that this blessed night is Laylah al-Qadr, while a minority have claimed that it is referring to the night of the middle of the month of Sha’baan. What follows are three detailed clarifications of why the first position is correct and the second opinion is not supported by the textual evidences.

○ Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote the following clarification at the beginning of his tafsir of surah al-Dhukhaan. al-Shinqitee’s tafsir was focused on the theme of explaining the Qur’an first and foremost by means of the Qur’an itself, and he follows this approach in this explanation as well:

قوله – تعالى – : إنا أنزلناه في ليلة مباركة . ـ

Allah’s statement:

إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ

Indeed, We sent it [the Qur’an] down during a blessed night [44:3]

أبهم – تعالى – هذه الليلة المباركة هنا ، ولكنه بين أنها هي ليلة القدر في قوله – تعالى – : إنا أنزلناه في ليلة القدر [ 97 \ 1 ] وبين كونها ( مباركة ) المذكورة هنا في قوله – تعالى – : ليلة القدر خير من ألف شهر [ 97 \ 3 ] إلى آخر السورة . ـ

Allah left this blessed night ambiguous here, however He made it clear that it refers to Laylah al-Qadr elsewhere in His statement:

إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ

Indeed, We sent it down during Laylah al-Qadr [97:1]

And He clarified its aforementioned quality of “blessedness” in His statement: Continue reading

Ibn Kathir on Zakah and Tazkiyyah al-Nafs

Allah says in surah Fussilat:

وَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُشْرِكِينَ * الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُم بِالْآخِرَةِ هُمْ كَافِرُونَ

Woe to the mushrikoon * those who do not give the zakah and who are disbelievers in the hereafter [41:6-7]

In part of his commentary on these ayaat, al-haafidh ibn Kathir wrote the following words:

ـ (وويل للمشركين) أي: دمار لهم وهلاك عليهم، (الذين لا يؤتون الزكاة) قال علي بن أبي طلحة، عن ابن عباس: يعني: الذين لا يشهدون أن لا إله إلا الله. وكذا قال عكرمة. ـ

وَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُشْرِكِينَ

Woe to the mushrikoon

meaning: ruin and destruction for them

الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ

those who do not give the zakah

‘Ali ibn Abi Talhah transmitted that ibn ‘Abbaas said, “meaning, those who do not bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah”. And ‘Ikrimah said something similar.

وهذا كقوله تعالى: (قد أفلح من زكاها وقد خاب من دساها) [الشمس: 9، 10]، وكقوله: (قد أفلح من تزكى وذكر اسم ربه فصلى) [الأعلى: 14، 15]، وقوله (فقل هل لك إلى أن تزكى ) [النازعات: 18] والمراد بالزكاة هاهنا: طهارة النفس من الأخلاق الرذيلة، ومن أهم ذلك طهارة النفس من الشرك. وزكاة المال إنما سميت زكاة لأنها تطهره من الحرام، وتكون سببا لزيادته وبركته وكثرة نفعه، وتوفيقا إلى استعماله في الطاعات. ـ

This is like Allah’s statement:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن زَكَّاهَا * وَقَدْ خَابَ مَن دَسَّاهَا

He has succeeded who purifies himself * and he has failed who corrupts it [91:9-10]

and like His statement: Continue reading

“And whoever becomes dim-sighted to the remembrance of al-Rahman…”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-Zukhruf:

وَمَن يَعْشُ عَن ذِكْرِ‌ الرَّ‌حْمَـٰنِ نُقَيِّضْ لَهُ شَيْطَانًا فَهُوَ لَهُ قَرِ‌ينٌ * وَإِنَّهُمْ لَيَصُدُّونَهُمْ عَنِ السَّبِيلِ وَيَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّهُم مُّهْتَدُونَ * حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَاءَنَا قَالَ يَا لَيْتَ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَكَ بُعْدَ الْمَشْرِ‌قَيْنِ فَبِئْسَ الْقَرِ‌ينُ * وَلَن يَنفَعَكُمُ الْيَوْمَ إِذ ظَّلَمْتُمْ أَنَّكُمْ فِي الْعَذَابِ مُشْتَرِ‌كُونَ

And whoever becomes dim-sighted to the remembrance of the Most Merciful – We appoint for him a devil, and he is to him a companion. * And indeed, the devils avert them from the way [of guidance] while they think that they are [rightly] guided * Until, when he comes to Us [at Judgement], he says [to his companion], “Oh, I wish there was between me and you the distance between the east and west – how wretched a companion!” * And never will it benefit you that Day, when you have wronged, that you are [all] sharing in the punishment. [43:36-39]

Commenting on this in his book of tafsir, Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di wrote:

يخبر تعالى عن عقوبته البليغة، لمن أعرض عن ذكره، فقال‏:‏ ‏{‏وَمَنْ يَعْشُ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ يعرض ويصد ‏{‏عَنْ ذِكْرِ الرَّحْمَنِ‏}‏ الذي هو القرآن العظيم، الذي هو أعظم رحمة رحم بها الرحمن عباده، فمن قبلها، فقد قبل خير المواهب، وفاز بأعظم المطالب والرغائب، ومن أعرض عنها وردها، فقد خاب وخسر خسارة لا يسعد بعدها أبدا، وقيَّض له الرحمن شيطانا مريدا، يقارنه ويصاحبه، ويعده ويمنيه، ويؤزه إلى المعاصي أزا، ـ

Allah informs us about His intense punishment for whomever turns away from His remembrance, so He said, “And whoever becomes dim-sighted” – meaning, he turns himself away and [also] averts others – “to the remembrance of the Most Merciful” which is the Magnificent Qur’an, which is the greatest mercy by which the Most Merciful has shown mercy to His slaves. So whoever accepts it, then he has accepted the best of gifts and has succeeded in the greatest of achievements and aspirations. But whoever turns away from it and rejects it, then he has been saddened and experienced a great loss after which there is no happiness for him ever, and the Most Merciful has appointed a rebellious shaytaan for him; He has joined it to him and made it as a companion for him, and it shows enmity towards him and afflicts him, and it forcefully incites him towards acts of disobedience.

‏ـ {‏وَإِنَّهُمْ لَيَصُدُّونَهُمْ عَنِ السَّبِيلِ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ الصراط المستقيم، والدين القويم‏.‏ ‏{‏وَيَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّهُمْ مُهْتَدُونَ‏}‏ بسبب تزيين الشيطان للباطل وتحسينه له، وإعراضهم عن الحق، فاجتمع هذا وهذا‏.‏ ـ

And indeed, the devils avert them from the way” – meaning, the straight path and the upright religion – “while they think that they are [rightly] guided” due to the shaytaan‘s adornment and beautification of falsehood for him, and their shunning of the truth, so it combines both this and that.

فإن قيل‏:‏ فهل لهذا من عذر، من حيث إنه ظن أنه مهتد، وليس كذلك‏؟‏ ـ

So if it is said, “Then is this an excuse for that, since he indeed thinks that he is rightly guided – isn’t that the case?” Continue reading

Four categories of parentage and four categories of offspring: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah mentions in surah al-Shooraa:

لِّلَّـهِ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْ‌ضِ ۚ يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَاءُ ۚ يَهَبُ لِمَن يَشَاءُ إِنَاثًا وَيَهَبُ لِمَن يَشَاءُ الذُّكُورَ‌ * أَوْ يُزَوِّجُهُمْ ذُكْرَ‌انًا وَإِنَاثًا ۖ وَيَجْعَلُ مَن يَشَاءُ عَقِيمًا ۚ إِنَّهُ عَلِيمٌ قَدِيرٌ

To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth; He creates what he wills. He gives to whom He wills female [children], and He gives to whom He wills males.  Or He pairs them with males and females, and He renders whom He wills barren. Indeed, He is Knowing and Powerful.  [42:49-50]‌

Commenting on this in his book of tafsir, Imam Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir wrote the following:

 يخبر تعالى أنه خالق السموات والأرض ومالكهما والمتصرف فيهما ، وأنه ما شاء كان ، وما لم يشأ لم يكن ، وأنه يعطي من يشاء ، ويمنع من يشاء ، ولا مانع لما أعطى ، ولا معطي لما منع ، وأنه يخلق ما يشاء ، و ( يهب لمن يشاء إناثا ) أي : يرزقه البنات فقط – قال البغوي : ومنهم لوط ، عليه السلام ( ويهب لمن يشاء الذكور ) أي : يرزقه البنين فقط . قال البغوي : كإبراهيم الخليل ، عليه السلام – لم يولد له أنثى ، . ( أو يزوجهم ذكرانا وإناثا ) أي : ويعطي من يشاء من الناس الزوجين الذكر والأنثى ، أي : من هذا وهذا . قال البغوي : كمحمد ، عليه الصلاة والسلام ( ويجعل من يشاء عقيما ) أي : لا يولد له . قال البغوي : كيحيى وعيسى ، عليهما السلام  ـ

 Allah informs us that He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and the owner of them both, and the controller of what is in them. And He informs us that whatever He wills is, and whatever He does not will is not, and that He grants what He wills and prevents what He wills, and there is none who can prevent what He grants nor is there anyone who can grant what He prevents. And He informs us that He creates what He wills, and: 

يَهَبُ لِمَن يَشَاءُ إِنَاثًا

He gives to whom He wills female [children]

– meaning, He provides one with only daughters . Al-Baghawi said, “Included in this category is Loot (‘alaihi al-salaam).”

وَيَهَبُ لِمَن يَشَاءُ الذُّكُورَ‌

and He gives to whom He wills males

– meaning, He provides one with only sons. Al-Baghawi said, “Such as Ibrahim al-Khaleel (‘alaihi al-salaam) – no females were born to him. Continue reading

“Close friends, that Day, will be enemies to each other- except for the muttaqoon”

Allah informs us about one of the features of the Day of Recompense in surah al-Zukhruf when He says:

الْأَخِلَّاءُ يَوْمَئِذٍ بَعْضُهُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ إِلَّا الْمُتَّقِينَ

Close friends, that Day, will be enemies to each other – except for the muttaqoon

[al-Qur’an 43:67]

In his tafsir of this ayah, Imam al-Baghawi brings a statement from ‘Ali (raadiAllaahu ‘anhu) concerning this ayah where he said: Continue reading

Human nature: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah informs us about the nature of man in surah Fussilat when He says:

لَّا يَسْأَمُ الْإِنسَانُ مِن دُعَاءِ الْخَيْرِ‌ وَإِن مَّسَّهُ الشَّرُّ‌ فَيَئُوسٌ قَنُوطٌ ﴿٤٩﴾ وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَاهُ رَ‌حْمَةً مِّنَّا مِن بَعْدِ ضَرَّ‌اءَ مَسَّتْهُ لَيَقُولَنَّ هَـٰذَا لِي وَمَا أَظُنُّ السَّاعَةَ قَائِمَةً وَلَئِن رُّ‌جِعْتُ إِلَىٰ رَ‌بِّي إِنَّ لِي عِندَهُ لَلْحُسْنَىٰ ۚ فَلَنُنَبِّئَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُ‌وا بِمَا عَمِلُوا وَلَنُذِيقَنَّهُم مِّنْ عَذَابٍ غَلِيظٍ ﴿٥٠﴾ وَإِذَا أَنْعَمْنَا عَلَى الْإِنسَانِ أَعْرَ‌ضَ وَنَأَىٰ بِجَانِبِهِ وَإِذَا مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ‌ فَذُو دُعَاءٍ عَرِ‌يضٍ

Man is not weary of supplication for good, but if evil touches him, he is hopeless and despairing. * And if We let him taste mercy from Us after an adversity which has touched him, he will surely say, “This is [due] to me, and I do not think the Hour will occur; and [even] if I should be returned to my Lord, indeed, for me there will be with Him the best.” But We will surely inform those who disbelieved about what they did, and We will surely make them taste a massive punishment. * And when We bestow favor upon man, he turns away and withdraws aside; but when evil touches him, then he is full of extensive supplication. (41:49-51)

Imam al-Sa’di, in his book of tafsir, writes in explanation of these ayaat as follows:

هذا إخبار عن طبيعة الإنسان، من حيث هو، وعدم صبره وجلده، لا على الخير ولا على الشر، إلا من نقله الله من هذه الحال إلى حال الكمال، فقال‏:‏ ‏{‏لَا يَسْأَمُ الْإِنْسَانُ مِنْ دُعَاءِ الْخَيْرِ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ لا يمل دائمًا، من دعاء الله، في الغنى والمال والولد، وغير ذلك من مطالب الدنيا، ولا يزال يعمل على ذلك، ولا يقتنع بقليل، ولا كثير منها، فلو حصل له من الدنيا، ما حصل، لم يزل طالبًا للزيادة‏.‏

This is information about human nature, what are his origins, and his lack of patience and endurance, both in the face of good and evil, except for he for whom Allah has changed his condition to the perfect condition, and He says, “Man is not weary of supplication for good” – meaning, he never tires of supplicating to Allah for riches and wealth and offspring and other such objects of desire in this worldly life. And he does not desist in toiling for that, and he is not satisfied with a little or even with a lot of the worldly riches. And whether he were to achieve those things or not, he would not cease to seek more.

‏{‏وَإِنْ مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ المكروه، كالمرض، والفقر، وأنواع البلايا ‏{‏فَيَئُوسٌ قَنُوطٌ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ ييأس من رحمة الله تعالى، ويظن أن هذا البلاء هو القاضي عليه بالهلاك، ويتشوش من إتيان الأسباب، على غير ما يحب ويطلب‏.‏

But if evil touches him” – meaning those disliked things such as illness, poverty, and all sorts of trials – “then he is hopeless and despairing” – meaning he despairs of the mercy of Allah the Exalted, and thinks that this trial has been brought upon him for his destruction, and is confused about its causes, and that it is other than what he loves and requests.

إلا الذين آمنوا وعملوا الصالحات، فإنهم إذا أصابهم الخير والنعمة والمحاب، شكروا الله تعالى، وخافوا أن تكون نعم الله عليهم، استدراجًا وإمهالاً، وإن أصابتهم مصيبة، في أنفسهم وأموالهم، وأولادهم، صبروا، ورجوا فضل ربهم، فلم ييأسوا‏.‏

Except for those who believe and do righteous good deeds, for certainly they, when they are struck with good, blessings and that which they love, they are grateful to Allah the Exalted. And they fear that the blessing of Allah upon them may be a test of endurance or a respite [i.e. a delay of punishment from this life to the next]. And if they are afflicted corporeally or financially or in terms of their offspring, they are steadfastly patient, and they hope for the good from their Lord, and they never despair or give up hope.

ثم قال تعالى‏:‏ ‏{‏وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَاهُ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ الإنسان الذي يسأم من دعاء الخير، وإن مسه الشر فيئوس قنوط ‏{‏رَحْمَةً مِنَّا‏}‏ أي‏:‏ بعد ذلك الشر الذي أصابه، بأن عافاه الله من مرضه، أو أغناه من فقره، فإنه لا يشكر الله تعالى، بل يبغى، ويطغى، ويقول‏:‏ ‏{‏هَذَا لِي‏}‏ أي‏:‏ أتاني لأني له أهل، وأنا مستحق له ‏{‏وَمَا أَظُنُّ السَّاعَةَ قَائِمَةً‏}‏ وهذا إنكار منه للبعث، وكفر للنعمة والرحمة، التي أذاقها الله له‏.‏ ‏{‏وَلَئِنْ رُجِعْتُ إِلَى رَبِّي إِنَّ لِي عِنْدَهُ لَلْحُسْنَى‏}‏ أي‏:‏ على تقدير إتيان الساعة، وأني سأرجع إلى ربي، إن لي عنده، للحسنى، فكما حصلت لي النعمة في الدنيا، فإنها ستحصل ‏[‏لي‏]‏ في الآخرة وهذا من أعظم الجراءة والقول على الله بلا علم، فلهذا توعده بقوله‏:‏ ‏{‏فَلَنُنَبِّئَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِمَا عَمِلُوا وَلَنُذِيقَنَّهُمْ مِنْ عَذَابٍ غَلِيظٍ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ شديد جدًا‏.‏

Then He said, “And if We let him taste” – meaning, mankind which never tires of supplicating for good, and if he is touched by evil them he is hopeless and despairing – “mercy from Us” – meaning, after that evil which afflicted him, because Allah cured him from his sickness of enriched him from his state of poverty, then certainly he will not be grateful to Allah the Exalted; rather he will transgress and overstep the bounds, and he says, “This is [due] to me” – meaning, this is for me because I deserve it and I have a right to it – “and I do not think the Hour will occur” and this is him denying the resurrection, and disbelieving in the blessing and mercy which Allah has allowed him to taste. “And [even] if I should be returned to my Lord, indeed, for me there will be with Him the best” – meaning, when the Hour is established, and I will certainly return to my Lord, if He has something for me, then it will be good such as what blessing I had in the worldly life, so this will also be mine in the next life. And this is the greatest crime to say [something] about Allah without ‘ilm. And there is his promise in His statement, “But We will surely inform those who disbelieved about what they did, and We will surely make them taste a massive punishment“.

‏{‏وَإِذَا أَنْعَمْنَا عَلَى الْإِنْسَانِ‏}‏ بصحة، أو رزق، أو غيرهما ‏{‏أَعْرَضَ‏}‏ عن ربه وعن شكره ‏{‏وَنَأَى‏}‏ ترفع ‏{‏بِجَانِبِهِ‏}‏ عجبا وتكبرًا‏.‏ ‏{‏وَإِنْ مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ المرض، أو الفقر، أو غيرهما ‏{‏فَذُو دُعَاءٍ عَرِيضٍ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ كثير جدًا، لعدم صبره، فلا صبر في الضراء، ولا شكر في الرخاء، إلا من هداه الله ومنَّ عليه‏.‏

And when We bestow favor upon man” with health or provisions or other than that, “he turns away” from his Lord and from gratitude to Him “and withdraws” – elevates himself – “asideamazed and prideful. “But when evil touches him” – meaning, sickness or poverty or other than that – “then he is full of extensive supplication” – meaning, very abundant, the absence of his sabr, for there is no sabr in adversity, nor gratitude in prosperity, except for the one whom Allah guided and bestowed a blessing upon him.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 885]

See also: “Work, O family of Dawood, in gratitude”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: “He made for you hearing and vision and intellect in order for you to be grateful”: Tafsir al-Sa’di