Tafsir of the Closing of Surah al-Baqarah: Sheikh Faisal Aal Mubarak

Sheikh Faisal Aal Mubarak (d. 1376Ah/1957CE) set out to author a book of Qur’anic explanation for beginning students composed of carefully selected statements of the salaf and excerpts from Tafsir al-Tabari, Tafsir al-Baghawi and Tafsir ibn Kathir, three of the most reliable books of tafsir available. He divided his book into 313 lessons for further ease of reading. What follows is a complete translation of his 35th lesson, covering the final ayaat of surah al-Baqarah:

الدرس الخامس والثلاثون
Lesson #35

لِّلَّهِ ما فِي السَّمَاواتِ وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ وَإِن تُبْدُواْ مَا فِي أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوْ تُخْفُوهُ يُحَاسِبْكُم بِهِ اللهُ فَيَغْفِرُ لِمَن يَشَاءُ وَيُعَذِّبُ مَن يَشَاءُ وَاللهُ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ * آمَنَ الرَّسُولُ بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْهِ مِن رَّبِّهِ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ كُلٌّ آمَنَ بِاللهِ وَمَلآئِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ لاَ نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّن رُّسُلِهِ وَقَالُواْ سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا غُفْرَانَكَ رَبَّنَا وَإِلَيْكَ الْمَصِيرُ * لاَ يُكَلِّفُ اللهُ نَفْساً إِلا وُسْعَهَا لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ رَبَّنَا لاَ تُؤَاخِذْنَا إِن نَّسِينَا أَوْ أَخْطَأْنَا رَبَّنَا وَلاَ تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْنَا إِصْراً كَمَا حَمَلْتَهُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِنَا رَبَّنَا وَلاَ تُحَمِّلْنَا مَا لاَ طَاقَةَ لَنَا بِهِ وَاعْفُ عَنَّا وَاغْفِرْ لَنَا وَارْحَمْنَا أَنتَ مَوْلاَنَا فَانصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ

To Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth, and whether you disclose what is in your own selves or conceal it, Allah will call you to account for it. Then He forgives whom He wills and punishes whom He wills. And Allah is Able to do all things. [2:284]

The Messenger believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, as do the believers. Each one believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers. They say, “We make no distinction between any of His messengers.” – and they say, “We hear and we obey. We seek Your Forgiveness, our Lord, and it is to You that we shall return!” [2:285]

Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that which he has earned, and he is punished for that which he has earned. “Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error. Our Lord! Do not lay a burden on us like that which You did on those before us. Our Lord! And do not put any burden on us greater than we have strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us Forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people. [2:286]

قوله عز وجل: {لِّلَّهِ ما فِي السَّمَاواتِ وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ وَإِن تُبْدُواْ مَا فِي أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوْ تُخْفُوهُ يُحَاسِبْكُم بِهِ اللهُ فَيَغْفِرُ لِمَن يَشَاءُ وَيُعَذِّبُ مَن يَشَاءُ وَاللهُ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ (284) } . ـ

○ Allah’s statement:

Continue reading

Tafsir of Ayah al-Kursi: Faisal Aal Mubarak

Due to its significance and importance, much space has been given to discussing ayah al-Kursi in the books of tafsir. Not least among these are the famous books of Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, ibn Kathir and al-Baghawi. All three of these works fall into the category of “narration-based tafsir“, meaning that they based their works on explaining the Qur’an by means of the Qur’an itself, by means of the sunnah of the Prophet, by means of the statements of the Sahabah and through recourse to those who followed them. In an effort to follow this same approach to tafsir while simultaneously providing a service to beginning students, Sheikh Faisal Aal Mubarak (1376Ah/1957CE) penned his own tafsir entitled Tawfeeq al-Rahman which effectively served as a digest of these three most-reliable books of tafsir. What follows below is his explanation of ayah al-Kursi:

قوله عز وجل: {اللهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ لاَ تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلاَ نَوْمٌ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ مَن ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلا بِإِذْنِهِ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلاَ يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلا بِمَا شَاء وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ وَلاَ يَؤُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ (255) } . ـ

Allah’s statement:

اللَّـهُ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ ۚ لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلَا نَوْمٌ ۚ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ مَن ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِندَهُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ ۚ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ ۖ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلَّا بِمَا شَاءَ ۚ وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ ۖ وَلَا يَئُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ

Allah – none has the right be worshiped except Him, al-Hayy al-Qayyoom. Neither tiredness nor sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is ahead of you and what is behind you [OR “He knows what you have already done and what will happen after you”], and they grasp nothing of His knowledge except what He wills. His kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding them. And He is al-‘Alee al-‘Atheem. [2:255]

عن أبي بن كعب: (أن النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – سأله: «أي آية في كتاب الله أعظم» ؟ قال: الله ورسوله أعلم. فرددها مرارًا ثم قال: أبيّ: آية الكرسي. قال: «ليهنك العلم أبا المنذر» . رواه مسلم وغيره. وفي حديث أبي هريرة عند البخاري في قصة الشيطان الذي سرق من الصدقة قال: (فرصدته الثالثة، فجاء يحثو من الطعام، فأخذته، فقلت: لأرفعنك إلى رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم -، وهذا آخر ثلاث مرات إنك تزعم أنك لا تعود ثم تعود، فقال: دعني أعلمك كلمات ينفعك الله بها. قلت: وما هي؟ قال إذا أويت إلى فراشك فاقرأ آية الكرسي: {اللهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ} حتى تختم الآية، فإنك لن يزال عليك من الله حافظ، ولا يقربك شيطان حتى تصبح، فخليّت سبيله، فأصبحت فقال لي رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – «ما فعل أسيرك البارحة» ؟ قلت: يا رسول الله إنه زعم أنه يعلمني كلمات ينفعني الله بها، فخليت سبيله، قال: «ما هي» ؟ قال: قال لي: إذا أويت إلى فراشك فاقرأ آية الكرسي من أولها حتى تختم الآية: {اللهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ} وقال لي: لن يزال عليك من الله حافظ ولا يقربك شيطان حتى تصبح. فقال النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم -: «أما إنه صدقك وهو كذوب» . وروى أبو داود وغيره عن أسماء بنت يزيد بن السكن قالت: سمعت رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – يقول في هاتين الآيتين: {اللهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ} و {الم * اللهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ} : «إن فيها اسم الله الأعظم» . ـ

○ It is narrated from Ubay ibn Ka’b that the Prophet asked him, “Which is the greatest ayah in Allah’s Book?” Ubay replied, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” The Prophet repeated the question a few times and then Ubay said, “Ayah al-Kursi,” to which the Prophet said, “May knowledge be a source of joy for you, O Abu’l-Mundhir!” This was reported by Muslim and others.

And there is also the story of the shaytaan who was stealing from charity that comes in the hadith of Abu Hurayrah in al-Bukhari in which he said: Continue reading

Explanation of Ayah al-Kursi: Imam al-Sa’di

In addition to his famous complete tafsir of the entire Qur’an, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di also authored a more condensed and thematic work of tafsir entitled Taysir al-Lateef al-Mannaan. Rather than going through the Qur’an ayah by ayah, in this work he selected certain ayaat which could serve to discuss important topics. Although this work is much shorted than his complete tafsir, the ayaat that al-Sa’di does explain are often discussed in greater detail. What follows is the sheikh’s explanation of Ayah al-Kursi from this work:

ـ {اللَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلَا نَوْمٌ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ مَنْ ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلَّا بِمَا شَاءَ وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَلَا يَئُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ} [البقرة: 255] ـ

اللَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلَا نَوْمٌ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ مَنْ ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلَّا بِمَا شَاءَ وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَلَا يَئُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ

Allah – none has the right be worshiped except Him, al-Hayy al-Qayyoom. Neither tiredness nor sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is ahead of you and what is behind you, and they grasp nothing of His knowledge except what He wills. His foot-stool extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding them. And He is al-‘Alee al-‘Atheem. [2:255]

أخبر النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أن هذه الآية أعظم آيات القرآن على الإطلاق، وأنها تحفظ قارئها من الشياطين والشرور كلها، لما احتوت عليه من معاني التوحيد والعظمة، وسعة صفات الكمال لله تعالى . ـ

The Prophet informed us that this ayah is absolutely the greatest ayah in the Qur’an and that it protects one who recites it from the shaytaans and all evils. That is due to the messages of al-tawheed, greatness and the great and perfect attributes of Allah that it contains.

فأخبر أنه الله الذي له جميع معاني الألوهية، وأنه لا يستحق الألوهية غيره، فألوهية غيره وعبادة غيره باطلة ضارة في الحال والمآل؛ وعبادته وحده لا شريك له هي الحق الموصلة إلى كل كمال؛ وأنه الحي كامل الحياة . ـ

Allah informs us that He is Allah, the One who possesses all the meanings of divinity and that there are no others who deserve to be deified besides Him. Any deification or worship of others is groundless and harmful both in the short term and in the long run. Worshiping Him alone without any partners is the truth which leads to every type of completeness, and He is al-Hayy – the One with the Utmost Complete Aliveness.

 فمن كمال حياته أنه السميع البصير القدير، المحيط علمه بكل شيء، الكامل من كل وجه ، ف {الْحَيُّ} [البقرة: 255] يتضمن جميع الصفات الذاتية، و {الْقَيُّومُ} [البقرة: 255] الذي قام بنفسه، واستغنى عن جميع المخلوقات، وقام بها فأوجدها وأبقاها، وأمدها بكل ما تحتاج إليه في بقائها . ـ

One part of His Utmost Aliveness is that He is the al-Samee’ – the One who hears -, al-Baseer – the One who sees -, al-Qadeer – the Omnipotent One. His knowledge encompasses everything and He is perfect in every way. So

الْحَيُّ

al-Hayy

encompasses all of the attributes of Allah’s being. Continue reading

Explanation of Ayah al-Kursi: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

Allah says the following in surah al-Baqarah, in the ayah known as Ayah al-Kursi:

اللَّـهُ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ ۚ لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلَا نَوْمٌ ۚ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ مَن ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِندَهُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ ۚ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ ۖ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلَّا بِمَا شَاءَ ۚ وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ ۖ وَلَا يَئُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ

Allah – none has the right be worshiped except Him, al-Hayy al-Qayyoom. Neither tiredness nor sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is ahead of you and what is behind you, and they grasp nothing of His knowledge except what He wills. His foot-stool extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding them. And He is al-‘Alee al-‘Atheem. [2:255]

The authors of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar, an abbreviated work of salafi tafsir written in modern times, provided the following explanation of this ayah. The book al-Tafsir al-Muyassar is written as commentary in the margins of the Madinah Mushaf, so the explanations function as a sort of gloss or almost like a paraphrase of the ayah with some additional comments:

الله الذي لا يستحق الألوهية والعبودية إلا هو، الحيُّ الذي له جميع معاني الحياة الكاملة كما يليق بجلاله، القائم على كل شيء، لا تأخذه سِنَة أي: نعاس، ولا نوم، كل ما في السموات وما في الأرض ملك له، ولا يتجاسر أحد أن يشفع عنده إلا بإذنه، محيط علمه بجميع الكائنات ماضيها وحاضرها ومستقبلها، يعلم ما بين أيدي الخلائق من الأمور المستقبلة، وما خلفهم من الأمور الماضية، ولا يَطَّلعُ أحد من الخلق على شيء من علمه إلا بما أعلمه الله وأطلعه عليه. وسع كرسيه السموات والأرض، والكرسي: هو موضع قدمي الرب- جل جلاله- ولا يعلم كيفيته إلا الله سبحانه، ولا يثقله سبحانه حفظهما، وهو العلي بذاته وصفاته على جميع مخلوقاته، الجامع لجميع صفات العظمة والكبرياء. وهذه الآية أعظم آية في القرآن، وتسمى: آية الكرسي. ـ

Allah, the One besides Whom no one else deserves to be deified or worshiped.

He is al-Hayy – the Ever-Living – Who exemplifies every aspect of complete life in a manner befitting His majesty. He is the One presiding over everything. Continue reading

Taking Ayaat out of Context: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Badr

Towards the beginning of surah Aal ‘Imran Allah says:

هُوَ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ مِنْهُ آيَاتٌ مُّحْكَمَاتٌ هُنَّ أُمُّ الْكِتَابِ وَأُخَرُ مُتَشَابِهَاتٌ ۖ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ زَيْغٌ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ مَا تَشَابَهَ مِنْهُ ابْتِغَاءَ الْفِتْنَةِ وَابْتِغَاءَ تَأْوِيلِهِ ۗ وَمَا يَعْلَمُ تَأْوِيلَهُ إِلَّا اللَّـهُ ۗ وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ يَقُولُونَ آمَنَّا بِهِ كُلٌّ مِّنْ عِندِ رَبِّنَا ۗ وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلَّا أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ

It is He who revealed the Scripture to you. In it there are muhkam (clear) verses which are the foundation of the Book and others which are mutashabih (ambiguous). As for those in whose hearts is deviation, they follow the ambiguous parts of it, seeking fitnah and seeking distortion. But none knows its interpretation except Allah and those whose are firmly-grounded in knowledge. They say, “We believe in it. All of it is from our Lord.” And none will be reminded except for those of understanding. [3:7]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Badr, one of the contemporary scholars of al-Madinahdelivered the following important words while discussing this ayah in the midst of his explanation of the book Kashf al-Shubuhat:

ـ [وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ ] أي الراسخون في العلم يعلمون معناه. وطريقة الراسخين في العلم تجاه المتشابه أنهم يؤمنون به أنه من عند لله، ويردونه إلى المحكَم، على خلاف طريقة أهل الزيغ. ـ

وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ

… and those firmly grounded in knowledge [3:7]

meaning: those who are firmly grounded in knowledge also know its meaning. And the approach that those who are firmly grounded in knowledge take with respect to the mutashabih (ambiguous) verses is that they believe in them as being from Allah and they refer these verses back to the muhkam (clear and unambiguous) verses. This is in contrast to how the deviated people approach these verses.

قال : [وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ يَقُولُونَ آمَنَّا بِهِ كُلٌّ مِّنْ عِندِ رَبِّنَا] [كُلٌّ مِّنْ عِندِ رَبِّنَا] كله حق، وكله من لله، وليس في القرآن تناقض ولا اضطراب، [وَلَوْ كَانَ مِنْ عِندِ غَيْرِ اللَّـهِ لَوَجَدُوا فِيهِ اخْتِلَافًا كَثِيرًا ] ولا يستقيم الأمر للإنسان في هذا الباب إلا إذا كان على هذا النهج ؛ يرَُد المتشابه من آيِّ القرآن إلى المحكَم. أما إذا كان بمعزل عن آيات القرآم ودلالاته ، ويجتزئ من النصوص أشياء يشبه بها على الناس فهذه طريقة أهل الزيغ، مثل طريقة الجهمية الذين يقولون لله في كل مكان، يقرأون مستدلين على قولهم “إن لله في كل مكان”، بقوله تعالى: وهو معكم أين ما كنتم [الحديد: ٤]. وابن القيم رحمه لله يقول: ـ
يا قومنا ولله إنا لقولنا ألفاً تدلُّ عليه ؛ بل ألفان

Allah said:

وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ يَقُولُونَ آمَنَّا بِهِ كُلٌّ مِّنْ عِندِ رَبِّنَا

And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say, “We believe in it. All of it is from our Lord.” [3:7]

All of it is from our Lord” – all of it is the truth and all of it is from Allah. There is no contradiction or disorder in the Qur’an.

وَلَوْ كَانَ مِنْ عِندِ غَيْرِ اللَّـهِ لَوَجَدُوا فِيهِ اخْتِلَافًا كَثِيرًا

Had it been from anyone other than Allah they would have found much contradiction within it. [4:82] Continue reading

Guidance for Interpreting the Qur’an in Surah Aal ‘Imran: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In the beginning of surah Aal ‘Imran, Allah says:

هُوَ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ مِنْهُ آيَاتٌ مُّحْكَمَاتٌ هُنَّ أُمُّ الْكِتَابِ وَأُخَرُ مُتَشَابِهَاتٌ ۖ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ زَيْغٌ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ مَا تَشَابَهَ مِنْهُ ابْتِغَاءَ الْفِتْنَةِ وَابْتِغَاءَ تَأْوِيلِهِ ۗ وَمَا يَعْلَمُ تَأْوِيلَهُ إِلَّا اللَّـهُ ۗ وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ يَقُولُونَ آمَنَّا بِهِ كُلٌّ مِّنْ عِندِ رَبِّنَا ۗ وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلَّا أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ * رَبَّنَا لَا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا وَهَبْ لَنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْوَهَّابُ * رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ جَامِعُ النَّاسِ لِيَوْمٍ لَّا رَيْبَ فِيهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يُخْلِفُ الْمِيعَادَ

It is He who revealed the Scripture to you. In it there are muhkam verses which are the Umm al-Kitab and others which are ambiguous. As for those in whose hearts is deviation, they follow the ambiguous parts of it, seeking fitnah and seeking distortion. But none knows its interpretation except Allah and those whose are firmly-grounded in knowledge. They say, “We believe in it. All of it is from our Lord.” And none will be reminded except for those of understanding.

“O our Lord, do not let our hearts deviate after You have guided us! And grant us from Yourself mercy. Indeed, You are the Bestower.

Our Lord, surely You will gather the people for a Day about which there is no doubt. Indeed, Allah does not fail in His promise.” [3:7-9]

In his famous book of tafsir, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir dedicated considerable space to explaining these ayaat. For the sake of clarity and brevity, we have used sheikh Muhammad Moosaa Nasr’s abridgement of Tafsir ibn Kathir in order to present a more streamlined explanation:

يخبر تعالى أن في القرآن آيات محكمات هن أم الكتاب ، أي : بينات واضحات الدلالة ، لا التباس فيها على أحد من الناس ، ومنه آيات أخر فيها اشتباه في الدلالة على كثير من الناس أو بعضهم ، فمن رد ما اشتبه عليه إلى الواضح منه ، وحكم محكمه على متشابهه عنده ، فقد اهتدى . ومن عكس انعكس ، ولهذا قال تعالى : ( هو الذي أنزل عليك الكتاب منه آيات محكمات هن أم الكتاب ) أي : أصله [ ص: 7 ] الذي يرجع إليه عند الاشتباه ( وأخر متشابهات ) أي : تحتمل دلالتها موافقة المحكم ، وقد تحتمل شيئا آخر من حيث اللفظ والتركيب ، لا من حيث المراد . ـ

Allah is informing us that in this Qur’an there are:

  1. Muhkam verses which are the heart of the Book – i.e. verses whose message is plain and clear, such that no one would have any confusion about them
  2. Other verses whose message is somewhat ambiguous to some or many of the people

So whoever refers those confusing passages back to the clear ones and makes the clear parts a judge over the those he finds to be ambiguous will be rightly guided. And whoever does the opposite will have the opposite result. That is why Allah said: Continue reading

An “Amazing Connection” in the Story of Zakariyyah: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In surah Aali ‘Imran, Allah tells us the story of Zakariyyah, including his du’a to have a son, his amazement at the promise of the fulfillment of this du’a despite his old age and his wife being barren, and his request to have a sign confirming this amazing promise. Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di wrote in his commentary of ayah 3:41:

ـ{ رب اجعل لي آية } أي: علامة على وجود الولد قال { آيتك ألا تكلم الناس ثلاثة أيام إلا رمزًا } أي: ينحبس لسانك عن كلامهم من غير آفة ولا سوء، فلا تقدر إلا على الإشارة والرمز

رَبِّ اجْعَل لِّي آيَةً

[Zakariyyah said] “Lord, make a sign for me”

meaning: a sign of the presence of a son. He replied

آيَتُكَ أَلَّا تُكَلِّمَ النَّاسَ ثَلَاثَةَ أَيَّامٍ إِلَّا رَمْزًا

“your sign is that you will not speak to the people for three days, except by gestures”

meaning: your tongue will be restrained from speaking to them but not due to any disease or malady. So you will not be able to communicate except by way of pointing and gesturing. Continue reading

The First Innovation: Tafsir ibn Kathir

The famous scholar al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir was especially well-known for his skills in the fields of hadeeth, tafsir, and history, with his honorific title of “al-haafidh” indicating his high status in the first of these fields and his two most famous works being in the latter areas. In the following brief excerpt from his tafsir of surah Aal ‘Imran, ibn Kathir combines all three of these knowledge areas:

وقال الإمام أحمد : حدثنا أبو كامل ، حدثنا حماد ، عن أبي غالب قال : سمعت أبا أمامة يحدث ، عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم في قوله : ( فأما الذين في قلوبهم زيغ فيتبعون ما تشابه منه ) قال : ” هم الخوارج ” ، وفي قوله : ( يوم تبيض وجوه وتسود وجوه ) . [ آل عمران : 106 ] قال : ” هم الخوارج ” . وقد رواه ابن مردويه من غير وجه ، عن أبي غالب ، عن أبي أمامة مرفوعا ، فذكره . ـ

Imam Ahmad said: Abu Kaamil told me that Hammaad told him that Abu Ghaalib said: I heard Abu ‘Umamah say that the Prophet (ﷺ) spoke about Allah’s statement:

فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ زَيْغٌ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ مَا تَشَابَهَ مِنْهُ

But as for those in whose hearts is deviation, then they follow those parts of the Qur’an which are ambiguous [3:7]

by saying, “They are the Khawaarij.” And also regarding Allah’s statement:

يَوْمَ تَبْيَضُّ وُجُوهٌ وَتَسْوَدُّ وُجُوهٌ

On the Day when some faces will become white and some faces will become black [3:106]

he said, “they [i.e. the latter group] are the Khawaarij“.

And ibn Mardawayh also transmitted this from more than one route from Abu Umamah by way of Abu Ghaalib as a narration attributed to the Prophet (ﷺ). Continue reading

“You will never attain al-Birr until…” : Tafsir al-Sa’di

At the end of the third juz’ of the Qur’an, Allah informs the believers:

لَن تَنَالُوا الْبِرَّ‌ حَتَّىٰ تُنفِقُوا مِمَّا تُحِبُّونَ ۚ وَمَا تُنفِقُوا مِن شَيْءٍ فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ بِهِ عَلِيمٌ

By no means shall you attain Al-Birr until you spend of that which you love; and whatever of good you spend, Allah knows it well. [3:92]

Commenting on this ayah, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote:

هذا حث من الله لعباده على الإنفاق في طرق الخيرات، فقال { لن تنالوا } أي: تدركوا وتبلغوا البر الذي هو كل خير من أنواع الطاعات وأنواع المثوبات الموصل لصاحبه إلى الجنة، { حتى تنفقوا مما تحبون } أي: من أموالكم النفيسة التي تحبها نفوسكم، فإنكم إذا قدمتم محبة الله على محبة الأموال فبذلتموها في مرضاته، دل ذلك على إيمانكم الصادق وبر قلوبكم ويقين تقواكم، فيدخل في ذلك إنفاق نفائس الأموال، والإنفاق في حال حاجة المنفق إلى ما أنفقه، والإنفاق في حال الصحة، ـ

This is an incitement from Allah to His slaves to spend in the paths of goodness, for He said:

لَن تَنَالُوا

By no means shall you attain …

meaning: to reach or achieve

الْبِرَّ‌

al-birr

which is every form of goodness from the various acts of obedience and the various rewards which conduct their doer unto al-Jannah. Continue reading

Who knows the Ta’weel? : Imam al-Sa’di

The following questions and answer was found in a collection of sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di’s written works:

س – أي قولين أصح في قوله تعالى : [وَمَا يَعْلَمُ تَأْوِيلَهُ إِلَّا اللَّـهُ ۗ وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ يَقُولُونَ آمَنَّا بِهِ] (آل عمران 7) ؟ ـ

Question: Which of the two opinions is more correct regarding Allah’s statement:

وَمَا يَعْلَمُ تَأْوِيلَهُ إِلَّا اللَّـهُ ۗ وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ يَقُولُونَ آمَنَّا بِهِ

And no one knows its ta’weel except Allah. And those firm in knowledge say, “We believe in it.” [3:7]

جـ – التأويل يطلق بمعنى التفسير والعلم به ، ويطلق بمعنى بيان الحقيقة التي يئول إليها الأمر . ـ

Response: The word ta’weel can be used to mean tafsir – “explanation” – and knowledge of a thing’s explanation, and it can also be used to mean the clarification of the ultimate reality of an issue.

فإن كان الاول ، فيكون قوله : [وَالرَّاسِخُونَ ] معطوفا على قوله : [إِلَّا اللَّـهُ] وعلى هذا فإن معناه أن المتشابه هو ضد المحكم ، وهو الذي فيه احتمالات ، فالراسخون في العلم يفهمونه ويرجعونه إلى المحكم ، فالنص الصريح يقضي على النص الذي فيه عدة احتمالات . ـ

In the first scenario, Allah’s statement, “and those firm in knowledge” is connected to His statement, “except Allah“. So according to this, the meaning of the ayah is that the mutashaabih (ambiguous verses) are the opposite of the muhkam (clear verses), meanings that they carry more than one possible interpretation. So those who are firm in knowledge understand the mutashaabih verses and refer them back to the muhkam verses, for the explicit texts act as a judge presiding over those texts which offer a number of different interpretations. Continue reading