Points of Contrast Between Surah al-Falaq and Surah al-Nas

One of the valuable books of Badr al-Deen ibn Jamaa’ah (d. 733AH) was Kashf al-Ma’aani fee al-Mutashaabih min al-Mathaani, which focused on providing explanations for the slight differences in otherwise similar ayaat. In his discussion of surah al-Nas, ibn Jamaa’ah included the following notes:

مسألة: قوله تعالى: (بِرَبِّ النَّاسِ * مَلِكِ النَّاسِ * إِلَهِ النَّاسِ ) إلى آخر السورة. المستعان به في هذه ثلاث صفات، والمستعاذ منه شر واحد وهو: الوسوسة. وفى سورة الفلق: المستعاذ به بصفة واحدة، والمستعاذ منه أربعة أشياء؟ . ـ

Question: Allah’s statement:

بِرَبِّ النَّاسِ * مَلِكِ النَّاسِ * إِلَـٰهِ النَّاسِ

… in the Lord of mankind * the Master of mankind * the God of mankind [114:1-3]

until the end of the surah.

Here, there are three characteristics through which aid is sought and one evil against which protection is sought, which is the whispering of the shaytaan. But in surah al-Falaq, it is only one characteristic through which protection is sought but four things against which protection is sought. What is the significance of this? Continue reading

Gentle Speech in the Qur’an: ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar ibn al-Qayyim wrote the following beautiful words regarding some qualities of the da’wah of the Prophets and the language found in the Qur’an:

كثير من الناس يطلب من صاحبه بعد نيله درجة الرياسة الأخلاق التي كان يعامله بها قبل الرياسة فلا يصادفها فينتقض ما بينهما من المودة وهذا من جهل الصاحب الطالب للعادة وهو بمنزلة من يطلب من صاحبه إذا سكر أخلاق الصاحي وذلك غلط فإن الرياسه سكرة كسكرة الخمر أو أشد ولو لم يكن للرياسة سكرة لما اختارها صاحبها على الآخرة الدائمة الباقية فسكرتها فوق سكرة القهوة بكثير ومحال أن يرى من السكران أخلاق الصاحي وطبعه

Many people would like it if a friend of theirs who has reached some level of leadership would treat them the same way that he used to before becoming a leader; however the friend will not agree and this leads to a break in the affection between them. But this is a result of the first person’s ignorance of reality. What he did is like if he were to ask a friend to behave the same way drunk as when he was sober. This is a mistake. Leadership is an intoxication, just like the intoxication of alcohol, or perhaps even stronger. For if leadership were not intoxicating, then no one would choose and prioritize it over the everlasting and eternal hereafter. Its intoxicating effect is much stronger than that of coffee. And it is impossible for a drunken person to exhibit the same behavior or character as a you would see from a sober person.

ولهذا أمر الله تعالى أكرم خلقه عليه بمخاطبة رئيس القبط بالخطاب اللين فمخاطبة الرؤساء بالقول اللين أمر مطلوب شرعا وعقلا وعرفا ولذلك تجد الناس كالمفطورين عليه وهكذا كان النبي رؤساء العشائر والقبائل وتأمل امتثال موسى لما أمر به كيف قال لفرعون هل لك إلى أن تزكى وأهديك إلى ربك فتخشى فأخرج الكلام معه مجرج السؤال والعرض لا مخرج الأمر وقال إلى أن تزكى ولم يقل إلى أن أزكيك فنسب الفعل إليه هو وذكر لفظ التزكي دون غيره لما فيه من البركة والخير والنماء ثم قال وأهديك إلى ربك أكون كالدليل بين يديك الذي يسير أمامك وقال الى ربك استدعاء لأيمانه بربه الذي خلقه ورزقه ورباه بنعمه صغيرا ويافعا وكبيرا ـ

It is for these reasons that Allah commanded one of his most honorable created beings to address the leader of the Egyptians with gentle speech. Addressing those in leadership positions with gentle speech is a positive thing according to the sharee’ah, according to reason, and according to custom. Because of that, you find that people are naturally inclined to do so. And that was how the Prophet behaved towards the leaders of the different tribes and clans. Consider the example of Moosaa when he received this command, look at how he addressed Fir’awn: Continue reading

Reconciling Differing Reports About Whether a Surah is Makki or Madani

While most surahs of the Qur’an are unanimously categorized as either Makki or Madani, there have been differing reports and opinions about the proper classification of a small group of twelve surahs. Some of these differences stem from differences in terminology, instances of repeated revelation, Madani ayaat being included in an otherwise Makki surah, or other reasons. In the article below, sheikh Muhammad al-Tahir ibn ‘Aashoor discusses the differing classifications of surah al-Mutaffifeen (83) and demonstrates how to understand the differing reports and come to a conclusion. Being one of the famous mufassiroon of recent centuries, Ibn ‘Aashoor (d. 1393AH/1973CE) had the benefit of drawing on the wealth of tafsir literature before him, as is evident in this passage and his entire book:

وقد اختلف في كونها مكية أو مدنية أو بعضها مكي وبعضها مدني . فعن ابن مسعود والضحاك ومقاتل في رواية عنه : أنها مكية ، وعن ابن عباس في الأصح عنه وعكرمة والحسن والسدي ومقاتل في رواية أخرى عنه : أنها مدنية ، قال : وهي أول سورة نزلت بالمدينة ، وعن ابن عباس في رواية عنه وقتادة : هي مدنية إلا ثماني آيات من آخرها من قوله : إن الذين أجرموا إلى آخرها . ـ

The scholars have differed as to whether surah al-Mutaffifeen (83) is

a. Makki
b. Madani
c. Part Makki and part Madani

It has been relayed that ibn Mas’ood, al-Dhahhaak and in one narration Muqatil held it to be Makki, while it is transmitted from ibn ‘Abbaas according to the most authentic narration from him,’Ikrimah, al-Hasan, al-Suddi and Muqatil in a different narration that they held it to be Madani. And Muqatil said, “It was the first surah to be revealed in al-Madinah.” It has also been relayed in one narration from ibn ‘Abbaas as well as from Qatadah that it is a Madani surah except for the last eight ayaat beginning from Allah’s statement: Continue reading

The Link Between Seeking Forgiveness and Receiving Aid: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

One of the many sciences of the Qur’an is the study of its munasabat, meaning the links and connections between one ayah and the next, or one passage of ayaat and the next, or between one surah and the next, or between the beginning or a surah and its conclusion, and so on. In a short work devoted to this topic, Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool mentioned the following benefit related to surah al-Nasr:

سورة النصر : أولها ذكر النصر والفتح قال تبارك وتعالى : (إِذَا جَاءَ نَصْرُ اللَّـهِ وَالْفَتْحُ) وآخرها ذكر التوبة والاستغفار ، قال تبارك وتعالى : ( فَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ وَاسْتَغْفِرْهُ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ تَوَّابًا) ، والتوبة والاستغفار هي طريق النصر والفتح ، قال تبارك وتعالى : (يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن تَنصُرُوا اللَّـهَ يَنصُرْكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَكُمْ) {محمد 7}ـ

Surah al-Nasr

In its beginning Allah mentioned aid and victory, saying:

إِذَا جَاءَ نَصْرُ اللَّـهِ وَالْفَتْحُ

When the aid and victory of Allah has come … [110:1]

And in its end Allah mentioned repentance and seeking forgiveness, saying:

فَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ وَاسْتَغْفِرْهُ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ تَوَّابًا

Then make exaltation with the praise of your Lord and ask Him for forgiveness. Indeed, He is ever Accepting of repentance. [110:3]

And making repentance and seeking forgiveness is the route that leads to aid and victory. Allah said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن تَنصُرُوا اللَّـهَ يَنصُرْكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَكُمْ

O you who have believed, if you support Allah, He will support you and make your feet firm [47:7]

[‘Ilm al-Munasabat fee al-Suwar w’al-Ayaat pg. 193]

Continue reading

The Last Parts of the Qur’an to be Revealed: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

Imam al-Qurtubi concludes his explanation of surah al-Nasr [110] with the following narration:

وقال ابن عمر : نزلت هذه السورة بمنى في حجة الوداع ؛ ثم نزلت اليوم أكملت لكم دينكم وأتممت عليكم نعمتي [ ص: 208 ] فعاش بعدهما النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – ثمانين يوما . ثم نزلت آية الكلالة ، فعاش بعدها خمسين يوما . ثم نزل لقد جاءكم رسول من أنفسكم فعاش بعدها خمسة وثلاثين يوما . ثم نزل واتقوا يوما ترجعون فيه إلى الله فعاش بعدها أحدا وعشرين يوما . وقال مقاتل سبعة أيام . وقيل غير هذا مما تقدم في ( البقرة ) بيانه والحمد لله . ـ

Ibn ‘Umar said:

This surah [surah al-Nasr – 110] was revealed at Mina during the Farewell Pilgrimage, and then

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي

your religion and completed My favor upon you … [5:3]

The Prophet lived for 80 days after that. The ayah of al-Kalalah [4:176] was revealed next and the Prophet remained alive for fifty days after that. The ayah

لَقَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولٌ مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ عَزِيزٌ عَلَيْهِ مَا عَنِتُّمْ حَرِيصٌ عَلَيْكُم بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ

There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is what you suffer; he is concerned over you and to the believers is kind and merciful. [9:128]

was the next to be revealed and he remained alive for 35 days after that. Then Continue reading

The Wisdom in Reciting Surah al-‘Aalaa and al-Ghaashiyah in the Friday Prayer: Sheikh al-Fawzan

In his response to a question posed about surah al-‘Aalaa [87], sheikh Saalih al-Fawzaan mentioned the following point of benefit:

شرع الله قِرَاءة (سَبِّحْ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ الأَعْلَى) و(هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ الْغَاشِيَةِ) في صلاة الجُمعة لأن في هاتين السورتين تذكيرًا للناس، وتنبيهًا للناس على ما أمامهم من الحِسابِ والجزاءِ والبعثِ والنُشور، ليستعدوا لذلك ولا يَنْسَاقوا مع الحياة الدُنيا وإنما ينتبهُون لآخرتهم ويستعدون لما أمامهم من الدار الباقية وعدم الانشغال بالدار الفانية وهذا مِن فضل الله علينا وعلى الناس أن الله يُنبِهُنا بما فيهِ خيرنا وصلاحنا وينهانا عما يضرنا هذا من رحمتهِ بنا وإحسانه إلينا فلهُ الحمد والمِنة وَصَلَّى الله وَسَلَمَ عَلَى نَبِينَا مُحَمد وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ أَجْمَعِين .ـ

Allah legislated reciting surah al-‘Aalaa [87] along with surah al-Ghaashiyah [88] in the Friday prayer because these two surahs contain a reminder for the people and alert them to what lies ahead of them – that is, that they will be taken to account and recompensed for their deeds, and that they will be brought forth from the graves and raised up – in order that they might prepare themselves for it and not get carried away with this worldly life. All of this is so that they would be mindful of their hereafter and prepare for what lies ahead of them in that enduring life ahead, and so that they will not be distracted and busied by this current passing life. Continue reading

“Allah commanded me to recite to you”: Sharh al-Nawawi

It is reported in both al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Qatadah that Anas ibn Malik said:

عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ لأُبَىٍّ ‏”‏ إِنَّ اللَّهَ أَمَرَنِي أَنْ أَقْرَأَ عَلَيْكَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ آللَّهُ سَمَّانِي لَكَ قَالَ ‏”‏ اللَّهُ سَمَّاكَ لِي ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ فَجَعَلَ أُبَىٌّ يَبْكِي ‏.‏

The Prophet said to Ubay, “Allah has commanded me to recite to you.” Ubay said, “Did Allah mention me by name to you?” The Prophet replied, “Allah mentioned you by name to me.” Anas said: That caused Ubay to cry.

[Muslim #799]

And in the narration of al-Bukhari, there is an addition to the end of the hadith from one of the subnarrators:

قَالَ قَتَادَةُ فَأُنْبِئْتُ أَنَّهُ قَرَأَ عَلَيْهِ ‏{‏لَمْ يَكُنِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ‏}

Qatadah said: I was told that the Prophet recited surah al-Bayyinah (97) to him.

[al-Bukhari #4960]

In his commentary on Saheeh Muslim, Imam Abu Zakariyyah Yahya al-Nawawi mentioned the following commentary on this hadith:

وفي الحديث فوائد كثيرة . منها : استحباب قراءة القرآن على الحذاق فيه وأهل العلم به والفضل ، وإن كان القارئ أفضل من المقروء عليه ، ومنها : المنقبة الشريفة لأبي بقراءة النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – عليه ، ولا يعلم أحد من الناس شاركه في هذا ، ومنها : منقبة أخرى له بذكر الله تعالى له ، ونصه عليه في هذه المنزلة الرفيعة ، ومنها : البكاء للسرور والفرح مما يبشر الإنسان به ويعطاه من معالي الأمور . ـ

There are a number of benefits to be found in this hadith.

One benefit is the encouragement to recite the Qur’an to someone who is skilled in it, a person of knowledge and virtue. That is the case even if the one reciting is more virtuous than the one to whom he is reciting. Continue reading

Zakah al-Fitr in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Baghawi

In the midst of surah al-‘Aalaa, Allah informs us:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن تَزَكَّىٰ * وَذَكَرَ اسْمَ رَبِّهِ فَصَلَّىٰ

He has certainly succeeded – he who tazakkaa * and mentions the name of his Lord and prays [87:14-15]

The word tazakkaa refers to purification, either purification of one’s self (such as in the related term tazkiyyah al-nafs) or purification of one’s wealth (such as in the related term zakah). In his commentary on these ayaat, the famous mufassir Abu Muhammad al-Husayn al-Baghawi wrote:

ـ ( قد أفلح من تزكى ) تطهر من الشرك وقال : لا إله إلا الله . هذا قول عطاء وعكرمة ، ورواية الوالبي وسعيد بن جبير عن ابن عباس وقال الحسن : من كان عمله زاكيا . ـ

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن تَزَكَّىٰ

He has certainly succeeded – he who tazakkaa

who purifies himself from al-shirk and says laa ilaaha illallaah – there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah. This was the explanation of ‘Ataa’ and ‘Ikrimah, as well as being relayed from ibn ‘Abbaas by way of al-Waalibi and Sa’eed ibn Jubayr.

al-Hasan al-Basri explained it by saying, “Whoever’s actions are pure.”

وقال آخرون : هو صدقة الفطر ، روي عن أبي سعيد الخدري في قوله : ” قد أفلح من تزكى ” قال : أعطى صدقة الفطر . ـ

Meanwhile others say that this is referring to the zakah al-fitr. It is relayed from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri regarding this ayah that he explained it by saying, “[He has certainly succeeded – he who] gives the zakah al-fitr.” Continue reading

Supplication in Ramadan: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In part of his explanation of surah al-Qadr, al-Haafidh ibn Kathir mentioned the following:

والمستحب الإكثار من الدعاء في جميع الأوقات ، وفي شهر رمضان أكثر ، وفي العشر الأخير منه ، ثم في أوتاره أكثر . والمستحب أن يكثر من هذا الدعاء : ” اللهم ، إنك عفو تحب العفو ، فاعف عني ” ; لما رواه الإمام أحمد : حدثنا يزيد – هو ابن هارون – ، حدثنا الجريري – وهو سعيد بن إياس – ، عن عبد الله بن بريدة ، أن عائشة قالت : يا رسول الله ، إن وافقت ليلة القدر فما أدعو ؟ قال : ” قولي : اللهم إنك عفو تحب العفو ، فاعف عني ” .ـ

It is encouraged to engage in an abundance of supplication during all times, and to increase beyond that during the month of Ramadan, and then to increase therein during its last ten days, and then to increase even further in the odd-numbered ones.

And it is encouraged to be prolific in making the following supplication:

 اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي

Allaahumma innaka ‘Afuwwun

tuhibbu’l-‘afwa

f’afu ‘anee

O Allah, Indeed You are Pardoning and love pardoning, so pardon me! Continue reading

A Reward Without Interruption: Tafsir al-Tabari

Allah says in surah al-Tin:

لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ فِي أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ * ثُمَّ رَدَدْنَاهُ أَسْفَلَ سَافِلِينَ * إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فَلَهُمْ أَجْرٌ غَيْرُ مَمْنُونٍ

We have certainly created man in the best form * then we return him to the lowest of the low * Except for those who believe and do righteous good deeds – for them there is a reward without interruption [95:4-6]

The great mufassir Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari discussed these ayaat at length. What follows is one section of that discussion:

حدثنا ابن حميد ، قال : ثنا حكام ، عن سعيد بن سابق ، عن عاصم الأحول ، [ ص: 511 ] عن عكرمة ، قال : من قرأ القرآن لم يرد إلى أرذل العمر ، ثم قرأ : ( لقد خلقنا الإنسان في أحسن تقويم ثم رددناه أسفل سافلين إلا الذين آمنوا وعملوا الصالحات ) قال : لا يكون حتى لا يعلم من بعد علم شيئا . ـ

… ‘Ikrimah said, “Whoever recites the Qur’an will not be sent reverted back into the lowliest age,” and then he recited:

لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ فِي أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ * ثُمَّ رَدَدْنَاهُ أَسْفَلَ سَافِلِينَ * إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ

We have certainly created man in the best form * then we return him to the lowest of the low * Except for those who believe and do righteous good deeds

and he said, “It won’t happen that he is reverted back to not knowing anything that he had known before.”

فعلى هذا التأويل قوله : ( ثم رددناه أسفل سافلين ) لخاص من الناس غير داخل فيهم الذين آمنوا وعملوا الصالحات ؛ لأنه مستثنى منهم . ـ

So according to this interpretation, then the ayah: Continue reading