Links Between the Beginnings and Ends of Surahs: al-Suyooti

In part of his chapter on the munasabat [connections and links between ayaat and surahs] in his famous handbook on the Qur’anic sciences, Imam al-Suyooti mentioned the following:

من هذا النوع مناسبة فواتح السور وخواتمها ، وقد أفردت فيه جزءا لطيفا سميته مراصد المطالع في تناسب المقاطع والمطالع . ـ

Another type of munasabat are those between the beginning of a surah and its conclusion. I have written a work specifically focused on this category of munasabat entitled Maraasid al-Mataali’ fee Tanaasub al-Maqaati’ w’al-Mataali’.

وانظر إلى سورة القصص كيف بدئت بأمر موسى ونصرته ، وقوله فلن أكون ظهيرا للمجرمين [ القصص : 17 ] . وخروجه من وطنه ، وختمت بأمر النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم بأن لا يكون ظهيرا للكافرين ، وتسليته عن إخراجه من مكة ، ووعده بالعود إليها لقوله في أول السورة إنا رادوه [ القصص : 7 ] . ـ

Consider how surah al-Qasas begins with with the story of Moosaa, his helping the man in the market, his statement:

فَلَنْ أَكُونَ ظَهِيرًا لِّلْمُجْرِمِينَ

So I will never again be a helper to the criminal wrong-doers [28:17]

and his leaving his homeland. Then it ends with commanding the Prophet to not be a helper to the disbelievers and giving him some consolation for his leaving Mecca. And Allah also gives him a promise that he will return to Mecca in His statement:

إِنَّا رَادُّوهُ

… Indeed, We shall bring him back … [28:7]

قال الزمخشري : وقد جعل الله فاتحة سورة قد أفلح المؤمنون وأورد في خاتمتها إنه لا يفلح الكافرون [ المؤمنون : 117 ] . فشتان ما بين الفاتحة والخاتمة . ـ

al-Zamakhshari said: Allah placed Continue reading

Three Parables in Surah al-Tahreem: ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim mentioned the following in part of his discussion of the parables of the Qur’an:

ومنها قوله تعالى ضرب الله مثلا للذين كفروا امرأة نوح وامرأة لوط كانتا تحت عبدين من عبادنا صالحين فخانتاهما فلم يغنيا عنهما من الله شيئا وقيل ادخلا النار مع الداخلين وضرب الله مثلا للذين آمنوا امرأة فرعون إذا قالت رب ابن لي عندك بيتا في الجنة ونجني من فرعون وعمله ونجني من القوم الظالمين ومريم ابنة عمران التي أحصنت فرجها فنفخنا فيه من روحنا وصدقت بكلمات ربها وكتبه وكانت من القانتين

Another example is Allah’s statement:

‏ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا اِمْرَأَةَ نُوحٍ وَامْرَأَةَ لُوطٍ كَانَتَا تَحْتَ عَبْدَيْنِ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا صَالِحَيْنِ فَخَانَتَاهُمَا فَلَمْ يُغْنِيَا عَنْهُمَا مِنَ اللَّهِ شَيْئًا وَقِيلَ ادْخُلَا النَّارَ مَعَ الدَّاخِلِينَ

Allah presents an example of those who disbelieved: the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut. They were under two of Our righteous servants but betrayed them, so those prophets did not avail them from Allah at all, and it was said, “Enter the Fire with those who enter.”

وَضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اِمْرَأَةَ فِرْعَوْنَ إِذْ قَالَتْ رَبِّ ابْنِ لِي عِنْدَكَ بَيْتًا فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَنَجِّنِي مِنْ فِرْعَوْنَ وَعَمَلِهِ وَنَجِّنِي مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ

And Allah presents an example of those who believed: the wife of Fir’awn, when she said, “My Lord, build for me near You a house in Paradise and save me from Fir’awn and his deeds and save me from the wrongdoing people.”

وَمَرْيَمَ ابْنَتَ عِمْرَانَ الَّتِي أَحْصَنَتْ فَرْجَهَا فَنَفَخْنَا فِيهِ مِنْ رُوحِنَا وَصَدَّقَتْ بِكَلِمَاتِ رَبِّهَا وَكُتُبِهِ وَكَانَتْ مِنَ الْقَانِتِينَ

And [the example of] Maryam, the daughter of ‘Imran, who guarded her chastity, so We breathed into her Our Ruh, and she testified to the truth of the Words of her Lord, and His Scriptures, and she was of the devoutly obedient. [66:10-12]

فاشتملت هذه الآيات على ثلاثة أمثال مثل للكفار ومثلين للمؤمنين فتضمن مثل الكفار أن الكافر يعاقب على كفره وعداوته لله ورسوله وأوليائه ولا ينفعه مع كفره ما كان بينه وبين المؤمنين من لحمة نسب أو صلة صهر أو سبب من أسباب الاتصال فإن الأسباب كلها تنقطع يوم القيامة إلا ما كان منها متصلا بالله وحده على أيدي رسله فلو نفعت وصلة القرابة والمصاهرة أو النكاح مع عدم الإيمان لنفعت الوصلة التي كانت بين لوط ونوح وامرأتيهما فلما لم يغنيا عنهما من الله شيئا قيل ادخلا النار مع الداخلين

These ayaat include three parables: one of the disbelievers and two of the believers.

The example of the disbelievers shows that a disbeliever will be punished for his disbelief and opposition to Allah, His Messenger and His allies, and that as long as this disbelief is present, no blood relations or family ties through marriage or any other kind of connection that one might have with the believers will have any benefit. All of these connections will be cut off on the Day of Resurrection, except for those which were connected to Allah alone by way of His Messengers. Continue reading

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

The Need for Safety and Security: Tafsir al-Shawkani

Allah recounts the following incident from the life of Ibrahim in surah al-Baqarah:

وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ رَبِّ اجْعَلْ هَـٰذَا بَلَدًا آمِنًا وَارْزُقْ أَهْلَهُ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ مَنْ آمَنَ مِنْهُم بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۖ قَالَ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَأُمَتِّعُهُ قَلِيلًا ثُمَّ أَضْطَرُّهُ إِلَىٰ عَذَابِ النَّارِ ۖ وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ

And when Ibrahim said, “O Lord make this city safe and secure, and provide its people with fruits – those of them who believe in Allah and the Last Day.” Allah said, “And those who disbelieve. I will grant him enjoyment for a short time and then I will force Him to the punishment of the Hellfire. What an awful end destination that it.” [2:126]

In his book of tafsir, Imam Muhammad al-Shawkaani commented on the first part of Ibrahim’s supplication by saying:

الْمُرَادُ بِالْبَلَدِ هُنَا مَكَّةُ : دَعَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ رَبَّهُ أَنْ يَجْعَلَهُ آمِنًا : أَيْ ذَا أَمْنٍ ، وَقَدَّمَ طَلَبَ الْأَمْنِ عَلَى سَائِرِ الْمَطَالِبِ الْمَذْكُورَةِ بَعْدَهُ ، لِأَنَّهُ إِذَا انْتَفَى الْأَمْنُ لَمْ يَفْرَغِ الْإِنْسَانُ لِشَيْءٍ آخَرَ مِنْ أُمُورِ الدِّينِ وَالدُّنْيَا

The city being referred to here is Mecca. Ibrahim supplicated to his Lord to make it safe and secure – meaning that it would have safety.

Ibrahim prioritized requesting this safety and security before all the other requests that he went on to make. That is because if there is no safety, people will not be able to attend to any other issues, neither religious nor worldly. 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

The Arrangement of the Stories in the Qur’an: Ibn Kathir

In his epic book of history, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel Ibn Kathir arranges some of his early chapters in an unexpected way, mentioning the story of Ibrahim with his people, then Lut, then Shu’ayb, and then returning to discuss the offspring of Ibrahim. He explains this arrangement in the book by writing:

قَدْ قَدَّمْنَا قِصَّتَهُ مَعَ قَوْمِهِ، وَمَا كَانَ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ، وَمَا آلَ إِلَيْهِ أَمْرُهُ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ وَالتَّحِيَّةُ وَالْإِكْرَامُ، وَذَكَرْنَا مَا وَقَعَ فِي زَمَانِهِ مِنْ قِصَّةِ قَوْمِ لُوطٍ، وَأَتْبَعْنَا ذَلِكَ بِقِصَّةِ مَدْيَنَ قَوْمِ شُعَيْبٍ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ؛ لِأَنَّهَا قَرِينَتُهَا فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ فِي مَوَاضِعَ مُتَعَدِّدَةٍ يَذْكُرُ تَعَالَى بَعْدَ قِصَّةِ قَوْمِ لُوطٍ قِصَّةَ مَدْيَنَ، وَهُمْ أَصْحَابُ الْأَيْكَةِ عَلَى الصَّحِيحِ، كَمَا قَدَّمْنَا فَذَكَرْنَاهَا تَبَعًا لَهَا اقْتِدَاءً بِالْقُرْآنِ الْعَظِيمِ، ثُمَّ نَشْرَعُ الْآنَ فِي الْكَلَامِ عَلَى تَفْصِيلِ ذُرِّيَّةِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ؛ لِأَنَّ اللَّهَ جَعَلَ فِي ذُرِّيَّتِهِ النُّبُوَّةَ وَالْكِتَابَ، فَكُلُّ نَبِيٍّ أُرْسِلَ بَعْدَهُ فَمِنْ وَلَدِهِ

We have already mentioned the story of Ibrahim and his people, how they were, and what happened to him. We have also mentioned the story of the people of Lut which took place during Ibrahim’s time. We then followed that up with the story of Madyan, the people of Shu’ayb. We did that because these stories are often mentioned together in Allah’s Book. In a number of places throughout the Qur’an, after finishing the story of the people of Lut Allah will then mention the story of Madyan, who are the Ashaab al-Aykah according to the correct opinion. So we also decided to mention the story of Madyan after the story of the people of Lut in order to follow the way of the Qur’an. Now we will proceed to speak in detail about the offspring of Ibrahim, as Allah placed prophethood and scripture with some of his offspring and every prophet who was sent after Ibrahim came from his lineage. Continue reading

Remarks on the Contents of Surah Taha: Ibn Taymiyah

In one of his many writings, Sheikh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyah mentioned the following:

سورة طه وقال شيخ الإسلام رحمه الله فصل ” سورة طه ” مضمونها تخفيف أمر القرآن وما أنزل الله تعالى من كتبه فهي ” سورة كتبه ” – كما أن مريم ” سورة عباده ورسله ” – افتتحها بقوله : { ما أنزلنا عليك القرآن لتشقى } . . إلى قوله : { تنزيلا ممن خلق الأرض والسماوات العلا } . ثم ذكر قصة موسى ونداء الله له ومناجاته إياه وتكليمه له وقصته من أبلغ أمر الرسل فلهذا ثنيت في القرآن ; لأنه حصل له الخطاب والكتاب وأرسل إلى فرعون الجاحد المرتاب المكذب للربوبية والرسالة وهذا أعظم الكافرين عنادا واستوفى القصة في هذه السورة إلى قوله : { رب زدني علما } ثم ذكر قصة آدم ; لأنها أول النبوات . ـ

The contents of Surah Taha include the ease of the Qur’an and what Allah has sent down in His Books, so it is “the Surah of His Books“, just as Surah Maryam was “the Surah of His servants and messengers”.

The surah opens with Allah’s statement:

مَا أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْقُرْآنَ لِتَشْقَىٰ * إِلَّا تَذْكِرَةً لِّمَن يَخْشَىٰ * تَنزِيلًا مِّمَّنْ خَلَقَ الْأَرْضَ وَالسَّمَاوَاتِ الْعُلَى

We have not sent the Qur’an down to you to cause you to be distressed * But only as a reminder to those who fear * It is a revelation from the One who created the earth and the high heavens [20:2-4]

Then He mentioned the story of Moosaa and Allah’s call to him, His private discussion with him, and His speaking to him.

The story of Moosaa is one of the most amazing things of any the messengers, which is why it is returned to so frequently throughout the Qur’an. For Moosaa was granted both direct speech from Allah as well as a scripture, and Allah sent him to Fir’awn, the incredulous disbelieving denier of both Allah’s lordship and of the fact that Allah sent messengers. He was the gravest of all the disbelievers in his obstinance. So this story occupies this surah until Allah’s statement: Continue reading

Surahs Recited on Friday and Their Themes: Ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim included a long section listing the merits of Friday in his wonderful and expansive biography of the Prophet. What follows is one of those points which discusses how the surahs that the Prophet recited on Fridays as well as the sermons that he gave fit with that day and its themes:

 الثالثة والثلاثون : إنه يوم اجتماع الناس وتذكيرهم بالمبدأ والمعاد ، وقد شرع الله سبحانه وتعالى لكل أمة في الأسبوع يوما يتفرغون فيه للعبادة ويجتمعون فيه لتذكر المبدأ والمعاد ، والثواب والعقاب ، ويتذكرون به اجتماعهم يوم الجمع الأكبر قياما بين يدي رب العالمين ، وكان أحق الأيام بهذا الغرض المطلوب اليوم الذي يجمع الله فيه الخلائق ، وذلك يوم الجمعة ، فادخره الله لهذه الأمة لفضلها وشرفها ، فشرع اجتماعهم في هذا اليوم لطاعته ، وقدر اجتماعهم فيه مع الأمم لنيل كرامته ، فهو يوم الاجتماع شرعا في الدنيا ، وقدرا في الآخرة ، وفي مقدار انتصافه وقت الخطبة والصلاة يكون أهل الجنة في منازلهم ، وأهل النار في منازلهم ، كما ثبت عن ابن مسعود من غير وجه أنه قال : ( لا ينتصف النهار يوم القيامة حتى يقيل أهل الجنة في منازلهم وأهل النار في منازلهم وقرأ : ( أصحاب الجنة يومئذ خير مستقرا وأحسن مقيلا ) ) [ الفرقان : 24 ] وقرأ : ( ثم إن مقيلهم لإلى الجحيم ) ، وكذلك هي في قراءته . ـ

Point 33: That Friday is the day on which the people come together and are reminded of their origins and their ultimate return to Allah. Allah had legislated a day of the week for each ummah to dedicate to worship and to gather together to remember their origins, their ultimate return to Allah, and the reward and punishment. Through this, they are reminded of their gathering together on the greatest day of gathering together when they will be standing in front of Lord of all creation. And the most fitting day for this purpose is the day on which Allah will gather the created beings all together, which is the day of Jumu’ah.

Allah saved this day for this ummah due to its merits and virtue and so He legislated that the people should gather together on it for the purpose of obeying Him. Furthermore, He also decreed that it would be a Friday that they, as well as the other nations, will be gathered up to receive His grace [i.e. that the Day of Judgement will be on a Friday]. So it is a day of legislated gathering in the life of this world as well as the day of divinely-decreed gathering in the next life.

And by the midpoint of that Day in the hereafter – equivalent to the time of the khutbah and prayer during the worldly life – the people of Jannah will be in their final places and the people of the Hellfire will be in their final places. This is as has been authentically transmitted from ibn Mas’ood via multiple routes of transmission, who said, “It will not reach the midpoint of the day of the Day of Judgement before the people of Jannah take their mid-day nap in their ultimate dwelling places and the people of the Hellfire are in their final dwelling places” and then he recited: 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]

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The Arrangement of the First Five Surahs of the Qur’an: al-Suyooti

In part of his discussion the munasabat – the connections between ayaat and surahs – in his famous handbook on the Qur’anic sciences, Imam Jalal al-Deen al-Suyooti included the following passage. It mentions the links between the first five surahs of the Qur’an as well as some of the main themes found in each:

ـ [ ص: 226 ] قال بعض الأئمة : وسورة الفاتحة تضمنت الإقرار بالربوبية والالتجاء إليه في دين الإسلام ، والصيانة عن دين اليهودية والنصرانية . ـ

○ Some scholars have said: Surah al-Fatihah is comprised of 1) affirming Allah’s lordship, 2) seeking refuge with Him in the religion of Islam, and 3) protection against the Jewish and Christian religions.*

وسورة البقرة : تضمنت قواعد الدين . ـ

Surah al-Baqarah is comprised of the foundations of this religion.

وآل عمران : مكملة لمقصودها ، فالبقرة بمنزلة إقامة الدليل على الحكم وآل عمران بمنزلة الجواب عن شبهات الخصوم ، ولهذا ورد فيها ذكر المتشابه لما تمسك به النصارى ، وأوجب الحج في آل عمران ، وأما في البقرة فذكر أنه مشروع وأمر بإتمامه بعد الشروع فيه . ـ

○ Aal ‘Imran is the completion of al-Baqarah‘s aim. al-Baqarah was like the a presentation of the evidence for a ruling while Aal ‘Imran is like a response to the doubts brought up by a contentious listener. It is for this reason that Aal ‘Imran mentioned many doubtful matters that the Christians cling to. Also, the Hajj was made mandatory in Aal ‘Imran [c.f. 3:97] while in al-Baqarah it was only mentioned as being legislated. So He commanded them to perform it in a complete way after they had embarked upon it. Continue reading