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

Advertisements

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]

Continue reading

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

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

Craving Wealth and Rulership: ibn Taymiyah

In one of his many writings, sheikh al-Islam ibn Taymiyah made the following insightful comments:

لا ريب أن الحرص والرغبة في الحياة الدنيا وفي الدار الدنيا من المال والسلطان مضر كما روى الترمذي عن كعب بن مالك قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ” { ما ذئبان جائعان أرسلا في زريبة غنم بأفسد لها من حرص المرء على المال والشرف لدينه } ” قال الترمذي حديث حسن صحيح . فذم النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم الحرص [ ص: 143 ] على المال والشرف وهو الرياسة والسلطان وأخبر أن ذلك يفسد الدين مثل أو فوق إفساد الذئبين الجائعين لزريبة الغنم . ـ

There is no doubt that craving and pining after this worldly life and the wealth and rulership in it is something harmful. This is just as al-Tirmidhi relayed from Ka’b ibn Malik who said: Allah’s Messenger said:

Two hunger wolves let loose in the sheep pen is no more destructive to them than a person’s craving for wealth and rulership is to his religion.

and al-Tirmidhi said that this was a hasan saheeh hadeeth. So the Prophet criticized pining after wealth and al-sharf – which is positions of rulership and authority – and he informed us that such things corrupt one’s religion as much if not more than the destruction that two hunger wolves unleash upon an enclosure of sheep.

وهذا دليل على أن هذا الحرص إنما ذم لأنه يفسد الدين الذي هو الإيمان والعمل الصالح فكان ترك هذا الحرص لصالح العمل وهذان هما المذكوران في قوله تعالى { ما أغنى عني ماليه } { هلك عني سلطانيه } وهما اللذان : ذكرهما الله في سورة القصص حيث افتتحها بأمر فرعون وذكر علوه في الأرض وهو الرياسة والشرف والسلطان ثم ذكر في آخرها قارون وما أوتيه من الأموال وذكر عاقبة سلطان هذا وعاقبة مال هذا ثم قال : { تلك الدار الآخرة نجعلها للذين لا يريدون علوا في الأرض ولا فسادا } كحال فرعون وقارون ; فإن جمع الأموال من غير إنفاقها في مواضعها المأمور بها وأخذها من غير وجهها هو من نوع الفساد . ـ

This is a proof that this craving is dispraised precisely because it corrupts one’s deen, that is, one’s eemaan and righteous deeds. So a person should leave off this avarice for the sake of doing good deeds. And these objects of desire are also mentioned together in Allah’s statement: Continue reading

The Arrangement of the Qur’an: Tafsir ibn Kathir

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir mentioned the following in the introduction to his tafsir in a section entitled “The Gathering of the Qur’an” which focused on the preservation and collection of the Qur’an. This is the fourth of five sections of our translation of that discussion:

وكان عثمان – والله أعلم – رتب السور في المصحف ، وقدم السبع الطوال وثنى بالمئين ؛ ولهذا روى ابن جرير وأبو داود والترمذي والنسائي من حديث غير واحد من الأئمة الكبار ، عن عوف الأعرابي ، عن يزيد الفارسي ، عن ابن عباس قال : قلت لعثمان بن عفان : ما حملكم أن عمدتم إلى ” الأنفال ” وهي من المثاني وإلى ” براءة ” وهي من المئين ، فقرنتم بينهما ولم تكتبوا بينهما سطر بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم ، ووضعتموها في السبع الطوال ؟ ما حملكم على ذلك ؟ فقال عثمان : كان رسول الله مما يأتي عليه الزمان وهو ينزل عليه السور ذوات العدد ، فكان إذا نزل عليه الشيء دعا بعض من كان يكتب فيقول : ضعوا هذه الآيات في السورة التي يذكر فيها كذا وكذا ، فإذا أنزلت عليه الآية فيقول : ضعوا هذه الآية في السورة التي يذكر فيها كذا وكذا ، وكانت الأنفال من أول ما نزل بالمدينة ، وكانت براءة من آخر القرآن ، وكانت قصتها شبيهة بقصتها ، وحسبت أنها منها وقبض رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ولم يبين لنا أنها منها ، فمن أجل ذلك قرنت بينهما ولم أكتب بينهما سطر بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم فوضعتها في السبع الطوال . [ ص: 30 ] ـ

It was ‘Uthman who arranged the surahs in the mushaf – and Allah knows best. He placed the Seven Long surahs[1] first but inserted some of the Mi’oon surahs [surahs of roughly 100 ayaat] among them.

On this subject ibn Jarir, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nasaa’i relayed a narration from more than one of the great scholars of hadith, on the authority of ‘Awf ibn al-A’rabi, on the authority of Yazeed ibn al-Faarisee, that ibn ‘Abbaas said:

I said to ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affaan, “What led you to place surah al-Anfaal (08) where you did when it is one of the Mathaani surahs?[2] Likewise with surah al-Baraa’ah (09 – also known as surah al-Tawbah)  when it is one of the Mi’oon surahs? And then you put these two surahs next to each other without writing the line of bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem between them and placed them in the middle of the Seven Long surahs. So what prompted you to do all of that?” Continue reading

An Overview of Surah al-Dhariyat (51): Ibn Taymiyah

In the last part of surah al-Dhariyat, Allah says:

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ

And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me. [5:56]

Sheikh al-Islam ibn Taymiyah commented on this ayah in one of his many written works by saying:

إن سياق الآية يقتضي أن هذا ذم وتوبيخ لمن لم يعبد الله منهم لأن الله خلقه لشيء فلم يفعل ما خلق له ولهذا عقبها بقوله ; { ما أريد منهم من رزق وما أريد أن يطعمون } ـ

The context of this ayah necessitates that it is a statement of dispraise and rebuke towards those men and Jinn who do not worship Allah. For Allah created them for one thing but they do not do what they were created for. This is why Allah immediately follows up this ayah by saying:

مَا أُرِيدُ مِنْهُم مِّن رِّزْقٍ وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَن يُطْعِمُونِ

I do not want any provision from them, nor do I want them to feed Me. [51:57]

فإثبات العبادة ونفي هذا يبين أنه خلقهم للعبادة ولم يرد منهم ما يريده السادة من عبيدهم من الإعانة لهم بالرزق والإطعام ـ

When placed beside this negation, the affirmation of Allah’s sole right to be worshiped makes it clear that He created them to worship Him and that He does not desire what a ruler might desire of his slaves – i.e. their aid in gaining provision and food.

ولهذا قال بعد ذلك : { فإن للذين ظلموا ذنوبا } أي نصيبا { مثل ذنوب أصحابهم } أي المتقدمين من الكفار . أي نصيبا من العذاب ـ

And this is why Allah said after that: Continue reading

The Passing Nature of this Life: Tafsir al-Tabari

Allah presents the following comparison in surah al-Kahf :

وَاضْرِ‌بْ لَهُم مَّثَلَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا كَمَاءٍ أَنزَلْنَاهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ فَاخْتَلَطَ بِهِ نَبَاتُ الْأَرْ‌ضِ فَأَصْبَحَ هَشِيمًا تَذْرُ‌وهُ الرِّ‌يَاحُ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّـهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ مُّقْتَدِرً‌ا

And strike an example of the life of this world: It is like water which We send down from the sky, and the vegetation of the earth mingles with it. Then it becomes dry remnants, scattered by the winds. And Allah holds power over all things [18:45]

The great mufassir imam Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari mentioned the following in part of his explanation of this ayah:

يقول : فلا يفخر ذو الأموال بكثرة أمواله ، ولا يستكبر على غيره بها ، ولا يغترن أهل الدنيا بدنياهم ، فإنما مثلها مثل هذا النبات الذي حسن استواؤه بالمطر ، فلم يكن إلا ريث أن انقطع عنه الماء ، فتناهى نهايته ، عاد يابسا تذروه الرياح ، [ ص: 31 ] فاسدا ، تنبو عنه أعين الناظرين ، ولكن ليعمل للباقي الذي لا يفنى ، والدائم الذي لا يبيد ولا يتغير .ـ

Allah is saying: So no one with wealth should exult in the abundance of wealth he has, nor should he feel exalted above others because of it. And those living well in this world should not be deceived by the worldly life they are enjoying. Continue reading

Central Themes of Surah al-Baqarah: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

In a discussion on the connections between different sections of individual surahs, Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool provided an example in this quick outline of the contents of surah al-Baqarah:

مثال آخر: الآيات من آية رقم ( ١)، إلى الآية رقم ( ٢٠ ) من سورة البقرة تعتبر المقدمة بالنسبة لمحتوى السورة، حيث وصف القرآن بما هو أهله، ووصف متبعيه ومخالفيه كلا بما يستحقه. ـ

Another example of the relationships between different groups of ayaat to one another within a surah comes in surah al-Baqarah[1].

Ayaat 1-20 can be considered as an introduction to the contents of this surah as it describes the Qur’an in the way that it deserves and characterizes the followers and violators of the Qur’an in ways appropriate for each of them.

ثم يأت المقصد الأول من آية رقم ( ٢١-٢٥ ) في دعوة الناس كافة إلى الإسلام. ـ

Then we come to the first section, from ayah 21-25, which is inviting all of mankind to Islam.

ثم يأت المقصد الثاني من آية رقم (٤٠ -١٦٢ ) في دعوة أهل الكتاب، دعوة خاصة إلى ترك باطلهم والدخول في هذا الدين الحق. ـ

Then we come to the second section, from ayah 40-162, which is inviting the Ahl al-Kitab. More specifically, it is inviting them to abandon their false beliefs and enter into this religion of truth. Continue reading