Major Nifaq and Minor Nifaq in the Qur’an: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In his explanation of the beginning of surah al-Baqarah, the great expert in hadith, history and tafsir al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir transitioned from the ayaat describing the disbelievers to the ayaat describing the munafiqoon by writing:

لما تقدم وصف المؤمنين في صدر السورة بأربع آيات ، ثم عرف حال الكافرين بهاتين الآيتين ، شرع تعالى في بيان حال المنافقين الذين يظهرون الإيمان ويبطنون الكفر ، ولما كان أمرهم يشتبه على كثير من الناس أطنب في ذكرهم بصفات متعددة ، كل منها نفاق ، كما أنزل سورة ” براءة ” فيهم ، وسورة ” المنافقين ” فيهم ، وذكرهم في سورة ” النور ” وغيرها من السور ، تعريفا لأحوالهم لتجتنب ، ويجتنب من تلبس بها. ـ

After beginning with four ayaat describing the believers at the opening of this surah [2:2-5] and then acquainting us with the disbelievers’ condition in these two ayaat [2:6-7], Allah then moves on to explaining the situation of the munafiqoon – those who outwardly display eemaan while inwardly harboring disbelief [2:8-20]. Because of the difficulty that many people have in identifying their condition, Allah goes into detail by mentioning a number of their characteristics, all of which are nifaq. He also sent down surah al-Baraa’ah [09] and surah al-Munafiqoon [63] regarding them, as well as mentioning them in surah al-Nur [24] and elsewhere in order to acquaint us with their ways so that we could avoid their qualities and those who are characterized by them.

النفاق : هو إظهار الخير وإسرار الشر ، وهو أنواع : اعتقادي ، وهو الذي يخلد صاحبه في النار ، وعملي وهو من أكبر الذنوب ، كما سيأتي تفصيله في موضعه ، إن شاء الله تعالى ، وهذا كما قال ابن جريج : المنافق يخالف قوله فعله ، وسره علانيته ، ومدخله مخرجه ، ومشهده مغيبه . ـ

al-Nifaq is: outwardly displaying good while secretly harboring evil. And there are different varieties of nifaq:

there is Nifaq of Creed, which is the type which causes its perpetrator to spend eternity in the Hellfire,

and there is Nifaq of Deed which is one of the gravest sins.

And we shall discuss this in detail in the appropriate place, inshaAllaah.

All of this is just as ibn Jurayj said, “The munafiq‘s words and actions are at odds, his secrets and public face are at odds, his entering and exiting are at odds, and his public life and private life are at odds.” Continue reading

Dhikr is a Protection from Nifaq: Ibn al-Qayyim

In part of his enumeration of the benefits of dhikr in his book al-Wabil al-Sayyib, Ibn al-Qayyim wrote:

إن كثرة ذكر الله عز وجل أمان من النفاق؛ فإن المنافقين قليلوا الذكر لله عز وجل، قال الله عز وجل في المنافقين: { ولا يذكرون الله إلا قليلا} (النساء:142)، وقال كعب: من أكثر ذكر الله عز وجل برئ من النفاق. ولهذا ـ والله أعلم ـ ختم الله تعالى سورة المنافقين بقوله تعالى:{يا أيها الذين آمنوا لا تلهكم أموالكم ولا أولادكم عن ذكر الله ومن يفعل ذلك فأولئك هم الخاسرون} (المنافقون:9)، فإن في ذلك تحذيرا من فتنة المنافقين الذين غفلوا عن ذكر الله عز وجل فوقعوا في النفاق. وسئل بعض الصحابة رضي الله عنهم عن الخوارج: منافقون هم؟ قال: لا، المنافقون لا يذكرون الله إلا قليلا. فهذا من علامة النفاق ، والله عز وجل أكرم من أن يبتلي قلبا ذاكرا بالنفاق، وإنما ذلك لقلوب غفلت عن ذكر الله عز وجل ـ

Being prolific in remembering Allah is a form of protection from nifaq, for the munafiqoon are sparse in remembering Allah. Allah described the munafiqoon by saying:

وَلَا يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّـهَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا

… and they only remember Allah a little [4:142]

Ka’b said, “Whoever does a lot of dhikr of Allah is free of nifaq.”

And that is why – and Allah knows best – Allah concluded surah al-Munafiqoon by saying

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُلْهِكُمْ أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُكُمْ عَن ذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ ۚ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ

O you who have believed, let not your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah. And whoever does that – then those are the losers. [63:9]

for that contains a warning against the trial of the munafiqoon who have chosen to neglect the remembrance of Allah and as a result have fallen into nifaq.

Continue reading

Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 204-214: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the twenty-first installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 204-214. This passage calls the believers to completely embrace Islam and contrasts their situation with the people who did not completely embrace Islam. See the series guide here for more information about this series and other installments.

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يُعْجِبُكَ قَوْلُهُ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَيُشْهِدُ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا فِي قَلْبِهِ وَهُوَ أَلَدُّ الْخِصَامِ

And there are some people whose speech amazes you in this worldly life and he calls Allah as a witness to what is in his heart, yet he is the most quarrelsome of opponents [2:204]

وبعض الناس من المنافقين يعجبك- أيها الرسول- كلامه الفصيح الذي يريد به حظًّا من حظوظ الدنيا لا الآخرة، ويحلف مستشهدًا بالله على ما في قلبه من محبة الإسلام، وفي هذا غاية الجرأة على الله، وهو شديد العداوة والخصومة للإسلام والمسلمين. ـ

204. Some of the munafiqoon may amaze you – O Messenger – with the eloquent speech that they use to gain some share of this worldly life, but not for the hereafter. And they will swear, calling Allah as a witness to the love of Islam that is in their hearts. But this is extreme boldness towards Allah, as this person is extreme in their opposition and challenge against Islam and the Muslims.

وَإِذَا تَوَلَّىٰ سَعَىٰ فِي الْأَرْضِ لِيُفْسِدَ فِيهَا وَيُهْلِكَ الْحَرْثَ وَالنَّسْلَ ۗ وَاللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْفَسَادَ

And when he turns away, he strives throughout the land to cause corruption in it and to destroy the crops and animals. And Allah does not love corruption. [2:205]

وإذا خرج من عندك أيها الرسول، جَدَّ ونَشِط في الأرض ليفسد فيها، ويتلف زروع الناس، ويقتل ماشيتهم. والله لا يحب الفساد. ـ

205. And when he departs from your presence – O Messenger -, he works and strives throughout the land to cause corruption in it, destroy the people’s crops, and kill their animals. And Allah does not love corruption.

وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُ اتَّقِ اللَّهَ أَخَذَتْهُ الْعِزَّةُ بِالْإِثْمِ ۚ فَحَسْبُهُ جَهَنَّمُ ۚ وَلَبِئْسَ الْمِهَادُ

And when he is told, “Have taqwa of Allah”, pride in sin takes hold of him. Hell is sufficient for him, and what a horrible end that is. [2:206]

Continue reading

Assorted Qur’an Benefits #37

The following short quotes and excerpts were originally published on our social media channels during November 2019:

♦ Those Who Recite the Qur’an but Do Not Know its Tafsir

In part of the introduction to his famous book of tafsir, Imam al-Qurtubi mentioned the following statement:
وقال إياس بن معاوية : مثل الذين يقرءون القرآن وهم لا يعلمون تفسيره كمثل قوم جاءهم كتاب من ملكهم ليلا وليس عندهم مصباح فتداخلتهم روعة ولا يدرون ما في الكتاب ومثل الذي يعرف التفسير كمثل رجل جاءهم بمصباح فقرءوا ما في الكتاب. ـ
Iyaas ibn Mu’awiyah said, “Those who recite the Qur’an but do not know its tafsir are like a people who received a letter from their king during the night but do not have any lamp with them, so alarm comes over them and they do not know what the letter contains. But one who knows its tafsir is like a man who brings them a lamp so that they can read what the letter contains.”
[Tafsir al-Qurtubi 1/41]

♦ A Light for the Munafiqoon

Allah describes the munafiqoon in surah al-Nisaa’ by saying:

إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ يُخَادِعُونَ اللَّـهَ وَهُوَ خَادِعُهُمْ

Indeed, the hypocrites [think to] deceive Allah, but He is deceiving them. [4:142]

In his explanation of this, Imam al-Qurtubi mentioned the following narration: Continue reading

You Will See Them Looking Like One Overcome by Death: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Allah says in surah Muhammad:

وَيَقُولُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَوْلَا نُزِّلَتْ سُورَةٌ ۖ فَإِذَا أُنزِلَتْ سُورَةٌ مُّحْكَمَةٌ وَذُكِرَ فِيهَا الْقِتَالُ ۙ رَأَيْتَ الَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَيْكَ نَظَرَ الْمَغْشِيِّ عَلَيْهِ مِنَ الْمَوْتِ

Those who believe say, “Why hasn’t a surah been sent down? But when a precise surah is revealed and fighting is mentioned therein, you see those in whose hearts is an illness looking at you with a look of one overcome by death. [47:20]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote the following in his commentary on this ayah:

ذكر – جل وعلا – في هذه الآية الكريمة أنه إذا أنزل سورة محكمة ، أي متقنة الألفاظ والمعاني ، واضحة الدلالة ، لا نسخ فيها وذكر فيها وجوب قتال الكفار ، تسبب عن ذلك ، كون الذين في قلوبهم مرض أي شك ونفاق ، ينظرون كنظر الإنسان الذي يغشى عليه ; لأنه في سياق الموت ، لأن نظر من كان كذلك تدور فيه عينه ويزيغ بصره . ـ

In this ayah, Allah mentioned that when He sent down a muhkamah surah – that is, one whose wordings and meanings are perfected, with clear instructions and no instances of abrogation – which includes the obligation to fight against the disbelievers. Then, as a result of that, those people with a disease in their hearts – i.e. doubt and nifaaq – will stare with a look of one who is overcome because he is in the midst of dying, because a person in that situation will have his eyes rolling and his vision distorted.

وهذا إنما وقع لهم من شدة الخوف من بأس الكفار المأمور بقتالهم . ـ

And this only happened to them because of their great fear of how the disbelievers that they have been commanded to fight will harm them.

وقد صرح – جل وعلا – بأن ذلك من الخوف المذكور في قوله : فإذا جاء الخوف رأيتهم ينظرون إليك تدور أعينهم كالذي يغشى عليه من الموت [ 33 \ 19 ] . ـ

And Allah has explicitly stated that this condition is a result of this fear when He said: Continue reading

Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 1-20: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the first installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 1-20. See the series guide here for more information about the series, or click here for more information about the book itself.

أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

الم

Alif Lam Meem (2:1)

هذه الحروف وغيرها من الحروف المقطَّعة في أوائل السور فيها إشارة إلى إعجاز القرآن؛ فقد وقع به تحدي المشركين، فعجزوا عن معارضته، وهو مركَّب من هذه الحروف التي تتكون منها لغة العرب. فدَلَّ عجز العرب عن الإتيان بمثله- مع أنهم أفصح الناس- على أن القرآن وحي من الله.ـ

1) These letters and the other disconnected letters at the beginnings of surahs point to the miraculous inimitable nature of the Qur’an, for the Qur’an presented a challenge to the mushrikoon which they could not respond to, despite the fact that the Qur’an is built from the very same letters which make up the Arabic language. So the Arab’s inability to produce anything similar to the Qur’an, despite them being the most eloquent of people, shows that the Qur’an is revelation from Allah.

ذَٰلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لَا رَيْبَ ۛ فِيهِ ۛ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ

That is the Book about which there is no doubt. It is a guidance for the muttaqoon (2:2) Continue reading

A Warning For Those Who Desire to be Seen: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah says in surah Faatir:

مَن كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْعِزَّةَ فَلِلَّـهِ الْعِزَّةُ جَمِيعًا 

إِلَيْهِ يَصْعَدُ الْكَلِمُ الطَّيِّبُ وَالْعَمَلُ الصَّالِحُ يَرْفَعُهُ

وَالَّذِينَ يَمْكُرُونَ السَّيِّئَاتِ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ ۖ وَمَكْرُ أُولَـٰئِكَ هُوَ يَبُورُ

Whoever desires ‘izzah, then to Allah belongs all the ‘izzah

Good speech ascends to Allah and righteous action raises it

And those who plot evil will have a severe punishment, and the plots of such people will perish [Faatir 35:10]

We have already translated several articles on this ayah. See here for a brief explanation of the entire ayah from sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di, here for an explanation of the first section from sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee, and here for an explanation of the second section from the statements of the sahabah and the tabi’oon. What follows is an explanation of the last section from al-haafidh ibn Kathir:

وقوله : ( والذين يمكرون السيئات ) : قال مجاهد ، وسعيد بن جبير ، وشهر بن حوشب : هم المراءون بأعمالهم ، يعني : يمكرون بالناس ، يوهمون أنهم في طاعة الله ، وهم بغضاء إلى الله [ ص: 538 ] عز وجل ، يراءون بأعمالهم ، ( ولا يذكرون الله إلا قليلا ) [ النساء : 142 ] . وقال عبد الرحمن بن زيد بن أسلم : هم المشركون . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَالَّذِينَ يَمْكُرُونَ السَّيِّئَاتِ

And those who plot evil …

Mujahid, Sa’eed ibn Jubayr and Shahr ibn Hawshab explained this by saying, “These are the people who like for their deeds to be seen by others,” meaning: they deceive people; the people are tricked into thinking that these pretenders are working in obedience to Allah when in fact they harbor resentment towards Allah and only want for their actions to be seen by others

وَلَا يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّـهَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا

and they do not remember Allah except for only a little [al-Nisaa’ 4:142]

However ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Zayd ibn Aslam explained this ayah to be referring to the mushrikoon. Continue reading

“The Signs of the Hypocrite are Three” in the Qur’an

Abu Hurayrah narrated that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said:

آيَةُ اَلْمُنَافِقِ ثَلَاثٌ: إِذَا حَدَّثَ كَذَبَ, وَإِذَا وَعَدَ أَخْلَفَ, وَإِذَا ائْتُمِنَ خَانَ

The signs of the hypocrite are three: when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he is entrusted, he betrays his trust.

[al-Bukhari and Muslim]

In part of his extensive commentary on al-Nawawi’s 40 ahaadeeth, ibn Rajab al-Hanbali brought the following point of benefit related to this hadeeth:

وقد روي عن محمد بن كعب القرظي أنه استنبط ما في هذا الحديث – أعني حديث : آية المنافق ثلاث – من القرآن ، فقال : مصداق ذلك في كتاب الله تعالى : إذا جاءك المنافقون قالوا نشهد إنك لرسول الله إلى قوله : [ ص: 490 ] والله يشهد إن المنافقين لكاذبون [ المنافقون : 1 ] ، وقال تعالى : ومنهم من عاهد الله لئن آتانا من فضله إلى قوله : فأعقبهم نقاقا في قلوبهم إلى يوم يلقونه بما أخلفوا الله ما وعدوه وبما كانوا يكذبون [ التوبة : 74 – 77 ] ، وقال : إنا عرضنا الأمانة على السماوات والأرض والجبال الأحزاب إلى قوله : ليعذب الله المنافقين والمنافقات [ الأحزاب : 72 – 73 ] . ـ

It has been related that Muhammad ibn K’ab al-Qurathi extracted the contents of this hadeeth – meaning the hadeeth “the signs of the hypocrite are three” – from the Qur’an. For he said: This is confirmed in the Book of Allah,

إِذَا جَاءَكَ الْمُنَافِقُونَ قَالُوا نَشْهَدُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُ اللَّـهِ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ يَعْلَمُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُهُ وَاللَّـهُ يَشْهَدُ إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ لَكَاذِبُونَ

When the hypocrites come to you, [O Muhammad], they say, “We testify that you are the Messenger of Allah.” And Allah knows that you are His Messenger, and Allah testifies that the hypocrites are liars. [63:1]

And He said: Continue reading

“And do not be like those who say, ‘We have heard,’ while they do not hear”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

In surah al-Anfal, Allah commands the believers by saying:

وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ قَالُوا سَمِعْنَا وَهُمْ لَا يَسْمَعُونَ

And do not be like those who say, “We have heard,” while they do not hear. [8:21]

Commenting on this ayah in his book of tafsir, Imam al-Qurtubi wrote:

قوله تعالى : ولا تكونوا كالذين قالوا سمعنا أي كاليهود أو المنافقين أو المشركين . وهو من سماع الأذن . وهم لا يسمعون أي لا يتدبرون ما سمعوا ، ولا يفكرون فيه ، فهم بمنزلة من لم يسمع وأعرض عن الحق . نهى المؤمنين أن يكونوا مثلهم . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ قَالُوا سَمِعْنَا

And do not be like those who say, “We have heard…” [8:21]

such as the Jews, the Munaafiqoon [hypocrites], and the Mushrikoon [polytheists]. And this is referring to the literal hearing of one’s ears. They are those who do not hear – meaning: they do not consider or reflect on what they have heard. So these ones are just like those who did not hear (at all) and who turn away from the truth. Allah prohibited the believer from being like them.

Continue reading

A Note on the Different Qiraa’aat: Sheikh bin Baaz

Sheikh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez bin Baaz, the former grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, was asked:

 يقولون أن تعدد القراءات في القرآن معناه اختلاف في القرآن حيث يؤدي إلى معان ثانية، مثل آية الإسراء وَنُخْرِجُ لَهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ كِتَابًا يَلْقَاهُ مَنْشُورًا عند يلقاه منشورا. ـ

Some say that the plurality of the qiraa’aat (recitations) for the Qur’an – that their meanings differ in the Qur’an such that it results in a second meaning, such as the ayah of surah al-Israa’:

وَنُخْرِ‌جُ لَهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ كِتَابًا يَلْقَاهُ مَنشُورً‌ا

and We will produce for him on the Day of Resurrection a record which he will encounter spread open. [17:13]

as it relates to “which he will encounter spread open.”

So Sheikh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez bin Baaz replied:

 ثبت عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أن القرآن نزل من عند الله على سبعة أحرف أي لغات من لغات العرب ولهجاتها تيسيرا لتلاوته عليهم، ورحمة من الله بهم، ونقل ذلك نقلا متواترا، وصدق ذلك واقع القرآن، وما وجد فيه من القراءات فهي كلها تنزيل من حكيم حميد. ـ

It is confirmed on the authority of the Prophet (ﷺ) that the Qur’an was revealed from Allah in seven ahruf – i.e. seven tongues from the Arab tongues and their dialects – in order to facilitate its recitation for them and as a mercy from Allah towards them. This has been transmitted through a mutawaatir (mutually well-attested) transmission, and the reality of the Qur’an attests to that. And what one finds among the different qiraa’aat is that all of them are revelation from al-Hakeem al-Hameed (The Wise, the Praise-Worthy, i.e. Allah).

ليس تعددها من تحريف أو تبديل ولا لبس في معانيها ولا تناقض في مقاصدها ولا اضطراب، بل بعضها يصدق بعضا ويبين مغزاه، وقد تتنوع معاني بعض القراءات فيفيد كل منها حكما يحقق مقصدا من مقاصد الشرع، ومصلحة من مصالح العباد، مع اتساق معانيها وائتلاف مراسيها، وانتظامها في وحدة تشريع محكمة كاملة لا تعارض بينها ولا تضارب فيها. ـ

The plurality of qiraa’aat is not due to distortion or substitution or concealing their meanings nor is it a deficiency in their messages, nor are there contradictions. Rather, they affirm one another and clarify the meaning. The meanings of some of the qiraa’aat may be varied, so each one of them provides a ruling which realizes an objective from among the divinely legislated objectives and a benefit from among the beneficial matters to the slaves. All this while at the same time their meanings are in harmony, their firmly established principles are in agreement and their ordering is according to a single precise and perfect divine legislation. There is no contradiction among them nor is there conflict between them.

فمن ذلك ما ورد من القراءات في الآية التي ذكرها السائل وهي قوله تعالى: وَكُلَّ إِنْسَانٍ أَلْزَمْنَاهُ طَائِرَهُ فِي عُنُقِهِ وَنُخْرِجُ لَهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ كِتَابًا يَلْقَاهُ مَنْشُورًا ، فقد قرئ وَنُخْرِجُ بضم النون وكسر الراء، وقرئ يَلْقَاهُ بفتح الياء والقاف مخففة، والمعنى: ونحن نخرج للإنسان يوم القيامة كتابا هو صحيفة عمله، يصل إليه حال كونه مفتوحا فيأخذه بيمينه إن كان سعيدا أو بشماله إن كان شقيا، وقرئ يُلَقَّاه مَنْشُورًا بضم الياء وتشديد القاف. والمعنى: ونحن نخرج للإنسان يوم القيامة كتابا – هو صحيفة عمله – يعطى الإنسان ذلك الكتاب حال كونه مفتوحا، فمعنى كل من القراءتين يتفق في النهاية مع الآخر، فإن من يلقى إليه الكتاب فقد وصل إليه، ومن وصل إليه الكتاب فقد ألقى إليه. ـ

And an example of that is what is reported of the qiraa’aat of the ayah which the questioner mentioned which is Allah’s statement: Continue reading