How to Distinguish Muhkam from Mutashaabih: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote the following question and answer:

كل أهل البدع يستدلون بالقرآن والسنة، ويرون أدلتهم محكمة وأدلة مخالفيهم من المتشابه! ما السبيل الذي استطيع أن أميز أن استدلالي بالآية أو الحديث هو استدلال بالمحكم دون المتشابه؟ ـ

[Question] All of the people of innovation use the Qur’an and the Sunnah as evidences to support their positions and consider their own evidences to be muhkam (clear-cut and definitive) while believing that the evidence of those who oppose them are mutashaabih (ambiguous and uncertain). How can I determine if my use of an ayah or hadith to support a position is actually relying on something muhkam rather than something mutashaabih?

هذا السؤال يجول في خاطر بعض الناس ويبحث عن جواب، واسأل الله تبارك وتعالى أن يعين عليه ، فأقول: ـ

[Response] This question deals with a challenge that some people face and for which they are searching for an answer. I ask Allah to aid us in that, and I would respond:

أولاً : لتعلم أنه ليس مجرد الاستدلال بالآية أو بالحديث يجعل استدلالك مبني على حجة صحيحة، حتى يتحقق في الآية التي تستدل بها والحديث أنهما من المحكم وليسا من المتشابه. ولذلك جاء عن عبدالله بن عمرو بن العاص رضي الله عنه: “العلم آية محكمة أو سنة ماضية أو فريضة قائمة”؛ فانظر لم يقل العلم الآية و الحديث، حتى قيد الآية بأن تكون محكمة والسنة بأن تكون ماضية . ـ

First, you should know that just because you bring an ayah or a hadith to support your point does not necessarily mean that what you are trying to prove is built of a strong foundation until you verify that the ayah or hadith which you are using as evidence is actually muhkam and not mutashaabih. There is something in this vein from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas where he said,

“Knowledge is a muhkam verses or an established sunnah or a valid derived ruling.”

Notice that he did not say “knowledge is an ayah or a hadith” without stipulating that the ayah had to be muhkam and that the sunnah had to be established. Continue reading

‘Uthman’s Gathering the Qur’an According to One Harf: Sheikh bin Baaz

Former mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sheikh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bin Baaz was asked the following question:

هل صحيح أن عثمان رضي الله عنه عندما جمع القرآن في مصحف واحد حذف بعض الأحرف أم أنه أثبت بعض القراءات دون بعض؟ ـ

Is it true that when ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) gathered the Qur’an into one single written collection he discarded some of the ahruf or that he established one of the qiraa’aat as official to the exclusion of the others?

He replied by saying:

 ثبت عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قوله: ((إن هذا القرآن أنزل على سبعة أحرف فاقرؤوا ما تيسر منه))[1]، وقال المحققون من أهل العلم: إنها متقاربة في المعنى مختلفة في الألفاظ. وعثمان رضي الله عنه لما بلغه اختلاف الناس وجاءه حذيفة رضي الله عنه وقال: (أدرك الناس) استشار الصحابة الموجودين في زمانه كعلي وطلحة والزبير وغيرهم فأشاروا بجمع القرآن على حرف واحد حتى لا يختلف الناس فجمعه رضي الله عنه، وكون لجنة رباعية لهذا، ويرأسهم زيد بن ثابت رضي الله عنه، فجمعوا القرآن على حرف واحد وكتبه ووزعه في الأقاليم حتى يعتمده الناس وحتى ينقطع النزاع، أما القراءات السبع أو القراءات العشر فهي موجودة في نفس ما جمعه عثمان رضي الله عنه في زيادة حرف أو نقص حرف، أو مد أو شكل للقرآن، كل هذا داخل في الحرف الواحد الذي جمعه عثمان رضي الله عنه، والمقصود من ذلك حفظ كلام الله ومنع الناس من الاختلاف الذي قد يضرهم ويسبب الفتنة بينهم، والله جل وعلا لم يوجب القراءة بالأحرف السبعة بل قال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: ((فاقرأوا ما تيسر منه))[2] فجمع الناس على حرف واحد عمل طيب ويشكر عليه عثمان والصحابة رضي الله عنهم وأرضاهم لما فيه من التيسير والتسهيل وحسم مادة الخلاف بين المسلمين. ـ

It is reliably transmitted that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “This Qur’an has been revealed in seven ahruf, so recite whichever of them is easy for you.” And the expert scholars have said that these ahruf are very near in meaning but differ in wordings.

When news of the people differing reached ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) and Hudhaifah (may Allah be pleased with him) said to him, “Save the people!”, he consulted with the Sahabah who were alive during his era, such as ‘Ali, Talhah, al-Zubayr and others, and they advised him to collect the Qur’an according to one single harf so that the people would not differ. Continue reading

Reasons Why the Tafsir of the Sahabah Differed: Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote a brief post accounting for the differences found among the Qur’anic explanations of the Sahabah. We have translated it below:

الاختلاف الواقع بين الصحابة في التفسير هو من اختلاف التنوُّع، ولا يقع بينهم اختلاف من باب التضادِّ، إلا فيما لا يصحُّ عنهم. ـ

The differing that did occur among the Sahabah in the field of tafsir is simply variations on a theme. There was not any differing among them that was actual in opposition or conflict, except for things that cannot actually be authentically attributed to them.

ووجه ما يجيء عنهم من اختلاف في التفسير يعود إلى أمرين: ـ

The reasons why there were some differences among their explanations of the Qur’an all go back to two issues:

الأمر الأوَّل: أن تتعدَّد أسماء الشيء وأوصافُه، وشروطه وأركانه، فتارةً يذكره أحدُهم باسمٍ غير ما يذكره به الآخر، وتارةً يذكره بركن فيه غير ما يذكره الآخر، ولا اختلاف تضاد بينهما، كمن يقول: اركع ركعتين، والآخر يقول: اسجد سجدتين، فالسجود والركوع من أركان الصلاة، ويعبَّر بهما عن الركعة من القيام والقراءة والركوع والرفع منه والسجود والجلوس بين السجدتين والسجود الثاني. ـ

1. A single thing can have multiple names, or multiple characteristics, conditions or key parts. So sometimes one of the Sahabah would call something a certain name while another mentioned it by a different name. In other instances, perhaps one of them would refer to the entire thing by one of its essential components while another mentioned it by a different key part. So there is no conflict or contradiction between the two. This is just like if one person said, “Pray two raka’aat” and another person said, “Pray to sajdahs”, because the sujood and the rukoo’ are both essential pillars of the salaah. So the term rukoo’ can be used to refer to the entire salaah without the need to mention the standing, recitation, bowing, coming back up from bowing, prostrating, sitting between the two prostrations or the second prostration. Continue reading

Loving or Hating Abu Bakr: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah says in surah al-Tawbah:

وَالسَّابِقُونَ الْأَوَّلُونَ مِنَ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ وَالْأَنصَارِ وَالَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُم بِإِحْسَانٍ رَّضِيَ اللَّـهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي تَحْتَهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ

And the first forerunners among the Muhajireen and the Ansar and those who followed them in goodness – Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him, and He has prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever. That is the great attainment. [9:100]

The great mufassir al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir concluded his commentary on this ayah by writing:

فقد أخبر الله العظيم أنه قد رضي عن السابقين الأولين من المهاجرين والأنصار والذين اتبعوهم بإحسان : فيا ويل من أبغضهم أو سبهم أو أبغض أو سب بعضهم ، ولا سيما سيد الصحابة بعد الرسول وخيرهم وأفضلهم ، أعني الصديق الأكبر والخليفة الأعظم أبا بكر بن أبي قحافة ، رضي الله عنه ، فإن الطائفة المخذولة من الرافضة يعادون أفضل الصحابة ويبغضونهم ويسبونهم ، عياذا بالله من ذلك . وهذا يدل على أن عقولهم معكوسة ، وقلوبهم منكوسة ، فأين هؤلاء من الإيمان بالقرآن ، إذ يسبون من رضي الله عنهم ؟ وأما أهل السنة فإنهم يترضون عمن رضي الله عنه ، ويسبون من سبه الله ورسوله ، ويوالون من يوالي الله ، ويعادون من يعادي الله ، وهم متبعون لا مبتدعون ، ويقتدون ولا يبتدون ولهذا هم حزب الله المفلحون وعباده المؤمنون . ـ

Allah the Magnificent has informed us that He is well-pleased with those forerunners in faith among the Muhajiroon and the Ansar and those who followed them in goodness. So then woe to anyone who hates them or insults them, and to anyone who hates or insults any one of them, especially if it is regarding the leader of the Sahabah after the Messenger, the best of them and the most virtuous of them. I am of course referring to the most truthful one and the greatest Khalifah:Abu Bakr ibn Abi Quhaafah – may Allah be pleased with him. Continue reading

The Forerunners in Faith: Tafsir al-Baghawi

Towards the end of surah al-Tawbah, Allah says:

وَالسَّابِقُونَ الْأَوَّلُونَ مِنَ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ وَالْأَنصَارِ وَالَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُم بِإِحْسَانٍ رَّضِيَ اللَّـهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي تَحْتَهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ

And the first forerunners among the Muhajireen and the Ansar and those who followed them with good conduct – Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him, and He has prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever. That is the great attainment. [9:100]

In his famous book of tafsir, Imam al-Baghawi wrote the following commentary on this ayah:

واختلفوا في السابقين الأولين ، قال سعيد بن المسيب ، وقتادة ، وابن سيرين وجماعة : هم الذين صلوا إلى القبلتين . وقال عطاء بن أبي رباح : هم أهل بدر . وقال الشعبي : هم الذين شهدوا بيعة الرضوان ، وكانت بيعة الرضوان بالحديبية . ـ

The salaf differed as to who was intended by the “first forerunners”.

Sa’eed ibn al-Musayyib, Qatadah, ibn Sireen and a group of others said: They were those who prayed toward both qiblahs.

‘Ataa’ ibn Abi Rabaah said: They were the people who fought at Badr.

al-Sha’bi said: They were those who were present for the pledge of al-Ridwan, which took place at al-Hudaybiyah. Continue reading

How the Sahabah Memorized the Qur’an: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr received and responded to the following question:

يقول: هل تطبيق طريقة الصَّحابة -رضوان الله عليهم- في حفظ القرآن بأن نحفظ عشر آيات ولا نتجاوزها إلا بعد فهمها ومعرفة تفسيرها جائزٌ لنا؟ وما رأيُكُم فيمن يقول إنَّ هذا بدعة؟ ـ

Question: Is it really possible for us to put the Sahabah’s method of Qur’an memorization into practice – that we would memorize ten ayaat and not go beyond that until we had understood them and come to know their explanation? And what is your opinion about somebody who says that this is an innovation?

إذا كان هذا بدعة فما السُّنَّة؟! إذا كان صنيع الصَّحابة بدعة فمن يقوم بالسُّنَّة بعدهم؟ على كلِّ حال هذه وسائل للتَّحصيل كلٌّ يفعل ما يُناسبُهُ وكل ما كان العمل أقرب إلى عمل الصَّحابة وفهم الصَّحابة كان إلى الصَّواب أقرب وهذه طريقة، طريقة الصَّحابة

Response: If that is an innovation then what is the sunnah?! If the practice of the Sahabah is an innovation then who was it that established and enacted the sunnah after them? In any case, every person should use whichever methods suit him to achieve his objective, but the closer his method is to practice and understanding of the Sahabah and the closer it is to being correct, and this method was the method of the Sahabah.

لو أنَّ شخصاً ممَّن لديه الحافظة القويَّة وقال عشر آيات أحفظُها في خمس دقائق فماذا أفعل في بقيَّة الوقت؟ نقول: أمامك عمل في بقيَّة الوقت هي ليست مُجرَّد حفظ إنَّما هو فهم ومُراجعة لأقوال أهل العلم وتعلُّم هذه الآيات العشر من جميع الوُجُوه والعمل بهذه الآيات العشر، لا شك أنَّ من يعمل هذا في كل يوم يحفظ عشر آيات ويراجع عليها التَّفاسير ويعمل بمُقتضاها فيها مشغلة وفيها ما يقطعُ الوقت،

A person with a good memory might say, “I can memorize ten ayaat in five minutes, so then what should I do with the rest of my time?” We would respond by saying: You have work awaiting you in the rest of your time. It is not just memorization that you should focus on; rather there is understanding it, examining the statements of the scholars, learning all aspects of these ten ayaat, and acting in accordance with these ten ayaat. If a person were to do this every day, to memorize ten ayaat, look through their various explanations, and put them into practice, there is no doubt that he would remain busy and perhaps even run out of time. Continue reading

Why Study the Sayings of the Salaf?: Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote the following beneficial note:

ما فائدة الآثار الواردة عن السلف وعندنا القرآن والسنة ؟ ـ
What is the Benefit of the Transmitted Saying of the Salaf when We Already Have the Qur’an and the Sunnah?

ـ ◇سؤال : ما فائدة الآثار الواردة عن السلف وعندنا القرآن والسنة ؟ ـ

Question: What is the benefit of the transmitted sayings of the salaf when we already have the Qur’an and the Sunnah?

ـ ◇الجواب : الآثار الواردة على السلف على أنواع؛ ـ

Response: There are a number of different types of the transmitted sayings of the salaf:

ـ #النوع_الأول : آثار موقوفة أو مقطوعة ولها حكم الرفع، يعني يأتي قول صحابي أو أثر عن تابعي له حكم الحديث المرفوع، فهذا حكمه حكم الحديث المروي. وجملة كثيرة من الأحاديث النبوية نقلت على هذه الصورة. فالاهتمام بالآثار فيه حفظ جملة كثيرة قد تكون ثلث أو ربع أو خمس الأحاديث فيها، والله اعلم. ـ

1) Mawqoof or Maqtoo’ narrations that take a Marfoo’ ruling – meaning that there is the saying of a Companion or the saying of a Tabi’ee which takes the ruling of a Marfoo’ hadith, so it is treated in the same way as a saying attributed to the Prophet. In fact, a large number of Prophetic hadith narrations have been conveyed in this manner. So by giving attention and importance to these sayings we preserve a large body of hadith narrations, maybe even as big as a third or a fourth or a fifth of them, and Allah knows best. Continue reading

Different Categories of Tafsir from the Companions: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh mentioned the following points in one of his lectures on the fundamentals of Qur’anic explanation:

 ــ 9 – أنواع تفاسير الصحابة
Part 9: Different Categories of Tafsir from the Companions

الصحابة في تفاسيرهم على أنحاء : الناحية الأولى : أن يُجْمِعُوا على تفسير ، فإذا أجمعوا على تفسير لم يَحِلَّ لأحد ممن بعدهم أن يخالفهم في التفسير ، لِمَ ؟ ـ

The Qur’anic explanations of the Companions come in a few different ways.

The first way: that they were united in one explanation. So if they were unanimous in one explanation, then it is not permissible for anyone who came after them to put forth a different explanation that conflicts with or contradicts that one. Why is that?

لأنه لا يمكن أن يُحْجَبُ الصواب في التفسير عن الصحابة – رضوان الله عليهم أجمعين – ثم يدركه من بعدهم ، لأن العلم بالقرآن لابد أن يكون موجودًا في كل طبقة من طبقات الأمة ، فإذا أجمع الصحابة – رضوان الله عليهم أجمعين – على تفسير آية ، ثم حدث خلاف بعد ذلك في زمن التابعين أو بعد ذلك ، فنعلم أنه خلاف بعد انعقاد الإجماع ، ومعنى هذا الخلاف أن هذا القول إذا قلنا بصوابه فإنه يعني أن الصحابة – رضوان الله عليهم أجمعين – لم يعرفوا هذا القول ، ومعنى ذلك أن جملة الصحابة – رضوان الله عليهم أجمعين -لم يدركوا التفسير الصحيح لهذه الآية . ـ

That is because it is not possible that the correct explanation was hidden from the Companions but then someone who came after them was able to apprehend it, for knowledge of the Qur’an must be present in every generation of this Ummah. So if the Companions were in agreement about the explanation of an ayah, but then some differing as to the correct understanding of that ayah occurred later during the time of the Taabi’oon or after that, then know that this is a conflicting position after unanimous agreement had already been established. If we were to say that the more recently introduced position which conflicts with the earlier consensus was accurate, then that would mean that the Companions did not know this position. And that would mean that none of the Companions were able to grasp the correct explanation of this ayah. Continue reading

Who Memorized the Qur’an During the Lifetime of the Prophet: Tafsir ibn Kathir

al-Haafidh ibn Kathir mentioned the following in the introduction to his tafsir as the first part of his section entitled “The Gathering of the Qur’an” which focused on the preservation and collection of the Qur’an:

 ثبت في الصحيحين عن أنس قال : جمع القرآن على عهد النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أربعة ، كلهم من الأنصار ؛ أبي بن كعب ، ومعاذ بن جبل ، وزيد بن ثابت ، وأبو زيد . فقيل له : من أبو زيد ؟ قال : أحد عمومتي . وفي لفظ للبخاري عن أنس قال : مات النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ولم يجمع القرآن غير أربعة ؛ أبو الدرداء ، ومعاذ بن جبل ، وزيد بن ثابت ، وأبو زيد ، ونحن ورثناه . ـ

It is well-established in both al-Bukhari and Muslim that Anas said, “Those who memorized the Qur’an during the lifetime of the Prophet (ﷺ) were four, all of whom were Ansaar: Ubay ibn Ka’b, Mu’aadh ibn Jabal, Zayd ibn Thaabit, and Abu Zayd.” Someone asked, “Who is Abu Zayd?” Anas answered, “One of my uncles.”

And in the wording that comes in al-Bukhari, Anas said, “The Prophet (ﷺ) died and no one else had memorized the Qur’an except for these four: Abu al-Dardaa’, Mu’aadh ibn Jabal, Zayd ibn Thaabit, and Abu Zayd, and then we took it from them.”

قلت : أبو زيد هذا ليس بمشهور ؛ لأنه مات قديما ، وقد ذكروه في أهل بدر ، وقال بعضهم : سعيد بن عبيد . ومعنى قول أنس : ولم يجمع القرآن . يعني من الأنصار سوى هؤلاء ، وإلا فمن المهاجرين جماعة كانوا يجمعون القرآن كالصديق ، وابن مسعود ، وسالم مولى أبي حذيفة وغيرهم . ـ

I [ibn Kathir] say: This Abu Zayd was not someone well-known because he died early, and he has been mentioned among those who were present for the Battle of Badr. And some said that he was Sa’eed ibn ‘Ubayd.

And the meaning of Anas’ statement, “no one else had memorized the Qur’an” is that none of the Ansaar besides these four had memorized the Qur’an. Otherwise, there were a number of the Muhaajiroon who had memorized the Qur’an, such as Abu Bakr, ibn Mas’ood, Saalim Mawla Abi Hudhaifah and others. 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