Hajj is During Well-Known Months: Tafsir al-Sa’di

While discussing some of the rulings related to Hajj in surah al-Baqarah, Allah informs us that:

الْحَجُّ أَشْهُرٌ مَّعْلُومَاتٌ ۚ فَمَن فَرَضَ فِيهِنَّ الْحَجَّ فَلَا رَفَثَ وَلَا فُسُوقَ وَلَا جِدَالَ فِي الْحَجِّ ۗ وَمَا تَفْعَلُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ يَعْلَمْهُ اللَّـهُ ۗ وَتَزَوَّدُوا فَإِنَّ خَيْرَ الزَّادِ التَّقْوَىٰ ۚ وَاتَّقُونِ يَا أُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ

Hajj is during well-known months. So whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself therein, there is no rafath and no fusooq and no jidal during Hajj. And whatever you do of good good – Allah knows it. And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is taqwa. So have taqwa, O you of understanding. [2:197]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di explained this ayah in his tafsir by writing:

يخبر تعالى أن { الْحَجَّ } واقع في { أَشْهُرٌ مَعْلُومَاتٌ } عند المخاطبين, مشهورات, بحيث لا تحتاج إلى تخصيص، كما احتاج الصيام إلى تعيين شهره, وكما بين تعالى أوقات الصلوات الخمس. وأما الحج فقد كان من ملة إبراهيم, التي لم تزل مستمرة في ذريته معروفة بينهم. والمراد بالأشهر المعلومات عند جمهور العلماء: شوال, وذو القعدة, وعشر من ذي الحجة, فهي التي يقع فيها الإحرام بالحج غالبا.ـ

Allah informs us that

الْحَجَّ

Hajj …

takes place during

أَشْهُرٌ مَعْلُومَاتٌ

… well-known months

i.e. well-known to those to whom this revelation was originally addressed. Well-known such that there was no need to specify it as had been the case which explicitly naming the month of fasting or how Allah had clarified the times of the five daily prayers. But the Hajj had been part of the religion of Ibrahim which had continued to be practiced among his descendants and was known to them. According to the majority of scholars, the intended meaning of the well-known months is Shawwaal, Dhu’l-Qa’dah, and Dhu’l-Hijjah because these are the months in which people enter in a state of ihram for Hajj for the most part.

ـ { فَمَنْ فَرَضَ فِيهِنَّ الْحَجَّ } أي: أحرم به, لأن الشروع فيه يصيره فرضا, ولو كان نفلا. واستدل بهذه الآية الشافعي ومن تابعه, على أنه لا يجوز الإحرام بالحج قبل أشهره، قلت لو قيل: إن فيها دلالة لقول الجمهور, بصحة الإحرام [بالحج] قبل أشهره لكان قريبا، فإن قوله: { فَمَنْ فَرَضَ فِيهِنَّ الْحَجَّ } دليل على أن الفرض قد يقع في الأشهر المذكورة وقد لا يقع فيها, وإلا لم يقيده. ـ

فَمَن فَرَضَ فِيهِنَّ الْحَجَّ

So whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself therein … Continue reading

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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

The Jews Say the Christians Have Nothing to Stand on …: Tafsir ibn Kathir

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir wrote the following in his tafsir of surah al-Baqarah:

وقوله تعالى : ( وقالت اليهود ليست النصارى على شيء وقالت النصارى ليست اليهود على شيء وهم يتلون الكتاب ) يبين به تعالى تناقضهم وتباغضهم وتعاديهم وتعاندهم . كما قال محمد بن إسحاق : حدثني محمد بن أبي محمد ، عن عكرمة أو سعيد بن جبير ، عن ابن عباس ، قال : لما قدم أهل نجران من النصارى على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ، أتتهم أحبار يهود ، فتنازعوا عند رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ، فقال رافع بن حريملة ما أنتم على شيء ، وكفر بعيسى وبالإنجيل . وقال رجل من أهل نجران من النصارى لليهود : ما أنتم على شيء . وجحد نبوة موسى وكفر بالتوراة . فأنزل الله في ذلك من قولهما ( وقالت اليهود ليست النصارى على شيء وقالت النصارى ليست اليهود على شيء وهم يتلون الكتاب ) قال : إن كلا يتلو في كتابه تصديق من كفر به ، أي : يكفر اليهود بعيسى وعندهم التوراة ، فيها ما أخذ الله عليهم على لسان موسى بالتصديق بعيسى ، وفي الإنجيل ما جاء به عيسى بتصديق موسى ، وما جاء من التوراة من عند الله ، وكل يكفر بما في يد صاحبه . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ لَيْسَتِ النَّصَارَىٰ عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ وَقَالَتِ النَّصَارَىٰ لَيْسَتِ الْيَهُودُ عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ وَهُمْ يَتْلُونَ الْكِتَابَ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ قَالَ الَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ مِثْلَ قَوْلِهِمْ ۚ فَاللَّـهُ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فِيمَا كَانُوا فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ

The Jews say “The Christians have nothing to stand on,” and the Christians say, “The Jews have nothing to stand on,” although they both recite the Scripture. Likewise is what those who do not know said. So Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that over which they used to differ. [2:113]

Allah is clearly putting their contradictions, their mutual enmity and hatred, and their opposition to one another on display. This is just as Muhammad ibn Ishaaq said: that Muhammad ibn Abi Muhammad told me on the authority of ‘Ikrimah or Sa’eed ibn Jubayr, that ibn ‘Abbas said:

When the Christians of Najran came to see Allah’s Messenger, the Jewish Rabbis [of al-Madinah] came to them and the two groups argued in front of Allah’s Messenger. Raafi’ ibn Huraymilah said, “You all have nothing to stand on!” and he expressed his disbelief in ‘Eesaa and the Injeel. A man from the Christians of Najran said to the Jews, “You all have nothing to stand on!” and rejected the Prophethood of Moosaa and expressed his disbelief in the Tawrah. So then Allah revealed the following about these statements of theirs:

وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ لَيْسَتِ النَّصَارَىٰ عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ وَقَالَتِ النَّصَارَىٰ لَيْسَتِ الْيَهُودُ عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ وَهُمْ يَتْلُونَ الْكِتَابَ

The Jews say “The Christians have nothing to stand on,” and the Christians say, “The Jews have nothing to stand on,” although they both recite the Scripture.

Ibn ‘Abbaas went on to say: Continue reading

Hajj is ‘Arafah: Tafsir ibn Kathir

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kaathir mentioned the following points regarding the Day of ‘Arafah in his tafsir of surah al-Baqarah:

وعرفة : موضع الموقف في الحج ، وهي عمدة أفعال الحج ; ولهذا روى الإمام أحمد ، وأهل السنن ، بإسناد صحيح ، عن الثوري ، عن بكير بن عطاء ، عن عبد الرحمن بن يعمر الديلي ، [ ص: 552 ] قال : سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول : ” الحج عرفات – ثلاثا – فمن أدرك عرفة قبل أن يطلع الفجر ، فقد أدرك . وأيام منى ثلاثة ، فمن تعجل في يومين فلا إثم عليه ، ومن تأخر فلا إثم عليه ” . ـ

‘Arafah is a place of standing during the Hajj, and it is one of the pillars of the rituals of the Hajj. In support of this is the hadeeth with a sound chain of narration that was conveyed by Imam Ahmad and authors of the Sunan collections on the authority of al-Thawri, on the authority on Bukayr ibn ‘Ataa’, on the authority of ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Y’amar al-Dayli who said:

I heard Allah’s Messenger say, “Hajj is ‘Arafah” – three times – “so whoever catches ‘Arafah before the rising of dawn, then he has caught the Hajj. And the days of Mina are three, but whoever hastens to leave after two days, then there is no sin upon, and whoever waits, then there is no sin upon him.” 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

Reciting Surah al-Baqarah in One’s Home: al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah

The Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Fataawaa of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia [al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah] received the following question:

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: لا تجعلوا بيوتكم قبورًا، فإن البيت الذي تقرأ فيه سورة البقرة لا يدخله شيطان . هل المقصود بقراءة سورة البقرة مرة واحدة في البيت عندما يسكن فيه صاحبه ، أو كل عام، أو كل ليلة؟ وهل تكفي القراءة من المسجل ويحصل بها المقصود، أم لا؟

Question: The Prophet said, “Do not make your houses into graves, for the house in which surah al-Baqarah is recited – the shaytaan does not enter it.” Is the meaning of reciting surah al-Baqarah that a person recites it once in his home during the time that he is living there, or is it every year, or every night? And would a recitation from a cassette tape suffice and achieve the objective here or not?

The Committee responded with the following:

ليس لقراءة سورة البقرة حد معين، وإنما يدل الحديث على شرعية عمارة البيوت بالصلاة وقراءة القرآن، كما يدل على أن الشيطان يفر من البيت الذي تُقرأ فيه سورة البقرة، وليس في ذلك تحديد، فيدل على استحباب الإكثار من قراءتها دائمًا لطرد الشيطان، ولما في ذلك من الفضل العظيم؛ لأن كل حرف بحسنة والحسنة بعشر أمثالها كما جاء في الحديث الآخر. وبالله التوفيق، وصلى الله على نبينا محمد وآله وصحبه وسلم . ـ Continue reading

Fear the Fire Whose Fuel is Men and Stones: Tafsir al-Baghawi & Tafsir al-Qurtubi

In the beginning of surah al-Baqarah, Allah challenges the disbelievers that if they doubt the authenticity of the Qur’an to produce a single surah like it. He then follows this up by saying:

فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُوا وَلَن تَفْعَلُوا فَاتَّقُوا النَّارَ الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ ۖ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِينَ

But if you do not – and you will never be able to – then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers. [2:24]

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

ـ ( التي وقودها الناس والحجارة ) قال ابن عباس وأكثر المفسرين يعني حجارة الكبريت لأنها أكثر التهابا وقيل جميع الحجارة وهو دليل على عظمة تلك النار وقيل أراد بها الأصنام لأن أكثر أصنامهم كانت منحوتة من الحجارة كما قال ” إنكم وما تعبدون من دون الله حصب جهنم ” ( 98 – الأنبياء ) . ـ

 الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ

… whose fuel is men and stones

ibn ‘Abbaas and the majority of the mufassiroon have said that ‘stones‘ here means sulfur because sulfur is very prone to igniting and burning.

It is also said that it is referring to all kinds of stones and that this demonstrates the severity and intensity of this fire.

And it is also said that what is intended by ‘stones‘ here are idols because most of their idols used to be statues made of stone. This is like what Allah said: Continue reading

Eemaan is Belief, Statements, and Actions: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah begins surah al-Baqarah with the following words:

الم * ذَٰلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لَا رَيْبَ ۛ فِيهِ ۛ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ * الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْغَيْبِ … ـ

Alif Lam Meem * This is the Book about which there is no doubt. A guidance for the muttaqoon * those who believe in the Unseen … [2:1-3]

In many of the books of tafsir, explanation of terms or important topics will usually be placed at the first mention of that thing in the mushaf unless there is some motivating reason to delay it. Here, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir took the first instance of a derivative of the word al-eemaan to define and discuss it:

قال أبو جعفر الرازي ، عن العلاء بن المسيب بن رافع ، عن أبي إسحاق ، عن أبي الأحوص ، عن عبد الله ، قال : الإيمان التصديق . وقال علي بن أبي طلحة وغيره ، عن ابن عباس ، ( يؤمنون ) يصدقون . وقال معمر عن الزهري : الإيمان العمل . وقال أبو جعفر الرازي ، عن الربيع بن أنس : ( يؤمنون ) يخشون . ـ

Abu Ja’far al-Razi reported that … ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood said, “al-Eemaan is belief”.

And ‘Ali ibn Abi Talhah and others transmitted that ibn ‘Abbaas said, “yu’minoon means: they believed”.

Mu’mar said that al-Zuhri said, “al-Eemaan is action.”

And Abu Ja’far al-Razi recorded that al-Rabee’ ibn Anas said, “yu’minoon means: they feared”.

قال ابن جرير وغيره : والأولى أن يكونوا موصوفين بالإيمان بالغيب قولا واعتقادا وعملا قال : وقد تدخل الخشية لله في معنى الإيمان ، الذي هو تصديق القول بالعمل ، والإيمان كلمة جامعة للإقرار بالله وكتبه ورسله ، وتصديق الإقرار بالفعل . قلت : أما الإيمان في اللغة فيطلق على التصديق المحض ، وقد يستعمل في القرآن ، والمراد به ذلك ، كما قال تعالى : ( يؤمن بالله ويؤمن للمؤمنين ) [ التوبة : 61 ] ، وكما قال إخوة يوسف لأبيهم : ( وما أنت بمؤمن لنا ولو كنا صادقين ) [ يوسف : 17 ] ، وكذلك إذا استعمل مقرونا مع الأعمال ؛ كقوله : ( إلا الذين آمنوا وعملوا الصالحات ) [ الانشقاق : 25 ، والتين : 6 ] ، فأما إذا استعمل مطلقا فالإيمان الشرعي المطلوب لا يكون إلا اعتقادا وقولا وعملا . ـ

Ibn Jarir [al-Tabari] and others said, “The most proper understanding is that these people are characterized by having eemaan in the Unseen, manifested in their statements, their beliefs, and their actions.” And he also said, “Fear of Allah could also be included in the meaning of al-eemaan, as it is an affirmation of one’s statement through his actions. al-Eemaan is a comprehensive term for an affirmative belief in Allah, His Books, and His Messengers, as well as actualizing that affirmation through one’s actions.” Continue reading

Meanings of the words Yahood, Nasaara and Saabi’oon: Tafsir al-Baghawi

Imam al-Baghawi offers some linguistic definitions and benefits in his tafsir of surah al-Baqarah [2:62] by writing:

 ـ ( إن الذين آمنوا والذين هادوا ) يعني اليهود سموا به لقولهم إنا هدنا إليك أي ملنا إليك وقيل لأنهم هادوا أي تابوا عن عبادة العجل وقيل لأنهم مالوا عن دين الإسلام وعن دين موسى عليه السلام وقال أبو عمرو بن العلاء : لأنهم يتهودون أي يتحركون عند قراءة التوراة ويقولون : إن السماوات والأرض تحركت حين آتى الله موسى التوراة . ـ

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا

Verily! Those who believe and those who haadoo … [2:62]

meaning, the Yahood (Jews). They were called by that due to their statement

إِنَّا هُدْنَا إِلَيْكَ

indeed, we have hudnaa to You. [7:156]

meaning, we have turned to You.

And some say that they are called that because they haadoo [reconciled] – i.e. repented – from their calf-worship.

Some others say they are called that because they turned away from the religion of Islam and from the religion of Moosaa (peace be upon him).

Abu ‘Amr ibn al-‘Alaa’ said they are called that because they yatahawwadoon – meaning they rock and sway when they are reciting the Tawrah and because they say that the heavens and the earth shook when Allah gave Moosaa the Tawrah. Continue reading

The Virtue of this Ummah over the Previous Nations: Imam al-Shinqitee

The following discussion is an excerpt from a class of the famous mufassir, sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee. The class was delivered in his home to a group of his students. It was recorded, and subsequently transcribed and published in a collection of similar lessons and recorded events. This particular excerpt occurred during a lesson in which sheikh al-Shinqitee was explaining part of surah al-Baqarah, during his discussion of the ayah:

يَا بَنِي إِسْرَ‌ائِيلَ اذْكُرُ‌وا نِعْمَتِيَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَأَنِّي فَضَّلْتُكُمْ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ

O Banu Israa’eel, remember My favor that I have bestowed upon you and that I preferred you over all creation [2:47]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee explained:

وقوله هنا {فَضَّلْتُكُمْ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ} ؛ أي : على عالمي زمانكم الذي أنتم فيه ، فلا ينافي أن هذه الأمة التي هي أمة محمد ﷺ أفضل منهم ، كما نصّ الله على ذلك بقوله : {كُنْتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ} الآية [آل عمران 110] ، وفي حديث معاوية بن حيدة القشيري عن النبي ﷺ : أَنْتُمْ تُوفُونَ سَبْعِينَ أُمَّةً أَنْتُمْ خَيْرُهَا وَأَكْرَمُهَا عَلَى اللَّهِ . ـ

Allah’s statement here:

 فَضَّلْتُكُمْ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ

 I preferred you over all creation [2:47]

meaning: over all creation of the time in which they were living, so this does not conflict with the fact that this ummah – which is the ummah of Muhammad (ﷺ) – is the best of nations, as Allah informed us in His statement:

كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ‌ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِ‌جَتْ لِلنَّاسِ

You are the best nation brought forth for mankind … [3:110]

…until the end of the ayah. And in the hadeeth of Mu’aawiyah ibn Haidah al-Qushairi that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “You succeeded seventy nations and you are the best of them and the most noble of them in the sight of Allah”. Continue reading