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

The Levels of the Believers: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di mentions the following point of benefit in his thematic tafsir:

فائدة: قوله تعالى في المصطفين الذين أورثهم الله الكتاب: { فَمِنْهُمْ ظَالِمٌ لِّنَفْسِهِ وَمِنْهُم مُّقْتَصِدٌ وَمِنْهُمْ سَابِقٌ بِالْخَيْرَ‌اتِ } [ فاطر: 32 ].  اشترك هؤلاء الثلاثة في أصل الإيمان، وفي اختيار الله لهم من بين الخليقة، وفي أنه منَّ عليهم بالكتاب، وفي دخول الجنة، وافترقوا في تكميل مراتب الإيمان، وفي مقدار الاصطفاء من الله وميراث الكتاب، وفي منازل الجنة ودرجاتها بحسب أوصافهم. ـ

A point of benefit: The statement of Allah regarding the chosen ones to whom He has bequeathed the Book:

فَمِنْهُمْ ظَالِمٌ لِّنَفْسِهِ وَمِنْهُم مُّقْتَصِدٌ وَمِنْهُمْ سَابِقٌ بِالْخَيْرَ‌اتِ

and among them is he who wrongs himself, and among them is he who is moderate, and among them is he who is foremost in good deeds [35:32]

These three groups share in the foundation of al-eemaan and in Allah selecting them from amongst His created beings, and in the fact that He has blessed them with the Book and in their entering al-Jannah. But they differ in the completeness of the level of eemaan and in the measure of their being chosen by Allah and inheriting the Book, and in the dwellings of al-Jannah and its levels – all according to their descriptions.

أما الظالم لنفسه فهو المؤمن الذي خلط عملا صالحا وآخر سيئا، وترك من واجبات الإيمان ما لا يزول معه الإيمان بالكلية، وهذا القسم ينقسم إلى قسمين: ـ

1) As for the one who wrongs himself, then he is the mu’min who mixes righteous deeds and others that are foul, and he leaves off some of the obligations of al-eemaan which do not by themselves eliminate al-eemaan completely. This category is divided into two sub-categories: Continue reading

“O mankind, you are in need of Allah”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in His Book:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَنتُمُ الْفُقَرَ‌اءُ إِلَى اللَّـهِ ۖ وَاللَّـهُ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ

“O mankind, you are in need of Allah, and Allah is the Free of need, the Praiseworthy.” [35:15]

Imam al-Sa’di writes about this in his tafsir, saying:

يخاطب تعالى جميع الناس، ويخبرهم بحالهم ووصفهم، وأنهم فقراء إلى اللّه من جميع الوجوه‏:‏

Allah addresses all of mankind, and informs them of their condition and characteristics, and that they are in need of Allah in all aspects:

فقراء في إيجادهم، فلولا إيجاده إياهم، لم يوجدوا‏.‏

They are in need of Him for their creation, for if He did not create them, they would not have been created.

فقراء في إعدادهم بالقوى والأعضاء والجوارح، التي لولا إعداده إياهم ‏[‏بها‏]‏، لما استعدوا لأي عمل كان‏.‏

They are in need of Him for the providing their power and bodies and limbs, for without this provision for them, they would not have been able to do anything. Continue reading

“To Him ascends good speech, and righteous works raise it”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-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 honor – then to Allah belongs all honor. To Him ascends good speech, and righteous works raises it. But those who plot evil deeds will have a severe punishment, and the plotting of those – it will perish.” [35:10]

Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman bin Naasir al-Sa’di, in his book of tafsir, wrote the following in explanation:

أي‏:‏ يا من يريد العزة، اطلبها ممن هي بيده، فإن العزة بيد اللّه، ولا تنال إلا بطاعته، وقد ذكرها بقوله‏:‏ ‏{‏إِلَيْهِ يَصْعَدُ الْكَلِمُ الطَّيِّبُ‏}‏ من قراءة وتسبيح وتحميد وتهليل وكل كلام حسن طيب، فيرفع إلى اللّه ويعرض عليه ويثني اللّه على صاحبه بين الملأ الأعلى ‏{‏وَالْعَمَلُ الصَّالِحُ‏}‏ من أعمال القلوب وأعمال الجوارح ‏{‏يَرْفَعُهُ‏}‏ اللّه تعالى إليه أيضا، كالكلم الطيب‏.‏

Meaning: O those who want honor! Seek it from He who holds it in His Hand, for verily honor is in the Hand of Allah. And you will not win it except through His obedience. And He has mentioned that in His statement, “To Him ascends good speech” such as recitation (of the Qur’an), saying SubhanAllaahAlhamdulillaah, La ilaaha illallaah, and good excellent word. So it is raised to Allah and presented to Him, and Allah commends its owner before the heavenly assembly. “And righteous works” from the deeds of the heart and the deeds of the limbs “raises it” to Allah the Exalted also, like the good word.

وقيل‏:‏ والعمل الصالح يرفع الكلم الطيب، فيكون رفع الكلم الطيب بحسب أعمال العبد الصالحة، فهي التي ترفع كلمه الطيب، فإذا لم يكن له عمل صالح، لم يرفع له قول إلى اللّه تعالى، فهذه الأعمال التي ترفع إلى اللّه تعالى، ويرفع اللّه صاحبها ويعزه‏.‏

And it is said: the righteous deed elevates the good word. So the good word is raised according to the deeds of the righteous slave, and it is that which raises his good speech. So if he does not have righteous deeds, then his speech is not raised to Allah the Exalted, for it is good deeds which raise it to Allah the Exalted, and Allah elevates their owner and honors him.

وأما السيئات فإنها بالعكس، يريد صاحبها الرفعة بها، ويمكر ويكيد ويعود ذلك عليه، ولا يزداد إلا إهانة ونزولا، ولهذا قال‏:‏ ‏{‏والعمل الصالح يرفعه وَالَّذِينَ يَمْكُرُونَ السَّيِّئَاتِ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ‏}‏ يهانون فيه غاية الإهانة‏.‏ ‏{‏وَمَكْرُ أُولَئِكَ هُوَ يَبُورُ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ يهلك ويضمحل، ولا يفيدهم شيئا، لأنه مكر بالباطل، لأجل الباطل‏.‏

And as for the sins, then verily they are the opposite. Their owner wants elevation by them, and he plots and plans and that returns upon him [i.e. he will be punished for that]. And he will not be increased except in dishonor and degradation, and He said about this, “and righteous works raises it. But those who plot evil deeds will have a severe punishment” – humiliated with an extreme humiliation in that – “and the plotting of those – it will perish” – meaning: destroyed and eradicated, and it does not benefit them at all, because it is a futile plan for a futile purpose.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman]

Even if they heard, they would not respond to you: Imam al-Qurtubi on 35:14

Allah addresses the mushrikoon in His Book when He says:

إِن تَدْعُوهُمْ لَا يَسْمَعُوا دُعَاءَكُمْ وَلَوْ سَمِعُوا مَا اسْتَجَابُوا لَكُمْ ۖ وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ يَكْفُرُ‌ونَ بِشِرْ‌كِكُمْ ۚ وَلَا يُنَبِّئُكَ مِثْلُ خَبِيرٍ

If you invoke them, they do not hear your supplication; and if they heard, they would not respond to you. And on the Day of Resurrection they will deny your association. And none can inform you like [one] Acquainted [with all matters].‌ [35:14]

Imam al-Qurtubi explains this in his tafsir by saying:

قوله تعالى‏ (‏إن تدعوهم لا يسمعوا دعاءكم‏)‏ أي إن تستغيثوا بهم في النوائب لا يسمعوا دعاءكم؛ لأنها جمادات لا تبصر ولا تسمع‏.‏ ‏(‏ولو سمعوا ما استجابوا لكم‏)‏ إذ ليس كل سامع ناطقا‏.‏ وقال قتادة‏:‏ المعنى لو سمعوا لم ينفعوكم‏.‏ وقيل‏:‏ أي لو جعلنا لهم عقولا وحياة فسمعوا دعاءكم لكانوا أطوع لله منكم، ولما استجابوا لكم على الكفر‏.‏ (‏ويوم القيامة يكفرون بشرككم‏)‏ أي يجحدون أنكم عبدتموهم، ويتبرؤون منكم‏.‏ ثم يجوز أن يرجع هذا إلى المعبودين مما يعقل؛ كالملائكة والجن والأنبياء والشياطين أي يجحدون أن يكون ما فعلتموه حقا، وأنهم أمروكم بعبادتهم؛ كما أخبر عن عيسى بقوله‏ (‏ما يكون لي أن أقول ما ليس لي بحق‏) [‏المائدة‏:‏ 116‏]‏ ويجوز أن يندرج فيه الأصنام أيضا، أي يحييها الله حتى تخبر أنها ليست أهلا للعبادة‏.‏ ‏(‏ولا ينبئك مثل خبير‏)‏ هو الله جل وعز؛ أي لا أحد يخبر بخلق الله من الله، فلا ينبئك مثله في عمله‏.‏

Allah’s statement “If you invoke them, they do not hear your supplication” – meaning if you appeal to them for help in times of crisis they do not hear your supplication. “And if they heard, they would not respond to you” for not every hearer is able to speak. And Qataadah said, ‘the meaning is that even if they hear, they cannot benefit you.’ And it is said, ‘if We were to give them intellects and life so they could hear your supplication, then they would be more obedient to Allah than you,  and they would not respond to your kufr.’

And on the Day of Resurrection they will deny your association” – meaning they will deny that you worshiped them, and they will declare themselves innocent of you. Then it is possible that this will return the worshipers to their senses. And the angels, jinn, prophets and shayaateen will deny that they really did this [i.e. that they were really worshipped], and that they commanded them to worship them. This is like what Allah informs us about what ‘Eesaa (Jesus) said, “It was not for me to say that to which I have no right” [5:116], and idols may also be included among those who will deny worship directed towards them – Allah may give them life so that they can announce that they are not worthy of worship.

And none can inform you like [one] Acquainted [with all matters]” – that is Allah, meaning that there is no one who is intimately acquainted with the creation of Allah more than Allah, and none who will inform you [of your deeds, on the Day of Resurrection] like Him.

[Jaami’ li-Ahkaam al-Qur’an]

“To Allah is the final destination”: Imam al-Sa’di’s tafsir of 35:18

Allah informs us in His Book:

وَلَا تَزِرُ‌ وَازِرَ‌ةٌ وِزْرَ‌ أُخْرَ‌ىٰ ۚ وَإِن تَدْعُ مُثْقَلَةٌ إِلَىٰ حِمْلِهَا لَا يُحْمَلْ مِنْهُ شَيْءٌ وَلَوْ كَانَ ذَا قُرْ‌بَىٰ ۗ إِنَّمَا تُنذِرُ‌ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَ‌بَّهُم بِالْغَيْبِ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ ۚ وَمَن تَزَكَّىٰ فَإِنَّمَا يَتَزَكَّىٰ لِنَفْسِهِ ۚ وَإِلَى اللَّـهِ الْمَصِيرُ

And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. And if a heavily laden soul calls [another] to [carry some of] its load, nothing of it will be carried, even if he should be a close relative. You can only warn those who fear their Lord unseen and have established prayer. And whoever purifies himself only purifies himself for [the benefit of] his soul. And to Allah is the [final] destination. [35:18]

Imam al-Sa’di, in his tafsir of this ayah, writes:

 ما ذكره بعده في قوله‏:‏ ‏(‏وَلَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِزْرَ أُخْرَى‏)‏ أي‏:‏ في يوم القيامة كل أحد يجازى بعمله، ولا يحمل أحد ذنب أحد‏.‏ ‏(‏وَإِنْ تَدْعُ مُثْقَلَةٌ‏)‏ أي‏:‏ نفس مثقلة بالخطايا والذنوب، تستغيث بمن يحمل عنها بعض أوزارها ‏(‏لَا يُحْمَلْ مِنْهُ شَيْءٌ وَلَوْ كَانَ ذَا قُرْبَى‏)‏ فإنه لا يحمل عن قريب، فليست حال الآخرة بمنزلة حال الدنيا، يساعد الحميم حميمه، والصديق صديقه، بل يوم القيامة، يتمنى العبد أن يكون له حق على أحد، ولو على والديه وأقاربه‏.‏

What is mentioned previously of His statement, “and no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another” – meaning on the Day of Resurrection every one will be rewarded for his deeds, and no one will the sins of another. “And if a heavily laden soul calls” – meaning a soul heavily burdened with mistakes and sins, and he calls to another to carry part of his load for him – “nothing of it will be carried, even if he should be a close relative” – for verily one cannot carry for his close one. For the situation of the aakhira is not equivalent to the situation of the dunya, where close friends help one another and comrades help one another. No, rather of the Day of Resurrection the slave will hope that he has a right upon another, but he does not even have a right upon his parents or near relatives.

‏(‏إِنَّمَا تُنْذِرُ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُمْ بِالْغَيْبِ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ‏)‏ أي‏:‏ هؤلاء الذين يقبلون النذارة وينتفعون بها، أهل الخشية للّه بالغيب، أي‏:‏ الذين يخشونه في حال السر والعلانية، والمشهد والمغيب، وأهل إقامة الصلاة، بحدودها وشروطها وأركانها وواجباتها وخشوعها، لأن الخشية للّه تستدعي من العبد العمل بما يخشى من تضييعه العقاب، والهرب مما يخشى من ارتكابه العذاب، والصلاة تدعو إلى الخير، وتنهى عن الفحشاء والمنكر‏.‏

You can only warn those who fear their Lord unseen and have established prayer” – meaning these are the ones who accept the warning and benefit from it, the people who have reverential fear ( khashyah ) of Allah unseen – meaning those who have reverential fear of Him in situations both secret and open, witnessed and concealed. And the people who establish the salaat within its times and conditions and pillars and preconditions, and with khushoo’ due to it, for reverential fear of Allah calls the slave the action, including having khashyah against his being neglectful of punishment, and fleeing from what he fears will bring about punishment, and al-salaat calls to goodness, and prohibits one from immorality and evil.

‏(‏وَمَنْ تَزَكَّى فَإِنَّمَا يَتَزَكَّى لِنَفْسِهِ)‏ أي‏:‏ ومن زكى نفسه بالتنقِّي من العيوب، كالرياء والكبر، والكذب والغش، والمكر والخداع والنفاق، ونحو ذلك من الأخلاق الرذيلة، وتحلَّى بالأخلاق الجميلة، من الصدق، والإخلاص، والتواضع، ولين الجانب، والنصح للعباد، وسلامة الصدر من الحقد والحسد وغيرهما من مساوئ الأخلاق، فإن تزكيته يعود نفعها إليه، ويصل مقصودها إليه، ليس يضيع من عمله شيء‏.‏

And whoever purifies himself only purifies himself for [the benefit of] his soul” – meaning: and whoever purifies his own soul with a cleansing of defect, such as al-riyaa’ (showing off) and arrogance, lying and cheating, plotting, deception and hypocrisy, and other such lowly characteristics, and effects beautify characteristics such as truthfulness, ikhlaas, humility, gentleness, being sincere in advising others, and protecting his heart from hatred and envy and other evil characteristics, then his tazkiyyah (purification) returns to benefit himself, and he has reached his objectives thereby, without any decrease from (the reward) of his efforts.

‏(‏وَإِلَى اللَّهِ الْمَصِيرُ‏)‏ فيجازي الخلائق على ما أسلفوه، ويحاسبهم على ما قدموه وعملوه، ولا يغادر صغيرة ولا كبيرة إلا أحصاها‏.‏

And to Allah is the [final] destination” and He will reward His creations according to what they had done, and reckon them according to what they had sent form and performed. He leaves neither small nor big deeds except that He enumerates them.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman]