Describing specific events with general wordings: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah describes one of the responses of Fir’awn and his people to Moosaa in surah al-Ghaafir where He says:

فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُم بِالْحَقِّ مِنْ عِندِنَا قَالُوا اقْتُلُوا أَبْنَاءَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ وَاسْتَحْيُوا نِسَاءَهُمْ ۚ وَمَا كَيْدُ الْكَافِرِ‌ينَ إِلَّا فِي ضَلَالٍ

And when he brought them the truth from Us, they said, “Kill the sons of those who have believed with him and keep their women alive.” But the plan of the disbelievers is not but in error. [40:25]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di made the following remarks:

فما كيدهم إلا في ضلال، حيث لم يتم لهم ما قصدوا، بل أصابهم ضد ما قصدوا، أهلكهم الله وأبادهم عن آخرهم. ـ

So their plan was not but in error, such that they were not able to complete what they had intended. Rather, they were afflicted with the opposite of what they intended: Allah destroyed them and obliterated them even unto their last ones.

وتدبر هذه النكتة التي يكثر مرورها بكتاب الله تعالى: إذا كان السياق في قصة معينة أو على شيء معين، وأراد الله أن يحكم على ذلك المعين بحكم، لا يختص به ذكر الحكم . وعلقه على الوصف العام ليكون أعم، وتندرج فيه الصورة التي سيق الكلام لأجلها، وليندفع الإيهام باختصاص الحكم بذلك المعين. ـ

Reflect upon this subtle and wise wording which occurs frequently in the Book of Allah: when the context is dealing with a specific story or regarding a specific thing and Allah wishes to make a ruling on that specific thing, He does not make the mention of the ruling exclusive to only that thing. (Rather) He connects the ruling to the general characteristic in order that it would be more general. So this story which is the focus on the context is included therein (in the ruling), and this is also done in order to repel any false ideas of the ruling being limited only to that specific thing.

فلهذا لم يقل { وما كيدهم إلا في ضلال } بل قال: { وَمَا كَيْدُ الْكَافِرِينَ إِلَّا فِي ضَلَالٍ } ـ

So because of this He did not say, ‘and their plan is not but in error‘. Rather He said:

وَمَا كَيْدُ الْكَافِرِ‌ينَ إِلَّا فِي ضَلَالٍ

But the plan of the disbelievers is not but in error

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 866]

See also: The Proper Place of Asbaab al-Nuzool in Understanding the Qur’an: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: Technical wordings for Asbaab al-Nuzool: Ibn ‘Uthaymeen

See also: A Principle to Dispel Specious Arguments and Doubts: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: Four Means of Attaining Allah’s Forgiveness: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: A Benefit of General Language in Surah al-Duhaa: Sheikh ibn ‘Uthaymeen

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“I entrust my affair to Allah”: Tafsir al-Shawkaani

In surah Ghaafir, Allah recounts the story of a believing man from the family of Fir’awn who was calling his people to the worship of Allah alone, beginning with the 28th ayah and continuing until the 45th. In the conclusion of this man’s da’wah to his people, he uses a word which only occurs in this place in the Qur’an when he says:

فَسَتَذْكُرُ‌ونَ مَا أَقُولُ لَكُمْ ۚ وَأُفَوِّضُ أَمْرِ‌ي إِلَى اللَّـهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ بَصِيرٌ‌ بِالْعِبَادِ

“And you will remember what I am telling you, and I entrust my affair to Allah. Verily, Allah is the All-Seer of (His) slaves.” [40:44]

Commenting on this ayah in his work of tafsir, imam al-Shawkaani writes:

وَأُفَوّضُ أَمْرِى إِلَى الله أي: أتوكل عليه، وأسلم أمري إليه. قيل: إنه قال هذا لما أرادوا الإيقاع به. قال مقاتل: هرب هذا المؤمن إلى الجبل، فلم يقدروا عليه. وقيل: القائل هو: موسى، والأوّل أولى

And I entrust my affair to Allah” – meaning: I place my tawakkal (reliance, full trust) on Him, and I surrender my affair to Him. It is said that he said this when they wanted to punish him. Muqaatil said, “this believing man fled to the mountain, so they did not have any power over him.” And it is said that the speaker was Moosaa, but the first opinion (that it was the believing man from the family of Fir’awn) is preferred.

[Fath al-Qadeer 4/704]

See also: A cure for 99 problems

See also: “Remind them of the Days of Allah”: Tafsir al-Shawkaani

See also: A Runaway Slave

See also: The Tawakkal and Understaning of Ya’qub (‘alaihis salaam)

See also: “And whoever places their reliance upon Allah, then He is sufficient for him”:Ibn Hajr

See also: The Qur’anic Ayaat on Love – Part 2: Those whom Allah Loves

Religious knowledge and secular knowledge: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah concludes surah al-Ghaafir by saying:

أَفَلَمْ يَسِيرُ‌وا فِي الْأَرْ‌ضِ فَيَنظُرُ‌وا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ ۚ كَانُوا أَكْثَرَ‌ مِنْهُمْ وَأَشَدَّ قُوَّةً وَآثَارً‌ا فِي الْأَرْ‌ضِ فَمَا أَغْنَىٰ عَنْهُم مَّا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ * فَلَمَّا جَاءَتْهُمْ رُ‌سُلُهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ فَرِ‌حُوا بِمَا عِندَهُم مِّنَ الْعِلْمِ وَحَاقَ بِهِم مَّا كَانُوا بِهِ يَسْتَهْزِئُونَ * فَلَمَّا رَ‌أَوْا بَأْسَنَا قَالُوا آمَنَّا بِاللَّـهِ وَحْدَهُ وَكَفَرْ‌نَا بِمَا كُنَّا بِهِ مُشْرِ‌كِينَ * فَلَمْ يَكُ يَنفَعُهُمْ إِيمَانُهُمْ لَمَّا رَ‌أَوْا بَأْسَنَا ۖ سُنَّتَ اللَّـهِ الَّتِي قَدْ خَلَتْ فِي عِبَادِهِ ۖ وَخَسِرَ‌ هُنَالِكَ الْكَافِرُ‌ونَ

Have they not traveled through the earth and seen what was the end of those before them? They were more numerous than them and mightier in strength, and in the traces (they have left behind them) in the land, yet all that they used to earn availed them not. * And when their messengers came to them with clear proofs, they [merely] rejoiced in what they had of knowledge, but they were enveloped by what they used to ridicule. * And when they saw Our punishment, they said,” We believe in Allah alone and disbelieve in that which we used to associate with Him.” * But never did their faith benefit them once they saw Our punishment. [It is] the established way (sunnah) of Allah in dealing with His slaves. And there the disbelievers lost utterly. (40:82-85)

Imam al-Sa’di, in his book of tafsir, explains these ayaat by writing:

يحث تعالى، المكذبين لرسولهم، على السير في الأرض، بأبدانهم، وقلوبهم‏:‏ وسؤال العالمين‏.‏ ‏{‏فَيَنْظُرُوا‏}‏ نظر فكر واستدلال، لا نظر غفلة وإهمال‏.‏

Allah, the Exalted, urges the deniers of His messengers to traverse the earth, with their bodies and hearts. And the question to all of creation, “And observed” – seen, considered, reason – not the thoughtless looking and neglectfulness.

‏{‏كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِم‏}‏ من الأمم السالفة، كعاد، وثمود وغيرهم، ممن كانوا أعظم منهم قوة وأكثر أموالاً وأشد آثارًا في الأرض من الأبنية الحصينة، والغراس الأنيقة، والزروع الكثيرة ‏{‏فَمَا أَغْنَى عَنْهُمْ مَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ‏}‏ حين جاءهم أمر الله، فلم تغن عنهم قوتهم، ولا افتدوا بأموالهم، ولا تحصنوا بحصونهم‏.‏

What was the end of those before them?” of the past nations, such as ‘Aad and Thamood and others. They were among the greatest of the past nations in terms of power and had more abundant wealth and left greater marks upon the earth in terms of fortified buildings and luxurious gardens and abundant agriculture “yet all that they used to earn availed them not” when the command of Allah came to them, their might did not benefit them, nor could their wealth ransom them, nor could their fortifications protect them.

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