We gave Ibrahim good in this life: Tafsir al-Shawkani

In the end of Surah al-Nahl, Allah describes Ibrahim with several attributes, including:

وَآتَيْنَاهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً

And We gave him good in this world [16:122]

The scholars of tafsir have brought a number of explanations for this phrase, and Sheikh Muhammad al-Shawkani collected the majority of them in his tafsir where he wrote:

وآتيناه في الدنيا حسنة أي خصلة حسنة أو حالة حسنة ، وقيل هو الولد الصالح ، وقيل الثناء الحسن ، وقيل النبوة ، وقيل الصلاة منا عليه في التشهد ، وقيل هي أنه يتولاه جميع أهل الأديان ، ولا مانع أن يكون ما آتاه الله شاملا لذلك كله ولما عداه من خصال الخير

وَآتَيْنَاهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً

And We gave him good in this world

i.e. good qualities or a good condition.

  • Some have said that it refers to righteous offspring.
  • Some have said that it refers to good praise and commendation.
  • Some have said that it refers to the station of prophethood.
  • Some have said that it refers to our prayers upon him during the tashahud.
  • And still others have said that it refers to the people of all religions inclining towards him in affection.

And there is nothing to prevent that which Allah gave him from including all of these good qualities or even more.

[Fath al-Qadeer 1/808] Continue reading

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Using the Past Tense to Refer to the Future: Tafsir ibn ‘Uthaymeen

In part of surah al-Saffaat, Allah describes the events of the Day of Recompense by saying:

وَقَالُوا يَا وَيْلَنَا هَـٰذَا يَوْمُ الدِّينِ

This can be literally translated as:

And they said: Woe to us! This is the Day of Reckoning! (37:20)

In his explanation of this surah, sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen said:

وقوله تعالى (وَقَالُوا يَا وَيْلَنَا هَـٰذَا يَوْمُ الدِّينِ ) قالوا أتى بفعل الماضى مع أنه القول المستقبل ، لتحقق وقوعه ، وهذا كثير في اللغة العربية ، والقرآن الكريم يعبر عن المستقبل بالماضي لتحقق وقوعه ومثاله قوله تعالى(أتى أمر الله)فإن أمر الله لم يأت بدليل قوله تعالى(فلا تستعجلوه)لكن أتى هنا بمعنى يأتي وعبر عن المستقبل بالماضي لتحقق وقوعه

Allah’s statement:

وَقَالُوا يَا وَيْلَنَا هَـٰذَا يَوْمُ الدِّينِ

And they said: Woe to us! This is the Day of Reckoning!

the word “they said” comes as a past tense verb despite the fact that it is a future statement. This is done to affirm that this definitely will take place. This is a common practice in the Arabic language, and the Qur’an will refer to a future event by using the past tense in order to affirm that it certainly will come to pass. An example of this is Allah’s statement: Continue reading

A Warning Against Innovating and Giving Rulings Without Knowledge: ibn Kathir & al-Shawkaani

In surah al-Nahl, Allah lists a number of foods which He has forbidden, and then follows that up by saying:

وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَا تَصِفُ أَلْسِنَتُكُمُ الْكَذِبَ هَـٰذَا حَلَالٌ وَهَـٰذَا حَرَامٌ لِّتَفْتَرُوا عَلَى اللَّـهِ الْكَذِبَ ۚ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَفْتَرُونَ عَلَى اللَّـهِ الْكَذِبَ لَا يُفْلِحُونَ

And do not say that which your tongues falsely put forth, that this is halaal and this is haraam. Then you would falsely attribute untruth to Allah. Those who attribute untruth to Allah will not succeed. [16:116]

Commenting on this in part of his tafsir, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir wrote:

ثم نهى تعالى عن سلوك سبيل المشركين ، الذين حللوا وحرموا بمجرد ما وضعوه واصطلحوا عليه من الأسماء بآرائهم ، من البحيرة والسائبة والوصيلة والحام ، وغير ذلك مما كان شرعا لهم ابتدعوه في جاهليتهم ، فقال : ( ولا تقولوا لما تصف ألسنتكم الكذب هذا حلال وهذا حرام لتفتروا على الله الكذب ) ويدخل في هذا كل من ابتدع بدعة ليس [ له ] فيها مستند شرعي ، أو حلل شيئا مما حرم الله ، أو حرم شيئا مما أباح الله بمجرد رأيه وتشهيه . ـ

Then Allah prohibits following the way of the Mushrikoon who used to declare things to be permissible or impermissible based on nothing more than some specialized terms to name and classify different types of creatures – specialized terms that they contrived based on their own whims. For example, they had various names they came up with for camels and other things according to their religious beliefs in the period of Pre-Islamic Ignorance. So Allah said:

وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَا تَصِفُ أَلْسِنَتُكُمُ الْكَذِبَ هَـٰذَا حَلَالٌ وَهَـٰذَا حَرَامٌ لِّتَفْتَرُوا عَلَى اللَّـهِ الْكَذِبَ

And do not say that which your tongues falsely put forth, that this is halaal and this is haraam. Then you would falsely attribute untruth to Allah. Continue reading

The Straight Path Leads to Allah: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In the beginning of surah al-Nahl (16), Allah devotes several ayaat to the blessings which He has created for mankind, and in particular He mentions certain livestock and riding animals, before saying:

وَالْخَيْلَ وَالْبِغَالَ وَالْحَمِيرَ لِتَرْكَبُوهَا وَزِينَةً ۚ وَيَخْلُقُ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ * وَعَلَى اللَّـهِ قَصْدُ السَّبِيلِ وَمِنْهَا جَائِرٌ ۚ وَلَوْ شَاءَ لَهَدَاكُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ

And [He created] the horses, mules and donkeys for you to ride and as adornment. And He creates that which you do not know. * The straight path leads to Allah, but among the various paths are those which deviate. And if He willed, He could have guided you all. [16:8-9]

Commenting on this second ayah and the switch in content between the two, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir wrote the following in his tafsir:

لما ذكر تعالى من الحيوانات ما يسار عليه في السبل الحسية ، نبه على الطرق المعنوية الدينية ، وكثيرا ما يقع في القرآن العبور من الأمور الحسية إلى الأمور المعنوية النافعة الدينية ، كما قال تعالى : ( وتزودوا فإن خير الزاد التقوى ) [ البقرة : 197 ] وقال : ( يا بني آدم قد أنزلنا عليكم لباسا يواري سوآتكم وريشا ولباس التقوى ذلك خير ) [ الأعراف : 26 ] . ـ

After making mention of the riding animals which are used to traverse the physical paths, Allah draws our attention to the figurative religious pathways. And this type of shifting from concrete matters to abstract religiously beneficial matters occurs frequently in the Qur’an. For instance, see Allah’s statement:

وَتَزَوَّدُوا فَإِنَّ خَيْرَ الزَّادِ التَّقْوَىٰ

And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is al-taqwa [2:197]

or His statement: Continue reading

The Forbidden Foods in Surah al-Nahl: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says towards the end of surah al-Nahl:

فَكُلُوا مِمَّا رَ‌زَقَكُمُ اللَّـهُ حَلَالًا طَيِّبًا وَاشْكُرُ‌وا نِعْمَتَ اللَّـهِ إِن كُنتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ * إِنَّمَا حَرَّ‌مَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةَ وَالدَّمَ وَلَحْمَ الْخِنزِيرِ‌ وَمَا أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ‌ اللَّـهِ بِهِ ۖ فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ‌ غَيْرَ‌ بَاغٍ وَلَا عَادٍ فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ غَفُورٌ‌ رَّ‌حِيمٌ * وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَا تَصِفُ أَلْسِنَتُكُمُ الْكَذِبَ هَـٰذَا حَلَالٌ وَهَـٰذَا حَرَ‌امٌ لِّتَفْتَرُ‌وا عَلَى اللَّـهِ الْكَذِبَ ۚ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَفْتَرُ‌ونَ عَلَى اللَّـهِ الْكَذِبَ لَا يُفْلِحُونَ * مَتَاعٌ قَلِيلٌ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ * وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ هَادُوا حَرَّ‌مْنَا مَا قَصَصْنَا عَلَيْكَ مِن قَبْلُ ۖ وَمَا ظَلَمْنَاهُمْ وَلَـٰكِن كَانُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ

So eat of the lawful and good food which Allah has provided for you. And be grateful for the Graces of Allah, if it is He Whom you worship. * He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah. But whoever is forced, without desire nor trangression – then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. * And do not say about what your tongues assert of untruth, “This is lawful and this is unlawful,” to invent falsehood about Allah. Indeed, those who invent falsehood about Allah will not succeed. * A brief enjoyment, and they will have a painful punishment. * And to those who are Jews We have prohibited that which We related to you before. And We did not wrong them [thereby], but they were wronging themselves. [16:114-118]

Commenting on these ayaat in his book of tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote:

يأمر تعالى عباده بأكل ما رزقهم الله من الحيوانات والحبوب والثمار وغيرها. { حَلَالًا طَيِّبًا } أي: حالة كونها متصفة بهذين الوصفين بحيث لا تكون مما حرم الله أو أثرا عن غصب ونحوه. فتمتعوا بما خلق الله لكم من غير إسراف ولا تَعَدٍّ. { وَاشْكُرُوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ } بالاعتراف بها بالقلب والثناء على الله بها وصرفها في طاعة الله. { إِنْ كُنْتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ } أي إن كنتم مخلصين له العبادة، فلا تشكروا إلا إياه، ولا تنسوا المنعم. ـ

Allah is commanding His slaves to eat of the animals, produce, and other things which He has provided for them.

حَلَالًا طَيِّبًا

Lawful and good

meaning: in a state characterized by these two attributes, such that they do not fall under what Allah has forbidden nor were obtained by forced coercion or other similar methods. So they enjoy what Allah has created for them without wastefulness or infringing on the rights of others.

وَاشْكُرُوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ

And be grateful for the blessings of Allah

by recognizing them with one’s heart, praising Allah for them, and using them for obedience to Allah.

إِنْ كُنْتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ

If it is He Whom you worship.

meaning: if you are really sincerely devoted to Him in worship, then do not thank anyone other than Him and do not forget the Granter of blessings.

 ـ { إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمُ } الأشياء المضرة تنزيها لكم، وذلك: كـ { الْمَيْتَةَ } ويدخل في ذلك كل ما كان موته على غير ذكاة مشروعة، ويستثنى من ذلك ميتة الجراد والسمك. ـ

إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمُ

He has only forbidden to you

the things which are harmful, in order to keep you safe from them, and these are the likes of

Continue reading

Sabr is only from Allah: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Allah says towards the end of surah al-Nahl:

وَاصْبِرْ‌ وَمَا صَبْرُ‌كَ إِلَّا بِاللَّـهِ ۚ وَلَا تَحْزَنْ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا تَكُ فِي ضَيْقٍ مِّمَّا يَمْكُرُ‌ونَ

And exercise sabr, [O Muhammad], and your sabr is not but through Allah. And do not grieve over them and do not be in distress over what they conspire. [16:127]

Briefly commenting on this ayah in his book of tafsir, Imam Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote:

قوله تعالى : واصبر وما صبرك إلا بالله الآية [ 16 \ 127 ] . ذكر – جل وعلا – في هذه الآية الكريمة : أنه – صلى الله عليه وسلم – مأمور بالصبر ، وأنه لا يمتثل ذلك الأمر بالصبر إلا بإعانة الله وتوفيقه ; لقوله : وما صبرك إلا بالله الآية [ 16 \ 127 ] ،  ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَاصْبِرْ‌ وَمَا صَبْرُ‌كَ إِلَّا بِاللَّـهِ

And exercise sabr, [O Muhammad], and your sabr is not but through Allah

In this noble ayah Allah mentioned that the Prophet (ﷺ) was commanded to have al-sabr [steadfast patience], and that he could not comply with the command to exercise sabr without Allah’s aid and granting of success. This is according to His statement: Continue reading

And We gave Ibrahim good in this life: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

In the end of surah al-Nahl, Allah describes Ibrahim with a number of attributes, including:

وَآتَيْنَاهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً

And We gave him good in this worldly life [16:122]

The scholars of tafsir have offered a number of different opinions to as what this is referring to. Ibn al-Jawzi summarized these opinions in his tafsir by writing:

قوله تعالى : ” وآتيناه في الدنيا حسنة ” فيها ستة أقوال : أحدها : أنها الذكر الحسن ، قاله ابن عباس . والثاني : النبوة ، قاله الحسن . والثالث : لسان صدق ، قاله مجاهد . والرابع : اجتماع الملل على ولايته ، فكلهم يتولونه ويرضونه ، قاله قتادة . والخامس : أنها الصلاة عليه مقرونة بالصلاة على محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم ، قاله مقاتل بن حيان . والسادس : الأولاد الأبرار على الكبر ، حكاه الثعلبي . ـ

There are six different opinions regarding Allah’s statement, “And We gave him good in this worldly life“.

1) That this means a good mention, and this was the opinion of ibn ‘Abbaas.

2) Prophethood, which was the opinion of al-Hasan.

3) Truthful speech, which was the opinion of Mujaahid. Continue reading

Two of the Wisdoms for Revealing the Qur’an to the Prophet: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Imam Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote in his tafsir of surah al-Nahl:

قوله تعالى : وأنزلنا إليك الذكر لتبين للناس ما نزل إليهم ولعلهم يتفكرون ، المراد بالذكر في هذه الآية : القرآن ; كقوله : إنا نحن نزلنا الذكر وإنا له لحافظون [ 15 \ 9 ] . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَأَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الذِّكْرَ‌ لِتُبَيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ مَا نُزِّلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُ‌ونَ

And We revealed to you (O Muhammad) the dhikr that you may make clear to the people what was sent down to them and that they might give thought. [16:44]

The intended meaning of al-dhikr in this ayah is the Qur’an, just as in His statement:

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ‌ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ

Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian. [9:15]

وقد ذكر – جل وعلا – في هذه الآية حكمتين من حكم إنزال القرآن على النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : ـ

And in this ayah Allah mentioned two wisdoms from among the wisdoms of revealing the Qur’an to His prophet (ﷺ): Continue reading

The two types of ‘with-ness’ of Allah: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Allah informs us in surah al-Nahl:

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ اتَّقَوا وَّالَّذِينَ هُم مُّحْسِنُونَ

Indeed, Allah is with those who have taqwa of Him and those who are doers of good. [16:128]

Commenting on this in his tafsir, Imam Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote:

قوله تعالى : إن الله مع الذين اتقوا والذين هم محسنون ، ذكر – جل وعلا – في هذه الآية الكريمة : أنه مع عباده المتقين المحسنين ، وقد تقدم إيضاح معنى التقوى و الإحسان . ـ

Allah’s statement:

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ اتَّقَوا وَّالَّذِينَ هُم مُّحْسِنُونَ

Indeed, Allah is with those who have taqwa of Him and those who are doers of good.

He mentioned in this noble ayah that He is with His god-fearing and good-doing slaves, and the clarification of the meaning of taqwa and al-ihsaan has already preceded this.

وهذه المعية بعباده المؤمنين ، وهي بالإعانة والنصر والتوفيق . وكرر هذا المعنى في مواضع أخر ; كقوله : إنني معكما أسمع وأرى [ 20 \ 46 ] ، وقوله : إذ يوحي ربك إلى الملائكة أني معكم [ 8 \ 12 ] ، وقوله : لا تحزن إن الله معنا [ 9 \ 40 ] ، وقوله : قال كلا إن معي ربي سيهدين [ 26 \ 62 ] ، إلى غير ذلك من الآيات . ـ

And this “with-ness” with His believing slaves is by means of aid, support and granting success, and this meaning is reiterated in many other places, such as His statement: Continue reading

The Good Life, and how to get it: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah says in surah al-Nahl:

مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِنْ ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنْثَى وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَةً وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْرَهُمْ بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

“Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer – We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward according to the best of what they used to do.” [16:97]

Imam ibn Kathir, in his famous book of tafsir explains:

هذا وعد من الله تعالى لمن عمل صالحا- وهو العمل المتابع لكتاب الله تعالى وسنة نبيه من ذكر أو أنثى من بني آدم، وقلبه مؤمن بالله ورسوله، وإن هذا العمل المأمور به مشروع من عند الله- بأن يحييه الله حياة طيبة في الدنيا وأن يجزيه بأحسن ما عمله في الدار الآخرة.

“This is a promise from Allah to whoever does righteous deeds – which are actions in accordance with the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet – whether the doer be male of female from the Children of Adam – and his/her heart is a believer in Allah and His Messenger – and so long as these deeds are from Allah’s Divinely Legislated commands, then this is a promise that Allah cause him to live a good life in this dunya  and that He will reward him in the next life according to the best of what he/she used to do.


والحياة الطيبة تشمل وجوه الراحة من أي جهة كانت. وقد روي عن ابن عباس وجماعة أنهم فسروها بالرزق الحلال الطيب


“And the good life includes all sorts of comforts/ease. And it has been narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas and a group of exegetes that they explained it as good and lawful provisions.”

[Tafsir ibn Kathir 4/601]

See also: “Whoever follows My guidance will neither go astray nor suffer”: Tafsir of Sheikh bin Baaz