“Thus Does Allah Strike a Parable of Truth and Falsehood”: al-Qurtubi, ibn Taymiyah, and ibn al-Qayyim

Allah strikes the following two parables in one ayah in surah al-Ra’d:

أَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَسَالَتْ أَوْدِيَةٌ بِقَدَرِهَا فَاحْتَمَلَ السَّيْلُ زَبَدًا رَّابِيًا ۚ وَمِمَّا يُوقِدُونَ عَلَيْهِ فِي النَّارِ ابْتِغَاءَ حِلْيَةٍ أَوْ مَتَاعٍ زَبَدٌ مِّثْلُهُ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يَضْرِبُ اللَّـهُ الْحَقَّ وَالْبَاطِلَ ۚ فَأَمَّا الزَّبَدُ فَيَذْهَبُ جُفَاءً ۖ وَأَمَّا مَا يَنفَعُ النَّاسَ فَيَمْكُثُ فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يَضْرِبُ اللَّـهُ الْأَمْثَالَ

Allah sends down rain from the sky and the valleys flow according to their capacity, and a torrent carries the rising foam. And out of that which they heat in the fire, seeking adornments and tools, is a similar foam. Thus does Allah strike a parable of the truth and falsehood. As for the foam, it vanishes, being cast off. But as for they which benefits people, then it remains on the earth. Thus does Allah strike parables. [13:17]

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

وهو أن المثلين ضربهما الله للحق في ثباته ، والباطل في اضمحلاله ، فالباطل وإن علا في بعض الأحوال فإنه يضمحل كاضمحلال الزبد والخبث . وقيل : المراد مثل ضربه الله للقرآن وما يدخل منه القلوب ; فشبه القرآن بالمطر لعموم خيره وبقاء نفعه ، وشبه القلوب بالأودية ، يدخل فيها من القرآن مثل ما يدخل في الأودية بحسب سعتها وضيقها . ـ

Allah struck these two parables about the truth and its firmness and falsehood and its transience. For even if falsehood may be ascendant at certain times and situations, it will pass away just as foam and filth pass away.

Some have said that the intended meaning of this parable is about the Qur’an and how it enters into the hearts. Allah likened the Qur’an to water due to how much good it brings and its enduring benefit, and He likened the hearts to river valleys. So the Qur’an enters the heart just as water enters the river valleys – that is, an amount matching with their width or narrowness. Continue reading

The Death of the Scholars: Tafsir al-Baghawi & al-Qurtubi

Allah says in surah al-Ra’d:

أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا أَنَّا نَأْتِي الْأَرْضَ نَنقُصُهَا مِنْ أَطْرَافِهَا ۚ وَاللَّـهُ يَحْكُمُ لَا مُعَقِّبَ لِحُكْمِهِ ۚ وَهُوَ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ

Have they not seen that We set upon the land, reducing it from its borders? And Allah decides; there is no adjuster of His decision. And He is swift in account. [13:41]

Commenting on this, Imam al-Baghawi wrote:

قوله تعالى ( أولم يروا ) يعني : أهل مكة ، الذين يسألون محمدا صلى الله عليه وسلم الآيات ( أنا نأتي الأرض ننقصها من أطرافها ) أكثر المفسرين على أن المراد منه فتح ديار الشرك ، فإن ما زاد في ديار الإسلام فقد نقص من ديار الشرك ، يقول : ( أولم يروا أنا نأتي الأرض ننقصها من أطرافها ) فنفتحها لمحمد أرضا بعد أرض حوالي أرضهم ، أفلا يعتبرون ؟ هذا قول ابن عباس ، وقتادة ، وجماعة . ـ

Allah’s statement:

أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا

Have they not seen …

i.e. Haven’t the people of Mecca, those who ask Muhammad for miracles, seen

أَنَّا نَأْتِي الْأَرْضَ نَنقُصُهَا مِنْ أَطْرَافِهَا

… that We set upon the land, reducing it from its borders?

Most of the mufassiroon held that the intended meaning here is Islamic conquests of the non-Muslim lands, for the increases of the Muslim lands took away from the non-Muslim lands. Continue reading

A Parable of the Disbelievers and the Believers: Tafsir al-Tabari

Allah strikes the following parable in surah Hud:

مَثَلُ الْفَرِيقَيْنِ كَالْأَعْمَىٰ وَالْأَصَمِّ وَالْبَصِيرِ وَالسَّمِيعِ ۚ هَلْ يَسْتَوِيَانِ مَثَلًا ۚ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ

The example of the two parties is like the blind and the deaf, and the seeing and the hearing. Are these two equal in comparison? Will you not then remember? [11:24]

Imam Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari wrote the following in his tafsir of this ayah:

قَالَ أَبُو جَعْفَرٍ : يَقُولُ ، تَعَالَى ذِكْرُهُ : مَثَلُ فَرِيقَيِ الْكُفْرِ وَالْإِيمَانِ كَمَثَلِ الْأَعْمَى الَّذِي لَا يَرَى بِعَيْنِهِ شَيْئًا ، وَالْأَصَمِّ الَّذِي لَا يَسْمَعُ شَيْئًا ، فَكَذَلِكَ فَرِيقُ الْكُفْرِ لَا يُبَصِّرُ الْحَقَّ فَيَتَّبِعُهُ وَيَعْمَلُ بِهِ ، لِشَغْلِهِ بِكُفْرِهِ بِاللَّهِ ، وَغَلَبَةِ خِذْلَانِ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ ، لَا يَسْمَعُ دَاعِيَ اللَّهِ إِلَى الرَّشَادِ ، فَيُجِيبُهُ إِلَى الْهُدَى فَيَهْتَدِي بِهِ ، فَهُوَ مُقِيمٌ فِي ضَلَالَتِهِ ، يَتَرَدَّدُ فِي حَيْرَتِهِ . وَالسَّمِيعُ وَالْبَصِيرُ فَذَلِكَ فَرِيقُ الْإِيمَانِ ، أَبْصَرَ حُجَجَ اللَّهِ ، وَأَقَرَّ بِمَا دَلَّتْ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ تَوْحِيدِ اللَّهِ ، وَالْبَرَاءَةِ مِنَ الْآلِهَةِ وَالْأَنْدَادِ ، وَنُبُوَّةَ الْأَنْبِيَاءِ عَلَيْهِمُ السَّلَامُ ، وَسَمِعَ دَاعِيَ اللَّهِ فَأَجَابَهُ وَعَمِلَ بِطَاعَةِ اللَّهِ ، كَمَا : ـ

I, Abu Ja’far, say: Allah is saying: The comparison of these two parties – that of disbelief and that of belief – is like the comparison of a blind person whose eyes cannot see anything at all and a deaf person who cannot hear anything, for similarly, those in the party of disbelief cannot see the truth that they might follow and act according to it due to how distracted they are with their disbelief in Allah and because their act of forsaking Allah has come back against them. They do not hear Allah’s callers calling them to upright guidance so that they might accept that guidance and become rightly guided by it. Instead they remain in their misguided state, stuck in a perpetual state of confusion.

But the seeing and hearing one is the party of belief. They see Allah’s signs and proofs and therefore affirm that these signs demonstrate Allah’s sole right to be worshiped, His freedom from having any partners or associates, and His having sent prophets. They hear Allah’s callers and respond to the call and obey Allah.

This explanation is similar to the explanations of the salaf, such as: Continue reading

Only the Creator is Deserving of Worship: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee brought the following discussion in his tafsir of surah al-Ra’d:

قوله تعالى : أم جعلوا لله شركاء خلقوا كخلقه فتشابه الخلق عليهم قل الله خالق كل شيء وهو الواحد القهار . ـ

Allah’s statement:

أَمْ جَعَلُوا لِلَّـهِ شُرَ‌كَاءَ خَلَقُوا كَخَلْقِهِ فَتَشَابَهَ الْخَلْقُ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ قُلِ اللَّـهُ خَالِقُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُوَ الْوَاحِدُ الْقَهَّارُ‌

Or do they assign partners to Allah who create like His creation, and so the creation appears similar to them? Say, “Allah is the Creator of everything; and He is the One, the All-Mighty” [13:16]

أشار تعالى في هذه الآية الكريمة إلى أنه هو المستحق لأن يعبد وحده ; لأنه هو الخالق ولا يستحق من الخلق أن يعبدوه إلا من خلقهم وأبرزهم من العدم إلى الوجود ; لأن المقصود من قوله : أم جعلوا لله شركاء خلقوا كخلقه فتشابه الخلق عليهم [ 13 \ 16 ] إنكار ذلك وأنه هو الخالق وحده بدليل قوله بعده : قل الله خالق كل شيء [ 13 \ 16 ] أي : وخالق كل شيء هو المستحق لأن يعبد وحده ، ويبين هذا المعنى في آيات كثيرة ، كقوله : ياأيها الناس اعبدوا ربكم الذي خلقكم الآية [ 2 \ 21 ] ، وقوله : واتخذوا من دونه آلهة لا يخلقون شيئا وهم يخلقون [ 25 \ 3 ] ، وقوله : أيشركون ما لا يخلق شيئا وهم يخلقون [ 7 \ 191 ] ، وقوله : هذا خلق الله فأروني ماذا خلق الذين من دونه [ 31 \ 11 ] إلى غير ذلك من الآيات ; لأن المخلوق محتاج إلى خالقه فهو عبد مربوب مثلك يجب عليه أن يعبد من خلقه وحده ، كما يجب عليك ذلك ، فأنتما سواء بالنسبة إلى وجوب عبادة الخالق وحده لا شريك له . ـ

In this noble ayah, Allah mentions that He is the only one entitled to be worshiped, for He is the Creator. And there is not anyone or anything which deserves to be worshiped by the creation except for the one who created them and brought them into existence out of nothingness. For the purpose of His statement: Continue reading

The Quraish’s Demand for a Sign: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee mentioned the following in part of his tafsir of surah al-Ra’d:

قوله تعالى : ويقول الذين كفروا لولا أنزل عليه آية من ربه . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَيَقُولُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُ‌وا لَوْلَا أُنزِلَ عَلَيْهِ آيَةٌ مِّن رَّ‌بِّهِ

And those who disbelieved say, “Why has a sign not been sent down to him from his Lord?” [13:7]

In this noble ayah, Allah explained that the disbelievers demand that the Prophet bring a sign sent to him from his Lord. And He made this meaning clear in numerous other places, such as His statement:

فَلْيَأْتِنَا بِآيَةٍ كَمَا أُرْ‌سِلَ الْأَوَّلُونَ

(The disbelievers said) “So let him bring us a sign just as those who were sent previously.” [21:5]

as well as other ayaat. And He also explained elsewhere that the Magnificent Qur’an contains that which precludes the need of any further signs, as He explained in His statement: Continue reading

“And the supplication of the disbelievers is not but in error”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in His Book, in surah al-Ra’d:

لَهُ دَعْوَةُ الْحَقِّ ۖ وَالَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِهِ لَا يَسْتَجِيبُونَ لَهُم بِشَيْءٍ إِلَّا كَبَاسِطِ كَفَّيْهِ إِلَى الْمَاءِ لِيَبْلُغَ فَاهُ وَمَا هُوَ بِبَالِغِهِ ۚ وَمَا دُعَاءُ الْكَافِرِ‌ينَ إِلَّا فِي ضَلَالٍ

To Him is the supplication of truth. And those they call upon besides Him do not respond to them with anything, except as one who stretches his hands toward water in order to reach his mouth, but it will not reach it. And the supplication of the disbelievers is not but in error. [13:14]

Imam ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Naasir al-Sa’di, in his book of tafsir, writes the following about this ayah:

‏‏ أي‏:‏ لله وحده ‏{‏دَعْوَةُ الْحَقِّ‏}‏ وهي‏:‏ عبادته وحده لا شريك له، وإخلاص دعاء العبادة ودعاء المسألة له تعالى، أي‏:‏ هو الذي ينبغي أن يصرف له الدعاء، والخوف، والرجاء، والحب، والرغبة، والرهبة، والإنابة؛ لأن ألوهيته هي الحق، وألوهية غيره باطلة ‏{‏وَالَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِهِ‏}‏ من الأوثان والأنداد التي جعلوها شركاء لله‏.‏

Meaning: to Allah alone “is the supplication of truth“. And that is: Worship of Him alone without ascribing any partners to Him, and sincere supplication of worship and supplications of asking Him, the Most High. Meaning: He is the One to Whom supplication should be made, and fear and hope, and love and desire, and awe and entrusting your affairs to Him, because His divinity is true, and the divinity of other than Him is falsehood. “And those they call upon besides Him” from their idols and partners which they have made as partners with Allah.

‏{‏لَا يَسْتَجِيبُونَ لَهُمْ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ لمن يدعوها ويعبدها بشيء قليل ولا كثير لا من أمور الدنيا ولا من أمور الآخرة ‏{‏إِلَّا كَبَاسِطِ كَفَّيْهِ إِلَى الْمَاءِ‏}‏ الذي لا تناله كفاه لبعده، ‏{‏لِيَبْلُغَ‏}‏ ببسط كفيه إلى الماء ‏{‏فَاهُ‏}‏ فإنه عطشان ومن شدة عطشه يتناول بيده، ويبسطها إلى الماء الممتنع وصولها إليه، فلا يصل إليه‏.‏

Do not respond to them” – meaning: those to whom they supplicate and worship, [do not respond] with anything, neither small nor abundant, neither concerning the matters of this life nor concerning the matters of the hereafter. “Except as one who stretches his hands toward water” which his hand cannot reach due to its distance, “in order to reach” – extending his hands towards the water – “his mouth” because he is thirsty, and the severity of his thirst affects his hand, and he reaches it out towards water which he is prevented from reaching, so he does not reach it.

كذلك الكفار الذين يدعون معه آلهة لا يستجيبون لهم بشيء ولا ينفعونهم في أشد الأوقات إليهم حاجة لأنهم فقراء كما أن من دعوهم فقراء، لا يملكون مثقال ذرة في الأرض ولا في السماء، وما لهم فيهما من شرك وما له منهم من ظهير‏.‏

Like this are the kuffaar who supplicate, alongside Allah, to gods do not respond to them with anything and do not benefit them in the times when their needs are most severe, for they [i.e. the false gods] are impoverished, just as those who supplicate to them are impoverished. They do not own the likeness of an atom on the earth or in the sky, and there is no partnership [in ownership or control] in these things, nor is there anything for them.

‏{‏وَمَا دُعَاءُ الْكَافِرِينَ إِلَّا فِي ضَلَالٍ‏}‏ لبطلان ما يدعون من دون الله، فبطلت عباداتهم ودعاؤهم؛ لأن الوسيلة تبطل ببطلان غايتها، ولما كان الله تعالى هو الملك الحق المبين، كانت عبادته حقًّا متصلة النفع لصاحبها في الدنيا والآخرة‏.‏

And the supplication of the disbelievers is not but in error” – of futility is their supplicating to other than Allah, so their worship and their supplication was rendered void, because the method was invalidated so (also) the objective was futile, for Allah the Exalted is the True and Clear Master. Worship of Him is true (i.e. valid), conducive to benefiting the one who does it (both) in this life and in the hereafter.

وتشبيه دعاء الكافرين لغير الله بالذي يبسط كفيه إلى الماء ليبلغ فاه من أحسن الأمثلة؛ فإن ذلك تشبيه بأمر محال، فكما أن هذا محال، فالمشبه به محال، والتعليق على المحال من أبلغ ما يكون في نفي الشيء كما قال تعالى‏:‏ ‏{‏إن الذين كذبوا بآياتنا واستكبروا عنها لا تفتح لهم أبواب السماء ولا يدخلون الجنة حتى يلج الجمل في سم الخياط‏}‏

And the analogy of the supplication of the disbelievers to other than Allah with the one who stretched out his hands towards water in order to reach (it) to his mouth is one of the excellent comparisons, for certainly that is the analogy of an impossible matter, and so since that is impossible, then its counterpart in the analogy is (also) impossible, and the relation of impossibility is part of the rhetoric of denying a thing, just as Allah said, “Indeed, those who deny Our verses and are arrogant toward them – the gates of Heaven will not be opened for them, nor will they enter Paradise until a camel enters into the eye of a needle. And thus do We recompense the criminals.” [7:40]

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 479-480]