What is the wisdom of abrogating a command before it can be acted on?: Imam al-Shinqitee

In a session of tafsir delivered at his home which was recorded by his son and subsequently transribed, Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee discussed the following question:

هل يجوز النسخ قبل التمكن من الفعل أو لا يجوز ؟ والجماهير من العلماء على أنه جائز وواقع ، ومن أمثلته نسخ خمس وأربعين صلاة ليلية الإسراء بعد أن فرضت خسمسين ، ونُسخ منها خمس وأربعين بينما أُقرت خمساً ، ومن أمثلته قوله جل وعلا في قصة ذبح إبراهيم لولده : <  وَفَدَيْنَاهُ بِذِبْحٍ عَظِيمٍ > [الصفات 108] ؛ لأنه أمره أن يذبح ولده ، ونسخ هذا الأمر قبل التمكن من الفعل ، والتحقيق أن هذا جائز وواقع ، ولا شك أن فيه سؤالاً معروفاً وهو أن يقول طالب العلم : إذا كان الحكم يشرع ويُنسخ قبل العمل فما الحكمة في تشريعه الأول إذا كان ينسخ قبل العمل به ؟  ـ

Is the abrogation of a command before it is able to be carried out possible or impossible? The majority of the scholars hold the position that it is possible and that it actually happens, and one of the examples of this is the abrogation of forty-five prayers on the night of the Night Journey after fifty had been made obligatory and forty-five of them were abrogated, leaving only five remaining. And another example of this is Allah’s statement regarding the story of Ibrahim’s sacrificing his son:

وَفَدَيْنَاهُ بِذِبْحٍ عَظِيمٍ

And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice [37:107]

For Allah commanded Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, but He abrogated this command before Ibrahim was able to enact it. So the conclusion is that this is both possible and it occurs. And undoubtedly there is a well-known question regarding this, which is that the student of knowledge asks, “If a ruling is legislated and then abrogated before being acted upon, then what is the reasoning in its being legislated in the first place if it is abrogated prior to being carried out?” Continue reading

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“Except the people of Yunus”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In surah Yunus, Allah informs His slaves of the following point:

فَلَوْلَا كَانَتْ قَرْ‌يَةٌ آمَنَتْ فَنَفَعَهَا إِيمَانُهَا إِلَّا قَوْمَ يُونُسَ لَمَّا آمَنُوا كَشَفْنَا عَنْهُمْ عَذَابَ الْخِزْيِ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَمَتَّعْنَاهُمْ إِلَىٰ حِينٍ

“Then has there not been one city that believed so its faith benefited it except the people of Yunus? When they believed, We removed from them the punishment of disgrace in worldly life and gave them enjoyment for a time.” [10:98]

Imam al-Sa’di, in his book of tafsir, wrote the following on this ayah:

يقول تعالى‏:‏ ‏{‏فَلَوْلَا كَانَتْ قَرْيَةٌ‏}‏ من قرى المكذبين ‏{‏آمَنَتْ‏}‏ حين رأت العذاب ‏{‏فَنَفَعَهَا إِيمَانُهَا‏}‏ أي‏:‏ لم يكن منهم أحد انتفع بإيمانه، حين رأى العذاب، كما قال تعالى عن فرعون ما تقدم قريبًا، لما قال‏:‏ ‏{‏آمَنْتُ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا الَّذِي آمَنَتْ بِهِ بَنُو إِسْرَائِيلَ وَأَنَا مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ‏}‏ فقيل له ‏{‏آلْآنَ وَقَدْ عَصَيْتَ قَبْلُ وَكُنْتَ مِنَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ‏}‏

Allah’s statement, “Then has there not been one city” from the cities of the deniers “that believed” when it saw the punishment “so its faith benefited it” – meaning: there was never even one of them that benefited from their eemaan (faith) when they saw the punishment, just as He said concerning Fir’awn when the punishment approached him and he said, “I believe that there is no deity except that in whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of the Muslims” [10:90], and then it was said to him, “What! now! and indeed you disobeyed before and you were of the mischief-makers” [10:91].

وكما قال تعالى‏:‏ ‏{‏فَلَمَّا رَأَوْا بَأْسَنَا قَالُوا آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَحْدَهُ وَكَفَرْنَا بِمَا كُنَّا بِهِ مُشْرِكِينَ فَلَمْ يَكُ يَنْفَعُهُمْ إِيمَانُهُمْ لَمَّا رَأَوْا بَأْسَنَا سُنَّةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي قَدْ خَلَتْ فِي عِبَادِهِ‏}‏

And similarly He said, “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 of Allah which has preceded among His servants.” [40:84-84]

وقال تعالى‏:‏ ‏{‏حَتَّى إِذَا جَاءَ أَحَدَهُمُ الْمَوْتُ قَالَ رَبِّ ارْجِعُونِ لَعَلِّي أَعْمَلُ صَالِحًا فِيمَا تَرَكْتُ كَلَّا‏}‏

And He said, “Until, when death comes to one of them (those who join partners with Allah), he says: ‘My Lord! Send me back, so that I may do good in that which I have left behind!‘”

والحكمة في هذا ظاهرة، فإن الإيمان الاضطراري، ليس بإيمان حقيقة، ولو صرف عنه العذاب والأمر الذي اضطره إلى الإيمان، لرجع إلى الكفران‏.‏

And the wisdom in this is apparent, for if eemaan is compelled, then it is not true eemaan. And if the punishment and the affair which compelled him to eemaan were to turn away from him, then he would return to disbelief. Continue reading

Two Qur’anic proofs that Ismaa’eel is the sacrificed son: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Imam Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote the following clarifying explanation in his tafsir of surah al-Saffaat:

قوله تعالى : وقال إني ذاهب إلى ربي سيهدين رب هب لي من الصالحين فبشرناه بغلام حليم ، إلى قوله تعالى : وفديناه بذبح عظيم . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَقَالَ إِنِّي ذَاهِبٌ إِلَىٰ رَ‌بِّي سَيَهْدِينِ * رَ‌بِّ هَبْ لِي مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ * فَبَشَّرْ‌نَاهُ بِغُلَامٍ حَلِيمٍ

And [then] he said, “Indeed, I will go to [where I am ordered by] my Lord; He will guide me. * My Lord, grant me [a child] from among the righteous.” * So We gave him good tidings of a forbearing boy.

Until His saying:

وَفَدَيْنَاهُ بِذِبْحٍ عَظِيمٍ

And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice [37:99-107]

اعلم أولا : أن العلماء اختلفوا في هذا الغلام الذي أمر إبراهيم في المنام بذبحه ، ومعلوم أن رؤيا الأنبياء وحي ، ثم لما باشر عمل ذبحه امتثالا للأمر ، فداه الله بذبح عظيم ، هل هو إسماعيل أو إسحاق ؟ وقد وعدنا في سورة ” الحجر ” ، بأنا نوضح ذلك بالقرآن في سورة ” الصافات ” ، وهذا وقت إنجاز الوعد . ـ

Firstly, know that the scholars have differed regarding this boy whom Ibrahim was commanded in his sleep to sacrifice, and it is well known that the dreams of the prophets are wahyi (Divine revelation). Then when he was proceeding to do the act of his sacrifice in compliance with the command, Allah ransomed him with a great sacrifice – so was this Ismaa’eel or Ishaaq? And we had promised in [the tafsir of] surah al-Hijr that we would clarify this issue by means of the Qur’an in surah al-Saffaat, and now this is the time to fulfill that promise.

اعلم ، وفقني الله وإياك ، أن القرآن العظيم قد دل في موضعين ، على أن الذبيح هو إسماعيل لا إسحاق . أحدهما في ” الصافات ” ، والثاني في ” هود ” . ـ

Know – may Allah grant me success, and you – that the Magnificent Qur’an has demonstrated in two places that the sacrificed one is Ismaa’eel and not Ishaaq. One of these places is in surah al-Saffaat, and the second is in surah Hood. Continue reading

A Runaway Slave

Allah mentions some aspects of the story of His slave and prophet Yunus in surah al-Saffaat when He says:

وَإِنَّ يُونُسَ لَمِنَ الْمُرْ‌سَلِينَ * إِذْ أَبَقَ إِلَى الْفُلْكِ الْمَشْحُونِ

And indeed, Yunus was among the messengers.[Mention] when he ran away [ar. abaqa] to the laden ship. [37:139-140]

Imam al-Shawkaani, in his book of tafsir mentions the following point on benefit concerning the choice of words employed here:

 قال المفسرون: وكان يونس قد وعد قومه العذاب، فلما تأخر عنهم العذاب خرج عنهم، وقصد البحر، وركب السفينة، فكان بذهابه إلى البحر كالفار من مولاه، فوصف بالإباق، وهو معنى قوله: {إِذْ أَبَقَ إِلَى الفلك المشحون} وأصل الإباق: الهرب من السيد، لكن لما كان هربه من قومه بغير إذن ربه وصف به.

The mufassiroon say: Yunus has promised his people of a punishment, then when the punishment was delayed, he left them, and he arrived at the ocean and boarded a ship. So by going to the ocean he was like a fugitive fleeing from his master, so he was described as a runaway slave [ar. al-ibaaq, taken from the same root as the verb abaqa under discussion here]. And that is the meaning of His statement, “when he ran away [abaqa] to the laden ship“. And the origin of al-ibaaq is to escape or flee from one’s master, however here he was fleeing from his people without the permission of his Lord, so he was described with this.

وقال المبرد: تأويل أبق بباعد، أي: ذهب إليه، ومن ذلك قولهم: عبد آبق.

And al-Mubarrid said, abaqa (to flee) is interpreted as creating a separation between two things – meaning to go away. And thus the phrase, ‘a runaway slave’ (‘abdun aabiqoon)

[Fath al-Qadeer pg. 1250]

Imam al-Qurtubi also mentions this point briefly in his tafsir when he wrote:

قوله تعالى: { إذ أبق} قال المبرد : أصل أبق تباعد؛ ومنه غلام آبق. وقال غيره : إنما قيل ليونس أبق؛ لأنه خرج بغير أمر الله عز وجل مستترا من الناس.

Allah’s statement, “when he ran away“. al-Mubarrid said, the root meaning of ‘abaqa‘ (to run away) is to separate or to go away, and from this is the phrase runaway servant boy (ghulaamun aabiqoon). And others said: the word abaqa is only said of Yunus (i.e. this word does not occur anywhere else in the Qur’an), because he took leave (of his people) without the command of Allah – the Mighty and Majestic -, while he was hiding from the people.

[Jaami’ li-Ahkaam al-Qur’an 15/110]

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

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

The story of Ilyaas: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In surah al-Saffaat, Allah tells us the story of His prophet Ilyaas (Elijah):

وَإِنَّ إِلْيَاسَ لَمِنَ الْمُرْ‌سَلِينَ ﴿١٢٣﴾ إِذْ قَالَ لِقَوْمِهِ أَلَا تَتَّقُونَ ﴿١٢٤﴾ أَتَدْعُونَ بَعْلًا وَتَذَرُ‌ونَ أَحْسَنَ الْخَالِقِينَ ﴿١٢٥﴾ اللَّـهَ رَ‌بَّكُمْ وَرَ‌بَّ آبَائِكُمُ الْأَوَّلِينَ ﴿١٢٦﴾فَكَذَّبُوهُ فَإِنَّهُمْ لَمُحْضَرُ‌ونَ ﴿١٢٧﴾ إِلَّا عِبَادَ اللَّـهِ الْمُخْلَصِينَ ﴿١٢٨﴾ وَتَرَ‌كْنَا عَلَيْهِ فِي الْآخِرِ‌ينَ ﴿١٢٩﴾ سَلَامٌ عَلَىٰ إِلْ يَاسِينَ ﴿١٣٠﴾ إِنَّا كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ ﴿١٣١﴾ إِنَّهُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ﴿١٣٢﴾ ـ

And indeed, Ilyaas was from among the messengers, (123) When he said to his people, “Will you not fear Allah? (124) Do you call upon Ba’l and leave the best of creators – (125) Allah, your Lord and the Lord of your first forefathers?” (126) So they denied him, so indeed, they will be brought, (127) Except the sincere servants of Allah. (128) And We left for him  among later generations: (129) “Salaam upon Ilyaaseen.” (130) Indeed, like so do we reward the doers of good. (131) Indeed, he was one of Our believing servants. (132)

Imam al-Sa’di brings out some of the salient points of this passage in his tafsir when he writes:

يمدح تعالى عبده ورسوله، إلياس عليه الصلاة والسلام، بالنبوة والرسالة، والدعوة إلى اللّه، وأنه أمر قومه بالتقوى، وعبادة اللّه وحده، ونهاهم عن عبادتهم، صنما لهم يقال له ‏”‏بعل‏”‏ وتركهم عبادة اللّه، الذي خلق الخلق، وأحسن خلقهم، ورباهم فأحسن تربيتهم، وأدرَّ عليهم النعم الظاهرة والباطنة، وأنكم كيف تركتم عبادة من هذا شأنه، إلى عبادة صنم، لا يضر، ولا ينفع، ولا يخلق، ولا يرزق، بل لا يأكل ولا يتكلم‏؟‏‏”‏ وهل هذا إلا من أعظم الضلال والسفه والغي‏؟‏‏”‏

Allah the Exalted is praising His slave and messenger, Ilyaas‘alaihis salaatu was salaam – with prophethood and messengership, and calling to Allah, that he commanded his people with taqwa and the worship of Allah alone, and forbade them from the worship of an idol of their which they called “Ba’l” and (thereby) abandoning the worship of Allah, who created the creation and is the best creator for them, and He nurtured them and is the best nurturer for them, and he provided them with blessings both apparent and hidden. So how could you abandon His worship in light of all this, for the worship of an idol, which neither can harm nor benefit, neither create nor provide or sustain, rather it cannot even eat or speak? And what is this except for the greatest misguidance, foolishness and error?

‏{‏‏”‏فَكَذَّبُوهُ‏”‏‏}‏ فيما دعاهم إليه، فلم ينقادوا له، قال اللّه متوعدا لهم‏:‏ ‏{‏فَإِنَّهُمْ لَمُحْضَرُونَ‏}‏ أي يوم القيامة في العذاب، ولم يذكر لهم عقوبة دنيوية‏.‏

So they denied him” concerning that to which he invited them, so they did not think critically about it. Allah said, promising them, “so indeed, they will be brought” meaning on the Day of Resurrection for punishment, and He did not mention their punishment in this world.

‏{‏إِلَّا عِبَادَ اللَّهِ الْمُخْلَصِينَ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ الذين أخلصهم اللّه، ومنَّ عليهم باتباع نبيهم، فإنهم غير محضرين في العذاب، وإنما لهم من اللّه جزيل الثواب‏.‏

Except the sincere servants of Allah” – meaning: those who are sincere to Allah, and He provides them with the blessing of obediently following their prophet, so they are certainly not those who will be brought for punishment. For them there will certainly be a great reward from Allah.

‏{‏وَتَرَكْنَا عَلَيْهِ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ على إلياس ‏{‏فِي الْآخِرِينَ‏}‏ ثناء حسنا‏.‏

And We left for him” – meaning: for Ilyaas – “among later generations” praise and goodness.

‏{‏سَلَامٌ عَلَى إِلْ يَاسِينَ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ تحية من اللّه، ومن عباده عليه‏.‏

“‘Salaam upon Ilyaaseen‘” – meaning: greeting from Allah, and from His slaves upon him.*

‏{‏إِنَّا كَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ إِنَّهُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا الْمُؤْمِنِينَ‏}‏ فأثنى اللّه عليه كما أثنى على إخوانه صلوات اللّه وسلامه عليهم أجمعين‏.‏

Indeed, like so do we reward the doers of good. Indeed, he was one of Our believing servants.” Thus Allah praised him just as He praised his brothers – salawaat Allaah was salaamahu ‘alaihim ajma’een.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman]

*And concerning the rendering of Ilyaas as ‘Ilyaaseen’ in ayah 130, Ibn Kathir wrote:

العرب تلحق النون في أسماء كثيرة، وتبدلها من غيرها، كما قالوا‏:‏ إسماعيل وإسماعين، وإسرائيل واسرائين، وإلياس وإلياسين، ومن قرأ‏:‏ سلام على آل ياسين أي‏:‏ على آل محمد

The Arabs attach the letter ‘noon’ to many names, and it replaces what would be there instead, such as when they say ismaa’eel and ismaa’een, israa’eel and israa’een, ilyaas and ilyaaseen. And one of the recitations is “salaam upon aal yaaseen (the family of Yaaseen)”, meaning upon the family of Muhammad.

[al-Bidayah wa’l-Nihayah 1/397]

See also: The story of the town by the sea: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: The story of the two sons of Adam: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: The Orator of the Anbiya: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: The story of Nuh and his son

See also: Two disbelieving women and two believing women: Tafsir al-Sa’di