I Swear by the Installments of the Qur’an: Tafsir of ibn ‘Abbaas

Allah swears in surah al-Waaqi’ah by saying:

فَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِمَوَاقِعِ النُّجُومِ * وَإِنَّهُ لَقَسَمٌ لَّوْ تَعْلَمُونَ عَظِيمٌ * إِنَّهُ لَقُرْآنٌ كَرِيمٌ * فِي كِتَابٍ مَّكْنُونٍ

So I swear by the mawaqi’ah al-nujoom * and that is certainly a strong oath – if you only knew – * that this is certainly a noble recitation * in a well-guarded book. [56:75-78]

In his brief commentary, Ibn al-Jawzi summarizes the different explanations of the term mawaqi’ah al-nujoom as follows:

وفي “النجوم” قولان . أحدهما: نجوم السماء، قاله الأكثرون . فعلى هذا في مواقعها ثلاثة أقوال . أحدها: انكدارها وانتثارها يوم القيامة، قاله الحسن . والثاني: منازلها، قاله عطاء، وقتادة . والثالث: مغيبها في المغرب، قاله أبو عبيدة . والثاني: أنها نجوم القرآن، رواه ابن جبير عن ابن عباس . فعلى هذا سميت نجوما لنزولها متفرقة، ومواقعها: نزولها . ـ

There are two interpretations of the word nujoom:

1. The stars of the sky, which was the position of the majority of the salaf. If the stars are what is being referred to by nujoom, then there are three different interpretations of the word mawaqi’ah:

a. The extinguishing and dispersal of the stars of the Day of Resurrection. This was the opinion of al-Hasan al-Basr.

b. Their places in the sky, as ‘Ataa’ and Qatadah said.

c. The places where the stars set on the horizon, as Abu ‘Ubaydah said.

2. That nujoom is referring to the installments of the Qur’an, as ibn Jubayr transmitted from ibn ‘Abbaas. According to this explanation, the word nujoom is used because it was sent down in many different installments, and the word mawaqi’ah in this context refers to the act of sending it down.

[Zad al-Maseer 8/151]

Most if not all English translators of the Qur’an have translated ayah 56:75 as some variant of the first explanation that ibn al-Jawzi mentioned, such as “the falling of the stars”, “the positions of the stars”, or “the setting places of the stars”. However, some of the mufassiroon such as ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbaas, the most important mufassir of the salaf, favored the second opinion.

al-Qurtubi mentions some of the statements of ibn ‘Abbaas in his tafsir of this ayah: Continue reading

Regularly Reciting Specific Surahs: al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah

The Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Fataawaa of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah) received the following question:

س : أنا شاب ملتزم بقراءة سورتي الواقعة والحديد بعد أن قرأت أحاديث تذكر أن لهما فضلاً عظيمًا، فالأولى تقي وتدفع الفقر، والثانية تجلب صلاة وسلام الملائكة على قارئها، فهل علي حرج في هذا الالتزام؟ ـ

Question: I am a young person who regularly recites surah al-Waaqi’ah and surah al-Hadeed ever since I read some ahaadeeth mentioning their great virtues, that the former protects against and fends off poverty while the latter brings about the supplications of the angels upon the one who recites it. Am I doing anything wrong in regularly reciting these?

ج : قراءة القرآن مشروعة كل وقت، وتخصيص سورة معينة يلتزم الإنسان قراءتها كل ليلة يتوقف على هذا الدليل، فإن وُجد دليل صحيح ينص على قراءتها شرع ذلك، كما في آية الكرسي وسورة الإخلاص والمعوذتين دبر كل صلاة وعند النوم، وتكرار الإخلاص والمعوذتين ثلاث مرات بعد صلاة المغرب والفجر وعند النوم. ـ

Response: Reciting the Qur’an is something that is legislated at all times, but singling out any particular surah as one that a person should routinely recite every night is something that requires a textual evidence for doing so. So if an authentic textual proof indicating that reciting in this manner is found, then that is something legislated – as is the case with reciting ayah al-Kursisurah al-Ikhlaas, and surahs 113 and 114 after every prayer and before sleeping, or reciting surah al-Ikhlaas and surahs 113 and 114 three times after salah al-Maghrib, salah al-Fajr, and before sleeping. Continue reading