“Are they equal, those who know and those who know not?”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah say in His Book in surah al-Zumar:

 ‏‏أَمْ مَنْ هُوَ قَانِتٌ آنَاءَ اللَّيْلِ سَاجِدًا وَقَائِمًا يَحْذَرُ الْآخِرَةَ وَيَرْجُو رَحْمَةَ رَبِّهِ قُلْ هَلْ يَسْتَوِي الَّذِينَ يَعْلَمُونَ وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ إِنَّمَا يَتَذَكَّرُ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ‏

Is one who is devoutly obedient during periods of the night, prostrating and standing [in prayer], fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord, [like one who does not]? Say, “Are they equal, those who know and those who do not know?” Only people of understanding will pay heed. [39:9]

The ‘allaamah ‘Abdur-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di, in his famous book of tafsir, wrote the following:

هذه مقابلة بين العامل بطاعة اللّه وغيره، وبين العالم والجاهل، وأن هذا من الأمور التي تقرر في العقول تباينها، وعلم علما يقينا تفاوتها، فليس المعرض عن طاعة ربه، المتبع لهواه، كمن هو قانت أي‏:‏ مطيع للّه بأفضل العبادات وهي الصلاة، وأفضل الأوقات وهو أوقات الليل، فوصفه بكثرة العمل وأفضله، ثم وصفه بالخوف والرجاء، وذكر أن متعلق الخوف عذاب الآخرة، على ما سلف من الذنوب، وأن متعلق الرجاء، رحمة اللّه، فوصفه بالعمل الظاهر والباطن‏.‏

This is a comparison between the one who performs acts of obedience to Allah and other than him, and between the who with knowledge and the ignorant one. And this is one of the things which is intended to highlight the differences for the [possessor of] intellect, and cause one to know the distinction with certain knowledge. So the one who displays obedience to his Lord is not like the one who follows his own capricious desires. (Rather) he is Qaanit (devoutly obedient), meaning – obedient to Allah with the most virtuous of ibaadah, which is al-salaah, in the most virtuous of times, which is the night time. So Allah describes him with an abundance of deeds and their virtue, then He describes him with fear and hope, and He mentioned that which is related to fear of the punishment of the hereafter for what has already occurred of sins, and what is related to hope of the Mercy of Allah. So He characterized him with both apparent and concealed deeds. Continue reading

“Those who listen to speech and follow the best of it”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in His Book in surah al-Zumar:

وَالَّذِينَ اجْتَنَبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ أَن يَعْبُدُوهَا وَأَنَابُوا إِلَى اللَّـهِ لَهُمُ الْبُشْرَ‌ىٰ ۚ فَبَشِّرْ‌ عِبَادِ * الَّذِينَ يَسْتَمِعُونَ الْقَوْلَ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ أَحْسَنَهُ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ هَدَاهُمُ اللَّـهُ ۖ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمْ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ

“But those who have avoided Taaghoot, lest they worship it, and turned back to Allah – for them are good tidings. So give good tidings to My servants, those who listen to speech and follow the best of it. Those are the ones Allah has guided, and those are people of understanding.” [39:17-18]

Imam al-Sa’di explains this in his tafsir by writing:

لما ذكر حال المجرمين ذكر حال المنيبين وثوابهم، فقال‏:‏ ‏(‏وَالَّذِينَ اجْتَنَبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ أَنْ يَعْبُدُوهَا‏)‏ والمراد بالطاغوت في هذا الموضع، عبادة غير اللّه، فاجتنبوها في عبادتها‏.‏ وهذا من أحسن الاحتراز من الحكيم العليم، لأن المدح إنما يتناول المجتنب لها في عبادتها‏.‏

When Allah mentions the condition of the ­mujrimun (polytheists, sinners, criminals, the disobedient to Allah, etc.), He also mentions the condition of the repentant and their reward, so He said, “But those who have avoided Taaghoot, lest they worship it” – and the intended meaning here of al-Taaghoot is the worship of other than Allah, so avoid them and their worship. And this is one of the best acts of caution concerning al-Hakeem al-Aleem (The Wise and all-Knowing), because the commendation (from Allah, for this action) is only dealing with avoiding them and their worship. Continue reading

“Had Allah willed to take a son…”: Tafsir al-Sa’di and Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah سبحانه وتعالى says in surah al-Zumar:

لَّوْ أَرَ‌ادَ اللَّـهُ أَن يَتَّخِذَ وَلَدًا لَّاصْطَفَىٰ مِمَّا يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَاءُ ۚ سُبْحَانَهُ ۖ هُوَ اللَّـهُ الْوَاحِدُ الْقَهَّارُ‌

Had Allah willed to take a son, He could have chosen whom He pleased out of those whom He created. Exalted is He! He is Allah, the One, the Subduer. [39:4]

Imam al-Sa’di, in his book of tafsir, writes:

أي‏:‏ ‏{‏لَوْ أَرَادَ اللَّهُ أَنْ يَتَّخِذَ وَلَدًا‏}‏ كما زعم ذلك من زعمه، من سفهاء الخلق‏.‏ ‏{‏لَاصْطَفَى مِمَّا يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَاءُ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ لاصطفى بعض مخلوقاته التي يشاء اصطفاءه، واختصه لنفسه، وجعله بمنزلة الولد، ولم يكن حاجة إلى اتخاذ الصاحبة‏.‏

Had Allah willed to take a son” as is the assertion of those who assert this from the fools of creation. “He could have chosen whom He pleased out of those whom He created” – meaning He could have chosen whomever of His creatures which He willed to choose, and singled it out for Himself, and made it in the likeness of a son, and He did not need to take a consort.

‏{‏سُبْحَانَهُ‏}‏ عما ظنه به الكافرون، أو نسبه إليه الملحدون‏.‏

Exalted is He!” above what the kaafireen think of Him, or what the heretics attribute to Him.

‏{‏هُوَ اللَّهُ الْوَاحِدُ الْقَهَّارُ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ الواحد في ذاته، وفي أسمائه، وفي صفاته، وفي أفعاله، فلا شبيه له في شيء من ذلك، ولا مماثل، فلو كان له ولد، لاقتضى أن يكون شبيها له في وحدته، لأنه بعضه، وجزء منه‏.‏

He is Allah, the One, the Subduer” – meaning: al-Waahid (the One) in His essence, His names, His attributes, and His actions. So nothing resembles Him at all in any of those things, and there is no likeness to Him. So if there was a son for Him, then it would necessarily have to resemble Him in His Oneness, because that is part and parcel of Him.

القهار لجميع العالم العلوي والسفلي، فلو كان له ولد لم يكن مقهورا، ولكان له إدلال على أبيه ومناسبة منه‏.‏

The Subduer (Al-Qahhaar) over all the world, from top to bottom. So if there were a son for Him, the son could not subdued, and he would have some importance in relationship to his father.

ووحدته تعالى وقهره متلازمان، فالواحد لا يكون إلا قهارا، والقهار لا يكون إلا واحدا، وذلك ينفي الشركة له من كل وجه‏.‏

And His Oneness and His Irresistible Power go hand in hand, for He cannot truly be al-Waahid unless He is a irresistibly powerful, and He cannot truly be al-Qahhaar unless He is singular, and this negates the idea of partnership with Him from every angle.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman, p. 719]

Imam ibn Kathir also addresses this ayah in his tafsir where he writes:

ثم بين تعالى أنه لا ولد له كما يزعمه جهلة المشركين في الملائكة، والمعاندون من اليهود والنصارى في العزير، وعيسى فقال: {لَوْ أَرَادَ اللَّهُ أَنْ يَتَّخِذَ وَلَدًا لاصْطَفَى مِمَّا يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَاءُ} أي: لكان الأمر على خلاف ما يزعمون. وهذا شرط لا يلزم وقوعه ولا جوازه، بل هو محال، وإنما قصد تجهيلهم فيما ادعوه وزعموه، كما قال: {لَوْ أَرَدْنَا أَنْ نَتَّخِذَ لَهْوًا لاتَّخَذْنَاهُ مِنْ لَدُنَّا إِنْ كُنَّا فَاعِلِينَ} [الأنبياء: 17] {قُلْ إِنْ كَانَ لِلرَّحْمَنِ وَلَدٌ فَأَنَا أَوَّلُ الْعَابِدِينَ} [الزخرف: 81]، كل هذا من باب الشرط، ويجوز تعليق الشرط على المستحيل لقصد المتكلم.

Allah clarifies that He does not have a son, contrary to what the mushrikoon claim about the angels in ignorance, and what the obstinate ones from the Jews and Christians claim about ‘Uzair and ‘Eesaa (respectively). So He said, “Had Allah willed to take a son, He could have chosen whom He pleased out of those whom He created” – meaning: However the matter is contrary to what they claim, and this hypothetical clause [that Allah has a son] is not a necessary occurrence, nor is it permissible. Rather it is impossible, and the only intent here is to demonstrate the ignorance in what they call to and assert. This is as He said, “Had We intended to take a diversion, We could have taken it from [what is] with Us – if [indeed] We were to do so”  [21:17], and “Say, “If the Most Merciful had a son, then I would be the first of [his] worshippers” [43:81], and all of this is from the category of hypothetical clauses, and it is permitted to predicate the clause on an impossibility for the sake of rhetorical argument.

وقوله: {سُبْحَانَهُ هُوَ اللَّهُ الْوَاحِدُ الْقَهَّارُ} أي: تعالى وتنزه وتقدس عن أن يكون له ولد، فإنه الواحد الأحد، الفرد الصمد، الذي كل شيء عبد لديه، فقير إليه، وهو الغني عما سواه الذي قد قهر الأشياء فدانت له وذلت وخضعت.

And His statement, “Exalted is He! He is Allah, the One, the Subduer” – meaning, Allah the Exalted purifies Himself from having an offspring. For He is the One, the Singular, and Unique, the One who is Perfect is all of His Attributes, to Whom everything comes to Him as a slave, in need of Him, and He is Free of Need from anything else, and He has exercised His Irresistible Power over all things.

[Tafsir ibn Kathir 7/85]

See also: A response to those who say “We are the children of Allah”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: A reply to those who say, “If Allah can do anything, why can He not have a son?”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

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

See also: The Messiah was only a Messenger and his mother was a ṣiddīqah: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: The story of ‘Eesaa, his mother, Zakariyyah and Yahya – Imam al-Sa’di

Are those who know equal to those who do not know?: Imam al-Sa’di’s tafsir of 39:9

Allah describes His believing slaves in surah al-Zumar in the following way:

أَمَّنْ هُوَ قَانِتٌ آنَاءَ اللَّيْلِ سَاجِدًا وَقَائِمًا يَحْذَرُ‌ الْآخِرَ‌ةَ وَيَرْ‌جُو رَ‌حْمَةَ رَ‌بِّهِ ۗ قُلْ هَلْ يَسْتَوِي الَّذِينَ يَعْلَمُونَ وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ ۗ إِنَّمَا يَتَذَكَّرُ‌ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ

Is one who is obedient to Allah, prostrating himself or standing (in prayer) during the hours of the night, fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the Mercy of his Lord (like one who disbelieves)? Say: “Are those who know equal to those who know not?” It is only men of understanding who will remember. [39:9]

Imam al-Sa’di explains this in his tafsir by writing:

هذه مقابلة بين العامل بطاعة اللّه وغيره، وبين العالم والجاهل، وأن هذا من الأمور التي تقرر في العقول تباينها، وعلم علما يقينا تفاوتها، فليس المعرض عن طاعة ربه، المتبع لهواه، كمن هو قانت أي‏:‏ مطيع للّه بأفضل العبادات وهي الصلاة، وأفضل الأوقات وهو أوقات الليل، فوصفه بكثرة العمل وأفضله، ثم وصفه بالخوف والرجاء، وذكر أن متعلق الخوف عذاب الآخرة، على ما سلف من الذنوب، وأن متعلق الرجاء، رحمة اللّه، فوصفه بالعمل الظاهر والباطن‏.‏

This is a comparison between the one who works in obedience to Allah and others, and between the knowledgeable and the ignorant, and this is from the affairs which demonstrate the disparity of minds, and the distinction of ‘ilm yaqeen (certain knowledge), for it does not turn away from the obedience of its Lord, or follow base desires, since he is  qaanit (obedient) – meaning: obedient to Allah with the best of worship which is al-salaat, at the best of times which is at night, and characterized by an abundance of deeds and their excellence, then characterized by fear and hope. And He mentioned the fear is related to the punishment of the aakhirah for what sins he has previously committed, and hope is related to the mercy of Allah, and this hope is characterized by (good) actions both openly and secretly.

‏(‏قُلْ هَلْ يَسْتَوِي الَّذِينَ يَعْلَمُونَ‏)‏ ربهم ويعلمون دينه الشرعي ودينه الجزائي، وما له في ذلك من الأسرار والحكم ‏(‏وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ‏)‏ شيئا من ذلك‏؟‏ لا يستوي هؤلاء ولا هؤلاء، كما لا يستوي الليل والنهار، والضياء والظلام، والماء والنار‏.‏

Say: ‘Are those who know‘” their Lord and work according to the deen in matters both big and small “‘equal to those who do not know‘” anything of the deen? These are not equal to those, just as night and day are not equal, or light and darkness, or water and fire.

‏(‏إِنَّمَا يَتَذَكَّرُ‏)‏ إذا ذكروا (‏أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ‏)‏ أي‏:‏ أهل العقول الزكية الذكية، فهم الذين يؤثرون الأعلى على الأدنى، فيؤثرون العلم على الجهل، وطاعة اللّه على مخالفته، لأن لهم عقولا ترشدهم للنظر في العواقب، بخلاف من لا لب له ولا عقل، فإنه يتخذ إلهه هواه‏.‏

The only ones who remember” when they are reminded “are the men of understanding” – meaning: the people of reason and sharp intellect, for they are the ones who prioritize the higher over the lower matters, and prefer knowledge over ignorance, and obedience over violation, because they have an intellect which guides them to consider the consequences, in contrast to those with neither understanding nor reason; surely those have taken their desires as their god.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman]

“Indeed the patient will be given their reward without measure”

Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, says in His Book:

قُلْ يَا عِبَادِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا رَ‌بَّكُمْ ۚ لِلَّذِينَ أَحْسَنُوا فِي هَـٰذِهِ الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةٌ ۗ وَأَرْ‌ضُ اللَّـهِ وَاسِعَةٌ ۗ إِنَّمَا يُوَفَّى الصَّابِرُ‌ونَ أَجْرَ‌هُم بِغَيْرِ‌ حِسَابٍ

Say, “O My servants who have believed, fear your Lord. For those who do good in this world is good, and the earth of Allah is spacious. Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without measure.” [39:10]

Imam al-Qurtubi writes in his tafsir:

‏ و‏ (‏الصابرون‏) ‏هنا الصائمون؛ دليله قوله عليه الصلاة والسلام مخبرا عن الله عز وجل‏:‏ ‏(‏الصوم لي وأنا أجزي به) ‏قال أهل العلم‏:‏ كل أجر يكال كيلا ويوزن وزنا إلا الصوم فإنه يحثى حثوا ويغرف غرفا؛ وحكي عن علي رضي الله عنه‏.‏ وقال مالك بن أنس في قوله‏ (‏إنما يوفى الصابرون أجرهم بغير حساب) ‏قال‏:‏ هو الصبر على فجائع الدنيا وأحزانها‏.‏ ولا شك أن كل من سلم فيما أصابه، وترك ما نهي عنه، فلا مقدار لأجرهم‏.‏

And “the patient (al-saabiroon)” means here “the ones who fast (al-saa’imoon)”. The proof for that is the statement of the Prophet (ﷺ) that Allah said, “the fast is for Me and I will give the reward for it” [Al-Bukhari].

The scholars said, “Every reward will be measured and weighed out, except (the reward for) al-sawm, which will be poured out and piled up”, as has come from ‘Ali ibn abi Taalib (May Allah be pleased with him).

And Maalik ibn Anas said about Allah’s statement, “Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without measure“;

“It is sabr with the afflictions and distresses of this life. And there is no doubt that everyone who has submitted (in Islam) while he suffers afflictions, and abandoned what has been prohibited for him, then there is no calculation of his reward.”

[Jaami’ li-Ahkaam al-Qur’an 15/240]

See also: “Is the reward for good anything other than good?”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

See also: You will surely be tested: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: Khutbah on Welcoming Ramadan in the Proper Way: Imam al-Sa’di