Ibn Kathir on Zakah and Tazkiyyah al-Nafs

Allah says in surah Fussilat:

وَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُشْرِكِينَ * الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُم بِالْآخِرَةِ هُمْ كَافِرُونَ

Woe to the mushrikoon * those who do not give the zakah and who are disbelievers in the hereafter [41:6-7]

In part of his commentary on these ayaat, al-haafidh ibn Kathir wrote the following words:

ـ (وويل للمشركين) أي: دمار لهم وهلاك عليهم، (الذين لا يؤتون الزكاة) قال علي بن أبي طلحة، عن ابن عباس: يعني: الذين لا يشهدون أن لا إله إلا الله. وكذا قال عكرمة. ـ

وَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُشْرِكِينَ

Woe to the mushrikoon

meaning: ruin and destruction for them

الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ

those who do not give the zakah

‘Ali ibn Abi Talhah transmitted that ibn ‘Abbaas said, “meaning, those who do not bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah”. And ‘Ikrimah said something similar.

وهذا كقوله تعالى: (قد أفلح من زكاها وقد خاب من دساها) [الشمس: 9، 10]، وكقوله: (قد أفلح من تزكى وذكر اسم ربه فصلى) [الأعلى: 14، 15]، وقوله (فقل هل لك إلى أن تزكى ) [النازعات: 18] والمراد بالزكاة هاهنا: طهارة النفس من الأخلاق الرذيلة، ومن أهم ذلك طهارة النفس من الشرك. وزكاة المال إنما سميت زكاة لأنها تطهره من الحرام، وتكون سببا لزيادته وبركته وكثرة نفعه، وتوفيقا إلى استعماله في الطاعات. ـ

This is like Allah’s statement:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن زَكَّاهَا * وَقَدْ خَابَ مَن دَسَّاهَا

He has succeeded who purifies himself * and he has failed who corrupts it [91:9-10]

and like His statement: Continue reading

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“And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah…” Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in His Book, in surah Fussilat:

وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ قَوْلًا مِّمَّن دَعَا إِلَى اللَّـهِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا وَقَالَ إِنَّنِي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ

And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah and does righteousness and says, “Indeed, I am one of the Muslims.” [41:33]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di, in his explanation of this ayah, wrote:

هذا استفهام بمعنى النفي المتقرر أي‏:‏ لا أحد أحسن قولا‏.‏ أي‏:‏ كلامًا وطريقة، وحالة ‏{‏مِمَّنْ دَعَا إِلَى اللَّهِ‏}‏ بتعليم الجاهلين، ووعظ الغافلين والمعرضين، ومجادلة المبطلين، بالأمر بعبادة الله، بجميع أنواعها،والحث عليها، وتحسينها مهما أمكن، والزجر عما نهى الله عنه، وتقبيحه بكل طريق يوجب تركه، خصوصًا من هذه الدعوة إلى أصل دين الإسلام وتحسينه، ومجادلة أعدائه بالتي هي أحسن، والنهي عما يضاده من الكفر والشرك، والأمر بالمعروف، والنهي عن المنكر‏.‏

This question is meant as a refutation of any other position, meaning: no one is better in speech – i.e. in both content and manner of delivery.

And the description of

مِمَّنْ دَعَا إِلَى اللَّهِ

than one who invites to Allah

is by teaching the ignorant, and admonishing the heedless and those who turn away, and arguing against those upon falsehood, and by enjoining the worship of Allah in all its forms and varieties, and inciting the people towards that, and to better things in whatever ways one can, and to deter against what Allah has prohibited, and to reveal the depravity of every way which must be abandoned, especially doing all this while calling to the foundations of the deen of Islam and its beautification, and arguing against its enemies in the best way, and forbidding what opposes it of kufr and shirk, and enjoining the good, and forbidding evil.

ومن الدعوة إلى الله، تحبيبه إلى عباده، بذكر تفاصيل نعمه، وسعة جوده، وكمال رحمته، وذكر أوصاف كماله، ونعوت جلاله‏.‏

And part of calling to Allah is engendering the love of Him in His slaves, and mentioning the details of His blessings and their great extent, and the completeness of His mercy, and mentioning His perfect attributes and beautiful qualities. Continue reading

“We guided them, but they preferred blindness over guidance”

In surah Fussilaat, Allah briefly mentions some details of the story of the people of Thamud when He says:

وَأَمَّا ثَمُودُ فَهَدَيْنَاهُمْ فَاسْتَحَبُّوا الْعَمَىٰ عَلَى الْهُدَىٰ فَأَخَذَتْهُمْ صَاعِقَةُ الْعَذَابِ الْهُونِ بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ * وَنَجَّيْنَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَكَانُوا يَتَّقُونَ

And as for Thamud, We guided them, but they preferred blindness over guidance, so the thunderbolt of humiliating punishment seized them for what they used to earn. And We saved those who believed and used to fear Allah. [41:17-18]

Commenting of this, Imam al-Sa’di writes:

وأما ثمود وهم القبيلة المعروفة الذين سكنوا الحجر وحواليه، الذين أرسل اللّه إليهم صالحًا عليه السلام، يدعوهم إلى توحيد ربهم، وينهاهم عن الشرك وآتاهم اللّه الناقة، آية عظيمة، لها شرب ولهم شرب يوم معلوم، يشربون لبنها يومًا ويشربون من الماء يومًا، وليسوا ينفقون عليها، بل تأكل من أرض اللّه،

And as for the Thamud, they were a well-known tribe which resided in al-ijr and thereabouts, to whom Allah sent aalih (‘alaihis salaam). He called them to taweed of their Lord and forbade them from shirk. And Allah gave them the camel as an amazing ayah (sign, miracle). For it was drinking and for them was drinking on known days (i.e. alternating days of access to the water sources for the camel and the people of Thamud). They drank from its milk one day and they drank from the water another day, and they did not spend on it (i.e. its provision). Rather it ate from the land of Allah. Continue reading

Human nature: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah informs us about the nature of man in surah Fussilat when He says:

لَّا يَسْأَمُ الْإِنسَانُ مِن دُعَاءِ الْخَيْرِ‌ وَإِن مَّسَّهُ الشَّرُّ‌ فَيَئُوسٌ قَنُوطٌ ﴿٤٩﴾ وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَاهُ رَ‌حْمَةً مِّنَّا مِن بَعْدِ ضَرَّ‌اءَ مَسَّتْهُ لَيَقُولَنَّ هَـٰذَا لِي وَمَا أَظُنُّ السَّاعَةَ قَائِمَةً وَلَئِن رُّ‌جِعْتُ إِلَىٰ رَ‌بِّي إِنَّ لِي عِندَهُ لَلْحُسْنَىٰ ۚ فَلَنُنَبِّئَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُ‌وا بِمَا عَمِلُوا وَلَنُذِيقَنَّهُم مِّنْ عَذَابٍ غَلِيظٍ ﴿٥٠﴾ وَإِذَا أَنْعَمْنَا عَلَى الْإِنسَانِ أَعْرَ‌ضَ وَنَأَىٰ بِجَانِبِهِ وَإِذَا مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ‌ فَذُو دُعَاءٍ عَرِ‌يضٍ

Man is not weary of supplication for good, but if evil touches him, he is hopeless and despairing. * And if We let him taste mercy from Us after an adversity which has touched him, he will surely say, “This is [due] to me, and I do not think the Hour will occur; and [even] if I should be returned to my Lord, indeed, for me there will be with Him the best.” But We will surely inform those who disbelieved about what they did, and We will surely make them taste a massive punishment. * And when We bestow favor upon man, he turns away and withdraws aside; but when evil touches him, then he is full of extensive supplication. (41:49-51)

Imam al-Sa’di, in his book of tafsir, writes in explanation of these ayaat as follows:

هذا إخبار عن طبيعة الإنسان، من حيث هو، وعدم صبره وجلده، لا على الخير ولا على الشر، إلا من نقله الله من هذه الحال إلى حال الكمال، فقال‏:‏ ‏{‏لَا يَسْأَمُ الْإِنْسَانُ مِنْ دُعَاءِ الْخَيْرِ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ لا يمل دائمًا، من دعاء الله، في الغنى والمال والولد، وغير ذلك من مطالب الدنيا، ولا يزال يعمل على ذلك، ولا يقتنع بقليل، ولا كثير منها، فلو حصل له من الدنيا، ما حصل، لم يزل طالبًا للزيادة‏.‏

This is information about human nature, what are his origins, and his lack of patience and endurance, both in the face of good and evil, except for he for whom Allah has changed his condition to the perfect condition, and He says, “Man is not weary of supplication for good” – meaning, he never tires of supplicating to Allah for riches and wealth and offspring and other such objects of desire in this worldly life. And he does not desist in toiling for that, and he is not satisfied with a little or even with a lot of the worldly riches. And whether he were to achieve those things or not, he would not cease to seek more.

‏{‏وَإِنْ مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ المكروه، كالمرض، والفقر، وأنواع البلايا ‏{‏فَيَئُوسٌ قَنُوطٌ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ ييأس من رحمة الله تعالى، ويظن أن هذا البلاء هو القاضي عليه بالهلاك، ويتشوش من إتيان الأسباب، على غير ما يحب ويطلب‏.‏

But if evil touches him” – meaning those disliked things such as illness, poverty, and all sorts of trials – “then he is hopeless and despairing” – meaning he despairs of the mercy of Allah the Exalted, and thinks that this trial has been brought upon him for his destruction, and is confused about its causes, and that it is other than what he loves and requests.

إلا الذين آمنوا وعملوا الصالحات، فإنهم إذا أصابهم الخير والنعمة والمحاب، شكروا الله تعالى، وخافوا أن تكون نعم الله عليهم، استدراجًا وإمهالاً، وإن أصابتهم مصيبة، في أنفسهم وأموالهم، وأولادهم، صبروا، ورجوا فضل ربهم، فلم ييأسوا‏.‏

Except for those who believe and do righteous good deeds, for certainly they, when they are struck with good, blessings and that which they love, they are grateful to Allah the Exalted. And they fear that the blessing of Allah upon them may be a test of endurance or a respite [i.e. a delay of punishment from this life to the next]. And if they are afflicted corporeally or financially or in terms of their offspring, they are steadfastly patient, and they hope for the good from their Lord, and they never despair or give up hope.

ثم قال تعالى‏:‏ ‏{‏وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَاهُ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ الإنسان الذي يسأم من دعاء الخير، وإن مسه الشر فيئوس قنوط ‏{‏رَحْمَةً مِنَّا‏}‏ أي‏:‏ بعد ذلك الشر الذي أصابه، بأن عافاه الله من مرضه، أو أغناه من فقره، فإنه لا يشكر الله تعالى، بل يبغى، ويطغى، ويقول‏:‏ ‏{‏هَذَا لِي‏}‏ أي‏:‏ أتاني لأني له أهل، وأنا مستحق له ‏{‏وَمَا أَظُنُّ السَّاعَةَ قَائِمَةً‏}‏ وهذا إنكار منه للبعث، وكفر للنعمة والرحمة، التي أذاقها الله له‏.‏ ‏{‏وَلَئِنْ رُجِعْتُ إِلَى رَبِّي إِنَّ لِي عِنْدَهُ لَلْحُسْنَى‏}‏ أي‏:‏ على تقدير إتيان الساعة، وأني سأرجع إلى ربي، إن لي عنده، للحسنى، فكما حصلت لي النعمة في الدنيا، فإنها ستحصل ‏[‏لي‏]‏ في الآخرة وهذا من أعظم الجراءة والقول على الله بلا علم، فلهذا توعده بقوله‏:‏ ‏{‏فَلَنُنَبِّئَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِمَا عَمِلُوا وَلَنُذِيقَنَّهُمْ مِنْ عَذَابٍ غَلِيظٍ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ شديد جدًا‏.‏

Then He said, “And if We let him taste” – meaning, mankind which never tires of supplicating for good, and if he is touched by evil them he is hopeless and despairing – “mercy from Us” – meaning, after that evil which afflicted him, because Allah cured him from his sickness of enriched him from his state of poverty, then certainly he will not be grateful to Allah the Exalted; rather he will transgress and overstep the bounds, and he says, “This is [due] to me” – meaning, this is for me because I deserve it and I have a right to it – “and I do not think the Hour will occur” and this is him denying the resurrection, and disbelieving in the blessing and mercy which Allah has allowed him to taste. “And [even] if I should be returned to my Lord, indeed, for me there will be with Him the best” – meaning, when the Hour is established, and I will certainly return to my Lord, if He has something for me, then it will be good such as what blessing I had in the worldly life, so this will also be mine in the next life. And this is the greatest crime to say [something] about Allah without ‘ilm. And there is his promise in His statement, “But We will surely inform those who disbelieved about what they did, and We will surely make them taste a massive punishment“.

‏{‏وَإِذَا أَنْعَمْنَا عَلَى الْإِنْسَانِ‏}‏ بصحة، أو رزق، أو غيرهما ‏{‏أَعْرَضَ‏}‏ عن ربه وعن شكره ‏{‏وَنَأَى‏}‏ ترفع ‏{‏بِجَانِبِهِ‏}‏ عجبا وتكبرًا‏.‏ ‏{‏وَإِنْ مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ المرض، أو الفقر، أو غيرهما ‏{‏فَذُو دُعَاءٍ عَرِيضٍ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ كثير جدًا، لعدم صبره، فلا صبر في الضراء، ولا شكر في الرخاء، إلا من هداه الله ومنَّ عليه‏.‏

And when We bestow favor upon man” with health or provisions or other than that, “he turns away” from his Lord and from gratitude to Him “and withdraws” – elevates himself – “asideamazed and prideful. “But when evil touches him” – meaning, sickness or poverty or other than that – “then he is full of extensive supplication” – meaning, very abundant, the absence of his sabr, for there is no sabr in adversity, nor gratitude in prosperity, except for the one whom Allah guided and bestowed a blessing upon him.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 885]

See also: “Work, O family of Dawood, in gratitude”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: “He made for you hearing and vision and intellect in order for you to be grateful”: Tafsir al-Sa’di