Cutting Off Shirk at its Very Roots: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah Saba’:

قُلِ ادْعُوا الَّذِينَ زَعَمْتُم مِّن دُونِ اللَّـهِ ۖ لَا يَمْلِكُونَ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَلَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَمَا لَهُمْ فِيهِمَا مِن شِرْكٍ وَمَا لَهُ مِنْهُم مِّن ظَهِيرٍ * وَلَا تَنفَعُ الشَّفَاعَةُ عِندَهُ إِلَّا لِمَنْ أَذِنَ لَهُ ۚ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا فُزِّعَ عَن قُلُوبِهِمْ قَالُوا مَاذَا قَالَ رَبُّكُمْ ۖ قَالُوا الْحَقَّ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْكَبِيرُ

Say, “Invoke those you claim as deities besides Allah.” They do not possess an ant’s weight in the heavens or on the earth, nor do they have any share in ownership of either realm, nor are any of them an assistant to Him. * And intercession does not hold any avail with Him except from those whom He permits. When terror is removed from their hearts, they will say, “What has your Lord said?” They will say, “The truth.” And He is the Most High, the Grand. [34:22-23]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di explained these ayaat by saying:

أي: قل يا أيها الرسول للمشركين بالله غيره من المخلوقات، التي لا تنفع ولا تضر، ملزما لهم بعجزها، ومبينا بطلان عبادتها: ادعوا الذين زعمتم من دون الله أي: زعمتموهم شركاء لله، إن كان دعاؤكم ينفع، فإنهم قد توفرت فيهم أسباب العجز، وعدم إجابة الدعاء من كل وجه، فإنهم ليس لهم أدنى ملك فلا يملكون مثقال ذرة في السماوات والأرض على وجه الاستقلال، ولا على [ ص: 1415 ] وجه الاشتراك، ولهذا قال: وما لهم أي: لتلك الآلهة الذين زعمتم فيهما أي: في السماوات والأرض، من شرك أي: لا شرك قليل ولا كثير، فليس لهم ملك، ولا شركة ملك. ـ

Meaning:

قُلِ

Say …

O Messenger, address those who hold that some of the created beings who can neither bring about benefit nor harm are partners with Allah. Tell them this message which clearly and plainly demonstrates the complete lack of power of these things and the futility of worshiping them.

ادْعُوا الَّذِينَ زَعَمْتُم مِّن دُونِ اللَّـهِ

… “Invoke those you claim as deities besides Allah.”

meaning: those who you claim to be partners with Allah, if your supplications to them will bring about any benefit. For these “partners” are completely devoid of any power and cannot respond to your supplications in any way. That is because they do not possess even the smallest portion of control over anything, for they do not have ownership of even a speck of dust in the heavens or the earth that they could say is exclusively theirs nor that they could claim to even share ownership over. That is why Allah said: Continue reading

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I will mislead them all, except Your chosen servants: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Allah informs us in surah al-Hijr of the story of Iblees, and that after Allah had granted his request for a period of respite, Iblees said:

قَالَ رَ‌بِّ بِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لَأُزَيِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ فِي الْأَرْ‌ضِ وَلَأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ * إِلَّا عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ الْمُخْلَصِينَ

[Iblees] said, “My Lord, because You have put me in error, I will surely make [disobedience] attractive to them on earth, and I will mislead them all * Except, among them, Your chosen servants.” [15:39-40]

Commenting on the latter ayah in his book of tafsir, sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote:

ذكر تعالى في هذه الآية الكريمة أن الشيطان لما أوعد بأنه سيضل أكثر بني آدم ، استثنى من ذلك عباد الله المخلصين ، معترفا بأنه لا قدرة له على إضلالهم ، ونظيره قوله في ص أيضا قال فبعزتك لأغوينهم أجمعين إلا عبادك منهم المخلصين [ 38 \ 82 – 83 ] وعباد الله المخلصون هم المرادون بالاستثناء في قوله في بني إسرائيل لأحتنكن ذريته إلا قليلا [ 17 \ 62 ] وقوله في سبأ ولقد صدق عليهم إبليس ظنه فاتبعوه إلا فريقا من المؤمنين [ 34 \ 20 ] وهم الذين احترز منهم بقوله ولا تجد أكثرهم شاكرين [ 7 \ 17 ] . ـ

In this noble ayah Allah mentioned that when the shaytaan threatened that he would misguide most of the children of Adam he made an exception therein for the chosen servants of Allah, recognizing that he had no ability to misguide them. And the counterpart of that is his statement in surah Saad; he also said:

فَبِعِزَّتِكَ لَأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ * إِلَّا عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ الْمُخْلَصِينَ

By Your might, I will surely mislead them all * Except, among them, Your chosen servants [38:82-83]

And the chosen servants of Allah are the ones intended by the exception which comes in his statement in surah Banu Israa’eel: Continue reading

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

In surah Saba’, Allaah سبحانه وتعالى recounts some of the great blessings and favors which he conferred upon His prophet Dawood (عليه السلام) and his family. After describing the amazing blessings upon this family, Allaah then commands:

اعْمَلُوا آلَ دَاوُودَ شُكْرً‌ا ۚ وَقَلِيلٌ مِّنْ عِبَادِيَ الشَّكُورُ‌

“Work, O family of Dawood, in gratitude.” And few of My servants are grateful.

[Surah Saba’ 34:13]

Imam ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Naasir al-Sa’di, in his book of tafsir writes the following in exegesis on this statement, saying:

فلما ذكر منته عليهم‏,‏ أمرهم بشكرها فقال‏:‏ ‏{‏اعْمَلُوا آلَ دَاوُدَ‏}‏ وهم داود‏,‏ وأولاده‏,‏ وأهله‏,‏ لأن المنة على الجميع‏,‏ وكثير من هذه المصالح عائد لكلهم‏.‏ ‏{‏شُكْرًا‏}‏ للّه على ما أعطاهم‏,‏ ومقابلة لما أولاهم‏.‏ ‏{‏وَقَلِيلٌ مِنْ عِبَادِيَ الشَّكُورُ‏}‏ فأكثرهم‏,‏ لم يشكروا اللّه تعالى على ما أولاهم من نعمه‏,‏ ودفع عنهم من النقم‏.‏

So when Allaah mentioned the blessings upon them, He commanded them with shukr (gratitude) for them, saying, “Work, O family of Dawood” – and they are Dawood and his children and his women, because the blessings were upon all of them, and many of these benefits had their effects on all of them. “In gratitude” to Allaah the Exalted who granted them, and as a return for His protective care over them. “And few of My servants are grateful” so most of them are not grateful to Allah the Exalted for His conferring of His blessings upon them, or for His protecting them from harms.

والشكر‏:‏ اعتراف القلب بمنة اللّه تعالى‏,‏ وتلقيها افتقارا إليها‏,‏ وصرفها في طاعة اللّه تعالى‏,‏ وصونها عن صرفها في المعصية‏.‏

And al-Shukr (gratitude) is: the heart’s recognition of the blessings of Allaah, realizing one’s desperate need of them, and using them in the obedience of Allaah, and restraining one’s self from using them in disobedience. Continue reading

“Surely either we or you are upon right guidance, or in clear error”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah instructs His Messenger (ﷺ) to address the disbelievers when He says in surah Saba’:

قُلْ مَن يَرْ‌زُقُكُم مِّنَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْ‌ضِ ۖ قُلِ اللَّـهُ ۖ وَإِنَّا أَوْ إِيَّاكُمْ لَعَلَىٰ هُدًى أَوْ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ

Say, “Who provides for you from the heavens and the earth?” Say, “Allah. And surely, either we or you are upon right guidance, or in clear error.” [34:24]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di writes about this ayah in his book of tafsir, saying:

يأمر تعالى‏,‏ نبيه محمدا ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ أن يقول لمن أشرك باللّه ويسأله عن حجة شركه‏:‏ ‏{‏مَنْ يَرْزُقُكُمْ مِنَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ‏}‏ فإنهم لا بد أن يقروا أنه اللّه، ولئن لم يقروا فـ ‏{‏قُلِ اللَّهُ‏}‏ فإنك لا تجد من يدفع هذا القول، فإذا تبين أن اللّه وحده الذي يرزقكم من السماوات والأرض‏,‏ وينزل ‏لكم‏‏ المطر‏,‏ وينبت لكم النبات‏,‏ ويفجر لكم الأنهار‏,‏ ويطلع لكم من ثمار الأشجار‏,‏ وجعل لكم الحيوانات جميعها‏,‏ لنفعكم ورزقكم‏,‏ فلم تعبدون معه من لا يرزقكم شيئا‏,‏ ولا يفيدكم نفعا‏؟‏‏.‏

He commands His prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) to say to those who commit shirk of Allah and to ask them for a proof of their skirk:

‏مَنْ يَرْزُقُكُمْ مِنَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ

Say, “Who provides for you from the heavens and the earth?” [34:24]

for they should surely admit that it is definitely Allah, and if they do not admit it, then

قُلِ اللَّـهُ

Say, “Allah”

for certainly you will not find anyone who can refute this statement. So when you clarify that Allah alone provides for you from the heavens and the earth, and sends rain down for you, and grows your plants for you, and causes you rivers to burst forth for you, and brings fruits from the trees for you, and made all of the animals for you, in order to benefit you and provide for you, and then you worship others alongside him who neither provide anything for you, nor benefit you in any way?! Continue reading