“So Flee to Allah”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, says in surah al-Dhaariyat:

 فَفِرُّ‌وا إِلَى اللَّـهِ

So flee to Allah [51:50]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di said in his tafsir:

 وهو الفرار إليه أي: الفرار مما يكرهه الله ظاهرًا وباطنًا، إلى ما يحبه، ظاهرًا وباطنًا، فرار من الجهل إلى العلم، ومن الكفر إلى الإيمان، ومن المعصية إلى الطاعة، و من الغفلة إلى ذكر الله فمن استكمل هذه الأمور، فقد استكمل الدين كله وقد زال عنه المرهوب، وحصل له، نهاية المراد والمطلوب.ـ

Fleeing to Allah means: fleeing from what Allah dislikes in terms of both open deeds and hidden deeds to what is beloved to Him in terms of both open deeds and hidden deeds – fleeing from ignorance to knowledge, from al-kufr to al-eemaan, from disobedience to obedience, and from heedlessness to remembrance of Allah.

Continue reading

The Muttaqoon do not Persist in Sin: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In part of surah Aal ‘Imraan, Allah describes the muttaqoon with the following characteristic:

وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا فَعَلُوا فَاحِشَةً أَوْ ظَلَمُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ ذَكَرُوا اللَّـهَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا لِذُنُوبِهِمْ وَمَن يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا اللَّـهُ وَلَمْ يُصِرُّوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلُوا وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ

And they are those who, when they commit an immoral act or wrong themselves, they remember Allah and so ask for forgiveness of their sins. And who forgives sins except Allah? And they do not persist in what they were doing while they know. [3:135]

The famous mufassir al-haafidh ibn Kathir explained the final phrase of this ayah by writing:

وقوله : ( وهم يعلمون ) قال مجاهد وعبد الله بن عبيد بن عمير : ( وهم يعلمون ) أن من تاب تاب الله عليه . وهذا كقوله تعالى : ( ألم يعلموا أن الله هو يقبل التوبة عن عباده ) [ التوبة : 104 ] وكقوله ( ومن يعمل سوءا أو يظلم نفسه ثم يستغفر الله يجد الله غفورا رحيما ) [ النساء : 110 ] ونظائر هذا كثيرة جدا

Regarding Allah’s statement

وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ

… while they know

Mujaahid and ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Ubayd ibn ‘Umayr explained this by saying, “While they know that whoever turns in repentance, Allah will turn to him in forgiveness.”

And this is like Allah’s statements: Continue reading

Encouragement and Intimidation in the Qur’an: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah concludes surah al-An’aam by saying:

إِنَّ رَبَّكَ سَرِيعُ الْعِقَابِ وَإِنَّهُ لَغَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

Your Lord is certainly swift in punishment, and He is certainly forgiving and merciful. [6:165]

After commenting on the immediate meaning of this ayah, al-haafidh ibn Kathir took this opportunity to highlight a larger stylistic feature of the Qur’an:

وقوله : ( إن ربك سريع العقاب وإنه لغفور رحيم ) ترهيب وترغيب ، أن حسابه وعقابه سريع ممن عصاه وخالف رسله ( وإنه لغفور رحيم ) لمن والاه واتبع رسله فيما جاءوا به من خير وطلب . ـ

This statement contains both incitement through intimidation and incitement through encouragement: that Allah’s reckoning and punishment is swift for those who disobey Him and oppose His messengers

وَإِنَّهُ لَغَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

and He is certainly forgiving and merciful

to those who align themselves with Him and follow His Messenger in the goodness and  that they have brought and what they command.

وكثيرا ما يقرن تعالى في القرآن بين هاتين الصفتين ، كما قال تعالى : وقوله : ( نبئ عبادي أني أنا الغفور الرحيم وأن عذابي هو العذاب الأليم ) [ الحجر : 49 ، 50 ] ، وقوله : ( وإن ربك لذو مغفرة للناس على ظلمهم وإن ربك لشديد العقاب ) [ الرعد : 6 ] وغير ذلك من الآيات المشتملة على الترغيب والترهيب ، فتارة يدعو عباده إليه بالرغبة وصفة الجنة والترغيب فيما لديه ، وتارة يدعوهم إليه بالرهبة وذكر النار وأنكالها وعذابها والقيامة وأهوالها ، وتارة بهذا وبهذا لينجع في كل بحسبه . جعلنا الله ممن أطاعه فيما أمر ، وترك ما عنه نهى وزجر ، وصدقه فيما أخبر ، إنه قريب مجيب سميع الدعاء ، جواد كريم وهاب . ـ

Allah frequently pairs these two qualities and mentions them in conjunction throughout the Qur’an. Take for instance His statement: Continue reading

A Subtle Point Regarding Adam’s Repentance

One of the valuable books of Badr al-Deen ibn Jamaa’ah (d. 733AH) was Kashf al-Ma’aani fee al-Mutashaabih min al-Mathaani, which focuses on providing explanations for the slight differences in otherwise similar ayaat. He raises and then answers the following question regarding a difference of wordings between the story of Adam as told in surah al-Baqarah and the story as told in surah Taha:

مسألة: قوله تعالى: فَمَنْ تَبِعَ هُدَايَ ، وفى طه: (فَمَنْ اتبِعَ هُدَايَ) ؟ . ـ

Question: In surah al-Baqarah, Allah says:

فَمَن تَبِعَ هُدَايَ

So whoever tabi’a (follows) My guidance … [2:38]

but in surah Taha He says:

فَمَنِ اتَّبَعَ هُدَايَ

So whoever ittaba’a (follows) My guidance … [20:123]

Why is that?

جوابه: يحتمل والله أعلم أن: (فَعِلَ) التي جاء على وزنها: (تبع) لا يلزم منه مخالفة الفعل قبله (وافتَعَلَ) التي جاء على وزنها: (اتبع) يشعر بتجديد الفعل. وبيان قصة آدم هنا لفعله، فجئ بـ (تَبِعَ هُدَايَ) وفى طه جاء بعد قوله: (وَلَمْ نَجِدْ لَهُ عَزْمًا) (وَعَصَى آدَمُ رَبَّهُ فَغَوَى) فناسب من اتبع، أي: جدد قصد الاتباع. ـ

Response: Allah knows best, but one explanation is that the form I verb which is used in

تَبِعَ

tabi’a (follows) [2:38]

does not imply any change in behavior between this “following” and his previous actions, while the form VIII verb which is used in Continue reading

Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 30-39: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the third installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 30-39, which focuses on the story of Adam. See the series guide here for more information.

وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةً ۖ قَالُوا أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَن يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَاءَ وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ ۖ قَالَ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

And when your Lord said to the angels, “I am going to make an authority on the earth.” They said, “Will you place someone who corrupts it and spills blood in it while we exalt Your praises and sanctify You?” He said, “I certainly know what you do not know.” [2:30]

واذكر- أيها الرسول- للناس حين قال ربك للملائكة: إني جاعل في الأرض قومًا يخلف بعضهم بعضًا لعمارتها. قالت: يا ربَّنا علِّمْنا وأَرْشِدْنا ما الحكمة في خلق هؤلاء، مع أنَّ من شأنهم الإفساد في الأرض وإراقة الدماء ظلما وعدوانًا ونحن طوع أمرك، ننزِّهك التنزيه اللائق بحمدك وجلالك، ونمجِّدك بكل صفات الكمال والجلال؟ قال الله لهم: إني أعلم ما لا تعلمون من الحكمة البالغة في خلقهم.ـ

30. And mention to the people, O Messenger, when your Lord said to the angels, “I am going to place a people on the earth who will follow one after the other in maintaining it.” They said, “O our Lord! Teach and guide us to the wisdom behind creating these people when part of their lot is to corrupt the earth and shed blood out of oppression and enmity. Meanwhile we obey Your command and exalt You above having any shortcomings, as fits with Your praiseworthiness and majesty. And we praise You for every perfect and majestic attribute of Yours. Allah said to them, “I certainly know a profound wisdom for creating them that you do not know.”

وَعَلَّمَ آدَمَ الْأَسْمَاءَ كُلَّهَا ثُمَّ عَرَضَهُمْ عَلَى الْمَلَائِكَةِ فَقَالَ أَنبِئُونِي بِأَسْمَاءِ هَـٰؤُلَاءِ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ

And He taught Adam the names, all of them. Then He presented them to the angels and said, “Tell me the names of these things if you are truthful.” [2:31] Continue reading

Those Who Do Evil Out of Ignorance and Then Repent Soon Afterwards: Tafsir al-Baghawi

Allah says in surah al-Nisaa’:

إِنَّمَا التَّوْبَةُ عَلَى اللَّـهِ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السُّوءَ بِجَهَالَةٍ ثُمَّ يَتُوبُونَ مِن قَرِيبٍ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ يَتُوبُ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْهِمْ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّـهُ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا * وَلَيْسَتِ التَّوْبَةُ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السَّيِّئَاتِ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَهُمُ الْمَوْتُ قَالَ إِنِّي تُبْتُ الْآنَ وَلَا الَّذِينَ يَمُوتُونَ وَهُمْ كُفَّارٌ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ أَعْتَدْنَا لَهُمْ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا

The only repentance in Allah’s sight is for those who do evil out of ignorance and then repent soon afterwards; it is they to whom Allah will turn in forgiveness. And Allah is Ever All-Knower, All-Wise. * And there is no repentance for those who continue to do evil deeds until death faces one of them and he says, “Now I repent;” nor for those who die while they are disbelievers. For them We have prepared a painful torment. [4:17-18]

In his famous book of tafsir, Imam al-Baghawi commented on this by writing:

قوله تعالى : ( إنما التوبة على الله ) قال الحسن : يعني التوبة التي يقبلها ، فيكون على بمعنى عند ، وقيل : من الله ، ( للذين يعملون السوء بجهالة ) قال قتادة : أجمع أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم على أن كل ما عصي به الله فهو جهالة عمدا كان أو لم يكن ، وكل من عصى الله فهو جاهل . وقال مجاهد : المراد من الآية : العمد ، قال الكلبي : لم يجهل أنه ذنب لكنه جهل عقوبته ، وقيل : معنى الجهالة : اختيارهم اللذة الفانية على اللذة الباقية . ـ

Allah’s statement:

إِنَّمَا التَّوْبَةُ عَلَى اللَّـهِ

The only repentance in Allah’s sight …

al-Hasan said, “i.e. the repentance that He accepts. So the word ‘alaa here is used with the meaning of ‘inda.” And others have said that the word ‘alaa is used with the meaning of min.

لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السُّوءَ بِجَهَالَةٍ

… is for those who do evil out of ignorance …

Qatadah said, “The Companions of Allah’s Messenger were all in agreement that anything done in disobedience to Allah is ignorance regardless of whether it is done intentionally or not, and that everyone who disobeys Allah is ignorant.” Continue reading

When Repentance Will No Longer Be Accepted: Sheikh Faisal Aal Mubarak

Since it was authored by Imam Abu Zakariyyah Yahya al-Nawawi (d. 676Ah/1277CE), the book Riyadh al-Saliheen has been a hadith collection in constant circulation among the Muslims due the great benefits that it contains. As a result, numerous explanations have been given and written for this book. One such explanation was that of sheikh Faisal Aal Mubarak (d. 1376Ah/1957CE). Like his explanations of many other essential works, sheikh Faisal’s commentary here is very direct and selective. We have marked the original text of Riyah al-Saliheen in blue, and sheikh Faisal’s commentary is in black:

ـ 17 – وعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال : قال رسول الله ﷺ : ” من تاب قبل أن تطلع الشمس من مغربها تاب الله عليه” . ((رواه مسلم)) . ـ

17. On the authority of Abu Hurayrah, he said that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said:

Whoever turns in repentance before the sun rises from the west, Allah will turn in to him in forgiveness.

Reported by Muslim.

قبول التوبة مستمر ما دام باب مفتوحا ، فإذ إغلق لم تقبل . قال الله تعالى : [يَوْمَ يَأْتِي بَعْضُ آيَاتِ رَبِّكَ لَا يَنفَعُ نَفْسًا إِيمَانُهَا لَمْ تَكُنْ آمَنَتْ مِن قَبْلُ أَوْ كَسَبَتْ فِي إِيمَانِهَا خَيْرًا] (الانعام 158) يعني إذا طلعت الشمس من مغربا لم ينفع الكافر إيمانه ولا العاصي توبته . ـ

The acceptance of repentance is ongoing as long as the door of repentance is open, but when that door is closed it will not be accepted.

Allah said: Continue reading

Tawbah for the Various Categories of Sins: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

Imam Abu ‘Abdullah al-Qurtubi mentioned the following issue in part of his well-known book of tafsir:

الخامسة : الذنوب التي يتاب منها إما كفر أو غيره ، فتوبة الكافر إيمانه مع ندمه على ما سلف من كفره ، وليس مجرد الإيمان نفس توبة ، وغير الكفر إما حق لله تعالى ، وإما حق لغيره ، [ ص: 203 ] فحق الله تعالى يكفي في التوبة منه الترك ; غير أن منها ما لم يكتف الشرع فيها بمجرد الترك بل أضاف إلى ذلك في بعضها قضاء كالصلاة والصوم ، ومنها ما أضاف إليها كفارة كالحنث في الأيمان والظهار وغير ذلك ، وأما حقوق الآدميين فلا بد من إيصالها إلى مستحقيها ، فإن لم يوجدوا تصدق عنهم ، ومن لم يجد السبيل لخروج ما عليه لإعسار فعفو الله مأمول ، وفضله مبذول ; فكم ضمن من التبعات وبدل من السيئات بالحسنات . وستأتي زيادة بيان لهذا المعنى . ـ

Point 5: Sins from which one can repent fall into the categories of outright kufr (disbelief) or lesser sins.

The repentance of a disbelieving person involves him having eemaan while regretting the disbelief that he had previously committed, as merely having eemaan is not the same as repenting.

As for those sins which are less than kufr, these are either related to the rights of Allah, or the rights of others. Continue reading

When One Plans to Sin but then Does Not: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In surah al-An’aam, Allah describes the Day of Judgement by saying:

مَن جَاءَ بِالْحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُ عَشْرُ أَمْثَالِهَا ۖ وَمَن جَاءَ بِالسَّيِّئَةِ فَلَا يُجْزَىٰ إِلَّا مِثْلَهَا وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ

Whoever comes [on the Day of Judgement] with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof, and whoever comes with an evil deed will not be recompensed except the like thereof; and they will not be wronged. [6:160]

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir gave a thorough and beneficial explanation of this ayah in part of his famous book of tafsir. He began by linking it to another related ayah, and then proceeded to mention several slightly different and seemingly contradictory hadith narrations on the same subject before explaining how these differences could be reconciled and understood properly:

وهذه الآية الكريمة مفصلة لما أجمل في الآية الأخرى ، وهي قوله : ( من جاء بالحسنة فله خير منها ) [ النمل : 89 ] ، وقد وردت الأحاديث مطابقة لهذه الآية ، كما قال الإمام أحمد بن حنبل ، رحمه الله : حدثنا عفان ، حدثنا جعفر بن سليمان ، حدثنا الجعد أبو عثمان ، عن أبي رجاء العطاردي ، عن ابن عباس ، رضي الله عنهما ، عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ، فيما يروي عن ربه ، عز وجل قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ” إن ربكم عز وجل رحيم ، من هم بحسنة فلم يعملها كتبت له حسنة ، فإن عملها كتبت له عشرا إلى سبعمائة ، إلى أضعاف كثيرة . ومن هم بسيئة فلم يعملها كتبت له حسنة ، فإن عملها كتبت له واحدة ، أو يمحوها الله ، عز وجل ، ولا يهلك على الله إلا هالك ” ورواه البخاري ، ومسلم ، والنسائي ، من حديث الجعد بن أبي عثمان ، به . ـ

This great ayah serves to clarify what was previously only mentioned in a general sense in another ayah, that ayah being Allah’s statement:

مَن جَاءَ بِالْحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُ خَيْرٌ مِّنْهَا

Whoever comes with a good deed with have something better than that … [27:89]

and a number of hadith narrations have been transmitted which fall in the same vein as this ayah, such as what Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal said … that ibn ‘Abbaas relayed something of what Allah’s Messenger conveyed from his Lord. He said: Allah’s Messenger said:

Allah, the Mighty and Exalted, is merciful to the believers. Whoever intends to do a good deed but then does not actually do it will have one good deed recorded for him. But if he does do that good deed, he will have ten up to seven hundred or even higher multiples of good deeds recorded for him. And whoever intends to do a sin but then does not actually do it will have one good deed recorded for him. But if he does do that sin, it will be recorded as a single sin for him. Or Allah may even wipe that sin out. And Allah does not subject anyone to destruction except those who persist in sinfulness.

This was recorded by al-Bukari, Muslim, and al-Nasaa’i from the hadith of Ja’d ibn Abi ‘Uthman. Continue reading

Taking the Means to Allah’s Forgiveness: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In surah al-Nisaa’, Allah informs us of the following:

 إِنَّمَا التَّوْبَةُ عَلَى اللَّهِ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السُّوءَ بِجَهَالَةٍ ثُمَّ يَتُوبُونَ مِن قَرِيبٍ فَأُولَٰئِكَ يَتُوبُ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا * وَلَيْسَتِ التَّوْبَةُ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السَّيِّئَاتِ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَهُمُ الْمَوْتُ قَالَ إِنِّي تُبْتُ الْآنَ وَلَا الَّذِينَ يَمُوتُونَ وَهُمْ كُفَّارٌ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ أَعْتَدْنَا لَهُمْ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا

The forgiveness on Allah’s part is only for those who do wrong in ignorance and then repent soon after. It is those to whom Allah will turn in forgiveness, and Allah is ever Knowing and Wise. * But forgiveness is not for those who do evil deeds up until, when death comes to one of them, he says, “Indeed, I repent now,” or of those who die while they are disbelievers. For them We have prepared a painful punishment. [4:17-18]

Commenting on this in his well-known book of tafsir, Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote:

توبة الله على عباده نوعان: توفيق منه للتوبة، وقبول لها بعد وجودها من العبد، فأخبر هنا -أن التوبة المستحقة على الله حق أحقه على نفسه، كرما منه وجودا، لمن عمل السوء أي: المعاصي { بِجَهَالَةٍ } أي: جهالة منه بعاقبتها وإيجابها لسخط الله وعقابه، وجهل منه بنظر الله ومراقبته له، وجهل منه بما تئول إليه من نقص الإيمان أو إعدامه، فكل عاص لله، فهو جاهل بهذا الاعتبار وإن كان عالما بالتحريم. بل العلم بالتحريم شرط لكونها معصية معاقبا عليها . ـ

Allah’s turning towards His slaves in forgiveness fall into two categories:

  1. Granting them the accord to make repentance, and
  2. Accepting their repentance from them after they have made it.

And here, Allah is informing us that the forgiveness which is incumbent upon Allah is a duty which He has enjoined upon Himself as a form of generosity and munificence from Him to whomever commits an evil deed – meaning an act of disobedience –

بِجَهَالَةٍ

in ignorance

meaning: while being ignorant of the displeasure and punishment of Allah that it entails and necessitates, and while being ignorant of Allah’s watchfulness over him, and while being ignorant of the decrease or obliteration of eemaan which it causes. Every one who disobeys Allah is ignorant of these considerations, even if he knows of the prohibition. In fact, knowledge of the prohibited nature of an act is a condition that must be in place for that act of disobedience to result in punishment.

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