A Subtle Point in Surah al-Nisaa’: Tafsir al-Shawkani

In the middle of surah al-Nisaa’, Allah describes a number of the deeds meriting punishment, the qualities of those who call to and partake in these deeds and their ultimate destination [4:115-121] before describing the people of al-Jannah and their qualities and then mentioning:

وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ دِينًا مِّمَّنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لِلَّـهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ وَاتَّبَعَ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا ۗ وَاتَّخَذَ اللَّـهُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ خَلِيلًا

And who is better in religion than one who submits himself to Allah while being a doer of good and follows the religion of Abraham, inclining toward truth? And Allah took Abraham as an intimate friend. [4:125]

Allah then follows that ayah up immediately by seeming to turn to a new subject:

وَلِلَّـهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّـهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ مُّحِيطًا

And to Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And ever is Allah, of all things, encompassing. [4:126]

Before then turning to yet another subject in the very next ayah, beginning with:

وَيَسْتَفْتُونَكَ فِي النِّسَاءِ

And they ask you [O Muhammad] for a legal verdict regarding the women … [4:127]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Shawkaani points out a subtle connection between ayahs 125 and 126 in his tafsir where he wrote:

ولله ما في السماوات وما في الأرض فيه إشارة إلى أنه سبحانه اتخذ إبراهيم خليلا لطاعته لا لحاجته ولا للتكثر به والاعتضاد بمخاللته وكان الله بكل شيء محيطا هذه الجملة مقررة لمعنى الجملة التي قبلها ؛ أي : أحاط علمه بكل شيء لا يغادر صغيرة ولا كبيرة إلا أحصاها [ الكهف : 49 ] ـ

وَلِلَّـهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ

And to Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth.

This indicates that Allah took Ibrahim as a close friend due to his obedience, not due to any need of him or to increase His ranks or gain any support from his friendship. Continue reading

“Are They Equal?”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In the midst of surah al-Nahl, Allah strikes two parables in succession when He says:

ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا عَبْدًا مَّمْلُوكًا لَّا يَقْدِرُ عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ وَمَن رَّزَقْنَاهُ مِنَّا رِزْقًا حَسَنًا فَهُوَ يُنفِقُ مِنْهُ سِرًّا وَجَهْرًا ۖ هَلْ يَسْتَوُونَ ۚ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ ۚ بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ * وَضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا رَّجُلَيْنِ أَحَدُهُمَا أَبْكَمُ لَا يَقْدِرُ عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ وَهُوَ كَلٌّ عَلَىٰ مَوْلَاهُ أَيْنَمَا يُوَجِّههُّ لَا يَأْتِ بِخَيْرٍ ۖ هَلْ يَسْتَوِي هُوَ وَمَن يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ ۙ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ

Allah strikes a parable of a slave who is owned and unable to do anything and one to whom We have given good provision and so he spends from it both secretly and openly. Are they equal? All praise is due to Allah. But most of them do not know. * And Allah strikes a parable of two men: one of them dumb and unable to do anything and he is a burden to his guardian. Wherever he directs him, he brings no good. Is he equal to one who enjoins justice while he is on the straight path? [16:75-76]

Commenting on this in his well-known book of tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di wrote the following:

ضرب تعالى مثلين له ولمن يعبد من دونه: أحدهما: عبد مملوك أي: رقيق لا يملك نفسه ولا يملك من المال والدنيا شيئا، والثاني: حر غني قد رزقه الله منه رزقا حسنا من جميع أصناف المال وهو كريم محب للإحسان، فهو ينفق منه سرا وجهرا، هل يستوي هذا وذاك؟! لا يستويان مع أنهما مخلوقان، غير محال استواؤهما . ـ

Allah struck two parables of Him and those who are worshiped besides Him.

The first parable is one slave who is owned – someone who is the property of another person. He does not own himself nor does he own any wealth or any worldly goods. The other person in this parable is a free, wealthy person whom Allah has provided with good shares of all forms of wealth and he is generous and loves to do good to others. As a result, he spends out of his wealth both secretly and openly. Is this one equal to that one? Are the two equal? Even though they are both created beings, they are certainly not equal.

Continue reading

The Prophet Muhammad was Sent to All Mankind: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah says in surah Aal ‘Imran:

فَإِنْ حَاجُّوكَ فَقُلْ أَسْلَمْتُ وَجْهِيَ لِلَّـهِ وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِ ۗ وَقُل لِّلَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ وَالْأُمِّيِّينَ أَأَسْلَمْتُمْ ۚ فَإِنْ أَسْلَمُوا فَقَدِ اهْتَدَوا ۖ وَّإِن تَوَلَّوْا فَإِنَّمَا عَلَيْكَ الْبَلَاغُ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ بَصِيرٌ بِالْعِبَادِ

So if they argue with you, say, “I have submitted myself to Allah, and so have those who follow me.” And say to those who were given the Scripture and to the unlearned, “Have you submitted yourselves?” And if they submit, they are rightly guided; but if they turn away – then only notification is required of you. And Allah is Seeing of His servants. [3:20]

Commenting on this in his book of tafsir, al-haafidh ibn Kathir wrote:

قال تعالى : ( فإن حاجوك ) أي : جادلوك في التوحيد ( فقل أسلمت وجهي لله ومن اتبعن ) أي : فقل أخلصت عبادتي لله وحده ، لا شريك له ولا ند [ له ] ولا ولد ولا صاحبة له ( ومن اتبعن ) على ديني ، يقول كمقالتي ، كما قال تعالى : ( قل هذه سبيلي أدعو إلى الله على بصيرة أنا ومن اتبعني [ وسبحان الله وما أنا من المشركين ] ) [ يوسف : 108 ] . ـ

Allah said:

فَإِنْ حَاجُّوكَ

So if they argue with you …

i.e. if they argue with you regarding Allah’s sole right to be worshiped

فَقُلْ أَسْلَمْتُ وَجْهِيَ لِلَّـهِ وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِ

… then say, “I have submitted myself to Allah, and so have those who follow me.”

i.e. then say, “I have made my worship exclusively for Allah alone, without making any partner, counterpart, offspring, or spouse for Him

وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِ

“… and so have those who follow me.”

i.e. follow me in my religion – they will also say the same thing. Continue reading

The Qur’anic Arguments Against the Mushrikoon

In his book of Usool al-Tafsir, sheikh Shah Waliullah al-Dehlawi included the following brief discussion:

الجدل القرآني مع المشتركين: ـ
The Qur’anic Arguments Against the Mushrikoon

لقد رد الله – تعالى – على المشركين ومعتقداتهم الباطلة بشتى الطرق، وبيانها كما يلي: ـ

Allah has refuted the Mushrikoon and their false beliefs through a number of different methods, as we shall illustrate presently:

أولا : مطالبتهم بالدليل على ما يزعمون، ونقض تمسكهم بتقليد آبائهم. ـ

First: Demanding that they produce some proof for their claims and denouncing how they cling to blindly-following their forefathers.

ثانيا : إثبات أن لا تساوي بين الرب والعباد وأن الرب تعالى مختص باستحقاق العبادة أقصى غاية التعظيم ، بخلاف جميع عباده وجميع مخلوقاته . ـ

Second: Making it clear that there is no similarity between the Lord and the slaves, and that it is only the Lord who deserves to be worshiped with the utmost level of veneration, in contrast to all of His slaves and creations who do not have any right to that. Continue reading

“Shall We Turn Back on Our Heels After Allah has Guided us?”: Tafsir al-Baghawi

Allah strikes a parable in part of surah al-An’aam by saying:

قُلْ أَنَدْعُو مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ مَا لَا يَنفَعُنَا وَلَا يَضُرُّنَا وَنُرَدُّ عَلَىٰ أَعْقَابِنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَانَا اللَّهُ كَالَّذِي اسْتَهْوَتْهُ الشَّيَاطِينُ فِي الْأَرْضِ حَيْرَانَ لَهُ أَصْحَابٌ يَدْعُونَهُ إِلَى الْهُدَى ائْتِنَا ۗ قُلْ إِنَّ هُدَى اللَّهِ هُوَ الْهُدَىٰ ۖ وَأُمِرْنَا لِنُسْلِمَ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

Say: Shall we call on others besides Allah who cannot help us or harm us and shall we turn back on our heels after Allah has guided us like one whom the shayaateen have made go astray in the earth in confusion while his friends call him to guidance – “come to us!”. Say: Surely, Allah’s guidance is the guidance, and we have been commanded to submit to our Lord of all creation. [6:71]

Commenting on this in his famous book of tafsir, Imam al-Baghawi wrote:

ـ ( قل أندعو من دون الله ما لا ينفعنا ) إن عبدناه ، ( ولا يضرنا ) إن تركناه ، يعني : الأصنام ليس إليها نفع ولا ضر ، ( ونرد على أعقابنا ) إلى الشرك [ مرتدين ] ( بعد إذ هدانا الله كالذي استهوته الشياطين في الأرض ) ، أي : يكون مثلنا كمثل الذي استهوته الشياطين ، أي : أضلته ، ( حيران ) قال ابن عباس : كالذي استهوته الغيلان في المهامة فأضلوه فهو حائر بائر ، والحيران : المتردد في الأمر ، لا يهتدي إلى مخرج منه . ـ

قُلْ أَنَدْعُو مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ مَا لَا يَنفَعُنَا

Say: Shall we call on others besides Allah who cannot help us …

if we were to worship them

وَلَا يَضُرُّنَا

… or harm us …

if we were to ignore them. This is in reference to idols, which neither bring about benefit nor harm.

وَنُرَدُّ عَلَىٰ أَعْقَابِنَا

… and shall we turn back on our heels …

back to shirk, apostatizing from Islam

بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَانَا اللَّهُ كَالَّذِي اسْتَهْوَتْهُ الشَّيَاطِينُ فِي الْأَرْضِ

… after Allah has guided us like one whom the shayaateen have made go astray in the earth …

i.e. if we were to do so, then we would be those one whom the shayaateen seduced – that is, led astray Continue reading

“For You is Your Religion and for Me is My Religion”: Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan

In a series of lessons on the Mufassal surahs conducted in one of the mosques in Riyadh, sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan concluded his explanation of surah al-Kafiroon [109] with the following words:

وهذه السورة فيها : البراءة التامة من دين المشركين ، وفيها : الإعلان لهذه البراءة ، فينبغي على المسلم أن يعلن أنه بريء من دين المشركين ، كما أن المشركين بريئون من دين الله ، وليس كما يفهم بعض الجهلة ، أو أهل الضلال الذين ينادون بعدم الإنكار على المشركين ، مستشهدين بقوله : [لكم دينكم ولي دين] فلا تنكروا على المشركين ، وينادون بحرية الأديان . ـ

This surah contains a complete disavowal of the religion of the mushrikoon. It also contains an open declaration of this disavowal, so Muslims ought to openly declare that they are free of the religion of the mushirkoon, just as the mushrikoon are not connected to Allah’s religion.

And it is not as some ignorant or misguided people think, those who advocate that we should not criticize or voice disapproval of the mushrikoon, using Allah’s statement:

لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِيَ دِينِ

For you is your religion and for me is my religion [109:6]

as evidence. So they say that you should not criticize the mushrikoon and they call for religious freedom.

فهذا من باب البراءة ، وليس من باب التراضي بيننا وبين الكفار والمشركين ، وليس من باب التسوية ، وإنما هذه الآية براءة من دين المشركين وإن كانوا يعبدون الله ببعض أنواع العبادات ، فهذه العبادات لا تنفع ، ولا تزيدهم شيئا ، لأن العبادة إذا خالطها الشرك بطلت ، كما أن الحدث والنجاسة إذا خالطت الطهارة بطلت . ـ

But this ayah is a statement of disavowal, not a statement of mutual acceptance between the Muslims and the disbelievers and mushrukoon, nor is it a statement of equality between them. This ayah is plainly a disavowal of the religion of the mushrikoon, even if they do direct some acts of worship towards Allah. But these acts of worship do not benefit them, nor do they bring them any good. That is because if worship is mixed with shirk it becomes invalid, just as if filth and uncleanliness is mixed with ritual purity then the purity is spoiled. Continue reading

How Allah Calls Us to Know Him: Ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim once wrote:

الرَّبُّ تعالى يَدعُو عِبادَه في القرآن إلى مَعرفتِه مِن طَريقينِ: أحدهما النَّظرُ في مَفعولاتِه، والثاني التَّفكُّر في آياتِه وتَدبُّرِها، فتلك آياتُه المَشهُودَة، وهذه آياتُه المَسمُوعَة المَعقُولَة، فالنوع الأول كقوله: {إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لَآيَاتٍ لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ} وهو كثير في القرآن، والثاني كقوله: {أَفَلا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآن} وهو كثير أيضا. ـ

Throughout the Qur’an, the Lord has called His slaves to know Him through two ways:

1) Considering the things that He has done
2) Contemplating and reflecting on His verses

So the former type of are things that we see, while the latter type are things that we hear and comprehend.

An example of the first type is: Continue reading

Taking up Partners: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah describes the disbelievers in surah al-Baqarah by saying:

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَتَّخِذُ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ أَندَادًا

And there are some people who take up partners besides Allah… [2:165]

Commenting on this phrase, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote:

وفي قوله: { اتخذوا } دليل على أنه ليس لله ند وإنما المشركون جعلوا بعض المخلوقات أندادا له, تسمية مجردة, ولفظا فارغا من المعنى، كما قال تعالى: { وَجَعَلُوا لِلَّهِ شُرَكَاءَ قُلْ سَمُّوهُمْ أَمْ تُنَبِّئُونَهُ بِمَا لَا يَعْلَمُ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَمْ بِظَاهِرٍ مِنَ الْقَوْلِ } { إِنْ هِيَ إِلَّا أَسْمَاءٌ سَمَّيْتُمُوهَا أَنْتُمْ وَآبَاؤُكُمْ مَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ بِهَا مِنْ سُلْطَانٍ إِنْ يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ } ـ

Allah’s referring to them as “taking up partners” is proof that Allah does not actually have any equals and that the mushrikoon merely treat some of created beings like equals to Him, but those are nothing more than titles and words devoid of any real substance. That is like how they say:

وَجَعَلُوا لِلَّهِ شُرَكَاءَ قُلْ سَمُّوهُمْ أَمْ تُنَبِّئُونَهُ بِمَا لَا يَعْلَمُ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَمْ بِظَاهِرٍ مِنَ الْقَوْلِ

Yet they ascribe partners to Allah. Say: “Name them! Is it that you will inform Him of something in the earth that He does not know, or is it just a show of false words?” [13:33] Continue reading

al-Tawheed in Surah al-Burooj: ibn al-Qayyim

In part of his work dedicated to discussing the oaths is the Qur’an, ibn al-Qayyim wrote the highlighted the following point in part of his treatment of surah al-Burooj:

وقد اشتملت هذه السورة على اختصارها من التوحيد

Despite its short size, this surah – surah a-Burooj (85)contains numerous proofs for al-Tawheed:

على وصفه سبحانه بالعزة المتضمنة للقدرة والقوة وعدم النظير

It characterizes Allah as Mighty, a term which encompasses complete ability, power and the absence of any peer. [see 85:8]

والحمد المتضمن لصفات الكمال والتنزيه عن أضدادها مع محبته وإلهيته

It describes Him as being Praiseworthy, which entails attributes of completion and negates any opposite deficient qualities. This also points to His qualities of love and His divine nature. [see 85:8]

وملكه السموات والأرض المتضمن لكمال غناه وسعة ملكه

It mentions His ownership of the heavens and the earth, which indicates a complete lack of need for anyone or anything else, as well as pointing to the expansiveness of His ownership. [see 85:9] Continue reading

Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 158-167: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the fifteenth installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 158-167. This passage centers around proofs of Allah’s sole right to be worshiped, and the punishment for concealing or rejecting these proofs. See the series guide here for more information about this series and other installments.

إِنَّ الصَّفَا وَالْمَرْوَةَ مِن شَعَائِرِ اللَّـهِ ۖ فَمَنْ حَجَّ الْبَيْتَ أَوِ اعْتَمَرَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِ أَن يَطَّوَّفَ بِهِمَا ۚ وَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ شَاكِرٌ عَلِيمٌ

al-Safa and al-Marwa are some of Allah’s signs. So whoever makes Hajj to the House or makes ‘umrah, then there is no blame on him if he goes back and forth between them. Whoever does good voluntarily, then Allah is Appreciative and All-Knowing. [2:158]

إن الصفا والمروة- وهما جبلان صغيران قرب الكعبة من جهة الشرق- من معالم دين الله الظاهرة التي تعبَّد الله عباده بالسعي بينهما. فمَن قصد الكعبة حاجًّا أو معتمرًا، فلا إثم عليه ولا حرج في أن يسعى بينهما، بل يجب عليه ذلك، ومن فعل الطاعات طواعية من نفسه مخلصًا بها لله تعالى، فإن الله تعالى شاكر يثيب على القليل بالكثير، عليم بأعمال عباده فلا بضيعها، ولا يبخس أحدًا مثقال ذرة.ـ

158. al-Safa and al-Marwa, two small mountains near the Ka’bah on its east side, are some of the visible symbols of Allah’s religion which Allah’s slaves rush between as a form of worship. So whoever sets out for the Ka’bah to make Hajj or ‘umrah, there is no sin or blame on him for rushing back and forth between them. In fact, he is required to do that. And whoever does any acts of obedience of his own choice, purely for Allah, then Allah is Appreciative and will reward him a great deal even for a small act, and He is All-Knowing of the deeds of His slaves, so the deeds will not be lost nor will anyone be deprived of even a mustard seed’s worth of reward.

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَكْتُمُونَ مَا أَنزَلْنَا مِنَ الْبَيِّنَاتِ وَالْهُدَىٰ مِن بَعْدِ مَا بَيَّنَّاهُ لِلنَّاسِ فِي الْكِتَابِ ۙ أُولَـٰئِكَ يَلْعَنُهُمُ اللَّـهُ وَيَلْعَنُهُمُ اللَّاعِنُونَ

Those who conceal any of the clarity and guidance which We have revealed after We have made it clear for the people in the Book – those people are cursed by Allah and cursed by those who curse [2:159] Continue reading