“Whoever Allah Wants to Guide, He Opens his Chest to Islam”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah strikes the following parable in surah al-An’aam:

فَمَن يُرِدِ اللَّهُ أَن يَهْدِيَهُ يَشْرَحْ صَدْرَهُ لِلْإِسْلَامِ ۖ وَمَن يُرِدْ أَن يُضِلَّهُ يَجْعَلْ صَدْرَهُ ضَيِّقًا حَرَجًا كَأَنَّمَا يَصَّعَّدُ فِي السَّمَاءِ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يَجْعَلُ اللَّهُ الرِّجْسَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ

So whoever Allah wants to guide, He opens his chest to Islam. And whoever He wants to misguide, He makes his chest tight and constricted as though he were climbing up the sky. Thus does Allah place wrath upon those who do not believe. [6:125]

In his commentary on this parable, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di wrote the following beautiful words:

يقول تعالى -مبينا لعباده علامة سعادة العبد وهدايته، وعلامة شقاوته وضلاله-: إن من انشرح صدره للإسلام، أي: اتسع وانفسح، فاستنار بنور الإيمان، وحيي بضوء اليقين، فاطمأنت بذلك نفسه، وأحب الخير، وطوعت له نفسه فعله، متلذذا به غير مستثقل، فإن هذا علامة على أن الله قد هداه، ومن عليه بالتوفيق، وسلوك أقوم الطريق. ـ

Here, Allah is making it clear to His servants what are the signs of a slave’s ultimate joy and guidance and what are the signs of a slave’s ultimate misery and misguidance. So He says that whoever’s chest has been opened up to Islam – that is, it has been made wide and spacious – then it becomes enlightened with the light of faith and enlivened with the light of certainty. So his heart becomes at peace with that, loves good, and becomes compliant in doing it – taking enjoyment from it, nor at all feeling burdened. So this is a sign that Allah has guided such a person and blessed him to be rightly guided and traversing the most upright path.

Continue reading

“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 Foundation of Self-Reckoning in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah addresses the believers in surah al-Hashr by saying:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ وَلْتَنظُرْ نَفْسٌ مَّا قَدَّمَتْ لِغَدٍ ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ * وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ نَسُوا اللَّهَ فَأَنسَاهُمْ أَنفُسَهُمْ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ * لَا يَسْتَوِي أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ وَأَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ ۚ أَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ

O you who believe, have taqwa of Allah and let every soul look at what it has sent forth for tomorrow. And have taqwa of Allah. Allah is entirely aware of what you do. * And do not be like those who forgot Allah so He made them forget themselves. Those are the losers. * The people of the Hellfire and the people of Jannah are not equal. The people of Jannah are are the successful ones. [59:18-20]

In his famous commentary on the Qur’an, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di explained this passage by writing:

يأمر تعالى عباده المؤمنين بما يوجبه الإيمان ويقتضيه من لزوم تقواه، سرا وعلانية، في جميع الأحوال، وأن يراعوا ما أمرهم الله به من أوامره وشرائعه وحدوده، وينظروا ما لهم وما عليهم، وماذا حصلوا عليه من الأعمال التي تنفعهم أو تضرهم في يوم القيامة، فإنهم إذا جعلوا الآخرة نصب أعينهم وقبلة قلوبهم، واهتموا بالمقام بها، اجتهدوا في كثرة الأعمال الموصلة إليها، وتصفيتها من القواطع والعوائق التي توقفهم عن السير أو تعوقهم أو تصرفهم، وإذا علموا أيضا، أن الله خبير بما يعملون، لا تخفى عليه أعمالهم، ولا تضيع لديه ولا يهملها، أوجب لهم الجد والاجتهاد. ـ

Allah is commanding His believing slaves to be consistent in their taqwa of Him, just as their eemaan requires and mandates of them. This is true whether in private or in public: in all of their situations. And He is commanding them to mind the commands, legislation and limits that Allah has instructed them with, and to consider what is in their favor and what is against them and to consider how their deeds will end up helping or hurting them on the Day of Resurrection. Continue reading

Allah Has Sent Down the Best Speech: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says al-Zumar:

اللَّـهُ نَزَّلَ أَحْسَنَ الْحَدِيثِ كِتَابًا مُّتَشَابِهًا مَّثَانِيَ تَقْشَعِرُّ مِنْهُ جُلُودُ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُمْ ثُمَّ تَلِينُ جُلُودُهُمْ وَقُلُوبُهُمْ إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُدَى اللَّـهِ يَهْدِي بِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَمَن يُضْلِلِ اللَّـهُ فَمَا لَهُ مِنْ هَادٍ

Allah has sent down the best speech: a consistent and reiterating Book. The skins of those who fear their Lord shiver from it, then their skins and hearts soften to the remembrance of Allah. That is Allah’s guidance; He guides by it whom He wills. And whomever Allah leads astray, then there is no one to guide him. [39:23]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di wrote the following commentary on this ayah:

يخبر تعالى عن كتابه الذي نزله أنه { أَحْسَنَ الْحَدِيثِ } على الإطلاق، فأحسن الحديث كلام اللّه، وأحسن الكتب المنزلة من كلام اللّه هذا القرآن، وإذا كان هو الأحسن، علم أن ألفاظه أفصح الألفاظ وأوضحها، وأن معانيه، أجل المعاني، لأنه أحسن الحديث في لفظه ومعناه، متشابها في الحسن والائتلاف وعدم الاختلاف، بوجه من الوجوه. حتى إنه كلما تدبره المتدبر، وتفكر فيه المتفكر، رأى من اتفاقه، حتى في معانيه الغامضة، ما يبهر الناظرين، ويجزم بأنه لا يصدر إلا من حكيم عليم، هذا المراد بالتشابه في هذا الموضع. ـ

Allah informs us that His Book which He sent down is

أَحْسَنَ الْحَدِيثِ

the best speech

bar none, for the best speech is the speech of Allah, and the best revealed scripture made of Allah’s speech is the Qur’an. So since it is the best, then it is clear that its wordings are most eloquent and clearest wordings and that its meanings are the most sublime meanings, for it is the best of speech in terms of its wordings and meanings. It is

مُّتَشَابِهًا

mutashabih

consistent

in its beauty and unified nature and lack of contradiction. This is one of the meanings of the term mutashabih. The Qur’an’s unified nature and lack of contradiction is such that whenever a person contemplates and ponders it, he sees that it is consistent. This is even the case with its ambiguous messages which puzzle readers. So one will become certain that this could only come from the All-Wise, All-Knowing. That is the meaning of al-mutashabih in this context.

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

Those Who Hear Nothing But Calls and Cries: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah strikes the following parable in surah al-Baqarah:

وَمَثَلُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا كَمَثَلِ الَّذِي يَنْعِقُ بِمَا لَا يَسْمَعُ إِلَّا دُعَاءً وَنِدَاءً ۚ صُمٌّ بُكْمٌ عُمْيٌ فَهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ

And the likeness of those who disbelieve is like that of one who shouts at what hears nothing but calls and cries. Deaf, dumb, and blind, so they do not understand. [2:171]

Commenting on this ayah, Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di wrote:

لما بين تعالى عدم انقيادهم لما جاءت به الرسل, وردهم لذلك بالتقليد, علم من ذلك أنهم غير قابلين للحق, ولا مستجيبين له, بل كان معلوما لكل أحد أنهم لن يزولوا عن عنادهم، أخبر تعالى, أن مثلهم عند دعاء الداعي لهم إلى الإيمان كمثل البهائم التي ينعق لها راعيها, وليس لها علم بما يقول راعيها ومناديها، فهم يسمعون مجرد الصوت, الذي تقوم به عليهم الحجة, ولكنهم لا يفقهونه فقها ينفعهم

After clearly showing their lack of compliance with what the messengers brought and their rejection of the messengers on the basis of blind following, it has become clear that they are not receptive or responsive to the truth. On the contrary, it has become plain to everyone that they will persist in their obstinance. Continue reading

Two Factors Which Lead to Jannah: Tafsir al-Sa’di

After describing the some of the punishments of the people of the hellfire in surah al-Haqqah, Allah then mentions the following two reasons for their punishment:

إِنَّهُ كَانَ لَا يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّـهِ الْعَظِيمِ * وَلَا يَحُضُّ عَلَىٰ طَعَامِ الْمِسْكِينِ

Indeed, he did not used to believe in Allah, the Most Great, * Nor did he encourage the feeding of the poor. [69:33-34]

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

فإن السبب الذي أوصله إلى هذا المحل: { إِنَّهُ كَانَ لَا يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ الْعَظِيمِ } بأن كان كافرا بربه معاندا لرسله رادا ما جاءوا به من الحق. { وَلَا يَحُضُّ عَلَى طَعَامِ الْمِسْكِينِ } أي: ليس في قلبه رحمة يرحم بها الفقراء والمساكين فلا يطعمهم [من ماله] ولا يحض غيره على إطعامهم، لعدم الوازع في قلبه، وذلك لأن مدار السعادة ومادتها أمران: الإخلاص لله، الذي أصله الإيمان بالله، والإحسان إلى الخلق بوجوه الإحسان، الذي من أعظمها، دفع ضرورة المحتاجين بإطعامهم ما يتقوتون به، وهؤلاء لا إخلاص ولا إحسان، فلذلك استحقوا ما استحقوا.ـ

The cause which brought this person to this place is that

إِنَّهُ كَانَ لَا يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ الْعَظِيمِ

Indeed, he did not used to believe in Allah, the Most Great

for he used to disbelieve in his Lord, obstinately oppose His messengers, and reject the truth that the messengers brought to him.

وَلَا يَحُضُّ عَلَى طَعَامِ الْمِسْكِينِ

Nor did he encourage the feeding of the poor

i.e. he did not have any mercy in his heart to take pity of the poor and the needy, so he didn’t use his money to feed them nor did he encourage others to feed them, for he had no sense of propriety left in his heart.

These two factors are mentioned because attaining everlasting joy revolves around two things: Continue reading

They Have Not Appraised Allah with His True Value: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In surah al-Zumar, Allah instructs His prophet:

قُلْ أَفَغَيْرَ‌ اللَّـهِ تَأْمُرُ‌ونِّي أَعْبُدُ أَيُّهَا الْجَاهِلُونَ * وَلَقَدْ أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ وَإِلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكَ لَئِنْ أَشْرَ‌كْتَ لَيَحْبَطَنَّ عَمَلُكَ وَلَتَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِ‌ينَ * بَلِ اللَّـهَ فَاعْبُدْ وَكُن مِّنَ الشَّاكِرِ‌ينَ * وَمَا قَدَرُ‌وا اللَّـهَ حَقَّ قَدْرِ‌هِ وَالْأَرْ‌ضُ جَمِيعًا قَبْضَتُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَالسَّمَاوَاتُ مَطْوِيَّاتٌ بِيَمِينِهِ ۚ سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ عَمَّا يُشْرِ‌كُونَ

Say, “Is it other than Allah that you order me to worship, O ignorant ones?” * And it was already revealed to you and to those before you that if you should associate anything with Allah, your work would surely become worthless, and you would surely be among the losers.” * Rather, worship only Allah and be among the grateful. * They have not appraised Allah with true appraisal, while the earth entirely will be within His grip on the Day of Resurrection, and the heavens will be folded in His right hand. Exalted is He and high above what they associate with Him. [39:64-67]

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

ـ { قُلْ } يا أيها الرسول لهؤلاء الجاهلين، الذين دعوك إلى عبادة غير اللّه: { أَفَغَيْرَ اللَّهِ تَأْمُرُونِّي أَعْبُدُ أَيُّهَا الْجَاهِلُونَ } أي: هذا الأمر صدر من جهلكم، وإلا فلو كان لكم علم بأن اللّه تعالى الكامل من جميع الوجوه، مسدي جميع النعم، هو المستحق للعبادة، دون من كان ناقصا من كل وجه، لا ينفع ولا يضر، لم تأمروني بذلك. وذلك لأن الشرك باللّه محبط للأعمال، مفسد للأحوال . ـ

قُلْ

Say: …

O Messenger, to these ignorant ones who call you to the worship of others than Allah

أَفَغَيْرَ اللَّهِ تَأْمُرُونِّي أَعْبُدُ أَيُّهَا الْجَاهِلُونَ

…. Is it other than Allah that you order me to worship, O ignorant ones?

meaning: this command issues forth from your ignorance, and otherwise it would not occur. For if you only knew how perfect and complete Allah is from every angle, and that He is provider of all blessings, and that He is the One deserving of worship to the exclusion of those who are deficient in every way, for they do not bring benefit nor do they cause harm – if you only knew these things, then you would not tell me to that! And that is because committing shirk with Allah invalidates one’s deeds and ruins one’s condition. Continue reading

How the Qur’an Addresses Potential Doubts: Tafsir al-Sa’di

After a long series of ayaat in surah al-Baqarah critical of Banu Israa’eel for their repeated betrayals of the covenant that Allah had taken from them, Allah then says:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالنَّصَارَىٰ وَالصَّابِئِينَ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ

Those who believe and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabi’oon who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteous good deeds – they will have their reward with Allah, and they will not have any fear nor will they grieve. [2:62]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote the following explanation and beneficial point of Qur’anic style in his commentary on this ayah:

ثم قال تعالى حاكما بين الفرق الكتابية: { إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالنَّصَارَى وَالصَّابِئِينَ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ } وهذا الحكم على أهل الكتاب خاصة, لأن الصابئين, الصحيح أنهم من جملة فرق النصارى، فأخبر الله أن المؤمنين من هذه الأمة, واليهود والنصارى, والصابئين من آمن بالله واليوم الآخر, وصدقوا رسلهم, فإن لهم الأجر العظيم والأمن, ولا خوف عليهم ولا هم يحزنون، وأما من كفر منهم بالله ورسله واليوم الآخر, فهو بضد هذه الحال, فعليه الخوف والحزن. ـ

This status is only applicable to the Ahl al-Kitab, for the correct opinion regarding the Sabi’oon is that they are one of the Christian sects.

In this ayah, Allah is informing the believers that the Jews, Christians, and Sabi’oon who believe in Allah and the Last Day and affirm His messengers will have a great reward as well as safety. They will not fear nor will they grieve.

But as for those of those of them that disbelieve in Allah and His messengers and the Last Day, then they will experience the opposite situation: they will fear and they will grieve. Continue reading

Those Who Threw Off the Guidance that Allah Gave Them: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-A’raaf:

وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ الَّذِي آتَيْنَاهُ آيَاتِنَا فَانسَلَخَ مِنْهَا فَأَتْبَعَهُ الشَّيْطَانُ فَكَانَ مِنَ الْغَاوِينَ * وَلَوْ شِئْنَا لَرَفَعْنَاهُ بِهَا وَلَـٰكِنَّهُ أَخْلَدَ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ ۚ فَمَثَلُهُ كَمَثَلِ الْكَلْبِ إِن تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْهِ يَلْهَثْ أَوْ تَتْرُكْهُ يَلْهَث ۚ ذَّٰلِكَ مَثَلُ الْقَوْمِ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا ۚ فَاقْصُصِ الْقَصَصَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ * سَاءَ مَثَلًا الْقَوْمُ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا وَأَنفُسَهُمْ كَانُوا يَظْلِمُونَ * مَن يَهْدِ اللَّـهُ فَهُوَ الْمُهْتَدِي ۖ وَمَن يُضْلِلْ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ

Recite to them the news of the one to whom We gave Our signs, but he threw that off and so the shaytaan followed him up, so he was one of those who went astray. * And if We had wished, We could have raised him up by them, but he clung to the earth and followed his desire. The likes of this one is the likes of a dog: if you drive it away it pants and if you leave it alone it pants. Those are the likes of the people who deny Our signs. So relate this story so that they might reflect. * What an evil likeness – the people who denied Our signs and used to wrong themselves. * Whoever Allah guides, then he is the guided one, and whoever Allah leads astray, then they are the losers. [7:175-178]

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

يقول تعالى لنبيه صلى الله عليه وسلم: وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ الَّذِي آتَيْنَاهُ آيَاتِنَا أي: علمناه كتاب اللّه، فصار العالم الكبير والحبر النحرير. فَانْسَلَخَ مِنْهَا فَأَتْبَعَهُ الشَّيْطَانُ أي: انسلخ من الاتصاف الحقيقي بالعلم بآيات اللّه، فإن العلم بذلك، يصير صاحبه متصفا بمكارم الأخلاق ومحاسن الأعمال، ويرقى إلى أعلى الدرجات وأرفع المقامات، فترك هذا كتاب اللّه وراء ظهره، ونبذ الأخلاق التي يأمر بها الكتاب، وخلعها كما يخلع اللباس. فلما انسلخ منها أتبعه الشيطان، أي: تسلط عليه حين خرج من الحصن الحصين، وصار إلى أسفل سافلين، فأزه إلى المعاصي أزا. فَكَانَ مِنَ الْغَاوِينَ بعد أن كان من الراشدين المرشدين. ـ

Allah is telling His Prophet:

وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ الَّذِي آتَيْنَاهُ آيَاتِنَا

Recite to them the news of the one to whom We gave Our signs

i.e. We taught this person the Book of Allah and so he became a major scholar and learned religious leader

فَانْسَلَخَ مِنْهَا فَأَتْبَعَهُ الشَّيْطَانُ

but he threw that off and so the shaytaan followed him up

Continue reading