Qualities of the Successful Ones: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah describes the successful believers in surah al-Nur by saying:

وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّـهَ وَرَ‌سُولَهُ وَيَخْشَ اللَّـهَ وَيَتَّقْهِ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ

And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, fears Allah, and exercises taqwa of him – these ones are the successful ones. [24:52]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote:

فقال: ومن يطع الله ورسوله فيصدق خبرهما ويمتثل أمرهما، ويخش الله أي: يخافه خوفا مقرونا بمعرفة، فيترك ما نهى عنه، ويكف نفسه عما تهوى، ولهذا قال: ويتقه بترك المحظور؛ لأن التقوى -عند الإطلاق- يدخل فيها فعل المأمور، وترك المنهي عنه، وعند اقترانها بالبر أو الطاعة – كما في هذا الموضع – تفسر بتوقي عذاب الله، بترك معاصيه، ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّـهَ وَرَ‌سُولَهُ

and whoever obeys Allah and His messenger

so he affirms what they have informed him of and complies with their commands Continue reading

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“Only those who hear will respond”: Tafsir al-Tabari and Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-An’aam:

إِنَّمَا يَسْتَجِيبُ الَّذِينَ يَسْمَعُونَ ۘ وَالْمَوْتَىٰ يَبْعَثُهُمُ اللَّـهُ ثُمَّ إِلَيْهِ يُرْجَعُونَ

Only those who hear will respond. But the dead – Allah will resurrect them; then to Him they will be returned. [6:36]

In his famous book of tafsir, Imam Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari commented on this ayah by writing:

 قال أبو جعفر : يقول – تعالى ذكره – لنبيه محمد – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : لا يكبرن عليك إعراض هؤلاء المعرضين عنك ، وعن الاستجابة لدعائك إذا دعوتهم إلى توحيد ربهم والإقرار بنبوتك ، فإنه لا يستجيب لدعائك – إلى ما تدعوه إليه من ذلك – إلا الذين فتح الله أسماعهم للإصغاء إلى الحق ، وسهل لهم اتباع الرشد ، دون من ختم الله على سمعه ، فلا يفقه من دعائك إياه إلى الله وإلى اتباع الحق إلا ما تفقه الأنعام من أصوات رعاتها ، فهم كما وصفهم به الله – تعالى ذكره – : صم بكم عمي فهم لا يعقلون [ سورة البقرة : 171 ] ـ

I, Abu Ja’far, say: Allah is addressing His Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) by saying: Do not be distressed by the rejection of these ones who turn away from you and from responding to your call when you call them to singling out their Lord in worship and affirming your prophet-hood. For none will respond to your call – that is, those things which you are calling to – except for those whom Allah has opened their hearing to listen to the truth and then made it easy for them to follow the correct guidance. This is to the exclusion of those whom Allah has placed a seal over their hearing, so they do not understand this call to worship Allah and to follow the truth, this call of yours which is directed to them. They do not understand it any more than cattle understand the voice of their herder. So they are like those whom Allah described in this way:

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

And the example of those who disbelieve, is as that of him who shouts to those that that hear nothing but calls and cries. (They are) deaf, dumb and blind. So they do not understand. [2:171]

ـ” والموتى يبعثهم الله ” يقول : والكفار يبعثهم الله مع الموتى ، فجعلهم – تعالى ذكره – في عداد الموتى الذين لا يسمعون صوتا ، ولا يعقلون دعاء ، ولا يفقهون قولا إذ كانوا لا يتدبرون حجج الله ، ولا يعتبرون آياته ، ولا يتذكرون فينزجرون عما هم عليه من تكذيب رسل الله وخلافهم . ـ

وَالْمَوْتَىٰ يَبْعَثُهُمُ اللَّـهُ

But the dead – Allah will resurrect them Continue reading

“If We had decreed upon them, ‘kill yourselves’…”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In surah al-Nisaa’, Allah addresses the believers by saying:

وَلَوْ أَنَّا كَتَبْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ أَنِ اقْتُلُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ أَوِ اخْرُ‌جُوا مِن دِيَارِ‌كُم مَّا فَعَلُوهُ إِلَّا قَلِيلٌ مِّنْهُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ فَعَلُوا مَا يُوعَظُونَ بِهِ لَكَانَ خَيْرً‌ا لَّهُمْ وَأَشَدَّ تَثْبِيتًا * وَإِذًا لَّآتَيْنَاهُم مِّن لَّدُنَّا أَجْرً‌ا عَظِيمًا * وَلَهَدَيْنَاهُمْ صِرَ‌اطًا مُّسْتَقِيمًا

And if We had decreed upon them, “Kill yourselves” or “Leave your homes,” they would not have done it, except for a few of them. But if they had done what they were instructed, it would have been good for them and a firm position. * And then We would have given them a great reward from Us. * And We would have guided them to a Straight Path. [4:66-68]

In his famous book of tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote the following commentary on these ayaat:

يخبر تعالى أنه لو كتب على عباده الأوامر الشاقة على النفوس من قتل النفوس والخروج من الديار لم يفعله إلا القليل منهم والنادر، فليحمدوا ربهم وليشكروه على تيسير ما أمرهم به من الأوامر التي تسهل على كل أحد، ولا يشق فعلها . ـ

Allah informs them that had He decreed commands for His slaves which were difficult for their souls, such as killing themselves or leaving their homes, then none of them would not have done that except for a few rare individuals. So they should praise their Lord and be grateful to Him for making those things which He has commanded them to do easy for every single individual to carry out and which do not bring about difficulty in their performance.

وفي هذا إشارة إلى أنه ينبغي أن يلحظ العبد ضد ما هو فيه من المكروهات، لتخف عليه العبادات، ويزداد حمدًا وشكرًا لربه. ـ

This indicates that the slave should think about the bad circumstances that he could be in, for this would lighten the acts of worship for him and increase him in praise and gratitude to his Lord. Continue reading

“You will never attain al-Birr until…” : Tafsir al-Sa’di

At the end of the third juz’ of the Qur’an, Allah informs the believers:

لَن تَنَالُوا الْبِرَّ‌ حَتَّىٰ تُنفِقُوا مِمَّا تُحِبُّونَ ۚ وَمَا تُنفِقُوا مِن شَيْءٍ فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ بِهِ عَلِيمٌ

By no means shall you attain Al-Birr until you spend of that which you love; and whatever of good you spend, Allah knows it well. [3:92]

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

هذا حث من الله لعباده على الإنفاق في طرق الخيرات، فقال { لن تنالوا } أي: تدركوا وتبلغوا البر الذي هو كل خير من أنواع الطاعات وأنواع المثوبات الموصل لصاحبه إلى الجنة، { حتى تنفقوا مما تحبون } أي: من أموالكم النفيسة التي تحبها نفوسكم، فإنكم إذا قدمتم محبة الله على محبة الأموال فبذلتموها في مرضاته، دل ذلك على إيمانكم الصادق وبر قلوبكم ويقين تقواكم، فيدخل في ذلك إنفاق نفائس الأموال، والإنفاق في حال حاجة المنفق إلى ما أنفقه، والإنفاق في حال الصحة، ـ

This is an incitement from Allah to His slaves to spend in the paths of goodness, for He said:

لَن تَنَالُوا

By no means shall you attain …

meaning: to reach or achieve

الْبِرَّ‌

al-birr

which is every form of goodness from the various acts of obedience and the various rewards which conduct their doer unto al-Jannah. Continue reading

Fear a trial which will not only strike the wrongdoers: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In surah al-Anfaal, Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَجِيبُوا لِلَّـهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ إِذَا دَعَاكُمْ لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ ۖ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّـهَ يَحُولُ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَأَنَّهُ إِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ * وَاتَّقُوا فِتْنَةً لَّا تُصِيبَنَّ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا مِنكُمْ خَاصَّةً ۖ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّـهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ

O you who have believed, respond to Allah and to the Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life. And know that Allah intervenes between a man and his heart and that to Him you will be gathered. * And exercise fear and caution of a trial which will not only strike those of you who have done wrong, and know that Allah is severe in penalty. (8:24-25)

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di wrote the following commentary on these verses in his well-known book of tafsir:

يأمر تعالى عباده المؤمنين بما يقتضيه الإيمان منهم وهو الاستجابة لله وللرسول، أي: الانقياد لما أمرا به والمبادرة إلى ذلك والدعوة إليه، والاجتناب لما نهيا عنه، والانكفاف عنه والنهي عنه. ـ

Allah is commanding His believing slaves with what faith requires of them, which is responding to Allah and the Messenger. Meaning: complying with what they command, being eager to do so, and also calling others to that, as well as avoiding what they prohibit, abstaining from it, and also prohibiting others from it.

وقوله: إذا دعاكم لما يحييكم وصف ملازم لكل ما دعا الله ورسوله إليه، وبيان لفائدته وحكمته، فإن حياة القلب والروح بعبودية الله تعالى ولزوم طاعته وطاعة رسوله على الدوام. ـ

And His statement: 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.

Continue reading

Whoever desires this world, We will repay them fully therein: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah Hud:

مَن كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا وَزِينَتَهَا نُوَفِّ إِلَيْهِمْ أَعْمَالَهُمْ فِيهَا وَهُمْ فِيهَا لَا يُبْخَسُونَ * أُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ لَيْسَ لَهُمْ فِي الْآخِرَةِ إِلَّا النَّارُ ۖ وَحَبِطَ مَا صَنَعُوا فِيهَا وَبَاطِلٌ مَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

Whoever desires the life of this world and its adornments – We fully repay them for their deeds therein, and they will not be deprived therein. * Those are the ones for whom there is nothing for them in the Hereafter except the Fire. Lost is what they did therein, and worthless is what they used to do. [11:15-16]

In his well-known book of tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote:

يقول تعالى: { مَنْ كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا وَزِينَتَهَا } أي: كل إرادته مقصورة على الحياة الدنيا، وعلى زينتها من النساء والبنين، والقناطير المقنطرة، من الذهب، والفضة، والخيل المسومة، والأنعام والحرث. قد صرف رغبته وسعيه وعمله في هذه الأشياء، ولم يجعل لدار القرار من إرادته شيئا، فهذا لا يكون إلا كافرا، لأنه لو كان مؤمنا، لكان ما معه من الإيمان يمنعه أن تكون جميع إرادته للدار الدنيا، بل نفس إيمانه وما تيسر له من الأعمال أثر من آثار إرادته الدار الآخرة. ـ

Allah said:

مَنْ كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا وَزِينَتَهَا

Whoever desires the life of this world and its adornments…

meaning: that all of such a person’s wants are limited to the life of this world and its adornments such as women, children, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land [c.f. 3:14]. He has directed his desires, efforts and exertions towards these things, while he does not have any desire at all for the enduring life of the Hereafter. This situation is only the case for a disbeliever, because if he were a believer then he would have some eemaan in him that would prevent all of his desires from being turned to the life of this world. Rather, the very presence of eemaan in him and the good deeds which that enables him to do is a consequence of his desire for the life of the Hereafter. Continue reading

“If a Faasiq comes to you with news, verify it…”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee and al-Sa’di

Allah commands the believers in surah al-Hujuraat by saying:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ

O you who believe! If a faasiq (rebellious evil person) comes to you with a news, verify it, lest you harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful of what you have done. [49:6]

In his book of tafsir, sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote the following regarding this ayah:

نزلت هذه الآية الكريمة في الوليد بن عقبة بن أبي معيط ، وقد أرسله النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – إلى بني المصطلق ليأتيهم بصدقات أموالهم فلما سمعوا به تلقوه فرحا به ، فخاف منهم وظن أنهم يريدون قتله ، فرجع إلى نبي الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – وزعم له أنهم منعوا الصدقة وأرادوا قتله ، فقدم وفد منهم إلى النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – فأخبروه بكذب الوليد ، فأنزل الله هذه الآية ، وهي تدل على عدم تصديق الفاسق في خبره . ـ

This noble ayah was revealed concerning al-Waleed ibn ‘Uqbah ibn Abi Mu’ayt. The Prophet (ﷺ) had sent him to the Banu al-Mustaliq tribe to collect the zakaah from them. When they heard that he was coming, they excitedly went to meet him. However he was afraid of them and thought that they wanted to kill him, so he went back to the Prophet of Allah (ﷺ) and claimed that they had withheld the zakaah and had intended to kill him. Later a delegation from that tribe came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and informed him of al-Waleed’s lie, and so Allah revealed this ayah, which indicates that one should not affirm news given by a faasiq.

 وصرح تعالى في موضع آخر بالنهي عن قبول شهادة الفاسق ، وذلك في قوله : ولا تقبلوا لهم شهادة أبدا وأولئك هم الفاسقون [ 24 \ 4 ] ، ولا خلاف بين العلماء في رد شهادة الفاسق وعدم قبول خبره . ـ

And elsewhere Allah has explicitly mentioned the prohibition of accepting the legal testimony of a faasiq, which was His statement:

وَلَا تَقْبَلُوا لَهُمْ شَهَادَةً أَبَدًا ۚ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

And do not accept their testimony, ever. Those ones are the defiant sinners [24:4]

and there is no disagreement among the scholars about rejecting the legal testimony of the faasiqoon and not accepting what they say at face value. Continue reading

“Do not insult those they invoke other than Allah”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-An’aam:

وَلَا تَسُبُّوا الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ فَيَسُبُّوا اللَّـهَ عَدْوًا بِغَيْرِ‌ عِلْمٍ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ زَيَّنَّا لِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ عَمَلَهُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَىٰ رَ‌بِّهِم مَّرْ‌جِعُهُمْ فَيُنَبِّئُهُم بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge. Thus We have made pleasing to every community their deeds. Then to their Lord is their return, and He will inform them about what they used to do. [6:108]

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

ينهى الله المؤمنين عن أمر كان جائزا، بل مشروعا في الأصل، وهو سب آلهة المشركين، التي اتخذت أوثانا وآلهة مع الله، التي يتقرب إلى الله بإهانتها وسبها. ـ

Here, Allah is prohibiting the believers from something which is permissible – in fact, at its basis it is legislated – and that thing is insulting the polytheists’ objects of worship; those which are taken as idols and objects of worship alongside Allah, and those which the believers insult and hold in contempt thereby seeking nearness to Allah. Continue reading

Belief in the Messengers in brief: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In part of his tafsir of surah al-Baqarah (2:253), sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di listed a summary of some of the salient points regarding the prophets and messengers:

فائدة: كما يجب على المكلف معرفته بربه، فيجب عليه معرفته برسله، ما يجب لهم ويمتنع عليهم ويجوز في حقهم، ويؤخذ جميع ذلك مما وصفهم الله به في آيات متعددة. ـ

A point of benefit: Just as knowledge of one’s Lord is obligatory upon every legally-responsible adult, likewise knowledge of His messengers is also obligatory upon him – what is obligated towards them, what is prohibited regarding them and what is permitted concerning them. And all of that is taken from what Allah has described them with in numerous ayaat.

منها: أنهم رجال لا نساء، من أهل القرى لا من أهل البوادي، وأنهم مصطفون مختارون، جمع الله لهم من الصفات الحميدة ما به الاصطفاء والاختيار، وأنهم سالمون من كل ما يقدح في رسالتهم من كذب وخيانة وكتمان وعيوب مزرية، وأنهم لا يقرون على خطأ فيما يتعلق بالرسالة والتكليف، وأن الله تعالى خصهم بوحيه . ـ

And among these descriptions are:

-They there are men and not women[1], from the inhabitants of townships and not from the people of the wilderness[2].

– And they were chosen[3] and selected[4]; Allah combined in them praiseworthy traits which He chose and selected[5]. Continue reading