A Discussion of the People of Jannah: Tafsir al-Qurtubi & Tafsir al-Sa’di

In surah al-Tur, Allah describes the situation of the believers in Jannah by saying:

وَأَقْبَلَ بَعْضُهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ يَتَسَاءَلُونَ * قَالُوا إِنَّا كُنَّا قَبْلُ فِي أَهْلِنَا مُشْفِقِينَ * فَمَنَّ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْنَا وَوَقَانَا عَذَابَ السَّمُومِ * إِنَّا كُنَّا مِن قَبْلُ نَدْعُوهُ ۖ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْبَرُّ الرَّحِيمُ

And they will approach one another, inquiring of each other. * They will say, “Indeed, we were previously among our people, fearful. * So Allah conferred favor upon us and protected us from the punishment of al-samoom. * Indeed, we used to supplicate Him before. Indeed, it is He who is al-Barr, al-Raheem.” [52:25-28]

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

قوله تعالى : وأقبل بعضهم على بعض يتساءلون قال ابن عباس : إذا بعثوا من قبورهم سأل بعضهم بعضا . وقيل : في الجنة يتساءلون أي يتذاكرون ما كانوا فيه في الدنيا من التعب والخوف من العاقبة ، ويحمدون الله تعالى على زوال الخوف عنهم . وقيل : يقول بعضهم لبعض بم صرت في هذه المنزلة الرفيعة ؟ قالوا إنا كنا قبل في أهلنا مشفقين أي قال كل مسئول منهم لسائله : إنا كنا قبل أي في الدنيا خائفين وجلين من عذاب الله . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَأَقْبَلَ بَعْضُهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ يَتَسَاءَلُونَ

And they will approach one another, inquiring of each other

ibn ‘Abbaas said: when they are raised from their graves they will ask one another.

But others explained it to mean that they will ask one another in Jannah, meaning they will discuss the hard work and fear of the ultimate outcomes that they had during the worldly life and they will praise Allah for removing that fear from them.

Still others said: They will say to one another, “How did you get to this elevated station?” They will say, Continue reading

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I did not Create the Jinn and Mankind Except to Worship Me: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Near the end of surah al-Dhaariyaat, Allah says:

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ * مَا أُرِيدُ مِنْهُم مِّن رِّزْقٍ وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَن يُطْعِمُونِ * إِنَّ اللَّـهَ هُوَ الرَّزَّاقُ ذُو الْقُوَّةِ الْمَتِينُ

And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me * I do not desire provision from them, nor do I want them to feed me * It is Allah who is the continual provider, the firm possessor of strength. [51-56-58]

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

هذه الغاية التي خلق الله الجن والإنس لها، وبعث جميع الرسل يدعون إليها، وهي عبادته، المتضمنة لمعرفته ومحبته، والإنابة إليه والإقبال عليه، والإعراض عما سواه ـ

This is the purpose for which Allah created the Jinn and mankind, and all of the Messengers were sent to call to this: that is, the worship of Allah. Worship of Allah involves knowing Him, loving Him, turning to Him in repentance, dedicating oneself to Him, and turning away from the worship of any others.

وذلك يتضمن معرفة الله تعالى، فإن تمام العبادة متوقف على المعرفة بالله، بل كلما ازداد العبد معرفة بربه، كانت عبادته أكمل، فهذا الذي خلق الله المكلفين لأجله، فما خلقهم لحاجة منه إليهم. ـ

This involves knowing Allah, as complete worship is dependent upon knowing Allah. In fact, the more that a person increases in knowing His Lord, the more complete his worship will be. So it is for this purpose that Allah created these two legally-responsible beings [i.e. Jinn and mankind]; He did not created them out of any need for them. Continue reading

A Veil Between the Disbelievers and the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In surah al-Israa’, Allah addresses the Prophet Muhammad by saying:

وَإِذَا قَرَأْتَ الْقُرْآنَ جَعَلْنَا بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَ الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْآخِرَةِ حِجَابًا مَّسْتُورًا * وَجَعَلْنَا عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ أَكِنَّةً أَن يَفْقَهُوهُ وَفِي آذَانِهِمْ وَقْرًا ۚ وَإِذَا ذَكَرْتَ رَبَّكَ فِي الْقُرْآنِ وَحْدَهُ وَلَّوْا عَلَىٰ أَدْبَارِهِمْ نُفُورًا * نَّحْنُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يَسْتَمِعُونَ بِهِ إِذْ يَسْتَمِعُونَ إِلَيْكَ وَإِذْ هُمْ نَجْوَىٰ إِذْ يَقُولُ الظَّالِمُونَ إِن تَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا رَجُلًا مَّسْحُورًا * انظُرْ كَيْفَ ضَرَبُوا لَكَ الْأَمْثَالَ فَضَلُّوا فَلَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ سَبِيلًا

And when you recite the Qur’an, We place a concealing barrier between you and those who do not believe in the hereafter. * And We have placed a covering over their hearts so that they do not understand it, and deafness in their ears. And when you mention your Lord alone in the Qur’an, they turn away in aversion. * We are most knowing of what they listen to when they listen to you, and We are most knowing that when they discuss privately, then the wrongdoers say, “You are only following a bewitched man.” * Look at the comparisons they strike of you. So they are misguided, and they are not able to find a way. [17:45-48]

In his valuable commentary on the Qur’an, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote the following on these ayaat:

ـ(45 ) يخبر تعالى عن عقوبته للمكذبين بالحق الذين ردوه وأعرضوا عنه أنه يحول بينهم وبين الإيمان، فقال:ـ وإذا قرأت القرآن الذي فيه الوعظ والتذكير والهدى والإيمان والخير والعلم الكثير؛ جعلنا بينك وبين الذين لا يؤمنون بالآخرة حجابا مستورا يسترهم عن فهمه حقيقة وعن التحقق بحقائقه والانقياد إلى ما يدعو إليه من الخير. ـ

Allah is informing us of His punishment for those who deny the truth, those who reject it and turn away from it. He is informing us that He will come between them and eemaan, for He said:

وَإِذَا قَرَأْتَ الْقُرْآنَ

And when you recite the Qur’an …

that Qur’an which contains abundant admonitions, reminders, guidance, eemaan, goodness, and knowledge

جَعَلْنَا بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَ الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْآخِرَةِ حِجَابًا مَّسْتُورًا 

… We place a concealing barrier between you and those who do not believe in the hereafter.

which shields them from understanding its truth, from grasping its true nature, and from complying with the good that it calls to. Continue reading

The False Qiyaas of Iblis: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In the beginning of surah al-A’raaf, Allah mentions the well-known story of Iblis refusing to obey Allah’s command to bow towards Adam. After the initial refusal, Allah informs us of the following dialogue:

قَالَ مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلَّا تَسْجُدَ إِذْ أَمَرْتُكَ ۖ قَالَ أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِّنْهُ خَلَقْتَنِي مِن نَّارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِن طِينٍ

Allah said, “What prevented you from prostrating after I had commanded you?” Iblis said, “I am better than him; You created me from fire, and him You created from clay.” (7:12)

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di mentioned the following points of benefit under his tafsir of this ayah:

فوبخه اللّه على ذلك وقال: { مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلَّا تَسْجُدَ } لما خلقت بيديَّ، أي: شرفته وفضلته بهذه الفضيلة، التي لم تكن لغيره، فعصيت أمري وتهاونت بي؟ ـ

Allah reprimanded Iblis for this behavior and said:

مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلَّا تَسْجُدَ

What prevented you from prostrating

to that which I created which My own hands? Meaning, I have honored and favored him with this honor which was not done for any other, but you disobey My command and treat it so flippantly?

ـ { قَالَ } إبليس معارضا لربه: { أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِنْهُ } ثم برهن على هذه الدعوى الباطلة بقوله: { خَلَقْتَنِي مِنْ نَارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِنْ طِينٍ } وموجب هذا أن المخلوق من نار أفضل من المخلوق من طين لعلو النار على الطين وصعودها، وهذا القياس من أفسد الأقيسة، فإنه باطل من عدة أوجه . ـ

قَالَ

Iblis said

in response to his Lord Continue reading

Investigate and Verify: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah commands the believers in surah al-Nisaa’ by saying:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا ضَرَبْتُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ فَتَبَيَّنُوا وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَنْ أَلْقَىٰ إِلَيْكُمُ السَّلَامَ لَسْتَ مُؤْمِنًا تَبْتَغُونَ عَرَضَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا فَعِندَ اللَّـهِ مَغَانِمُ كَثِيرَةٌ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ كُنتُم مِّن قَبْلُ فَمَنَّ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْكُمْ فَتَبَيَّنُوا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا

O you who have believed, when you go forth in the cause of Allah, investigate; and do not say to one who gives you a greeting of peace “You are not a believer,” seeking the goods of worldly life; for with Allah are many bounties. You yourselves were like that before before Allah conferred His favor upon you, so investigate. Indeed Allah is ever acquainted with what you do. [4:94]

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

يأمر تعالى عباده المؤمنين إذا خرجوا جهادا في سبيله وابتغاء مرضاته أن يتبينوا ويتثبتوا في جميع أمورهم المشتبهة. فإن الأمور قسمان: واضحة وغير واضحة. فالواضحة البينة لا تحتاج إلى تثبت وتبين، لأن ذلك تحصيل حاصل. وأما الأمور المشكلة غير الواضحة فإن الإنسان يحتاج إلى التثبت فيها والتبين، ليعرف هل يقدم عليها أم لا؟ ـ

Allah is commanding His believing slaves to investigate and verify the facts in any and all situations which are not completely clear whenever they go out for jihaad in His path and seeking His pleasure.

And things can fall into one of two categories: either they are clear or unclear. Those things which are plain and clear do not require any extra verification or investigation, because clarity has already been achieved. But as for those matters which are not entirely clear and somewhat thorny, then a person must seek to ascertain what is really the case and seek clarity so that he can known whether he should proceed with his plan or not. Continue reading

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

“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