Allah Knows what the Chests Contain: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In the beginning of surah al-Maa’idah, Allah addresses the believers by saying:

وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَمِيثَاقَهُ الَّذِي وَاثَقَكُم بِهِ إِذْ قُلْتُمْ سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ

And remember the favor of Allah upon you and His covenant with which He bound you when you said, “We hear and we obey”; and have taqwa of Allah. Indeed, Allah is the All-Knower of what is within the chests. [5:7]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote the following in his commentary of this ayah:

يأمر تعالى عباده بذكر نعمه الدينية والدنيوية، بقلوبهم وألسنتهم. فإن في استدامة ذكرها داعيا لشكر الله تعالى ومحبته، وامتلاء القلب من إحسانه. ـ

Allah commands His slaves to remember His blessings – both those related to the deen and those related to this worldly life – with their hearts and with their tongues, for being continuously in remembrance of them leads one to be grateful to Allah and to love Him and to have a heart filled with His goodness.

وفيه زوال للعجب من النفس بالنعم الدينية، وزيادة لفضل الله وإحسانه. و { مِيثَاقَهُْ} أي: واذكروا ميثاقه { الَّذِي وَاثَقَكُمْ بِهِ ْ} أي: عهده الذي أخذه عليكم. ـ

This would also lead to a removal of self-amazement at the blessings of this worldly life, and an increase of the bounties of goodness of Allah.

And Continue reading

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Ibn Kathir on Zakah and Tazkiyyah al-Nafs

Allah says in surah Fussilat:

وَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُشْرِكِينَ * الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُم بِالْآخِرَةِ هُمْ كَافِرُونَ

Woe to the mushrikoon * those who do not give the zakah and who are disbelievers in the hereafter [41:6-7]

In part of his commentary on these ayaat, al-haafidh ibn Kathir wrote the following words:

ـ (وويل للمشركين) أي: دمار لهم وهلاك عليهم، (الذين لا يؤتون الزكاة) قال علي بن أبي طلحة، عن ابن عباس: يعني: الذين لا يشهدون أن لا إله إلا الله. وكذا قال عكرمة. ـ

وَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُشْرِكِينَ

Woe to the mushrikoon

meaning: ruin and destruction for them

الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ

those who do not give the zakah

‘Ali ibn Abi Talhah transmitted that ibn ‘Abbaas said, “meaning, those who do not bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah”. And ‘Ikrimah said something similar.

وهذا كقوله تعالى: (قد أفلح من زكاها وقد خاب من دساها) [الشمس: 9، 10]، وكقوله: (قد أفلح من تزكى وذكر اسم ربه فصلى) [الأعلى: 14، 15]، وقوله (فقل هل لك إلى أن تزكى ) [النازعات: 18] والمراد بالزكاة هاهنا: طهارة النفس من الأخلاق الرذيلة، ومن أهم ذلك طهارة النفس من الشرك. وزكاة المال إنما سميت زكاة لأنها تطهره من الحرام، وتكون سببا لزيادته وبركته وكثرة نفعه، وتوفيقا إلى استعماله في الطاعات. ـ

This is like Allah’s statement:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن زَكَّاهَا * وَقَدْ خَابَ مَن دَسَّاهَا

He has succeeded who purifies himself * and he has failed who corrupts it [91:9-10]

and like His statement: Continue reading

Three Saving Matters and Three Destructive Matters: Khutbah of Imam al-Sa’di

The following khutbah is taken from a collection of the Friday sermons of sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di:

الحمد لله الواحد الأحد ، الفرد الصمد ، الذي لم يلد ولم يولد ، ولم يكن له كفوا أحد ، وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له في ملكه وسلطانه ، ولا مثل له في أسمائه وصفاته ، وبره وإحسانه ، وأشهد أن محمدا عبده ورسوله ، المؤيد ببرهانه ، اللهم صل وسلم على محمد وعلى آله وأصحابه وأتباعه وأعوانه . ـ

All praise belongs to Allah, the One, the First, the Singular, the Independent – He who neither begets nor is begotten, and there is none like unto Him.

I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah alone, with no partners in His ownership and rule. And there is none like Him in terms of His Names and Attributes or His benevolence and excellence.

And I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and messenger, who was aided by His miraculous proofs. O Allah, grant Your peace and blessings upon Muhammad and upon his family, companions, followers and supporters.

أما بعد : أيها الناس ، اتقوا الله تعالى ، واسلكوا سبيل السلامة والنجاة ، واحذروا سبل العطب والأمور المهلكات ، فقد قال صلى الله عليه وسلم : « ثلاث منجيات وثلاث مهلكات ، فأما المنجيات : فتقوى الله في السر والعلانية ، والقول بالحق في الرضا والسخط ، والقصد في الغنى والفقر ، وأما المهلكات : فهوى متبع ، وشح مطاع ، وإعجاب المرء بنفسه ، وهي أشدهن » . ـ

To proceed: O people, have taqwa of Allah, and travel the path of safety and salvation, and beware of the routes of loss and the destructive matters. For the Prophet said:

There are three saving matters, and three destructive matters. As for the saving matters, they are 1) having taqwa of Allah in both public and private, 2) speaking the truth whether being pleased or displeased, and 3) being moderate regardless of wealth or poverty. As for the destructive matters, they are 1) desires which are followed, 2) miserliness which is obeyed, and 3) a person’s amazement with himself, and that is the gravest of them.

[Reported by al-Bayhaqi in Shu’b al-Eemaan (#6865) from the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah]

 فيا له من كلام جامع لمسالك الخيرات ، محذر عن موانع الهلكات . أما تقوى الله في السر والعلانية ، فهي ملاك الأمور ، وبها حصول الخيرات واندفاع الشرور ، فهي مراقبة الله على الدوام ، والعلم بقرب الملك العلام ، فيستحي من ربه أن يراه حيث نهاه ، أو يفقده في كل ما يقرب إلى رضاه . ـ

Oh, how valuable is this comprehensive statement for traveling the path of goodness, cautioning against those destructive impediments! Continue reading

Be More Concerned about the Actions of the Heart than the Actions of the Limbs: ibn ‘Uthaymeen

In part of his tafsir of surah al-Taariq, sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen wrote:

وقوله تعالى : [يَوْمَ تُبْلَى السَّرَائِرُ] ، أي : تختبر  السرائر ، وهي القلوب ، فإن الحساب يوم القيامة على ما في القلوب ، والحساب في الدنيا على ما في الجوارح ، ولهذا عامل النبي – صلى الله عليه وعلى آله وسلم – المنافقون معاملة المسلمين حيث كان يُسنأذن في قتلهم فيقول : { لا يتحدث الناس أنّ محمد يقتل أصحابه } فكان لا يقتلهم ، وهو يعلم أن فلانا منافق ، و فلانا منافق ، لكن العمل في الدنيا على الظاهر ويوم القيامة على الباطن [يَوْمَ تُبْلَى السَّرَائِرُ] أي : تختبر ، وهذا كقوله تعالى : [ أَفَلَا يَعْلَمُ إِذَا بُعْثِرَ مَا فِي الْقُبُورِ * وَحُصِّلَ مَا فِي الصُّدُورِ ]  <العاديات 9، 10>  ـ

Allah’s statement [describing the Day of Resurrection]:

يَوْمَ تُبْلَى السَّرَائِرُ

The Day when the secrets will be tested [86:9]

meaning, when when the secrets will be put through a testing, and “the secrets” is referring to the hearts. For the reckoning and judgement of the Day of Resurrection will be according to what is in one’s heart, while the reckoning and judgement in this worldly life is according to what is outwardly manifested. It was because of this that the Prophet treated the munaafiqoon (hypocrites) as Muslims when he was petitioned for permission to kill them and responded by saying, “Let the people not say that Muhammad kills his companions”, and so they were not killed even though he knew that such-and-such person was a munaafiq and that so-and-so was a munaafiq. Deeds are taken according to what is apparent in this worldly life, while deeds will be taken according to their inner dimensions on the Day of Resurrection. Continue reading

Qualities of the Successful Believers – Part 3/7: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Allah begins surah al-Mu’minoon with 11 ayaat describing the qualities of the successful believers and their ultimate reward. Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee broke his tafsir of these ayaat into seven sections, which we have translated and are in the midst of publishing it as a series. For a guide to the different sections, click here. Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee continued his tafsir of the opening of surah al-Mumi’noon as follows:

قوله تعالى : والذين هم للزكاة فاعلون ، في المراد بالزكاة هنا وجهان من التفسير معروفان عند أهل العلم : أحدهما : أن المراد بها زكاة الأموال ، وعزاه ابن كثير للأكثرين . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِلزَّكَاةِ فَاعِلُونَ

and those who carry out the zakaah [23:4]

There are two well-known opinions among the People of Knowledge regarding the intended meaning of the word “al-zakaah” here.

The first of them is that what is intended here is the zakaah of one’s wealth, and ibn Kathir attributed this opinion to the majority.

الثاني : أن المراد بالزكاة هنا : زكاة النفس أي : تطهيرها من الشرك ، والمعاصي بالإيمان بالله ، وطاعته وطاعة رسله عليهم الصلاة والسلام ، وعلى هذا فالمراد بالزكاة كالمراد بها في قوله قد أفلح من زكاها وقد خاب من دساها [ 91 \ 9 – 10 ] وقوله قد أفلح من تزكى الآية [ 87 \ 14 ] ، وقوله ولولا فضل الله عليكم ورحمته ما زكا منكم من أحد أبدا [ 24 \ 21 ] وقوله خيرا منه زكاة الآية [ 18 \ 81 ] وقوله وويل للمشركين الذين لا يؤتون الزكاة [ 41 \ 6 – 7 ] على أحد التفسيرين ، وقد يستدل لهذا القول الأخير بثلاث قرائن : ـ

The second is that the intended meaning of zakaah in this instance is the zakaah of one’s self – i.e. purifying one’s self from al-shirk and disobedience by having eemaan in Allah, obeying Him, and obeying His Messenger (ﷺ). So according to this position, the intended meaning of zakaah is like it’s intended meaning in Allah’s statement:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن زَكَّاهَا * وَقَدْ خَابَ مَن دَسَّاهَا

He has succeeded who purifies it * And indeed he fails who corrupts his own self [91:9-10]

And His statement: Continue reading

The Deen is Built on Two Foundations: Dhikr and Shukr – Ibn al-Qayyim

al-‘Allaamah ibn al-Qayyim wrote the following beneficial words in his famous work, al-Fawaa’id:

مبنى الدين على قاعدتين: الذكر والشكر، ـ

The deen is built on two foundations: al-Dhikr and al-Shukr [remembrance and gratitude].

قال تعالى {فاذكروني أذكركم واشكروا لي ولا تكفرون} سورة البقرة، الآية: 152، ـ

Allah said:

فَاذْكُرُ‌ونِي أَذْكُرْ‌كُمْ وَاشْكُرُ‌وا لِي وَلَا تَكْفُرُ‌ونِ

So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me. [2:152].

وقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم لمعاذ: «والله إني لأحبك فلا تنس أن تقول دبر كل صلاة: اللهم أعنِّي على ذكرك وشكرك وحسن عبادتك»، ـ

And the Prophet said to Mu’adh, “By Allah, verily I love you, so do not forget to say at the end of every salaah, ‘O Allah, aid me in remembering You and gratitude to You and in excellent worship of You.”

وليس المراد بالذكر مجرد ذكر اللسان بل القلبي واللساني، وذكره يتضمن ذكر أسمائه وصفاته وذكر أمره ونهيه وذكره بكلامه، وذلك يستلزم معرفته والإيمان به وبصفات كماله ونعوت جلاله والثناء عليه بأنواع المدح. وذلك لا يتم إلا بتوحيده. ـ

And the intended meaning of al-dhikr is not merely dhikr of the the tongue – rather of both the heart and the tongue. And making dhikr of Him comprises dhikr of His names and attributes, of His commands and prohibitions, and making dhikr of Him with His Words. And that necessitates knowing Him and having al-eemaan in Him and in His perfect qualities and marvelous attributes and extolling Him with all sorts of praise. And this is not made completed except by singling Him out with tawheed.

فذكره الحقيقي يستلزم ذلك كله ويستلزم ذكر نعمه وآلائه وإحسانه إلى خلقه. ـ

And the true dhikr of Him requires all of that and requires remembering His blessings, favors and excellent treatments towards His creation.

وأما الشكر فهو القيام له بطاعته والتقرب إليه بأنواع محابه ظاهرا وباطنا، ـ

And as for al-shukr, then it is establishing obedience to Him and seeking nearness to Him through the various forms of those things which He loves – both outwardly and inwardly.

وهذان الأمران هما جماع الدين، فذكره مستلزم لمعرفته، وشكره متضمن لطاعته، ـ

And these two issues comprise the entire deen, for dhikr of Him requires knowing Him, and shukr of Him involves being obedient to Him. Continue reading

Complaining about Allah vs. Complaining to Allah: ibn al-Qayyim

In his famous book of assorted benefits, al-Fawaa’id, Ibn al-Qayyim mentions the following issue:

فَائِدَة الْجَاهِل يشكو الله إِلَى النَّاس وَهَذَا غَايَة الْجَهْل بالمشكو والمشكو إِلَيْهِ فَإِنَّهُ لَو عرف ربه لما شكاه وَلَو عرف النَّاس لما شكا إِلَيْهِم

A point of benefit: The ignorant one complains about Allah to the people, and this is the height of ignorance when is comes to complaining about something and complaining to someone. For if he had known his Lord, then he would not have complained about Him, and if he had known the people, then he would not have complained to them.

وَرَأى بعض السّلف رجلا يشكو إِلَى رجل فاقته وضرورته فَقَالَ يَا هَذَا وَالله مَا زِدْت على أَن شَكَوْت من يَرْحَمك وَفِي ذَلِك قيل : ـ

One of the salaf saw a man who was complaining to another man about his poverty and dire need, so he said, “O you! By Allah, the only thing you’ve done is to complain to someone who does not take pity on you for that.” And it is said:

إذا شَكَوْت إِلَى ابْن آدم إِنَّمَا … تَشْكُو الرَّحِيم إِلَى الَّذِي لَا يرحم

When you complain to a son of Adam
You are only complaining about the Most Merciful One to someone who does not show mercy Continue reading

“Beautified for people is the love of what they desire”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In the early part of surah Aaali ‘Imran, Allah says:

زُيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ حُبُّ الشَّهَوَاتِ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ وَالْبَنِينَ وَالْقَنَاطِيرِ‌ الْمُقَنطَرَ‌ةِ مِنَ الذَّهَبِ وَالْفِضَّةِ وَالْخَيْلِ الْمُسَوَّمَةِ وَالْأَنْعَامِ وَالْحَرْ‌ثِ ۗ ذَٰلِكَ مَتَاعُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَاللَّـهُ عِندَهُ حُسْنُ الْمَآبِ * قُلْ أَؤُنَبِّئُكُم بِخَيْرٍ‌ مِّن ذَٰلِكُمْ ۚ لِلَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا عِندَ رَ‌بِّهِمْ جَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِ‌ي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ‌ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا وَأَزْوَاجٌ مُّطَهَّرَ‌ةٌ وَرِ‌ضْوَانٌ مِّنَ اللَّـهِ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ بَصِيرٌ‌ بِالْعِبَادِ * الَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَ‌بَّنَا إِنَّنَا آمَنَّا فَاغْفِرْ‌ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ‌ * الصَّابِرِ‌ينَ وَالصَّادِقِينَ وَالْقَانِتِينَ وَالْمُنفِقِينَ وَالْمُسْتَغْفِرِ‌ينَ بِالْأَسْحَارِ

Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire – of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return. * Say, “Shall I inform you of [something] better than that? For those who fear Allah will be gardens in the presence of their Lord beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally, and purified spouses and approval from Allah. And Allah is Seeing of [His] servants – * Those who say, “Our Lord, indeed we have believed, so forgive us our sins and protect us from the punishment of the Fire,”  *  The patient, the true, the obedient, those who spend [in the way of Allah], and those who seek forgiveness before dawn.  [3:‌14-17]

Commenting on this group of ayaat, Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote:

يخبر تعالى أنه زين للناس حب الشهوات الدنيوية، وخص هذه الأمور المذكورة لأنها أعظم شهوات الدنيا وغيرها تبع لها، قال تعالى { إنا جعلنا ما على الأرض زينة لها } فلما زينت لهم هذه المذكورات بما فيها من الدواعي المثيرات، تعلقت بها نفوسهم ومالت إليها قلوبهم، ـ

Allah informs us that He has beautified the love of worldly desires for mankind, and He specified these aforementioned items because they are the greatest of worldly desires and because other things follow from them. Allah said:

إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا مَا عَلَى الْأَرْ‌ضِ زِينَةً لَّهَا

Indeed, We have made that which is on the earth adornment for it [18:7]

So when theses aforementioned things were beautified for them due to what they contain of arousing appeal to which their souls are attached and to which their very hearts incline.

Continue reading

Consideration is given to the completeness of the conclusion, not the defects of the beginning

Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di authored a small book entitled Benefits Extracted from the Story of Yusuf (‘alaihi al-salaam). Composed of fifty chapters each detailing a specific benefit, he dedicated chapter six to the following topic:

الفائدة السادسة : العبرة في حال العبد بكمال النهاية

The Sixth Benefit: The Consideration of the slave’s state is according to the completeness of the conclusion

ومنها : أن العبرة في حال العبد بكمال النهاية ، لا بنقص البداية ، وذلك أن إخوة يوسف جرى منهم ما جرى من هذه الجرائم ، لكن في آخر أمرهم ونهاية تابوا إلى الله ، وطلبو السماح من أخيهم يوسف ومن والديهم الاستغفار ، فحصل لهم السماح التام والعفو الكامل فعفا الله عنهم و أوصلهم إلى الكمال اللائق بهم . ـ

And one of the benefits is: that the consideration of the slave’s condition is given to the completeness of his conclusion, not according to the deficiency of his beginning. That is because the brothers of Yusuf did what they did of their crimes, however in the end they repented to Allah, sought forgiveness from their brother Yusuf, and sought for their parents to seek Allah’s forgiveness for them. So he granted them total forgiveness and complete pardon, so then Allah pardoned them and caused them to attain a level of excellence which was appropriate for them.

قيل إن الله جعلهم أنبياء . كما قاله غير واحد من المفسرين في تفسير الأسباط : إنهم إخوة يوسف الاثنا عشر . وقيل بل كانوا قوما صالحين ؛ كما قال آخرون ؛ وهو الظاهر ، لأن المراد بالأسباط قبائل بني إسرائيل ، وهم اسم لعموم القبيلة لأولاد يعقوب الاثنى عشر فهم آباء الأسباط وهم من الأسباط . ـ

It is said that Allah made them prophets. As more than one of the mufassiroon have said concerning the explanation of “al-Asbaat” – that they are the twelve brothers of Yusuf. And it is also said: no (they were not prophets), rather they were a righteous people, as other mufassiroon have said – and this is what is apparent, because the intended meaning of “al-Asbaat” is the tribes of Banu Israa’eel (the Children of Israa’eel), and that is the general name for the tribes of the twelve sons of Ya’qub. So they are the forefathers of al-Asbaat and they are included in al-Asbaat. Continue reading

“Whatever I have forbidden for you, avoid it…”: Ibn Rajab

In part of his famous collection of comprehensive statements of the Prophet (ﷺ), Imam al-Nawawi mentioned the hadeeth:

مَا نَهَيْتُكُمْ عَنْهُ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ، وَمَا أَمَرْتُكُمْ بِهِ فَأْتُوا مِنْهُ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ، فَإِنَّمَا أَهْلَكَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ كَثْرَةُ مَسَائِلِهِمْ وَاخْتِلَافُهُمْ عَلَى أَنْبِيَائِهِمْ

Whatever I have forbidden for you, avoid it. And whatever I have commanded you, do as much of it as you can. For verily, it was only their excessive questioning and disagreeing with their Prophets that destroyed [the nations] who were before you.”

[Arba’een al-Nawawi #9. Recorded by both al-Bukhari (#7288) and Muslim (#1337), with the wording of Muslim here.]

In one section of his commentary on this hadeeth, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali wrote:

وقوله صلى الله عليه وسلم ” إذا نهيتكم عن شيء ، فاجتنبوه ، وإذا أمرتكم بأمر ، فأتوا منه ما استطعتم ” قال بعض العلماء : هذا يؤخذ منه أن النهي أشد من الأمر ، لأن النهي لم يرخص في ارتكاب شيء منه ، والأمر قيد بحسب الاستطاعة ، وروي هذا عن الإمام أحمد . ويشبه هذا قول بعضهم : أعمال البر يعملها البر والفاجر ، وأما المعاصي ، فلا يتركها إلا صديق . ـ

The statement of the Prophet (ﷺ), “Whatever I have forbidden for you, avoid it. And whatever I have commanded you, do as much of it as you can”.

Some of the scholars have said: It is derived from this that prohibitions are more severe than commands, because the prohibitions offer no concessions for committing them at all while the commands are specified according to one’s ability. And this is narrated from Imam Ahmad, and it resembles the statement of some that, “The deeds of righteousness are done by both the righteous and wicked, but as for the acts of disobedience, then no one abandons them except for a siddeeq (truthful one).” Continue reading