Prophets with multiple names and the meaning of “Israa’eel”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

Imam al-Qurtubi wrote the following under his tafsir of surah al-Baqarah (2:40):

وإسرائيل هو يعقوب بن إسحاق بن إبراهيم عليهم السلام قال أبو الفرج الجوزي ، وليس في الأنبياء من له اسمان غيره إلا نبينا محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم فإن له أسماء كثيرة ذكره في كتاب ” فهوم الآثار ” له . ـ

“Israa’eel” is Ya’qub ibn Ishaaq ibn Ibrahim (‘alaihim al-salaam), as Abu’l-Faraj al-Jawzi said. [And he also said:] “And other than him, there are no prophets which have two names other than our prophet, Muhammad (ﷺ)”, for indeed he had many names which he mentioned in the book “Fuhoom al-Aathaar“.

قلت : وقد قيل في المسيح إنه اسم علم لعيسى عليه السلام غير مشتق وقد سماه الله روحا وكلمة ، وكانوا يسمونه أبيل الأبيلين ذكره الجوهري في الصحاح . ـ

I [Imam al-Qurtubi] say: It has been said that al-Maseeh (the Messiah) is a proper name for ‘Eesaa (Jesus) (‘alaihi al-salaam) which is not derived. And Allah has named him as “Rooh” and “Kalimah“. And al-Jawhari mentioned in “al-Sihhaah” that Abeel (Abel) was named “Abeeleen”.

وذكر البيهقي في ” دلائل النبوة ” عن الخليل بن أحمد : خمسة من الأنبياء ذوو اسمين محمد وأحمد نبينا صلى الله عليه وسلم وعيسى والمسيح وإسرائيل ويعقوب ويونس وذو النون وإلياس وذو الكفل صلى الله عليهم وسلم . ـ

And al-Bayhaqi mention in “Dalaa’il al-Nubuwwah” on the authority of al-Khaleel ibn Ahmad, “Out of the Prophets, there are five who possess two names: Muhammad and Ahmad – our prophet (ﷺ); ‘Eesaa and al-Maseeh; Israa’eel and Ya’qub; Yunus and Dhu’l-Noon; and Ilyaas and Dhu’l-Kifl.” Continue reading

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“Those messengers, We have given precedence to some over others”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

In the latter part of surah al-Baqarah, Allah informs us:

تِلْكَ الرُّ‌سُلُ فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۘ مِّنْهُم مَّن كَلَّمَ اللَّـهُ ۖ وَرَ‌فَعَ بَعْضَهُمْ دَرَ‌جَاتٍ

Those Messengers! We have given precedence to some over others. Among them were those to whom Allah spoke, and He raised some of them in degree [2:253]

Commenting on this ayah and its contents in his book of tafsir, Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee first covered the issues of those to whom Allah spoke and then those whom He raised in degree, before proceeding to discuss the issue of some messenger being favored by Allah over others:

تنبيه . في هذه الآية الكريمة ، أعني قوله تعالى : تلك الرسل فضلنا بعضهم على بعض الآية ، إشكال قوي معروف . ووجهه : أنه ثبت في حديث أبي هريرة المتفق عليه أنه – صلى الله عليه وسلم – قال : ” لا تخيروني على موسى ; فإن الناس يصعقون يوم القيامة فأكون أول من يفيق ، فإذا موسى باطش بجانب العرش ، فلا أدري أفاق قبلي أم كان ممن استثنى الله ” ، وثبت أيضا في حديث أبي سعيد المتفق عليه : ” لا تخيروا بين الأنبياء ; فإن الناس يصعقون يوم القيامة ” الحديث ، وفي رواية : ” لا تفضلوا بين أنبياء الله ” ، وفي رواية : ” لا تخيروني من بين الأنبياء ” . ـ

An issue: In this noble ayah, i.e. Allah’s statement:

تِلْكَ الرُّ‌سُلُ فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۘ مِّنْهُم

Those Messengers! We have given precedence to some over others… [2:253]

until the end of the ayah. This is a difficult and well-known issues, which is that it is confirmed in the authentic hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

Don’t assign me superiority over Moosaa, for the people will fall unconscious on the Day of Resurrection and I will be the first to gain consciousness, and behold! Moosaa will be there holding the side of Allah’s Throne. I will not know whether Moosaa has been among those people who have become unconscious and then has regained consciousness before me, or has been among those exempted by Allah from falling unconscious.

And it is also confirmed in the authentic hadeeth of Abu Sa’eed, “Do not give one prophet superiority over another, for on the Day of Resurrection all the people will fall unconscious” until the end of the hadeeth. And in another narration, “Do not give preference to one of the prophets of Allah over the others,” and in another narration, “Do not give me superiority over the prophets.”

وقال القرطبي في تفسير هذه الآية ما نصه : وهذه الآية مشكلة ، والأحاديث ثابتة بأن النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – قال : ” لا تخيروا بين الأنبياء ولا تفضلوا بين أنبياء الله ” ، رواها الأئمة الثقات ، أي : لا تقولوا فلان خير من فلان ، ولا فلان أفضل من فلان ، اهـ . ـ

And al-Qurtubi said under the tafsir of this ayah what is mentioned: Continue reading

“Except the people of Yunus”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In surah Yunus, Allah informs His slaves of the following point:

فَلَوْلَا كَانَتْ قَرْ‌يَةٌ آمَنَتْ فَنَفَعَهَا إِيمَانُهَا إِلَّا قَوْمَ يُونُسَ لَمَّا آمَنُوا كَشَفْنَا عَنْهُمْ عَذَابَ الْخِزْيِ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَمَتَّعْنَاهُمْ إِلَىٰ حِينٍ

“Then has there not been one city that believed so its faith benefited it except the people of Yunus? When they believed, We removed from them the punishment of disgrace in worldly life and gave them enjoyment for a time.” [10:98]

Imam al-Sa’di, in his book of tafsir, wrote the following on this ayah:

يقول تعالى‏:‏ ‏{‏فَلَوْلَا كَانَتْ قَرْيَةٌ‏}‏ من قرى المكذبين ‏{‏آمَنَتْ‏}‏ حين رأت العذاب ‏{‏فَنَفَعَهَا إِيمَانُهَا‏}‏ أي‏:‏ لم يكن منهم أحد انتفع بإيمانه، حين رأى العذاب، كما قال تعالى عن فرعون ما تقدم قريبًا، لما قال‏:‏ ‏{‏آمَنْتُ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا الَّذِي آمَنَتْ بِهِ بَنُو إِسْرَائِيلَ وَأَنَا مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ‏}‏ فقيل له ‏{‏آلْآنَ وَقَدْ عَصَيْتَ قَبْلُ وَكُنْتَ مِنَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ‏}‏

Allah’s statement, “Then has there not been one city” from the cities of the deniers “that believed” when it saw the punishment “so its faith benefited it” – meaning: there was never even one of them that benefited from their eemaan (faith) when they saw the punishment, just as He said concerning Fir’awn when the punishment approached him and he said, “I believe that there is no deity except that in whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of the Muslims” [10:90], and then it was said to him, “What! now! and indeed you disobeyed before and you were of the mischief-makers” [10:91].

وكما قال تعالى‏:‏ ‏{‏فَلَمَّا رَأَوْا بَأْسَنَا قَالُوا آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَحْدَهُ وَكَفَرْنَا بِمَا كُنَّا بِهِ مُشْرِكِينَ فَلَمْ يَكُ يَنْفَعُهُمْ إِيمَانُهُمْ لَمَّا رَأَوْا بَأْسَنَا سُنَّةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي قَدْ خَلَتْ فِي عِبَادِهِ‏}‏

And similarly He said, “And when they saw Our punishment, they said, ‘We believe in Allah alone and disbelieve in that which we used to associate with Him.But never did their faith benefit them once they saw Our punishment. [It is] the established way of Allah which has preceded among His servants.” [40:84-84]

وقال تعالى‏:‏ ‏{‏حَتَّى إِذَا جَاءَ أَحَدَهُمُ الْمَوْتُ قَالَ رَبِّ ارْجِعُونِ لَعَلِّي أَعْمَلُ صَالِحًا فِيمَا تَرَكْتُ كَلَّا‏}‏

And He said, “Until, when death comes to one of them (those who join partners with Allah), he says: ‘My Lord! Send me back, so that I may do good in that which I have left behind!‘”

والحكمة في هذا ظاهرة، فإن الإيمان الاضطراري، ليس بإيمان حقيقة، ولو صرف عنه العذاب والأمر الذي اضطره إلى الإيمان، لرجع إلى الكفران‏.‏

And the wisdom in this is apparent, for if eemaan is compelled, then it is not true eemaan. And if the punishment and the affair which compelled him to eemaan were to turn away from him, then he would return to disbelief. Continue reading

“Those of determination among the messengers”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Imam Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote the following in his tafsir:

قوله – تعالى – : فاصبر كما صبر أولوا العزم من الرسل . اختلف العلماء في المراد بأولي العزم من الرسل في هذه الآية الكريمة اختلافا كثيرا . ـ

Allah said:

فَاصْبِرْ‌ كَمَا صَبَرَ‌ أُولُو الْعَزْمِ مِنَ الرُّ‌سُلِ

So exercise sabr, (O Muhammad), as did those of determination among the messengers [46:35]

The scholars have differed greatly concerning the intended meaning of ‘those of determination’ [uloo al-‘azm] among the messengers in this noble ayah.

وأشهر الأقوال في ذلك أنهم خمسة ، وهم الذين قدمنا ذكرهم في ” الأحزاب ” و ” الشورى ” ، وهم نوح وإبراهيم وموسى وعيسى ومحمد – عليهم الصلاة والسلام – . ـ

And the most well-known position in this matter is that they are five, and they are those who were previously mentioned in surah al-Ahzab [33:7] and surah al-Shooraa [42:13], who are Nuh, Ibrahim, Moosaa, ‘Eesaa and Muhammad (‘alaihim al-salaatu wa’l-salaam).

وعلى هذا القول فالرسل الذين أمر رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – أن يصبر كما صبروا – أربعة ، فصار هو – صلى الله عليه وسلم – خامسهم . ـ

So according to this position, then the messengers which the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was commanded to exercise sabr as they has exercised sabr were four, so he (ﷺ) became their fifth. Continue reading

A Runaway Slave

Allah mentions some aspects of the story of His slave and prophet Yunus in surah al-Saffaat when He says:

وَإِنَّ يُونُسَ لَمِنَ الْمُرْ‌سَلِينَ * إِذْ أَبَقَ إِلَى الْفُلْكِ الْمَشْحُونِ

And indeed, Yunus was among the messengers.[Mention] when he ran away [ar. abaqa] to the laden ship. [37:139-140]

Imam al-Shawkaani, in his book of tafsir mentions the following point on benefit concerning the choice of words employed here:

 قال المفسرون: وكان يونس قد وعد قومه العذاب، فلما تأخر عنهم العذاب خرج عنهم، وقصد البحر، وركب السفينة، فكان بذهابه إلى البحر كالفار من مولاه، فوصف بالإباق، وهو معنى قوله: {إِذْ أَبَقَ إِلَى الفلك المشحون} وأصل الإباق: الهرب من السيد، لكن لما كان هربه من قومه بغير إذن ربه وصف به.

The mufassiroon say: Yunus has promised his people of a punishment, then when the punishment was delayed, he left them, and he arrived at the ocean and boarded a ship. So by going to the ocean he was like a fugitive fleeing from his master, so he was described as a runaway slave [ar. al-ibaaq, taken from the same root as the verb abaqa under discussion here]. And that is the meaning of His statement, “when he ran away [abaqa] to the laden ship“. And the origin of al-ibaaq is to escape or flee from one’s master, however here he was fleeing from his people without the permission of his Lord, so he was described with this.

وقال المبرد: تأويل أبق بباعد، أي: ذهب إليه، ومن ذلك قولهم: عبد آبق.

And al-Mubarrid said, abaqa (to flee) is interpreted as creating a separation between two things – meaning to go away. And thus the phrase, ‘a runaway slave’ (‘abdun aabiqoon)

[Fath al-Qadeer pg. 1250]

Imam al-Qurtubi also mentions this point briefly in his tafsir when he wrote:

قوله تعالى: { إذ أبق} قال المبرد : أصل أبق تباعد؛ ومنه غلام آبق. وقال غيره : إنما قيل ليونس أبق؛ لأنه خرج بغير أمر الله عز وجل مستترا من الناس.

Allah’s statement, “when he ran away“. al-Mubarrid said, the root meaning of ‘abaqa‘ (to run away) is to separate or to go away, and from this is the phrase runaway servant boy (ghulaamun aabiqoon). And others said: the word abaqa is only said of Yunus (i.e. this word does not occur anywhere else in the Qur’an), because he took leave (of his people) without the command of Allah – the Mighty and Majestic -, while he was hiding from the people.

[Jaami’ li-Ahkaam al-Qur’an 15/110]

See also: “Remind them of the Days of Allah”: Tafsir al-Shawkaani

See also: “I entrust my affair to Allah”: Tafsir al-Shawkaani