Asking for ‘Aafiyah: Tafsir al-Baghawi, al-Qurtubi, & al-Aloosi

In surah Yusuf, Allah informs us that when Yusuf was being tested by the wife of his master and the women of Egypt, he supplicated to his Lord by saying:

قَالَ رَ‌بِّ السِّجْنُ أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ مِمَّا يَدْعُونَنِي إِلَيْهِ ۖ وَإِلَّا تَصْرِ‌فْ عَنِّي كَيْدَهُنَّ أَصْبُ إِلَيْهِنَّ وَأَكُن مِّنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ

He said, “My Lord, prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me. And if You do not avert from me their plan, I might incline toward them and [thus] be of the ignorant.” [12:33]

Commenting on this in his book of tafsir, Imam Abu Muhammad al-Baghawi mentioned:

وقيل : لو لم يقل : السجن أحب إلي لم يبتل بالسجن ، والأولى بالمرء أن يسأل الله العافية .ـ

Some say: if only he had not said

السِّجْنُ أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ

prison is more to my liking

then he would not have been tested with prison. And the most appropriate thing for a person to ask Allah for is ‘aafiyah – the absence of any ailment or troubles.

[Tafsir al-Baghawi 4/240]

Imam Abu Muhammad al-Qurtubi also commented on this phrase by saying:

ـ ” أحب إلي ” أي أسهل علي وأهون من الوقوع في المعصية ; لا أن دخول السجن مما يحب على التحقيق . وحكي أن يوسف – عليه السلام – لما قال : السجن أحب إلي أوحى الله إليه ” يا يوسف ! أنت حبست نفسك حيث قلت السجن أحب إلي ، ولو قلت العافية أحب إلي لعوفيت ” . ـ

Allah’s statement

 أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ

… more to my liking …

i.e. that it easier and less weighty on me than to fall into sins, not that going to prison is something that he would want otherwise. Continue reading

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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

The Subtleties of the Supplications of Ayyub and Yusuf – ibn al-Qayyim

Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawzi wrote the following points of benefit in his famous work entitled al-Fawaa’id:

 من لطائف دعاء أيوب عليه السلام .ـ

From the subtleties of the supplication of Ayyub (‘alaihi al-salaam):

قوله تعالى (( وأيوب إذ نادى ربَّهُ أنِّي مَسِّنِيَ الضُّر و أنتَ أرحمُ الراحِمين )) الأنبياء 83 جمع في هذا الدعاء بين : حقيقة التوحيد ،وإظهار الفقر والفاقة إلى ربه ، ووجود طعم المحبة في التملق له ، والإقرار له بصفة الرحمة ، وأنه أرحم الراحمين ، والتوسل إليه بصفاته سبحانه ، وشدة حاجته هو وفقره . ـ

Allah said,

وَأَيُّوبَ إِذْ نَادَىٰ رَ‌بَّهُ أَنِّي مَسَّنِيَ الضُّرُّ‌ وَأَنتَ أَرْ‌حَمُ الرَّ‌احِمِينَ

And [mention] Ayyub, when he called to his Lord, ‘Indeed, adversity has touched me, and you are the Most Merciful of the merciful.’ [21:83].

He combined several things in this supplication:

-the reality of al-tawheed,
-and demonstrating his poverty and neediness of his Lord,
-and the presence of his deep-seated love in his adulation of Him,
-and his affirming Allah’s quality of al-Rahmah [Mercy] and that He is the Most Merciful of the merciful ones,
-and supplicating to Him by means of His attributes – Exalted is He – and by the severity of his personal need and poverty. Continue reading

The Sabr of Choice and Sabr of Necessity: Imam al-Sa’di

Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di commented on the temptation that Yusuf endured at the hands of his master’s wife by writing:

هذه المحنة العظيمة أعظم على يوسف من محنة إخوته، وصبره عليها أعظم أجرا، لأنه صبر اختيار مع وجود الدواعي الكثيرة، لوقوع الفعل، فقدم محبة الله عليها، وأما محنته بإخوته، فصبره صبر اضطرار، بمنزلة الأمراض والمكاره التي تصيب العبد بغير اختياره وليس له ملجأ إلا الصبر عليها، طائعا أو كارها، وذلك أن يوسف عليه الصلاة والسلام بقي مكرما في بيت العزيز

This great test was more arduous on Yusuf than the test of his brothers, and his sabr in the face of it was of greater reward. This is because it was sabr of choice in the face of many temptations and it entailed action, but he prioritized the love of Allah ahead of that.

As for the test of his brothers, then his sabr there was a sabr of necessity, similar in status to sickness and misfortunes with afflict a slave outside of his choosing and from which there is no refuge except having sabr over them – whether willingly or unwillingly. And so Yusuf (‘alaihi al-salaam) remained honorable in the house of [his owner] al-‘Azeez.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 456]

For more benefits from Surah Yusuf, click here.

See also: The definition of Sabr: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: Asking for ‘Aafiyah: Tafsir al-Baghawi, al-Qurtubi, & al-Aloosi

See also: Words for those in the midst of long-suffering: Ibn al-Jawzi

See also: The reward of an action is of the same category as the action itself: Tafsir ibn Kathir

See also: “And mention in the Book, Ismaa’eel”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

The story of ‘Aṭāʼ ibn Yasār and the bedouin woman

Ibn al-Jawzi, in his famous work iffah al-afwah, mentions the following story about the taabi’ ‘Aṭāʼ ibn Yasār. ‘Abdur-Rahmān bin Zayd bin Aslam narrated:

 وعن عبد الرحمن بن زيد بن اسلم قال خرج عطاء بن يسار وسليمان بن يسار حاجين من المدينة ومعهما أصحاب لهم حتى إذا كانوا بالأبواء نزلوا منزلا فانطلق سليمان وأصحابه لبعض حاجتهم وبقي عطاء بن يسار قائما في المنزل يصلي  قال فدخلت عليه إمرأة من الأعراب جميلة فلما رآها عطاء ظن أن لها حاجة فأوجز في صلاته ثم قال ألك حاجة قالت نعم قال ماهي قالت قم فأصب مني فإني قد ودقت ولابعل لي فقال إليك عني لاتحرقيني ونفسك بالنار

‘Aṭāʼ and (his brother) Sulayman bin Yasār went to run an errand outside al-Madinah along with some companions of theirs. When they reached the outskirts of the city, they stopped at a house to rest. Sulayman and his companions went to see to some of their needs, and ‘Atāʼ stayed in the house alone, praying. Suddenly, a beautiful bedouin woman entered upon him, so when ‘Aṭāʼ saw her, he assumed that she needed something from him, so he sped up his prayer a little and then asked her, “Is there something you need?” She answered, “Yes.” He said, “And what is that?” She replied, “Come and have your share of me, for I am filled with desire and I am without a spouse.” So, he said to her, “Get away from me, and do not cause me to burn in the Fire along with you!” Continue reading

Ask that his eemaan be preserved!

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, in his monograph Noor al-Iqtibaas fi Mishkaat Wasiyyah al-Nabi l-Ibn ‘Abbaas wrote the following:

ودعا رجل من لبعض السلف بأن يحفظه الله فقال : يا أخي ، لا تسأل عن حفظه ، ولكن قل يحفظ إيمان . يعني :  أن الهم هو الدعاء بحفظ الدين ، فإن الحفظ الدنيوي قد يشترك فيه البر والفاجر ، فالله يحفظ على المؤمن دينه و يحول بينه وبين ما يفسده عليه بأسباب قد لا يشعر العباد ببعضها وقد يكون يكرهه

A man once said to one of the Salaf, “May Allah preserve him.” So he replied, “O my brother! Do not ask that he be preserved. Ask instead that his eemaan be preserved!” Meaning: to stress the importance of supplicating for the preservation of one’s religion. This is because worldly preservation could be conferred on both the righteous and the sinner, but Allah only safeguards the religion of the believer, and comes between it and anything that would corrupt it via numerous means, some of which the slave is unaware of, and yet others he may dislike.

وهذا كما حفظ يوسف – عليه السلام – < كَذَٰلِكَ لِنَصْرِ‌فَ عَنْهُ السُّوءَ وَالْفَحْشَاءَ ۚ إِنَّهُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا الْمُخْلَصِينَ > [يوسف ٢٤] فمن أخلص الله خلصه الله من السوء والفحشاء وعصمه منها من حيث لا يشعر ، وحال بينه وبين أسباب المعاصي المهلكة

And this is like how He preserved Yusuf (‘alaihis salaam), “And thus [it was] that We should avert from him evil and immorality. Indeed, he was of Our chosen servants“. So whoever is sincere to Allah, Allah will safeguard him against evil and indecency. He will guard him against them via means that he is not even aware of, and He will come between him and the routes leading to destructive disobedience.

[Majmoo’a Rasaa’il ibn Rajab 3/106]

See also: We preserved these limbs in our youth, so Allah preserved them for us in old age