Ibn Taymiyyah’s Knowledge of Qur’an

If someone were to recite some verses of the Mighty Qur’an in one of his classes, he would proceed to explain them, and his class would end with this. His class would last for a good portion of the day, and he did not have a designated person to recite for him predetermined
verses that he would prepare for. Rather, any random person who was attending his class would recite what was easy for him, and Ibn Taymiyyah would then explain whatever was recited. He would usually not stop except that those in attendance would know that were it
not for the lack of time, he would have delved into what he was explaining from many, many more angles. However, he would stop in order to allow his listeners to rest.

For example, he delivered a tafsir of “Say, He is Allah, One.’” [1] that took up an entire huge volume. Also, his tafsir of “The Beneficent ascended the Throne.” [2] filled around 35 volumes, and I have been told that he began compiling a tafsir that would have taken up fifty volumes had he completed it.
1. surah al-Ikhlas 1 [112:1]
2. surah Ta Ha verse 5 [20:5]

Taken from ‘The lofty virtues of Ibn Taymiyyah’
By The Imam, the Hafidh Abu Hafs ‘Umar bin ‘Ali al-Bazzar
Translated By Abu Sabaayaa

Commentary on the Verse 35:32

[Extracted from “The Criterion Between the Allies of the Merciful and the Allies of the Devil” And “An Introduction to the Principles of Tafseer” ]

“Then We gave the Book for inheritance to such of our servants as We chose. But there are among them those who wrong themselves (al-Dhaalim li Nafsi-hee), and those who are average in doing their duties (al-Muqtasid) and some who are by Allaah’s leave the foremost (al-Saabiq) in good deeds.” [al-Faatir (The Originator of Creation) 35, verse 32]

We know that al-dhaalim li nafsi-hi refers to those who neglect their obligatory duties and commit what has been forbidden. Similarly, the muqtasid means those who perform their duties and abstain from the forbidden; and the saabiq means those who go beyond others in seeking the pleasure of Allaah by doing superogatory things over and above the obligatory. Hence, the muqtasid are the people of the right hand and the saabiq are the most near and dear to Allaah.

[This is a reference to the Qur’aanic verses, 56:8, 10. “So those of the Right Hand (i.e. those who will be given their Records in their right hands), – Who will be those on the Right Hand? (As a espect for them, because they will enter Paradise).” 56:8″And those Foremost [(in Islamic Faith of Monotheism and in performing religious deeds of obedience to Allaah and His Messanger Muhammad /sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam/) in the life of this world on the very first call to embrace Islam,] will be foremost (in Paradise).” 56:10]

The Salaf (the early Muslims, of the first three generations: the Companions of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, their successors, and their successors) have explained these points with refence to one or the other act of obedience to Allaah. One has said: “The saabiq is the one who offers prayers at the earliest time; the muqtasid is the one who offers them late, but in time; and the dhaalim is the one who defers, for instance, the evening prayer till the sun turns pale.” Another has said that Allaah has described all the categories of men: the saabiq, the muqtasid and the dhaalim li nafsi-hi towards the end of the Soorah Baqarah where he has mentioned the muhsin or the generous (who) spend money in charity; the ‘Aadil or the just who trade; and the zaalim or the unjust who charge interest. People are either generous in matters of money, unjust or just. The saabiq are the generous ones who give money in charity over and above meeting their obligations, the dhaalim are those who take interest or fail to pay zakah and the muqtasid are those who pay zakah as well as refrain from taking interest, and so on.

– An Introduction to the Principles of Tafseer by Shaykh-ul-Islam ibn Taymiyyah, p. 20-21

Allah mentioned the two groups of His allies – those who strive moderately, and the forerunners – in the sura called Fatir, saying:

[Then we passed the Book on to those whom we chose from among our slaves. Among them were those who opressed themselves (i.e. by disobeying Allah), thsoe who did good in moderation, and forerunners for good with the permission of Allah, that is the greatest of honous.Gardens of permanance which they enter. Therein they are dressed in bands of gold and pearls, and their clothes are made of silk. Theywill say: Praise be to Allah who has removed from us the fear (of falling into the forbidden during the life of this world), our Lord is Oft-Forgiving, Appreciative. He who settled us in the home of permanence and honour, no weariness will touch them therein, neither spiritual nor physical.] Qur’aan, 35/32-35

The three groups mentioned in these verses are the nation of Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) specifically, since they are the ones referred to in the phrase: Then, we passed the book onto those whom we chose from among our slaves.

The nation of Muhammad are the ones who were made to inherit the book after the previous nations, as a nation, and this does not refer specifically to those who memorised the Qur’an. Rather, everyone who believes in the Qur’an is one of this group, and Allah divided them into oppressors of themselves, doers of good in moderation, and forerunners. (…)

Thus, the oppressors of themselves are those who intentionnally commit major sins, the doers of good in moderation are those who perform the obligatory and avoid the forbidden, and the forerunners for good are those who fulfil the obligatory, and make extra effort with the nawaafil (non-obligatory actions pleasing to Allah), just as they were described in the above mentioned verses. Whoever repents from his sin – whatever his sin may be – a true and acceptable repentence, is not removed from being among the forerunners for good or the doers of good in moderation, as in Allah’s statement:

[And rush to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden whose width like the heavens and the earth which has been prepared for the pious. Those who spend in good times and in bad, who refrain themselves when enraged, and who are forbearing with people. Allah loves the doers of good. Those who, when they commit some outrage or oppress themselves (by disobedience to Allah), remember Allah and seek His forgiveness for their sins. And who can forgive sins except for Allah? And they do not persist in the wrong which they did after they know. Their reward is forgiveness from their Lord and gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein forever, and that is the reward of those who strive.] Qur’an, 3/133-6

– From The Criterion Between the Allies of the Merciful and the Allies of the Devil by Sheikh-ul-Islam Ibn-e-Taymiyyah, p. 35-36

credits to www.islaam.com

How Tafseer is Performed?

If you ask what is the best method of tafsîr, the answer is that the best way is to explain the Qur’ân through the Qur’ân. For, what the Qur’ân alludes to at one place is explained at the other, and what it says in brief on one occasion is elaborated upon at the other. But if this does not help you, you should turn to the Sunnah, because the Sunnah explains and elucidates the Qur’ân. Imâm Abû ‘Abdullâh Muhammad Ibn Idrîs ash-Shâfi’î has said: “All that the Prophet, peace be upon him, has said is what he has derived from the Qur’ân.” Allâh has said:

We have sent down to you the book in truth that you may judge between me, as Allâh guides you; so do not be an advocate for those who betray their trust. [al-Qur’ân 4:105]

We have sent down to you the message that you may explain clearly to people what has been sent to them, and that they think over it. [al-Qur’ân 16:44]

We sent down the Book to you for the express purpose that you should make clear to them those things in which they differ, and that it should be a guide and a mercy to those who believe. [al-Qur’ân 16:64]

This is why the Prophet sallallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

Know that I have been given the Qur’ân and something like it. [Ahmad, Musnad, Vol. IV 131; Abû Dâwûd, Sunan, Sunnah, 5]

Namely the Sunnah. In fact, the Sunnah, too has been given to him through wahy as the Qur’ân, except that it has not been recited to him as the Qur’ân. Imâm ash-Shâfi’î and other scholars have advanced a number of arguments in support of this point; but this is not the place to quote them. [For discussion see ash-Shâfi`î, ar-Risâlah]

In order to understand the Qur’ân, you should first look to the Qur’ân itself. If that does not help, then turn to the Sunnah.

The Prophet sallallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam sent Mu’âdh radiallâhu ‘anhu to Yemen and asked him: “How will you judge the cases (that come to you)?” He replied: “I will judge according to the Book of Allâh.” “But if you do not get anything there, what will you do?”, the Prophet sallallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam asked. He said: “I will refer to the Sunnah of the Prophet sallallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam.” “But if you do not get it even there, what will you do?”, the Prophet sallallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam asked again. He replied: “I will exercise my judgment.” Hearing this the Prophet sallallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam patted Mu’âdh radiallâhu ‘anhu on the shoulder and said: “Praise be to Allâh who has guided the Messenger of His Messenger to what pleases His Messenger.”

This hadîth has been reported in the Musnad and Sunan collections of hadîth with a good isnâd. [Ahmad, Musnad V:230, 236, 242; ad-Dârimî, Sunan, Muqaddimah, 30; at-Tirmidhî, Sunan, Ahkâm, 3; Abû Dâwûd, Sunan, Adhiyah, 11.]

When you do not get any help from the Qur’ân or the Sunnah, turn to the words of the companions. For they know the Qur’ân better: they have witnessed its revelation, and passed through the situations in which it was revealed: and know it and understand it fully. This is particularly true of the scholars and leaders such as the four righteous caliphs and ‘Abdullâh ibn Mas’ûd. Imâm Abû Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarîr at-Tabarî reports: Abû Kurayb narrated to us, saying: Jâbir ibn Nûh informed us that: al-A’mash informed us from Abû Duhâ: from Masrûq that ‘Abdullâh ibn Mas’ûd said: “By the one besides whom there none having the right to be worshipped, there is no verse in the Qur’ân about which I do not know in whose case and at what place was it revealed. If I were aware that anyone knew the Qur’ân more than me, and I could reach him, I would certainly have gone to see him.” [Ibn al-Athîr, Jâmi’ al-Usûl fî Ahâdîth ar-Rasûl, 1392/1972, Vol. IX p. 48.] Al-A’mash has also reported through Abû Wâ`il that Ibn Mas’ûd said: “When anyone of us learned ten verses of the Qur’ân, he did not proceed further unless he had known what they meant and what action they demanded.”

Another great scholar is ‘Abdullâh ibn ‘Abbâs radiallâhu ‘anhumâ, the nephew of the Prophet sallallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam and the commentator of the Qur’ân. He attained that stature in virtue of the Prophet’s prayer: “O Allâh! Give him knowledge of Islâm and teach him the meaning of the Qur’ân.” [Ahmad, Musnad, Vol. 1: 266, 314, 328, 335]. Muhammad ibn Bashshâr narrated to us, that Wakî` informed us, that Sufyân informed us from al-A’mash: from Musim (ibn Sabîh Abî Duhâ) from Masrûq: that ‘Abdullâh ibn Mas’ûd radiallâhu ‘anhumâ said: “What a good interpreter of the Qur’ân Ibn ‘Abbâs is!” Ibn Jarîr has also reported this hadîth through Yahyâ ibn Dâwûd, from Ishâq al-Azraq, from Sufyân, from al-A’mash, from Muslim ibn Sabîh Abî Duhâ, from al-Masrûq with slightly different words: “What a good interpreter Ibn ‘Abbâs is of the Qur’ân!” He has also reported the same words through Bundar, from Ja’far ibn ‘Awn from al-A’mash. These words are, therefore, the actual words of Ibn Mas’ûd radiallâhu ‘anhumâ which he said about Ibn ‘Abbâs radiallâhu ‘anhumâ. Ibn Mas’ûd radiallâhu ‘anhumâ died, most probably, in 33 A.H. Ibn ‘Abbâs radiallâhu ‘anhumâ lived for thirty six years after him, and added a lot to the treasury of Islâmic knowledge.

Al-A’mash quotes from Abû Wâ’il that Ibn ‘Abbâs radiallâhu ‘anhumâ was appointed leader of the Hajj by ‘Alî radiallâhu ‘anhu; he delivered a sermon and read from Sûrah al-Baqarah, or Sûrah an-Nûr according to another report, and explained it in such a way that had the Romans, Turks and the Dalamites heard it, they would have embraced Islâm. This is the reason why most of what Ismâ’îl ibn ‘Abd ar-Rahmân Suddî has written in tafsîr consists of the explanations of these two scholars: Ibn Mas’ûd and Ibn ‘Abbâs radiallâhu ‘anhum.

Source: www.sunnahonline.com, www.islamhouse.com

From ‘An Introduction to the Principles of Tafsîr’

Published by al-Hidaayah Publishing and Distribution