[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
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