Tafseer Taha : Ayat 5-8

Link to video on Muslimmatters

  • in previous sessions we covered intro and the thesis that Islam is a blessing and not a curse
  • also on Allah consoling Prophet saw
  • at the end of the day we realize that Prophet saw is a role model, amazing, etc but that didn’t change the fact that he’s just a human being and he feels pain too
  • the fact that Allah consoles the Prophet saw and puts it there in the Quran for everyone then, now, and in the future to read again and again, says that there is nothing wrong with needing consolation, Allah justified, established those sentiments by consoling, not reprimanding him (saw) and so approved those sentiments
  • this shows the status of Prophet saw, that Allah Himself consoles him (saw)
  • when Allah speaks about earth and sky together in an ayah, He typically mentions sky first, but in ayat 4, Allah mentions the earth first
  • reason – Allah addressing a people who are completely immersed and obsessed in whats going on around them, worldly material things
  • so Allah starts with what is most familiar and what is right in front of you, but then raise your gaze up to the sky and raise it higher and higher beyond the sky, that’s why Allah says al-3ulaa
  • don’t just look at sky of the dunya but think of what is beyond that and keep going higher and thinking beyond the realm that you exist in
  • the Quran is coming down and you see it manifesting in your life, now look back up and think where this Quran is coming from
  • now Allah continues to challenge this man being to think higher and higher and look further and beyond the skies

Ayat 5

20:5
Sahih International

The Most Merciful [who is] above the Throne established.

  • starts with Ar Rahmaan
  • after you look higher and higher and beyond now think about Ar Rahmaan
  • in beginning of this surah, Allah didn’t refer to himself in إسم الجَلاَلَة
  • the first time He mentioned Himself he said ‘the One who created…”
  • proof provided first
  • forget what prejudices and pre conceived notion you have
  • because the Makkans, whenever the word ‘Allah’ is mentioned, they wave it off-conversation done
  • ok fine, but think about who created the earth and sky
  • now Allah moves on to a more explicit attribute of Allah
  • scholars mention that aside from the name ‘Allah’, all other attributes of Allah, the most prominent of them is probably Ar-Rahmaan, the Quran alludes to that
  • in Araaf 180
  • 7:180
    Sahih International

    And to Allah belong the best names, so invoke Him by them. And leave [the company of] those who practice deviation concerning His names. They will be recompensed for what they have been doing.

  • as if Allah mentionsاسمَاء الحُسنَى(all attributes and names) but then He explicitly mentions Ar-Rahmaan, so there is something powerful and unique about this name
  • some scholars say this is another fixed name of Allah like ‘Allah’, that’s why it’s so prominent in the Quran
  • this fits the grammatical analysis like surah fatihah of basmalah
  • some scholars/grammarians when analyzing basmalah, some of them say that Ar Rahmaan is not an adjective but it’s a substitution (بَدل) because there is something unique about this
  • so now Allah is being more explicit

Who is this Ar Rahmaan?

  • upon the عَرش
  • عَرش in Arabic language linguistically means سَرِير المَلِك (not just a throne but like a whole stage)
  • kings of old in many civilizations wouldn’t just have a throne but had an entire stage where they would sit and their family would sit with them and it’s like a platform
  • that’s what العَرش refers to
  • in translation you see the word ‘throne’ which is fine for translation but now we know it’s more than just a throne, linguistically speaking
  • Islamically speaking it’s that position of Allah that is above the heavens and earth
  • it’s mentioned in Quran and authentic hadith
  • Ghaafir 40:7
  • 40:7
    Sahih International

    Those [angels] who carry the Throne and those around it exalt [ Allah ] with praise of their Lord and believe in Him and ask forgiveness for those who have believed, [saying], “Our Lord, You have encompassed all things in mercy and knowledge, so forgive those who have repented and followed Your way and protect them from the punishment of Hellfire.

  • in an authentic narration :a non-Muslim man came to Prophet saw and he had been slapped really hard and the signs showing on his face. He said “Oh Muhammad, one of yr companions slapped me in the face.” P saw told sahabah to call this sahabah. “Why did you slap him in the face?” “I passed by market place and he was talking to some people and said ‘I swear by the One who chose Musa above all the other human beings’ so I said, ‘Oh unfortunate human being, even better than Muhammad saw?’ so I got really upset and slapped him in the face. Prophet saw said “don’t create a competition between the prophets, he was praising a prophet of Allah, just move on, go about your business. I understand that you’re defending my honor, but you have to understand how much respect I have for Musa. On the Day of Judgment, people will pass out, and I will be the first person who will regain his senses. And when I regain my senses I think I will be the first one but I will see Musa already up, clinging to the arsh of Allah. I don’t know if he just regains consciousness before me or the fact that he didn’t become unconscious bec of his experience of interacting with Allah on Mount Tuur.” [not word by word translated from hadith but paraphrased and said to explain it and make it relevant to us]
  • mentioned in both Bukhari and Muslim
  • that’s who Musa a.s. is
  • we learn so much etiquette from the life of Prophet saw
  • Prophet saw spoke not only of arsh but also leg of the عَرش of Allah
  • in another narration mentioned in sunan Abu Dawud, Prophet saw said, “Permission was granted to me that I would inform people about an angel, he is from the angels of Allah and this angel of Allah is from those angels that the Quran talks about in Surah 40 in raising the arsh of Allah. The distance between his ears and his shoulders is a distance that would take 700 years for a human being to cover.”
  • we get a glimpse about how amazing and remarkable the عَرش of Allah is from this hadith
  • 20:5
  • spiritual demand of human being – that you focus so deeply in the realm that surrounds you and now look up at the sky and try to think beyond the sky, now imagine Allah’s throne beyond the sky
  • عَلى – preposition in Arabic that whenever something is said it is upon ,it’s on top and even beyond that
  • عَرش is above and beyond the sky and Allah is above and beyond that
  • إستَوَى
  • a past tense verb => to position oneself
  • that Ar Rahmaan positions Himself above the عَرش
  • this ayah and similar to it that mentions the position of Allah, is the subject of huge discussion amongst scholars as to how we interpret and understand it, do we take it literally, or allegorical in nature?
  • that’s a point of discussion in Aqeedah
  • this is a difference of opinion that goes back a thousand years
  • if we ever have a class in Aqeedah, that will be the place and time to discuss it
  • having said that, the early generation were very clear on one thing ; when you read what Imam Tahawi wrote and even before him, Abu Hanifah and scholars who have discussed these, they all very clear on one thing :-
  • there are some things that are more necessary, relevant, beneficial for each and every single Muslim to be aware of, study and go into
  • there will always be fine points, minutia and nuances be it in fiqh, tafseer, etc that scholars will discuss on a higher scholarly level
  • the every day Muslim need to understand that I first have to take what is more beneficial
  • nothing is more heartbreaking than coming across a young person (Sheikh mentions young Muslims because they have a higher zeal and curiosity, and sometimes it makes them lose sight of what’s important) who would sit and debate with another young person about a fine point of aqeedah that doesn’t have any bearing on their everyday practical spiritual life. This person maybe haven’t memorized more than 5 small surah , still hasn’t perfected tajweed of Al fatihah, and doesn’t even have basic knowledge of Quran
  • important to know what is necessary and important to us
  • at same time, we have to be careful to not belittle this type of discussion
  • that is responsibility of scholars
  • it’s a blessing from Allah that there are people who discuss these topics
  • for time being, we will focus on understanding what ayat means
  • scholars say that eve when you look at the grammatical sequence of this ayat it’s extremely abnormal
  • a more normal structure would be istawaa arrahmaanu alal arsh
  • so here, Ar Rahmaan is first
  • understand how that manifests in your daily life – look at the blessings in your life
  • al arsh – appreciate the greatness of Allah
  • once you know the implications of these 2 things in your life, and are able to live based on them,  then you can think about istawaa
  • if you haven’t , then you have some work to do before you get there
  • one of the meanings that is delivered by this ayah :-
  • in another place in Quran Allah says  He is the creator of every single thing and then He constantly watches over every single thing
  • after creating earth and sky ulaa, He sustains them (Ar Rahmaan), and then He keeps a watchful eye over His creation just like a King keeps a watchful eye over his kingdom, that’s what that throne is there for

Ayat 6

20:6
Sahih International

To Him belongs what is in the heavens and what is on the earth and what is between them and what is under the soil.

  • Allah continues to introduce Himself to us
  • lلَهُ in Arabic :-
  • ل has many different meanings ;preposition, حرف جَرّ
  • ل can be used for meaning of تَملِك (ownership)
  • هُ = him ; referring to Allah
  • belonging to Him
  • it can also be used for the meaning of تَعلِيل (what is cause and reason of something) => due to Him
  • or it can also be meaning ofإستِحقَاق (deserving) => it is deserved by Him
  • belonging to Allah, deserved by Allah and because and only because of Allah
  • there is abnormal sentence structure that lends to exclusivity
  • only He is deserving of, belonging ONLY to Him

What is He deserving of? مَا فِي السَّمَاوَات

  • مَا in Arabic is very  broad and general
  • the word مَا includes all those things that intelligent beings like people and even inanimate objects
  • مَا means anything => all that that is in the heavens
  • and all that which is in the earth
  • remember Allah raises our gazes up to the sky, now human being looking at the sky, now Allah says, all that belong to Him and He brings our gaze back down and says all there belong to Him
  • when you switch your gaze back down, don’t miss what is in between
  • all that catches our fancy is there
  • all these belong to Allah and is in existence only because of Allah and is deserved solely by Allah
  • the sky, ground and everything between the two belong to Allah, then He takes our gaze even deeper than the earth
  • تَحتَ – refers to something that is below, something underneath
  • underneath الثَّرَى – in classical it refers to when you dig far enough to where you reach a point where it’s not just moist but it’s mud, not even hard anymore, it’s completely mud
  • this was how the Arabs understood it at that time (the farthest they could have dug)
  • for us, we now know that the farther we dig, it’s molten, it’s not even solid anymore; that’s what Allah’s talking about
  • that also exists because of Allah, owned and deserved only by Allah
  • what humans know what is beyond the earth also belong to Allah
  • some mufasiroon says that because Allah is talking about something that is wet, the humans at time of revelation understood that when you dig down you might find treasure, but we now know that if we dig far enough, we find another kind of treasure (black gold [oil!])
  • in surah Hijr 15:21
  • 15:21
    Sahih International

    And there is not a thing but that with Us are its depositories, and We do not send it down except according to a known measure.

  • even things we don’t know yet, there are an unlimited amount of it with Allah
  • but Allah summarize all of it with وَمَا تَحتَ الثّرَى

Ayat 7

20:7
Sahih International

And if you speak aloud – then indeed, He knows the secret and what is [even] more hidden.

  • now Allah takes our gaze even deeper
  • we might think what may be deeper than inside the earth?
  • heart of the human being, even harder to reach than the center of the earth
  • very common throughout surah that Allah speaks to Prophet saw directly
  • one of main points of this surah is that this is a consolation to Prophet saw
  • الجَهر = to say something very openly, publicly
  • even the 5 times daily prayer, the one where imam recites out loud (maghrib and isha and fajr) are called salah jahriyah
  • if you say words out loud , if you choose to say it out loud, then realize one thing, that Allah knows that which is private/quiet/secret and that which is even more hidden than all those 3

سِرّ =

  • ibn Abbas by different students of his, there are different explanations of these words provided by Ibn Abbas
  • one of them mentioned by mufassiroon => the word سِرّ is a secret, when someone informs/whispers something to someone else very privately in confidence, a very deep dark secret

اخفَى

  • that which a person keeps hidden inside himself that he doesn’t talk to anyone about
  • in another opinion, Ibn Abbas says, “سِرّ is something you think to yourself, you kind of say to yourself inside your head”
  • based on that, he says, “اخفَى is something you haven’t even formulated a thought with regards to, that maybe just now or very soon will manifest into an idea or thought in your head, but Allah already knows.”
  • based on these 2 different tafseer, سِرّ is a very extremely quiet secret and اخفَى is something in your heart that you don’t share with anyone else
  • at very least سِرّ you would be thinking about it in yr head and اخفَى is that which you don’t even realize
  • if you say your words out loud, then realize that it doesn’t fall on deaf ears, it echoes throughout the heavens, is being heard and understood, fully understood, because those things that you haven’t even spoken yet or those things that you don’t even yet realize, Allah knows, so what about those you say out loud
  • think about how much weight that holds in front of Allah (the words that you say out loud), think about what that means in the court of Allah
  • this has multiple understanding based on who we are, whose understanding, who is listening/reading this
  • to Prophet saw, Allah is consoling him
  • oh Muhammad saw you have gone through a lot, and because of the circumstance you can’t contain yourself and you cried and spoke out loud and you spread your hand and begged Allah. Realize that they are understood and heard. Because the things that you haven’t even spoken yet, that you are trying to contain, they are understood by Allah, and the things that you haven’t even realized yet, they are understood and known by Allah and Allah is there for
  • so what about moments when it broke your threshold and you broke down and cried to Allah
  • believers are being given the same message by extension
  • to those who choose to reject, deny, neglect message and oppose the message, Quran, Prophet saw, etc , they are being warned that you dare speak out against Allah and His messenger, you dare??
  • forget about what you’re saying out loud, it’ll obviously  be recorded,  and you will be held accountable for that
  • but those that you think about Allah and His messenger, Allah also knows about that too
  • those things that you haven’t come to yet, the nasty evil thought that you haven’t been formulated, Allah knows those and He can hold you accountable for that if He chooses to
  • this is something that reiterated throughout Quran time and time again
  • surah Mulk
  • 67:13
    Sahih International

    And conceal your speech or publicize it; indeed, He is Knowing of that within the breasts.

  • Nahl 19
  • 16:19
    Sahih International

    And Allah knows what you conceal and what you declare.

  • Muhammad 26
  • 47:26
    Sahih International

    That is because they said to those who disliked what Allah sent down, “We will obey you in part of the matter.” And Allah knows what they conceal.

  • Furqan 25:6
  • 25:6
    Sahih International

    Say, [O Muhammad], “It has been revealed by He who knows [every] secret within the heavens and the earth. Indeed, He is ever Forgiving and Merciful.”

  • Qaf 16
  • 50:16
    Sahih International

    And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein

  • Muminoon 23:63
  • 23:63
    Sahih International

    But their hearts are covered with confusion over this, and they have [evil] deeds besides disbelief which they are doing,

  • Allah is fully informed of you, when you raise out of the earth and grow on the ground and know everything about you when you were still fetuses in the womb of you mother, so don’t try to claim lofty position and be self-righteous and strut, He knows who is the best, most self-conscious etc
  • this is a frequent topic in the Quran
  • to summarize this topic:- al Araaf 205
  • 7:205
    Sahih International

    And remember your Lord within yourself in humility and in fear without being apparent in speech – in the mornings and the evenings. And do not be among the heedless.

  • remember Allah in your heart no matter what you’re doing wherever you may be
  • be overwhelmed by who Allah is
  • and you don’t even have to say it out loud
  • just think, contemplate, reflect and remember Allah
  • this is another form of Allah consoling Prophet saw
  • this is also a theme that reaches back to previous surah
  • in Surah Maryam 64
  • 19:64
    Sahih International

    [Gabriel said], “And we [angels] descend not except by the order of your Lord. To Him belongs that before us and that behind us and what is in between. And never is your Lord forgetful

  • here Allah is saying Allah knows everything, after you know that, Allah says it’s recorded with Allah
  • that is encouragement, motivation, good news for the messengers and believers and very severe warning for those who choose to oppose Allah and His messenger saw

Ayat 8

20:8
Sahih International

Allah – there is no deity except Him. To Him belong the best names.

  • everything that we’ve studied today focuses us on Allah
  • this is what we believe in
  • what we need to focus on is iman
  • the first step is to believe in Allah, this is iman billaah that is being taught to us here
  • here it reaches the climax; how to believe in Allah, what to believe with regards to Allah
  • this is the name of the divine, the very magnificent majestic word => Allah
  • many scholars say that the name Allah is a culmination of all the sifaat of Allah
  • that when you say Allah you are including all the attributes and names of Allah
  • there is a discussion to the root and origin of the word itself

Two types of word when we talk about origin of words:

  • جَامِد(unique and original) and mushtaq(derived)
  • some scholars say the word Allah is Jaamid some say mushtaq
  • those who say it’s a derivative have differences between them

Some say it comes from:-

  • الَهَ يَألَهُ – to worship, enslave yourself to
  • or وَلَهَ يَلِهُ , or لاَهَ يَلُوهُ – to be amazing, very high, to create etc
  • originally they say it’s al Ilaah(the object of worship) but over time or due to ease of pronunciation [it’s a common trend in Arabic that when a word is tough to pronounce, they would smooth that word out because of how frequently you have to say it, like the word Allah)
  • so from al ilaah => Allah, which is a lot more fluid off the tongue
  • this is the position of the majority of the mufassiroon

Scholars of the language have a different opinion

  • al ilaah could be a deity but the name Allah is something completely different
  • they’d rather say that al ilaah=>Allah is too much of a coincidence
  • in fact they say that it’s proven that it’s a common practice in Arabic that when there is a word that means something, they would turn that word into the basis and create a verb based on that idea/word
  • they say that Allah is the original unique name of Allah
  • from the unique pronunciation

1.

  • ل is typically from the light letters, but it’s only heavy or thick in one place in entire Arabic language => in the name ‘Allah’

2.

  • even grammatically speaking, whenever you uses يَا in front of a word that begins with إل you have to buffer it with ايُّهَا
  • e.g. ya ayyuhaa ar rasulu, ya ayyuhaa an-nabiyyu
  • there is only one exception to that rule => Ya Allah

3.

  • Allhumma is allahu ma. that م is being used kind of like a ya like Ya Allah
  • but you don’t attach a م like this to any other name or entity, so this is unique only to Allah

4.

  • the other nations and religions use word ELOH which is close to pronunciation of Allah

5.

  • there is a rule in Arabic, linguistic analysis, that if you can’t concretely established what is the core, root of a word then it’s automatically assumed to be جَامِد
  • so default is that a word is جَامِد
  • so because you can’t establish proof to prove that it’s mushtaq, these linguists say that Allah is a unique original name
  • laa ilaaha illaa hu – this is absolute negation => there is absolutely positively no deity, object of worship other than Allah , EXCEPT him
  • this is the crux of the entire deen
  • when Prophet saw started teaching the deen, he would say to the people to say Laa ilaaha illaa Allah
  • the Prophet saw said, “the greatest most virtuous remembrance of Allah is laa ilaaha illaa Allah”
  • this again is consoling the Prophet saw and the believers=>the only thing that matters at the end of the day is Allah
  • if you have Allah on your side, everything will be ok
  • لَهُ الأَسمَاء الحُسنَى  – exclusively for Him
  • meaning of exclusivity is here due to the grammatical structure of the ayah
  • asmaa is plural of ism = name
  • exclusively for Him are the names that are husna
  • husna come from hasan = literally means something to be excellent, amazing, beautiful
  • so al husna is the feminine form
  • because asmaa is a broken plural, the feminine is used here
  • اسمَاء الحُسنَى- the most amazing beautiful names

What are these اسمَاء الحُسنَى  referring to ?

  • scholars of the ummah are in agreement that this refers to the attributes and names of Allah
  • authentic narrations from Prophet saw where he says “for Allah exclusively most definitely there are 99 names….so whoever completely rounds them up, that person enters paradise.”
  • extended narration explains ‘completely rounds them up’ = to understand, know, memorize, make dua with them, live based off of them
  • in another narration “that person deserves paradise”
  • for not just knowing but living your life based on these names and attributes
  • what are those 99 names? we don’t have authentic narrations that lists it
  • there are hadith that lists a set of 99 but that narration has some discussion on the authenticity of it
  • there are dozens of scholars who have literally dedicated their lives researching Quran and hadith and prophetic supplications and scouring through them and picking up what could possibly be included within these 99 names of Allah
  • Imam Al Bayhaqi, Ibn Taimiyyah etc have even offered texts which discuss names of Allah and the establish fact that even from wording of Prophet saw we understand that he was talking about 99 but he was not putting a cap on them, there may be more
  • this is something we need to be in touch with, an intimate part of our lives, we need to have these in our duas
  • unfortunately many people are not fully aware of and not have enough knowledge of today
  • it has been a long-standing goal of Sheikh’s to organize a whole set of educational material from seminars to recordings to texts and writings to provide resources for people to learn about the names of Allah
  • overall theme of Surah -: Prophet saw and believers going through a lot at hand of their enemies
  • Allah specifically mentions this اسمَاء الحُسنَى
  • in Araaf 180
  • 7:180
    Sahih International

    And to Allah belong the best names, so invoke Him by them. And leave [the company of] those who practice deviation concerning His names. They will be recompensed for what they have been doing.

  • Allah is saying that when you run into difficulties, the names of Allah is very powerful for you to use to call upon Him at these times
  • it’ll get you through the most difficult situations you are in
  • again this is consoling Prophet saw and believers and sending stern message to those opposing Allah and His messenger and believers
  • reflect on names of Allah and you will find comfort and solution
  • when you are going through difficulty think of Ar Rahmaan
  • if you have been going through difficulty for a long time think of ar Raheem
  • if you feel downtrodden, think of Al Malik
  • if you’re dealing with tribulation in your life, think of Al Salam (the granter of peace and safety) of Al Mu2min (the One who grants and ensures security)
  • if someone is exerting their power over you think of Al Azeez (the overpowering and dominant)
  • if you slip up and trip u along the way think of Al Al ghafoor (the abundantly forgiving)
  • if you are dealing with tough financial situations think of Ar-razzzaqq )the one who sustanins without any limitations
  • if people are treating you wrong think of Al Aleem (all knowing), Al Khabeer(all aware), Al Lateef, Al Wadood (the on e that constantly loves you without any limitation)
  • no  matter what situations you are going through think about these names of Allah
  • think about Allah, reflect in your condition
  • a message is also sent to the opposing party – you think you are picking a fight with a man name Muhammad and his followers, then know that you are also picking a fight with Allah and this is who Allah is and this is who you’re dealing with
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