An Important Principle of Tafseer Repels Misunderstandings About Quranic Passages

In the Name of Allaah, the Most Gracious, the All-Merciful…

One of our respected visitors sent in the following question:

Could you give some insight into the origin of the Verse:

فاسألوا أهل الذكر إن كنتم لا تعلمون
“And ask the people of knowledge when you do not know.” [16:43]

This Verse is often used to refer to Muslim scholars, but Ibn Katheer explains this to mean the people of the books that came before, i.e. the previously revealed scriptures.

The response: While it is true that Imaam Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have Mercy on him) did in fact identify that the Verse was revealed about the scholars of the Jews and Christians who had knowledge of previously revealed scriptures, he did not restrict the meaning of the Verse to them alone, in a way that excludes the Muslim scholars. This may sound a little confusing, but by the end of the article the matter should be very clear, in shaa’ Allaah.

What has been mentioned about the Verse being revealed about the people of the earlier scriptures is true. However, reading a book of Tafseer without some basic principles could prove harmful, as you may reach conclusions that were not intended. Al-hamdulillaah for this question, and for what Allaah has opened up for us in understanding of His Book!

When a scholar tries to single out the exact reason for a Verse’s revelation, like in this case, it does not mean that the Verse is restricted to those whom it was revealed about exclusively, or that the scholar was trying to restrict its meaning to that.

There is a principle in Tafseer the scholars work by:

العبرة بعموم اللفظ لا بخصوص السبب

Meaning: The specific reason for a Verse’s revelation, or the specific event or people it was revealed about, does not restrict its meaning, rather it is to be understood to be as general as the wording allows.

An example of this would be: Verses 5-7 of Soorah al-Layl:

فأما من أعطى واتقى وصدق بالحسنى فسنيسره لليسرى
“As for the one who gives and has piety, whilst he believes in the Recompense, then We shall grant him ease in following after al-Yusraa
(the easy path to goodness).”

These three Verses were understood to be revealed about Aboo Bakr as-Siddeeq (may Allaah be pleased with him) specifically. However, to restrict the meanings of the Verses to him alone would be baseless, since the wording includes him and everyone who behaves as he did. Restricting the Verse to one man would effectively Continue reading

Is Defending and Honoring the Scholars a Call to Blind Following?

In the Name of Allaah, the Most Gracious, the Ever-Merciful…

A visitor recently asked about the translation of Shaykh Saalih as-Suhaymee’s advice to support and defend the honor of the scholars of Islaam (found here), saying:

Since these guys are contemporary men who are human and prone to error and sin like all of us, why would we defend them? Isn’t this a call to blind following? [abridged]

To be clear: We have certainly not promoted the blind following of these scholars, nor have we claimed they are perfect without flaws. Nor are we ever to defend any of them in falsehood.

However, dear questioner, may Allaah give you better than the corrupt manhaj (methodology) of Yasir Qadhi, Almaghrib Institute, and those upon their way, your ideas clearly seem to reflect the opinions they commonly lead people into – a total loss of any meaningful distinction between us and the scholars of Islaam, as it relates to the virtues of the scholars, their special status amongst us, and our need to refer to them to learn our Religion. The goal is to disconnect the people from their scholars, which facilitates the spread of deviation very easily.

May Allaah give you better – If Allaah has commanded us in His Quran (more than once) to ask the people of knowledge when we do not know [16:43, 21:7], don’t we need to know who they are?!

Dear questioner, may Allaah give you better! – Know that Allaah has established a very high status for the scholars of Islaam in his Glorious Book, saying: Continue reading

Shaykh al-Fowzaan Exposes the Plots to Defame Scholars by Calling Them “Madkhalees” and “Jaamees”

In the Name of Allaah, the Most Merciful, the Ever Merciful…

Shaykh Saalih ibn Fowzaan al-Fowzaan, one of today’s most widely respected scholars of Islaam – may Allaah preserve and protect him – , was asked about people who resort to name-calling with labels like “Madkhalees” and “Jaamees”, and he replied:

Stop these kinds of affairs and this name-calling. Do not insult each other with name-calling. Allaah, the Mighty and Most High, has commanded you:

ولا تنابزوا بالألقاب

Do not insult each other with name-calling! [49:11]

You are all brothers [addressing students al-Madeenah University], all of you are upon the same religion. You are all peers, and to Allaah is the praise. Drop these affairs, and show respect for the scholars. Respect the scholars! Whoever does not respect the scholars shall remain deprived of their knowledge. He will be deprived of being able to benefit from them.

Abandon this thing – the name-calling and speaking ill of the scholars – those who have virtue and status over the rest of the people which Allaah bestowed upon them:

يرفع الله الذين آمنوا منكم والذين أوتوا العلم درجات

“Allaah raises the believers among you and the people given knowledge many degrees.” [58:11]

The scholars have their status, they have their ranks that are to be respected. If the scholars are Continue reading