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      Tafseer - Explanation of the Qur'aan

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VERSE SEVEN

        ·           The saying of the Exalted, "The Path of those whom You have favoured"

 Who are the people on whom Allah has bestowed His Mercy? - After the servant has requested for guidance to the Straight Path, Allah then proceeds to clarify further what this Straight Path is, and this in turn is explained in greater detail in Surah an-Nisaa: "And whosoever obeys Allah and the Messenger then they will be in the company of those upon whom Allah has bestowed His favour: the Prophets, the sincerely truthful, the martyrs and the righteous. What an excellent company these are!" [Soorah An-Nisaa` (4): 65-69]

 Ibn Abbaas (radiyallahu anhu) said in commentary to this verse: [Those who you have favored] by making them obedient to You and worship You from the Angels, the Prophets, the sincerely truthful, the martyrs and the righteous. This is like what our Lord, the Exalted has said, "they will be in the company of those upon whom Allah has bestowed His favor…”

         ·          The saying of the Exalted, "not the path of those who have earned [Your] anger, nor those who have gone astray":

 Meaning of the word Al-Ghadab: Al-Ghadab linguistically means anger, it is the opposite of pleasure (ridaa) and one of the Attributes of Allah. Maghdoob refer to the objects of Anger.

Meaning of the word Dalaal: Dalaal linguistically means to divert from the intended goal or to diverge from the true path and it is the opposite of guidance.[1]

 Who are the people who have earned the Anger of Allah and who are those who have gone astray?

At-Tirmidhee reports from Adee bin Haatim who said: "I asked the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) about Allah’s saying about, ‘those who have earned [Your] Anger’, and He said, ‘it refers to the Jews.’ I then asked about, ‘those who have gone astray’ and he said, ‘the Christians are those who have gone astray.’ [Reported by at-Tirmidhee and Ahmad and it is saheeh.]

 The Jews and the Christians even though both of them are misguided and both of them have Allah’s Anger on them - the Anger is specified to the Jews, even though the Christians share this with them, because the Jews knew the truth and rejected it and deliberately came with falsehood. Therefore the Anger of Allah being upon them was the description most befitting them. The Christians were ignorant, not knowing the truth, so misguidance was the description most befitting them. This is further proven by the sayings of Allah concerning the Jews:  ‘So they have drawn on themselves anger upon anger.’ [Soorah Al-Baqarah (2): 90]

“Say: shall I inform you of something worse than that, regarding the recompense from Allah: those (Jews) who incurred the Curse of Allah and His Anger.’ [Soorah Al-Maa`idah (5): 60]

  ‘Indeed those who took the calf (for worship), anger from their Lord and humiliation will come upon them.’ [Soorah Al-A`raaf (7): 152]

He says concerning Christians ‘And do not follow the vain desires of people (i.e. the Christians) who went astray in times gone by, and misled many, and have themselves strayed from the Straight Path’ [(5): 77]

Composition

In this verse the blessings of Allah have been mentioned in the second person such that Allah is directly referred to, ‘the path of those whom You have favored.’ However when the Anger or punishment of Allah is mentioned in the third person such that Allah is not directly referred to, ‘not the path of those who have earned [Your] Anger, nor of those who have gone astray.’ Even though He is the One in reality Who is Angry with them, and He is the One by Whose decree (Will, Permission) they were misguided. 

 This is a method that is used throughout the Qur`aan and it is a way of showing respect to Allah and not attributing evil to Him as well as showing how belittled such people are. This was clearly expressed in the supplication of the Messenger of Allah when he said: "I am completely at Your service and doing all I can to please You. All good is in Your Hands and evil does not pertain to You." [Reported by Muslim [Eng. Trans. 1/373 no. 1695], Abu Daawood [Eng. Trans. 1/195 no. 759] and Nasaa`ee [2/130]

 Evil is not attributes to Allah

 Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) said: “I respond to your call (O Allah!) and I am obedient to your orders, all Good is your Hands, and the evil is not attributed to You…” [Saheeh Muslim Arabic: 1: 535 # 771]

In the matters of fate, there is Al-Qadar (the Divine Decree) and al-Maqdoor (What is decreed).

Al-Qadr i.e. The Divine Decree which represents Allah’s Absolute Knowledge, His absolute Ability, Writing (Al-Lauh al-Mahfoodh), His Will (Mashee’ah), His Creation (Al-Khalq). And evil is not in His Decree because all of these Actions and Attributes of Allah are Perfect and good as Allah is perfectly Wise, Just, and Merciful in all His Actions. 

The Maqdoor represents what Allah has decreed. Good or evil is in what Allah decreed in Allah’s creation i.e. evil is in Allah’s creation not in Himself, Attributes, Names or Actions.

The Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) said in one of his supplication: “And protect us from the evil of what You decreed.”

What is Evil - Evil is placing things in their unsuitable place (i.e. injustice).

Although, Allah is the Creator of everything including good and evil, He is High above being unjust, because He places everything in their proper place due to His Absolute Knowledge [2] and Great Wisdom [3] and this is all good.

Two types of Evil – Potential Evil and Existent Evil.

1. The Potential Evil: “And Allah has brought you our from the wombs of your mothers while you know nothing.” [16: 78]

Allah bestows knowledge, ability and richness on the self. The resulting good is therefore from Allah.

The lack of knowledge, faith, willingness to do-good deeds, etc. is absolute Adam (non-existing) without a Fail’ (Doer). Therefore, the lack of good attributes is from the self.

This ‘Adam and what it entails is the first kind of evil and is an attribute of the nature of the self and is therefore, not attributed to Allah. It is described as ‘deficiency’ which is Jahl (Ignorance – lack of knowledge) and Thulm (injustice).[4] This deficiency of the self entails evil, and this evil is proportional (comparative) to the self’s inherent (existing in something as an essential or permanent attribute) strength or weakness.

For example, the first deficiency that came upon the Father of mankind. It came as a result of the lack of knowledge (or patience) and determination (process of deciding). [5]

2. The Existent Evil - The mere existence of evil is not evil in itself. It becomes evil when it is deprived from good and its means. And when it is placed in other than its proper place. For example, prostration is not evil in itself, but it may turn evil when it is linked to other than Allah. Certainly, Allah is free from doing this evil, and it cannot be attributed to Him.

Even though Allah is the Sole creator of everything, He created the deeds of His slaves, their movements, and their sayings. The slave of Allah commits evil when he does something, which Allah has made unlawful.

Indeed, Allah is the One Who is Ja’alahu (i.e. He enabled him by making for him a will and an ability). The Ja’l (making) is from Allah and it (making him able) is just, wise, and correct because making him able to do is good, but what was done is ugly. 

So, the second kind of evil (Asharul Wajudi) Existential Evil, is corrupt beliefs and wills, anything that opposes life and existence like illness and its causes, pain and its causes, existent impediments (obstruction) that prevent the attainment and deliverance of good to its suitable place, e.g. False beliefs and corrupt wills will prevent its opponent (good beliefs and wills) from reaching the heart.

This Existential evil is not evil itself but rather contributory (facilitating, helping) and relative i.e. it is evil in one respect and good in another. It is due to Allah’s Great Wisdom for which He is praised for.

For example:

1. The perfection of fire is in its burning what is required to be burned, this is good. If however, it meets what is not required to be burned it will ruin it. This is relative evil.

2. The will and anger are both created to assist man in achieving what benefits him and destroying what might harm him. When they are used to fulfill such purposes, then they achieve their state of perfection, and this is good. However, if they are diverted from their good course and used improperly in places where they should not be used, then this becomes the contributory relative evil.

3. Similarly, The movement of our limbs and all our limbs follow the same concept. Their mere existence is not evil. It is relative, using these body parts in ways and places that are not proper or suitable make it contributory relative evil.

With the above in mind Ibn Taymeeyah, gave some example that explain the human self. One of these examples is…

1. A fast rotating wheel or mill – It will lay waste whatever it may snatch. The miller is in charge, making good use of it. Suddenly, the heedless one comes close to it and it tears apart his clothes or parts of his body. If it is said to the miller: “Why did you not make it still so that it does not harm the one who comes close to it? He says: “This is inherent nature by which it is mill. Had it been other than this nature, the required nature behind its being it would not had been achieved.” [Refer to ‘The Salaf’s Guide to the Understanding of Qadaa’ and Qadar – by Dr. Saleh as-Saleh]


[1] It is also said ‘the milk dalla in the water’ when it is mixed such that it disappears. In this respect also is His saying,

And they say: when we become dalal in the earth." [As-Sajdah (32): 10]

Meaning when we die and disappear into the earth by becoming dust. Ad-Daalleen refers to those who gone astray

[2] Allah’s knowledge compasses everything: He knew what has occurred, and all that which did not occur. He knew everything about His creation before He created. He knew in His Eternal Knowledge about His creation: their province, life-span, sayings, moves, deeds, secrets, all of their obedient and disobedient acts, who amongst them will be from the people of Jannah (Paradise) or who will be from the people of Fire. 

[3] Allah is all–Wise about the consequences and noble aims of His commands and Legislation.

[4] As Allah says: “But man bore it (i.e. Al-Amanah: the trust or moral responsibility or honesty and all the duties which Allah has ordained). Verily! He was unjust (to himself) and ignorant (of its results). [33: 72]

[5]  As Mentioned in the Qur’aan: “And Indeed We made made a covenant with Adam before, but he forgot, and We found on his path no firm will-power.” [20: 115]. The forgetfulness, whether it is lack of knowledge or patience as the Tafseer indicates, is a matter of ‘Adam (non-existence). 

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