Al-Mizan: An Exegesis of the Qur'an Volume 4

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Al-Mizan: An Exegesis of the Qur'an Author:
Translator: Allamah Sayyid Sa'eed Akhtar Rizvi
Publisher: World Organization for Islamic Services (WOFIS)
Category: Quran Interpretation

Al-Mizan: An Exegesis of the Qur'an

Author: Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai
Translator: Allamah Sayyid Sa'eed Akhtar Rizvi
Publisher: World Organization for Islamic Services (WOFIS)
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Al-Mizan: An Exegesis of the Qur'an

Al-Mizan: An Exegesis of the Qur'an Volume 4

Author:
Publisher: World Organization for Islamic Services (WOFIS)
English

www.alhassanain.org/english

Al-Mizan An Exegesis of the Qur'an, vol 4

From Suratul Baqarah (2), verse 224 to Suratul Baqarah (2), 286

The tafseer of Surah al-Baqarah continues in the fourth volume with the exposition of verses 224-227 and the volume ends with the commentary of the last verses of the same Surah.

Author(s): Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn at-Tabataba'i

Translator(s): Allamah Sayyid Sa'eed Akhtar Rizvi

Publisher(s): World Organization for Islamic Services [W.O.F.I.S.]

www.alhassanain.org/english

English translation

First edition 1982/1402

Translated from the Arabic

al-Mizān fī tafsīri ’l-Qur’ān,

Beirut, 1393/1973 (3rd ed. )

Published by:

World Organization for Islamic Services, P. O. Box No. 11165-1545, Tehran – IRAN.

Features of Volume 4:

The tafseer of Surah al-Baqarah continues in the fourth volume with the exposition of verses 224-227 and the volume ends with the commentary of the last verses of the same Surah.

The discussions of this volume that have Qur'anic, scientific, sociological and philosophical implications are as follows:

The meaning of the 'heart' (qalb) in the Qur'an; the use of words like 'ilm (knowledge) and idrak (perception, cognition) in the Qur'an; the position and rights of woman in Islam and other civilisations with regard to marriage and divorce; the meaning of sakinah (tranquillity of mind); the struggle for existence and natural selection; the meaning of salam; the meaning of existence; the Existence of God; Permanence of the Divine Command and Sovereignty; the negation of compulsion in religion; the concept of benevolence and Divine Guidance; the refutation of injustice and misguidance on the part of God Almighty. At the end are discussed two important economic issues: disbursement and usury (riba) from the stand-point of the Qur'an. With this discussion the fourth volume concludes.

In the Name of Allāh,

The All-compassionate, The All-merciful

Praise belongs to Allāh, the Lord of all being;

the All-compassionate, the All-merciful;

the Master of the Day of Judgement;

Thee only we serve, and to Thee alone we pray

for succour:

Guide us in the straight path;

the path of those whom Thou hast blessed,

not of those against whom Thou art wrathful,

nor of those who are astray.

* * * * *

O’ Allāh! send your blessings to the head of

your messengers and the last of

your prophets,

Muhammad and his pure and cleansed progeny.

Also send your blessings to all your

prophets and envoys.

Notice:

This version is published on behalf of www.alhassanain.org/english

The composing errors are not corrected.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

TRANSLITERATION 10

FOREWORD [IN ARABIC] 11

FOREWORD 13

Volume 4: Surah Baqarah, Verses 224-227 15

COMMENTARY 15

The Meaning Of “Heart” In The Qur'an: 16

TRADITIONS 19

Volume 4: Surah Baqarah, Verses 228-242 20

COMMENTARY 22

TRADITIONS 42

A SCIENTIFIC DISCOURSE ABOUT WOMAN 52

THE LIFE OF WOMAN IN UNCIVILIZED NATIONS 52

WOMAN IN PRE-ISLAMIC CIVILIZATIONS 53

WOMAN IN SOME OTHER CIVILIZATIONS 54

WOMAN IN ARABIA: THE ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH THE QUR’ĀN WAS REVEALED 56

WHAT ISLAM BROUGH FOR WOMAN 58

THE FREEDOM OF WOMEN IN WESTERN CIVILIZATION 64

A DISCUSSION ABOUT MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE 65

Volume 4: Surah Baqarah, Verse 243 67

COMMENTARY 67

TRADITIONS 69

Volume 4: Surah Baqarah, Verses 244-252 71

GENERAL COMMENT 72

COMMENTARY 73

MEANING OF “AS-SAKINAH” 77

TRADITIONS 83

A PHILOSOPHICAL AND SOCIAL DISCUSSION ABOUT THE STRUGGLE FOR EXISTENCE AND THE SURVIVAL OF FITTEST 87

HISTORY AND HOW MUCH THE QUR’ĀN IS CONCERNED WITH IT 92

Volume 4: Surah Baqarah, Verses 253-254 94

GENERAL COMMENT 94

COMMENTARY 95

A TALK ABOUT THE SPEECH OF ALLĀH 99

TRADITIONS 106

A PHILOSOPHICAL DISCUSSION ABOUT THE SPEECH OF ALLĀH 109

Volume 4: Surah Baqarah, Verse 255 112

COMMENTARY 112

TRADITIONS 119

Volume 4: Surah Baqarah, Verses 256-257 124

COMMENTARY 124

TRADITIONS 128

Volume 4: Surah Baqarah, Verses 258-260 130

COMMENTARY 130

GOOD AND EVIL DEEDS, VIS-À-VIS GUIDANCE AND MISGUIDANCE 137

TRADITIONS 157

Volume 4: Surah Baqarah, Verses 261-274 161

GENERAL COMMENT 162

SPENDING IN THE WAY OF ALLAH 163

COMMENTARY 165

TRADITIONS 180

Volume 4: Surah Baqarah, Verses 275-281 187

GENERAL COMMENT 187

COMMENTARY 189

TRADITIONS 203

ABOUT INTEREST 207

ANOTHER DISCOURSE ABOUT INTEREST 210

Volume 4: Surah Baqarah, Verses 282-283 213

COMMENTARY 214

Volume 4: Surah Baqarah, Verse 284 216

COMMENTARY 216

TRADITIONS 218

Volume 4: Surah Baqarah, Verses 285-286 221

GENERAL COMMENT 221

COMMENTARY 223

LIST OF THE IMPORTANT SUBJECTS 229

NOTES 232

TRANSLITERATION

FOREWORD [IN ARABIC]

FOREWORD

1. al-‘Allāmah as-Sayyid Muhammad Husayn at-Tabātabā’ī (1321/1904 - 1402/1981) - may Allāh have mercy upon him was a famous scholar, thinker and the most celebrated contemporary Islamic philosopher. We have introduced him briefly in the first volume of the English translation of al-Mīzān which will be published, by the help of Allāh, in the near future.

2. al-‘Allāmah at-Tabātabā’ī is well-known for a number of his works of which the most important is his great exegesis al-Mīzān fī tafsīri ’l-Qur’ān which is rightly counted as the fundamental pillar of scholarly work which the ‘Allāmah has achieved in the Islamic world.

3. We felt the necessity of publishing an exegesis of the Holy Qur’ān in English. After a thorough consultation, we came to choose al-Mīzān because we found that it contained in itself, to a considerable extent, the points which should necessarily be expounded in a perfect exegesis of the Holy Qur’ān and the points which appeal to the mind of the contemporary Muslim reader. Therefore, we proposed to al-Ustādh al-‘Allāmah as-Sayyid Sa‘īd Akhtar ar-Radawī to undertake this task because we were familiar with his intellectual ability to understand the Arabic text of al-Mīzān and his literary capability in expression and translation. So we relied on him for this work and consider him responsible for the English translation as al-‘Allāmah at-Tabātabā’ī was responsible for the Arabic text of al-Mīzān and its discussions.

4. We have proceeded to publish the translation of the second volume of the Arabic al-Mīzān earlier as it was ready for printing, whereas the first volume is not ready yet for the reasons which we do not wish to state here. So we saw no reason in delaying its printing. We have included two appendixes: one for the authors cited in all the volumes of al-Mīzān, and the other for the books cited therein. These two appendixes have been attached to the first volume of the English translation. Apart from this, the reader will find two appendixes in all the volumes of the translation of al-Mīzān.

* * * *

We implore upon Allāh to effect our work purely for His pleasure, and to help us to complete this work which we have started. May Allāh guide us in this step which we have taken and in the future steps, for He is the best Master and the best Helper.

WORLD ORGANIZATION FOR ISLAMIC SERVICES

(Board of Writing, Translation and Publication )

6/4/1402

1/2/1982.

Tehran-IRAN.

al-Mīzān

Volume Four

ch.2, vrs. 224-286

[SURHA BAQARAH]

Volume 4: Surah Baqarah, Verses 224-227

وَلَا تَجْعَلُوا اللَّـهَ عُرْضَةً لِّأَيْمَانِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوا وَتَتَّقُوا وَتُصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ النَّاسِۗ وَاللَّـهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ ﴿٢٢٤﴾ لَّا يُؤَاخِذُكُمُ اللَّـهُ بِاللَّغْوِ فِي أَيْمَانِكُمْ وَلَـٰكِن يُؤَاخِذُكُم بِمَا كَسَبَتْ قُلُوبُكُمْۗ وَاللَّـهُ غَفُورٌ حَلِيمٌ ﴿٢٢٥﴾ لِّلَّذِينَ يُؤْلُونَ مِن نِّسَائِهِمْ تَرَبُّصُ أَرْبَعَةِ أَشْهُرٍۖ فَإِن فَاءُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ ﴿٢٢٦﴾ وَإِنْ عَزَمُوا الطَّلَاقَ فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ ﴿٢٢٧﴾

And make not Allah a target of your swearing (by Him) against your doing good and guarding (against evil) and making peace between men, and Allah is Hearing, Knowing (224). Allah will not call you to account for what is vain in your oaths, but He will call you to account for what your hearts have earned, and Allah is Forgiving, Forbearing (225). For those who swear (to abstain) from their wives is (ordained) a waiting for four months; then if they go back, then Allah is surely Forgiving, Merciful (226). And if they resolved on divorce, then Allah is surely Hearing, Knowing (2:227).

COMMENTARY

QUR'AN: And make not Allah . and Allah is Hearing, Knowing. “al-'Urdah ” is derived fromal-'ard which means to display a thing to show its fitness for the purpose for which it is made. For example, to display goods for sale, to show a house for rent, to offer food for consumption. Some of the uses of al-'urdah are : a target for shooting practice is called al-'urdah of the arrows; a horse readied for a journey is called al-'urdah for travel; a girl of marriageable age is called al-'urdah of marriage. All these are relevant to its original meaning. But the use of this word for a hindrance on the road (and other similar uses) have come into vogue later as metaphors.

“al-Ayman” is plural of “al-yamin” and means “oaths”. Its original meaning is the right hand. As they strike by, raise, or give, the right hand when taking an oath, showing allegiance or concluding a deal, the word was metaphorically used for the oath, borrowing the organ of an action for the action itself, because of their mutual relationship. This same relationship also allows the use of the name of the action for its organ, as as-sabbabah (the one who abuses) is used for the forefinger which is often used to point with when abusing.

The meaning of the verse, then, shall be as follows (And Allah knows better!):­

And do not use (the name of) Allah (like) a target upon which to attach your oaths which you have sworn to the effect that you will not do a good deed or will not guard yourselves against evil or will not make peace between people; because Allah does not like it that His name be made a means of desisting from what He Himself has ordered. (This meaning is supported by the traditions which will be quoted later.)

Based on this meaning, the verse can be analyzed grammatically in three ways:- a) An tabarru (literal meaning: that you do good) is in fact an' la tabarru (that you do not do good). In the translation we have followed this meaning and the negative has been expressed by the word “against” (your swearing against your doing), Such an omission of the negative is common after “an” which turns the verb into an infini­tive. See for example verse 175 of ch. 4: Allah makes it clear for you (lest) you err. (4:177)

b) Or there is no omission; and the words “your doing good . .” is governed by the negative “make not”. The meaning, in this case, will be that Allah forbids you to take such oaths.

c) Or the al-'urdah (target) may imply excess, as a target is used for shooting practice. The verse, in this case, will be a prohibition of excessive swearing by the name of Allah. It will mean, “Do not swear every now and then by the name of Allah, because it will lead you to abstain from doing good, etc.” A habitually swearing man does not care what he swears about. As he becomes used to it, it loses its importance, and it may encourage him to make a false oath. This much about his own attitude. So far as society is concerned, he will lose his respect, people will look down upon him - after all, swearing implies that the man himself is not sure that people will accept his words as true. If, in this way, he degrades his own words, why should other believe what he says. Ultimately, he will become a subject of the verse: and do not obey (i.e. accept the words of) any mean swearer. (68:10)

The words of Allah, “and Allah is Hearing, Knowing” are a sort of threatening, whatever meaning one accepts of the preceding sentence. But the first meaning (upon which our translation is based) is the most obvious.

QURAN: Allah will not call you to account for what is vain in your oaths, but He will call you to account for what your hearts have earned . .:

A “al-laghw” (vain) action is that which has no effect. The effect of a thing varies according to variations in its attachments, etc. An oath may have an effect in so far as it is a word, or in so far as, it emphasizes speech; or thirdly in so far as it is a vow; or fourthly if it is broken, or if one perjures, and so on. In this verse the vain oath is contrasted with that (oath) which hearts have earned. It shows that the vain oath here means that which has no effect on the intention of the speaker, that is, such oaths which one utters (like 'No, By God', 'Yes, By God') without taking those words seriously.

“al-Kasb” (means to earn profits by a work or profession etc. Originally, it was used for the obtaining of those things which fulfill material needs. Then it was metaphorically used for any good or evil a man may get as a result of any of his actions, like earning praise and good, reputation through good character and social services, and earning good knowledge, superiority, and nobility by striving for them; or earning condem­nation, abuse, and slander; or sin and error by one's evil actions. This is the meaning of al-kasb and al-iktisab Some people say that al-iktisab is used when one earns a benefit for one's own self; and al-kasb refers to earning a benefit whether it is done for one's own self or for others, as when a servant earns for his master, or a guardian for his ward.

In any case the active participle al-kasib and al-muktasib (both of which mean “one who earns”) are used only for a human being.

The Meaning Of “Heart” In The Qur'an:

The above explanation is a proof that the words ‘‘your hearts’’ in the verse refer to the man himself - his spirit and soul. The faculties of thought, understanding, love, hate, fear, and so forth, may be attributed (basing what one says on the common man’s belief) to the heart, as hearing is attributed to the ears, sight to the eyes, and taste to the tongue. But the word ‘earning’ can only be attributed to man. As the verse uses the expression, ‘‘for what your hearts have earned’’, it proves that the ‘‘heart’’ here stands for the ‘soul’, ‘spirit’.

The same meaning applies to the verses: . his heart is surely sinful (2:283) and: . and comes with a penitent heart. (50:33)

When man looked at animals and at himself he found that perceptions and thinking sometimes become ineffective, for example, during epilepsy or lunacy, yet life continues, as is witnessed by the heart-beat and the pulse. This led him to believe that the source of life is the heart; he thought that the spirit of life first attaches itself to the heart, and that it is from there that life extends to all parts of the body. He further believed that all the psychological faculties, such as perception, will, love, hate, hope, fear and other such things, belong to the heart because it is the seat of the psyche - the spirit. Of course, every organ is the source of its own function - the mind for thinking, the eyes for seeing, the ears for hearing, the lungs for breathing, and so on. But all are like tools which are used in the work they are made for; it is the heart that is the tool-wielder.

And it is a fact that physical research and experiments have not been able to pin-point the source of control which rules over the whole body. There is no doubt that the limbs and organs of the body, even though they are different from each other and have different functions and duties to perform, are united under the control of one ruling power, and are really one unit.

It is not that the ancients were not aware of the mind and its functions. Man knew the importance of the head from the very beginning. Does one not see that all the nations and races, with their different languages, name the ‘‘authority’’. the ‘‘head’’, and with it its derivatives. For example ar-ra’s ( الرَّأْسُ = head), ar-riyāsah ( (الرِّيَاسَةُ headship, meaning presidency) and ar-ra’īs ( الرَّئِيسُ = head, that is, President). Then there are the phrases like head of a thread, the head (beginning) of a period, the head (starting-point) of a distance, the head (beginning) of a speech, the head (summit) of a mountain, a head (individual number) of animals or cattle, the head of the year (new year’s day), etc.

Apparently, this is the reason why people attribute perception and thinking and sentiments (which are not totally void of perception) like love, hate, hope, fear, will, envoy, chastity, bravery, etc. to the heart. But by heart they mean the spirit which runs into or is attached to, the body. They attribute perceptions and sentiments to the heart, as well as to the spirit and soul, and also to their own selves. They say: I love him; my soul loves him, my heart loves him. Then the metaphorical use of heart for spirit and soul came into general use; then this use was extended to the breast, because the breast contains the heart; and, therefore, to it were attributed the faculties of perception, action and the sentiments.

There are many such uses in the Qur’ān: . He expands his breast for Islam . (6:125); . your breast straitens at what they say (15:97); . and the hearts rose up to the throats . alluding to the constriction of the breast (33:10); Surely, Allāh knows whatever is in your breasts. (5:7)

A point to consider: Can these expressions not be a support for the common belief mentioned earlier, even if it is yet to be clarified? Shaykh Abū ‘Alī ibn Sīnā is inclined to believe that it is the heart that perceives, and the brain is its tool.

Anyhow, now we come back to the verse. The sentence, “but He will call you to account for what your hearts have earned”, is a metaphor in a metaphor. The preceding sentence says: Allah will not call you to account for what is vain in your oaths. The contrasting sentence should have been, “. . for what is firmly considered of your oath”. Instead it mentions the effect, that is, the sin, which will come into being if one breaks that vow. It is done to show that Allah looks only at the heart, as He says:.. and whether you manifest what is in your souls or hide it Allah will call you to account for it (2:284); There does not reach Allah their flesh nor their blood, but to Him reaches your piety . (22:37)

The words, “and Allah is Forgiving, Forbearing”, hint at the undesirability of vain swearing and oath-taking, because such a thing should not be done by a believer. Allah says: Successful indeed are the believers, who are humble in their prayers, and who keep aloof from what is vain . (23:1-3)

QUR'AN: For those who swear (to abstain) from their wives. . surely Hearing, Knowing:

'al-Ila' “ (= to swear), in Islamic jurisprudence, means the swearing by husband that he will not go to his wife, provided it is done in anger with an intention to harm the wife. This is the meaning intended in this verse. The preposition “from” after the verb “swear” gives the meaning of distance; thus the verse implies the meaning of swearing to abstain and to remain aloof from the wife. The waiting of four months implies the same, because it is the period at the end of which cohabitation is, according to the shari'ah, obligatory on the husband.

“If they resolved on divorce”. The verse means the intention followed by its implementation. It is also implied by the words, “Allah is surely Hearing, Knowing”, because “Hearing” can be applied to the spoken words of the divorce, not its intention only.

The words at the end of verse 2:225, “Allah is Forgiving, Forbearing”, show that if one goes back to his wife then one shall not be punished in the hereafter. So far as this life is concerned, he is obliged to pay its penalty, al-kaffarah because this penalty is not forgiven. Allah says: Allah does not call you to account for what is vain in your oaths, but He calls you to account for the making of deliberate oaths; so its expiation is the feeding of ten poor men out of the average (food) you feed your families with, or their clothing, or the freeing of a neck; but whosoever cannot find (means) then fasting for three days; this the expiation of your oaths when you swear. And guard your oaths. (5:89)

The meaning of the verses is that if one swears to abstain from his wife, then the Muslim Qadi (judge) shall give him a time of four months to go back to her. If by the end of that period, he gives the penalty for the oath, and establishes sexual relations with her, then he shall get no punishment in the hereafter. If on the other hand, he decides to divorce her, that is another way out. And Allah is Hearing, Knowing.

TRADITIONS

There is a tradition in at-Tafsir of al-'Ayyashi, from as-Sadiq (a.s.) about the words of Allah: And make not Allah a target of your swearing, that he (the Imam) said: “It is the word of man: 'No, by God', 'Yes, by God'.”

Another tradition in the same book, from al- Baqir and as­Sadiq (a.s.), about this verse, says: “That is, a man swears that he would not talk with his brother, and other such oaths, or that he would not talk with his mother.”

Another tradition in al-Kafi from as-Sadiq (a.s.) about it says: “When you are called to make peace between two persons, do not say on oath that you will not carry out.”

The author says: The first tradition gives one explanation of the verse, the second and third give another. There is another tradition of nearly the same meaning in at-Tafsir of al-'Ayyashi from al-Baqir and as-Sadiq (a.s.) that they said: “He is the man who makes peace between two persons, and carries the burden of the sin that is between them. .” Apparently the tradition means that such a man should not swear that he will not try to do it: he should make peace between them, even if he has to carry the sin, and Allah will forgive him, and he will be an example of him who follows this verse.

There is in al-Kafi from Mas'adah from as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said about the verse: Allah will not call you to account for what is vain in your oaths. . “Vain is the saying of a man, 'No, by God', and 'Yes, by God', without having any firm intention about anything.”

The author says: The same meaning is narrated in al-Kafi from him by another chain; and in al-Majma'u 'l-bayan from him and al-Baqir (a.s.).

There is a narration in al-Kafi from both Imams that they said: “If a man swears that he will not go near his wife, then she has not got any say or any right for four months; and he has no sin in not going to her in that period. If the four months pass away and he does not touch her, then, so long as she is silent and does not complain, he is absolved and free (from any responsibility). Then if she brings her case (before the Qadi), the husband will be told: either go back to her and touch her or divorce her. 'Resolve of divorce' means that he should leave her; then when she sees her monthly blood and (afterwards) becomes clean, he will divorce her. And he has, moreover, the right of ar-raj'ah (= returning to her; revoking the divorce) before the expiry of three monthly periods. So this is the al-'ila', which Allah revealed in His Book, and which the Apostle of Allah ordained.”

There is in the same book a tradition from as -Sadiq (a. s.) in which he says, inter alia : “And al-'ila' is that he says, 'By Allah, I shall not cohabit with thee so and so' or says, 'By Allah, I shall put thee to sorrow', and then puts her to sorrow.”

The author says: There are some differences between Sunnis and Shi'ahs about some particulars of al-'ila'; but the discussion of it concerns Islamic jurisprudence.