Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Who is better in religion) who is firmer in religion and better in speech (than he who surrendereth his purpose to Allah) than him whose Religion and works are sincerely devoted to Allah (while doing good (to men)) good in deed and speech (and follows the tradition of Abraham, the upright) who surrendered completely to Allah? (Allah (Himself) chose Abraham for friend).
Who is more beautiful in religion than he who submits his face to God while he is a
beautiful-doer and follows the creed of Abraham, an unswerving man? And God took Abraham as a bosom friend.
In this verse the Lord of the Worlds, the God of the world's folk, the Enactor who knows the hidden, praises the self-purifiers and shows that He is pleased with self-purification in deeds. The first person to dress the Kaabah of deeds in the cloak of self-purification was MuṣṬafā, who said, “Deeds are only through intentions.” Self-purification in deeds does the work of color in jewels. Just as a jewel without the cape of color is a worthless stone, so also deeds without self-purification is to knock oneself out without hitting the mark.
Maʿrūf Karkhī used to beat himself with a whip and say, “O soul! Purify thyself and be delivered!”
It has been said that knowledge is the seed, deeds are planting, and self-purification is the water. The work is done by self-purification, salvation lies in self-purification, and endless felicity lies in self-purification, but self-purification itself is exalted and does not come down just anywhere, nor does it show its face to just anyone. The Exalted Lord said, “It is one of My secrets that I deposit in the hearts of those whom I love among My servants.”
There was a worshiper among the Children of Israel. He was told that in such-and-such a place there is a tree that people worship. For the sake of God and the zeal of the religion he became angry, left his place with a mattock over his shoulder, and went to dig up the tree by its roots. Iblis went into the road with the attributes of an old man. He asked him where he was going and he replied, “To that place to dig up the tree.”
Iblis said, “Go, busy yourself with your worship, for this will not done by your hand.” Iblis struggled with him and fell, and the worshiper sat on his chest. Iblis said, “Let go of me and I will speak some beautiful words to you.” He let go of him, and Iblis said, “O worshiper, God has prophets. If this tree needs to be dug up, He will command a prophet to dig it up.
He has not commanded you to do so.”
The worshiper said, “No, because the tree must be dug up, and I will not turn back from this work until I finish that.”
Again they struggled together, and the worshiper was better, so Iblis fell down. Iblis said, “O chevalier, you are a poor man, and the people have to provide you with food. What would it matter if you stop this work, for it is not up to you and you have not been commanded to do it, and every day I will place two dinars under your pillow. That would be good for both you and the worshipers, for you can spend it on them.”
At these words of his the worshiper paused. He said to himself, “Spending one dinar as alms and putting the other to use is better than pulling up this tree, for I have not been commanded to do so. I am no prophet that it should be mandatory for me.” Hence with these words he went back. The next morning he saw two dinars under his pillow, and the same on the second day. But on the third day he saw nothing. He became angry, picked up his mattock, and went to dig up the tree. Iblis came into his road and said, “O man, give up this work, for it will never be done at your hand.” They struggled together, the worshiper fell, and he was helpless at the hands of Iblis. Iblis aimed to kill him. The worshiper, “Let me go and I will go back. But first tell me why at first I came out better, and now you have come out better.”
Iblis replied, “Because at first you rose up for the sake of God and were angry because of God's religion, so the Exalted Lord subjected me to you. When someone does something for God with self-purification, my hand will not reach him. This time you became angry for the sake of your own wanting and for the sake of this world. You became the follower of your caprice. Hence you could not defeat me and were subjugated by me.”
When MuṣṬafā was asked what self-purification is, he said, “It is that you say, 'My Lord is God,' then you go straight as you have been commanded.”
Who is more beautiful in religion than he who submits his face to God while he is a beautifuldoer? WāsiṬī said, “The meaning of while he is a beautiful-doer is that he is doing the beautiful by submitting his face to God.
” He is saying, “The pure road and beautiful religion belongs to him
who turns his face toward the Real. He knows and recognizes as good this turning of the face to the Real and being a self-purifier, for not everyone reaches the threshold of the Sultan. It is he who recognizes the courtesy of the Presence.”
Then He says, “and follows the creed of Abraham, an unswerving man.” This alludes to the state of Abraham, who turned his face to the Real and observed the courtesy of the Presence, not leaving any portion for himself. He tossed it all away-his soul, his wealth, and his child. He tossed away his own soul for the sake of the Real's approval, he tossed away his child for the sake of following His command, and he tossed away his wealth because of tenderness toward the people. Hence the Exalted Lord praised him and called him His bosom friend: “And God took Abraham as a bosom friend.”
It has been narrated that God revealed to him, “You are My bosom friend and I am your bosom friend, so be careful that I not become aware in your secret core that you have become attached to other than Me, lest you cut off your bosom friendship from Me.”
It has also been said that when the Exalted Lord wrote down bosom friendship for him, He gave out this call in the world: “And God took Abraham as a bosom friend.” The angels raised their voices and said, “O Lord, what did Abraham do that you have given him this honor and singled him out from all the world's folk?”
The command came, “O Gabriel, open up your peacock-feathers and go from the top of the Lote Tree to the summit of that mountain, and convey My name to his hearing.” He stood behind the mountain. The Bosom Friend had three hundred herds of sheep, and each herd had a dog with a gold collar around its neck. Gabriel shouted out, “O Holy One!” The Bosom Friend fainted from the pleasure of hearing that. When he came to, he said, “O speaker! Say that once more, and this herd of sheep with its dog and gold collar belongs to you.
” Gabriel once more raised up his voice, “O Holy One!” The Bosom Friend was rolling in the dust like a half-slaughtered chicken. He was saying, “Say it again, and another herd belongs to you!”
You spoke of Him to me, O Saʿd, and you increased my madness, so increase that speaking, O Saʿd!
He kept on asking him like this until he gave away the three hundred herds. Once he had given all, the knots became tighter, passion and destitution joined together. The Bosom Friend said, “O servant of God! Recite the name of the Friend one more time, and my spirit is yours!”
Wealth, gold, things-gamble them away for nothing. When the work reaches your spirit, gamble it away!
Gabriel became happy. He spread his peacock feathers and said, “If there is any shortcoming, it is in our eyes. You have passion to perfection. He was right to take you as a bosom friend.”
And who, that is, [and] none, is fairer in religion than he who submits his purpose, that is, [than he who] is compliant and offers his deeds sincerely, to God and is virtuous, [and] declares God’s Oneness, and who follows the creed of Abraham, the one that is in accordance with the creed of Islam, as a hanīf? (hanīfan is a circumstantial qualifier), that is to say, [one] inclining away from all religions to the upright religion. And God took Abraham for a close friend, as His elect, one whose love for Him is pure.
And who is fairer in religion, that is, in terms of path, than he who submits his purpose, namely, his existence, to God, and purges his essence of the blemishes of egoism and dualism by pure annihilation, and is virtuous, witness of the union at the source of differentiation, mindful of what is due from the self-disclosures of the attributes and the rules governing them, wayfaring along the path of virtuousness by being upright in his deeds, and who follows the creed of Abraham, in terms of the affirmation of [God's] Oneness, as a ḥanīf, inclining away from every act of association in his essence, his attributes and his acts and from every false religion, that is, [from] every path that leads to the affirmation of [the reality of] an act, or attribute or essence, of one other than Him, for his [Abraham's] religion is the religion of truth, by which I mean, that his [a person's spiritual] journeying will in that case be a journeying towards God, not a journeying in God by wayfaring along the path of the attributes, nor [a journeying] towards God by severing the attributes of the soul and the founts of the attributes of the heart. Thus there is no religion better than his [Abraham's] religion. And God took Abraham for an intimate friend (khalīl), in other words, He treats him as an intimate (khālala), that is, He pervades the fissures of his essence and his attributes in such a way that He leaves no remnants thereof, or He seals the fissures and stands in place of what has been annihilated of him when he has been perfected and is in need of Him. The 'intimate' (khalīl) may be a higher level than the 'elect' (ṣafī) but it is lower than the 'lover' (ḥabīb), because the intimate is a lover in whom it may be estimated that there is a remnant of an otherness (ghayriyya), whereas the lover is a beloved in whom no such thing can be conceived of, which is why he [the lover] is cast into the fire of [divine] love and not the other.
Success is Only Achieved by Performing Righteous Deeds, not Wishful Thinking
Qatadah said, "We were told that the Muslims and the People of the Scriptures mentioned their own virtues to each other. People of the Scriptures said, `Our Prophet came before your Prophet and our Book before your Book. Therefore, we should have more right to Allah than you have.' Muslims said, `Rather, we have more right to Allah than you, our Prophet is the Final Prophet and our Book supersedes all the Books before it.' Allah sent down,
(And who can be better in religion than one who submits his face (himself) to Allah; and he is a Muhsin.) Allah then supported the argument of the Muslims against their opponents of the other religions.'' Similar statements were attributed to As-Suddi, Masruq, Ad-Dahhak and Abu Salih. Al-`Awfi reported that Ibn `Abbas commented on this Ayah 4:123, "The followers of various religions disputed, the people of the Tawrah said, `Our Book is the best Book and our Prophet (Musa) is the best Prophet. ' The people of the Injil said similarly, the people of Islam said, `There is no religion except Islam, our Book has abrogated every other Book, our Prophet is the Final Prophet, and you were commanded to believe in your Books and adhere to our Book.' Allah judged between them, saying, o
(It will not be in accordance with your desires, nor those of the People of the Scripture, whosoever works evil, will have the recompense thereof).'' This Ayah indicates that the religion is not accepted on account of wishful thinking or mere hopes. Rather, the accepted religion relies on what resides in the heart and which is made truthful through actions. It is not true that when one utters a claim to something, he attains it merely on account of his claim. It is not true that every person who claims to be on the truth is considered as such, merely on account of his words, until his claim gains merit with proof from Allah. Hence Allah's statement,
(It will not be in accordance with your desires, nor those of the People of the Scripture, whosoever works evil, will have the recompense thereof), meaning safety will not be acquired by you or them just by wishful thinking. Rather, the key is in obeying Allah and following what He has legislated through the words of His honorable Messengers. This is why Allah said afterwards,
مَن يَعْمَلْ سُوءًا يُجْزَ بِهِ
(whosoever works evil, will have the recompense thereof,) Similarly, Allah said,
(So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom, shall see it. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom, shall see it.) and it was reported that when these Ayat were revealed, they became hard on many Companions. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that `A'ishah said, "I said, `O Messenger of Allah! I know the hardest Ayah in the Qur'an.' He said, `What is it, O `A'ishah!' I said,
مَن يَعْمَلْ سُوءًا يُجْزَ بِهِ
(whoever works evil, will have the recompense thereof,) He said,
(Be steadfast and seek closeness. Everything that afflicts the Muslim, even the thorn that pierces his skin and the hardship he suffers, will be an expiation for him.)'' This is the wording collected by Ahmad through Sufyan bin `Uyaynah. Muslim and At-Tirmidhi also recorded it. Allah's statement,
(and he will not find any protector or helper besides Allah,) `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said; "Unless he repents and Allah forgives him.'' Ibn Abi Hatim recorded it. Allah then said,
(And whoever does righteous good deeds, male or female, and is a believer). Allah mentions the recompense for evil actions and that He will surely inflict its punishment on the servant, either in this life, which is better for him, or in the Hereafter, we seek refuge with Allah from this end. We also beg Allah for our well-being in this life and the Hereafter and for His forgiveness, mercy and pardon. Allah then mentions His kindness, generosity and mercy in accepting the good deeds from His servants, whether male or female, with the condition that they embrace the faith. He also stated that He will admit the believers into Paradise and will not withhold any of their righteous deeds, even the weight of a Naqir - speck on the back of a date-stone. Earlier, we discussed the Fatil - the scalish thread in the long slit of a date-stone, and both of these, along with the Qitmir -- the thin membrane over the date-stone were mentioned in the Qur'an. Allah then said,
(And who can be better in religion than one who submits his face to Allah.) meaning, performs the good actions in sincerity for his Lord with faith and awaiting the reward with Allah,
(and he is a Muhsin) following the correct guidance that Allah legislated in the religion of truth which He sent His Messenger with. These are the two conditions, in the absence of which no deed will be accepted from anyone; sincerity and correctness. The work is sincere when it is performed for Allah alone and it becomes correct when it conforms to the Shari`ah. So, the deed becomes outwardly correct with following the Sunnah and inwardly correct with sincerity. When any deed lacks either of these two conditions, the deed becomes null and void. For instance, when one lacks the pillar of sincerity in his work, he becomes a hypocrite who shows off for people. Whoever does not follow the Shari`ah, he becomes an ignorant, wicked person. When one combines both pillars, his actions will be the deeds of the faithful believers whose best deeds are accepted from them and their errors erased. Consequently, Allah said,
واتَّبَعَ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَهِيمَ حَنِيفاً
(And follows the religion of Ibrahim the Hanif (Monotheist). ) referring to Muhammad and his following, until the Day of Resurrection. Allah said,
(Then, We have sent the Revelation to you (saying): "Follow the religion of Ibrahim the Hanif (Monotheist) and he was not of the Mushrikin). The Hanif, intentionally and with knowledge, avoids Shirk, he goes attentively to the truth, allowing no one to hinder him or stop him from it.
Ibrahim is Allah's Khalil
وَاتَّخَذَ اللَّهُ إِبْرَهِيمَ خَلِيلاً
(And Allah did take Ibrahim as a Khalil (an intimate friend)!) encourages following Ibrahim Al-Khalil, because he was and still is an Imam whose conduct is followed and imitated. Indeed, Ibrahim reached the ultimate closeness to Allah that the servants seek, for he attained the grade of Khalil, which is the highest grade of love. He acquired all this due to his obedience to His Lord, just as Allah has described him,
(Verily, Ibrahim was an Ummah, obedient to Allah, a Hanif, and he was not one of the Mushrikin). Al-Bukhari recorded that `Amr bin Maymun said that when Mu`adh came back from Yemen, he led them in the Fajr prayer and recited,
وَاتَّخَذَ اللَّهُ إِبْرَهِيمَ خَلِيلاً
(And Allah did take Ibrahim as a Khalil!) One of the men present commented, "Surely, the eye of Ibrahim's mother has been comforted.'' Ibrahim was called Allah's Khalil due to his Lord's great love towards him, on account of the acts of obedience he performed that Allah loves and prefers. We should mention here that in the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri said that when the Messenger of Allah gave them his last speech, he said,
(O people! If I were to take a Khalil from the people of the earth, I would have taken Abu Bakr bin Abi Quhafah as my Khalil. However, your companion (meaning himself) is the Khalil of Allah.) Jundub bin `Abdullah Al-Bajali, `Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`As and `Abdullah bin Mas`ud narrated that the Prophet said,
(Allah has chosen me as His Khalil, just as He has chosen Ibrahim as His Khalil.) Allah's statement,
وَللَّهِ مَا فِى السَّمَـوَتِ وَمَا فِى الاٌّرْضِ
(And to Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth.) means, everything and everyone are His property, servants and creation, and He has full authority over all of this. There is no one who can avert Allah's decision or question His judgment. He is never asked about what He does due to His might, ability, fairness, wisdom, compassion and mercy. Allah's statement,
وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَىْءٍ مُّحِيطاً
(And Allah is Ever Encompassing all things.) means, His knowledge encompasses everything and nothing concerning His servants is ever hidden from Him. Nothing, even the weight of an atom, ever escapes His observation in the heavens and earth, nor anything smaller or bigger than that.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
Since everything in the heavens and the earth belongs to Allah, the best thing for man is to surrender his independence completely to Him, and to submit to Him unreservedly. He will come nearer to Nature, if he willingly becomes His servant and obeys Him without showing any kind of rebellion against him.
That is, if man does not submit and surrender to Allah, he cannot escape His punishment, for Allah encircles him on all sides.
And who is fairer in religion than he who submits his purpose to God and is virtuous and who follows the creed of Abraham as a ḥanīfḍ And God took Abraham as a close friend. To God belongs all that is in the heavens and in the earth; and God is ever the Encompasser of all things. There is no one fairer in religion than he who submits his purpose to God. It means one who has made seeking God his sole objective and has purified his compact with God from what is other than God. For that reason he submits himself in all of his states to God through God and does not hold back anything from God from his wealth his body his spirit his strength his family and his children. This was the state of Abraham عليه السلام. And is virtuous muḥsin: Being virtuous iḥsān as attested to in the sacred law is to worship God as if you see Him. It is necessary that a remnant from the reality of separation ʿayn al-farq remain for the servant so that the performance of [God's] rights سبحانه will be sound for if he were to be completely taken over by the [ultimate] reality his submission and virtue would not be sound. This is following Abraham عليه السلام the ḥanīf. Nothing remained of him which could be described as permanent. And God took Abraham as a close friend khalīl: He separated the event from any effort labor seeking and striving when He said this so that it would be known that friendship khulla is an act of being clothed by the Real not an attribute which the servant acquires. It is said that the friend al-khalīl is entirely in need of the Real at every breath. In every one of his breaths and states there is nothing for him that is not through God and for God. [The word khalīl] is derived from khalla which means poverty khaṣāṣa and need ḥāja. It is [also] said to come from [the word] khulla which means love maḥabba. Friendship khulla is love maḥabba that reaches every part of someone. It permeates takhallala one's innermost self until there is no entry to it for anyone else. When God سبحانه had purified and emptied [Abraham] عليه السلام of [any other] He raised him up in upholding His right after [Abraham's] erasure from everything that is not God سبحانه. Then He said “And announce among the people the [season for] pilgrimage” [22:27]: The pilgrim does not say labayyka except to God and this is an allusion to the gathering of the gathering jamʿ al-jamʿ.
(… and followeth the tradition of Abraham, the upright? Allah (Himself) chose Abraham for friend) [4:125]. There is a difference of opinion regarding the reason for which Allah chose Abraham for friend. Abu Sa'id al-Nasruyiyy informed me> Abu'l-Hasan Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Sarraj> Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah al-Hadrami> Musa ibn Ibrahim al-Marwazi> Ibn Lahi'ah> Abu Qabil> 'Abd Allah> 'Umar who said: “The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, asked Gabriel: 'Why did Allah chose Abraham as a friend?' He said: 'O Muhammad, it was because of his feeding of others' ”. Said 'Abd Allah ibn 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Abza: “One day Abraham went to his house all of a sudden and found there the angel of death in the form of a young man whom he did not know. Abraham said to him: 'Who gave you the permission to enter?' He said: 'The Lord of the house did!' At that point Abraham, peace be upon him, recognized him. The angel of death then said to him: 'Your Lord has chosen one person from among His servants as a friend'. Abraham asked: 'And who could that be?' 'Why, what will you do?' asked the angel. Abraham said: 'I will be his servant until I die'. The angel said: 'In that case, it is you!' ” Said Ibn 'Abbas, according to the report of al-Kalbi from Abu Salih: “One year, people suffered immensely because of the drought which had hit them. They gathered at the door of Abraham, peace be upon him, requesting food. Usually, he received once a year supplies from a friend of his in Egypt. He therefore sent his servants with camels to his friend in Egypt, requesting the supplies. His friend said: 'If Abraham wanted the supplies for himself, we would have borne the burden and gave them to him, since we too have been hit by the same hardship that people are suffering from'. And so Abraham's emissaries returned empty handed. When they crossed a certain open country, they said: 'Let us load our camels from this open country so that people could see that we have brought the supplies with us, for we feel embarrassed to pass by them with unloaded camels'. And so they filled their containers with sand. They went to Abraham, peace be upon him, while Sarah was asleep and informed him. Abraham, peace be upon him, was worried for the people. Sleep then overcame him. When Sarah woke up, she proceeded to those containers and, upon opening them, she found white ground wheat of the best quality. She ordered the bakers to bake bread and people were fed. When Abraham, peace be upon him, woke up, he smelt the odour of food, and he asked: 'O Sarah, where did you get this food?' She said: 'It is from your Egyptian friend'. He said: 'No, it is rather from my friend Allah'. On that day Allah chose Abraham as friend”. Abu 'Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Muzakki informed us> Abu 'Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Yazid al-Jawzi> Ibrahim ibn Sharik> Ahmad ibn Yunus> Abu Bakr ibn 'Ayyash> Abu'l-Muhallab al-Kinani> 'Ubayd Allah ibn Zahr> 'Ali ibn Yazid> al-Qasim ibn Umamah who reported that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Allah has chosen me as a friend just as He had chosen Abraham as a friend. And there is no prophet except that he has a friend and my friend is Abu Bakr”. The descendent of the Prophet, Abu Isma'il ibn al-Hasan al-Naqib informed me> Abu Muhammad al-Hasan ibn Hammad> Abu Isma'il Muhammad ibn Isma'il al-Tirmidhi> Sa'id ibn Abi Maryam> Salamah> Zayd ibn Waqid> al-Qasim ibn Mukhaymarah> Abu Hurayrah who reported that the Messenger of Allah, bless him and give him peace, said: “Allah had chosen Abraham as a friend, Moses as His interlocutor and He has chosen me as His beloved; and then Allah said: 'By My might and majesty, I shall prefer My beloved over My friend and My interlocutor' ”.