Sunday, November 03, 2013

Jihad – “And Fighting has been Prescribed for You” – the Tafsir by Shaykh Ata Ibn Khalil

“And Jihad has been made obligatory for you…”
Shaykh `Ata’: Tafsir of the Noble Verse in Surat al-Baqarah
Allah (swt) states in the noble Qur’an: {And Jihad has been prescribed for you while it is hateful to you; perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you and perhaps you lose something and it is bad for you; Allah knows and you do not…[Q. 2:216]}.
The noble shaykh `Ata Ibn Khalil (Allah preserve him) comments: “(a) […] {jihad has been prescribed for you} and this is a command from Allah – glorified is He! – to the Muslims to fight which is a request (talab) to fight. (b) Allah then mentioned {while[1] you hate it} which is a contextual indication (qarina) that the request is decisive (talab jazim) and hence an obligation (fard) because of the word “kurh/كره” which means ‘hardship’ (mashaqqa).[2] A request that is connected to hardship is an indication that it is a decisive request [...] The meaning of the verse is:
‘Perhaps you hate the hardship that comes with Jihad but it is good for you because it is the means by which you will attain victory, might, dignity and the spread of Islam as well as the means to two great rewards: victory and martyrdom. And perhaps you love ease and not to fight and it is undesirable for you because that is a means to humiliation, indignity, your enemies overpowering you and coveting you. And so if you abandon the command of Allah due to your desires, then you will be misguided whereas if you follow the command of Allah you will be successful. It is Allah – glorified is He! – who knows matters of the unseen’…”[3]
  1. ‘For you’ meaning ‘for the believers’.[4]
  2. ‘It’ refers to ‘fighting’ (jihad) which is to raise the word of Allah High.[5]
  3.  ‘Kutiba’ (‘it is written’, ‘prescribed’, ‘ordained’) means farada (‘it is obligated’).[6]
  4. Khayr’ means ‘good’, ‘better’, ‘reward’.[7]
  • Imam Ibn al-Jawzi comments:
قوله تعالى: { كتب عليكم القتال } قال ابن عباس: لما فرض الله على المسلمين الجهاد شق عليهم وكرهوه، فنزلت هذه الآية، و «كتب» بمعنى: فرض في قول الجماعة…  وإنما كرهوه لمشقَّته على النفوس، لا أنهم كرهوا فرض الله تعالى…  وقال ابن قتيبة: الكره بالفتح، معناه: الإكراه والقهر، وبالضم معناه: المشقة ومن نظائر هذا: الجهد: الطاقة، والجَهد: المشقة ومنهم مَن يجعلهما واحداً…  { وعسى أن تكرهوا شيئاً } قال ابن عباس، يعنى الجهاد. { وهو خير لكم { فتح وغنيمة أو شهادة. { وعسى أن تحبوا شيئاً } وهو: القعود عنه. { وهو شر لكم } لا تصيبون فتحاً ولا غنيمة ولا شهادة. { والله يعلم } أن الجهاد خير لكم. { وأنتم لا تعلمون } حين أحببتم القعود عنه
“And regarding Allah saying {Fighting has been prescribed for you}: Ibn Abbas said: ‘When Allah made jihad obligatory on the Muslim, it proved very difficult for them and so they detested it. The verse then was revealed.’ And the meaning of {prescribed/kutiba/كتب} is ‘obligated’ (farada/فرض) according to the opinion of the majority […] they detested it because of the hardship it entailed to themselves and their lives and not because it was an obligation from Allah […] {perhaps you hate a thing} meaning ‘jihad’ according to Ibn Abbas {and it is good for you} because you attain victory, war booty and martyrdom {and perhaps you love a thing} which is to sit back and not fight {and it is good for you} because you will gain the victory, the war booty and martyrdom. {And Allah knows} that jihad is better for you {and you do not know} in preferring to sit back and not fight…”[8]
  1. Allah alone knows what is best for human beings because of His Omniscience; He sees all things in their entirety and context and hence their suitability, importance, necessity and need.
  2. God’s commandments contain a benefit for human beings even if it is not physical, immediate or tangible or even if it cannot be grasped or understood by the human mind.
  3. Jihad has immeasurable good – by putting one’s life in the utmost danger and hardship as well as the possibility of forfeiting it altogether, the status of martyrdom is attained and that is Paradise.
  4. Something that hurts us does not mean it is bad for us.
  5. Something easy or safe for us does not mean it is good for us.
  6. Benefit and harm is not always linked to what is good and bad.
And with Allah is all Success.

[1] The letter (و) can take the meaning of either i) ‘circumstantial’ (haliyyah) or ii) conjunction (`atf).
[2] Imam Ibn `Ashur comments: “And the wording {it has been prescribed for you/kutiba `alaykum} is of the forms indicating obligation and was discussed previously on the verse regarding wasiyyah (bequests). The article ‘al-/أل’ here denotes the genus (li’l-jins) and fighting is only with the enemy which is general in its purport and hence means ‘fighting has been made obligatory for you ‘against all the enemies of the Religion…” al-Tahrir wa ‘l-Tanwir, 2:319.
ولفظ { كتب عليكم } من صيغ الوجوب وقد تقدم في آية الوصية. وأل في (القتال) للجنس، ولا يكون القتال إلا للأعداء فهو عام عموماً عرفياً أي كتب عليكم قتال عدو الدين.
[3] Shaykh `Ata’, al-Taysir ila Usul al-Tafsir, pp.283-284.
[4] Ibn `Ashur, al-Tahrir wa’ l-Tanwir, 2:319.
[5] Ibid., 2:319.
[6] Ibid., 2:319.
[7] Ibid., 2:319-320.
[8] Ibn al-Jawzi, Zad al-Masir fi `Ilm al-Tafsir, 1:212.

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