A Summary of some Exegetical Views on Verses 16-19 of Surah Qiyamah (2/2)

A Summary of some Exegetical Views on Verses 16-19 of Surah Qiyamah (2/2)


Verse 18: فَإِذَا قَرَأْنَاهُ فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْآنَهُ

Al-Tabari has recorded the following three opinions about this verse.

The First Opinion

The first opinion is: "When We reveal this Qur'an, listen intently to it."

Following are the narratives al-Tabari cites in support of this opinion:

(1)

حدثنا بن حميد قال ثنا مهران عن سفيان عن منصور وبن أبي عائشة عن سعيد بن جبير عن بن عباس فإذا قرأناه فإذا أنزلناه إليك فاتبع قرآنه قال فاستمع قرآنه

Ibn 'Abbas has opined that فَإِذَا قَرَأْنَاهُ means: "When We have revealed it to you" and فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْآنَهُ means: "Listen to it intently."[13]

(2)

حدثنا سفيان بن وكيع قال ثنا جرير عن موسی بن أبي عائشة عن سعيد بن جبير عن بن عباس فإذا قرأناه فاتبع قرآنه فإذا أنزلناه إليك فاستمع له

Ibn 'Abbas has said that فَإِذَا قَرَأْنَاهُ فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْآنَهُ means: "When We have revealed it, listen to it intently."[14]

The Second Opinion

The second opinion is: "When the Qur'an is read out to you, follow its injunctions and directives."

Following are the narratives al-Tabari cites in support of this opinion:

(1)

حدثني محمد بن سعد قال ثني أبي قال ثني عمي قال ثني أبي عن أبيه عن بن عباس فإذا قرأناه فاتبع قرآنه يقول إذا تلي عليك فاتبع ما فيه

Ibn Abbas reported that the meaning of فَإِذَا قَرَأْنَاهُ فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْآنَه is: "When the Qur'an is recited out to you, follow what is in it."[15]

(2)

حدثنا بشر قال ثنا يزيد قال ثنا سعيد عن قتادة فإذا قرأناه فاتبع قرآنه يقول اتبع حلاله واجتنب حرامه

Qatadah says فَإِذَا قَرَأْنَاهُ فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْآنَه means: "Follow what is allowed in it and abstain from what is forbidden in it."

(3)

حدثنا بن عبد الأعلی قال ثنا بن ثور عن معمر عن قتادة فإذا قرأناه فاتبع قرآنه يقول فاتبع حلاله واجتنب حرامه

Qatadah says فَإِذَا قَرَأْنَاهُ فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْآنَه means: "Follow what is allowed in it and abstain from what is forbidden in it."

(4)

حدثت عن الحسين قال سمعت أبا معاذ يقول ثنا عبيد قال سمعت الضحاك يقول في قوله فاتبع قرآنه يقول اتبع ما فيه

Al-Dahhak says فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْآنَه means: "Follow what is in it."[16]

According to this opinion, فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْآنَه means: "When We have made it clear, practice what it says."

The narrative, al-Tabari cites in support of it is:

حدثنا علي قال ثنا أبو صالح قال ثني معاوية عن علي عن بن عباس قوله فإذا قرأناه فاتبع قرآنه يقول اعمل به

Ibn 'Abbas says that in فَإِذَا قَرَأْنَاهُ فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْآنَه [the expression فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْآنَه means]: "practice what it says."[17]

According to al-Tabari, the third opinion is the most tenable because this falls in a logical sequence that once the Qur'an has been collected in the Prophet's heart and read out to him, he should follow what it says.

Verse 19 ثُمَّ إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا بَيَانَهُ

According to al-Tabari, there are two opinions in the interpretation of this verse.

The First Opinion

The first opinion is that it is the responsibility of the Almighty to state what is the allowed and what is the prohibited in the Qur'an.

Al-Tabari cites the following narrative cited in support of this opinion:

(1)

حدثني محمد بن سعد قال ثني أبي قال ثني عمي قال ثني أبي عن أبيه عن بن عباس ثم إن علينا بيانه يقول حلاله وحرامه فذلك بيانه

Ibn 'Abbas says that ثُمَّ إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا بَيَانَهُ means what it allows and what it prohibits. This is what is meant by bayan.[18]

(2)

حدثنا بشر قال ثنا يزيد قال ثنا سعيد عن قتادة ثم إن علينا بيانه بيان حلاله واجتناب حرامه ومعصيته وطاعته

Qatadah says that ثُمَّ إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا بَيَانَهُ is a mention of what is allowed and abstention from what is prohibited and a mention of what is His disobedience and what is His obedience.

The Second Opinion

The second opinion is: "It is Our responsibility to explain it through your tongue."

He cites the following narrative in support of this opinion:

حدثنا بن حميد قال ثنا مهران عن سفيان عن موسی بن أبي عائشة عن سعيد بن جبير عن بن عباس ثم إن علينا بيانه قال تبيانه بلسانك

Ibn 'Abbas said that ثُمَّ إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا بَيَانَه means: "its explanation through your tongue."[19]

2. Abu Ja'far al-Tusi[20](d. 460 AH)

Verse 16: لَا تُحَرِّكْ بِهِ لِسَانَكَ لِتَعْجَلَ بِه

While interpreting this verse, al-Tusi refers to the narratives of Ibn 'Abbas, Sa'id ibn Jubayr and al-Dahhak which say that whenever a portion of the Qur'an would be revealed to the Prophet (sws), he would hastily move his tongue to acquire it because of his immense love for it.

Verse 17: إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا جَمْعَهُ وَقُرْآنَه

While referring to the narratives of Ibn 'Abbas and al-Dahhak, al-Tusi says that the verse means that it is upon the Almighty to collect the Qur'an in the heart of the Prophet (sws) and read it out to him so that it is possible for him to read it.

While referring to Qatadah, he says that the verse means that it is upon the Almighty to collect the Qur'an in the Prophet's heart and arrange it in the way it has been revealed to him.[21]

In another narrative, Ibn 'Abbas says that the verse means: "It is Our responsibility to explain what is allowed and forbidden by the Qur'an by mentioning it to you."

According to a narrative by Qatadah, it means: "We will mention its directives to you and explain its meanings to you once you have memorized it."

According to al-Balkhi, the verse does not refer to the Qur'an at all. It refers to people reading their accounts on the Day of Judgement because the context guides us to this meaning and there is nothing in it which guides us to relate this reading to the Qur'an or to anything related to the directives of this world. Actually, in this verse a person is admonished and scolded for showing haste.

Verse 18: فَإِذَا قَرَأْنَاهُ فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْآنَهُ

While referring to Ibn 'Abbas (rta), al-Tusi says that the verse means: "When We recite it to you, follow this reading by reading after it."

According to Qatadah and Dahhak, the meaning of the verse is: "He should practically adhere to its directives and follow what is allowed and forbidden by it."

Another meaning is that when Gabriel reads the revelation to him, he should follow this reading.

Verse 19: ثُمَّ إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا بَيَانَهُ

Al-Tusi says that according to Qatadah, this verse means that the Almighty will explain the meaning of the revelation to the Prophet (sws) once he memorizes it.

3. Muhammad ibn 'Umar al-Zamakhshari (d. 538 AH)

Here is what Zamakhshari has written while explaining these verses:[22]

وكان رسول اللّه صلی اللّٰهعليه وسلم إذا لقن الوحي نازع جبريل القراءة ولم يصبر إلی أن يتمها مسارعة إلی الحفظ وخوفًا من أن يتفلت منه فأمر بأن يستنصت له ملقيًا إليه بقلبه وسمعه حتی يقضی إليه وحيه ثم يقفيه بالدراسة إلی أن يرسخ فيه والمعنی لا تحرّك لسانك بقراءة الوحي ما دام جبريل صلوات الله عليه يقرأ لِتَعْجَلَ بِهِ لتأخذه علی عجلة ولئلا يتفلت منك ثم علل النهي عن العجلة بقوله إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا جَمْعَهُ في صدرك وإثبات قراءته في لسانك فَإِذَا قَرَأْنَاهُ جعل قراءة جبريل قراءته والقرآن القراءة فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْءانَهُ فكن مقفيًا له فيه ولا تراسله وطأمن نفسك أنه لا يبقی غير محفوظ فنحن في ضمان تحفيظه ثُمَّ إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا بَيَانَهُ إذا أشكل عليك شيء من معانيه كأنه كان يعجل في الحفظ والسؤال عن المعنی جميعًا كما ترى بعض الحراص علی العلم ونحوه وَلاَ تَعْجَلْ بِالْقُرْءانِ مِن قَبْلِ إَن يُقْضَی إِلَيْكَ وَحْيُهُ

When a revelation came to the Prophet (sws), he would try to immediately receive the Qur'an from Gabriel and in his haste to memorize it and for fear of forgetting it would not wait for Gabriel to complete reciting the revelation. He was directed to intently listen with his heart and ears to the revelation until it was completed; he was to then repeat it until he fully memorized it. And [thus] the implied meaning is: "Do not move your tongue in reciting the revelation as long as Gabriel is reciting it to you in order to hastily acquire the revelation and so that it is not lost from you." [The Almighty] has then mentioned the reason for stopping him from this haste by the words:إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا جَمْعَهُ ie. collecting it in your heart and firmly rooting its recital on your tongue. The words فَإِذَا قَرَأْنَاهُ mean making of Gabriel's recital as your recital and the word القرآن means recital. [The words]فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْءانَهُ mean: "[O Prophet!] follow this recital and do not vie with Gabriel and rest assured that it will not remain unprotected; We guarantee its protection." [The words] ثُمَّ إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا بَيَانَهُ [mean: "We will explain] any meaning which remains unclear to you." It is as if the Prophet showed haste both in memorizing the revelation and in asking for an explanation of its meanings as you see in people who have a great thirst for knowledge. [A verse of similar meaning is:] وَلاَ تَعْجَلْ بِالْقُرْءانِ مِن قَبْلِ إَن يُقْضَی إِلَيْكَ وَحْيُهُ.

4. Fakhr al-Din al-Razi[23](d. 606 AH)

Verse 16: لِتَعْجَلَ بِهِلاَ تُحَرّكْ بِهِ لِسَانَكَ

The Prophet (sws) would swiftly move his tongue to acquire the Qur'an before Gabriel finished reciting it to him lest he might forget it, as is recorded in the narrative of Sa'id ibn Jubayr from Ibn 'Abbas.

Verse 17: إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا جَمْعَهُ وَقُرْآنَه

The word jam' here refers to collection in the heart of the Prophet (sws) and its memorization by him.

The word qur'anahu can have two meanings:

As per the first of these meanings, it refers to recital. In this sense, there are again two possibilities: one of them is that Gabriel will keep reciting it to the Prophet (sws) until he memorizes it. The other possibility is that the Almighty will recite it to the Prophet (sws) in such a manner that he will not forget it and this is the same as is mentioned in the Qur'anic verse: سَنُقْرِئُكَ فَلاَ تَنسَی.[24] In the first case, the reader would be Gabriel and in the second the reader would be Muhammad (sws).

As per the second of its meanings, it refers to collection and arrangement as is used in the expression: ما قرأت الناقة سلا قط (ما رمت بولد وما أسقطت ولداً قط وما طرحت)and in the utterance of 'Amr ibn Kulthum.[25] Al-Razi then says that if the word qur'anahu is used in the second of these meanings, then the issue of repetition comes up because in this case jam' and qur'anahu would have the same meaning. He says one option to resolve this is to take jam' to mean collection in the external world and to take qur'anahu to mean collection in the heart and memorization.[26]

Verse 18: فَإِذَا قَرَأْنَاهُ فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْآنَهُ

There can be two interpretations of فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْآنَهُ. The first of these attributed to Qatadah is: "Follow what is allowed by the Qur'an and refrain from what is prohibited by it." The second is: "Follow its recital and do not recite it with Gabriel; listen quietly to what Gabriel recites until he finishes; once he finishes reciting it, recite what he has recited to you."

Al-Razi gives preference to the latter view because he thinks that the context and background supports this view and the narrative of Ibn 'Abbas (rta) also says that after this instance when Gabriel came to him with a revelation, he would intently listen to him and would recite once he went away.

Verse 19: ثُمَّ إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا بَيَانَهُ

The Prophet (sws) would read the Qur'an with Gabriel as soon as the latter delivered it to him and during this recital would ask about the meanings of the verse and its difficulties because of his immense desire to acquire knowledge. He was stopped from both those practices: he was stopped from reading the Qur'an together with Gabriel in the verse فَإِذَا قَرَأْنَاهُ فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْءانَهُand from asking questions about the meanings of the revelation in the verse ثُمَّ إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا بَيَانَهُ.

5. Ibn Kathir[27](d. 774 AH)

هذا تعليم من اللّٰه عز وجل لرسوله صلی اللّٰه عليه وآله وسلم في كيفية تلقيه الوحي من الملك فإنه كان يبادر إلی أخذه ويسابق الملك في قراءته فأمره اللّٰه عز وجل إذا جاءه الملك بالوحي أن يستمع له وتكفل اللّٰه له أن يجمعه في صدره وأن ييسره لأدائه علی الوجه الذي ألقاه إليه وأن يبينه له ويفسره ويوضحه فالحالة الأولی جمعه في صدره والثانية تلاوته والثالثة تفسيره وإيضاح معناه ولهذا قال تعالی لا تحرك به لسانك لتعجل به أي بالقرآن كما قال تعالی ولا تعجل بالقرآن من قبل أن يقضی إليك وحيه وقل رب زدني علما ثم قال تعالی إن علينا جمعه أي في صدرك وقرآنه أي أن تقرأه فإذا قرأناه أي إذا تلاه عليك الملك عن اللّٰه تعالی فاتبع قرآنه أي فاستمع له ثم اقرأه كما أقرأك ثم إن علينا بيانه اي بعد حفظه وتلاوته نبينه لك ونوضحه ونلهمك معناه علی ما أردنا وشرعنا قال الإمام أحمد 1 343 حدثنا عبد الرحمن عن أبي عوانة عن موسی بن أبي عائشة عن سعيد بن جبير عن ابن عباس قال كان رسول الله صلی الله عليه وسلم يعالج من التنزيل شدة فكان يحرك شفتيه قال فقال لي ابن عباس أنا أحرك شفتي كما كان رسول الله صلی الله عليه وسلم يحرك شفتيه وقال لي سعيد وأنا أحرك شفتي كما رأيت ابن عباس يحرك شفتيه فأنزل الله عز وجل لاتحرك به لسانك لتعجل به إنا علينا جمعه وقرآنه قال جمعه في صدرك ثم تقرأه فإذا قرأناه فاتبع قرآنه أي فاستمع له وأنصت ثم إن علينا بيانه فكان بعد ذلك إذا انطلق جبريل قرأه كما أقرأه وقد رواه البخاري 4928ومسلم 248من غير وجه عن موسی بن أبي عائشة به ولفظ البخاري 4929فكان إذا أتاه جبريل أطرق فإذا ذهب قرأه كما وعد الله عز وجل قال ابن أبي حاتم حدثنا أبو سعيد الأشج حدثنا أبو يحيی التيمي حدثنا موسی بن أبي عائشة عن سعيد بن جبير عن ابن عباس قال كان رسول اللّٰه صلی اللّٰه عليه وسلم إذا أنزل عليه الوحي يلقی منه شدة وكان إذا نزل عليه عرف في تحريكه شفتيه يتلقی أوله ويحرك به شفتيه خشية أن ينسی أوله قبل أن يفرغ من آخره فأنزل اللّٰه تعالی لا تحرك به لسانك لتعجل به وهكذا قال الشعبي والحسن البصري وقتادة ومجاهد والضحاك وغير واحد إن هذه الآية نزلت في ذلكوقد روى ابن جرير من طريق العوفي عن ابن عباس لا تحرك به لسانك لتعجل به قال كان لا يفتر من القراءة مخافة أن ينساه فقال اللّٰه تعالی لا تحرك به لسانك لتعجل به إن علينا جمعه أن نجمعه لك وقرآنه أن نقرئك فلا تنسیوقال ابن عباس وعطية العوفي ثم إن علينا بيانه تبيين حلاله وحرامه وكذا قال قتادة

These verses are an instruction from God Almighty to His Messenger (sws) about the mode of acquiring the revelation from the angel. This is because he showed haste in acquiring it and vied with the angel in reciting it. So, the Almighty directed him that when the angel came to him with a revelation, he was to listen to him and the Almighty Himself will be responsible for gathering it in his heart and make it easy for him to pronounce it the way it has been revealed to him and that He will explain and elucidate it for him. Thus the first phase is collection in his heart, the second phase is his recital and the third phase is its explanation and the elucidation of its meanings. For this reason it was said: لِتَعْجَلَ بِهِ لاَ تُحَرّكْ بِهِ لِسَانَكَ. [the antecedent of the pronoun in بِه] is the Qur'an. A verse of similar meaning is: وَلاَ تَعْجَلْ بِالْقُرْءانِ مِن قَبْلِ إَن يُقْضَی إِلَيْكَ وَحْيُهُ وَ قُلْ رَبِّ زِدْنِي عِلْمًا. [In the next verse:] إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا جَمْعَهُ وَقُرْآنَه the word jam'ahu means "[collect it] in your heart" and qur'anahu means "so that you can read it." [The words] فَإِذَا قَرَأْنَاهُ mean: "When the angel reads it out to you from the Almighty فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْءانَهُ ie. listen to it and then read it the way he read it to you." [The verse:]إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا بَيَانَهُ ثُمَّ means: "After you have memorized it and read it, We will explain it to you and reveal its meanings to you in accordance with our intent and what We want to make as law." Imam Ahmad has narrated: " 'Abd al-Rahman has narrated to me from Ibn Abi Awanah who reports from Musa ibn Abi 'A'ishah who reports from Sa'id ibn Jubayr who reports from Ibn 'Abbas that the Prophet would feel the burden of a revelation and would move his lips. Sa'id said: 'Ibn 'Abbas said to me: I move my lips the way the Prophet moved them and Musa ibn Abi 'A'ishah said that Sa'id said: I move my lips the way I saw Ibn 'Abbas moving them. At this, the Almighty revealed:إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا جَمْعَهُ وَقُرْآنَهُ لَا تُحَرِّكْ بِهِ لِسَانَكَ لِتَعْجَلَ بِه.The word jam'ahu means collection in your heart then you can read it. [The words:] فَإِذَا قَرَأْنَاهُ فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْآنَه mean listen to it and remain silent. [ثُمَّ إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا بَيَانَهُ:] So afterwards, when Gabriel went away, he would read the way he had read it to him." Al-Bukhari and Muslim have recorded this through some variants from Musa ibn Abi 'A'ishah and the words recorded by al-Bukhari are: "When Gabriel would come, he would remain silent and when he would go away, he would read it the way the Almighty promised him." Ibn Abi Hatim said: "Abu Sa'id al-Ashaj narrated to us that Abu Yahya al-Taymi narrated to us that Musa ibn Abi 'A'ishah reported to us from Sa'id ibn Jubayr who reported from Ibn 'Abbas: 'When a revelation would descend on the Prophet (sws), he would feel distressed and the effects of this revelation would be evident on him as his lips would move and he would move his lips fearing that he might forget its initial part before Gabriel would finish it. At this, the Almighty revealed لَا تُحَرِّكْ بِهِ لِسَانَكَ لِتَعْجَلَ بِه.'" Similarly, al-Sha'bi, al-Hasan al-Basri, Qatadah, Mujahid and al-Dahhak and others are of the opinion that this verse was revealed for the reason stated. Ibn Jarir has narrated a report in which al-'Awfi reports from Ibn 'Abbas that لَا تُحَرِّكْ بِهِ لِسَانَكَ لِتَعْجَلَ بِه [refers to the fact] the Prophet would not stop reciting [the Qur'an] fearing that he might forget it. At this, the Almighty revealed لَا تُحَرِّكْ بِهِ لِسَانَكَ لِتَعْجَلَ بِه إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا جَمْعَهُ: ie "We will collect it for you." وَقُرْآنَهُ: ie "We will read it to you such that you will not forget it." ثُمَّ إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا بَيَانَهُ: ie "An explanation of what is allowed in the Qur'an and what is forbidden." Similar is what Qatadah has said.

[13]. The jarh on Muhmmad ibn Humayd and Mihran ibn Abi 'Umar has already been pointed out earlier.

[14]. The jarh on Sufyan ibn Waki' has already been pointed out earlier.

[15]. The jarh on the narrators of this chain has already been mentioned earlier.

[16]. Al-Tabari has not mentioned his informant from al-Husayn.

[17]. 'Ali ibn Abi Talhah has not heard tafsir from Ibn 'Abbas (rta). He has heard it through Mujahid who heard it from Ibn 'Abbas (rta). See: Al-Dhahabi, Mizan al-i'tidal, vol. 5, 163; Wali al-Din Ahmad ibn 'Abd al-Rahim al-'Iraqi, Tuhfah al-tahsil fi dhikr al-ruwat al-marasil (Riyad: Maktabah al-Rushd, 1999), 234.

[18]. The jarh on the narrators of this chain has already been mentioned earlier.

[19]. The jarh on Muhmmad ibn Humayd and Mihran ibn Abi 'Umar has already been pointed out earlier.

[20].Abu Ja'far al-Tusi, Al-Tibyan fi tafsir al-Qur'an, vol. 10, 195-197.It may be noted that he has not cited the the isnad of the narratives he has referred to, contrary to the citation done by al-Tabari.

[21]. He refers to the couplet of 'Amr ibn Kulthum quoted earlier in which the word qara'a is used in this meaning.

[22]. Al-Zamakhshari, Al-Kashshaf, vol. 4, 662.

[23]. Al-Razi, Al-Tafsir al-kabir, vol. 30, 197-199.

[24]. The Qur'an 87:5.

[25].The couplet has been referred to earlier as:

ذراعي عيطل أدماء بكر

هجان اللون لم تقرأ جنينا

[26].Besides a few others,al-Razi has also quoted an interpretation of this verse attributed to al-Qaffal. According to al-Qaffal, these verses relate to the Hereafter when disbelievers would be chastened to not move their tongues swiftly to read out the account of their deeds from the account register referred in اِقۡرَاۡ کِتٰبَکَؕ کَفٰی بِنَفۡسِکَ الۡیَوۡمَ عَلَیۡکَ حَسِیۡبًا (read your book [of accounts]; enough for you this day is that your own soul should call you to account. (17:14)). For details see: Al-Razi, Al-Tafsir al-kabir, vol. 30, 197.

[27]. Ibn Kathir, Tafsir al-Qur'an al-'Azim, vol. 4, 450.

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