Beginning of Tafseer
Praise be to the Lord of the worlds and benedictions on our Chief, Muhammad and his Progeny and peace be on them. So to say: Narrated to me Muhammad bin Ali bin Muhammad bin Ja’far bin Daqaaq (r.a.) from Shaykh Faqih Abul Hasan Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Ali bin Hasan bin Shazaan and Shaykh Faqih Abu Muhammad Ja’far bin Ahmad bin Ali Qummi (a.r.) from Shaykh Faqih Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Ali bin Husain bin Musa Ibn Babawayh Qummi (a.r.) from Abul Hasan Muhammad bin Qasim Astarabadi Mufassir (interpreter) and Khateeb (orator) from Abu Yaqoob Yusuf bin Muhammad bin Ziyad and Abul Hasan Ali bin Muhammad bin Sayyar both of Imamite faith, that: Our father belonged to Imamite faith and in those days Astrabad was overwhelmed by the Zaidiyyah sect and its ruler was Hasan bin Zaid the Alawid (from the dynasty of Imam Ali) entitled ad-Da’ee Ilal Haqq Imamuz Zaidiyyah (the inviter to the truth, the Imam of the Zaydites).
On many occasions, he used to hear the talks of Zaidiyyah and kill people on the basis of their backbiting. Seeing this situation, we feared for our lives, and so along with our family members, we went to Imam Abu Muhammad Hasan bin Ali bin Muhammad, that is, the honorable father of the Qa’im of Aal Muhammad (Imam Mahdi) (may Allah hasten his reappearance). After lodging our families in a rest house, we reached the house of Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) and sought permission to enter.
When his honor’s eyes fell on us, he exclaimed: ‘Welcome! O seekers of our protection who have resorted to us!’ Then, he said: ‘God has accepted the trouble taken by both of you and He has turned your fear into security and has pushed away your enemies from you.’
Then, addressing our fathers, he said: ‘Both of you may return to your native place where your lives and property will remain safe.’ We were very much surprised to hear these words though we had no doubt in his honor’s truthfulness. So we asked: ‘O Imam! What, after all, are you ordering? Should we again traverse the path and go back to the town from where we have fled?! How is it ever possible to do so? The ruler of that place is trying his best to apprehend us and has proposed strictest punishments for us.’
Hearing this, the Holy Imam told us: ‘Leave both of your sons with me, so that I may give them such a knowledge whereby God will make them prestigious and honorable. You need not worry about the words of the backbiters and their punishment. Almighty God will weaken them so much that, one day, they will appeal you to recommend for them to the man, due to whose fear you have run away.’
Abu Yaqoob and Abul Hasan, the narrators of Tafseer, say: ‘Our fathers accepted the order of the Holy Imam (a.s.) and, leaving both of us with the Imam (a.s.), returned to our native town. After their departure, we attended to the Holy Imam who behaved with us just like our own parents, grandparents and close relatives.
One day, he informed us: ‘When you get the news that Almighty Allah has saved your fathers from the evil of the enemies and has disgraced their ill-wishers as promised by me, I will, as a gesture of thankfulness to Almighty Allah, make you benefit from a Tafseer of the Quran containing some traditions of the Holy Prophet (S). Then Almighty Allah will raise your prestige and honor.’
Upon hearing this glad tiding, we became very much happy and told the Holy Imam: ‘O son of Allah’s Messenger, then we will know all the sciences of the Holy Quran and all of its meanings?’ His Eminence replied: ‘No, never. Just listen. Whatever I intend to teach is just as much as Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) had taught to one of his companions. That companion had become extremely pleased and said: O son of Allah’s Messenger, now I have learnt all the sciences of the Holy Quran. The Imam had told him: No doubt, you have collected a lot of good and have earned much grace. Yet, you have obtained only a very tiny portion of the Quranic Sciences, because the Lord Almighty has said in His Book:
قُل لَّوْ كَانَ الْبَحْرُ مِدَادًا لِّكَلِمَاتِ رَبِّي لَنَفِدَ الْبَحْرُ قَبْلَ أَن تَنفَدَ كَلِمَاتُ رَبِّي وَلَوْ جِئْنَا بِمِثْلِهِ مَدَدًا
Say: If the sea were ink for the words of my Lord, the sea would surely be consumed before the words of my Lord are exhausted, though We were to bring the like of that (sea) to add there to ( Surah Kahf 18:109)
The Almighty Lord says at another place in His Book:
وَلَوْ أَنَّمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ مِن شَجَرَةٍ أَقْلَامٌ وَالْبَحْرُ يَمُدُّهُ مِن بَعْدِهِ سَبْعَةُ أَبْحُرٍ مَّا نَفِدَتْ كَلِمَاتُ اللَّـهِ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ
And were every tree that is in the earth (made into) pens and the sea (to supply it with ink), with seven more seas to increase it, the words of Allah would not come to an end… (Surah Luqman 31:27)
Now, when the Quranic sciences and meanings and wonders which are kept therein as a trust are so many, just see, what is the quantity of what you have obtained from this great Book. It is, of course, true that God has, because of this, granted you superiority over one who does not equal you in this knowledge.
They (narrators) say: ‘We were yet in the presence of the Holy Imam when a messenger came to us with a message from our fathers wherein it was mentioned that Hasan bin Zaid, the ruler of Astrabad, had, due to backbiting from the Zaidis, killed a man and confiscated all his property.
Thereafter many Zaidis from all around the place wrote to the ruler books which, in addition to condemnations, contained these words: The murdered man was the best of all Zaidis on the earth and the backbiters had become his enemies only because they envied his wealth.
When the Alawid (ruler) knew this truth, he thanked all, then issued orders to cut off the noses and ears of the envious backbiters. Some of those backbiters submitted to the command and some ran away to other places.
Then the Alawid ruler regretted much his earlier misdeeds and repented before God. He spent a lot of money in God’s path and returned all the confiscated wealth to the heirs of the wrongly murdered man.
He also gave them multiple blood-monies and requested the heirs to forgive the blood. They replied: We give up the blood-money, but the forgiving of the blood (life) is not in our hands; that only the murdered man has the say in this matter and that God is the Judge.
Thereafter, the said Alawid ruler made a covenant with God that he would never interfere with anyone because of his faith. In addition to all this, it was also mentioned in the letter that: The “Da’ee Ilal Haqq” has sealed the letter personally with his hand and informed us that: I have given you security and now all of your property will be returned to you and all of your losses would be made good.
So, now, we are returning to our city to demand fulfillment of his promise. The Holy Imam said: God’s promise is always true. Ten days after the arrival of the said letter, we got another letter from our fathers mentioning that the “Da’ee Ilal Haqq” had fulfilled all his promises and we have been asked to keep to the blessed Imam of true promise.
The Holy Imam said: Now has come the time to fulfill my promise about teaching you the Tafseer of the Holy Quran. I have now decided to fix a daily period for this purpose. Accordingly, you should be present here prepared to write down what I dictate. God will grant you a goodly reward because of this. Then the Holy Imam, first of all, dictated to us some traditions showing the excellences of the Quran and Muslims. Then he dictated to us the Tafseer which took seven years. What we wrote in the beginning was:
Tradition: The Imam (a.s.) said: Narrated to me my father Ali bin Muhammad (a.s.) from his father Muhammad bin Ali (a.s.) from his father Ali bin Musa (a.s.) and from his father Ja’far as-Sadiq bin Muhammad (a.s.) from his father Muhammad al-Baqir bin Ali (a.s.) from his honorable father Imam Zainul Aabideen Ali bin Husain (a.s.) from his father the chief of martyrs, Husain bin Ali (a.s.) from his father Ameerul Mo’mineen, the successor of the Holy Prophet (S), the gate of the Prophet’s city of knowledge and wisdom and the legatee of the Prophet (S) that according to him, the Prophet of Allah (S), the intercessor on the Judgment Day said:
“Those, who have memorized the Holy Quran, are especially connected with the Mercy of God and they have been touched by the radiance of the Almighty, and those who teach the Holy Quran are proximate to God. Those, who befriend them, befriend God and one who is their enemy is enemy of God. God removes the world’s sorrows and hardships from those who listen to the Holy Quran and He removes the troubles of the Hereafter from those who recite the Holy Quran.
I tell you, swearing by Him, in Whose power is the life of Muhammad that if the listener of one verse of the Holy Quran believes that Muhammad, to whom this holy Book has been revealed, is true in all of his words and is wise in all of his deeds and that all sciences entrusted to him by God through this Quran have been entrusted by him to Amirul Momineen Ali and if he also believes that he (Ali) is his true follower in each and every matter, then such a person will earn more reward than one who spends a bag full of gold coins in the path of God but has no belief as mentioned above.
Rather, the spending by such a fellow will turn into trouble for him. One who recites one verse of the Holy Quran having the above-mentioned belief, his rank is higher than that of one who may have everything from the earth to the sky and spends all of it for God’s sake, but does not have the abovementioned belief. Rather all this spending of that fellow will cause hardship for himself.
Then he said: O people! Do you know when the reciter or the listener of it (holy verse) gets the said rewards fully? Only when he does not add anything to the Quran from himself nor removes anything from it by himself, and also if he does not make (recitation) a source of income and also if he does not recite it for making a show.
The Holy Prophet (S) also added: It is absolutely obligatory and a must for you to remain in contact with the Holy Quran, because it is a beneficial healing and a bountiful remedy. The holy Book is the protector of one who follows its commands. It gives salvation to one who obeys it. The Quran has no crookedness requiring straightening nor is it wayward, calling for returning to the true path. Its miracles are never ending.
It does not get old and weak by repeated continuous recitation and constant usage. Undoubtedly, Allah grants the reward of ten good deeds for reciting each letter of its text. I do not mean to say that the recitation of Alif Laam Meem will get the reward of ten good deeds. One shall get the reward of ten good deeds for every letter, ten for Alif, ten for Laam and ten for Meem.
Then he averred: Do you know who is the one having such connection with the Holy Quran and getting such excellence? He is one who obtains the explanation and knowledge of the Quran from us, the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), our representatives, who are intermediaries between us and our Shias and who are aware of our commands.
He is not one who obtains such knowledge from disputers and their opinions and from imaginations of imaginers. If one interprets the Quran on the basis of his own opinions, and if it is accidentally correct, even then he committed an act of ignorance in getting it from an unqualified one. It is like one who travels through a forest full of wild animals without a guard.
Now, even if he reaches his destination safely, sensible people will surely say that he has done a foolish thing which is indeed condemnable. If that fellow is killed and devoured by wild animals, then his destruction is a foregone conclusion in the view of both the knowledgeable as well as the ignorant. If one who explains the meanings of the Quran on the basis of his opinion and is wrong in his assertion, he reserves his seat in Hell. His case is like a fellow who embarks on a voyage without the help of a sailor. Everyone who hears about his drowning will say that he deserves it.
The Holy Prophet (S) said: Almighty Allah has bestowed the greatest bounty on one to whom He has given the knowledge of the Quran and its meaning. Now if one, whom God has granted this bounty, imagines that Allah has given excellence over him to a person who is devoid of the said knowledge, then he minimizes or lowers the value of God’s bounty, because Allah says in the verse:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ قَدْ جَاءَتْكُمْ مَوْعِظَةٌ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ وَشِفَاءٌ لِمَا فِي الصُّدُورِ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةٌ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ
قُلْ بِفَضْلِ اللَّهِ وَبِرَحْمَتِهِ فَبِذَٰلِكَ فَلْيَفْرَحُوا هُوَ خَيْرٌ مِمَّا يَجْمَعُونَ
O men! There has come to you indeed an admonition from your Lord and a healing for what is in the breasts and a guidance and a mercy for the believers. Say: In the grace of Allah and in His mercy - in that they should rejoice; it is better than that which they gather. Surah Yunus 10:57-58
Explaining the meaning of this verse, the Holy Prophet (S) said that here, ‘Grace of God’ means the Quran and its explanation, and ‘mercy’ means the love to Muhammad and his progeny and the enmity towards their enemies.
Thereafter, Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) said: Almighty Allah will give many people, due to their knowledge of the Quran and its meanings and to their love for us and their enmity towards our enemies such greatness that they will be guides for others in doing good. People will follow them. Their deeds shall be ideals for people. Angels will wish to befriend them. They (the angels) will touch them with their wings and send blessings and salutations on them. Everything, dry or wet, so much so, that even the fish in the sea and ants, insects, and animals and the sky and the stars, all will pray for their forgiveness.
After narrating this tradition, Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) added: The statement that God has ordered to recite before starting the Quran is:
اَعُوْذُ بِاللّهِ السَمِيع العَلِيم مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ
A’OODHU BILLAAHIS SAMEE’IL ALEEM MINASH SHAITAANIR RAJEEM
“I seek refuge in the All-hearing and All-knowing Allah from the accursed Satan.”
Amirul Mo’mineen (a.s.) explains the meaning of it like this: ‘A’oodhu billaah’ means “I seek Allah’s protection Who hears all the open and secret talks of the good as well as evil persons, and Who knows all the deeds of the good and the evil persons and is also aware of all past and future things, from condemned Satan, who is far away from every good thing. ‘Rajeem’ means that Satan has been stoned and driven away from every good position.
This seeking of Allah’s protection from Satan (Isti’athah) is that which Almighty Allah has commanded His people at the reciting of the Quran. He says:
فَإِذَا قَرَأْتَ الْقُرْآنَ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللَّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ
إِنَّهُ لَيْسَ لَهُ سُلْطَانٌ عَلَى الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ
إِنَّمَا سُلْطَانُهُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ يَتَوَلَّوْنَهُ وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ بِهِ مُشْرِكُونَ
So when you recite the Quran, seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Shaitan. Surely he has no authority over those who believe and rely on their Lord. His authority is only over those who befriend him and those who associate others with Him. Surah Nahl 16:98-100
Almighty Allah raises to permanent success and welfare one who adorns himself with divine disciplines and morals, and one who hears divine orders and follows them and gets the good of both worlds.
After this speech, the Holy Imam (a.s.) asked us: Would you like me to narrate to you some traditions? We replied: Please do. He said: Then the Holy Prophet (S) built his masjid (mosque) in Medina and kept the door of his house open into the mosque and when the Muhajireen and the Ansar also opened their doors towards it, Almighty Allah desired to manifest the excellence of Muhammad and his progeny (a.s.).
So Jibraeel (Gabriel) came with this divine command to the Holy Prophet (S): O Muhajireen and Ansar! All of you close your doors to the Messenger’s mosque before divine punishment befalls you. When this command came, first of all, the Holy Prophet (S) sent a message to his uncle Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib, asking him to close his door. He replied: I abide willingly by the order of God and His messenger.
Then, Abbas (r.a.) passed by Her Eminence, Fatima (a.s.) who was sitting with her sons Hasan and Husain (a.s.) at her door. So he said: O Fatima! How is it that you are sitting here like a lioness with her cubs? Do you think that the Holy Prophet (S) may drive away his uncle from the mosque and allow his cousin Ali (a.s.) there?! At that very moment, the Holy Prophet (S) came there and asked his dearest daughter: Why are you sitting here? Fatima (a.s.) replied: I am just waiting for your orders to close my door. The Holy Prophet (S) replied: Almighty Allah has ordered the closing of all doors of the Muhajireen and the Ansar, but exempted His messenger, and there is no doubt that you are also the self of the messenger.
Thereafter, Umar bin al-Khattab came and said: I like it very much to observe you offering Prayer. Kindly allow me to retain a hole into the masjid, so that I may continue seeing you. The Holy Prophet (S) replied: Allah does not allow it. Umar repeated: If it is not admissible, then at least, permit me to put my face on it.
The reply was: Allah does not allow that also. Then he requested for allowing a tiny hole as much as a needle point. The Holy Prophet (S) said that it was not agreeable to Allah. He (the Prophet) said: I swear by the One in Whose power is the life of Muhammad, it is not I who has kept you out of the masjid and kept Muhammad and Ali in it. But it is only Allah Who has admitted them and ousted you.
Then the Holy Prophet (S) said: It is not befitting for one who has faith in God and the Hereafter to pass the night in this mosque while being ritually impure (without taking bath (ghusl) after sex). But the Prophet Muhammad, Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husain (a. s.) are exceptionally permitted.
The Imam (a.s.) said: the believers were pleased with this order, but the hypocrites became furious and began to tell one another: See how Muhammad always grants excellence to his cousin, Ali, and denies us any excellence. We swear by Allah that even if we have to obey him during his lifetime, we will certainly disobey after his death. Abdullah bin Ubayy, who was hearing these talks, was sometimes showing his anger and sometimes controlling his dislike. He was telling them: Muhammad is God-worshipper.
Beware and never show enmity to him, because whoever shows enmity to a God-worshipper becomes weak and degraded and his life becomes listless. Wise is he, who controls his feelings and waits for an opportune time. At that time, one of the believers, Zaid bin Arqam, passed by.
He said, “O enemies of God! Do you falsify God and taunt His true messenger and create misunderstandings about His religion?! By God, I will tell the Holy Prophet (S) of this. Abdullah bin Ubayy and his fellowmen retorted: O Zaid: If you do that, we will falsify you and take false oath. When we do this, the Prophet will believe us. Thereafter, we will bring such a witness that will result in your execution or amputation of your limbs or flogging.
Finally, Zaid bin Arqam (r.a.) narrated the whole matter to the Holy Prophet (S). At that moment, Allah Almighty revealed this verse:
وَلَا تُطِعِ الْكَافِرِينَ
Do not obey the unbelievers.
Who openly deny you in the matter of what you call them to. You have invited them to believe in Allah Almighty and to befriend you and your friends and to have enmity to your enemies.
And the hypocrites…
Simply: And O Muhammad! Also do not obey those hypocrites, who openly obey you, but secretly oppose you.
And disregard their annoying talk. Surah Ahzaab 33:48
Simply: Leave aside their harms, that is, whatever harm you and your family members (Ahlul Bayt) get from them, may be ignored.
وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّـهِ
And rely on Allah Surah Ahzaab 33:48
Simply: Rely on Allah in the matter of fulfilling your duty as the messenger and in establishing your arguments, because a believer is one who puts forth his arguments of Faith even if he is suppressed in this world, as the Hereafter has been reserved for him. The only aim of a faithful person in bearing and suffering troubles in this world is to gain permanent bounties of Paradise. You, your progeny, your companions and your Shias have this virtue.
When this verse was revealed, the Holy Prophet (S) ignored the harm which he had received from the hypocrites. He told Zaid (r.a.): If you desire to be protected from their harmful plots, recite the following du’a everyday early in the morning:
اَعُوْذُ بِاللّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ
A’OODHU BILLAAHI MINASH SHAITAANIR RAJEEM
By the blessing of these words, Almighty Allah will protect you from their evil. No doubt, these hypocrites are like devils, who talk flatteringly to deceive. But if you want to be protected from drowning, fire and loss of property, recite this supplication every morning:
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ - لا يَصْرِفُ السُّوءَ إِلاَّ اللَّه بِسْمِ اللَّهِ مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ لا يَسُوقُ الْخَيْرَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ بِسْمِ اللَّهِ مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ، مَا يَكُونُ مِنْ نِعْمَةٍ فَمِنَ اللَّهِ، بِسْمِ اللَّهِ مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ- لا حَوْلَ وَ لا قُوَّةَ إِلاَّ بِاللَّهِ الْعَلِيِّ الْعَظِيمِ بِسْمِ اللَّهِ مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ [وَ] صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِهِ الطَّيِّبِينَ.
Translation: In the Name of Allah, as Allah willed – None removes the troubles except Allah. In the Name of Allah, as Allah willed. None sends any good except Allah. In the Name of Allah, as Allah willed, there is no power and strength except with Allah, the High and Mighty. In the Name of Allah, as Allah willed, and may Allah bless Muhammad and his pure progeny.
One, who recites this prayer thrice in the morning, will be protected from drowning, burning and theft, until the evening, and if one recites it in the evening, he will be safe from these calamities until the morning next.
Then the Holy Prophet (S) said: Every year during the Hajj, al-Khidhr and Ilyas (a.s.) meet one another, and when they depart, they recite this Du’a, and this is the habit of my Shias. And at the time of the reappearance of the Qa’im of Aal Muhammad (Imam Mahdi) (may Allah hasten his reappearance), these words shall differentiate my friends and foes.
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) said: When the Holy Prophet (S) ordered his uncle Abbas (r.a.) and other companions to close their doors to the mosque and allowed Ali (a.s.) to keep his door open, Abbas (a.s.) and others came to him and said: O Prophet of God! How is it that Ali continues to pass through this mosque?!
The Holy Prophet (S) replied: This is only God’s will. You must abide by it. Jibraeel has brought revelation in this matter. Then the condition of the Holy Prophet (S) changed, as it often happened when Gabriel came down to him with the divine revelation.
When he became normal, he said: O Abbas! O uncle of the Messenger of Allah! Jibraeel informs me from Almighty Allah that Ali will not depart from me in my loneliness and that he will be my companion even when I am in alien land. So, I too may not separate him from my mosque.
O My uncle! If you could see Ali (a.s.) when he was confronting my enemies by sleeping in my bed to protect my life and was very pleased to be killed by the disbelievers, you would have realized how much grace he deserves from me and how much from Almighty Allah.
As Ali (a.s.) became distinct from all others by sleeping in my bed during the night of migration, and thus, distinguishing himself from all others by sacrificing his life for the sake of the life of Allah’s Messenger, God also made him distinct from all others in the matter of passing through the mosque of the messenger.
O uncle! Had you seen how lofty is the rank of Ali in the sight of God and also in the eyes of the close angels in the higher world, you would consider his greatness and superiority in this world very insignificant.
O My uncle! Never allow any ill will towards Ali be in your heart; otherwise, you will become like your brother, Abu Lahab, as you both are full brothers. O uncle! If all the residents of the earth and the sky become enemies to Ali, Allah Almighty will destroy them all and hurl them into Hell. If all the infidels love Ali, God will better their Hereafter due to that love by first giving them the good sense to become faithful and make them enter the fragrant gardens of Paradise.
O uncle! The greatness of Ali is very high. His condition is bright and his importance is great. When the love for Ali shall be put in the balance against one’s good deeds, it (the former) will prove heavier. Likewise, if one’s enmity for Ali is compared with one’s sins (evil deeds), the former shall bee heavier.
When Abbas (r.a.) heard such excellences of Ali (a.s.) from the Holy Prophet (S), he said: O Allah’s Messenger, I am pleased to accept and submit. Then the Holy Prophet (S) asked him: Just look at the sky and tell me what you see? Abbas (r.a.) replied: O Allah’s Messenger, I can see the clean and bright sun which has appeared in the clean and pure sky.
The Holy Prophet (S) said: O Abbas, O uncle of the Prophet, the goodness of your acceptance of the excellence given by God to Ali is greater and better than this sun which is in the sky, and so the bounties granted to you by God, because of your acceptance, are more higher than the bounties due to which vegetables, grains and fruits grow in the sunlight, which also ripens them.
O uncle! As a result of your acceptance of the said single excellences of Ali, many holy angels have befriended you, whose number is more than the drops of rain and the leaves of trees and the particles of sand and the hair of animals and the kinds of vegetables and the steps of human beings and their breaths, words and looks.
All these angels pray: O Allah, pour Mercy on Your Messenger’s uncle, Abbas, who believed in the excellence of his (the Prophet) brother Ali. O uncle, thank God and praise Him as He raised your rank making your position great in the heavens.