In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 204 – 207 (Part 2)
“…when it is said to him, ‘Fear Allah,’ pride in the sins takes hold of him.” When the hypocrite, who deviates in his speech and deeds, is advised and commanded to fear Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, refrain from his evil deeds and adhere to the truth, he refuses and becomes angry and outraged, as he is used to doing evil. This ayah is similar to another ayah,
وَإِذَا تُتْلَى عَلَيْهِمْ ءَايَـتُنَا بَيِّنَـتٍ تَعْرِفُ فِى وُجُوهِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ الْمُنْكَرَ يَكَـدُونَ يَسْطُونَ بِالَّذِينَ يَتْلُونَ عَلَيْهِمْ ءَايَـتُنَا قُلْ أَفَأُنَبِّئُكُم بِشَرٍّ مِّن ذلِكُمُ النَّارُ وَعَدَهَا اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ
“And when Our clear ayaat are recited to them, you will notice a denial on the faces of the disbelievers! They are nearly ready to attack with violence those who recite Our ayaat to them. Say, ‘Shall I tell you of something worse than that? The Fire (of Hell) which Allah has promised to those who disbelieved, and worst indeed is that destination!” [Al-Hajj 22:72]
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala concludes the subject by saying, “Sufficient for him is Hellfire, and how wretched is the resting place.” The Fire is enough punishment for the hypocrite.
This is the punishment for the person who when he is told to fear Allah, he retorts. Ibn Mas’oud narrates: One of the worst sins is when a man says to his brother, “Fear Allah,” and he replies, “Worry about yourself.”
How many people warmly welcome advice? What is our reaction when we are told to correct our hijab, lower our gaze or be honest?
It is said that when ‘Umar radhiAllahu ‘anhu – one of the ten promised Jannah and the leader of the believers – was told to fear Allah, he would place his cheek on the ground.
Omar Suleiman comments: Advice must be given with the most beautiful of manners, but we have to learn to also accept advice.
When someone is told to fear Allah then the person should honor the Name and Status of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and submit. One should not go on arguing or misbehaving.
Ayah 207 – Exerting Oneself in the Way of Allah
After Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala described the evil characteristics of the hypocrites, He mentioned the good qualities of the believers, “And of the people is he who sells himself, seeking means to the approval of Allah.”
It is said that this ayah was revealed about Suhayb ibn Sinan Ar-Rumi. When Suhayb became a Muslim in Makkah and intended to migrate (to Madinah), the Quraysh prevented him from migrating with his money. They said that if he forfeits his property, he is free to migrate. He abandoned his money and preferred to migrate, and Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed this ayah about him.
‘Umar ibn Khattab and several other Companions met Suhayb close to the outskirts of Al-Madinah at Al-Harrah (flat lands with black stones). They said to him, “The trade has indeed been successful.” He answered them, “You too, may Allah never allow your trade to fail. What is the matter?” ‘Umar told him that Allah has revealed this Ayah (2:207) about him. It was also reported that Allah’s Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “The trade has been successful, O Suhayb!”
Suhayb willingly parted from his wealth so that he could be allowed to migrate to Madinah. How many times have we parted from all that we own, for the love of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala? Unfortunately when we are faced with a trying situation, we are the first ones to abandon Deen. We focus all our attention on the worldly matters than giving our best to Deen. Look at what people do after their children are born: they are looking for best schools to send their children to and not the best Qur’an teachers. When we are done with our studies, whether it’s women or men, we are eager to find jobs ASAP instead of giving a little time to studying Deen. When we are getting married, we are rushing to bazaars and bridal services instead of turning to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in need. When our wealth is restricted we stop spending in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala instead of cutting down on our expenditures.
Mus’ab ibn ‘Umair radhiAllahu ‘anhu was from a rich family but when he embraced Islam his mother deprived him of his inheritance. Mus’ab ibn ‘Umair did not even for once reconsider his decision. He was content with Islam because Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in the Qur’an, “Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties for (the price) that theirs shall be the Paradise…” [at-Tawbah 9: 111]
Selling oneself to Allah means surrendering to His commands. Such a person is free from desires and self-praise. He understands the greatest virtue is submitting to Allah’s pleasure. When he learns about what pleases Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, he gives up his desires and submits to Allah’s pleasure. He doesn’t say, “Why Allah? Why did you do this to me?” He is content with Allah’s decree.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala ends the address by saying, “And Allah is kind to (His) servants.”
Explaining Allah’s Name Ar-Ra’uf, Sister Jinan writes:
Ar-Ra’uf is “the One who has pity (on others), and pity is the intensification of mercy. Therefore it has the same meaning as raheem though in an intensified form…” (al-Ghazali).
So if Ra’uf is simply a more intensified form of mercy, what is the difference between Rahma and Ra’fa? Scholars have said that if a calamity hits you, one who is Merciful—Raheem—has mercy on you after that calamity. But Ra’uf is one who is so merciful, that His mercy extends before the calamity hits, and involves Him taking care of you and warning you so that a calamity does not hit.
Sheikh Ratib an-Nabulsi gives an example of a father who is protective of his children, and especially during the winter when he dresses them in warm clothes so that they do not suffer from the cold. That is ra’fa. Whereas a father whose heart aches because his child has become sick, and does everything to get the medicine to ease his child’s pain, is merciful—raheem. Imam al-Qushayri states that ra’fa is the highest form of mercy, where Allah protects His servants by warning them of the deeds that necessitate punishment.
It’s almost like Allah does not want us to have an ounce of doubt about His mercy toward us. His mercy is not only all-encompassing, with a special kind reserved for the believers, but He is telling us that His warnings to us, and His withholding from us is from an intense mercy. He does not want us to go through the hurt and pain had He not warned us.
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