AL-TANZIL
The
Revelation
 
[26:192]


Ibn Kathir on Calling People to Islam 
by Repelling Evil with Good and Winning the Hearts of Enemies

By Abu Amina Elias for FaithinAllah.org
Ibn Kathir writes in his commentary of the Quran:

Allah Almighty says:
وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ قَوْلاً مِّمَّن دَعَآ إِلَى اللَّهِ
Who is better in speech than he who invites to Allah. (41:33)
This means, he calls the servants of Allah to Him. And He says:

وَعَمِلَ صَـلِحاً وَقَالَ إِنَّنِى مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ
And does righteous deeds, and says, “I am one of the Muslims.”

This means he himself follows that which he says, so it benefits him as well as others. He is not one of those who enjoin good but do not do it themselves, or who forbid evil yet they do it themselves. He does good and avoids doing evil, and he calls people to their Creator, Blessed and Exalted. This is general in meaning and applies to everyone who calls people to what is good and is himself guided in what he says. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, is the foremost among people in this regard, as Muhammad bin Sirin, As-Suddi and Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said. It was also said that what was meant here is the righteous callers to prayer, as it was mentioned in Sahih Muslim:

الْمُؤَذِّنُونَ أَطْوَلُ النَّاسِ أَعْنَاقًا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَة
The callers to prayer will be the ones with the longest necks on the Day of Resurrection.
[Sahih Muslim, Book 4, Number 750]

In As-Sunan it is reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:
الْإِمَامُ ضَامِنٌ، وَالْمُؤَذِّنُ مُؤْتَمَنٌ، فَأَرْشَدَ اللهُ الْأَئِمَّةَ وَغَفَرَ لِلْمُؤَذِّنِين

The leader is a guarantor and the caller to prayer is in a position of trust. May Allah guide the leaders and forgive the callers to prayer.
[Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Book of Prayer, Number 207]

The correct view is that the Verse is general in meaning, and includes the callers to prayer and others. When this verse was revealed, the call to prayer had not been prescribed at all. The verse was revealed in Mecca, and the call to prayer was prescribed in Medina after the emigration, when it was shown to Abdullah bin Abd Rabbihi Al-Ansari in a dream. He told the Messenger of Allah about it, and he told him to teach it to Bilal, may Allah be pleased with him, who had a more beautiful voice, as we have discussed elsewhere. So the correct view is that the Verse is general in meaning, as Abdur-Razzaq said narrating from Ma’mar from Al-Hasan Al-Basri, who recited this Verse:

وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ قَوْلاً مِّمَّن دَعَآ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَعَمِلَ صَـلِحاً وَقَالَ إِنَّنِى مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ
Who is better in speech than he who invites to Allah and does righteous deeds, and says, “I am one of the Muslims.”

And he said:
هذا حبيب الله، هذا ولي الله، هذا صفوة الله، هذا خيرة الله، هذا أحب أهل الأرض إلى الله، أجاب الله في دعوته، ودعا الناس إلى ما أجاب الله فيه من دعوته، وعمل صالحاً في إجابته، وقال إنني من المسلمين، هذا خليفة الله

This is the beloved of Allah, this is the close friend of Allah, this is the chosen one of Allah, this is the most beloved of the all the people of earth to Allah. He responded to the call of Allah and called mankind to that to which he had responded. He did righteous deeds in response and said, “I am one of the Muslims.” This is Allah’s deputy (khalifah).

Then Allah Almighty says:
لاَ تَسْتَوِى الْحَسَنَةُ وَلاَ السَّيِّئَةُ
The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. (41:34)

This means there is a huge difference between them. And He says:
ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِى هِىَ أَحْسَنُ
Repel (the evil) with one which is better.

This means, “when someone does you wrong, repel him by treating him well.” As Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said:
ما عاقبت من عصى الله فيك بمثل أن تطيع الله فيه

There is no better punishment for one who has disobeyed Allah with regard to you, than your obeying Allah with regard to him.

Then Allah Almighty says:
فَإِذَا الَّذِى بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِىٌّ حَمِيمٌ

Then verily he between whom and you there was hostility will become as though he was a close friend.

This means, “if you treat well those who treat you badly, this good deed will lead to reconciliation, love and empathy, and it will be as if he is a close friend to you and he will feel pity for you and be kind to you.” Then Allah says:

وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ صَبَرُواْ
But none is granted it except those who are patient. (41:35)

This means no one accepts this advice and works according to it, except for those who can be patient in doing so, for it is difficult for people to do. And Allah says:

وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَآ إِلاَّ ذُو حَظِّ عَظِيمٍ
And none is granted it except the owner of the great portion.

This means one who has a great portion of happiness in this world and in the Hereafter. Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas explained this verse:

الله المؤمنين بالصبر عند الغضب والحلم عند الجهل والعفو عند الإساءة فإذا فعلوا ذلك، عصمهم الله من الشيطان وخضع لهم عدوهم كأنه ولي حميم
Allah commands the believers to be patient when they feel angry, to be forbearing when confronted with ignorance, and to forgive when they are mistreated. If they do this, Allah will save them from the Satan and subdue their enemies to them until they become like close friends.

Then Allah Almighty says:
وَإِمَّا يَنَزَغَنَّكَ مِنَ الشَّيْطَـنِ نَزْغٌ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللَّهِ
If an evil whisper from Satan tries to turn you away, then seek refuge in Allah. (41:36)

This means the devils among men may be deceived by your kind treatment of him, but the devils among the Jinn, when they insinuate their evil whispers they cannot be dealt with except by seeking refuge with the Creator Who gave them power over you. If you seek refuge with Allah and turn to Him, He will stop him from harming you and bring their efforts to futility. When the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, stood up to pray, he would say:

أَعُوذُ بِاللهِ السَّمِيعِ الْعَلِيمِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ، مِنْ هَمْزِهِ وَنَفْخِهِ وَنَفْثِه
I seek refuge in Allah the All-Hearing, All-Knowing, from the accursed Satan and his evil insinuations, breath and impurity.

We have already stated that there is nothing like this in the Qur’an, apart from the passage in Surat Al-A’raf, where Allah says:

خُذِ الْعَفْوَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْعُرْفِ وَأَعْرِض عَنِ الْجَـهِلِينَ – وَإِمَّا يَنَزَغَنَّكَ مِنَ الشَّيْطَـنِ نَزْغٌ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish. And if an evil whisper comes to you from Satan, then seek refuge with Allah. Verily, He is All-Hearer, All-Knower. (7:199-200)

And the passage in Surat Al-Mu’minun where Allah says:
ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِى هِىَ أَحْسَنُ السَّيِّئَةَ نَحْنُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يَصِفُونَ وَقُلْ رَّبِّ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ هَمَزَاتِ الشَّيـطِينِ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ رَبِّ أَن يَحْضُرُونِ

Repel evil with that which is better. We are Best-Acquainted with the things they utter. And say, “My Lord! I seek refuge with You from the whisperings of Satan. And I seek refuge with You, My Lord, lest they should come near me.” (23:96-98)
يقول عز وجل وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ قَوْلاً مِّمَّن دَعَآ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ أي دعا عباد الله إليه وَعَمِلَ صَـٰلِحاً وَقَالَ إِنَّنِى مِنَ ٱلْمُسْلِمِينَ أي: هو في نفسه مهتد بما يقوله، فنفعه لنفسه ولغيره، لازم ومتعد، وليس هو من الذين يأمرون بالمعروف ولا يأتونه، وينهون عن المنكر ويأتونه، بل يأتمر بالخير، ويترك الشر، ويدعو الخلق إلى الخالق تبارك وتعالى، وهذه عامة في كل من دعا إلى الخير، وهو في نفسه مهتد، ورسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أولى الناس بذلك؛ كما قال محمد بن سيرين والسدي وعبد الرحمن بن زيد بن أسلم، وقيل: المراد بها المؤذنون الصلحاء؛ كما ثبت في صحيح مسلم: المؤذنون أطول الناس أعناقاً يوم القيامة ، وفي السنن مرفوعاً: الإمام ضامن، والمؤذن مؤتمن، فأرشد الله الأئمة، وغفر للمؤذنين

والصحيح أن الآية عامة في المؤذنين وفي غيرهم، فأما حال نزول هذه الآية، فإنه لم يكن الأذان مشروعاً بالكلية؛ لأنها مكية، والأذان إنما شرع بالمدينة بعد الهجرة حين أريه عبد الله بن عبد ربه الأنصاري رضي الله عنه في منامه، فقصه على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فأمره أن يلقيه على بلال رضي الله عنه؛ فإنه أندى صوتاً؛ كما هو مقرر في موضعه، فالصحيح إذن أنها عامة؛ كما قال عبد الرزاق عن معمر عن الحسن البصري أنه تلا هذه الآية: وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ قَوْلاً مِّمَّن دَعَآ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ وَعَمِلَ صَـٰلِحاً وَقَالَ إِنَّنِى مِنَ ٱلْمُسْلِمِينَ فقال: هذا حبيب الله، هذا ولي الله، هذا صفوة الله، هذا خيرة الله، هذا أحب أهل الأرض إلى الله، أجاب الله في دعوته، ودعا الناس إلى ما أجاب الله فيه من دعوته، وعمل صالحاً في إجابته، وقال إنني من المسلمين، هذا خليفة الله

وقوله تعالى: وَلاَ تَسْتَوِى ٱلْحَسَنَةُ وَلاَ ٱلسَّيِّئَةُ أي: فرق عظيم بين هذه وهذه ٱدْفَعْ بِٱلَّتِى هِىَ أَحْسَنُ أي: من أساء إليك، فادفعه عنك بالإحسان إليه؛ كما قال عمر رضي الله عنه: ما عاقبت من عصى الله فيك بمثل أن تطيع الله فيه

وقوله عز وجل: فَإِذَا ٱلَّذِى بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِىٌّ حَمِيمٌ وهو الصديق. إذا أحسنت إلى من أساء إليك، قادته تلك الحسنة إليه إلى مصافاتك ومحبتك والحنو عليك، حتى يصير كأنه ولي لك حميم، أي: قريب إليك؛ من الشفقة عليك، والإحسان إليك، ثم قال عز وجل: وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلاَّ ٱلَّذِينَ صَبَرُواْ أي: وما يقبل هذه الوصية ويعمل بها، إلا من صبر على ذلك؛ فإنه يشق على النفوس، وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَآ إِلاَّ ذُو حَظٍّ عَظِيمٍ أي: ذو نصيب وافر من السعادة في الدنيا والآخرة، قال علي بن أبي طلحة عن ابن عباس في تفسير هذه الآية: أمر الله المؤمنين بالصبر عند الغضب، والحلم عند الجهل، والعفو عند الإساءة، فإذا فعلوا ذلك، عصمهم الله من الشيطان، وخضع لهم عدوهم كأنه ولي حميم. وقوله تعالى: وَإِمَّا يَنَزَغَنَّكَ مِنَ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنِ نَزْغٌ فَٱسْتَعِذْ بِٱللَّهِ أي: إن شيطان الإنس ربما ينخدع بالإحسان إليه، فأما شيطان الجن، فإنه لا حيلة فيه إذا وسوس إلا الاستعاذة بخالقه الذي سلطه عليك، فإذا استعذت بالله والتجأت إليه، كفه عنك، ورد كيده، وقد كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا قام إلى الصلاة يقول

Edited from:
http://www.faithinallah.org/ibn-kathir-calling-people-to-islam-by-repelling-evil-with-good/
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