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إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيْتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِي بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكاً وَهُدًى لِّلْعَالَمِينَ
فِيهِ ءَايَٰتٌ بَيِّنَـٰتٌ مَّقَامُ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ وَمَن دَخَلَهُ كَانَ آمِناً وَللَّهِ عَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ حِجُّ ٱلْبَيْتِ مَنِ ٱسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلاً وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ ٱلله غَنِيٌّ عَنِ ٱلْعَٰلَمِينَ
-Âl ‘Imrân ( آل عمران )

Al Qushairi Tafsir

[3:96-97] The first house established for the people was that at Bakka, a blessed place, and a guidance to all worlds. * Therein are clear signs, the station of Abraham; and whoever enters it is in security. It is the duty of people towards God to make the pilgrimage to the House, if he is able to make his way there. As for the one who disbelieves, God is Independent of all worlds.
The House is a stone and the worshiper is a clod of earth. The clod of earth has become connected to the stone, so the clay is with the stone and the One Who has always been (man lam yazal) is magnified and sanctified.
It is said the House is the object of circumambulation of the lower selves (nufūs) while the Real (s) is the object sought by hearts.
The House is remains and vestiges, which are only tracings and stones but
These traces of ours
point to us.
So after we [are gone]
look to the traces.
It is said the House is stone but not all stone is alike. It is stone but for the hearts of the lovers it is a source of restlessness, and for the souls of the poor (fuqarāÌ) it is something to boast about. Indeed for the hearts of some people it is cooling and pleasant and for the hearts of others it is agitating and elevating.
They are of different types [in what they see in the House]:
A house that is the place sought and visited by lovers. Before it one hears reports of them and witnesses their traces. A house - whoever looks to it with the eye of separation (tafriqa), returns with a ruined innermost self (sirr). Whoever observes it with the eye of connection (i?āfa) wins every approach (taqrīb) and affirmation (ījāb). As it is said:
Truly houses,
even when they are silent,
have a pact with Our lovers
since they stop at them.
A house - whoever visits it with his lower self (nafs) finds His kindnesses (al?āf), and whoever visits it with his heart (qalb) finds His unveilings (kushūfāt).
It is said He said: and purify My House [2:125 and 22:26], attributing it to Himself. But here He said the first house established for the people, and in this is a bit of an allusion to the source of gathering together (ʿayn al-jamʿ).
It was named 'Bakka' because of its being crowded with people. Everyone vies with one another in rushing to it and they are crowded together in circumambulating around it, and they exert their utmost in the path to reach it.
The House has not addressed anyone out of desire since it was built. Nor has it welcomed anyone as a favorite, nor sent anyone a line in a letter. If the house was that which He created from stone, this is its description in majesty. What then do you think of the One to Whom the House belongs? [The Prophet] (ṣ) said, reporting from Him (s), 'Grandeur is My cloak and Majesty is My covering'.
It is said that since the House has been ascribed to Him, you will not reach it from any side without crossing deserts and desolate regions. How can you hope to reach the Lord of the House in a leisurely manner without bearing hardships and leaving comforts behind?
It is said don't attach your heart to the first house established for you, but rather devote your innermost self (sirr) to the first Beloved Who chose you.
It is said 'What a difference between a servant who devotes himself to the first house established for him and a servant who keeps constant company with the first Mighty One to whom it belongs!'
It is said that the crowding of the poor (fuqarāÌ) by means of their aspirations around the House is not less than the crowding of those circumambulating by means of their feet. The rich visit the House and circumambulate by their feet while the poor (fuqarāÌ) stand back from it and circumambulate around it by their aspirations.
It is said the Kaʿba is the House of the Real (s) in stone and the heart is the House of the Real (s) in the innermost self. Their speaker said:
I am not
among the group of lovers if
I do not make the heart
His house and station.
And my circumambulation is the circling of the innermost self in it.
It is my pillar
when I desire to touch [the stone].
The subtleties (la?āÌif) circumambulate the hearts of those who have mystical knowledge (ʿārifūn). The realities (ḥaqāÌiq) are secluded in the hearts of those who declare His Unity (muwaḥḥidūn). The Kaʿba is what the servant seeks in pilgrimage and the heart is what the Real seeks by His singling it out for proclaiming unity (tawḥīd) and ecstasy (wajd).
A blessed place, and a guidance to all the worlds: Its blessings are connected to the kindnesses (al?āf) and unveilings (kushūfāt). Whoever seeks it through his aspiration and makes it his quest - He guides such a one to the path of his rectitude.
Therein are clear signs, but these signs are not perceived with the eyes (abṣar) of heads but with the insights (baṣāÌir) of hearts. The station of Abraham, in the outward sense, is the place where his feet left an imprint. In the allusion it is where the Friend (ʿa) stood with his aspirations.
It is said that the nobility of the station of Abraham [by the Kaʿba] is because it is the trace (athar) of [the footprints of] Abraham, and the trace of the Friend (ʿa) has a weighty significance.
Whoever enters it is in security: It is said whoever enters the station of Abraham is in security (āmin), and the station of Abraham is surrender (taslīm). No free choice remains for one who submits his affairs to God and he is in security. The opposite of security is fear and fear exists only when what your desire is not obtained. When the servant has no desire or choice, how can he be described as having fear?
It is said that the third person pronoun in His saying enters it refers to the House, so 'whoever enters His house' in truth is in security. This is due to the fact that its being entered will be with the quality of refined behavior (adab). Without a doubt, the refined behavior for entering the House is to surrender affairs to the Lord of the House. Those who do not follow this surrendering (taslīm) are adversaries to [God's] determination and decree (taqdīr). On the contrary, the refined behavior for entering the House can only be entering in surrender without resistance and strife, so it goes back to the aforementioned meaning.
If you make the allusion of the House to be the heart, then [it means that when] the authority (sul?ān) of reality (ḥaqīqa) enters someone's heart, that person is secure from the inclinations of human nature (bashariyya) and the false notions (hawājis) of the clamor of the lower self (nafs). Surely no danger can come to those who take refuge in the shade of the King.
It is said entering the House, in truth, can only be with your leaving yourself, for when you have left yourself, your entering the House will be appropriate and good. When you have left yourself, you will be secure.
It is said entering His house is not appropriate and good so long as you remain in your familiar territories and haunts, for one person cannot be in one circumstance in two places. It is more fitting that whoever enters the House of His Lord leave the familiar haunts of his lower self.
It is the duty of people towards God to make the pilgrimage to the House, if he is able to make his way there: The stipulation for the rich person is to not hold back any of his wealth from the House, and the stipulation for the poor person (faqīr) is to not hold back a breath of his spirit in reaching His House.
It is said 'being able' is of different types: The one who is able by means of his lower self (nafs) and his wealth is the sound and healthy. The one who is able [only] through others is the chronically ill and hungry. The third is one to whom most pay no heed. He is able by means of his Lord and this is the quality of every sincere and actualized one, for his tribulations can only be born by Our mounts.
It is said the pilgrimage to the House is an obligation for those who possess wealth, while the pilgrimage to the Lord of the House is an obligation on the poor (fuqurāÌ) - an unalterable obligation. The path to the House might be blocked, but the path to the Lord of the House is never blocked and the poor person (faqīr) cannot be barred from the Lord of the House.
It is said the pilgrimage is the quest (qaṣd) to that which one magnifies, so there are those who seek to visit the House by means of their lower selves, and there are those who seek to witness the Lord of the House by means of their hearts. What a difference between one pilgrimage and another! These remove their iḥrām at the completion of the sacrifice and the performance of the acts fulfilling their obligation, while these remove their iḥrām at the witnessing of their Lord. As for those who seek through their lower selves, they enter into the consecrated state, leaving all that is designated as prohibited for the iḥrām, while those who seek by their hearts enter into the consecrated state leaving familiar things (musākanāt) and the witnessing of anything other and all humankind.
As for the one who disbelieves, God is independent of all worlds: He assigned the mark of disbelief upon those who omit the pilgrimage to the house. Because of these words, the hearts of the scholars have fallen into the turmoil of rational interpretation (taÌwīl). Then He said: God is independent of all worlds. The threat is intensified by being made more specific.
It is said the way one makes pilgrimage to the House is based on the refined behaviors (ādāb) of the pilgrimage: When someone knots the iḥrām in his heart, he must let go of every knot blocking him from this way and undo every resolve that keeps him back from this realization. When he performs the ablution, he purifies himself from every bit of dirt from the traces of others (aghyār) with the water of embarrassment, then the water of shame, then the water of fidelity, and then the water of pure clarity. When he takes off his robe, he takes off every bit of clothing he has in blameworthy characteristics. When he calls out labbayka, not one hair on his body should remain that has not already responded to God. When he reaches the place of standing, he stands with his heart and his innermost self where the Real has made him stand without choice in the station, and without opposition to the selecting. When he stands at ʿArafāt, he has recognizes (ʿarafa) the Real (al-ḥaqq) and recognizes the right (ḥaqq) over his soul that belongs to Him Most High. He acknowledges (yataʿarrafa) his lack of strength and power to God Most High and the Real (s) makes his grace and might known to him. When he reaches the Sacred Waymark (al-mashʿar al-ḥarām) he remembers his Protector (mawlā) in forgetting himself - his remembrance of his Lord is not sound accompanied with remembrance of himself. When he reaches Minā he negates every request and desire, and every passion and fancy, from his heart. When he throws the pebbles, he throws every attachment in this world and the next. When he sacrifices, he sacrifices his own whims entirely, and approaches the Real (s) by [the sacrifice].
When he enters the ḥaram he resolves to distance himself from every prohibited thing according to the law (sharīʿa) and allusion of true reality (ḥaqīqa). When his glance falls on the House, he witness the Lord of the House in his heart, and when he circumambulates the House, his innermost secret walks about the dominion (malakūt).
When he runs between Ṣafā and Marwa, he purifies every bit of the turbidity of mortal nature (bashariyya) and human corruption. When he shaves his head, he cuts every attachment remaining to him. When he takes off the iḥrām from himself and his seeking the House of his Lord, he renews a new iḥrām in his heart. Just as he leaves the house of himself for the House of his Lord, he leaves the House of his lord for his Lord Most High.
Whoever completes his sacrifice acts only for the sake of his own soul. Whoever is lazy, God is independent of all worlds. [The Prophet] (ṣ) said: The pilgrim has matted hair and is dusty. One who has not actualized the perfection of yielding and melting from his totality is not matted in hair or dusty.