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إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيْتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِي بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكاً وَهُدًى لِّلْعَالَمِينَ
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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
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-Âl ‘Imrân ( آل عمران )

Al Qushairi Tafsir

The first house established for the people was that at Bakka, a blessed place, and a guidance to all the worlds.
Therein are clear signs, the station of Abraham; and whoever enters it is secure. It is the duty of people toward 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 the worlds.
The House is a bit of stone (ḥajara) and the servant is a bit of mud (madara). The bit of mud is bonded to the bit of stone (rabaṬa al-madara bi-l-ḥajara), so that mud (madar) is with stone (ḥajar) and the One who has always been is magnified and sanctified.
It is said that the House is the object of the circumambulation of bodily selves (nufūs) while the Real (سبحانه) is the object of the quest of hearts (qulūb).
The House consists of the remains and traces [of the past]. These are but relics and stones yet These traces of ours point to us. So after we [are gone] look to the traces.
It is said that the House is stone but not all stone is alike. [It is] stone but it causes the hearts of the lovers to awaken (muzʿij) and the souls of the poor (fuqarāÌ) to leap (munfij). Indeed for the hearts of some it is cooling and pleasant (muthlij wa-mubhij) and for the hearts of others [it is] stimulating and arousing (munfij wa-muzʿij).
[What people see in the House depends on the] different types [of people]:
A House that is a place you go to seek out your loved ones and visit them (mazār), [or] where you hear news (akhbār) of them, and see the traces (āthār) [of their having been there]. A House-whoever looks to it with the eye of separation, returns with an innermost self laid waste (kharāb). Whoever observes it with the eye of connection wins every approach and approval (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 bodily self finds His kindnesses, and whoever visits it with his heart finds His unveilings. It is said that He said, “and purify My House” [2:125 and 22:26], attrib- uting it to Himself. But here He said, “the first house established for the people,” and this is part of the allusion to the source of gathering together (ʿayn al-jamʿ) [in this verse].
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 it, and they exert their utmost in the path to reach it. The House has not addressed anyone out of desire from the time that it was built, nor has it welcomed anyone as a favorite, nor sent anyone a line in a letter. If the House that He created from stone can be described with such majesty,142 what then do you think of the One to whom the House belongs? [The Prophet] ﷺ said, reporting from Him (سبحانه), “Grandeur is My cloak and Majesty is My covering.”
It is said that reaching the House ascribed to Him involves the crossing of [difficult] deserts and desolate regions (matāhāt). How, then, can you hope to reach the Lord of the House easily, without bearing hardships (mashaqqāt) and leaving comforts (rāḥāt) behind? It is said, “Do not attach your heart to the first house (awwal bayt) estab- lished for you, but rather devote your innermost self to the first Beloved (awwal ḥabīb) who chose you.”
It is said, “What a difference between a servant who remains in retreat (iʿtakafa) at the first house (awwal bayt) established for him and a servant who remains in the presence of the first Mighty One (awwal ʿazīz) to whom it belongs!”
It is said that the crowding of the poor (fuqarāÌ) by means of their aspi- rations (himam) around the House is not less than the crowding of those circumambulating on foot. The rich visit the House and circumambulate by foot while the poor are held back from it yet circumambulate it with their aspirations.
It is said that the Kaʿba is the House of the Real (سبحانه) in stone and the heart is the House of the Real (سبحانه) 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 nook [of the black stone] when I desire to touch it.
The subtleties (laṬāÌif) circumambulate the hearts of those who have deeper knowledge (ʿārifūn). The realities (ḥaqāÌiq) are in retreat 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 when He singles [the heart] out for the proclamation of unity (tawḥīd) and ecstasy (wajd).
A blessed place, and a guidance to all the worlds: Its blessings are the contact made with kindnesses and unveilings there. Whoever seeks it through his aspiration (himma) and makes it his quest (qaṣd)-[God] guides such a person to the path of right direction (rushd).
Therein are clear signs, but these signs are not perceived with the physi- cal eyes (abṣār) of the head but rather with the insights (baṣāÌir) of the heart. The station of Abraham, in the outward sense [of the phrase], is the place where his feet left an imprint, but the allusion here is to where the Friend (عليه السلام)stood with his aspirations (himam).
It is said that the nobility (sharaf) of the station of Abraham [refers to the way] it shows the trace (athar) of [the footprints of] Abraham and because the trace of the Friend (عليه السلام) possesses a weighty significance.
Whoever enters it is secure (kāna āminan): It is said that whoever enters the station of Abraham becomes and feels safe (kāna āminan), and the station of Abraham is surrender (taslīm). Whoever submits his affairs to God-no free choice (ikhtiyār) remains for him and he becomes and feels safe (kāna āminan). The opposite of feeling safe (āmin) is fear (khawf) and fear exists only when you do not get what you want (murād). When the servant has no desire (irāda) or choice (ikhtiyār), 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: whoever enters [God's] House-in truth-is secure. Therefore his entry should be characterized by good manners (adab). Without a doubt the good manners for entering the House are to surrender one's affairs to the Lord of the House. Those who do not surrender put themselves in an adversarial position in relation to the [divine] decree (taqdīr). Good man- ners for entering the House can only be through surrendering without resistance and strife; this refers back to the aforementioned meaning [of entering the station of Abraham].
If you take the allusion of the House to be the heart, then [it means that when] the authority of reality (sulṬān al-ḥaqīqa) enters someone's heart, that person is secure (amina) from the divisive inclinations of human nature and the anxious clamor of the lower self. Surely there is no danger for those who take refuge in the shade of the King.
It is said that entering the House, in truth, can only [take place] by abandoning yourself, for when you have left yourself behind, you will enter the House on a sound footing. When you abandon yourself, you will find security (aminta). It is said that entering His House will not be on a sound footing so long as you remain in your familiar territories and haunts, for a person cannot be in two places at the same time. Whoever enters the House of His Lord should abandon the familiar haunts of his lower self.
It is the duty of people toward God to make the pilgrimage to the House, if he is able to make his way there: The stipulation for the rich person is that he not hold back any of his wealth from the House. The stipulation for the poor person (faqīr) is that he not hold back even a breath of his spirit in reaching His House. It is said that “being able” is of different types: [The first type] is one who is able by means of his own self and his wealth-he is healthy and unimpaired. [The second type] is one who is able [only] through others- he is chronically ill and hungry. The third [type] is one to whom most pay no heed. He is able through his Lord-this is the quality of every sincere (mukhlaṣ) and true person (mutaḥaqqaq), for his burdens can only be born by [God's] mounts.
It is said that the pilgrimage to the House is a [conditional] obligation for those who have the [necessary] wealth, while the pilgrimage to the Lord of the House is an unqualified obligation for the poor (fuqurāÌ). This is because the path to the House might be blocked, but the path to the Lord of the House is never blocked: the poor person (faqīr) cannot be deprived of Him.
It is said that the pilgrimage is the quest (qaṣd) to the One who is mag- nified, but there are those who seek to visit the House by means of their bodily selves and those who seek to witness the Lord of the House by means of their hearts. What a difference between one pilgrimage and another! Some remove their iḥrām at the completion of the sacrifice and the performance of the acts fulfilling their obligation, while others remove their iḥrām at the witnessing of their Lord. Some pursue the quest through their bodily selves, entering into the consecrated state and leaving all that is designated as prohibited while in iḥrām, while others pursue the quest through their hearts, entering into the consecrated state of leaving behind familiar things and the witnessing of anything or anyone other [than God].
As for the one who disbelieves, God is independent of all the worlds: He has branded those who omit the pilgrimage to the House as disbelievers. Because of these words, the hearts of the scholars have fallen into the tur- moil of rational interpretation (taÌwīl). Then He said, “God is independent of all the worlds.” This is the intensification of a threat (ziyādat tahdīd) that indicates the intensification of a selection (ziyādat takhṣīṣ).
It is said that the way of the pilgrim to the House lies in the good man- ners (ādāb) of the pilgrimage: When someone knots the iḥrām in his heart, he must let go of every knot blocking him from this path (hātha al-Ṭarīq) and undo every resolve that keeps him from this task of realization (hātha al-taḥqīq). When he performs the ablution, he purifies himself from every bit of dirt from the traces of anything other [than God] with the water of embarrassment, then the water of shame (ḥayāÌ), then the water of fidelity (wafāÌ), and then the water of pure clarity (ṣafāÌ). When he takes off his robe, he takes off the clothing of his 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 without choice or opposition to wherever the Real would have him stand. When he stands at ʿAraf&#;t, he recognizes (ʿarafa) the Real (al-ḥaqq) and recognizes the right (ḥaqq) that belongs to Him most high over himself. He makes himself known (yataʿarrafa) to God most high by absolving himself of any strength and power (bi-tabarrīhi ʿan munnatihi wa-ḥawlihi), and the Real (سبحانه) makes Himself known (yataʿarrafa) to him with His grace and might (bi-minnatihi wa-Ṭawlihi). When he reaches the sacred waymark (al-mashʿar al-ḥarām) he remembers his Protector by forgetting himself-his remembrance of his Lord is not sound if at the same time he is remembering himself. When he reaches Minā he removes every request and desire, every passion and fancy, from his heart. When he throws the pebbles, he throws every attachment in this world and the next from his heart. When he sacrifices, he sacrifices his own whims entirely, and seeks approach to the Real (سبحانه) with [the sacrifice].
When he enters the ḥaram he resolves to distance himself from every prohibited thing (muḥarram) according to the language of the law (lisān al-sharīʿa) and allusion of true reality (ishārat al-ḥaqīqa). When his glance falls on the House, he witnesses the Lord of the House in his heart, and when he circumambulates the House, his innermost secret circles the dominion (malakūt). When he runs between ṣafā and Marwa, he purifies (ṣaffā) every bit of the turbidity of [his] mortal nature (bashariyya) and corruption of human nature (insāniyya). When he shaves his head, he cuts every attachment that remains to him. When he removes the iḥrām from himself and his journey to the House of his Lord, he renews [it with] a new iḥrām in his heart. Then, 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 the worlds. [The Prophet] ﷺ said, “The pilgrim has matted hair and is dusty”-those who have not actualized the perfection of humility and vanishing from oneself do not have matted hair and are not dusty.