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al-Muhkam wa 'l-Mutashabih

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


Translator’s Note: The following work is variously known as Risalat al-Muhkam wa ‘l-Mutashabih and attributed to the Twelver scholar Sharif al-Murtada and as Tafsir an-Nu`mani attributed to the student of al-Kulayni, Muhammad b. Ibrahim b. Ja`far an-Nu`mani.  The work appears to be composite, the preliminary introduction possibly being from al-Murtada, while the remainder of the work being the narration of an-Nu`mani’s Tafsir, whether partially quoting it or completely not being known.  The work however is simply a narration of an-Nu`mani's and not his own composition, as it is in the form of a lengthy discourse largely composed of narrations on the authority of Amir al-Mu’mineen عليه السلام about various aspects of the Quran, elucidating on numerous important topics regarding it.  The narration of said tafsir goes as follows: an-Nu`mani from Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Sa`id b. `Uqda from Ahmad b. Yusuf b. Ya`qub al-Ju`fi from Isma`il b. Mihran from al-Hasan b. `Ali b. Abi Hamza from his father `Ali b. Abi Hamza from Isma`il b. Jabir who is reporting from Imam as-Sadiq عليه السلام who in turn will narrate the teachings of Amir al-Mu'mineen عليه السلام which form the bulk of the text.  The work has come quoted in al-Majlisi’s Bihar al-Anwar (vol 90, pages 1-97) from which we have reproduced it here.


الحمد لله العدل ذي العظمة والجبروت، والعز والملكوت، الحي الذي لا يموت: ومبدئ الخلق ومعيده ومنشئ كل شئ ومبيده، الذي لم يلد ولم يولد، ولم يكن له كفوا أحد واحد لا كالاحاد، الخالي من الانداد، لا إله إلا هو راحم العباد،


Praise be to Allah, the just, possessor of might and power, and of glory and the kingdom, the living who does not die, the initiator of the creation and its restorer and the composer of everything and its destroyer, the one who did not beget and was not begotten, and to whom there is no equal, unique not like the singularities, without any peers, there is not god but He the mercy-giver of the servants. 


وصلى الله على نوره الساطع وضيائه اللامع، محمد نبيه وصفيه وعروته الوثقى ومثله الاعلى المفضل على جميع الورى، وعلى أخيه ووصيه ووارث علمه وآيته العظمى، وعلى آله الائمة المصطفين، وعترته المنتجبين المفضلين على جميع العالمين، مصابيح الدجى، وأعلام الهدى، وسفن النجاة الذين قرنهم الله بنفسه ونبيه، حيث يقول جل ثناؤه: " أطيعو الله وأطيعوا الرسول واولي الامر منكم " (1) فدل سبحانه وأرشد إليهم


And may Allah bless His shining light and brilliant luminescence, Muhammad His prophet, and His close friend and His strongest bond, and His highest example, favored over all of mankind, and upon his brother and wasi, and the inheritor of his knowledge, and His greatest sign, and upon his family, the chosen Imams, and his progeny who are chosen (and) preferred over all the worlds, the lamps (in) darkness, the signs of guidance, the ships of salvation, those whom Allah linked to Himself and His Prophet when He, glorified be His praise, says “Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and the possessors of the command (ulu ‘l-amr) from you” (an-Nisa: 59), so He, be He glorified, indicated and guided to them. 


فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وآله " إني مخلف فيكم ما إن تمسكتم به لن تضلوا: الثقلين كتاب الله وعترتي، فان ربي اللطيف الخبير أنبأني أنهما لن يفترقا حتى يردا علي الحوض "


So the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله said “I am leaving in you that which if you hold on to it you will not be misguided: the two weighty things (ath-thaqalayn), the Book of Allah and my progeny, for my Lord, the subtly kind, the all-aware, informed me that they would never separate until they return to me at the Pool.” 


وقال أمير المؤمنين علي بن أبي طالب عليه السلام في خطبة له: ألا إن العلم الذي هبط به آدم من السماء إلى الارض، وجميع ما فضلت بن النبيون في عترة خاتم النبيين.


And Amir al-Mu’mineen `Ali b. Abi Talib عليه السلام said in a sermon of his “Indeed the knowledge that Adam descended with from Heaven to the Earth, and all that the prophets were favored with, is in the progeny of the seal of the prophets.” 


واعلم يا أخي وفقك الله بما يرضيه بفضله وجنبك ما يسخطه برحمته أن القرآن جليل خطره عظيم قدره ولما أخبرنا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله: أن القرآن مع أهلبيته، وهم التراجمة عنه المفسرون له وجب أخذ ذلك عنهم ومنهم،


And know, O my brother, may Allah grant you success in what pleases Him by His grace and keep you away from what angers Him by His mercy, that the Quran is majestic in its significance, magnificent in its importance, and when the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله informed us that the Quran is with his Ahl al-Bayt and they are the interpreters of it and the commentators of it (then) it is obligatory to take that from them and of them. 


قال الله تعالى " فاسئلوا أهل الذكر إن كنتم لا تعلمون " (2) ففرض جلت عظمته على الناس العلم والعمل بما في القرآن فلا يسعهم مع ذلك جهله، ولا يعذرون في تركه


Allah تعالى  said “So ask the people of the remembrance (ahl adh-dhikr) if you do not know” (an-Nahl: 43, al-Anbiya: 7), so He, glorified be His majesty, ordained upon mankind knowing and acting by what is in the Quran, so with that they are not permitted to be ignorant of it, and they are not excused to abandon it. 


وجميع ما أنزله في كتابه عند أهل بيت نبيه الذين ألزم العباد طاعتهم، وفرض سؤالهم، والاخذ عنهم، حيث يقول: " فاسئلوا أهل الذكر إن كنتم لا تعلمون " فالذكر ههنا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله قال الله تعالى: " قد أنزل الله إليكم ذكرا رسولا يتلوا عليهم آياته " (3) الآية، وأهل الذكر هم أهل بيته،


And all that He revealed in His book is with the Ahl al-Bayt of His Prophet to whose obedience He obligated upon the servants and ordained their questioning and taking from them when He says “So ask the people of the remembrance if you do not know.”  So the remembrance here is the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله.  Allah تعالى  said “Allah has sent down to you a remembrance, a messenger, reciting to you His signs” (at-Talaq: 10), to the end of the ayat.  And the people of the remembrance are his Ahl al-Bayt. 


ولما اختلف الناس في ذلك أنزل الله تعالى " ثم أورثنا الكتاب الذين اصطفينا من عبادنا " (4) فلم يفرض على عباده طاعة غير من اصطفاه وطهره دون من وقع منه الشك أو الظلم ويتوقع فالويل لمن خالف الله تعالى ورسوله وأسند أمره إلى غير المصطفين


And when the people differed in that, Allah تعالى  revealed “Then We bequeathed the Book to those whom We have chosen of Our servants” (Fatir: 32).  So he did not ordain upon his servants obedience to someone whom He has not chosen and purified apart from one (?) from whom occurs doubt or wrongdoing and it is expected (?).  So woe be to whoever opposes the ruling of Allah تعالى  and His Messenger and bases his affair upon one who was not of the chosen.


قال الله تعالى " ويوم يعض الظالم على يديه يقول ياليتني اتخذت مع الرسول سبيلا " (5) فالسبيل ههنا أمير المؤمنين صلوات الله عليه " يا ويلتى ليتني لم أتخذ فلانا خليلا * لقد أضلني عن الذكر بعد إذ جائني " والذكر ههنا أمير المؤمنين صلوات الله عليه " وقال الرسول يا رب إن قومي اتخذوا هذا القرآن مهجورا " (6) فالقرآن ههنا إشارة إلى أمير المؤمنين صلوات الله ثم وصف الائمة عليهم السلام


Allah تعالى said “Upon the day the evildoer shall bite his hands, saying, 'Would that I had taken a way along with the Messenger!” (al-Furqan: 27) So the way here is Amir al-Mu’mineen صلوات الله عليه.  “Alas, would that I had not taken So-and-so for a friend!  He indeed led me astray from the Remembrance, after it had come to me.”  (al-Furqan: 28-29)  So the Remembrance here is Amir al-Mu’mineen صلوات الله عليه.  “The Messenger says, 'O my Lord, behold, my people have taken this Quran as a thing to be shunned.'”  (al-Furqan: 30)  So the Quran here is an indication to Amir al-Mu’mineen صلوات الله then it describes the Imams عليهم السلام.


فقال تعالى: " التائبون العابدون الحامدون السائحون الراكعون الساجدون الآمرون بالمعروف والناهون عن المنكر والحافظون لحدود الله " (1) ألا ترى أنه لا يصلح أن يأمر بالمعروف إلا من قد عرف المعروف كله حتى لا يخطأ فيه، ولا يزل لا ينسى، ولا يشك، ولا ينهى عن المنكر إلا من عرف المنكر كله وأهله، ولا يجوز لاحد أن يقتدي ويأتم إلا بمن هذه صفته، وهم الراسخون في العلم، الذين قرنهم الله بالقرآن، وقرن القرآن بهم،


So He تعالى  said “Those who repent, those who worship, those who pray, those who journey, those who bow, those who prostrate themselves, those who command to the good and forbid evil, those who keep Allah's bounds” (at-Bara’a: 112)  Do you not see that it is not appropriate that one command to the good except for one who knows the good, all of it, so that he might not make a mistake in it, and never be one to forget, nor doubt?  And that one not forbid evil except for one who knows evil, all of it, and its people, and that it is not permitted to anyone to emulate and follow anyone but the one who has this attribute?  And they are the firm in knowledge (ar-rasikhun fii ‘l-`ilm) whom Allah has linked to the Quran and linked the Quran to them.


قال أبو عبد الله محمد بن إبراهيم بن جعفر النعماني رضي الله عنه في كتابه في تفسير القرآن: حدثنا أحمد بن محمد بن سعيد بن عقدة قال: حدثنا أحمد بن يوسف بن يعقوب الجعفي عن إسماعيل بن مهران، عن الحسن بن علي بن أبي حمزة، عن أبيه عن إسماعيل بن جابر قال: سمعت أبا عبد الله جعفر بن محمد الصادق عليه السلام يقول: إن الله تبارك وتعالى بعث محمدا فختم به الانبياء فلا نبي بعده، وأنزل عليه كتابا فختم به الكتب، فلا كتاب بعده، أحل فيه حلالا، وحرم حراما، فحلاله حلال إلى يوم القيامة، وحرامه حرام إلى يوم القيامة، فيه شرعكم، وخبر من قبلكم، وبعدكم.


 Abu `Abdillah Muhammad b. Ibrahim b. Ja`far an-Nu`mani said in his book regarding the tafsir of the Quran: Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Sa`id b. `Uqda narrated to us.  He said: Ahmad b. Yusuf b. Ya`qub al-Ju`fi narrated to us from Isma`il b. Mihran from al-Hasan b. `Ali b. Abi Hamza from his father from Isma`il b. Jabir.  He said: I heard Abu `Abdillah Ja`far b. Muhammad as-Sadiq عليه السلام saying: Allah تبارك وتعالى sent Muhammad and sealed the prophets by him, so there is no prophet after him.  And He revealed a book to him and sealed the books by it, so there is no book after it.  He made halal in it a halal and made haram a haram, so its halal is halal until the day of the resurrection and its haram is haram until the day of the resurrection.  In it He legislated to you, and He informed about prior to you and after you. 


وجعله النبي صلى الله عليه وآله علما باقيا في أوصيائه، فتركهم الناس، وهم الشهداء على أهل كل زمان، وعدلوا عنهم، ثم قتلوهم واتبعوا غيرهم، وأخلصوا لهم الطاعة، حتى عاندوا من أظهر ولاية ولاة الامر، وطلب علومهم،


And the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله made it a lasting sign in his awsiya, but the people left them.  And they are the witnesses upon the people of every time.  They abandoned them, then killed them, and followed (people) other than them, and dedicated obedience to them until they opposed those who made apparent walaya to the wulat al-amr, and they sought their knowledge.


قال الله سبحانه: " فنسوا حظا مما ذكروا به ولا تزال تطلع على خائنة منهم " (2) وذلك أنهم ضربوا بعض القرآن ببعض، واحتجوا بالمنسوخ، وهم يظنون أنه الناسخ واحتجوا بالمتشابه وهم يرون أنه المحكم، واحتجوا بالخاص وهم يقدرون أنه العام، واحتجوا بأول الآية، وتركوا السبب في تأويلها، ولم ينظروا إلى ما يفتح الكلام وإلى ما يختمه، ولم يعرفوا موارده ومصادر، إذ لم يأخذوه عن أهله، فضلوا وأضلوا،


Allah سبحانه said “and they have forgotten a portion of that they were reminded of; and thou wilt never cease to light upon some act of treachery on their part” (al-Ma’ida: 13).  And that is that they struck some of the Quran by some (of it), and advanced the abrogated as an argument while they supposed that it is the abrogrator, and advanced the mutashabih as an argument while they considered it to be the muhkam, and the advanced the specific as an argument while they supposed that it is the general, and they advanced the beginning of the ayat as an argument while they abandoned the reason of its explanation, and they did not look to what opens the speech and to what ends it, and they do not know its  ways and sources, when they have not taken it from its people.  So they have gone astray and lead astray. 


واعلموا رحمكم الله أنه من لم يعرف من كتاب الله عزوجل الناسخ من المنسوخ والخاص من العام والمحكم من المتشابه والرخص من العزائم والمكي والمدني، وأسباب التنزيل، والمبهم من القرآن في ألفاظه المنقطعة والمؤلفة، وما فيه من علم القضاء والقدر، والتقديم والتأخير، والمبين والعميق، والظاهر والباطن والابتداء والانتهاء، والسؤال والجواب، والقطع والوصل، والمستثنى منه والجاري فيه، والصفة لما قبل مما يدل على ما بعد، والمؤكد منه، والمفصل وعزائمه ورخصه، ومواضع فرائضه وأحكامه، ومعنى حلاله وحرامه الذي هلك فيه الملحدون، والموصول من الالفاظ والمحمول على ما قبله، وعلى ما بعده، فليس بعالم بالقرآن، ولا هو من أهله، ومتى ما ادعى معرفة هذه الاقسام مدع بغير دليل، فهو كاذب مرتاب، مفتر على الله الكذب ورسوله، ومأويه جهنم وبئس المصير.


And know, may Allah have mercy on you, that whoever does know the abrogated and the abgrogator from the book of Allah عزوجل, and the specific from the general, and the muhkam from the mutashabih, and the permissions from the determined, and the Meccan from the Medinan, and the reasons for the revelation, and the obscure from the Quran in its interrupted and composed (?) expressions, and what is in it of the knowledge of the qada and the qadr, and the preceding and the delaying, and the clear and the deep, and the outer and the inner, and the commencing and the concluding, and the question and the answer, and the severing and the connecting, and the exceptive from it and the flowing (?) in it, and the attribute for what is before from what indicates upon what is after, and the emphasized from it, and the joined (or, articulated) and its determined and its permissions, and the places of its obligations and its rules, and the meaning of its halal and its haram in which the godless are destroyed, and expressions that are connected and the carried upon what is prior to it, and upon what is after it, then, he is not an `alim of the Quran, and he is not of its people.  And whenever he claims to have understanding of these divisions it is a claim without proof, so he is a suspicious liar, slandering the lie against Allah and His Messenger, and his dwelling is Jahannam and a wretched destiny.


ولقد سأل أمير المؤمنين صلوات الله عليه شيعته عن مثل هذا، فقال: إن الله تبارك وتعالى أنزل القرآن على سبعة أقسام كل منها شاف كاف، وهي أمر، وزجر وترغيب، وترهيب، وجدل، ومثل، وقصص. وفي القرآن ناسخ ومنسوخ ومحكم ومتشابه، وخاص وعام، ومقدم ومؤخر، وعزائم ورخص، وحلال وحرام، وفرائض وأحكام، ومنقطع ومعطوف ومنقطع غير معطوف وحرف مكان حرف


And his Shi`a asked Amir al-Mu’mineen صلوات الله عليه about the like of this, so he said “Allah تبارك وتعالى revealed the Quran upon seven parts, each of them is curative (or, clear) (and) sufficient, and they are a command, and a restraint, and an encouragement, and an intimidation, and a disputation, and an example, and a story.  And in the Quran is an abrogator and an abrogated, and a muhkam and a mutashabih, and a specific and a general, and an advanced and a delayed, and determined and permissions, and a halal and a haram, and obligations and rules, and a separated and joined and a separated not joined and a letter in place of a letter.


ومنه ما لفظه خاص، ومنه ما لفظه عام محتمل العموم، ومنه ما لفظه واحد ومعناه جمع، ومنه ما لفظه جمع ومعناه واحد، ومنه ما لفظه ماض ومعناه مستقبل، ومنه ما لفظه على الخبر ومعناه حكاية عن قوم آخر، ومنه ما هو باق محرف عن جهته، ومنه ما هو على خلاف تنزيله، ومنه ما تأويله في تنزيله، ومنه ما تأويله قبل تنزيله، ومنه ما تأويله بعد تنزيله.


And from it is that whose expression is specific.  And from it is that whose expression is general of general likelihood.  And from it is that whose expression is singular and its meaning is collective.  And from is that whose expression is collection and its meaning is singular.  And from it is that whose expression is past and its meaning is of the future.  And from it is that whose expression is a report and its meaning is anecdote of another people.  And from it is what is remaining distorted from its place.  And from it is what is opposite of its revelation.  And from it is that whose explanation is in its revelation.  And from it is that whose explanation is prior to its revelation.  And from it is that whose explanation is after its revelation.


ومنه آيات بعضها في سورة وتمامها في سورة اخرى، ومنه آيات نصفها منسوخ ونصفها متروك على حاله، ومنه آيات مختلفة اللفظ متفقة المعنى، ومنه آيات متفقة اللفظ مختلفة المعنى، ومنه آيات فيها رخصة وإطلاق بعد العزيمة، لان الله عزوجل يحب أن يؤخذ برخصه كما يؤخذ بعزائمه.


And from it are ayat whose part is in a sura and whose completion is in another sura.  And from it are ayat half of whom are abrogated and half of whom are abandoned upon its state.  And from it are ayat of differing of expression agreeing in meaning.  And from it are ayat agreeing in expression, differing in meaning.  And from it are ayat in which is permission and release after determination, for Allah عزوجل loves that His permission be taken as is taken His determinations.


ومنه رخصة صاحبها فيها بالخيار ، إن شاء أخذ ، وإن شاء تركها ، ومنه رخصة ظاهرها خلاف باطنها يعمل بظاهرها عند التقية ولا يعمل بباطنها مع التقية ومنه مخاطبة لقوم والمعنى لآخرين ، ومنه مخاطبة للنبي صلى الله عليه واله ومعناه واقع على امته ومنه لا يعرف تحريمه إلا بتحليله ومنه ماتأليفه وتنزيله على غير معنى ما انزل فيه .


And from it is permission whose companion is at choice in it, if he wants he takes it, and if he wants he abandons it.  And from it is permission whose apparent (level) is different from its inner (level), it is acted upon during taqiyya and its inner (level) is not acted upon with taqiyya.  And from it is addressing to a people and the meaning is for others.  And from it is addressing to the Prophet صلى الله عليه واله and its meaning is actually upon his nation.  And from it is that whose forbiddance is not known but by its allowance.  And from it is that whose writing (?) and revelation is upon a meaning other than what it was revealed regarding.


ومنه رد من الله تعالى واحتجاج على جميع الملحدين والزنادقة والدهرية والثنوية والقدرية والمجبرة وعبدة الاوثان وعبدة النيران ، ومنه احتجاج على النصارى في المسيح عليه السلام ، ومنه الرد على اليهود ، ومنه الرد على من زعم أن الايمان لا يزيد ولا ينقص ، وأن الكفر كذلك ، ومنه رد على من زعم أن ليس بعد الموت وقبل القيامة ثواب وعقاب .


And from it is refutation from Allah تعالى and remonstration against all of the godless, the heretics, the dahriyya (who believe that time was God), the dualists, the qadiriyya (who believed man had absolute power and free will), the mujabbira (who believed in total compulsion and predestination), the idol worshippers and the fire worshippers.  And from it is remonstration against the Christians regarding the Messiah عليه السلام.  And from it is refutation against the Jews.  And from it is refutation against whoever who claims that iman does not increase nor decrease, and that kufr is likewise.  And from it is refutation against whoever claims that there is no reward or punishment after death and prior to the resurrection.


ومنه رد على من أنكر فضل النبي صلى الله عليه وآله على جميع الخلق ، ومنه رد على من أنكر الاسراء به ليلة المعراج ، ومنه رد على من أثبت الرؤية ، ومنه صفات الحق وأبواب معاني الايمان ووجوبه ووجوهه ، ومنه رد على من أنكر الايمان والكفر والشرك والظلم والضلال ، ومنه رد على من وصف الله تعالى وحده ، ومنه رد على من أنكر الرجعة ولم يعرف تأويلها ، ومنه رد على من زعم أن الله عز وجل لا يعلم الشئ حتى يكون ، ومنه رد على من لم يعلم الفرق بين المشية والارادة والقدرة في مواضع ، ومنه معرفة ماخاطب الله عزوجل به الائمة والمؤمنين .


And from it is refutation against whoever denies the superiority of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله over all of the creation.  And from it is refutation against whoever denies the isra during the night of the ascension.  And from it is refutation against whoever believes in the vision (of Allah by the eyes).  And from it is the attributes of the truth and the chapters of the meanings of iman and its obligation and its aspects.  And from it is refutation against whoever denies iman, kufr, shirk, wrongdoing, and misguidance.  And from it is refutation against whoever qualifies Allah تعالى and defines (or, limits) Him.  And for it is refutation against whoever denies the raj`a and does not recognize its explanation.  And from it is refutation against whoever claims that Allah عزوجل does not know something until it exists.  And from it is refutation against whoever does not know the difference between mashiyya and the irada and the qudra in places.  And from it is knowledge of what Allah عزوجل addressed the Imams and the believers.


ومنه أخبار خروج القائم منا عجل الله فرجه ، ومنه ما بين الله تعالى فيه شرائع الاسلام ، وفرائض الاحكام ، والسبب في معني بقاء الخلق ومعايشهم ووجوه ذلك ومنه أخبار الانبياء وشرائعهم وهلاك أممهم ، ومنه مابين الله تعالى في مغازي النبي صلى الله عليه وآله وحروبه ، وفضائل أوصيائي ، وما يتعلق بذلك ويتصل به .


And from it is news of the coming out of the Qa’im from us عجل الله فرجه.  And from it is what Allah تعالى stated in it of the laws of Islam, and the obligations of the rules.  And the reason for the remaining of the creation and their living and the aspects of that.  And from it is the news of the prophets and their laws and the destruction of their communities.   And from it is what Allah تعالى  has stated regarding the military campaigns of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله and his battles, and the virtues of his awsiya, and what is attached with that and connected with it.


(to be continued, in sha Allah)