Sunday, August 14, 2011

Explanation of Ayat Al-Kursi

Ayat Al-Kursi: The Greatest Verse of al-Qur`ān.

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-`ālameen. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam is His Messenger.


Ubayy bin Ka`ab (radiyallāhu`anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) once said: “O Abu Mundhir (i.e., Ubayy)! Do you know what the greatest verse of the Qur`ān is?" He responded: “Allāh and His Messenger know best." Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) then asked (again): “O Abu Mundhir! Do you know what the greatest verse of the Qur`ān is?" He then responded: “Allāhu Lā Ilāha illā Huwal-Hayyul-Qayyūm.” [Al-Baqarah, 2:255] Thereupon, Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) tapped him on his chest and said: “O Abu Mundhir! May Allāh nourish you with knowledge!” [Muslim]

This āyah (verse), which is called ‘Ayat Al-Kursi” (the ‘Verse of the Footstool’), is the greatest of Qur`ānic verses and is often mistranslated as the ‘Verse of the Throne.’ Allāh has a Footstool and a Throne, and they are not one and the same thing. In an authentic Hadīth (prophetic statement), we find that the heavens and the earth’s are, compared to the Footstool, as a finger band (ring) is to the desert (i.e. in size), and that the Footstool is to the Throne as a finger band (ring) is to the desert. [Ibn Hibban]

Abu Umamah (radiyallāhu`anhu) reported that the Allāh's Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said, For whoever recites the verse of the throne (Ayatul Kursi, al-Baqarah,2: 255) at the end of every Solāh, nothing will prevent him from entering Paradise except that (he must) die (first).” (Related by An-Nasā`ie and at-Tabarāni.) 

`Ali bin Talib (radiyallāhu`anhu) reported that the Allāh's Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam), said, “Whoever recites the verse of the throne (Ayatul Kursi, al-Baqarah,2: 255) at the end (after) of every obligatory Solāh will be in Allāh`s protection until the next Solāh.” This is related by at-Tabarani with a hassan chain. 

The Ayah

The English transliteration of the verse:

 “Allāhu Lā ilāha illā Huwa Al Hayyu Al-Qayyūm; Lā ta’khuzuhu sinatuw wa lānawm; Lahu mā fissamāwāti wa mā fil-ardh; Man zallazzī yashfa`u `indahu illā bi `iznihi; Ya’lamu mā bayna aidīhim wa mā khalfahum; Wa lā yuhītūna bi shai`in min `ilmihi illā bima shā’; wasi`a Kursiyyuhus-samūwāti wal-ardh; Wa lā yaūduhu hifzuhuma; Wa huwal-`aliyyul-`adzīm.

 (Allāh - there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.)”

 [Al-Baqārah, 2:255]


Ayat Al-Kursi is recited by Muslims after obligatory Solāh, before going to bed etc. “It contains Allah's Greatest Name…for His Sustenance and Protection.” [At-Tirmidzi]. It has ten complete sentences:

(1)  “Allāhu Lā ilāha illā Huwa (Allāh – there is no deity except Him)."   

Allāh begins this magnificent verse speaking of Himself. ‘Allāh’ is the greatest of Allāh’s Names. He is the Lord and God and has the Most Superior Names and Attributes. The scholars differ about the construction and definition of this auspicious and beautiful word. However, they all unanimously agree that this name must not be disrespected in the least.

The name ‘Allāh’ had never been used by anyone, neither in the pre-Islamic period, nor for centuries after the advent of Islam, to describe a person. It is only recently that some have had the audacity to call themselves Allāh, viz. the so called ‘Nation of Islam’, the 'Five Percenters', and others. There have been others throughout history who have claimed to be Allāh, or to possess His attributes, or have taken for themselves some of His other names like Ar-Rahmān (The Most Merciful) or Al-Hāqq (The Truth) but never, until recently, have people gone so far as to take the name Allāh for themselves.

Throughout revelation, it is often repeated that Allāh is the only one to be worshipped. Perhaps the most referenced in this regard is that which means: “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” [Al-Dhariyat, 51:56]

(2) “Al-Hayy Al-Qayyūm (The Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence).” 

These two names of Allāh are paired together in three different places in the Qur`ān [2:225, 3:2, and 20:111]. One shows the perfection of the attributes themselves and the other shows the perfection of the actions of Allāh. Al-Hayy signifies the possessor of complete life - which means Eternal, Self-subsisting, Independent, and Everlasting. Al-Qayyūm means that Allāh stands and exists on His own. He is Self-Subsisting and the Sustainer of all creations. He has no beginning and no end. Abu Umāmah (radiyallāhu`anhu), a companion of the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said that if one was to mention these two names in our supplications, they will never be rejected. 

(3)  “Lā ta’khuzuhu sinatuw wa lā nawm (Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleeps)." 

Allāh's Attributes of Thātiyyah (pertaining to Himself) are categorised into two types: the 'affirmed' and the 'negated'. These (slumber and sleep) are two qualities that He negates or denies for Himself. This confirms that He is Al-Hayy and Al-Qayyuum: The Forever Living, the Ever-Standing and the Eternal.

The wording and expression of this phrase shows the deep, immense and extreme wisdom of Allāh. He is Al-`Alīm: the All-Knowing; Al-Hakīm: the All-Wise, and He could have Said 'Lā yanām' – meaning 'He does not sleep'. But Allāh did not use this wording, rather, He uses: Lā ta’khuthuhu sinatuw wa lā nawm (Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleeps)." This is because overtaking or seizure encompasses seizure by force and seizure by choice. If Allāh were to Say that He does not sleep, we already know that Allāh is not forced to go to sleep, but it could have been implied that Allāh, by His choice, does sleep; but these words confirm that He is not overtaken by sleep and nor does He choose to sleep. Neither by force nor by choice does Allāh ever sleep! 

Furthermore, the prelude to sleep (slumber, fatigue, drowsiness, etc), also do not seize or overtake Allāh. If Allāh were to have this quality, it would show a defect in Him (far Exalted and Sublime is He from that). As for humans, this quality is a physical necessity, for Allāh Says: “And [We] made your sleep [a means for] rest.” [Al-Naba’, 78:9]

As for Allāh, denying slumber and sleep for Himself is a demonstration of His perfection. 

(4) “Lahu mā fis-samāwāti wa mā fil-ardh (To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth).”

This phrase shows the tremendous Ownership of Allāh. Ownership is part of the belief of Allāh’s Lordship. Allāh owns everything absolutely, and what we possess is a trust from Him. 

Someone may say that he owns his limbs, but this is not absolute. For instance, we cannot look at whatever we want. We cannot touch whatever we wish. We cannot eat whatever we like, etc.

Allāh owns all that is wet and dry, high and low, visible and invisible, dead or alive – He owns everything. He owns the universe with no partners whatsoever. 

(5) “Man zāllazī yashfa`u `indahu illā bi `izhnih (Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission?)"

All humans, black or white, rich or poor, Muslim or non-Muslim, Arab or non-Arab, etc., will be restrained on the Day of Judgement, thereby, causing them to look for intercession with their Lord.

Intercession is a mercy from Allāh to His creatures – and something we should appreciate greatly. There are a lot of misconceptions prevalent about intercession, and the opportunity will not be taken at this time to address them. However, a few words will be mentioned about this divine act of compassion.

On The Day Of Judgement, only certain people will be able to intercede for others and they can only do this by Allāh’s permission: the Prophets, (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam), the pious, martyrs and angels. Not everyone can be interceded for: it is only Muslims who can be interceded for, regardless of who asks or wishes to ask for it. Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) will not be able to make a plea for his mother, nor Ibrāhīm (`alaihissalam) for his father, nor Nooh (`alaihissalam) for his son, etc.

The phrase: “Man zāllazī yashfa`u `indahu illā bi `iznih (Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His permission?)” is similar to His statements, “And there are many angels in the heavens, whose intercession will avail nothing except after Allah has given leave for whom He wills and is pleased with” [Al-Najm, 53:26], and, “They cannot intercede except for him with whom He is pleased” [Al-Anbiyā’, 21:28].

These ayat assert Allah's greatness, pride, and grace, and that no one dares to intercede with Him on behalf of anyone else, except by His permission. Indeed, the Hadith about the intercession, states that the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, “I will stand under the Throne and fall in prostration, and Allah will allow me to remain in that position as much as He wills. I will thereafter be told, "Rise your head, speak and you will be heard, intercede and your intercession will be accepted''. The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayi wasallam) then said, "He will allow me a proportion whom I will enter into Paradise.''”

(6). “Ya’ lamu mā baina aidīhim wa mā khalfahum” (He knows what happens to them (His creatures) in this world, and what will happen to them in the Hereafter)” this refers to His perfect knowledge of all creation; its past, present and future. Similarly, Allah said that the angels proclaimed; “And we (angels) descend not except by the command of your Lord (O Muhammad). To Him belongs what is before us and what is behind us, and what is between those two; and your Lord is never forgetful” [Maryam, 19:64].

 (7). “Wa lā yuhītūna bi shai`in min `ilmihi illā bima shā’ (And they will never compass anything of His Knowledge except that which He wills)”, asserts the fact that no one attains any part of Allah's knowledge except what Allah conveys and allows. This part of the ayah indicates that no one ever acquires knowledge of Allah and in His Attributes, except what He conveys to them. For instance, Allah said, “But they will never compass anything of His knowledge” [Ta Ha, 20: 110]. 

(8) “wasi`a Kursiyyuhus-samūwāti wal-ardh (His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth.)” Waki` narrated in his Tafsir that Ibn `Abbas (radiyallāhu`anhu) said, "Kursi is the footstool, and no one is able to give due consideration to [Allah's] Throne.'' Al-Hakim recorded this Hadith in his Mustadrak from Ibn `Abbas, who did not relate it to the Prophet. Al-Hakim said, "It is Sahih according to the criteria of the Two Sahihs, and they (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) did not record it.'' In addition, Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn `Abbas (radiyallāhu`anhu)  said, "If the seven heavens and the seven earths were flattened and laid side by side, they would add up to the size of a ring in a desert, compared to the Kursi.''
(9) Wa lā yaūduhu hifzuhuma (And He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them)” meaning, it does not burden or cause Him fatigue to protect the heavens and earth and all that is in between them. Rather, this is an easy matter for Him. Further, Allah sustains everything, has perfect watch over everything, nothing ever escapes His knowledge and no matter is ever a secret to Him. All matters are insignificant, modest and humble before Him. He is the Most Rich, worthy of all praise. He does what He wills, and no one can ask Him about what He does, while they will be asked. He has supreme power over all things and perfect alertness concerning everything. He is the Most High, the Greatest; there is no deity worthy of worship except Him, and no Lord other than Him.

(10) “Wa huwal-`Aliyyul-`azeem. (And He is the Most High, the Most Magnificent.)” is similar to His statement, “The Most Great, the Most Magnificent [Al-Ra’d, 13:9]. These and similar Ayat and authentic Hadiths about Allah's Attributes must be treated the way the Salaf (righteous ancestors) treated them by accepting their apparent meanings without equating them [with the attributes of the creation] or altering their apparent meanings.


[Via Islam Web December12, 2005 as excerpted from ‘Al-Huda Magazine’, Rabī’ul-Awwal 1415 A.H.]

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