We Revealed the Qur’an as a Muhaymin over the previous scriptures: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah says in surah al-Maa’idah:

وَأَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَمُهَيْمِنًا عَلَيْهِ

And We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a muhaymin over it… [5:48]

Commenting on this ayah in his famous book of tafsir, Imam ibn Kathir wrote:

وقوله : ( ومهيمنا عليه ) قال سفيان الثوري وغيره ، عن أبي إسحاق عن التميمي عن ابن عباس أي : مؤتمنا عليه . وقال علي بن أبي طلحة عن ابن عباس : المهيمن : الأمين ، قال : القرآن أمين على كل كتاب قبله . [ ص: 128 ] ـ

His statement:

وَمُهَيْمِنًا عَلَيْهِ

and as a muhaymin over it

Sufyan al-Thawri and others said, on the authority of Abu Ishaaq, on the authority of al-Tameemi on the authority of ibn ‘Abbaas, “it means, entrusted over it.” And ‘Ali ibn Abu Talhah said, on the authority of ibn ‘Abbaas, “al-Muhaymin – the trustworthy.” He said, “The Qur’an is trustworthy over every book prior to it.”

وروي عن عكرمة وسعيد بن جبير ومجاهد ومحمد بن كعب وعطية والحسن وقتادة وعطاء الخراساني والسدي وابن زيد نحو ذلك . ـ

And that is [also] narrated from ‘Ikrimah, Sa’eed ibn Jubayr, Mujaahid, Muhammad ibn Ka’b, ‘Atiyyah, al-Hassan, Qataadah, ‘Ataa’ al-Khuraasaani, al-Suddi, ibn Zayd and others.

وقال ابن جريج : القرآن أمين على الكتب المتقدمة ، فما وافقه منها فهو حق ، وما خالفه منها فهو باطل . ـ

And ibn Jurayj said, “The Qur’an is trustworthy over the previous scriptures, so whatever agrees with it from them, then that is true, and whatever opposes it from them, then that is false.”

وعن الوالبي ، عن ابن عباس : ( ومهيمنا ) أي : شهيدا . وكذا قال مجاهد وقتادة والسدي . ـ

And on the authority of al-Waalibi, from ibn ‘Abbaas, “‘and a muhaymin‘ – meaning, ‘a witness’.” And Mujaahid, Qataadah and al-Suddi said likewise.

وقال العوفي عن ابن عباس : ( ومهيمنا ) أي : حاكما على ما قبله من الكتب . ـ

And al-‘Awfi said on the authority of ibn ‘Abbaas, “‘and a muhaymin‘ – meaning, dominant over what preceded it of the scriptures.”

وهذه الأقوال كلها متقاربة المعنى ، فإن اسم ” المهيمن ” يتضمن هذا كله ، فهو أمين وشاهد وحاكم على كل كتاب قبله ، جعل الله هذا الكتاب العظيم ، الذي أنزله آخر الكتب وخاتمها ، أشملها وأعظمها وأحكمها حيث جمع فيه محاسن ما قبله ، وزاده من الكمالات ما ليس في غيره ; فلهذا جعله شاهدا وأمينا وحاكما عليها كلها . وتكفل تعالى بحفظه بنفسه الكريمة ، فقال [ تعالى ] ( إنا نحن نزلنا الذكر وإنا له لحافظون ) [ الحجر : 9 ] . ـ

And all of these positions are close together in terms of meaning, for the word al-muhaymin encompasses all of these, for it is trustworthy, a witness, and dominant over every scripture prior to it. Allah made this magnificent Book – which He revealed as the final scripture and as a seal of them – the most complete and the most magnificent and the most upright of them, such that it combined all of the goodness of what preceded it within it and increased beyond that in terms of perfection the likes of which the others did not have. So therefore He made it a witness, trustworthy and dominant over all of them. And He entrusted its guardianship unto His own noble Self, so He said:

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ‌ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ

Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian. [15:9]

فأما ما حكاه ابن أبي حاتم عن عكرمة وسعيد بن جبير وعطاء الخراساني وابن أبي نجيح عن مجاهد أنهم قالوا في قوله : ( ومهيمنا عليه ) يعني : محمدا صلى الله عليه وسلم أمين على القرآن ، فإنه صحيح في المعنى ، ولكن في تفسير هذا بهذا نظر ، وفي تنزيله عليه من حيث العربية أيضا نظر . وبالجملة فالصحيح الأول ، قال أبو جعفر بن جرير بعد حكايته له عن مجاهد : وهذا التأويل بعيد من المفهوم في كلام العرب ، بل هو خطأ ، وذلك أن ” المهيمن ” عطف على ” المصدق ” ، فلا يكون إلا من صفة ما كان ” المصدق ” صفة له . قال : ولو كان كما قال مجاهد لقال : ” وأنزلنا إليك الكتاب مصدقا لما بين يديه من الكتاب مهيمنا عليه ” . يعني من غير عطف . ـ

So as for what is mentioned by ibn Abi Haatim on the authority of ‘Ikrimah, Sa’eed ibn Jubayr, ‘Ataa’ al-Khuraasaani, ibn Abi Najeeh on the authority of Mujaahid that they said regarding Allah’s statement:

وَمُهَيْمِنًا عَلَيْهِ

and as a muhaymin over it

that it means, ‘Muhammad (ﷺ) is trustworthy over the Qur’an’, then this is true in meaning, however in regards to the tafsir of this here it is (merely) an opinion. And its being revealed to him in terms of it being Arabic, then this is also (merely) an opinion. So taken altogether, what is correct is the first position.

After his reporting this statement from Mujaahid, Abu Ja’far ibn Jarir [al-Tabari] said, “This interpretation is far off from the meaning normally understood from Arabic speech; rather it is an error. And this is because al-muhaymin is connected by a conjunction to al-musaddiq, so it cannot be anything other than an descriptor of what al-musaddiq is a descriptor of.” He [also] said, “And if it were as Muhaajid has said, then Allah would have said:

وأنزلنا إليك الكتاب مصدقا لما بين يديه من الكتاب مهيمنا عليه

‘And We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture, a muhaymin over it…'”

– meaning, without the conjunction.

[Tafsir ibn Kathir 3/128-129]

See also: The Preservation of the Qur’an and the Preservation of the Tawrah: Imam al-Shinqitee

See also: The Qur’an, the Tawrah and the Injeel: Tafsir ibn Kathir

See also: The Sharee’ah of Moosaa and the Sharee’ah of Muhammad

See also: “Indeed, We will be its Guardian”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

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4 thoughts on “We Revealed the Qur’an as a Muhaymin over the previous scriptures: Tafsir ibn Kathir

  1. Pingback: The Preservation of the Qur’an and the Preservation of the Tawrah: Imam al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: The Qur’an, the Tawrah and the Injeel: Tafsir ibn Kathir | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: The Sharee’ah of Moosaa and the Sharee’ah of Muhammad | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: “Indeed, We will be its Guardian”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

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