Supposed Contradictions in the Qur’an: ibn ‘Uthaymeen

In part of his primer of the science of Qur’anic interpretation (al-Tafsir), sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen dedicated one chapter to discussing suspected contradictions in the Qur’an:

موهم التعارض في القرآن
Supposed Contradictions in the Qur’an

التعارض في القرآن أن تتقابل آيتان، بحيث يمنع مدلول إحداهما مدلول الأخرى، مثل أن تكون إحداهما مثبته لشئ والأخرى نافية فيه.ـ

A contradiction in the Qur’an would be that two verses are placed side by side with what one indicates being opposed by what the other indicates. For example, one of them would affirm something while the other would negate it.

ولا يمكن أن يقع التعارض بين آيتين مدلولهما خبري، لأنه يلزم كون إحداهما كذبا، وهو مستحيل في أخبار الله تعالى، قال الله تعالى: (وَمَنْ أَصْدَقُ مِنَ اللَّهِ حَدِيثاً) (النساء: الآية 87) (وَمَنْ أَصْدَقُ مِنَ اللَّهِ قِيلاً) (النساء: الآية 122)) ولا يمكن أن يقع التعارض بين آيتين مدلولهما حكمي؛ لأن الأخيرة منهما ناسخة للأولى قال الله تعالى (مَا نَنْسَخْ مِنْ آيَةٍ أَوْ نُنْسِهَا نَأْتِ بِخَيْرٍ مِنْهَا أَوْ مِثْلِهَا) (البقرة: الآية 106) وإذا ثبت النسخ كان حكم الأولى غير قائم ولا معارض للأخيرة. ـ

But it is not possible for there to be any contradiction between the information that two different verses present because this would entail that one of the two verses contains false information, which is impossible when it comes to the information that Allah has provided. Allah has said:

وَمَنْ أَصْدَقُ مِنَ اللَّهِ حَدِيثاً

And who is more truthful in statement than Allah? [4:87]

وَمَنْ أَصْدَقُ مِنَ اللَّـهِ قِيلًا

And who is more truthful in speech than Allah? [4:122]

Nor is it possible for there to be any contradiction between the rulings that two different verses present because the latter of the two would abrogate the earlier. Allah said:

مَا نَنْسَخْ مِنْ آيَةٍ أَوْ نُنْسِهَا نَأْتِ بِخَيْرٍ مِنْهَا أَوْ مِثْلِهَا

We do not abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten except that We bring forth [one] better than it or similar to it. [2:106]

So if the abrogation is confirmed then the earlier ruling is no longer in effect and therefore does not conflict with the latter verse.

وإذا رأيت ما يوهم التعارض من ذلك، فحاول الجمع بينهما، فإن لم يتبين لك وجب عليك التوقف، وتكل الأمر إلى عالمه. ـ

So if you see something that you suspect to be a contradiction, try to reconcile the two verses. But if it does not become clear to you, then you must stop yourself from drawing any conclusion regarding this and entrust the issue to someone who knows it.

وقد ذكر العلماء رحمهم الله أمثلة كثيرة لما يوهم التعارض، بينوا الجمع في ذلك. ومن أجمع ما رأيت في هذا الموضوع كتاب ” دفع إيهام الاضطراب عن أي الكتاب ” للشيخ محمد الأمين الشنقيطي رحمه الله تعالى. ـ

And the scholars – may Allah have mercy on them – have mentioned many examples of supposed contradictions for which they have clarified the reconciliation and explanation of them. Among the most comprehensive of what I have seen in this field is the book, “Daf’u Eehaam al-Idhtiraab ‘an Aya al-Kitaab” by sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee – may Allah have mercy on him.

فمن أمثلة ذلك قوله تعالى في القرآن: (هُدىً لِلْمُتَّقِينَ) (البقرة: الآية 2) وقوله فيه: (شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنْزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدىً لِلنَّاس) (البقرة: الآية 185) فجعل هداية القرآن في الآية الأولى خاصة بالمتقين، وفي الثانية عامة للناس، والجمع بينهما أن الهداية في الأولى هداية التوفيق والانتفاع، والهداية في الثانية هداية التبيان والإرشاد. ـ

So one example of this reconciliation is regarding Allah’s statement about the Qur’an:

هُدىً لِلْمُتَّقِينَ

it is guidance for the muttaqoon [2:2]

compared to His other statement about the Qur’an:

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ

The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind [2:185]

So in the first verse Allah made the guidance of the Qur’an specific to the muttaqoon while in the second verse it was general to all mankind. The reconciliation between these two verses is that the guidance mentioned in the first verses is the guidance of granting success and beneficial guidance while the guidance mentioned in the second verse in the guidance of clarification and direction.

ونظير هاتين الآيتين، قوله تعالى في الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم: (إِنَّكَ لا تَهْدِي مَنْ أَحْبَبْتَ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَهْدِي مَنْ يَشَاءُ) (القصص: 56) وقوله فيه (وَإِنَّكَ لَتَهْدِي إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ) (الشورى: الآية 52) فالأولى هداية التوفيق والثانية هداية التبيين. ـ

And a parallel to these two verses are Allah’s statement regarding the Messenger (ﷺ):

إِنَّكَ لا تَهْدِي مَنْ أَحْبَبْتَ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَهْدِي مَنْ يَشَاءُ

Indeed, you do not guide whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. [28:56]

compared to His other statement regarding him:

وَإِنَّكَ لَتَهْدِي إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ

And indeed, you guide to a straight path [42:52]

So the first instance is the guidance of granting success while the second is the guidance of clarification.

ومن أمثلة ذلك قوله تعالى: (شَهِدَ اللَّهُ أَنَّهُ لا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ وَالْمَلائِكَةُ وَأُولُو الْعِلْمِ) (آل عمران: الآية 18) وقوله (وَمَا مِنْ إِلَهٍ إِلَّا اللَّه) (آل عمران: الآية 62) وقوله: (فَلا تَدْعُ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَهاً آخَرَ فَتَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُعَذَّبِينَ) (الشعراء: 213) وقوله: (فَمَا أَغْنَتْ عَنْهُمْ آلِهَتُهُمُ الَّتِي يَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ مِنْ شَيْءٍ لَمَّا جَاءَ أَمْرُ رَبِّكَ وَمَا زَادُوهُمْ غَيْرَ تَتْبِيبٍ) (هود: الآية 101) ففي الآيتين الأوليين نفي الألوهية عما سوى الله تعالى وفي الأخريين إثبات الألوهية لغيره. ـ

Another example of this is Allah’s statement:

شَهِدَ اللَّـهُ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ وَأُولُو الْعِلْمِ

Allah bears witness that there is no deity except Him, and [so do] the angels and those of knowledge [3:18]

and His statement:

وَمَا مِنْ إِلَهٍ إِلَّا اللَّه

And there is no deity except Allah [3:62]

compared to His statement:

فَلا تَدْعُ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَهاً آخَرَ فَتَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُعَذَّبِينَ

So do not invoke any other deity along with Allah and therefore be among the punished. [26:213]

and His statement:

فَمَا أَغْنَتْ عَنْهُمْ آلِهَتُهُمُ الَّتِي يَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ مِنْ شَيْءٍ لَمَّا جَاءَ أَمْرُ رَبِّكَ وَمَا زَادُوهُمْ غَيْرَ تَتْبِيبٍ

And they were not availed at all by their gods which they invoked other than Allah when there came the command of your Lord. And they did not increase them in other than ruin. [11:101]

So the first two verses contained a negation of divinity for any besides Allah, while the second two verses contained affirmation of divinity for others besides Him.

والجمع بين ذلك أن الألوهية الخاصة بالله عز وجل هي الألوهية الحق، وأن المثبتة لغيره هي الألوهية الباطلة؛ لقوله تعالى: (ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الْحَقُّ وَأَنَّ مَا يَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِهِ هُوَ الْبَاطِلُ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْكَبِيرُ) (الحج: 62) . ـ

And the reconciliation between these verses is that divinity and the right to be worshiped that is exclusive to Allah is the true divinity and right to be worshiped, but that affirming this for any other than Him is false divinity. This is according to His statement:

ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللَّـهَ هُوَ الْحَقُّ وَأَنَّ مَا يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِهِ هُوَ الْبَاطِلُ وَأَنَّ اللَّـهَ هُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْكَبِيرُ

That is because Allah is the Truth, and that which they call upon other than Him is falsehood, and because Allah is the Most High, the Grand. [22:62]

ومن أمثلة ذلك قوله تعالى: (قُلْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يَأْمُرُ بِالْفَحْشَاءِ) (لأعراف: الآية 28) وقوله (وَإِذَا أَرَدْنَا أَنْ نُهْلِكَ قَرْيَةً أَمَرْنَا مُتْرَفِيهَا فَفَسَقُوا فِيهَا فَحَقَّ عَلَيْهَا الْقَوْلُ فَدَمَّرْنَاهَا تَدْمِيراً) (الإسراء: 16) ففي الآية الأولى نفي أن يأمر الله تعالى بالفحشاء، وظاهر الثانية أن الله تعالى يأمر بما هو فسق. والجمع بينهما أن الأمر في الآية الأولى هو الأمر الشرعي، والله تعالى لا يأمر شرعا بالفحشاء لقوله تعالى: (إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْأِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنْكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ) (النحل: 90) والأمر في الآية الثانية هو الأمر الكوني، والله تعالى يأمر كونا بما شاء حسب ما تقتضيه حكمته لقوله تعالى: (إِنَّمَا أَمْرُهُ إِذَا أَرَادَ شَيْئاً أَنْ يَقُولَ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ) (يّس: 82) . ـ

Another example of this is Allah’s statement:

قُلْ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَأْمُرُ بِالْفَحْشَاءِ

Say, “Indeed, Allah does not command immorality.” [7:28]

compared to His statement:

وَإِذَا أَرَدْنَا أَنْ نُهْلِكَ قَرْيَةً أَمَرْنَا مُتْرَفِيهَا فَفَسَقُوا فِيهَا فَحَقَّ عَلَيْهَا الْقَوْلُ فَدَمَّرْنَاهَا تَدْمِيراً

And when We intend to destroy a city, We command its affluent so they defiantly disobey therein; so the word comes into effect upon it, and We destroy it with [complete] destruction. [17:16]

So the first verse contains a negation of Allah commanding immorality, while the apparent meaning of the second verse is that Allah commands that which is immoral. The reconciliation between these two verses is that the command mentioned in the first verse refers to the legislative command, and Allah does not issue any legislative command for immorality, as comes in His statement:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْأِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنْكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ

Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded. [16:90]

Meanwhile, the command mentioned in the second verse is the command of Allah’s divine will and Allah commands whatever He wills with regards to His divine will as befits His wisdom, as comes in His statement:

إِنَّمَا أَمْرُهُ إِذَا أَرَادَ شَيْئاً أَنْ يَقُولَ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ

His command is only when He intends a thing that He says to it, “Be,” and it is. [36:82]

ومن رام زيادة أمثلة فليرجع إلى كتاب الشيخ الشنقيطي المشار إليه آنفا. ـ

And whoever would like to see more examples should refer to the book of sheikh al-Shinqitee that I previously mentioned .

[Usool fee al-Tafsir pg. 35-37]

To read more examples from sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee’s work, click here.

See also: A Principle to Dispel Specious Arguments and Doubts: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: Supposed Contradictions between the Qur’an and Hadeeth: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Supposed Contradictions in the Qur’an: ibn ‘Uthaymeen

  1. Pingback: A Principle to Dispel Specious Arguments and Doubts: Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

    • Wa iyyaak. Alhamdulillaah, we are just trying to convey benefits from the scholars. We also hope to follow up this article with some related content from sheikh Muhammad Bazmool explaining how to deal with suspected contradictions between the Qur’an and ahaadeeth. Wa ‘alaikum as salaam wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh

  2. Pingback: Did Fir’awn claim divinity, or worship other gods?: al-Shawkaani, al-Qurtubi, & al-Baghawi | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Supposed Contradictions between the Qur’an and Hadeeth: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool | Tulayhah

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s