The Qur’an is Free of Contradictions: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah says in surah al-Nisaa’:

أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ ۚ وَلَوْ كَانَ مِنْ عِندِ غَيْرِ اللَّـهِ لَوَجَدُوا فِيهِ اخْتِلَافًا كَثِيرًا

Do they not then consider the Quran carefully? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found many contradictions therein. [4:82]

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir began his tafsir of this ayah by writing:

يقول تعالى آمرا عباده بتدبر القرآن ، وناهيا لهم عن الإعراض عنه ، وعن تفهم معانيه المحكمة وألفاظه البليغة ، ومخبرا لهم أنه لا اختلاف فيه ولا اضطراب ، ولا تضاد ولا تعارض ; لأنه تنزيل من حكيم حميد ، فهو حق من حق ; ولهذا قال تعالى : ( أفلا يتدبرون القرآن [ أم على قلوب أقفالها ] ) [ محمد : 24 ] ثم قال : ( ولو كان من عند غير الله ) أي : لو كان مفتعلا مختلقا ، كما يقوله من يقوله من جهلة المشركين والمنافقين في بواطنهم ( لوجدوا فيه اختلافا كثيرا ) أي : اضطرابا وتضادا كثيرا . أي : وهذا سالم من الاختلاف ، فهو من عند الله . ـ

Allah is commanding His slaves to contemplate the Qur’an and forbidding them from turning away from it or from turning away from understanding its clear meanings and eloquent wordings. He is also informing them that it does not contain any contradictions or disagreements within it; it neither opposes nor contradictions itself. That is because it is a revelation from the Wise and Praise-worthy One, so it is truth from the True One. That is why Allah said:

أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ أَمْ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبٍ أَقْفَالُهَا

Do they not then think deeply in the Quran, or are their hearts locked up? [47:24]

So He said:

وَلَوْ كَانَ مِنْ عِندِ غَيْرِ اللَّـهِ

Had it been from other than Allah …

meaning: if it was truly something cobbled together in disarray and disagreement as those ignorant mushrikoon and munaafiqoon say to themselves

لَوَجَدُوا فِيهِ اخْتِلَافًا كَثِيرًا

 … they would surely have found many contradictions therein.

meaning: numerous inconsistencies and opposing statements.

And the message here is: However it is free from any contradictions, for it is from Allah.

  كما قال تعالى مخبرا عن الراسخين في العلم [ ص: 366 ] حيث قالوا : ( آمنا به كل من عند ربنا ) [ آل عمران : 7 ] أي : محكمه ومتشابهه حق ; فلهذا ردوا المتشابه إلى المحكم فاهتدوا ، والذين في قلوبهم زيغ ردوا المحكم إلى المتشابه ; ولهذا مدح تعالى الراسخين وذم الزائغين . ـ

This is like what Allah told us about those who are firmly-grounded in knowledge when He said:

وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ يَقُولُونَ آمَنَّا بِهِ كُلٌّ مِّنْ عِندِ رَبِّنَا

And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: “We believe in it; all of it is from our Lord.” [3:7]

i.e. both the muhkam and the mutashaabih – both the clear and the ambiguous verses – are true. As such, they refer the mutashaabih verses back to the muhkam verses and are thus guided. But those who have deviation in their hearts refer the muhkam verses back to the mutashaabih verses. It is in this vein that Allah praises the firmly grounded people and criticizes the deviants.

[Tafsir ibn Kathir 3/366-367]

See also: Supposed Contradictions in the Qur’an: ibn ‘Uthaymeen

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

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

See here for excepts from Daf’u al-Eeham, a work by sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee dedicated to clarifying supposed contradictions in the Qur’an

See also: Guidance for Interpreting the Qur’an in Surah Aal ‘Imran: Tafsir ibn Kathir

3 thoughts on “The Qur’an is Free of Contradictions: Tafsir ibn Kathir

  1. Pingback: Supposed Contradictions in the Qur’an: ibn ‘Uthaymeen | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Taking Ayaat out of Context: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Badr | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: How the Qur’an Uses Contrasting Pairs and Repetition: Tafsir ibn Kathir | Tulayhah

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