Tafsir of Ayah al-Kursi: Faisal Aal Mubarak

Due to its significance and importance, much space has been given to discussing ayah al-Kursi in the books of tafsir. Not least among these are the famous books of Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, ibn Kathir and al-Baghawi. All three of these works fall into the category of “narration-based tafsir“, meaning that they based their works on explaining the Qur’an by means of the Qur’an itself, by means of the sunnah of the Prophet, by means of the statements of the Sahabah and through recourse to those who followed them. In an effort to follow this same approach to tafsir while simultaneously providing a service to beginning students, Sheikh Faisal Aal Mubarak (1376Ah/1957CE) penned his own tafsir entitled Tawfeeq al-Rahman which effectively served as a digest of these three most-reliable books of tafsir. What follows below is his explanation of ayah al-Kursi:

قوله عز وجل: {اللهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ لاَ تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلاَ نَوْمٌ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ مَن ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلا بِإِذْنِهِ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلاَ يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلا بِمَا شَاء وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ وَلاَ يَؤُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ (255) } . ـ

Allah’s statement:

اللَّـهُ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ ۚ لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلَا نَوْمٌ ۚ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ مَن ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِندَهُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ ۚ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ ۖ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلَّا بِمَا شَاءَ ۚ وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ ۖ وَلَا يَئُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ

Allah – none has the right be worshiped except Him, al-Hayy al-Qayyoom. Neither tiredness nor sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is ahead of you and what is behind you [OR “He knows what you have already done and what will happen after you”], and they grasp nothing of His knowledge except what He wills. His kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding them. And He is al-‘Alee al-‘Atheem. [2:255]

عن أبي بن كعب: (أن النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – سأله: «أي آية في كتاب الله أعظم» ؟ قال: الله ورسوله أعلم. فرددها مرارًا ثم قال: أبيّ: آية الكرسي. قال: «ليهنك العلم أبا المنذر» . رواه مسلم وغيره. وفي حديث أبي هريرة عند البخاري في قصة الشيطان الذي سرق من الصدقة قال: (فرصدته الثالثة، فجاء يحثو من الطعام، فأخذته، فقلت: لأرفعنك إلى رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم -، وهذا آخر ثلاث مرات إنك تزعم أنك لا تعود ثم تعود، فقال: دعني أعلمك كلمات ينفعك الله بها. قلت: وما هي؟ قال إذا أويت إلى فراشك فاقرأ آية الكرسي: {اللهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ} حتى تختم الآية، فإنك لن يزال عليك من الله حافظ، ولا يقربك شيطان حتى تصبح، فخليّت سبيله، فأصبحت فقال لي رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – «ما فعل أسيرك البارحة» ؟ قلت: يا رسول الله إنه زعم أنه يعلمني كلمات ينفعني الله بها، فخليت سبيله، قال: «ما هي» ؟ قال: قال لي: إذا أويت إلى فراشك فاقرأ آية الكرسي من أولها حتى تختم الآية: {اللهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ} وقال لي: لن يزال عليك من الله حافظ ولا يقربك شيطان حتى تصبح. فقال النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم -: «أما إنه صدقك وهو كذوب» . وروى أبو داود وغيره عن أسماء بنت يزيد بن السكن قالت: سمعت رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – يقول في هاتين الآيتين: {اللهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ} و {الم * اللهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ} : «إن فيها اسم الله الأعظم» . ـ

○ It is narrated from Ubay ibn Ka’b that the Prophet asked him, “Which is the greatest ayah in Allah’s Book?” Ubay replied, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” The Prophet repeated the question a few times and then Ubay said, “Ayah al-Kursi,” to which the Prophet said, “May knowledge be a source of joy for you, O Abu’l-Mundhir!” This was reported by Muslim and others.

And there is also the story of the shaytaan who was stealing from charity that comes in the hadith of Abu Hurayrah in al-Bukhari in which he said:

I waited for him attentively for the third time, and when he came and started stealing handfuls of the foodstuff, I caught hold of him and said, “I will surely take you to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as it is the third time you promised not to return, yet you broke your promise and came back.” He said, “Let me go and I will teach you some words with which Allah will benefit you.” I asked, “What are they?” He replied, “Whenever you go to bed, recite Ayah al-Kursi

اللهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ

Allah – none has the right be worshiped except Him, al-Hayy al-Qayyoom

until the end of the ayah, for you will continue to have a guard from Allah over you and no shaytaan will come near you until you wake.” So, I released him. In the morning, the Messenger of Allah asked me, “What did your prisoner do yesterday?” I replied, “He claimed that he would teach me some words by which Allah will benefit me, so I let him go.” Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) asked, “What were they?” I replied, “He said to me, ‘Whenever you go to bed, recite ayah al-Kursi from the beginning to the end

اللهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ

Allah – none has the right be worshiped except Him, al-Hayy al-Qayyoom

‘ And he said, ‘you will continue to have a guard from Allah over you and no shaytaan will come near you until you wake’.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “He certainly spoke the truth although he is an inveterate liar.”

Abu Dawud and others relayed a narration from Asmaa’ bint Yazeed ibn al-Sakan who said:

Regarding these two ayahs

اللهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ

Allah – none has the right be worshiped except Him, al-Hayy al-Qayyoom … [2:255]

and

الم * اللَّـهُ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ

Alif Lam Meem * Allah – none has the right to be worshiped except Him, al-Hayy al-Qayyoom [3:1-2]

I heard the Messenger of Allah say “Inside these is Allah’s greatest name.”

قال ابن كثير: وهذه الآية مشتملة على عشر جمل مستقلة. ـ

Ibn Kathir said, “This ayah is comprised of ten separate clauses.”

وقوله تعالى: {اللهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ} . ـ

○ Allah’s statement:

اللهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ

Allah – none has the right be worshiped except Him, al-Hayy al-Qayyoom

قال ابن جرير يقول الله الذي له عبادة الخلق، الحي القيوم، لا إله سواه: لا معبود سواه، يعني: ولا تعبدوا شيئًا سواه، {الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ} الذي لا تأخذ سنة ولا نوم. قال قتادة: الحيّ حي لا يموت. وقال مجاهد: القيوم القائم على كل شيء. وقال الربيع: القوم قيم كل شيء يكلؤه ويرزقه ويحفظه. وقال الضحاك: الحي القيوم: القائم الدائم. ـ

Ibn Jarir al-Tabari said:

He is saying: Allah, the One deserving of the creation’s worship, al-Hayy al-Qayyoom. There is no deity besides Him – i.e. there is no object of worship besides Him – meaning: do not worship anything other than Him.

الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ

al-Hayy al-Qayyoom

who is not subject to drowsiness nor sleep.

Qatadah said, “al-Hayy is living and will never die.”

Mujahid said, “al-Qayyoom is the One upon whom all else depends.”

al-Rabee’ said, “al-Qayyoom is the caretaker. He safeguards, provides for, and preserves everything.”

al-Dhahhaak said, “al-Hayy al-Qayyoom is the everlasting caretaker.”

وقوله تعالى: {لاَ تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلاَ نَوْمٌ} ، قال ابن عباس: السِّنَة: النعاس. والنوم هو: النوم. ـ

○ Allah’s statement:

لاَ تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلاَ نَوْمٌ

Neither sinnah nor nawm overtakes Him.

ibn ‘Abbaas said, “al-Sinnah is tiredness, and al-Nawm is sleep.”

وقوله تعالى: {لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ مَن ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلا بِإِذْنِهِ} ، كقوله تعالى: {وَكَم مِّن مَّلَكٍ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ لا تُغْنِي شَفَاعَتُهُمْ شَيْئاً إِلا مِن بَعْدِ أَن يَأْذَنَ اللَّهُ لِمَن يَشَاءُ وَيَرْضَى} . ـ

○ Allah’s statement:

لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ مَن ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلا بِإِذْنِهِ

To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission?

This is like His statement:

وَكَم مِّن مَّلَكٍ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ لَا تُغْنِي شَفَاعَتُهُمْ شَيْئًا إِلَّا مِن بَعْدِ أَن يَأْذَنَ اللَّـهُ لِمَن يَشَاءُ وَيَرْضَىٰ

And how many angels there are in the heavens whose intercession will not bring any benefit at all except after Allah has given leave for whom He wills and pleases. [53:26]

وقوله تعالى: {يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلاَ يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلا بِمَا شَاء} ، قال مجاهد: يعلم ما بين أيديهم ما مضى من الدنيا، وما خلفهم من الآخرة. وقال الكلبي: {مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ} ، يعني: الآخرة، لأنهم يقدمون عليها. {وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ} ، من الدنيا، لأنهم يخلفونها. وقال السدي: {وَلاَ يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ} ، يقول: لا يعلمون بشيء من علمه إلا بما شاء هو أن يعلمهم. ـ

○ Allah’s statement:

يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلاَ يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلا بِمَا شَاء

He knows what is ahead of you and what is behind you [OR “He knows what you have already done and what will happen after you”], and they grasp nothing of His knowledge except what He wills.

Mujahid said, “‘He knows what you have already done‘ – what has happened in this worldly life – ‘and what will happen after you‘ in the hereafter.”

al-Kalbi said, “‘what is ahead of you‘ referring to the hereafter because they are moving towards it ‘and what is behind you‘ of the worldly life because they are leaving it behind.”

al-Suddi said, “‘and they grasp nothing of His knowledge‘ – they do not know any part of His knowledge except for what He wishes to teach them.”

وقوله تعالى: {وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ} ، اختلفوا في الكرسي، فقال الحسن: هو العرش نفسه. وقال أبو هريرة رضي الله عنه: الكرسي موضوع أمام العرش. وفي بعض الأخبار: أن السماوات والأرض في جنب الكرسي كحلقة في فلاة. والكرسي في جنب العرش كحلقة في فلاة. ويُروى عن ابن عباس رضي الله عنهما: أن السماوات السبع والأرضين السبع في الكرسي كدراهم سبعة ألقيت في ترس. وقوله تعالى: {وَلاَ يَؤُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا} قال ابن عباس: لا يثقل عليه. وقال قتادة: لا يجهده حفظهما. ـ

○ Allah’s statement:

وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ

His kursi extends over the heavens and the earth

The scholars have differed as to the meaning of the kursi. al-Hasan said, “It is the Throne itself,” while Abu Hurayrah said, “the kursi is placed in front of the Throne.”

It is mentioned in one narration that “the heavens and the earth in comparison to the kursi are like a plate of armor in the midst of a desert, and the kursi in comparison to the Throne is itself like a plate of armor in the midst of a desert.”

It has been transmitted from ibn ‘Abbaas that “the seven heavens and the seven earths compared to the kursi are like seven dirhams tossed into a large shield.”

○ Allah’s statement:

وَلاَ يَؤُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا

and He feels no fatigue in guarding them.

ibn ‘Abbaas said, “It does not burden Him.”

Qatadah said, “Preserving and protecting them does not cause Him any strain.”

وقوله تعالى: {وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ} . ـ

○ Allah’s statement:

وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ

And He is al-‘Alee al-‘Atheem.

قال البغوي: {وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ} : الرفيع فوق خلقه والمتعالي عن الأشباه والأنداد. وقيل: العلي بالملك والسلطنة، العظيم الكبير: الذي لا شيء أعظم منه. وقال ابن كثير: فقوله: {وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ} كقوله: {الْكَبِيرُ الْمُتَعَالِ} ، وهذه الآيات وما في معناها من الأحاديث الصحاح الأجود فيها طريقة السلف الصالح: إمرارها كما جاءت من غير تكييف ولا تشبيه. ـ

al-Baghawi said:

وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ

And He is al-‘Alee

He who is high and elevated above His creation, lofty and exalted above any likeness or peer.

And some say: al-‘Alee [The High] in terms of His ownership and authority; al-‘Atheem al-Kabeer [The Grand and Great] who nothing is greater than Him.

ibn Kathir said:

Allah’s statement:

وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ

And He is al-‘Alee al-‘Atheem.

is like His statement:

الْكَبِيرُ الْمُتَعَالِ

al-Kabeer al-Muta’aal (the Most Great, the Most High) [13:9]

and for these ayaat and the authentic hadith narrations of similar meanings [i.e. regarding Allah’s names and attributes], the best way to approach them is the way of the righteous salaf, which is to take them as they come without asking “how?” or likening them to Allah’s creation.

[Tawfiq al-Rahman fee Duroos al-Qur’an]

See also: Tafsir of Ayah al-Kursi Series Guide

Explanation of Ayah al-Kursi: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

Explanation of Ayah al-Kursi: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: Tafsir of the Closing of Surah al-Baqarah: Sheikh Faisal Aal Mubarak

 

One thought on “Tafsir of Ayah al-Kursi: Faisal Aal Mubarak

  1. Pingback: Tafsir of the Closing of Surah al-Baqarah: Sheikh Faisal Aal Mubarak | Tulayhah

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