Surat al-Baqara / Tafsir

Shaykh ‘Ata’ “Ayat al-Kursi and I’jaz…”

Shaykh `Ata’ Ibn Khalil:

Tafsir of Ayat al-Kursi

“An Example of I`jaz (‘Qur’anic Inimitability’)[1]

  • The Noble jurist and mufassir Shaykh `Ata’ Ibn Khalil (Allah preserve him) writes in his monumental commentary of surat al-Baqara:

و كلمة أخيرة نقولها : إن المتدبر لهذا القرآن العظيم يجد أن إعجازه يأخذ بالألباب، فهي هذه الآية الكريمة خمس جمل مستقلة متتابعة دون إستعمال حرف عطف (اللَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ ۚ لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلَا نَوْمٌ ۚ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ مَنْ ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ ۚ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ) و الآية قوية عظيمة. و نقرأ في آية أخرى ست واوات (وَقِيلَ يَا أَرْضُ ابْلَعِي مَاءَكِ وَيَا سَمَاءُ أَقْلِعِي وَغِيضَ الْمَاءُ وَقُضِيَ الْأَمْرُ وَاسْتَوَتْ عَلَى الْجُودِيِّ ۖ وَقِيلَ بُعْدًا لِلْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ) هو كذلك قوية عظيمة، و هذا ما لا تستطيعه العرب، فهم اذا أكثروا استعمال حروف العطف في الجملة ضعفت و أصبحت ركيكة في ألفاظها، و اذا وضعوا جملا مستقلا متتابعة وراء بعضها مصفوفة دون ربط بأحرف العطف أصبحت ضعيفة من حيت المعنى. إلا أن هذا القرآن العظيم معجز في أسلوبه لفظا و معنى، حجة على الناس ينطق بالحق (لَا يَأْتِيهِ الْبَاطِلُ مِنْ بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَلَا مِنْ خَلْفِهِ ۖ تَنْزِيلٌ مِنْ حَكِيمٍ حَمِيدٍ)، فسبحان الله! سبحان الله!

“…a final word we want to say is that the one who reflects deeply on this Majestic Qur’an will find its inimitablility (i`jazahu) in the most subtle of ways. In this noble verse are five independent but connected sentences without a single use of any conjunctive particle (harf `atf): {Allah! There is no deity but He – the Living, The Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him Nor Sleep. His are all things In the heavens and on earth. Who is there that can intercede in His presence except as He permits it? He knows what [appears to His creatures as] before or after or behind them…}.[2] The verse is immensely powerful. We read elsewhere, six occurences of the letter ‘waw/و’ (sitta wawat): {And it was said: O earth, swallow down your water, and O cloud, clear away; and the water was made to abate and the affair was decided, and the ark rested on the Judi, and it was said: Away with the unjust people…}.[3] This is something the Arabs were unable to do. Whenever they would use plenty of conjunctive particles in the sentences, the style of the wording would appear weak and if they wrote independent sentences that followed one after the other without any links with conjunctive particles, it would appear weak in its meaning. Thus, this Qur’an has inimitable (mu`jiz) style in both its wording and meaning and is a decisive proof against human beings that declares the truth: {Falsehood shall not come to it from before it nor from behind it; a revelation from the Wise, the Praised One}.[4] Glory be to Allah! glory be to Allah!”[5]

And with Allah is all success.



[1] For some reading on this topic, see G. H. Van Gelder, Beyond the Line: Classical Arabic Literary Critics on th eCoherence and Unity of the Poem, pp.97-100; R. M. Allen, An Introduction to Arabic Literature, pp.225-229; I. J boullata, “The Rhetorical Interpretation of the Qur’an: I`jaz and Related topics” in A. Rippin (ed.) Approaches to the History of the Interpretation of the Qur’an, pp.139-157; and M. Larkin, “The Inimitiability of the Qur’an: Two Perspectives”, Religion and Literature 20 (1988), pp.31-47.

[2] Q. 1:255.

[3] Q. 11:44.

[4] Q. 41:42.

[5] Sh. `Ata’ b. Khalil, al-Taysir fi Usul al-Tafsir, p.378. For the author’s discussion on i`jaz and mu`jizat and their polemical function, see pp.57-61.


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