Surat al-Baqara / Tafsir

‘Lord of the East and West: A Tafsir of Baqara Verse 115’

“A Tafsir of Surat al-Baqara Verse 115”



Shaykh `Ata’ Ibn Khalil (may Allah protect him) in his commentary on al-Baqara, verse 115 says:

و ذكر المشرق و المغرب و المشرقين و المغربين و المشارق و المغارب كناية عن أن الله سبحانه مالك لكل الجهات و خالق لها…

“And regarding the verse {to Allah belongs the east and west…}, it means He is the Owner and Creator of all directions […] His mentioning ‘the east and west’,[1] ‘the two east and the two west’[2] and ‘the easts and the wests’[3] is an allusion (kinayah) to Allah (Glorified be He!) being the Owner and Creator of all direction…”[4]


كنايات: a type of metaphorical expression; metonymy, allusion, indirect reference, clue.[5] According to al-Zamakhshari, it is to refer to some object with other than the word originally designated for it.[6] Examples:[7]

[1] {He is the one Who created you from a single soul}[8] where ‘single soul’ refers to the Prophet Adam (AS).

[2] {Rather, both His hands are extended…}[9] which is a figurative expression for Allah’s unbounded generosity and grace.

[3] {They are a garment for you and you are a garment for them} which euphemistically refers to close contact, sex or intimate relations.[10]


[1] See Q. 2:115.

[2] See Q. 55:17.

[3] See Q. 70:40.

[4] See `Ata’ Ibn Khalil, al-Taysir fi Usul al-Tafsir, pp.144-145.

[5] See Ibn Qutayba, Ta’wil Mushkil al-Qur’an, 156ff; al-`Askari, Kitab al-Sina`atayn, pp.407-410; C. Pellat, “Kinaya” in EI2, 5:116-118 and my Introducing Arabic Rhetoric, pp.73-77.

[6] al-Suyuti, al-Itqan fi `Ulum al-Qur’an, 2:62.

[7] Ibid., 2:59-64.

[8] Q. 7:189.

[9] Q. 5:64.

[10] Q. 2:187.


One thought on “‘Lord of the East and West: A Tafsir of Baqara Verse 115’

  1. Pingback: Slave to Money…Zafar Usmani | دار نيـقـوسـيــا

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