Surat al-Baqara

‘An Example of Majaz: A Tafsir of Surat al-Baqara Verse 102’

A Tafsir of Surat al-Baqara Verse 102


  • Allah (swt) said in the noble   Qur’an regarding Prophet Sulayman (as):

{They followed what the shayatin (devils) gave out [falsely of the magic] in the lifetime of Sulayman. And Sulayman did not disbelieve, but the shayatin disbelieved…}.[1] The noble scholar shaykh `Ata’ Ibn Khalil (may Allah protect him) comments:

[4] “Allah (glorified is He!) absolves His Prophet Sulayman (as) from the lies and accusations of the Jews. Prophet Sulayman did not disbelieve and the indication here is that he did not engage in any magic nor did he believe in magic and therefore he did not commit disbelief because he was one of the Prophets of Allah. {And Sulayman did not disbelieve…}, i.e. he was neither a magician nor someone who believed in magic and hence be a disbeliever. This [verse] specifically indicates how the Jews accused Sulayman (as) with magic and not disbelief – al-Tabari narrates from Shahr b. al-Hawshab who said that the Jews said: ‘look at Muhammad who mixes the truth with the falsehood; he mentions Sulayman being among the Prophets whereas he was a magician who was carried by the winds…’[2] – so Allah responds by saying: {and Sulayman did not disbelieve}, i.e. he did not commit magic. However, a metaphorical usage is employed here in the verse where the word {he disbelieved} indicates whoever believes in magic and performs magic disbelieves in accordance with the relation of the effect being mentioned but what is intended is the cause (al-musabbabiyya) in the manner of the Arabs as we mentioned before…”[3] [End]


  • Allah absolves his prophet Sulayman (as) from the despicable accusation levelled against him for indulging in magic, sorcery (sihr) or any such actions that is tantamount to disbelief because he is a Prophet and Prophets are infallible.
  • Allah denies Sulayman (as) ‘disbelieved’ but the meaning is not be taken literally, because here the result of magic (disbelief) is mentioned non-literally instead of the cause of the disbelief (believing and performing magic). In balagha (Arabic Rhetoric), this is a case of “majaz” – a form of linguistic allegory that is construed in a semantic relationship one of which is known as `alaqat al-musabbabiyya “where the communicator mentions the result of something instead of the cause of that thing as in for example mentioning ‘death’ to refer to a terminally ill person…”[4] The terminal illness is the cause of the death but death is mentioned in order to highlight the inevitability of the patient’s situation and outcome.


[1] See Q. 2:102.

[2] See al-Tabari, al-Jami` al-Bayan, 1:451. For an account of the Prophet Sulaymn in the Qur’an, refer to the tafsir at and

[3] `Ata’ b. Khalil, al-Taysir fi Usul al-Tafsir, pp.118-119.

[4] al-Nabhani, al-Shakhsiyya al-Islamiyya, 3:140. Cf. al-Zarkashi, al-Bahr al-Muhit, 3:70-71:

العلاقة الثانيةالمسببية وهي إطلاق اسم المسبب، على السبب كتسميتهم المرض المهلك موتا لأن الله – تعالى – جعله في العباد سببا للموت


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