Ta’wil of al-Kursi to Mean ‘Ilm (Knowledge)





Praise be to Allah that is due from all grateful believers, a fullness of praise for all his favours: a praise that is abundantly sincere and blessed. May the blessings of Allah be upon our beloved Master Muhammad, the chosen one, the Apostle of mercy and the seal of all Prophets (peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all); and upon his descendants who are upright and pure: a blessing lasting to the Day of Judgment, like the blessing bestowed upon the Prophet Ibrahim (alaihis salam) and his descendants. May Allah be pleased with all of the Prophetic Companions (Ashab al-Kiram). Indeed, Allah is most worthy of praise and supreme glorification!

In his reply to the work known as “Ahlus Sunna al-Asha’ira – Shahada Ulama-il-Umma- wa adillatuhum” [“The Ashari’s are The People of the Sunna – The Testimony of the Scholars of the Umma and their Evidences] by Hamad al-Sinan and Fawzi al-Anjari, with commendation from some ten contemporary Shuyukh; Faisal al-Jasim said in his “Asha’ira fi Mizan Ahlus Sunna” (abridged into English by Abdul Haqq al-Ashanti, and disseminated for free distribution under the title: “The Ash’ari’s In The Scales of Ahlus Sunnah”), it mentioned on p. 93 the following in refutation of the Ta’wil (figurative interpretation) of al-Kursi to mean Allah’s Knowledge:


First: the claim that Ibn ’Abbas (radi Allahu ’anhu) made ta’weel of al-Kursi

Based on what was reported by at-Tabari via Ja’far bin Abi’l-Mugheerah from Sa’eed bin Jubayr from Ibn ’Abbas (radi Allahu ’anhu) that he said about the verse,

وسع كرسيه


“His Kursi extends over…” {al-Baqarah (2): 255}

“His Kursi: means His Knowledge.”

This is not authentically reported from Ibn ’Abbas (radi Allahu ’anhu) for the following reasons:

Firstly: Ja’far bin Abi’l-Mugheerah is weak and al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar summarised the ruling on him with saying “Sudooq (truthful), but makes mistakes” and the likes of this are unacceptable to take sole narrations from according to the Muhadditheen. This is especially the case in regards to those who report much from Sa’eed bin Jubayr. For if such a narrator adds something which opposes the thiqat who reported much from the companions of Sa’eed bin Jubayr then there is no doubt that the specific ruling on such a narrator is that he has erred and reported something shadh, as is the case here. An explanation of this will follow:



Al-Jasim mentioned that the above narration which he weakened was recorded by al-Tabari (in his Tafsir), but what he did not mention is the point that al-Tabari himself appears to have given preference to the view that al-Kursi can mean Allah’s Ilm (see below where he said that the Origin [Asl] of al-Kursi is Ilm). This despite the fact that al-Jasim was sure that al-Tabari had the genuine ‘Salafi’ creed (as found on p. 126 onwards of the English edition compiled by al-Ashanti)!

Imam al-Tabari (d. 310 AH) gave a few narrations on the Tafsir (exegesis) of the above verse and the point below is what alludes to al-Tabari’s preference on this issue:

وأما الذي يدل علـى صحته ظاهر القرآن فقول ابن عبـاس الذي رواه جعفر بن أبـي الـمغيرة عن سعيد بن جبـير عنه أنه قال: هو علـمه, وذلك لدلالة قوله تعالـى ذكره: {وَلاَ يَؤُودُهُ حِفْظُهُما} علـى أن ذلك كذلك, فأخبر أنه لا يؤوده حِفظ ما علـم, وأحاط به مـما فـي السموات والأرض, وكما أخبر عن ملائكته أنهم قالوا فـي دعائهم: {رَبّنَا وَسِعْتَ كُلّ شَيْءٍ رَحمَةً وَعِلْـما} فأخبر تعالـى ذكره أن علـمه وسع كل شيء, فكذلك قوله: {وَسِعَ كُرْسِيّهُ السّمَوَاتِ وَالأرْضَ}. وأصل الكرسي: العلـم


The portions in green are al-Tabari’s wording which translates as:

“The outward wording of the Qur’an indicates the correctness of the saying of Ibn Abbas that is related by Ja’far ibn Abi’l Mughira from Sa’eed ibn Jubayr from him (Ibn Abbas), that he said: ‘It is His Ilm’ (His knowledge).”

The last line also in green mentioned al-Tabari saying:

“And the Asl (original sense) of al-Kursi is al-Ilm.”

What al-Jasim and those he was refuting didn’t seem to have known to mention is that in the most authentic book of Hadith on the face of the Earth, known as Sahih al-Bukhari, it has also mentioned a report from Ibn Abbas’ (radiallahu anhu) disciple known as Sa’eed ibn Jubayr (ra) which affirms that al-Kursi can mean Allah’s Ilm.

Indeed, the mass circulated English translation of Sahih al-Bukhari by Muhsin Khan has with deliberate intent left this passage untranslated from Ibn Jubayr! It may be that Muhsin Khan who is from the same sect as al-Jasim and al-Ashanti did not want the non-Arabic readers to know this, for it may be at odds with his school of creed. More so, al-Ashanti, who denied the claims that his sect never tampered with classical texts needs to inform his readers why one from his sect left this out, and why al-Jasim missed this narration from Sahih al-Bukhari as well.

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One Comment

  1. Assalamu alykum!! This is very useful Mashallah!! The classical texts should be copyrighted so the salafis can stay away from messing around with them.

    May Allah reward you all showing us the truth Alhamdulillah.. Just a suggestion how about your shayookh open a website and write fatawas from the classical texts regarding fiqh and with evidences.. With Question Answer from public? People go to that website of munajjid alot, time for the hanafi madhab to rise again to the top in public inshallah!

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