Surah Baqarah Ayah 255 in Arabic:
للَّهُ 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 ۖ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلَّا بِمَا شَاءَ ۚ وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ ۖ وَلَا يَئُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ
Transliteration: allahu la ilaha illa huwal hayyul qayyum; laa taakhuzuhoo sinatunw wa laa nawm; lahoo maa fissamaawaati wa maa fil ard; man zal lazee yashfa’u indahooo illaa bi-iznih; ya’lamu maa baina aydeehim wa maa khalfahum wa laa yuheetoona bishai’im min ‘ilmihee illaa bimaa shaaa’; wasi’a Kursiyyuhus samaawaati wal arda wa laa Ya’ooduhoo hifzuhumaa; wa Huwal Aliyyul ‘Azeem
DR. GHALI Allah. There is no god except He, The Ever-Living, The Superb Upright Sustainer. Slumber does not overtake Him, nor sleep; to Him (belongs) whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. Who is there that intercedes for His Providence except by His Permission? He knows whatever is in front of them (Literally: between their hands) and whatever is behind them, and they do not encompass anything of His Knowledge except whatever He has decided. His Chair embraces the heavens and the earth; the preserving of them (Literally: them both) does not tire Him; and He is The Ever-Exalted, The Ever-Magnificent.
MUHSIN KHAN Allah! La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists. Neither slumber, nor sleep overtake Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on earth. Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His Permission? He knows what happens to them (His creatures) in this world, and what will happen to them in the Hereafter. And they will never compass anything of His Knowledge except that which He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them. And He is the Most High, the Most Great. [This Verse 2:255 is called Ayat-ul-Kursi.]
PICKTHALL Allah! There is no deity save Him, the Alive, the Eternal. Neither slumber nor sleep overtaketh Him. Unto Him belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Who is he that intercedeth with Him save by His leave? He knoweth that which is in front of them and that which is behind them, while they encompass nothing of His knowledge save what He will. His throne includeth the heavens and the earth, and He is never weary of preserving them. He is the Sublime, the Tremendous.
SAHIH INTERNATIONAL Allah – there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.
MUFTI TAQI USMANI Allah: There is no god but He, the Living, the All-Sustaining. Neither dozing overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth. Who can intercede with Him without His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them; while they encompass nothing of His knowledge, except what He wills. His Kursiyy (Chair) extends to the Heavens and to the Earth, and it does not weary Him to look after them. He is the All-High, the Supreme.
ABDUL HALEEM God: there is no god but Him, the Ever Living, the Ever Watchful.Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. All that is in the heavens and in the earth belongs to Him. Who is there that can intercede with Him except by His leave? He knows what is before them and what is behind them, but they do not comprehend any of His knowledge except what He wills. His throne extends over the heavens and the earth; it does not weary Him to preserve them both. He is the Most High, the Tremendous.
ABUL ALA MAUDUDI (2:255) Allah, the Ever-Living, the Self-Subsisting by Whom all subsist, there is no god but He. Neither slumber seizes Him, nor sleep; to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. Who is there who might intercede with Him save with His leave? He knows what lies before them and what is hidden from them, whereas they cannot attain to anything of His knowledge save what He wills them to attain. His Dominion3 overspreads the heavens and the earth, and their upholding wearies Him not. He is All-High, All-Glorious.
DR. MUSTAFA KHATTAB Allah! There is no god ˹worthy of worship˺ except Him, the Ever-Living, All-Sustaining. Neither drowsiness nor sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who could possibly intercede with Him without His permission? He ˹fully˺ knows what is ahead of them and what is behind them, but no one can grasp any of His knowledge—except what He wills ˹to reveal˺. His Seat encompasses the heavens and the earth, and the preservation of both does not tire Him. For He is the Most High, the Greatest.
Surah Baqarah Ayat 255 Tafseer
Here you can expand your knowledge on ayah 255 of Surah Baqarah by reading the tafsir of Ibn Kathir and other various books which all provide an interpretation of the verses so you can gain a deeper understanding of Allah’s book.
Surah Baqarah, you may know, is a very popular ayat. Likely the most memorized ayat of the Quran among the entire Muslim Ummah. It is known as Ayatul Kursi or ayat kursi.
This is Ayat Al-Kursi and tremendous virtues have been associated with it, for the authentic Hadith describes it as `the greatest Ayah in the Book of Allah.’ Imam Ahmad recorded that `Ubayy bin Ka`b said that the Prophet asked him about the greatest Ayah in the Book of Allah, and `Ubayy answered, “Allah and His Messenger know better.” When the Prophet repeated his question several times, `Ubayy said, “Ayat Al-Kursi.” The Prophet commented,
(Congratulations for having knowledge, O Abu Al-Mundhir! By He in Whose Hand is my soul! This Ayah has a tongue and two lips with which she praises the King (Allah) next to the leg of the Throne.)
This Hadith was also collected by Muslim, but he did not include the part that starts with, “By He in Whose Hand…”
Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Ayyub said that he had some dates and a Ghoul used to take some, and he complained to the Prophet. The Prophet said to him, “When you see her, say, `In the Name of Allah, answer to the Messenger of Allah’.” Abu Ayyub said that when she came again, he said these words and he was able to grab her. She begged, “I will not come again,” so Abu Ayyub released her.
Abu Ayyub went to the Prophet and the Prophet asked him, “What did your prisoner do” Abu Ayyub said, “I grabbed her and she said twice, `I will not come again,’ and I released her.”
The Prophet said, “She will come back.” Abu Ayyub said, “So I grabbed her twice or three times, yet each time ﴿I would release her when﴾ she vowed not to come back. I would go to the Prophet who would ask me, `What is the news of your prisoner’ I would say, `I grabbed her, then released her when she said that she would not return.’
The Prophet would say that she would return. Once, I grabbed her and she said, `Release me and I will teach you something to recite so that no harm touches you, that is, Ayat Al-Kursi.’ Abu Ayyub went to the Prophet and told him, and the Prophet said, “She is liar, but she told the truth.” At-Tirmidhi recorded this Hadith in the chapter of the virtues of the Qur’an and said, “Hasan Gharib.” In Arabic, `Ghoul’ refers to the Jinn when they appear at night.
Al-Bukhari recorded a similar story in his Sahih from Abu Hurayrah, in the chapters on the virtues of the Qur’an and the description of Shaytan. In this narration, Abu Hurayrah said,
“Allah’s Messenger assigned me to keep watch over the Sadaqah (charity) of Ramadan. A person snuck in and started taking handfuls of foodstuff. I caught him and said, `By Allah, I will take you to Allah’s Messenger.’ He said, `Release me, for I am meek and have many dependents and am in great need.’ I released him, and in the morning Allah’s Messenger asked me, `What did your prisoner do yesterday, O Abu Hurayrah’ I said, `O Allah’s Messenger! He complained of being needy and of having many dependents, so I pitied him and let him go.’
Allah’s Messenger said, `Indeed, he told you a lie and will be coming again.’ I believed that he would show up again, for Allah’s Messenger had told me that he would return. So, I watched for him. When he (showed up and) started stealing handfuls of foodstuff, I caught hold of him again and said, `I will definitely take you to Allah’s Messenger.’ He said, `Leave me, for I am very needy and have many dependents. I promise I will not come back again.’ I pitied him and let him go. In the morning Allah’s Messenger asked me, `What did your prisoner do last night, O Abu Hurayrah!’ I replied, `O Allah’s Messenger! He complained of his great need and of too many dependents, so I took pity on him and set him free.’
Allah’s Messenger said, `Verily, he told you a lie; he will return.’ 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 as it is the third time you promised not to return, yet you returned.’ He said, `Let me teach you some words which Allah will give you benefit from.’ I asked, `What are they?’
He replied, `Whenever you go to bed, recite Ayat Al-Kursi- Allahu la ilaha illa Huwal-Hayyul-Qayyum, till you finish the whole verse. (If you do so), Allah will appoint a guard for you who will stay with you, and no Shaytan will come near you until morning.’ So, I released him. In the morning, Allah’s Messenger asked, `What did your prisoner do yesterday’ I replied, `O Allah’s Messenger! He claimed that he would teach me some words by which Allah will grant me some benefit, so I let him go.’
Allah’s Messenger asked, `What are they’ I replied, `He said to me: Whenever you go to bed, recite Ayat Al-Kursi from the beginning to the end, Allahu la ilaha illa Huwal-Hayyul-Qayyum. He further said to me: (If you do so), Allah will appoint a guard for you who will stay with you, and no Shaytan will come near you until morning.’ (One of the narrators) then commented that they (the Companions) were very keen to do good deeds. The Prophet said, `He spoke the truth, although he is a liar. Do you know whom you were talking to, these three nights, O Abu Hurayrah’ Abu Hurayrah said, `No.’ He said, `It was Shaytan.”’ An-Nasa’i also recorded this Hadith in Al-Yawm wa Al-Laylah.
Imam Ahmad recorded that Asma’ bint Yazid bin As-Sakan said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah say about these two Ayat,
(Allah! None has the right to be worshipped but He, the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists) ﴿2:255﴾, and,
(Alif-Lam-Mim. Allah! None has the right to be worshipped but He, the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists) ﴿3:1-2﴾,
(They contain Allah’s Greatest Name.)
This is also the narration collected by Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, and At-Tirmidhi said, “Hasan Sahih”.
Further, Ibn Marduwyah recorded that Abu Umamah reported that the Prophet said,
(Allah’s Greatest Name, if He was supplicated with it, He answers the supplication, is in three Surahs – Al-Baqarah, Al `Imran and Ta-Ha.)
Hisham bin `Ammar, the Khatib (orator) of Damascus (one of the narrators in the above narration), said, “As for Al-Baqarah, it is in,
(Allah! None has the right to be worshipped but He, the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists) ﴿2:255﴾; in Al `Imran, it is in,
(Alif-Lam-Mim. Allah! None has the right to be worshipped but He, the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists) ﴿3:1-2﴾, while in Ta-Ha, it is in,
(And (all) faces shall be humbled before (Allah), the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists) ﴿20:111﴾.”
(Allah! None has the right to be worshipped but He) mentions that Allah is the One and Only Lord of all creation. 2. Allah’s statement,
(Al-Hayyul-Qayyum) testifies that Allah is the Ever Living, Who never dies, Who sustains everyone and everything. All creation stands in need of Allah and totally relies on Him, while He is the Most Rich, Who stands in need of nothing created. Similarly, Allah said,
(And among His signs is that the heaven and the earth stand by His command) ﴿30:25﴾. 3. Allah’s statement,
(Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him) means, no shortcoming, unawareness or ignorance ever touches Allah. Rather, He is aware of, and controls what every soul earns, has perfect watch over everything, nothing escapes His knowledge, and no secret matter is secret to Him. Among His perfect attributes, is the fact that He is never effected by slumber or sleep. Therefore, Allah’s statement,
(Neither slumber overtakes Him) indicates that no unawareness due to slumber ever overtakes Allah. Allah said afterwards,
(nor sleep), which is stronger than slumber. It is recorded in the Sahih that Abu Musa said, “The Messenger of Allah delivered a speech regarding four words:
(Allah does not sleep, and it does not befit His majesty that He sleeps. He lowers the scales and raises them. The deeds of the day are resurrected in front of Him before the deeds of the night, and the deeds of the night before the deeds of the day. His Veil is light, or fire, and if He removes it, the rays from His Face would burn whatever His sight reaches of His creation.)
4. Allah’s statement,
(To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth) indicates that everyone is a servant for Allah, a part of His kingdom and under His power and authority. Similarly, Allah said,
(There is none in the heavens and the earth but comes unto the Most Gracious (Allah) as a servant. Verily, He knows each one of them, and has counted them a full counting. And everyone of them will come to Him alone on the Day of Resurrection (without any helper, or protector or defender)) ﴿19:93-95﴾. 5. Allah’s statement,
(Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His permission) is similar to His statements,
(And there are many angels in the heavens, whose intercession will avail nothing except after Allah has given leave for whom He wills and is pleased with) ﴿53:26﴾, and,
(They cannot intercede except for him with whom He is pleased) ﴿21:28﴾.
These Ayat assert Allah’s greatness, pride, and grace, and that no one dares to intercede with Him on behalf of anyone else, except by His permission. Indeed, the Hadith about the intercession, states that the Prophet said,
(I will stand under the Throne and fall in prostration, and Allah will allow me to remain in that position as much as He wills. I will thereafter be told, “Raise your head, speak and you will be heard, intercede and your intercession will be accepted”. The Prophet then said, “He will allow me a proportion whom I will enter into Paradise.”)
6. Allah’s statement,
(He knows what happens to them (His creatures) in this world, and what will happen to them in the Hereafter) this refers to His perfect knowledge of all creation; its past, present and future. Similarly, Allah said that the angels proclaimed;
(And we (angels) descend not except by the command of your Lord (O Muhammad ). To Him belongs what is before us and what is behind us, and what is between those two; and your Lord is never forgetful) ﴿19:64﴾. 7. Allah’s statement,
(And they will never compass anything of His Knowledge except that which He wills), asserts the fact that no one attains any part of Allah’s knowledge except what Allah conveys and allows. This part of the Ayah indicates that no one ever acquires knowledge of Allah and in His Attributes, except what He conveys to them. For instance, Allah said,
(But they will never compass anything of His knowledge) ﴿20: 110﴾. 8. Allah said,
(His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth.)
Waki` narrated in his Tafsir that Ibn `Abbas said, “Kursi is the footstool, and no one is able to give due consideration to ﴿Allah’s﴾ Throne.” Al-Hakim recorded this Hadith in his Mustadrak from Ibn `Abbas, who did not relate it to the Prophet . Al-Hakim said, “It is Sahih according to the criteria of the Two Sahihs, and they (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) did not record it.” In addition, Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn `Abbas said, “If the seven heavens and the seven earths were flattened and laid side by side, they would add up to the size of a ring in a desert, compared to the Kursi.” 9. Allah said,
(And He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them) meaning, it does not burden or cause Him fatigue to protect the heavens and earth and all that is in between them. Rather, this is an easy matter for Him. Further, Allah sustains everything, has perfect watch over everything, nothing ever escapes His knowledge and no matter is ever a secret to Him. All matters are insignificant, modest and humble before Him. He is the Most Rich, worthy of all praise. He does what He wills, and no one can ask Him about what He does, while they will be asked. He has supreme power over all things and perfect alertness concerning everything. He is the Most High, the Greatest, there is no deity worthy of worship except Him, and no Lord other than Him.
10. Allah’s statement,
(And He is the Most High, the Most Great) is similar to His statement,
(the Most Great, the Most High) ﴿13:9﴾.
These and similar Ayat and authentic Hadiths about Allah’s Attributes must be treated the way the Salaf (righteous ancestors) treated them by accepting their apparent meanings without equating them ﴿with the attributes of the creation﴾ or altering their apparent meanings.
Then follows a verse that summarizes, in powerful and succinct Words, the basic principles of the Islamic faith, citing those attributes of God that most aptly assert the meaning and significance of the basic Islamic principle of tawhid: the oneness of God. “God: there is no deity but Him, the Ever-Living, the Eternal Master of all. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth. Who is there that can intercede with Him, except by His permission? He knows all that lies open before them and all that lies hidden from them; whereas they cannot attain to anything of His knowledge save as He wills. His throne extends over the heavens and the earth, and the preservation of both does not weary Him. He is the Most High, the Most Great.” (Verse 255)
Every one of these attributes reflects a fundamental aspect of the universal Islamic view of the world. Although the subject matter of this verse would normally be expected to fall within the themes of the Qur’anic parts received by the Prophet in Makkah, we do find that on several occasions, parts received in Madinah also cover these most important aspects of Islam. For the overall Islamic system to be understood and appreciated, the fundamentals have to be established and firmly implanted in the minds of the believers.
In our commentary on Surah al-Fatihah, we pointed out the crucial importance of clearly and fully appreciating the significance of God’s attributes. The religious and doctrinal confusion preceding the advent of Islam was almost entirely due to misinterpretation or distortion of God’s position and attributes. Not until Islam had presented its clear view were the concept and identity of God distinguished from myth and superstition and from the blurred philosophical polemics that had enshrouded them.
The surah most clearly and unequivocally states: “God: there is no deity but Him…“ This statement clearly and definitively distinguishes the Islamic concept of God from that of the Trinity, adopted and advanced by Christian church councils long after Jesus, and from the pagan beliefs of the ancient Egyptians who confused God with the sun and recognized the existence of lesser gods beside Him.’
This clear and uncompromising concept is the foundation of Islamic belief and of the whole Islamic system of life. It defines the object of worship and submission for all, so that man submits to none other than God, who alone should be worshipped, obeyed and revered. It gives rise to the principle that God alone should be the source of law and legislation for human life on this earth. The laws and rules that people may lay down should derive from those that God has laid down. This would in turn imply that values and concepts originate with God and that all ethics, traditions and moral systems must be judged in relation to them.
The verse describes God as “the Ever-Living, the Eternal Master of all”. This implies a self-generating, self-sustaining being that is unique and independent of everything else. It is also a being without a beginning or an end, totally outside the dimension of time which defines the beginning and end of other ephemeral beings. Furthermore, this being, God Almighty, is absolute and cannot be defined in conventional terms applicable to all creation. He is unique in every respect, and nothing can be compared with Him. Thus, all other definitions or representations of God, conjured up by the human mind throughout the ages, are false and inadequate.
“The Eternal Master of all”, implies that God has power over all things and that He is the supreme and ultimate cause, the raison d’etre, of everything, without whom there can be no existence or action.
This is diametrically opposite to the misguided view of Aristotle, the most eminent of Greek philosophers, that God takes no interest in His creation, because He is too great to preoccupy Himself with anything else. Aristotle took this to be a glorification of God, but in effect it means the elimination of God from the daily affairs of the world He created. The Islamic view of God, on the other hand, is a positive one, based on the principle that God is actively and constantly sustaining all existence, and that the existence of everything emanates from His will and design.
The Islamic view of God gives total assurance and relates a Muslim’s conscience and being, as well as everything around him, directly to God, the power that controls all existence, according to the divine scheme and order. A believer thus draws all his values, norms and standards from God’s order and watches God in all his actions and behaviour.
“Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him.” This statement reinforces, in simpler and more graphic terms, the preceding one: that God is the everlasting power sustaining everything in existence. It also distinguishes God from other beings by pointing out that He is not affected by sleep to any degree, in any shape or form.
God’s unique being and His total and absolute control over all things, large and small, at all times, are awesome concepts to comprehend. No matter how much the limited human mind may be able to grasp the size and variety of creatures and events of this vast universe, it would not be possible for man to adequately perceive how God exercises His power and control over the world. What we are able to appreciate is bound to fill us with amazement, and also give us endless reassurance of God’s presence and protection over us.
“His is all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth.” God’s claim over the cosmos is total and absolute; unconditional and incontestable. This is another aspect of the principle of God’s oneness which confirms that God is supreme, ever-present, eternal, master and owner of all. It completely invalidates the assumption that God has partners in His power or actions.
This concept gives a new definition of ownership as applied to individual human beings. For, since God is the ultimate owner of all that exists, no one else can claim ownership of anything in this world. People are, therefore, mere custodians of what they possess, which is entrusted to them by God. Accordingly, they are bound by the terms of that custodianship, as set out by God Almighty, the ultimate owner, in the divine code of living revealed to mankind. Any violation of these terms leads to disqualification and censure of the trustee.
Here we can see how Islamic principles are directly translated into law for immediate application in life. When God says: “His is all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth,” He is not merely stating a principle of faith, but also laying down a fundamental rule of the order of life He envisages for mankind.
Once the belief is firmly established in our consciousness that everything in this world belongs to God and that what we own is merely on loan for a limited period of time, greed and lust to accumulate wealth and worldly possessions by any means will not be difficult to hold in check. This belief is bound to fill our hearts with contentment, humility, tolerance, and magnanimity. One will face wealth and poverty with equal ease and steadfastness, and if impoverished will not be in the least bitter or grudging.
“Who is there that can intercede with Him, except by His permission?” This statement underlines yet another aspect of the concept of God’s oneness, distinguishing clearly the Supreme Being, God, and His subordinate creation. All creatures stand in total humility and submission to the Master, never arrogating to themselves powers or authorities not delegated to them by Him. Above all, they are not to intercede on behalf of anyone without God’s permission, and when they are granted such permission, they will act within its limits, as set out by God Almighty. Some will certainly attain a higher degree of approval than others, but none of them will overstep their set limits.
The tone of the statement is plainly one of divine majesty and authority, enhanced by its rhetorical form which seems to question the legitimacy of the proposition that anyone can intercede on behalf of another without God’s permission and authority.
In the light of this fact, the vulgar absurdity of certain religious notions of God and godhead, upheld by some communities to whom God has sent messengers, becomes glaringly obvious, often verging on the grotesque and outrageous. Some of these allege that God has partners, sons or others, who share His authority, or associates whose intercession He will not refuse. Others recognize certain human individuals as divine representatives of God who, in some mysterious way, draw their earthly powers from Him directly.
The Islamic concept of God is crystal-clear and unambiguous. It makes a sharp distinction between God, the Master, and all creation, His subordinates, leaving no room whatsoever for any confusion or overlap between the essence or status of the two. Islam complements this distinction by emphasizing God’s merciful, caring, compassionate and munificent attitude towards His creation. All believers can enjoy His grace without the need for distorting their conception of God’s omnipresence and omnipotence, or perverting the nature of their relationship with Him.
“He knows all that lies open before them and all that lies hidden from them; whereas they cannot attain to anything of His knowledge save as He wills.” (Verse 255) This statement expresses God’s omniscience. He has full and total knowledge of the present, the past and the future, which human beings cannot possibly know or perceive. He is ever aware of what human beings know and what they do not, and will not, know. They can learn only what He allows them to learn.
The fact that God knows our present, past and future actions and deeds, and beyond, ought to fill us with dread and awe, for being totally and permanently exposed before God Almighty. It inspires total humility and submission to the one omniscient God. It is also Poignant to reflect on the corollary of this principle, that “… they cannot attain to anything of His knowledge save as He wills”. Human beings may learn only what God wills them to know and learn which, in an age of such tremendous expansion of scientific 1r knowledge, is a compelling truth to ponder. God alone possesses full and absolute knowledge of all existence. He is able, in His infinite wisdom, to impart whatever He chooses of His knowledge to mankind, as He has promised: “We will show them Our signs in all the regions of the earth and in their own souls, until they clearly see that this is the truth.” (41: 53)
This fact is often forgotten, and so is the fact that whatever knowledge God imparts to man, whether relating to the physical or to the metaphysical world, entails a certain degree of responsibility and accountability. Despite this, men often forget that God is the source of the knowledge they have acquired, while others deny the fact altogether.
God has been giving man knowledge ever since the day He appointed man His vicegerent on earth and undertook to guide him and show him the way forward, unfolding before him the secrets of the physical world and all the principles, laws and tools that facilitate human life and progress on earth.
While God has generously enabled man to acquire vast amounts of knowledge and made him privy to many of the world’s mysteries, He has withheld many others. These are not required for man to know in order to fulfil his role on earth. These include the secret of life, which continues to elude human knowledge and which man continues to pursue with zeal but little success. The same applies to knowledge of the future, which remains hidden behind an impregnable wall, despite man’s persistent efforts to predict and determine the future. Occasionally, however, with God’s permission certain individuals are given glimpses of the future, but the curtain soon falls, leaving that world firmly inaccessible. All the stores of knowledge that are not necessary for man’s role in this world remain locked, and the great leaps man has made have barely reached beyond planet earth, a mere speck in a vast immeasurable universe. Nevertheless, man is beguiled and overwhelmed by the little knowledge he has acquired, which he owes to God’s grace and generosity, and has assumed for himself a quasi- divine status, a demigod, denying the very existence of God, the Creator. In recent decades, scientists have begun to show a certain degree of humility in recognizing the inadequacy and shortcomings of human knowledge. There are, however, many fools who continue to think that they know everything there is to know.
“His throne extends over the heavens and the earth, and the preservation of both does not weary Him. He is the Most High, the Most Great.” (Verse 255) Here we have another example of the unique style of the Qur’ān in expressing an abstract idea by means of a visual image, in order to make the meaning clear and accessible. The word kursī, meaning ‘seat’ or ‘chair’ and translated here as “throne”, is usually used to denote realm or sovereignty. The idea here is that God’s sovereignty and authority extend over the entire cosmos, and the image makes it clear, easy to grasp and comprehend.
Likewise, the phrase, “the preservation of both does not weary Him,” is an expression of God’s omnipotence, depicting in simple but powerful terms how easy it is for God to sustain and preserve the heavens and the earth.
Qur’anic expressions of this kind have provoked a great deal of controversy, largely because commentators ignored the Qur’anic syntax and leaned heavily on alien and absurd philosophies which distorted much of the clarity and simplicity of the Qur’ān.
I would also add here that I have not come across any authentic statements of the Prophet that explain precisely the meanings of ‘seat, chair or throne’ as used in the Qur’ān, and I would, therefore, rather not speculate further on their meaning.
The verse ends with two more attributes of God: “He is the Most High, the Most Great,” exalting God above all else. The Arabic words make it clear that these attributes are exclusive to God Almighty. No human being, or any other creature, could aspire to these qualities, and those who try shall be humbled and disgraced. Elsewhere in the Qur’ān, God says: “As for the [happy] life to come, We grant it exclusively to those who seek neither to exalt themselves on earth nor yet to spread corruption.” (28: 83) It also castigates Pharaoh for being “a tyrant and a transgressor” (44: 31)
No matter how powerful or great a human being may grow, he can never rise above being a servant of God. Once this fact is firmly established in man’s mind, it will enhance his status as subordinate to God and restrain his pride and transgression. He will truly fear God and appreciate His majesty and power, and will seek to be more humble towards God and less haughty in dealing with his fellow human beings.
Here again, we see how a tenet of faith is immediately translated into a code of conduct in real life.
This is the greatest verse of the noble Qur’an. Ahadith carry statements featuring its wonderful merits and blessings. It appears in the Musnad of Ahmad that the Holy Prophet (saw) has said that this verse is the most meritorious of all. According to another hadith, the Holy Prophet (saw) asked Sayyidna ‘Ubayy ibn Ka’b (رض) ‘Which is the greatest ayah (verse) of the Qur’an?’ Sayyidna ‘Ubayy ibn Ka’b (رض) said: “Ayah al-Kursi’. Approvingly, the Holy Prophet (sawم) said: ‘0 Abu al-Mundhir, may Allah bless you in your knowledge’.
Sayyidna Abu Dharr (رض) ، asked the Holy Prophet (saw) : ‘0 Messenger of Allah, which is the greatest ayah (verse) of the Qur’an?’ He said : ‘Ayah al-Kursi’. (Ibn Kathir from Ahmad in Al-Musnad).
Sayyidna Abu Hurayrah (رض) has reported the Holy Prophet (saw) saying: ‘There is a verse in Surah Al-Baqarah which is the Sayyidah سَیَدہ (the Chief) of the verses of the Qur’an. The Satan شیطان leaves the house where it is recited.’
According to a hadith in al-Nasai, the Holy Prophet (saw) said: If someone recites Ayah al-Kursi after every fard salah فرض نماز ، nothing stops him from entering Paradise except death.’ It means that, immediately after death, this person will start witnessing the traces of Paradise and its comfort and tranquility.
This verse describes the Oneness of Allah’s being and attributes in a unique manner – He s living, He hears and sees, He speaks, He is self-existent, He is eternal and everlasing, He is the innovator and creator of the entire universe, He is above changes and effects, He is the Master of the whole universe, He is so exalted in His majesty tht no one can speak before Him without His permission; He is the wielder of such absolute power that the tremendous function of creating the universe, sustaining it and making it work steadily, does not cause him to tire or relax. So all-encompassing is His knowledge that not the minutest possible atom or drop, open or hidden, could stay out of it. This is, in brief, the core sense of the verse. Now let us take up the meanings of its words in some details.
This verse has ten sentences. The first sentence is: اللَّـهُ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ‘Allah: There is no god but He.’ The word, (Allah) is like a proper noun for Allah’s being. It means: ‘the Being who combines all perfections and is free of all shortcomings.’ ‘There is no god but He’ explains this Being. It says that there is absolutely nothing worth worshipping except this Being.
The second sentence الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ : The Alive, the All-Sustaining.’ The word حَيُّ means ‘the living’ in Arabic. Out of the Divine names, the introduction of this word is to emphasize that He is Ever-living and Ever-lasting. He is above and beyond death. The word is derived from Qiyam قیام which means ‘to stand’ and ga’im قایم refers to ‘one who stands.’ The words, Qayyum قَيُّومُ and Qayyam قَيُّمُ are forms of exaggeration. They mean: ‘one who himself stands firmly and keeps others sustained and supported, all simultaneously.’ Qayyum قَيُّومُ is an attribute of Allah Almighty with which no created being can be associated, for what depends on others for its own existence and survival can hardly be expected to support something else. Therefore, a human being should not be called, ‘Qayyum قَيُّومُ ‘. It is not permissible. People who corrupt the name, ` Abdul-Qayyum قَيُّومُ (the slave of the Qayyum قَيُّومُ ) by casually using just the second part — Qayyum قَيُّومُ , commit a grave error resulting in their sinfulness.
The combination of Hayy حَيُّ and Qayyum قَيُّومُ from among the attributive names of Allah Almighty is الاسم الاعظم (al-ism al-a zam: the Great Name) according to several revered elders. Sayyidna ` Ali (رض) says: ‘There was a time during the Battle of Badr when I wished I could see what the Holy Prophet (saw) was doing. On arrival, I saw him in the state of sajdah, (the prescribed prostration) constantly saying, یاحَيُّ یاقَيُّومُ یاحَيُّ یاقَيُّومُ
The third sentence is لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلَا نَوْمٌ ‘Neither doze overtakes Him nor sleep.’ The word (سِنَةٌ: sinatun) denotes drowsiness which is the preliminary effect of coming sleep, while the word, نَوْم : nawm refers to full sleep. The sense of the sentence; is that Allah Almighty is above and beyond states of drowsiness or sleep. When the word, قَيُّومُ Qayyum, appearing in the previous sentence; told man that Allah is holding in perfect working unison the whole universe, which includes in itself, all skies and earths and all there is in them — one could stray on to the idea, naturally so, in view of man’s instinctive inquisitiveness, that the sacred ‘Being’ doing such a stupendous task must, at some time, feel tired, and need due moments of rest and sleep. In this second sentence of the text, man, who has limited knowledge and insight, and limited power, was warned that he should not measure Allah on his analogy or that of other created beings, never taking Him as similar to one’s own self. He is above and beyond similarities and analogies. His power is absolutely perfect before which these doings are neither difficult nor tiresome and that His sacred being is above and beyond all sense-effects, weariness, exhaustion, drowsiness and sleep.
The fourth sentence is لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ : ‘To Him belongs what is in the havens and what is in the earth.’ The letter (lam ل ) appearing in the very beginning, has been used to denote ownership. Thus it means that everything on the earth or in the heavens is all owned by Allah Almighty. He is the authority, and may do whatever He deems fit with them.
The fifth sentence is مَن ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِندَهُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ ‘Who can intercede with Him without His permission?’ Here are some points implied in this sentence:
To begin with, when Allah Almighty is the master-owner of the entire universe and there is no one above Him, certainly then, no one is entitled to question Him about anything He does. In the wake of a command that flows from Him, the option of saying why and wherefore does not exist for anyone. However, someone interceding on someone’s behalf was possible. This too has now been made clear that no mortal could even dare breath in the most exalted Presence of Allah Almighty; but there are servants of Allah Almighty who have received the favour of His approval and acceptance and who would be specially allowed to speak and intercede. In short, recommendation or intercession, from anyone for anyone, will not be possible without Divine permission. It appears in Hadith that the Holy Prophet (saw) said: On the day of resurrection, I shall be the first to intercede on behalf of all human communities’. This is called al-Maqam al-Mahmud المقام المحمود ، the praised station, which is one of the distinctions of our noble Prophet (saw) .
The sixth sentence is: يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ : ‘He.knows what is before them and what is behind them.’ It means that Allah Almighty is aware of all the states and events surrounding them. ‘Before’ and ‘after’ may also mean that Allah Almighty is aware of all states and events before their birth and after their birth. It is also possible that ‘before’ refers to states and events that are open to men, and ‘after’ denotes states and events that are hidden. If so, it would mean that the human knowledge covers certain things and does not cover certain others. Some things are open before a human being and some are hidden. But, before Allah Almighty all these are equal. His knowledge encompasses all these things equally. Incidentally, there is no contradiction in these two senses, which are both included in the scope of the verse.
The seventh sentence is وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلَّا بِمَا شَاءَ :’And they encompass nothing of His knowledge except what He wills.’ It means that man and the rest of the created beings cannot cover even a part of Allah’s infinite knowledge except a certain part which Allah Almighty Himself allows to be given out of His knowledge. This is all one can know. Here it has been made clear that the all-encompassing knowledge of every particle in the universe is a particular attribute of none but Allah Almighty. No man, no created being can claim to have a share in it.
The eighth sentence is: وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ :’His Kursi کرسی extends to the Heavens and to the Earth.’ It means that His Kursi کرسی (translated as chair or base of power) is so magnified that its spatial infinity houses, within itself, the seven heavens and the earth. Allah Almighty is above and beyond sitting and standing and all spatial location and placement. Such verses should not be taken up on the analogy of our own states and affairs. The comprehension of the state of being, and the reality of His attributes, is above and beyond human reason. However, there are authentic narrations in ahadith which simply tell us that ` Arsh عرش (translated as ‘throne’, being a seat of authority) and Kursi (chair) are heavenly bodies many times larger than the heavens and the earth.
Ibn Kathir has reported from Sayyidnu Abu Dharr al-Ghifari (رض) that he asked the Holy Prophet (saw) as to what the Kursi was and what did it look like. He said: ‘By Allah, who is the master of my life, the seven heavens and the earth as compared with Kursi are like the small circle of a finger-ring lying on a huge plain.’
In some other narrations it has been stated that Kursi as compared to ` Arsh عرش (Throne) is also like the circle of a finger-ring on a huge plain.
The ninth sentence is: وَلَا يَئُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا :’And it does not weary Him to look after them.’ It means that supporting the two magnificent creations of the heavens and the earth is not the least burdensome for Allah Almighty since doing so, with the perfect power of the Absolute Master, is easy.
The tenth and the last sentence is: وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ :’And He is the High, the Supreme.’ It means that He is most exalted and great in majesty. In the previous nine sentences, the perfections of Allah’s being and His attributes were stated. After having seen and understood these, every rational human being is bound to acknowledge that all honour, power and superiority belongs to none but the same Allah Almighty. To sum up, these ten sentences epitomize a description of Allah’s Oneness and His perfections with clarity, and in detail.
(2:255) Allah, the Ever-Living, the Self-Subsisting by Whom all subsist, there is no god but He.  Neither slumber seizes Him, nor sleep;  to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth.  Who is there who might intercede with Him save with His leave? 
He knows what lies before them and what is hidden from them, whereas they cannot attain to anything of His knowledge save what He wills them to attain.  His Dominion  overspreads the heavens and the earth, and their upholding wearies Him not. He is All-High, All-Glorious. 
 Irrespective of the number of gods or objects of worship set up by ignorant people, the fact remains that godhead in its entirety, belongs exclusively to the Eternal Being, Who is indebted to no one for His existence. In fact, He is not only self-existent, but upon Him rests the entire order of the universe. He alone wields all sovereign authority over His dominion. None shares either His attributes or His power and might, and no one has the same claims against the creatures as He. Hence, if anywhere in the heavens or the earth someone sets up anything or anybody as an object of worship and service (ilah) either instead of or in addition to the One True God this amounts to declaring war on reality.
 This is a refutation of the ideas of those who, in formulating their concepts of God, are inclined to consider God analogous to their own imperfect selves and hence ascribe to God the weaknesses characteristic of human beings. An instance at hand is the famous Biblical statement that God created the heavens and the earth in six days and on the seventh day He rested (see Genesis, chapters 1 and 2).
 To God belongs the heavens and the earth and everything therein. There is no one who shares anything with God in governance either of the heavens or of the earth. Any conceivable being other than God would necessarily be a part of the universe and thus belong to, and be a subject of, God rather than His partner and equal.
This is a refutation of the ideas of those polytheists who consider either saints, angels or other beings to be so influential with God that if they were adamant in demanding something of Him, their demand would prevail. They are being told that, far from anyone having the power to impose his will on God, none – not even the greatest Prophets and the most highly esteemed angels – will dare utter one word in the majestic court of the Lord unless they are expressly permitted to do so.
 Here another blow is struck against polytheism. On the basis of the concept of God’s unlimited sovereignty and omnipotence it was stressed, in the foregoing verses, that no one shares independently in God’s governance of the universe, and no one is so powerful with God that his intercession would decisively influence His judgement. The same point is stressed here but in a different manner. It is pointed out that no one possesses the knowledge that would enable him to comprehend the order of the universe and the considerations underlying it, so no one can legitimately interfere in its governance. The knowledge of human beings, of jinn, of angels and of all other creatures is limited and imperfect. No one’s knowledge embraces all the facts of the universe. If someone did have the right to interfere even in only a part of the universe, and if his suggestions were of necessity to be put into effect, the entire order of the universe would be disrupted. Creatures are incapable of understanding what is best for them, and do not have the capacity to know how best the universe should be governed. It is God alone Who knows everything.
 The Arabic term kursi signifies sovereignty, dominion and authority.
(The word Kursi has been variously interpreted by Muslim scholars. The literal meaning is obvious; it signifies that which one sits on. Scholars have differed, however, as to whether the word has been used in the Qur’an literally or figuratively. They have also disagreed whether the Kursi and ‘Arsh Which occur in the Qur’an have one and the same meaning or are different. The main opinions expressed by the scholars are the following: (i) that Kursi signifies God’s knowledge, a view attributed to Ibn ‘Abbas; (ii) that it is identical with ‘Arsh (Throne), a view attributed to Hasan al-Basri; (iii) that it signifies God’s power (iv ) in opposition to such views a large number of scholars insist that Kursi should be considered a reality rather than be understood figuratively. In addition to many earlier scholars, this was vigorously championed by Ibn Taymiyah. It should be remembered, however, that Ibn Taymiyah and others who hold this opinion, side by side with affirming that Kursi is a reality, also emphasize that man has no knowledge about the nature and modality of Kursi and that it ought to be treated as something unique, being related to God Who is unique both in His essence and attributes. (See the commentaries of Alusi. Tabari, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir and Shawkani on this verse. See also Ibn Taymiyah, Majmu al-Fatawa 1bn Taymiyah, vol. 5, pp. 55-8 and vol. 6, pp. 584-5. It is interesting to note that Sayyid Qutb, (martyred 1386 A.H/966 C.E.), a contemporary of Mawdudi and one of the most influential Islamic thinkers of our time, has interpreted the verse exactly, as Mawdudi did – Ed.)
 This verse is generally known as the ‘Verse of the Throne’ and it provides in one piece a knowledge of God without parallel.
The question that arises here is: What is the occasion for describing the Lord of the Universe and His attributes? In order to appreciate this one should rehearse the discourse beginning with( verse 243) and continuing up to this point. In this discourse the believers were urged to strive with their lives and belongings to establish the true faith and were warned to get rid of the weaknesses which had characterized the conduct of the Israelites. A fundamental fact about war – that victory and success do not depend upon superiority in either numbers or weapons – was then indicated. They depend rather on faith, fortitude, discipline and firm resolution. Thereafter the Divine wisdom underlying fighting was disclosed, namely that God removes one set of people by means of another in order to maintain the good administration of the world. For were one group’s dominance to be assured in perpetuity, the lives of all other human beings mould become miserable.
This was followed by the clarification of a misunderstanding which often arises in the minds of ignorant people. This misunderstanding arose from the false assumption that God had sent His Prophets so that all diversity and disagreement might come to an end. The people who accepted this premise, however, saw considerable diversity and disagreement, and were aware that falsehood existed side by side with Truth. They were agitated by the thought that this state of affairs might suggest helplessness on God’s part, that He had failed to stamp out the evils He wanted to. In reply to this it was pointed out that it was not God’s will to compel all human beings to follow one and the same way. Had it been so, man could not have deviated from the course set for him by God. This observation was followed by a passing reference to the subject with which the discourse opened. Finally, the point is made that no matter how many divergent beliefs, viewpoints, ways of life and conduct exist in actual life, the reality underlying the order of the universe is the one stated in this verse, and it remains unaffected by the misconceptions of people. On the other hand, however, it is not God’s purpose to compel people to accept it. Whoever accepts it will find it to his own benefit; whoever rejects it, will find the result harmful.