Surah Najm Ayat 18 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 18
He certainly saw of the greatest signs of his Lord.
For truly did he see, of the Signs of his Lord, the Greatest!
and he certainly saw some of the greatest Signs of His Lord.
Indeed he (Muhammad SAW) did see, of the Greatest Signs, of his Lord (Allah).
Verily he saw one of the greater revelations of his Lord.
Indeed he has already seen of the signs of his Lord, the greatest.
and he saw some of the greatest signs of his Lord.
Quran 53 Verse 18 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Najm ayat 18, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(53:18) and he certainly saw some of the greatest Signs of His Lord.
14. This verse clearly states that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had not seen Allah but His wonderful sings. Even according to the context, this second meeting also took place with the same being with whom the first meeting had taken place. Therefore, one will have to admit that neither the one whom he had first seen on the uppermost horizon was Allah nor he whom he saw afterwards by the farthest lote-tree was Allah. Had he seen Allah Almighty on either occasion it would have been a great thing and must certainly have been mentioned here explicitly. About the Prophet Moses it has been said in the Quran that he had besought to see Allah And the reply given was: Lan tarani You cannot sec Me. (Surah Al-Aaraf, Ayat 143). Now, obviously this honor was not granted to the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him). Had it been granted to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), it would by itself have been such an important thing which must have been stated in clear words. But we see that nowhere in the Quran has it been said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had seen his Sustainer and Lord. But in Surah Bani-Israil also, where mention has been made of the event of Miraj (Ascension), it has been said that: We had transported Our servant…so that We may show him some of Our signs, (linuriya- hu min ayat-ina), and here also in connection with his visit at sidrat al-muntaha, it has been said: He saw of the greatest signs of His Lord (laqad ra a min ayat-i Rabb-i-hil kubra).
In view of these reasons apparently there was no ground for the dispute whether the Prophet (peace be upon him) on both these occasions had seen Allah Almighty or the Angel Gabriel. But, the reason that has given rise to this dispute is that the traditions of Hadith differ on this question. Below we reproduce in their sequence the Ahadith that have been reported from the different companions in this regard:
(1) Traditions of Aishah:
Masruq, as stated in Kitab at-Tafsir of Bukhari, asked Aishah: O mother of the faithful. Had Muhammad (peace be upon him) seen his Lord and Sustainer? She replied: Your question has terrified me. Why do you forget that if a person lays claim to three of the things, he would lay a false claim? (The first of these things that Aishah mentioned was): Whoever among you says that Muhammad (peace be upon him) had seen his Lord and Sustainer, tells a lie. Then Aishah recited these verses: La tudriku-hul-absar: Eyes cannot comprehend Him; and: Makanali-bashar-in anyyukallima-hullah-u ills wahy-an au min-wara-i-hijab-in au yursila rasul an fayu-hia bi-idhni hi ma yasha-u: It is not given to any mortal that Allah should speak to him, face to face; He, speaks either through revelation (secret instruction), or from behind a curtain, or He sends a messenger (an angel), who by Allah’s command, reveals whatever He wills. (Surah Ash-Shura, Ayat 51). Then she said: The Prophet (peace be upon him) in fact had seen Gabriel in his real shape twice.
A part of this Hadith is also found in Bukhari (chapter 4 of Kitab atTauhid) And in the tradition that Bukhari has cited from Masruq in Kitab Bida aI-Khalq, he states: Hearing this thing from Aishah, I asked: What would then Allah’s words, Thumma dana fa-tadalla, fa-Kana qaba qausain-i au adha: mean? She replied: This refers to Gabriel; he always appeared before the Prophet (peace be upon him) in human shape, but on this occasion he had appeared before him in his real shape and nature and the whole horizon was filled with him.
In Muslim (Kitab al-Iman, Babu fi Dhikr Sidrat almuntaha) this conversation between Aishah and Masruq has been related in greater detail, its most important part being this: Aishah said: The one who claims that Muhammad (peace be upon him) had seen his Lord and Sustainer imputes a lie to Allah. Masruq says: I was leaning back. Hearing this I sat up and said: Mother of the faithful, do not make haste: Has not Allah said: wa laqad raa-hu biufuq- i mubin? and laqad raa-hu nazlat-an ukhra. Aishah replied: I was the first one in this ummah who inquired of the Prophet (peace be upon him) about this. He had replied: It was Gabriel. I have never seen him in his real shape and form in which Allah has created him except on these two occasions. On these two occasions I saw him descending from the heavens and his great presence was covering the whole space between the earth and the heavens.
Ibn Marduyah has related this tradition of Masruq, thus: Aishah said: I was indeed the first person who asked the Prophet (peace be upon him): Did you ever see your Lord and Sustainer? He replied: No, I had only seen Gabriel descending from the heavens.
(2) Traditions of Abdullah bin Masud: Bukhari (Kitab at-Tafsir), Muslim (Kitab al Iman) and Tirmidhi (Abwab at-Tafsir) contain a tradition on the authority of Zirr bin Hubaish, saying that Abdullah bin Masud gave this commentary of fa-kana qaba qausain-i au adha: The Prophet (peace be upon him) saw Gabriel in the shape that he had six hundred wings.
In the other traditions of Muslim, Zirr bin Hubaish has reported this very commentary of Ma kadhab al-fu adu ma raa and laqad ra a min ayat-i Rabbi-hil kubra from Abdullah bin Masud.
In Musnad Ahmad this commentary of Ibn Masud has been reported by Abdur Rahman bin Yazid and Abu Wail also besides Zirr bin Hubaish. Furthermore, in Musnad Ahmad two more traditions of Zirr bin Hubaish have been related in which Abdullah bin Masud commenting upon wa laqad raa-hu nazlat-an ukhra, inda-sidrat-ilmuntaha stated: The Messenger (peace be upon him) of Allah said that he saw Gabriel by the lote-tree, he had six hundred wings. Imam Ahmad has also cited a tradition on the same subject, on the authority of Shaqiq bin Salamah, in which he states that he heard Abdullah bin Masud saying that the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself had said that he had seen Gabriel in that shape at sidrat al-muntaha.
(3) When Ata bin Abi Rabah asked Abu Hurairah the meaning of the verse laqad raa-hu nazlat-an ukhra, he replied: The Prophet (peace be upon him) had seen Gabriel. (Muslim: Kitab al lman).
(4) Imam Muslim has related in kitab al-Iman two traditions of Abdullah bin Shaqiq on the authority of Abu Dharr Ghifari, in one of which he says that he asked the Prophet (peace be upon him): Did you ever see your Lord? The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: Nur-un anna ara-hu; and in the other he says that the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave this answer to his question: Raaitu nur-an. Of the first answer of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Ibn al-Qayyim has given this meaning in his Zadal-Maad: Between me and the sight of my Lord there was Light, and of the second this: I did not see my Lord but only a Light.
Nasai and Ibn Abi Hatim have reported the saying of Abu Dharr, thus: The Prophet (peace be upon him) had seen his Lord with the heart (mind), not with the eyes.
(5) Imam Muslim in his Kitab al-Iman has related this tradition from Abu Musa al-Ashari: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The sight of no one from among His creatures has reached Allah Almighty.
(6) Traditions of Abdullah bin Abbas:
According to Muslim, when Abdullah bin Abbas was asked the meaning of: Ma kadhab al-fu adu ma ara, wa laqad raa hu nazlat-an ukhra, he said: The Messenger (peace be upon him) of Allah saw his Lord twice with his heart. This tradition is also contained in Musnad Ahmad.
Ibn Marduyah has cited this saying of Ibn Abbas, on the authority of Ata bin Abi Rabah: The Messenger (peace be upon him) of Allah had not seen Allah with the eyes but with the heart.
Nasai contains a tradition from Ikrimah saying that Ibn Abbas said: Do you wonder at this that Allah made the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) His friend, blessed Moses (peace be upon him) with His Word and honored Muhammad (peace be upon him) with His sight? Hakim also has cited this tradition and held it as authentic.
In Tirmidhi, there is a tradition from Shabi to the effect that Ibn Abbas said in a gathering: Allah had distributed His sight and His Word between Muhammad (peace
The tafsir of Surah Tur verse 18 by Ibn Kathir is unavailable here.
Please refer to Surah Tur ayat 5 which provides the complete commentary from verse 5 through 18.
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