Ayatul Kursi

Salamualaykum,

These are my notes from a lecture on the tafseer of Ayatul Kursi a couple years ago. Like the Ramadan reminders post, this one is also quite long but very beneficial inshaAllah. We read Ayatul Kursi almost as much as we read Al-Fatiha but we often zip through it without really contemplating over the deep implications of this ayah. Understanding its tafseer will bi’ithnillah embed the meaning of tawheed in our hearts so much so that we will start seeing this world from a very different perspective, one that Allah and His Messenger are pleased with inshaAllah.

  • Rasulullah (Salallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam) asked Ubay’ ibn Ka’ab (ra), who was a scribe of the revelation and he was considered one of the early scholars of the Qur’an, Rasulullah (S) asked him “What is the greatest ayah in Qur’an?” Out of respect, he said “Allahu wa Rasulu ‘alam” –Allah and His Messenger know best. But Rasulullah (S) insisted, so Ubay’ ibn ka’ab said “Ayatul Kursi”. Rasulullah (S) then said, “Congratulations on your knowledge Abu Mundhir!” Rasulullah (S) did not ask him this question because he wanted to know the answer, rather he was testing Ubay’ ibn ka’ab (ra) and he passed the test.
  • This hadith tells us that Ayatul Kursi is the greatest Ayah in Qur’an. Why? Because it is about the Tawheed of Allah—the same reason that made Surah Ikhlas the greatest Surah in Qur’an. Therefore, every Muslim needs to memorize this ayah, understand its meaning, and apply it. There’s a difference between knowing something and having the strength to act upon it.
  • Qur’an can be an evidence for you or an evidence against you. On Yaum ul Qiyamah, a Hafidh will be thrown in to Jahannum. Why? Because he memorized the Qur’an yet failed to act according to its teachings. There was no ikhlas in his knowledge. Islam teaches us that there is no benefit of knowledge unless it is applied.
  • Now, the youth are turning to Islam in huge numbers alhumdulillah. The two generations above us were generally not so keen about learning Islam. What’s more important though is applying anything and everything you know. Why? Because Iblis is more knowledgeable than us. We can study as much as we want, but Iblis has more knowledge about the Shari’ah than you, even if you spend your whole life studying Islam. He’s still more knowledgeable. His knowledge was at the same level of the Angels and he lost it all because of Kibr—arrogance.
  • In the time of Bani Israel, what good did the knowledge of their Rabbis do them? When ‘Esa (AS) was giving da’wah, the first people to turn him down were the Rabbis.
  • Knowledge in itself does not guarantee you anything, it doesn’t give you the key to Jannah. It’s the application of knowledge that can get you somewhere bi’itnillah.
  • The students of Imam Ahmad came to him one day and said “This man does not have any knowledge” (referring to some person). Imam Ahmad said “This man already has the fruit of knowledge”. Meaning, don’t belittle this man because he already has the fear of Allah. Allah says in Qur’an that those who truly fear Allah are the ‘ulema (35:28). So Imam Ahmad was saying that just because the man does not have lots of knowledge does not belittle his status because he already has what the scholars are trying to get—the Khashya of Allah ‘azzawajal.
  • Ayatul Kursi is an ayah of Tawheed. Allah tells us that all of history is a conflict between two sides: The followers of the Anbiya on one side and the followers of Shaytan on the other. Awlya Ar-Rahman vs. Awliya Ashaytan from the time of Adam (AS) till the Last Day. The core issue here is Tawheed. Every Prophet was sent with the same message of Tawheed. So the conflict of humanity is between those who want to worship Allah and those who want to be worshipped or want their false deities to be worshipped.
  • Ayatul Kursi is composed of ten segments and is the 255th ayah of Surah Al Baqarah.
  1. ‘Allahu la ilaha illa huwa’: Allah, there’s no one worthy of worship but Him.
    1. Allah negates that anyone/anything should be worshipped and then affirms that only He should be worshipped. Saying “None is worthy of worship but Allah” is a stronger way of presenting tawheed than to say ‘Allah is one’. No one is worthy of worship but Allah, so that authority is stripped away from all else and given to Allah ‘azzawajal.
  2. Al Hayyul Qayyum: Two names of Allah.
    1. Al Hayy—The living. The first and the last. Al awwal wal akhir.
    2. Al Qayyum—The life of everything else exists through Him. The life of Allah is independent but our lives are dependent on Him. We cannot exist if Allah does not give us existence. Nothing is sustained except through him. Nothing can stand up without His help.
  3. La ta’ khudhuhu sinatow wala nowm: No sleep over takes Him nor slumber.
    1. Musa (AS) was asked by a man from Bani Israel “Does Allah sleep?” Musa (AS) was given the answer by two angels. They came to him and said “This night, we do not want you to sleep” and they gave him two bottles to hold on to. Musa (AS) was very tired from his da’wah that day but he stood that night. 1/3 of the night passes by and he’s barely holding himself up, the second third passes by and he doses off very briefly but wakes up again, the third night he loses control. He collapses and the two bottles fall down and shatter. The two angels returned and said, “Oh Musa, if Allah ‘azzawajal would sleep, then the heavens and the earth would shatter and fall down like these two bottles”. If Allah sleeps, who will manage and run the affairs of everything in the heavens and the earth? (tafsir ibn kathir)
    2. The Jews and Christian believe that Allah created the earth in six days and rested on the seventh—concept of the Sabath, God needed to rest. This isn’t a sideline belief, it’s mentioned on the first page of Genesis. Allah responds to them in Qur’an in Surah Qaf—“And We did certainly create the heavens and earth and what is between them in six days, and there touched Us no weariness.”
  4. Lahu ma fissama waati wama fil ardh: Everything in the heavens and the earth belongs to Allah.
    1. We all believe this but do we have yaqeen in this? If you are certain that everything belongs to Allah, then you will live in a different way. If everything belongs to Allah in the Heavens and Earth, nothing can happen without His permission. You cannot get a penny without His permission. If everything belongs to Him, who should you be afraid of? Nothing but Allah. You shouldn’t worry about anything. Firm belief in this fact will completely change your view on life. Hadith of ibn Abbas—Realize that if All the creation came together to benefit you, they would not benefit you except with something that was destined for you. And if they come together to harm you, they won’t harm you except with something that was destined for you. The pens are lifted and the scrolls are dry. White out doesn’t work on the scrolls of al-Qadr.
    2. If Allah punished all of His creation, that cannot be considered injustice and if Allah would have mercy on all of his slaves then His mercy would be better for them than their deeds. And realize that if you spend the equivalent of the mountain of Uhud in gold for the sake of Allah, it won’t be accepted from you until you believe in destiny. And you believe that what happened to you could not have been prevented and what didn’t happen to you couldn’t have happened and if you died believing otherwise, you would be in Hell Fire. (At-Tabarani) Here’s the quoted hadith: “If Allah were to punish the inhabitants of the heavens and earths, then He would punish and He would not bedoing injustice to them. If He were to have mercy on them, His mercy would be greater than from their actions.If a person had amount of gold equivalent to Mount Uhud or similar to Mount Uhud and spent it in the Path ofAllah, (that spending) would not be accepted form him by Allah until he believes in the preordainment ofgood and evil. And until he knows that what afflicted him was not going to miss him and what missed him wasnot going to afflict him. If you were to die with any belief other than that, you would enter the Hellfire” (Kitab al-Sunnah by Ibn Abu Asi # 245. Albani says that its chain is sahih) Lesssons from this Hadith:
    3. If Allah took all the Angels, and the Prophet’s, and the Sahaba, and the Tabi’een, and As-Saliheen, and put them in Hell Fire and locked them up for eternity, that cannot be considered injustice. Why? Because we are all property of Allah. He has the right to do with us as He wants. We do not have the right to question Allah about anything but Allah can question us about everything. We owe Him everything and He owes us nothing. Therefore, when Allah has mercy on His creation, it is a blessing from him (fadhl), they didn’t earn it. So Rasulullah (S) was saying that no one will enter Jannah through their deeds. The Sahaba asked, what about you ya Rasulullah, and he said not even me.
    4. We are all children of Adam (AS) and we are bound to sin and make mistakes. So Allah explains His names and attributes to us—the meaning of Al Ghafoor, Ar Raheem, Ar Rahman. The application of these names happen through us. Recall the hadith in Bukhari about a man from Bani Israel who killed 99 humans. A serial killer. Even though he was the greatest of criminals, he still had some good in his heart. He wanted to do tawbah so went looking for an ‘Abid to help him. He asks the ‘Abid, “I’ve killed 99 human beings, can Allah forgive me?” The ‘Abid says “No!” because he has never been in his situation, he can’t even imagine so much sin. So the man killed him, just because he disagreed with that man’s fatwa. He has now killed 100 human beings. But there was still some good in his heart. This time he went to an ‘Alim. He goes to the scholar, tells him his story, and asks the ‘Alim if Allah can forgive him. The ‘Alim says “And who can stand between you and tawbah? Who can stand between you and Allah? Who has that right? Allah created you, there is no intermediary between you and Allah!” Look at the difference between the ‘Abid and the ‘Alim. The fatwa is based on the circumstances. The ‘Alim told him to go to a different town where the people are righteous. The environment in this town is associated with sin so everything will call him towards that violence. You must change your surroundings and make Hijra. Hijrah from a place of sin to a place of ‘ibadah. The ‘Alim himself doesn’t make Hijrah so it’s based on the circumstances. So the man left. This shows you the importance of having righteous company and peers. Be careful who you associate with. Don’t deceive yourself by thinking you won’t change around bad company. Rasulullah (S) said that the wolf eats from the stray sheep. While the man was traveling to the other city, he died. The angels of punishment came down to claim his soul. The angels of mercy disputed their claim. Each one argued saying his soul belonged to them. One said he hasn’t committed tawbah yet and the other said he had the intention of Tawbah. Other angels came down to solve the problem and said, measure the distance between the place the man died and the other town. If you find him closer to his town, then he belongs in hell fire. If you find him closer to the land of righteousness, then he goes to Jannah. They measured the distance and found him closer to his town, so he should have gone to hell fire. Raslullah (S) says that Allah ‘azzawajal ordered the earth to stretch out so that the distance between him and his town was lengthened and the distance between him and the town of repentance was shortened. So when they measured the distance, he was closer to the other town. He went to Jannah. This shows that Allah is willing to change the dimensions of the earth to accept the tawbah of His slave! Is there any sin then, that is unforgivable? It may be that someone is righteous but because they don’t ask for forgiveness, they end up in hell fire, a’uthubillah.
    5. There was a man in Jahiliya named Abdullah ibn jad’aan. He was one of the noblemen of Quraysh, very righteous. Aisha (ra), asked Rasulullah (S) if Abdullah ibn Jad’aan’s good deeds would benefit him on yaum ul Qiyamah, and he said, “No, because he never said even once, oh Allah, forgive my sins on the Day of Judgement” This man died on shirk and lost it all because he never repented. Be very careful because some people try and plot against Allah. They enjoy themselves, sin all they want, and then ask for forgiveness because ‘Allah is Ar-Raheem’. This is completely unacceptable because Rasulullah (S) said: Tawbah is Regret. You must regret your sins, you should wish that you never did it to begin with, you humble yourself, and plead to Allah. You don’t look at the smallness of your sin, rather you look a the Greatness of the One you sinned against. Fear no one but Allah.
    6. Once a scholar went to give naseeha to a tyrant. At first he was speaking softly, then he started raising his voice, and eventually he was pointing at the tyrant and almost yelling at him. He said that when I saw him, I thought about the greatness of Allah, so the tyrant became even smaller than an ant. Allah ‘azzawajal controls everyone. Nothing can happen to you unless Allah wills. Fir’own– the most powerful tyrant, with the best intelligence services, most numerous police force and strongest army, could not fight away the a single man from Bani Israel who he already had prior information about! He knew it would be a boy so he kept every pregnant woman under surveillance and executed every baby boy. Nonetheless, the mother of Musa (AS) was able to conceal her pregnancy and not just that, but he was raised in the house of Fir’own himself! Allah tells the mother of Musa (AS) to drop her child in the river. Her child lands right at the dock of the palace of Fir’own. Allah is the ultimate protector, if He ‘azzawajal wants to protect his servant, no one regardless of what they have and what connections they have, no one can get through to him. Did Musa (AS) have an army? No. Allah was his protector. How many assassination plots were made against Rasulullah (S)? Allah wanted to protect His Anbiya and that’s what happened. Allah protects those who stand up against evil and kufr. If you see the dunya from this perspective, not a even a needle can poke you if Allah has not destined that for you. If you run away from death, it will come towards you. Allah talks about the people of Bani Israel who ran away from death so Allah sent death to them. Look at the life of Khalid ibn Waleed (ra) who tried for his entire life to die as a shaheed. When he was facing the angel of death, what did he say? He said, “I have tried in every battle to die and there is not an inch in my body that is not injured, be it from a sword or a spear or an arrow, and here I am dying in my bed, so let not the eyes of cowards sleep.” He was saying to those people who run away from death that he tried to die for the sake of Allah his entire life and he never got it. Allah is the protector. If you have this deep belief in Allah, you will not go after haram, you will not be consumed by this dunya. You will know that your rizq is already there, it’s just a matter of time before you get it. Whoever has taqwa of Allah, Allah ‘azzawajal will provide for them from doors of opportunity they never expected.
  5. Mandhalladhi yashfa’u ‘indahu illa bi’ithnih: Who is it that can intercede with him except through His permission?
    1. We believe in shafa’ah. Major Shafa’ah is given to Rasulullah (S) alone and minor shafa’ah is given to ashuhadaa. Shfa’ah cannot happen except through Allah. We shouldn’t believe that certain people can intercede. It is only controlled by Allah and He gives it to whomever He wills.
  6. Ya’lamu ma bayna aydeehim wama khalfahum: He knows what is in front of you and what is behind you.
    1. Our life follows a time and time is linear. It’s either behind you, with you, or in front of you. We cannot take a step back or take two steps ahead. Just one step at a time. Allah is not bound to this linear time. Everything is in front of Him. Allah knows the past exactly like He knows the present and the future, there’s no difference between them. Because Allah knows all of this, Allah has shown the Anbiya glimpses of the future. When Rasulullah (S) says he saw such and such person in hell fire or on the Day of Judgement or in Jannah, Rasulullah (S) was seeing the actual image in advance, a glimpse of what’s ahead.
  7. Wala yuhituna beshayim min ‘ilmihi illa bima shaa: And they know nothing but what Allah gives them.
    1. Our knowledge is all from Allah. Musa (AS) was asked by someone, “Who is the most knowledgeable of men?” He said, “I am” not out of pride, but by his knowledge. Allah told Musa (AS), that there is someone who has knowledge he doesn’t have. When Musa (AS) found out, he asked, “Where can I find him?” He was willing to travel to a talib al ‘ilm to seek knowledge. So when you and I receive knowledge for free without any significant trouble, remember that Musa (AS), a nabi of Allah, had to travel a very long distance to gain knowledge from Al Khidr. His first lesson from Al Khidr: They are on a boat and see a bird dip its beak into the water. A little drop of water remains on its beak and Al Khidr says, “Oh Musa, if my knowledge and your knowledge were put together, it would be less than the this drop of water in comparison to Allah’s knowledge”.
  8. Wasi’akursiyyuhusamawati wal ardh: The Kursi of Allah encompasses the heavens and earth.
    1. When you look up at the sky, you see billions of galaxies each with billions of stars, and distance is so huge that we use light years for measurement. 186,000 miles per second. The closest star to us is four and quarter light years away. When you see a star, you are seeing it four and a quarter years ago. The star could have already disappeared and you are seeing it now. So it’s an outdated image. Maybe the beginning of Yaumul Qiyamah is on its way and we have no idea because what we are seeing is outdated. Allah says in Surah Tabarak, that Allah has adorned the lowest heaven with stars. We cannot go beyond that. Rasulullah (S) tells us that the lowest heaven compared to the rest is like throwing a ring in a field. The ratio in size is unimaginable. We cannot comprehend the size of the first heaven, and there are six more above it. The seventh heaven compared to the kursi of Allah is llike a ring in a dessert so His kursi encompasses everything. A weak human being thinks he can get away from Allah.. The insignificance of the human is just as unimaginable. So run not away from Allah, but run towards him. Islam puts every human instinct in the right place. Fear is a natural human instinct but instead of runnigh away from Allah out of fear, our love and fear for Allah should bring us closer to Him, it’s a very different kind of fear. You have greed, Allah says be greedy for the pleasures of Jannah. You have fear, Allah says have fear of Allah and not his creation. You love wealth, love wealth in Jannah and increase in hasanaat. Islam does not tell you to be what you cannot be.
  9. Wala ya’uduhu hifdhuhuma: And it is not difficult for Him to manage.
    1. 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. 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. Wahuwal ‘aliyul adheem: The High and the Great.
    1. The ayah starts with two names of Allah, and ends with two names. When you say Allah is Great, really contemplate over that. Allah is Greater than your family, Allah is Greater than your wealth, Allah is Greater than your self, Allah is Greater than your job, anything and everything. When you say Allahu Akbar in Salah, you are throwing everything behind you and you are giving those moments to Allah.
    2. A famous hadith from Bukhari: Abu Hurayrah (ra) 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.”

اللّهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ لاَ تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلاَ نَوْمٌ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ مَن ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِهِ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلاَ يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلاَّ بِمَا شَاء وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ وَلاَ يَؤُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ

-Fi Amanillah-

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