بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
The Greatest Aya
‘Everything has its pinnacle and the pinnacle of the Qur’an is Surat al-Baqarah. In it there is an ayah which is the greatest in the Qur’an: Ayat al-Kursi.’ (Tirmidhi)
Ayat al-Kursi (the Verse of the Throne) is verse 255 of the second Surah (chapter) of the Holy Qur’an – Surat al-Baqarah (the Cow). It has been recorded in various hadith just how important this verse is, and the many benefits that may be derived from reciting it:
For example, Abu Dhar (ra) reported that he asked the Prophet (pbuh) ‘O Messenger of Allah, what is the greatest thing that has been revealed to you?’ The Prophet (pbuh) replied, ‘Ayat al-Kursi – Allah! La ilaha illa Huwa…’ (Nasa’i)
Also, the Prophet (pbuh) advised his companions and followers: ‘When you lie down in your bed [before going to sleep], recite Ayat al-Kursi … (al-Baqarah 2:255) until the end of the ayah, then you will have a protector in Allah, and no shaytan (devil) will come near you until morning comes.’ (Bukhari)
Most of us are aware of the virtues and benefits of reciting this wonderful ayat, but here I am going to briefly go through the tafseer of this most famous verse of the Holy Qur’an.
‘Allah! None has the right to be worshipped but He, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer and Protector. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the 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 Throne extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them. And He is the Most High, the Supreme.’ (al-Baqarah 2:255)
Allah starts off with: ‘Allah! None has the right to be worshipped but He’. He, Allah, is the Lord of all creation, and is the only One worthy of our praises and our devotion.
Allah continues, ‘the Ever-Living, the Sustainer and Protector.’ Allah is the Eternal one, the one who never dies. He is the one who sustains everyone and everything in this universe. Everything that He has created stands in need of Allah’s Sustenance and Protection, and relies on Him totally and completely. Allah says in the Qur’an:
‘And among His signs is this, that heaven and earth stand by His Command…’ (ar-Rum, 30:25)
Everything in existence is as He wills it, and nothing can exist without Him. Allah, by contrast, is Self-Sufficient, and requires nothing from any of His creations.
Next, ‘Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him.’ Unlike His creations, Allah is not overtaken by the need to rest or sleep, or any other bodily functions, such as hunger or thirst. This means that no shortcomings, unawareness or ignorance of what is happening around us, ever touches Allah. He is wholly aware, and has full control and perfect watch over everything that has been created. Nothing escapes His knowledge, and nothing – no matter how secret we may wish something to be – is ever secret from Allah.
‘To him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth.’ Everyone and everything is a servant of Allah, a part of His Kingdom, and under His power and authority. Ultimately, our final destination is with Allah; we will all return to Him, and will be held accountable for our deeds and actions. There is not a single soul in existence that can escape this fate. Allah says:
‘There is none in the heavens and the earth but that which comes unto the Most Gracious [Allah] as a servant.
Verily, He knows each one of them, and has counted them a full counting.
And every one of them will come to Him alone on the Day of Resurrection (without any helper, protector or defender).’ (Maryam 19:93-95)
‘Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His permission?’ This is similar to other verses in the Qur’an:
‘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.’ (an-Najm 53:26)
and, regarding the Messengers of Allah who were (incorrectly) thought of as ‘Allah’s offspring’:
‘…they cannot intercede except for him with whom Allah is pleased…’ (al-Anbiya’ 21:28)
These verses assert Allah’s greatness, pride, and grace – no one dares to intercede with Him on behalf of anyone else, except by His permission – not even His most beloved and worthy servants. In a hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) said,
‘I will stand under the Throne and fall in prostration, and Allah will allow me to remain in that position for as long 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 (pbuh) then said, ‘He will allow me a proportion whom I will enter into Paradise.’ (Muslim)
‘He knows what happens to them [His creatures] in this world, and what will happen to them in the Hereafter.’ Allah has perfect knowledge of all creation – past, present and future. Allah says in the Qur’an regarding the angels:
‘[The angels say]: And we 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.’ (Maryam 19:64)
Nothing escapes Allah. He is the only One with the full knowledge of what has passed, what is happening at this very moment, and what is to yet to take place, both in this life and the eternal life to come.
‘And they will never compass anything of His Knowledge except that which He wills.’ No one attains any part of Allah’s knowledge except that which Allah allows and He Himself conveys. No one ever acquires any knowledge of Allah and His perfect attributes, except what He has taught them. This is mentioned in other places in the Qur’an, for example:
‘He knows what (appears to His creatures as) before or after or behind them: but they shall never compass it with their knowledge.’ (Ta-Ha 20:110)
‘His Throne extends over the heavens and the earth’. There are many scholarly opinions regarding the tafseer of this part of the verse. One such example is that of Ad-Dahhak, who narrated that Ibn Abbas (ra) 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’
(Ibn Abi Hatim)
We have no realistic hope of comparing Allah’s Magnificent Throne to anything we know of in this world, just as Allah’s faultless attributes cannot be compared to anything we are familiar with. This notion is perfectly summed up in Surah al-Ikhlas:
‘Say: He is Allah, the One. Allah, the Eternal, the Absolute. None is born of Him, nor is He born. And there is none like Him.’ (al-Ikhlas 112)
There has never existed, nor will there ever exist, anyone or anything like Allah. So there is no way for us – in our limited human capabilities – to fully comprehend either Allah or His boundless qualities. In the same way, we cannot fully appreciate just how glorious and wonderful His Throne truly is.
‘And He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them.’ It does not burden or cause Allah any fatigue or tiredness to protect the heavens and earth and all that is between them. Rather, this is an easy matter for Him. Furthermore, as mentioned before, Allah sustains everything, has perfect watch over everything, and nothing ever escapes His knowledge. All matters are insignificant, modest and humble before Him. He is the Most High, worthy of all praise. He does what He wills, and no one can question Him about what He does.
‘And he is the Most High, the Supreme.’ The end of this verse is similar to other verses in the Qur’an, where Allah reminds us of His incomparable and unmatched characteristics. For example:
‘…the Most Great, the Most High.’ (ar-Ra’d 13:9)
‘He is Allah… the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of Peace (and Perfection), the Guardian of Faith, the Preserver of Safety, the Exalted in Might, the Irresistible, the Supreme… the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of Forms (or Colours)… and He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.’ (al-Hashr 59:23-24)
I say this as a reminder to myself first and foremost, but next time you recite this ayah – whether it is in salah, after salah or before you go to sleep as the Prophet (pbuh) recommended – just take a moment to ponder the deeper meaning behind the words. Insha’Allah, it will help strengthen our Iman and our faith in Allah and all His Glory.