Translation of Bawariq al-Ghayb

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Verse Sixteen

وما يعلم جنود ربك إلا هو

“And none knows the armies of your Lord but He.” (74:31)

Hazrat Shah Wali Allah Sahib (Allah’s mercy be upon him) wrote for the [Persian] translation of this [verse]:

ونميداند لشکر پروردگار ترا مگر او تبارک وتعالى

“And no one knows the army of your Lord but He – Glorified and Exalted.” (Fath al-Rahman)

And Hazrat Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir wrote [in his Urdu translation of it]:

اور کوئي نهين جانتا تيرے رب کے لشکر مگر وهي

“And no one knows your Lord’s army but He.” (Imam al-Tarajim)

The reason for the revelation of this verse, which Imam Ibn Jarir (Allah have mercy on him), ‘Allamah al-Baghawi (Allah have mercy on him) and others transmitted from the narrations of Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with him), Qatadah and others, is when in the previous verses of this Surah it was stated when discussing Jahannam, “over it are nineteen [angels],” Abu Jahl and other foolish and rebellious disbelievers said that there is no difficulty in defeating nineteen, and we can easily defeat them. Thereupon, these verses were revealed, that is “and We did not appoint as the companions of the Fire besides Angels” till the end [of the chapter], which first state that these “nineteen” are not human beings like you, such that it is easy to defeat them, but they are angels, each of whom can turn the earth on its head. Then an allusion was made towards the wisdom in the specific number of “nineteen”. Then it was stated in this verse, do not think that Allah has only these nineteen angels, rather, his armies are so plentiful that their knowledge is not known to any besides Allah.

Thus, Imam Baghawi (may the mercy of Allah be upon him) wrote in the tafsir of this verse:

وما يعلم جنود ربك إلا هو قال مقاتل هذا جواب لأبي جهل حين قال أما لمحمد أعوان إلا تسعة عشر. قال عطاء وما يعلم جنود ربك إلا هو يعني من الملائكة الذين خلقهم لتعذيب أهل النار ولا علم عدتهم إلا الله والمعنى أن تسعة عشر هم خزنة النار ولهم من الأعوان والجنود من الملائكة ما لا يعلمهم إلا الله عز وجل

“‘And none knows the armies of your Lord but He,’ Muqatil said: This is a response to Abu Jahl when he said, ‘does Muhammad have no supporters besides nineteen?!’ ‘Ata’ said: ‘And none knows the armies of your Lord but He, meaning from the Angels that He created to torture the inhabitants of Hell, and none knows their number besides Allah, and the meaning is that the nineteen are the keepers of the Fire, and they have supporters and hosts from the Angels that none knows besides Allah, Great and Glorious is He.’” (Ma‘alim al-Tanzil 7:148)

‘Allamah ‘Ali ibn Muhammad Khazin (Allah have mercy on him) wrote something similar (see Tafsir Khazin 7:148).

Hafiz Ibn Kathir (Allah have mercy on him) said in the tafsir of this verse:

أي ما يعلم عددهم وكثرتهم إلا هو تعالى

“Meaning, none knows their number and abundance besides He, Exalted is He.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir 10:115)

‘Allamah al-Nasafi al-Hanafi (Allah have mercy on him) wrote in his Tafsir Madarik al-Tanzil:

وما يعلم جنود ربك لفرط كثرتها إلا هو فلا يعز عليه تتميم الخزنة عشرين ولكن له في هذا العدد الخاص حكمة لا تعلمونها

“‘And none knows the armies of your Lord’ due to their great number, ‘but He’ so it is not difficult for Him to complete [the number of] the keepers to twenty, but He has a wisdom in this particular number which you do not know.” (Tafsir Madarik al-Tanzil 4:233)

Imam al-Razi (Allah have mercy on him) wrote various explanations on the tafsir of this verse, the first of which is, which according to him is the preferred one:

إن القوم استقلوا ذلك العدد فقال تعالى وما يعلم جنود ربك إلا هو فهب أن هؤلاء تسعة عشر إلا أن لكل واحد منهم من الأعوان والجنود ما لا يعلم عددهم إلا الله

“The people deemed that number small, so He, Exalted is He, said: ‘None knows the armies of your Lord but Him,’ so, granted, that these are nineteen, but for each of them are supporters and hosts the number of whom are known to none besides Allah.” (al-Tafsir al-Kabir 8:207)

Although, there is complete clarity with respect to the meaning of the noble verse, due to what I had decided, I quoted the passages of a number of mufassirin which agree that the meaning of the verse is that knowledge of the number of the armies of Allah Almighty, particularly the Angels, is not possessed by any besides Allah, Great and Glorious is He; whereas, these armies too are from ma kana wa ma yakun. Hence, this verse is a clear proof that the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not have detailed and encompassing knowledge of all what was and will be.

It is from the greatness of Allah that in one place with reference to this noble verse, this meaning [of it] emerged from the tongue of the head and leader of the proponents of ‘ilm jami‘ ma kana wa ma yakun, Janab Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib, the Barelwi learned man. Thus, one malfuz is included in the fourth part, page 9, of his Malfuzat, the words of which are:

“From the earth to the Furthest Lote Tree there is a distance of fifty thousand years. The distance of the level beyond this, Allah knows! In front of that there are seventy thousands veils of the throne, and in between each veil there is [a distance of] five hundred years, and in front of this is the throne and in all of these expanses, angels are overflowing. It is in hadith that in the heavens there is not the space of four fingers in which the angels have not put down their foreheads for prostration. Imagine how many angels there are! And no one knows the armies of your Lord besides He!” (Malfuzat, Part 4)

The Interpretations of the RidaKhans of the Noble Verse and the Replies to them

In this noble verse too, on behalf of the claimants of ‘ilm al-ghayb, in general, those two obsolete interpretations are given, one that here only intrinsic knowledge is negated, and second that after the revelation of this verse, he was given even the knowledge of this.

However, these two interpretations will also not work here.

The first interpretation is rejected for the reason that by consensus of the Muslims and by agreement of the two parties, no one can have even one bit of intrinsic knowledge. Thus, if it was to be determined that the meaning of the verse is that no one besides Allah (Exalted is He) has intrinsic knowledge of His armies and His angels, then there will be no indication towards the huge number of the armies of Allah and the angels of Allah, because we can say that even one thing, rather one atom, of intrinsic knowledge is not possessed by anyone; whereas the intent of this verse is to describe the unimaginable number of the divine armies, that they are of such quantity that besides Allah, no one has their detailed knowledge. Thus, in the situation where the intent is taken as intrinsic knowledge, the meaning and purpose of the verse is lost.

In this way, if it was conceded that after the revelation of this verse, at some point in time, the detailed knowledge of the armies of Allah was also acquired by the Messenger (Allah bless him ansd grant him peace) or any other creature, even then the objective of the verse will be lost. In fact, the meaning would become incorrect, because the purport of the verse is that the army of Allah is so numerous that besides Him, no one has their knowledge, and when it is conceded that such-and-such a creature besides Allah has acquired complete detailed knowledge of them, it will be understood that they are not so numerous that a creature cannot acquire its detailed knowledge.

Anyhow, in the situation of the second interpretation also, the objective of the verse will be lost.  And that which was the objective, of describing the greatness of Allah Almighty and the expanse of His kingdom, by means of the large quantity of the armies, this too will come to an end. Or in other words, the praise of Allah Almighty in this noble verse, that His armies are so large that no creature has its knowledge, this praise will become meaningless (or false).

In short, there is no room in this verse for any of the two aforementioned interpretations.

Another answer has been given to this verse, which Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib mentioned in his al-Dawlat al-Makkiyyah, the upshot of which is that our claim is that he has encompassing detailed knowledge of those things which came in the world of existence from the creation of the world till the Day of Resurrection, and it is not necessary that those armies of Allah and angels of Allah which have been mentioned in this verse were created before the Resurrection, but it is possible some of them were created after the Resurrection, and in terms of them, the knowledge was negated in this verse, and in this scenario, the holy Prophet (upon him blessing and peace) not having knowledge will not be against our claim because we do not claim the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) also acquired encompassing knowledge of the existents after the Resurrection.

The basis of this answer of the Barelwi learned man is that in the noble verse those armies of Allah in relation to whom it was said that they are of such great quantity that even the knowledge of them is not possessed by anyone besides Allah, this was not said with respect to those armies and angels which were actually in existence and already created, but was stated with respect to those armies of Allah created in the future, and even that, after the Resurrection.

However, the degree to which this interpretation of the Barelwi learned man is far removed from and unrelated to the context of the Qur’an and the purpose of the revelation is not hidden to the people of knowledge.

I have already explained earlier that the verse was revealed at the time when the disbelievers of Makkah, Abu Jahl and others, hearing that the angels of Jahannam are only nineteen, they began to concoct a scheme in opposition to them and they were gleefully happy that the number of the angels of the Lord of Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is not much, they are only nineteen. In this verse they are told that you understood that Allah (Great and Glorious is He) has only 19 angels, whereas his angels are of such large quantity that besides Him, no one else has knowledge of them.

Thus, while keeping in mind this particularity of the context and place, no sound mind can accept that this abundance is not of the existing angels, but is describing those angels created in the future, and even that, after the Resurrection; whereas, there is no evidence for this in the Shari‘ah that even after the Resurrection, the process of creating the angels will continue. And Allah knows best.

Anyhow, the requirement of the context of the Qur’an and the reason for the revelation is that in this verse, it is those angels whose plentiful number has been described who until the revelation of this verse were created and already in existence. And probably because of this, the revered exegetes stated exactly this. Thus, the student of Hazrat ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with him), Hazrat ‘Ata’, the Tabi‘i (Allah’s mercy be upon him) stated in the commentary of this verse:

يعني من الملائكة الذين خلقهم لتعذيب أهل النار ولا علم عدتهم إلا الله

“‘ ‘And none knows the armies of your Lord but He, meaning from the Angels that He created to torture the inhabitants of Hell, and none knows their number besides Allah” (Ma‘alim al-Tanzil 7:148)

And ‘Allamah ‘Ali ibn Muhammad Khazin stated:

المعنى أن الخزنة تسعة عشر ولهم أعوان وجنود من الملائكة لا يعلم عددهم إلا الله تعالى خلقوا لتعذيب أهل النار

“The meaning is that the keepers are nineteen and they have supporters and hosts from the angels whose number is known to none besides Allah Almighty. They were created to torture the inhabitants of the Fire.”

In these two statements, “He created them to torture the inhabitants of Hell,” and, “they were created to torture the inhabitants of Hell,” the words clearly state that the angels whose great number is being described in this verse and regarding whom it was said that the knowledge of their number is possessed by none besides Allah, they are those which existed and were created before the revelation of this verse, although those angels who will be created after this are also included in this decree. So understand and contemplate!

Respected readers have learnt from this explanation of mine that this third interpretation of the Barelwi learned man is also contrary to the context of the Qur’an and the clear statements of the mufassirin (Allah have mercy on them). This is why it is not worthy of acceptance, and in their words, rejected.

Anyhow, this sixteenth verse is also an extremely decisive and uninterpretable evidence for our claim. And to Allah belongs the lofty argument.

The False Interpretations of the RidaKhanis of the Aforementioned Verses

From the fifteen verses that have been recorded till now, the first thirteen describe only knowledge of the time of the Resurrection as being specific to Allah Almighty, and the final two negate all keys of the ghayb, meaning the time of Resurrection, the descent of rain, what is in the wombs, future events and the place of each person’s death, from other than Allah. Although I have verified the explanation and commentary of those verses in light of prophetic hadiths, statements of Sahabah and Tabi‘in and quotations from the imams of Tafsir, and [I have verified] the evidence deduced from them in full detail, and for a fair person after having read this no room for doubt and confusion will remain, nonetheless, in order to accomplish the proof, I wish to reveal the reality of the false interpretations which Fadil Barelwi Ahmad Rida Khan and his followers till today present in regards to those verses.

In principle, their interpretations are only three:

  1. Such verses negate only intrinsic (non-granted) knowledge (‘ilm dhati) from other than Allah, in general, or the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace), specifically; not granted knowledge (‘ilm ‘ata’i)
  2. After the revelation of these verses, the Messenger of Allah (Allah belss him and grant him peace) was granted those sciences, so it is as though these verses are effectively abrogated
  3. The verses which refer knowledge of the Hour etc. to Allah Almighty do not prove that others do not have this knowledge, rather, it is only established from them that Allah Almighty has this knowledge, and those verses are silent on whether others have this knowledge or not.

Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib Barelwi wrote on these three interpretations in his treatises on ‘ilm al-ghayb, particularly, al-Fuyud al-Malakiyyah ‘ala al-Dawlat al-Makkiyyah, with some detail. Then in imitation of him, Mawlawi Na‘im al-Din Muradabadi also offered these interpretations in al-Kalimat al-‘Ulya. Also, other RidaKhani authors and debaters do the same. But in reality these interpretations are so weak and idiotic that to present them on behalf of a learned person is the greatest insult on his scholarly condition. Readers should take another look at the verses above, along with the noble hadiths, statements of Sahabah, Tabi‘in and mufassirin which were mentioned in the commentary of those verses; and then ponder if there is even the smallest room for any of these interpretations.

For example, the verse, “indeed, the Hour is coming, I almost conceal it [from Myself],” (Qur’an 20:15) which means according to the clear statements of the Sahabah, Tabi‘in and mufassirin: Allah Almighty wishes to keep the time of Resurrection very secret, and He does not intend to reveal it to any besides Him. It is obvious that there is no room for these three interpretations in this verse:

Neither will the distinction between intirinsic and granted be of use here.

Nor is there a possibility here that after the revelation of the verse, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was granted the knowledge of the time of Resurrection because this verse expresses Divine Intent that He does not wish to reveal its knowledge to anyone and He wishes to keep it hidden from all besides Him, thus if it was said that after the revelation of this verse, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was given the knowledge of the time of Resurrection, it would imply (Allah forbid!) that Allah’s will changed, and that which He announced in His Mighty Book that “I will keep it hidden,” He opposed this announcement and revealed its knowledge to the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) – greatly is Allah exalted beyond that! Anyhow, this is the condition of the first and second interpretations for this verse.

And the fact that the third interpretation cannot apply is absolutely clear because that [interpretation] is only with respect to those verses in which the knowledge of the Hour etc. were [only] referred to Allah Almighty. Thus there is no room for any of these three interpretations in this verse, which was our original claim.

Similarly, in the second verse, the words “None will not reveal it at its time besides Him,” (Qur’an 7:187) undermines all three interpretations because according to the clear statements of the mufsassirin it means that Allah Almighty Himself will reveal the Resurrection at its time, and no one before that [time] can have awareness of it (see the statements of Qadi Baydawi, ‘Allamah Mu’in ibn Safi and ‘Allamah Abu Su‘ud under the second verse).

Furthermore, this verse (7:187), rather most of the verses which negate knowledge of Resurrection from other than Allah, were revealed in response to the disbelievers’ question. They would say repeatedly to the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace): “If you are Allah’s Messenger and Prophet tell us when is the Resurrection?” in response to this misplaced question, those verses state in different styles that its knowledge is only with Allah. Thus, to explain their meaning as “I do not have intrinsic knowledge of the time of the Resurrection but Allah has it,” would be distortion [of the meaning] of these verses because the question of the disbelievers was not regarding intrinsic knowledge but they were asking about knowledge itself [irrespective of whether intrinsic or granted]. Hence, saying in response to them, “I do not have intrinsic knowledge of the time of the Resurrection but Allah has it” would (Allah forbid!) be representative of “a question from the sky and a reply from strings” [i.e. the answer being completely unrelated to the question] and our belief is that the Wise Qur’an and the Noble Messenger (upon him greetings and salutations) are pure and free from this.

Even with the mistaken assumption that this was the meaning of the verse, it would be necessary that those who asked the question, the Arab disbelievers (whose native language it was and who were the original addressees of those verses) would have also understood this, and in this situation they would certainly have asked, “We were not asking about intrinsic and bestowed knowledge, we only wanted to know when is the time of the Resurrection, so if you have any awareness of that, tell us.” However, this was not asked on their behalf, from which is gathered that the native speakers did not understand these verses as negation of intrinsic knowledge, rather even they understood the meaning that none besides Allah Almighty has knowledge of the time of Resurrection in an absolute sense, and its knowledge is only with Allah. He has not disclosed the knowledge to anyone. And this is the meaning that the revered Sahabah, Tabi‘in and imams from the mufassirin understood. Thus, they said in their exegetical statements: “Allah took exclusive possession of its knowledge” (ista’thara Allahu bi ‘ilmiha), “He did not disclose it to me,” (lam yutli‘ni ‘alayhi), “He did not teach its knowledge to me” (lam yu‘allimni ‘ilmahu), “He did not disclose it to an angel or a messenger” (lam yutli‘ ‘alayha malakan wa la rasulan), “He did not disclose it to any of His creation,” (lam yutli‘ ‘alayhi ahadan min khalqih), “He did not disclose it to other than Him,” (lam yutli‘ ‘alayhi ghayrahu), and similar words to these which without ambiguity negate granted knowledge.

Respected readers have seen in earlier quoted passages that which completely dismantles the false assumption that these verses only negate intrinsic knowledge from other than Allah, and not granted knowledge. Similarly, to say with respect to those verses that after their revelation, the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was given the knowledge, is completely without proof; and in knowledge of Shari‘ah, particularly in creed, such interpretations that arise without evidence are false and rejected, especially when evidence has been substantiated against them, like the texts “Verily the Hour is coming – I almost conceal it [from Myself]” (20:15) and “None will reveal it at its time besides Him,” (7:187) which explicitly state that before the actual time of its occurrence no one will gain access to its knowledge.

Furthermore, the wisdom for concealing it which was indicated in this noble verse, “it is burdensome in the heavens and the earth, it will not come to you but suddenly” and which was explained in detail by the honourable exegetes, Imam al-Razi (Allah have mercy on him), Qadi Baydawi (Allah have mercy on him), ‘Allamah Khazin (Allah have mercy on him), Imam al-Nasafi (Allah have mercy on him) and others, a consequence of it is that before its occurrence those who are subjected to divine commands (mukallafin) are not given this knowledge.

Moreover, the thirteenth verse which says: “In what [capacity] are you to remember it, to your Lord is its endpoint,” reveals with complete clarity that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) having knowledge of the time of Resurrection does not befit Divine Wisdom. Thus to say that after the revelation of those verses the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was granted this knowledge, is completely false and contrary to explicit texts.

Furthermore, here it is worth pondering for those endowed with insight, that in these verses the knowledge of Resurrection has been described as being exclusive to Allah Almighty, and in nearly every place a rhetorical device is used for exclusivity and restriction, either by using the instrument of restriction “innama (only) or a combination of negation and exception (nafy wa istithna) or by placing the adverb earlier and thus conferring this meaning. Anyhow, the import of all these expressions and forms is that the knowledge of the time of Resurrection is restricted to Allah Almighty, and this restriction was described by the exegetes as istithar (taking exclusive possession) and tafarrud (exclusivity), and the requirement of this [restriction] is that at any time before the Resurrection no one besides Allah Almighty is given this knowledge for otherwise the exclusivity will not remain; and after Resurrection the awareness that the general creation will have of it will not negate this exclusivity. So, ponder for this is subtle.

Anyhow, due to the aforementioned reasons, the idea that after the revelation of these verses, the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was given knowledge of the specific time of the Resurrection, is completely false. An idea more false than this is that in those verses the knowledge of Resurrection was only referred to Allah Almighty and was not negated from others so those verses are silent about others; whereas all the verses in which knowledge of the Hour is referred to Allah Almighty are set in the form of restriction, mostly with the word “innama.” The reality of restriction (hasr) is that it is affirmed for one and negated from all besides that one, which is why the exegetes explained this in the tafsir of those verses which the respected readers have already seen from their [quoted] passages. Thus to say that “in those verses the knowledge of Resurrection was only referred to Allah Almighty and was not negated from others, thus those verses are silent about others” is shameless ignorance and unfortunate misguidance.

Thus far, a brief but, with praise to Allah, sufficient and satisfactory insight has been shed on the abovementioned interpretations of these verses which limit knowledge of Resurrection to Allah Almighty.

However there are some verses in this list in which the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) himself announced I have no knowledge of the specific time of Resurrection. Thus, this is the import of verses number 5, 6, 7 and 8, in which only the first two interpretations are given on behalf of the RidaKhanis, that is, only the negation of intrinsic knowledge is intended, and this negation was for the specific time of revelation and in truth he had no knowledge of the time of Resurrection at this time but was later granted it. In respect to these two intrepetations that which I have just presented is more than enough, and I hope that after keeping that in mind no person of understanding can succumb to this deception.

Anyhow, for our view that the knowledge of Resurrection is restricted to Allah Almighty,  the thirteen verses I presented are clear proof, in which there is no room for interpretation and explanation, and from which is as clear as daylight that Allah took exclusive possession of the knowledge of the time of Resurrection and He will not disclose it to any creation of His, even a close angel or esteemed messenger, and He will not reveal it to anyone before its occurrence.

Thus far, some insight has been given to the first thirteen verses. The fourteenth and fifteenth verses remain. The same interpretations are also offered for them on behalf of the proponents of ‘ilm al-ghayb, but with greater enthusiasm they make the distinction between intrinsic and granted.

Thus, Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib in his treatises on ‘ilm al-ghayb and Mawlawi Na‘im al-Din Muradabadi Sahib in al-Kalimat al-‘Ulya claimed this very passionately, and they claimed that in these two verses only intrinsic knowledge is negated from other than Allah. But in falsification of this claim mere those hadiths and narrations are sufficient which I quoted previously under those verses, specifically the marfu‘ hadiths of Hazrat Rab‘i ibn Harrash and Hazrat ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with them), and the exegetical statements of Amir al-Mu’minin Hazrat ‘Ali and Hazrat ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud (Allah be pleased with them), from which is completely clear that the knowledge of these five things were not given to the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace). After viewing those hadiths and narrations, if any person makes the claim that in the verses under scrutiny only intrinsic knowledge was negated from other than Allah, not granted knowledge, it is as though he is claiming that he understands the Qur’an better than Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and his prominent noble Sahabah (Allah be pleased with them); refuge is from Allah, Lord of the Worlds!

Similarly, at this place, the claim of some claimants to ‘ilm al-ghayb that after the revelation of these verses, the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was granted knowledge of these five things is completely baseless and utterly false.

The conversation between the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and Jibril (upon him peace) which I cited in the previous pages, and in which the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said in response to the question about the time of the Resurrection:

ما المسئول عنها باعلم من السائل في خمس لا يعلمهن الا الله ان الله عنده علم الساعة الآية

“The one asked about it knows no more than the questioner; from five which none knows besides Allah; ‘verily, Allah, with Him is knowledge of the Hour,’ [to the end] of the verse.”

In some authentic routes of this narration there is also explicit mention that this conversation between the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and Jibril (upon him peace) was in the last portion of the blessed life of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Thus, Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani (Allah have mercy on him) wrote in Fath al-Bari, a commentary of Bukhari Sharif, under the hadith of Jibril:

ورواه ابن منده في كتاب الايمان باسناده الذي على شرط مسلم من طريق سليمان التيمي في حديث عمر اوله ان رجلا في آخر عمر النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم جاء الى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فذكر الحديث بطوله

“And Ibn Mandah narrated it in Kitab al-Iman with his chain [that is authentic] according to the criterion of Muslim, through the route of Sulayman al-Taymi in the hadith of ‘Umar, the first part of which is that a man at the end of the life of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) came to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace), then he mentioned the hadith in its length.”

From this hadith it is clearly known that till the last part of the blessed life of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) he was not granted these five sciences. Then it is not known from where fourteenth century claimants to ‘ilm al ghayb came to know that after the revelation of these verses the holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was granted full knowledge of these five things?!

[poem]

In reality, the basic foundation of this misunderstanding of the proponents of ‘ilm al-ghayb is that it is known from some narrations that the knowledge of some particulars of those five matters were acquired by the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) through the means of revelation and inspiration, and he even disclosed this to others. Thus, it occurs in one hadith that the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said when describing the events near the time of Resurrection:

ثم يرسل الله مطرا لا يكن منه بيت مدر ولا وبر

“Then Allah will send down rain from which a settlement in a city or in a village will not be safe.” (narrated by al-Tirmidhi)

From this narration is known that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) had awareness of the rain that will fall before the Resurrection many centuries earlier.

When Sayyiduna Hazrat Husayn (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was conceived, Hazrat Umm al-Fadl bint al-Harith (Allah be pleased with them) saw a dream that a part of the blessed flesh of the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was removed and placed in her lap; she became very frightened by this dream and she came in the presence of the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and told him what happened, and the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:

رايت خيرا تلد فاطمة ان شاء الله غلاما يكون في حجرك

“You saw an excellent [dream], Fatimah will if Allah wills give birth to a boy who will be under your care.” (Mishkat)

It is known from this hadith that before the birth of Sayyiduna Hazrat Husayn (Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) knew that a boy was in the womb of Sayyidah Fatimah (Allah be pleased with her).

At the Battle of Khaybar, the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:

لاعطين هذه الراية غدا رجلا يفتح الله على يديه يحب الله ورسوله ويحبه الله ورسوله

“I will certainly give this flag tomorrow to a man, on whose hands Allah will give victory, he loves Allah and His Messenger and Allah and His Messenger love him.”

It is known from this hadith that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) had knowledge of what will happen tomorrow. Furthermore, the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) issued many prophecies related to the future which are mentioned in the books of hadith from which is also known that the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) had knowledge of future events.

Before the Battle of Badr, the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) foretold the places where the leaders of the disbelievers will be killed, and he said:

هذا مصرع فلان غدا ان شاء الله وهذا مصرع فلان غدا ان شاء الله او كما قال

“This is the place where so-and-so will fall tomorrow if Allah wills, and this is the place where so-and-so will fall tomorrow if Allah wills.”

It is known from this narration that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) even had knowledge of the place of death of some people, and from some hadiths it is known that the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) had prior knowledge of his place of death and his burial place.

Thus, it is known from these narrations that the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) had knowledge of the four matters of the descent of rain, what is in the wombs, future events, place of death, and based on these narrations, it is the claim of Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib and his followers that the blessed knowledge of the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) encompasses these five things, and it is their opinion that these two verses (6:59 and 31:34) only negate intrinsic knowledge of these things, or these verses were effectively abrogated, that is, after their revelation, the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was granted the knowledge of these five things; and they believe that if this is not accepted there will be such conflict between the verses and those narrations which cannot be resolved. Anyhow, to prove that the blessed knowledge of the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) encompasses these five things, the proponents of ‘ilm al-ghayb use the aforementioned narrations, and because of their weak understanding or misunderstanding, they were deceived by those narrations, which is why it is required that in regards to them, I give some explanation so no room remains for misunderstanding.

One brief and irrefragable answer to these narrations to Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib is that our proofs are from Qur’anic verses and we have proven, with praise to Allah, from decisive proofs that these verses not only negate intrinsic knowledge rather they include negation of granted knowledge, and I have also disproven the possibility that after the revelation of these verses the holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was granted these sciences. And in support of all of this, I presented clear marfu‘ hadiths. Thus, to present solitary reports in opposition to these clear verses explained by the marfu‘ hadiths proves ignorance. In the very topic of ‘ilm al-ghayb, Fadil Barelwi Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib wrote in Fuyud al-Malakiyyah ‘ala al-Dawlat al-Makkiyyah p. 152:

ان نصوص القرآن لا تعارض بالآحاد

“Indeed texts of Qur’an are not contradicted by solitary reports.” (al-Dawlat al-Makkiyyah p. 152)

Also, he wrote in another treatise Inba’ al-Mustafa on the topic of ‘ilm al-ghayb: “Relying on solitary reports in opposition to the generality of decisive Qur’anic verses is mere ranting.”

Thus, I can say in accordance with his words that to rely on solitary reports against the decisive Qur’anic verses I presented is mere ranting from Fadil Barelwi and his followers.

[poem]

This answer, however, was given on the style of Fadil Barelwi [Ahmad Rida Khan], and although I am certain that this should be sufficient to silence the opposition, my readers will not be consoled, which is why I will also present a researched answer.

It is possible that the reason for my readers’ confusion and my oppositions’ misunderstanding is only that they think the aforementioned hadiths in which it is established the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) had knowledge of some particulars of these five things contradict the verses I presented, and in order to remove this contradiction, our opposition interpret these verses as negating only intrinsic knowledge and some adopted the interpretation of chronological priority and posterity and determined the verses to be effectively abrogated.

But the reality is that there is no contradiction between the verses and hadiths because the verses negate universal or complete (kulli) knowledge of the five matters; and the meaning is that none besides Allah Almighty has universal knowledge of these things, meaning, the sending of rain, what is in the wombs etc. and the aforementioned verses only establish some dispersed particulars of them. And, although affirmation of some (ijab juz’i) contradicts complete negation (salb kulli), it does not contradict negation of the affirmation of all (raf‘ ijab kulli).

Now I will present proof that universal knowledge is negated in these verses:

Here, there are three possibilities:

  1. To understand these verses as negating only intrinsic knowledge which is the belief of most of the proponents of ‘ilm al-ghayb. According to them, the meaning of these two verses is only that intrinsic knowledge of the time of Resurrection, sending down of rain, what is in the wombs, future events and the place of death, is not possessed by anyone besides Allah Almighty.
  2. The objective is to negate every kind of knowledge of these five things, intrinsic and granted, universal and particular, by way of “complete negation” (salb kulli). In this situation the meaning will be that even an iota of knowledge of these things will not be acquired by any besides Allah in whatever way.
  3. The intent is to only negate complete knowledge as I have suggested.

The first possibility is rejected by the marfu‘ hadiths and the statements of the Sahabah (Allah be pleased with them). Under the fifteenth verse (31:34), I have presented hadiths and reports by which this possibility is completely falsified. For example, by the marfu‘ hadiths of Rab‘i ibn Harrash and ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with them), and the exegetical statements of Hazrat ‘Ali and Hazrat ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud (Allah be pleased with them) which I quoted with their references from al-Durr al-Manthur and Fath al-Bari, this false idea that the verse intends negation of only intrinsic knowledge is completely dismantled. Besides this, it is accepted by both groups that intrinsic knowledge cannot be for any creature in any item or entity, so why do these verses only negate these five things? The fact that these five things are specifically mentioned in this context itself proves that here negation of only intrinsic knowledge is not intended, rather, it includes negation of granted knowledge. Anyhow, this first possibility is refuted by both transmitted and rational indications.

Similarly, the second possibility of complete negation is also erroneous and false because by means of Allah’s instruction, the reality that the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) had some dispersed particular knowledge of when rain will descend, what is in the wombs etc. cannot be rejected. And the narrations that are presented in favour of the other group, which I have just quoted, are sufficient to prove this. But to say that until the revelation of the verses under inquiry he did not even have any particular knowledge of these matters, but he was given it afterwards and now in terms of their meaning it is as though these verses have been effectively abrogated, is absolutely incorrect and completely ignorant because if this was the case, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would not have recited these verses as proof for the negation of these five sciences from himself at a later time; whereas, the hadith I quoted from Rab‘i ibn Harrash that was at the end stage of the Prophet’s blessed life, and even here the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said in answer to the question “Is there any knowledge left that you do not know?”:

 لقد علمني الله خيراً، وإن من العلم ما لا يعلمه إلا الله. الخمس { إن الله عنده علم الساعة

“Allah (Exalted and Glorified is He) taught me well, and from the knowledge that none knows besides Allah (Glorified and Exalted is Him) is five: ‘Verily, Allah, with him is knowledge of the Hour. And He sends down rain. And He knows what is in the wombs’ [to the end of] the verse.”

Similarly in the last period of the blessed life of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), Hazrat Jibra’il came in the form of a stranger, and after asking various other questions, asked when is the Resurrection, and the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) replied according to the narration of Hazrat Ibn ‘Abbas and ‘Amr al-Ash‘ari (Allah be pleased with them):

سبحن الله خمس لا يعلمهن الا الله ان الله عنده علم الساعة الآية

“Glory be to Allah! Five of the unseen matters, known to none besides Allah: ‘Verily, Allah, with Him is knowledge of the Hour,’ [to the end of] the verse.”

Anyhow, these two narrations occurred in the last part of the life of the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and certainly long before this time, he had acquired many particulars of those five things because the birth of Sayyiduna Hazrat Imam Husayn (Allah be pleased with him), the Battle of Khaybar, the Battle of Badr, had all occurred earlier; yet, in negating knowledge of these five sciences from himself, the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would recite the verse of Surah Luqman, by which is known with certainty that even after learning these particulars, this verse is still in effect and the knowledge that has been negated from other than Allah therein remained right till the end. Thus to make the claim despite these narrations that the knowledge that is negated in this verse was given to the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) afterwards and this verse is abrogated in terms of its meaning is clear ignorance and complete heresy. Consequently, by this explanation, the second possibility that in these verses (6:59 and 31:34) every kind of knowledge of these five things, intrinsic and granted, universal and particular, is completely negated by way of complete negation (salb kulli) is falsified.

Thus, only the third possibility remains which is that only universal or total knowledge of these five matters are negated [for other than Allah] in these verses, and this interpretation is correct; and the fourteenth and fifteenth verses I presented mean that complete knowledge of these five things belongs only to Allah, and no one besides Him has such [knowledge], neither intrinsically, nor by [Allah’s] granting. Thus it is suggested that in this way there is no contradiction between these verses and the aforementioned narrations because those narrations only establish partial knowledge, and the verses negate complete knowledge, and I have already explained that partial affirmation does not contradict negation of universal affirmation.

In sum, the narrations the proponents of ‘ilm al-ghayb present only prove some particular dispersed knowledge, and we do not deny this. We say that it is possible Allah Almighty gave knowledge of many thousands of such dispersed particulars to the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and other accepted and close bondsmen. Yes, we contend that no one besides Allah Almighty acquired universal knowledge of these matters, and we have established this from the fourteenth and fifteenth verses we presented, which we have explained in detail.

If the respected readers have read this report of mine carefully, I hope that all the doubts regarding the five sciences will be removed, and by understanding it the answers to all the false interpretations and distortions of the opposition will be clear.

Here I will suffice with this much in this inquiry even though there still remains some important and necessary relevant discussions which I will inshaAllah discuss in the second chapter of this book. And Allah gives guidance and help, and on Him we rely and from Him we ask for help.

Thus far I have presented fifteen clear and explicit verses against the ‘ilm al-ghayb and ‘ilm jami‘ ma kana wa ma yakun beliefs of the Ahl al-Bid‘ah, which while negating knowledge of only the time of Resurrection or all the five matters from other than Allah, affirms them for His essence alone with no partner. After this, further verses will be noted in this respect, from which is established that besides the five things the knowledge of other existents has not been acquired by any besides Allah.

Fifteenth Verse

إِنَّ اللَّهَ عِندَهُ عِلْمُ السَّاعَةِ وَيُنَزِّلُ الْغَيْثَ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الْأَرْحَامِ وَمَا تَدْرِي نَفْسٌ مَّاذَا تَكْسِبُ غَدًا وَمَا تَدْرِي نَفْسٌ بِأَيِّ أَرْضٍ تَمُوتُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

“Verily, Allah, with him is knowledge of the Hour. And He sends down rain. And He knows what is in the wombs. And no soul knows what it will acquire tomorrow, and no soul knows in which land it will die. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (31:34)

[after quoting the translations of Shah Wali Allah and Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir]

With respect to the reason for the revelation of this verse, Firyabi, Ibn Jarir and Ibn Abi Hatim narrated from Hazrat Mujahid:

جاء رجل من أهل البادية فقال: إن امرأتي حبلى، فأخبرني ما تلد؟ وبلادنا مجدبة، فأخبرني متى ينزل الغيث؟ وقد علمت متى ولدت، فأخبرني متى أموت؟ فأنزل الله عز وجل: { إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عِندَهُ عِلْمُ ٱلسَّاعَةِ } ــــ إلى قوله ــــ { عَلَيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

“A man from the desert folk came, and he said: ‘My wife is pregnant, so inform me, what will she give birth to? And our lands are infertile, so inform me, when rain will come down? And indeed I know when I was born, so inform me when I will die.’ Then Allah (Great and Glorious is He) revealed, ‘Verily, Allah, with him is knowledge of the Hour’ to His saying: ‘Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.’” (al-Durr al-Manthur 5:170, Ibn Kathir 8:25)

This reason for revelation was narrated by Ibn al-Mundhir from ‘Ikrimah (Allah have mercy on him), but in this another question is asked, “I know what I earned today, so what will I earn tomorrow?” Furthermore, this reason for revelation was mentioned by Imam al-Baghawi in Ma‘alim al-Tanzil (5:183), ‘Allamah ‘Ali ibn Muhammad Khazin in Tafsir Lubab al-Ta’wil, and al-Khatib al-Shirbini in Tafsir al-Siraj al-Munir (3:199).

Although the hadith of Hazrat ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar [from Sahih al-Bukhari] mentioned under the previous verse is sufficient to explain this verse, nonetheless, since Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib and his [spiritual] descendents have resorted to very crooked interpretations of this noble verse, and also because this verse is the last verse in this series [on knowledge of the Hour], I believe it would be fitting to discuss its tafsir at some length; and in the course of this discussion, with Allah’s help, I will also establish that the false interpretations of the RidaKhanis of this verse and all the aforementioned verses related to knowledge of the Resurrection and the knowledge of the five things, are in reality heretical distortions (mulhidanah tahrifat) for which there is no scope in the Divine Speech; rather, there is sufficient and adequate refutation of them in the Mighty Qur’an and noble prophetic hadiths themselves. And Allah guides and He is asked for help.

Tafsir of this Verse from Noble Hadiths

1. Narrated from Buraydah (Allah Almighty be pleased with him), he said: I heard Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) say:

خمس لا يعلمهن إلا الله { إن الله عنده علم الساعة… } الآية

“Five [things], none knows them besides Allah: ‘Verily, Allah, with him is knowledge of the Hour. And He sends down rain. And He knows what is in the wombs. And no soul knows what it will acquire tomorrow, and no soul knows in which land it will die. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.’”

Ahmad, Bazzar, Ibn Mardawayh and al-Diya al-Maqdisi narrated it with a sahih chain – al-Durr al-Manthur 5:170. Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani said about this hadith: “Ibn Hibban and al-Hakim authenticated it.” (Fath al-Bari 19:295) And Imam al-Hadith wa l-Tafsir Hafiz ‘Imad al-Din Ibn Kathir, after quoting this narration from Imam Ahmad, said: “This hadith has a sahih isnad.” (Ibn Kathir 8:23)

Furthermore, this hadith is narrated from Abu Hurayrah (Allah be pleased with him), as transmitted by Ibn Jarir in his Tafsir (al-Durr al-Manthur 5:170)

2. Narrated from Abu Umamah (Allah be pleased with him):

 أن أعرابياً وقف على النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يوم بدر على ناقة له عشراء فقال: يا محمد ما في بطن ناقتي هذه؟ فقال: له رجل من الأنصار: دع عنك رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وهلم إلي حتى أخبرك: وقعت أنت عليها وفي بطنها ولد منك؟ فأعرض عنه رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، ثم قال: إن الله يحب كل حي كريم متكره، ويبغض كل لئيم متفحش، ثم أقبل على الأعرابي فقال: خمس لا يعلمهن إلا الله { إن الله عنده علم الساعة… } 

“That a Bedouin stopped at the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) on the Day of Badr on a ten-month pregnant she-camel of his, and he said: “O Muhammad! What is in the belly of this she-camel of mine?” So a man from the Ansar said to him: “Leave the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and come to me so I can inform you: you fell upon it [i.e. you had intercourse with the camel] and in its belly is a child from you!” Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) turned away from him, and then said: “Verily Allah loves the bashful, noble person who hates vile talk, and He hates every disgraceful person who speaks vilely.” Then he turned to the Bedouin and he said: “Five [things], “none knows them besides Allah: ‘Verily, Allah, with him is knowledge of the Hour,’ [to the end of] the verse.”” (Ibn Mardawayh transmitted it – al-Durr al-Manthur 5:170)

It is obvious that the answer of the Ansari Sahabi to the Bedouin was in reality not an answer to the question, rather was a harsh word against his misplaced question, and such rhetorical retorts are found plentifully in every language. So some RidaKhani Mawlawis extracting this conclusion from the narration that the Ansari Sahabi actually knew what is in the wombs and there really was this Bedouin’s child in the she-camel’s belly is evidence of extremely feeble understanding.

3. Narrated from Rab‘i ibn Harrash (Allah be pleased with him), he said:

حدثني رجل من بني عامر أنه قال: يا رسول الله هل بقي من العلم شيء لا تعلمه فقال: ” لقد علمني الله خيراً، وإن من العلم ما لا يعلمه إلا الله. الخمس { إن الله عنده علم الساعة… }

A man from Banu ‘Amir narrated to me, he said: “O Messenger of Allah! Is there any knowledge left that you do not know?” He said: “Allah (Exalted and Glorified is He) taught me well, and from the knowledge that none knows besides Allah (Glorified and Exalted is Him) is five: ‘‘Verily, Allah, with him is knowledge of the Hour…’” (Sa‘id ibn Mansur narrated it in al-Mustakhraj, Imam Ahmad in Musnad and Imam Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufradal-Durr al-Manthur 5:170) After quoting it with its chain from Musnad Imam Ahmad, Hafiz Ibn Kathir wrote: “This is a sahih chain.” (Ibn Kathir 8:24)

4. Narrated from Ibn ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:

أوتيت مفاتيح كل شيء إلا الخمس { إن الله عنده علم الساعة… }

“I was given the keys of all things besides five: ‘Verily, Allah, with him is knowledge of the Hour,’ [to the end of] the verse.” This hadith was narrated by Imam Ahmad and al-Tabrani (al-Durr al-Manthur 5:170), and Hafiz Ibn Kathir said its chain is hasan (Tafsir Ibn Kathir 8:23)

It is clear the word “all” (kull) used here cannot literally mean all because even after excluding the five sciences, the remainder of the sciences are infinite acquiring which is impossible rationally and legally, by agreement, for all creation, and readers have already seen clear statements from Fadil Barelwi Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib himself in the introduction of this book. Furthermore, I will present many verses and hadiths from which is known that besides the five sciences, there are other sciences which were not given to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Thus, it is necessary to accept that the intent of “all” here is a large quantity, and using “all” in this meaning is common in the speech of the Arabs, particularly in the Book and Sunnah. [1] Regarding some rejected and despised groups, the Glorious Qur’an states: “We opened for them the doors to all things (abwaba kulli shay’),” yet not a single door from the doors of prophethood, sainthood, divine pleasure, taqwa, scrupulousness and other virtuous things was opened for them, rather even from material blessings not everything was acquired by them; for example, for living and rest those new inventions that are being made were not available to them; so it is agreed by all that the meaning of “all” in this verse is a large quantity of material blessings. Anyhow, in this verse and many similar verses, “all” is used in the sense of a “large quantity.”

Imam al-Tirmidhi with respect to such generalised usage of “all” quoted the statement of Imam al-Hadith wa l-Fiqh Sayyiduna ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak (Allah Almighty be pleased with him):

جائز في كلام العرب اذا صام اكثر الشهر ان يقال صام الشهر كله

“It is viable in the speech of the Arabs, when one fasts most of the month, to say, he fasted all of the month.” (Tirmidhi p. 92)

And even Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib himself accepted this usage [of the word]. Thus in only place of Fatawa Ridwiyyah he said: “Sometimes by ‘all’ is intended most.” (kubhi kull se akthar murad hota hey) (Fatawa Ridwiyyai 1:737).

Since there will be a detailed discussion on the word “kull” in the second part of this book, here I will suffice with this much. Since by the words “all things” in the hadith “large quantity” is intended, the meaning of the hadith will be:

Allah Almighty granted me many treasures of knowledge and sciences, but He did not give me these five sciences, meaning, Resurrection, coming down of rain, what is in the wombs, future events and the place of each person’s death, and none besides Him knows them. By this explanation, the meaning of Hazrat Ibn ‘Umar’s hadith is very similar  to the previous hadith, and Allah knows best.

5. Narrated from Salamah ibn al-Akwa‘ (Allah be pleased with him), he said:

 كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم في قبة حمراء إذ جاء رجل على فرس فقال: من أنت؟ قال ” أنا رسول الله قال: متى الساعة؟ قال: غيب، وما يعلم الغيب إلا الله قال: ما في بطن فرسي؟ قال: غيب، وما يعلم الغيب إلا الله قال: فمتى تمطر؟ قال: غيب وما يعلم الغيب إلا الله “

“Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was inside a red tent when a man came on a horse and he said: “Who are you?” He said: “I am the Messenger of Allah.” He said: “When is the Hour?” He said: “[This is from the] ghayb and none knows the ghayb besides Allah.” He said: “What is in the belly of my horse?” He said: “[This is from the] ghayb and none knows the ghayb besides Allah.” He said: “When will it rain?” He said: “[This is from the] ghayb and none knows the ghayb besides Allah.” (Ibn Mardawayh transmitted it – al-Durr al-Manthur 5:170)

6. In the Sahihayn and other books of hadith, through various routes and from a number of Sahabah, the hadith of Jibra’il is narrated, which was briefly mentioned in discussion of some of the aforementioned verses. Its last part is that the fourth question of Hazrat Jibra’il to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was: “When is the Hour?” so he said in reply: “The one questioned knows no more than the questioner.” Basically, just as you have no knowledge of this, I have no knowledge of it. Then in the end he stated: “Amongst five, none knows them besides Allah: “Verily, Allah, with him is knowledge of the Hour. And He sends down rain. And He knows what is in the wombs,” to the end of the verse. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Iman)

This blessed hadith was narrated from a group of the noble Sahabah (Allah be pleased with them) whose esteemed names are as follows: Amir al-Mu’minin Sayyiduna Hazrat ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him), Sayyiduna Hazrat ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with him), Sayyiduna Hazrat Abu Hurayrah (Allah be pleased with him), Sayyiduna Hazrat Jarir al-Bajali (Allah be pleased with him), Sayyiduna Hazrat Anas ibn Malik (Allah be pleased with him), Sayyiduna Hazrat Abu ‘Amr al-Ash‘ari (Allah be pleased with him), Sayyiduna Hazrat ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with them) (Fath al-Bari 1:60-1), Hazrat Abu Musa al-Ash‘ari and Hazrat ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Ghanam (Kanz al-‘Ummal 1:69-7)

The full details of all these routes and the necessary discussions related to them, I will insha Allah discuss in the second chapter. Here, I only wish to further say that in the version of Hazrat ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with them) the answer of the Holy Prophet (upon him blessing and peace) is even more passionate, which is that when Hazrat Jibra’il (upon him peace) asked him, “when is the Resurrection,” he replied: “Glory be to Allah! Five of the unseen matters, known to none besides Allah: ‘Verily, Allah, with Him is knowledge of the Hour,’ [to the end of] the verse.” (Fath al-Bari 1:63) It is as though the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was greatly surprised by this question. Abu ‘Amir al-Ash‘ari’s narration is very similar to these words. These two hadiths of Hazrat Ibn ‘Abbas and Hazrat Abu ‘Amir al-Ash‘ari were narrated by Imam Ahmad in his Musnad, and Hafiz Ibn Hajar (Allah have mercy on him) said with respect to the chains of these two narrations: “their chains are hasan.” (Fath al-Bari 1:61)

Although many similar hadiths still remain which shed full light on the meaning of this verse and are akin to a tafsir of this verse, nonetheless, here I will suffice with these hadiths by which a person of insight upon seeing them can properly understand the noble verse. Now, although there is no need, according to what I have decided [at the outset], I will quote the statements of the noble Sahabah (Allah be pleased with them), great Tabi‘in and learned mufassirin.

The Statements of the Sahabah and Tabi‘in on the Tafsir of the Verse

Amir al-Mu’minin Imam al-Muslimin Hazrat ‘Ali (Allah be pleased with him) said in shedding light on this hadith:

لم يعم على نبيكم صلى الله عليه وسلم إلا الخمس من سرائر الغيب هذه الآية. في آخر لقمان إلى آخر السورة

“Only five from the secrets of ghayb are hidden to your prophet which is mentioned in the last verse of Surah Luqman.” (Transmitted by Ibn Mardawayh – al-Durr al-Manthur 5:170)

Faqih al-Ummah Hazrat ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud said:

أوتي نبيكم صلى الله عليه وسلم مفاتيح كل شيء غير الخمس { إن الله عنده علم الساعة…

“Your prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was given knowledge of all things besides these five.” (Narrated by Imam Ahmad – Fath al-Bari 1:65; Abu Ya‘la, Ibn Jarir, Ibn al-Mundhir and Ibn Mardawayh also transmitted it – al-Durr al-Manthur 5:170)

It is obvious that the meaning of these statements of Sayyiduna Hazrat ‘Ali and Sayyiduna Hazrat Ibn Mas‘ud (Allah be pleased with them), just as I presented with evidence under the fourth hadith above, is that Allah Almighty granted the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) many, rather, uncountable, sciences and disciplines besides these five things [and not literally “all”].

Habr al-Ummah Sayyiduna Hazrat ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with them) said in shedding light on this verse:

هذه الخمسة لا يعلمها ملك مقرب ولا نبي مصطفى فمن ادعى أنه يعلم شيئاً من هذه الأمور فإنه كفر بالقرآن لأنه خالفه

“These five are not known to an angel brought near or a prophet chosen, so whoever claims to know any of them, he has disbelieved in the Qur’an because he opposed it.” (Tafsir Khazin 5:183)

And Hazrat Qatadah (Allah be pleased with him), the Tabi‘i, said in the commentary of this verse:

خمس من الغيب استأثر بهن الله فلم يطلع عليهن ملكاً مقرباً، ولا نبياً مرسلاً { إن الله عنده علم الساعة } فلا يدري أحد من الناس متى تقوم الساعة، في أي سنة ولا في أي شهر، أليلاً أم نهاراً { وينزل الغيث } فلا يعلم أحد متى ينزل الغيث، أليلاً أم نهاراً { ويعلم ما في الأرحام } فلا يعلم أحد ما في الأرحام أذكر أم أنثى، أحمر أو أسود { وما تدري نفس ماذا تكسب غداً } أخيراً أم شراً { وما تدري نفس بأي أرض تموت } ليس أحد من الناس يدري أين مضجعه من الأرض، أفي بحر أم بر، في سهل أم في جبل

“Five [things] from the ghayb which Allah has taken exclusive possession of, so will not disclose them to an angel brought near or a prophet sent: ‘Verily, Allah, with Him is knowledge of the Hour,’ so no one from man knows when the Hour will commence, in which [exact] year, or in which [exact] month, or night and day, ‘and He sends down rain,’ so no one knows when rain will come in the night or day, ‘and He knows what is in the wombs,’ so no one knows what is in the wombs, is it male or female, red or black, and what it is, ‘and no soul knows what it will acquire tomorrow,’ whether good or bad, and you O son of Adam, do not know when you will die perhaps you will be dead tomorrow, perhaps you will be afflicted tomorrow, ‘and no soul knows in which land it will die,’ i.e. none of man knows where his resting place is from the earth, in see or land, soft land or rough.” (Ibn Jarir narrated it and Ibn Abi Hatim – al-Durr al-Manthur 5:170; also Ibn Kathir mentioned it in his Tafsir 8:25, and al-Khatib al-Shirbini in al-Siraj al-Munir 3:200)

A Statement of Hazrat Imam Abu Hanifah on the Tafsir of this Verse

It is mentioned under the tafsir of this verse in Tafsir Madarik al-Tanzil:

رأى المنصور في منامه صورة ملك الموت وسأله عن مدة عمره فأشار بأصابعه الخمس فعبرها المعبرون بخمس سنوات وبخمسة أشهر وبخمسة أيام فقال أبو حنيفة رضي الله عنه: هو إشارة إلى هذه الآية، فإن هذه العلوم الخمسة لا يعلمها إلا الل

“Al-Mansur saw in his dream the form of the Angel of Death, and he asked him about his lifespan, so he indicated with his five fingers. The interpreters interpreted it as five years, or five months, or five days, so Abu Hanifah (Allah be pleased with him) said, ‘He is indicating to this verse, because none knows these five sciences besides Allah.’” (Madarik al-Tanzil 3:219)

It is known from this incident that Hazrat Imam A‘zam Abu Hanifah (Allah have mercy on him) also held the belief that knowledge of these five things are not acquired by any other than Allah, and all praise belongs to Allah.

Tafsir of this verse from the Imams of Tafsir

‘Allamah ‘Ali ibn Muhammad Khazin in his Tafsir Lubab al-Ta’wil explained the verse in a similar way to how it was explained in the transmission from Hazrat Qatada, which is why there is no need to include his passage here (Tafsir Khazin 5:183).

And in Tafsir Jalalayn the verse is explained as follows:

{ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عِندَهُ عِلْمُ ٱلسَّاعَةِ } متى تقوم { وَيُنَزِّلُ } بالتخفيف والتشديد { ٱلْغَيْثَ } بوقت يعلمه وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الأَرْحَامِ أذكر أم أنثى ولا يعلم واحدا من الثلاثة غير الله تعالى { وَمَا تَدْرِى نَفْسٌ مَّاذَا تَكْسِبُ غَداً } من خير أو شر ويعلمه الله تعالى { وَمَا تَدْرِى نَفْسٌ بِأَىّ أَرْضٍ تَمُوتُ } ويعلمه الله تعالى { إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ } بكل شيء { خَبِيرٌ } بباطنه كظاهره روى البخاري عن ابن عمر حديث مفاتح الغيب خمسة أن الله عنده علم الساعة إلى آخر السورة.

“ Allah, with Him lies knowledge of the Hour, when it will come to pass; and He sends down (read yunzilu, or yunazzilu) the rain, at times which [only] He knows; and He knows what is in the wombs, whether it is a male or a female; and not one of the three things is known by anyone other than Allah, exalted be He. And no soul knows what it will earn tomorrow, of good or evil, but Allah, exalted be He, knows this; and no soul knows in what land it will die, but Allah, exalted be He, knows this. Truly Allah is Knower, of all things, Aware, of the inward and outward aspects thereof.”

‘Allamah al-Nasafi’s tafsir of this verse is approximately the same as this (see Tafsir al-Madarik 3:219).

Furthermore, ‘Allamah Abu al-Su‘ud’s and Qadi Baydawi’s words in this place have the same meaning (Abu al-Su‘ud 7:31, Baydawi 2:156).

Imam al-Razi’s words in this place is that:

يقول بعض المفسرين إن الله تعالى نفى علم أمور خمسة بهذه الآية عن غيره وهو كذلك لكن المقصود ليس ذلك، لأن الله يعلم الجوهر الفرد الذي كان في كثيب رمل في زمان الطوفان ونقله الريح من المشرق إلى المغرب كم مرة، ويعلم أنه أين هو ولا يعلمه غيره

“According to some commentators of the Qur’an, Allah Most High in this verse negated knowledge of the five matters for anyone besides Him. This is true, but it is not the objective [of the verse], because Allah knows [even] the single grain that was in the pile of sand at the time of the flood [of Nuh (peace be upon him)] and which was swept by the wind from the east to the west, time and time again. Allah knows where it is and no one besides Him knows it.” (al-Tafsir al-Kabir 6:503)

After this, he explained the reason why these five were specifically mentioned, but since this is not related to our objective, I will not quote it.

[1] Abu al-Hasan ibn ‘Abd al-Hadi al-Hanafi al-Sindi (d. 1138 H), the famous and recognised commentator of the six well-known collections of hadith and Musnad Ahmad, wrote regarding this hadith, echoing the points made by the author:

والظاهر ان المراد به الخصوص وان كان مقتضى الاستثناء العموم والا للزم ان يكون علمه صلى الله عليه وسلم غير متناه وان يكون عالما بالغيب وقد قال تعالي قل لا يعلم من فى السموات والارض الغيب الا الله فليتامل

“It is apparent that the intent thereby is restriction even though [grammatically] the requirement of the exception is generality; for otherwise, it would imply his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) knowledge is unending [which is impossible for creation] and that he is knower of the ghayb, whereas He (Exalted is He) has said: ‘Say none in the heavens and earth know the ghayb besides Allah.’ Hence, this should be carefully considered.” (Quoted in Musnad Ahmad, Shu’ayb al-Arna’ut ed. 6:173-4)

Fourteenth Verse

وَعِندَهُ مَفَاتِحُ الْغَيْبِ لاَ يَعْلَمُهَا إِلاَّ هُوَ

“And with Him are the keys of the ghayb, none knows them besides Him.” (6:59)

[after quoting the translations of Shah Wali Allah and Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir]

On the meaning of “the keys of the ghayb,” the exegetes have [offered] several different opinions. Some have taken the meaning of the punishment and reward which is outside human perception, so according to them the meaning of the verse is that the details of punishment and reward are known only to Allah, and none besides Him knows them.

Some have taken the meaning of the hidden treasures in the heavens and the earth. And some have taken the meaning of the knowledge of predestination. Some have taken the meaning of the details of peoples’ lives, their happiness and misfortune and the condition of their ultimate end. All these opinions are mentioned in Tafsir Ma‘alim al-Tanzil, Khazin and others.

However, the most preferred and comprehensive tafsir of “keys of the ghayb from all of them is what is transmitted from the recipient of the Qur’an (Allah blesss him and grant him peace) himself:

Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:

مَفَاتِحُ الْغَيْبِ خَمْسٌ لَا يَعْلَمُهَا إِلَّا اللَّهُ لَا يَعْلَمُ مَا فِي غَدٍ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَلَا يَعْلَمُ مَا تَغِيضُ الْأَرْحَامُ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَلَا يَعْلَمُ مَتَى يَأْتِي الْمَطَرُ أَحَدٌ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَلَا تَدْرِي نَفْسٌ بِأَيِّ أَرْضٍ تَمُوتُ وَلَا يَعْلَمُ مَتَى تَقُومُ السَّاعَةُ إِلَّا اللَّهُ

“The keys of the ghayb are five, none knows them besides Allah. None knows what is in the morrow besides Allah, none knows what the wombs carry besides Allah, none knows when it will rain besides Allah, none knows in which land it will die, and none knows when the Hour will commence besides Allah.” (Al-Bukhari narrated it from Ibn ‘Umar – Allah be pleased with them – in the commentary on Surah al-Ra‘d; it is also transmitted by Ahmad, Muslim, al-Firyabi, Ibn Jarir, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Abu al-Shaykh, Ibn Mardawayh, and Hashish ibn Asram in al-Istiqamah as mentioned in al-Durr al-Manthur, 3:15, 5:170)

Furthermore, Sayyid al-Mufassirin, Habr al-Ummah, Tarjuman al-Qur’an, Sayyiduna Hazrat ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with them) also mentioned these five things as the meaning of “the keys of the ghayb.”

Thus, Ibn Jarir and Ibn al-Mundhir narrated from him in their Tafsirs that he said:

هنّ خمس:
إنَّ اللَّهَ عِنْدَهُ عِلْمُ السَّاعَةِ ويُنَزّلُ الغَيْثَ }
إلى:
إنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ }

“They are five: ‘Verily, Allah, with Him is knowledge of the Hour, and He sends down rain,’ to His saying, ‘All-Knowing, All-Aware.’ (31:34)” (al-Durr al-Manthur 3:15)

The upright student of Hazrat ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with them), Hazrat Mujahid, also interpreted “the keys of the ghayb” as those five things. Thus, in the tafsir of the last verse of Surah Luqman, he said:

قال مجاهد: وهي مفاتيح الغيب التي قال الله تعالى وَعِندَهُ مَفَاتِحُ الْغَيْبِ لاَ يَعْلَمُهَا إِلاَّ هُوَ

“These are the keys of the ghayb which Allah Almighty said: ‘and with Him are the keys of the ghayb, none knows them but Him.’” (Ibn Jarir and Ibn Abi Hatim narrated it – Tafsir Ibn Kathir 8:24, 25)

Anyhow, since this tafsir of “the keys of the ghayb” is established from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) himself, the Sahabah and Tabi‘in (Allah’s pleasure be on them all), this is why it is preferred over and stronger than other tafsirs. It is also the most comprehensive and inclusive from them all because in principle most of the existential hidden matters that are related to man are included in these five things; this is because hidden matters related to the slaves are either connected to the pre-life, present life or next life, and all these come within these five things. Thus, it is known from, “He sends down rain and knows what is in the wombs,” that full knowledge of the early stages of life are with Allah; then, “a soul does not know what it will acquire tomorrow,” states that man does not have full knowledge of his present life; and then, “a soul does not know in which land it will die” states that a man will not acquire full knowledge of his personal fate; and “verily, Allah, with Him is knowledge of the Hour,” states that the Resurrection which is the general fate of all creation, its knowledge is not known to any besides Allah. Thus, the existential hidden matters, whether related to the pre-life stages, this life or the next life, in principle, are included in these five things. This is why what other exegetes have mentioned in the explanation of “the keys of the ghayb” as specific hidden matters like punishment and reward, predestination, treasures of the unseen etc. they are all included in these five.

Anyhow, this tafsir of the “keys of the ghayb” which is established from the Holy Prophet (upon him blessing and peace), his prominent companion Hazrat Ibn ‘Abbas and his worthy student, Mujahid, is more comprehensive and inclusive that all other tafsirs. Thus, the other commentaries are not contradictory to it, rather come short of this comprehensive commentary.

Now, based on this preferred and comprehensive tafsir, the meaning of the abovementioned verse, “With Him are the keys of the ghayb, none besides Him knows them,” is that these five things are found only in Allah’s knowledge, that is, the time of Resurrection, the time of rain coming down and its quantity, quality etc., and that which is in the wombs and its detailed conditions, and future events, and the place of each person’s death.

Anyhow, based on this tafsir of the verse, it is proven that knowledge of the [time of] Resurrection is exclusive to Allah Almighty, and this is the objective here.

Detailed discussion on these five things and the meaning of their restriction to Allah Almighty, and the answers to the false interpretations of the RidaKhanis, will be seen under the next verse.

Thirteenth Verse

يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ السَّاعَةِ أَيَّانَ مُرْسَاهَا فِيمَ أَنتَ مِن ذِكْرَاهَا إِلَى رَبِّكَ مُنتَهَاهَا إِنَّمَا أَنتَ مُنذِرُ مَن يَخْشَاهَا 

“They ask you about the Hour: when is its establishment? In what [capacity] are you to remember it? Unto your Lord is its endpoint. You are only a warner for one who fears it.” (79:42-5)

[after quoting the translations of Shah Wali Allah and Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir]

Regarding the reason for the revelation of this verse, it was narrated from Amir al-Mu‘minin ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (Allah be pleased with him):

كان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يسأل عن الساعة فنزلت { فيم أنت من ذكراها

“The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would ask about the Hour, so, ‘In what [capacity] are you to remember it?’ was revealed.” (Ibn Mardawayh transmitted, al-Durr al-Manthur 6:314)

And it was narrated from Mother of the Believers, Hazrat ‘A’ishah Siddiqah (Allah be pleased with her):

ما زال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يسأل عن الساعة حتى أنزل عليه { فيم أنت من ذكراها إلى ربك منتهاها } فلم يسأل عنها

“The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not stop asking [Angel Jibril or Allah] about the Hour, until, ‘In what [capacity] are you to remember it? Unto your Lord is its endpoint’ was revealed to him, and then he did not ask about it.” (Al-Bazzar, Ibn al-Mundhir and al-Hakim – who authenticated it – and Ibn Mardawayh transmitted it, al-Durr al-Manthur 6:314)

And this was transmitted by Sa‘id ibn Mansur, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Abi Hatim and Ibn Mardawayh with a mursal chain from the Tabi‘i, ‘Urwah (al-Durr al-Manthur).

Furthermore, it is narrated from Tariq ibn Shihab (Allah be pleased with him):

كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يكثر ذكر الساعة حتى نزلت { فيم أنت من ذكراها إلى ربك منتهاها } فكف عنها

“Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would frequently remember [or mention] the Hour, until, ‘In what [capacity] are you to remember it? Unto your Lord is its endpoint’ was revealed to him, so he refrained from that.” (‘Abd ibn Humayd, al-Nasa’i, Ibn Jarir, al-Tabrani and Ibn Mardawayh transmitted it from Tariq ibn Shihab, al-Durr al-Manthur 6:314)

To save readers from misunderstanding, with respect to the import these narrations, I must clarify that these verses were from an early period of prophethood, and since before this, the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was not told that knowledge of the specific time of the Resurrection is from the exclusive qualities of the Creator Almighty, this is why, being affected by the questioning of the disbelievers of Makkah, he would repeatedly ask about it, and he would give much thought to it. When these verses were revealed (which mean: what connection do you have to it? Its knowledge ends upon Allah, and your job is only to warn those people who fear it – and knowledge of the particular time is not necessary for this), he left this thought, but this question kept coming from the disbelievers, which was again and again answered in the Glorious Qur’an.

After this, note the statements of the imams of the mufassirin on the explanation of these verses:

Imam al-Hadith wa l-Tafsir Hafiz ‘Imad al-Din Ibn Kathir (Allah have mercy on him) wrote in the commentary of “In what [capacity] are you to remember it? Unto your Lord is its endpoint”:

 إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ مُنتَهَـٰهَآ } أي: ليس علمها إليك ولا إلى أحد من الخلق، بل مردها ومرجعها إلى الله عز وجل، فهو الذي يعلم وقتها على التعيين
ثَقُلَتْ فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلأَرْضِ لاَ تَأْتِيكُمْ إِلاَّ بَغْتَةً يَسْـئَلُونَكَ كَأَنَّكَ حَفِىٌّ عَنْهَا قُلْ إِنَّمَا عِلْمُهَا عِندَ ٱللَّهِ }
[الأعراف: 187] وقال ههنا: { إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ مُنتَهَـٰهَآ } ولهذا لما سأل جبريل رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم عن وقت الساعة، قال: ” ما المسؤول عنها بأعلم من السائل

“Meaning, its knowledge does not revert to you, nor to any of creation, rather its reference and is return is to Allah (Glorified and Exalted), for He is the One Who knows its time specifically…and this is why when Jibra’il asked the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) about the time of the Hour, he said: ‘the questioned knows no more than the questioner.’” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir 10:155)

And ‘Allamah ‘Ali ibn Muhammad Khazin said in Lubab al-Tanzil:

{ يسألونك } أي يا محمد { عن الساعة أيّان مرساها } أي متى ظهورها وقيامها { فيم أنت من ذكراها } أي لست في شيء من علمها وذكراها حتى تهتم لها وتذكر وقتها { إلى ربك منتهاها } أي منتهى علمها لا يعلم متى تقوم الساعة إلا هو

“‘They ask you’ i.e. O Muhammad, ‘about the Hour, when is its establishment,’ i.e. when is its appearance and establishment, ‘In what [capacity] are you to remember it,’ i.e. you have no knowledge of it and remembrance of it such that you [should] have concern for it and remember its time; ‘to your Lord is its endpoint’ i.e. the endpoint of its knowledge, none knows when the Hour will commence besides Him.” (Tafsir Khazin 7:173)

And Imam Muhyi al-Sunnah Abu Muhammad Husayn ibn Mas‘ud al-Baghawi (Allah have mercy on him) wrote in his Tafsir, Ma‘alim al-Tanzil:

 يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلسَّاعَةِ أَيَّانَ مُرْسَـٰهَا } ، متى ظهورها وثبوتها.

{ فِيمَ أَنتَ مِن ذِكْرَٰهَا } ، لست في شيء من علمها وذكرها، أي لا تعلمها

“‘They ask you about the Hour, when is its establishment,’ when is its appearance and its establishment; ‘In what [capacity] are you to remember it,’ you have nothing of its knowledge and its remembrance, i.e. you do not know it.” (Ma‘alim al-Tanzil 7:173)

Al-Khatib al-Shirbini (Allah have mercy on him) wrote in the commentary of “to your Lord is its endpoint,”:

اي منتها علمها لم يوت علمها احدا من خلقه كقوله تعالى انما علمها عند ربي وقوله تعالى ان الله عنده علم الساعة

“Meaning, the endpoint of its knowledge. Its knowledge was not given to any of His creation, just as His (Exalted is He) saying: ‘Its knowledge is only with my Lord,’ (7:187) and His (Exalted is He) saying: ‘Verily, Allah, with Him is knowledge of the Hour.’ (31:34).”

And these exact words were used in this place by Imam al-Razi (Allah have mercy on him) (al-Tafsir al-Kabir 8:354).

The statement of ‘Allamah al-Nasafi (Allah have mercy on him) in this place is:

{ إلى رَبِّكَ مُنتَهَاها } منتهى علمها متى تكون لا يعلمها غيره

“‘To your Lord is its endpoint,’ the endpoint of its knowledge, when it will be, none besides Him knows it.” (Tafsir al-Madarik 4:248)

‘Allamah Qadi Baydawi (Allah have mercy on him) wrote in the commentary of this verse:

ووقتها مما استأثر الله تعالى بعلمه

“and its time is from that which Allah took exclusive possession of its knowledge.” (Tafsir al-Baydawi 2:358)

‘Allamah Abu al-Su‘ud (Allah have mercy on him) said:

 أيْ في أيِّ شيءٍ أنتَ مِنْ أنْ تذكرَ لهُم وقتَها وتعلمهم بهِ حَتَّى يسألُونكَ بـيانَها، كقولِه تعالَى:
يَسْـئَلُونَكَ كَأنَّكَ حَفِىٌ عَنْهَا }
[سورة الأعراف، الآية 187] أي ما أنتَ من ذِكْراهَا لهُم وتبـيـينِ وقتِها في شيءٍ لأنَّ ذلكَ فرعُ علمكَ به وأنَّى لكَ ذلكَ وهو مما استأثرَ بعلمه علامُ الغيوبِ

{ إِلَىٰ رَبّكَ مُنتَهَـٰهَا } على هذا الوجهِ إليهِ تعالَى يرجعُ مُنْتهى علمِها أيْ علمُها بكُنهِها وتفاصيلُ أمرِها وقتَ وقوعِها لا إلى أحدٍ غيرِه

“‘They ask you about the Hour, when is its establishment, in what are you to remember it,’ i.e. with what thing are you to give them remembrance of its time and teach it to them such that they ask you to explain it…because that is a corollary of your knowledge of it, and where are you to possess that when it is from that which the Knower of the Unseen has taken exclusive possession of its knowledge?… ‘To your Lord is its endpoint,’ …to Him (Exalted is He) the endpoint of its knowledge turns back, i.e. its knowledge in its essence and the details of its affair and the time of its occurrence, and not [go back] to any besides Him.” (Tafsir Abu al-Su‘ud 8:400)

‘Allamah Jalal al-Din al-Mahalli (Allah have mercy on him) wrote in Tafsir al-Jalalayn:

أي ليس عندك علمها حتى تذكرها { إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ مُنتَهَٰهَآ } منتهى علمها لا يعلمه غيره

“I.e. you don’t have its knowledge such that you can remember it; ‘to your Lord is its endpoint,’ i.e. the endpoint of its knowledge, none besides Him knows it.” (Tafsir al-Jalalayn p. 488)

And ‘Allamah Mu‘in ibn Safi (Allah have mercy on him) said:

الى ربك منتهاها اي منتهى علمها الى الله وحده

“‘To your Lord is its endpoint,’ i.e. the endpoint of its knowledge is to Allah alone.” (Jami‘ al-Bayan p. 488)

Twelfth Verse

 وَعِندَهُ عِلْمُ السَّاعَةِ وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ

“And with Him is knowledge of the Hour, and unto Him you will be returned.” (43:85)

[after quoting the translations of Shah Wali Allah and Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir]

‘Allamah Alusi the Mufti of Baghdad (Allah have mercy on him) wrote in his unparalleled Tafsir, Ruh al-Ma‘ani:

وفي تقديم الخبر إشارة إلى استئثاره تعالى بعلم ذلك

“‘And with Him is knowledge of the Hour,’ in bringing the predicate first is an indication towards Him (Exalted is He) taking exclusive possession of it.” (Ruh al-Ma‘ani 8:35)

And al-Khatib al-Shirbini’s words in this place is:

وعنده وحده علم الساعة

“‘And with Him,’ alone, ‘is knowledge of the Hour.’” (al-Siraj al-Munir 3:577)

And ‘Allamah Mu‘in ibn Safi wrote:

وعنده لا عند غيره علم الساعة

“‘And with Him,’ and not with [anyone] besides Him, ‘is knowledge of the Hour.’” (Jami‘ al-Bayan p. 46)

Eleventh Verse

إِلَيْهِ يُرَدُّ عِلْمُ السَّاعَةِ وَمَا تَخْرُجُ مِن ثَمَرَاتٍ مِّنْ أَكْمَامِهَا وَمَا تَحْمِلُ مِنْ أُنثَى وَلَا تَضَعُ إِلَّا بِعِلْمِهِ

“To Him [alone] the knowledge of the Hour is to be referred. No fruits come out of their sheaths, nor does a female conceive a baby, nor does she deliver it, but with His knowledge.” (41:47)

[after quoting the translations of Shah Wali Allah and Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir]

The first part of this verse says that the knowledge of the time of Resurrection is only with Allah, and the second part explains that detailed and encompassing knowledge of the daily changes in the existential events of all worlds, for example the world of plants and the world of animals, is also possessed by Allah Almighty.

Imam al-Razi wrote in al-Tafsir al-Kabir under this verse:

كأن سائلاً قال ومتى يكون ذلك اليوم؟ فقال تعالى إنه لا سبيل للخلق إلى معرفة ذلك اليوم ولا يعلمه إلا الله فقال: { إِلَيْهِ يُرَدُّ عِلْمُ ٱلسَّاعَةِ } وهذه الكلمة تفيد الحصر أي لا يعلم وقت الساعة بعينه إلا الله، وكما أن هذا العلم ليس إلا عند الله فكذلك العلم بحدوث الحوادث المستقبلة في أوقاتها المعينة ليس إلا عند الله سبحانه وتعالى، ثم ذكر من أمثلة هذا الباب مثالين أحدهما: قوله { وَمَا تَخْرُجُ مِن ثَمَرٰتٍ مّنْ أَكْمَامِهَا } والثاني: قوله { وَمَا تَحْمِلُ مِنْ أُنْثَىٰ وَلاَ تَضَعُ إِلاَّ بِعِلْمِهِ }

“It is as though a questioner said: ‘When will that day be?’ So He (Exalted is He) said that there is no means for creation to know that day, and none knows it besides Allah (Exalted is He). Thus, He said: ‘To Him the knowledge of the Hour is to be referred.’ This sentence entails restriction, i.e. none knows the exact time of the Hour besides Allah. And just as this knowledge is only with Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He), similarly knowledge of the emergence of future occurrences in their specified times is only with Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He). Then He mentioned from the examples of this chapter two examples, one of them is His saying, ‘No fruits come out of their sheaths’ and the second is His saying, ‘nor does a female conceive a baby, nor does she deliver it, but with His knowledge.’” (al-Tafsir al-Kabir 7:256)

And al-Khatib al-Shirbini (Allah have mercy on him) also wrote this at this place [in the commentary of this verse] (al-Siraj al-Munir 3:523)

And in the commentary of “To Him the knowledge of the Hour is to be referred,” ‘Allamah ‘Ali ibn Muhammad Khazin said:

يعني إذا سأل عنها سائل قيل له لا يعلم وقت قيام الساعة إلا الله تعالى ولا سبيل للخلق إلى معرفة ذلك

“Meaning, when a questioner asks about it, it will be said to him: none besides Allah knows the time of the establishment of the Hour.” (Tafsir Khazin 2:96)

Furthermore, ‘Allamah al-Baghawi (Allah have mercy on him) (Ma‘alim al-Tanzil) and ‘Allamah al-Nasafi (Allah have mercy on him) (Tafsir al-Madarik 4:74) and Qadi Baydawi (Allah have mercy on him) (Tafsir al-Baydawi 2:336) and ‘Allamah Abu al-Su‘ud (Allah have mercy on him) (Tafsir Abi al-Su‘ud 8:19) also said this under the commentary of this verse.

And ‘Allamah Mu‘in ibn Safi wrote:

اليه يرد علم الساعة لا يعلمها الا الله

“‘To Him is referred the knowledge of the Hour,’ none besides Him knows it.” (Jami‘ al-Bayan p. 398)

‘Allamah Jalal al-Din al-Mahalli wrote in Tafsir al-Jalalayn:

إِلَيْهِ يُرَدُّ عِلْمُ ٱلسَّاعَةِ } متى تكون لا يعلمها غيره

“‘To Him is referred the knowledge of the Hour,’ when it will be none knows but He.” (Tafsir al-Jalalayn p. 132)

And Imam al-Tafsir wa l-Hadith Hafiz ‘Imad al-Din Ibn Kathir said:

{ إِلَيْهِ يُرَدُّ عِلْمُ ٱلسَّاعَةِ } أي لا يعلم ذلك أحد سواه؛ كما قال محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم وهو سيد البشر، لجبريل عليه الصلاة والسلام، وهو من سادات الملائكة، حين سأله عن الساعة، فقال: ” ما المسؤول عنها بأعلم من السائل ” وكما قال عز وجل:

{ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ مُنتَهَـٰهَآ }
[النازعات: 44] وقال جل جلاله:
{ لاَ يُجَلِّيهَا لِوَقْتِهَآ إِلاَّ هُوَ }

“‘To Him is referred the knowledge of the Hour,’ meaning, no one besides Him knows that, just as Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace), who is the master of men, said to Jibra’il (upon him blessings and peace) who is from the masters of the angels, when he asked him about the Hour, so he said: ‘The one asked about it knows no more than the questioner,’ and just as He (Exalted and Glorified is he) said: ‘Unto your Lord belongs [knowledge of] the term thereof.’ (79:44) and He (Great is His Majesty) said: ‘None reveals it at its time besides Him.’ (7:187).”

The mufassir (Allah have mercy on him) is explaining that just as this noble verse explains that the knowledge of the Resurrection is exclusive to the Lord Almighty, similarly the other verses and hadiths also express this meaning.

Tenth Verse

قُل لَّا يَعْلَمُ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ الْغَيْبَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ أَيَّانَ يُبْعَثُونَ

“Say, “No one in the heavens and the earth has the knowledge of the ghayb except Allah.” And they do not know when they will be raised again. ” (27:65)

[after quoting the translations of Shah Wali Allah and Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir]

Muhyi al-Sunnah ‘Allamah al-Baghawi (Allah have mercy on him) wrote regarding the reason for its revelation:

نزلت في المشركين حيث سألوا النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم عن وقت قيام الساعة

“It was revealed about the idolaters when they asked the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) about the time of the establishment of the Hour.” (Ma‘alim al-Tanzil 5:128)

This reason for revelation is also mentioned on page 321 of Tafsir Jalalayn and page 167 of Tafsir al-Madarik and page 321 of Jami‘ al-Bayan.

‘Allamah ‘Ali ibn Muhammad Khazin, after quoting this reason for revelation, wrote on the exegesis of the verse:

والمعنى أن الله هو الذي يعلم الغيب وحده ويعلم متى تقوم الساعة { ما يشعرون أيان يبعثون } يعني أن من في السموات وهم الملائكة ومن في الأرض وهم بنو آدم لا يعلمون متى يبعثون والله تعالى تفرد بعلم ذلك

“The meaning is that Allah is the one Who alone knows the ghayb, and knows when the Hour will commence. ‘And they do not know when they will be raised again,’ meaning that those in the heavens, that is the angels, and those in the earth, that is the children of Adam, do not know when they will be raised again, and Allah Almighty alone has knowledge of that.” (Tafsir al-Khazin 5:125)

‘Umdat al-Mufassirin Hafiz Imam Ibn Kathir al-Dimashqi (Allah have mercy on him) wrote under this verse:

يقول تعالى آمراً رسوله صلى الله عليه وسلم أن يقول معلماً لجميع الخلق: أنه لا يعلم أحد من أهل السموات والأرض الغيب إلا الله. وقوله تعالى: { إِلاَّ ٱللَّهَ } استثناء منقطع أي: لا يعلم أحد ذلك إلا الله عز وجل؛ فإنه المنفرد بذلك وحده لا شريك له؛ كما قال تعالى:
وَعِندَهُ مَفَاتِحُ ٱلْغَيْبِ لاَ يَعْلَمُهَآ إِلاَّ هُوَ }
[الأنعام: 59] الآية، وقال تعالى:
بِٱللَّهِ ٱلْغَرُورُ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عِندَهُ عِلْمُ ٱلسَّاعَةِ وَيُنَزِّلُ ٱلْغَيْثَ }
[لقمان: 34] إلى آخر السورة، والآيات في هذا كثيرة. وقوله تعالى: { وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ أَيَّانَ يُبْعَثُونَ } أي: وما يشعر الخلائق الساكنون في السموات والأرض بوقت الساعة؛ كما قال تعالى:
ثَقُلَتْ فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلأَرْضِ لاَ تَأْتِيكُمْ إِلاَّ بَغْتَةً }
[الأعراف: 187] أي: ثقل علمها على أهل السموات والأرض.

وقال ابن أبي حاتم: حدثنا أبي، حدثنا علي بن الجعد، حدثنا أبو جعفر الرازي عن داود بن أبي هند عن الشعبي عن مسروق عن عائشة رضي الله عنها، قالت: من زعم أنه يعلم ــــ يعني: النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم – ما يكون في غد، فقد أعظم على الله الفرية؛ لأن الله تعالى يقول:  قُل لاَّ يَعْلَمُ مَن فِي ٱلسَّمَـٰوٰتِ وٱلأَرْضِ ٱلْغَيْبَ إِلاَّ ٱللَّهُ

“He (Exalted is He) says, commanding His Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) to say, informing all creation, that no one from the inhabitants of the heavens and earth knows the ghayb besides Allah. His (Exalted is He) statement, ‘except Allah’ is a disconnected exception [in which the exception is not included in that from which it is exempted, as Allah does not belong to those in the heavens and the earth]; meaning, no one knows that besides Allah (Exalted and Glorified is He), as He is Alone in that, having no partner; as He (Exalted is He) said: ‘With Him are the keys of the Unseen. No one knows them but He’ [to then end of] the verse (6:59) and He (Exalted is He) said: ‘Verily, Allah! With Him is knowledge of the Hour’ [to then end of] the verse (31:34) and the verses on this are many.

“His (Exalted is He) statement: ‘And they do not know when they will be raised again,’ meaning, the creatures living in the heavens and earth are not aware of the time of the Hour, as He (Exalted is He) said: ‘It is burdensome in the heavens and the earth’ (7:187), i.e. its knowledge is burdensome on the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth. Ibn Abi Hatim said: My father narrated to me: ‘Ali ibn al-Ja‘d narrated to us: He said: Abu Ja‘far al-Razi narrated to us from Dawud ibn Abi Hind from al-Sha‘bi from Masruq from ‘A’ishah, she said: ‘Whoever claims that he, meaning the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), knows what is in the morrow, he has produced a great slander against Allah, because Allah Almighty says: “Say: No one in the heavens and the earth has the knowledge of the ghayb except Allah.””

After this, when commenting on the next verse, “Nay, their knowledge ends at the Afterlife,” he says:

وقرأ آخرون: { بَلْ أدركَ علمُهم } أي: تساوى علمهم في ذلك؛ كما في ” الصحيح ” لمسلم: أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال لجبريل، وقد سأله عن وقت الساعة: ” ما المسؤول عنها بأعلم من السائل ” أي: تساوى في العجز عن درك ذلك علم المسؤول والسائل

“In another reading, it is bal adrak ‘ilmuhum [instead of bal iddaraka ‘ilmuhum], i.e. their knowledge is equal in that, as in the Sahih of Muslim that Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said to Jibra’il when he had asked about the time of the Hour: ‘The one asked about it knows no more than the questioner,’ i.e. the knowledge of every person asked [about it] and the one who asks is equal in failing to grasp it.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir 7:229)

Ninth Verse

هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن طِينٍ ثُمَّ قَضَى أَجَلاً وَأَجَلٌ مُّسمًّى عِندَهُ ثُمَّ أَنتُمْ تَمْتَرُونَ

“He is the One who created you from clay, then destined a term. The fixed term lies with Him, yet you are in doubt. ” (6:2)

[after quoting the translations of Shah Wali Allah and Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir]

In this verse, two appointed terms are described for man, and in their interpretation, the mufassirin have various opinions. The preferred interpretation is that by the first “term” is meant man’s death, and by the second “fixed term” the time of Resurrection is meant, and only Allah Almighty has knowledge of its specific time. Hazrat Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir Sahib (Allah have mercy on him) wrote in a “benefit” (fa’idah) from the verse:

“Thus, the first term is for each person and that is not known to him but is known to the angels, and the second term is for all creation, so none knows it [besides Allah].” (Fawa’id Mudih al-Qur’an by Hazrat Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir)

‘Allamah Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (Allah have mercy on him) preferred this explanation in Tafsir al-Jalalayn. (Jalalayn p. 87)

And ‘Allamah al-Nasafi al-Hanafi (Allah have mercy on him) also adopted this opinion, although he mentioned other opinions as possible interpretations (Madarik 4:3).

‘Allamah ‘Ali ibn Muhammad Khazin (Allah have mercy on him) mentioned it along with other possible interpretations:

 وقيل: الأجل هو الوقت المقدر فأجل كل إنسان مقدر معلوم عند الله لا يزيد ولا ينقص.

والأجل الثاني: هو أجل القيامة وهو أيضاً معلوم مقدر عند الله لا يعلمه إلا الله تعالى

“It was said, the term is the time determined, so the term of every person is determined and known to Allah, neither increasing nor decreasing, and the second term is the term of Resurrection which is also determined and known to Allah; none knows it besides Allah Almighty.”

Anyhow, according to the preferred opinion the second “term” is the term of Resurrection, and the words “fixed with Him” specifies its knowledge to Allah Almighty. And Allah knows best.

Eighth Verse

قُلْ إِنْ أَدْرِي أَقَرِيبٌ مَّا تُوعَدُونَ أَمْ يَجْعَلُ لَهُ رَبِّي أَمَدًا

“Say: I know not whether that which you are promised is near, or if my Lord has set a distant term for it.” (72:25)

[after quoting the translations of Shah Wali Allah and Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir]

Since this has the exact same meaning as the previous verse, I consider it sufficient to only quote one comprehensive passage from Imam al-Mufassirin Hafiz Ibn Kathir (Allah have mercy on him):

يقول تعالى آمراً رسوله صلى الله عليه وسلم أن يقول للناس: إنه لا علم له بوقت الساعة، ولا يدري: أقريب وقتها أم بعيد؟ { قُلْ إِنْ أَدْرِىۤ أَقَرِيبٌ مَّا تُوعَدُونَ أَمْ يَجْعَلُ لَهُ رَبِّىۤ أَمَداً } أي: مدة طويلة، وفي هذه الآية الكريمة دليل على أن الحديث الذي يتداوله كثير من الجهلة من أنه عليه الصلاة والسلام لا يؤلف تحت الأرض كذب لا أصل له، ولم نره في شيء من الكتب، وقد كان صلى الله عليه وسلم يُسأل عن وقت الساعة، فلا يجيب عنها، ولما تبدى له جبريل في صورة أعرابي، كان فيما سأله أن قال: يا محمد فأخبرني عن الساعة؟ قال:  ما المسؤول عنها بأعلم من السائل 

“He (Exalted is He) says, commanding His Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) to say to people that he has no knowledge of the time of the Hour, and he does not know whether its time is near or far. ‘Say: I know not whether that which you are promised is near, or if my Lord has set a distant term for it,’ i.e. a lengthy period. He (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would be asked about the Hour and not give response to it, and when Jibra’il appeared to him in the form of a Bedouin, from what he asked him was that he said: ‘O Muhammad, tell me about the Hour.’ So he said: ‘The one questioned about it knows no more [about it] than the questioner.’” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir 10:96)

Just like the previous verse, from the apparent words of this verse it is also implied that nearness or farness of the Resurrection themselves are not known, whereas other verses and many hadiths reveal that it is near. I have already elaborated on the answer to this [problem] under the previous verse. Here, I feel it is appropriate to present some brief words from Imam al-Razi (Allah have mercy on him) on this, who after completing the explanation of the verse, said:

فإن قيل: أليس أنه قال: ” بعثت أنا والساعة كهاتين ” فكان عالماً بقرب وقوع القيامة، فكيف قال: ههنا لا أدري أقريب أم بعيد؟ قلنا: المراد بقرب وقوعه هو أن ما بقي من الدنيا أقل مما انقضى، فهذا القدر من القرب معلوم، وأما معنى معرفة القرب القريب وعدم ذلك فغير معلوم

“If it is said, did he (Allah bless him and grant him peace) not say: ‘I was sent, I and the Hour, like these two,’ so he was aware of the nearness of the occurence of the Resurrection, so how can he say here: ‘I know not whether [it is] near or far’? We say: the intent of the nearness of its occurrence is that which remains from the world is less in relation to what has preceded. Thus, this degree of nearness is known. As for the meaning of this [proportional] nearness, whether [quantitatively] near or not, it is unknown.” (al-Tafsir al-Kabir 8:343)

And at this juncture, al-Khatib al-Shirbini used the exact same words [in explanation of this verse] (Tafsir al-Siraj al-Munir 4:408)

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