kitab allah in the Qur’an

The law of God

This article is from The Qur’an: A Complete Revelation.

kitāb allah – the law of God

In general discourse the Traditionalist would have us believe that kitāb allah means the book of God and that this signifies the Quran.

This claim is exposed by providing a complete list of the verses in which kitāb allah occurs in his translation with kitāb allah underlined.

I take, as usual, the Saheeh International translation which represents a fair golden mean in both the Traditionalist’s understanding of and position on the Qur’anic text.

And when a messenger from Allāh came to them confirming that which was with them, a party of those who had been given the Scripture threw the Scripture of Allāh [i.e., the Torah] behind their backs as if they did not know [what it contained] (2:101)

Do you not consider, [O Muḥammad], those who were given a portion of the Scripture? They are invited to the Scripture of Allāh that it should arbitrate between them; then a party of them turns away, and they are refusing. (3:23)

And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess. [This is] the decree of Allāh upon you. And lawful to you are [all others] beyond these, [provided] that you seek them [in marriage] with [gifts from] your property, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse. So for whatever you enjoy [of marriage] from them, give them their due compensation as an obligation. And there is no blame upon you for what you mutually agree to beyond the obligation. Indeed, Allāh is ever Knowing and Wise. (4:24)

Indeed, We sent down the Torah, in which was guidance and light. The prophets who submitted [to Allāh] judged by it for the Jews, as did the rabbis and scholars by that with which they were entrusted of the Scripture of Allāh, and they were witnesses thereto. So do not fear the people but fear Me, and do not exchange My verses for a small price [i.e., worldly gain]. And whoever does not judge by what Allāh has revealed – then it is those who are the disbelievers. (5:44)

And those who believed after [the initial emigration] and emigrated and fought with you – they are of you. But those of [blood] relationship are more entitled [to inheritance] in the decree of Allāh Indeed, Allāh is Knowing of all things. (8:75)

Indeed, the number of months with Allāh is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allāh [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion [i.e., way], so do not wrong yourselves during them. And fight against the disbelievers collectively as they fight against you collectively. And know that Allāh is with the righteous [who fear Him]. (9:36)

But those who were given knowledge and faith will say, “You remained the extent of Allāhs decree until the Day of Resurrection, and this is the Day of Resurrection, but you did not used to know.” (30:56)

The Prophet is more worthy of the believers than themselves, and his wives are [in the position of] their mothers. And those of [blood] relationship are more entitled [to inheritance] in the decree of Allāh than the [other] believers and the emigrants, except that you may do to your close associates a kindness [through bequest]. That was in the Book inscribed. (33:6)

Indeed, those who recite the Book of Allāh and establish prayer and spend [in His cause] out of what We have provided them, secretly and publicly, [can] expect a transaction [i.e., profit] that will never perish – (35:29)

I try to refrain from mocking the Traditionalist, but he does not make it easy. He has had 1,400 years in which to stroke his beard on this one, and this is the best he could do.

In any event, his position is that he has nine instances of kitāb allah in the Quran which he understands as follows:

  • the scripture of Allah (by which he means the Torah) x 1
  • the scripture of Allah (by which he means something but we don’t know exactly what) x 2
  • the decree of Allah (by which he means something specifically binding upon ‘Muslims’) x 1
  • the decree of Allah (by which he means something other than something specifically binding upon ‘Muslims’) x 2
  • the register of Allah (whatever that is) x 1
  • Allah’s decree x 1

We will assume that the decree of Allah and Allah’s decree are substantively the same thing. Even so, we still have five meanings for one set phrase and no Qur’anically-based reason for choosing one over another.

However, since we have now done the spadework that the Traditionalist really should have done in order in some way to merit the respect he claims as his right, we are in a position to approach the phrase kitāb allah on the basis of a consistent methodology.

Based, then, on the analysis in the preceding part of this Article, kitāb allah should mean the law of God.

If we now adjust the Traditionalist’s sprawling concept accordingly we have:

And when a messenger from Allāh came to them confirming that which was with them, a party of those who had been given the Scripture threw the law of God  behind their backs as if they did not know [what it contained] (2:101)

Do you not consider, [O Muḥammad], those who were given a portion of the Scripture? They are invited to the law of God that it should arbitrate between them; then a party of them turns away, and they are refusing. (3:23)

And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess. The law of God is upon you. And lawful to you are [all others] beyond these, [provided] that you seek them [in marriage] with [gifts from] your property, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse. So for whatever you enjoy [of marriage] from them, give them their due compensation as an obligation. And there is no blame upon you for what you mutually agree to beyond the obligation. Indeed, Allāh is ever Knowing and Wise. (4:24)

Indeed, We sent down the Torah, in which was guidance and light. The prophets who submitted [to Allāh] judged by it for the Jews, as did the rabbis and scholars by that with which they were entrusted of the law of God and they were witnesses thereto. So do not fear the people but fear Me, and do not exchange My verses for a small price [i.e., worldly gain]. And whoever does not judge by what Allāh has revealed – then it is those who are the disbelievers. (5:44)

And those who believed after [the initial emigration] and emigrated and fought with you – they are of you. But those of [blood] relationship are more entitled [to inheritance] in the law of God Indeed, Allāh is Knowing of all things. (8:75)

Indeed, the number of months with Allāh is twelve [lunar] months in the law of God [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion [i.e., way], so do not wrong yourselves during them. And fight against the disbelievers collectively as they fight against you collectively. And know that Allāh is with the righteous [who fear Him]. (9:36)

The Prophet is more worthy of the believers than themselves, and his wives are [in the position of] their mothers. And those of [blood] relationship are more entitled [to inheritance] in the law of God than the [other] believers and the emigrants, except that you may do to your close associates a kindness [through bequest]. That was in the Book inscribed. (33:6)

Indeed, those who recite the law of God and establish prayer and spend [in His cause] out of what We have provided them, secretly and publicly, [can] expect a transaction [i.e., profit] that will never perish – (35:29)

While I don’t think anyone has any trouble understanding why the verses above now make sense, the verse at 30:56 still requires a little extra attention.

But those who were given knowledge and faith will say, “You remained the extent of the law of God until the Day of Resurrection, and this is the Day of Resurrection, but you did not used to know.” (30:56)

The translator has tried to be creative in his rendering, I assume to help mask the fact he has no conception of the meaning of what he is translating.

The words you remained are from the verb labatha in Arabic which means to tarry, to hold back, to wait. The words he has rendered the extent of simply do not exist in the Arabic, and these Traditionalist translators should have put them in the square brackets by which they usually indicate their interpolations. In addition, we have the preposition which has a range of meanings including: in or concerning or regarding.

With the dead wood cleared, what we now have is:

But those who were given knowledge and faith will say, “You waited concerning the law of God until the Day of Resurrection, and this is the Day of Resurrection, but you did not used to know.” (30:56)

Does this not make complete sense? Those who were given knowledge and faith say to those who were not, in effect: you waited concerning the law of God (that is, in obeying the laws God had given you) till the Day of Judgment, well, here it is.

Where the law of God treats only of those things which pertain to God and have no direct bearing on man, it indicates that law by which he implements government of the physical universe.

All instances in the text are footnoted.

References

2:101, 3:23, 4:24, 5:44, 8:75, 9:36, 30:56, 33:6, 35:29.

About the Author Sam Gerrans

Sam Gerrans is an English writer and speaker with professional backgrounds in media, strategic communications, and technologies. He is driven by commitment to ultimate meaning, and focused on authentic approaches to revelation and Realpolitik. He is founder of Quranite.com and author of The Qur’an: A Complete Revelation where his consistent, Qur'an-centric hermeneutical methodology is applied to the text of the Qur’an in its entirety. Read more...

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