The covenant about which there is no doubt

The covenant about which there is no doubt

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

al kitāb lā ryaba fī hi – the covenant about which there is no doubt

Traditionalists either choose to be silent about – or, more likely, are simply ignorant of – the fact that al fātiḥah is a contract which mirrors to a striking extent the conventions of the ancient Hittite suzerainty treaty.

Such treaties, under which vassals and lords came to terms, fell into the following sections: preamble where both the contract owner and vassal are identified, (here: 1:1, and 1:5), prologue which listed deeds done by the suzerain for the vassal (here: God’s universal credentials at 1:2-4), stipulations (terms to be upheld for the life of the treaty) by the vassal and the lord (here: 1:5 and 1:6-7), provision for regular public reading (here: chapter al fātiḥah is read multiple times daily by longstanding convention and given its position at the head of the Qur’anic text is a natural prelude to reading any of the rest of it), and divine witness to the treaty (which in this context is implicit as well as stated explicitly at 1:1). Finally, blessings on those who upheld the treaty and curses upon those who failed to do so (here: 2:2-5 and 2:6-21) were evoked after the contract proper.

The opening statement of al baqarah (2:2) reads: That is al kitābu lā rayba fī hi. By use of this demonstrative pronoun the text identifies that which precedes (i.e. alif lām mīm which are themselves symbolic of al fātiḥah as demonstrated in Article XX) as al kitābu lā rayba fī hi.

The Qur’an states at 10:37 that the Qur’an itself serves two purposes: to confirm what is within its scope, and to give a detailed exposition of al kitābu lā rayba fī hi.

Since the meaning of kitāb in the collocation al kitābu lā rayba fī hi relates to treaty or covenant – both acceptable senses of kitāb – I have rendered this phrase in all three instances: the covenant about which there is no doubt.

All three instances in the text are footnoted.

References

2:2, 10:37, 32:2.

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...

follow me on: