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Fatwas / Fatawa from America / What is meant by the clear verses (muhkamat) and unclear verses (mutashabihat).

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The meaning of Allah’s statement, “It is He who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book; in it are verses that are entirely clear (muhkamat) - they are the foundation of the Book - and others not entirely clear (mutashabihat).” [Aal `Imran 3:7] المقصود بالآيات المحكمات والمتشابهات


Praise be to Allah, and may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah, his family and his companions.

 As to what follows:

In response to your question, we say, and with Allah Almighty lies all success:

 You should know that Allah Almighty has described His Book as having been perfected. He Almighty said:

“Alif, Lam, Ra. [This is] a Book whose verses are perfected and then explained in detail from One who is All-Wise and Well-Acquainted.” [Hud 11:1]

So He, the Exalted, described His Book as being perfect, which is a general description that holds true regarding the whole of the Book. Furthermore, perfection in these verses means precision, for the Book of Allah Almighty is precise; falsehood cannot approach it from before it or from behind it.

He also described His Book as being consistent:

“Allah has sent down the best statement: a consistent Book wherein is reiteration.” [Al-Zumar 39:23]

This is a description that holds true regarding the whole of the Book as well. Furthermore, consistency in this verse means its parts resembling each other, being in proportion to one another and consistent with one another, such that they confirm and attest to one another. So there is no contradiction among its reports and legislations. Allah Almighty said:

“Had it been from other than Allah, they would have found therein much contradiction.” [Al-Nisa’ 4:82]

Allah Almighty has also described His Book as including verses that are entirely clear (muhkamat) and others not so entirely clear (mutashabihat). Moreover, He, the Exalted, has explained that the way of the believers is to follow the entirely clear ones and to believe in the unclear ones, and that the way of the deviants is to turn away from its entirely clear ones and to follow its unclear ones.

The complete clarity that some of the verses of the Qur’an have been described with, means that they can only have one possibly correct meaning. As for the unclear verses, they are those that could possibly have two or more meanings: one of them correct and the other(s) false. So some people become uncertain as to which of these two (or more) meanings is intended. The criterion to pinpoint the intended meaning from such unclear verses is to choose that which coincides with the entirely clear verses.

Here is an example that will illustrate the above:

Allah Almighty has informed us in many verses of His Book that He is One and there is no deity besides Him, among which is His statement:

“Say, ‘He is Allah, [who is] One.’” [Al-Ikhlas 112:1]

However, it is mentioned in some other verses that Allah Almighty speaks of Himself in the plural form, such as His statement:


“Indeed, it is We who have sent down the Qur’an, and indeed, We will guard it.” [Al-Hijr 15:9]

 So the first verse is an entirely clear one proving that Allah Almighty is One and only One, while the second verse contains a possibility; that what is intended by the plural form is either veneration or plurality. Those in whose hearts is deviation [from truth], they will follow that which is not entirely clear thereof. So they will say that deities are many in number. As for those who follow the way of guidance, they will interpret that which is not entirely clear thereof based on what is entirely clear thereof. So they will go according to the entirely clear verse that is decisive and conclusive; that Allah is One, and that the plural form is for veneration and not for plurality.

Finally, what is obligatory upon the slave is to stand by the texts and not impose upon himself what he cannot handle. Moreover, he should believe that whatever has come from Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) of reports of the unseen related to Allah, the Last Day, the angels, or the jinn, etc., they are as Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) have said in their true essence, and their meaning is what they have intended. We do not interfere in that by interpreting it according to our own opinions, nor fancying what we feel according to our own whims; for none is safe regarding his religion except he who has submitted to Allah, the Exalted, and His Messenger (peace be upon him).



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