Meaning of “Al-Kursiyy” in Qur’an
There had been disagreement among scholars with regards to the meaning of “Al-Kursiyy” mention in verse 255 of Surah Al-Baqarah, well famous as “Ayat Al-Kursiyy”.
Hence, according to Ibn Abbas, As-Suddi, Muslim Al-Butain and Adh-Dhahhaak, Al-Kursiyy is the place of Feet (of Allah). This is also reported from Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari. Some said, it means “Allah’s knowledge”. This was reported from Ibn Abbas and Sa’eed bin Jubair. While some other said, Al-Kursiyy is Al-Arsh itself. This is reported from Hasan Al-Basari, and both the laters are weak opinion.
Opinion-1: Al-Kursiyy is the place of two Feet
This was the saying of Ibn Abbas (ra) as recorded by Abdur-Razzaq in his Tafsir (3/350), Abu Abdullah Al-Hakim in “Al-Mustadrak” (3116) and declared it authentic, through the way of Sufiyan Ath-Thawri from Ammar Ad-Duhniyy from Muslim Al-Bateen from Sa’eed bin Jubair from Ibn Abbas….mawqoofan. Ibn Katheer attributed this to Tafsir of Wakee’ through the same chain of Sufiyan.
Its narrators are all trustworthy, from the narrators of Sahih. Those who declared it authentic includes Al-Qaasim ibn Salaam, Abu Zur’ah Ar-Razi, Abu Sa’eed Ad-Darimi, Dhahabi, Ibn Katheer, Al-Albani.
In “Mu’jam Al-Kabeer” (12/39) of Tabarani, Abu Muslim Al-Kashhiyy narrates from Abu ‘Aasim from Sufiyan from ‘Ammar Ad-Duhniyy from Sa’eed bin Jubair from Ibn Abbas. In this sanad Muslim Al-Bateen is missed from Isnad between Ammar Ad-Duhniyy and Sa’eed bin Jubair. Hasan As-Saqqaf made it one of the reasons for the weakness of this report. He states:
“And the narration of Tabarani in his Mu’ajam Al-Kabeer, as preceded, is from the narration of Ammar Ad-Duhniyy from Ibn Jubair directly without Al-Bateen being between them. And Ammar Ad-Duhniyy did not narrate from Sa’eed bin Jubair as he himself accepted…………..And all these necessitate Idhtirab and weakness of the report, and its unconformity from Ibn Abbas.” [I’alam Ath-Thaqalain, published with “Al-Qawl Al-Asad” of Abdul Aziz Al-Ghumari, pg. 90]
Answers to his contention are as follows:
- Considering that the report of Tabarani is preserved, it doesn’t necessitate Idhtirab of weakness. This is because if Tabarani’s narration is mahfooz , then mostly it could be said that Ammar Ad-Duhniyy sometimes relate it in Mursal way, and since we know who exactly is between Ad-Duhniyy and Ibn Jubair then there remains no reason to consider this narration to be weak. It is nothing new when some narrator reports a narration in Mudallas or Mursal form while some other time he narrates the same report by mentioning the missing reporter. No one said this necessitates weakness. Yes, when the actual narrator is not known then it makes the narration weak. This is if the isnad of Tabarani is correct, which is not the case actually.
- Declaring this whole report to be Mudhtarib based on a single Isnad is not correct. From Sufiyan Ath-Thawri, this was reported by Abdur-Razzaq, Wakee’, Abu Ahmed, Abu Aasim and Abdur-Rahman bin Mahdiyy, while the disconnection only exist in the report of Abu Aasim An-Nabeel, and that too in a single report of Abu Muslim who was opposed by other students of Abu Aasim. From Abu Aasim, this was reported by Ahmed bin Mansoor Ar-Rammadi, Muhammad bin Bashhaar, Muhammad bin Mu’adh and Abu Muslim Al-Kashhiyy, while the problem exists in the report of Abu Muslim Al-Kashhiyy only. Hence, if the isnad in Tabarani is not a mistake, then the report of majority from Sufiyan and Abu Aasim to be accepted.
- Khateeb Baghdadi (9/351) and Bayhaqi in “Al-Asma wa As-Sifat” report through the way of Abu Muslim from Abu Aasim, and in it they mention Muslim Al-Bateen. Dhiyaa Al-Maqdisi states in “Al-Ahadeeth Al-Mukhtarah” after relating the narration which doesn’t contain Muslim Al-Bateen, “This is how Tabarani narrates it in his Mu’jam, while in his Kitab As-Sunnah he added Muslim Al-Bateen in Isnad”. All this indicates that the isnad in Al-Mu’ajam is a mistake.
Hence, in conclusion, this report is authentic from the sayings of Ibn Abbas. As for those who made it marfoo’ from Prophet (S), then that is a mistake as it was notified by several scholars.
The same tafsir has been narrated from Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari (ra). Hence, it was reported by Ibn Jareer At-Tabari in his tafsir (5/398) through the way of Ammarah bin Umair from Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari as a Mawqoof report.
Hafiz Ibn Hajar declared this to be Sahih in “Fath Al-Bari” (8/199). Al-Albani said in “Ad-Da’eefa” (2/307), “Its chain is Sahih if Ammarah bin Umair heard it from Abu Musa, because he narrates from him (as it has been observed) through Abu Musa’s son Ibrahim.”
Shaykh Zahid Al-Kawthari considered this report of Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari to be weak based on Ammarah bin Umair who was listed by Imam Bukhari in his “Adh-Dhu’afa” (i.e. his book on weak narrators) as he said. Imam Al-Albani contradicted him in “Mukhtasar Al-Uluww” (pg.124) by saying, “a blantant mistake, and I don’t know if this happened from him unintentionally or he did it intentionally………I say this because Ammarah bin Umair was a Taba’i Thiqah with agreement, and the two Shaykhs reported from him in their Sahihs, and Ibn Hajar said regarding him, “Thiqah Thabt”. And (narrator) like of this couldn’t have been hidden from someone like Al-Kawthari. And he is not mentioned in “Adh-Dhu’afa” of Al-Bukhari as he thought, but in it is Ammarah bin Juwain who was Matrook.”
However, there is another ‘Ammarah bin Umair who narrates from Umm Tufail the Hadith in which the anthropomorphic description of Allah is given. The report is Munkar and this narrator is unknown. Imam Dhahabi has mentioned him in “Meezan Al-E’etedal” (3/177) and said that Imam Bukhari listed him in his book on weak narrator (Adh-Dhu’afa). But this could not be found in the published version of Al-Bukhari’s “Adh-Dhu’afa”. Hasan Saqqaf, in his “Tanaqudhat Al-Albani” (2/289), attacked Al-Albani by saying that it might have been existed in the manuscripts possessed by Al-Dhahabi. This could be true, but the criticism of Al-Albani on Al-Kawthari was still correct.
The one listed by Al-Dhahabi has nothing to do with the Ammarah bin Umair who is narrating from Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari the tafsir of Al-Kursiyy. Ammarah who narrates from Umm Tufail is known only through a single report, which is Munkar, describing the anthropomorphic picture of Allah, Exalted is He. He has no other contribution in the field of Hadith. While Ammarah who is narrating the Tafsir of Kursiyy is the one who was Thiqah Thabt.
Besides that, the full name of Ammarah who narrates from Umm Tufail is not actually Ammarah bin ‘Umair as assumed by Imam Dhahabi. His name was Ammarah bin ‘Aamir. This is how Imam Bukhari described him in “At-Tarikh Al-Kabeer” (6/500) and “At-Tarikh As-Sagheer” (1/327). Also, Ibn Hibban and At-Tabarani named him as such, as quoted by Hafiz in “Lisan Al-Meezan” (4/278). And this is how it is mentioned by Ibn Abi Hatim in “Al-Jarh wa At-Ta’deel” (6/367). Hasan As-Saqqaf came across all these as he referenced Lisan Al-Meezan where Ibn Hajar contradicted Al-Dhahabi with regards to the name of narrator. The only thing with Shaykh Al-Albani was that he couldn’t recall the entry of Ammarah (the unknown one) in Al-Meezan, hence he denied any possibility of criticism of Al-Bukhari on Ammarah, while on the other hand he was quite sure that Bukhari couldn’t have listed Ammarah bin Umair among weak narrators as he himself took his report as Hujjah in his Sahih and other scholars also declared him Thiqah. And we have proven above that there were two people Ammarah bin ‘Umair and Ammarah bin ‘Aamir, the latter of which was unknown. Al-Kawthari deceptively messed him up with the trustworthy ‘Ammarah to make the report under discussion weak.
Opinion-2: Al-Kursiyy means Knowledge
This was the view of Sa’eed bin Jubair. Bukhari mentioned it in mu’allaq form in his “Sahih”, and Ibn Hajar (8/199) said that Sufiyan Ath-Thawri had recorded it in his Tafsir with a Sahih chain.
This was also reported through Ibn Abbas. Hence, Ibn Jareer relates in his Tafsir (5/397) through the way of Ja’far bin Abil Mugheerah from Sa’eed bin Jubair from Ibn ‘Abbas in mawqoof form. Likewise, it has been recorded by ‘Abd bin Humaid, Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Al-Mundhir, Al-Bayhaqi, as in “Ad-Durr Al-Manthoor” by As-Suyuti.
All of its narrators are trustworthy, except there is some Kalam with regards to Ja’far. Ibn Hibban listed him in his “Ath-Thiqat”. His Tawtheeq was narrated through Ahmed bin Hanbal, as in “Al-‘Ilal wa Al-Ma’rifah” (3/102), while at another place (3/283) in the same book he said that he wasn’t Mashhoor and preferred Aslam Al-Minqari over him. Hafiz in his “Taqreeb” (1/64) said, “He was truthful (sadooq), but he would fall in doubts (sometimes)”, the same thing was said by Safiyud-Deen Al-Khazraji in “Khulasah At-Tahdheeb”. Hafiz Ibn Mandah said that he was not strong while narrating from Sa’eed bin Jubair. [Al-Meezan, 1/417]
Based on this, some scholars have criticized the particular narration, and they prefer the earlier report which talks about Al-Kursiyy being place of two Feet, over this. It is quite possible that the report was of Sa’eed bin Jubair and Ja’far made it through Sa’eed from Ibn Abbas. Ibn Katheer said regarding this report after recording it in “Al-Bidayah wa An-Nihayah” (1/14), “And preserved (Mahfooz) report from Ibn Abbas is that which has recorded by Al-Hakim in “Al-Mustadrak”….(then he mentioned the report of the Two Feet)”. Ibn Mandah said in “Ar-Radd ‘ala Al-Jahmiyyah” (pg.21) after relating this report, “no one supports him on it (la yutabi’u ‘alaih), and Ja’far was not strong while narrating from Sa’eed”. Ibn Hajar Al-‘Asqalani considered this Tafsir of Al-Kursiyy to be Ghareeb i.e. odd, as in “Fath Al-Bari” (8/199).
Ibn Katheer said: Adh-Dhahhaak reported from Ibn Abbas, “If the seven heavens and earths are to flattened and then joined together, it would not account for Al-Kursiyy except like a ring in the desert”. Ibn Jareer said, narrated to me Yunus who said, Ibn Wahb informed me, he said, Ibn Zaid said, my father narrated to me that the messenger of Allah, (SAW), said, “the similitude of seven heavens with respect to Al-Kursiyy is like the seven Dirham thrown on a shield”. He (also) said, Abu Dharr said, I heard the messenger of Allah saying, “By the one in whose hand is my life, the likeness of Al-Kursi as compared to Al-Arsh is like a iron ring thrown in a desert”.
Then Hafiz Ibn Katheer mentioned another report from Ibn Marduyah with a different sanad. [Tafseer (1/520)]
The narration of Adh-Dhahhaak from Ibn Abbas is disconnected, as Adh-Dhahhaak didn’t hear from Ibn Abbas.
The narration of Ibn Wahb from Ibn Zaid from his father, is also weak. Ibn Zaid is Abdur-Rahman bin Zaid bin Aslam who, although a mufassir, was very weak in hadith. He also narrated the hadith of Tawassul of Adam (A.S.) which was declared fabricated by several scholars. His father Zaid bin Aslam didn’t hear from Abu Dharr.
Note: – Shaykh Al-Albani [in As-Saheeha (109)] firstly considered Ibn Zaid to be Umar bin Muhammad bin Zaid. However, he corrected his mistake [as in Adh-Dha’eefa (6118)] when he found the full name mentioned in the isnad of “Al-Azmah” by Abu Ash-Shaykh.
The narration of Ibn Marduyah, quoted by Ibn Katheer, contains Muhammad bin Abi As-Sirri and Muhammad bin Abdullah At-Tameemi both of whom were weak. Also Al-Qasim bin Muhammad Ath-Thaqafi was unknown.
There are some other narrations. Reported by Al-Bayhaqi in “Al-Asma wa As-Sifaat” through Yahya bin Sa’eed Al-Basari who narrated it from Abdul Malik bin Juraij from ‘Ataa from Ubaid bin Umar Al-Laithi from Abu Dharr. This was also criticized by several scholar due of Yahya bin Sa’eed Al-Basari As-Sa’di.
Also reported by Muhammad Ibn Abi Shaiba in “Kitab Al-‘Arsh” which contains a weak or an unknown narrator. There are some other sanad but of not much benefit. [See Silsila As-Saheeha (109) and Adh-Dha’eefa (6118)]
The best isnad among above is the one by Adh-Dhahhaak from Ibn Abbas. So if the content of the report is saheeh or reliable then it would add to the weakness of the tafseer of Al-Kursi as knowledge. This is because this describes Al-Kursi to be as a physical body.
Opinion-3: Al-Kursiyy is the Throne
This was reported from Hasan Al-Basari. Hence, Ibn Jareer relates in his commentary (5/399) through the route of Juwaibir from Adh-Dhahhaak that he said: Hasan Al-Basari used to say that Al-Kursiyy is Al-‘Arsh. But Juwaibir bin Sa’eed wasn’t reliable.