Chapter One, Part 3

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.

 

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 TafsirRuh 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)

 

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 TafsirMa‘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-Tanzil7:173)

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)

 

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-TanzilKhazin 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-Istiqamahas 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-Manthur3:15)

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 othertafsirs. 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.

 

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 sahihchain – 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-Mufrad – al-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 ishasan (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-BukhariKitab 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 hisTafsir 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 Khazin5:183).

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)