Ayat-ul-Kursi – The chief of all verses

Ayesha Naseem, UK
Photo by Sidik Kurniawan on Unsplash

In the verse 256 of Surah al-Baqarah, it is stated:

اَللّٰهُ‭ ‬لَاۤ‭ ‬اِلٰهَ‭ ‬اِلَّا‭ ‬هُوَ‭ ‬ۚ‭ ‬اَلۡحَيُّ‭ ‬الۡقَيُّوۡمُ‭ ‬۬ۚ‭ ‬لَا‭ ‬تَاۡخُذُهٗ‭ ‬سِنَةٌ‭ ‬وَّلَا‭ ‬نَوۡمٌ‭ ‬ؕ‭ ‬لَهٗ‭ ‬مَا‭ ‬فِي‭ ‬السَّمٰوٰتِ‭ ‬وَمَا‭ ‬فِي‭ ‬الۡاَرۡضِ‭ ‬ؕ‭ ‬مَنۡ‭ ‬ذَا‭ ‬الَّذِيۡ‭ ‬يَشۡفَعُ‭ ‬عِنۡدَهٗۤ‭ ‬اِلَّا‭ ‬بِاِذۡنِهٖ‭ ‬ؕ‭ ‬يَعۡلَمُ‭ ‬مَا‭ ‬بَيۡنَ‭ ‬اَيۡدِيۡهِمۡ‭ ‬وَمَا‭ ‬خَلۡفَهُمۡ‭ ‬ۚ‭ ‬وَلَا‭ ‬يُحِيۡطُوۡنَ‭ ‬بِشَيۡءٍ‭ ‬مِّنۡ‭ ‬عِلۡمِهٖۤ‭ ‬اِلَّا‭ ‬بِمَا‭ ‬شَآءَ‭ ‬ۚ‭ ‬وَسِعَ‭ ‬كُرۡسِيُّهُ‭ ‬السَّمٰوٰتِ‭ ‬وَالۡاَرۡضَ‭ ‬ۚ‭ ‬وَلَا‭ ‬يَـُٔوۡدُهٗ‭ ‬حِفۡظُهُمَا‭ ‬ۚ‭ ‬وَهُوَ‭ ‬الۡعَلِيُّ‭ ‬الۡعَظِيۡمُ

“Allah — there is no God but He, the Living, the Self-Subsisting and All-Sustaining. Slumber seizes Him not, nor sleep. To Him belongs whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Who is he that will intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them; and they encompass nothing of His knowledge except what He pleases. His knowledge extends over the heavens and the earth; and the care of them burdens Him not; and He is the High, the Great.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.256)

Known as Ayat-ul-Kursi – this verse is considered to be the greatest verse in the Holy Quran for it addresses the Unity of God Almighty and emphasises His attributes. 

In the Five Volume Commentary, the important words within the verse are explained with their meaning:

“الحي – the Living, of which the verb form is حيي i.e., he lived or he had life, is an attribute of God, signifying that God is the only Being Who is deathless and lives by Himself—He needs no support, He is eternal and everlasting (Mufradat & Lane). This is “life” in the truest sense of the word, and such life is enjoyed by God alone.

“القيوم – Self-Subsisting and All-Sustaining, is another attribute of God. The word is derived from قام i.e., he stood erect. القيوم means, the Being Who not only stands by Himself, requiring the support of none, but Who supports all others (Mufradat & Aqrab).

“سنة – slumber, is the noun-infinitive from وسن i.e., sleep or slumber took hold of him. سنة means, heaviness of limbs and eyes preceding sleep; sleep or slumber itself; negligence or unguardedness (Aqrab)

“كرسي – knowledge is derived from كرس . They say كرس البناء i.e., he raised the walls of a house. كرسي means, a throne or a chair or a stool, in fact, anything used for sitting on; buttress of a wall; knowledge; dominion and power. Hence, الكراسي means, men of learning (Aqrab & Lane).”

It is further explained: 

“This verse is known as آية الكرسي – Ayatul-Kursi – and is considered to be one of the most important verses, beautifully describing the Unity of God and His great attributes. The Holy Prophetsa is reported to have said that the Ayatul-Kursi is the loftiest verse in the Quran (Muslim). The verse supplies an answer to an implied question. Even if Muslims made the sacrifices required of them in 2:255, the task before them was so great that, based on worldly calculations, there appeared no hope of success for them. How then is the promised victory to come? The verse under comment provides a telling answer. The world was not without a Master. The destinies of its people were controlled by a Being Whose power was limitless, Whose knowledge knew no bounds, Who was ever vigilant, ever watchful, in Whose hands were the entire resources of the earth and the heavens. If such a Being willed the triumph of a party, who was there to thwart His way? The promised victory must come.

“For a detailed treatment of the subject of intercession see note on 2:49. The reason why no one shall be allowed to intercede for any person except with the permission of God is that nobody knows what is in the minds of men and consequently none is in a position to intercede for another. God alone knows the secrets of men’s hearts and hence there can be no intercession except by His permission, for He alone knows who is deserving of it.

“The clause, they encompass nothing of His knowledge, means that God’s knowledge is unlimited; while the knowledge of others, whoever they may be, is limited; even Prophets know no more than what is apparent of the spiritual condition of their followers.

“The word كرسي – knowledge – may signify either knowledge or power; both give equally good meanings and are almost equally applicable. Allah’s knowledge is as extensive as His power. Knowledge and power are indeed the two great pillars on which the throne of God and, for that matter, the controlling power of everyone in authority rests.” (Five Volume English Commentary of the Holy Quran, Vol. 1, pp. 401-402)

Ahadith about the excellence of Ayat-ul-Kursi 

The Holy Prophet Muhammadsa spoke of the lofty status of Ayat-ul-Kursi as a verse in the Holy Quran. We find several ahadith that give us an insight into the excellence of Ayat-ul-Kursi and the key to success that it contains. 

It was narrated by Abu Hurairahra that the Messenger of Allahsa said: “For everything, there is a pinnacle, and the pinnacle of the Quran is Surah Al-Baqarah. Within it, there is a verse that is the master of all verses in the Quran; this is Ayat-ul-Kursi.” (Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Kitab thawabi l-qur’ani ‘an rasulillahsa, Hadith 2878)

In another place, it has been narrated that the Holy Prophetsa said: 

“If anyone recites the Throne Verse after each prayer, only death will stand between them and Paradise. Additionally, if they recite it before going to bed, God will provide protection for their home, their neighbour’s home, and the nearby dwellings.” (Mishkat al-Masabih, Kitab as-salat, Hadith 974)

Concept of Tauheed – Unity of God in Ayat-ul-Kursi

In a lecture at Jalsa Seeratun-Nabisa in Qadian on 2 June 1929, Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IIra, explained the ways in which Ayat-ul-Kursi is the verse of the Holy Quran that completely embodies the concept of the Unity of God.

Huzoorra said:

“In the Holy Quran, Allah explains Tauheed in this manner:

اَللّٰهُ‮ ‬لَاۤ‮ ‬اِلٰهَ‮ ‬اِلَّا هُوَ‮ ‬ۚ‮ ‬اَلۡحَيُّ‮ ‬الۡقَيُّوۡمُ‮ ‬۬ۚ‮ ‬لَا تَاۡخُذُهٗ‮ ‬سِنَةٌ‮ ‬وَّلَا نَوۡمٌ‮ ‬ؕ‮ ‬لَهٗ‮ ‬مَا‮ ‬فِي‮ ‬السَّمٰوٰتِ‮ ‬وَمَا فِي‮ ‬الۡاَرۡضِ‮ ‬ؕ‮ ‬مَنۡ‮ ‬ذَا الَّذِيۡ‮ ‬يَشۡفَعُ‮ ‬عِنۡدَهٗۤ‮ ‬اِلَّا بِاِذۡنِهٖ‮ ‬ؕ‮ ‬يَعۡلَمُ‮ ‬مَا بَيۡنَ‮ ‬اَيۡدِيۡهِمۡ‮ ‬وَمَا خَلۡفَهُمۡ‮ ‬ۚ‮ ‬وَلَا‮ ‬يُحِيۡطُوۡنَ‮ ‬بِشَيۡءٍ‮ ‬مِّنۡ‮ ‬عِلۡمِهٖۤ‮ ‬اِلَّا بِمَا شَآءَ‮ ‬ۚ‮ ‬وَسِعَ‮ ‬كُرۡسِيُّهُ‮ ‬السَّمٰوٰتِ‮ ‬وَالۡاَرۡضَ‮ ‬ۚ‮ ‬وَلَا‮ ‬يَـُٔوۡدُهٗ‮ ‬حِفۡظُهُمَا‮ ‬ۚ‮ ‬وَهُوَ‮ ‬الۡعَلِيُّ‮ ‬الۡعَظِيۡمُ

“اَللّٰهُ‮ ‬لَاۤ‮ ‬اِلٰهَ‮ ‬اِلَّا هُوَ That is, there is no God but Allah.  اَلۡحَيُّ الۡقَيُّوۡمُ – He is the Ever-Living and All-Sustaining.

“لَا تَاۡخُذُهٗ‮ ‬سِنَةٌ‮ ‬وَّلَا نَوۡمٌ There are no breaks in His works. Anyone who believes His works can be interrupted is also guilty of shirk [associating partners with Allah Almighty], for it implies that the world could function on its own without God. Slumber seizes Him not, nor sleep. 

“لَهٗ‮ ‬مَا فِي‮ ‬السَّمٰوٰتِ‮ ‬وَمَا فِي‮ ‬الۡاَرۡضِ Everything is under His absolute control. We must believe that God is the Master of every object in the universe and that no one else has any control.

“  مَنۡ‮ ‬ذَا الَّذِيۡ‮ ‬يَشۡفَعُ‮ ‬عِنۡدَهٗۤ‮ ‬اِلَّا‮ ‬بِاِذۡنِهٖHumans should accept that God created a system for the acceptance of our prayers, but He cannot be compelled to accept them. Only if He grants permission to pray concerning a matter can a person supplicate.

“يَعۡلَمُ‮ ‬مَا بَيۡنَ‮ ‬اَيۡدِيۡهِمۡ‮ ‬وَمَا خَلۡفَهُمۡ He knows what has happened in the past and what will occur in the future. Being All-Knowing is a prerequisite for Tauheed. The perfect omnipotence cannot exist without perfect knowledge. Thus, believing God is omniscient is essential.

“ وَلَا‮ ‬يُحِيۡطُوۡنَ‮ ‬بِشَيۡءٍ‮ ‬مِّنۡ‮ ‬عِلۡمِهٖۤ‮ ‬اِلَّا بِمَا شَآءَ A person cannot achieve anything without the knowledge granted by God. Hence, one must understand that everything they attain will be through God.

“ۚ‮ ‬وَسِعَ‮ ‬كُرۡسِيُّهُ‮ ‬السَّمٰوٰتِ‮ ‬وَالۡاَرۡضَ His throne encompasses the earth and the heavens. A throne is the seat of decision-making which means every atom and particle moves under the power and direction of God. Without understanding this fine point, belief in His Oneness remains incomplete.

“ وَلَا‮ ‬يَـُٔوۡدُهٗ‮ ‬حِفۡظُهُمَا His protection never ceases, continuing forever.

“ وَهُوَ الۡعَلِيُّ Though every particle is manifesting His power, He is so Exalted that no one can fathom His true essence through their own effort.

“ الۡعَظِيۡمُ – Despite being unfathomable, He is still Supreme [in the sense] that through the manifestation of His powers, anyone who strives can find Him. One can reach Him with ease and enjoy His presence. 

“Therefore, the above verse [Ayat-ul-Kursi] signifies that perfect Tauheed is to be in harmony and union with God Almighty. One who finds God finds absolute Tauheed. In this sense, union with God is synonymous with Tauheed. This is the concept of Divine Unity presented by the Holy Prophetsa. It involves achieving a union with God while still living in this world. Essentially, it means that a person’s entire existence is centred on God, to the point where their own being feels nullified.” (Unity of God and the Teachings of Muhammadsa [Tawhid-e-Bari Ta‘ala Ke Baray Mein Aan Hazratsa Ki Ta‘lim], pp. 22-24)

The Belief in the Unity of God Dispels Fears of All but God

In his book, An Elementary Study of Islam, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh has written:

“So, belief in the oneness of God is not the end-all of belief, but all other beliefs spring from this fountain-head of eternal truth. This also delivers a message of liberation from all other yokes and releases man from all obligations except such as is born out of his submission to God. This article has been further elucidated from different angles, both in the Holy Quran and the traditions of the Holy Prophetsa of Islam. For instance, the declaration ‘La houl wala quat illa Billah’ (There is no all-encompassing power except Allah) opens up new windows for a deeper and wider understanding of Unity. It negates all fears other than the fear of God. The second part of the same brings to the focus of attention another very important aspect of Unity, i.e., that the power to achieve good is solely dependent on God and that He is Master of all sources of strength and energy. Hence, while the first part relates to the negative aspects of power, the second part relates to the positive.” (An Elementary Study of Islam, p. 7)

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh then explains that a godless man has more than one master. It could be the society, the authorities, his own desires, or his ego that enslaves him and to be freed from such dependence and slavery, belief in the Unity of God is required. It saves one from all other forms of fears or masters. Huzoorrh then writes: 

“From this point of view, when you cast another glance at the fundamental declaration, that ‘there is no God but Allah, the One and Only’, all these fears and hopes relating to objects other than God are dispelled, as if by the waving of a magic wand. In other words, by choosing one master alone you are liberated from slavery to all others. To be a slave of such others as are themselves slaves to numberless gods is a poor bargain indeed! But that is not all. The gods that such people worship are, many a time, products of their own imagination, which can do them neither good nor harm. Most men, on the other hand, worship nothing but mortals like themselves, their own egos being supreme among them all. Hence each of them bows to numberless egotistic gods, their interests being at clash with each other, creating a situation which is the ultimate of chaos. 

“The Islamic concept of Unity also inculcates in man the realisation of the oneness of the human species and does away with all such barriers as divide man into racial, ethnic and colour denominations. This gives birth to the universal concept of equality in Islam, which is its distinctive feature. Hence from the vantage point of God, all human beings, wherever and in whichever age they were born, stand equal in His sight. As will be demonstrated shortly, it is this fundamental which gives rise to all other fundamental beliefs and doctrines in Islam.” (Ibid., pp. 8-9)


Narrating the excellence of Ayat-ul-Kursi, during his Friday Sermon on 5 June 2009, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa stated that this verse of the Holy Quran explains that:

“He further states, وَسِعَ‮ ‬كُرۡسِيُّهُ‮ ‬السَّمٰوٰتِ‮ ‬وَالۡاَرۡضَ [‘His knowledge extends over the heavens and the earth,’] for His sovereignty is spread across the earth and the heavens. He is the Giver and Sustainer of life to all that exists in the universe and beyond, encompassing every creation. Your knowledge is limited. He is the One who grants knowledge to you. As far as your capabilities and efforts have progressed, so far He imparts knowledge. Yet, this knowledge is only to the extent that Allah Almighty wills. Therefore, He alone deserves that you bow before Him and abandon all false deities. His dominion extends over the earth and the heavens, indeed He has taken upon Himself to protect it, and He is never wearied. His gaze encompasses everything, and this vast and comprehensive system is beyond human grasp. Thus, Allah Almighty has declared that you should look again and again to see if you can find any flaw in His creation, but you will fail. Your gaze will return to you, worn out and defeated. But it is Allah Almighty who has been running this system since time immemorial, without a hint of slumber or fatigue. Do these facts not prompt you to bow your heads before this All-Encompassing God and not persist in defiance?

“And in conclusion, it is stated, وَهُوَ‮ ‬الۡعَلِيُّ‮ ‬الۡعَظِيۡمُ [‘And He is the High, the Great,’] signifying that His exalted status and majesty require no assistance to manage this entire system.” (Al Fazl, Vol. 16, Issue 26, 26 June–2 July 2009, pp. 5-8)

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