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An Encompassing Rule that Applies to All Negation in the Qurʾān

Imām ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Nāṣir al-Saʿdī

An explanation on what is denoted by the presence of negation within the Qurʾān.

Pure negation denotes nought but completion or perfection. For this reason, regarding the places in the Qurʾān that are meant to praise, negation serves two contextual purposes:

  1. complete negation of the deficiency being addressed
  2. confirmation of its opposite or antithesis

This rule applies to many passages. The greatest of them is that Allāh has negated from Himself many things that are contrary to His perfection. For example, He has negated Him taking partners in many places, which stipulate His Oneness in complete perfection. That He possesses no partners in His Lordship, His right to be worshipped, or in any of His names or attributes. Just as He has glorified Himself in several passages. While in others He relates His creation’s glorification of Him. Glorification is to declare Him above all deficiencies or that there could be something like unto Him. This is meant to prove His perfection.

Just as He has negated that He could have taken a female companion, or a son, or that there could be one that is equal to Him, or like Him. This proves His complete perfection, that He alone is One, completely free of all needs, the One whose sovereignty is absolute.

Just as He has negated from Himself sleep, drowsiness, or death, all of which are due to the inherent perfection and completion of His life and His ability to protect and sustain everything in existence.

He has also negated from Himself oppression in many places, which is meant to denote His perfect justice and encompassing blessings.

He has negated that a thing could be hidden from Him, whether it be in the earth or the heavens, or that something escapes Him. This is meant to denote His complete knowledge and ability to do all things.

When He negates purposeless play from His creation and His laws, it is due to His perfect wisdom.

Knowing this rule is of immense benefit. So keep it in your hearts, for it is among the best and most beneficial of treasures.

He has also negated that His book, the Qurʾān, could contain that which is doubtful, crooked, uncertain, or its likeness. This proves that it represents the truth in both the information it imparts and its laws. The stories related therein are the most accurate recounting of those occurrences, while also containing the greatest wisdoms, which represents the greatest benefit for the servants of Allāh. Just as its laws are decisive, representing the very pinnacle of wisdom, righteousness, and steadfastness upon the straight path. Allāh says concerning His Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم):

مَا ضَلَّ صَاحِبُكُمْ وَمَا غَوَىٰ

“Your companion (Muḥammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم)) has neither gone astray nor has erred.”
(al-Najm, 53:2)

He has negated misguidance from him (صلى الله عليه وسلم) in every conceivable way. Misguidance stems from complete ignorance, a lack or a deficiency of knowledge, or failing to achieve excellence in its attainment. “Has erred” here, means to harbour evil intentions. This proves that he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) is, unequivocally, the most knowledgeable of all created things, the most guided, and the greatest of all of them in terms of his attainment of knowledge, his certainty with regards to it and his īmān. While also proving that he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) is the most sincere advisor among mankind to them. The greatest of them in terms of behaving with sincerity to Allāh, seeking the reward that is with Him. The furthest of them from harbouring lowly, base desires or purposes. He has negated from him (صلى الله عليه وسلم) every deficient attribute ascribed to him by his enemies, stipulating him to be at the very highest echelons of perfection; contrary to the deficiencies ascribed to him.

Also, Allāh has negated the People of Paradise experiencing any sort of sadness, depression, toil, weariness, death or any other ailment. This stipulates their perfect happiness, rejoicement, perpetual and complete blessings, perfection of life and strength associated with ever-lasting youth, perfect health and unending enjoyment of their physical bodies, souls, and hearts in every way. To the extent that there is no enjoyment superior to theirs such that one may request a change to their current circumstance.

Its opposite are the passages in which the attributes of perfection are negated in the Qurʾān. This would denote the opposite of perfection in the form of deficiency. Just as Allāh negates all forms of perfection from what is worshipped by the polytheists. This negation is inclusive of their statements, actions, and state of being. This acts to prove their deficient state in every conceivable way, showing them to be absolutely undeserving of even an atom’s weight of worship.

Source: Fawāʾid Qurʾāniyyah: 42-44
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: February 24, 2024
Edited: February 29, 2024

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