The Seven Doors of the Qurʾān

Imām al-Ṭabarī

Contrasting the Qurʿān and its seven doors in light of previous revelations from Allāh.
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For He revealed His Book [the Qurʾān] upon seven ways, all of which allows one to reach the pleasure of Allāh, achieving true success by being granted jannah as long as they enact its teachings.

Imām al-Ṭabarī [d. 310 AH]

It has been narrated by Ibn Masʿūd that the Prophet [ﷺ] said:

‘The first book was revealed on one door, in but one dialect. The Qurʾān was revealed from seven doors in seven dialects: it forbids and orders, makes ḥalāl and ḥarām, [contains] specific and indefinite matters, and [contains] parables. So make ḥalāl that which is permissible and make ḥarām that which is impermissible, and execute what you have been ordered with, and refrain from that which you have been forbidden from, and take lessons from its parables, act in light of its clearly defined matters, and have īmān in its imprecise, indefinite ones, and say: We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord.’

Imām Abū Jaʿfar Muḥammad ibn Jarīr al-Ṭabarī [d. 310 AH] explained:

The meaning of the saying of the Prophet [ﷺ]: ‘Indeed, the first book was revealed upon but one door, and the Qurʾān has been revealed on seven doors’; for truly the Prophet [ﷺ] meant by his saying ‘the first book was revealed upon but one door’—and Allāh knows best—[refers to] what had been revealed from the books of Allāh upon whom they have been revealed from among the prophets [of the past].

[These books] were devoid of stringent limitations, rulings, [lacking clarity] regarding that which is ḥalāl [lawful] or ḥarām [prohibited]. Such as the Zabūr of Dawūd which acted only as a reminder [for the people] containing nought but religious exhortations. Or the Injīl [Bible] of ʿĪsá [Jesus] which delineated [calling to] acts of honour, praise, and encourages agreeableness, forgiveness, and turning away [from oppressors] but did not address other than it from legislative rulings and judgements. The matter is similar [for the other books of Allāh] which have not addressed any of the seven spheres of meanings [or doors] the way our book [the Qurʾān] has comprehensively encompassed, which has been specifically granted by Allāh to our Prophet Muḥammad [ﷺ] and his ummah.

Thus, the worshippers who act in light of it will not find a single avenue upon which there is the pleasure of Allāh, or a way in which jannah could be sought, or an action that stipulates closeness [to Allāh], except from this single source from which their book has been revealed. This also corresponds to the one door from the doors of jannah from which the Book [Qurʾān] has been revealed. Allah has specifically granted it to our Prophet Muḥammad [ﷺ] and his ummah [with this bounty]. For He revealed His Book [the Qurʾān] upon seven ways, all of which allows one to reach the pleasure of Allāh, achieving true success by being granted jannah as long as they enact its teachings. For every way from its seven ways is like a door from among the doors of paradise from which it has been revealed. For anyone who is to partake in all seven of its ways actively seeks a door from the doors of paradise and thus verges upon eternal success through his actions.

The Seven Doors of the Qurʾān

[This is made clear]:

  1. As the one who obeys Allāh in what he has ordered in His Book has addressed a door from the doors of jannah,
  2. the one who leaves that which is forbidden in [the Qurʾān] has happened upon another second door,
  3. enacting that which has been made ḥalāl in it is a third from its doors,
  4. and testifying as to that which has been made ḥarām in it is a fourth from its doors,
  5. having īmān in its entirely clear and precise matters [muḥkam] is a fifth door,
  6. and wilful submission to its unspecific or indefinite [mutashābih] matters for which Allāh alone has knowledge regarding and has shielded the creation from knowing its details while testifying that all of it is from Allāh is its sixth door,
  7. and taking a lesson from its parables and responding appropriately to its exhortations is the seventh door.

Thus, everything that the Qurʾān encompasses from its seven dialects and its seven doors from which it has been revealed are but avenues constructed by Allāh for His slaves that guide them to His eternal pleasure, and steers them towards jannah. This is the meaning of the saying of the Prophet [ﷺ]: ‘The Qurʾān has been revealed from the seven doors of paradise.’

Source: Tafsīr al-Ṭabarī 1:68, 70-72
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: May 5, 2022
Edited: May 5, 2022

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