A Word They Say with Their Mouths Tafsir al-Shawkani

𝐀 𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐝 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐒𝐚𝐲 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐌𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐬 𝐓𝐚𝐟𝐬𝐢𝐫 𝐚𝐥-𝐒𝐡𝐚𝐰𝐤𝐚𝐧𝐢

Mohamad Mostafa Nassar


Allah says in surah al-Tawbah:

وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ عُزَيْرٌ ابْنُ اللَّـهِ وَقَالَتِ النَّصَارَى الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ اللَّـهِ ۖ ذَٰلِكَ قَوْلُهُم بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ ۖ يُضَاهِئُونَ قَوْلَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِن قَبْلُ ۚ قَاتَلَهُمُ اللَّـهُ ۚ أَنَّىٰ يُؤْفَكُونَ

The Jews say, “‘Uzayr is the son of Allah “; and the Christians say, “The Messiah is the son of Allah.” That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved [before them]. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded? [9:30]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Shawkani mentions the following benefit in his explanation of this ayah:

قوله : ذلك قولهم بأفواههم الإشارة إلى ما صدر عنهم من هذه المقالة الباطلة . ـ

Allah’s statement:

ذَٰلِكَ قَوْلُهُم بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ

That is their statement from their mouths

indicates that these things which have emanated from them are false statements.

ووجه قولهم بأفواههم مع العلم بأن القول لا يكون إلا بالفم ، بأن هذا القول لما كان ساذجا ليس فيه بيان ولا عضده برهان كان مجرد دعوى ، لا معنى تحتها ، فارغة صادرة عنهم صدور المهملات التي ليس فيها إلا كونها خارجة من الأفواه ، غير مفيدة لفائدة يعتد بها ، وقيل : إن ذكر الأفواه لقصد التأكيد كما في ” كتبت بيدي ومشيت برجلي ” ، ومنه قوله – تعالى – : يكتبون الكتاب بأيديهم ( البقرة : 79 ) وقوله : ولا طائر يطير بجناحيه ( الأنعام : 38 ) . ـ

The reason for saying “from their mouths” despite it being common knowledge that speech does not happen by any other means than the mouth is that this statement of theirs is nothing more than a claim since it is just a simple-minded statement without any further elaboration or supporting evidence. It is nothing more than an empty claim without any meaning beneath it, a careless utterance with no substance to it at all. It is just something that came from their mouths without actually having any real meaning to it.

And some explained this by saying: Mentioning their mouths here is done for the purpose of emphasis, as is the case with the phrase, “I wrote with my hand and I walked with my feet.” Another example of this is Allah’s statement:

يَكْتُبُونَ الْكِتَابَ بِأَيْدِيهِمْ

… who wrote the scripture with their own hands … [2:79]

and His statement:

وَلَا طَائِرٍ يَطِيرُ بِجَنَاحَيْهِ

… nor a bird that flies with its wings … [6:38]

وقال بعض أهل العلم : إن الله – سبحانه – لم يذكر قولا مقرونا بذكر الأفواه والألسن إلا وكان قولا زورا كقوله : يقولون بأفواههم ما ليس في قلوبهم ( آل عمران : 167 ) وقوله : كبرت كلمة تخرج من أفواههم ( الكهف : 5 ) وقوله : يقولون بألسنتهم ما ليس في قلوبهم ( الفتح : 11 ) . ـ

And some of the scholars said: Whenever Allah relays some statement alongside mention of the mouths or tongues of those who said it, then it is a statement of zoor [falsehood, something falsely presented as one thing while in fact being something else]. Take Allah’s statement, for example, that:

يَقُولُونَ بِأَفْوَاهِهِم مَّا لَيْسَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ

… They say with their mouths what is not in their hearts … [3:167]

or His statement:

كَبُرَتْ كَلِمَةً تَخْرُجُ مِنْ أَفْوَاهِهِمْ

… Grave is the word that comes out of their mouths … [18:5]

or His statement:

يَقُولُونَ بِأَلْسِنَتِهِم مَّا لَيْسَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ

… They say with their tongues what is not in their hearts … [48:11]

[Fath al-Qadeer 1/567. See also Tafsir al-Qurtubi 8/52, which is the original source for most of this content]

For more on this ayah, see also: “And the Jews say ‘Uzair is the son of Allah” – Ibn Taymiyah

See also: Those who do not witness al-Zoor: Tafsir al-Tabari