Explanation of Ayah al-Kursi: Imam al-Sa’di

𝐄𝐱𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐀𝐲𝐚𝐡 𝐚𝐥-𝐊𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐢: 𝐈𝐦𝐚𝐦 𝐚𝐥-𝐒𝐚’𝐝𝐢

In addition to his famous complete tafsir of the entire Qur’an, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di also authored a more condensed and thematic work of tafsir entitled Taysir al-Lateef al-Mannaan. Rather than going through the Qur’an ayah by ayah, in this work he selected certain ayaat which could serve to discuss important topics. Although this work is much shorted than his complete tafsir, the ayaat that al-Sa’di does explain are often discussed in greater detail. What follows is the sheikh’s explanation of Ayah al-Kursi from this work:

ـ {اللَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلَا نَوْمٌ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ مَنْ ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلَّا بِمَا شَاءَ وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَلَا يَئُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ} [البقرة: 255] ـ

اللَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلَا نَوْمٌ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ مَنْ ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلَّا بِمَا شَاءَ وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَلَا يَئُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ

Allah – none has the right be worshiped except Him, al-Hayy al-Qayyoom. Neither tiredness nor sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is ahead of them and what is behind them, and they grasp nothing of His knowledge except what He wills. His foot-stool extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding them. And He is al-‘Alee al-‘Atheem. [2:255]

أخبر النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أن هذه الآية أعظم آيات القرآن على الإطلاق، وأنها تحفظ قارئها من الشياطين والشرور كلها، لما احتوت عليه من معاني التوحيد والعظمة، وسعة صفات الكمال لله تعالى . ـ

The Prophet informed us that this ayah is absolutely the greatest ayah in the Qur’an and that it protects one who recites it from the shaytaans and all evils. That is due to the messages of al-tawheed, greatness and the great and perfect attributes of Allah that it contains.

فأخبر أنه الله الذي له جميع معاني الألوهية، وأنه لا يستحق الألوهية غيره، فألوهية غيره وعبادة غيره باطلة ضارة في الحال والمآل؛ وعبادته وحده لا شريك له هي الحق الموصلة إلى كل كمال؛ وأنه الحي كامل الحياة . ـ

Allah informs us that He is Allah, the One who possesses all the meanings of divinity and that there are no others who deserve to be deified besides Him. Any deification or worship of others is groundless and harmful both in the short term and in the long run. Worshiping Him alone without any partners is the truth which leads to every type of completeness, and He is al-Hayy – the One with the Utmost Complete Aliveness.

 فمن كمال حياته أنه السميع البصير القدير، المحيط علمه بكل شيء، الكامل من كل وجه ، ف {الْحَيُّ} [البقرة: 255] يتضمن جميع الصفات الذاتية، و {الْقَيُّومُ} [البقرة: 255] الذي قام بنفسه، واستغنى عن جميع المخلوقات، وقام بها فأوجدها وأبقاها، وأمدها بكل ما تحتاج إليه في بقائها . ـ

One part of His Utmost Aliveness is that He is the al-Samee’ – the One who hears -, al-Baseer – the One who sees -, al-Qadeer – the Omnipotent One. His knowledge encompasses everything and He is perfect in every way. So



encompasses all of the attributes of Allah’s being.



is the One who is self-sufficient, free of need from all of the created beings, and who provides for them by bringing them into existence, maintaining their existence and furnishing them with all that they need to remain in existence.

ف {الْقَيُّومُ} [البقرة: 255] يتضمن جميع صفات الأفعال، ولهذا ورد أن اسم الله الأعظم الذي إذا دعي به أجاب، وإذا سئل به أعطى: {اللَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ} [البقرة: 255] فإن هذين الاسمين الكريمين يدخل فيهما جميع الكمالات الذاتية والفعلية. ـ




encompasses all of the attributes of Allah’s actions. That is why is has been transmitted that Allah’s greatest name, the one which if you supplicate with it you will be answered and if you ask by it you will be given, is

اللَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ

Allah – none has the right to be worshiped but Him, al-Hayy al-Qayyoom

For these two noble names include all aspects of completeness and perfection, both in terms of intrinsic qualities and actions.

ومن كمال حياته وقيوميته أنه {لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ} [البقرة: 255] أي: نعاس، {وَلَا نَوْمٌ} [البقرة: 255] لأنهما يعرضان للمخلوق الذي يعتريه الضعف والعجز والانحلال، وينزه عنهما ذو العظمة والكبرياء والجلال. ـ

One aspect of the complete perfection of His aliveness and self-sufficiency is that

لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ

neither tiredness …

i.e. sleepiness

وَلَا نَوْمٌ

… nor sleep overtakes Him

That is because these are only present in the created beings who are afflicted with weakness, inability and frailty. So the Possessor of Might, Power and Majesty is completely free of those things.

وأخبر أنه مالك لجميع ما في السماوات وما في الأرض، فكلهم عبيده ومماليكه، لا يخرج أحد منهم عن هذا الوصف اللازم؛ فهو المالك لجميع الممالك، وهو الذي اتصف بصفات الملك الكامل، والتصرف التام النافذ، والسلطان والكبرياء. ـ

Allah informs us that He is the Owner of all that is in the heavens and in the earth. So all of them are subjects to Him and His property. Not a single one of the created beings falls outside of this inextricable quality, for He is the Owner of all that can be possessed. He is the only one who can be characterized with the qualities of complete and total ownership, absolute freedom to do with His property as He wishes, authority and power.

ومن تمام ملكه أنه لا يشفع عنده أحد إلا بإذنه؛ فكل الوجهاء والشفعاء عبيد له، مماليك لا يقدمون على الشفاعة لأحد حتى يأذن لهم: {قُلْ لِلَّهِ الشَّفَاعَةُ جَمِيعًا لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ} [الزمر: 44] ـ

One aspect of His complete ownership is that no one can intercede with Him except by His permission. Every person of importance and every one who would intercede is a slave in relation to Him, a subject who cannot initiate any intercession for anyone until Allah grants him permission.

قُلْ لِلَّهِ الشَّفَاعَةُ جَمِيعًا لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ

Say: All intercession is subject to Allah’s approval. He alone possesses ownership of the heavens and the earth [39:44]

ولا يشفعون إلا لمن ارتضاه الله، ولا يرضى إلا عمن قام بتوحيده واتباع رسله، فمن لم يتصف بهذا فليس له في الشفاعة نصيب، وأسعد الناس بشفاعة محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم من قال: «لا إله إلا الله خالصا من قلبه» . ـ

And they can only intercede for one with whom Allah is pleased, and Allah is only pleased with those who single Him out for worship and follow His messengers. So whoever does not embody these qualities will not receive a shred of intercession. The people who will be most pleased with the intercession of Muhammad are those who say Laa ilaaha illAllaah – there is no deity worthy of worship – sincerely from their hearts.

ثم أخبر عن علمه الواسع المحيط، وأنه يعلم ما بين أيدي الخلائق من الأمور المستقبلة التي لا نهاية لها . ـ

Next Allah informs us of His expansive and encompassing knowledge and that He knows the future events that lie ahead of the created beings with no future limit to His knowledge.

ـ {وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ} [البقرة: 255] من الأمور الماضية التي لا حد لها وأنه لا تخفى عليه خافية، يعلم خائنة الأعين وما تخفي الصدور. ـ

وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ

… and what is behind them

such as the past events, with no past limit to His knowledge. No secret is hidden from Him; He knows the deceit of the eyes and what the chests conceal.

ـ {وَعِنْدَهُ مَفَاتِحُ الْغَيْبِ لا يَعْلَمُهَا إِلا هُوَ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَمَا تَسْقُطُ مِنْ وَرَقَةٍ إِلا يَعْلَمُهَا وَلا حَبَّةٍ فِي ظُلُمَاتِ الأَرْضِ وَلا رَطْبٍ وَلا يَابِسٍ إِلا فِي كِتَابٍ مُبِينٍ} [الأنعام: 59] وأن الخلق لا يحيط أحد منهم بشيء من علم الله، ولا معلوماته إلا بما شاء منهما، وهو ما أطلعهم عليه من الأمور الشرعية والقدرية، وهو جزء يسير جدا بالنسبة إلى علم الباري، تضمحل العلوم كلها في علم الباري ومعلوماته، كما قال أعلم المخلوقات، وهم الرسل والملائكة: {سُبْحَانَكَ لَا عِلْمَ لَنَا إِلَّا مَا عَلَّمْتَنَا} [البقرة: 32] ـ

وَعِندَهُ مَفَاتِحُ الْغَيْبِ لَا يَعْلَمُهَا إِلَّا هُوَ ۚ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ ۚ وَمَا تَسْقُطُ مِن وَرَقَةٍ إِلَّا يَعْلَمُهَا وَلَا حَبَّةٍ فِي ظُلُمَاتِ الْأَرْضِ وَلَا رَطْبٍ وَلَا يَابِسٍ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مُّبِينٍ

And with Him are the keys of the Ghaib, none knows them but He. And He knows whatever there is in the earth and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but he knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but is written in a Clear Record. [6:59]

He also informs us that not a single created being grasps any piece of Allah’s knowledge or knowledge of Him except for the pieces that Allah wills for them to know, which is only the information that He discloses to them regarding legislated or divinely-decreed matters. And the information that He discloses to them is extremely small in relation to the Creator’s knowledge. All knowledge that humans possess vanishes in comparison to the knowledge of Allah and His knowledge. This is just as the most knowledgeable ones of the creation, i.e. the Messengers and the angels, said:

سُبْحَانَكَ لَا عِلْمَ لَنَا إِلَّا مَا عَلَّمْتَنَا

Exalted are You. We have no knowledge except what You have taught us. [2:32]

ثم أخبر عن عظمته وجلاله، وأن كرسيه وسع السماوات والأرض، وأنه قد حفظهما بما فيهما من العوالم بالأسباب والنظامات التي جعلها الله في مخلوقاته مع ذلك فلا يؤوده – أي: يثقله – حفظهما، لكمال عظمته وقوة اقتداره وسعة حكمته في أحكامه. ـ

Next Allah informs us of His greatness and majesty, and that His foot-stool extends over the heavens and the earth. He also informs us that He maintains the heavens and the earth and all of the realms within them in the cause-and-effect relations and the orderly running that He has set for them and for His created beings. Despite all of this, maintaining them and preserving them does not tire or burden Him. That is due to His complete perfection of His grandeur, the greatness of His power, and the expansiveness of His wisdom to make it so perfectly.

ـ {وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ} [البقرة: 255] بذاته على جميع مخلوقاته، فهو الرفيع الذي باين جميع مخلوقاته؛ وهو العلي بعظمة صفاته، الذي له كل صفة كمال، ومن تلك الصفات أكملها ومنتهاها، وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الذي قهر جميع المخلوقات، ودانت له كل الموجودات، وخضعت له الصعاب، وذلت له الرقاب. ـ

وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ

And He is al-‘Alee …

in His very essence, high above all of the created beings, for He is the Elevated One who built up all of His creations. And He is al-‘Alee in the greatness of His attributes, with every one of His attributes being complete and perfect, and He is the most complete and the very apex of all of these attributes. And He is al-‘Alee who has complete power over all of the created beings. Everything in existence lowers itself before Him, all challenges yield to Him, and every neck bows to Him.

ـ {الْعَظِيمُ} [البقرة: 255] الجامع لجميع صفات العظمة والكبرياء والمجد، الذي تحبه القلوب، وتعظمه الأرواح، ويعرف العارفون أن عظمة كل موجود – وإن جلت عن الصفة – فإنها مضمحلة في جانب عظمة العلي العظيم، فتبارك الله ذو الجلال والإكرام. ـ


… al-‘Atheem

This is a name that brings together all of the attributes of greatness, power and majesty, a name which the hearts love and the souls magnify. The people of understanding recognize that every single thing in existence, no matter how great they may be, completely disappears when compared next to the greatness of al-‘Alee al-‘Atheem, for blessed is Allah, the Possessor of Majesty and Nobility.

فآية احتوت على هذه المعاني التي هي أجل المعاني وأفرضها على العباد، يحق أن تكون أعظم آيات القرآن، ويحق لمن قرأها متدبرا متفقها أن يمتلئ قلبه أن اليقين والعرفان والإيمان، وأن يكون بذلك محفوظا من شرور الشيطان، وقد نعت الباري نفسه الكريمة بهذه الأوصاف في عدة آيات من كتابه. ـ

So this ayah contains these messages which are the most wonderful and most essential meanings for the slaves to know. It is perfectly right for it to be the greatest ayah of the Qur’an, and so it also merits that it would fill up the heart of anyone who reads it in contemplation and understanding with certainty, awareness of Allah and eemaan, and so because of that it would then protect him from the evils of the shaytaan. And the Creator has described Himself with these qualities in a number of ayaat throughout His Book.

[Taysir al-Lateef al-Mannaan pg. 38-41]

This article is one of three complete explanations of Ayah al-Kursi. Visit the others here: 

Tafsir of Ayah al-Kursi Guide

See also: Tafsir of Surah al-Fatihah: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: Differing Levels of Merits for Certain Surahs and Ayaat: al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah

See also: Tafsir of Surah al-‘Asr: Imam al-Sa’di

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