The Meaning of ‘Al-Hikmah’ in The Quran

ROME, ITALY - OCTOBER 21, 2017: Raphael, detail of Plato and Aristotle in center, School of Athens, 1509-1511, fresco (Stanza della Segnatura, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican)

by Simone Jamila

l-ḥik’mata/ الْحِكْمَةَ [the] wisdom: does it refer to the sunnah of the Prophet or does it refer to the wisdom of God’s words within the pages of the Qur’an?

2:231 … And do not ridicule Allah’s statements. And bring to mind Allah’s grace on you and whatever He delivered to you as l-kitābi and l-ḥik’mata. He instructs you bihi / with it. And pay obedience to Allah and beware that verily, Allah is Aware of everything.

The meaning of l-kitābi is the book (the Qur’an), and l-ḥik’mata is the wisdom within the book. l-ḥik’mata does not mean the ‘sunnata of Muhammad’.

The word ‘bihi’ (with it) that appears at the end of the 2:231, is in the singular, it describes one thing and not two. For that reason, the words l-ḥik’mata and l-kitābi must indicate one thing and not two.

If the words l-ḥik’mata and l-kitābi really referred to the Qur’an and the ‘sunnata , then the verse should grammatically end with the word ‘bihima’ (with them), which is the plural of ‘bihi’.

The word l-ḥik’mata is used throughout the Qur’an as an attribute/noun of l-kitābi. This is made evident in the following verses:

36:2 There is testimony (and evidence) of وَالْقُرْآنِ الْحَكِيمِ / wal-qur’āni l-ḥakīmi = by the Qur’an, the wise.

3:58 This (is what) We recite to you of the verses and the Message full of wisdom.

10:1 A. L. R. These are the signs of الْكِتَابِ الْحَكِيمِ / l-kitābi l-ḥakīmi = (of) the book the wise.

31:2 These are āyātu of الْكِتَابِ الْحَكِيمِ / l-kitābi l-ḥakīmi.

Further evidence to support the word l-ḥik’mata to mean wisdom and not sunnah is found in the following verse:

2:269 He grants wisdom / ḥuk’man to whom He thinks proper. And the one who is granted wisdom / ḥuk’man is indeed given abounding good. And does not receive admonition except men of understanding and intelligence.

The words “whom He thinks proper” indicate that the All Knowing bestows l-ḥik’mata upon any of His believers, and not just His messengers. If we assume that l-ḥik’mata means the sunnata we would have to believe that any ordinary believer may also have his own personal sunnata that has to be followed by other believers! This of course is not the case. Therefore, it will make more sense if we think of l-ḥik’mata as to mean wisdom.

17:39 These are among the sayings of wisdom which your Lord has revealed (Qur’an) to you. Do not appoint with God another god, or you will be thrown into hell, blameworthy and rejected.

l-ḥik’mata is not a book of hadith’/narrations, something new, accredited to one single person; but a blessing, that Allah may bestow on any of His servants.

39:28 ˹It is l-qur’āni (in) Arabic (language) without any crookedness, so perhaps they will be conscious ˹of Allah˺.

Surely, had Allah wanted us to follow the teachings of the Qur’an and the sunnah of the Prophet of Allah, He would have mentioned the words ‘sunnata Muhammad’ and would have clearly expressed this in the Qur’an?

33:62 Such has been سُنَّةَ اللَّهِ / sunnata l-lahi among those who passed away (in times) before. You shall find no change in the ways of sunnata l-lahi .

Sunnata l-lahi is to be found in the Qur’an and previous Scriptures.

5:48 And We sent down to you l-kitābi in original as one which confirms as true what is in between its two hands (i.e., already there) as l-kitābi and wamuhayminan (and a guardian over it). So, pronounce judgement amongst them in accordance with what Allah has sent down, and follow not their vain desires, diverging away from what has come to you out of l-ḥaqi. To each, We have prescribed, among you — a (lawful) track and a (commendable) way. And if Allah had willed, surely, He would have made you (under compulsion) one ummatan. But (He did not apply compulsion) so that He may test you in what He has given you (in l-kitābi); so, strive and race to come first in virtuous deeds. Towards Allah is your return — altogether, then He will inform you about that which you used to differ.

Allah takes an oath from His prophet as to what was revealed to him. This oath contains nothing but the Qur’an.

6:19 Say: “What thing is greater in testimony?” Say: “Allah is Witness between me and between you, and this hādhā l-qur’ānu has been made evident on me that I may warn you therewith and whomsoever it has (already) reached. Do you, with surety, bear witness that along with Allah there are other ’ālihatan (gods)?” Say: “I do not bear witness (to this falsehood)!” Say: “Definitely, what is a fact is that He is the only One ilāhun (God). and I am free from what you associate with Him.

Allah commands the prophet to rule and judge between the people using only the Qur’an and nothing but the Qur’an:

4:105 Surely, We have delivered towards you l-kitābi, in Original, so that you may judge and give decision between people (who are in dispute or opposition in a matter) based on that (law and constitution) which Allah has shown you in His l-kitābi. And be not a pleader and advocate for the treacherous and fraudulent.

Lastly it should be clear that Allah is giving the Directives, and the messenger had to follow closely the laws laid out in the Qur’an.

18:54 And indeed We have already propounded for mankind in this Qur’an all manner of similitude, and man has (always) been in most (things) (interested) in disputes (Literally: the most argumentative, contentious of God’s creatures).

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.