Sūrah Al-Kahf: (Why Tasbīh (sanctification or purity) takes precedence over Tamhīd (praise)

Sūrah Al-Kahf (The Cave)

In The Name of God, The Most Merciful, The Especially Merciful

Ibn Abbās (May God be pleased with him) states that it is a Meccan Sūrah  except for two verses. It has been narrated that The Messenger of God (Peace Be Upon Him) said: “Should I not inform you of a Sūrah with which seventy thousand angels descended? This is Sūrah Al-Kahf.”

Tasbīh (sanctification or purity) takes precedence over Tamhīd (praise)

It should be clear that the word tasbīh (sanctification or purity) takes precedence over Tamhīd (praise).  For have you not heard it said: “Subhān’Allāh Wa’Alhamdolillāh (God is pure and all praise is due Him)”. Also, God (Exalted is He) mentions tasbīh when He informs us of al-Isrā (the Ascent to the heavens) as in His saying: “Pure is He who made his servant ascend at night…”   and when He informs us of the revelation of the Qur’ān He reminds us of its descent as in His saying: “All praise belongs to God who has sent down to His servant the Book…”.

There are a number of benefits in this:

  1. Tasbīh points to God (Exalted is He) being transcendent in anything unworthy being ascribed to Him; He is perfect in of Himself.  Tamhīd points to God (Exalted is He) being perfect in relation to every thing else. It is clear that perfection over Himself takes precedence over perfection in relation to everything else.  The Tasbīh is the place of inception and the Tamhīd is the station of fulfilment.  This alerts us to the fact that ascension is the first stage in the Prophets (Peace Be Upon Him) perfection and the revelation is the completeness in his perfection; the ascension here refers to acquisition of perfection whereas the descent refers to its completion. There is also an allusion that the highest station for a slave is for him to be aware of himself whilst being active in informing others. This is the meaning of the saying of The Messenger of God (Peace Be Upon Him): “Whoever learns and and teaches others, will be called as the magnificent ones in the heavens.”
  2. The ascension is an expression of the elevation of The Messenger of God (Peace Be Upon Him) from below to a state of loftiness, whereas the revelation of the book upon him (Peace Be Upon Him) is an expression of the light of guidance on him. There can be no doubt that the latter is of greater significance.
  3. The response to the Mushabiha who claim that this Sūrah and the one before it is proof of God (Exalted is He) facing a direction has been refuted completely in Sūrah Al-A’rāf under verse fifty four.

Only God (Exalted is He) knows best

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