Why Are Some Of The Verses Of The Quran Ambiguous?

Why Are Some Of The Verses Of The Quran Ambiguous?

Why is it that the Quran, despite being light and illumination, and a true and manifest speech and a book that has come for the guidance of the general masses, contains the Ambiguous Verses? Why are the contents of some of the verses vague, so as to be misused by those seeking to sow dissension and discord? This is an issue which is immensely important and thereby calls for great attention. For the most part, it is possible that the following aspects could be reasons for the existence of the Ambiguous Verses in the Quran:

a. Words and expressions, which are used by humans for the purpose of interacting with one another, have only been created to fulfil the needs of their day-to-day lives; it is for this reason that when we step beyond the finite boundaries of this material world and the discussion dwells upon, for example, the Creator, Who is Infinite in every respect, we observe very clearly that our words do not possess the ability to hold and convey those lofty meanings.

As a result, we are forced to utilize words, which are non-expressive in various aspects. This non-expressiveness and insufficiency of the words is the cause of a considerable portion of the Ambiguous Verses of the Quran. Verses like:

يَدُ اللٌّهِ فَوْقَ أَيْدِيهِمْ‏

“The hand of Allah is above their hands.” (1)

أَلرَّحْمٌنُ عَلَي الْعَرْشِ اسْتَوَى

“The Beneficent (Allah) on the 'Arsh' is firm.” (2)

إِلـى‏ رَبِّها نَاظِرَةٌ  

“Unto their Lord (they will be) attentive.”(3)

and words like سَمِيْعٌ (All-Hearing) and بَصِيْرٌ (All-Seeing) are some examples of this category, whose meanings become clear and manifest upon consulting the Clear Verses.

Many of the realities (of the world of Existence) are related to the 'other world' or the metaphysical world - a realm, which is beyond the horizons of our thoughts - and being imprisoned in the dimension of time and space, we are unable to perceive the depths of those meanings. The loftiness of the horizons of these meanings and the inability on the part of our thoughts to comprehend such meanings become another reason for many of the verses to appear ambiguous - like some of the verses that deal with Qiyamah and other similar issues.

This is exactly similar to the case of a person desiring to explain the issues of this world to an infant, who is in the embryonic stage in the womb of the mother. If the person does not speak, he has fallen short in his effort to convey the meaning, and if he does speak out, he has no alternative except to mention them in a general and implied manner, since the listener, in those circumstances, does not possess the ability to comprehend more than this.

c. Another of the secrets for the presence of the Ambiguous Verses in the Quran is to put to work the mental and reflective machinery of man and to create within him the motivation to ponder and meditate. It is similar to the complex intellectual issues that are propounded to strengthen the mental faculty of scholars in order that they reflect more deeply and profoundly over issues.

d. A further aspect with regards to the presence of the Ambiguous Verses in the Quran - an aspect also corroborated by the traditions of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) - is that the presence of such verses serves to make apparent the people's intense need and dependence with respect to the divine Imams, prophets and their successors, and the reason that people flock towards these leaders in order to benefit from the knowledge and various forms of guidance that lie in their possession, and in this manner practically acknowledge their leadership.

We can compare this with some of the academic books, which are formulated in a manner such that the explanation of some of the topics contained within them has been placed upon the teachers so that the students, experiencing a sense of dependency with respect to the teacher, do not sever their ties with him altogether, and as a result of this dependency acquire inspiration from his thoughts and ideas in all issues.  In the case of the Quran, this is a confirmation of the famous testament of the Noble Prophet (s.a.w):

إِنِّي تَارِكٌ فِيكُمُ الثِّقْلَيْنِ كِتَابَ اللٌّهِ وَ عِتْرَتِي أَهْلَ بَيْتِي وَ إِنَّهُمَا لَنْ يَفْتَرِقَا حَتَّى يَرِدَا عَلَيَّ الْحَوْضَ‏.

“I leave behind amongst you two Weighty Things; the Book of Allah and my Progeny. And surely, the two shall not separate from one another till they come to me at the Pool(4).”(5)



1. Suratul Fath (48), Verse 10

2. Surat Taha (20), Verse 5

3. Suratul Qiyamat (75), Verse 23

4. Mustadrak Hakim, vol. 3, pg. 148

5. Tafsir-e-Namunah, vol. 2, pg. 322