Home » Resources » Articles » The word Al-Hikmah (Wisdom) in the Quran 2:231

The word Al-Hikmah (Wisdom) in the Quran 2:231

Due to the fact that the Quran does not contain any mention of the words ‘Sunna of Muhammad’, the followers of the sunna found it necessary to manipulate the meaning of some Quranic words so as to create a Quranic reference to the ‘hadith’ and ‘Sunna’. The word on which they base their claim is that of (Al-Hikmah) as found in a number of verses such as:

“Remember God’s blessings upon you, and what He sent down to you of the ‘Al-Kitab’ and ‘Al-Hikmah’ to enlighten you ‘bihi’ (with it).” 2:231

Literally speaking, the meaning of ‘Al-Kitab’ is the book (the Quran), and ‘Al-Hikmah’ is wisdom. One can look in any number of Arabic dictionaries and will always come up with the same meaning. Nevertheless, in an attempt to create a reference to the Sunna of Muhammad in the Quran, when there are none, these interpreters have claimed that the word ‘Al-Hikmah’ refers to the Sunna of Muhammad!
Basically, they are saying that God used the word ‘wisdom’ but in actual fact he did not mean ‘wisdom’, but instead He meant the Sunna! Any impartial reader must wonder, is God trying to be ambiguous? and if God meant to indicate the Sunna, why did He not just say the Sunna of Muhammad?

Moreover, would God lie to us? Would He be referring to the sunna of Muhammad in 2:231, but at the same time tell us that the ONLY sunna is the sunna of God (33:62, 35:43 and 48:23)?

With a close inspection of the Quranic verses, it can be shown that this interpretation is totally false:

1- The word ‘bihee’ (with it) that appears at the end of 2:231, is in the singular mode. It describes one thing and not two. For that reason the words ‘Al-Hikmah’ and ‘Al-Kitab’ must denote one thing and not two, unless of course God is making grammatical mistakes!

If the words ‘Al-Hikmah’ and ‘Al-Kitab’ really referred to the Quran and the Sunna, then the verse should grammatically end with the word ‘bihima’ (with them), which is the plural mode of ‘bihee’.

2- Throughout the Quran we are told that the only revelation sent down to Muhammad was the Quran (see 6:19 below). The personal sayings (hadith) of the prophet are not revelation, they are his own human words. Consequently, the words “what He sent down to you of the ‘Al-Kitab’ and ‘Al-Hikmah’ in 2:231 cannot denote the Quran and the Sunna, this is because the Sunna is not a revelation. The words “He sent down to you” make it clear that the word ‘Al-Hikmah’ cannot be speaking about the hadith of Muhammad.

3- The word ‘Al-Hikmah’ is used throughout the Quran as an adjective of the ‘Al-Kitab’ (the Quran). This is made evident in the following verses:

“Y.S., and the Quran Al-Hakim” 36:1-2

“A.L.R., these are the signs of the ‘Kitab Al-Hakim” 10:1 also 31:2

4- The same word ‘Al-Hikmah’ is used in the Quran in connection with prophets and messengers who lived before the time of Muhammad. Obviously before Muhammad lived his Sunna did not exist. Thus to say that ‘Al-Hikmah’ means the Sunna of Muhammad is incorrect. Consider the following verses:

a- The following are God’s words to Jesus:

“And I taught you the ‘Kitab’ (Scripture) and ‘Al-Hikmah’(wisdom).” 5:110

Clearly the word ‘Al-Hikmah’ here does not mean the Sunna of Muhammad.

b- The following were the words of Abraham as he implored his Lord:

“Our Lord, and send for them a messenger from among them to recite to them your ‘Ayat’ and teach them the ‘Kitab’ (Scripture) and ‘Al-Hikmah’ (wisdom).” 2:129

Again the word ‘Al-Hikmah’ here could not mean anything but wisdom. Abraham had no knowledge of the ‘Sunna’ of Muhammad.

5- A further evidence that the word ‘Al-Hikmah’ as used in the Quran means wisdom and not Sunna is found in the following verse:

“He bestows ‘Al-Hikmah’ upon whoever He pleases, and whoever attains ‘Al-Hikmah’ has indeed attained a great blessing.”2:269

The words “whoever He pleases” in this verse indicate that God bestows ‘Al-Hikmah’ upon any of the believers and not just His messengers. If we assume that ‘Al-Hikmah’ means the Sunna we would have to believe that any ordinary believer may also have his own personal Sunna that has to be followed by other believers! This of course is not the case. The verse would make perfect sense if we accept the correct meaning of ‘Al-Hikmah’ which is wisdom.

6- In Sura 17, we are given a clear demonstration of the word ‘Al-Hikmah’ as being the ability to differentiate between right and wrong and the wisdom to choose what is right. If we read the verses from 22 to 39, we find God commanding us not to worship except Him, to honor our parents, to give due alms to our relatives, the needy, the poor, and the traveling alien but without being extravagant or stingy, not to kill our children for fear of poverty, not to commit adultery, nor to abuse the orphan’s money, to trade equitably and fairly, to verify everything before following it blindly and not to act vainly. After such valuable advice God informs us that these virtues are indeed what wisdom is all about.

In that sense ‘Al-Hikmah’ is not a book of ‘hadith’ (sayings) of one single person but instead a blessing which God gives His chosen servants.

7- Perhaps the simplest and most convincing reason for discarding the corrupted meaning of ‘Al-Hikmah’ so as to mean the Sunna, is the fact that God is neither vague nor fond of providing us with puzzles. God asserts that the Quran is straightforward, it contains no crookedness:

“An Arabic Quran, without any crookedness, that they may take heed.” 39:28

Surely, had God willed that we should follow the teachings of the Quran plus the Sunna He would have mentioned the ‘Sunna of Muhammad’ explicitly in the Quran. Needless to say, the only Sunna that is mentioned in the Quran is the Sunna of God.

“This is the Sunna of God for those of the past, and you will find no alternative for the Sunna of God.” 33:62

The Sunna of God is to be found in the Quran and previous Scripture.

Moreover if God had revealed to Muhammad an additional Sunna other than the Quran, as the Sunni’s claim, then we would expect God to say ‘We have revealed to you the Kitab (book) and the Sunna’ or words to that effect. Instead the only Revelation endorsed in the Quran is the Quran itself:

“And We have revealed to you the Kitab (the Quran) truthfully.” 5:48

Indeed God takes an oath from His prophet of what was revealed to him. The oath contains nothing but the Quran:

“Say, ‘What is the greatest testimony?’ Say, ‘God is the witness between me and you that this Quran has been inspired to me, to preach it to you and whomever it reaches. Indeed you bear witness that there are other gods beside God.’ Say, ‘I do not testify as you do; but surely He is one God, and I disown your idolatry.” 6:19

Finally God commands the prophet to rule and arbitrate between the people with Quran and nothing but the Quran:

“We have sent down to you this Kitab, truthfully, in order to arbitrate between the people.” 4:105

To conclude, the word ‘Al-Hikmah’ in any Arabic dictionary means wisdom. To leave the literal and direct meaning and accept a manipulated meaning is to reject the truth of the Quran.

Check Also


1- According to this hadith Abraham was circumcised in the age of 80. Abu Hurayra …