By Syed Akbar Ali
As you all must know by now, I am the furthest thing from a lebai or an ustaz. Just to share some information about what the Quran says about “kalimah” or words. Kalimah means words.
In the Greek language “logos” means words. In christian theology much is said about the ‘Logos’ or ‘Words’. Some Christians say that Jesus son of Mary was “The Logos” or “The Word from God”. I once heard an Arabic expert and Quranic scholar from India espouse an interesting explanation of ‘Isa’ (‘Eesa’) which is Arabic for Jesus.
Anyway here is some information from the Quran:
“We said: "O Adam! dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden; and eat of the bountiful things therein as ye will; but approach not this tree, or ye run into harm and transgression." Surah 2:35.
This was the famous commandment from God, given unto Adam. This was speech (“We said..”) which is made up of words or kalimah.
“Then did Satan make them slip from the (garden), and get them out of the state in which they had been. We said: "Get ye down, with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling-place and your means of livelihood - for a time” Surah 2:36
This was the event where Adam was duped by Satan. To do what? To go against the WORDS or KALIMAH which God had taught Adam. Don’t ask me why Adam could not go near that tree in the Garden, the Quran provides no information about the reasons for that commandment. Adam was just required to obey God’s words or kalimah.
Unfortunately Adam breached the kalimah or words that God gave him. However God did turn towards Adam and redeemed him. How? Through more words or "kalimah".
“Then learnt Adam from his Lord words (kalimah), and his Lord turned towards him; for He is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful” Surah 2:37.
To forgive and save Adam, God revealed to Adam even more words or kalimah. I am pointing this out to show the importance of kalimah or words from God for man’s guidance.
As Muslims we believe that this kalimah is the revelation of a book of guidance which we believe is the Quran (other revealed books were the Injeel, the Torah, the suhuf revealed to Moses and Abraham, see Surah 87:18-19).
Here is more about “kalimah” from the Quran :
“The word (kalimah) of thy Lord is complete in truth and in justice: None can change His words (kalimah): for He is the one who heareth and knoweth all”. Surah 6.115
Here the reference is specifically to “kalimah” or words. The words or “kalimah” of Allah are complete in truth and in justice. No one can change the “kalimah” of Allah.
There are people who do not obey the “kalimah”. They follow their own conjectures, they follow guesses. This is what the Quran says in the next verse:
“If you obey the common run of the people on earth, they will divert you from the path of GOD. They follow only conjecture; they only guess.” Surah 6.116
Could the Prophet have followed his own desires or his own fancies and said ‘this is also from God’ ? Not according to the following verses :
Surah 69:44-47 : “..And if the apostle were to invent any sayings in Our name, We should certainly seize him by his right hand, And We should certainly then cut off the artery of his heart. Nor could any of you withhold him (from Our wrath). .”
This is a very ominous threat issued against the Prophet. If he had invented any sayings and then attributed it to God, he would have been severely punished.
Just like Adam, the Prophet too was duty bound to obey the kalimah or words of God that were given to him. The Prophet could not invent his own words and then attribute them to God.
The original guidance from God to Adam was in kalimah or words. Adam’s breach was to go against God’s kalimah. Finally the redemption and the guidance for Adam was also in more kalimah. Hence the importance of the “kalimah” or words from God.