Every Muslim child, from the time he or she is old enough to recite and memorize the adhkaar, the first duaa they are taught would probably be Aayat al-Kursi. It certainly was the case with me. I was diligently taught to recite the Kursi at bedtime, after the Salah and whenever I felt scared.
It was only when I grew up that I began to wonder what exactly was so special about this dua. I was taught it was very powerful, but I never knew why this particular verse was selected out. So if there’s anyone else who’s wondering like I used to, here is a brief summary about the virtues of Aayat al-Kursi - The Greatest Verse in the Qur’an.
Aayat al-Kursi is the greatest verse in the Book of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic because it contains the three categories of Tawheed - ruboobiyyah, uloohiyyah, and asmaa’ was-sifaat. Allaah gathered them all in this verse, using negation and affirmation, where he negates shortcomings and deficiencies for Himself, and affirms completeness and perfection for Himself, Most Glorified and Exalted.
- In the first part of the verse is the mention of tawheed al-uloohiyyah.
اللَّهُ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ
(Allaah! None has the right to be worshiped but He)
This establishes the principle of uloohiyyah, which is itself the foundation of Tawheed, and from which stems Islam’s attitude to life in general. This principle obliges us to be worshipers of none but Allaah. Man should direct his service, worship and obedience to Him alone, adjudicate only by His laws and derive his values, ethics and ideas only from Allaah.
- Then Allaah mentions tawheed al-asmaa’ was-sifaat
(The Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists)
Al-Hayy ul-Qayyoom - “The Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists”, confirms two of Allaah’s great Names. This affirms for Allaah the attribute of life and that He sustains others.
Al-Hayy - The Ever-Living is He who has a continuous life with no beginning or end. Allaah is ascribed with a life that is self-sustaining. It has no external source, unlike the lives of creatures that have been granted to them by the Creator. As He was, together with His Attributes, before all else, so shall He remain throughout endless time.
Al-Qayyoom - The One Who sustains and protects all that exists. It is He who sustains the lives of creation and manages all the conditions of the universe. He oversees everything: provides for it, preserves it, watches over it, manages it in the way and for the purpose that He pleases.
These two Names "the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists" are among the greatest of Allaah’s Beautiful Names. Upon them, the rest of His Names are based and around them all their meanings revolve. Allaah’s being Alive requires all attributes of perfection, because any lacking of an attribute of perfection originates from the weakness of life. Therefore, if Allaah has perfect life, He necessarily has all perfection.
The attribute of "the One Who sustains and protects all that exists" incorporates His perfect self-sufficiency and His perfect omnipotence. He does not need help from anybody in any way, and every creature depends on Allaah’s existence and management.
These two Names have a great effect on the life of every Muslim who believes in them and comprehends their meanings. His conscience becomes constantly aware of Allaah, in worship, love and obedience; for he knows that his Lord sustains his own life and the entire universe, in accordance with His Wisdom and plan. The servant thus adheres to the system Allaah designed for his life, Islam, from which he derives his values and criteria and seeks guidance for his actions in all circumstances.
لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلَا نَوْمٌ
(Neither slumber, nor sleep overtake Him)
This is a negation and a reiteration of the fact that Allaah is the Sustainer of everything. Slumber and sleep contradict the quality of complete and perfect life and the attribute of the Self-Subsisting because sleep is only required of the creature who gets tired and needs rejuvenation and rest.
- In the fourth part, Allaah mentions tawheed ar-ruboobiyyah,
لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْض
(To Him belongs whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth)
This is an affirmation of His Ruboobiyyah, that He owns the heavens and the earth and all that is in them.
Allah enjoys an unfettered and absolute authority over His possessions, which He shares with no other being. Belief in those facts, once it takes root in the heart, has an immensely beneficial effect on a believer’s life.
مَن ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِندَهُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ
(Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His permission?)
This is a negation. Allaah negates that anyone could intercede without His Permission, due to His complete Greatness, may He be Glorified and Exalted. No one could possibly intercede with Him, except after He allows them.
This also makes clear the status of Lordship (Ar-Ruboobiyyah) and worship. Every human being is a servant of Allaah. He does not exceed the boundaries of that status and therefore cannot intercede with Allaah without His permission. Our faith (‘aqeedah) thus makes a clear distinction between the nature of the Supreme Creator and His worshipers. They neither mingle nor do they have a single characteristic in common.
None can intercede except by Allaah’s Permission: His Leave is universal. Even Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم who has the greatest rank with Allaah cannot intercede except with the prior leave from Allaah. He will be granted this permission after he صلى الله عليه وسلم prostrates before Allaah and praises Him with the great praises and glorification which Allaah guides him to it on that Day.Then it will be said: Raise your head and speak; you will be listened to, intercede and your intercession will be accepted. [Sahih Al-Bukhari : Vol. 06, No. 03 and No. 236.]
يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ
(He knows what happens to them (His creatures) in this world,
and what Will happen to them in the Hereafter)
This is an affirmation establishing the complete Knowledge of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, the One who knows everything from the affairs of the past, present, and future. Nothing is hidden from Him, as His Knowledge is vast and encompasses everything. This is a confirmation that His knowledge encompasses all time and place and things.
وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلَّا بِمَا شَاءَ
(And they will never encompass anything of His knowledge except that which He wills)
This is a negation. Allaah nullifies the idea that His Creation could gain some of His Knowledge without Him giving them access to it. So if He does not allow them to have knowledge of something, then it is considered ghayb (unseen), and no one knows the ghayb except Allaah.
It is also a reference to the weaknesses of human beings and the limitations of their knowledge which does not exceed that which Allaah wishes them to know. A Muslim’s awareness of this fact makes him ever-conscious of his Lord, mindful of the limits of behavior and conduct He has set, and quick in turning to Allaah in gratitude and repentance. It also makes him avoid arrogance and self-satisfaction.
وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ
(His Kursi (footstool) extends over the heavens and the earth)
The Kursi is a created thing from Allaah’s Creation, and indeed it is a great creation! The heavens and the earth in relationship to the Kursi are like seven coins tossed into am open plain of earth, or like seven coins tossed onto a large plate. What would seven small coins look like in this situation? So Allaah’s Kursi is bigger than the heavens and the earth.
His Kursi is not His Throne, as these are two separate things. The Throne is even greater than the Kursi.
And the Kursee is nothing in comparison to the Throne, except like an iron ring tossed into a spacious plain of earth. So if the Kurs is like this, then what about the Throne of Ar-Rahmaan, Most Glorified and Exalted?!
Therefore, all of the creation in relationship to Allaah is very very small and nothing in comparison to Him. If only one thing from Allaah’s Creation, the Kursi, is bigger than the heavens and the earth, but still smaller than the Throne, then Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, is greater than everything.
وَلَا يَئُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا
(and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them)
This is a negation, meaning that nothing is difficult or burdensome on Him, Most Glorified. Protecting and preserving the heavens and the earth from corruption and distortion does not tire Him, nor does His holding them in place cause Him any fatigue
And Allaah the Glorified is not in need of the heavens nor the earth, nor the Throne nor the Kursi, nor is He is need of anything from the things He created. It is the creation that is in dire need of Him, the Most Glorified and Exalted.
- Allaah then concluded this great verse by mentioning two of His beautiful Names:
وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ
(And He is the Most High, the Most Great)
Al-‘Alyy [The Most High] means that He is High and Exalted above His creation. No one transgresses by trying to rise to His status without being reduced to humiliation in this world and disgraced with punishment in the Hereafter.
Al-‘Atheem [The Most Great] means that all greatness is Allaah’s, and that nothing is of equal status with Him, but everything is below Him. When man becomes aware of Allaah’s greatness and Exaltation, he realizes his own worth and settles in the station of worship of his Lord. He does not transgress against Allaah’s bounds, but fears Him, obeys His commands, and rectifies his conduct towards Him and towards His creation.
These then are some of the facets of the greatness of this verse. Each Muslim should learn it by heart, contemplate its meanings and recite it often. There are many Ahadith relating to its excellence and merits.
One is a long hadith narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه in which the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was reported to have said to him:
"When you go to your bed, you should recite Aayatul-Kursi from the beginning to the end, by reciting it there will be posted a guardian over you from Allaah who will protect you during the whole night and the devil will not be able to come near you till morning." [Al-Bukhaari]
And on the authority of Ubayy Ibn Ka’b رضي الله عنه who reported that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
"Abul-Mundhir! Do you know which verse of Allah’s Book is the greatest?" Ubayy رضي الله عنه replied: "Allah and His Messenger know best". The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم then asked "Abul Mundhir! Do you know which verse of Allah’s Book is the greatest?"
Ubayy Ibn Ka’b رضي الله عنه said: "Allah! Laa ilaaha illaa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He) the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists. Neither slumber, nor sleep overtake Him."
Thereupon the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم struck me on the chest and said: "Felicitation on your knowledge, O Abul-Mundhir." [Muslim]
1) Aayatul-Kursi And Its Meaning
Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih Al-’Uthaymeen
From Commentary on Imaam ibn Taymeeyah’s Sharhul ’Aqeedatil-Waasitiyyah
2) Tawheed Expounded Upon in Aayatul-Kursee
Shaykh Saalih ibn Al-Fawzaan
From his book Duroos min Al-Qur’aan Al-Kareem (p.26-30)