The Meaning of Allah is Greater

Some scholars claimed that the meaning of 'Allahu Akbar – Allah is Greater' is: Allahu Kabeer – Allah is Great. However, this is an extremely weak assertion, because everyone knows the difference between Great and Greater.

It is true that Allah called Himself {Al Kabeer al Muta’aal – the Great, the Elevated} [Ar Ra’d: 9], but the meaning of 'Greater' is different from the meaning of 'the Great'. They tried to escape from comparing the Creator to the creation, but what they were escaping from caused them to fall into something worse than it; it made them come up with an attribute – that if we were to take it by its apparent meaning – both the Creator and the created would be similar.

 This is similar to the Tafseer by some of them for the Ayah:

{Verily, your Lord is the more knowledgeable of one who has gone astray from His path} [Al Qalam:7]
They said this means He is knowledgeable, because if you say He is 'more knowledgeable', this is a comparative which means there is something else superior or inferior.
We respond to them by saying; What is wrong with saying that Allah is more knowledgeable than every knowledgeable entity?

But if you say that Allah is knowledgeable, you have used a wording that does not prevent the presence of equals/partners. Because you can say; Allah is knowledgeable and so and so is knowledgeable.

So which of the two is more expressive; to use a description that prevents equals/partners which is the comparative, or to use a word that does not prevent equals/partners?

The answer: The first is better, and Allah says about Himself: Allah is more knowledgeable. So how can you say; Allah is knowledgeable? There is a deficiency in meaning here.

Therefore you say; Allah is Greater. This is a comparative in its own category, the entity that it is being compared to has been removed, which means it includes everything. Therefore Allah is Greater than everything, Glorified and Exalted is He, and the same is said about 'more knowledgeable'.

TN: In Arabic, the superlative and comparative forms of an adjective are one in the same, or to be more precise, there is no superlative form of an adjective, there is only the comparative which includes the meaning of both the comparative and superlative forms, i.e. there is no 'greatest' or 'most knowledgeable' in the grammatical sense, there is only greater and more knowledgeable.

You will find in English translations of the Quran and various knowledge related material, that the superlative form is used in place of the comparative, i.e 'Allah is the most knowledgeable' rather than Allah is more knowledgeable. Not only is this an accurate translation but it is also the correct and desired meaning in contrast to the comparative. However, grammatically, it is as ibn ‘Uthaymeen - may Allah have mercy upon him – explained and this is why the original comparative form of the adjective was retained in this translation for a clearer understanding of the issue.

In a nutshell, Ibn 'Uthaymeen is saying; Allahu 'Alam – literally meaning 'Allah is more knowledgeable' means 'Allah is the most knowledgeable', because 'than everything' was removed from the phrase 'Allah is more knowlegeable than everthing'.

Al Sharh al Mumti': Chapter of the Description of the PrayerAuthor
 Al Imaam Ibn 'Uthaymeen

1 comment:

  1. Great post.I think it is more on how we live our life more than any translation service could offer.We liveour life for the goodness for others and to be gratitude enoughh to show emphathy towards each other.We may have different religions but we all have one thing in common to love one another.