Tafsir Qushairi

The question of questioner indicates the his/her circumstances! This questioner did not ask of law or creation or religion or worldly affairs and not even the consequences e.g.

Taha 105: They ask of the mountains
Al-baqara: 220: They ask of the orphans
Al-baqara: 222: They ask of the menses
Al-Isra 85: They ask you of Spirit
Al-baqara: 219 They ask you of drinks and gambling
Al-baqara: 217. They you of the forbidden-to-kill month

These questioners (in this 2:186) are quite particular and special namely ‘Ibad i.e. servants they ask you of Me.

And yet the answer does not include you: Tell Them O Muhammad this or that. The answer excludes the Prophet

Q: When servants asked you of Me

A: I (am) Near…

Notice there is no instruction to Muhammad to relay an answer. The Middle-Agency of Muhammad is removed from the answer.

* تفسير لطائف الإشارات / القشيري (ت 465 هـ) مصنف و مدقق
{ وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ ٱلدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُواْ لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُواْ بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ }

قوله جلّ ذكره: { وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ }.

سؤال كل أحدٍ يدلُّ على حاله؛ لم يسألوا عن حكم ولا عن مخلوق ولا عن دين ولا عن دنيا ولا عن عقبى بل سألوا عنه فقال تعالى: { وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي }. وليس هؤلاء من جملة من قال:{ وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلْجِبَالِ } [طه: 105]، ولا من جملة من قال:{ وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلْيَتَامَىٰ } [البقرة: 220] ولا من جملة من قال:{ وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلْمَحِيضِ } [البقرة: 222]، ولا من جملة من قال:{ وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلرُّوحِ } [الإٍسراء: 85]، ولا من جملة من قال: و{ يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلْخَمْرِ وَٱلْمَيْسِرِ } [البقرة: 219]، و{ يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلشَّهْرِ ٱلْحَرَامِ قِتَالٍ فِيهِ } [البقرة: 217].

هؤلاء قوم مخصوصون: { وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي }.

أي إذا سألك عبادي عني فبماذا تجيبهم؟ ليس هذا الجواب بلسانك يا محمد، فأنت وإنْ كنتَ السفير بيننا وبين الخلْق فهذا الجواب أنا أتولاه { فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ } (رَفَعَ الواسطة من الأغيار عن القربة فلم يَقُل قل


Servants when they asked you of Me indicates the absence of Allah, Allah is not there visible to the people so they ask Muhammad about Allah. This modality of presence/attention is called Ghayba (Absence) and language changes, attention changes, from “asked you of Me” to “I am Near”.

In our English language we are not sensitive to this transformation of the modalities of presence and attention. Basically all references to people are flat and the same.

In the language of Arab, there is hugest sensitivity to who addresses whom and how? that is as much as a part of the language as is grammar or vocabulary.

So what?

From the ancient Arab ear: First he hears “When they asked YOU of Me” this conversation takes place between Allah and Muhammad. This conversation Allah-Muhammad reports another conversation “they asked of YOU” while they feel the absence of Allah.

Then the answer to this question is another modality of Allah-Servant “I (am) Near” and now Muhammad is absent.

So the Arab heard the importance and urgency of being in private conversation with Allah

Wāw: ‘Atf connecting this verse to a previous verse(?), order-less there is no particular order between the connected phrases or sentences

‘Izā: When, refers to a past event

Sa’ala: asked singular third person male

‘Ibād-i: ‘Ibad plural for ‘Abd meaning servant, i connected pronoun referring to Allah as in “My” servant

Q: Why singular verb used for plural name?

A: Perhaps ‘Ibad refers to a single collective of servants e.g. humanity.


`Anni: Two words, ‘An+’Inni namely of+me

Non-Causality of Du’a invoking Allah:

Indeed Allah when willed to answer a servant, listens to his Du’a (or gives him permission to make Du’ā to make him to invoke)

DARA: We can never remember or invoke Allah, it is Allah who remembers us first and then opens a channel for communication from us to IT.

وأخرج ابن مردويه عن ابن عمر قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم
” إن الله إذا أراد أن يستجيب لعبد أذن له في الدعاء “.

Irfān (Noesis): The usual standing phrase Qul (Say Muhammad) has not been used, to indicate the answer is direct to the servants.

Fa : ف

Fa is Rabita namely linker or connecter. In this case it links the Answer (proceeding phrase) to the Question (preceding phrase) “Servants asked about me” .

Unlike Waw, Fa is ordered i.e. the order matters e.g. question first then follows the answer. No swapping allowed.


`Inna: Both `Anna and `Inna serve as semi-verbs i.e. acting upon their noun as if it is a subject/object of a sentence.

Chapter 1
`Inna (`Anna) means steadfast continuity perfection and solidity both for the Wujud (Being-ness) and the knowledge of some object.

الحروف الفارابي
الباب الأول
الحُروفُ وَ أسمَاء المقولات
الفصل الأوّل
حرف إنّ
(1) أمّا بعد فإنّ معنى انّ الثبات والدوام والكمال والوثاقة في الوجود وفي العلم بالشيء.
ولذلك تسمّي الفلاسفة الوجود الكامل ” إنية ” الشيء- وهو بعينه ماهيّته – ويقولون ” وما إنية الشيء ” يعنون ما وجوده الأكمل، وهو ماهيته.

ī: I or Me (reads as “ee” in “eel”)

فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ

`Inna ī(I) Qarib-un (Near)

Inna is Semi-verb while ī the Noun for Inna, Qarib-un Khabar (Information) about Inna. Un or the Nunation is the ‘Irab of Masdar (Verbal Noun).

Irfan (Noesis) of Inna: Imagine Inna as an arrow on a signpost point towards “I perpetually unconditionally Near”. Allah is not acting as being near, or wanting to be Near, the entire cosmos and all of us are created and engineered in such manner that Allah is Near to us! There is no attempt to be Near to us, it is a fundamental of the cosmos, that Allah is Near to us. For that matter the Verbal Noun (Masdar) of Qarib (Near) is used, free of any application of any verbs, since verbs are temporal and transient. Inna indicates that all is created while Allah being Near, cosmos has no other choice but become while Allah Near.

Nearness is of two categories

1. ‘Ām: General applicable to all, public, indicates Allah’s Nearness to all people.

2. Khās: Highly Particularized for the ‘Ibad, special servants of Allah, some said the lovers who love Allah above all. The said verse is about this category of servants.


تفسير لطائف الإشارات / القشيري (ت 465 هـ) مصنف و مدقق
هؤلاء قوم مخصوصون: { وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي }.

“And when servants asked about me” is for the Qaum (Collective) of Khās.

وفي قوله: “فإني قريب” مجازٌ عن سرعةِ إجابته لدعوةِ داعيه

“I (am) Near” is Al-Majāz (The Corridor, The Metaphor), rendering the speed of response to the invocations!


‘Ijāb vs. ‘Istijāb : ‘Istijāb indicates the request granted, yet ‘Ijāb is more general namely a response was issued but not necessarily accepting the original request.

وفَرَّق الرماني بين أَجاب واستجاب: بأنَّ “استجاب” لا يكون إلا فيما فيه قبول لِما دُعِي إليه نحو: {فَٱسْتَجَبْنَا لَهُ} [الأنبياء: 76] {فَٱسْتَجَابَ لَهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ} [آل عمران: 195]، وأمَّا “أجاب” فأعمُّ لأنه قد يُجيب بالمخالفة، فَجَعَل بينهما عموماً وخصوصاً.

In this verse the “I am Near responding to invocation …” indicates an immediate response issued but not necessarily in agreement with what the invoker asked!

فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ أُجِيبُ


Past tense third person plural male Da’ā and the ending Nun (N sound) is called Nun Al-Wiqāya (Protecting N sound) since verbs cannot have Kasra for ending Inflection, Nouns can, verbs cannot. In other words

invoked me (ي)

is not acceptable to the ear of the Arab! Since it confuses the verb and noun. Therefore a Nun is added to the Kasra (ending Inflection for Me) or Da’ā-Ni


Note: Male gendered verb Da’ā does not exclude female invoker, normally in Arabic phrases to be most eloquent is to be scant in words and length of words and male-gender assume the short lengths.


Fa: Answer to the question “When my servants asked you…”

Letter indicator for Imperative Verb/Sentence


Letter indicator for seeking searching

All together indicates the feel of “Quest” i.e. “They Seek/Search My Response ”


Joined-Prononun for third person namely They/Them



indicates Me/I


L-sound which could have several applications once used in the beginning of the pronoun I/Me:

The Meaning of Letters


1. Al-Tahqiq/Istihqāq (Deservingness) i.e. They Seek My response because I (for sure) deserve to be sought after and wanted

2. Ta’diya (Transitive-ness): “They Seek Response“ applies to “Me/My”. If removed then “Seek Response“ and “Me/My” are open for speculation of whose response?

Wāw: ‘Atf connecting this phrase to “Seek Response”

Letter indicator for Imperative Verb/Sentence



Joined-Prononun for third person namely They/Them

Do believe


indicates Me/I


B-sound which could have several applications once used in the beginning of the pronoun I/Me:

The Meaning of Letters


1. Seeking the aid of something or by instrumentation of something e.g.

كتبت بالقلم

I wrote Bi (with) Al-Qalam (The Pen) indicates the instrumentation of Pen to aid the writing, one cannot write without a pen.

In the case of this verse “Do believe ” and they cannot believe without My aid and cooperation, therefore the verse read

Do believe Bi (by means of) My (cooperation)

Or they cannot believe without My cooperation and aid.

2. Emphasis: “Do believe ” and emphasis is placed on Me

لَعَلَّ كلمة شك ، وأَصلها عَلَّ ، واللام في أَولها زائدة

La-`Alla means perhaps or maybe.

لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ

Perhaps they might follow the right way


© 2019-2002,  Dara O. Shayda