Original Research

Controversial and paradoxical theological approaches to the issue of ‘Descent of the Qur’ān’

Hüseyin Halil
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 1 | a5387 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i1.5387 | © 2020 Hüseyin Halil | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 January 2019 | Published: 16 April 2020

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Hüseyin Halil, Faculty of Theology, Bursa Uludag University, Bursa, Turkey


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Abstract

In Islam, there is a belief that Allah has a ‘throne’ [al-ʿArsh, the highest level of the heavens] in the sky and that Allah sent the Qurʾān directly from that throne or through an angel. According to this belief, the Qurʾān descended from the seventh level of the heavens to the first level and then completed its descent to the earth in pieces over 23 years. Accordingly, the Qurʾān descended from a certain place with determined borders, namely from the throne [al-ʿArsh] of Allah. However, theological books [the literature and sources of ʿılm al-Kalām] contend that Allah is free from space and time and that a specific space cannot be attributed to Allah. The verses of the Qurʾān even suggest that Allah is not only above in the heavens but everywhere. Therefore, the main question of our article is why Allah wanted to send the Qurʾān specifically from the heavens if Allah is free from space. We show that the descent of the Qurʾān from the heavens to the earth is not realistic but is a symbolic and metaphorical narrative.

Keywords

Qurʾān; descent; space; heaven; throne [al-ʿArsh];ʾInzāl; Tanzīl

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