Commentary On the Verse of the Quran ‘but man is more than anything argumentative’

Praise be to Allah,


Allah Says,


وَلَقَد صَرَّفنا في هٰذَا القُرآنِ لِلنّاسِ مِن كُلِّ مَثَلٍ ۚ وَكانَ الإِنسانُ أَكثَرَ شَيءٍ جَدَلًا


‘We have explained [the truth] to man in this Qur’an, discussing different issues in various ways, but man is more than anything argumentative’. [ Quran translation Soorah Al-Kahf 18:54]


صَرَّفنا (Sarrafna): We spelt out, set out in detail, explained, elucidated, inflected.

جَدَلًا (Jadal)- Quarrel, argument, contention, debate, dispute, controversy[i].,


{‘We have explained [the truth] to man in this Qur’an, discussing different issues in various ways’}


Sheikh As-Sadi says,


Here Allah tells us of the greatness and majesty of the Qur’an and how it encompasses all issues, explaining different matters in different ways, highlighting all types of beneficial knowledge and ways that lead to eternal bliss, and every way that protects against evil and doom. It contains explanations of what is lawful and what is prohibited, requital of deeds, encouragement, and deterrents, true stories that benefit the heart by strengthening faith and giving reassurance and light. This dictates that one should surrender to this Qur’an, accept it, follow it, obey the instructions contained therein, and not dispute with it in any issue[ii].


وَكانَ الإِنسانُ أَكثَرَ شَيءٍ جَدَلًا

{but man is more than anything argumentative}


‘But man’: Some of the scholars said this refers to disbelievers. However, this is highly unlikely to be. Shaykh Uthaymneen comments on this verse:


“since there is no evidence to specify that it means disbelievers, the statement “man” refers to all humans.’[iii]


‘Alee narrated that on one occasion the Prophet (PBUH) had come and knocked at his and Fatimah’s door at night and asked them, “Why aren’t you two praying?” ‘Alee replied, “O Messenger of Allah! Our souls are in Allah’s hands [during sleep], if He wishes to send them back then He would do so.” So the Prophet (PBUH) immediately turned and left and did not return. While leaving he slapped his thigh and recited the verse:


{“But humans like to argue more than anything else.”}[iv]


Dr. Bilal Philips says in the Tafseer of Surah Kahf,


‘The Prophet (PBUH) had suggested to them that they should be praying Tahajjud (the voluntary night prayer) and what ‘Alee had said was true, but it would have been better for him if he had just accepted the advice of the Prophet (PBUH) rather than trying to defend their position. However, what ‘Alee did was what people commonly do’.[v].


There is also a Hadith narrated by ‘Anas in which the Prophet (PBUH) has been reported to have said, “On the day of Qiyamah, a man from among the disbelievers will be brought forth. He will be asked, ‘what was your response to the messenger We had sent to you?’ He will say, ‘0 my Lord, as for me, I did believe in You and in Your messenger too and that I obeyed him in everything I did.’ Allah Ta’ala will say, ‘here is your book of deeds before you. All this you say is not there.’ This man will say, ‘I do not believe in this book of deeds.’ Allah will say, ‘what about these angels of Ours? They used to watch you. They bear witness against you.’ This man will say, ‘I do not accept their testimony as well, nor do I know them, nor have I seen them while I was doing what I did.’ Allah will say, ‘if so, this Preserved Tablet is before you. Written here too is the same thing about you.’ He will say, ‘my Lord, have You granted me asylum from injustice or have you not?’ Allah will say, ‘Of course, you have your refuge against injustice with Us.’ So then, he will say, ‘0 my Lord, how can I accept the verdict of those unseen witnesses I am not familiar with at all? As for me, I can only accept a witness that comes from my person.’ At that time, his mouth will be sealed, and his hands and feet will bear witness against his kufr and shirk. After that, he will be released and thrown into Hell’[vi].

The life of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, demonstrate the obedience and submission to whatever came in the Shari’ah. They neither argued nor asked “why?” To prove this, when the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said,’ “Make wudoo from camel’s meat but don’t make it from mutton,” the Companions never asked why. They heard and obeyed. This is because of the unshaken faith in their hearts. Allah says,


{“But no, by your Lord, they have no faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them, without finding in themselves any resistance to your decisions, but accepting them completely.”} (Quran Translation Soorah an-Nisaa, 4: 65)


They generally did not ask why. However, it is reported that on some occasions, they did ask as in the case of the black dog breaking formal prayer:


‘Abdullaah ibn as-Saamit related that Aboo Tharr quoted Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) as saying, “If any of you gets up for formal prayer, it will be shielded if he has immediately in front of him something the height of a saddle. It doesn’t have something like a saddle, his prayer will be broken by the passing of a donkey, a woman, and a black dog.” ‘Abdullaah asked: O Abu Tharr! What’s the difference between a black dog and a red or yellow one? He replied: O my nephew! I asked Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) just as you asked me and he said, “The black dog is a devil.”[vii]


Allah Knows Best.




[i] A word for Word meaning of the Quran, Vol 2, Mohar Ali, page 931


[ii] Tafseer As-Sadi, Abdur Rahman As-Sadi, translated by Naseeruddin al-Khattab, Vol 5, Page 379


[iii] Tafseer Surah Al-Kahf, Shaykh Uthaymeen, translated by Rasheed ibn Estes Barbee. Page 176

[iv] Sahih al Bukhari 127 and sahih Muslim 775, Tafseer Ibn katheer,(Abridged) Volume- 6, page- 176


[v] Tafseer Sorrah Al-Kahf, Dr Bilal Philips 169


[vi] (The subject matter of this narrative has been reported in Sahih Muslim, also from Sayyidna Anas & – al-Qurtubi), Ma’ariful Quran – Mufi Muhammed Shafi, 3397 (PDF),

Aḥmed, al-Albani said all of its men are trustworthy (thiqaat) and so it is Saḥīḥ.


[vii] reference: Book 2, Hadith 98, English translation: Book 2, Hadith 229.Arabic reference: Book 2, Hadith 231


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