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Meaning of "at a distance of two bows' length or less Print E-mail

Allah's statement,

﴿فَكَانَ قَابَ قَوْسَيْنِ أَوْ أَدْنَى ﴾

(And was at a distance of two bows` length or less.) means, Jibril came closer to Muhammad when Jibril was descending to him on earth. At that time, the distance between them became only two bow lengths, when the bows are extended to full length, according to Mujahid and Qatadah. It was said that the meaning here is the distance between the bow's string and its wood center. Allah's statement,

﴿أَوْ أَدْنَى﴾

(or less) indicates that the distance was as only as far described, not more. This type of usage is found in several instances in the Qur'an, such as,

﴿ثُمَّ قَسَتْ قُلُوبُكُمْ مِّن بَعْدِ ذلِكَ فَهِىَ كَالْحِجَارَةِ أَوْ أَشَدُّ قَسْوَةً﴾

(Then, after that, your hearts were hardened and became as stones or even worse in hardness.)(2:74) The Ayah says that their hearts became not softer than rocks, but as hard and difficult as rocks, and more. There is a similar Ayah,

﴿يَخْشَوْنَ النَّاسَ كَخَشْيَةِ اللَّهِ أَوْ أَشَدَّ خَشْيَةً﴾

(fear men as they fear Allah or even more.)(4:77), and Allah's statement,

﴿وَأَرْسَلْنَـهُ إِلَى مِاْئَةِ أَلْفٍ أَوْ يَزِيدُونَ ﴾

(And We sent him to hundred thousand (people) or even more.)(37:147), indicating that they were not less than a hundred thousand, but that amount or more. Therefore, this verifies the facts mentioned, leaving no doubt or means of refute. Similarly, Allah said,

﴿فَكَانَ قَابَ قَوْسَيْنِ أَوْ أَدْنَى ﴾

(And was at a distance of two bow lengths or less.) We stated before that it was Jibril who came down near the Prophet , according to `A'ishah, the Mother of the faithful, `Abdullah bin Mas`ud, Abu Dharr and Abu Hurayrah. We will mention their statements about this soon afterwards, Allah willing. Ibn Jarir recorded that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said about this Ayah,

﴿فَكَانَ قَابَ قَوْسَيْنِ أَوْ أَدْنَى ﴾

(And was at a distance of two bow lengths or less.) "Allah's Messenger said,

«رَأَيْتُ جِبْرِيلَ لَهُ سِتُّمِائَةِ جَنَاح»

(I saw Jibril; he had six hundred wings.)'' Al-Bukhari recorded that Talq bin Ghannam said that Za'idah said that Ash-Shaybani said, "I asked Zirr about the Ayah,

﴿فَكَانَ قَابَ قَوْسَيْنِ أَوْ أَدْنَى - فَأَوْحَى إِلَى عَبْدِهِ مَآ أَوْحَى ﴾

(And was at a distance of two bow lengths or less. So (Allah) revealed to His servant whatever He revealed.) Zirr said, "Abdullah narrated to us that Muhammad saw Jibril having six hundred wings.'' Allah's statement,

﴿فَأَوْحَى إِلَى عَبْدِهِ مَآ أَوْحَى ﴾

(So he revealed to His servant whatever He revealed.) means, Jibril conveyed to Allah's servant Muhammad whatever he conveyed. Or, the meaning here could be: Allah revealed to His servant Muhammad whatever He revealed through Jibril. Both meanings are correct. Sa`id bin Jubayr said about Allah's statement,

﴿فَأَوْحَى إِلَى عَبْدِهِ مَآ أَوْحَى ﴾

(So He revealed to His servant whatever He revealed.) "Allah revealed to him,

﴿أَلَمْ يَجِدْكَ يَتِيماً﴾

(Did He not find you an orphan.)(93:6), and,

﴿وَرَفَعْنَا لَكَ ذِكْرَكَ ﴾

(And have We not raised high your fame)(94:4)'' Someone else said, "Allah revealed to the Prophet that the Prophets will not enter Paradise until he enters it first, and the nations will not enter it until his Ummah enters it first.''

 

 
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