What Does the “Kaf” in Verse 11 of Chapter 42 of the Quran Mean?

Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat


Recently I was doing an Arabic class, and a comment was made about the “ك” in “كمثله” from verse 11 of chapter 42, I heard that Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari (I believe) said this “ك” is asli and za’ida, I was wondering what the view is. If the “ك” was asli, would this not mean like His “mithl,” and we know that Allah does not have a form?

When doing Aqida studies, we were told this was a Muhkam verse, would the opinion that the “ك” being asli not portray that it is metaphorical?


I pray you are all well.

Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari and the Kaf

The discussion in this verse is on what the simile (tashbih) in this verse is through. If it is with both the word “mithl” and the “kaf” that precedes it or is one of them superfluous (za’ida) to the meaning.

The position Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari chooses is that the kaf is not za’ida. This makes the meaning of the verse akin to saying, “There is nothing like even the likeness of Him,” which would rationally negate anything resembling Allah, seeing as He has no likeness.

This is a sound interpretation and is accepted by mufassirs of the highest caliber, such as Imam Alusi. This usage also has a strong precedence in the Arabic language.

Besides this, there are a number of other equally valid interpretations of the verse, all rooted in the Arabic language. All of them lead to the same meaning of negating anything resembling Allah.

Is the Verse Muhkam?

Yes, the verse is muhkam (decisive in meaning). No reading or interpretation gives any sort of indication of there being any way that something can resemble Allah Most High. As mentioned above, there are sound interpretations of this verse, which show that the meaning is clear whether the kaf is za’ida or otherwise. It does not make the meaning of the verse ambiguous in any way.

You can find these explanations in Imam Sawi’s commentary on Jawharat al-Tawhid. [Sawi, Sharh Jawharat al-Tawhid, Qari, Minah al Rawd al Azhar, Alusi, Ruh al-Ma‘ani)

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.
[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History, he moved to Damascus in 2007, where, for 18 months, he studied with many erudite scholars. In late 2008, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years in Sacred Law (fiqh), legal theory (Usul al-fiqh), theology, hadith methodology, hadith commentary, and Logic. He was also given licenses of mastery in the science of Quranic recital, and he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Quranic sciences, tafsir, Arabic grammar, and Arabic eloquence.