Quranic Reflection No. 416. Ayat 6:115 – Fulfillment of God’s word

وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ صِدْقًا وَعَدْلًا ۚ لَا مُبَدِّلَ لِكَلِمَاتِهِ ۚ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
Watammat kalimatu rabbika sidqan wa-‘adlan la mubaddila likalimatihi wahuwas-sami‘ul-‘alim
The word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and justice. Nothing can change His words, and He is the All-hearing, the All-knowing
(Sūratِ al-An‘ām, No.6, Āyat 115)

This verse is a firm declaration of the completion and perfection of Allah’s message to humanity. God’s word will be fulfilled, and mankind will benefit from the truth and justice that comes with God’s words.

The word kalima means ‘word’. It can be anything that is spoken or conveyed, short or long, a complete or incomplete sentence, etc. The word in this verse has been interpreted in different ways according to its usage in the Quran:
1. The Quran itself.
2. The religion and code of laws sent by Allah subhānahu wa-ta‘ala.
3. The promise or decree of God – and your Lord’s promise was fulfilled for the Children of Israel because of their patience (Q 7:137).
4. A Prophet who was created through the miracle of God – The Messiah, Isa son of Maryam, was only an apostle of Allah, and His Word that He cast toward Mary and a spirit from Him (Q 4:131)

According to Tafsīr Namūne these interpretations are not mutually exclusive, the verse could refer to all of them. Each interpretation goes back to God’s guidance for humanity. Because the preceding verse talks about the Book of God it could be that the message of Islam is being specifically referred to here.

Tafsīr al-Mīzān explains that the fulfillment of God’s word is through the mission of the Prophet (s) and the revelation of the Quran. That completed the gradual guidance that came through the previous Prophets and Books. The laws brought by the Prophet (s) encompass all the previous laws and add to them. The Quran mentions this truth – He has prescribed for you the religion which He had enjoined upon Nūh and which We have [also] revealed to you, and which We had enjoined upon Ibrahim, Musa and Isa (Q 40:13). Thus, divine guidance moved through gradual progression, culminating with the message of the Quran. It reached the zenith of potential for human perfection.

Two qualities of the completion or fulfillment of the message as described in this verse are truth and justice. Fulfillment of the word of God in truth refers to the fact that it will materialize externally exactly as decreed by God. Its fulfillment in justice is that it has internal balance, its components are in harmony and do not contradict one another. This truth and justice result in the unchangeability of the message. God’s word will not change. ‘Allama Tabātabā’ī in Tafsīr al-Mīzān says it cannot be changed, whether by God or by others. Once God makes a decree and promise (regarding guidance of human beings) He does not change it. Others cannot also change it as they do not have the power to overcome God’s will.

The fulfillment of the word of God is its ability to satisfy all human needs for guidance in life to achieve perfection of the soul. Nothing outside of it is required to achieve that goal. The clearest manifestation of its truth and justice will be when the Imam of the time comes to establish God’s word on earth. That is when it will be seen that the word of Allah is the highest (Q 9:40). Let this verse help you prepare for the time when God’s word will be perfectly fulfilled.

Sources: ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh; Agha Muhsin Qarā’atī, Tafsīr Nur; http://www.alketab.org/