Quranic Reflection No 592. Āyāt 38:20 – The Gift of Eloquence

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وَشَدَدْنَا مُلْكَهُ وَآتَيْنَاهُ الْحِكْمَةَ وَفَصْلَ الْخِطَابِ

Washadnā mulkahu wa-ātaynāhul-hikmata wafaslal-khitāb

And We strengthened his kingdom and gave him wisdom and discernment in speech.

(Sūrat Sād, No 38, Āyat 20)

This verse talks about the blessings that Prophet Dāwūd ‘alayhis-salām was given by Allah ‘azza wajall. His kingdom was strengthened. God gave him the ability to lead his kingdom well and fulfill the needs of his people. His habits as a king included concern for his people, being fair to all, humility towards them, God consciousness, etc. Through the strength given to him by God he was able to overcome his enemies and counter all that weakened his kingdom. Another gift that Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā

granted Prophet Dāwūd was the gift of wisdom. Wisdom is knowledge with the ability to apply that knowledge. When knowledge is applied practically and appropriately it is known as wisdom. Wisdom is very valuable. A verse of the Quran says: and whoever has been granted wisdom has indeed been granted a lot of good (Q 2: 269). 

The third blessing in this verse is clear judgement. Prophet Dāwūd was able to judge wisely and firmly. The word ‘fasl’ means separating two opposing sides or separating the truth from falsehood. The word ‘khitāb’ is conversation or talk between the two people. Prophet Dāwūd listened to both sides of a conversation and separated the two sides with wisdom and justice. This separation is a form of judgement. 

Tafsīr-e Namūne also says that the last blessing in this verse could refer to the eloquence of Prophet Dāwūd. He was powerful in speech. It was evidence of his deep and higher-level thinking. The Prophet used his eloquence to lead people to the truth. It made people listen to him and follow what he said. 

Eloquence is a great gift and should be used in God’s way. One of the gifts that the Ahlul Bayt ‘alayhimus-salām were given was also the gift of eloquence. When Imam Zaynul ‘Ābidīn (a) introduced himself in the court of Yazīd, he said: O people! Allah has given us six things . . . knowledge, forbearance, generosity and mercy, eloquence, courage, and heartfelt love of the believers. (https://www.al-islam.org/probe-history-ashura-ibrahim-ayati/chapter-24-imam-sajjad-court-ibn-ziyad). It was his speeches and those of Bibi Zaynab (a) and the other ladies of the holy household that made the people of Damascus aware of the atrocities committed against them. Their powerful words had tremendous impact and led to the eventual decline of the power of the Banū Umayyad.

This verse reminds us that the Almighty has the power to grant valuable gifts to those whom He pleases. The verse was revealed to inspire the Prophet sallal-lāhu ‘alayhi wa-ālihi wasallam and the early believers, and it continues to inspire all believers. Ask that you too may receive His gifts and get the opportunity to use it to spread His word.

Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūne; Ibrahim Ayati, A Probe into the History of Ashura.