وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ صِدْقًا وَعَدْلًا ۚ لَّا مُبَدِّلَ لِكَلِمَاتِهِ ۚ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
Watammat kalimatu rabbika sidqan wa-‘adlan, lā mubaddila likalimātihi, wahuwas-samī‘ul-‘alīm
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.
(Sūrat al-An’ām, No 6, Āyat 110)
This verse talks about the fulfillment of Allah’s word. ‘Kalima’ or ‘word’ here is interpreted in different ways. According to ‘Allāmah Tabātabā’ī, it could refer to the word of truth from Allah ‘azza wajall, a statement or promise made by Allah. The Quran says, for example: The good word of your Lord was fulfilled in the children of Israel because of their patience (Q 7:137). He also says the ‘word’ could be the call to Islam, the religion brought by the Prophet sallal-lāhu ‘alayhi wa-ālihi wasallam including the Quran and the laws of Islam. This is a completion and perfection of the other missions brought by earlier Prophets ‘alayhimus-salām. There was a gradual progress towards perfection of the laws and teachings sent down by Allah. It reached its zenith with the coming of the Prophet Muhammad (s) who brought a final code of laws that is the most comprehensive and perfect. It includes what the other Prophets brought, and more. This is mentioned in the Quran: He has prescribed for you the religion which He had enjoined upon Nuh and which We have [also] revealed to you, and which We had enjoined upon Ibrāhīm, Mūsā and Īsā (Q 42:13). Thus, fulfillment in the above verse refers to the completion of Allah’s guidance for mankind.
Shaykh Tabarsī in Tafsīr Majma‘ al-Bayān says that the ‘word’ could refer to the Quran. It is the guidance sent in truth and justice and never changes. It was revealed gradually until it became complete and perfect. He also mentions others who say the ‘word’ could refer to the religion of Allah as is mentioned in the Quran: and the word of Allah is the highest (Q 9:40). It could also be a reference to the proof of Allah over mankind.
All these are possible understandings of the ‘kalima’ in this verse. They all connect to the one main idea behind this verse, that the guidance sent by Allah is complete and perfect.
The verse describes the perfection of the guidance sent by Allah as having the qualities of truth and justice. Truth because it truly became a reality. And just because each part of it is in harmony with the other parts, producing a whole and complete guidance for the human being. All its parts are balanced and in the right place, without any injustice or displacement. These two qualities prevent the mission from changing. They are the cause, the effect of which is the unchanging reality of the mission. Changes to it would remove its truth and justice and it would then not be a complete and perfect mission anymore.
This verse is a reminder that Allah’s mission has been sent down in its most complete form. It will remain pure and unchanged. Believers must follow that pure guidance and not mix it with other ideologies that do not stem from the original mission brought by the Prophet (s).
Sources: Shaykh Tabarsī, Tafsīr Majma‘ al-Bayān, Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh