Al-Ikmal verse (Arabic: آية الإكمال) is the third verse of Qur'an 5 (Sura al-Ma'ida) which was revealed to the Prophet (s) during the event of Ghadir. In this verse God states that he had perfected the religion and completed the blessing. There is a disagreement about the day in which this verse has been revealed. Some scholars maintain that it was revealed on the day of 'Arafa and some believe that the 18th of Dhu l-Hijja of 10/632 is the day. Shi'a unanimously believe that the verse was revealed about the event of Ghadir and the guardianship (Wilaya) of Imam 'Ali (a).
الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا
"Today, I have perfected your religion for you, and I have completed My blessing upon you, and I have approved Islam as your religion."
|— Qur'an 4:59|
Time of Revelation
There are two groups of narrations in Shi'a and Sunni sources about the exact time of its revelation. It was definitely revealed during Hajjat al-Wida' (farewell Hajj), however, some have said it was revealed on the Day of 'Arafa or and some have narrated that it was revealed on the 18th of Dhu l-Hijja, the Day of Ghadir.
Day of 'Arafa
In al-Kafi, al-Kulayni has narrated a hadith which says this verse was revealed on the day of 'Arafa to announce the guardianship of 'Ali (a); however al-'Allama al-Majlisi said that this hadith has weak and unreliable chain of narrators as well as distorted content.
Al-'Ayyashi also narrated from Imam al-Sadiq (a): "When the Messenger of God stayed in 'Arafat on a Friday, Gabriel came to him and said: "O, Muhammad! God sends you salutation and says: Tell your Umma (community) "Today, I have perfected your religion by the guardianship of 'Ali b. Abi Talib and I have completed My blessing upon you, and I have approved Islam as your religion and I will not reveal anything after this."
In the chain of narrators of this hadith, there is a person named Ja'far b. Muhammad al-Khuza'i whose identity is unknown.
18th of Dhu al-Hijja
According to several hadiths, Ikmal verse was revealed on the day of Ghadir or soon after. These hadiths have been narrated in Shiite sources through numerous sahih (correct) chains of transmission.
Some Sunni sources also maintain that it was revealed on the Day of Ghadir, however, some other Sunnis believe that those hadiths are weak and unreliable. Narrators in the chain of transmitters are trusted according to Sunni scholars of rijal, though. 'Allama Amini has checked all the narrators of these hadiths according to Sunni Rijal books and principles and concluded that all of them are reliable from Sunni point of view.
Some scholars believe that this verse was revealed twice, once, on the day of 'Arafa - and the Prophet (s), for some reasons, was worried to inform people about it after which al-Tabligh Verse was revealed and God assured him in that verse; then al-Ikmal verse was revealed once again - on the day of Ghadir.
Context of Revelation
Some Sunni sources reported that the verse was revealed on day of 'Arafa.
- "God is the greatest upon perfection of the religion and completion of blessing and God's satisfaction with my messengerhood and 'Ali's guardianship after me."
According to this, announcing the guardianship of Ali (a) was the last duty of the Prophet (s) and nothing was sent down after that except the Ikmal verse.
There are different opinions about the referent of "Today" in the verse:
- The day of Conquest of Mecca: considering the fact that many rulings were introduced after the Conquest of Mecca and a religion cannot be perfect without complete rulings, this report is not acceptable.
- After the Battle of Tabuk: it was then that Qur'an 9 was revealed and the traditions of the Ignorance era were broken. This report is not acceptable either, because Qur'an 5 in which many rulings are issued was revealed after Qur'an 9.
- The day of 'Arafa: Bukhari, Muslim and some other Sunni sources have said that it was the day of 'Arafa. It is unacceptable too, as some rulings were issued after 'Arafa in 10/632 including a report narrated from 'Umar that the ruling to forbid Riba was issued after Hajjat al-Wida' (farewell Hajj).
- The day of Ghadir: the only issue that is as important as it can be considered to be the cause of perfection of the religion and completion of blessing and disappointment of unbelievers is the guardianship of 'Ali (a) and appointing him as the Prophet's (s) vicegerent during the event of Ghadir.
Difference between Completion and Perfection
- Completion is applied where various parts of something come in a sequence and it is not complete unless all parts are assembled. When the last part joins the other parts we can say it is complete.
- But in the case of perfection, it is not that there is an incomplete issue. An item may be complete but still not perfect.
In fact, the difference between completion and perfection is the same as the difference between quantity and quality. Qur'an says, on the one hand, that I have completed your religion and says, on the other hand, that I have perfected my blessings.
- Kulaynī, "al-Kāfī", vol. 1, p. 259.
- Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 3, p. 259-261.
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