Kun Fayakun

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From wikishia

Kun fayakūn (Arabic: کُنْ فَیَکون) is a Qur'anic phrase repeatedly used in Qur'anic verses. The phrase literally means: "be, and (or then) it is". Following hadiths from Imams (a), Shiite exegetes of the Qur'an interpret the phrase as referring to the fact that God's generative will (al-irada al-takwiniyya) to create something amounts to the creation of that thing. Thus, it is not the case that God literally uses the word, "be", as an order to create beings. Shiite mystics believe that residents of the Heaven and mystics are endowed by God with the position of "be, and it is".

"Kun Fayakun" in Qur'anic Verses

The phrase, "kun fayakun", recurs in Qur'anic verses in different forms and with regard to different subject-matters. Its uses can be classified into three categories:

  • Regarding Jesus's Miraculous Birth: The same form of the phrase, "kun fayakun", is used in Qur'an 2:117, Qur'an 19:35, and Qur'an 3:47 with regard to the birth of Jesus (a), "When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, "Be," and it is". In Qur'an 3:59[1], another form of "kun fayakun" is used with regard to the birth of Jesus (a). All these verses are shared in a single content: God does not depend on anything for the creation of beings, including Jesus (a). Thus, it is not the case that it is easy for Him to create one being and difficult to create another. Instead, His command for something to exist is sufficient for the thing to exist. Thus, the extraordinary birth of Jesus (a) was not difficult for God.
  • Regarding the Ordinary Birth of Human Beings: In Qur'an 40:68,[2] the phrase, "kun fayakun" appears in the same form as it appeared in Qur'an 2:117,[3] Qur'an 19:35,[4] and Qur'an 3:47,[5] after a description of the ordinary process of the human creation.
  • Regarding the Resurrection: In Qur'an 6:73,[6] Qur'an 16:40,[7] and Qur'an 36:82,[8] which are concerned with the occurrence of the resurrection, the phrase, "kun fayakun", is used in different forms. These verses suggest that God is able to create the resurrection and does not depend on anything to do this, as there is nothing that can prevent Him from doing this. The resurrection comes to exist as soon as He commands that it exist.

Meaning and Exegesis

Under verses containing the phrase, "kun fayakun", Shi'a exegetes of the Qur'an point to the following:

  • The language of these verses is analogical, that is, they do not imply that God literally uses the word, "kun" ("be" or its synonyms) to create things, since it would lead to regress and would be useless.[9] It leads to regress, because the creation of the verbal entity, "kun", would then require another verbal instantiation of "kun", and the second "kun" would also need another instance of "kun" and so on infinitely. And it is useless, because if a being can be addressed by "kun" in order for it to come to existence, then it should exist before its existence, and then it would not need to come into existence again.[10]
  • "Kun fayakun" implies that God does not need anything else in the creation of beings. His will is sufficient for their existence, just like the orders of a commander that are immediately implemented.
  • It does not matter for God whether the thing He creates is of the size of an atom or of the size of all skies and the Earth. Moreover, it is not the case that it is easy for God to create something and difficult for Him to create something else. Thus, it is not difficult for God to extraordinarily create Jesus (a) without a father, or to create Adam (a) without parents, because a thing comes to exist once God wills it too.
  • God's wills never fail Him; whatever He wills will come to exist just as He wills it.
  • Whatever God wills immediately comes to existence. Thus, with respect to God, there is nothing that gradually comes to existence. Things are considered as gradually coming to exist when they are compared with other things and causes. However, some people hold that whatever God wills will come to exist just as He wills them to. For example, if He wills the skies and the Earth to gradually come to existence with 6 periods, then they will come to existence in this way, and if He wills them to existence instantaneously, then they will come to existence instantaneously.
  • Although the phrase, "fayakun" (and it is, or it comes to be), is of the present tense form in Arabic which usually denotes the occurrence of an event in the future, it does not imply that the thing comes to existence in the future. The preposition, "fa" (literally: then), does not denote temporal distance; instead, it denotes hierarchical distance.
  • Given Qur'anic verses, it becomes obvious that God's command, decree, judgment, suggestion, word, and generative will are the same.

However, Sunni exegetes of the Qur'an disagree in their interpretations of Qur'anic verses involving the phrase, "kun fayakun". Most of them believe that God literally uses the word, "kun", in the creation of things. However, others believe that the mention of the word in this case is not verbal, rather it is non-verbal internal. A number of Sunni exegetes hold that the language of these verses is analogical, that is, God has analogized His power to create what He wills to a command issued by a commander which is immediately implemented by his underling.

In Hadiths

Safwan b. Yahya says, "I asked Aba al-Hasan (a) to let me know about God's will and people's wills. He said: ‘in people, the will is an internal intention, and then it is followed by an action. However, in God's case, the will is the same as the creation of the action, because God the Exalted does not reckon the grounds, and does not have an internal thought or concern. These are the characteristics of created beings, which are impossible to exist in God. God's will is the same as action, and nothing else. Once God says, be, the thing comes to be, without a verbal expression and without an internal concern or thought. His creation is without a quality and beyond descriptions, as He has no qualities’."

Imam 'Ali (a) says, "when God wills something, He says, 'be', and then that thing immediately comes to be. This is not to say that His voice or cry is heard. God's word is the same as the thing He creates and informs, which did not exist before that, and if it eternally existed, then God would be a second worshiped entity".[11]

In Mysticism

Shi'a mystics take "kun fayakin" to be an existential command, which is identical to the appearance of objects.[12] On this view, the existence of objects is the same as speaking them; all objects are God's existential words. According to Shi'a mystics, people of the Heaven and mystics enjoy the position of "kun fayakun", that is, whatever they will comes into existence at the permission of God. They support their view with the following hadiths:

  • A Sacred Hadith (al-hadith al-qudsi) says, "O the son of Adam! When I will something, I say to it, be! And then it comes to be. Obey me in what I have commanded you to do, so that I give you the power to say, be, to what you want, and then it comes to be".
  • The Prophet Muhammad (s) is quoted as saying, "all people of the Heaven say, be, and then their will comes true."
  • The Prophet (s) is quoted as saying of people of Heaven that God says to people of the Heaven: 'when I say, "be", to something that I will, it comes to be. Now I give you this power to say, be, to what you want, and then it comes to be.


  1. Indeed the case of Jesus with Allah is like the case of Adam: He created him from dust, then said to him, ‘Be,’ and he was.
  2. It is He who gives life and brings death. When He decides on a matter, He just says to it, ‘Be!’ and it is.
  3. the Originator of the heavens and the earth. When He decides on a matter, He just says to it, ‘Be!’ and it is.
  4. It is not for Allah to take a son. Immaculate is He! When He decides on a matter, He just says to it, ‘Be!’ and it is.
  5. She said, ‘My Lord, how shall I have a child seeing that no human has ever touched me?’ He said, ‘So it is that Allah creates whatever He wishes. When He decides on a matter He just says to it ‘‘Be!’’ and it is.
  6. It is He who created the heavens and the earth with reason, and the day He says [to something], ‘Be!’ it is.
  7. All that We say to a thing, when We will it, is to say to it ‘Be!’ and it is.
  8. All His command, when He wills something, is to say to it ‘Be,’ and it is.
  9. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 11, p. 233; Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān, vol. 12, p. 249; Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 1, p. 368; vol. 6, p. 556.
  10. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān, vol. 17, p. 115.
  11. Ṭabrisī, al-Iḥtijāj, vol. 1, p. 203.
  12. Ṣamadī Āmulī, Sharḥ-i daftar-i dil-i Ḥasanzāda Āmulī, p. 52.


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