The word Imam simply means Imam. Why interpret it to book? Is it from Islam and hadith or only personal idea of them?

Some interpreters (Mofasers) like Ibn Katheer have interpreted the word Imam in Quran to book.

يَوۡمَ نَدۡعُواْ ڪُلَّ أُنَاسِۭ بِإِمَـٰمِهِمۡ‌ۖ فَمَنۡ أُوتِىَ ڪِتَـٰبَهُ ۥ بِيَمِينِهِۦ فَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ يَقۡرَءُونَ ڪِتَـٰبَهُمۡ وَلَا يُظۡلَمُونَ فَتِيلاً۬ (٧١)

Think of) the Day when We will call every people with their books of deeds. Then the ones who will be given their book in their right hands will read their book (happily) and will not be wronged even to the measure of a fine thread. (71)

Suratul Isra' Ayah 71

Source: Tafseer Ibn Katheer

Some Translations of this verse are:

One day We shall call together all human beings with their (respective) Imams. [Ahmed Ali]

On the day when We shall summon every group along with its leader [Ahmed Raza Khan]

Then think of the Day We shall summon every community with its leader. [Abul Ala Maududi]

(Remember) the day when We will call every people with their Imam; [Mohammad Habib Shakir]

The Day will surely come when We shall summon every people with their leader.[Wahiduddin Khan]

1. What is the reason for this interpret?

2. Is there any hadith saying Imam means book?


There are three good tafseers for the word imam here:

  • book (record)

  • prophet

  • leader

The first one is the strongest one, in my opinion, because it has many evidences from other ayat (verse):

this is the evidence that imam could mean book:

and what they left behind, and all things We have enumerated in a clear register. Surat Yā-Sīn

There are many other ayat indicate that people are called with their books (records):

Every nation will be called to its record. Surat Al-Jāthiyah

And the record [of deeds] will be placed (open). Surat Al-Kahf

and We will produce for him on the Day of Resurrection a record which he will encounter spread open. Surat Al-'Isrā'

And when you complete the aya you mentioned you'll find:

Then the ones who will be given their book in their right hands will read their book ...

The tafseer with prohet is strong too:

So when their messenger comes, it will be judged between them in justice. Surat Yūnus

So how [will it be] when We bring from every nation a witness and we bring you, [O Muhammad] against these [people] as a witness. Surat An-Nisā'

And [mention] the Day when We will resurrect among every nation a witness over them from themselves. And We will bring you, [O Muhammad], as a witness over your nation. Surat An-Naĥl

and the record [of deeds] will be placed, and the prophets and the witnesses will be brought. Surat Az-Zumar

The tafseer with leader could be right because in another aya:

And We made them leaders inviting to the Fire, and on the Day of Resurrection they will not be helped. Surat Al-Qaşaş

Finally, some people say that imam means the book revealed to one's prophet.

Allah knows best.

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