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Ajal musammā (Arabic: الأجل المسمى, literally: specified term or specified time) is a Quranic term meaning the specified and inevitable end of something. It is contrasted to ajal mu'allaq which means the non-specified or suspended end of something.

In the Qur'an, ajal musamma is used about human beings as well, which has been subject to different views by exegetes: on one such view, it refers to the determined time of one’s death, and on another view, it refers to the afterlife world.

Contents

The Notion

Main article: Ajal

"Ajal" refers to the last time or moment of something, and "musamma" means determined or specified. Thus, "ajal musamma" means the specified temporal span of something, which cannot be shortened or lengthened. It is contrasted to ajal mu'allaq, which is the temporal span of something, which can be shortened or lengthened, depending on certain circumstances.

Different Interpretations

Ajal musamma is a Quranic term. It occurs 21 times in the Qur'an for a variety of things. For example, in the verse 282 of Sura al-Baqara, it is used about the specification of a deadline for the repayment of debts.

  • The term is used in the Qur'an about human beings as well Qur'an 6:2.
  • Quranic exegetes have propounded different views concerning the meaning of “ajal musamma” in these verses.
  • Some of them hold that it refers to the human temporal span from death to the beginning of resurrection, as opposed to his temporal span in this world (from birth to death) which is "ajal mu'allaq" (or a non-specified term).
  • Some of them take it to refer to the afterlife world.
  • Some others believe that "ajal musamma" refers to the end of lives of people who are still alive, as opposed to the end of lives of people who are dead.
  • Others believe that "ajal musamma" refers to the death of human beings.
  • According to 'Allama Tabataba'i, "ajal musamma" and "ajal mu'allaq" both refer to the end of human life. However, the former is a time in which the human person inevitably and certainly dies and which is only known to God, whereas the latter is the time of one’s death given his or her physical conditions, which can be shortened or lengthened due to external factors.

Difference from "Ajal Mu'allaq"

Main article: Ajal Mu'allaq

According to some scholars, including Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i, the difference between "ajal musamma" and "ajal mu'allaq" is that the former is inevitable and certain, with no bada' (or change) occurring to it, whereas changes are possible in the latter. In other words, some actions such as supplications, charity, and the like can affect ajal mu'allaq (by lengthening it), but they have no effect on ajal musamma. Moreover, some Quranic verses, particularly the verse 2 of Sura al-An'am in which ajal musamma is only known to God, have been cited to show that only God knows ajal musamma.

References

  • The material for this article is mainly taken from اجل مسمی in Farsi WikiShia.