Restriction/al-Qasr القصر:


Linguistically: to restrict, confine or shorten. Rhetorically: to restrict something by something else within a proposition.

Restriction القصر has two components: the restricted المقصور, and the restricted to المقصور عليه. For example: there is no creator but Allah لا خالق إلا الله where the feature/characteristic الصفة of creation الخلق has been restricted to Allah الله. The two ends of restriction طرفا القصر would be the restricted المقصور “creation” الخلق and the restricted to المقصور عليه Allah الله.


Restriction القصر is limited to either: a) restriction قصر صفة على موصوف of an attribute/description to a described. For example: there is no writer except for Zaid لا كاتب إلا علي where the description of “writer” has been restricted to Zaid. or b) restriction قصر موصوف على صفة of a described to a description. For example:  “And Mohammad is only a messenger” (3:41) {وما محمد إلا رسول} where the described, Mohammad صلى الله عليه وسلم has been restricted to being a messenger – not a lord or angel.  


Restriction occurs in one of the following four ways based on the tool used:

  1. Negation النفي (with أداة النفي a negating particle) ما and exception الاستثناء  (exception particle) أداة الاستثناء إلا for example: ما عمرو إلا طالب ‘Amr is but a student.
  2. Exception الاستثناء (exception particle) إنما– “the restricted to” always comes later in the sentence in this case for example: إنما يدرس المجتهد the hard working does but studying.
  3. Coordination العطف (particles: لا “the restricted to” is always before) (particles بل و لكن  the restricted is later after the particle in its order in the statement). For example: زيد طالب لا معلم Zaid is a student not a teacher.
  4. To put that which is later in order, first, i.e. “the restricted to” is put first. For example:


Restriction is also divided into:

  1. Intrinsic restriction قصر حقيقي: where the restricted feature is based on the reality of the essence of the restricted-to – and only applies to it. For example: there is no creator but Allah لا خالق إلا الله  where the act of creating is only restricted to Allah. Another example is: there is no teacher but ‘Amr لا معلم إلا الله where the restriction is also intrinsic if there was no other teacher other than ‘Amr in the town.
  2. Additional or Supplementary restriction قصر إضافي: where the restricted feature is specific to the restricted to in that particular case. For example ‘Amr is only standing ما عمرو إلا قائم where the restriction is additional as there are many other descriptions other than standing, for instance, studying, laughing etc. but there is restriction in the specific description of standing as opposed to sitting. The supplementary restriction القصر الإضافي has three types: a) solo قصرإفراد when the addressee needs clarification that the feature is only shared by one entity for example: there is no student but Zaid لا طالب إلا زيد where the addressee may have thought that Zaid and ‘Amr and even more people are students but now is clear that only Zaid is the student through solo restriction. b) inversion قصر قلب when the addressee needs clarification about something that is actually the opposite of the situation for example: there is no writer but ‘Amr لا كاتب إلا عمرو to someone who may have thought that Zaid is the writer. c) specification قصر تعيين where the situation necessitates specification of an entity for example: the one who studies is Zaid إنما الدارس زيد here this is an answer to the addressee who may have not been sure if the one who studied is Zaid not someone else.