Ulum al Qur'an
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MUHKAMAT AND MUTASHABIHAT
The word muhkamat - (sg. muhkama) is derived from the root uhkima which means to decide between two things. It is a verbal noun in the plural, meaning judgements, decisions and in technical language refers to all clearly decided verses of the Qur'an, mostly those concerning legal rulings, but also to other clear definitions such as between truth and falsehood etc. This is what is meant by 'general muhkamat'.
Mutashabihat (sg. mutashabiha) is derived from the root 'ishtabaha' meaning 'to be doubtful'. It is a verbal noun in the plural, meaning the uncertain or doubtful things. In technical language it refers to those verses of the Qur'an the meanings of which are not clear or not completely agreed upon, but open to two or more interpretations.
Example of muhkamat:
'O you who believe! When ye deal with each other, in transactions involving future obligations, in a fixed period of time, reduce them to writing. Let a scribe write down faithfully as between the parties ...' (Al-Qur'an 2: 282).
Example of mutashabihat:
'(God) Most Gracious is firmly established on the throne (of authority)' (Al-Qur'an 20: 5).
Note that the words in brackets have been added by the translator in an attempt to interpret this aya.