A word which occurs in the Qur’an five times. (1) For that which was in the Ark of the Covenant, Surah ii. 249: “The sign of his (Saul’s) kingdom is that there shall come to you the Ark (Tabut) with the sakinah in it from your Lord, and the relics that the family of Moses and the family of Aaron left, and the angels bear it.” With reference to this verse, al-Baizawi, the great Muslim commentator. says: “The ark here mentioned is the box containing the Books of Moses (Arabic Taurat, namely, the Torah, or Law), which was made of box-wood and gilded over with gold, and was three cubits long and two wide; and in it was the sakinah from your Lord. The meaning of which is, that with the Ark there was tranquility and peace, namely. the Taurat (Books of Moses), because when Moses went forth to war he always took the Ark with him, which gave repose to the hearts of the children of Israel. But, some say that within that Ark there was an idol made either of emerald or sapphire, with the head and tail of a cat, and with two wings; and that this creature made a noise when the Ark was carried forth to war. But others say that the Ark contained images of the prophets, from Adam to Moses. Others assert that the meaning of sakinah is knowledge and sincerity.’ Others, that the Ark contained the tables of the Law, the rod of Moses, and Aaron’s turban.” (Tafsiru ‘I-Baizawi, Fleischer’s ed., vol. ii p. 128.)
(2) ft is also used in the Qur’an for help and confidence or trace. Surah xlviii 26: “When those who misbelieved put in their hearts pique — the pique of ignorance — and God sent down His Sakinah upon His Apostle and upon the believers, and obliged them to keep to the word of piety.” Al-Baizawi says that in this verse the word sakinah means the tranquility and repose of soul, which is the meaning given in all Arabic dictionaries.
The word occurs in three other places in a similar sense:-
Surah ix. 26: “God sent down His Sakinah upon His Apostle and upon the believers, and sent down armies which ye could not see, and punished those who did not believe.”
Surah ix. 40: “God sent down His Sakinah upon him, and aided him with hosts.”
Surah xlviii. 2: “It is He who sent down the sakinah into the hearts of believers, that they might have faith added to faith.”
For the Talmudic views regarding the Shechinah, the English reader can refer to Dr. Hershon’s Talmudic Miscellany (Trübner & Co., London).
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam