The Holy Quran 


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The Holy Quran

 

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"Do they not then, ponder over the Qur'an, or there are locks on their hearts?" Surah Muhammad" - Ayah 24

 

 

As Amirul Momineen 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s) said : "The outside of the Quran is elegant and its inside is deep'. The Quran is a limitless ocean whose depths cannot be fathomed except by the Infallibles (a.s). Nevertheless, both the Quran and the Infallibles(a.s) advise the people to contemplate the Ayah's (verses) of the Qu'ran. The Qu'ran says " A Book We have revealed to you,blessed , that they may ponder over its Ayah's..." Not satisfied with that, it even rebukes those who do not ponder over it, saying: " Do they not, then , ponder over the Qu'ran , or are there locks on the hearts?". Likewise, the Prophet (s.a) and the pure Imam's(a.s) had frequently advised that the Qu'ran should be referred to and mediated upon , especially when the general ideological situation gets obscure and confused, and when there appear among the Muslim dubieties which may cause ideological and doctrinal deviations. It is advised that in such conditions the Muslims are to refer to the Qu'ran : "When ordeals become ambigous to you, like lumps of a black night, refer to the Qur'an."

 

                                Falsafa e Nuzool e Quran (Audio - Urdu)

 

How to Utilize Qur'an ? Ayatullah Misbah Yazdi -->

 

Deviation in Interpreting Qur'an - Ayatullah Misbah Yazdi -->

 

The Order of the Learnings of the Qur'an - Ayatullah Misbah Yazdi --->

 

Is the Qur'an Understandable? - Ayatullah Muttahheri --->

 

 

 

How to Utilize Qur'an ? Ayatullah Misbah Yazdi

 

According to many traditions, the complete knowledge of the Qur'an was with the Prophet (S.A.) and with the pure Imams (A.S.), and it was they who were the real teachers and interpreters of the Qur'an. The Qur'an itself presents the noble Prophet as its teacher and explainer. 1 At the same time we realize that the noble Prophet (S.A) as well as the pure Imams (A.S.), stress that people should refer to the Qur'an, and that when the truthfulness of a narrative was doubted, it must be compared with the Qur'an.

There is a chapter in the narrative books called "Comparison with the Book", which also comes in the books of Usul under the title: "Equality and Preference." One of the preferences, or the conditions, for accepting, a narrative as true, is whether it is in conformity with the Qur'an or not.

So, when we want to make sure whether a narrative is in comformity with the Qur'an or not, or whether it is, at least, preferable to other ones, we must first know the meaning of the relevant ayah in order to see if the narrative conforms to it or not. If it is such that the ayah has to be in conformity with the narrative, there we will have a cycle. Therefore, the dubious saying that, "No one has the right to deliberate the Qur'an and to utilize it, without referring first to the narratives", is but a groundless one. It is our duty, according to the very command of the Qur'an, the affirmations of the noble Prophet (S.A.), and the recommendations of the pure Imams (A.S.) to contemplate the ayahs of the Qur'an and understand them.

Unfortunately, there have been many shortcomings in this respect. Classes on explaining and interpreting the Qur'an among the religious students circles became so weak and negligent, until the late professor 'Allamah Tabataba'i succeeded in animating the classes on this subject. This was one of his great noble deeds, and we are all indebted to him. At present, one of the greatest • authorized Islamic reference books is his honoured 4 Al-Mizan f! Tafstr Al-Qur'an [=The Balance in Interpreting the Qur'an] as one of the best exegeses of the Qur'an, which had been written. May Allah associate him with his pure ancestors, and help us to follow the path of our professor, and we offer our gratitude to him and his like.

However, we have to ponder and think about the Qur'an so as to be benefited by its precious gems and treasures.

Thank God, today our people have realized the importance of learning the Qur'an and its meaning. The people's reception of the interpretation is unprecedented. Although we are glad to know about it, yet we should be cautious lest some deviation might appear in the interpretation of the Qur'an which besides not bringing the facts of Islam any nearer, it also opens the roads to satanic goals. Unfortunately, we do know of such instances that had already happened. Today, there are groups of different identities who think that they are taking advantage of the Qur'an by way of conforming'their ill-thought ideas to the ayahs of the Qur'an. Some of these groups are already known* while some others are not yet known well enough, though their activities in this respect are effective.

As we rejoice at the people's - especially the youths' - advance towards understanding the Qur'an, we must be on the alert lest the deviational methods find their way in the interpretation of the Qur'an, and change -God forbid- the course of the society.

Naturally, the burden of this responsibility lies on the shoulders of the men of religion who will have to fill up this gap, and guide those who want to learn the Qur'an to the right path, since not all of the deviators have intentionally and purposely adopted enmity to Islam and the Islamic State. It may be that the majority of them have been dragged on this road as a result of misunderstanding, and incorrect teachings and inspirations. Yet, regretfully, some of them have received the support of some men of religion.

 

Deviation in Interpreting Qur'an - Ayatullah Misbah Yazdi

 

The impact of this topic may better be realized in seeing that the affliction of "the deviational conformity of the Qur'an to one's own ideas and purposes", not comparing them with it, had befallen the Islamic society just after the demise of the noble Prophet (S.A.), causing a person like 4 Amirul-Mu'mimn, 'Alt ibn Ab! Talib (A.S.) to complain.

So, isn't there the'danger that this deviation may expand, during our time of weak knowledge, to a more disastrous stage? That is why we must handle such matters with greater alertness than before, and follow the same path shown by the noble Prophet (S.A.) and the Imams (A.S.)

There is no doubt, then, that one of the most important tasks of our men of religion is to try hard to explain correctly and accurately all the concepts of the Qur'an to the different people of common, medium and high levels, and to put their knowledge within the easy reach of everybody. This task is a must, as otherwise, other deviations should be expected.

Today, most of the Muslim youths are deeply and eagerly interested in learning the concepts of the Qur'an. Some think that by referring to lexical and other similar books they can solve their problems. If we are to excuse them for this, how can we accept such an excuse from the elders who spent so many years in company with the scholars and studied hard the ayahs and the narratives together with the great researchers and versed men?

We have to utilize the criterion which we received from the scholars and the interpreters of the Qur'an, and to do our best to obtain explicit concepts of the Qur'an to offer them to the sdciety, so as to pay up our debt to Islam and the Qur'an.

Yes, although it is not easy to understand the meanings and the interpretation of the Qur'an, yet, telling the one who desires to understand the Qur'an that one must keep studying for some thirty years before being able to comprehend the Qur'an, would mean disheartening one of being able to know the correct meaning of the Qur'an, or sending one into the arms of the perverted. It is true that understanding the Qur'an requires special efforts and certain faculties, but it is also true that a number of the talented should shoulder this burden and present its fruit to the others.

What we offer are such subjects whose dependence on the Qur'an is unquestionable, and, at the same time, they are not irrelevant nor orderless, since, on the one hand, disarrayed thoughts are difficult to learn, and, on the other, the incorrect ideological orders cannot be counteracted by another ideological order made of scattered and irrelevant notions.

 

 

The Order of the Learnings of the Qur'an - Ayatulalh Misbah Yazdi

 

The system of the Qur'anic learnings can be arranged as below:

1. Theology:

It covers knowing Allah and studying monotheism and Allah's Divine Attributes and Universal Acts.

2. Ontology:

It covers studying the universe: (The Earth, the heavens, and the stars), atmospheric phenomena: (thunder, lightening, wind, rain, etc.) and terrestrial phenomena: (mountains, seas, etc.), including, at the same time: Divine Throne, Divine Omniscience, angels, jinn and the Satan.

Obviously, after studying the Universal Acts of Allah, which will be dealt with in the first section, the turn will be for the study of the details of creation and management. Naturally, the study of the creation of the world comes before the study of the creation of man.

3. Anthropology:

It covers the creation of man, the specialities of the spirit, man's dignity and honour, bearing responsibility and its conditions: (awareness, ability to work, freewill, etc.), the different dimensions of man's entity, divine laws for the management of the individual and the society, resurrection and the final destiny of man.

It will be realized in this part that life in this world is a preliminary step to the Hereafter life, and is a stage in which man must himself choose, of his own free will, his way to happiness and make his own fate. The Divine management in this world revolves around securing the preliminary steps (affliction and trials) to be chosen.

4. Recognizing the way:

That is, one is to obtain ordinary knowledge (different common intuitive and acquired knowledge), and extraordinary knowledge (inspiration, revelation, etc.). Questions like prophethood, the necessity of sending prophets, their objectives and their positions (as prophets, messengers and Imams), questions dealing with miracles, infallibility, and, finally, the succession of the prophets (Imamate in its particular meaning) will be dealt with.

The connection between this section and the previous one is obvious, as, after knowing that man is a selective creature, and that he must freely choose his way, the topic of this section will be "the necessity of recognizing the way."

5. Recognizing the guide:

It covers the history of the prophets, the merits of every one of them, the Books that had been revealed to them and their contents, ending with the history of the noble Prophet of Islam and the events that happened during his lifetime. Meanwhile, the history of the nations and other episodes mentioned by the Qur'an will be discussed therein.

The depending of this section on the previous one is also obvious, as, having realized that there were revelation and prophethood, there would emerge the necessity of recognizing the persons who had been chosen to receive the revelation and convey it to the people.

6. Knowing the Qur'an:

It covers knowing general information about the Qur'an and its characteristics, .such as: the objective of its revelation, how it was revealed, its miraculous nature, its universality, its everlastingness, its style of expression (logical inference, preaching, argument, exemplification, narration, etc.). It is obvious that this section also depends on the previous one, as, after having discussed the old heavenly Books, the turn would be for the last revealed Book which is to remain eternal.

7. Ethics or the making of man by the Qur'an:

This covers discussions about knowing oneself; the making of man, the

good and bad in the freewill actions of man, and their relation to

perfection and fiaal happiness; the method of the Qur'anic education and

purification (awakening of the motives for good deeds by warning and

glad tidings); the* role of faith and action and their connection to

knowledge; and, at last, the details of virtues and evils.

Consequently, this section comes after knowing the Qur'an, where we

conclude that the objective of the Qur'an is purification [of the soul] and

education. The purification requires discussing ethics and self-making.

8. The devotional programmes of the Qur'an:

This covers studies on $aldt [Islamic ritual prayer], sawm [fasting], hajj [Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca], sacrifice, invocation and praising Allah, i.e. acts whose basic pillar is the strengthening of man's connection with Allah, though including many social interests.

9. The Qur'anic precepts concerning the individual:

This covers discussing subjects such as: haldl [the lawful] and hardm [the forbidden] in respect of the eatables and the drinkables (food and drink), games, slaughtering, luxury and beautification.

10. The Qur'anic precepts concerning the society:

This section covers social, legal, political and economic arguments which are divided into the following divisions:

a. Civil laws

b. Economic laws

c. Judicial laws

d. Penal code

e. Political regulations

f. International laws

As an introduction to this section, the society will be dealt with from the Qur'anic point of view.

In the last three sections, the Qur'anic practical programme, concerning relations with Allah, with one-self and with the others, are discussed with reference to the teachings of this heavenly Book in respect of each of them.

Thus, the learnings of the Qur'an start from the very beginning of existence, then go forward to orderly deal with the stages of creation and Divine management, ending with explaining the merits of the ideal society. In all stages the connection with the original axis, Allah, is completely preserved.

 

Is the Qur'an Understandable? - Ayatullah Muttahheri

During the analysis and study of the Qur'an, the first question that arises is whether the Qur'an can be studied and understood. Has this book been introduced for the purpose of studying and understanding it, or whether it is just for reading and reciting and obtaining reward and blessing? The reader, possibly, may wonder at raising of such a question. To him it may appear beyond doubt that the Qur'an is meant for the purpose of knowing and understanding it. Nevertheless, in view of various undesirable currents, which due to numerous reasons came into existence in the Muslim world regarding the question of understanding of the Qur'an, and which had an important role in bringing about the decline of Muslims, we shall discuss this matter in brief. Regrettably, the roots of those degenerate and dangerous notions still persist in our societies. So I consider it necessary to elaborate on this topic. 

Among the Shi'ah scholars of three or four centuries ago, there appeared a group which believed that the Qur'an is not a hujjah ("proof", meaning a legal source usable for vindication). Among the four sources of fiqh that have been regarded as the criteria and standard for the understanding of the Islamic problems by Muslim scholars, i.e. the Qur'an, the sunnah (tradition), 'aql (reason) and ijma' (consensus of opinion), they did not recognize three of them. Regarding ijma', they said that it belongs to the Sunni tradition and they could not follow it. Concerning reason, they maintained that reason can also err, and reliance on reason is not legitimate. About the Qur'an they respectfully asserted that the Qur'an is greater in station than being subject to study and comprehension by us humble human creatures. It is only the privilege of the Prophet and the Imams to ponder over the verses of the Holy Qur'an. We ordinary human beings have only the right to read and recite them. This group was that of the Akhbariyun or Akhbaris. 

The Akhbaris regarded hadith and chronicles as the only permissible sources of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). One may be astounded to learn that in some of the Qur'anic exegeses written by these people, they mentioned only those verses about which the tradition existed, and refrained from mentioning other verses as if they are not a part of the Qur'an. 

Such a kind of practice was an injustice to the Qur'an. This shows that a society that could neglect and alienate their own heavenly book and that too of the standard and stature of the Qur'an, is not at all up to the Qur'anic standards. Besides the Akhbaris there were other groups who also regarded the Qur'an as inaccessible to the ordinary human intellect. Among them the Ash'arites can be named, who believed that the knowledge of the Qur'an does not necessarily mean that its verses should be pondered over, but the real meanings are the same as that the words literally communicate. According to them, whatever we understand from the outward meaning, we have to be satisfied with it. We should not be concerned with the secret and inner meanings. It was quite natural that this sort of thinking regarding the Qur'an, very rapidly, gave rise to serious deviations and grave misunderstandings. Since they were forced on the one hand to the task of interpretation of the meaning of the Qur'anic verses, and, on the other hand, banished reason also from the realm of religious learning, as a result, they were forced to adopt merely vulgar and superficial interpretations of the Qur'anic verses. On account of their faulty way of thinking, they deviated from the regular course of correct thinking, and thus gave way to distorted and faulty religious vision. As the result of this type of religious thinking, heretical beliefs like the personification of God the Almighty, and numerous other distorted ideas like the possibility of visual perception of God, His possession of physical characteristics etc., came into existence. 

Opposing the group which abandoned the Qur'an, another group came into existence which used the Qur'an as the means to fulfill their selfish aims. They gave the Qur'anic verses such interpretations as were favourable to their selfish interests, and wrongfully attributed certain ideas to the Qur'anic text that were not at all in agreement with the spirit of the Qur'an. In answer to every objection that was made against them, they said that none except themselves could understand the esoteric and secret meaning of the Qur'anic verses, and whatever they stated was based on the understanding and knowledge of the esoteric meaning of the verses. 

The champions of this movement in the history of Islam consist of two groups: the first group are the Isma'ilis, who are also known as the Batinis (secret sect), and the other are the Sufis. Most of the Isma'ilis are found in India and some of them are in Iran. They had formed an empire in Egypt known as the Fatimid caliphate. The Isma'ilis are so-called Shi'ahs who believe in six Imams. But all the Twelver Imami Shi'ah scholars are unanimous in the opinion that in spite of their belief in six Imams, the Isma'ilis stand at a greater distance from the Shi'ite faith than the non-Shi'ite sects. The Sunnis, who do not believe in any of the Imams in the same sense as the Shi'ah do, nevertheless are nearer to the Shi'ah than these "Six-Imami Shi'ahs." The Isma'ilis, on account of their batini beliefs and secretive practices have played a treacherous role in the history of Islam and have had a big hand in causing serious deviations in the realm of Islam. 

Besides the Isma'ilis, the Sufis are also charged with distortion of the Qur'anic verses and had a long hand in interpreting them according to their personal beliefs. Here I present a specimen of their exegesis so that the extent and method of their misinterpretation may be known: 

The anecdote of Ibrahim (A) and his son Isma'il is described by the Qur'an as follows: It occurred to Ibrahim (A) in his dream that he has to sacrifice his son for the sake of God. At first he is perplexed regarding such an instruction; but as he repeatedly has the dream reiterating the same theme, he becomes certain of the Will of God and decides to obey the Divine command. He puts the whole matter before his son, who also faithfully accepts his father's proposal of executing the Divine command:  "My son, I see in a dream that I shall sacrifice thee; consider what thinkest thou?" He said, "My father, do as thou art bidden; thou shalt find me, God willing, one of the steadfast." (37:102)  Here the aim is the expression of total submission and resignation towards the Divine decree. For the same reason the father and son are ready to execute the Divine command with whole-hearted purity and sincerity, but the execution of the command was stopped by the Will of God. But the same incident is interpreted by the Sufis in this fashion: Ibrahim here represents intellect and reason ('aql) and Isma'il represents the self (nafs); the Qur'anic anecdote is an allegory that hints at the attempt of reason to murder the human self (nafs). 

It is obvious that such interpretation of the Qur'an is like wanton treatment of it, and presents a distorted perspective of its teachings. It is in the context of such deviate interpretations of the Qur'an based upon personal or sectarian bias and interests that the Prophet has said: One who interprets the Qur'an according to his wish, should be certain of his place in hell. 

This kind of frivolous attitude towards the verses of the Qur'an amounts to the betrayal of the Qur'an and that too of a grievous degree. The Qur'an itself strikes a middle course between the stagnant and narrow-minded attitude of the Akhbaris and the unwarranted and deviate interpretations of the Batinis. It recommends a course of sincere, disinterested study and asks for unbiased and unprejudiced meditation over its meanings. Not only the believers and the faithful, but even the infidels are invited by it to contemplate over its verses. The Qur'an demands that it verses should be first contemplated over, before forming any adverse opinion against them. Addressing the opponents, it says, why they don't ponder over the Qur'an, what sort of hearts they possess, they are as if shut close and sealed:  What, do they not ponder the Qur'an? Or is it that there are locks upon their hearts? (47:24) 

The Qur'an also says in one of its verses:  (This is) a Book We have revealed to you abounding in good, that they may ponder the verses.  That is, We have not sent the Qur'an to be kissed, embraced and put on the niche to gather dust, but for men to read and to contemplate about its contents:  That those endowed with understanding may ponder its signs and so remember. (38:29)  The above verse and scores of other such verses emphasize the importance of contemplation in the Qur'an and interpretation of the Qur'anic verses, although not an interpretation based on personal caprices and bias, but a just, truthful and balanced interpretation free of all traces of selfish interests. If we try to comprehend the Qur'an in an honest and unbiased way, it is not at all necessary to solve all problems that we find in it.

In this regard the Qur'an is similar to Nature. In Nature, too, a number of mysteries have neither been solved yet, nor can they be solved in present conditions, yet are likely to be solved in the future. Moreover, in studying and understanding nature, man has to tailor his ideas in accordance with Nature itself. He is forced to interpret Nature in accordance with its reality. He cannot define Nature in terms of his own caprices and inclinations. The Qur'an, like the book of Nature, is a book that has not been sent for a specific age and time. Had it been otherwise, allthe secrets of the Qur'an would have been discovered in the past; this heavenly Book would not have presented its charm, freshness and vitality. But we see that the possibility of contemplation, reflection and discovery of new dimensions is inexhaustible in the case of this Holy Book. This is a point that has amply been emphasized and clarified by the Prophet and the Imams. In a tradition, it is related from the Prophet (S) that the Qur'an, like the sun and the moon, will present its movement and continuity; that is, the Qur'an is not static or monotonous.

In some other place the Prophet has said that outwardly the Qur'an is beautiful and inwardly it is deep and unfathomable. In 'Uyun akhbar al-Rida, from the Imam al-Rida (A), it is quoted that Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (A) was asked about the secret of it that as the time passes and the more it is read and recited, the Qur'an increases in its novelty and freshness day by day. The Imam al-Sadiq (A) answered:  Because the Qur'an is not for an exclusive age or for an exclusive people.  The Qur'an has been sent for all ages and for all human beings. It is so composed that in spite of changes in knowledge, outlook and approach through various times and ages, it surpasses all learning and knowledge in all ages. While it encompasses mysteries and abstruse intricacies for the reader of every age, at the same time it presents a great feast of meanings and ideas that can satiate the needs of every time in accordance with the capacity of that particular age.