How should the Quran be Interpreted?

QUESTION: How are we obligated to interpret the noble Quraan?

ANSWER: Allaah, Blessed and Exalted, sent the Ouraan down to the heart of His, Messenger Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) in order to bring mankind from out of the darkness of disbelief and ignorance to the light of Islaam. Allaah says:

"Alif-Laam-Raa, This is a Book which We have revealed unto you (Oh Muhammad) in order that you may lead mankind from out of the darkness (of disbelief) into the light (of Islaam), by the permission of their Lord, to the path of the All-Mighty, the Most Praiseworthy." (Q14[lbraaheem]:1)

Interpret The Quraan With The Quraan & Sunnah: And He placed His Messenger (salallaahu alayhi wasallam) to clarify, interpret and explain what is in the Quraan. Allaah says:

"And We revealed to you (Oh Muhammad), the Reminder (i.e. the Sunnah), in order for you to explain to mankind what was (already) revealed to them, and so that they may reflect." (Q16[an-Nahl]:44)

So the Sunnah came in order to explain and clarify what is found in the noble Quraan, and itis (also) a revelation sent by Allaah, as He says:

"And he (i.e.Muhammad) does not speak from his own desire. Rather, it is just revelation that is revealed to him." (Q53[an-Najm]:3-4)

Furthermore, the Prophet (salallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

"I was indeed given the Quraan and something similar to it along with it. It is imminent that there will has eaten to his full will recline on his couch and say: Stick to the Ouraan. Whatever you find in it that is Halaal (lawful), then declare it lawful. And whatever you find in it that is Haraam (unlawful), then declare it unlawful! Whereas, whatever AIlaah's Messenger made unlawful is just like what AIlaah made unlawful."

So the first source that must be used to interpret the noble Ouraan is the Quran itself along with the Sunnah, which consists of the Prophets statements, actions and silent approvals.

The Explanation Of The People Of Knowledge Then after that, it must be interpreted using the interpretations (tafseer) of the people of knowledge, at the head of who are the Companions of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam).

And the foremost amongst the Companions with regard to this subject (tafseer) is Abdullaah bin Masood (RA). This is due to several factors, one being that he was one of the first to accompany the Prophet (salallaahu alayhi wa sallam) (i.e. accept Islaam), and another being that he would give strong emphasis to asking about, understanding, and interpreting the Quraan. Then after him comes Abdullaah bin Abbaas (RA), about whom Abdullaah bin Masood (RA) said:"He is the interpreter (turjumaan) of the Quraan." Then after them, any Companion whose interpretation (tafseer) of an ayah can be authentically confirmed and there exists no difference of opinion amongst the Companions regarding it, we accept this interpretation (tafseer) from him with full contentment, submission and reliance.

And if no such tafseer can be found (from the Companions) regarding a particular ayah, then we take its tafseer from the Taabieen, particularly those who specialized in studying tafseer under the Companions of Allaah's Messenger (salallaahu alayhi wa sallam), such as Saeed bin Jubair, Taawoos and others who are well known for their studying of tafseer under some of the Companions,particularly Ibn Abbaas (RA), as we mentioned previously. Unfortunately, there are some ayaat that are interpreted according to a certain opinion or madh-hab (school of Jurisprudence), and for which no direct explanation from the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) can be found. So because of this, some latter-day individuals relied solely on applying such ayahs according to their madh-hab in order to interpret them.

And this is an extremely dangerous matter where ayaat are interpreted in order to support ones madh-hab and (personal) views whereas the scholars of tafseer have interpreted these verses in a way different to these personal views! "So recite what is easy from the Quraan." Perhaps, we should mention an example of this, which is Allaahs statement:

"So recite what is easy from the Quraan." (Q73[al-Muzammil]:20)

Some of the adherents of certain madhaahib have interpreted this ayah to refer to just the recitation itself, meaning: What is obligatory to recite from the Quraan in all of the prayers is just one long ayah or three short ayaat. They said this in spite of there being reported the authentic hadeeth from the Prophet (salallaahu alayhi wa sallam):

"There is no prayer for the one who doesnt recite the opening chapter (Faatihah) of the Book (Quraan)."

And in another hadeeth, the Prophet (salallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

"Whoever performs a prayer in which he doesn't recite the opening chapter of the Book, then it is deficient, and not complete.

All of the scholars of tafseer, past and present, have explained that the meaning of the noble ayah "So recite what is easy from the Quraan"

is: "So pray what is easy for you from the Night Prayer (Tahajjud)." This is since Allaah mentioned this part of the ayah in connection to His saying (i.e. the complete ayah):

"Verily, your Lord knows that you stand (to pray at night) a little less than two thirds of the night, or half the night, or a third of the night, and also a party of those with you. And AIlaah measures the night and the day.He knows that you are unable to pray the entire night, so He has turned to you (in mercy). So recite what is easy from the Quraan." (Q73[al-Muzammil]:20)

The last part means: "So pray what is easy for you from the Night Prayer (Tahajjud)." Therefore, the ayah is not in reference to what a person is obligated to recite specifically during the night prayer. Rather, (in this ayah), Allaah facilitates for the Muslims to pray what they are able to perform from the Night Prayer. This means that they are not obligated to pray what the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu alayhi wa sallam) used to pray. 

...to be continued

 This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited

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