Clear and Unclear verses of the Quran
The Quran has been revealed in the most eloquent of Arabic. Therefore, in order for a person to fully understand and appreciate the Quran, he must be knowledgeable of various aspects related to the Arabic language. Among these aspects is the knowledge of how words give particular meanings (for example, aam and khaas; mutlaq and muqayyad), how the word or text is sued (for example, haqeeqee and majaazee), and how the text gives the desired meaning (for example, mantooq and mafhoom). Also essential are other categories of texts (such as the muhkam and the mutashaabih , and the naasikh and mansookh). Definition of Muhkam and Mutashaabih The word muhkam comes from h-k-m, which has the following meanings: To judge, to pass a verdict. One of Allaahs Names is Al- Hakam, meaning, The One Who Judges.
This also has the connotation of a standard, such that one has a criterion by which to judge good or evil. To prevent, to obstruct. A muhkam verse is one that is clear in its meaning, not open to interpretation. Imaam al- Qurtubee said: "The muhkam is the (phrase or word) whose interpretation is known, its meaning understood and its exposition clear. An example of a muhkam verse is, "All Praise is due to Allaah, the Lord of the Worlds." (Q 1 (Faatihah1: 1)
This verse is muhkam since there is no ambiguity in it. The word mutashaabih comes from sh-b-h, which means to resemble, to be similar to. Mutashaabih has two meanings, the first one is resembling, and the second unclear. The second is related to the first, since those objects which resemble one another are difficult to distinguish, hence, unclear. It is used in both of these meanings in the Quraan and Sunnah. For example, the Jews say in the Quraan, "... to us, all cows look alike (tashaabaha) ... " (Q2(Baqarah): 70)
In this verse, the word is used in the first meaning (resembling). It is used in the second meaning (unclear) in the famous hadeeth of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhiwa sallam) in which he said: "The halaal is clear and the haraam is clear, but between the two are matters which are unclear (mutashaabihaat) .... "(Bukharee)
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited