Uloom Al-Qur’an [SCIENCE OF THE QUR’AN] - Tafseer By the Sunnah

After the tafseer of the Qur'aan by  the Qur'aan itself. The second source of tafseer is tafseer by the Sunnah. It must be mentioned that even though the Sunnah is taken be the 'second' source of tafseer, it is in fact of equal importance to the Qur'aan. In other words, a person wishing to understand the Qur'aan must turn to the Sunnah to understand it correctly. The Qur'aan and Sunnah must be taken together to arrive at a proper understanding of averse.

In fact, one of the primary roles of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) was to explain the meanings of the Qur'aan to mankind. Allaah says:

 "And We have sent down to you (O Muhammad) the Remembrance. So that you may clearly explain to mankind what has been revealed to them and so that they may give thought." (Q 16[NahI]:44)

Therefore, not only was the job of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) to convey the literal text of the Qur'aan, he also had to convey its explanation as well.

 How much of the Qur'aan was explained?

The question arises, then, as to how much of the Qur'aan was actually explained by the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam)? In other words, do there exist narrations from the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) concerning the interpretation of every single verse, and if not, then how is the previous quoted verse of the Qur'aan understood?

The scholars of Islaam were divided into two opinions with regards to this issue. Shaykh al- Islaarn Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728 AH.) was of the view that the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) explained all of the Qur'aan, whereas Jalaal ad-Deen as- Suyootee (d. 911 AH.) claimed that the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) only explained a small portion of it. In fact, both of these opinions are correct once the intent of both sides is understood.

 Those who claimed that the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) only explained a small portion of the Qur'aan meant that there do not exist very many verbal narrations from the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) concerning the detailed explanation of every single verse in the Qur'aan. On the contrary, as- Suyootee only managed to find a few hundred narrations from the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) (including weak and fabricated ones) in which he explicitly interpreted a verse.

 On the other hand, what Ibn Taymiyyah meant was that the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) left us all the necessary knowledge needed in order to properly understand the Qur'aan. As Aa'ishah (RA) reported, the Prophet's (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) character embodied the Qur'aan.

 Therefore, even though there might not exist many explicit statements from the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) concerning tafseer, the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) did leave us with the information and methodology necessary for understanding the Qur'aan.

 Therefore, it is essential to understand the Qur'aan not only in light of the explicit narrations of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) on the Qur'aan, but also in light of all of the hadeeth of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam), whether they are concerning beliefs or laws, and in light of the actions of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam). Since his sayings and actions can be considered to be embodying the laws of the Qur'aan.

 This opinion is supported by numerous statements from the Companions. Abu 'Abd ar- Rahmaan as-Sularnee (d. 75 AH.), the famous successor narrated. "Those who taught us the Qur'aan, such as 'Uthmaan ibn 'Affaan. 'Abdullaah ibn Mas'ood, and others told us that they would not memorize more than ten verses until they had understood what knowledge it contained. and implemented it. They used to say, 'So we learnt the Qur'aan, (its) knowledge and' (its) implementation at the same time.'" (Ibn Taymiyyah. p. 12)

It is apparent then that the Companions made sure that they understood the meaning of the Qur'aan, and then implemented it.

 'Umar narrated:

"Amongst the last verses to be revealed were the verses pertaining to interest. and the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) passed before explaining them to us." (Ahmad)

This narration explicitly shows that the Prophet used to make sure that the Companions understood the Qur'aan, since the only reason that the verses of interest were not explained in great detail was due to the sudden death of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam).

As was mentioned earlier, there are only a small percentage of verses for which explicit narrations exist from the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam). The verse concerning the interpretation of 'wrongdoing' (Q6:82) as shirk has already been given in the last edition. This example illustrates the necessity of the interpretation of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam). For even the Companions, despite their knowledge of Arabic. could not understand the correct interpretation of this verse until they had asked the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam).

 Another example is the hadeeth of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) in which he explained

‘…those whom You are angry with '

and 

' …those who are astray,’ (QI:7)

as the Jews and Christians."(Tirmidhi)

He also explained the 'middle prayer' (Q2:238) as the Asr prayer, (Tirmidhi) and the'additional (reward)' (Q I0:26) as the seeing of Allaah by the believers in Paradise (Muslim), and that al- Kauthar (Q I08: I) was

'... a river that my Lord has given me in Paradise. ' (Bukhari)

In addition to such explicit examples of tafseer. there exist numerous examples from the life and sayings of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) which explain certain verses of the Qur'aan, 'but are not recorded as explicit statements of tafseer. For example, the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) stated:

 "Hell will be brought forth on that Day (i.e., Day of Judgement). It will have seventy thousand ropes (attached to it), and on each rope, there will be seventy thousand angels dragging it." (Tirmidhi)

Although this hadeeth does not mention any verse in the Qur'aan, it can be used to interpret verse 90:23 'And Hell will be brought that Day.'

The hadeeth describes how it will be brought.

This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited

 

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