Blog: Al-Qur'an Tafsir-Exegesis
by #6879

Exegesis of Quran

The Quran's written and recited forms have been preserved, without even the slightest change, for over fourteen hundred years.

Date:   8/29/2005 10:24:43 AM   ( 17 y ) ... viewed 2361 times

The Quran is the last Book revealed by God Almighty.  God, or Allah in the Semetic Language of Arabic has promised to protect it ( the Final Revelation, Quran ) from any distortion or loss. God says in the Quran which means in English: “Indeed, it is We who sent down the message [i.e., the Quran], and indeed, We will be its guardian." [Quran: 15:9]




Its written and recited forms have been preserved, without even the slightest change, for over fourteen hundred years. This cannot be said about the New Testament or the Old Testament. However, God’s protection of the Quran did not stop there; He also safeguarded the original meaning. If the protection of the Quran’s meaning had not taken place, deviants would have turned the Book of Allaah into a jumble of symbols, riddles and codes open to a multiplicity of interpretations, and its original meaning would have been lost. God preserved the meaning of the Quran by explaining some of its generalities within the Quran itself and by entrusting the Tafseer (exegesis) of the remainder to His final Messenger, Muhammad  (may The Almighty exalt his mention).




The Prophet's companions, may God be pleased with them, were taught to seek their understanding of the Quran first from the Quran itself, then from the explanations of the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam and then from their own intimate understanding of the language of the Quran. After the death of the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam ( peace be upon him ), those who newly entered Islaam depended first on the Quran to explain itself, then they depended on the Companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, to explain the Quran to them.

 The Companions would inform their students among the Taabi'een (second generation after the companions) of the circumstances in which the verses were revealed, as well as the interpretations given by the Prophet's statements and actions. Finally, they would explain the meanings of some words which may not have been familiar or which may have had a different meaning to Arabs outside of the Arabian Peninsula.   




With the passing of the era of the Companions, may God be pleased with them, the scholars among the Taabi'een shouldered the great responsibility of conveying the original meanings of the Quran to the next generation of Muslims exactly as they had received it. It was this next generation who began the process of gathering and recording the various narrations of Tafseer from the Taabi'een.




From the above mentioned methodology of the Prophet ( Upon whom be peace) and his companions, may God have mercy upon them, and of the early generations of Muslim scholars who followed them, the following points have been deduced by scholars as being the correct steps for making correct Tafseer of the Quran:




Tafseer of the Quran by the Quran Itself:


There are many places in the Quran where questions are asked and subsequently answered in order to catch the attention of the reader and to increase the impact of the concept mentioned. In other places, general statements are made and then later explained in order to vary the modes of presentation and encourage readers and listeners to reflect more. This self-explanatory process is referred to as Tafseer of the Quran by the Quran. Allaah chose to clarify what He intended by revealing other explanatory verses.


For example, Allaah asks (translated to mean): “[I swear] by the sky and the night comer. And what can make you know what is the night comer?” [Quran: 86:1-2] He then answers His question in the next verse by saying what means: “It is the piercing star.” [Quran: 86:3] Allaah also states in the Quran what means: “…Lawful for you are the animals of grazing livestock except for that which is recited to you...” [Quran: 5:1] Shortly afterwards, He explains by stating the restrictions, saying what means: “…Dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allaah, and [those animals] killed by strangling or by a violent blow or by a headlong fall or that by the goring of horns, and those from which a wild animal has eaten...” [Quran: 5:3]


Another example can be seen in the verse in which Allaah, Almighty describes Himself saying, : “Vision perceives Him not…” [Quran: 6:103] This verse implies that Allaah cannot be seen. However, Allaah later describes the believers in the next life as: “Looking at their Lord” [Quran: 75:23] and the disbelievers as: “No! Indeed, from their Lord, that Day, they will they will be partitioned.” [Quran: 83:15] Hence, before any explanation or interpretation may be sought, the Quran must be relied upon to explain itself, for Allaah knows best what He intends.


Tafseer of the Quran by the Traditions -Sunnah


On many occasions, the Prophet, peace be upon him, added further clarification to various verses of the Quran. God has entrusted the task of explaining the Quran to the Prophet . This trust was expressed in the Quran where Allaah says : “…And We revealed to you [O Muhammad] the message [i.e., the Quran] that you may make clear to the people what was sent down to them…” [Quran: 16:44] and “And We have not revealed to you the Book, [O Muhammad], except for you to make clear to them that wherein they have differed…” [Quran: 16:64]


The Companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, understood this clearly and always turned to the Prophet  for clarification whenever they were in doubt about the meaning of any of the Quranic passages. In fact, most of the fine details of prayer, almsgiving, pilgrimage, and inheritance laws, etc. were explained either by the Prophet’s statements, or by his practical demonstration and applications (the Sunnah). Thus, the Prophet’s explanations of the Quranic passages are referred to as the Tafseer of the Quran by the Sunnah.


For example, the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam explained the word 'Al-Kawthar' in the verse : “Indeed, We have granted you, [O Muhammad], Al-Kawthar” [Quran: 108:1] as a river in paradise that Allaah had granted him. [Al-Bukhaari] This is because the Sunnah was based on guidance from Allaah, it represents the second part of Allaah’s promise to explain the Quran, which means: “Then upon Us is its clarification [to you].” [Quran: 75:19] Consequently, no other human interpretation can be given precedence over that of the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, who spoke not but from revelation.

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