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Quranic rules of interpretation
This video covers the Quranic rules of interpretation:IntroductionDecisive versesAllegorical versesInterpretationVerses in isolationConstruction of QuranThe ...
He discusses the following verse:
3:7: “He (Allāh) it is Who has revealed the Book to you, some of its verses are Muḥkamāt (absolutely clear and lucid, decisive); they are Ummul-Kitāb (the core of the original foundation of all revelation; the Essence of Allāh’s Will and Law and the basis of the Book, and also its protector, hence the ‘mother of the Book’); and others are Mutashābihāt (allegorical). Then those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part of it which is allegorical, seeking to mislead and seeking to give it (their own) interpretation. (What it means is that one is not searching for its hidden meanings). And mā ya`lamu (none can exhaust its): ta’wīlahu illallāh (ta’wīlahu = the discovering, detecting, revealing, developing or disclosing or the explaining, expounding or interpreting of which a thing is or may be reduced or that which it may come to be, [within the framework of the Qur’ānic teachings]), save Allāh. And those firmly rooted in knowledge, they say – ‘we believe in it, it is all from our Rabb (Lord)’. And none will grasp the message except people of understanding”
The verse states that there are two types of verses in the Qur’ān, decisive and allegorical. The former is expressed in clear and unambiguous language. It is the foundation of the Book. It is also called the Mother of the Book, protecting it, like a mother protects a child, against erroneous translation. The decisive verses contain information with established truths and which is consistent with the laws of creation, for example that no human being is exempt from death (21:34–35, not quoted), the spherical shape of the Earth, the expanding universe (51:47), and so on. It is obvious that these verses will be understood according to the capacity of the reader. An astronomer, for example, will have a deeper level of understanding of the expanding universe than a layman, but there should be no contradiction in their respective perceptions.
The allegorical verses are ambiguous and susceptible to different interpretations. But, and this is the crucial point, it must be evaluated and understood subject to the decisive passages as dictated by the rule of interpretation. Allegorical verses are those that cannot be explained in a tangible manner, for example where Allāh is described as all-seeing and all-hearing. We know these descriptions have nothing to do with physical hearing and sight, but simply convey the idea of Allāh’s eternal presence and awareness of all (6:103). Since the Qur’ān is meant for all time, it will necessarily contain truths or concepts that will gradually unfold themselves to humanity (38:88). While undiscovered, it would be difficult to interpret such information. These would also be defined as allegorical. It follows that what may be regarded as allegorical today will become decisive tomorrow as knowledge improves and new discoveries are made. The basic rule laid down in 3:7 is a safeguard against attaching irrational meanings to