Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Intro to Quranic Sciences - by Sheikh Taha (pt 4)|
|02/25/01 at 12:59:31|
Here is lecture #4, the previous lectures are in this folder as well.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents 1
Differences between Tafseer and Taweel 2
Types of Tafseer 2
Tafseer al Maythoor 2
Tafseer al Ma’qool 2
Tafseer al Ishari 2
Tafseer Al-Ahkam 2
Munasibat an Nuzool 4
Asbab un Nuzul 4
Four Levels of Reading the Quran 8
Differences between Tafseer and Taweel
Tafseer is explanation of Quran and Hadith.
Taweel is the understanding
Tafseer is the science of dealing with the meaning of the Quran according to the language of the Quran.
Taweel means to go beyond the language to find some other meaning. The text might not indicate the meaning, but one goes beyond that. E.g. Surah Fath. When the Prophet read it to the sahaba, Abu Bakr started crying. People asked him why he was crying? He said it was because he thought that the Prophet was saying his time is over, and that he is waiting for the time to depart from this life.
Tafseer on the other hand depends entirely on the language.
Types of Tafseer
According to this understanding, we have a number of books that are called Books of Tafseer. There are three kinds of Tafseer.
Tafseer al Maythoor
Tafseer depends on the text itself and the narrations from the sahaba. When the Prophet and the sahaba give explanations, this is called Tafseer al Maythoor (e.g Tabari, Suyuti)
Tafseer al Ma’qool
School of reasonal Tafseer e.g (Zamakshari)
Tafseer al Ishari
(tafseer depends on indications)
The Sufis usually used this kind of understanding (e.g. Ibn Arabi , Al Khazm). They say that everything has two meanings: the textual meaning, and the hidden meaning.
This type of Tafseer looks at the Quran as a source of legislation (Arabi, Shafie etc).
There are many problems with Tafseer (Pl tafasir). Many Tafasir are mixed with stories from the Ahl-e-Kitab. Why is this so? This is because the mufassireen wanted to include details for everything. The Quran by its very nature does not include details, and emphasizes the lessons of the stories of the Prophets and the other nations. People by their very nature want details of the stories.
Scholars who came from other backgrounds came to ask the mufassireen about the details of the stories. There are many similarities in the stories of the prophets, creation etc. By this, the mufassireen felt it was ok to take the stories of the ahl-e-kitab. This includes At-Tabari and Ibn Kathir.
We cannot find any excuse for them. The stories are similar, however the Quran did not give us any details that we do not need. The Quran emphasizes the lessons. In the other traditions, there are many fabricated stories regarding the story of creation etc.
Mufassireen in their bid to seem knowledgeable included these stories in their Tafseer.
HOMEWORK: find some of those stories that are included in the Tafseer and see the differences between the Tafseer that includes Israeliyat and Tafseer without it.
Abu Hurayra narrated a certain hadith. We asked the Prophet “can we narrate the stories and news from the people of the book?” The Prophet said yes, narrate from their legacy and heritage without any responsibility. This hadith is considered authentic in the opinion of the muhadith, however it opened the door to the heritage of the children of Israel and gave the mufassireen an excuse to use the heritage of the children of Israel as much as they wanted. [NOTE: People were discussing the issue of Qadr. The Prophet came out from his house, and was very angry with them for discussing such issues. Abu Hurayra asked if we can narrate from the ahl-e-kitab, and the Prophet said yes. We need to analyze the whole chain of narrators to establish if the hadith is authentic- we do not say that it is questionable because we do not know There is another hadith that says mentions that some of the things they say are truthful, but basically they should be neglected.].
Tabari has about 2 volumes on the snake that tempted Hawa, and how she went and tempted Adam. All these myths are very dangerous and do not come from the Quran. There are some references in the library that talk about Israeliyat (stories from the children of Israel)
Read some of the Isreaeliyat to understand what happened to our Tafseer, and how it came to be included in our heritage.
Also, read about the impact of our teaching on the heritage of the children of Israel e.g. the influence of Ibn Rushd on Ibn Maymoon. Today Jewish Reformists are part of the school of Ibn Maymoon who was the student of Ibn Rushd. There are 2 volumes on the impact in the library.
Before, the Jews only had the Torah for legislation. However later they also had Al-Mishna (what the rabbis and scholars said as interpretations of the Torah) that was a concept taken from Al-Sunnah. They picked up this concept from Islam. Al-Mishna is the second most important source after the Torah.
The first well-known mufassir was Ibn Abbas. People attribute many things to him, and there is a Tafseer of Ibn Abbas, however the authenticity is suspect.
Ibnu Jurayj (b 80AH- d 143 AH) was a student of the students of Ibn Abbas. He inherited his heritage. He wrote a Tafseer maythoor and it was the first written volume. He was narrating from the school of Ibn Abbas.
Tafseer as a science appeared around 80 AH. People were narrating and exchanging narrations on Tafseer. People were questioning each other about Tafseer. This helped develop Tafseer as a science before the other sciences. In contrast, Hadith started afterwards (83AH, 99AH), in the second century.
We need to study Israeliyat to understand what was written before. This also explains why people started to get closer to the Sunnah and other sciences rather than concentrating on the Quran itself. The problem of mixing Tafseer and Israeliyat led to many different ideas regarding the Quran and people started using the Quran in different ways. Some claimed that the Quran is able to give different ideas, and the Quran always has different meanings. People can quote the Quran for any purpose. When the Muslim community started dividing, it was based on quoting the Quran and different interpretations.
Munasibat an Nuzool
Munasibat an- nuzool refers to the ordering of the verses and surahs in the Quran. Allah revealed surah or verses on certain occasions. Afterwards, the Prophet received other verses on the same topic, and he said to put verses and surahs in a particular order. The Prophet indicated the links between the verses and the surahs. This is a special science called Ilm ul Munasibat. Main reference: Al-Bayqahi.
Asbab un Nuzul
Another part of Quranic sciences is called asbab an- nuzul (causes of revelation). Az-Zarkashi and Suyuti considered this science to be one of the main Quranic sciences. They felt that the mufassir and the faqih must have an idea about the asbab un nuzul because it would help us know the history of some verses and surahs.
Asbab an-nuzul is when there was a question raised in Makkah or Madina to the Prophet and he would wait until he received a revelation that answered a question. An example is the accusation of adultery against Aisha. The verses of ifk (slander) and how to deal with it were revealed (Surah Nur).
Al-Wahidi -collected everything in one volume-some are authentic, some are questionable.
e.g. Al-anfal- booty of war without fighting (enemies surrendered)
Ganaem- booty when fighting actually happened
Surah al-anfal establishes that this anfal is only for the Prophet and Allah- not for everyone.
Suppose that the cause was not there? Would Allah have revealed the verses? Yes, the situation was to help make people more receptive to the solutions it provided. The Quran was revealed slowly to help strengthen the hearts of the people.
The children of Israel saw Moses receive the revelation on Mount Sinai. Moses was like a microphone. They could see, however they could not directly hear the voice of Allah.
Here, the people did not have this. There were no miracles. The only miracle that the Prophet challenged the people with was the Quran.
The people needed to know that Allah is with them. By providing a solution as the situations arose, it gave people the feeling that Allah is always there to watch over them, seeing them, hearing them. This was one of the ways that the Quran was part of their life.
Also, the Quran is for all time and all humanity till the day of Judgment. It is not just for the Prophet and his time. Allah, through the way of revealing to the prophet, was showing how to build a model society. It was the example for the others. The way the Prophet dealt with the verses indicates how people should deal with the Quran through time.
This is the reason the usulis said that when we have text of the Quran, we do not look at the cause of revelation as the only thing that the revelation is associated with. We must take the text as is. Do not look at the cause as the only thing that the text dealt with. The cause is merely an example.
This is why, before his death, the Prophet reclassified the Quran, verses and surahs. Allah directed the prophet and Gibreel to reorganize and classify at the Quran, without looking at the causes of revelation. The format that we see now is not the sequence in which it was originally revealed.
As we know, the first revelation was Surah Alaq, in the last juz. The last verses are in Surah Maeda, Surah Baqarah. Why did the Prophet reorganize it? To remove from any mind that the Quran is only for the time of the prophet, and that it is linked to the causes of revelation. The Quran is the path for every human, every nation and for all time.
“The Last reading”
The prophet reviewed the Quran every year with Gibreel. In the last year of his life, he did it twice, and they reorganized everything.
The causes of revelation are a secondary science, and are used by the scholars to learn about the society at that time.
At the same time, we need to understand the difference between the time of the prophet, and now. Before, the revelation was coming to the prophet, his society and community to answer their questions and give solution. But what about our time now? We have the Quran, and it is complete. If we have a question, do we look back at the sunnah to see if anything similar happened, and which verses to use? Or else how do we ask the Quran questions.
The Quran is not a book of law or history such that we can go to the exact few verses that we think are related to our question, and take that and go. The Quran is one unit, it is like one sentence, one building.
If there is a sickness, we know there is a cure, but which cure is the best for you? You have to search for the best cure. The Quran is a book of cures, solutions. It is the source that helps you find solutions to every problem you face, however you need to know how to approach it.
At the time of the prophet, people asked some questions and the revelation came as an answer. Now, we have a problem because we take the Quran for granted. When we have a question, then we go to it, read a few verses, and that is it. The science of information is used as a tool, with keywords.
This does not work with the Quran!
Quran needs you to come to it with a question, and to come with full modesty. If you have a preconceived solution, and you want to check your opinion, then you will not get anything out of it. When you come as a poor person, a humble and plain person, with no answers and many questions, then you get something out of it.
Sometimes you find the solution in the stories, in the hukm, or examples etc. You might discover that as a good solution. Sometimes you read the Quran without getting anything out of it. Then read it again, and again. Continue without giving up so that you are not the loser. Concentrate and go through it from the beginning to the end. If you want to clarify it, then go to the sunnah and the seerah to deepen your understanding.
This is why Ibn Abbas said to deal with the Quran in different ways, like you prepare soil to be planted.
The Muslims now have their questions and answers outside the Quran, and then they try to find justification. By this, they cause divisions. While the Quran can always be the cure, however it can also raise the sickness if people approach it in an improper manner.
17:82. We send down (stage by stage) in the Qur'an that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe: to the unjust it causes nothing but loss after loss.
Yusuf Ali's Quran Translation
We need to read to find solutions. We must be patient and cleansed.
When we perform wudu, we are mutatahir
If someone else washes you, we are mutahir.
56:77. That this is indeed a qur'an Most Honourable,
56:78. In Book well-guarded,
56:79. Which none shall touch but those who are clean:
56:80. A Revelation from the Lord of the Worlds.
Yusuf Ali's Quran Translation
Allah cleansed the hearts and their minds, and made them mutahiroon. They will be able to reach the meaning of the Quran.
The Quran is available for everyone but not everyone can reach it. The Quran will distract them away from its meanings. The Quran is generous and it will give something to everyone, but not the same depth of understanding.
Asbab un Nuzul are the causes or events that are linked with the revelation of some verses, not the whole Quran. We can use them as part of our tools to understand the Quran or to interpret the Quran, however we should not take the specific cause as the only event/cause of the verse. The verse has a general application. We use the generality for legislation. The reorganization of the Quran in the final year is an indication that the links to the specific events has been cut. It is of interest to the mufassir to enrich their understanding. Every verse of the Quran is general. Now we have to go to the Quran to find an answer, in the past the Quran came to the people to answer their questions.
Faith and Shariah , some German authors.
Four Levels of Reading the Quran
Remember the stories of the prophets and messengers to help us understand Quran
Is the tool to get to Tafseer or taweel.
Using your mind to understand the Quran. Not everyone can do this- scholars are needed for it.
Using your mind to study the text. You are trying to get to the conclusion. You are using your understanding.
Ijtihad falls under both Ta’akul and Tafakur.
Allah tells us that we need to understand the Quran at ALL the levels- it is not a regular text that can be reached without any tools.
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