The Qur’ân is the Word of God in its original purity. It was revealed to the Prophet of Islam (pbuh) in Arabic. This was his language, the language of Makkans of his time, and the language of the Bedouins of the Arabian Desert. A characteristic of their language – the classical Arabic and of the Holy Qur’ân, is Ellipticism (î‘jâz). In an elliptical construction, a word or phrase implied by context is omitted from a sentence, usually because it appeared shortly before or could be a repetition. The elliptical style of the Holy Qur’ân exhibits extreme economy in Divine Speech and Writing. Its language shifts drastically between a highly “poetic” diction and metaphors and a “self-understood” sequence of the Message. It deliberately omits intermediate thoughts and words, and thereby focusing concisely on the core idea. This ellipticism was the integral part of the language of the Bedouins of the Arabian Desert, which reached its utmost perfection in the Holy Qur’ân.
In order to render the Qur’ân’s style into ordinary prose, the exegetes of the Holy Qur’ân had to provide missing links which are commonly interjected into the text in the form of frequent interpolations between parentheses. Otherwise, the Arabic phrases would lose their life and sense. A word-to-word translation in ignorance of these stylistic peculiarities, the grammar and sentence construction of the language of the Holy Book would often jumble the verses, render them meaningless, and make the Book seem confused. This subject has been dealt with in Dalâ’il al-I‘jâz by Abû Bakr ‘Abd al-Qâhir bin ‘Abd al-Rahmân al-Jurjânî [Maktabat al-Qâhirah, Egypt, 1969].
Another powerful feature of the Qur’ânic and classical Arabic is the derivation of its vocabulary from its root alphabets. All root words of this language, without any exception, are composed of either one letter or a combination of two, three, and extremely seldom of four alphabets. For example, the alphabet alif is used for asking questions (“â” sound); alphabet mîm م similarly, as in mâ مٱ (what?) and mann من (who?). Lâm ل is often used for negation, as in la لا (no) and lâmm لم (not). Imâm Râzî says that Arabs would name things after letters; for example, money as ع, clouds as غ, and fish as ن. In short, the letters of the Arabic alphabet are words, and each one of them has its own simple meaning [see also commentary on verse 2:1, p. 278]
Another characteristic of this language is that many words with similar letters either agree in meaning or are approximate in it. For example, where in a word, nûn ن and fâ ف come together, their combination gives an indication of the meaning of khurûj خروج (- going out or letting out); like nafara نفرا(to go out in a group; to run away from fight; go forth from any business); nafatha نفث (- to blow on a thing and spit out of the mouth; to whisper out evil suggestion). Nafaha نفح (- to blow out; to diffuse and disperse). Nafakhaنفخ (- to blow or breathe out). Nafaqa نفق (- to come out of a hole or tunnel). Nafida نَفِد (- consumed out; spent out) and nafadha نفذ (- to escape; to go beyond; to pass through a place). Also, for example, where fâ ف and lâm ل combine in a word, the combination indicates the meaning of “opening up”, such as falaqa فلق (- to split open; break of a day; to cleave through the darkness); falaha فلح (- to cleave a thing; to unfold something in order to reveal its intrinsic properties; to till and break open surface of the earth and make its productivity powers active), and falaja فلج (- to split; to open up water reservoirs into water channels).
Mostly three consonants form the root of each Arabic word, and the permutation of these root elements opens up a rich and complex world of meanings and associations. The door opens for the student of the Holy Qur’ân to a wealth of potential meanings, both lexicological and symbolic, for every word or phrase. It is from here that masters in literature know that many a time the Arabs use one word in different shades of meaning by substituting similar letters as is found in daqq دقٌ and dakk دكٌ (to knock; to crush and broken into pieces;), and in laj لج and laz لظ (to insist). This is the science of the language of the Arabs of the time of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). Many of those who have studied modern Arabic are fallen short of understanding these minute details in classical Arabic of the Holy Qur’ân.
The fluent transition between the root meaning of a word and the full range of its semantic extensions is another characteristic of Divine Speech. The eloquence of the Arabic language in the Holy Qur’ân radiates from every page, and in every chapter, every verse, and every word. You are encouraged to open your mind to the full spectrum of interpretations of any word with the help of its root word, as long as there is evidence and logic for those interpretations, evidence based on the various uses of that word in the Holy Book at various places and in different contexts.
What has been said so far, our intention is simply to alert the reader of the difficult task confronted by great exegetists of the Holy Qur’ân, and the fact that the human knowledge cannot fully fathom and comprehend the words (kalimât) of the All Mighty God:
قُل لَّوْ كَانَ الْبَحْرُ مِدَادًا لِّكَلِمَاتِ رَبِّي لَنَفِدَ الْبَحْرُ قَبْلَ أَن تَنفَدَ كَلِمَاتُ رَبِّي وَلَوْ جِئْنَا بِمِثْلِهِ مَدَدًا
Say, If every ocean became ink for (recording) the words and creation of my Lord, surely, the oceans would be spent up before the words and creation of my Lord came to an end, even if we brought to add (therewith) as many more (oceans).(18:109)
The exegesis (tafsîrتفسير) of the Holy Qur’ân involves explaining the message of the Qur’ânic verse, clarifying its import, and discovering its significance. Tafsîr of the Holy Qur’ân was one of the earliest academic activities in Islamic history; it began with the Divine Revelation: “We have sent to you a great Messenger from among yourselves who recites to you Our Messages and purifies you and teaches you the Book and the wisdom and teaches you what you did not know” (2:151). The Holy Prophet (pbuh) was himself the first exegete. He explained and put into practice the Divine Commands. After his death, his Companions—those close to him, such as Abû Bakr(rz), ‘Umar(rz), ‘Alî(rz), ‘Uthmân(rz), his wife ‘Âishah(rz), and others—narrated how the Holy Prophet (pbuh) explained through his actions and behaviour the Qur’ânic verses and their injunctions. Later, young Companions of the Prophet (pbuh)—such as Ibn ‘Abbâs, ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar, Ubayy ibn Ka‘b—took up this task.
In the early days, exegetes of the Holy Qur’ân confined themselves to explaining the practical aspects of its injunctions, the background of its revelation, and occasional interpretation of one verse with the help of another. This was a suitable approach, since the people who were listening to the Holy Words were Arabs, who were well acquainted with the Arabic expressions spoken in those days and understood well what was being conveyed to them. If the verse concerned historical events or contained such concepts as genesis or resurrection, then sometimes a few sayings (Traditions or ahâdîth) of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) were needed to make its meaning clear. This was also the style of the disciples of the Companions—such as Mujâhid, Qatadah, Sha‘bi, Suddî, and others, who lived in the first century of Hijrah.
Mu‘tazilî (al-Mu‘tazillah المعتزلة) theology originated in Basrah (Iraq) about a hundred years after the death of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), when Wâsil ibn Atâ left the teaching sessions of Hasan al-Basrî after a theological dispute. Wâsil ibn ‘Ata, also known as al-Ghazzal, was born probably around the year 80 AH / 699 CE and died in 131 AH / 748 CE. He is considered by the Mu‘tazilî biographers to be the founder of the their school. The Mu‘tazilî considered themselves to be rationalists. They debated philosophical questions such as whether the Qur’ân was created or eternal, whether Gods Attributes in the Qur’ân were to be interpreted allegorically or literally, whether humans had free will or their fate was predestined, whether evil had been created by God, and whether sinning believers would face eternal punishment in hell.
The Hanbali school was founded by Ahmad ibn Hanbal (164–241 AH / 780–855 CE) about eighty years later. His views were later upheld by Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahâb in his various works on theology (the Wahâbi School) and are now prevalent in Saudi Arabia and most Gulf states. Today Wahhabism had slipped from the center of Sunnite orthodoxy to the margin, claiming to fix all the norms and rules. The Hanbali school teaches that salvation depends on ones believing in the apparent meanings of the Qur’ân and the Traditions. It avoids delving into extensive theological and philosophical speculation. This school explains Islam and Qur’ân with the help of the Traditions ascribed to the Companions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and their disciples. It looks only into the literal value of the words, and it leaves any questionable verses of the Qur’ân simply as they are, accepting the statements as they occur, without extending much effort to explain or expand upon them. You cannot, for example, cast doubt on the literal reading of the transformation of the “staff of Moses” into a snake. Interpreting stories that seem implausible, in the way in which they are presented, is perceived as a challenge to the divine word. Metaphor is little appreciated by its juris consults. Its adherents have closed the scriptural space and defend their belief with such verses as: “We believe in it, it is all from our Lord” آمَنَّا بِهِ كُلٌّ مِّنْ عِندِ رَبِّنَا (3:7). Thus no rereading is possible and anybody who attempts to do so leaves himself open to heavy sanctions.
When Islam spread well beyond the Arabian Peninsula, and Muslim empires were established in the Middle East, India, Central Asia, North Africa, and the Iberian Peninsula, some non-Muslim zealots wrote biographies of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and accounts of his sayings in order to confuse Muslims and discourage non-Muslims from adopting the new faith. Such zealots as al-Wâqidî (d. 207 AH / 822 CE; Kitâb al-Maghâzî), his student and secretary Ibn Sad (d. 230 AH / 845 CE; Kitâb al-Tabakât al-Kabîr), and Ibn Ishâq (d. 150–159 AH / 761–770 CE) composed fake biographies and “Traditions”. The following individuals, considered “theologists” by some, were notorious in forging Traditions: Ibn ‘Abd al-Ihyâ in the city of al-Madînah, Muqted bin Salâm in Khurasân, Muhammad bin Zaid in Syria, Ibn ‘Alî Aufa Kûfi, Ahmad al-Zubairî, Ibn Akshah, and Ibn Taimûr. They invented Traditions indiscriminately to adorn their writings, according to what they deemed the need of their society and their creed. They fabricated the sayings of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), added stories to his life, and twisted what he said in a way that suited the fancies of newly converted Muslims.
Some Muslim Tradition (ahâdîth) collectors copied these stories because of their Christian background or their own lack of sound knowledge. Typically, they would quote from the lores of previous nations – stories that were circulating in those parts of the world or that were described in the Bible—such stories as the creation of Hawwâ (Eve) from Âdam’s ribs or the ascent of ‘Îsâ (Jesus) to heaven—and fitted them into Qur’ânic verses. They included in their exegesis the “sins” of Prophets mentioned in the Holy Bible, contrary to what the Holy Qur’ân teaches. Such biblical stories (isrâiliyât) crept into the beliefs of simple-minded Muslim religious teachers and, through them, to ordinary Muslims. These isrâ’îliyât are still prevalent among many Muslims. The fabricators committed their mischief to create discord among the Muslims and to misinform the non-Muslims. What they left behind was chaos and nonsense, contrary to the basic spirit of Islamic and Qur’ânic teachings. Their writings are still favourite sources for Christian historians and storywriters, but they are never referenced in the works of serious, informed Muslim historians.
Toward the end of the Umayyah period and well into the ‘Abbâsid era, Greek philosophical texts were translated into Arabic, which influenced Muslim religious thought. Muslim philosophers tried to fit into the divine verses the principles of Greek philosophy, which itself was a confused and self-contradictory hodgepodge. Without hesitation they considered the emerging but rudimentary scientific knowledge of astronomy, physics, and other related subjects as the absolute, final truth, to which the exegesis of the Qur’ân had to conform.
The Shî‘a belief emerged after the Prophets (pbuh) death in 10 AH / 632 CE. From the very start, this belief was based on Traditions—for example, “I am leaving behind among you two precious things: the Book of Allâh and my progeny, my family members, and these two shall never separate from each other”. The emergence of the Shî‘a as a separate sect within the Muslim community, in opposition of the Caliphs, dates to the Battle of Karbala in the year 61 AH / 680 CE, and the first Shî‘a government was established in North Africa under the Fâtimids (296–567AH / 909–1171CE). The Shî‘a school of thought today includes many different groups holding various theological tenets, spiritual dogmas, philosophical beliefs, and schools of jurisprudence.
Before the end of the third century of the Islamic calendar, the Muslim society had split into several schools of thought and sects, and it has continued to split up well into modern times. Intellectual chaos has prevailed in the Muslim world. New sharî‘a laws have been invented to legitimize the rulers. Muslims have continued to differ with one another in nearly every aspect of religious belief and they still continue. The meanings of the abbreviated letters before some chapters of the Holy Qur’ân (fawâtih or al-Muqattiât) and the Names and Attributes of Allâh and His actions have been under dispute; there has been conflict about the reality of the heavens and the earth; and there have been controversies about the decree and the divine measure (predestination, al-Qadzâ wa al-Qadr). Muslims have differed about aspects of reward and punishment, and they have differed on the history of Prophets such as Jesus (Îsâ) and even their own Prophet (pbuh). They differed and fought on the position of the Companions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) such as Abû Bakr(rz), ‘Umar(rz), ‘Alî(rz), ‘Uthmân (rz), his wife ‘Âishah(rz) and his daughter Fâtima(rz), and others. Some Companions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) were raised to the levels of “prophethood” – flawless, sinless, innocent and holy, or almost to divine status, god incarnates, as in the case of ‘Alî by some sects. Other Companions were degraded to a status they never deserved. The Muslims fought on these differences and are still fighting today. Not a single subject relating to religion has been left without discord, and each group has insisted that only the tenets it holds represent the genuine Truth.
Of course, this divergence has showed itself in interpretations of the Holy Qur’ân. Every group has tried to support its views and opinions from the Holy Book, and its exegesis has served this purpose. They remain divided among themselves, and they have divided the Muslim ummah (nation) into sects; each group has clung to the verses and the Traditions that seem to support its belief and has tried to explain away whatever is apparently against it. They have not cared about what the Qur’ân says; rather they have been concerned rather how a particular verse might be explained so as to fit into their personal beliefs or the views of their particular school of thought. In this way, explanation has turned into adaptation, and the Holy Qur’ân’s manifest meanings have been sacrificed for self-serving “interpretations”. All this has become the root cause of the contradictions in Qur’ânic explanations and has been the main cause of sectarian differences; such blind following has caused national or tribal prejudice, which often led to bloodshed and civil strife.
In response to the intellectual chaos that started to spread in the third century after, the Ashʿarî (الأشعرية, al-Ashaʿriyya) school of thought emerged. This school was founded by Abû al-Hasan al-Ashʿarî (d. 324 AH / 936 CE). It arose initially as a reaction to the Mu’tazilî school of thought, some of whose beliefs seemed strange to many Muslims and in contradiction to previously held opinions and practices. The Ashʿarî School developed further during the fourth and fifth centuries AH (tenth and eleventh centuries CE). The movement was an attempt not only to purge Islam of all non‑Islamic elements that had quietly crept into it but also to harmonize the religious consciousness with the religious practice at the time of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). In defense of the authority of Divine Revelation as applied to theological subjects, the Ashʿarî School used a dialectical approach to resolve disagreement. This approach later laid the foundation of Tasawwuf. As opposed to the rationalist Mu’tazilî, and in opposition to the extreme orthodox class. Basically, tasawwuf consists of dedication to worship, a total dedication to Allâh, the Most High, and disregard for the finery and ornaments of the world. The spirit of tasawwuf has always been present in Islam. The term tasawwuf was not known to the Companions of the Holy Prophet and the first generation of Muslims, though this was their general practice.
In time, Sufism arose from within tasawwuf in the second and third centuries AH (eighth and ninth centuries CE) as an ascetic movement. Sufism cannot be traced back to any single person as its founder. The sûfî (صُوفِيّ) movement consists of fraternal orders wherein leaders train and assist disciples in the mastery of Sufism’s philosophical principles and ritual practices. Its followers claimed to adhere to tasawwuf, but they often deviated from the original practice, the practice of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and his Companions. Christianity had a clear impact on the practices and explications of Sufism; in fact, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist asceticism and monasticism were essential features of the landscape in which Sufism was formed and later practiced. Some sûfî orders made music central to their practice; others introduced narcotics to reach the “exalted state.” Some, influenced and impressed by the practices of music in temples and churches, and later by Western thought, propagated the notion that sûfî philosophy is universal in nature, that its roots predated the rise of both Islam and Christianity. All such adherents have misunderstood tasawwuf, and they have deviated from the noble path to Divine Knowledge.
By the year 250 AH (about 860 CE), five schools of thought were being popularized and patronized in the regions controlled by the ‘Abbâsid Caliphate. They were founded by renowned Islamic scholars and such noble personalities as Imâm Ja‘far ibn Muhammad al-Sȃdiq (جعفر بن محمد الصادق, 83–148 AH / 702–765 CE), Imâm Abû Hanîfah نعمان بن ثابت بن زوطا بن مرزبان (80–148 AH / 699–767 CE), Imâm Mâlik bin Anas مالك بن أنس , 93–179 AH / 711–795 CE), Imâm Shâfi‘î (Abû ‘Abdullâh Muhammad bin Idrîs al-Shâfi‘i ابوعبدالله محمد بن إدريس الشافعيّ (150–204 AH / 767–820 CE) and Imâm Hanbal (Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hanbal Abû ‘Abdullâh al-Shaibânî احمد بن محمد بن حنبل ابو عبد الله الشيباني (164–241 AH / 780-855 CE).They were the learned of their time, and there is nothing wrong in their approaches to explain and interpret the Divine Book; however, their followers should not insist that the approach and interpretation of their imâms should be considered the only true foundation of exegesis, from which no deviation can be allowed. Such an insistence will limit the vast meanings and the immense knowledge embedded in the Divine Words.
Allâh taught the Holy Qur’ân to His Prophet (pbuh) and appointed him as the Teacher of His Book: “He it is Who has raised among the Arabs a grand Messenger (who hails) from among themselves, who recites to them His revelations to rid them of their impurities and teaches them the Book and Wisdom” (62:2). Thus, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was the first exegete. He was an Arab and spoke to his followers and taught them what had been revealed to him in his own language, which was also their language. His language was the Arabic of that time, what we today call “classical” Arabic. The Arabic of the Holy Qur’ân is the “most eloquent speech,” as the very Qur’ânic Word ‘arabiyyan (see 12:2) in its literal sense means (Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon). One of the essential ingredient of eloquence is that the talk should be free from obscurity and abstruseness. Therefore, there should not be a single verse that is obscure or abstruse, and there should not be a single sentence in the Holy Book that forces the mind to wander in search of its meaning. There should not be any verse that can be considered “ambiguous,” “contradictory,” or “abrogated” because of some apparent contradiction in its meaning. Allâh says: “Indeed, We have made the Qur’ân easy for admonition and to understand, follow and remember” (54:17), and again: “Verily, We have made it a Qur’ân, such (a Scripture) that brings (the nations) together, and (a Scripture) eloquently expressive so that you may make use of your understanding” (43:3). Therefore, no verse should be assigned a meaning that would bring people apart, create discord, or become a source of bloodshed. Such contradictions would be created by giving the Qur’ânic Words ambiguous and inconsistent meanings.
Though, Arabic is still spoken in the Arab world, it is no longer the Arabic of the time of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). Names of objects are constantly changing, and the language is developing with new discoveries and with the passage of time. An object from the days of the Prophet (pbuh) has little in common (except its name) with an object having the same purpose or use that has been invented in our time. The same applies to translations of the Qur’ân that use modern Arabic incorrectly to apply inappropriate contemporary explanations to words and concepts that were used in the time of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). To understand and adhere to the original message of the Holy Qur’ân, you need to go back to the Arabic of the time of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and leave aside the lexica of Modern Arabic.
Khalîl bin Ahmad (d. 169 AH / 786 CE) was the first to start composing the Arabic classical words in his monumental work Kitâb al-‘Ain. After him, several dozen books on Arabic grammar and on Arabic words and their meanings were compiled. The list of credible classical Arabic dictionaries is long. Today, the best available books are Lisân al-Arab by Mukarram bin Manzûr; Masâdir by Yahya bin Abû Bakr, Tâj al-‘Arûs by Murtaza Balgrâmî; Mu‘jam Maqâiysi al-Lughah. Cairo, 1371 AH. by Fâris Qazwinî; Al-Qâmûs by Majd al-Dîn Abû Tâhir Muhammad bin Yaqûb, and Al-Mufradât fî Gharâib al-Qur’ân by Abû al-Qâsim Husain al-Râghib. There are a dozen more that can be regarded as credible and authentic. William Edward Lanes Arabic-English Lexicon is the most authentic translation of Lisân al-Arab. Dictionaries of Modern Arabic are not suitable for translating the Holy Qur’ân or for basing a religious argument on them.
Even mastering classical Arabic and having access to classical Arabic dictionaries, however, is not sufficient for writing a Qur’ânic exegesis. There are inherent dangers in basing an entire explanation on etymological usages. Terms such as salât, saum, zakât, imân, hajj and others can be understood and explained only in the right context of the practice (Sunnah al-‘Ibȃdiyyahسُنٌة العبادية ) of the Holy Prophet (pbuh); (see 62:2). Moreover, one must be careful when rendering terms and expressions in the sense they have acquired after Islam had been institutionalized in countries outside the Arabian Peninsula. For instance, when the contemporaries of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) heard the word Muslim, they understood it as denoting “one who surrenders to Allâh and His laws.” In 3:67 Abraham (Ibrâhîm) is spoken of as the one who surrendered himself to God (كَانَ حَنِيفًا مُّسْلِمًا). Similarly, in verse 3:52, the disciples of Jesus (‘Îsâ) said, آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَاشْهَدْ بِأَنَّا مُسْلِمُونَ “We have believed in Allâh. Bear witness that; we are the submitting ones (to His will).” To both common people and modern scholars, the term Muslim denotes the followers of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). Similarly, the term kâfirكافر, which originally meant the “one who hides (the truth)”, has become “unbeliever” in conventional translations and usage. The same is the case with the word jihâd جهاد (to exert ones efforts), which has nothing to do with “holy war.” Many Muslims, whether they claim to be liberal, modernist, or traditional, refuse to let the revealed text speak for itself.
Consensus (ijmâ’إجماع ), or unanimous agreement of the community on the meaning of a Qur’ânic verse, is also not always the right approach for determining the genuine meaning of a particular verse. Ijmâ’ was the consensus among the Companions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), not a consensus among the “Learned” (‘ulemâعلِماء ) of the later generations (Ibn Hazm). Even unanimous agreement of the community, determined by the votes of its legal specialists, or ‘muftis’, does not have the authority of sharî‘a شريعة(Qur’ânic Law) and does not guarantee genuine meaning. The ijmâ’ of later periods can offer only an opinion on a special situation, a situation that was absent at the time of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). Moreover, ijmâ’ was not seen among the Companions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), except on a limited number of subjects and occasions. Decisions based on qiyâs (conjecture) and ijmâ’ (consensus) should not add to the injunction of Divine Law (sharî‘a), which is clearly defined in the Holy Book. Labels (fatwâh) given by the ulema and the ‘muftis’ on a particular issue—what is forbidden (harâm), allowed (halâl), obligatory (faradh), or discouraged (makrûh)—cannot be part of sharî‘a (Qur’ânic Law) if they are not clearly mentioned in the Holy Qur’ân.
In the Holy Qur’ân we read that only those who lead righteous lives and possess purity of heart come closer to its meanings (see 56:79). Personal opinion (tafsîr bi-rây) has no place in Qur’ânic exegesis. Allâh says, “The responsibility of explaining it lies again on Us” (75:19), and, “We have revealed to you this perfect Book explaining every (basic) thing and (which serves as) a guidance and a mercy, and (gives) good tidings to those who submit (to God)” (16:89). Therefore, to explain any particular verse with the help of other relevant verses is a better way for understanding the Qur’ânic Message. Meditating on their meanings provided by Muslim Saints and Scholars of high caliber (al–Râsikhûn fîl-’Ilm, الرَّاسِخُونَفِي الْعِلْم, and ûl al-Albâb, أُولُو الْأَلْبَاب; 3:7) is another way.
Some verses of the Holy Qur’ân contain statements that are clear and understandable to a reader (3:7). There are other verses in which, at first sight, only the exterior of the words are apparent, and explanations are required to reach the deeper meanings. Their veils are lifted and their meanings are disclosed, however, to those who see the Divine Reality in their hearts (al–Râsikhûn fîl-‘ilm, الرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْم, and ûl al-Albâb, أُولُو الْأَلْبَاب; 3:7). Such a witness of this unveiling is a Gnostic (Ahl al-Wahî, recipient of Divine Revelations), Ahl al-Kashaf (recipient of Divine Visions), and Ârif bil-Allâh (those who have been blessed with Divine Knowledge). These are the people who receive divine guidance and whose inner eyes recognize the meanings hidden in the Divine verses. The Most Exalted God has chosen them as He says, “Allâh singles out for His mercy whomsoever He wishes (to receive His mercy),” (2:105) and “He grants wisdom to whomsoever He will” (2:269). Those who do not see this reality in their hearts accuse those who are following the Illuminated Path of attempting to impose specific interpretations. You should remain silent if you cannot understand the subtlety of the veiled verses. Their explanation should be left to the people of unveiling, not to those who are using their conjecture (qiyâsقياس ).
It is for this reason that the explanations given by the imâms of the era, the Saints (auliyâ and autâd), and the mujaddadîn (the Reformers appointed by God) and muhaddathîn (those with whom God spoke) are of great help in understanding the Qur’ânic message (see 56:79). Many of these people are well known in Islamic history. Such people received Divine Knowledge and Divine Wisdom directly from Allâh because of their proximity to Him. Allâh held Divine Converse (mukâlima) with them, and through them some of the hidden Divine Knowledge was unveiled, the Qur’ânic Wisdom made known, and the intricate questions of the era were resolved.
The Holy Qur’ân is a “clear exposition (of the truth) for humankind (to follow) and a (means to) guidance” (3:138), a “clear light” (4:174), and a “perfect Book explaining every (basic) thing” (16:89), so you should rely on this guidance and this light and ensure that its verses are illuminated by the verses themselves. Allâh has sent the Holy Qur’ân as “guidance for all the peoples” (3:96) and as “discrimination (between right and wrong)” (2:185). Is it conceivable that it would not guide people aright with its own light, in that it is their most important need? Why should such a guidance and clear light misguide and confuse and the religion that calls itself Islam – the “Religion of Peace” should create discord and cause bloodshed?
أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ ۚ
“Why do they not ponder over the Qur’ân?” (4:82).