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The Ta'wil of Quran PDF Print Email
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 30 June 2015 06:25

The linguist, Muhaddith and Hanafiyy scholar, Murtada Az-Zabidiyy said in his book Ithaf as-Sadatil-Muttaqin, conveying from the book At-Tadhkirah Ash-Sharqiyyah by Abu Nasr Al-Qushayriyy[1]:

As for the Saying of Allah:

﴿وَمَا يَعْلَمُ تَأْوِيلَهُ إِلَّا اللهُ﴾

[which means] “No one knows its ta’wil except Allah,” He only means by that the exact time of the Hour [the Day of Judgment]. The pagans asked the Prophet about the Hour, “When will it happen?” Therefore, the ambiguous is a sign of the knowledge of the unseen; no one knows the outcome of the matters except Allah the Mighty and Great. For that reason He Said:

﴿هَل يَنْظُرُونَ إِلَّا تَأْوِيلَهُ يَومَ يَأْتِى تَأْوِيلُهُ﴾

[which means] “Are they awaiting anything other than its ta’wil? The day when its ta’wil comes…” Meaning, are they awaiting anything other than the occurrence of the Hour?

How would it be valid for someone to say about the Book of Allah the Exalted that there is something in it for which there is no way for a creation to know what it means, and no one knows its meaning except Allah? Is this not among the greatest discreditors of the Prophethood, that the Prophet did not know the meaning of what came about the Attributes of Allah the Exalted, and called the creation to know what cannot be known? Does Allah not Say:

﴿بِلِسَانٍ عَرَبِـيٍ مُبِينٍ ﴾

[which means] “[The Qur’an was revealed] in a clear Arabic tongue”? Then according to their claim it is necessary to say that Allah lied when He said that the Qur’an is revealed in a clear Arabic tongue, since it was not known to them [i.e., the Arabs]. Or else where is the clarity? If this were in the Arabic language, how would he claim that this is something that the Arabs do not know, while that speech was Arabic? So what kind of saying is this doctrine when it leads to contradicting Allah the Glorified?

Furthermore, the Prophet used to call the people to the worship of Allah the Exalted, so had there been in what he conveyed to his Nation something which no one knows its meaning except Allah the Exalted, the people would have been able to say, “First clarify for us the one you are calling us to and what are you saying.” For sure, believing in something which cannot be known is unachievable in itself, and attributing to the Prophet that he called to a Lord who is attributed with attributes that are inconceivable [i.e., that cannot be known]is a serious matter; no Muslim accepts that.

Ignorance of the attribute leads to ignorance of the attributed. The goal is for the one who has some bit of a mind to clarify that the saying of he who says, “His Istiwa is an attribute of His Self and its meaning is inconceivable, and His Yad is an attribute of His Self and its meaning is inconceivable, and His Qadam is an attribute of His Self and its meaning is inconceivable,” is a distortion of facts within which is ascribing a manner of being to Allah, likening Him to the creation, and a call to ignorance. And the truth has become clear for the one who has sound mind.

I wish I knew, this one who denies ta’wil, does he apply this denial to everything and every verse, or is he content with abandoning ta’wil in reference to the Attributes of Allah the Exalted?

If he prevents ta’wil in all cases, he has invalidated the Religious Law and the different branches of knowledge, because there is no verse[2] or hadith except that it is in need of ta’wil and treatment.[3] [4] For there are things that there is no escape from ta’wil for them. There is no difference among the sane people about that except for the atheist whose intent is to invalidate the Religious Laws. Furthermore, this creed [of denying ta’wil] leads to invalidating what he claims to be adhering to of the Religion.

If he said “Ta’wil is valid in general[5], excluding what is in reference to Allah and His Attributes, for there is no ta’wil in that,” this claim of his implies that what pertains to other than Allah should be known, and what pertains to the Maker and His Attributes should be avoided, and this is something that no Muslim accepts.

The secret of the issue is that those who prevent ta’wil really believe in the reality of likening Allah to the creation, except that they use trickery. They say, “He has a hand not like the hands and a foot unlike the feet and an istiwa of the Self that is not like what we conceive among ourselves.” So let the precise one say, “This is talk that must be clarified. For you to say, ‘We take the issue by the apparent meaning, and we cannot conceive its meaning,’ is a contradiction.If you take the apparent meaning, then what appears from the Saying of the Exalted:

﴿يَومَ يُكشَفُ عَن سَاقٍ﴾

[which means] “The Day when the ‘saq’ will be exposed,” is the organ composed of skin, muscle, bone, nerves, and marrow. If one took by this apparent meaning, adhered to it, and confirmed these organs, then this is blasphemy. And if you are unable to take by that, then where is taking by the apparent meaning? Did you not abandon the apparent meanings and know that the Holy Lord was Exalted from that to which the apparent meanings delude? Then how would that be taking the apparent meaning? And if the opponent says that these apparent meanings are meaningless in themselves, then that is judging them nullified; that there was no benefit in them being conveyed to us and that they are a waste, and this is impossible.

In the language of the Arabs there is whatever one wants of figurative usage and vastness [of meaning] in speech, and they used to know the different contexts, and they understood the intentions. So backing away from ta’wil is because of one’s puny understanding of Arabic, whereas by encompassing the different facets of the Arabic language, realizing the true meanings is easy.

It was Said:

﴿وَمَا يَعْلَمُ تَأْوِيلَهُ إِلَّا اللهُ وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِى العِلمِ﴾

[which means] “No one knows its ta’wil except Allah and those who are deeply rooted in the knowledge.” It is as if He Said, “Those who are deeply rooted in the knowledge also know it.”

Belief in something is only conceived after knowledge. As for that which is unknown, believing in it is unachievable, and because of this, Ibn ^Abbas said, “I am among those who are deeply rooted in the knowledge.”

This is the end of the quote of Hafidh Az-Zabidiyy in reference to what he conveyed from Abu-n-Nasr Al-Qushayriyy, may Allah have Mercy upon him.

Here there are two methods; both are correct. The first is the method of most of the Salaf, and those are the people of the first three centuries; they interpret the [ambiguous] verses by other than their apparent meanings, but in a general way. That is by believing in them and having conviction that those are not the attributes of a body, rather, that they have a meaning that befits the Majesty of Allah and His Greatness, without specification; instead, they referred those verses back to the decisive verses, like the Saying of Allah in the Qur’an:

﴿لَيسَ كَمِثلِهِ شَىءٌ﴾

[which means] “Nothing is like Him in any way.

The matter is as Imam Ash-Shafi^iyy said, “I believe in what came from Allah according to the meaning that Allah Willed, and what came from the Messenger of Allah according to the meaning that the Messenger of Allah meant,” may Allah accept his deeds. He means that the meanings of those verses are not according to what the delusions and thoughts of the people might go to in reference to the physical, bodily meanings, those meanings that are not permissible to be attributed to Allah.

Furthermore, denying that the Salaf made detailed interpretation different from the apparent meaning, like some have claimed, is rejected by what is in Sahih Al-Bukhariyy, in the Book of Interpretation of the Qur’an, and Al-Bukhariyy’s expression there: “Surah Al-Qasas:

﴿كُلُّ شَىءٍ هَالِكٌ إِلَّا وَجهَهُ﴾

[which means] ‘Except for His Wajh;’ [which means] except for His Dominion[6], and it is said [about the meaning of this verse], ‘That which is done to seek a higher status from Allah’.” As for the Dominion, it is an Eternal Attribute of Allah, it is not like the dominion that He Gives to his creations. And in the book of Al-Bukhariyy is more than this case, like explaining the “ضَحِكَ (Dahik)” [7] in the hadith as Mercy.

Also, the detailed interpretation of a verse according to other than its apparent meaning is confirmed from Imam Ahmad, and he is from the Salaf. It is confirmed from him that he said about the verse of the Qur’an:

﴿وَجَاءَ رَبُّكَ﴾

[which translates literally as ‘Your Lord comes’], that it means “The traces of His Power become apparent.”  The chain for this narration by Imam Ahmad was authenticated by Hafidh Al-Bayhaqiyy, the one about whom Hafidh Salahud-Din Al-^Ala’iyy said, “No one came after Al-Bayhaqiyy and Ad-Daraqutniyy like them, or even close to them.” As for the saying of Al-Bayhaqiyy, it is in his book called Manaqib Ahmad. As for the saying of Hafidh Abu Sa^id Al-^Ala’iyy about Al-Bayhaqiyy and Ad-Daraqutniyy, that is in his book called Al-Washyul-Mu^lam; and as for Hafidh Abu Sa^id himself, he is the one about whom Hafidh Ibn Hajar said, “The shaykh of our shaykhs.” He was from the people of the eighth Hijriyy century.

There is a great number of scholars who mentioned in their written works that Ahmad explained verses by other than their apparent meanings. Among them is Hafidh ^Abdur-Rahman Ibnul-Jawziyy, who is one of the sultans of the Hambaliyy School because of his great knowledge of the texts of the Hambaliyy School and the situations of Ahmad.

The second is the method of the Khalaf. They interpreted with detailed meanings that are dictated by the language of the Arabs, and like the Salaf, they do not carry those verses by their apparent meanings. There is no problem taking this method, especially as protection from likening Allah to the creation when fearing for one to take a corrupted creed.

[An example of the method of the Khalaf is their explanation of] the Saying of Allah in scolding Iblis:

﴿مَا مَنَعَكَ أَن تَسجُدَ لِـمَا خَلَقتُ بِيَدَيَّ﴾

[which means] “What prevented you from prostrating to what I have Created with My Yadayn[8]?” It is valid to be said that what is meant by “Yadayn” is Care and Preservation.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 June 2015 06:32