One Quran,but infinite interpretations..WHY?
How can one say that one interpretation is “right” and the other is “wrong”?
Its been many times that different people are asking me the same question..I am trying to find an answer within my limited knowledge and reading..
Islam is based upon following a specific legislation and it is agreed upon that the legislation is the Quraan and Sunnah.
016.044 With clear proofs and writings; and We have revealed unto thee the Remembrance that thou mayst explain to mankind that which hath been revealed for them, and that haply they may reflect.
004.080 He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah: But if any turn away, We have not sent thee to watch over their (evil deeds).
024.047 And they say: We believe in Allah and the messenger, and we obey; then after that a faction of them turn away. Such are not believers.
024.048 When they are summoned to Allah and His messenger, in order that He may judge between them, behold some of them decline (to come
“All of my Ummah will enter heaven except those who refuse (or reject), so they asked him: oh messenger of Allaah, who is the one who refuses? The Prophet said: whoever obeys me will enter heaven and whoever obeys me he has refused” Saheeh al-Bukhaaree, 7280
As many of you (rightly) said, it is possible to interpret verses according to our line of thoughts, and hence to avoid that, Islam follows the law of three generations…i.e,we refer to the right interpretation of Quran and Sunnah as perceived from first three generations of Prophet..Those who deviate from this and make their own interpretations are out of the fold of ‘right’ interpretation. Pls see the proof.
“The best of mankind is my generation then those who come (immediately) after them, then those who come after them. Thereafter will come a people whose witnesses will go ahead of their oaths and the oaths will go ahead of their witnesses.” (link)
Isn’t it clear that Quran cannot be interpretted as when and how you like it?Look upto what Prophet explained a verse to be..Again I repeat what i said earlier.Allah revealed Quran over 23 yrs,through a Prophet,,during different occasions..If He wanted,He could have dispatched it as a book one fine morning,and obviously and righfully,it would ahve been pron to infinite interpretations and there would not have been any head or tail to it.But that is not the case.Quran was not sent to you,but to Prophet and He eplained it to you..I don’t know,I really don’t know how can it be otherwise..Did Allah come to their dreams and give them the authority to make up a different meaning,than that given to Prophet?By doing so,does it imply that they are being superior or are overriding the whole crappy 1400yrs since Quran has been here??I don’t know why is it so confusing and un-understandable..Islam is what Quran is and Quran is what Prophet is..as simple as that..
There is an excellent book by Harun Yahya on this regard..Its not a novel-lengthy,but just a 3-webpages lengthy book,completed reading it in 10-15 minutes or so…Read if you have time..
REASONS FOR MISINTERPRETING THE QUR’AN
PREJUDICE, ULTERIOR MOTIVES AND LACK OF SINCERITY
The Qur’an is an invitation to the right path for the whole of mankind, but God directly addresses only those who believe in Him. This is why the Qur’an has been revealed as a book that is only understood properly by believers. The most important qualities of believers, that allow them to understand the Qur’an, are their good consciences and sincerity. It is only natural for people who are distant from religion and whose spiritual state and character are far from those of a believer, to misunderstand the Qur’an.
When you recite the Qur’an, We place an obscuring veil between you and those who do not believe in the hereafter. We have placed covers on their hearts, preventing them from understanding it, and heaviness in their ears. When you mention your Lord alone in the Qur’an, they turn their backs and run away. (Surat al-Isra’: 45-46)
2. CONFUSING INTRICATE (MUTASHABIH) VERSES WITH PERSPICUOUS (MUHKAM) ONES
The Qur’anic commandments have been explained in a clear and simple manner so believers can easily abide by them. These are called the “perspicuous” (muhkam) verses. These verses, according to the Qur’an, are the “Core of the Book” and so make up its foundation. There is another type of Qur’anic verses that are referred to as “intricate” (mutashabih) verses. These types of verses contain various comparisons and similes. People with no Qur’anic knowledge but ulterior motives can misinterpret the “intricate verses” in many twisted and startling ways. This is explained in the Qur’an as follows:
It is He who sent down the Book to you from Him: verses containing clear judgements – they are the core of the Book – and others which are open to interpretation. Those with deviation in their hearts follow what is open to interpretation in it, desiring conflict, seeking its inner meaning. No one knows its inner meaning but God. Those firmly rooted in knowledge say, ‘We have faith in it. All of it is from our Lord.’ But only people of intelligence pay heed. (Surat Al ‘Imran: 7)
3. LACK OF EXPERTISE IN QUR’ANIC INTERPRETATION TECHNIQUES
The Qur’an is a miraculous Book that contains all of the essential information mankind needs. This is due to the endless divine wisdom present in it. A finite number of verses contain infinite knowledge that has been placed in them with superior wisdom. The verses contain meanings that may be apparent, hidden, inter-woven or overlapping. They also produce countless other meanings when they interact with other verses. There are times when a single verse can take a whole book to explain. That is why, in order to be able to interpret the Qur’an correctly and take in all of its contents, one must be capable of grasping it in its entirety and must also be skilled in all the required interpretation techniques.
One significant technique consists of analyzing a verse according to its context in the Qur’an. The meaning of a Qur’anic verse can often be explained according to the theme around it. Another important method is to interpret the words that make up the verses by taking their context in that particular verse into consideration. The meaning of one Qur’anic word often derives from the way it is used in another part of the Qur’an. Time and again a word can have more than one meaning. So the meaning of such a word is to be deduced from the manner in which it is used in a different section of the Qur’an. Just looking the word up in a dictionary and applying the first meaning we come across can result in an extremely inaccurate interpretation; and sometimes, the interpretation that results can even be the opposite of the true meaning. One can see from this that the Qur’an is self-explanatory. The explanation of one verse can sometimes be hidden in the meaning of another verse or verses.
Another important rule in the interpretation of the Qur’an is to fully grasp its essence. In order to do that, one has to see it as a whole. Furthermore, it should be explained in the light of the many verses which reflect the infinite mercy, compassion and justice of God.
4. INSUFFICIENT KNOWLEDGE OF ARABIC
God states that He has sent the Qur’an as a book written in Arabic. Obviously, translations into other languages are sufficient when one only needs to understand very basic concepts, such as learning about God, the main principles of faith and their essential applications, as well as seeking guidance and meditating on it. Nonetheless, none of these translations can, in any way, match the original language of the Qur’an. Even in a direct, word for word translation, a lot of vocabulary as well as meanings will be missed since it is quite impossible to grammatically adapt many Arabic words in their correct sentence form to any other language. Therefore, so-called “translations of the Qur’an” do no more than give an overall feel of its contents and never actually reflect the exact meanings of the verses.
5. LACK OF THINKING
It says in the Qur’an that, in order to make a sound interpretation of its contents, one has to think about and contemplate it thoroughly. If the Qur’an is viewed superficially and read as if it were just another ordinary book, then the true benefits of this endless source of wisdom will not surface. In the Qur’an, God constantly invites man to use his reason and to think. Thinking, using one’s reason, and making an effort to try and grasp the meanings, finer points, mysteries and miracles of the Qur’an are essential if one is to truly appreciate it. The Qur’an reveals to everyone information about himself, the purpose behind his creation, the true nature of this world, the reasons for what goes on around him, along with many other subjects concerning him and his surroundings. Accordingly, one should try to establish a connection between the verses and himself, his surroundings and the events he experiences, and strive to understand the Qur’an by thinking deeply on all of these. It is stated in the Qur’an that it was revealed to those who reflect:
This is the path of your Lord – straight. We have made the Signs clear for people who remember. (Surat al-An’am: 126)
…In this way We make Our Signs clear for people who reflect. (Surah Yunus: 24)
6. ARROGANCE AND SUPERIORITY
Arrogance will prevent anyone from understanding the Qur’an. Since an arrogant person considers himself to be superior, he will not possess the necessary humility and awareness needed to approach the Qur’an properly.His pride and assumed superiority prevent him from doing so. That is the reason why he will see the Qur’an as a threat to his character, which is based on arrogance. He will fight with all his might to seek ways to contradict the Qur’an. In so doing he will argue about the verses. It has been stated in the Qur’an that those with pride cannot comprehend its verses:
I will divert from My Signs all those who are arrogant in the earth without any right. If they see every Sign, they will not believe in it. If they see the way of right guidance, they will not take it as a way. But if they see the way of error, they will take that as a way. That is because they denied Our Signs and paid no attention to them. (Surat al-A’raf: 146)
Who could do greater wrong than someone who is reminded of the Signs of his Lord and then turns away from them, forgetting all that he has done before? We have placed covers on their hearts, preventing them from understanding it, and heaviness in their ears. Though you call them to guidance, they will nonetheless never be guided. (Surat al-Kahf: 57)
Arrogance is a tool for viewing one’s own intelligence, culture and knowledge as superior. So the accomplishments of an arrogant person, such as his academic career, culture and expertise, will actually serve to distance him from the Qur’an. The unwise claims made by seeming experts or intellectuals regarding the Qur’an are proof of the fact that pride prevents anyone from truly acknowledging the Qur’an. This sort of people are described in many verses:
Certainly those who argue about the Signs of God without any authority having come to them have nothing in their breasts except for pride which they will never be able to vindicate. Therefore seek refuge with God. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing. (Surat al-Mu’min: 56)
Who hears the Signs of God recited to him and then persists in his arrogance just as if he had never heard them. Give him the news of a painful punishment. (Surat al-Jathiyah: 8)
7. TRYING TO INTERPRET THE QUR’AN WITH OLD TRADITIONS
One of the greatest mistakes made when trying to interpret the Qur’an is making use of hearsay and superstitions from one’s forefathers and of old traditions which are claimed to be the words of religion. People who do that follow an inherited traditional religion rather than the Qur’an, and at the same time try to adapt the Qur’an to that perverted religion. Their twisted mentality has been described in the Qur’an:
When they are told, ‘Follow what God has sent down to you,’ They say, ‘We are following what we found our fathers doing.’ What, even though their fathers did not understand a thing and were not guided! (Surat al-Baqarah: 170)
This twisted view of religion, that is widespread among the uneducated, puts forward a model of belief that is completely different from and contradictory to the Islamic one. This model, which is presented under the name of Islam, in fact has no relation whatsoever with the true religion, ethics and lifestyle that are described in the Qur’an. This distorted model is based on traditions and old-fashioned superstitions and not on the Qur’an. The followers of this warped practice try to adapt the Qur’an and its verses to fit their traditions and superstitions. It is obviously impossible to explain the Qur’an with such nonsense. However, as mentioned in the Qur’an, these fabrications that are manufactured by “distorting the book with tongues” only serve to distance one from the Qur’an.
8. TRYING TO INTERPRET THE QUR’AN ACCORDING TO THE FLAWED VALUES OF THE ESTABLISHED ORDER
There are those who live by modern-day as well as social standards, who accept the rules applied by the majority as absolute facts and use them to try and interpret the Qur’an. People like this make up the majority of those who try to object to the Qur’an, even though they are the least educated and cultured. It is possible to come across such people in every profession and part of society. They make up a majority, who do not think too deeply or possess a certain world-view, and are obsessed only with worldly pursuits and are only focused on their livelihood. Since they seek simple pleasures, small calculations and profits, they perceive the Qur’an as a threat that would limit their so-called freedom, alter their simple lifestyles or expectations, and the order to which they are accustomed. Therefore, they try to oppose the Qur’an with their primitive logic.
If you obeyed most of those on earth, they would misguide you from God’s Way. They follow nothing but conjecture. They are only guessing. (Surat al-An’am: 116)
9. INABILITY TO UNDERSTAND THE SCIENTIFIC QUR’ANIC VERSES
Many scientific facts are mentioned either directly or indirectly in the Qur’an. Many topics, from the creation phases of the universe, human beings and the formation of rain to the movement of continents are mentioned as proof of the perfection and superiority of God’s creation. Nevertheless, obviously the Qur’an is not a book of science. In the Qur’an, scientific information is sometimes mentioned in a clear, lucid language, and at other times it is explained by means of comparisons, indications or concealed language. Being unable to realize the wisdom in such verses, some prejudiced people, who do not possess the necessary basic knowledge of science and scientific progress, nor a subtle comprehension, end up opposing the Qur’an.
Then when they arrive He (God) will say, ‘Did you deny My Signs even though you did not have proper knowledge of them. What were you doing?’ (Surat an-Naml: 84)
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