Does the Qur’an use metaphorical language? – Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote the following discussion in part of his tafsir of surah al-Kahf:

قوله تعالى : فوجدا فيها جدارا يريد أن ينقض فأقامه

Allah’s statement:

فَوَجَدَا فِيهَا جِدَارً‌ا يُرِ‌يدُ أَن يَنقَضَّ فَأَقَامَهُ

Then they found therein a wall that wanted to collapse, so he (al-Khadr) set it up straight [18:77]

، هذه الآية الكريمة من أكبر الأدلة التي يستدل بها القائلون : بأن المجاز في القرآن زاعمين أن إرادة الجدار الانقضاض لا يمكن أن تكون حقيقة ، وإنما هي مجاز ، وقد دلت آيات من كتاب الله على أنه لا مانع من كون إرادة الجدار حقيقة ; لأن الله تعالى يعلم للجمادات إرادات وأفعالا وأقوالا لا يدركها الخلق كما صرح تعالى بأنه يعلم من ذلك ما لا يعلمه خلقه في قوله جل وعلا : وإن من شيء إلا يسبح بحمده ولكن لا تفقهون تسبيحهم [ 17 \ 44 ] ، فصرح بأننا لا نفقه تسبيحهم ، وتسبيحهم واقع عن إرادة لهم يعلمها هو جل وعلا ونحن لا نعلمها ، وأمثال ذلك كثيرة في القرآن والسنة . ـ

This noble ayah is one of the greatest evidences employed by those who say that there is metaphorical language in the Qur’an, asserting that is it not possible to take the will of the wall to collapse literally and that it is only figurative. But many ayaat from the Book of Allah have demonstrated that there is nothing preventing the wall’s will from being taken literally, for Allah knows the will, actions and statements of inanimate objects which created beings do not perceive, as He clarified the fact that He knows what His creation does not know, according to His statement:

وَإِن مِّن شَيْءٍ إِلَّا يُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِهِ وَلَـٰكِن لَّا تَفْقَهُونَ تَسْبِيحَهُمْ

And there is not a thing except that it exalts [Allah] by His praise, but you do not understand their [way of] exalting [17:44]

So He clarified that we do not understand their way of making exaltation, and that their exaltation is real according to a will of theirs which Allah knows but we do not know. And the likes of that are numerous in the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

فمن الآيات الدالة على ذلك قوله تعالى : وإن من الحجارة لما يتفجر منه الأنهار وإن منها لما يشقق فيخرج منه الماء وإن منها لما يهبط من خشية الله الآية [ 2 \ 74 ] ، فتصريحه تعالى بأن بعض الحجارة يهبط من خشية الله دليل واضح في ذلك ; لأن تلك الخشية بإدراك يعلمه الله ونحن لا نعلمه ، وقولـه تعالى : إنا عرضنا الأمانة على السماوات والأرض والجبال فأبين أن يحملنها وأشفقن منها وحملها الإنسان الآية [ 33 \ 72 ] ، فتصريحه جل وعلا بأن السماء والأرض والجبال أبت وأشفقت ، أي : خافت ، دليل على أن ذلك واقع بإرادة وإدراك يعلمه هو جل وعلا ونحن لا نعلمه . ـ

So among the ayaat which demonstrate this is His statement:

وَإِنَّ مِنَ الْحِجَارَ‌ةِ لَمَا يَتَفَجَّرُ‌ مِنْهُ الْأَنْهَارُ‌ ۚ وَإِنَّ مِنْهَا لَمَا يَشَّقَّقُ فَيَخْرُ‌جُ مِنْهُ الْمَاءُ ۚ وَإِنَّ مِنْهَا لَمَا يَهْبِطُ مِنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّـهِ

For indeed, there are stones from which rivers burst forth, and there are some of them that split open and water comes out, and there are some of them that fall down for fear of Allah [2:74]

So His clarification that some of the stones fall down out of fear of Allah is a clear proof for that, because this fear is conscious which Allah knows although we do not know. And His statement:

إِنَّا عَرَ‌ضْنَا الْأَمَانَةَ عَلَى السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْ‌ضِ وَالْجِبَالِ فَأَبَيْنَ أَن يَحْمِلْنَهَا وَأَشْفَقْنَ مِنْهَا وَحَمَلَهَا الْإِنسَانُ

Indeed, we offered the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, and they declined to bear it and feared it; but man [undertook to] bear it [33:72]

So His clarification that the sky and the earth and the mountains refused this and were concerned – meaning, they feared – is proof that this is real according to a will and awareness which Allah knows although we do not know.

ومن الأحاديث الدالة على ذلك ما ثبت في صحيح مسلم : أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال : ” إني لأعرف حجرا كان يسلم علي بمكة ” وما ثبت في صحيح البخاري من حنين الجذع الذي كان يخطب عليه صلى الله عليه وسلم جزعا لفراقه ، فتسليم ذلك الحجر ، وحنين ذلك الجذع كلاهما بإرادة وإدراك يعلمه الله ونحن لا نعلمه ، كما صرح بمثله في قوله : ولكن لا تفقهون تسبيحهم [ 17 \ 44 ] ، وزعم من لا علم عنده أن هذه الأمور لا حقيقة لها ، وإنما هي ضرب أمثال ، زعم باطل ; لأن نصوص الكتاب والسنة لا يجوز صرفها عن معناها الواضح المتبادر إلا بدليل يجب الرجوع إليه ، وأمثال هذا كثيرة جدا ، وبذلك تعلم أنه لا مانع من إبقاء إرادة الجدار على حقيقتها لإمكان أن يكون الله علم منه إرادة الانقضاض ، وإن لم يعلم خلقه تلك الإرادة ، وهذا واضح جدا كما ترى ، مع أنه من الأساليب العربية إطلاق الإرادة على المقاربة والميل إلى الشيء ، كما في قول الشاعر : ـ

And among the ahaadeeth which demonstrate this is what is confirmed in Saheeh Muslim that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “I recognize the stone in Mecca which used to greet me”, and what is confirmed in Saheeh al-Bukhari of the crying of the tree-stump upon which he used to give khutbahs due to sadness of being separated from him. So the greetings of that stone and the crying of that tree-stump are both with a will and awareness which Allah knows although we do not know, just as He clarified the likes of that in His statement:

لَّا تَفْقَهُونَ تَسْبِيحَهُمْ

… but you do not understand their [way of] exalting [17:44]

And those who do not have knowledge of this assert that these affairs do not have any truth to them and that they are only the striking of examples – which is a false assertion. For it is not permissible to turn away from clear and obvious meanings of the texts of the Book and the Sunnah except with an evidence which necessitates being referred back to, and the likes of this are numerous. So by this you know that there is nothing preventing the will of the wall from remaining in a literal meaning due to the possibility that Allah knew of it having a will to collapse, even if His created beings did not have knowledge of that will. And this is very clear as you can see, not to mention that one of the methods of the Arabic language is to associate “will” with closeness or inclination to something.

 ـ [ ص: 340 ] في مهمه قلقت به هامتها قلق الفئوس إذا أردن نضولا
فقوله : إذا أردن نضولا ، أي قاربنه . وقول الآخر : ـ
يريد الرمح صدر أبي براء     ويعدل عن دماء بني عقيل
أي : يميل إلى صدر أبي براء ، وكقول راعي نمير : ـ
إن دهرا يلف شملي بجمل     لزمان يهم بالإحسان
فقوله ” لزمان يهم بالإحسان فيه

[This section dealing with semantics and drawing examples from Arabic poetry to support the previous point has been omitted from the translation due to its technical nature.]

 وقد بينا في رسالتنا المسماة [ منع جواز المجاز في المنزل للتعبد والإعجاز ] أن جميع الآيات التي يزعمون أنها مجاز أن ذلك لا يتعين في شيء منها ، وبينا أدلة ذلك ، والعلم عند الله تعالى .ـ

And in our small book called “Prohibition of the use of Metaphorical Language in the Qur’an” we explained that for all of the ayaat which they claim are metaphors there is nothing to single them out for that. And we explained the proofs of that, and the knowledge is with Allah.

[Adhwaa’ al-Bayaan 3/340-341]

See also: Understanding the Ayaat al-Sifaat: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: “When he reached the setting place of the sun…”: Tafsir ibn Kathir, al-Shinqitee & al-Qurtubi

See also: Benefits from the story of Moosaa and al-Khadr: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: “Taking the Qur’an according to its apparent meanings”: Ibn Taymiyah

See also: “No vision can grasp Him, but His Grasp is over all vision”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: The two types of ‘with-ness’ of Allah: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: The examples and comparisons in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

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7 thoughts on “Does the Qur’an use metaphorical language? – Tafsir al-Shinqitee

  1. Pingback: Understanding the Ayaat al-Sifaat: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: “Taking the Qur’an according to its apparent meanings”: Ibn Taymiyah | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: “No vision can grasp Him, but His Grasp is over all vision”: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: The two types of ‘with-ness’ of Allah: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  5. Pingback: The examples and comparisons in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  6. Pingback: A Clarification regarding the Questioning on the Day of Judgement: Imam al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  7. Pingback: Precautionary Language in the Qur’an: ibn ‘Uthaymeen | Tulayhah

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