Why do the Qiraa’aat Differ?: Makki ibn Abi Taalib

Makki ibn Abi Taalib, one of the great scholars of the Qur’anic sciences among the earlier generations, posed the following question and answer in his book al-Ibaanah dealing with some foundational issues around the qiraa’aat, or multiple recitations of the Qur’an. What follows is one chapter from this work:

باب: “سبب اختلاف القراءة فيما يحتمله خط المصحف” ـ
Chapter: The Reason Why the Qiraa’aat Differ Within the Bounds of the Text of the Official ‘Uthmani Mushaf

فإن سأل سائل فقال: ما السبب الذي أوجب أن تختلف القراءة، فيما يحتمله خط المصحف، فقرءوا بألفاظ مختلفة في السمع والمعنى واحد. نحو: جُذوة وجِذوة، وجَذوة. وقرءوا بألفاظ مختلفة في السمع وفي المعنى نحو: يُسَيِّركم، ويَنْشُرُكم. وكل ذلك لا يخالف الخط في رأي العين؟ ـ

If someone were to ask: What is it that causes the qiraa’aat to differ within the bounds the text of the official ‘Uthmani mushaf?

The reciters may recite variant wordings in how they are pronounced while the meaning is one, such as

لَّعَلِّي آتِيكُم مِّنْهَا بِخَبَرٍ أَوْ جُذْوَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ

… perhaps I may bring to you from there some information, or a judwah … [28:29 according to the qiraa’ah of Hamzah and Khalaf]

لَّعَلِّي آتِيكُم مِّنْهَا بِخَبَرٍ أَوْ جِذْوَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ

… perhaps I may bring to you from there some information, or a jidwah … [28:29 according to the qiraa’ah of Naafi’, ibn Kathir, Abu ‘Amr, and ibn ‘Aamir]

لَّعَلِّي آتِيكُم مِّنْهَا بِخَبَرٍ أَوْ جَذْوَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ

… perhaps I may bring to you from there some information, or a jadwah … [28:29 according to the qiraa’ah of ‘Aasim]

And sometimes they recite variant wordings in terms of both their pronunciation and meanings, such as:

هُوَ الَّذِي يُسَيِّرُكُمْ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ

It is He Who enables you to travel through the land and the sea … [10:22]

هُوَ الَّذِي يُنْشِرُكُمْ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ

It is He who disperses you throughout the land and the sea … [10:22 according to the qiraa’ah of ibn ‘Aamir]

And all the while none of these are in conflict with the text of the official ‘Uthmani mushaf in terms of its appearance (i.e. the form of the words without dots of tashkeel). Continue reading

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Did You Know? … about the Books of Tafsir: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad ibn ‘Umar Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, posted the following series of “did you know…?” questions related to the books of tafsir on his Facebook page:

هل تعلم أن تفسير ابن جرير الطبري وتفسير ابن كثير يعتبران من الكتب الجامعة بين الرواية والدراية يعني بالمنقول والمعقول . فلا يعدا من كتب التفسير بالمأثور الا تجوزا بحسب الغالب عليهما. ـ

○ Did you know that Tafsir ibn Jarir al-Tabari and Tafsir ibn Kathir are both classified as those books which combine the perspectives of both narrations and expert scholarship – i.e. both transmitted material and intellect-based analysis? So they are only counted among the books of narration-based tafsir due to that being their predominant content.

هل تعلم أن كتب التفسير بالمأثور هي الكتب التي يقتصر دور المفسر فيها على مجرد ايراد الروايات كتفسير عبدالرزاق وابن أبي حاتم . ـ

○ Did you know that the books of narration-based tafsir are those books whose authors limit themselves to only transmitting the narrated statements? These are books such as Tafsir ‘Abd al-Razzaaq and Tafsir ibn Abi Haatim.

هل تعلم أن كتب التفسير بالمأثور اهتمت فقط بتفسير القرآن بالروايات عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وعن الصحابة والتابعين. فلم تورد ما يتعلق بتفسير القرآن بالقرآن الا ما جاء ضمنا في الروايات المشار إليها. ـ

○ Did you know that the narration-based books of tafsir are limited in their scope only to the explanations of the Qur’an that come with a chain of narration from Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ), or from the Companions, or from the Taabi’oon? So they do not mention what is connected to the explanation of the Qur’an by the Qur’an unless it comes as part of a narration which includes that.

هل تعلم أن كلمة أهل العلم متفقة أن أعظم كتب التفسير واصحها كتاب ابن جرير الطبري . ـ
ويكاد يكون تفسير ابن كثير ملخصا له. ـ
واحسن منه في التلخيص كتاب البغوي في التفسير. ـ
ولا اعرف كتابا يسامت تفسير البغوي في اختصاره وسلامته من البدعة وجمعه لكلام السلف. ـ

○ Did you know that the scholars are unanimous in their stance that the greatest and most sound book of tafsir is the Tafsir of ibn Jarir al-Tabari? Continue reading

An Example of Reconciling Multiple Reports on the Reasons for Revelation: al-Suyooti

In many of the books of tafsir, a single ayah might come with several different narrations about its sabab al-nuzool – “the reason for revelation” – or the event or question that led to this ayah being revealed. To many readers, this can be confusing. In the midst of a larger discussion about how to approach and deal with these different reports, Imam Jalal al-Deen al-Suyooti provides the following example of how to use the science of hadith grading to determine which reports can be relied upon.

وإن ذكر واحد سببا وآخر سببا غيره ، فإن كان إسناد أحدهما صحيحا دون الآخر فالصحيح المعتمد … ـ

If one person mentions one reason for revelation and another person mentions a different reason for revelation, if the chain of narration for one of these reports is authentic while the other is not, then the one with the authentic chain is taken to be the reason for revelation. …

ومن أمثلته – أيضا : – ما أخرجه ابن جرير وابن أبي حاتم ، من طريق علي بن أبي طلحة ، عن ابن عباس أن رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – لما هاجر إلى المدينة ، أمره الله أن يستقبل بيت المقدس ففرحت اليهود ، فاستقبله بضعة عشر شهرا – وكان يحب قبلة إبراهيم – فكان يدعو الله وينظر إلى السماء ، فأنزل الله : فولوا وجوهكم شطره [ البقرة : 150 ] فارتاب من ذلك اليهود ، وقالوا ( ما ولاهم عن قبلتهم التي كانوا عليها ) ! فأنزل الله : قل لله المشرق والمغرب [ البقرة : 115 ] وقال : فأينما تولوا فثم وجه الله . [ البقرة : 115 ] ـ

… Another example of this is

(1) what ibn Jarir and ibn Abi Hatim reported through the route of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talhah from ibn ‘Abbaas that

when Allah’s Messenger migrated to al-Madinah Allah commanded him to face Jerusalem, which was something that pleased the Jews. So he prayed facing Jerusalem for somewhere between ten and twenty months – although he used to love the qiblah of Ibrahim – while he was asking Allah and looking towards the sky. So then Allah revealed

فَوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ

so turn your face towards it [2:150]

This raised some misgivings among the Jews, who said, “What caused them to turn away from the qiblah that they used to follow?” So then Allah revealed

وَلِلَّـهِ الْمَشْرِقُ وَالْمَغْرِبُ

And to Allah belongs the east and the west. [2:115]

and He said Continue reading

What to do when Multiple “Reasons for Revelation” are Mentioned for the Same Ayah?: al-Suyooti

In his famous manual of the Qur’anic science, Imam Jalal al-Deen al-Suyooti included a chapter dealing with the sub-field of the Asbab al-Nuzool or the “Reasons for Revelation”. He dedicated one part of that chapter to how describing how to approach multiple differing reports of the reasons for revelation about a single ayah, providing copious examples. Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool condensed this section to its core contents, which we have translated below:

المسألة الخامسة‏ [إذا تعددت أسباب النزول] : ـ

The Fifth Issue: What to do When Multiple “Reasons for Revelation” are Mentioned?

كثيرا ما يذكر المفسرون لنزول الآية أسبابا متعددة ، وطريق الاعتماد في ذلك أن ينظر إلى العبارة الواقعة : ـ

It frequently happens that the mufassiroon will mention multiple reasons for the revelation of a single ayah. A reliable way to approach such a situation is to look at the wording used:

فإن عبر أحدهم بقوله : نزلت في كذا ، والآخر : نزلت في كذا ، وذكر أمرا آخر ، فقد تقدم أن هذا يراد به التفسير لا ذكر سبب النزول ، فلا منافاة بين قوليهما إذا كان اللفظ يتناولهما . ـ

○ If one person used the phrase, “It was revealed about such-and-such” and another said, “It was revealed about such-and-such” while mentioning another situation, then we have already explained that the intended meaning of this phrase is an explanation of the ayah, not mentioning the reason for its revelation. Therefore there is no conflict between the two statements if they both used this wording.

وإن عبر واحد بقوله : نزلت في كذا ، وصرح الآخر بذكر سبب خلافه فهو المعتمد وذاك استنباط . ـ

○ If one person used the phrase, “It was revealed about such-and-such” while another person explicitly mentioned a reason for revelation contrary to that, then the explicit statement should be taken to be the reason for revelation while the other one is just someone deriving a point or benefit related to the ayah.

وإن ذكر واحد سببا وآخر سببا غيره ، فإن كان إسناد أحدهما صحيحا دون الآخر فالصحيح المعتمد . ـ

○ If one person mentions one reason for revelation and another person mentions a different reason for revelation, if the chain of narration for one of these reports is authentic while the other is not, then the one with the authentic chain is taken to be the reason for revelation. Continue reading

Taking Ayaat out of Context: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Badr

Towards the beginning of surah Aal ‘Imran Allah says:

هُوَ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ مِنْهُ آيَاتٌ مُّحْكَمَاتٌ هُنَّ أُمُّ الْكِتَابِ وَأُخَرُ مُتَشَابِهَاتٌ ۖ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ زَيْغٌ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ مَا تَشَابَهَ مِنْهُ ابْتِغَاءَ الْفِتْنَةِ وَابْتِغَاءَ تَأْوِيلِهِ ۗ وَمَا يَعْلَمُ تَأْوِيلَهُ إِلَّا اللَّـهُ ۗ وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ يَقُولُونَ آمَنَّا بِهِ كُلٌّ مِّنْ عِندِ رَبِّنَا ۗ وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلَّا أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ

It is He who revealed the Scripture to you. In it there are muhkam (clear) verses which are the foundation of the Book and others which are mutashabih (ambiguous). As for those in whose hearts is deviation, they follow the ambiguous parts of it, seeking fitnah and seeking distortion. But none knows its interpretation except Allah and those whose are firmly-grounded in knowledge. They say, “We believe in it. All of it is from our Lord.” And none will be reminded except for those of understanding. [3:7]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Badr, one of the contemporary scholars of al-Madinahdelivered the following important words while discussing this ayah in the midst of his explanation of the book Kashf al-Shubuhat:

ـ [وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ ] أي الراسخون في العلم يعلمون معناه. وطريقة الراسخين في العلم تجاه المتشابه أنهم يؤمنون به أنه من عند لله، ويردونه إلى المحكَم، على خلاف طريقة أهل الزيغ. ـ

وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ

… and those firmly grounded in knowledge [3:7]

meaning: those who are firmly grounded in knowledge also know its meaning. And the approach that those who are firmly grounded in knowledge take with respect to the mutashabih (ambiguous) verses is that they believe in them as being from Allah and they refer these verses back to the muhkam (clear and unambiguous) verses. This is in contrast to how the deviated people approach these verses.

قال : [وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ يَقُولُونَ آمَنَّا بِهِ كُلٌّ مِّنْ عِندِ رَبِّنَا] [كُلٌّ مِّنْ عِندِ رَبِّنَا] كله حق، وكله من لله، وليس في القرآن تناقض ولا اضطراب، [وَلَوْ كَانَ مِنْ عِندِ غَيْرِ اللَّـهِ لَوَجَدُوا فِيهِ اخْتِلَافًا كَثِيرًا ] ولا يستقيم الأمر للإنسان في هذا الباب إلا إذا كان على هذا النهج ؛ يرَُد المتشابه من آيِّ القرآن إلى المحكَم. أما إذا كان بمعزل عن آيات القرآم ودلالاته ، ويجتزئ من النصوص أشياء يشبه بها على الناس فهذه طريقة أهل الزيغ، مثل طريقة الجهمية الذين يقولون لله في كل مكان، يقرأون مستدلين على قولهم “إن لله في كل مكان”، بقوله تعالى: وهو معكم أين ما كنتم [الحديد: ٤]. وابن القيم رحمه لله يقول: ـ
يا قومنا ولله إنا لقولنا ألفاً تدلُّ عليه ؛ بل ألفان

Allah said:

وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ يَقُولُونَ آمَنَّا بِهِ كُلٌّ مِّنْ عِندِ رَبِّنَا

And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say, “We believe in it. All of it is from our Lord.” [3:7]

All of it is from our Lord” – all of it is the truth and all of it is from Allah. There is no contradiction or disorder in the Qur’an.

وَلَوْ كَانَ مِنْ عِندِ غَيْرِ اللَّـهِ لَوَجَدُوا فِيهِ اخْتِلَافًا كَثِيرًا

Had it been from anyone other than Allah they would have found much contradiction within it. [4:82] Continue reading

The Last Parts of the Qur’an to be Revealed: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

Imam al-Qurtubi concludes his explanation of surah al-Nasr [110] with the following narration:

وقال ابن عمر : نزلت هذه السورة بمنى في حجة الوداع ؛ ثم نزلت اليوم أكملت لكم دينكم وأتممت عليكم نعمتي [ ص: 208 ] فعاش بعدهما النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – ثمانين يوما . ثم نزلت آية الكلالة ، فعاش بعدها خمسين يوما . ثم نزل لقد جاءكم رسول من أنفسكم فعاش بعدها خمسة وثلاثين يوما . ثم نزل واتقوا يوما ترجعون فيه إلى الله فعاش بعدها أحدا وعشرين يوما . وقال مقاتل سبعة أيام . وقيل غير هذا مما تقدم في ( البقرة ) بيانه والحمد لله . ـ

Ibn ‘Umar said:

This surah [surah al-Nasr – 110] was revealed at Mina during the Farewell Pilgrimage, and then

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي

your religion and completed My favor upon you … [5:3]

The Prophet lived for 80 days after that. The ayah of al-Kalalah [4:176] was revealed next and the Prophet remained alive for fifty days after that. The ayah

لَقَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولٌ مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ عَزِيزٌ عَلَيْهِ مَا عَنِتُّمْ حَرِيصٌ عَلَيْكُم بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ

There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is what you suffer; he is concerned over you and to the believers is kind and merciful. [9:128]

was the next to be revealed and he remained alive for 35 days after that. Then Continue reading

A Primer on Abrogation: al-Zarkashi

In his landmark manual of the Qur’anic sciences, sheikh Badr al-Deen al-Zarkashi mentioned the following important discussion in his chapter on naasikh and mansookh – abrogated and abrogating – verses:

قسم بعضهم النسخ من وجه آخر إلى ثلاثة أضرب

Some scholars have taken another approach to categorizing abrogation, resulting in three categories:

الأول : نسخ المأمور به قبل امتثاله ، وهذا الضرب هو النسخ على الحقيقة ، كأمر الخليل بذبح ولده ، وكقوله تعالى : إذا ناجيتم الرسول فقدموا بين يدي نجواكم صدقة ( المجادلة : 12 ) ثم نسخه سبحانه بقوله : أأشفقتم ( المجادلة : 13 ) الآية . ـ

One: Abrogation of a command before it could be carried out, which is indeed abrogation. An example of this would be the command for Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, or Allah’s statement:

إِذَا نَاجَيْتُمُ الرَّسُولَ فَقَدِّمُوا بَيْنَ يَدَيْ نَجْوَاكُمْ صَدَقَةً

When you [wish to] privately consult the Messenger, present before your consultation a charity. [58:12]

which Allah then abrogated by saying:

أَأَشْفَقْتُمْ

Have you feared … [58:13]

until the end of the ayah.

الثاني : ويسمى نسخا تجوزا ، وهو ما أوجبه الله على من قبلنا كحتم القصاص ولذلك قال عقب تشريع الدية : ذلك تخفيف من ربكم ورحمة ( البقرة : 178 ) وكذلك ما أمرنا الله به أمرا إجماليا ثم نسخ ، كنسخه التوجه إلى بيت الله المقدس بالكعبة ، فإن ذلك كان واجبا علينا من قضية أمره باتباع الأنبياء قبله ، وكنسخ صوم يوم عاشوراء برمضان . ـ

Two – which can only be loosely called “abrogation” – is what Allah had mandated on those before us, such as the decree of legal retribution. It was in this vein that immediately after the legislation of blood-money Allah said:

ذَٰلِكَ تَخْفِيفٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ

This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. [2:178]

And likewise what Allah commanded in general terms and then abrogated, such as His abrogation of facing towards Allah’s Sacred House in Jerusalem by facing instead towards the Ka’bah, for that had been something binding on us under His commandment to follow the previous prophets. Another example of this is the abrogation of fasting the Day of ‘Aashooraa’ by fasting Ramadan. Continue reading

Some Background on the Field of ‘Uloom al-Qur’an: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr

In the introduction to his explanation of Manthoomah al-Zamzami – an introduction to the Qur’anic sciences in poem form -, sheikh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr included the following remarks which include important background information regarding the field of ‘Uloom al-Qur’an:

التأليف في علوم القرآن يندر أن تجد متنا يناسب شرحه في دورة مثلا كما يوجد في العلوم الأخرى، العلوم الأخرى ألف فيها للمبتدئين، كتب كثيرة للمبتدئين؛ في الفقه، في العقائد، في الحديث، في كذا..، كتب كثيرة تناسب المبتدئين، كتب ألفت للمتوسطين، كتب ألفت للمنتهين. ـ

When it comes to the field of the Qur’anic sciences it is rare to find a primer suitable to be explained in a conference setting like the primers that you can find for other fields. In other sciences there are works that have been written for the beginning level, many books suitable for beginners. This is the case in fiqh, in ‘aqeedah, in hadeeth, and so on. There are plenty of books suitable for beginners, books written for intermediate students, and books written for advanced students.

تعال يا أخي إلى علوم القرآن، ما الذي يناسب المبتدئين من هذه العلوم؟ نجد في الدورات عناية بمقدمة شيخ الإسلام ابن تيمية مقدمة التفسير ، شيخ الإسلام رحمه الله إمام من أئمة المسلمين، يكفي أن هذا الكتاب لشيخ الإسلام، لكن هل هو على طريقة المتون التي تعنى بالحدود والأمثلة والتعاريف وضبط الفن وضبط أنواع الفن كالعلوم الأخرى؟ يعني: هل نجد متنا في علوم القرآن مثل ما نجد النخبة مثلا ، أو الكتب التي ألفت للتدرج في تلقي العقيدة الصحيحة؟ ما نجد، يعني على سبيل الاستقلال للعلماء الذين يؤلفون على الجادة لطلاب العلم ما تجد إلا ما ندر. ـ

Let’s look, my brother, at the Qur’anic sciences – what would be a suitable work in this field for the beginning student? We find conferences generally giving attention to the Muqaddimah al-Tafsir of Sheikh al-Islam ibn Taymiyah, the sheikh of Islam (may Allah have mercy on him) and one of the leading figures of the Muslims. It is enough to know that this book was written by this Sheikh al-Islam, but is this work written in the typical mold of a primer that focuses on delimiting the subject, providing examples, giving definitions, precisely defining the field and the various sub-fields within it as we find in the primers of other sciences? In other words, do we find source texts for the Qur’anic sciences like al-Nukhbah al-Fikr, for example or like the books written to help the student gradually progress in acquiring the correct ‘aqeedah? We do not find these, meaning not as their own independent works written by the scholars as part of a progression of knowledge for students of knowledge. Except for the rare exception, we do not find such works. Continue reading

Guidance for Interpreting the Qur’an in Surah Aal ‘Imran: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In the beginning of surah Aal ‘Imran, Allah says:

هُوَ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ مِنْهُ آيَاتٌ مُّحْكَمَاتٌ هُنَّ أُمُّ الْكِتَابِ وَأُخَرُ مُتَشَابِهَاتٌ ۖ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ زَيْغٌ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ مَا تَشَابَهَ مِنْهُ ابْتِغَاءَ الْفِتْنَةِ وَابْتِغَاءَ تَأْوِيلِهِ ۗ وَمَا يَعْلَمُ تَأْوِيلَهُ إِلَّا اللَّـهُ ۗ وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ يَقُولُونَ آمَنَّا بِهِ كُلٌّ مِّنْ عِندِ رَبِّنَا ۗ وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلَّا أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ * رَبَّنَا لَا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا وَهَبْ لَنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْوَهَّابُ * رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ جَامِعُ النَّاسِ لِيَوْمٍ لَّا رَيْبَ فِيهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يُخْلِفُ الْمِيعَادَ

It is He who revealed the Scripture to you. In it there are muhkam verses which are the Umm al-Kitab and others which are ambiguous. As for those in whose hearts is deviation, they follow the ambiguous parts of it, seeking fitnah and seeking distortion. But none knows its interpretation except Allah and those whose are firmly-grounded in knowledge. They say, “We believe in it. All of it is from our Lord.” And none will be reminded except for those of understanding.

“O our Lord, do not let our hearts deviate after You have guided us! And grant us from Yourself mercy. Indeed, You are the Bestower.

Our Lord, surely You will gather the people for a Day about which there is no doubt. Indeed, Allah does not fail in His promise.” [3:7-9]

In his famous book of tafsir, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir dedicated considerable space to explaining these ayaat. For the sake of clarity and brevity, we have used sheikh Muhammad Moosaa Nasr’s abridgement of Tafsir ibn Kathir in order to present a more streamlined explanation:

يخبر تعالى أن في القرآن آيات محكمات هن أم الكتاب ، أي : بينات واضحات الدلالة ، لا التباس فيها على أحد من الناس ، ومنه آيات أخر فيها اشتباه في الدلالة على كثير من الناس أو بعضهم ، فمن رد ما اشتبه عليه إلى الواضح منه ، وحكم محكمه على متشابهه عنده ، فقد اهتدى . ومن عكس انعكس ، ولهذا قال تعالى : ( هو الذي أنزل عليك الكتاب منه آيات محكمات هن أم الكتاب ) أي : أصله [ ص: 7 ] الذي يرجع إليه عند الاشتباه ( وأخر متشابهات ) أي : تحتمل دلالتها موافقة المحكم ، وقد تحتمل شيئا آخر من حيث اللفظ والتركيب ، لا من حيث المراد . ـ

Allah is informing us that in this Qur’an there are:

  1. Muhkam verses which are the heart of the Book – i.e. verses whose message is plain and clear, such that no one would have any confusion about them
  2. Other verses whose message is somewhat ambiguous to some or many of the people

So whoever refers those confusing passages back to the clear ones and makes the clear parts a judge over the those he finds to be ambiguous will be rightly guided. And whoever does the opposite will have the opposite result. That is why Allah said: Continue reading

What the Salaf Meant by “Abrogation”: Ibn al-Qayyim

In the midst of a discussion urging people not to be hasty or eager to issue legal rulings, ibn al-Qayyim mentioned the following narration about naskh – frequently translated as “abrogation” – and then added some valuable commentary afterwards:

وقال ابن وهب : حدثنا أشهل بن حاتم عن عبد الله بن عون عن ابن سيرين قال : قال حذيفة : إنما يفتي الناس أحد ثلاثة : من يعلم ما نسخ من القرآن ، أو أمير لا يجد بدا ، أو أحمق متكلف ، قال : فربما قال ابن سيرين : فلست بواحد من هذين ، ولا أحب أن أكون الثالث ـ

… ibn Sireen said: Hudhayfah said,

The only ones who issue legal rulings to the people are one of the following three types: 1) someone who knows which parts of the Qur’an have been subject to naskh, 2) a ruler who cannot find any alternative, or 3) an imbecile who fancies himself as being qualified.

The sub-narrator said: I think ibn Sireen said, “I am neither one of the first two, and I would not like to be the third.”

قلت : مراده ومراد عامة السلف بالناسخ والمنسوخ رفع الحكم بجملته تارة وهو اصطلاح المتأخرين ، ورفع دلالة العام والمطلق والظاهر وغيرها تارة ، إما بتخصيص أو تقييد أو حمل مطلق على مقيد وتفسيره وتبيينه حتى إنهم يسمون الاستثناء والشرط والصفة نسخا لتضمن ذلك رفع دلالة الظاهر وبيان المراد ، فالنسخ عندهم وفي لسانهم هو بيان المراد بغير ذلك اللفظ ، بل بأمر خارج عنه ، ومن تأمل كلامهم رأى من ذلك فيه ما لا يحصى ، وزال عنه به إشكالات أوجبها حمل كلامهم على الاصطلاح الحادث المتأخر . ـ Continue reading