Fri. Nov 27th, 2020

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The Allegorical verses of the Quran

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Quran 3:7:

The following translation and commentary is taken from “The Holy Quran in Today’s English” by Yahiya Emerick under Surah 3 Verse # 7:

Translation of verse 7:

He’s the One Who is revealing this scripture to you.  Among its verses are some that are plain and clearly understood.  They’re the foundation of the Book.  There are also other (verses, however), that are open to different interpretations. [268]  Those who have hearts inclined towards dissension dwell upon (the verses) that can be understood in more than one way. They try to cause division (among the community) by giving them their own (misleading) interpretations, but only God and insightful people know their true meaning. [269]  They’re the ones who proclaim, “We believe in the (whole of the) Book, because it’s all from our Lord.”  Only those who think deeply ever truly understand. [7]


Note 268:

Mutashabihat means something that can be understood in more than one way or interpreted differently or filled with multiple shades of meaning sometimes bordering on the esoteric.  Thus, we are cautioned to be careful when interpreting such verses.  The Prophet once said, “When you see people busy trying to interpret the mutashabihat verses, stay away from them, for they are the people God talked about (in the Qur’an).”  (Bukhari)  Does this mean that we can never speculate speculate on their meanings?  No, and many companions and later scholars cautiously looked into the possible meaning of such verses.  The idea is that no one rigid position can be proclaimed as true above all others.  The underlying subtext is that we must be tolerant of other views on these verses, for only God knows their true interpretation.  There is a tradition in which the Prophet was reported to have said, “Differences in my community are a blessing.”  This and other sayings have given rise to a rich tradition of divergent scholasticism in Muslim history in which free and open debate among the scholars was often the order of the day.  (There have also been bouts of censorship and the like, but a great deal of healthy debate has been possible.)  In another saying, the Prophet is reported to have said that a religious scholar gets rewards from God for his efforts even if he makes a mistake, for at least he tried.

Note 269:

Some people have suggested that this line should be interpreted to mean that there are many verses of the Qur’an of which only God knows the meaning and that insightful people merely accept them as they are without trying to understand them.  This is an unfortunate misreading of the verse, for in a word-for-word translation the insightful people are included in a continuity after God’s knowledge is mentioned (by the addition of and, or wa in Arabic).  There is a grammatical break after that with the Arabic term yaquluna, which starts a new sentence: they say…  Several eminent commentators, including Mujahid and Baydawi, also assert this grammatical understanding.  In addition, there are other verses in the Qur’an that clearly state that insightful believers (in other words well-schooled scholars) can understand the meaning of the Qur’an’s verses.  (See 54:17 and 11:1 for example.)


Emerick, Yahiya. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an in Today’s English (p. 827). Unknown. Kindle Edition.