Comparing Exegetical Traditions: al-Wāqīat, Verse 79

Comparing Exegetical Traditions: al-Wāqīat, Verse 79
لا يمسه الا المطهرون

No one touches it except the pure ones 1

Something which I have wanted to make mention of for a while now is the wealth of methodologies and approaches extant within the exegetical corpus.

I think that rather than approach such exegetical methodologies in a descriptive manner, it would be prudent to present examples of such approaches while, at the same time, being aware that one example may not be accurately representative of an exegete’s methodology. My purpose for highlighting such differences is to introduce different scholarly views and also to encourage questions and thoughts.

As such, in the following post, I hope to briefly cover different exegeses of verse 79 of Surah al-Wāqīat.

لَّا يَمَسُّهُ إِلَّا الْمُطَهَّرُون‏

No one touches it except the pure ones [1. al-Wāqīat 56:79]

Many jurists have interpreted this verse to be indicative of the impermissibility of touching the Qurān while being ritually impure2. Of course, narrations are also present that support this interpretation3.

This seems to be a valid understanding, supported by narrations. However, there are also other interpretations such as that which Sadr al-Dīn presents in one of his works entitled, “Risalay Seh Asal”. Continue reading “Comparing Exegetical Traditions: al-Wāqīat, Verse 79”

  1. al-Wāqīat 56:79
  2. This view is presented in works such as, Tūsī, al-Khilāf v.1 pg. 99; Hillī, Mukhtalif al-Shī’a fi Ahkām al-Sharī’a v. 1 pg. 292
  3. Tūsī, al-Istibsār fī mā ikhtalafa min al-akhbār v.1 pg. 114

LQS 3: The Revelation of the Qurān

LQS 3: The Revelation of the Qurān
انا انزلناه في ليلة القدر

Indeed We sent it down on the Night of Ordainment1

This post is the fifth in a series of summaries of Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat’s book entitled, Amouzish Ulum Qurāni (Learning the Qurānic Sciences). For an introduction to Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat and his works, click here. To read the previous post which discussed narrations claiming that Satan interrupted revelation, click here.

In the third chapter of his book, Allamah Ma’rifat discusses a series of issues that surround the beginning of revelation. Upon looking through his discussion, I found that it requires some context in terms of discussions that have previously occurred between our scholars. Due to this, I have instead focused this post on a view that Sheikh Saduq and his student, Sheikh Mufid, both discuss after which I have clarified some points and posed some questions. God willing in the next post I will discuss Ayatollah Ma’rifat’s view on some of the matters discussed within this post.

The following is a discussion concerning the issue of “how” the Qurān was revealed; that is, was it revealed all at once upon the Prophet, or was it sent down gradually over a period of many years. This discussion centres around a narration that brings forward many interesting views and questions concerning matters discussed in the Qurānic sciences. The narration is as follows,

Hafs bin Ghiyāth narrates from Imam al-Sādiq,

“I asked him [Imam al-Sādiq] about what Allah has said in the Qurān, ‘The month of Ramadhān is that in which the Qurān was revealed…’2 whilst at the same time, Allah revealed the Qurān over 20 years from beginning to end.

Abu Abd Allah responded, ‘The Qurān was sent down as one piece in the month of Ramadhān to bait al-ma’moor3 and then sent down over a period of 20 years'”4

Continue reading “LQS 3: The Revelation of the Qurān”

  1. al-Qadr 97:1
  2. al-Baqra 2:185
  3. Often translated as “the oft-frequented house”, there are differences of opinion as to what bait al-ma’moor is. A popular opinion, as mentioned by Allāmah Tabrasi is that it is a house in the fourth heaven where angels perform acts of worship
  4. Kulayni, Usul al-Kāfi v. 2 pg. 649, I have refrained from mentioning the whole chain of narration, or discussing any of the narrators for the sake of brevity and because such discussions require the development of a thorough and consistent framework of evaluation. Although it is interesting to note that Hafs Bin Ghiyāth was Sunni, however Sheikh Tusi seemed to rely on him, for a thorough discussion, page 148 of the sixth volume of Syed al-Khoei’s Mu’jam al-Rijāl can be referred to.

LQS 2.2: Satanic Verses Part 2

LQS 2.2: Satanic Verses Part 2
و كلمة الله هي العليا

And the word of Allah is the highest1

This post is the fourth in a series of summaries of Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat’s book entitled, Amouzish Ulum Qurāni (Learning the Qurānic Sciences). For an introduction to Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat and his works, click here. To read the previous post which introduced the Myth of the Cranes, click here.

When attempting to analyse the narrations concerning the corruption of revelation that Tabari has narrated, what must first be understood is the context in which such narrations were introduced. Upon reading the narrations, one would presume that they were presented in relation to the revelation of Surah al-Najm. However, on the contrary, Tabari has mentioned them in his exegesis for the 52nd verse of Surah al-Hajj which is as follows,

وَ مَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّسُولٍ وَ لَا نَبِىٍّ إِلَّا إِذَا تَمَنَّى أَلْقَى الشَّيْطَنُ فىِ أُمْنِيَّتِهِ فَيَنْسَخُ اللَّهُ مَا يُلْقِى الشَّيْطَنُ ثُمَّ يُحْكِمُ اللَّهُ ءَايَتِهِ  وَ اللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيم‏

We did not send before you any apostle or prophet but that when he recited [the scripture] Satan interjected [something] in his recitation. Thereat Allah nullifies whatever Satan has interjected, [and] then Allah confirms His signs, and Allah is All-knowing, All-wise. 2

It should be noted that this verse is an instance where one’s theological views or exegetical understanding of the verse directly affects the translation of the verse. Tabari by presenting the aforementioned narrations as exegesis for the verse implies that Satan corrupted what the Prophet was reciting. As such, it should be noted that even if the narrations do not hold to be true, an explanation must be provided for what the verse means. Continue reading “LQS 2.2: Satanic Verses Part 2”

  1. al-Toubah 9:40
  2. al-Hajj 22:52

LQS 2.1: Satanic Verses Part 1

LQS 2.1: Satanic Verses Part 1
و ما ينطق عن الهوى ان هو الا وحي يوحى

Nor does he speak out of [his own] desire, it is nothing except revelation that is revealed [to him] 1

This post is the third in a series of summaries of Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat’s book entitled, Amouzish Ulum Qurāni (Learning the Qurānic Sciences). For an introduction to Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat and his works, click here. To read the previous post which discussed the phenomenon of revelation, click here.

As previously mentioned, there exist numerous traditions that are indicative of Satan’s interference during Revelation. These narrations are particularly associated with the revelation of Surah al-Najm and are referred to as myths of the cranes (for reasons that will soon become clear). They can be found in various works, particularly what is popularly known as Tafseer al-Tabari (Jami’ al-Bayan) and Suyuti’s Durr al-Manthur2.

These narrations are attributed to the likes of famous companions such as Ibn Abbas or Sa’eed ibn Jubair. Below, I have presented an abridged translation of one such narration and have thereafter offered some explanatory notes, in the next post I hope to offer some criticism that Allamah Ma’rifat brings forth for such narrations in the first volume of his al-Tamheed. Continue reading “LQS 2.1: Satanic Verses Part 1”

  1. al-Najm 53:3-4
  2. Jami’ al-Bayan v. 17, pg. 131 – 134, Durr al-Manthur v. 4 pg. 194 & 366 – 378

LQS 2: The Phenomenon of Revelation

LQS 2: The Phenomenon of Revelation
اقرأ باسم ربك الذي خلق

Read in the Name of your Lord who created[1]

This post is the second in a series of summaries of Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat’s book entitled, Amouzish Ulum Qurāni (Learning the Qurānic Sciences). For an introduction to Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat and his works, click here. To read the previous post which discussed the sources for Qurānic research, click here.

The second chapter of the book discusses the phenomenon of revelation (wahi). In this post I will attempt to briefly cover Ayatollah Ma’rifat’s discussion concerning the usage of the word “أَوْحَى” (a derivative of wahi), some issues surrounding the matter of Prophetic revelation, as well as his discussion on the different forms through which prophetic revelation was conveyed to Prophets.

The root letters, و ح ي, have multiple “dictionary definitions” according to different scholars. The famous linguist, Raghib Isfahani, defined wahi as, “a prompt signal”[2]. Ibn Fars defined it as, “the delivery of knowledge in a hidden manner (or in some other manner) to someone else”[3]. In Taaj al-Urus, wahi is defined as, “indication”. Most meanings across different dictionaries tend to associate secrecy, speed and the transfer of knowledge with the term wahi.

In terms of its usage within the Qurān, the word wahi and its derivatives have been used 87 times. The verb “أَوْحَى”, a derivative of “وَحِي” has had four primary usages within the Qurān which are the subject of discussion. The first meaning is the same as the dictionary definition as seen in surah Maryam when Prophet Zakariya exits from a place of worship and signals to his people.

فَخَرَجَ عَلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ مِنَ الْمِحْرَابِ فَأَوْحَىٰ إِلَيْهِمْ أَن سَبِّحُوا بُكْرَةً وَعَشِيًّا

So Zakariya came out to his people from the chamber. He told them by signs to celebrate Allah’s praises in the morning and in the evening[4] [5]

Continue reading “LQS 2: The Phenomenon of Revelation”

Ayatollah Javadi: Naming the Chapters of the Qurān

Ayatollah Javadi: Naming the Chapters of the Qurān
فاذكروني أذكركم و اشكروا لي و لا تكفرون

Remember Me, and I will remember you, and thank me and do not be ungrateful to me[1]

While looking over my notes for my upcoming exam on the Qurānic sciences, I came across an interesting view espoused by Ayatollah Javadi Amuli[2] concerning the naming of some of the chapters of the Qurān. I thought it might be an interesting share.

As will be discussed in more detail, in a later LQS post, there exist various views concerning how the chapters of the Qurān came to be named. Some scholars believe that all of the chapters of the Qurān were named by the Prophet, whilst others believe that some chapters came to be named as they are now by common people after the death of the Prophet.

Ayatollah Javadi offers an interesting reason as to why it is possible that certain chapters were not named by the Prophet. Below I have offered a translation of a passage from his exegesis wherein he discusses the naming of Sura al-Baqrah…

Continue reading “Ayatollah Javadi: Naming the Chapters of the Qurān”

LQS 1: The Sources for Qurānic Research

LQS 1: The Sources for Qurānic Research

This post is the first in a series of summaries of Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat’s book entitled, “Amouzish Ulum Qurāni” (Learning the Qurānic Sciences). For an introduction to Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat and his works, click here.

In the first chapter of his book, Ayatollah Ma’rifat provides a basic introduction to the Qurānic sciences[1] and then introduces some of the first works that were written pertaining to the Qurānic sciences as well two famous works that were written later on, namely, “al-Burhan fi Ulum al-Qurān”, by Badr al-Deen Zarkashy and “al-Itqān fi Ulum al-Qurān”, by Jalāl al-Deen Suyuti. In what follows, I hope to provide a brief introduction to these works as well as some other works that have been written in the field of the Qurānic sciences.

During the first few centuries after hijra, most works written in relation to the Qurānic sciences pertained to individual subjects rather than many subjects together. Perhaps the first known book to be written in this field was by Yahya bin Ya’mar, a student of Abu Aswad al-Du’ali who himself was a student of Imam Ali. Continue reading “LQS 1: The Sources for Qurānic Research”

Allamah Haadi Ma’rifat

Allamah Haadi Ma’rifat

My last post concerning the sciences of the Qurān provided a brief outline of some of the different sciences that are associated with the Qurān as well as some of the questions that are asked and researched within each respective science.

Now, I feel as if it would be beneficial to delve into a book that will discuss some matters pertaining to each science and attempt to offer brief explanations for different issues. One particular book that I feel would serve this purpose well is that of Allamah Haadi Ma’rifat’s which is entitled, “Amouzish Ulum Qurāni” (Learning the Qurānic Sciences). However, before delving into this book, I’d like to offer some insight into Allamah Haadi Ma’rifat’s life and provide a brief explanation of this book.

Allamah Haadi Ma’rifat (may Allah bless his soul), was born in the holy city of Najaf in the year 1891.

It was here that he pursued his studies, first studying basic Arabic grammar under his father and classical logic under other well-known teachers.
Later, he moved on to studying the principles of jurisprudence (Usul al-Fiqh) and jurisprudence (Fiqh). After a period of time, he moved onto attending the classes of eminent jurists such as Ayatollah Khoei. During this time he began to engage in research along with a group of other scholars in which each of them would choose different subjects and research them. During these research projects Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat chose to research the sciences of the Qurān. Continue reading “Allamah Haadi Ma’rifat”

An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qurān

An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qurān
سبحانک لا علم لنا الا ما علمتنا

Glory be to thee, We have no knowledge except for that which you have taught us[1]

For a while now I have wanted to briefly introduce some of the different subjects that are discussed and researched as a means to understand the Qurān. However, practically I have found this task very difficult due to numerous reasons, one of them being simply because of the numerous subjects that are associated with the Qurān[2]. Anyhow, my goal here is to introduce merely some of the numerous subjects that are critical to one’s understanding of the Qurān.

1. Exegesis of the Qurān (Tafsir)

Perhaps the most widely studied subject in relation to the Qurān is that of exegesis. Exegesis is sometimes defined as, “Attempting to understand the intent of Allah in accordance to the capabilities of human beings”[3]. That is, exegesis is an attempt to understand the intended meaning of Allah within the Qurān while taking into account that man is a limited being and is not necessarily capable of perceiving the depths of the meanings within the Qurān. Throughout history, exegesis has been the subject of a lot of debate and discussion and literally thousands of exegeses (tafasir) have been written in attempting to convey understood meanings of the Qurān. Continue reading “An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qurān”