Acting upon the Qur'aan
Shariat wa Tariqat ka Talazum
Acting upon the Qur'aan
I wrote an article in a booklet called I'tidaal Wa Chehl Hadith, on the saying of Abdullah Ibn Masood (: 'If you desire knowledge, then delve and concentrate on the meaning of the Qur'aan, for it contains the knowledge of those who have past before us, and of those yet to come.' But one must keep in mind that to understand the meaning of the Qur'aan, one must observe the prerequisites and formalities. It was not meant that everybody who knows the meaning of a few Arabic words, or worse picked up a translation should start pressing their own opinions forward, as it has become common today. The Prophet(sallallaahu alaiyhi wassallam) has said whomever places their own opinions forward in the Commentary of the Qur'aan have erred gravely, even if their opinion proves to be right. But today's 'enlightened' people see fit to replace the research of the Salaf with new concepts in every verse of the Qur'aan. Today's 'enlightened' people consider themselves to be the teachers of the likes of Junaid and Shabli the minute they can write some Arabic text, or rather, even if they can write flowing Urdu text or make rousing speeches. They consider themselves to be 'Independent Judicators' of Islam. Whatever meaning take their fancy they will attribute to the Qur'aan, without even a second thought of whether it conforms with any of the Salaf's views, nor even do they check to make sure that their opinion doesn't go against anything the Prophet(sallallaahu alaiyhi wassallam) said. They innovate whatever they want in faith and beliefs, bark out whatever comes into their mouth, and who is to speak up against them? If anyone steps up and says that whatever you are saying is against what the Islaaf has said, than they will call him ignorant, narrow-minded, backward thinking and unfamiliar with specialist research. But if someone steps up and says that whatever the Salaf have said to this day is completely incorrect, and then proceeds to innovate on faith, is lauded as a 'philosopher' by the new 'enlightened' generation. This even though the experts of this field have stated that proficiency in 'fifteen' different subjects is required to understand the commentary of the Qur'aan. I will briefly outline them so that it will become clear that not everyone is qualified to understand the depths of the Qur'aan.
1)Lugat (Knowledge of the Arabic Language), so that one will become familiar with the meanings of each word. Mujahid says, 'It is impermissible for he who believes in Allah and the Day of Judgement to elaborate on the meaning of the Qur'aan without familiarity with the Arabic Language. Knowing a few words is not sufficient, for often a word has several meanings, and even knowing one or two of these meanings is not enough, for in reality the word could have a completely different meaning.'
2)Nahwa (Knowledge of Arabic Syntax), because the changing of an I'raab (ultimate vowel in Arabic language) often also changes the meaning of the word, and recognition of an I'raab is based upon Nahwa. E.g. A man in order to stimulate a following for the soldierly life mistranslated Wa Kafallahul Mu'mineenal Qitaal as 'It is sufficient for Allah that Believers fight (once only).'
3)Sarf (Knowledge of Arabic Grammatical Inflexions), because with the changing of the base and forms of a word also changes the meaning. Ibn Faris says, 'Whoever forgets Sarf has lost a great deal. Alaama Zamakhshari writes in A'joob?t-e-Tafseer: 'Once a person, due to his lack of knowledge in Sarf translated "Yauma Nad'oo Kuloo Un?sim Bi-Im?mihim," (On the Day We call upon everyone by that which they sent forth before them) as, "On the Day We call upon everyone with their mothers." He made the singular word, Imam, into the plural of Um. If he knew Sarf, he would have known that Imam is not the plural of Um.
4)Ishtaqaq (Knowledge of Derivation), because when a word can be derived from two roots, it will have different meanings. E.g. the word Maseeh can be derived from Masah, which means to pass damp hands over something, and can also be derived from Masahat, as in measurement.
5)Ilm-e-Ma'ani (Knowledge of Arabic Semantics), through which one can understand the form of a sentence through semantics.
6)Ilm-e-Bay?n (Knowledge of Exposition), through which one learns the surface meaning, the subtle meaning, the allegory and the metaphor in a sentence.
7)Ilm-e-Badi'e (Knowledge of Arabic Rhetoric), through which one sees the beauty of a sentence through interpretation. The last three subjects are known as Ilm-e-Balagat (Knowledge of Eloquence), and it is very important for a Commentator to know these, through which one may recognise the miracle, which is the Holy Qur'aan for what it is.
8)Ilm-e-Qir'aat (Knowledge of Arabic Articulation), for different meanings can be recognised via different articulation, thus one can decide which meaning to give precedence to.
9)Ilm-e- Akaaid (Knowledge of Islamic Doctrine), because there are such verses in the Qur'aan, the most surface meanings of which are unsuitable to attribute to the Lord Almighty. Therefore some elucidation will required, e.g. Yadullahu Fauqa Ai'diyahim.
10)Asool-e-Fiqha (the Laws of Islamic Jurisprudence), so that one may be able to understand the reason of the analysis and the deduction.
11)Asbab-e-Nazool (Reason of Revelation), knowledge of why a verse was revealed helps explain the meaning better, and sometimes reaching the true meaning of a verse can be completely dependant on knowing the reason of the revelation.
12)Nasikh Mansookh (the Abrogated and the One that Abrogates), with this knowledge one can recognise which commands ate annulled from those, which are still valid.
13)Ilm-e-Fiqha (Knowledge of Jurisprudence), so that one may reach a conclusion through examination of the separate pieces.
14)The Knowledge of those Ahadith, which contain the commentary of whole sections of the Qur'aan.
15)After all the above, the final field of knowledge that is required is that hidden knowledge which is the special gift of the Almighty Lord to His chosen people, which is indicated in the following Hadith, 'When a person acts upon what he knows, than Allah grants him knowledge of that which he does know.'
Jurists have written that to act upon the Shar'iah, one must be familiar with its principles, which are formed from the Qur'aan, Hadith, Ijmah and the fourth being Qiyaas, which his based on the first three. To act upon the knowledge of the Qur'aan one must know four things, the order of the Qur'aan according to form and language. That is sub-divided into four divisions: Khaas, Aam, Mushtarak and Muawal. The second division is the mode of expression, which also has four sub-divisions: Zahir, Nas, Mufasar and Muhkam, which possess four opposites: Khafi, Mushkil, Mujmal, and Mutashabi. The third division is how to apply the order of the Qur'aan, which also has four sub-divisions: Haqiqat, Mujaaz, Sareeh and Kinayah. The fourth is the methods of finding the meanings of the Holy Qur'aan. As were the others, this too is sub-divided into four categories: Ibira-tun-Nas, Ishara-tun-Nas, Dalala-tun-Nas and Iqtidha-un-Nas.
There is another category after these categories that encompasses them all. This category is also sub-divided into four divisions: to know the original derivation, to understand its idiomatic definitions, to know its formulae and the decrees that are based upon the formulae. It is necessary to know where a command is to express necessity and where it is to express permissibility, desirability, and where it is for ramification. Sometimes the word Adah means Qadha in the Qur'aan, and sometimes vice versa. Then a command can be generalised or conditional. A conditional command has four categories. All these commands appear in the books of Juristic Law with greater detail, we have copied the above rules from Noorul Anwaar, in a condensed form.
A saying of Hadhrat Muadh Ibn Jabala ( has been recorded in Abu Dawood (Vol 5. Pg 191), 'After you will come a time of calamities, when wealth will be abundant and the Qur'aan will become a common thing, until Believers and Non-Believers, men, women, the elderly, the young, captives and free people will all be reading the Qur'aan, then there will be one person who will say, "Why don't the people follow me even though I have read the Qur'aan? They will not follow me until I don't contrive something new." Hadhrat Muadh(R.A.) then said, ' Protect yourself from all these new innovations, because which ever innovation arises, it will lead you astray.'
Those people who boast about spreading the Qur'aan throughout the world are in the light of this Hadith, spreaders of doom and calamity. To keep a translation of the Qur'aan for the purpose of prosperity is in its place is okay. But to try and elicit answers for issues from the Qur'aan without expertise in the necessary fields is completely impermissible. The knowledge of the Qur'aan is only accessible via expertise in the fields mentioned above. It has been narrated from Hadhrat Ibn Abbass(R.A.) in Durul Manthoor: Yu'til Hikmata Miyashaa Ul Ayah. It means that to recognise the Qur'aan is to know its Nasikh, Mansookh, Muhkam, Mutashabi', Muqadam, Mu'akhar, Halal, Haraam and all their examples.