B i s m i l l a a h i r R a h m a a n i r R a h e e m
Guidelines forUnderstanding the Qur`aanConclusion
Special Qur`aanic Concepts
By Ayub A. Hamid
Special Qur-aanic Concepts
There are certain words that the Qur-aan has used as special terms. Those special terms were given new meanings by the Qur-aan. Those meanings were clearly communicated, demonstrated and established by the Messenger, Ŝall Allaahu`alayhi wa sallam, himself. Since that time, they have always been generally accepted, without any break from generation to generation, by almost the whole Ummah. Their authenticity is as certain as the Qur-aan’s because both the Qur-aan and those established concepts have been collectively communicated with perpetuity through the same channel, with the same care and caution. These concepts include Salaah, Sowm, Zakaah, Hajj, Masjid-ul-Haraam, Tawaaf, etc. Although there are differences of opinion in some matters of detail, there has always been a consensus among the Ummah about the meaning of these concepts and their substance. The reader must not violate these established concepts that have been preserved by the Ummah throughout its history. Rejecting such perpetually established concepts will destroy unity of the Ummah even in the precious few matters in which there already is consensus.
The Interpretation by the Action or Words of the Prophet, Ŝall Allaahu`alayhi wa sallam
Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala did not only reveal the Holy Qur-aan, but sent a messenger with it as well. The job of the messenger was not only to teach the words but also to explain their meanings and implications and to demonstrate practically how they are to be put into action. The way he run the Islamic movement, the way he led his followers, the way he dealt with adversaries and the way he lived his whole life was a practical demonstration of the Holy Qur-aan. Obviously, a deep understanding of his Seerah, its missionary aspects and the wisdom he, Ŝall Allaahu`alayhi wa sallam used to deal with diverse situations is essential to fully understand the message of the Holy Qur-aan and to draw guidance from it.
Also, If the meaning of a word, phrase or verse or command of the Holy Qur-aan was determined by the actions or the words of the Prophet, Ŝall Allaahu`alayhi wa sallam that is the meaning of the said segment of the Qur-aan. He being the direct recipient of the revelation, Allaah’s messenger, Ŝall Allaahu`alayhi wa sallam and directly instructed and taught by Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala, his word is the final authority for all the believers to follow. These practices of the Prophet, Ŝall Allaahu`alayhi wa sallam were transmitted to us by two means: the continuous practical demonstration and transmission through actions of the believers from generation to generation and authentic reporting of those actions and behaviours through narrators of Hadeeth.
The Qur-aan and the Seerah
The Qur-aan is not a theoretical set of precepts that were just presented in a vacuum or in an abstract world. Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala sent a messenger and charged him with the responsibility of establishing a society that puts the teaching of the Qur-aan in practice exactly as intended and with the task of launching and completing the Islamic mission or movement to establish such a society. As the mission was launched and as it progressed, the Holy Qur-aan provided him the guidance at every stage. As each revelation of the Qur-aan was received, the Prophet, Ŝall Allaahu`alayhi wa sallam put it into practice exactly as directed. Hence, the Seerah (the biography) of the Prophet, Ŝall Allaahu`alayhi wa sallam and the Qur-aan have a very intricate relationship. The reader must recognize that relationship and understand its significance. It will help him visualize the circumstances of when the verses were revealed and help him understand their impact and wisdom. The ability to relate the various parts of the Qur-aan with the pertinent stage of the Prophet Ŝall Allaahu`alayhi wa sallam’s mission really enables a person to get the complete picture and understanding of the message. It also helps him to understand the order of the revelation, to help deduce appropriate injunctions from the verses. Not keeping the timing and background in mind can cause a person to draw wrong conclusions. I have seen many conflicts arising and fights erupting among Muslims because people do not keep the proper perspective of the stage and the circumstance of the mission in mind while interpreting some verses. They interpret and apply the injunctions from those verses without regard to the need of the time and end up creating Fitnah.
This concludes the discussion of important principles that must be used while understanding and interpreting the Qur-aan. If our brothers and sisters would like to discuss interpretation of some specific verses in the light of these principles, they can write to us and inshaa`Allaah we shall try our best to present their authentic interpretation in compliance with the rules of Tafseer so far discussed.
And Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala is the Guide to the Straight Path.