'Abdur Rahman ibn 'Auf (Radhiyallaho anho) narrates that Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) said, "On the Day of Judgement, three things will be under the shade of the Arsh (Allah's Throne). One, the Holy Qur'an which will argue with men-the Qur'an has both an exterior and an interior. The second will be amaanat (trust). The third will be kinship, which shall proclaim, 'O. Allah! have mercy on the person who upheld me, and deprive him of Your mercy whosoever severed me.' "
"Three things will be under the shade of the 'Arsh" signifies their utmost nearness in the sublime presence of Allah. "The Qur'an will argue" means that it will plead the cause of those people who read it, respect it and act upon its commandments. It will intercede on their behalf and solicit the upgrading of their rank. Mulla 'Ali Qari has narrated on the authority of 'Tirmizi' (a book of Hadith) that, in the presence of Almighty Allah, the Holy Qur'an will beg Allah to grant an apparel to its reader. Almighty Allah will give him a crown of honour. The Qur'an will again beg for additional favours for him. Thereupon Almighty Allah will award the reader a complete robe of honour. The Qur'an will again beseech Allah to be pleased with him, and Almighty Allah will express His pleasure to him.
We find in this life that the pleasure of the beloved is considered to be the most coveted gift. Similarly in the life Hereafter, no bounty shall stand comparison with the pleasure of our Beloved Almighty Allah. And in case of those who ignore their duty towards the Qur'an, it will challenge them saying, "Did you care for me'? Did you fulfil your obligations towards me?"
It has been reported on the authority of Imam Abu Hanifa (Rahmatullah alaih) in 'Ihya' that it is the due right of the Qur'an that it should be read completely twice a year. Those of us who never care to read the Qur'an should first consider how they will defend themselves against such a strong plaintiff. Death is inevitable and there can be no escape from it.
The meaning of the expression "exterior and interior of the Qur'an" is evident. The Qur'an has an apparent meaning which can be understood by all, but the deeper spiritual significance is not understood by everybody. It is in this connection that Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) has said: "Whosoever expresses his personal opinion in respect of anything in the Qur'an commits mistake, even if he be right in his opinion."
Some scholars hold that the word 'exterior' refers to its words, which can be recited properly by everybody and the word 'interior', i.e., spirit, refers to its meanings and its underlying ideas, the understanding of which varies with the ability of the readers.
Ibn Mas'ood (Radhiyallaho anho) said, "If you seek knowledge, you should meditate on the meanings of the Qur'an, because it embodies the history of former as well as of latter times." It is, however, essential to observe the pre-requisites for interpreting the Qur'an. An unbecoming present-day fashion is that even those who possess little or no knowledge of Arabic vocabulary offer their personal opinion on the basis of vernacular translations of the Qur'an. Specialists have laid down that any one attempting a commentary of the Holy Qur'an should be well versed in fifteen subjects. These, as briefly given below, will show that it is not possible for everybody to understand the underlying significance and real meanings of the Holy Qur'an.
(1) Lughat, i.e., philology of language, which helps in understanding the appropriate meanings of words. Mujahid (Rahmatullah alaih) says, "One who believes in Allah and the Day of Judgement should not open his lips in respect of the Qur'an, unless he is thoroughly conversant with the philology of the Arabic language. Quite often an Arabic word has several meanings. A person may be knowing only one or two of them, though in a given context the gctual meaning may be quite different."
(2) Nahw, i.e., syntax, a branch of grammar which helps in understanding the relation of a sentence with another and also of I'raab (vowel sounds) of the letters of a word. A change in I'raab often means a change in the meaning.
(3) Sarf. i.e., etymology, a branch of grammar, which helps in knowing the root words and conjugations.
The moaning of a word changes with the change in the root and with a change in its conjugation.
Ibn Faris (Rahmatullah alaih) says, "One who loses the knowledge of etymology loses a great deal." 'Allamah Zamakhshari (Rahmatullah alaih) mentions that, when a certain person set to translate the ayah:
On the day that We shall call each and every people after their leader, he ignorantly rendered it thus: "On the day that We shall call each people after their mothers." He supposed that the singular Arabic word 'imam' (leader) was the plural of the Arabic word 'umm' (mother) if he had been conversant with etymology, he would have known that the plural of 'umm' is not 'imam'.
(4) Ishtiqaaq, i.e., derivatives, It is necessary to have the knowledge of derivatives and their root words, because if a word has been derived from two different root words, it will have two different meanings, e.g. the word 'maseeh' is derivable from 'masah' which means to touch or to move wet hands over, and also from 'masaahah' which means measurement.
(5) Ilmul Ma'aani, i.e., knowledge of semantics, because phrase constructions are understood from their meanings.
(6) Ilmul Bayaan, i.e., knowledge of figures of speech, like similes and metaphors, due to which expressions or shades of meaning or similes and metaphors become known.
(7) Ilmul Badee', i.e., knowledge of rhetoric, the knowledge which reveals the beauty of language and its implications.
The last three are the branches of Ilmul Balaaghah (knowledge of oratory), and are considered very important subjects, which a commentator should master, because the Glorious Qur'an is a perfect miracle and its amazing constructions can only be understood after mastering these subjects.
(8) llmul Qirrta'ah, i.e., knowledge of the art of pronunciation. because different methods of recitation sometimes convey different meanings, and sometimes one meaning is to be preferred over the other.
(9) Ilmul Aqaa'id, i.e., knowledge of the fundamentals of faith. This is necessary to explain certain analogies.
The literal meaning of certain ayaat referring to Almighty Allah is not the correct one. For example, the analogy in the ayah - (The hand of Allah is over their hands) will have to be explained because Allah has no physical hands.
(10) Usoolul Fiqh i.e., Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence. These are necessary for reasoning out and finding arguments in the basic support of statements.
(11) Asbaabun Nuzool, i.e., the particular circumstances which caused revelation. The meaning of an ayah will be better understood if we know how arid when it had been revealed. Sometimes the true meaning of an ayah is understood only if we know the circumstances in which the ayah had been revealed.
(12) An Naasikh wal Mansookh, i.e., knowledge of commandments that have subsequently been abrogated or changed, so that abrogated commandments may be distinguished from the standing ones.
(13) Ilmul Fiqh, i.e., knowledge of Islamic Jurisprudence, because it is only through this knowledge that' we arrive at a complete understanding of general principles.
(14) Knowledge of such ahadith that happen to be commentary on certain brief verses of the Qur'an.
(15) The last but most important is the Wahbi ilm, or the gifted understanding, bestowed by Almighty Allah upon His selected ones, as is referred in the hadith-Whosoever acts upon what he knows, Almighty Allah bestows upon him the knowledge of things not known to him.
It is this special understanding that was implied in the reply of 'Ali (Karramallaahu wajhahu) (may Allah be kind to him) when he was asked by the people if he had received from Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) any special knowledge or instructions which were not received by others. Ali (Radhiyallaho anho) said, "I swear by Him Who made the Paradise and created life that I possess nothing special, except the clear understanding which Almighty Allah bestows upon a person ill respect of the Qur'an."
Ibn Abid Dunyaa (Rahmatullah alaih) says that the knowledge of the Holy Qur'an and that which can be derived out of it, are as vast as a boundless ocean.
The branches of knowledge described above are like tools, i.e. essential pre-requisite for a commentator. A commentary written by a person who is not thoroughly acquainted with these branches of knowledge will be based on his personal opinion, which is prohibited. The Sahabah (Companions of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) already had Arabic language as their mother-tongue, and they reached the depth of the rest of the knowledge by means of their illuminating contact that they had with Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihe -wasallam).
Allamah Suyuti says that those who think that it is beyond the capacity of a man to acquire Wahbi ilm, or gifted understanding, are not right. To get this knowledge from Allah, one should adopt the means to this end, e.g., acting upon the knowledge that one has acquired, and disinclination towards the world.
It is stated in 'Keemiyaa-e-Sa'aadat' that three persons are not blessed with complete understanding of the Qur'an.
First one who is not well versed in Arabic. Secondly one who persists in committing a major sin or indulges in act of religious innovation, because these actions blacken his heart, which in turn prevents him from understanding the Qur’an. Thirdly, one who is a rationalist, even in the matter of faith, and feels embarrassed when he reads an ayah of the Qur'an which he is not able to fully rationalize.
May Allah protect us from all such sins and evils.
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