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Stats: 17,449 members, 69,230 Topics, 15,444 Comments. Date: Jun 16 2019, 8:26 am

Rufai Oladimeji
Lagos State University
English
100Level, Nigeria.
Question

My question is that I read the
hadith somewhere which says that
someone who interprets the Quran
in personal views has erred. Can u
please elaborate on that?
Sometimes, if one feels connected
to a certain verse at a certain point
in time- is that wrong provided that
the verse may have another
intended message. Also, can u
please tell me how did the main
sources of tafseer come then, how
did the first scholars of tafseer
know what a certain verse means. I
read that its called tafsir bir riwaya,
that is based on Quran as a source
of more information about that
verse too. How is the classical
tafseer verified then. Also, can u
give me an example of this kind of
relation? What is an isnad? How do
we know if something is an
innovation. What are the labels that
show us that a tradition is
authentic.

Answer

Praise be to Allah.
Firstly:
We should understand that there
are principles and guidelines for
interpreting the Qur’an, which must
be properly understood by the one
who engages in tafseer (exegesis) of
the word of Allah, may He be
blessed and exalted. The scholars
have written about the guidelines
and principles of tafseer, and have
explained the difference between
tafseer on the basis of reports and
tafseer on the basis of one’s own
understanding; they have explained
when it is acceptable for a person to
speak on the basis of his own
understanding; and have
differentiated between good
understanding and poor
understanding, especially with
regard to what is mentioned in the
question about a person coming up
with his own understanding of a
verse and understanding it on the
basis of what he thinks to be right.
Such personal understanding and
thoughts should be measured
against what the scholars said about
the interpretation of this verse, and
so on.
If the one who has his own personal
understanding and thoughts is a
seeker of knowledge, and is able to
check what the commentators and
scholars said, then he may find out
for himself what was narrated
concerning the meaning of the
verse, and the views of respected
commentators about the meaning
and how they explained the
meaning. Then if what he came up
with about the meaning of the
verse is in accordance with some of
these views of respected scholars,
then all well and good.
But if it is not in accordance with
these scholarly views, then he must
correct his understanding of the
verse by checking it against the
views of the scholars. However, he
may not find the meaning that he
came up with mentioned in the
books (of tafseer) that he checks, or
it may not be stated exactly as he
had in mind, but the view that he
came up with may be in harmony
with the wording and context of the
verse, and with the way that
meanings are expressed in Arabic,
and may indicate that meaning or
point to it in one way or another,
and in a way of expression that is
regarded as possible by the scholars.
This requires further examination
and study of the views of the
scholars (concerning the verse),
because the understanding that he
developed could be implied in the
wording of some scholars in their
commentary on the verse.
He may, if possible, discuss his idea
(about the meaning of the verse)
with some scholars who have
knowledge of the Book of Allah and
the meaning of its verses.
You can refer to the following books
1. Sharh Muqaddimah fi Usool at-
Tafseer , by Shaykh Dr.
Musaa‘id at-Tayyaar
2. At-Tahreer fi Usool at-Tafseer
by Shaykh Dr. Musaa‘id at-
Tayyaar
to learn about these issues that you
need to learn and understand before
you venture into the interpretation
of the word of Allah, may He be
exalted.

Secondly:
The scholars have stated that the
Qur’an may be interpreted:
1. By the Qur’an
2. By the Sunnah
3. By the words of the early
generations (salaf)
4. By the rules of the Arabic
language
5. By referring to some of the
reports of the People of the
Book, and the reasons for
revelation (asbaab an-nuzool ),
in order to understand the
meaning of a particular verse.
For each of these guidelines there is
shar‘i evidence, within the
framework of which tafseer is to be
done. The Qur’an is the most
appropriate means of understanding
the Qur’an, because it is the word of
Allah, may He be exalted. The
Messenger is the one who explains
the words of Allah, for that is his
role. The Qur’an was revealed in the
language of the Arabs, so it [the
Arabic language and its rules of
grammar and expression] is one of
the basic means of understanding
the Qur’an. The early generations
were the closest of people to the
language and the most
knowledgeable of what meaning the
Messenger intended when he spoke,
for they were witnesses to the
revelation and were aware of the
circumstances of and reasons for
revelation; they are also people who
were proven to be good and
righteous, so their interpretation
takes precedence over that of
others.
If you want detailed proof, we
advise you to refer to the book al-
Istidlaal ‘ala al-Ma‘aani fi Tafseer
at-Tabari , by Dr. Naayif az-Zahraani,
in which he mentions the evidence
for all of this.

Thirdly:
The scholars have ways of
differentiating between what is
sound (saheeh) and what is weak
(da‘eef), namely mustalah al-hadith
(the science of hadith). By means of
this science, a scholar is able to
differentiate between what is sound
and what is not, and to differentiate
between what is acceptable and
what is not acceptable of reports.
They have a particular way of
dealing with the reports of tafseer;
you can find details of that in the
books mentioned above.

Fourthly:
With regard to the hadith “Whoever
gives his personal view about the
Book of Allah and it turns out to be
correct is still mistaken,” that is,
because he spoke about something
of which he has no certain
knowledge, and he approached the
matter in a way other than what is
enjoined. So even if he was correct
in what he said about the meaning
when he gave his view on the
matter, he still erred, because he
did not have the right approach to
the matter. He is like one who
judges between people on the basis
of ignorance: he will be in the Fire,
even if he happened to give the
right ruling, but his sin is less grave
than that of one who gives a wrong
ruling. And Allah knows best. This is
similar to the case in which Allah
calls those who accuse others of
adultery (“slander”) liars, as He says
(interpretation of the meaning):
“And when they do not produce the
witnesses, then it is they, in the
sight of Allah, who are the
liars” [an-Noor 24:13] . The slanderer
is a liar, even if his accusation of
adultery is correct in and of itself,
because he spoke of something of
which it is not permissible to speak,
even if he spoke on the basis of
what he knows, because he has
spoken of something of which he
does not have certain knowledge.
And Allah knows best.
See: Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa (13/371);
Tafseer Ibn Katheer (1/11).
For more information, please see
the answers to questions no. 205290
and 262476.
And Allah knows best.

islamqa.info/en/answers/287146/the-principles-of-tafseer-quranic-exegesis

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