Principles of Quranic Tafseer Summer 2009

Principles of Quranic Tafseer

Sheikh Jamaal Zarabozo

July 13, 2009

قويد التفسير

This class is about the Rules of interpretation (Qawaa'id at-Tafseer). There is no textbook in English. Sheikh will send notes related to some of the principles discussed in the class. There will be a take home exam at the end of the class.

Principles are scattered throughout the book, in this class the sheikh will present them in order.

We are going to cover approximately 60 rules, although not in one session and that number will likely grow. But we will have an overview of what type of principles we will be talking about. For instance, today we will be talking about Asbaab an-Nuzool (أسباب أل نزول). And there is also the topic of the Ahruf and Qira'aat. There is also the important branch of rules related to the methodology of tafseer - what are the sources of tafseer? what are the ranking of those sources?

We will study the following basic principles:

1. Revelation of Quran

2. Methodology

3. Language of the Quran

4. Naskh - abrogation - principles related to it

5. Contextual analysis

6. Other general principles

Quran is guidance from Allah swt and if we do not know how to understand the guidance, then we are not utilizing it properly.

We see in the Jews and Christians they received their revelation but they strayed completely from what their prophets taught.And the Prophet taught us that we will follow in the footsteps of those who came before us, so we must take precaution from succumbing to the effect of straying from the understanding of the texts.

Sometimes people read the Qur'an with rudimentary knowledge of arabic, and they start trying to interpret it according to their limited understanding. Even strong arabic is not sufficient, because there is a whole methodology top correctly understanding the Qur'an.

As al-harbi stated, he went through the statments of a number of sahaba and tabieen and he said that when it comes to the Qur'an, how we understand it must be based on the strongest possible evidence. In other words, the sahaba never accepted the notion that one can go with the weaker of two plausible interpretations. You always have to strive to obtain the correct and strongest interpretation.

أسباب أل نزول Asbaab an-Nazool is extra textual context (Historical context vs. textual context). Contextual analysis refers to analyzing the TEXTUAL context. Asbaab an-Nuzool refers to understanding the HISTORICAL context.

In every field in Islamic sciences, you can find principles/rules related to them. Basically, when you think about it, some of these principles are the result of induction - extrapolating a lesson or conclusion from what Allah says about a particular example. If someone understands principles/basic rules it will give them a firm foundation and make them consistent in their application of the deen.

As Ibn Taymiyyah said, if you dont have qawaid, you will end up doing dhulm. Because you will not have justice and bvalance in your application of the laws. As-Sa'di said that the Shari'ah is built on justice, guidance, mercy, etc. So there is a common theme if you look at all the laws.

So if an individual understands the rules (qawaid) it can save him or her from a lot of confusion.

Singular of Qawaid - Qaa'idah. It means a foundation, like the foundation of a house. Like Allah says in Surah Baqarah, {When Ibrahim and ismail were raising the qawaid of the house}.

So the scholars selected this word as the term for rules because it shows that the importance of the foundational principles is like the foundation of a building.

Qaa'idah - a general ruling by which the ruling of its parts become known or recognized

Set of principles

Every principle has some exceptions, or it does not belong to the set but some other set.

For every principle you can find some thing that looks like an exception but not in Principles of Tafseer, it is not common to find exceptions. 

In fiqh class, you will be studying a lot of exceptions but not in this class.

What is a good precise definition of tafseer?

Has to be Jamaah (encompase everything and leave out everything that does not belong in it) and Manaah

Morphologically Tafseer is derived from fasara means to uncover or explain

See previous class notes for definition of tafseer

Finest form of Arabic language

There are portions of the quran that can be interpreted in more than one way. What is the strongest meaning or implication is a principle of tafseer

Defintion of Qaweed

General principles that lead us to derive the meaning of the quran and how to benefit from the quran.

Where do the principles come from?

These principles cannot be just made up. If a principle is acceptable to us, there has to be some evidence for us to accept it. There has to be some foundation for the foundation itself.

Source of the principles is the Quran itself.

Quran alludes to some basic principles on how to interpret the quran itself. Alludes to directly or indirectly.

One obvious is Quran has to be interpreted according to the rules of the Arabic language, would that be a acceptable statement. It is acceptable because the quran states that it is in the arabic language in 12 places.

Sahaba is the best generation and the prophet taught them how to approach and understand the quran.

They lived during the time of the revelation, they lived during the events described in the quran, they understood the language of the quran, they had the greatest teacher, and learnt how to approach and understand the quran under the guidance of the prophet

Usuul al fiqh is also another source of prinicples. And vice versa

Books of tafseer and the introduction to the books of tafseer.

Rules of interpretation were implemented or existed in the books of tafseer but were not explicitly stated in a book.

If a principle exists in a book, it does not mean that it is an acceptable principle, it has to be based on evidence from the quran and sunnah.

First principle

Asbaab al-Nazool or Sabab al-Nazool (plural)

Particular circumstances that led to the revelation of the verse

Much of the Quran was revelead to the prophet without any sabab or any event leading to its revelations. However specific events were used to give us general guidance. Sometimes questions were posed to the prophet and Quran was revealed. Or sometimes in relation to an event, a verse of the Quran was revealed.

For example yada abi lahabeen.... تَبَّتْ يَدَا أَبِي لَهَبٍ وَتَبَّ

When was this surah revealed?

Prophet gathered his closed relatives at Safa to warn them and Abu Lahab cursed the prophet, this surah was revealed after this event

Allah says Safa and Marwa are shrines of Allah so there is no sin if you go between them. 

This was revelead wrt something in particular. Ayesha explained to her nephew, it was because of Ansar. Before Islam they used to dedicate their hajj to two idols on seashore and then go between Safa and Marwa. The Ansar were hesitant to do the Sai because of their association to the idol worship. Hence the revelation that there is no sin on them if they did the sai.

So if you did not know this extra information, you would not come to the correct conclusion. 

وَأَنفِقُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَلَا تُلْقُوا بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ ۛ وَأَحْسِنُوا ۛ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

And spend in the Cause of Allah (i.e. Jihad of all kinds, etc.) and do not throw yourselves into destruction (by not spending your wealth in the Cause of Allah), and do good. Truly, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers).

Abu Yuban Ansari - when the muslims were making a raid on Constantinopole and the muslims were being massacred. And they quoted this ayat and said that these people are destroying by their own hands. When Abu Yuban Ansari  said you do not know what this verse is talking about. This verse was revealed for the Ansar. When Islam became dominant and now we can preoccupy ourselves and our business, Allah revealed this verse. So don't destroy yourselves by ignoring the cause of Allah and focusing only your personal affairs.

Books on asbaab al Nuzool

Wahidi - Al asbaab al Nuzool is translated in English. Not all the narrations are authentic

Sheikh mentioned two more books

Qaeeda #1

Any statement or claim about asbaab al nuzool must be based on narrations back to the prophet or the sahaba (or tabieen)

It should not be a matter of ijtihaad

Authentic hadith should be your database and your conclusions should be based on it. Sheikh mentioned al-Faraahi who had a theory that all of the verses are connected to each other and theories when they were revealed. So when they come upon a hadeeth that contradicted their theory, they rejected it.

Circumstantial evidence about when a surah was revealed and then using it to understand the quran can be problematic.

Another example, using a scientific theory as a premise and then trying to apply it to the entire quran while rejecting hadeeth or trying to twist something to fit your theory is problematic.

July 19, 2009

Last week's notes can be found here

Typo in the notes: Baraha Al zarkashi

Second Qaeedah

Asbaab al Nazool has a marfoo ruling. 

ie The ruling has a source with prophet (saw).

How much weight is given to the asbaab al nazool?

If the statement is attributed to either one of the following prophet, sahaba, tabieen, imam, then statement of prophet will have a stronger ruling than a statement attributed to either sahaba, tabieen, or the imams.

For example: We have something from the sahaba - on the day of judgement such a such thing is going to occur. Can someone make ijtihaad about jannah and day of judgement? No. It is beyond the realm of human knowledge. Therefore statement that cannot be based on ijtihaad, then that statement is of the sahaba but its ruling is from the prophet. Because he must have received the knowledge from the prophet.

If a ruling is marfoo, then it cannot be contradicted. So you cannot have a theory to reject the ruling.

Analyze expression used by the sahaabi or tabieen

1. Sahaaba used the following expression أسباب النزول هذا الايت This is the occasion behind the revelation and explain the ayat. However not every Sahaaba did not preface this when explaining asbaab al nazool of an ahat

2. Sahaaba used Fa (so) when explaining the reasons for revealing an ayat

For example, Sahih Bukhari explaining verse in which Allah swt laysaal birruh لايصال بروح It is not piety that you enter the houses from back door.

Sahaaba explained: In the time of Jahaliyaah, after they wore Ihraam they would enter houses from the back door and the sahaaba said fa (so) Allah revealed it and repeated the laysaal birruh ayat.

This is an explicit expression of asbaab al nazool

3. نزلت هذا الايت في Nazalat hedha al ayat fi  This verse was revealed concerning this.

This preface or expression is considered ambiguous. Here the event occured after the revealation. So the sahaba are saying that the ayat can be applied to this event. So it is not asbaab al nazool, since there the event occurs first and then the ayat was revealed. Most people when they come across this expression, they think it is asbaab al nazool but it is not.

For example: Event between munafeeq and Jew and the expression used by Ibn Abbas to explain an ayat.

4. ما احسبوا هذا هي ايت نزلت إلا في Ma ahsiboo hedha he al ayata nazalat illa fi I do not think this verse except concerning ...

This preface is the least likely to mean asbaab al nazool. In other words, you could rewrite it to say that I think this event is 

To conclude if there is an asbaab al nazool for an ayat, then if there is any other explanation of the ayat that contradicts the asbaab, it should be rejected.

Question: The tabii is saying such and such thing happened and allah revelead the ayat. Is it considered marfoo?

Question: If the chain is week, then is the ruling of that hadeeth marfoo?

If the chain is not complete, then we have to say it is a weak narration even though it is marfoo ruling

If asbaab al nazool exists, it is tied into the ayat and if you ignore it, then you are ignoring a hadeeth

Qaeedah #3

If the asbaab al nazool is considered authentic then ....

Surah Al Baqarah verse 189

يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْأَهِلَّةِ ۖ قُلْ هِيَ مَوَاقِيتُ لِلنَّاسِ وَالْحَجِّ ۗ وَلَيْسَ الْبِرُّ بِأَن تَأْتُوا الْبُيُوتَ مِن ظُهُورِهَا وَلَٰكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنِ اتَّقَىٰ ۗ وَأْتُوا الْبُيُوتَ مِنْ أَبْوَابِهَا ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

They ask you (O Muhammad SAW) about the new moons. Say: These are signs to mark fixed periods of time for mankind and for the pilgrimage. It is not Al-Birr (piety, righteousness, etc.) that you enter the houses from the back but Al-Birr (is the quality of the one) who fears Allah. So enter houses through their proper doors, and fear Allah that you may be successful.

There are four interpretations about this ayat. Only the first opinion is correct, since the rest are ignoring the asbaab al nazool

What is the meaning of houses? 

First opinion is it refers to actual houses. 

There is another tafseer of this ayat, in which the meaning of houses is a substitute for a women, and how to have sexual relationships with your wives. 

Thirdly, it is a parable, you should go directly to the matter and not beat around the bush. 

And lastly, it means that you should not go overboard about asking questions of the moon and just accept the facts

Here we know that Allah swt was referring to what people were doing in time of Jaheeliyah and they considered it to be a ritual when they wore Ihraam.

So if you use these principles, then you will not be confused when approaching the quran. So the rest of the opinions are no longer valid.

Another example

Surah Nisa verses 23-24

حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أُمَّهَاتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُكُمْ وَأَخَوَاتُكُمْ وَعَمَّاتُكُمْ وَخَالَاتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُ الْأَخِ وَبَنَاتُ الْأُخْتِ وَأُمَّهَاتُكُمُ اللَّاتِي أَرْضَعْنَكُمْ وَأَخَوَاتُكُم مِّنَ الرَّضَاعَةِ وَأُمَّهَاتُ نِسَائِكُمْ وَرَبَائِبُكُمُ اللَّاتِي فِي حُجُورِكُم مِّن نِّسَائِكُمُ اللَّاتِي دَخَلْتُم بِهِنَّ فَإِن لَّمْ تَكُونُوا دَخَلْتُم بِهِنَّ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَحَلَائِلُ أَبْنَائِكُمُ الَّذِينَ مِنْ أَصْلَابِكُمْ وَأَن تَجْمَعُوا بَيْنَ الْأُخْتَيْنِ إِلَّا مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا

Muhsin Khan

: Forbidden to you (for marriage) are: your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father's sisters, your mother's sisters, your brother's daughters, your sister's daughters, your foster mother who gave you suck, your foster milk suckling sisters, your wives' mothers, your step daughters under your guardianship, born of your wives to whom you have gone in - but there is no sin on you if you have not gone in them (to marry their daughters), - the wives of your sons who (spring) from your own loins, and two sisters in wedlock at the same time, except for what has already passed; verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Sahih International

: Prohibited to you [for marriage] are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father's sisters, your mother's sisters, your brother's daughters, your sister's daughters, your [milk] mothers who nursed you, your sisters through nursing, your wives' mothers, and your step-daughters under your guardianship [born] of your wives unto whom you have gone in. But if you have not gone in unto them, there is no sin upon you. And [also prohibited are] the wives of your sons who are from your [own] loins, and that you take [in marriage] two sisters simultaneously, except for what has already occurred. Indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.


وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ۖ كِتَابَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ ۚ وَأُحِلَّ لَكُم مَّا وَرَاءَ ذَٰلِكُمْ أَن تَبْتَغُوا بِأَمْوَالِكُم مُّحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحِينَ ۚ فَمَا اسْتَمْتَعْتُم بِهِ مِنْهُنَّ فَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً ۚ وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِيمَا تَرَاضَيْتُم بِهِ مِن بَعْدِ الْفَرِيضَةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا

Muhsin Khan

: Also (forbidden are) women already married, except those (captives and slaves) whom your right hands possess. Thus has Allah ordained for you. All others are lawful, provided you seek (them in marriage) with Mahr (bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) from your property, desiring chastity, not committing illegal sexual intercourse, so with those of whom you have enjoyed sexual relations, give them their Mahr as prescribed; but if after a Mahr is prescribed, you agree mutually (to give more), there is no sin on you. Surely, Allah is Ever All-Knowing, All-Wise.

Sahih International

: And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess. [This is] the decree of Allah upon you. And lawful to you are [all others] beyond these, [provided] that you seek them [in marriage] with [gifts from] your property, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse. So for whatever you enjoy [of marriage] from them, give them their due compensation as an obligation. And there is no blame upon you for what you mutually agree to beyond the obligation. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.

Who is Allah referring to in the following "And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess"?

How did slave come in your possession?


Booty of war

Asbaab al-Nazool of this verse, it is clear that this verse is talking about slaves that have been acquired via jihad and they are no longer considered married to their husbands, who belong to the enemy camp and are not in Islamic state.

Asbaab al Nazool

Narration from prophet which is authentic

Qaeedah #4

The reason is to understand an aspect of the quran to avoid any misunderstanding. For example, prohbition of khamar alcohol. In some cases it is not how things necessarily worked. Sometimes the verse would come down wrt some law or practice that was already established by the prophet.

For example Surat Al Jumuah verse 9 and 11

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نُودِيَ لِلصَّلَاةِ مِن يَوْمِ الْجُمُعَةِ فَاسْعَوْا إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَذَرُوا الْبَيْعَ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

Muhsin Khan

: O you who believe (Muslims)! When the call is proclaimed for the Salat (prayer) on the day of Friday (Jumu'ah prayer), come to the remembrance of Allah [Jumu'ah religious talk (Khutbah) and Salat (prayer)] and leave off business (and every other thing), that is better for you if you did but know!

Sahih International

: O you who have believed, when [the adhan] is called for the prayer on the day of Jumu'ah [Friday], then proceed to the remembrance of Allah and leave trade. That is better for you, if you only knew.

وَإِذَا رَأَوْا تِجَارَةً أَوْ لَهْوًا انفَضُّوا إِلَيْهَا وَتَرَكُوكَ قَائِمًا ۚ قُلْ مَا عِندَ اللَّهِ خَيْرٌ مِّنَ اللَّهْوِ وَمِنَ التِّجَارَةِ ۚ وَاللَّهُ خَيْرُ الرَّازِقِينَ

Muhsin Khan

: And when they see some merchandise or some amusement [beating of Tambur (drum) etc.] they disperse headlong to it, and leave you (Muhammad SAW) standing [while delivering Jumu'ah's religious talk (Khutbah)]. Say "That which Allah has is better than any amusement or merchandise! And Allah is the Best of providers."

Sahih International

: But when they saw a transaction or a diversion, [O Muhammad], they rushed to it and left you standing. Say, "What is with Allah is better than diversion and than a transaction, and Allah is the best of providers."

In this Allah swt is explaining an event that happened during the Jumuah prayers.  Also points to the authority of the Sunnah because the Jumu'ah prayer was established by the Prophet (sal Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam).

More interesting case is when ayat is revealed but its enforcement or enactment happens much later

Surah Al Ala verse 14-15

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن تَزَكَّىٰ

Muhsin Khan

: Indeed whosoever purifies himself (by avoiding polytheism and accepting Islamic Monotheism) shall achieve success,

Sahih International

: He has certainly succeeded who purifies himself

وَذَكَرَ اسْمَ رَبِّهِ فَصَلَّىٰ

Muhsin Khan

: And remembers (glorifies) the Name of his Lord (worships none but Allah), and prays (five compulsory prayers and Nawafil additional prayers).

Sahih International

: And mentions the name of his Lord and prays.

Surah was revelead much earlier and its implementation of salah and zakat was much later

Another example

Surah Al Balad verse 1-2

لَا أُقْسِمُ بِهَٰذَا الْبَلَدِ

Muhsin Khan

: I swear by this city (Makkah);

Sahih International

: I swear by this city, Makkah -

وَأَنتَ حِلٌّ بِهَٰذَا الْبَلَدِ

Muhsin Khan

: And you are free (from sin, to punish the enemies of Islam on the Day of the conquest) in this city (Makkah).

Sahih International

: And you, [O Muhammad], are free of restriction in this city -

There is exemption for prophet in Makkah. When prophet conquered Makkah, he was free from the invoilable requirements of Makkah. And the conquest of Makkah happened much later after the ayat was revealed

Important point to understand that law became enacted much later than ayat was revealed, or sometimes law was enacted and ayat was revealed later. So it is not just that ayat was revealed and the law was enacted immediately.

Link to the book by Sh Muqbil

July 27, 2009

Last week's notes can be found here

Books in english are not consistent and do not follow principles in their works of tafseer of quran.

Normal case is that a verse is not revealed more than once.

Beginning of Surat Rum 1-4


Muhsin Khan: Alif-Lam-Mim. [These letters are one of the miracles of the Quran, and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings].

غُلِبَتِ الرُّومُ

Muhsin Khan: The Romans have been defeated.

فِي أَدْنَى الْأَرْضِ وَهُم مِّن بَعْدِ غَلَبِهِمْ سَيَغْلِبُونَ

Muhsin Khan: In the nearer land (Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine), and they, after their defeat, will be victorious.

فِي بِضْعِ سِنِينَ ۗ لِلَّهِ الْأَمْرُ مِن قَبْلُ وَمِن بَعْدُ ۚ وَيَوْمَئِذٍ يَفْرَحُ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ

Muhsin Khan: Within three to nine years. The decision of the matter, before and after (these events) is only with Allah, (before the defeat of Romans by the Persians, and after, i.e. the defeat of the Persians by the Romans). And on that Day, the believers (i.e. Muslims) will rejoice (at the victory given by Allah to the Romans against the Persians),

Sahaba Saeed al Khudri - These verses were revealed on the day of the battle of Badr. The victory of Romans over Persians occured at the same time as Battle of Badr.

Ibn Abbas - Has another timeline for the revelation for these ayat which is prior to the battle of Badr. There was a wager between him and mushrikeen that this event would come true

Both of these statements are accurate. Statement by Saeed al Khudri is indeed asbaab al Nuzool

Maybe Allah swt reminded the prophet by revealing this ayat after the victory on the battle of Badr

From Sahih Bukhari - Abdullab ibn Masood was walking with the prophet and they passed some jews, who asked him question, What is the ruh?

Prophet described that he was receiving revealation and when it stopped, he answered the question asked by the jew. It was revealed in Madinah. This was an eyewitness report.

Another narration by Ibn Abbas. It was revealed in Makkah because of such and such reasons. The reason being that Quraysh asked the Jews what should we ask Prophet (pbuh) and Jews told them to ask about ruh! [Sunan Tirmidhi and authentic]

Is it possible or plausible that both of these reports are correct?

There were different tribes of jews so it is possible that both of these reports are correct.

Point is that it is possible to find multiple asbaab al Nuzool for one ayat (having two different events for one ayat). And hence the ayat was revealed twice, as a reminder that it may apply to this event or question. So we should be careful to not reject a hadeeth

Qaaidah #6: The sabab al-nuzool could be one but the resultant verses may be many and vice-versa (more than one sabab may have lead to one verse being revealed)

Surat Nisa verse 32 was revelead on the occasion of Umm salamah's question

وَلَا تَتَمَنَّوْا مَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بِهِ بَعْضَكُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۚ لِّلرِّجَالِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا اكْتَسَبُوا ۖ وَلِلنِّسَاءِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا اكْتَسَبْنَ ۚ وَاسْأَلُوا اللَّهَ مِن فَضْلِهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا

Muhsin Khan: And wish not for the things in which Allah has made some of you to excel others. For men there is reward for what they have earned, (and likewise) for women there is reward for what they have earned, and ask Allah of His Bounty. Surely, Allah is Ever All-Knower of everything.

However there was another ayat that was revealed on the occasion of Umm Salamah's question, I don't find Allah mentioning women ... 

Al Imran verse 195

فَاسْتَجَابَ لَهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ أَنِّي لَا أُضِيعُ عَمَلَ عَامِلٍ مِّنكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَىٰ ۖبَعْضُكُم مِّن بَعْضٍ ۖ فَالَّذِينَ هَاجَرُوا وَأُخْرِجُوا مِن دِيَارِهِمْ وَأُوذُوا فِي سَبِيلِي وَقَاتَلُوا وَقُتِلُوا لَأُكَفِّرَنَّ عَنْهُمْ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ وَلَأُدْخِلَنَّهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ ثَوَابًا مِّنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عِندَهُ حُسْنُ الثَّوَابِ

Muhsin Khan: So their Lord accepted of them (their supplication and answered them), "Never will I allow to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female. You are (members) one of another, so those who emigrated and were driven out from their homes, and suffered harm in My Cause, and who fought, and were killed (in My Cause), verily, I will remit from them their evil deeds and admit them into Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise); a reward from Allah, and with Allah is the best of rewards."

Sunan al Tirmidhi mentions another ayat but it might be for another question asked by umm Salamah

So, one incident can lead to more than one ayat being revealed.

Now we will present evidence for many events that are sabaab al nazool for one ayat.

What should a person do if he finds his wife with another man. This question was asked twice of the prophet. And then this ayat was revealed. Which ayat???

Qaaidah #7: If there exists more than one narration concerning the sabab al-nuzool of a verse, one then determines which is authentic and accepts that only. If more than one is authentic, one studies the expression that is used and accepts that which is explicit. If more than one is authentic and explicit and they refer to circumstances very close in time to one another, one concludes that more than one cause led to the revelation of said verse. If their timings are distant, one then concludes that either the verse was revealed more than once (!) or finds other means/evidence to give preference to one report over the other.

Next time we will go through multiple reports and apply principle #7

August 3, 2009

Last week's notes can be found here

if more than one report is authentic look at terms used check for explictness of report more than one authentic and explicit => 3 possibilities:

Multiple sabaab for one verse

The verse was releaved more than once (example given last class was beginning of Surah Ar-Rum)

Tarjeeh' - the science of determining what is stronger


Muhsin Khan: By the forenoon (after sun-rise);

وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا سَجَىٰ

Muhsin Khan: And by the night when it is still (or darkens);

مَا وَدَّعَكَ رَبُّكَ وَمَا قَلَىٰ

Muhsin Khan: .

What is asbaab al-Nazool for 93:3?

Bukhari and Muslim: Prophet was not receiving reveleations and he was sick and did not pray for a couple of nights and a woman visited him and said has the devil left you. And then this ayat was revealed.

Tabarani: There was ... under prophet's bed and Angel Gabriel did not visit him

Side discussion 

Tabarani is not to be confused by Tabari or Trabarasi

We all know who Tabari was - Famous mufasseer and collected of hadeeth

Tabarani was a collector hadeeth, however the quality of his hadeeth are not good

Tabarasi - He is a Shia mufaseereen

Bakarah verse 115

وَلِلَّهِ الْمَشْرِقُ وَالْمَغْرِبُ ۚ فَأَيْنَمَا تُوَلُّوا فَثَمَّ وَجْهُ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ

Muhsin Khan: And to Allah belong the east and the west, so wherever you turn yourselves or your faces there is the Face of Allah (and He is High above, over His Throne). Surely! Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures' needs, All-Knowing.

Side discussion: Parenthesis is one of the gravest mistakes. Parenthesis implies that these words are implied or missing in the original text.

What is the asbaab al nazool of this verse?

1) Ibn Abbaas-al-Tabari narration from ibn abbaas and tabari

2) Amr ibn Rabeeah - in al-Tirmidhi and ibn Majah

3) Ibn Umar - reported in al-Tirmidhi

4) Qataadah - recorded by at-Tabari

5) Mujahid - recorded by at-Tabari

Apply the principles. 

Which of the above are authentic?

First three are from the sahaba, the last two are from tabieen. There is some weakness in the chain of the last two.

Third narration is not an explicit and it is not asbaab al nazool. Hadeeth is authentic but it is not explicit in it's wording as described in the principles.

Second narration is it explicit? Yes it is. It is also authentic. Praying and not knowing the direction of Qiblah

First narration is also explicit and is also authentic. Asbaab al nazool is regarding the change of the direction of Qiblah, when jews asked why did you change the direction of the qiblah.

So what principle should we apply now?

Either the two of them are at the same time. Or two events occur at different times and the ayat was revealed twice.

If somebody argues that they will not accept the two asbaab al nazools, then you can use tarjeeh. Both of the asbaabs are related to salah.

Now if you were translating the ayat, would you have used the words in the parenthesis as done by Muhsin Khan?

Next topic

What is a good definition of Qiraat (different recitations of the Qur'an)?

When we have a different Qiraat - Wisdom behind Allah swt making different qiraat

How many different Qiraat?

We have seven Ahruf - Hadeeth of the prophet that describe the 7 ahraf. To make it easier upon the ummah, the quran was revealed in seven Ahruf. This is from the hadeeth of the prophet.

We have 7-10 Qira'aat

At the time of Uthman, he standardized the text of the Qur'an. The musahaaf had very small variations. 

The text of Uthman did not have the tashkeel. One of the miracles is that Uthmaan script supported the different qira'aat. Modern day scripts are restricting the qur'an.

Majority opinion is that the mushaf was restricted to one qira'aat. However Sheikh Jamaal disputes this opinion. 

Hadeeth of Umar and Hisham. Umar dragged Hisham to prophet and complained that he was reading the Quran differently. Prophet ordered Hisham to read it. And then he said that Quran was revealed in 7 ahruf. 

So these different qira'aat are based on the ahruf. So these Ahruf led to Qira'aat.

Important implication is that these Qira'aat must be revelations from Allah swt.

What are conditions for Qira'aat to be accepted?

1. Sahih chain back to the prophet (does not have to mutawaatir)

2. Must confirm to the Arabic language

3. Confirm to at least one of the musahaaf of Uthmaan, explicitly or implicitly

Each Qira'aat is revelation and is traced back to the prophet (saw)

Ahruf - actual varieties revealed to the prophet - 7 different ways that the quran was revealed

Qira'aat - how scholars have passed on the readings of the quran

Qira'aat is attributed to the scholar and he is taken it from his teacher and added some other attributes such as the length of madh, etc

Today's notes might be incorrect. At the end of the lecture, the Sheikh mentioned that the Ahruf are revelations. Does that mean the Qira'aat are not revelations?

August 10, 2009

Last week's notes can be found here

O prophet why do you forbid something that is made permissible - It is possible to have more than one asbaab an nazool. 

Incident from Hafsa's apartment and forbid himself from Maria. Well known scholars agree that this hadith is sahih. But may disagree whether it is asbaab an nazool for this ayat. None of this discussion makes it into the abridged ibn Katheer. Narration about honey is most probably the asbaab an nazool for this ayat. However there is no problem in saying that both of the incidents (honey and swearing not to approach Maria) might be asbaab an nazool. Syed Qutb says that the incident with Maria might have more impact on the prophet.

Different scholars of tafseer have different specialities. You go to different scholar and get certain aspects from that tafseer. You save yourself from the weakness of scholar. For example. some scholar was weak in grading of hadith. ibn Katheer was very serious about grading of hadeeth and aqeedah. Other books you get more about linguistic beauty by ibn Ashura or Syed Kutb.  Grammar - abu Hayan is one of the greatest grammarians. ibn Katheer is very good at giving you the root meaning. 

Seven Ahruf probably does not mean dialects. Because of the incident with Umar since both of them spoke the same dialect and yet Umar dragged the sahabi to the prophet since he read the ayat differently than him. And he informed Umar that this is how the prophet taught him to read the ayat.

What happened during the time of Uthmaan and the musahaaf that he compiled and the seven ahruf.  There are three opinions among scholars: 

1. Musahaaf was written in such a way that it captured all of the seven ahruf

2. They do not capture all of the ahruf

3. They capture only one ahruf

There were differences in qiraat in different regions such as Iraq. They started bragging that their qiraat is better than others. This had to stop.

Qiraat were given a name - such as Hafsaa and Asim

Qiraat ibn Katheer  (Died in 120 Hijri). He took his qiraat from the following three sahaba ??? Abu Huraira, 

Length of the madh might lead to cosmetic differences.

Hafsaa died in 169 Hijri

Asim dies in 127 Hijri. He took his qiraat from Zoor ibn hubaish????

Qiraat came from sahaba and tabieen and tabi tabieen.

How do we deal with Qiraat wrt tafseer?

Qaeeda #8

If qiraat or reading is acceptable or sahih or mutawattir then you cannot reject it


Various qiraat are considered independent verses.

Since it adds meaning to the verse

QIraat are a miraclous aspect of the quran.

You take words and put them in book, and then recite them in such a way that you get different meanings of the word.

Surat al Buruj

وَهُوَ الْغَفُورُ الْوَدُودُ

Muhsin Khan: And He is Oft-Forgiving, full of love (towards the pious who are real true believers of Islamic Monotheism),

ذُو الْعَرْشِ الْمَجِيدُ

Muhsin Khan: Owner of the throne, the Glorious

Can be read as Allah is glorious as well as the throne is glorious. It depends upon the qiraat.

Surat al Bakarah 222

وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْمَحِيضِ ۖ قُلْ هُوَ أَذًى فَاعْتَزِلُوا النِّسَاءَ فِي الْمَحِيضِ ۖ وَلَا تَقْرَبُوهُنَّ حَتَّىٰ يَطْهُرْنَ ۖ فَإِذَا تَطَهَّرْنَ فَأْتُوهُنَّ مِنْ حَيْثُ أَمَرَكُمُ اللَّهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ

Muhsin Khan: They ask you concerning menstruation. Say: that is an Adha (a harmful thing for a husband to have a sexual intercourse with his wife while she is having her menses), therefore keep away from women during menses and go not unto them till they have purified (from menses and have taken a bath). And when they have purified themselves, then go in unto them as Allah has ordained for you (go in unto them in any manner as long as it is in their vagina). Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves (by taking a bath and cleaning and washing thoroughly their private parts, bodies, for their prayers, etc.).

حَتَّىٰ يَطْهُرْنَ

go not unto them till they have purified. And when they have purified themselves, then go in unto them as Allah has ordained for you

The first purification is about pre ghusl and the second purification is post ghusl 

The other reading of this ayat.

go not unto them till they have purified and they have purified themselves...

Here it means that the menses are stopped and they have performed ghusl then you can have relations.

The ambiguity is removed by the second reading. It makes it explicit that the menses have to stop and then ghusl has to be performed.

Tabari tafseer rejected some qiraat. He would say this qiraat is preferred to that qiraat. Or it is not permissible to read a particular qiraat. If someone were to do that today, what would the scholars say about it?

Discuss problematic qiraat

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاءً ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءَلُونَ بِهِ وَالْأَرْحَامَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا

Muhsin Khan: O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife [Hawwa (Eve)], and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you.

وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءَلُونَ بِهِ وَالْأَرْحَامَ

fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship)

Hamza reads it with a kasra instead of a fatah (the bi hee wal ar haam  بِهِ وَالْأَرْحَامَ  becomes  بِهِ وَالْأَرْحَامَ bil-ar haam)

I ask you by Allah to do something and I also ask you by my relationships to do something. 

This reading of Hamza is rejected by Tabari and ibn Ataiya???

Tabari thinks the meaning of the second reading is weak or vague

ibn Ataiya and the Basran school thinks it is bad grammar and hence cannot be Qur'an.

Remember the grammarians came much later.

Kuffans have no problem with the reading.

Basran school is mistaken because it is authentically passed on by the sahaba. If Basran school came up with rules later and the rule is violated that does not mean you have to reject the reading.

Do Shaad readings have any wait?  Shaad readings violate the musahaf of Uthman.