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Only Allah Knows the True Ta'wil (Interpretation) of the Mutashabihat Print E-mail

Allah said,

﴿وَمَا يَعْلَمُ تَأْوِيلَهُ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ﴾

(But none knows its Ta'wil except Allah.)

Similarly, as preceded in what has been reported from Ibn `Abbas, "Tafsir is of four types: Tafsir that the Arabs know in their language; Tafsir that no one is excused of being ignorant of; Tafsir that the scholars know; and Tafsir that only Allah knows.'' Scholars of Qur'an recitation have different opinions about pausing at Allah's Name in this Ayah. This stop was reported from `A'ishah, `Urwah, Abu Ash-Sha`tha' and Abu Nahik.

Some pause after reciting,

﴿وَالرَسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ﴾

(And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge) saying that the Qur'an does not address the people with what they cannot understand. Ibn Abi Najih said that Mujahid said that Ibn `Abbas said, "I am among those who are firmly grounded in its Ta'wil interpretation.'' The Messenger of Allah supplicated for the benefit of Ibn `Abbas,

«اللَّهُمَّ فَقِّهْهُ فِي الدِّينِ وَعَلِّمْهُ التَّأْوِيل»

(O Allah! Bestow on him knowledge in the religion and teach him the Ta'wil (interpretation).)

Ta'wil has two meanings in the Qur'an, the true reality of things, and what they will turn out to be. For instance, Allah said,

﴿وَقَالَ يأَبَتِ هَـذَا تَأْوِيلُ رُؤْيَـى مِن قَبْلُ﴾

(And he said: "O my father! This is the Ta'wil of my dream aforetime!''.) ﴿12:100﴾, and,

﴿هَلْ يَنظُرُونَ إِلاَّ تَأْوِيلَهُ يَوْمَ يَأْتِى تَأْوِيلُهُ﴾

(Await they just for it's Ta'wil On the Day (Day of Resurrection) it's Ta'wil is finally fulfillled.)(7:53) refers to the true reality of Resurrection that they were told about. If this is the meaning desired in the Ayah above ﴿3:7﴾, then pausing after reciting Allah's Name is warranted, because only Allah knows the true reality of things. In this case, Allah's statement,

﴿وَالرَسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ﴾

(And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge) is connected to His statement,

﴿يَقُولُونَ ءَامَنَّا بِهِ﴾

(say: "We believe in it'') If the word Ta'wil means the second meaning, that is, explaining and describing, such as what Allah said,

﴿نَبِّئْنَا بِتَأْوِيلِهِ﴾

((They said): "Inform us of the Ta'wil of this'') meaning its explanation, then pausing after reciting,

﴿وَالرَسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ﴾

(And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge) is warranted. This is because the scholars have general knowledge in, and understand what they were addressed with, even though they do not have knowledge of the true reality of things. Therefore, Allah's statement,

﴿يَقُولُونَ ءَامَنَّا بِهِ﴾

(say: "We believe in it'') describes the conduct of the scholars. Similarly, Allah said,

﴿وَجَآءَ رَبُّكَ وَالْمَلَكُ صَفّاً صَفّاً ﴾

(And your Lord comes, and the angels, in rows.) ﴿89:22﴾ means, your Lord will come, and the angels will come in rows.

Allah's statement that the knowledgeable people proclaim,

﴿يَقُولُونَ ءَامَنَّا بِهِ﴾

(We believe in it) means, they believe in the Mutashabih.

﴿كُلٌّ مِّنْ عِندِ رَبِّنَا﴾

(all of it is from our Lord) meaning, both the Muhkam and the Mutashabih are true and authentic, and each one of them testifies to the truth of the other. This is because they both are from Allah and nothing that comes from Allah is ever met by contradiction or discrepancy. Allah said,

﴿أَفَلاَ يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْءَانَ وَلَوْ كَانَ مِنْ عِندِ غَيْرِ اللَّهِ لَوَجَدُواْ فِيهِ اخْتِلَـفاً كَثِيراً ﴾

(Do they not then consider the Qur'an carefully Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein many a contradiction.) ﴿4:82﴾.

Allah said in his Ayah ﴿3:7﴾,

﴿وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلاَّ أُوْلُواْ الأَلْبَـبِ﴾

(And none receive admonition except men of understanding. ) meaning, those who have good minds and sound comprehension, understand, contemplate and comprehend the meaning in the correct manner. Further, Ibn Al-Mundhir recorded in his Tafsir that Nafi` bin Yazid said, "Those firmly grounded in knowledge are those who are modest for Allah's sake, humbly seek His pleasure, and do not exaggerate regarding those above them, or belittle those below them.''

Allah said that they supplicate to their Lord,

﴿رَبَّنَا لاَ تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا﴾

(Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after You have guided us.) meaning, "Do not deviate our hearts from the guidance after You allowed them to acquire it. Do not make us like those who have wickedness in their hearts, those who follow the Mutashabih in the Qur'an. Rather, make us remain firmly on Your straight path and true religion.''

﴿وَهَبْ لَنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ﴾

(And grant us from Ladunka) meaning, from You,


(Mercy) with which You make our hearts firm, and increase in our Faith and certainty,

﴿إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْوَهَّابُ﴾

(Truly, You are the Bestower)

Ibn Abi Hatim and Ibn Jarir recorded that Umm Salamah said that the Prophet used to supplicate,

«يَا مُقَلِّبَ الْقُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِي عَلَى دِينِك»

(O You Who changes the hearts, make my heart firm on Your religion.)

He then recited,

﴿رَبَّنَا لاَ تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا وَهَبْ لَنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْوَهَّابُ ﴾

("Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after You have guided us, and grant us mercy from You. Truly, You are the Bestower.'') The Ayah continues,

﴿رَبَّنَآ إِنَّكَ جَامِعُ النَّاسِ لِيَوْمٍ لاَّ رَيْبَ فِيهِ﴾

("Our Lord! Verily, it is You Who will gather mankind together on the Day about which there is no doubt'') meaning, they say in their supplication: O our Lord! You will gather Your creation on the Day of Return, judge between them and decide over what they disputed about. Thereafter, You will reward or punish each according to the deeds they did in this life.

﴿إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ لَن تُغْنِىَ عَنْهُمْ أَمْوَلُهُمْ وَلاَ أَوْلـدُهُم مِّنَ اللَّهِ شَيْئًا وَأُولَـئِكَ هُمْ وَقُودُ النَّارِ - كَدَأْبِ ءَالِ فِرْعَوْنَ وَالَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ كَذَّبُواْ بِأَيَـتِنَا فَأَخَذَهُمُ اللَّهُ بِذُنُوبِهِمْ وَاللَّهُ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ ﴾

(10. Verily, those who disbelieve, neither their properties nor their offspring will avail them whatsoever against Allah; and it is they who will be fuel of the Fire.) (11. Like the behavior of the people of Fir`awn and those before them; they belied Our Ayat. So Allah punished them for their sins. And Allah is severe in punishment.)

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