Have you ever studied the interpretation and explanation of the Holy Quran? Are you convinced you understand the meaning and message behind the word of Allah?
Allah Almighty has not only revealed the Holy Quran but has also taken the responsibility of its protection. As Allah says:
إِنَّا نَحۡنُ نَزَّلۡنَا ٱلذِّكۡرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُۥ لَحَـٰفِظُونَ
It is certainly We Who have revealed the Reminder (The Quran), and it is certainly We Who will preserve it.
So, the Holy Quran has been under preservation since it was revealed. There is no change in its words from the beginning and it will never be changed. This is clear evidence of Allah’s promise to preserve His Book.
Then where there is no change in the words of the Quran, there is no change in its interpretation and explanation, because Allah says:
ثُمَّ إِنَّ عَلَیۡنَا بَیَانَهُ
Then it is surely upon Us to make it clear ˹to you˺.
So, we can say that the interpretation of the Holy Quran has also been preserved from the start along with its words. Many of the Mufassireen have interpreted the Holy Quran and at the top of their interpretations is of the Prophet’s companions رضي الله عنهم. The best tafseer among the companions’ tafsir is of Abdullah bin Abbas رضي الله عنهما. Every tafseer which is narrated through the authentic chain of transmission and narration from Abdullah bin Abbas رضي الله عنهما is important and an acceptable tafseer because the holy Prophet ﷺ prayed for him for more knowledge about Allah’s Book, the Holy Quran, as he ﷺ said:
اللَّهُمَّ عَلِّمْهُ الْكِتَابَ
O Allah! Bestow on him the knowledge of the Book (Quran)
(صحيح البخاري: 75)
We should understand that there are principles and guidelines for interpreting the Quran, which must be properly understood by the one who engages in tafseer (exegesis) of the word of Allah. The scholars have written about the guidelines and principles of tafseer, and have explained the difference between tafseer on the basis of reports and 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.
The scholars have stated that the Quran may be interpreted:
- By the Quran
- By the Sunnah
- By the words of the early generations (salaf)
- By the rules of the Arabic language
- 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 Quran is the most appropriate means of understanding the Quran, because it is the word of Allah. The Messenger ﷺ is the one who explains the words of Allah, for that is his role. The Quran 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 Holy Quran. The early generations were the closest of people to the language and the most knowledgeable of what meaning the Messenger ﷺ intended when he spoke, for they were witnesses to the revelation and were aware of the circumstances and reasons for the revelation; they were also people who were proven to be good and righteous, so their interpretation takes precedence over that of others.
In short, the obligation on the Muslims as the believers on Allah’s Book is to ponder over its verses so that we may understand the meaning of Allah and know our way to Jannah with the help of tafseers that are the most accurate and authentic. Being Muslims we are commanded to ponder over Quranic verses. As Allah says:
كِتَـٰبٌ أَنزَلۡنَـٰهُ إِلَیۡكَ مُبَـٰرَكࣱ لِّیَدَّبَّرُوۤا۟ ءَایَـٰتِهِۦ وَلِیَتَذَكَّرَ أُو۟لُوا۟ ٱلۡأَلۡبَـٰبِ
This is a Book the Quran which We have sent down to you, full of blessings, that they ponder over its Verses, and that men of understanding may remember.
It is impossible to ponder over the Quran without its correct interpretation. It is an obligation of every Muslim to find and learn the correct interpretation of the Holy Quran because the issue of the Quran is very sensitive. If a person interprets on his own behalf and it is against the intention of Allah Almighty, the temperament of Islam and the method of the Salaf and it has nothing to do with reality, then he can become worthy of the punishment of Allah as it is mentioned in the Quran.
Some verses of the Quran interpret others. The Quran itself is interpreted from many of the instructions of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. There is no ambiguity about these two sources of Tafseer. Another source of Quranic commentary is the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ Companions. The Companions are among the first addressees of the Holy Quran. Every command of the Quran is drawn to them first. Also, the Companions have found the time of the revelation of the Holy Quran. They have a good idea of what the verse means and about whom it was revealed, where it was revealed and when it was revealed. As if they knew all the rules and regulations on the basis of which interpretation is given.
Now it is the job of the most expert scholars to get access to the commentary from these companions which has been proved by the authentic chain of transmission.
Hafiz Salahuddin Yusuf رحمه الله, a well-known Quran Interpreter of Pakistan, had written interpretation footnotes on the same method and style which Darussalam published with the title Tafsir Ahsanul-Bayan.
This book was valued to the extent that King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Quran printed it and distributed it all over the world in different languages free of cost. The copy of the Quran that was being published before this Quran had a lot of intellectual and doctrinal weaknesses. This Quran is free from all slips of thought and belief. This interpretation is derived from both the method of tafseer, al-Mathoor (interpretation from the direct sources; Quran and Sunnah) and al-Rai (the correct interpretation through the method of elicitation) and clarifies the meaning of the Quran in a very comprehensive way.
The author of this interpretation, Tafsir Ahsan Al-Bayan, is Hafiz Salahuddin Yusuf رحمه الله. He was born in Jaipur, India in 1945 and died in Lahore in 2020. He authored more than two dozen islamic books. He had rendered eminent services in the defense of Hadith. He was the head of the Research and Interpretation section in Darussalam Lahore. He was a lifelong advisor to the Federal Shariat Court. He was also a member of the Ruwit Hilal committee.
The content of the tafsir is able to be appreciated because of its comprehensiveness. It’s a complete guide for people interested in understanding the meaning of the Quran. For the ease of readers, here are some extracts from the tafsir:
وَإِذۡ یَقُولُ ٱلۡمُنَـٰفِقُونَ وَٱلَّذِینَ فِی قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضࣱ مَّا وَعَدَنَا ٱللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُۥۤ إِلَّا غُرُورࣰا
And when the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a disease (of doubts) said: “Alläh and His Messenger (ﷺ) promised us nothing but delusion!
Meaning, Allah’s promise of help to the believers was a mere delusion. These thoughts were shared by hypocrites numbering about seventy, and it is as if they (or some of them) were thinking out loud.
وَإِذۡ قَالَت طَّاۤىِٕفَةࣱ مِّنۡهُمۡ یَـٰۤأَهۡلَ یَثۡرِبَ لَا مُقَامَ لَكُمۡ فَٱرۡجِعُوا۟ۚ وَیَسۡتَـٔۡذِنُ فَرِیقࣱ مِّنۡهُمُ ٱلنَّبِیَّ یَقُولُونَ إِنَّ بُیُوتَنَا عَوۡرَةࣱ وَمَا هِیَ بِعَوۡرَةٍۖ إِن یُرِیدُونَ إِلَّا فِرَارࣰا
And when a party of them said: “O people of Yathrib (Al-Madinah)! There is no stand (possible) for you (against the enemy attack!) Therefore go back! And a band of them ask for permission of the Prophet (ﷺ) saying: “Truly, our homes lie open (to the enemy). And they lay not open. They but wished to fleem.
The Yathrib was the name of the whole area around Madinah, the latter being a part of it. According to a tradition, the area was named after an Ammalikite named Yathrib bin Amil who had camped there. (Fath Al- Qadir). That is, it is dangerous to remain with the Muslim army. Let’s go back home. “That is, we fear for the safety of our families whom Banu Ouraizah may attack at any time. 14This was a false plea. There was no such danger. They just wanted to flee from the battlefield. (Aaruh). for its literal and. conventional meanings, see the footnote on V.58 of An-Nür.
وَلَوۡ دُخِلَتۡ عَلَیۡهِم مِّنۡ أَقۡطَارِهَا ثُمَّ سُىِٕلُوا۟ ٱلۡفِتۡنَةَ لَـَٔاتَوۡهَا وَمَا تَلَبَّثُوا۟ بِهَاۤ إِلَّا یَسِیرࣰا
And if the enemy had entered from all sides (of the city), and they had been exhorted 3G to Al-Fitnah (i.e. to renegade from Isläm to polytheism), they would surely have committed it and would have hesitated thereupon but little.
If the enemy had entered their houses from all sides and demanded of them to renounce their faith, they would do so without hesitation and submit to their demand. In short, they are ever inclined to disbelieve and idolatry and will even rush to embrace it.
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