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Sunday, January 04, 2009

READING THE BOOKS OF TAFSIR

To understand books of explanation of the Qur'an-al-karim, it is necessary to learn the twenty main branches of knowledge well by working ceaselessly for thirty years. There are eighty subdivisions that are the branches of these twenty main branches of knowledge. One of the main branches is the knowledge of tafsir (explanation of the Qur'an-al-karim). These branches of knowledge had different savants and many books.

Various Arabic words that are used today have different meanings in the knowledge of fiqh [1] than from the meanings which they have in the knowledge of explanation of the Qur'an-al-karim. Even the same word conveys different meanings according to its place in the Qur’an and the particles it takes. The Qur’an’s translations by those who do not know these vast branches of knowledge or made according to today’s Arabic convey meanings far from the meanings in the Qur’an-al karim. Everybody understands the hints, the meanings from the symbols in the Qur’an in proportion to the strength of his iman [2].

Tafsir is not something done simply by writing or by expressing in words. Tafsir is a radiance (nur) that occurs to the heart of great religious men. The books of Tafsir (explanation of the Qur'an-al-karim) are the keys to this radiance. As the jewels are revealed when you unlock the drawer with the key, in a similar way does a radiance occur to the heart by reading those explanations of the Qur'an-al-karims. Those who knew the eighty branches of knowledge well understood the Tafsirs and, in order to explain them to religiously ignorant people as we are, they wrote thousands of books suitable for people of various categories.

Valuable Tafsirs such as Mawakib, Tibyan, Abu’l-Lays are among them. Tibyan is an explanation of the Qur'an-al-karim that was prepared in 1110 A. H. The explanation of the Qur'an-al-karim by Vehbi Efendi of Konya is a book of preaching. Since there are parts containing personal views in all those newly written books, which are considered to be the most valuable, their harm is greater than their good to those who read them. Especially those tafsirs and translations by enemies of Islam and by holders of bid’at [3], which have been written to defile the meaning of Qur’an al-karim, are fully harmful. These are all poisonous.

A number of doubts and objections arise within the young people who read them. Besides, it is unsuitable for those who, like us, have little religious knowledge, to read tafsirs and hadiths [4] to learn Islam. It causes one to lose one’s iman if an ayat [5] or hadith is misunderstood or doubted. A tafsir or hadith cannot be understood only by knowing Arabic. He who considers those who know Arabic as savants is wrong. In Beirut and in other places there are many priests whose native language is Arabic and who know Arabic literature well. Yet none of them understands Islam.
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GLOSSARY
[1] fiqh: knowledge dealing with what Muslims should do and should not do; actions, a’mal, ‘ibadat.
[2] iman: faith, belief, beliefs of Islam; kalam, i’tiqad.
[3] bid‘a: (pl. bid‘at) heresy; false, disliked belief or practice that did not exist in the four sources of Islam but which has been introduced later as an Islamic belief or ‘ibada in expectation of thawab (blessings) ; heresy.
[4] hadith (sharif): a saying of the Prophet (‘alaihi ‘s-salam).
[5] ayat al-karima: a verse of al-Qur’an al-karim; al-ayat al-karima.

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