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Why Do We Need a New Quranic Interpretation?

Date: 20/12/2013 A.D 17/2/1435 H

By His Eminence, Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlullah (ra)

Is our book "Tafsir Min Wahi Al-Qur'an" (Interpretations Inspired by the Quran) considered a new interpretation? Are we in need for a new interpretation to stand out before the multitude of the other interpretations that left no aspect of Quranic knowledge without overanalyzing, expanding and studying it, starting from the literal aspect into the rhetorical, philosophical, psychological, and social aspects...etc? The last attempt resulted in the scientific interpretation which tried to turn the Quran into an encyclopedia that includes all the new discoveries and theories of all fields of knowledge. Some even went to the other extreme and considered the Quran as a book filled with secrets and loaded with mysteries and concealed truths, which suggests to its reader that he is dealing with a book that adopts the style of signs in all what it wants to introduce to the people. Moreover, the attempts to open up new horizons for new interpretations are still being explored.

As for our attempt to issue a new interpretation, it actually aims at creating a Quranic awareness that sets the Islamic awareness on a solid basis that would never be destabilized or deviated. Actually, we believe that the Quranic culture is the basic element for any Islamic work that might make a change at the level of the intellect or the reality, considering that the Quran represents, in our doctrinal Islamic awareness, the book that: "No falsehood can approach it from before or behind it." (41:42). Allah also preserved the Quran from any deviation or addition or reduction, for He says: "We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption)." (15:09). In the light of this, the Quran represents the infallible source for the pure Islamic conception to all life's legislative, intellectual, and practical aspects, and provides us with a definition of the concepts on which the Islamic character is based.

However, we do not mean to undervalue the Sunnah (Tradition), being a second basic source for the Islamic thought and law, for the Tradition presents the detailed image of the general Quranic concepts. Actually the tradition is what outlines and defines the intellectual and practical course for the general rules. However, the difference between the Quran and the Sunnah is that the former's "Sanad" (Chain of authorities on which traditions are based) does not need a scientific proof for the scholars to rely on in order to verify the reliability and credibility of its narrator so as to establish whether it is authentic or not, for its "Sanad" is conclusive, since it is directly referred to Allah. However, we notice that the Tradition's Sanad, which proves that the Prophet did do or say what is narrated, is not that solid, for scholars might differ over its authenticity just as they differ over any jurisprudent issue.

Therefore, focusing on studying the Quran with contemplation and insight creates a clear Quranic mentality, through which we would be able to detect the falseness of the fabricated traditions as we detect the falseness of the concepts they [the traditions] deal with by comparing them to the context of the Holy Quran based on the authentic traditions of the Members of the House (a.s.) which establish that: "Any speech, which is not in accordance to the Holy Quran is groundless."

Our interpretation "Tafsir Min Wahi Al-Qur'an" is based on an active practical line that focuses on making use of the Quranic atmospheres so as to relive them in our Islamic life, for the Quran is not composed of literal words that freeze in their literal meaning, but rather of words that move in spiritual and practical atmospheres. Therefore, we do not handle the Quranic verses the way we handle the abstract literary texts that move the thought away from reality, but rather we deal with them as a life that moves, gives, inspires, leads, and guides to the straight path.

The revelation of the Quranic verses was linked to the status of the Islamic call, watching over its progress to determine its points of weakness and points of strength in the actions of the caller and the challenges of reality, so as to establish the essential bases that strengthen its weak points and preserve its strong ones from falling apart, and direct the steps towards the goals and firmly face the challenges of reality.

We deduce from this approach to the Quranic style that we ought to understand the Quran as a book that embodies a message and a call, by reminding ourselves of their atmospheres so as to experience the Quran's vividness, movement, and missionary spirituality that the early Muslims had experienced so as to reach the ultimate goal. This goal seeks creating an aware and open Quranic character that the Holy Messenger (p.) had embodied in the sincerest manner possible. Therefore, his life sayings and deeds were dedicated to the Call and were indeed a model to follow, for Allah says: "Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar for him who hopes in Allah and the latter day and remembers Allah much." (33:21).

As we were going through the reasons for the revelation of the Quran, we came across two important points:

First: the verse is not rigid; it does not freeze in the moment in which it was revealed, for the reasons of the revelation represent the base it stands on to extend and expand throughout time and place, since what they talk about in the original model or example can be generalized to live with all people at all times. The Members of the House (a.s.) have the following tradition on this issue: "The Quran runs just as the sun and the moon does."

Second: The verse might be in a certain intellectual context, yet they suggest something different, considering the relation of the explicit meaning included in the verse with another broader meaning that is comprehended as a result of the nature of the practical outcomes and the unity of the course, which was expressed in some of the famous traditions of the Members of the House (a.s.) as "At-Ta'weel" (interpretation). What is meant by interpretation is not to give the term another meaning besides the literal one it underlies, but rather to deduce the real meaning in addition to the first one, as Allah says: "And if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people." (05:32).   

In Al-Kulaini's book "Al-Kafi", it is mentioned that Fadeel Bin Yasar said: "I asked Abi Ja'afar Muhammad Al-Baqir (a.s.) about the saying of Allah, the Most Exalted, in the Quran: "And if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people." He (a.s.) said: "From being burnt or drowning." Then I asked: "What about if he guides it from deviation to the straight path?" He answered: "This is its greatest interpretation."

It is obvious that what is meant is implied within the verse, for actually, the value of life is represented by how much it is attached to Allah and adheres to the straight path He has set, and it will hold no value of it was randomly moving in misguidance.

We tried in our book of interpretation "Tafsir Min Wahi Al-Qur'an" (Interpretations Inspired from the Quran) to study the Quran in its authentic and eternal concepts, so as to base our movements on it concerning all the issues, problems, and new situations we go through, by going deep into the Quranic meanings and digging out the broader concepts.

We hope that these attempts achieve a high level of novelty in demonstration and style, and apply, at least partially, to our contemporary reality in which the Islamic call needs to make use of the Quran so as to apply it to all life's practical aspects in the course and the goal. They are interpretations inspired from the Quran, and the Quran will always inspire as long as life is directed towards what pleases Allah, and as long as humanity seeks the most supreme goal that achieves the happiness that joins the world with the Hereafter, and the spiritual with the materialistic, and the individual with the society; thus, reaching the real sense of Islam.

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. For us Allah sufficeth, and He is the best disposer of affairs.

* An excerpt from “Interpretations Inspired from the Quran”

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