“Euzu Billahi minesheytaniracim”
We take your celestial grace as our crown, we raise your words into our hearts, we accept your name as the truth in our souls. You made us from emptiness. You informed us with your presence and strengthen our hearts with your love. We are in your doorstep searching for your guidance. We are seeking your mercy and in need of your blessing. We couldn’t perform our duty as worshippers and now seeking your forgiveness. Make us hear the truth, teach us the truth. Show us the real, tell us the real. We aren’t capable of seeing unless you show us. We aren’t capable of saying, unless you let us. Help us love your blessed ones, help us getting closer who are blessed with your grace. You sent your beloved into this universe. You made him Muhammad Mustapha; you made him the leader of the worlds; you gave him the role of the helper in judgement day. O Rabb, all our greetings are for him and his followers.
I found meaningful to start our long journey of tafsirs first lesson with this pray, same pray from another precious translators (tafsirian) entering pray to his tafsir. Because I also said “Amen” to this sincere pray with all my heart, it’s fitting that this lessons first words are this same pray.
In this first lesson of tafsir, I would like to talk about the basics of, methods of tafsir (detailed translation) science, historical development, the logic behind understanding and explaining; rather than the tafsir itself. Because methods are the absolute necessity for all sciences. There’s an old saying: the lacks of methods are the reason of the lacks of methods. That means, the reason of being unable to reach a purpose is because of not knowing the proper ways of doing it. Therefore a science needs a constant discipline and a methodology, if we want to call it a real science.
Actually the way, the method is sunnetullah. Doesn’t sunnetullah, the way of Allah? Success without method is unthinkable as well as a science and a discipline. Especially if this science is the tafsir, the science of understanding the depths of Qur’an. It’s absurd to think this science hasn’t got any methodology. So in this first lesson of tafsir; I would like to stay on the topics of methods in tafsir, which is a science unprecedented in the entire human history, a science which has a history of 1400 years of time, a magnificent tradition and a great accumulation of knowledge unable to fit libraries.
In the Islamic science, “Being (Presence)” topic has three categories.
1 – Must Presence
2 – Possible Presence
3 – Conjectural Presence.
Must presence (Absolute presence) is Allah, The Creator. Allah’s presence is not a derivation of any other presence. Allah exists altogether. This presence doesn’t have an origin point nor an ending. Allah’s presence doesn’t need any other presence to be existed. All other existed things are just proofs on Allah’s existence. And for that reality, you cannot find any verse to prove Allah’s existence. Because denying the Allah’s presence is not a topic in religional science. It’s a topic of psychology and medicine. Because it is a mental illness. That kind of behaviour must be treated only in clinical enviroment. Because a person cannot deny Allah’s presence before denying his own presence.
Actually, the people who deny this fact, must replace Allah with their created gods in some point. And they mostly call this god, “coincidence”. But this magnificent universe, great deal of worlds, the process of every single things lives, connections between them including the connections in humans themselves… Those are all great proofs for Allah’s greatness, existence and union.
For that Qur’an doesn’t put any effort on proving Allah’s reality. Only thing Qur’an says in this matter is, defending tevhid (one and only belief, union belief) against shirq, against putting any other gods besides Allah. Other than that, there’s no verse on proving Allah’s existence. Because its unnecessary by nature. In the sura of Ikhlas;
Kul HUvAllahu Ehad. (Al-Ikhlas/1) Allah is One. As you can see, it doesn’t say, Allah is real. Because this existence doesn’t need any kind of proofs. If there’s only one truth in the entire existence universe, then it is the truth of Allah’s existence.
In second category, there’s possible existence. Human is in this category. Possible existence, in other words, an existence who needs another existence to be called a being. We can also say that possible existence is the other name of “creature”. Because he doesn’t exist by his own, nor he can survive on his own. He needs Allah, he needs some other existence. Some other being made him what he is now and he’s in a constant need from that being in order to continue his existence. This is the key for possible existence to be existed.
As I say, human is in the category of possible existence. That means humans are in the circle of creatures and Allah is the creator. And Allah, who is beyond and on top of every existence, has given “man” as the first and most honorable place among all creations.
Third existence is the conjectural, non-existence. It counts as it exists. If you ask why in Islamic mentalism needs that kind of category, answer is this. There’s no universe besides creator and creatures. But if you want to call this non-existence nonetheless then call it emptiness.
Emptiness is the darkness. Like all beings are light. Light has a source. All creations source is Allah. They take their lights from Allah. Allahu Nurus Semavati vel Ard. (An-Nur/35) is this. Allah is the light of heavens and earth. And the opposite side, there’s darkness. In reality darkness doesn’t exist. It counts as conjection. Darkness is the absence of light. But it doesn’t exist on its own. And for that there’s no source for darkness. Iman and tevhid are like lights and herecy, shirq and superstitions are all darkness metaphors.
In this category of existence; “mankind” stands on the peak of possible existence as a being of blessed with Allah’s gift; consciousness. Allah as an absolute being, blessed mankind; a possible existence, a creature and sets him different. Allah has chosen man as a leader on earth and spoke with him. We saw this talent of man as a blessing from Allah which is the same conclusion we reach when we look at Qur’an.
Ve lekad kerremna beniy Adem. (Al-Isra/70) We have honored the sons of Adam. The word “Kerremna” means treating more and more.
So, what are the things Allah treats us this openhandedly?
1 – Fitrat. (Natural state): First blessing is fitrat. Humans clean nature. In Qur’an Allah emphasises fitrat as this.
fitratAllahilletiy fetaren Nase aleyha. (Ar-Rum/30) So set thou thy face truly to the religion being upright; the nature in which Allah has made mankind. Allah’s nature. Clean nature. Pure truth. So the first gift, first blessing is a clean nature, clean conscience. If there was no other gift, then man had to find the difference of right from wrong on his own. But Allah didn’t settle there and gave another blessing.
2 – Senses and consciousness Human is a conscious being who can uses his senses with this consciousness. This is the sole difference between man and other possible existences.
For a mouse, cheese is just cheese, but not for a human. For that, a mouse doesn’t pay attention where this cheese is; and get caught to a trap.Human doesn’t just see the cheese but the trap under it as well. The one who asks the question of “Why is this cheese here?” is only human. Because of that particular talent, this consciousness is the basic difference between mankind and other creatures. A great blessing from Allah to mankind.
3 – Mind. Allah gave another treat to human. Mankind has a gift of mind, he’s clever. With this mind, he can see the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, beautiful and ugly.
4 – After these 3 born-given blessings, Allah has blessed human with a fourth and directional blessing. Which is? Revelations. Allah talked to man. Even with first three gifts were enough for a man to find the truth; Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful; shows mercy, effection and love for mankind with another blessing formed as revelations.
Of course after all these treats and blessings, we couldn’t think mankind was free from any kind of responsibility. If there’s a blessing, there’s responsibility as well. And because of all these blessings, it’s safe to say that mankind has the most heaviest burden of responsibilities among all creations. We can also understand this responsibility in Qur’an.
Eyahsebul’Insanu en yutreke suda. (Al-Qiyamah/36) Does man think that he will be left alone (without purpose)? Again Qur’an reminds us humans are not left uncontrolled and says;
Elem nec’al lehu ‘ayneyn. (Al-Balad/8) Have We not made for him a pair of eyes?
Ve lisanen ve shefeteyn. (Al-Balad/9) Actually a pair of eyes are not a unique feature for humans since other living beings, animals have them too. But if you continue to listen the following verses, there’s a totally different emphasis for the function of eyes. Ve lisanen ve shefeteyn a tongue and a pair of lips. Have We not give him those to be able to talk.
Ve hedeynahunnecdeyn. (Al-Balad/10) And shown him the two highways? After giving humans those gifts, Allah puts us on the entry of two roads. A fork. Ve hedeynahunnecdeyn.
Felaktehamel’akabete. (Al-Balad/11) But he didn’t have the courage to go that road, that steep hill. He didn’t accept that burden. Burden here is responsibility. The responsibility of consciousness, mind and realization, which can be sensed by eyes, tongue and lips. As a metaphor eyes show sights, point out explorations, research. You know something by observing, hearing or sensing by intuition. Center of intuition is heart, center of observing is eyes and center of hearing is ears. At this point Qur’an reminds us this details to show how big is our responsibility. In another verse for human;
.. imma shakiren ve imma kefura. (Al-Insan/3) We showed him the Way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful. Whether he choose iman or blasphemy. Whether he choose acceptance or denial. This choice is the biggest proof for the gift of will. As a result of the will of human, he can choose his way and as a result of this choice, he’s rewarded or punished.
On this meaning, if we put all the concepts in religions one after another; religion, sirat, tarik, sheria; those are all variations of the same road. Human is a passenger, for sure. An eternal passenger. A traveler whose destiny is a very long road. Religion is the road that must be followed by this traveler. If Allah commands the man to be a passenger, you cannot think there won’t be a road for this task. For a man asks Allah for guidance, “If I’m a traveler, then show me the way, O Rabb.”; Allah gives the answer; “Here my follower, I’m showing you the way, the path you should travel on and the signs you should follow to stay on this road.” With this concept , religion is a way of life. And Islam is the name of principles on this eternal journey.
So, in this sense when did Islam start if we ask, then the answer is: when Allah decided to talk to human. The starting point of Islam is also the date when Allah decided to address humans. With this argument we can also say this; Islam is not a name special laws for specific prophets. Islam is the sum of all constant values of humans, beyond time and space.
All prophets known or unknown are Islam prophets. All celestial books known or unknown are Islam books. Therefore Islam is not a system of beliefs, mortgaged or owned by any community or some particular groups. Islam is the name of all constant values of truths throughout the entire human history.
Qur’an emphasises this fact like this. It counts 18 prophets.It counts them all until the 90. Verse of the Sura Anaam. Prophet Noah, Prophet Abraham, Prophet Lut, Prophet Moses, Prophet Elisha, Prophet Jonah, Prophet Jesus. It counts many prophets and in the end it turns and says the last prophet; Ulaikelleziyne hedAllah. (Al-Anaam-90) Those were the (prophets) who received Allah’s guidance. Which also means they are on the road Allah points and verse continues as; fe Bi hudahumuktedih. (You too) Follow the guidance they received. Which means you are not the first of an occurance starting now, you are the last messenger of a process older then the history of mankind.
There’s a reminder for prophet that the prophethood is like a neverending river. And said, follow the guidance they recieved, be on the same road they traveled. For that reason, Qur’an always put reminders for Prophet Muhammad about his position as a continuum for prophets before him and encouraged him to say “I’m not the first (origin).” all the time.
Guidance… What is the meaning of guidance which we saw in these verses? If we ask the real meaning of Allah’s guidance, then we should define it as the greatest blessing from Allah. If a man has one chance to ask for anything from Allah, then it must be;
IhdinasSiratal’mustakiym (Al-Fatihah/6). Show us the straight way, give us the guidance, bless us with the vigor of consciousness. It’s been said here that if a man should ask a thing from Allah, that thing must be guidance.In this sense, guidance is the mercy and grace of Allah for humans. Grace of The Most Gracious and mercy of The Most Merciful.
Revelation: Allah’s speaking with humans beyond tongue based communication. Passing the message to humans and revelations are the greatest guidance of Allah.For a man saying; IhdinasSiratal’mustakiym; an answer is given by the book of revelations; Zalikel Kitab’u la raybe fiyhi huden lil muttekiyn. (Al-Baqarah/2)
This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah. For this reason, revelation is a unique guidance.
So like I described before; relevations are declarations by Allah without tongue based communications. This is a dynamic law.
There’s also a static law. Static law is the law of universe. All universe stands on the static law of Allah. Like the static law for universe which has a static fate; it’s quite normal to have dynamic laws for humans which also have dynamic fates.
Fot that, the responsibilities for humans have the same dynamic nature like their own fates. That’s the main reason why
Allah sent so many prophets and so many books. That’s the reason why Allah chose to address mankind and frequently sent messages throughout their journey.
Revelations are the last of many gifts from Allah for humans. A verse says; Ve lekad kerremna beniy Adem.(Al-Isra/70) We have honored the sons of Adam with many. The last part last floor of those “many” is revelation. The words “INZAL, TENZIL” used to describe the arrival of revelations also have the meaning of treat. For the same conclusion Arabs call their meals for their quests; “Nuzul”.
Interesting though. As you can see from that; we should reach the same conclusion. Whenever we see the expression of arrival, sending or inzal for revelations we should think like they are treats for humans, gifts for mankind, a form of blessing for people. Qur’an also uses the words Inzal and Tenzil for “Iron”… We sent down the iron. Also for animals… We set down 8 pairs of animals. Also uses them for water, which by nature pretty obvious as the rain always comes from sky. But there are other for this words uses, like clothes. There is an expression like “sent down clothes”. We know clothes don’t come from above, so we can take this meaning as a treat.
[Additional Info; DID IRON COME FROM SKY?
There are evidences to show incidents for older supernovas: Iron-60 masses on the ground of seas, are considered as evidences for a supernova incident happened 5 million years ago and with a distance of 90 light years away from the Sun. Appear of Iron-60 with that supernova explosion is a radioactive isotope which has a half-life of 1.5 million years. Iron-60 isotopes found on layers of Earth are formed by nucleosynthesis of elements found in close space and arrival to Earth’s atmosphere and eventually sinking into the layers on Earth’s ground. ]
Allah of the Worlds..!
We can take the meaning of all; arrival of verses, angels as blessings, gifts. The true meaning lies here for the verse; Ve lekad kerremna beniy Adem. (Al-Isra/70). We have honored the sons of Adam with “many”. First meaning as treat. Revelations are the greatest gifts of Allah for mankind.
As in the explanation of Maryam/11 (Mary) when Revelations explained to Prophet Zacharia; as making a statement without using physical ways of words, speeches and other indicators we use.
.. feevha ileyhim.. (Maryam/11) said in verse. He informed them. But in the 10th verse of the sura Maryam, an order was given to Zacharia not to talk anyone. He was ordered not to talk to anyone for three whole days, yet how can he informed people around him that he shouldn’t talk in that time period? feevha ileyhim.. said Qur’an. Explain them. So how can a person talk without using words from his mouth? By signs of course…
Qur’an calls this revelation, and from this explanation we know the meaning of revelation is informing someone with other means beside talking.The words gale (tell), nada (express), evha (inform) and enzele (send down); are all arrival types of revelations and both types didn’t use mouthly words.
Again Qur’an tells us revelations arrived by three different ways. In the verse (Al-Shura/51) one type explains us as the arrival in dreams. It qualifies as a revealing based revelation.
Second type is ev min veraiy hicabin… (Al-Shura/51) Behind a curtain.
And the third type is ..ev yursile Rasulen.. (Al-Shura/51) by the way of an envoy.
Throughout the revelation history, all revelations sent down with these three forms. First by revealing. First five verses sent to Rasulallah on the Mountion of Hira are in this form. A message had been sent to Muhammad via dreams.
Second form is behind a curtain; our Rabb’s addressing to Moses is a fine example for this type of revelation.
And we can give all verses sent down to Rasulallah as examples for the third form. A revelation by an envoy means a direct line between Rabb’s revelations, in this sense the origin of all revelations, Levh-i Mahfuz (Tablet of Protected) and heart of Rasulallah. The process works as collecting all symbols without words and putting them right on the destination and that’s the third way of revelations. Besides a few verses all verses in Qur’an sent down via this way.
The laws for beings without a consciousness or life named as revelations as well in Qur’an. But like I said before, they have been informed with static revelations and humans have been informed with dynamic revelations. Laws of universe which has a constant and unchanged destiny would naturally be static and unchanged. But for mankind which have a destiny so changable with every deed would have been informed with dynamic revelations.
Qur’an uses terms like “We informed (sent revelation) the ground, the heaven, the honey bee. We understand here those laws, those nature laws, those laws for earth, heaven even honey bees are called “a revelation” by Qur’an. The process of making honey for a bee is because of Allah’s revelations, which have been given to bee as a nature.
With this example, we can also understand this. Honey is the responsibility of a bee. Because of the revelation, that bee can make honey. And for humans, that bee set as an example. Look, a creature with no consciousness have been informed with a static revelation. And that thing turn this revelation into honey as a duty without any objection. So you human, you even with your consciousness won’t you attend to your duty, can’t you do what you have to do, like a bee? It’s like a warning here.
This is the reason for earth and heavens revelations. Setting as examples for humans. Look mankind, all those being without consciousness; all skies and grounds, they are completely obeying the revelations they take, they don’t question Allah. Like, sun don’t say, “I’m tired today, O Rab. I’m not gonna born today. I won’t burn or light”. Moon don’t say. “Enough, my head’s spinning.”
So in this situation o mankind, even earth and heaven have been attending their duties and completely doing what’s been told them by revelations; you, a being Allah blessed with consciousness, willpower, intelligence, conscience even addressed by grace; how could you deny your duty, how could you become a rebel. This is the addressing made here.
So after making the definition of revelation, I’d like to stay on topic of Qur’an; last book of revelations.
What is Qur’an: Qur’an is the name of the last messages arrived to Prophet Muhammad, the last person Allah addressed via revelations. It’s the name of all celestial messages arrived in Muhammad’s heart in a long period of 23 years by the liason, Angel Gabriel. This time period had started on the day of Ramadan, a day we called “Night of Power” which also means “Night of Fate”. First arrival had happened on Hira and after that all messages arrival lasted approximately 23 years.
In vocabular terms, Qur’an means, collecting, gathering, putting words, which all have the same root word of qarane, according to linguistics. This name if taken as an infinitive, means “be read”. So, according to this, calling this book “your book” depends on you read it. If you read the Qur’an, then it’s your Qur’an as well. If you don’t, then it’s not your book.
Garae comes as reading for a second meaning. Reading, gathering meanings in a row. Making sensible sentences with words. Putting words in an order without a breaking point. From this point of view, we can say this. Reading is not a form of just be able to read only. You have to understand as well. Understanding which has a similar root word as “istikra” is crucial. It means understanding, living and feeling. All come from the same root. So Qur’an holds all this meanings. Reading, understanding, feeling and living by this.
This is the explanation of the true nature of things and humans. Qur’an is both “explained” and “explainer”. It can both “be translated” and “translate”. What does it translate? The Truth. It exists to explain the truth beyond words. For that Qur’an is the translation of constant values and eternal truths.
Qur’an is also a translator by nature. It explains the matter, beings, creations and above all Allah the Creator. Again Qur’an is translated. And the first to decode this book is the owner of the same book, Allah. Allah command in Qur’an;
Summe inne ‘aleyna beyaneh. (Al-Qiyamah/19) It is for Us to explain it (and make it clear). A command say, it’s our job to explain this to you. So for that, Qur’an is both “translated” and “translator”.
Qur’an identifies itself to us like that. When we ask Qur’an; “Who are you; what kind of book are you; what are your features?”, we see answers like these.
1 – I’m Allah’s speech. Not Allah’s language. Qur’an is “Kelamullah”; not “Lisanullah”. Language of revelations, like I said before are symbolless. Revelations from Allah are completely free from letters, syllables,words and any form of tongue based communications. Qur’an’s language is Arabic. That doesn’t mean it’s Allah’s language; not the same thing. For that reason, Allah had addressed every prophet with his own language. Tora is Hebrew, Bible is Aramic. Pages of Prophet Abraham (p.b.u.h) are Syriac. All prophets we know and don’t know had been addressed with their own language; as well as the books. Therefore Qur’an is Allah’s words; and all meaning are completely in Allah’s wisdom.
2 – Qur’an is an Arabic Book; Qur’an’s language is Arabic.Language and meanings are inseperatable as speeches cannot be detached from meanings. Qur’an’s origin language is set as arabic by Qur’an itself, which makes this statement celestial.
3 – Qur’an is untouched. The book came to us from many lines of people who transfered the words within their hearts, heads and writings without changing a single letter.
First generations had written Qur’an on their hearts, following generations transfered those words by writing as well. Qur’an has been carrying for 1400 years, by both within hearts and minds by true followers and within verses by books until this day.
For first arrived verses, blessed community were waiting like they wait for a happy news. And whenever a verse had arrived, they were telling everyone like they found a treasure. They were holding every single letter like a jewel in their heart and make those words a way of life immediately. So first addressed community of Qur’an memorized every single verse without losing even a single letter; verses they waited like waiting a holy passenger with love and enthusiasm. And then they lived by it’s words and carried them to future generations.
I’m remembering an example here. After the death of Rasulallah, both Omar and Abu-Bekhir visited Ummu-Eymen. Ummu-Eymen was the freed slave of Muhammad’s (p.b.u.h) mother. A lady and a mother hold dear by Rasulallah.
Some point Ummu-Eymen started to cry. Both Abu-Bekir and Omar also crying, tried to console her and tell her;
-Rasullallah was a good person and he’s with Allah now.
Ummu-Eymen realized she was being misunderstood and said;
-I’m not crying for Rasulallah’s departure, I’m crying because revelations from heaven won’t come anymore. Allah won’t talk us like that anymore and that’s the reason why I’m crying.
Crying for the end of revelations arrival… Imagine how first addressed people who took those words welcomed them with such warm hearts. Even an old lady who has no reading skills, no education, no information; was crying because of the end of revelations arrival. Because Allah won’t talk to us with this warmth again. This is the reason why those people cannot ruin any word with that attitude, that state of mind. And with that conviction and consciousness; revelations arrived for next generations from hand to hand, heart to heart, tongue to tongue and book to books.
4 – Qur’an is a clear (as in understanding) book. It also says that. Kitab-in Mubin, Clear Book. Yet being clear doesn’t necessarily means cannot use metaphors or examples. And detailed verses are not obstacles for Qur’an’s clear addressing. Pay attention; Qur’an doesn’t hold even one meaningless word. No sentence is without a purpose in Qur’an. And not a single verse which may incomprehensible for humans exists. Allah says lots of thing for humans in Qur’an, all for their understanding; not for confusion.
Metaphors in Qur’an are not for making confusion or raising questions; on the contrary, verses must be thought over, studied. For that reason there are no puzzling words, sentences or verses exist in Qur’an. All metaphors are for people to figure out the connections between verses, pay attention to all emphasis, understand the clear nature, put them in heart and live by their directions.
Qur’an says Efela yetedebberunel Kur’an. (Al-Nisa/82)
Qur’an asks here; Don’t they think about Qur’an? Don’t they study it through, find deepness within? There may be easy to comprehend verses in Qur’an. But there are also verses contain more emphasis, more metaphors; just because to make a ground for people to think about them, study them and when they reach the true meaning, hold them dear within their hearts.
The art of metaphor is like making emphasis with postscripts. Those footnotes are there to build a connection web between verses. In this sense Qur’an is a clear to understand book.
Again, containing multimeaning words doesn’t count as being gibberish. Every language has multimeaning words, words have more meanings than one. For example; the word “quru” means both; period and cleaning. It contains both meaning and by the way of a verses meaning it’s easy to understand the usage of one meaning only. Like the word “heva” both means “go up” and “come down”. But whenever we see this word, it’s easy to understand which meaning has been used in a sentence by looking at its content.
There are other words in Qur’an which have more meanings than one. “Ayn” is used as “eye” in one verse, yet it’s used as “spring of water” in another. Every language has words for this kind of usage. Like “saw”, has a meaning of a past tense seeing action and a meaning of a working tool. So it’s fairly easy to understand which meaning must be used by looking at the following text. If you can fully understand the verse, then it’s easy to comprehend to usage of eye or spring for that particular word. So those multimeaning words cannot prove any difficulties of Qur’an.
Again first true believers and first infidels, knew Qur’an. They were either believe or deny what they truly understood. They knew the content of words. Even if they didn’t; they asked about them. Like Hz. Omar searched the meaning of “ebba”. He actually knew the meaning of ebba is meadow, grass. But the verse used this word to describe heavens. So naturally he searched the true nature of ebba, as this gift for true believers in heaven have the same nature in earth or not.
Which is impossible to find out either, because it’s a thing of unknown, a heavenly content. But that doesn’t mean Omar didn’t know the meaning of ebba as meadows. He read the verse and saw that word described as a gift in heaven for true believer, so he naturally thought it must have a different nature. After that he came to a conclusion of tekelluf, (empty errand), and said “If it meant to be described in details, surely Qur’an would have done it.”
Some other first believers, put notes near verses when they were writing papers. Like the word zuhruf… They were putting a note besides the verse “Meaning zeheb” It means gold. So we can see that they could easily understand Qur’an. A few occurances they couldn’t quite get the meaning, the took notes. That went the same with first infidels, they were also understood Qur’an completely, which they went astray for that.
In this sense; knowing a word and comprehending are two different things. Understanding the meaning is one thing, understanding the content is another thing. Comprehension process needs time and care. For that reason, non-believers understand to meaning of verses, but unable to comprehend the nature of verses. Like first community is Arabs and if Qur’an had come with a different language; it would have caused many problems. Qur’an says, “We sent it as Arabic, so you can understand.” Qur’an is a clear meaning book.
5 – Miracle. Not a physical, but a literatural miracle. Remember, all miracles of prophets before are pyhsical. Remember Abraham, Moses, Salih…Their miracles were physical. But this book is a literature miracle. All physical miracles were historical. They were only occured in their times and ended there. But this last miracle is different, a timeless miracle for its literatural nature. And thanks to this nature, it will always be counted as a miracle until the apocalypse.
6 – Universal. The rules Qur’an set are not regional. Even the first addressed community was a small one living on arabic peninsula, non of the principles are regional based. Qur’an is universal. And for that, from that days until now, not a single verse can be found as for just a small group. Non could claim about any verse arrived for a particular community. You can’t even identify the climate of arabic continent which can reach a heat level of 45-50 degrees, by just looking at the verses of Qur’an. Qur’an had been written with a universal manner and all its principles are beyond time and space.
7 – Cover the entire life and totalitarian. Qur’an doesn’t split life into pieces. It’s style, principles, mentality, way of life it offers; are all for the entire life. These rules don’t just target individuals but entire societies as well. Qur’an doesn’t just target humans mind, but heart too. Not only thoughts but feelings too. Qur’an doesn’t only contain living things. It contains lifeless beings too and set some principles for them as well.
And Qur’an doesn’t only set humans relations with Allah, it set relations between humans as well. Not just between humans in this matter. Relations between humans and universe, nature, life itself. Safe to say, Qur’an contains all aspects. It’s nature is totalitarian. Takes life at hand without splitting and shows every parts as a whole. And all principles and offers are in this totalitarian nature as well.
8 – Qur’an is Guidance, Light and Power to seperate right from wrong.
a) Guidance: With its name, it is a guidance for person, people, in fact all humanity… All communities, families, clans, groups without choosing color, origin or any kind of differentiation.
b) Light: Qur’an is a light. Illuminates the darkness. If Qur’an manages to get in a heart, it enlightens the heart. If it gets in a house, illuminates the house. If a country accepts Qur’an’s guidance; Qur’an blesses entire country and whole community. Qur’an is a celestial light.
c) Furkan: In other words power to seperate right from wrong: Qur’an is a measuring point of right and wrong. With this measurement of Qur’an; people can seperate right from twisted, good from evil, sin from good deeds. Furkan is a name Qur’an gives itself. Power to seperate the truth from anything else.
9 – And lastly: Qur’an is a processed arrived book. That means, not arrived in one whole revelation. Because life is a process. And the book of life must surely arrived as a process as well. Thanks to that aspect, Qur’an can emphasis every dimension of life. For it’s 23 years arrival process, verses had arrived for every incidents occured and may be occured. Qur’an is not a lecture book, but the book of life itself. Because of that nature, it arrived into life. These verses are all answers for questions of life. And not only answers too, pure solutions as well. This is the reason Qur’an had arrived in pieces for 23 years.
After identifying the meaning of Qur’an, now I would like to move to another subject. Subject of our first lesson; tafsir.
What is Tafsir; In short terms, name of the understanding and explaining activity. Name comes from the root of fessera or sefera. Both these root words have the same meaning of; opening something, unveiling a closed thing, uncovering a secret, identifying an unidentified thing.
Te’vil; also must be explained because this concept always used with the concept of tafsir. First translators (tafsirians) didn’t call their products “tafsir”, they called them “Te’vil”. For that reason one of the first tafsirians Taberi also called his book “Te’vil”.
But there’s a difference between tafsir and te’vil. Te’vil; which comes from the root word of evl; means understanding the meaning of a speech. From that origin; tafsirs interests lay on the nature of a speech and te’vils interests are the meaning of a speech. For now that’s all we need to say about that. But we will stay on that particular topic later.
Qur’an’s text is arabic which means its language is arabic language. And like every language in every culture; words wither, refresh, other words from other languages merge and most importantly, there are words used for metaphors and literature arts.
Qur’an is a meaningful and easily understandable text. Like I said before when we had discussed revelations, Qur’an arrived not only any language but an easily understable one. Therefore no one can claim about any words or verses are gibberish or hard to comprehend. Because that’s the opposition of Allah’s wish. Allah talked to mankind because Allah wanted mankind to understand the talk, understand the words. If Allah used speeches incomprehensible; then there won’t be any challanges like “Why don’t you think about this matter?”, because it would be an impossible errand to accomplish. If mankind is wanted to read, understand and live by Qur’an; then surely Qur’an, the last revelations from Allah arrives with an easy comprehension and understanding texture and literature.
So we have a text. This text has a language. This language is known and understood even this day. Then the question is how can we understand this text. To answer this question, first we need to ask four questions.
1 – Who’s speaking? Meaning who is the owner of this text. If it’s written then who wrote it? If it’s verbal, then who said it, who’s talking about it? Like we all know Qur’an arrived as a verbal texture, which means all arrived verses are speeches. Then they were put on a written texture. For that reason Qur’an is originally a “gavl”, speech. So who says it? The answer of this question is crystal clear. Qur’an is the Word of Allah. All meanings arrived in Qur’an are Allah’s. No person should have doubts on this matter.
As muslims, our greatest luck is this; Qur’an arrived exactly like Allah’s sent. This is the biggest opportunity for ones who wants to understand the Qur’an. And for the same reason, on your comments, you can be absolutely sure for a word even a letter is the truth itself. Why? Because it arrived like it was sent. No hesitation on that.
By comments, I don’t mean this. Adapting your comments on shadow of Qur’an. Make Qur’an say, by cutting and putting together verses, what you want to say. No. I mean that’s the greatest problem right there. I strongly feel that, this is the first and foremost problem we should banish and this is the greatest obstacle for muslims today against understanding the Qur’an. Understanding Qur’ans intentions and living the way that speeches tell, is not the same thing with telling and defending your personal thoughts and comments on the shadow of Qur’an, adapting your beliefs like they were in Qur’an. This is neither a tafsir nor te’vil. So, the answer of the question “Who’s speaking?” is without a doubt “Allah”.
2 – What is Allah saying? After we answer the question of “who”, a second question is at hand. The reason is to understand a text. What’s been said? Of course Allah’s speech is nothing like the others. If Allah addresses, you should pay attention and listen with all of your senses. You listen like your life’s on the line. Because Allah’s words deserves an attitude of full attention. And when you listen with all your heart, your following question becomes this one. What is Allah saying?
This question points the direction of speech. Because the meaning and understanding are outcomes of this question. What is the meaning of this speech? Speech arrived with a language. Then to fully understand the meanings, addressings, whoever addressed and getting all the directions, one should definitely know this language. So to understand Qur’an, you need to know Qur’an’s language, Arabic. If a japanese man talks to me, even with the knowledge of “Who’s talking?”, it would be impossible for me to understand him. To understand, I should know the language of the speech. So, to know “What’s been said?”, is all about language. And the meaning… This is the opening of the speech. As Shatibi said; “If Qur’an has a clear and open addressing, it also has a secretive side.
Understanding the Qur’an is all in language. All for to learn the words. Tafsir is all about that.
After we asked and were answered of this question, another question pops up.
3 – Why is Allah saying? “Why” question is essential. Because understanding and comprehending are two different things. You may know what’s been told, but if you are unable to get the reason of the words, it becomes useless. So what’s the reason of this celestial speech? What’s the point of these words? Non-believers couldn’t ask this question. They knew the meanings of every single words but they weren’t capable enough to get the reason of these words. Unable to comprehend this heavenly speech. Qur’an said;
Efela yetedebberunel Kur’an. (Al-Nisa/82) Won’t they think about the reason of Qur’an? Were they not capable to understand, no they understood pretty clearly. They knew and understood those words. Because they talked that language too. They were been addressed with their language. If the situation was developed otherwise and the words arrived with totally a different language; if they weren’t been able to understand, they might say, “O Muhammad, what are you saying? We can’t understand a single words from your sayings.” But they didn’t say that. On the contrary, they came and listened. They were secretly eavesdropping on Rasulallah’s Qur’an at midnight. Would they even try to listen if they weren’t understanding?
They knew what’s been told, but they didn’t get why. They didn’t get the reason of the speech. Curiosity for a text’s reason is on the area of “Te’vil” art. According to Shatibi’s explanations before, secret side of words are the topics of the question “why”. Like the clear side is for the question of “what”. Zahir (open) is understand the meaning. Batin (secret) however is the reaching for the reason of this understanding. But to fully understand the process of all those questions, a fourth set of questions must close the circuit.
4 – Where, when and to whom: Meaning connections of verses. What is the historical enviroment of this speech? Where was it said, when was it said and to whom was it said? Without these questions you cannot answer the “why”. For that reason, enviroment is important.
Connections are two parts;
a) Inner context
b) Outer context
Inner Context: A words connection between the previous word and the following one. Position of a word in a sentence. A sentences connection between previous and following sentences. Sentences position in sections. From another point of view; how words become sentences, then verses, then suras in Qur’an. Again for a words relations between other words, relative words in Qur’an. Relations between a verse containing a word and another verse containing a similar word. All those connections are called Inner Context.
Let me give you an example, about how without the context of inner connections, Qur’an’s reasons are incomprehensible. Let’s make it clear.
Ve men a’reda an zikriy feinne lehu me’iysheten danken. (Ta-ha/124)
And he who turns away from My zhikr, indeed, he will have a restricted life. Turns away from My zhikr… What is the meaning of zhikr here? If you don’t know the connections, you cannot get the real meaning of this. In arabic language an infinitive can be used for both doer and the thing be done. The letter “y” in the word “zikry” means “My”. That indicates a referance for both sides so you cannot fully understand the speech by just looking at it.
If the word is used for doer… Than this means happens. They turn away My zhikr. Zhikr is Allah’s Qur’an. They turn away from Qur’an. Zhikr is another name of Qur’an.
Inna nahnu nezzelnez Zikra ve inna lehu leHafizu. (Al-Hicr/9) Indeed, it is We alone who sent down that zhikr! And, indeed, it is We who will be its guardian!
But if the word is taken for the other way, then it means “Remembering me”. Meaning estafurullah el azim, or suphanallah, elhamdulillah, Allahuekber; altogether remembering Allah. If you turn away from this.
Both have totally different meanings. One means turning away from remembering Allah, the other means turning away from Qur’an, which is reminded by Allah.
So how do we know, which? We will look into connections. Previous verse, which is 123rd verse now. When we read that verse we can easily understand, the mentioned remember subject is Qur’an. Because in verse 123, Qur’an was mentioned. That verse is about revelations which was sent to human by Allah. So after 123, 124 connects the context like this. This is revelation sent to you by Allah. This is Qur’an. So he who turns away from Qur’an, indeed, he will have a restricted life.
Let me give you another example;
ve lirRicali aleyhinne deracetun. (Al-Baqarah-228) And the previous verse says; ve lehunne mislulleziy aleyhinne Bil ma’ruf Men have the right and women shall have rights similar. That means they have equal rights. They both have saying on one another. But following sentence says this. ve lirRicali aleyhinne deracetun but men have a degree (of advantage) over them.
If we want to fully understand this verse, we have to fully understand the situation about what was verse talking about. If we look at the beginning of the verse, the situation is divorce procedure. Meaning divorced women. This is the limited situation here.
So what should we understand from this degree of rights? If woman is pregnant on the procedure of divorce, then she is also carrying a mutual value within her. There’s a mutual thing between man and woman, and woman was carring him/her. That is the thing what gives the man an advantage; nothing else. Because the baby is a part of man too. So ongoing events of divorce and pregnancy, if the timeline was still in the 3 months period; woman was asked to choose his husband, the father of her baby in case of any return. That was the edge of man. And that was only if she is thinking a new marriage. Because she’s pregnant.
For that reason ve lirRicali aleyhinne deracetun if a divorced woman is thinking about remarrying and the divorce procedure isn’t over, she was asked to give the priority to his husband, the father of the baby, their mutual value. This verse shouldn’t be taken for giving the man a bigger spot on community. To understand the real situation here, you shouldn’t forget that verse was talking about divorce procedure only. This is the inner connection. Now the outer connection.
Outer Context: In other words (Sebep-i Nuzul: Arrival Reason) The first reason of a verses arrival is also the biggest definition of the verse. Of course not all verses have that kind of content but some have. Like if you don’t know about unbelievers in Mecca community; you cannot get the meaning of the sura Al-Kafirun. If you don’t know the history of Mecca, you cannot understand the sura of Fil. Or without the knowledge of Uhud War, it would be impossible for you to understand the sura of Nur. As like the incidents of Ifk and the slander against Hz Aisha.
As you can see, one should know the background of a verse, to understand it completely. Another example is this. In a verse in the sura of Maun; feveylul lil musalliyn. (Al-Maun-4). Shame (woe) to those who pray. According to know the true meaning of this verse, we should learn, when was this verse arrived. We know this verse arrived in Mecca. From this point picture is getting clearer. The verse was talking about unbelivers in Mecca, not Muslims. But without that knowledge, it would be impossible to get the real meaning of this verse. This is the usage of context. Who was referred; when was it arrived, where was it arrived. All those are important.
Without context, it is also possible to change and corrupt the meaning of a verse in Qur’an. This is what Jews were doing. For that Qur’an says: …yuharrifunel Kelime an mevadi’ihi… (Al-Nisa-46) who pervert the original meanings of the WORDS. For Jewish community.
They treated Old Testament like that. And if anyone severs the context of a verse in Qur’an, he can easily pervert the original meaning and show it like something else entirely. But doing this doesn’t for the intentions of Allah, only intentions in persons own sick head and using Qur’an for them. This is corruption. For that, tafsir and te’vil are both subjects trying to understand what Allah says. Not making Qur’an tells what you want to say.
The purpose of Tafsir and Te’vil is understanding the Words of Heaven. Efforts of previous tafsirians and scholars are really worth high praises. First addressed person Muhammad (p.b.u.h) and following addressed community, understood Qur’an very clearly. Because they knew why, when, where and for whom those words arrived. They knew the context of words. When a specific verse came down, they knew what event was the verse pointing out as well as people, time and background which Qur’an referred in those verses. For that reason, they didn’t need any form of tafsir very much.
The verses prophet translated and explained are very few. Even Ibn. Teymiye claimed otherwise. Even he said Muhammad explained every verse. Because, most of verses are very clear and easy to understand for that community. The questions Rasullallah answered, were really not that much. Very few asked about the context in fact. Even Ibn Abbas whose incident stories were books full; only 100 verses are explained on those stories. But as you can see, the book of explanations from Ibn. Abbas is in fact a big and wholewide book. We understand here that first addressed community and people were understanding Qur’ans words truely and easily.
But what about us, modern age addressed people of Qur’an? How is our understanding?Why aren’t we understanding those words so easily? We who have all that technology, art and every literatural forms.
1 – Because We don’t recognize Allah, who sent Qur’an to us. Because we have modernized brains, and individual life styles, the connections between Allah and us are severed. And for that reason we don’t know Allah, also unable to understand Allah’s words too.
2 – We don’t recognize Qur’an’s language. Like we don’t know about the addresser Allah, we also don’t know about the addressing language of Qur’an.
A – We don’t know Arabic language which of course impossible to understand with this situation.
B – We don’t know the context. Without proper connections of verses and suras, also impossible to understand what’s being said.
Therefore just translations aren’t enough. Translations won’t suffice. Not complete.
The new world order is possible with a new world civilization. A new world civilization is possible with a new world society. And a new world society is possible with a new world individuals construction which also means a construction of a new life. Only a new consciousness build may give warranty for these occurances. Qur’an is the sole key for all these. Qur’an is the only text who can build a brand new consciousness. And for that our method must be like this.
1 – First we must understand the meanings of speeches.
2 – Then we must notice a sentences position with other verses, verses positions in suras, and suras positions in Qur’an’s integrity.
3 – We must think a verse with other verses in the same subject and try to understand what Qur’an says as a whole on that subject.
4 – We must know the context of every verse and sentence.
5 – We must know how Prophet Muhammad understood every verse and put into life.
Inshallah (With hopes from Allah) from now on, we will build our tafsir on these principles and together with the light of these principles, we will study verses with purpose; not just how we read it but how should we understand Allah’s meanings on those verses and how should we act on them. We will understand what Allah saying; what’s Allah’s purpose, what is the speech of heaven, Qur’an-i Kareem; with the help of the principles of Tafsir.
I wish you all a life devoted to Qur’an and a last breath given with Qur’an. I entrust you all to Allah.
“Ve ahiru da’vahum enil Hamdu Lillahi Rabbil alemiyn. (Jonah/10) “Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds!” All products of our claims, causes and lives are for Allah and our last word to our Allah is “Hamd”.