Khalid Zaheer
“I am convinced about the veracity of my opinions, but I do consider it likely that they may turn out to be incorrect. Likewise, I am convinced about the incorrectness of the views different from mine, but I do concede the possibility that they may turn out to be correct.” — Imam Shafa’i
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Response to comments regarding status of hadith in understanding Quran

Question:
Bismillah, Assalamolekum.

There are multiple sources as dicussed by earlier (main stream)scholars (1) Tafseer ul Quran bil’Quran, (2) Lugha’tul Arab and (3) Sunnah of Rasool S.A.W.

I do not deny the need of first two sources yet the Sunnah is utmost necessary & unavoidable as it guards the true meaning of ‘wahee’. The only difference occurs when some start interpreting the both - Quran and Sunnah - by his own. This is indeed very important to note that the moment we ignore understanding of companions (Sahaba R.A.) we are most likely to go astray.

History kept the accounts of those who chose this path, some intentially and some by mistake. It normally happens when one is keen to infer out of the either texts what he likes the way to be, just by lodging criticism on accepting ‘human opinion’ in the “Deen”. One must not forget to distinct the opinion (Rai) from the understanding (Fehm-e-Sahaba R.A). Indeed, the Fehm-e-Sahaba R.A is the knowledge gained from Rasool S.A.W.

Response:
Thanks for your message.

What you call the opinion of the salaf are the reports that the companions mentioned such and such thing about certain verses of the Qur’an. There can be two problems with such reports: They may not have been properly reported and even if they have been properly reported, they may not be the opinion of all the compnions and may not have come through to us as a piece of knowledge originating from the prophet. I agree that if the prophet, alaihissalaam, was to tell us directly that such and such verse means such and such and such thing we would have surrendered before that interpretation. However, that certainty is not available about any report. The most important source available to us therefore is to understand, and to keep doing it, the Qur’an and sunnah with an open mind. If you say that the interpretation of the salaf is binding, it would mean that while reading the Qur’an you will not even be questioning that interpretation. What it means is that while you read the book of God you will never make an attempt to ask the book of God what it is actually saying. What I am trying to put across is the fact that no opinion can override the Qur’an.

The curse of sectarianism arises when you make a certain interpretation binding. How can sectarianism be possible if the interpretation of the Qur’an is always open and the only attempt scholars are making is that they want to know what the book of God is saying. It is the rigid insistence on a certain religious understanding which makes sects and not an attitude of openness towards it.

[This is Dr. Khalid Zaheer's response to a blog comment.]

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