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 sahaba's narratives in understanding Quran

Question:
Bismillaah, wal hamdulillah, wa salaatu wa salaamu ala rasool Allaah wa ala aliyhe wa ashaabihe ajama’een, amma Ba’aad: Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatuAllaah.Well I must say very interesting and informative blog. I, for very first, would say that best tafseer of al Qur’an is or best way to interpret Qur’an is what the sahaaba understood and what the salaf-as-saliheen understand, and we must try to understand the Qur’an the way they interpreted. There are basically four things in tafseer of Qur’an. 1. Qur’an as a text itself 2. Sunnah of prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) 3. Ijmaah (of scholars) and 4. Qiyaas. All these things must be kept in mind for understanding any tafseer. Many of tafaseer (without mentioning names) actually promote their so-called sects where as clearly making sects is haram in Islam (3:103 and 6:159). So best way to interpret is the way salaaf interpreted (according to my understanding). However while giving a little more thought I would say one has to have a traditionalist approach because the best of Muslims were the salaaf and they knew the best about Qur’an and Sunnah. However, considering the scientific discoveries and new meanings of the verses that in past were not discovered like the word ‘ala’qa’ (leach like substance) etc, for that one can adopt the mothodology of ‘originalist approach’. However a lot of things can be sought out being a traditionalist by the ‘ijmaah / concensus’ of the scholars. I would still say ‘tafseer ibn abbaas and tafseer ibn katheer or tafseer al qurtubi’ maybe traditionlist but still stand out infront of any other tafseer of this era. If any thing what I said was wrong it was my own fault and the fault of shaytan and if what I said was correct then it was from Allaah, so may Allaah forgive me on wrong and give me and others jazay-e-khayr if I was right. And Allaah knows the best.

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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