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Allowing The Qur'aan To State What Is True And What Is False

11th November 2015

There is no question that the Qur'aan guides to the straight path and to the truth. This is one of its major goals. Yet, at the same time, although this guidance is perfect and preserved, it must be allowed to guide the reader. The Qur'aan must be given the opportunity to tell its reader what the straight path is. That is, the reader must approach the Qur'aan with, if one may use the expression, an "open mind." If the reader has already decided what is right and what is wrong, and is only looking to the Qur'aan to substantiate his views, then the Qur'aan will never give him the guidance it contains. Indeed, in that case, the Qur'aan would never be given that opportunity. 

Unfortunately, it is the case with some readers of the Qur'aan who, instead of letting the Qur'aan speak for itself, have taken it upon themselves to speak for the Qur'aan. If it contains any passage that contradicts their preconceived notions of what is the truth, instead of accepting what the Qur'aan says, they simply try to reinterpret the Qur'aan in such a way that it is consistent with their beliefs and ideas. They do not realise that it is their thinking and beliefs that need to be changed or corrected according to the Qu'raan and not vice-versa. Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, Who revealed the Qur'aan, is not in need of their far-fetched interpretations. It (along with the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم of course) presents the truth in clear and plain language and it is simply up to the reader to accept what Allaah سبحانه و تعالى has said in the Qur'aan. 

In the history of Islaam, one can see that the lack of allowing the Qur'aan to state what is true and what is false has been a major characteristic of the heretical and stray groups (ahlul-bida'). [1] 

They approached the Qur'aan with preconceived notions and tried to force their opinions on the Qur'aan. [2] 

Without a doubt, it can be stated that they did not turn to the Qur'aan for its guidance - since they had already decided what the truth is. They turned to it only trying to substantiate their views. A glaring example of this nature is the Mu'tazilah [3] who even attempted to change the wording of the Qur'aan because it was inconsistent with their preconceived beliefs. The Mu'tazilah, due to the supposedly "ingenious" theories they developed, did not believe in Allaah's سبحانه و تعالى attribute of speech. They have a length theory and proof that such an attribute is impossible for Allaah سبحانه و تعالى according according to their notion of Allaah. [4] 

Hence, they were forced to try to change the wording of the Qur'aan. They attempted to change the verse that states, 


"And to Moses Allaah spoke directly (wa kallamAllaahu Moosaa takleemaa)." (Sooratun-Nisaa, 4:164) 

to "And Moses spoke to Allaah directly (wa kallamAllaaha Moosaa takleemaa)." [5] 

They also quote the Qur'aan out of context or ignore other related verses that give a complete picture of the Quranic view of the topic at hand. When this is done, the Qur'aan can be used to "prove" things that are incorrect. 

Here are some examples: 

(1) If someone wants to prove that it is obligatory to obey and be loyal to the government, no matter how much the government may be non-Islamic, he may only quote the verse, 


"O you who have believed, obey Allaah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you." (Sooratun-Nisaa', 4:59) 

and ignore all of the other relevant verses - even the remainder of the this particular verse itself, which reads: 


"And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allaah and the Messenger." (Sooratun-Nisaa', 4:59) 

- and ahaadeeth on the same question. In a relevant hadeeth, the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم stated, "Listening and obeying is a duty as long as one is not ordered to do an act of disobedience [to Allaah سبحانه و تعالى]. If one is ordered to do an act of disobedience, there is then not to be any listening or obeying." [6] 

The Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم also said, "There is no obedience to any human being if it involves sin; obedience is only in that which is right and proper." [7] 

And he صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “There is no obedience to any human being if it involves disobedience of Allaah.” [8] 

(2) Similarly, if someone wants to prove that it is permissible to take Christians as awliyaa' (close friends and allies) [9], he will only quote the following verse, ignoring the numerous other verses that are pertinent, 


"You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers [to be] the Jews and those who associate others with Allaah; and you will find the nearest of them in affection to the believers those who say, "We are Christians." That is because among them are priests and monks and because they are not arrogant." (Sooratul-Maa'idah, 5:82) 

Such a person will ignore verses like the following, 


"And never will the Jews or the Christians approve of you until you follow their religion. Say, "Indeed, the guidance of Allaah is the [only] guidance." If you were to follow their desires after what has come to you of knowledge, you would have against Allaah no protector or helper."(Sooratul-Baqarah, 2:120) 



"O you who have believed, do not take the disbelievers as allies instead of the believers. Do you wish to give Allaah against yourselves a clear case?" (Sooratun-Nisaa', 4:144) 


"Let not the believers take the disbelievers as Auliya (supporters, helpers, etc.) instead of the believers, and whoever does that will never be helped by Allah in any way, except if you indeed fear a danger from them. And Allah warns you against Himself (His Punishment), and to Allah is the final return." (Soorah Aali 'Imraan, 3:28) 


"O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Auliya' (friends, protectors, helpers, etc.), they are but Auliya' to one another. And if any amongst you takes them as Auliya', then surely he is one of them. Verily, Allah guides not those people who are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers and unjust)." (Sooratul-Maa'idah, 5:51) [10] 

This problem of approaching the Qur'aan with one's preconceived notions of right and wrong may even be growing worse in this age of modern science and advancements in knowledge. Some Muslims nowadays spend years of specialised study to get, for example, an advance degree. They master a particular topic. Unfortunately, sometimes this leads them to believe that they completely understand the reality and essence of the field they studied and to start analysing the Qur'aan in their light of "confirmed knowledge." [11] 

It is easy for such a person to forget Allaah's سبحانه و تعالى words, 


"And of knowledge, you (mankind) have been given only a little." (Sooratul-Israa', 17:85) 

and to approach the Qur'aan in an improper fashion. Those verses that go against what the person thinks he knows must either be ignored, given a new reinterpretation based on their knowledge or, and this is the worst case, rejected as false in light of today's modern science. [12] 

If a person approaches the Qur'aan in this manner, he will never see its real guidance. He will continue in his obstinate behaviour and wandering ways no matter how often he reads the Qur'aan - unless Allaah سبحانه و تعالى has mercy upon him and guides him to the proper way of approaching the Qur'aan. Until he changes his approach to the Qur'aan, his heart, mind and soul will be closed to its true guidance. 

One has to turn to the Qur'aan realising that it is the guidance from Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, the All-Wise, the All-Knowing and it is the Furqaan (criterion of right and wrong) showing the person the difference between right and wrong. [13] 

Again, this was the way of the unique generation of the Companions رضي الله عنهم of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. 

Salaahud-Deen Al-Khaalidi writes, "This is what the noble Companions رضي الله عنهم did in their behaviour towards the Qur'aan. They were a unique Quranic generation. Everyone of them would leave all of his old thoughts, perceptions and traditions on the doorstep; then he would enter the broad and pure world of the Qur'aan with nothing in his hands [that is, no preconceptions] and then he would build himself in a balanced manner, stage by stage and would derive his decisions, culture and way of life from the Qur'aan, and he would leave its study as a person full of faith, balanced and straight." [14] 

To put it into Western terms and to relate it directly to those who convert to Islaam: Many times people enter into Islaam with a lot of "old baggage." It is a must that a person make a complete break from the teachings of jaahiliyyah (ignorance) and discard all of that "old baggage." Otherwise, it may colour his understanding and reading of the Qur'aan. He may be reading the Qur'aan or ahaadeeth and interpreting them in the light of that "old baggage" and, therefore, he never gets a chance to see the whole and complete picture that is being presented to him by Islaam. 

In many cases it is not obvious to the reader that he is not approaching the Qur'aan in this correct manner. This is probably the saddest case. This may be particularly true for those who have grown up in contemporary Muslim societies that have had teachings alien to Islaam penetrate their society and culture. A person from those societies may read the Qur'aan in the light of what he believes are Islamic teachings while, in fact, they are not teachings of Islaam. In other words, his vision has been blurred by customs he practices and sees as Islamic but are not, by teachings he has received that he thinks are Islamic but are not, and so on. Every time he comes across a verse related to these topics, he interprets it according to his incorrect notions. Unfortunately, he has never allowed himself a true study of the Qur'aan that will show him the proper Islamic views of these same ideas that he thinks are correct. This person's intention may certainly be good but, unless Allaah سبحانه و تعالى guides him to see the mistake of his notions, he will actually miss the true guidance of the Qur'aan. 

In sum, if one really wants to learn from the Qur'aan, he must approach the Qur'aan in such a way that he allows the Qur'aan to speak for itself and tell him what is correct and what is false. All preconceived notions must be judged by what the Qur'aan says and not vice-versa. If the Qur'aan is not approached in this manner, one should not expect to benefit from its teachings related to those matters concerning which the reader has already made his conclusions. [15] 


[1] In fact, it is a necessary characteristic of the people of innovations and desires. By definition, their teachings go against the Qur'aan and their only solution is to try to reinterpret the Qur'aan in ways that are consistent with their heresies. 

[2] They were forced to do this because all Muslims believe in the Qur'aan and, to propagate their beliefs, they had to claim that their beliefs were consistent with the Qur'aan. 

[3] Followers of Waasil ibn 'Ataa' who abandoned the circles of Al-Hasan Al-Basri رحمه الله. They negated the Attributes of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى for fear of likening Him to His creation, yet affirmed His Names. From amongst their beliefs was that a person who committed a major sin was neither a believer nor a disbeliever, rather of a station between the two stations, but he would be consigned to Hellfire forever. They were from the rank and file of the Mutakallimeen and gave precedence to their intellects over the divine texts. 

[4] Their notion of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى was based on rational arguments and not on the Qur'aan and Sunnah. 

[5] See Fahd ar-Roomi, Manhaj al-Madrasat al-Aqliyyah al-Hadeetha fi at-Tafseer (Muassasat ar-Rosaalah, 1983), vol. 1, p. 57. 

[6] Al-Bukhaari 

[7] Al-Bukhaari and Muslim 

[8] Musnad Ahmad 

[9] This argument has been made quite often recently, especially among the Muslims in the West who, in general, live with the Jews and Christians. The argument has also been heard quite often in some parts of the Muslim world, especially after the Gulf War. 

[10] See also: Be Careful Who You Take For Friends! - 

[11] This is especially a problem with respect to social sciences that are almost entirely based on Western philosophies and views of life. 

[12] This approach of critiquing the revelation based on one's "scientific knowledge" has been especially dangerous with respect to the ahaadeeth of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. With respect to the Qur'aan, no Muslim would dare reject a verse if he finds it inconsistent with what he believes to be a "scientific fact"; in that case, the most he will do is try to reinterpret the verse to make it consistent with his "facts." However, with respect to the ahaadeeth, people have, in a very bold fashion, declared authentic ahaadeeth to be fabricated simply because the hadeeth did not match their view of reality. Such criticism of hadeeth has even gone beyond those ahaadeeth that are related to science, to ahaadeeth whose correctness mankind could not possible judge based on their limited experiences. One example that comes to mind is the hadeeth in Saheeh al-Bukhaari in which the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم stated that a people would not prosper of have falaah if their affairs were in the hands of women. Some contemporary speakers have rejected this authentic hadeeth on the basis of the examples of Golda Meier, Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi. This approach is preposterous because there is no scienctific measure of falaah by which one can say that the peoples of those female leaders had falaah and, therefore, the hadeeth must not be true. 

[13] The passage above is in reference to the person who has studied the Qur'aan or life of the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم and is convinced that they are true. In other words, this is the case with the believer. Since he already knows and believes that the Qur'aan is Allaah's Word سبحانه و تعالى, there is no room for him to question it or reinterpret it in the manner he wishes. With respect to the disbeliever or skeptic, the overriding question that he must answer is whether the Qur'aan is a true and pure revelation from Allaah سبحانه و تعالى. This can be convincingly argued in a logical fashion to the point that only an arrogant disbeliever would deny its true validity. However, such a discussion is beyond the scope of this present article. 

[14] Salaahud-Deen al-Khaalidi, Mafaateeh Li-Itimaal ma' al-Qur'aan, (Jordan: Maktabah al-Manaar, 1985), p. 89. 

[15] How to Approach and Understand the Qur'aan. 

posted by Seifeddine-M on 11th November 2015 - 0 comments


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