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Interpreting the Qur’an
Channel: Nouman Ali Khan
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Traditional Views vs. New Perspectives
Episode Transcript ©
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Rahim al hamdu Lillah wa Salatu was Salam ala rasulillah while he was fhoireann salaam aleikum wa rahmatullah wa barakato. Everybody, and I want to start by saying Salaam to my dear friends, so heaps, I read some article, or they consider.
So I wanted to have this session with you, you and I have been working on the use of series together since its start, and we come across quite a few issues that I think are, it's good to take a break from the series and discuss and yesterday I brought up to our audience that, you know, there is a necessary conversation that Muslims that are engaged with the Quran should have about the early opinions of Tafseer. And what that he, you know, means, and then there are newer perspectives on to seed. And sometimes one might feel like everything that had to be said about the Quran or the way that it had to be understood, that's already been done, there's no need to rethink or revisit, or if
there is, where do you draw the line? And we talked earlier about the two extremes how of how one extreme says that there is no room for revisiting what's already been analyzed. And on the other, we can do away with what these people said in the past, we need to look at it all with fresh eyes, and, you know, kind of disregard what's been done in the past. So you and I spoke off camera, but I wanted to have this conversation on camera, and the difference is going to be your you're going to tell me exactly what you've been telling me before. And for some of the terminologies that we'll come across, we'll try to break that down for everybody. So that everybody is up to speed on this
discussion and doesn't feel like something so specific for Tafseer students, and things like that. So you wanted to start off with a thought? And was
he right? So let's not do too much Arabic? So let's break that up. Yeah.
Maybe even before that, it occurred to me that it might be worth just saying something brief about what is the seed and why do we need it? Like why does it exist? Because I think that's that is a question that sometimes crosses our mind, after all, the Quran, as we understand, was revealed as a message and a communication. So there were people who were hearing the Quran as it was revealed. And it was in their language, first and foremost.
So the Sahaba, and not only the Sahaba, but also all those around. So believers and unbelievers, not yet believers, and supporters, opponents, they were all hearing the Quran, and they were hearing it speak to them and about them. And they understood what it was saying. Right. So to a large extent, to a very large extent, there, there was understanding, and that means there wasn't much need for the seed. We do have some integrations which which point out to us and show us that on occasion. One or more people misunderstood something in the Koran or found it difficult to understand. So they came with a question to the prophets that was a lamb or they express something and it showed that
they misunderstood. So something had to be pointed out and corrected. So that's actually how I would say that we should see the seed in general that Deaf seed is actually about answering a question or about clarifying something where there is room for misconception, whether that misconception happened already. Or we just fear that somebody is going to misunderstand what I say said, Now why would someone misunderstand? We shouldn't think of that as being something to do with the Quran being unclear, but we should see that we ourselves can be unclear about the Quran. So I often like to look at it the way you know, we have so many courses and I'm sure but you never did a course
called this but a lot of times this course is called unlocking the Quran. Right? And some title of course, like that.
I'm sure he would never have done that. But I'm not going to put on or sometimes even said decoding the Quran. Yeah. And actually gets me a little bit annoyed because I just think to myself, well, you know, in which I did Allah subhanaw taala say that his Quran is locked,
or let alone to say that it was his code, right? Yeah, yeah. So where are the locks? Well, we do have an IRA that talks about locks, but it did not ponder on the Quran, what are their locks upon the hearts, right? So the lock might be in our own self and not in the book itself. Right. So that's why the fear is about taking you taking me to the ayah which allows revealed and taking away any gap, any lack of clarity, confusion,
until we appreciate what exactly is being said. And the reason that we need to see is to do with various things about ourselves. Now, if some of the Sahaba sometimes needed clarification, and the prophet SAW Selim and sometimes explained to them directly, we only know that he did. So
You as you know, what's important? Because I mean, in some of my courses, I asked a question to my students.
What would be the, you know, the obvious question would be the best teacher of the Quran is the Prophet himself so?
So it begs the question, how come he didn't interpret the entire Quran I mean, we have only a spearing number of narrations that directly attribute an explanation or a clarification of an ayah, to the Prophet himself. So alongside him, that here in the Lakota army, for example, things like that, right, those are those are very rare occasions. So the question I asked my students is, why is that? Why do you think that is, and in my head, there are a couple of answers to that. The first of them would be if the Prophet slicin and did interpret every Ayah then he would have a life longer than a salon because the oceans of knowledge in the Quran, coming from the wisdom of the prophets, I
said, I will still be continuing.
Another is if the prophets I said have interpreted the Quran, we would have no room for contemplation left, because his is the final word. And there's no, there's nothing to be said. It's divine interpretation at that point to the Divine Word and divine interpretation. And the Quran keeps forcing us to think and to contemplate and to reflect. And even though Sahaba are sometimes engaged about in single iron, having different points of view, and these are people in the presence of the Prophet slice of them. So those are at least my thoughts on the prophets own interpretation and why that's so rare. Yeah. And with that, it's just to recognize that the Quran is speech. And
Allah subhanaw taala has chosen the words by which he has chosen to speak to his prophet and speak to us. Yeah. And when you do to see, so when any person I mean any Mufasa does, right?
what they do, even if there is the profits of xlm, himself, or at some of the harbor, or it's any more facility after that, in all the different centuries, what they do is they take you know, those words, and they give some other words, to help you me understand, right, so as they offer another wording, another way of putting it, and let's suppose that they've done that in Arabic, then you sort of feel like, Okay, why are your words, the words that I should pay attention to? Only because those words helped me to understand the original words, original each. And then when when someone is explaining into another language, like we're talking in English, or whatever language you're
explaining it, is because you know, the listeners don't understand Arabic or don't understand it enough to to grasp everything straight away. Yeah. So you give them words in their own language, then it's clear, you don't feel so much that you're competing with the Arabic of the Quran, right in your other languages, but you're just giving something that people can, can appreciate. So when we look at it that way,
it's always out just seeing that the Quran is actually the priority has to be given two buzz words and the way he worded things right, everything else is there just for for help? Is there to clarify something. So yes, the postal system is sometimes explained to them, he would have sometimes been in worse, but a lot of the time he would explain just by by living by applying the teachings of the Quran. So broadly conceived as all of those things together, including those occasions when he specifically said some words explain something in the Quran. But yeah,
every single thing that he explained when we necessarily have Hadith, which was recorded and noted and preserved and reached us today, so there may well be other occasions when he did so. But it's brought by the scholars, it's a minority of IR to be granted, the prophet SAW Selim actually give a directive co2, like a variable spoken to Cyril? Right. He would have depended on the fact that his companions actually understood for the most part.
That's correct. Yeah. And the other thing is what you said sometimes his interpretation or his explanation of the Quran isn't so verbal. I'm pretty easy example of that is the prayer. Right? So the prophets of Salaam demonstrating the prayer is pretty much the best of luck in Islam in one in one way. Right? So because the Quran is, is not highlighting its sequence and all of its components, and, you know, all of its technicalities, that's only coming from the prophets or sometimes established example. So. So that's, that's our starting point. And so we're good we had an intro conversation about the role of seed as being a helper to help us facilitate our understanding of
laws words, fine. Now, we get to this big debate in you know, scholarly circles, traditional circles, and not so much maybe the the average person may not be as exposed to this, but the idea that the earliest generations haven't heard
The Quran, the Sahaba, the first generation second generation, and there are narrations about the Prophet sighs I'm talking about how they are the best of generations, then the best of them are the best generation is mine than the ones that come after them and the ones that come after them. And what follows from that is, well, if they were the best generation will, their understanding must have been the best understanding. And therefore, what has been recorded of the interpretation of the Quran in the earliest generations is the closest, if not the right opinion, the closest thing to the right opinion is that but actually I think most people think of it as that's the right those are the
right opinions, or those the absolutely correct ways of looking at the Quran because the prophets validated those generations by saying they're the best of all generations. And I wanted you to dig into how we may sometimes look at that statement and oversimplify it and what complications that creates?
Well, first of all, I mean, the most authoritative seal.
I'm not going to say the typical, I mean, my PhD was actually about the seal of the Quran through the Quran. So I'm a big fan of that approach. But I'm still not going to say that that is actually the most authoritative seal because
that process requires somebody to have a question and then go about answering that. So whether they go to another iron or Quran to clarify, or they find the answer in some other way, it's still a person who has to see. So then the prophet SAW Selim is the actual authoritative professor, if we're going to use that word. For him, he has
his explanation come from religion, I want to However, it does not speak of his own desire in who you are, right? Only a revelation which is inspired to him. So that applies when he is conveying the Quran when it when he's explaining the Quran. First and foremost, it means his explanations are going to be authoritative ly his vision has entrusted him with the the conveying and the clarifying of his speech, of Allah speech. So in that regard, we have seen which is, which is why which is actually revelation, and that has an ultimate authority. Then as soon as we go to the next stage, we're talking about the Sahaba. They were around the prophet SAW Selim, and their explanation. So
when they are talking about the Quran, it is possible that when they talk about it, they are talking based on something they heard from the prophet SAW Selim. If there's if they're doing that, then on that, at that moment, they are also talking based on why based on revelation, right, not their own direct, but but indirectly, they're speaking based on revelation.
on others in other situations, they may be basing it on
their own knowledge. And their own knowledge is authoritative, but not in the same way and to the same level. So here's, we'll stop right there. So you've got the the companions of the Prophet six are interpreting the Quran. And one possibility is if they present an opinion about Somalia, that it's something they learned from the Prophet himself, even if they don't say that. They don't say I heard the Prophet explain this to me. They just forwarded an opinion. And we can assume one possible assumption is they learned that explanation from the Prophet himself. Right? Yeah. And that would be most like we would most think that when they're talking about something which no way that he would
just make that up himself or have come from his own opinion, if he's talking about something that's going to happen on the Day of Judgment, the Sahabi is not going to be like he has no access to knowledge. So when that when they speak in on that kind of topic, we have good reason to believe they're speaking about something they heard from them. However, some patients that particular hobby will might know how to practice of discussing, for example, with the people of the book. And so it might open up other possibilities of where that particular explanation came from is from his, you know, old connections within the Jewish community, or the Christian community or converts who came
into the Muslim community, but it was, if we know about the Sahaba, that No, there's nothing really that indicates that he or she was mixing and discussing with others. So then then that possibility, you know, shrinks and becomes less likely about them. So yeah, it may well be speaking from based on revolution, and it may be otherwise that they are talking based on things that they witnessed. So for example, some of the important information that we get from that generation is the context of Revelation. Right? So we call us Battlezone. So you're saying the reason why a particular Ayah came down or the or the thing that triggered it, in a sense, the other situation around the coming down
of this ayah and it can't be that it you know, like a question was posed to the Prophet place on them. And then an ayah comes they asked you such an
Such tell them such and such. Right. So that's very clearly about that occasion.
Or it could be that those are a commentary on an event that just occurred.
woman came to the province I'm arguing and Allah reveals a lot heard the one arguing with you about her spouse, something like that. So that's all a squabble. newzoo? Like, what's the story behind this? i? Or when did it come in? it? Sometimes it does answer why did this IR come? Other times? It's,
you know, in what context did it come? Yeah, what was happening around that moment of Revelation, right. And sometimes when they tell you,
that ally a fee, when you say it was revealed, in or concerning such and such, right? We don't always mean it. And the scholars have noted this, they don't always mean it literally, that there was a specific moment and occasion. But they might be saying, sometimes it was about that, or it relates to that, or it has a relation to it can be applicable to that, or it could be applicable to that. So their way of talking about it is sometimes a little bit looser than then how we might later want to pin it down on what they're saying. But the point is, he have a set of highly valuable perspective based on the fact that they were there when it all happened, right.
So they understand things in a way that people later on, have no hope of having the type of insight that the Sahaba have. So their explanations are extremely valuable. Where they become especially authoritative is like the example that you gave, they have been praying with the Messenger of Allah sallallahu wasallam.
Nobody can compete with that level of closeness or that level of direct knowledge, based on experience and private prayer works and whatever its components
have some aspects of you know, which I mentioned the Quran more so in the Hadith, and then this hadith have spread far and wide, and people gather the reports that they deem authentic. And, but that's so different from being there and actually having direct knowledge of it. So you can never dispense with the insights of that generation. And there'll be certain topics Where, where, you know, they were absolutely the best place to speak on it. And nobody can compete with them. There were other things which are a bit more open. Right. So again, we're talking about situations where they're not speaking, based on something they heard from the postal system. So it's not been some
way, but when it's based on arrivals based on opinion, or be educated opinion, right?
Sometimes people talk about it as if, like people just guesswork or no, we're saying the educated opinion, whether of the Sahaba, or whether of later generations and scholars in the facility and
put a pause on that one for a moment. Let's let's break it down a little bit. So a lot of times people make this black and white line between the syllable symbol mat food and at the seabed, right, which means the sea that's coming from narrations, and by that they probably mostly likely assume either a hadith or a statement of a Sahabi, an author or something from a WT, this first generation, right, those three generations that's it are those those three groups, or entities. And that's the these are the two spheres that are authentic, quote, unquote, that's the authentic tafsir of the eye. And everything else that comes after is the CBR E, which means an interpretation of the Quran
based on opinion. And then there's a narrative Well, we don't want to follow opinions, because opinions is like people who follow their whims and the coin is whims and desires. And they just want to follow this opinion that we want to follow the original. And therefore we want to follow two syllable map for the first three generations and what they had to say. What you just said, is a pretty big wrench in that view, because what you said is sometimes the Sahaba
in what they reported of their thought their understandings of an IRA was itself sometimes and opinion that it wasn't necessarily a, something taught from the prophets or some himself, it was actually something to the best of their understanding. That's what they got from the ayah. Right, right. So this categorization where people talk about the bitmap for the sheer bit, right, yeah, has become very, very commonplace in the current day. And actually with some Asbury scholars who are to blame for this,
some of the teachers of our teachers, our teachers
have created this kind of division, which might be helpful to some extent, but can be quite confusing as well, because all the fears you know, or I will say almost all the fears in our entire history are in reality, a blend between these two things, right. So they're going to take
narrations from the early generations. As you mentioned, this is what we'll call the map for forges Miss transmitted narrated, received, right, right and they're going to have
The thought process of the facility involved. And I will give you the example of it because I had sometimes people, even teachers, lecturers on tafsir, who amazingly have the time to sit atop it has been purely narrations. It absolutely is not, you just have to pick up, read through. And you will see that it's absolutely not so linear.
What happens is that narrations take a lot of space in the book, that's all. But for every I remember, every,
you know, he is, first of all going to give you some of his own insights and about some things about the words, what he sees as the right interpretation. And then he's going to say,
the chroman, color vatika. Right. So I'm going to now give you some variations about who said what I just said. And then he will maybe say to you, but there's an alternative opinion,
which is such and such, and he'll summarize it. And then use the people who told you that. So that's why these narrations with all the snapshots and change the duration can take many, many pages, and you can miss if you're not reading properly, you can miss the bit of the start.
and end at the end, where he says, and the best opinion of all of these is the following the URL for the following reasons. So that's him using his his thought process as a professor, and every professor does now of course, they of course they should, I would go i would i would go so far as to say and I hope don't create controversy by this, but you know, what the idea of tafsir will mess over for me is not doing the see, you know, if all you're doing is transmitting, then you're a transmitter of Tafseer. You know, I'm a first year, I'm a first sale if such a thing could exist. Now we're in the future, is somebody who does use their thought process, deals with the materials
takes the materials, takes the transmission transmitted opinions, narrated opinions, and make sense of the various things. Because as you alluded to before, even amongst the Sahaba, sometimes they were different points of view about a particular word or particular idea.
There's a difference between a situation where they all agreed on something, compared to where there's multiple points of view. And then, you know, it was very normal for for the next generation to have more opinions and the next generation to have more opinions. And over history, what tends to happen is more opinions get added to, to the list or to the pile of things that are said on the air. Yeah, that is quite normal and not strange at all.
On that not being strange at all.
I'm theorizing, for instance, that as a hobby, a prominent one, like if not bustle de la, for instance, has an interpretation of an ayah. And he it's been narrated, attributed to him. And then you find names from the first generation, also having opinions on the same ayah. And they diverge they they diverged from the opinion of a bonobo so the lowdown on Homer. So you find as a hobby having a prominent hobby as a hobby known for Quran interpretation, having an opinion. And then the generation right after serving multiple alternative opinions on the same thing, in some cases, coinciding in other cases contradicting what the Sahaba said. So the idea that we don't disagree, or
we don't have another perspective, from what the Sahaba offered, does, it seems to me just from a cursory reading, even if tafsir doesn't seem to add up if you're actually committed to classical theater reading, because that's also telling you that the idea of divergent views, and people actually looking at things differently, is one of the earliest traditions of the Quran.
Right? So, so now that that's, you know, we've sort of talked about that a little bit. What is and if we're gonna say at FCB, Rai is something, which is let's translate that, interpreting the Quran by means of opinion, there is a dimension of that that should be said, I, from my understanding, and I want you to add correct. From my understanding, there's a dimension of that that should be criticized. And that dimension is when in an opinion is,
you know, forwarded about an iron that is not rooted in, you know, some kind of academic, rigorous thought process, meaning, there's no basis for saying what you're saying about this word or this idea in the language. There's no historical basis for it. There's no textual basis for it. There's no other IR that supports it, or the IR that you're using to support. It isn't about what you're using it for at all, etc. So you've got some, you've you forwarded this opinion, but the basis of that opinion is very weak. So it's not so much that the opinion is should be criticized. It's the basis on which one arrives at the opinion that should be criticized. And if at the end of the day,
all we can do is have an opinion on what this ayah might mean and Allah knows best, then it is the process.
And that should be where we look most carefully, isn't it? Yeah, absolutely. And that's why To be honest, I'm not going to champion the name to seal the rugby as well. It's problematic. I mean, first of all, we have had these and various narrations from the from the Sahaba also, which said, you know, that, you know, that we should not speak about the Quran according to opinion. So, once you're going to use the word, right, and then it's already been disgraced.
But then what happened in late word, like, like I said, this is how it works like, similar to on by doctor, there'll be
the opinion, explanation.
But the criterion for that is really like, as a person from from understand or not, right, so. So that's why they will say, a super Razi is praiseworthy opinion. And the syrup is a machete is blameworthy opinion. Even though in reality, all the series after them actually including a Razzies himself take from
it was he belonged to the Martha z school of thought. So the number of things in his Tafseer that are concerning and problematic, there's no doubt about it. But the idea of just sort of saying, well, let's call this praiseworthy opinion, let's call this blameworthy opinion. And run through this whole thing of naming tafsir as raw A versus Matt Thor, right. So opinion versus
narrations is not that helpful, because in reality, it has to be analytical. It has to be tradition based, but it has to involve a certain level of new fresh thought, every time the minister says about his or her work, it can be a case of, well, let me copy and paste what was said, you know, that's fine, you can copy and paste, but then it's already been sent to you while you're a copy, paste, that's fine. Like we need people to do that to transmit. But if you're going to be a professor, if someone is going to decide to be a professor one day, then it's going to involve learning the tools to actually understand the Quranic language, and to understand all these
materials that surround the words of the Quran. So the fact that people could have different opinions, is because they're all looking at the source, they're looking at the words of the Quran.
nobody else's words become sacred, with the exception, of course of language. That's where you hit it on the head, the issue to me is, in any inquiry, and in the highest inquiry is inquiry into the sacred word of Allah. Right? What What is subject to criticism is not the person or even their conclusion, which should be subject to criticism is what process Did you engage in? What rationale Do you have to arrive at a conclusion? And if you use the correct rationale, to arrive at a certain conclusion?
Then, what other leanings you have, or what background you come from, or what kind of training you have, all of that is pushed aside, because the thing to be criticized is the basis on which you're saying this? And can that basis be criticized? If somebody comes up with wild theories? And I mean, you are, you've exposed me to some pretty wild theories about the Quran and things that have been said that I'm like, Whoa, dude, they're
things that get forwarded to me or sent to me. Right? And okay, so it's not, oh, this person is not a real scholar, or this person is not, you know, from a listener, or this person doesn't have a long enough beer. This is not the basis on which I can criticize somebody's opinion. But what I can say, Okay, well, this is just crazy, because I mean, obviously look at the eye, or look at the language or look at this headache, or look at this, you know, so the, and this is what I want to get at really, up to, at least from BB, be transparent about my process. And in fact, I think yours also, is that we're committed to a rigorous process, like and if there's room for, you know, a number of
ways of looking at something, let's be honest about that there's room. And sometimes there's no room for multiple ways of looking at something, let's not pretend that there is, let's let's be academically honest about where there is room and where there isn't room, and be open and transparent in why we feel it's this way or that way. Right? And even at the end of the day, if I were to say or you were to say, well, there's no other way of looking at this, and here's why. Even then, as students of Quran, we were, we're gonna say, well, that's the best of our understanding. If something comes along, that shatters that point of view. We're ready to be shattered. And what I
love about our process, even in the study of sort of use of is we'll look at different opinions. I'll put you know, I'll posit to you that I think this is
The this seems to be more plausible, this makes less sense. But what we do is, and that's what I want to get into now with you laziness and tafsir. Right, and we looked at we talked about different kinds of laziness and Tafseer. Like, one kind of laziness is, I'm just gonna, whatever it has been said, has been said, we don't have to think about it. That's what it says. That's what it means. And that's what this look, look, I feel like him already said this. And of course, we already mentioned this. And on top of your dimensions, what more do you need? It's been figured out? I mean, yeah, I think it is fair to describe that a lot of cases as laziness. I would add one caveat, though, to is
my phone calling
the caveat to that is, it is the way that a lot of our tradition actually functions. What happens is that, on many issues,
professor will just look to what has been said. And if he's satisfied that what they said is fine.
So I wouldn't dismiss them as just people of knuckle religious transmitted, if they transmitted something and founded reasonable they transmitted it. Yeah. And the point is, there was no need to reconsider every single point, correct. An important example of this is anything to do with science to do with the universe, cosmology, biology, geology, whatever it may be. So certain things were said at the time in the past. And that was based on the knowledge that people had about the world around them and beyond. And, and so like, the way that the i o was understood in the light of that
was just, you know, was accepted and then continued to be accepted, generation after generation. Yeah, we would make a mistake, if what we do is, we gather all this data, you can see behind me a lot of the books, if we open up each book, and we say, well, this professor said it. And then Professor also said it and that Professor also said it. So 1234 520, Professor 15 professors have said the same thing. It is now on this matter, if we don't actually notice that what they were doing is repeating, by the way, for those of you don't know, which means consensus, everybody's agreed. So there's no room for disagreement on this, because 50 people upset it. 50 scholars have said it got
gone. But so so we just need to recognize that. Okay. The reason for that might be that they were just repeating what each other said, because that was, that was a sensible thing to do. And certain things that the kids filed was closed a long time ago, and there was no reason no, no pressing need to reopen it. Right. Later on, there might become a pressing reason for us to Okay, you know, dust off that file and say, you know, this point, actually, that we thought was not really worth investigating, because it was straightforward. Turns out that based on our current understanding of the world, I know people get scared of the word science sometimes, but but it just means like what
we understand today, these are suffering. What if I actually isn't seeing what we just accepted that it said, right, let's look, and let's take a mortgage up to it. And, and I like to think of it as just reopening the case file.
But people can get very nervous about that, if they don't understand, well, the process by which that file was closed. It was maybe closed a bit hastily A long time ago. And then people just left it closed. And and that's fine. You know, we don't blame them for for leaving it like that. But we should be blameworthy if, if we think that doing Pepsi in the 21st century involves just repeating what they said in the 14th century. Yeah, yeah. So that's one kind of laziness. Yet another kind of laziness is? Well, I don't, I think that people didn't have the kind of access to knowledge that we have. Now. We have new perspectives from the worlds of, you know, the hearts of material sciences,
but also the human sciences like political science, sociology, anthropology, psychology, etc, you know, and as a result of that, we can we can have new perspectives on the Quran. And now that I have an opinion about this ayah, I can just, you know, whatever they said, was probably based on very narrow minded traditionalism. So let me not even defend their view. So, what our process is, when we look at an interpretation of, you know, an earlier opinion that at first wasn't what we were thinking that it was the direction it was going to go, instead of dismissing it. Our job is also to kind of put ourselves in the interpreter shoes, whoever they may be, and say, Well, what how can we
defend this view? Before we disregard it? How can we defend this view that is even alien to us? How do we how do we read it as charitably as possible first, right? Give it the best reading that we can do like to appreciate what they're trying to say. Yeah, and then and then and then make the best version of the argument that they're making. And that's that's the example that you because I was just reading on.
You know, somebody was saying on Twitter today in Turkish, I was using the translator because I don't speak Turkish but he was explaining that this is the memorizes approach. He would take you know, things that were saying
a martingale opponent called the Abdul Jabbar. And he was saying
he was going to refute him. But first he says, oh, let me just strengthen up his argument, because he's expressed a bit weakly, let me actually bolster this up, you know, boost it up, and then I'm going to refute it. So that from a position of strength, that's what you do. If you are weak intellectually, then you try to pick the weakest version of the argument to, to dismiss it, dismiss it. That's right, you're not doing due diligence to these positions, because you might just find that as you explore, not just somebody's opinion, like Sahaba, for example, had like, sometimes two word explanations, or a one liner, or maybe even a one word sometimes explanation, which to me is
like, if you look at it, you know, as a diagram, it's a single dot. And you can draw a line through a single.in, any angle, right? So you can look at it in a very critical way and dismiss it. Or you can look at it from a point of view that maybe even makes you question. I think I can see where, where they're getting this. And it's a pretty strong way of looking at, you know, this IR this this event, so, and the numbers thing I mean, so sometimes, when you find that a number of great officine have said something, yes, necessarily true, but it doesn't make you feel like it's not something I can just sort of cast away without giving a lot of thought.
Or if I've got a new idea that's come to my mind.
Yeah, why didn't someone say that before? That's happened a few times in our process that one
has printed on know sometimes means well, we come up with something. And we think, Hey, this sounds really good. Bob, what are obvious? Like, why did someone say it? Like, it's so strange? And then you realize later on, that's why it's got a fatal flaw in it. Yeah. You know, which can get carried away sometimes with the excitement of new new things, but that's the thing, we have a tradition, it has a wit. And, yes, the consensus of time over time has Wait, you know, it's not, it's not an immovable object. So to summarize where we are, in this discussion, one kind of laziness is that we don't give it a deep enough look and look at it, you know, with a fresh looking at tradition, but
looking at tradition with a fresh set of eyes.
And the other is that we are, you know, one we just accept it for what it is and to, we dismiss it without actually giving it its due diligence. So we can't do either one. We can't just accept it at face value, we have to analyze it. And it may be sometimes that we end up disagreeing with a very well established opinion, we may have to justify ourselves. And then actually the onus of justifying ourselves for why not being as convinced of such a classical opinion falls on, we better provide a really strong rationale for not not agreeing, or not being as convinced with opinion a, but even if we do that, I don't think it's okay for us to say, well, they were wrong.
Or the furthest I can go is I find this more convincing. That's pretty much as far as I can take it, but they're wrong. And you know, we got it right, or somebody else got it, right. I think that's where things become very authoritative. And we start laying claim to the right version. And that shouldn't exist in most quantity. And that's where there's, we could call it a third type of laziness, we've sort of touched on it, but it's when you come up with your own opinion.
Like sometimes I've read this so many times where, where people will say, well, the other opinion, the one that I'm disagreeing with, has got so many problems in it 1234, and I will list all the problems of it.
And then with my own opinion, I don't spend any energy in
the problems in it. Because in reality, it's just, I'm afraid life is not as simple as that, you know, as the same black and white, where, you know, all the truth is on one side, and all the falsehood is on the other side. And as soon as you decide which side is true, the other one must be bartered, 100%. falsehood, and lies, right. In reality, there's always going to be this sort of negotiation between this is stronger, this is weaker, but there's always going to be pros and cons for both sides. So you've got to know that okay, even if this is the opinion that I actually side with, it does have a couple of holes in it, but I think those holes are not so damaging that the
board is going to sink. I still think it has it has legs, I'm going to mix the metaphors, but as I said, when
I say but, but I acknowledge that it has some aspects of weakness, which perhaps someone else can solve, you know, the next person could maybe solve the problems in my opinion and make it even stronger. But if I just sort of pretend that Yeah, you know, I've cracked it, you know, I've cracked the code and, you know, it's it's sort of makes me annoyed that the person is it's another aspect
Have selling short our tradition actually. And yeah, it misrepresents things to our readers or listeners.
You know, in order to bolster your own position, you sort of just tear down other other things, especially tearing down your, your tradition, because if it's not, if it weren't for our tradition, and the scholars who were having these conversations, I don't have anything, we have nothing
whatsoever, like any knowledge, you know, any science, whether it's architecture, medicine, tissue studies, it doesn't matter if it's a secular science or sacred when it's built upon the intellectual foundations of the generation that came before they got to a certain place. And only by understanding where they got to, can you take a single step forward, and that single step forward doesn't dismiss the mountain that they built, or that building that they built, it only takes a step? Because that building exists? Right? So it's, it's, you have to have that monumental respect for the intellectual tradition that we have to build on top of that, until to look at that with a
degree of reverence. And, you know, one of our favorites of us here is international
production preserving Lucy and both of these remarkable, traditional in their style, and yet,
And yet so rigorous when they critique something, right, it's such a beautiful thing to read the amount of rigorous work they put into, you know, presenting an opinion. And sometimes it's pretty cool when you say, Okay, let's, let's see, what if we can find some holy or something.
And you say, hey, he didn't put as much work into this one, and you're so disappointed, because he puts into it, he really gets into it. But I have a whole lot right or even lucila him out there. And people like that are go twos for us, because they've really blazed a path when it comes to rigor, you know, like really deep analytical thinking about the crime, and looking at what we have in the past.
The other thing that happens sometimes is that, you know, we get this really fancy opinion that we think is so cool. And then I'm like, Oh, hold on, I just found it in our Lucy's, he says exactly what we're saying. And then I'll read through the paragraph, and then at the end is Elisa, she has nothing other than a nothing.
That ain't a thing.
That's the best thing about Lucy. He'll like, he'll describe an opinion as if it's his. And at the end of it, and by the way, all that? Nah.
Lisa, really puts you in your place. And I, you know, I some of the most formative thing, one of the most formative things for me has been reading in and I'm still reading it, you know, there's a lot to get through. But Lucy, just as an example, because it's so critical. I mean, in a sense, it deals critically with materials. Yeah, rational perspective, from Hadeeth perspective, everything is all there. You appreciate that, you know, what it takes to be a professor, you know, on that level is just, you know, is mind blowing? Yeah, it just puts you in your place, you know, where people who are doing some readings, and we're trying to say a few things, and we're trying to clarify some
things. We're sharing thoughts.
And those thoughts are based on on our tradition based on what we read.
But first and foremost, is trying to clarify
what Allah has said, insofar as we have questions, you know, and I started the remarks a bit of SEO by saying, The seat is the answer to questions. You know, you have to have that curiosity. You have to have questions that come to your mind when you read the Quran, you know, then each one of us may have questions, and we might not know how to research them, but we can at least note them down because then we get a chance to maybe talk with the school. Number one, the head because the seat isn't the end of the day, the answer to our inquiry, and our query into Talas word and how he may answer what we're experiencing. And because of that, because the world is experiencing different
things, in a regeneration in every society, that people are going to come to the Quran with different kinds of questions. And therefore they might be when you're looking for a certain thing, that they want someone who came before you wasn't looking for that.
So when they gave their answers, meaning there's a fear, you didn't find them talking about that, because they didn't ask the question you were asking. That doesn't mean you don't have the right to ask that question. It also doesn't mean that what they said is irrelevant, because you're not appreciating that they were asking a different question. There is actually highly relevant for the question. They were asking
questions that we may be asking now. Right, so
that is really bad.
That doesn't always belong in the genre. Oh,
Fear, right? So the fear sometimes is limited by the fact that there are certain forms of what is actually going to be discussed in books of the fear, right? In modern times, I think people writing about the Quran
have sometimes expanded their, their mode of what they're looking at and what they see as worth writing in the books. But they are the scholars weren't writing most of the time about, you know, spiritual angle, and so on. Some of them did. But a lot of Tafseer comes across as very dry. Very based on on analyzing language, hyper analyzing theory. Yeah.
Yeah, it's just because that's, that's what the format was, right? It's different, maybe what they would have done in their circles with their families.
Like, like what you see later, on Shahada, we are Hamdulillah, because I was talking negatively, but as heard before, shadow is one of us. And we are one of him.
Very famous Egyptian scholar preacher. You know, he showed how to how to talk about the Quran in a way that people's hearts were just, you know, absolutely fell in love with. Yeah, well. So that's, that's not the typical thing that you find in the books, because books are books. You know, they're not meant for a spiritual insight. And they, they will drop some here and there, and you'll go, Whoa, but a lot of times, it is very rigorous academic, this course and it is you're right, it can be very dry. Lastly, what I wanted to, you know, touch upon and hear your perspective on is new opinions in tafsir. And, you know, now because we are looking at things from a different lens,
perhaps and in just let's be more specific, so we don't talk entirely in theory, in,
in studying sort of use of and going through the classical works, and the diversity and the language. I've brought up questions to our conversation that have to do with the psychology of the situation, that have to do with the economics of the politics of the situation. And you know, what, maybe generalized and things like that things that we didn't really read classically. But it's certainly questions that come to my mind, and I pose them to you and we start theorizing about what what plausible response the Koran may be giving, or what may find we may find in our tradition that can substantiate or invalidate the direction we're heading. Right. But I feel my opinion, is that
this is a very important development in our engagement with the Quran that we should be asking questions. And we should be concerned with thorough responses to those questions, not just quick fix responses, but really looks deeply. Let's ask a deep question. And if we don't find the answer, we should be able to say, Yeah, I don't I don't have the answer for that one. The question remains, right, like you said, Wolfie hemosol. Right. So it may be that we end up with questions that we don't have answers to, but I think the process of asking all kinds of questions.
You know, for the purpose of really benefiting from what Allah is saying, at the end of the day, what is it? How is this relevant to my life? How is it going to benefit me? What Why is this a reminder for all of humanity? That's the fundamental right, and that's the thing interfere studies, one can get lost in the contest of opinions and lose sight of the fact that this is actually a conversation between a line every human being on Earth, you know, and we have to come because sometimes when you go too far in brain work, you have to come back to that basic truth. And that's something I wanted to ask you or talk to you about, where do you see in your, because you're seeing
a lot of different new trends in Quran studies, we won't even call it a few studies of chronic studies in the West and in the Muslim world.
And what are some exciting areas of inquiry that are now emerging, that you think are going to help us see the Quran?
You know, in and add a new but substantial perspective to the Quran? without removing the old? The what are some of those in your opinion? Yeah, I mean, it's interesting because like, they see it as as a process and as a science is actually a few different sciences that all come to play together. So some things that have been very important is understanding the language.
So that codifying the what the Arabs meant when they use certain words, right? And then how certain structures work. So that's where grammar studies comes in. And then beyond that, the way that expressions are used to carry meanings and convey them effectively. This is where you can allow law and rhetoric. And all of these tenses were actually codified after the revelation of the Quran, in service of the Quran. So it's here as a kind of capsule genre that deals with these things, plus
You know, Heidi, and plus, you know, and others, you know, belief and
attend different different branches of knowledge which come to beer and understanding the Quran, they were actually formulated by scholars in service on the ground in order to help us to understand what the Quran is saying. So in reality, there's no reason that there should only be this particular number of sciences that are relevant, there may be things that continue to develop that have their seeds in the early stage. But that may be bear fruit later on. So an example of you know, there are examples of things that we actually do sets about using where we can, and it's still, they're still somewhat in the exploratory stage and developmental stage. One of those is structural approaches,
right. So recognizing that the Asakura as a unit can have, you know, I feel funny talking about this, instead of you talking about it.
The idea that surah has, has a structure, you know, at the very beginning, middle and end, but then more subtle aspects, right? where things can can appear once you once you read it very carefully. And that's what I like to point out that people sometimes think that when you're giving your talks, then you talk about, okay, there seems to be a sort of a ring structure in this way, sort of like a double ring, or
you come up with people sometimes just think, okay, that's just for like, almost for fun, like, Wow, that's really exciting. Like, it's beautiful.
But in actual fact, you can then use that to further understand the way that the message has been delivered, and it might deliver new insights of an individual, I add, you know, according to their placement, and, and, you know, people should watch, you know, the lectures you've done, especially the JAMA ones, the new ones, not like the old school podcast things, but like the new ones. Yeah, we will, I think that has started to really bear fruit. So the structural aspect to what you can call related to that kind of what's often called the coherence reading, I like to see it more as like, it's where you're reading between the lines, you're really thinking about, okay, if this is followed
by this is followed by this ayah. What is going on with this sequence wire the next to each other? regenerating? Yep, that's right. Yeah. And, you know, go back again, the first reading had something called Manasa. Bat or connections, right? How appropriate, you know, the placement of is, is, you've got particular factors that we're really interested in, that can be quite slippery.
But the point is, it's a valid approach, it's a type of reading, a way of reading the is, which then generates insights, which help you to understand in the field. And the third one, maybe the last one I would I would draw attention to is the intertextual approach that is to read the Quran, in tandem with other things that we can have access to. Right. After that, we know that the Quran was revealed to an audience that included Jews and Christians and various other religious groups, and would speak to them about things that they were supposed to know. And the Quran will call them to witness for that. Don't you don't know about this? Don't you know about that? And it would it would tell them
about mobile? Don't, you know, that means it's referring to what they have. And it's using the basis to initiate that conversation with them. And so now we're in a position to engage in a study of what they did, in fact, know, and what what scholarship surrounds the biblical tradition, for example, and how the Quran is commenting on it. Right, what is the Quran in the biblical subtext? Yes, it is a famous book in the field. So this is actually very, very hot right now in western academia.
But of course, in a, you know, in, in the past, it was more tilted towards just identifying how the brand has taken and borrowed and mixed different things from biblical sources. The Western approach was, yeah, to show that it's put on his resume at the end of the day. Yeah, no, no, the the way of talking about it has shifted quite a lot. So there's much more emphasis on recognizing that the Quran, you know, as we know, Allah subhanaw taala is the one who's who is his speech, but, you know, speaking in the sort of neutral academic way that we say, the Quran or the author of the Quran, has actually exhibited a lot of creativity in responding subtly and in in very ingenious ways and
turning the biblical account in retelling, and so biblical and also from other sources.
From our perspective,
we could go further than that, and see and I think that you were hinting at it just before that being the speech of God. It had his effect at the time of Revelation. So we can we can look at that.
Historically and say, Okay, how was it responding to them, then how was it speaking to them then? So we can understand something. But then also we can see well being the speech of God, which is intended as guidance for all times. What does that tell us about the guidance today? What is the message that we can then extract that should be part of the dialogue, and be the basis actually of the dialogue that we're having with people of other faiths today. So that's where I think we would diverge from, you know, like, the secular academic approach or, you know,
outsider approach to
doing scene of the crime using these sources, but actually, and that we shouldn't be. So
we shouldn't be thinking about this real weak perspective, the Koran is the mighty word of Allah. Right. And it's called noon, it's called light. So it sheds light on all things. And it may even shed light on how we read the Bible. And what we understand of it, because now the Quran is shedding light on something in its own way. And that's something that's manifested in our discussions ongoing, with the comparative study of use of in the, you know, in the Quran, and the Joseph account in the Old Testament. On house, there are so many divergences and so many differences, and how it just makes you appreciate our current story, a new, non current version of it just a new and it's
not necessarily to criticize the biblical version. In some cases, it is I'll be honest, but in many cases, it's also Wow, Alonzo Joel really did turn it into accidental causes. You know, and it just, it highlights that and I think it's a really beautiful direction to take. The place that I first experienced this, that just absolutely fascinated me was Hubble Gov. One of the first episodes I did work on and the old account of the sleepers and the, you know, the the Jacobite church, and, you know, the murals and the, the tradition that existed in this among the Syriac tradition, and the Aramaic versions of this thing, and the Greek versions of this story that were already circulating
that were not, of course, not in the Bible, the story of the people of the cave, but it was very popular among Christian Arabs. And it was it was a and they were turned into seven saints, and they had festivals around it and all of this stuff and not knowing that background, we come to the Quran, we learned about seven remarkable or a number of remarkable young men that held on to their faith. But when you study that stuff, and you realize how Allah is setting the record straight about these anonymous, young men, and their story has been hijacked, and allies reclaiming it. It's amazing. Yeah.
I think it was before I joined but you know, I watched the first you know, the rest of your series and alkaff absolutely mind blowing. I saw
people all the time, the first the first one, and that's on YouTube, so people can find it easily. Yeah. series, you know, it's really worth watching because it just really whet your appetite for what this approach can can bring to light. Now, that doesn't mean that that every person has to know this or it's or that is fundamental to Quranic guidance. It's just another aspect of how we can appreciate the meanings and the guidance of the Quran. And that's really the goal of everything right? It's also not to say, while the Quran is amazing, because, you know, hamdulillah we're already we already believe in it. We don't need to be more convinced it doesn't hurt, you know, to
have some more strength. You know what, I don't agree, I think I see the Crown's role, sir. You know, serving our guidance. The purpose of the Quran being our guidance is one, one, the fundamental dimension. But if you think of guidance as a large umbrella, part of guidance is being inspired. And being inspired means being an author of the word of Allah, and this kind of an exercise renews that all which then re commits you to guidance. So guidance isn't just pray and remember Allah and do the Quran, those things yes, those things are the do's and the don'ts but our emotional connection or intellectual connection to this book that gets renewed by these kinds of studies, our sense of
identity you know, our sense of oma you know, all of those things need refresher they need to be renewed, you know, we can easily a sense of identity can easily start becoming weak, and, which is why any of those, like even the while the Quran is awesome thing, I think is so important now, because there's so many other things to say wow, too. And the Quran needs to crush all of that, or we need to show how the Quran crushes all of that. And it's the biggest of all right, and that's our job, because if not, then then we're not gonna find we won't even find Muslims saying that this is something remarkable. I mean, the jinns are hearing an insane or unimaginable, right, but, but some
teenagers aren't saying it. They're like, Oh, hold on, man. No, let's bring back the well
You know, yeah, I accept that. So I think I think that really it's about, you know, it's dusting off ourselves, right is what is what is it that's preventing us from seeing that? That's where the emphasis goes, isn't it? Yeah. It's not that you always have to come up with something new. Because sometimes the temptation to always be novel there, because we've got our content has also always got to be controversial, we've always got to have something new to say, it's really about just doing it in the best way that that reaches people and helps them to, to appreciate things on every level, then that we can have the honor of helping them with. That's right. And some of the most beautiful
things I've ever learned about the Quran are from the older sources, and what's been said about it at some of the most profound insights, it's just that even their insights at that time if somebody wrote about the Quran 100 years ago, and I'm reading it now, what I gained from that now is different.
So it's, it's, you know, their words have have a new flavor. Now it's the same seed with the trees born new fruit, you know, so there's a renewal even in going back to tradition, it's not stagnant when you read it, it actually has a new application. So just like on has a level of new application, or reading of the seed also has a new application we can build on it and actually really take from it I'm really I'm really glad we had this conversation and I hope that you guys are listening in I'm not the monitors too far for me to read comments, and maybe that's a good thing but hopefully we'll get some interesting questions out of this and maybe we'll have a follow up session to address some
of them inshallah, but I'm hoping that this also becomes a continuous thing for us every time some sort of issue that helps us really you know, think about the Quran in a deeper way comes up that you and I just get on the camera and have a little chat about it. So with that inshallah, good if you have any concluding thoughts, I'd love to hear them otherwise. Goodbye.
All right. I saw he got up