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The Meaning of Exegesis in the Tradition of the Qur'anic Sciences

Thus the real meaning of the implicit verses can be found in relation to the explicit verses. What is apparent from the verses in which the word ta'wil occurs is that ta'wil does not indicate a literal meaning? It is clear that the actual words of the dream described in chapter XII, "Joseph", do not in them selves contain the literal interpretation of the dream; the meaning of the dream becomes clear from the interpretation.

And, likewise, in the story of Moses and Khidr, the actual words of the story are not the same as the interpretation, which Khidr gave Moses. Moreover, in the verse, fill the measure when you measure and weigh with a right balance The language does not in itself indicate the particular economic conditions, which we are intended to understand.

Again, in the verse And if you have a dispute concerning any matter then refer it to God and the messenger there is no immediate literal indication that what is meant is the Unity of Islam Thus, although the words indicate something not essentially different from their literal meaning, there is, nevertheless, in all the verses the same shifting of perspective, namely, from the actual words to the intended meaning Moreover, all the meanings are based on a real situation, an actual physical event. In the case of the dream, the interpretation has an external reality, which appears before its actual occurrence in a special form to the dreamer. Likewise, in the story of Moses and Khidr, the interpretation that the latter gives is, in fact, a reality, which is to take place as a result of his action.

Therefore, the interpretation of the event is rooted in the event. In the verse, which orders man to fair dealing and The Teachings of the Qur'an measuring, the aspect of the verse is a reality, which appears as a social benefit. Thus the order is connected to the effect it is supposed to have in the raising up of society and, in particular, of trade. In the verse concerning referral of the dispute to God and His messenger, the meaning is again fixed to reality, namely, the spiritualization of the life of the community.

To conclude, we may say that interpretation of each verse springs from a reality; the interpretation looks forward to or, in a subtle way, actually brings into being the reality it is talking about. Thus it's meaning both contains and springs from a future or ulterior event. Just as the interpreter makes the interpretation meaningful, so the manifestation of the interpretation is already a reality for the interpreter.

The idea is also present in the form of the Qur'an since this sacred book has as its source realities and meanings other than the material and physical or, we may say, beyond the sensory level Thus it expresses meanings, which are more expansive than those contained in the words and phrases used by man in the material world Although these realities and meanings are not contained in the literal explanation of man, the Qur'an uses the same language to inform man of the unseen and to produce correct belief and good action.

Thus, through belief in the unseen, in the last day and in the meeting with God, man adopts a system of morals and a quality of character, which allows him to achieve happiness and well-being. In this way the Qur'an produces a spiritual effect, which, in turn, produces a physical social change, the importance of which will become clear on the Day of Resurrection and the meeting with God. There is further reference to this same theme when God says in chapter XLIII: 2-4, By the Book which makes plain.

Take heed, we have appointed it a lecture in Arabic that perhaps you will understand. And indeed the source of the Book, which we possess, it is indeed sublime, decisive. Is It is sublime, in that the ordinary understanding cannot fully comprehend it, and decisive in that it cannot be faulted. The relationship of the last part of the verse to the meaning of exegesis ta'wil (as we have discussed above) is clear. It says, in particular, "perhaps you will understand," implying that one may or may not understand it; it does not imply that one will understand the book fully, merely by studying it.

As we have seen in the verse concerning the explicit muhkam and the implicit mutash?bih, knowledge of exegesis ta'wil, particular to God; moreover, when in this same verse corrupt men are blamed for following the implicit mutashabih, verse and for intending to sow dissension and conflict by searching for an exegesis, ta'wil, or special interpretation, it does no state that they necessarily find it The exegesis of the Qur'an is a reality, or several realities, which are to be found in the Source Book, the Book of Decree with God; the Source Book is part of the unseen and far front the reach of corrupters.

The same idea is treated again ii chapter LVI: 75-80 when God says, Indeed I swear by the places of the Stars - And truly that is surely a tremendous oath ~f you but knew - that this is indeed a noble Qur'an, in a book kept hidden, which none touch except the purified, a revelation from the Lord of the Worlds. It is clear that these verses ~establish for the Qur'an two aspects, namely the position of the hidden book protected from being touched and the aspect of revelation which I understandable by the people. What are of particular interest t us in this verse is the phrase of exception, "except tire purified According to this phrase, we can arrive at an understanding the reality of the exegesis of the Qur'an.

This positive view of man's capability to understand the Qur'an does not conflict with the negation of the verse, "An no one knows its ta'wil except God. " Since the comparison of the two verses produces a whole, which is independent, an harmonious.

Thus we understand that God is alone understanding these realities, yet one may come to know these truths by His leave and teaching Knowledge of the unseen is, according to many verses, the special domain of God but in chapter LXXII: 26-27, those who are worthy are excepted from this: "He is the knower oft unseen and He reveals to no one His secret, except to every messenger whom He has chosen. " Again we conclude that knowledge of the unseen is particular to God and that it is fitting for no or except Him and for those he gives leave to.

Thus the purified amongst men take the verse concerning the "purified ones" as leave to enter into contact with the reality of the Qur'an. In a similar way we read in chapter XXXIII: 33, "God's wish is but to remove uncleanliness from you, people of the Household, and clean you with a thorough cleaning. " This verse was revealed, (according to a sound tradition with an unbroken chain of transmission), specifically with regard to the family of the Prophet.

Adopted from the book: "Quran per Islam" by: "Allamah sayyid Mohammad Hossein Tabatabai"

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