‘Ulûm al Qûr’an #6 – Tafsîr through the Sunnah

This opinion is supported by numerous statements from the Companions. Abû ‘Abd ar-Rahmân as-Sulamî (d. 75 A.H.), the famous Successor, narrated,

“Those who taught us the Qur’ân, such as ‘Uthmân ibn ‘Affân, ‘Abdullâh ibn Mas’ûd, and others, told us that they would not memorise more than ten verses until they had understood what knowledge it contained, and implemented it. They used to say, ‘So we learnt the Qur’ân, (its) knowledge and (its) implementation at the same time.”[5]

It is apparent, then, that the Companions made sure that they understood the meaning of the Qur’ân, and then implemented it.

‘Umar narrated,

“Amongst the last verses to be revealed were the verses pertaining to interest, and the Prophet (saws) passed away before explaining them to us.”[6]

This narration explicitly shows that the Prophet (saws) used to make sure that the Companions understood the Qur’ân, since the only reason that the verses of interest were not explained in great detail was due to the sudden death of the Prophet (saws).

As was mentioned earlier, there are only a small percentage of verses for which explicit narrations exist from the Prophet (saws). The verse concerning the interpretation of ‘wrongdoing’ (6:82) as shirk has already been given above. This example illustrates the necessity of the interpretation of the Prophet (saws), for even the Companions, despite their knowledge of Arabic, could not understand the correct interpretation of this verse until they had asked the Prophet (saws).

Another example is the hadîth of the Prophet (saws) in which he explained ‘…those whom You are angry with,’ and ‘…those who are astray,’ (1:7) as the Jews and Christians.[7]

He also explained the ‘middle prayer’ (2:238) as the Asr prayer,[8] the ‘additional (reward)’ (10:26) as the seeing of Allâh by the believers in Paradise,[9] and that al-Kawthar (108:1) was “…a river that my Lord has given me in Paradise.”[10]

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