Obligation of Taking the Ayaat and Ahadeeth on their Apparent Meaning (ظاهر)

Posted: March 16, 2012 by millatibraheem in al-Imaan, Arabic

Authubillaahi min ash-Shaytaani rajeem

Bismillaahi ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem, as-Salaatu was-Salaam ‘ala Rasulullaah

It is not permitted for anyone to change the meaning of a verse from its apparent sense (ظاهر), or to change the meaning of a report from its apparent sense, because Allaah the Exalted says,

بِلِسَانٍ عَرَبِيٍّ مُّبِي

“In a clear, Arabic tongue” [ash-Shu’ara: 195]

He, may He be exalted, said, blaming a people,

يُحَرِّفُونَ الْكَلِمَ عَن مَّوَاضِعِهِ

“They change words from their meanings” [al-Ma’ida: 13]

Whoever changes the meaning of a text from its apparent meaning in the language without proof from another text or a consensus, claims that there is no clarification in the text. He has perverted the meaning of Exalted Allaah’s speech and His revelation to His Prophet (s) and this is a terrible deed. Even if he were innocent of these great sins, he would be making an unproven claim.

It is not permissible for anyone to pervert any person’s speech. How can it be with the speech of Allaah, may He be exalted, and the speech of His Messenger (s) which is prophecy from Allaah, may He be exalted. Whoever uses the opinion of a scholar to stir up controversy about this, the opinion of someone other than the Messenger of Allaah (s) is not proof. We have made it clear that whoever among them stirs up controversy, they, among all of Exalted Allaah’s creation, most frequently abandon the opinions of the Companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, let alone others, while the companions of apparent (أصحاب الظاهر), among the people of tradition (أهل الحديث), may Allaah be pleased with them, are those more assiduous in following and agreeing with the Companions, may Allaah be pleased with them. We have made this clear, point by point, in our book entitled, “Reaching Understanding of the Characteristics.”

Praise Allaah, Lord of the worlds.

It is obligatory to avoid altering the meaning of a text from its apparent sense without another authentic text that reports that it is not intended apparently. Concerning this matter, let us follow Exalted Allaah’s statement and the statement of His Messenger (s) as he (s) clarified [Allaah’s] statement, may He be exalted,

لَمْ يَلْبِسُوا إِيمَانَهُم بِظُلْمٍ

“And have not mixed their faith with evildoing” [al-An’am: 82]

By which, Exalted Allaah meant Kufr. As [Allaah,] the all-powerful, the sublime, said,

إِنَّ الشِّرْكَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظِيمٌ

“Indeed, joining others in worship (with Allaah) is the greatest Zulm” [Luqman: 13]

Or unless there be a certain consensus, such as the consensus of the community that His saying, may He be exalted,

يوصيكم الله في أولادكم للذكر مثل حظ الأنثيين

“Allaah commands you, concerning your children, to the male the like of the portion of two females” [an-Nisa’: 11]

did not refer to slaves, nor to the sons of daughters when there is a universal heir (‘asib) — and there are many such similar cases. Or due to necessity that prevents one from interpreting that apparently, such as His saying, may He be exalted,

الذين قال لهم الناس إن الناس قد جمعوا لكم فاخشوهم

“Those to whom the people said, ‘The people have gathered against you, therefore fear them’” [Aali-Imran: 173]

 With the certainty that come from intuition and experience, we know that not all of the people said,

إن الناس قد جمعوا

“The people have gathered against you” [Aali-Imran: 173]

The proof of what we have said, that words should be interpreted in their apparent sense, is Exalted Allaah’s saying in the Qur’an,

بلسان عربي مبين

“In a pure, Arabic tongue” [ash-Shu’ara: 195]

And His saying, may He be exalted,

وما أرسلنا من رسول إلا بلسان قومه ليبين لهم

“We have sent no Messenger save with the tongue of his people, that he might make all clear to them” [Ibrahim: 4]

So it is true that explanation according to us is simply to interpret the words of the Qur’an and Sunna according to the apparent meaning and in accordance with the meaning for which those words were coined. Whoever wishes to shift the meaning from [their apparent meaning] to an allegorical interpretation without a supporting text or a consensus slanders Allaah the Exalted and His Messenger (s), contradicts the Qur’an, makes unsupported claims, and perverts words from their meanings.

Also, it should be said to whosoever wishes to change the meaning of speech from its apparent sense without any proof: this is what causes skepticism and the denial of the existence of truth, because whenever you or anyone else says anything, it could be said to you, this is not meant apparently. Rather, you mean something else. Every time you reaffirm your meaning, it would be said to you, this too is not meant apparently. And you will never be rid of those who say to you, perhaps the denial of the apparent meaning is not intended apparently. And so on, as you can see.

And success comes from Allaah.

Source: al-Nubdha al-Kafiya fi Usul Ahkam al-Deen of Imaam ibn Hazm (r)


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