Having been a big proponent of revision of tafsir literature in order to sift out fabricated and problematic interpretations, I have received numerous criticisms mainly by traditionalists who advocate holding on to past opinions mentioned in tafsir literature for the past thousand years. One needs to understand that Tafsir works past and present are reference books of opinions and interpretations ( including weak and fabricated sources) that deserve deeper scrutiny and assessment. Tafsir literature is helpful to understand the deep meanings of the Quran, but one needs to understand that they are not revelation. It is the job of scholars that come after to review the different opinions and reach an interpretation(s) that conforms to the language of the Quran, the context, interpreted through the Quran first and foremost ( Tafsir of the Quran with other ayaat of the Quran) and be intellectually sound based on sound reason and reality.
One area that had a great deal of interpretation and extraneous details are the stories of the Prophets in the Quran. The most well-known accounts of these stories usually provide details with no sanad ( unbroken chain) to the Prophet (ﷺ) or the early companions who learned directly from him. When one reads tafsir literature they are bombarded by varying opinions and interpretations. Yes, the Quran has a scope for variance as its meanings are vast and different scholars will offer their own perspectives and nuances. This is not what I am talking about. I am speaking about interpretations that lead to clear contradictions and discrepancies.
Problems with accepting unsubstantiated narrations
Accepting these narrations and details hinder and sometimes put a barrier on trying to understand the true understanding of the Ayaat in the Quran. I will be specifically looking at the Stories of Prophets in the Quran and how additions to the stories have led to two major problems. They are:
1. That Prophets are in some cases no longer seen as an example to follow, even though the Quran calls their stories عِبرَة – a lesson or instruction to move from one code of conduct or mindset to the most proper one.
2. The “Contextual inconsistency” found in the Quran. The Quran says
أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ ۚ وَلَوْ كَانَ مِنْ عِندِ غَيْرِ اللَّهِ لَوَجَدُوا فِيهِ اخْتِلَافًا كَثِيرًا
Then do they not reflect upon the Qur'an? If it had been from any other than Allah , they would have found within it much contradiction. [Surat Al Nisa ayah 82 ]
So this is directly related to the integrity of the Quran which is the living miracle of the Prophet SAW and a sign of his Prophethood. Anything that comes from outside from the Quran which compromises this will need to be rejected.
An example of "inconsistency" in Tafsir literature
Let us take an example in Surat Saad. Surah 38
One can understand from the beginning of the Surah that hostility from the Arab pagans had increased against the Prophet (ﷺ). After mentioning the direct attacks on him and the message, Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) consoles him and tells him to be patient over all these verbal attacks
اصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَا يَقُولُونَ وَاذْكُرْ عَبْدَنَا دَاوُودَ ذَا الْأَيْدِ ۖ إِنَّهُ أَوَّابٌ
Be patient over what they say and remember Our servant, David, the possessor of strength; indeed, he was one who repeatedly turned back [to Allah ]. Surat Saad 38:17
In the very same ayah, Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) tells RasoolAllah (ﷺ) to reflect on the story of Dawud (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ). So one would expect a story of great patience and guidance for the Prophet and by extension for us from one of Allah's best creations. Is this what is found according to the well-known interpretations of the story?
The answer unfortunately is No! we are told that Nabi Dawud (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ)became very frightened from a security breach and made a judgement that was incorrect before hearing from both disputants. As the common story goes, he repented from this mistake and Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgave him. The common lesson that is given is to listen to two sides of the story before making a judgment.
This story however is not found in the Quran. Details were added to it that distorted the story in a way to present Nabi Dawud (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) as having a lack of patience. Some Modern scholars have noticed this and have understood that one needs to return back to the actual Quranic text, as the Quran is a self-clarifying book with no need of outside sources.
In the very same section of the Quran Nabi Dawud has been described as having
الْحِكْمَةَ وَفَصْلَ الْخِطَابِ
Wisdom and decisive/ eloquent speech.
And one needs to ask, If the story of him being too afraid to think straight and thus hindering him from making the proper judgement, then why did Allah Most high mention it here? It would be out of place. Wouldn't we expect a situation in his life to show his wisdom on show?
The actual Quranic account devoid of these extraneous sources is presented here by Ustadh Nabeel Alkhalidy
Moreover, in the same section of the Quran we have more inconsistency due to further misinterpretations.
Nabi Sulaiman (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) and Nabi Ayoub (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) are both described in this Surah as
"An excellent slave" Surat Saad, Ayah 30 and 44
One would expect to find the best examples to mankind. Unfortunately, in the well known interpretations of the these stories, we find a Prophet Sulaiman distracted from Allah by his horses, The horses are returned back to him and then he engages in mass slaughter of them for having distracted him. Ask yourself, can this be an action of the best of slaves? Can a Prophet become heedless of Allah and can he destroy animal life in this way?
Nabi Ayoub after battling a long sickness had no food for him and his wife. In one instance he became angry because his wife sold her hair to bring food on the table. As the story goes, Ayoub (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) became so angry that he made an oath that if Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) healed him from his sickness that he would lash his wife with 100 lashes, a punishment that the Quran prescribes for a fornicator. It took revelation from Allah (SWT) to stop this punishment for his wife that she was obviously not worthy of.
Nabeel Alkhalidy here offers the Quranic interpretation of this story:
So in these extraneous accounts, we have oppression to animal life and oppression to ones wife mentioned from the best of creations. We also have heedlessness and extreme anger attributed to them.
One will realize after a deep study and reflection that these false accusations made against the Prophets of Allah have absolutely no basis and one needs to free themselves from such stories to reach the true accounts and only then one can understand the lessons and follow them.
And Allah knows best.
By Nabeel Alkhalidy
One of the countless proofs of the divine nature of the Quran is related to the base letters of Arabic words, their associated meanings and their precise usage in the Quran. No other writing or speech in the Arabic language can compare!
An example of this are 3 words used in the Quran that could be considered synonyms for the word rain in English.
الودْق المطر الغيث
The Quran give us perfect and timeless guidance that if implemented will solve our health problems as a whole. The sad part about this is very few Muslims today follow this guidance.
The Guidance is related to 3 aspects about our diet:
1. What to eat,
2. How to eat
3. Where to go to eat.
What to eat?
Allah SWT says in Surat Al Baqarah
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ كُلُوا مِمَّا فِي الْأَرْضِ حَلَالًا طَيِّبًا
O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth: lawful ( Halal) and good ( Tayyib)
The food that we are told to eat has 2 qualities:
In other words it is Halal food that is grown how Allah wants it to be grown and consumed the way Allah wants us to consume it.
For example if we look at most supermarket products, much of it is halal per se but the extra additives, flavours, colours etc will turn the food from something that is Tayyib to that which is khabeeth - foul/disease causing.
How to eat ?
Allah SWT says in Surat Al A'raaf
كُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا وَلَا تُسْرِفُوا ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ
eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess.
We are told to eat and drink but not commit israaf (excessiveness). In other words not to over eat and over drink. It’s a very simple instruction but how many of us are actually doing this??? Our protruding bellies are a clear sign we are not following this command. Over-eating will no doubt make one sick in the long run therefore limiting what one eats will go a long way in eliminating food related diseases such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, obesity etc.
Where to go to eat ?
Allah SWT says in Surat Al A'raaf
فَلْيَنظُرْ أَيُّهَا أَزْكَىٰ طَعَامًا فَلْيَأْتِكُم بِرِزْقٍ مِّنْهُ
Let him look to which is the purist of food and bring you provision from it
This was what the Youth of the Cave advised their comrade after waking up from their sleep. The verb used li yanthur is a command to investigate. If we want to search and investigate for the purist of foods we need to get educated and spend our time and efforts to find out where to get it from.
Fruits and vegetable that have been stored for 6 months in incubators and ripened prior to being sold is not the purist of foods. Food that is filled with growth hormones or pesticides is not the purist of foods. Paying a bit extra can go a long way into making our food purer and beneficial rather than disease causing.
Q. Is paying more to get an organic option considered Israaf ( excessiveness)?
A. Excessiveness does not exist when trying to purchase pure and wholesome food, which is actually a command. We need to take the means to good health and rely on Allah. If we are feeding our bodies poison we would contradict the commands of the Quran to eat food that is Tayyib. Our bodies are an amaana ( trust) and we need to treat it as such.
Wa Allahu A’lam
The Quran mentions the greatest human genocide in human civilisation that has and will occur until the day of judgement.
Allah, Mighty and Wise says:
وَإِذَا الْمَوْءُودَةُ سُئِلَتْ بِأَيِّ ذَنبٍ قُتِلَتْ
And when الْمَوْءُودَة (the mow'ooda) is asked , for what wrongdoing was she killed? [Surat Al-Takweer 81:8-9]
The word الْمَوْءُودَةُ has been traditionally translated by the commentators of Quranic exegesis as the new born female who is buried alive. So the ayaat are speaking about female victims of infanticide being asked about this heinous crime on the day of Judgement.
The context of the ayaat
What you notice about the beginning of Surat Al-Takweer is that it speaks of universal phenomena that transcends beyond Arabia. It speaks of the sun losing its light, the stars being dispersed, the mountains moving, close relations being nullified, wild animals being gathered, the sea filled with flames, etc . All these descriptions are in total opposition to their nature which we see in this world.
A new way to look at the word الْمَوْءُودَة
The word الْمَوْءُودَةُ is from the verb وأد which means to bury or cover over. The word الْمَوْءُودَةُ is feminine and a passive participle and is commonly translated as the female newborn that is buried and covered over.
Another way to look at الْمَوْءُودَةُ is to consider it an adjective (sifah) of an omitted mowsoof - the word being described.
As an example of this we have in the Quran the word الصَّالِحَات which is usually translated as good/ righteous actions, however the word for actions has been omitted and only the sifah remains. Without the omission the construction would be الأعْمَال الصَّالِحَات - righteous actions
We see that the ayah prior to mentioning الْمَوْءُودَةُ speaks of the souls النُّفُوس
وَإِذَا النُّفُوسُ زُوِّجَتْ
And when the souls are paired up [Surat Al-Takweer 81:7]
This ayah speaks of:
1. reuniting the soul with the body at the time of resurrection, or
2. The souls being paired up with their good/bad deeds.
Both interpretations have been given by the classical scholars of the Quran
So in this interpretation الْمَوْءُودَةُ is describing النُّفُوسُ. So we are talking about النُّفُوسُ الْمَوْءُودَةُ i.e the souls on the day of judgement who are the most helpless, most vulnerable and without any sin. It is these souls ( both males and females) who have been murdered in cold blood leaving no trace or evidence that a crime has been committed.
Note: The greater plural is used in the ayah in contrast to the other plural الأَنْفُس - the lesser plural. The greater plural would indicate a larger number of souls than the lesser plural. For more information on plurals in Arabic view our course:
PLQ: Plurals in the Quran
The greatest genocide in human history
One can only speculate how many such souls have been murdered in cold blood, killed by parents or caretakers, killed to cover unwanted pregnancies, killed because of being a financial burden, disabled, killed in anger, drugs, neglected by parents, war, famine and the list goes on and on and on. And every day the numbers keep increasing!!!
Justice for the most vulnerable
The first act of justice the Quran mentions on the day of judgment will be the empowerment of the weakest and most helpless victims of genocide in this life. The murderers will not be questioned, but rather the helpless victim will be asked: what sin had they committed to deserve this? These pure innocent souls, who had no say in this life, will reply and this would begin proceedings in the court of Allah, The Most Wise and Majestic.
Wa Allahu A'lam
By Nabeel Alkhalidy