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The meaning of “explicit” and “implicit” in the Qur’an
In chapterXI:1 God says of the Qur’an ,”This is a book whose meanings are secure,” From this we draw meaning to read “whose meanings are perfected, expanded, from and strong ,” In chapterXXXIX:23,it reads, God has revealed the fairest of statements (consistent with and in relation to each other) and arranged in pairs (according to meaning) which cause the flesh of those who their Lord to creep.
In chapterIII:7 He says, “He it is who revealed to you the Book in which are clear revelations,, (that is, verses whose meaning is immediately clear and which Muslims use for guidance).
They are the substance of the Book and others which are allegorical. But those in whose heart is doubt indeed follow the allegorical seeking dissension by seeking to explain it. None knowest its explanation except God and those who are of sound instruction say: We believe in it, it is all from our Lord.
The first of the verses describes those sections of the Qur’an whose meaning is explicit, clear and unambiguous, and safe from misinterpretation. The second verse refers to all those verses whose meaning are implicit, and which are considered allegorical. It then proceeds to indicate that both types of verses ( the explicit, or clear and implicit, or allegorical), share certain common qualities: beauty and sweetness of language, and a miraculous power of expression which are present in the entire Qur’an.
The third verses under consideration dividers the Qur’an. into two parts: the explicit and implicit, the clear and the allegorical, or in the Qur’anic terms, the muhkam and the mutashabih.
The muhkam and those verses which are explicit, clear and immediate in their message and, therefore, incapable of being misinterpreted, the mutashabih verses are not of this nature. It is duty of every firm believer to believe in and act according to the verses which are muhkam.
It is also his duty to believe in the verses which are mutashabih, but he must abstain from acting upon them, this injunction is based on the premise that only those heart is corrupt and whose belief is false follow the implicit mutashabih, verses fabricating interpretations and, thereby, deceiving common people.
The meaning of “explicit” and “implicit” according to the commentators and scholars
There is much difference of opinion amongst the Islamic scholars concerning the meaning of explicit and implicit verses, with almost twenty different views on the matter. We can, however, conclude from the views of commentators, ranging from the time of the Prophet to the present day, that the explicit verses and clear unambiguous, and that one is obliged to believe in and act according to them.
The implicit verses, on the other hand are those which outwardly seem to express a meaning, but which contain a further truer meaning whose interpretation is known only to God, man has an access to it, However, he is enjoined to believe in them but to avoid acting upon them.
This view is held amongst the Sunni scholars. It is also maintained by the Shi’ite scholars except they believe that the Prophet and the Imams of his family also understood the hidden meanings. They also maintain that the ordinary man must seek knowledge of the implicit verses from God, the Prophet and the Imams.
Criticizing the commentators and scholars’ view
This view, although held by most commentators, is in several aspects not in accord with the text of the verses beginning, He is who has revealed to you the Book in which are explicit verses(whose meanings are immediately clear)…
The Method of Guidance and Explanation used in the Rest of the Qur’an
This we may attribute, firstly, to the fact that there is no verses whose meanings is totally obscure since the Qur’an describes itself as a light, as a guidance and an explanation. Thus it is not befitting that there be verses which fail to reveal their meaning, or illuminate the Qur’an as a whole.
We should examine again the verse, Will they not ponder on the Qur’an. If it had been from other than God they would have found much inconsistency in it. [IV:82].
Thuse reflection on the Qur’an would remove all kind of seeming inconsistencies making it unacceptable to say, as do most of the scholars, that the implicit verses cannot be totally understood and that apparent inconsistencies cannot be resolved.
Other scholars say that what is meant by the implicit verses are the letters found at the beginning of certain chapters. (These are known as the muqatta ‘ah-letters, like Alif, Lam Mim, Alif, Lam Ra, Ha, Mim, whose real meaning is unknown).
We must, however, remember that the implicit verses are so-called when read in relation to the explicit verses. This denotes that, accompanying the hidden meaning of the implicit, there is surface ( or literal) meaning whereby the real and the apparent meaning come together in intricate relationship with one another.
It should be understood that the letters at the opining of certain chapters do not have any literal meaning, It seems that a group of misguided men use the implicit verses to mislead people, but never is Islam has one heard of any one tying to use the use the muqatta’ah- letters to do so.
Some commentators say that the meaning of the word mutashabih, (in the verse), refers to the famous story of the Jews who wanted to find an indication of the duration of Islam within the order of the letters, but the Prophet used to read the letters one after the other and so confuse their calculations.
This view is also without substance since, even if the story is true, it is not of sufficient impact not conviction to be considered as an interpretation of the implicit verses. Whatever the Jews talked, it contained no malice because, even if the religion, din of Islam was for a limited period of time( and, thus, subject to abrogation), their remarks would in no way be a criticism of the purity and reality of Islam considering that all religions revealed by God prior to Islam were for a specific period an d open to abrogation.
Secondly, this view implies that the word ta’wil (which may be translated as “ interpretation”) in the verses refers to a meaning other than the apparent literal meaning and that it is used only as a reference to the implicit verses. This is incorrect, because exegesis in Qur’an terminology does not refer to one meaning but to several, encompassing such terms as realization, fulfillment, interpretation and explanation.
We shall also discuss how all Qur’anic verses have a specific interpretation, ta’wil and not just their explicit and implicit definitions. On examination, the words of the explicit verse (ayat muhkamah), are seen to describe the phrase, “They are the source of the Book,” meaning that the explicit verses include the most important subjects of the Book, and the theme of the rest of the verse is secondary and dependent upon them.
This implies that the real point intended to be conveyed by the implicit verses refers back to the explicit verses. Thus, the meaning of the implicit are illuminated by referring back to the source ( or explicit ) verses.
Thus we are left with no verses which have no obvious indication as to their true meaning, they are either immediate ly clear by of their in the class of explicit verses or, in the case of the implicit, made clear by the other explicitverses. As for the muqatta’ah at the beginning of the chapters, they do not have any apparent meaning since they are not words in the normal sense and possess no meaning comprehensible to man, thus, they are outside of the classification of explicit and implicit.
Again, we would refer the reader to an examination of the following verses in order to emphasize the truth of our view: “And so why do they not reflect upon the Qur’an are there locks upon their hearts,” And, like wise, the verse, “and why do they not reflect upon the Qur’an, if it were from other God than God they would have found much inconsistency in it.
The commentary of the Imams of the Prophet’s family concerning the “explicit “ and implicit”
It is made clear from the different commentaries of the Imams that there is always to discover the real meaning and aim of implicit verses, Each verse, even if the meaning is not apparent, can be explained by reference to other verses. Thus the real meaning of the implicit verse can be found in relation to the explicit verses.
For instance, the verse, “The Beneficent, One who is established on the throne,” [ XX:5] and again the verses, “And your Lord came,” [LXXXIX:22] appear to as ascribe bodily characteristics to God, but when compared with the verse, “ Nothing is as His likeness,” [ XLII:11] it becomes clear that the “ sitting” on the throne or the “coming” of God has a meaning other than a physical one. The Prophet, describing the Qur’an, says: In truth the Qur’an was not revealed so that one part may contradict the other was revealed so that one part may verify the other. So that what you understand of it then act accordingly and that which is unclear for you then simply believe in it.
The Commander of the Faithful, Ali said that one part of the Qur’an bears witness to another and one part clarifies the one acts in accordance with, and the implicit is that which is unclear only for the man who is ignorant of its real meaning.
From these narrations, we may conclude that the question of explicit and implicit is relative, it is possible that a verse may seem explicit to one person and implicit to another. It is said of the eight Imam that the considered, “the person who refers to the implicit mutashabih, verses, in the Qur’an to the corresponding clarifying explicit verses,” as having “found guidance to the right path”.
He is also reported to have said that, In truth in our traditions are recorded implicit verses like the explicit of the Qur’an, so refer the implicit to its corresponding explicit verses, or traditions, and do not follow the implicit and go astray.
Thus it is clear from the traditions and, in particular, the last traditions that the implicit verses is one which does not contain a clear meaning without reference to the explicit verse, and not that there exists no means to understand it.
The quarn in islam- pages: 32to37
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