True Islam– Shia, Shiyat (SHEEYAT)
There is no doubt that the Prophet (S) did not innovate any special method for conveying his message; he spoke to the people by applying the modes of expression to which they were habituated. He brought the Qur'an to them that they may understand it, contemplate over its verses, follow its commands and refrain from what it prohibits. This message often recurs in the verses of the Qur'an:
· What, do they not contemplate over the Qur'an? Or is it that there are locks upon their hearts? (47:24)
· Indeed we have struck for the people in this Qur'an every manner of similitude; haply they will remember. (39:27)
· Truly it is the revelation of the Lord of all Being, brought down by the Trustworthy Spirit upon thy heart in a clear Arabic language, that thou mayest be one of the warners. (26:192-195)
· This is an exposition for mankind, and a guidance and admonition for the God-fearing. (3:138)
· Thus have We made it easy on your tongue, that haply they may remember. (44:58)
· And We have made the Qur'an easy for remembrance. Is there any one that will remember? (54:17)
· And what, do they not contemplate over the Qur'an? And had it been from someone other than God, they would have found in it much inconsistency. (4:82)
Following arguments prove the authoritativeness of the literal meanings
· The Qur'an's revelation as a proof of prophethood and the Prophet's (S) challenge to all mankind to bring a single surah of its kind, both imply that the Arabs used to understand the literal meaning of the Qur'an. Had the Qur'an spoken in riddles, it wouldn't have been correct to challenge them regarding it, nor its miraculous character would have been proved to them, because they could not have understood it. It would have also contradicted the purpose for which the Qur'an was revealed and its invitation to mankind to believe in it.
· There are ample traditions commanding adherence to `the two Weighty Things' (al-Thaqalayn, which are the Qur'an and the Ahl al Bayt,) that the Prophet (S) left behind for the Muslims. Here, evidently, the meaning of adhering to the Qur'an is to grasp its message and to act in accordance with it, and there is no other meaning apart from this.
· There are mutawatir traditions (i.e. traditions narrated by so many different chains of transmission as to establish their authenticity beyond doubt) which order that traditions be checked against the Qur'an; those which contradict it should be rejected as invalid or false, as those whose acceptance is prohibited, because they are not the words of ( the Prophet [ S ] or) the Imams (A). These traditions categorically prove the canonical authority of the literal meanings of the Qur'an, i.e. the meanings as understood by the ordinary speakers of the language familiar with the literary (fasih) Arabic language. To this category also belong those traditions which order the correlation of contractual conditions with the Qur'an and rejection of those opposing it.
· The arguments of the Imams (A) regarding some rules of the Shari'ah, as well as other things, in which they have argued by applying the verses of the Qur'an. Following are some examples.
¨ There is the exposition of al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) when Zurarah questioned him, "How do you understand that mash, (the ritual wiping, of the head or the feet during wudu') of (only) a part of the head is required?" The Imam (A) replied, "From the ba'," in the verse
¨ Another example, is his prohibiting Hisham al-Dawaniqi from accepting a slanderer's report, because such a person is a fasiq (evildoer), and the Qur'an says:
· If an ungodly (fasiq) person comes to you with a tiding, verify it ... (49:6)
¨ Among the arguments is his (A) warning a person who had prolonged his stay in the toilet to listen to prohibited music, on the excuse that he had not intentionally come for listening to it, by observing, "Have you not heard the words of God Almighty,
· Surely the hearing and sight and the heart will all be questioned?" (17:36)
¨ Another instance is the Imam's telling his (A) son, Isma'il, "When believers give evidence before you, endorse its verity," quoting as a proof the verse:
· He (the Prophet (S) believes in God and believes the believers. (9:61)
¨ Concerning the validity of a slave being a muhallil for a woman divorced thrice, he (A) observes: "He is considered (fit to be) a husband, and God Almighty says in the Qur'an:
· ... Unless she marries another husband .... (2:230)
¨ Another such argument is where the Imam (A) observes that a triple divorcee will not become halal again (for the husband who divorces her) through a temporary marriage (mut`ah), because God Almighty says:
· Thus if he divorces her, there is no blame on the two if they reunite.(2:230)
And there is no divorce in mut`ah
¨ Similarly, concerning a person who had tripped and lost a nail and then bandaged the toe, he (A) said: "A person's duty in this and other similar instances is known from the Qur'an, which declares:
· God has not ordained any hardship for you in the religion. "(22:78)
Then he (A) said: "Perform the mash over it" (the bandage).
¨ The Imam (A) brings proof regarding the permissibility of marriage with a certain woman by quoting this verse from the Qur'an:
· And other than those mentioned (as prohibited) have been made halal for you. (4:24)
¨ Of such arguments is the one of the Imam (A) concerning the invalidity of a slave's marriage, because the Qur'an says:
· An owned slave having no authority over anything .... (16:75)
¨ The Imam (A) cites the following verse from the Qur'an as a proof of the permissibility of (eating the flesh of) certain species of animals:
· Say: I do not end in that which has been revealed to me anything forbidden for an eater to eat .... (6:45)
The understanding of the Qur'an :
They argue that the ability to understand the Qur'an is limited to those who have been addressed by it. The protagonists of this view rely as their proof on a number of traditions concerning this issue, such as the mursal tradition of Shu`ayb ibn Anas narrated from al-'Imam al Sadiq (A), reporting that the Imam (A) said to Abu Hanifah:
"Are you the faqih of the people of Iraq?" He replied: "Yes, I am." The Imam (A) said: "On what basis do you pronounce your fatwa for them?" He replied: "On the basis of the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet." The Imam said: "O Abu Hanifah, do you comprehend the Qur'an the way it should be comprehended, and do you recognize the nasikh and the mansukh?" He replied, "Yes." The Imam (A) said: "O Abu Hanifah, you certainly profess having knowledge! Woe to you! God has not kept this knowledge except with the people of the Book and they on whom it has been sent down (i.e. the Ahl al-Bayt). Woe to you! This knowledge is with none except the chosen of our Prophet's (S) progeny, and God has not bequeathed a word to you from His Book."
The following tradition is narrated by Zayd al-Shahham in this relation:
Qatadah visited Abu Ja'far (A) and the Imam (A) asked him: "Are you the faqih of the people of Basrah?" He replied: "This is what they think." The Imam (A) then said: "I have come to know that you expound (tufassiru) the Qur'an." He replied: "Yes, I do." (The tradition continues until where) the Imam (A) said:"O Qatadah, if you have expounded the Qur'an in accordance with your own views, then you have certainly perished and have also caused others to perish, and if you have expounded it in accordance with the views of others, then you have perished and have caused others to perish. Woe to you! No one knows the Qur'an except those who have been addressed by it."
The meaning of these and similar traditions is that the comprehension of the Qur'an mentioned in them implies comprehending it completely, knowing both its literal and hidden meanings, along with its nasikh and mansukh, and this is limited to those who have been addressed by it. The first tradition explicitly conveys this meaning. Thus the question asked in this tradition was about the full comprehension of the Qur'an and about differentiating between the nasikh and the mansukh. The Imam's (A) censure of Abu Hanifah was due to his claim of possessing that knowledge. As to the second tradition, it contains the word `tafsir' which means `unveiling' (kashf al-qina'), and therefore it does not include the acceptance of literal meanings, because they are not concealed so as to require unveiling. This is also borne out by the explicit traditions mentioned earlier that understanding of the Qur'an is not limited to the Infallible Imams (A). Moreover the Imam's statement in the mursal tradition (of Shu'ayb ibn Anas) in which he says God Almighty has not bequeathed to you a word from His Book, also proves the same, for it means that God has chosen the Awsiya' (A) of His prophet (S) for inheriting the Qur'an, and this is the meaning of the verse.
Then We bequeathed the Book on those of Our servants We chose ....(35:32)
Therefore, the knowledge of the Qur'an's reality is exclusively with the Imams (A) and others do not have a share in it. This is the meaning of the mursal tradition (of Shu'ayb ibn Anas); otherwise, would it he reasonable to think that Abu Hanifah did not comprehend anything of the Qur'an including Qul ho wallaho Ahad and other similar other verses which are explicit in their meaning? There is really a very large number of traditions which prove that such complete knowledge is particular to the Imams (A).
The prohibition of tafsir bi al-ray:
It is argued that the acceptance of the Qur'an's meanings is tantamount to tafsir bi al-ray (interpreting the Qur'an according to subjective opinion), and there are mutawattir traditions, narrated both by Sunnis and Shi'ah, which forbid such a practice.
As said, `tafsir' implies unveiling, and this does not include the taking of literal meanings of the verses, because such a meaning is not something hidden that has to be uncovered. Moreover, even of we should consider this as tafsir, it is not tafsir bi al-ray for it to come in the purview of the mutawatir traditions forbidding it. On the contrary, it is a tafsir in accordance with the common usage of words. Therefore, one who, for example, translates a sermon of Nahj al-balaghah in accordance with the ordinarily understood meanings of its words and by using the indications available in the sermon and outside it, his doing so will not be considered tafsir bi al-ray, and al-'Imam al-Sadiq (A) points this out when he says: "People have solely perished on account of the mutashabih, because they could not comprehend its meaning and reality, interpreting its meaning in accordance with their views and seeking thereby to relieve themselves of the need to ask the Awsiya', who could have informed them." It is probable that the meaning of tafsir bi al-ray is independence from referring to the Imams (A) in giving fatwa, although they are companions to the Qur'an in regard to the obligation of adherence to the two and as the ultimate authority.
Therefore, if a person acts in accordance with the general statements (al-`umum) of the Qur'an without accepting the views of the Imams (A) in determining and limiting (taqyid and takhsis) the jurisdiction of these statements, it will be considered as tafsir bi al-ra'y. On the whole, the adoption of literal meanings after a due search for internal and external indications (qara'in) present in the Qur'an and the traditions, or for a rational proof, can not only be not considered tafsir bi al ra'y, it cannot be considered `tafsir' as such. As mentioned earlier, the aforementioned traditions indicate that the Qur'an should be referred to and acted upon, and it is evident that such reference implies the acceptance of its literal meanings. Accordingly, when the relevant traditions are reconciled, tafsir bi al-ray ought to be understood as implying something other than acting in accordance with the literal meanings.