Using Isra’iliyaat (Judeo-Christian Material) to Explain the Quran

Definition of Isra’iliyaat

Any reports that Muslim scholars take from the Jews and Christians.

Purpose of doing tafseer of the Quran through such reports

To benefit from their reports in clarifying some of the reported words in the Quranic stories or whatever is related to it. It is correct to consider the isra’iliyaat as a source from among the sources of tafseer, because the pious predecessors from the companions, the followers, and their followers from among the early generations used them based on certain principles.

Four ways a mufassir can benefit from isra’iliyaat

  1. Guidance over a possible meaning for a verse
  2. Defining something vague in a verse
  3. Knowing the reason behind a particular story
  4. Learning details of stories mentioned briefly in the Quran

Other points related to this topic

  • The reports from the isra’iliyaat are not used by the mufassir to take either legal and theological rulings from it. They are only used to clarify something in a verse or to add further details to what is mentioned in a verse.
  • There is dispute over some of their reports due to what is claimed in them contradicting correct belief with regards to the infallibility of the prophets. Their reports suggest that they were not infallible.
  • After examining the use and statements of the salaf (pious predecessors from the early generations), it appears that they treated the isra’iliyaat in the following ways:
    • Their intention was to clarify a general meaning of a word used in a verse, therefore, the report used by them from the isra’iliyaat did not contradict the overall meaning of the word.
    • The details presented in the isra’iliyaat are neither believed in nor disbelieved

Standards for using isra’iliyaat to explain the Quran

  1. It should be in agreement with the Quran
  2. The isra’ili report should not oppose a report from Allah and His Messenger
  3. It should be in agreement with the Arabic language
  4. It has approval from the companions and their students. Meaning they cited the isra’ili report without denying it
  5. It should be something possible and not impossible

There is hardly a book of tafseer found which does not contain some sort of isra’iliyaat. Difference of opinion over the details of a story does not invalidate the basis of a story. For example, there is a difference of opinion over what type of tree was it that was prohibited to Adam and Hawwa in paradise. This difference does not invalidate the basis of the story that there was some type of tree that was prohibited to them.

Source: al-Tahreer fee Usool al-Tafseer by Sh. Musa’id al-Tayyar

7 thoughts on “Using Isra’iliyaat (Judeo-Christian Material) to Explain the Quran”

  1. Mohamed Mohamed

    Despite the strict requirements for using the “israeeliyyaats”, I find their use to support, verify or explain a Qur’anic issue to be dangerous and unnecessary. The Qur’an and the Hadith were sufficient for Prophet Mohammad, and they remain sufficient for us and for future generations. They represent the required Guidance and the “manual” or applied model to follow, and in their light we can work out new solutions to new problems. What will “israeeliyyaat” add other than distortions or unnecessary information?

    How could a source that is discredited by the Qur’an be consulted for explanation? For example, with respect to the stories of the Qur’an, they are told for a purpose, and their messages are well understood; Prophet Mohammad did not question them or consult any of the “israeeliyyaat”. Why should we look for additions to those stories? Is there something missing?! What is worse is to rely on discredited sources? The dangerous implication is that getting information from them may give them undeserved credibility.
    However, one could study the “israeeliyyaat” for purposes of critical analysis, comparative investigation and academic debates if necessary. Also, if someone has doubts about the Qur’an, it is up to him/her to study books of other faiths to compare and eventually decide which faith to settle with.

    1. I understand the concern but we do have explicit hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) telling us that there is no harm in using their reports.

      The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Convey from me even a single verse, and narrate from the Banu Israel there is no harm, and whosoever lies upon me shall prepare his abode in the Hellfire.” [Musnad Imam Ahmad, Hadith 6486]

      In this hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) explicitly allowed the believers to narrate the incidents reported by the Banu Israel, i.e. the Israiliyyat, even if what was being narrated was not verified as being the truth or not.

      The Prophet (peace be upon him) said in another hadith: “Whatever the Banu Israel narrate to you, do not believe it nor disbelieve it, and say We believe in Allah and His Messengers. If it happens to be false you have not believed in it, and if it happens to be true, you have not denied it.” [Sunan Abi Dawud Hadith 3644]

      In this way, many Sahabah and Tabi’in have narrated these incidents not in a way to confirm or deny them, just by way of narration.

      Hafiz Ibn Hajar quotes Imam Shafi’i who has been reported to say: It is known from the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he does not allow narrating lies, therefore the meaning of the hadith is restricted to those which you are unsure about, not the ones that are clearly lies. [Fath Al-Bari (Beirut: Dar Al-Marifah, 1379 Hijri), 6:499]

  2. Mohamed Mohamed

    Let me re-state my position on the “israeeliyyaat”.

    1- What is the problem for which consulting the “isra’eeliyyaat” is a solution?
    – Is it a problem of tafsseer, namely (explaining) something in the Qur’an?
    It cannot be. Simply put, the Qur’an does not need anything from the content that it discredits because of the distortions in it. According to the Qur’an, is there anything better and more truthful than the Qur’an itself? NO. Can anyone give us something in the Qur’an that needs something from the “israeeliyyaat” to make it comprehensible? Waiting for an answer.
    – Does the Muslim need anything for guidance other than the Qur’an and its “manual” (the purified Sunnah in the Hadith)? The Sunnah provides practical examples of how to lead a righteous life as Prophet Mohammad did in accordance with the Qur’an, and it provides details of certain general statements in the Qur’an, such as the case of zakaah and salaaah. Does the Muslim need to consult the “israeeliyyaat” for details, for example, about zakaah and prayers? Certainly NOT.
    – What about the Prophet’s Hadith in which he calls us to spread the message of Islam even if only one verse? That Hadith includes telling the stories of/ about the children of Israel (Prophet Ya’quub/Jacob); what about it? The answer has to be seen in the light of the Qur’an and other related Hadiths.
    As for the Qur’an, the position is very clear; Prophet Mohammad, is instructed to deliver Allah’s revelations (the Qur’an), and so are we. We are not instructed to convey “israeeliyyaat”, are we?
    As for the related Hadiths, there is one about the situation in which the Prophet got angry when he saw Omar reading a page from the “Torah”. If that was the Prophet’s angry response in the case of Omar, what about us, who are below Omar in knowledge and dedication to Islam?
    Also, the Hadith advising Muslims not to believe or disbelieve what they may be told from the books of the People of the Book. Is it not a clear statement that we need nothing from their books, let alone something to explain the Qur’an?
    There remains the part of the Hadith that says that we may report the stories of/about the children of Israel. As we know, the children of Israel start with Prophet Yousuf and his brothers and their descendants till Prophet Jesus. What can we report about them that can be true other than what the Qur’an tells us? Isn’t it the stories of all Prophets, from Jacob to Jesus? Or is it a kind of fiction, like what we see now in the stories that teach good manners and lessons? Obviously, since stories are good for teaching morals, there is no harm in telling them for that purpose as FICTION, regardless of source.

    2- In conclusion, there is no problem of tafseer for which consulting the “israeeliyyaat” is a solution. There is no need to consult the “Israeeliyyaat” for other purposes either. The fact that some Muslim scholars drew information from the “israeeliyyaat” for tafseer purposes should not be an excuse for consulting them; there was no need, and it was a bad idea.

    3- For understanding the Qur’an properly, we need competency in Arabic, and we need to take all relevant contexts into consideration.
    The contexts include:
    meaning of words and sentences;
    organization of text content;
    other related aayahs/verses;
    the whole Qur’an;
    related Hadiths, for they provide the real events / context of revelation;
    tafseer books;
    any discipline of knowledge that explains some phenomenon or event in the Qur’an – for example, the theory of gravity can help understand better the events of the Last Day, when the stars stop functioning, resulting in the planets scattering, and the earth convulsing, etc., and any science that shows us the greatness of Allah’s creation, as in the anatomy and physiology of the human body, for Allah tells us to see his signs in us.
    4- Competent Muslim Scholars can study the “israeeliyyaat” for specific academic purposes if necessary, i.e. for critical analysis, for comparative inquiry and for debates.
    Wa Allaahu a’lam (It is Allah that knows the whole truth).

    1. Again, I understand your concern but I still find your response unconvincing due to the following reasons:

      It seems you’re conflating more information on a subject with somehow it being a necessity for the Quran, which is not the case. Simply adding more details to a subject matter does not decrease the value of the source discussing the subject. Even in the Quran, we have numerous verses where Allah tells the Prophet (pbuh) to tell the Jews to go read their own books where signs of the Prophet Muhamamd (pbuh) are clearly indicated. The Quran never says that everything they have is discredited, otherwise, the sahabah and early Muslim scholars would not use isra’iliyaat at all. And the Prophet (pbuh) himself would certainly not allow it as well in such explicit terms. And I know of many Muslims who want more information on many stories mentioned in the Quran especially those related to Dhul Qarnayn, the seven sleepers, Khidhr, etc.

      Your point about zakah, salah, etc. and leading a righteous life is irrelevant here. Scholars already declared that we don’t derive laws from the isra’iliyaat. So this is a moot point.

      The hadiths about the PERMISSIBILITY of relating isra’iliyaat is quite explicit and there is no way of getting around it. The hadith about Umar can very easily be reconciled with it. As we know through Usool al-Fiqh, when two hadiths contradict each other, then the first step is it try and reconcile them. Therefore, the hadith of Umar either refers to:

      1) Using their books for guidance and with the intention to follow it. This is what was being censured and not just relating isra’iliyaat in general with the rules mentioned in the article. This is quite clear because the prophet (pbuh) explicitly tells Umar that if Musa was alive, he would follow him as alive. This gives the impression that Umar was trying to read with the intent to follow it.

      2) It was only in the early period when people were still new to Islam and the Prophet (pbuh) did not want them to get confused but he allowed it later.

      Thus, we can reconcile the contradiction and resolve the issue so I see no issue here. As for the Quran, I already said that no where does the Quran reject their stuff in totality. Rather, it argues for believing whatever was sent down to them and us. It also challenges the Jews and Christians to refer to their books for the truthfulness of the Prophet (pbuh).

      It wasn’t just “some” scholars that did it but it was the general practice. Most of the criticism against the use of isra’iliyaat seems to be modern. There were scholars in the past that did not allow it as well but generally it was practiced. This is clear from tafseer literature.

      Also, I have problem with trying to forbid something that the Prophet (pbuh) himself allowed. I’m just not comfortable with saying things like “it was wrong”, etc. because my nabi (pbuh) allowed it. The rules the scholars mentioned in conveying the isra’iliyaat are sufficient. Most of the criticism against it seems exaggerated and really with no basis.

      I’m also shocked you would use science as a way to explain the metaphysical. I think trying to use science to explain the metaphysical turns it into pseudoscience because science is NOT designed for it. It can only helps us explain things we can see and measure and is quite useless when you use it to answer metaphysical questions. I would much rather rely on the isra’iliyaat when it comes to the unseen than science. Especially given the fact that science changes every few years so what is acceptable now becomes outdated after a while. In a thousand years, everything we know today could be falsified with new findings and information. Thus, if someone is going to make a case for science to be used for “more information” when it comes to the Quran, then a stronger case can be made for isra’iliyaat.

      Allah Knows Best.

  3. Mohamed Mohamed

    Dear brother Abid,
    Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh.

    I just wanted to re-state my position on the issue. That is why I did not put my re-statement in “Reply”. What I would like to do at the moment is to give my view on the issue of the Qur’an and science, which you have raised.

    As you have seen, I am not interested in consulting the “israeeliyyaat” at all, and I see no need for them at all for purposes of understanding the Qur’an or my deen. Allah tells the people of the Book to look into their books for a particular thing, but He does not tell me to do that, and He tells me all about it, and so, I do not need to look elsewhere.

    Allah tells me to read the Qur’an, understand it, reflect on its verses and signs, and act according to it. However, He tells me to believe in what He had revealed to Moossaa, to Eessa and To Mohammad, but not to believe in the distorted books available; Allah’s revelations are one thing, but the distorted books are another thing.

    However, it is useful to exchange ideas with you. My aim is not to score points. I have my own views on how to understand texts properly, any texts, with special interest in the “tadabbur” of the Qur’an.

    As you very well know, Allah tells us that we need to do tadabbur of the aayaat. For example, He tells us to look for signs of His Greatness in the universe, its structure and functioning, in the creation of animals, and in ourselves and our language, etc. Where can we find reliable information about our bodies, about the creation of, for example, camels and bees, about life cycles and about the universe? Where? Isn’t the information in the sciences? Can’t we see how the eye works and how the kidney works in coordination with the other body parts? Isn’t it great to see how it works? Doesn’t it show us how Great the Creator is? What is wrong with that? I am just following Allah’s instruction to look for His signs? How can one be shocked?

    All the natural sciences are testimonies to the Greatness of the Creator, even with changing and new discoveries. Don’t we see in chemistry how well designed and structured things are and how they interact? Isn’t that a testimony to the Greatness of Allah? Doesn’t zoology tell us how animals are umam (nations) like us? Doesn’t it show us how they communicate and behave? Isn’t it wonderful to see Allah’s statement in action?

    Don’t physics and astronomy show us how the universe is structured and how it functions? Doesn’t Allah boast of having created “sab’an shidaadan” ? What is great about that? What can “shidaadan”? Strong? The word “shidaadan” is derived from “shadd”, i.e. pulling, and this makes it something worthy to boast of. Who else, but Allah can construct a universe whose parts exist and function by pulling each other (gravitational attraction) but Allah? No pillars involved! In suurat attakweer and other suurahs, Allah tells us the events of the Last Day; the stars will stop functioning, causing a chain of results: the pulling ends, causing planets to scatter, and the inside of the earth will erupt, etc. This scenario is consistent with the construction by pulling. Isn’t that a testimony to the Greatness of Allah?

    Thus, all the sings of Greatness that we get from sciences strengthen our faith, but their absence does not decrease it. Is there anything wrong with following Allah’s instruction to look for signs of His Greatness in His creation? Where else can we get relevant information about our bodies, the universe and natural phenomena? This does not tell us to take the Qur’an to the science lab, does it?

    Have a good day, brother Abid. We may continue the exchange of ideas another time.
    Jazaaka Allaahu khairan.

  4. Mohamed Mohamed

    To brother Abid and to whom it may concern;
    The following is a part of my article on Tips for Teaching and Learning the Qur’an. It concentrates on attadabbur (reflection on the aayaat /verses). It is a practical example of one way of applying reflection operations on aayahs 1-6, Suurat Almutaffifeen. I hope it will be useful, by the Grace of Allah.

    [D] Reading aayahs 1-6 for reflection on contents:
    One may read the Qur’an for “tadabbor” (reflection) purposes. This aim / objective tops all others. As mentioned in the Qur’an, Allah calls on people to reflect (do “tadabbor”) on its aayahs (verses):
    “(29) [This is] a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that they might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded.” (Suurat Saad)
    “كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ إِلَيْكَ مُبَارَكٌ لِّيَدَّبَّرُوا آيَاتِهِ وَلِيَتَذَكَّرَ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ”. (سورة ص: 29)
    Reflection / “tadabbor” is not a kind of meditation meant to rid the mind of ideas and problems. “Tadabbor” involves guided gathering and processing of data for a purpose. In other words, it is asking questions and exploring satisfactory answers to the questions.
    The tadabbor of a particular Qur’anic aayah should start with the Qur’an itself, in order to find more information relevant to the aayah. The reflector should, then, check the credible Hadiths for further relevant information. He / she should also explore the world of knowledge, namely publications in paper or electronic forms, for any relevant information.
    This is a simplified example. In Suurat Alankabuut, Allah says, “(20) Say, [O Muhammad], ‘Travel through the land and observe how He began creation. Then Allah will produce the final creation. Indeed Allah, over all things is competent.’” The aayah’s question is about resurrection; for a proper answer, Allah calls upon man to search for information on the process of creation. Such information exists in the natural environment and in the world of knowledge, particularly the field of experimental sciences. Learning about Allah’s creations shows their structures and functions, leading to understanding, appreciation and eventually giving the credit due to the creator.

    However, Muslims are instructed not to occupy their minds with reflecting on Allah’s identity. Instead, they are called upon to reflect on His creations. According to the Qudsi Hadith, “Allah says, “Do not think of My identity, lest you should perish. Just think of my creation.” Advising Muslims not to occupy themselves with Allah’s identity, the Prophet says, “Think of the favours of Allah, but do not think of His identity, lest you should perish.”
    In fact, the Qur’an is full of calls for thinking of Allah’s creations. For example, in Suurat Aljaathiyah, Allah says, “(3) Indeed, within the heavens and earth are signs for the believers. (4) And in the creation of yourselves and what He disperses of moving creatures are signs for people who are certain [in faith]. (5) And [in] the alternation of night and day and [in] what Allah sends down from the sky of provision and gives life thereby to the earth after its lifelessness and [in His] directing of the winds are signs for a people who reason.”
    “إن في السماوات والأرض لآيات للمؤمنين (3) وفي خلقكم وما يبث من دابة آيات لقوم يوقنون (4) واختلاف الليل والنهار وما أنزل الله من السماء من رزق فأحيا به الأرض بعد موتها وتصريف الرياح آيات لقوم يعقلون” (5)”. (سورة الجاثية)

    Let us consider reflection on Qur’anic texts as a kind of “zooming” into keywords in the aayahs and performing intellectual investigations. The following are some examples:
    1- By zooming into the word ”mutaffifeen”, we find that ”tatfeef” is a symbol of double standards, and it exists in various forms, material and non-material, in quantity and quality. We find it practiced in dealing not only with weighing and measuring, but also with such things as services, information, rewards, punishments, wealth distribution, acts of worship, and delivery of justice. There are lots of tatfeef acts and double standards in the world, especially in police states, where there is no justice or freedom. You may remember the Hadith “Earlier communities were destroyed because of double standards; when one of their elite committed theft, they turned a blind eye, but when one of the weak committed theft, they punished him….”
    The Qur’anic story of Prophet Shu’aib and his people is relevant:
    “وَإِلَى مَدْيَنَ أَخَاهُمْ شُعَيْبًا قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ مَا لَكُمْ مِنْ إِلَهٍ غَيْرُهُ وَلا تَنقُصُوا الْمِكْيَالَ وَالْمِيزَانَ إِنِّي أَرَاكُمْ بِخَيْرٍ وَإِنِّي أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ مُحِيطٍ (84)”.
    – “(84) And to Madyan [We sent] their brother Shu’ayb. He said, “O my people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him. And do not decrease from the measure and the scale. Indeed, I see you in prosperity, but indeed, I fear for you the punishment of an all-encompassing Day.” (Surat Huud)
    “وَيَا قَوْمِ أَوْفُوا الْمِكْيَالَ وَالْمِيزَانَ بِالْقِسْطِ وَلا تَبْخَسُوا النَّاسَ أَشْيَاءَهُمْ وَلا تَعْثَوْا فِي الأَرْضِ مُفْسِدِينَ (85)”.

    -(85) “And O my people, give full measure and weight in justice and do not deprive the people of their due and do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption.” (Surat Huud)
    “وَأَوْفُوا الْكَيْلَ إِذَا كِلْتُمْ وَزِنُوا بِالْقِسْطَاسِ الْمُسْتَقِيمِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلًا”.(الإسراء: 35)
    -“(35) And give full measure when you measure, and weigh with an even balance. That is the best [way] and best in result.” (Surat Al-Issraa’

    2- Further reflection on the threat to the mutaffifeen takes us into the realm of rights. Islam is basically concerned with the delivery of rights to their lawful owners. Prophet Mohamed says, “Give each their lawful rights.” Lawful owners of rights start with Allah and go down to the environment. Allah has direct rights of prescribed acts of worship, such as daily salaah, fasting, hajj, zakaah, etc. He has also indirect rights in our day-today life activities. Allah’s rights cover all other rights. The Muslim should deliver to himself his own rights, and deliver the same to family members, neighbours, employees, employer, customers, etc.
    The Qur’an and the Hadith teem with calls for justice, and warnings against injustice. The following are illustrative examples:
    – “(58) Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due and when you judge between people to judge with justice. Excellent is that which Allah instructs you. Indeed, Allah is ever Hearing and Seeing.(Suurat Annisaa’)”
    “إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَن تُؤَدُّوا الأَمَانَاتِ إِلَى أَهْلِهَا وَإِذَا حَكَمْتُم بَيْنَ النَّاسِ أَن تَحْكُمُوا بِالْعَدْلِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ نِعِمَّا يَعِظُكُم بِهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ سَمِيعاً بَصِيراً”. (النساء:58)

    – “(8) O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.” (Suurat Almaa’idah)
    – “يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ لِلَّهِ شُهَدَاءَ بِالْقِسْطِ ۖ وَلَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَىٰ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا ۚ اعْدِلُوا هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ.” (النحل: 90)
    – “(90) Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.” (Suurat Annahl)
    – ” إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَيَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ ۚ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ”. (النحل: 90)
    – “(42) And never think that Allah is unaware of what the wrongdoers do. He only delays them for a Day when eyes will stare [in horror].” (Suurat Ibrahim )
    – ” وَلَا تَحْسَبَنَّ اللَّهَ غَافِلًا عَمَّا يَعْمَلُ الظَّالِمُونَ إِنَّمَا يُؤَخِّرُهُمْ لِيَوْمٍ تَشْخَصُ فِيهِ الْأَبْصَارُ”. (إبراهيم: 42)
    In the Qudsi Hadith, Allah says, “O, my worshippers, I have forbidden Myself injustice, and I have made it forbidden amongst you. So, do not be unjust to one another.”
    “يا عبادي، إني حرَّمتُ الظلم على نفسي، وجعلته بينكم محرمًا، فلا تظالموا”.
    The Prophet says, “Beware of injustice, for it is darkness on the Resurrection Day.”
    “إياكم والظلم فإن الظلم ظلمات يوم القيامة”.
    The Prophet also says, ” Return what you have been trusted with to those that entrusted you with it, and do not betray even those that have betrayed you.”
    “أد الأمانة إلى من ائتمنك، ولا تخن من خانك”.
    3- Zooming into “yawmin ‘atheem” takes us to scenarios prior to, during and after the Resurrection Day. Part 30 of the Qur’an provides related descriptions.
    4- Islam is concerned with justice and rights. It is a practical religion. It combats cheating.
    5- Relate the threat to other statements in the Qur’an and the Hadith: Haraam earnings ; desensitizing the heart, rusting it; the dangers of disbelieving in the Last Day.
    6- Further tadabbor is demanded and encouraged by the Qur’an itself. The Qur’an is full of aayahs telling people to think and reflect. E.g.:
    – “أَفَلَا يَنظُرُونَ إِلَى الْإِبِلِ كَيْفَ خُلِقَتْ (17) وَإِلَى السَّمَاءِ كَيْفَ رُفِعَتْ (18)وَإِلَى الْجِبَالِ كَيْفَ نُصِبَتْ (19) وَإِلَى الْأَرْضِ كَيْفَ سُطِحَت”. (سورة الغاشية:17-20)
    “(17) Then do they not look at the camels – how they are created?
    (18) And at the sky – how it is raised?(19) And at the mountains – how they are erected?(20) And at the earth – how it is spread out?” (Surat Alghaashiyyah)
    -“إِنَّ فِي اخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَمَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَّقُونَ”. (يونس:6)
    “(6) Indeed, in the alternation of the night and the day and [in] what Allah has created in the heavens and the earth are signs for a people who fear Allah.” (Suurat Younus)
    – “وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَكُم مِّن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ إِذَا أَنتُم بَشَرٌ تَنتَشِرُونَ (20) وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ (21) وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافُ أَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَأَلْوَانِكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّلْعَالِمِينَ (22) وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ مَنَامُكُم بِاللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَابْتِغَاؤُكُم مِّن فَضْلِهِ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَسْمَعُونَ (23) وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ يُرِيكُمُ الْبَرْقَ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا وَيُنَزِّلُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَيُحْيِي بِهِ الْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ (24)”. ( الروم: 20-24)
    “(20) And of His signs is that He created you from dust; then, suddenly you were human beings dispersing [throughout the earth]. (21) And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought. (22) And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge. (23) And of His signs is your sleep by night and day and your seeking of His bounty. Indeed in that are signs for a people who listen. (24) And of His signs is [that] He shows you the lightning [causing] fear and aspiration, and He sends down rain from the sky by which He brings to life the earth after its lifelessness. Indeed in that are signs for a people who use reason.” (Suurat Arruum)

    ” – الذي خلق سبع سماوات طباقا ما ترى في خلق الرحمن من تفاوت فارجع البصر هل ترى من فطور (3)ثم ارجع البصر كرتين ينقلب إليك البصر خاسئا وهو حسير(4)”. (الملك: 3-4)
    “(3) [And] who created seven heavens in layers. You do not see in the creation of the Most Merciful any inconsistency. So return [your] vision [to the sky]; do you see any breaks? ( 4 ) Then return [your] vision twice again. [Your] vision will return to you humbled while it is fatigued.” (Suurat Almulk)

    – “وَفِي الْأَرْضِ آيَاتٌ لِّلْمُوقِنِينَ (20) وَفِي أَنفُسِكُمْ ۚ أَفَلَا تُبْصِرُونَ (21)”. (الذاريات: 20-21)
    “(20) And on the earth are signs for the certain [in faith](21) And in yourselves. Then will you not see?” (Suurat Aththaariyaat)
    – “وَأَنْزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الذِّكْرَ لِتُبَيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ مَا نُزِّلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ”.(النحل:44)
    “(44)… And We revealed to you the message that you may make clear to the people what was sent down to them and that they might give thought.” (Suurat Annahl)

    What after tadabbor?
    As mentioned earlier, “tadabbor” has a main aim. Setting this aim, Allah says, “[This is] a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that they might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded.” In addition to reflection on the Qur’anic text, “tadabbor” can be performed on the real world phenomena or occurrences, as the Qur’an tells us. For proper “tadabbor”, we need to understand / comprehend the target text and the real world.
    We have already given some examples of reflecting on Qur’anic verses. As Allah says, the Qur’an is the ‘hoda’ (guidance) to the good of this life and the Hereafter. “Wa man tabi’a hodaaya fla yadhillu wa la yshqaa.” To be Muslim, one has to believe in all of its contents; believing is based on knowing and testing.
    Tadabbor itself is for great purposes. It is the means to learning or affirming the truth of Allah’s revelation. It is the means to supporting Islamic claims against non-Islamic claims. It is the means to checking that “Inna ahssana alhadeethi kalaamu Allaah (the best talk is what Allah says”), and “the best guidance is what has been sent down by Allah to Prophet Mohammad” – saala Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.
    Thus, tadabbor / reflection is more than intellectual operations on the Qur’anic verses and related writings and contexts. It is meant to guide action / behavior. Believing and doing good (”aamanuu wa ‘amiluu assaalihaat”) are two sides of the faith coin. Tadabbor is a means to other functions and activities. Genuine tadabbor should activate the function of the Qur’an as guidance, and as a furqaan (criterion) that distinguishes halaal from haram, good from evil, the useful from the harmful, truth from falsehood, and what pleases Allah from what displeases Him. Hence, comes the value of good examples set by teachers / parents to learners in actual behaviour.
    Tadabbor may be triggered by real life situations. On dealing with the situations, one has to be guided by Islamic teachings. Allah loves us to act properly. So, in dealing with the situation, tadabbor of the actual situation is necessary, and so is observing Allah’s guidance, by considering for example the halaal and the haram and the useful and the harmful. This is what we know as teaching and learning by problem solving. In fact, problem solving is the most effective approach to teaching and learning. So, in day-to-day situations, there are great opportunities for activating the Qur’an as guidance to our life activities. In dealing with a simple situation, those in charge can mention what Allah likes /does not like, as in a verse or a Hadith. This mention will help form a reference for similar future behavior. The more the mentions, the greater the reference becomes. This will direct attention to the Qur’an and the purified Sunnah, as a frame of reference to Islamic behavior in daily life.

    [E] Reading aayahs 1-6 for lessons
    Reading the Qur’an for drawing lessons for daily life is a form of tadabbor. Let us see what lessons can be drawn from the 6 aayahs, supported by related aayahs and Hadiths:
    1- Whoever really believes in Allah and the Resurrection Day must not cheat. The Prophet says, “Man ghashshana laissa minna”(Whoever cheats us is not one of us).
    2- Whoever really believes in Allah and the Resurrection Day must observe justice in all affairs, even with those he hates; “…wa la yajrimannakum shana’aan ‘ala alla ta’diluu, i’diluu howa aqrabu littaqwa…”(… and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness…”.
    3- Practicing double standards is a source of destruction of societies; “Earlier communities were destroyed because they would not punish the thief among the elite, but would punish the weak thief….”
    3- Whoever really believes in Allah and the Resurrection Day should love for others what he loves for himself.
    4- Whoever really believes in Allah and the Resurrection Day must not belittle any sin however slight it might seem. As Big fires can start with sparks, so can slight sins eventually make one desensitized to greater crimes. The Muslim must not belittle any good deed either.
    5- Whoever really believes in Allah must be continuously aware of the Day of Judgement. It seems far, but in fact, it is near. Death could come any time. So, one had better prepare oneself, by checking one’s “debits and credits” regularly, and balancing his record of deeds. Let one balance one’s record by means of repentance and doing good deeds; Allah says, “Inna alhassannt yuthhibbna assayyi’at (Verily, good deeds erase bad deeds).” In the Hadith, “Make good use of five available opportunities lest they be wasted by five possible misfortunes: your youth before your old age, your health lest you should fall ill, your wealth lest you should become poor, your free time before being occupied, and your life before your death.”

    The aforementioned are examples of lessons that can be drawn from the 6 aayahs. They are meant to show how one can read in order to activate the function of the Qur’an as a “hoda” (guide) and “nuur” (light).

  5. Mohamed Mohamed

    To the administrators with respect:
    Did I see my two later comments published, then removed?
    If “Yes”, it would be disappointing, but understood.
    I thought the reply to brother Abid would shed light on some points he raised.
    The tadabbor part may be considered not directly relevant to the topic.

    Anyway, I am grateful to The Thinking Muslim for making me interested and involved in a new topic. I came across The Thinking Muslim by chance. I was searching something different when The Thinking Muslim popped up. It was my good luck. Also, I have shared Professor Abdel_Haleem’s audio translation of the meanings of the Qur’an, and I will be listening to it. He was my external examiner in my doctoral viva in 1986/1987.
    May Allah bless you and your interesting site.

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