Discussion Two – Their Beliefs Regarding the Interpretation of the Qur’an

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Discussion Two

Their Beliefs Regarding the Interpretation of the Qur’an

This discussion involves two issues:

a. Their belief that the Qur’an has inner meanings which contradict the apparent one or the wording.

b. Their belief that most of the Qur’an was revealed regarding them and their enemies.


a) The Qur’an Has Inner Meanings which Contradict the Apparent Meaning


This belief was taken to far and dangerous heights by the Shi`ah, the result of which is that on account of it, the Book of Allah — according to them — is something totally different to that which the Muslims have in their possession. Their scholars went a long way in implementing this invented principle, and the Shi`ah have concocted hundreds of narrations in which the Qur’an is interpreted against its meaning. Sadly, they have once again attributed their lies to the twelve Imams. These inner meanings are not based upon any principle or reliable law.

The reader will find that their interpretations of the verses of the Qur’an are useless attempts aimed at changing this din, destroying its distinguishing characteristics and razing to the ground its foundations. This is how it unfolds; the commentaries of the Imams are the essence of din. Subsequently, they interpreted the verses regarding kufr and shirk (disbelief and polytheism) to be related to the Wilayah of `Ali and his Imamah and the verses regarding halal and haram to be narrative regarding them and their enemies. In this manner, the one reading these commentaries finds a religion that is completely inconsistent with Islam. This religion is actually based upon two principles, viz. believing in the Imamah of the Twelve Imams and cursing and reviling their ‘enemies’.

Usul al-Kafi of al-Kulayni states:


عن محمد بن منصور قال سالت عبدا صالحا عن قول الله عز و جل قُلْ اِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّیَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ قال فقال ان القران له ظهر و بطن فجميع ما حرم الله فى القران هو الظاهر والباطن من ذلك ائمة الجور و جميع ما احل الله تعالى فى الكتاب هو الظاهر و الباطن من ذلك ائمة الحق


Muhammad ibn Mansur reports, “I asked the pious slave regarding the statement of Allah, the Most Honoured and Magnificent, ‘say, my Lord has only forbidden immoralities — what is apparent of them and what is concealed…[1]’ and he replied, ‘the Qur’an has an outward meaning and an inner meaning. All that which Allah had made impermissible in the Qur’an is the outward meaning, and the inner meaning of that is the oppressive rulers, and all that which is declared permissible in the Qur’an, is the outward meaning, the inner meaning of which is the just rulers.[2]


This narration, which appears in one of their four most authentic books affirms the principle that the Qur’an has inner meanings which have absolutely no link or relation to the outward meanings. This narration goes on to demonstrate to us their application of this principle. Thus, the wholesome and pure items which were declared permissible are a reference to specific men, i.e. the twelve Imams, and the despised and evil acts or items, which have been declared impermissible are a reference to their enemies, i.e. the rest of the Muslim rulers.

A question that we beg to ask is, ‘how is it that this interpretation is not backed by the laws that govern usage of words, the intellect or religion?’ The only possible answer to this is that it is an attempt at changing the religion of Islam, starting at its very roots and eventually calling towards freedom and lawlessness. This narration, however, does have some benefit. It contains the secret behind their claim that the Qur’an has an outward as well as a hidden meaning.

A dilemma that gave them sleepless nights and shook the foundations of their beliefs is that there is no mention anywhere, in any way of their twelve Imams or their enemies. They have unambiguously admitted that the Qur’an has no mention of their Imams. Thus, they assert:


لو قرئ القران كما انزل لالفينا مسمين

If the Qur’an was recited the way it was revealed, we would have found specific peoples’ names.[3]


Since the foundation of their religion (Imamah) and the Imams have not been mentioned anywhere in the Book of Allah, they invented this belief to pacify their followers and spread their religion among the gullible and ignorant ones. Then, in order to give their idea some ‘credibility’, they – as usual — forged chains of narrations by means of which they attribute this concoction to a member or two of the Ahl al-Bayt.

Their books are replete with this belief (that the inner meaning of the Qur’an opposes the outer meaning), to the extent that it has become one of their fundamental beliefs. This is because their religion cannot even hope to survive in the absence of this belief, or that which is equivalent to it. Hence, we find that the author of al-Bihar has a chapter titled, “the Qur’an has an outer and inner (meaning),”[4] under which he quoted 84 narrations — a fraction of what is quoted in his book on the subject. His introduction to this chapter, after which he quotes the narrations is:


قد مضى كثير من تلك الاخبار فى ابواب كتاب الامامة و نورد هنا مختصرا من بعضها

A great amount of these narrations have been quoted under the chapters of Kitab al-Imamah (the book on Imamah). Here, we will list a synopsis of some of them.[5]


Tafsir al-Burhan has a chapter similar to that of al-Bihar, namely, “the Qur’an has an outer and inner meaning.”[6] The introduction of Tafsir al-Burhan contains many statements which confirm this belief. It has five chapters wherein the narrations of their Imams regarding this have been mentioned. These are only a selection from the greater amount which exists in their reliable books.[7] Similarly, many of their other books on tafsir confirm this belief in their introductions. In fact it is as if this is one of the pivotal principles (of tafsir) according to them. Among the books wherein this principle is mentioned are Tafsir al-Qummi[8], al-`Ayyashi[9], al-Safi,[10] etc.


Hereunder, we reproduce two of their narrations:


ان للقران ظهرا و بطنا و ببطنه بطن الى سبعة ابطن

The Qur’an has an outer and an inner. Its inner has another inner which extends up to seven inners.[11]


Jabir al-Ju`fi reports:


سالت ابا جعفر عن شيئ من تفسير القران فاجابنى ثم سالت ثانية فاجابنى بجواب اخر فقلت جعلت فداك كنت اجبت فى هذه المسئلة بجواب غير هذا قبل الىوم فقال لى يا جابر ان للقران بطنا و للبطن بطنا و ظهرا و للظهر ظهرا يا جابر و ليس شيئ ابعد من عقول الرجال من تفسير القران ان الاية لتكون اولها فى شيئ و اخرها فى شيئ وهو كلام متصل يتصرف على وجوه


I asked Abu Ja`far (al-Baqir) regarding the interpretation of a portion of the Qur’an, to which he replied. Thereafter, I asked him a second time. His reply differed from the first one, so I objected saying, “may I be sacrificed for you. Your answer today is different from your previous one.” Thereupon, he said to me, “O Jabir, indeed the Qur’an has an outer and an inner. The inner has an outer and an inner and the outer has an outer. O Jabir, there is nothing further from the intellect of man than the commentary of the Qur’an. The beginning of a verse is regarding one thing and the end is regarding something else, but it is speech which is connected and it can be dealt with in many different ways.”[12]


The texts of the Shi`ah affirm that every verse has an outer and an inner meaning. In fact, they go further than that also, saying that every verse has seven inner meanings. Thereafter, their counting skills were corrupted, which allowed them to claim that it actually has seventy inner meanings. They have many narrations which confirm this. One of their scholars says:


لكل اية من كلام الله ظهر و بطن…بل لكل واحدة منها كما يظهر من الخبار المستفيضة سبعة بطون و سبعون بطنا

Every verse from the speech of Allah has an inner and an outer… in fact, as is apparent from many narrations, it has seven inners and seventy stomachs.[13]


We have no idea regarding the reality of these inners. That which they wish to establish does not exceed two ideas, viz. the Imamah of their twelve Imams and disparagement regarding their opposition as well as declaring them disbelievers. When this is the case, then what was the need to invent so many ‘inners’? One who studies their narrations (which promote this hidden secret creed and have taken up volumes of books) will find that they do not go beyond these two subjects. They claim:


و قد دلت احاديث متكاثرة كادت ان تكون متواترة على ان بطونها و تاويلها بل كثير من تنزيلها و تفسيرها فى فضل شان السادة الاطهار…بل الحق المتبين ان اكثر ايات الفضل و الانعام و المدح و الاكرام بل كلها فيهم و فى اوليائهم نزلت و ان جل فقرات التوبيخ و التشنيع والتهديد و التفظيع بل جملتها فى مخالفيهم و اعدائهم…ان الله عز و جل جعل جملة بطن القران فى دعوة الامامة والولاية كما جعل جل ظهره فى دعوة التوحيد و النبوة والرسالة


So many ahadith have been reported, that it is almost mutawatir that the inner of it and its interpretations, in fact the exact revelation was concerning the great position of the pure leaders… the clear truth is that most verses, or rather — all of the verses regarding virtues, rewards, praise and honour were revealed regarding them and their supporters. On the other hand, most, if not all the passages containing any reprimand, denunciation, warning or humiliation are with regards to their enemies and those who opposed them. Allah, the most honoured and magnificent made most of the inner (meaning) of the Qur’an a call towards Imamah and Wilayah, just as He made most of its outer a call towards towhid, nubuwwah and risalah.[14]


More details regarding this will appear under the topic, “most of the Qur’an was revealed regarding them and their enemies”.


An Analysis of This View


There is no doubt that the glorious Qur’an is a shoreless sea. The treasures of the Qur’an, no doubt will never be depleted, and it will not cease to amaze and render one and all hopeless as far as matching it is concerned. Needless to say, there are many secrets and indications kept therein. However, all of these are governed by the meanings of the words, and they do not go against the framework of the apparent meanings.

This is where the claim of these deviants parts ways with the Qur’an. Their interpretations, as will appear, have absolutely no link with the Qur’an. It cannot be linked to the meanings of the words, their connotations or even their contexts. As a matter of fact, their interpretations are totally against the text of the Qur’an. The main objective behind it is to establish a source that supports their opposition of the Muslims, and ultimately it is used to deter people from the Book of Allah and His din. In a nutshell, this ‘inner’ meaning is the solvent they wish to use to dissolve the din of Islam.[15]

Most humans, despite their languages consider the apparent meanings of statements to be the actual and intended meanings of the speaker. It is only the Shi`ah who take riddles and puzzles to be the actual form of speech. If this form of speech had to be adopted, it would be impossible to get messages across, in a manner that they could be correctly understood. It would also be impossible to have conviction regarding any belief, as riddles and puzzles and secret meanings cannot be governed by laws and structures.

Giving due thought to this doctrine will reveal to a person the danger of this ‘inner’ interpretations and approach to the Qur’an. It takes away the meanings of words, and does not allow anyone to benefit from the speech of Allah and His Rasul, as that which is apparent is not the intended meaning and there is no proper way in which the inner meanings can be governed. Each person will present a different meaning, as people’s minds work differently. In this way, the Shi`ah wish to destroy the entire shari`ah, i.e. by doing away with the apparent meanings and re-interpreting them in any way that they wish to.

If these interpretations were really the meanings of the Qur’an, it would not have been a speech that is unmatched in its eloquence. It would have simply been a riddle. However, the Arabs admitted that it was unmatched in its eloquence and they understood it by means of its outward and apparent meanings. Ibn Taymiyyah states[16]:


Whoever claims secret (inner) knowledge, or knowledge regarding a secret, whereas that contradicts the apparent meanings of texts, then he has erred. He is either an irreligious person or an ignorant deviate. As for the secret or inner meaning which opposes the known and apparent meanings, they can be seen in the claims of the Batiniyyah Qaramitah, who belong to the Isma`iliyyah, the Nusayriyyah and their likes. These Batiniyyah interpret the following verse to be a reference to `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu:


وَكُلَّ شَیْءٍ اَحْصَیْنٰهُ فِیْٓ اِمَامٍ مُّبِیْنٍ

… and all things We have enumerated in a clear register.[17]


They interpret this verse to be a reference to Talhah and Zubayr radiya Llahu `anhuma:


فَقَاتِلُوْٓا اَئِمَّةَ الْكُفْرِ

… then fight the leaders of disbelief.[18]


This verse is, according to them, a reference to the Banu Umayyah:


وَالشَّجَرَةَ الْمَلْعُوْنَةَ فِی الْقُرْاٰنِ

the accursed tree [mentioned] in the Qur’an.[19]


These interpretations which are quoted by Ibn Taymiyyah and attributed to the Batiniyyah can be found verbatim among the Ithna `Ashariyyah. The interpretation of the first verse, “…and all things We have enumerated in a clear register,”[20] can be found in five or more narrations of theirs.[21] They have recorded these in their most reliable works[22], whereas there is no indication in the verse towards this interpretation.[23] Similarly, the interpretation regarding the second verse (… then fight the leaders of disbelief) is also found in many of their reliable books[24], with more than eight narrations to support it.[25] The interpretation of the third verse (the accursed tree [mentioned] in the Qur’an) mentioned by Ibn Taymiyyah, according to the Ithna `Ashariyyah, is supported by a minimum of twelve narrations.[26] He then quoted a bunch of these interpretations from their reliable sources.[27]

We found many more interpretations of this type, some of which were more severe than this. However, at this point, our object is to highlight the fact, which was mentioned by the scholars of Islam, that the interpretations of the Batiniyyah have now been inherited by the Ithna `Ashariyyah. They have even become part of their methodology. The scholars of Islam have always objected to this type of interpretations, as “whoever interprets the Qur’an against its known interpretation, which has been passed down from the Sahabah and Tabi`in has lied against Allah and disbelieved in the verse of Allah. He has distorted words from their proper places. This is the door to disbelief in the name of Islam. The falsehood thereof is well-known and obvious in Islam.”[28]

The false ‘inner’ interpretations which were found by the scholars of Islam are only a fraction of that which the present day publishing houses of Tehran and Najaf are bringing to the fore. However, there is almost nothing different or new in these interpretations which were carried out by deceivers and liars (who have not yet put a stop to their evil). They have interpreted many verses of the Qur’an in this manner of inner and secret meanings, claiming that the glorious Qur’an was revealed regarding them and their enemies. This will become abundantly clear under the discussion of the next issue.


NEXT⇒ b) Their Belief that Most of the Qur’an was Revealed Regarding them and Their Enemies

[1]  Surah al-A`raf: 33

[2]Usul al-Kafi 1/374, al-Nu`mani: al-Ghaybah pg. 83, Tafsir al-`Ayyashi 2/16

[3]  Refer to Tafsir al-`Ayyashi 1/13, al-Mujalla: al-Bihar 19/30, Hashim l-Bahrani: al-Burhan pg. 22

[4]Al-Bihar 92/78-106

[5]  ibid

[6]Al-Burhan 1/19

[7]Mir’at al-Anwar pg. 4-19

[8]Tafsir al-Qummi 1/14,16

[9]Tafsir al-`Ayyashi 1/11

[10]Tafsir al-Safi 1/29

[11]Tafsir al-Safi 1/31

[12]Tafsir al-`Ayyashi 1/11, al-Barqi: al-Mahasin pg. 300, al-Burhan fi Tafsir al-Qur’an 1/20-21, Tafsir al-Safi 1/29, Bihar al-Anwar 92/95, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah 18/142

[13]  Abu al-Hasan al-Sharif: Mir’at al-Anwar pg. 3

[14]  Ibid

[15]  Refer to Ibn Hajar: Fath al-Bari: 1/216

[16]Majmu` Fatawa Ibn Taymiyyah: 13/236-237

[17]  Surah Ya Sin: 12

[18]  Surah al-Towbah: 12

[19]  Surah al-Isra: 60

[20]  Surah Ya Sin: 12

[21]  Refer to Hashim al-Bahrani: al-Lawami` al-Nuraniyyah fi Asma `Ali wa Ahl Baytihi al-Qur’aniyyah pg. 321-323

[22]  Amongst them are Tafsir al-Qummi 2/212, Ibn Babawayh al-Qummi: Ma`ani al-Akhbar pg. 95, Hashim al-Bahrani: Tafsir al-Burhan 4/6-7, al-Kashani: Tafsir al-Safi 4/247, Tafsir al-Shibr pg. 416

[23]  The pious predecessors have explained the meaning of this verse saying, ‘clear register’ here refers to Umm al-Kitab. The entire universes’ happenings are recorded in a protected book called al-lowh al-Mahfuz. Refer to Tafsir Ibn Kathir 3/591

[24]Al-Burhan 2/106-107, Tafsir al-Safi 2/324, Tafsir al-`Ayyashi 2/77-78, Tafsir al-Qummi 1/283

[25]  Refer to the above quoted references.

[26]  Refer to al-Burhan 2/424-425

[27]Tafsir al-Qummi 2/21, Tafsir al-`Ayyashi 2/297, Tafsir al-Safi 3/199-202, al-Burhan 2/424-425, Tafsir Shibr pg. 284, Muqtabas al-Athar (Da’irat al-Ma`arif al-Shi`iyyah) 20/21

[28]Al-Fatawa 13/143