The Holy Qur’ān makes the intended meanings of its text absolutely clear. Every single verse gives a single definitive message. It is only the lack of research and study of a verse on the part of the exegetes that makes it seem subject to various interpretations. The commentators who have ascribed multiple interpretations to the earlier authorities have, in fact, tried to record everything that reached them from the preceding generations. They did not mean to say that the verse definitely allowed various interpretations. They have left upon us to choose from these various interpretations after careful analysis. It is, therefore, not allowable that we learn and commit to memory all that has been said in this regard, treating the sound and the weak equally, and let ourselves wander in the mazes of ignorance and doubt. Imām Razī has, in his commentary, recorded five significations of the word “fitnah” (persecution) occurring in the verse 191 of Sūrah Baqarah. Obviously all of them could not have been intended by the author. Therefore, in my tafṣir, I have written only what I found right after due research. The great scholars of the past have always adopted this method. Variety of interpretations, in fact, leaves a serious student of the book of God wondering what to take as true and what to discard as spurious. Sometimes people do not even put the arguments in favor of such interpretations and only heap up of the sayings what they can get to. I believe that no greater form of injustice to the interpreters of the past and their interpretations than this can be imagined. I have not straightforwardly borrowed the meanings and applications of the verses from the commentaries of the scholars of the past. Rather I have pondered over the verses in the light of the context taking help from their parallels in the Holy Qur’ān. Thus after being clear on the meanings of the verses I have looked for corroboration in the earlier exegetical works. Sometimes I found exactly similar interpretations ascribed to the earlier scholars and sometimes my understanding happened to be quite near to what they held. Many times I was forced to abandon my interpretation after research while at some other difficult instances I kept the matter under consideration for long. However, I ascribe these difficulties to lack of understanding and knowledge on my part and to my tendency to stick to the erroneous interpretations.
It sounds strange that one can get confused on the Holy Qur’ān, a book that claims to be a clear and manifest message. However, if we consider the multilayered darkness of heedlessness and defilement which has polluted our minds we may be able to see the reason of this confusion. Many a clear indubitable facts remain unnoticed if one approaches them being wrapped in intellectual darkness. That God exists, that He is one and unique, that mind rules over body, that there is going to be a Judgment Day, are indubitable facts to any rational person. Yet many doubt and deny even existence of God and the Last Day let alone less conspicuous realities. Soul too, like a body, can suffer from certain ailments. Once it is afflicted most obvious facts can get blurred. Facts are addressed and communicated to sound minds. An ailing mind cannot be expected to grasp them. That sun gives light and that sugar is sweat are empirical facts acknowledged by all sound minds. But a blind, squint and heavily fevered person cannot perceive them like a normal human being. The Almighty has, made it clear in the Holy Qur’ān that all men may not acknowledge the truth equally. While referring to the characteristics of the Holy Qur’ān the Almighty says:
[It is] guidance for the God-conscious. (2:2)
At another place it has been said:
وَإِذَا قَرَأْتَ الْقُرآنَ جَعَلْنَا بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَ الَّذِينَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالآخِرَةِ حِجَابًا مَّسْتُورًا
When you recite the Qur'ān (to them), We put a thick veil between you and those who do not believe in the Hereafter. ()
This theme has been referred to in some other places too. Socrates, in one of his remark, says that the human soul knows everything but it is only that, at times, forgetfulness overtakes it. Mawlānā Rūm has said, “do not interpret the Qur’ān according to your desire, rather accord your self with what the Holy Qur’ān says.” Khawājah Ḥāfiẓ says, “the greatest veil is your nafs (self); remove it.” It is every important to consider what these great sages meant by these sayings.
I believe that the Qur’ān has communicated its purport in most demonstrative and most appropriate style. Wherever, it departs from customary usage it does so in order to point towards a specific meaning. I will discuss this issue in a separate introduction to this book wherein I will try to elaborate the principles which, if properly applied, remove the possibility of multiple interpretation of a Qur’ānic verse. I am also convinced of the fact that the mutashābih(allegorical verses) and the ḥurūf al muqaṭṭa‘āt (the abbreviated letters) are no less clear. I will deal with them in a separate introduction.
. The referred to verse says: fitnah (persecution) is even worse than killing. (2:191) Imām Rāzī has mentioned five possible meanings of the word fitnah in the verse: disbelief in God, any kind of test and trial, the everlasting punishment destined for the disbelievers on account of their disbelief, subjection of the Muslims by the disbelievers, by denying them the right to visit the house of God and irtidād(apostasy). (Rāzī, Tafsīr al-Kabīr, vol. 5, 142-3.)
. The author has treated the principles of interpretation in one of his unpublished work. (Iṣlāḥī) (This work has been published since long under the title: at-Takmīl fī Uṣūl al-Ta’wīl, (A‘zamgarh, India: Al-Dā’irah al-Ḥamīdiyyah, 1338/1968)