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Offline Reader Questions

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How to Interpret Verse 3:7 and Those of Sound Knowledge
« on: October 31, 2014, 06:57:03 PM »
Salaamun Àlaikum Sir,

Isn't there a controversy over the sentence break in 3:7? Some make the break between "those of sound instruction" and "say", thus making the former sentence into "None knows its explanation save God and those of sound instruction".

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: How to Interpret Verse 3:7 and Those of Sound Knowledge
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2014, 06:59:36 PM »
Wa alaikum assalam Sri Nahar Ha-Limmud

Some of those who may want to push the notion of possessing 'esoteric knowledge' especially in the traditionalist circles, may also lay claim to such interpretations.

However, the truth remains that there is a break present in the verse (waqf al-lazim) which is also qualified by the majority reading of the Quran. I would humbly recommend that you listen to the recitation where you will note this for yourself. As you know, it has always been God's responsibility to assure the integrity of the message and how it is transmitted (15:9). Arguably both written codices and recitation en masse (as attested by the Quran) have served to stabilise the Quran’s integrity, right from the time of the prophetic ministry. However in contrast, what informs one of disputes, alternative readings and variants are secondary sources. The Quran (primarily a recitation, supported later by codices) that has propagated en masse must remain of paramount importance.

More importantly however, the gist of the Quran's clear instructions not to pursue narratives which are not 'muhkam' is well-attested in the Scripture and corroborated by other verses rendering much of this sort of assertion, futile.

Furthermore, even if the break was omitted (against the majority reading) and read "None knows its explanation save God and those who are of sound knowledge", the context of the verse would arguably become problematic. This would then imply that on one hand, God was making it clear that only those whose heart had ‘perversity’ (zaygun) pursued such unclear verses seeking to explain it, and on the other hand, no one knew its real meaning except for those with ‘sound knowledge’ along with God. Arguably, those who acquired sound knowledge, would have had to pursued such unclear narratives seeking to explain it, which would render them perverse by the same verse.

This problem of interpretation would easily be removed if it were those with sound knowledge that laid claim to the notion that they believed in the whole of Quran without exception, despite certain passages being left unclear due to for example, some eschatological notions which can only be expressed as similitudes as they remain unseen by humans. For example, one has only to envisage explaining a ‘smartphone’ to our great great grandparents and its capabilities in their language, and one can fathom the issues they would face.

Therefore, such a claim that you have kindly suggested, is arguably opposed not only by the majority reading which confirms this break (waqf al-lazim) in light of God's promise to protect the integrity of the message (15:9), but also by specific context itself (which would render the passages unnecessarily problematic).

I hope this helps, God willing,

With respect as always.

Your brother in faith,
'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell