Guidelines for determining the I‘jaazrelationship between the text and facts

Dr. Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Musleh

Guidelines are the principles that determine the course of study of the scientific miracles according to principles of Islamic law along with adherence to necessary technical and scientific considerations.

These guidelines are important because they serve as criteria forI‘jaaz researchers, especially at a time when many people have decided to take on research and writing in this field due to its importance in inviting to Islam. This interest is due to the fact that this era is characterized by knowledge and discovery, with science as one of its main features.

The interest with lack of clear guidelines has caused many pitfalls, even among sincere people. These guidelines can help remedy the situation and hopefully prevent researchers from falling into such errors. They may even provide initiative for writing on such a vital subject.

Adhering to these guidelines could also help stop in tellectual disputes between supporters of scientific commentary of the Qur’an and those who oppose it, as the essence of this controversy is caused by the improvisational manifestations that are made outside of the correct methodology.

Those guidelines are as follows:

• In the case of Hadeeth, the text must be authentic and established, as opposed to the Qur’an, as the Qur’an has been narrated through Tawaatur (successive consistent narration).

• The scientific facts must be conclusively established and documented beyond the stage of hypothesis or theory.

• There must be a reference to the scientific fact in the text of the Qur’an or Hadith in a clear, unquestionable manner.

With the above intact, it is possible to deduce a miracle. While doing so, the following guidelines should be followed: 1) Qur’anic texts or Hadeeth related to the subject should be collated and compared so as to be cited authentically, without contradictory texts, only supportive ones.

2) If existent, the Qur’anic Qiraa’aat (variant readings) associated with the topic at hand should be collated, and so should the different wordings of the Hadeeth versions. 3) It should be known whether there were occasions that led to the revelation of the verse(s) (Asbaab An-Nuzool) and abrogations (Naskh) related to the topic.

4) There should be an attempt to understand the texts under study according to the mindset of the Arabs at the time of revelation, as semantics tend to shift over time. It is therefore necessary to be familiar with issues related to interpreting texts and to have the competence to weigh evidence, such as in the following:

• Explicit text (Nass) is given preference to apparent text (Thaahir), and apparent text is given preference to ambiguous (Mu’awwal) text.

• Knowledge of letters, and not interpreting any letter or attributing a meaning not indicated by the Arabic languageto it.

• Taking the declension (I‘raab) of some nouns into account, and not making claims that are not supported by authentic I‘raab forms or circumstantial evidence.

• Ambiguous language can be interpreted according to one of the possible meanings without denying one of the other meanings or asserting one meaning to be the only correct one when there is no weighty evidence.

5) Demonstrating the miraculous aspect: With the above conditions met, the researcher only needs to link the Islamic fact with the scientific one in a clear and concise manner.

6) There is allegorical language (Mutashaabih) that cannot be understood or conceived by study.

7) Do not search in matters of the Unseen, such as the date and time of the Day of Resurrection, the beginning of creation or Paradise and Hell.

8) Do not rely on Israa’eeliyyaat (Judeo-Christian traditions) or weak narrations.

9) Rely on authoritative sources only, such as the traditional Tafseer and Hadeeth literature as well as literature in Ghareeb (extraordinary vocabulary) of the Qur’an and Hadeeth, giving reference to preceding works if available.

10) Abstain from discrediting or attributing ignorance to the Salaf (early Muslims) from among the scholars of Tafseer and Hadeeth. The Qur’an and Sunnah are directed at people from every age, and each individual understands them as much as Allah blesses them to. Everyone also understands according to efforts put forth and means available. Until the Day of Resurrection, no single generation will be able to fully comprehend the Revelation, so one should not discredit the predecessors but should benefit from them, complement their efforts and pray for them.

{And [there is a share for] those who came after them, saying, “Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts [any] resentment toward those who have believed. Our Lord, indeed You are Kind and Merciful.”}

[Qur’an 59: 10]

In fact, it is obligatory to follow the Salaf, may Allah be pleased with them, especially the Sahaabah (Companions), may Allah be pleased with them, because, as witnesses, they were more knowledgeable of the circumstances particular to them, and they had full understanding andrighteous knowledge, particularly the learned ones among them, such as the four Imaams and the four Rightly Guided Caliphs as well as Ibn ‘Abbaas and Ibn Mas‘ood, may Allah be pleased with them.

11) They (the Companions) are the leaders and the just, according to Allah’s testimony. The Taabi‘oon (successors) learned from them and their conduct. It is thus incorrect to endorse innovated interpretations contradictory to theirs, as they were more knowledgeable in Tafseer and more Allah-fearing than anyone else.

12) Studies should be limited according to capabilities. Individuals, for instance, can limit research to discoveries of matters subject to experimentation to try and find the truth in those matters. Universities, organizations and countries could take on bigger and more diversified projects.

 13) Researchers in this field must know that the words of Allah and the words of the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, are truth and cannot under any circumstances be at conflict with scientific facts; because Allah, who revealed the Qur’an, is the Creator, and He knows the mysteries of all that exists. Allah Says: 

{Does He Who created not know, while He is the Subtle, the Acquainted?} 

[Qur’an 67: 14]

In practice, this could require some restraint from interpreting a text outside of its scope of meaning in order to make it conform to what we believe to be a fact. If it is difficult to do so in a clear way, we must remain neutral, without asserting or denying, and research another topic. It’s just a matter of time before the truth is revealed afterward.

14) Researchers should seek the truth and have sincere intentions to present the truth to others for the sake of guiding them. They should also realize the gravity of the issues they are dealing with. When one says, for instance, that Allah is referring to a particular meaning in a verse, that person is actually affirming an interpretation (Tafseer) to the words of the Lord. Researchers should always, then, keep in mind that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “He who speaks of the Qur’an without knowledge, let him take his place in Hell.”

15) As far as qualities, researchers should be patient and have the academic competence to discern what is true and false and accept it. They should be committed to objectivity, which means not to base a stance on bias to one’s prior views and to adhere to the scientific method in documentation, citation and references.

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