The ruling on scientific Tafseer

Dr. Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Musleh

With regard to this genre of Tafseer, there has been a history of controversy among Muslim scholars that continues to date. The more reasonable view – and Allah knows best – is that scientific Tafseer is permissible, as it is a form of Tafseer bi Al-Ra’y (Tafseer with opinion), which is permissible as long as the following prerequisites are fulfilled in addition to the ones mentioned above:

1 - Knowledge of the rules of Tafseer.

2 - Knowledge of linguistic devices and rules of grammar and theory (Usool).

3 - Understanding based on divine inspiration, such as experienced by the righteous when they reflect on the Qur’an’s verses.

4 - A Mufassir (Qur’an commentator) should not assert that a given Qur’anic text has an explicit meaning and that proponents of other possible meanings are mistaken, as many researchers tend to do. Instead, one may decide on a view, as long as the conditions are met, and use it as support as long as that does not desecrate the sanctity of the Qur’anic text. Interpreting the Qur’an with theories that are subject to change could raise doubt about the Qur’an should the theory prove untrue.

It is necessary to ask Allah for help and guidance and to underscore that what he reached was the result of his own understanding; if it were true and acceptable then this is from Allah, and if otherwise, then the Qur’an is free of contradictions and errors.

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