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Exegesis of Some Short Chapters of the Qur‟an

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Exegesis of Some Short Chapters of the Qur‟an
By
Imam al-Qāsim bin Ibrāhīm ar-Rassi

Translator‟s Introduction

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful...
All praise is due to Allah, the Exalted and Majestic; the One who has no partners or associates; the One who provides the light of guidance to His slaves so that they may attain spiritual perfection and illumination by means of it. May Allah send His choicest blessings upon His slave and seal of the Messengers, Muhammad bin „Abdullah. May Allah bless his pure Progeny, righteous Companions, and those that follow them in excellence until the Day of Judgment. As to what follows...
Central to the life of the Muslim is the Holy Qur‟ān. Even though the Qur‟ān is an Arabic text and the majority of the Muslim body consists of more non-Arabs than Arabs, there is a hallowed significance to the Qur‟ān. One can find museums dedicated to the Qur‟ān in places as far as Indonesia—the majority of whom do not even know Arabic! The language barrier does not prevent the non-Arab Muslim from appreciating and understanding the Book of Allah. This is because it is not just recited and read, it is also lived and exemplified.
This text with its unparalleled beauty and soundness requires that the reader be acquainted with the various sciences necessary to understand the full scope of the Book. Obviously, the first science necessary to grasp the Qur‟ān is thorough knowledge of the Arabic language. Allah says of it: {We have made it an Arabic Qur‟ān so that you will understand} (Q. 43:3). It is therefore incumbent for one to have mastered the Arabic language to comprehend the Qur‟ān. This would entail the assiduous studies of grammar, morphology, derivatives, metaphor, and even Arab poetry.

Knowledge of the Arabic language is not the only prerequisite; indeed, even amongst the Prophet‟s Companions, there were those who knew the language but did not understand the meaning of a verse. For example, the books of Qur‟ānic exegesis cite an instance where prominent Companions such as Abu Bakr and „Umar admitted ignorance of the meaning of abba in the verse: {...its fruit, and pastures (abba)} (Q. 80:31).

Another science one must master is knowledge of the historical circumstances surrounding the revelation. Otherwise, one could easily take verses out of context. For example, Allah says: {That which thou suffered on the Day when the two armies met, was by the permission of Allah, so that the believers might be tested} (Q. 3:166). The Qur‟ān itself does not mention the nature of the suffering mentioned in the verse, nor does it mention who the {two armies} were or what was the {Day} that they met. Those relying solely on the Qur‟ān would be at a loss explaining the import of this verse. Such information could only be supplied by the books of hadīth and history.
There are other sciences necessary for the study of the Qur‟ān; however, one must not become frustrated at the seemingly daunting tasks of prerequisite study. Indeed, the basic and pristine message of the Qur‟ān could fully be comprehended by the layperson. Allah asks of the average person: {"Do they not reflect upon the Qur‟ān?!"} (Q. 4:82). Such rhetorical question would be superfluous if the basic message of the Qur‟ān was only relegated to an elite, scholarly class!
All of that withstanding, it is necessary that there be a group of individuals who undertakes the deep study of the Qur‟ān in order to expound upon its mysteries to the layperson. Allah refers to this elite, scholarly class of people as: {those firmly grounded in knowledge} (Q. 3:7). One such person was Imam al-Qāsim bin Ibrāhīm ar-Rassi, upon him be peace.
Imam al-Qāsim bin Ibrāhīm bin Isma„īl bin Ibrāhīm bin al-Hasan al-Muthanna bin al-Hasan bin Fātima bint Muhammad, the Chosen Prophet—peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny—was born around the 8th century C.E. As is evident from his lineage, Imam ar-Rassi, upon him be peace, was a Hasani sayyid. He was based in Medina and raised under the tutelage of the imams and scholars of the Prophet‟s Descendants. His studies would naturally include the study of the Qur‟ānic sciences.
Since Allah‟s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny, is universally narrated to have declared: ((Verily, I leave you Two Weighty Things by which if you hold on to them, you will never go astray after me: the Book of Allah and my Descendants, the People of my House. Verily, the Subtle and Aware will not separate them until they meet me at the Basin)), we should be especially
keen regarding the Qur‟ānic exegesis of the imams of the Prophet‟s Progeny, upon them be peace. This exegesis is no exception.
The Content of the Book
Imam al-Qāsim ar-Rassi, upon him be peace, explains and interprets 27 short chapters of the Holy Qur‟ān. Drawing upon his knowledge of language, logic, tradition, and the like, Imam al-Qāsim expounds on the meanings of the verses in a way that the average person could easily understand. In some cases, he refutes the popularly held views and interpretations and replaces them with what he deemed as more authoritative and proper.
As characteristic of many of Imam al-Qāsim‟s other writings, this present work was written in rhyming Arabic prose. We have endeavoured to stay faithful to the author‟s creativity by rendering our translation into rhyming English poetry.
We sincerely pray that the reader is able to gain a greater appreciation of the short chapters of the Qur‟ān. We also hope that since these short chapters are normally memorised and recited during the prayer, one is able to obtain a greater sense of awareness and consciousness while praying—not only reflecting on the outer form of the verses but also reflecting on their meanings as explained by an imam of the Prophetic Progeny.
Imam ar-Rassi Society
20 Safar, 1433

 

 


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