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On the Hermeneutics of the Light Verse of the Quran

On the Hermeneutics of the Light Verse of the Quran
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 On The Hermeneutics Of The Light Verse Of The Quran
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  • Acknowledgements 7
  • Translator’s Introduction 9
  • Author’s Introduction 33
  • [The First] Chapter 35
  • God is the Light of the heavens and the earth;
  • the similitude of His Light is that of a lamp in a niche 35
  • Detailed Reminder 38
  • Excursion 46
  • Section 47
  • Wisdom [Derived from] the Throne 50
  • Illuminative Flash 52
  • Assistance through Unveiling 54
  • Fiery Unveiling 55
  • [The Second] Chapter 59
  • The similitude of His Light is that of a lamp in a niche,
  • the lamp is in a glass; the glass is like a glittering star 59
  • Excursion 62
  • Admonition 63
  • Another Way [of Admonition] 65
  • [The Third] Chapter 69
  • Kindled from a blessed tree, an olive that is neither
  • of the Orient nor of the Occident 69
  • The Earthly Shadow in which is the Illumination from the Throne 73
  • Sacred Section 79
  • Section 80

The Fourfold Method of Exegesis of the Quran

From the commentaries available to him Sadra observes four different methods of approach to the commentary on the Qur’an.

  1. Methodology adopted by philologists, jurists, traditionists and the followers of Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241/855). $adra’s critique of this methodology is that the commentators adhere to the lexical and literal meaning of the words and verses in the Qur’ an, even if such a meaning defies rational principles. According to him, such an approach to the Qur’an shows the intellectual weakness and limitation of those who adhere to it. This could be due to ‘the dominance of the external laws [of Sharf’ah] over them and the deficiency in their understanding to perceive the intention of the Qur’an and the mysteries of the verses. So, what overtakes them while listening to the inner meaning (ta ‘wfl) [ of the Qur’ an] is like what overtakes the eyes of bats when the [rays] of light fall on them.”

He states further: ‘The greatest calamity, of which man is unaware [but] keeps him from perceiving the deeper truths of the Qur’an, is caused by man’s arrogant adherence to the literal meaning of the Scripture only.”

‘If such a person claims that there is no other meaning of the Qur’an except what is given in the literal exegesis [of the Qur’an], then he gives information about the limit of his self, [ and he] is right in that. But he has erred in relegating all the people to the level of his understanding that is his habitation, his station, his limit and his foothold.

And how can the state of a traveller, rather, of a flier be compared with the state of one who is stationary? Nay, the chronicles and reports indicate that the field of meanings of the Q}ir’an is vast for the travelling of the people of understanding, and its space is vast for the flight of the companions of yearning and ecstasy.’3

b.            Methodology adopted by rationalist philosophers. According to Sadra the rationalist philosophers interpret the Qur’anic verses and words in ways that are agreeable to their reason and that correspond to their principles of inquiry and reflective premises, which are allegorical and far-fetched in meaning. In doing so, they invalidate the apparent or literal meaning of the Qur’an.4

c.             Methodology that is a mixture of the above two methodologies, adopted by most of the M u’tazilites among them al-ZamakhsharI,(d.538/1144) and Mutakallimun (Kalam theologians). They interpret the verses of the Qur’an that pertain to the Creation in a rational way and adhere to the apparent or literal meaning of the verses that deal with the Resurrection and Return.

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