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Surah 3. Al-i'Imran, Ayah 7



هُوَ الَّذِي أَنْزَلَ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ مِنْهُ آيَاتٌ مُحْكَمَاتٌ هُنَّ أُمُّ الْكِتَابِ وَأُخَرُ مُتَشَابِهَاتٌ ۖ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ زَيْغٌ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ مَا تَشَابَهَ مِنْهُ ابْتِغَاءَ الْفِتْنَةِ وَابْتِغَاءَ تَأْوِيلِهِ ۗ وَمَا يَعْلَمُ تَأْوِيلَهُ إِلَّا اللَّهُ ۗ وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ يَقُولُونَ آمَنَّا بِهِ كُلٌّ مِنْ عِنْدِ رَبِّنَا ۗ وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلَّا أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ


Asad : He it is who has bestowed upon thee from on high this divine writ, containing messages that are clear in and by themselves - and these are the essence of the divine writ- as well as others that are allegorical.5 Now those whose hearts are given to swerving from the truth go after that part of the divine writ6 which has been expressed in allegory, seeking out [what is bound to create] confusion,7 and seeking [to arrive at] its final meaning [in an arbitrary manner]; but none save God knows its final meaning.8 Hence, those who are deeply rooted in knowledge say: "We believe in it; the whole [of the divine writ] is from our Sustainer - albeit none takes this to heart save those who are endowed with insight.
Malik : He is the One Who has revealed to you the Book. Some of its verses are decisive - they are the foundation of the Book - while others are allegorical. Those whose hearts are infected with disbelief follow the allegorical part to mislead others and to give it their own interpretation, seeking for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah. Those who are well grounded in knowledge say: "We believe in it; it is all from our Rabb." None will take heed except the people of understanding.
Pickthall : He it is Who hath revealed unto thee (Muhammad) the Scripture wherein are clear revelations--They are the substance of the Book--and others (which are) allegorical. But those in whose hearts is doubt pursue, forsooth, that which is allegorical seeking (to cause) dissension by seeking to explain it. None knoweth its explanation save Allah. And those who are of sound instruction say: We believe therein; the whole is from our Lord; but only men of understanding really heed.
Yusuf Ali : He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: in it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical seeking discord and searching for its hidden meanings but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah and those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: "We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord"; and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding. 347 348
Transliteration : Huwa allathee anzala AAalayka alkitaba minhu ayatun muhkamatun hunna ommu alkitabi waokharu mutashabihatun faamma allatheena fee quloobihim zayghun fayattabiAAoona ma tashabaha minhu ibtighaa alfitnati waibtighaa taweelihi wama yaAAlamu taweelahu illa Allahu waalrrasikhoona fee alAAilmi yaqooloona amanna bihi kullun min AAindi rabbina wama yaththakkaru illa oloo alalbabi
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Asad   
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Asad 5 The above passage may be regarded as a key to the understanding of the Qur'an. Tabari identifies the ayat muhkamat ("messages that are clear in and by themselves") with what the philologists and jurists describe as nass - namely, ordinances or statements which are self-evident (zahir) by virtue of their wording (cf. Lisan al-'Arab, art. nass). Consequently, Tabari regards as ayat muhkamat only those statements or ordinances of the Qur'an which do not admit of more than one interpretation (which does not, of course, preclude differences of opinion regarding the implications of a particular ayah muhkamah). In my opinion, however, it would be too dogmatic to regard any passage of the Qur'an which does not conform to the above definition as mutashabih ("allegorical"): for there are many statements in the Qur'an which are liable to more than one interpretation but are, nevertheless, not allegorical - just as there are many expressions and passages which, despite their allegorical formulation, reveal to the searching intellect only one possible meaning. For this reason, the ayat mutashabihat may be defined as those passages of the Qur'an which are expressed in a figurative manner, with a meaning that is metaphorically implied but not directly, in so many words, stated. The ayat muhkamat are described as the "essence of the divine writ" (umm al-kitab) because they comprise the fundamental principles underlying its message and, in particular, its ethical and social teachings: and it is only on the basis of these clearly enunciated principles that the allegorical passages can be correctly interpreted. (For a more detailed discussion of symbolism and allegory in the Qur'an, see Appendix I.)
Asad   
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Asad 6 Lit., "that of it".
Asad   
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Asad 7 The "confusion" referred to here is a consequence of interpreting allegorical passages in an "arbitrary manner" (Zamakhshari).
Asad   
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Asad 8 According to most of the early commentators, this refers to the interpretation of allegorical passages which deal with metaphysical subjects - for instance, God's attributes, the ultimate meaning of time and eternity, the resurrection of the dead, the Day of Judgment, paradise and hell, the nature of the beings or forces described as angels, and so forth - all of which fall within the category of al-ghayb, i.e., that sector of reality which is beyond the reach of human perception and imagination and cannot, therefore, be conveyed to man in other than allegorical terms. This view of the classical commentators, however, does not seem to take into account the many Qur'anic passages which do not deal with metaphysical subjects and yet are, undoubtedly, allegorical in intent and expression. To my mind, one cannot arrive at a correct understanding of the above passage without paying due attention to the nature and function of allegory as such. A true allegory - in contrast with a mere pictorial paraphrase of something that could equally well be stated in direct terms - is always meant to express in a figurative manner something which, because of its complexity, cannot be adequately expressed in direct terms or propositions and, because of this very complexity, can be grasped only intuitively, as a general mental image, and not as a series of detailed "statements": and this seems to be the meaning of the phrase, "none save God knows its final meaning".

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Yusuf Ali   
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Yusuf Ali 347 This passage gives us an important clue to the interpretation of the Holy Qur-an. Broadly speaking it may be divided into two portions, not given separately, but intermingled: viz. (1) the nucleus or foundation of the Book, literally "the mother of the Book"; (2) the part which is not entirely clear. It is very fascinating to take up the latter, and exercise our ingenuity about its meaning, but it refers to such profound matters that are beyond human language and though people of wisdom may get some light from it, no one should be dogmatic, as the final meaning is known to Allah alone. The Commentators usually understand the verses "of established meaning" (muhkam) to refer to the categorical orders of the Shariat (or the Law), which are plain to everyone's understanding. But perhaps the meaning is wider: the "mother of the Book" must include the very foundation on which all Law rests, the essence of Allah's Message, as distinguished from the various illustrative parables, allegories, and ordinances.
Yusuf Ali   
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Yusuf Ali 348 One reading, rejected by the majority of Commentators, but accepted by Mujahid and others, would not make a break at the point here marked Waq Lazim, but would run the two sentences together. In that case the construction would run: "No one knows its hidden meanings except Allah and those who are firm in knowledge. They say", etc.
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