Concise principles in Tafseer (2)
The ‘Asbaabun Nuzool’ (reasons for revelation) are of two types
1. ‘Sareeh’ (clear and unequivocal)
This is when the companion states ‘the reason for the revelation of such and such a verse is…’ or he mentions an occurrence or a question posed to the messenger then he or she says “…then Allah revealed” or “..so Allah revealed.
Concerning the statement ‘then Allah revealed’ on rare occasions this is mentioned concerning an occurrence that is not the cause for the revelation of the mentioned verse but this is rare. Similarly the statement of a companion ‘we used to hold that such and such a verse was revealed due to this’ while it overwhelms our suspicions that this is the reason for its revelation, that is not always clear cut and those instances and their narrations should be correctly followed up and analysed.
2. ‘Ghair Sareeh’ (Unclear)
This is when a companion says ‘ This verse was revealed concerning such and such…’ this statement could relate to the reason for revelation, but it could also be a reference to the tafseer or explanation of the verse. That is to say, for example ‘this verse was revealed concerning the expiation of a vow’, we understand that the intent is that the subject matter of the verse is such and such.
There is a subtle difference between the first type (Sareeh) and this one. In the first the companion clearly mentions ‘Sababun Nuzooli hadhihil Ayah.. (The reason for the revelation of the ayah is…) while here the companion says: ‘Nazalat Haadihil Ayah fee kadhaa’ (This verse was revealed concerning… the word to consider here is his statement ‘concerning’. Does he intent by this statement the reason for revelation or does he intend merely to discuss and mention its subject matter.
And the examples of these categories of ‘Asbaabun Nuzool’ in the books of tafseer (exegesis of the qur’aan) are many.
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