Pondering the Holy Quran Was Never Part of the Mission of Prophet Muhammad

آحمد صبحي منصور Ýí 2018-07-30


Pondering the Holy Quran Was Never Part of the Mission of Prophet Muhammad


Published in July 29, 2018

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy




 Within a comment on our previous article titled "Did Prophet Muhammad Know the Meaning of Everything in the Holy Quran?" which is found, in English, on this link: (http://www.ahl-alquran.com/English/show_article.php?main_id=18679), our fellow Quranist Mr. Sadiq Ali has posed this question to us: (... We infer from several Quranic verses that each female and male Muslim person are commanded by the Lord God to ponder on the Quran; this includes Prophet Muhammad himself, right? What do you think? ...).

 We assert here the fact that pondering and interpreting the Holy Quran was never part of the mission of prophet Muhammad at all his mission was only to convey and deliver the Quranic message; the mission of other believers in all eras is to study and ponder the Quranic verses. This requires a detailed explanation within the points below.


Firstly: had Muhammad's mission included pondering or 'interpreting' the Quran, the consequences would have included the following points:

1- Islam would have two sources instead of one: the Quranic text and its 'interpretation by Muhammad and believers should believe in both. This is not the case as far as the Quran is concerned; the Lord God has commanded real believers to believe in the Quran as the Only Discourse in Islam: "Have they not observed the government of the heavens and the earth, and all the things that God created, and that their time may have drawn near? Which discourse, besides this, will they believe in?" (7:185); "These are God's Verses which We recite to you in truth. In which discourse, after God and His Verses, will they believe?" (45:6); "In what discourse, beyond this, will they believe?" (77:50).

2- Had any interpretation written by Muhammad existed, this would have prevented anyone from writing his own exegeses or interpretive books; in fact, tens of such books were written in the Abbasid Era.

3- By the way, during the Abbasid Era, many authors in their books of falsehoods known as interpretation or exegeses ascribed their own ponderings of some Quranic verses to Muhammad in the form of hadiths which they have fabricated; Ahmad In Hanbal refused such hadiths and wrote his famous, often-quoted aphorism: (There are three things which are rootless and without origin: books of interpretation, sagas, and epics).


Secondly: Quranic verses explain one another:

1- The Almighty Lord God says in the Quran: "Whatever argument they come to you with, We provide you with the Truth, and a better interpretation." (25:33); in fact, the term (interpretation) is never mentioned in the entire Quranic text except in the verse 25:33; this clearly means that the only true interpretation of the Quranic verses is when these verses explain one another, because the Quran is a Clear Book and its verses are lucid insights that clarify all things in Islam for all believers.   

2- As per the Quranic fact that the Quran is a Clear Book, it is enough to read and publish its text to others to warn them and to bring glad tidings for them as well. God says in the Quran: "...A Book whose Verses were perfected, then elaborated, from One who is Wise and Informed. That you shall worship none but God. "I am a warner to you from Him, and a bearer of good news."" (11:1-2); "A revelation from the Dominant Lord, the Most Merciful. A Book whose Verses are detailed, a Quran in Arabic for people who know. Bringing good news, and giving warnings. But most of them turn away, so they do not listen." (41:2-4).

3- Muhammad during his ministry as a prophet was a warner and a bringer of good news or glad tidings of mercy by preaching the Quran; after his death, the source of warning and glad tidings is the Quran itself until the end of days: "Blessed is He who sent down the Criterion upon His servant, to be a warning to humanity." (25:1); "We did not send you except as mercy to the humankind." (21:107). 

4- By merely reading/quoting the Quran to others, it is the source of warning and glad tidings to listeners/readers; Muhammad preached nothing but the Quranic verses which he read to his contemporaries: "And warn with it those who fear to be gathered before their Lord - they have no protector or intercessor apart from Him - perhaps they will grow in piety." (6:51); "...But remind with it, lest a soul becomes damned on account of what it has earned. It has no helper or intercessor besides God..." (6:70); "...So remind by the Quran whoever fears My warning." (50:45).

5- Preachers of the Truth in all eras after Muhammad's lifetime follow his footsteps by warning and preaching others using ONLY the Quranic insights; i.e., Quranic verses: "Say, "This is my way; I invite to God, based on clear knowledge - I and whoever follows me..." (12:108); "Insights have come to you from your Lord. Whoever sees, it is to the benefit of his soul; and whoever remains blind, it is to its detriment..." (6:104); "...These are insights from your Lord, and guidance, and mercy, for a people who believe." (7:203); "These are insights for the humankind, and guidance, and mercy for people who believe with certainty." (45:20).


Thirdly: God's messengers' sole mission was to convey and deliver the message of monotheism:

1- This applies to all messengers/prophets of the Lord God: "...Are the messengers responsible for anything but clear communication?." (16:35); this applies to the three messengers sent to one town as they said to its people: "And our only duty is clear communication." (36:17).

2- Muhammad's sole mission is to convey the Quranic message and many verses show this clearly beyond the shadow of any doubt: "But if they turn away, your only duty is clear communication." (16:82); "...but if they turn away, then your duty is to convey..." (3:20); "Whether We show you some of what We have promised them, or We cause you to die - your duty is to convey, and Ours is the Judgment." (13:40); "But if they turn away - We did not send you as a guardian over them. Your only duty is communication..." (42:48).

3- This fact is asserted in many other verses in different Quranic contexts: "Say, "Obey God and obey the messenger." But if they turn away, then he is responsible for his obligations, and you are responsible for your obligations. And if you obey him, you will be guided. It is only incumbent on the messenger to deliver the Clarifying Message." (24:54); "If you disbelieve, communities before you have also disbelieved. The messenger is only responsible for clear communication." (29:18); "...If you turn away - know that the duty of Our messenger is clear communication." (5:92); "The messenger's sole duty is to convey. God knows what you reveal and what you conceal." (5:99); "So obey God, and obey the messenger. But if you turn away - it is only incumbent on Our messenger to deliver the clear message." (64:12).


Fourthly: the mission of the messenger is confined to warn and bring glad tidings by conveying and delivering the message/Scripture:

 This means that Muhammad was never required to 'interpret' the Quran or to offer any ponderings, reflections, or discussions regarding any of the Quranic verses.

1- The mission of all God's messengers/prophets is one and the same: "We sent the messengers only as bearers of good news and as warners..." (6:48 + 18:56).

2- The Lord God has said directly the same thing to Muhammad: "We sent you only as a bringer of good news and a warner." (25:56).

3- More details about this fact about Muhammad are found in these verses: "We sent you as a witness, and a bearer of good news, and a warner." (48:8); "O prophet! We have sent you as a witness, and a bearer of good news, and a warner. And a caller towards God by His leave, and an illuminating beacon. And give the believers the good news that for them is a great reward." (33:45-47).

4- The Lord God has commanded Muhammad to read the Quranic verses to them once they are revealed to him; he received them within gradual stages: "With the Truth We sent it down, and with the Truth it descended. We sent you only as a bearer of good news and a warner. A Quran which We unfolded gradually, that you may recite to the people over time. And We revealed it in stages." (17:105-106). Thus, he preached them ONLY using the Quranic verses.


Fifthly: pondering and reflecting on the Quranic verses is the mission of believers and not the mission of the messenger:

1- From the above points, we conclude that Muhammad was NEVER commanded to offer any ponderings about the Quranic verses or any of the so-called interpretation or exegeses. Pondering the Quran is the mission of those believers who have the ability to research, study, and analyze the Quranic text.  

2- This is why the command to ponder on the Quran is found in the contexts of verses about urging rejecters/deniers and disobedient sinners to reflect on the Quran.

2/1: This is about hypocrites in Yathreb: "They profess obedience, but when they leave your presence, some of them conspire something contrary to what you said. But God writes down what they conspire. So avoid them, and put your trust in God. God is Guardian enough. Do they not ponder the Quran? Had it been from any other than God, they would have found in it much discrepancy." (4:81-82).

2/2: This is about disobedient, sinful companions in Yathreb: "If you turn away, you are likely to make mischief on earth, and sever your family ties. Those are they whom God has cursed. He made them deaf, and blinded their sight. Will they not ponder the Quran? Or are there locks upon their hearts?" (47:22-24).

2/3: This is about Arab disbelievers in Yathreb: "Have they not pondered the Word? Or has there come to them what came not to their forefathers of old?" (23:68).


Sixthly: to study the Quran is the duty and responsibility imposed on believers and NOT that of the messenger: to study the Quran is to ponder and to reflect on it:

1- The people of the Lord study the Quran and teach it to others: "...Rather, "Be people of the Lord, according to the Book you teach, and the teachings you learn."" (3:79).

2- When some of the disbelievers of the People of the Book in Arabia accused Muhammad of copying/studying ancient Scriptures, God refutes them here and mentions that the Quranic verses explain one another: "We thus reveal the verses, lest they say, "You have studied," and to clarify them for people who know. Follow what was revealed to you from your Lord. There is no God but He. And turn away from the polytheists." (6:105-106). 

3- God says in the Quran that some of the People of the Book studied their Scriptures and never adhered to them: "They were succeeded by generations who inherited the Scripture and chose the materials of this world, saying, "We will be forgiven." And should similar materials come their way, they would again seize them. Did they not make a covenant to uphold the Scripture, and to not say about God except the truth? Did they not study its contents? But the Home of the Hereafter is better for the cautious; will you not understand?" (7:169). This means that studying God's Scriptures is the mission of non-prophets who choose to (dis)believe and to (dis)obey.

4- God says the following about disbelievers: "But We gave them no Book to study, and We did not send them any warner before you." (34:44).

5- God refutes the claims of such disbelievers here: "Or do you have a Book in which you study. Wherein there is whatever you choose?" (68:37-38).


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