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How did the Messenger Explain the Quran?

Updated: May 30

One point that is often raised by the proponents of Hadith is that the Messenger was not just a postman who delivered the Qur’an and left. Though, this statement is true, and the Messenger certainly did not deliver the Qur’an like a postman, however, there is no reason to believe that his explanations are to be found outside of the Qur’an.

 

In this section, we will see that the explanations of the Messenger consisted of cross-referencing the Qur’an. Logically speaking it also does not make any sense to follow books written 200 years after the Messenger to seek his explanations, when he himself preserved his teachings and explanations within the Qur’an.

 

The Proponents of Hadith site the following Ayah for their position:


“And We did not send before you any but men to whom We sent revelation-- so ask the followers of the Reminder if you do not know-- With clear arguments and scriptures; and We have revealed to you the Reminder that you may make clear to men what has been revealed to them, and that haply they may reflect." (16:43-44)
 

There are two main claims that the proponents of Hadith make about this Ayah. The first thing they say is that besides the Qur’an, the Mesenger was given another “revelation” known as “al-Dhikr”. The second point is made regarding the word “Bayyina”, which means “clarification”.


Thus the proponents of Hadith say that the Messenger was given an EXTRA revelation (al-Dhikr), and he was supposed to use it to make EXTRA clarifications (lituBayyina) of the Qur’anic revelations. We will analyze this Ayah, with special attention to the two words “al_Dhikr”, and “Bayyina”.

 

Let us look at the word al-Dhikr first. The word literally means “The Reminder”. It is important to note that Allah uses different attributes of His revelations to emphasize its different aspects. Indeed, the word “Qur’an” itself is not a name but an attribute of Allah’s Revelations.

 

The word al-Qur’an means “The Recital/The Proclamation”. Allah has used this word to describe His revelations to emphasize the fact that it is to be RECITED and PROCLAIMED openly. We see several different attributes of Allah’s revelation within the Qur’an also. Here is a few of the many attributes:


1. Al-Huda, meaning “The Guidance” because the Qur’an is supposed to give guidance. 2. Al-Furqaan, meaning “The Criterion” because the Qur’an is to be used as the criterion between truth and falsehood. 3. Al-Kitaab, meaning “The Written Record” because the Qur’an was to be recorded in writing..

 

In a similar fashion, the word “Al-Dhikr” is used because the Qur’an is meant for people to take reminder from. We will see that the Qur’an itself gives plenty of evidence that “al_Dhikr” is not any extra revelations, but just another attribute of the Qur’an itself:


“This We recite to you of the communications and the wise reminder.”(3:58)
 

Here the Dhikr is identified as something that is recited (Tilawa). The only thing that the people recite is the Qur’an. The speech of the Prophet besides the Qur’an was not recited. Then in the following Verse, the Dhikr is identified with the revealed Book:

 

“A Book revealed to you-- so let there be no stress in your breast on account of it-- that you may warn thereby, and a reminder close to the believers. ” (7:2)
 

Then in the following Ayah, the Qur’an points to itself as the Dhikr for all the worlds:

 
“And you do not ask them for a reward for this; it is nothing but a reminder for all mankind. ” (12:104)

In the following verse, Allah promises that He will guard the Dhikr that He has revealed. It is only the Qur’an that all Muslims (and even the non-Muslims) agree to have been protected from any sort of corruption. Even the strongest supporters of Hadith admit that the Hadith of the Prophet have not been preserved or guarded from corruption. Thus it is the Qur’an, which fits the definition of Dhikr here.


“And they say: O you to whom the Reminder has been revealed! You are most surely insane: Why do you not bring to us the angels if you are of the truthful ones? We do not send the angels but with truth, and then they would not be respited. Surely We have revealed the Reminder and We will most surely be its guardian.” (15:6-9)
 

Again in the following Verses, the Qur’an identifies itself as the blessed Dhikr:


“And this is a blessed Reminder which We have revealed; will you then deny it?” (21:50)
 

“Therefore hold fast to that which has been revealed to you; surely you are on the right path. And most surely it is a reminder for you and your people, and you shall soon be questioned.” (43:43-44)
 

These Ayaat should be enough for anyone to see that Al-Dhikr (The Reminder) is just another attribute of the Qur’an (The Recital). However, a mind clouded by the dust of tradition prevents it from accepting the truth and it comes back and insists with lame arguments. In any case, we will present further evidence that Al-Dhikr is the Qur’an:

 
“And We have not taught him poetry, nor is it meet for him; it is nothing but a reminder and a clear Recital ” (36:69)
 

Here, the Dhikr is identified with the Qur’an. The other thing to notice here is that Allah is defending His Messenger against people’s allegations of being a poet. The question that needs to be asked is whether the Prophet was used to speak in poetry form?


The answer to this is obviously “No”. The only thing that he was reciting was the Qur’an, and since the Dhikr is also mentioned along with the Qur’an as something recited, we conclude that it is just another attribute of the Qur’an.

 

Then in the following Verse, the Dhikr is identified as the “Mighty Book”, i.e. the Qur’an. Further, it is to be protected and falsehood cannot even approach it. Pick any collection of Hadith, and you will find false Hadith in it. Therefore, Dhikr is the Qur’an.


“Surely those who disbelieve in the reminder when it comes to them, and most surely it is a Mighty Book: Falsehood shall not come to it from before it nor from behind it; a revelation from the Wise, the Praised One.” (41:41-42)
 

The reason why Allah uses the word Dhikr is because one of the purposes of the Qur’an is to REMIND people:


“And We have indeed made the Qur’an (The Recital) easy to understand and for Reminder; then is there any that will receive admonition?” (54: 17, 22, 32, 40)


This is further emphasized when Allah informs us that

“Saad. By the Qur’an, full of Dhikr” (38:1)

 

“Ha Mim. By the Book of Clarity, We have made it a Qur’an in Arabic, that you may use your Aqal. And verily, it is in the Mother or the Book, in our Presence, high and full of Wisdom . Shall we then take away the Dhikr from you and repel, for you are a people transgressing beyond bounds?” (43:1-5)

 

These Ayaat leave no doubt that the Dhikr is just another attribute of the Qur’an.. To leave no doubt about the nature of Dhikr Allah informs us:


“We have revealed to you a Book, which is a Dhikr (Reminder) for you: will you not then use your Aqal?” (21:10)

Then finally Allah makes it very clear that the Dhikr, with which the Messenger is giving explanations, is the Ayaat that the Messenger is Reciting:


“…For Allah has indeed sent down to you Dhikr – A Messenger reciting the Ayaat of Allah which contain clarity that he may lead forth those who believe and do righteous deeds from the depths of darkness into Light….” (65:10-11)


Now, the above Ayaat leave no doubt that the Dhikr with which the Messenger is making things clear is the Qur’an itself. This is consistent with the rest of the Qur’an where Allah tells the Prophet that the Qur’an is being revealed to him in stages so that he may explain and answer people when needed.


Just the exposition of the word Dhikr in 16:44 shows that it was not extra explanations that the Messenger was giving but his explanations were given from the Dhikr, which we have established here, is the Qur’an.


But sick hearts need more medicine. So we will now look at the second misunderstood word “Bayyina” used in 16:44 and see that the Bayyina or Clarity that the Messenger was to bring was from the Qur’an also. We first observe that another verse similar to 16:44 is revealed by Allah:


“And We sent down the BOOK to you for the express purpose that you should make clear to them those things in which they differ, and that it should be a Guide and a Mercy to those who believe” (16: 64)


Here we notice that Allah has explicitly mentioned that the PURPOSE of the BOOK is to provide the Prophet with revelation so that he may make clear the things that people differ in. This verse yet again establishes that the Prophetic clarification is to come from THE BOOK.


And Allah further confirms that on the day of judgment the Prophet Muhammad will be a WITNESS AGAINST HIS PEOPLE for ignoring the “Bayyinna” he was giving to them from the BOOK:


“One Day We shall raise from all peoples a witness against them, from amongst themselves: and We shall bring you as a witness against these (your people); and We have sent down to you the Book CLARIFYING ALL things , a Guide, a Mercy, and glad tidings to Muslims” (16:89)


This Ayaah leaves no doubt that the BOOK has clarification of ALL THINGS. Thus further destabilizing the false claim that the Messenger is giving extra explanations from outside of the Qur’an. If the Qur’an itself is clarifying ALL THINGS, then what is the Messenger doing by giving “extra” explanations. If the Messenger is making extra explanations outside of the Qur’an, then logically that would mean that the Qur’an is NOT clarifying ALL THINGS. This, then obviously contradicts the above Qur’anic claim.


Then in the following Ayah Allah again tells us that the Clarity that Allah reveals is in the Book:


“Those who conceal the revealed clarity and the Guidance, after We have made it Clear for the people in The Book – on them shall be Allah’s curse, and the curse of those entitled to curse” (2:159)


Thus it is Allah Who has clarified all things for us in the Qur’an, and the Messenger is bringing that clarification to us (that is what the word “Messenger” means, i.e. one who brings a Message). But the Messenger is not making extra explanations from outside of the Book of Allah. Later we will see an example of how the Messenger clarified a certain Verse by referencing other verses of the Qur’an. For now, we will continue exploring the meaning of the word Bayyina as described within the Qur’an.


In the following Verse Allah further explains that the Clarity and The Guidance is in the Qur’an:


“Ramadan is the Month in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a Guide <huda> to humankind and as a Clarity for The Guidance and The Criterion….” (2:185)


If the Qur’an contains clarity and is supposed to “Clarify ALL THINGS”, then would that be logical to assume that the Book itself needs to be “clarified” by obscure books of Hadith written about 200 years after the Prophet?


There are many places in the Qur’an where Allah has explicitly mentioned that the Clarity is the Verses that He reveals to His Messenger. Here are a few examples where Bayyina is directly related to the Qur’an:


“Do they not earnestly seek to understand the Qur’an, or are their hearts locked up by them? Those who turn back as apostates after The Guidance is made Clear - the shaitaan has instigated them and buoyoud them up with false hopes” (47: 24-25)


“And We have sent down to you the Clarifying Verses; and none rejects them but those who are perverse” (2:99)


“Or lest you should say: If the Book had only been sent down to us, we should have followed its Guidance better than they. Now has come to you Clarity from your Lord - and a Guide and a mercy….” (6:157)


These Ayaat establish that Clarity comes from Allah in His Book, which is what the Messenger is told to use to Clarify and Proclaim what is being revealed to the people. There is not an iota of truth to the claim that the Messenger is to give extra clarification, which is NOT in the Book. But the proponents of Hadith shout and cry and insist that the Messenger is supposed to give EXTRA clarification, and the strange thing is that after all of the above evidence, they still insist that when Allah says in 16:44 He means EXTRA Clarifications OUTSIDE of the Book. Let us see how true are they to this claim of theirs. We see that the EXACT same form of the word “Bayyina” is used in another Ayah:


“And remember Allah took a Covenant from the People of the Book to make it clear to humans, and not to hide it; but they threw it away behind their backs, and purchased with it some miserable gain! And vile was the bargain they made” (3:187)


Here Allah clearly establishes that the meaning of the word Bayyina is to “proclaim or clarify” and NOT to give “extra explanations” as “litubayyinunahu” is used as an opposite to “tuktumunahu”, which means to hide. If the meaning in 16:44 were to give EXTRA EXPLANATIONS, then in 3:187 it would mean that ALL the people of the Book were told by Allah to give EXTRA EXPLANATIONS. Thus, logically we now have to look for the Hadith of the people of the Book to find those extra explanations.


In conclusion, we see that the duty of the Messenger was not just to deliver the Qur’an like a postman, but also to make things clear to the people. The methodology of the Messenger was to explain or give Tafsir of the Qur’anic Ayaat with OTHER Qur’anic Ayaat. We will witness this methodology of the Messenger in the following chapter. I conclude from the Verse that establishes that the Messengers lectures <daras> making clarifications <bayyina> consisted of reading the verses of the Quraan:


"And thus do We repeat the verses and that they may say: You have given the Daras(lecture); and that We may make it clear to a people who know." (6:108)

 

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