Saying the Quran has an 'outer' meaning and an 'inner' meaning
Fatwa No: 284359

  • Fatwa Date:20-2-2015 - Jumaadaa Al-Oula 2, 1436
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Question

Assalamu Alaykum A friend told me there are zahir and batin ayats in the Quran which is backed by mufassireen, muhadditheen, mujtahideen , fuqaha etc. I feel very strange about it as this would entail that our beloved prophet sallalahu alayhi wassalam did you enclose us complete knowledge nor the sahaba as the ayats of the quran are batin and are open to interpretation which means there is a inner meanings of the ayats. I have tried to understand it but I am unable to find any statement by the prophet sallalahu alayhi wassalalm or sahaba radiallahu anhum which is authentic and would support this argument. Can you please shed some light on it as I want the truth about our religion. Jazakallah khair

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.

If this man means that some of the verses of the Quran are clear and easily understood by all people while there are others whose understanding requires knowledge and acute understanding, so they are only understood by versed scholars, then this is correct. Allaah, The Exalted, says (what means): {It is He who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book; in it are verses [that are] precise – they are the foundation of the Book – and others unspecific …} [Quran 3:7]

Al-Qurtubi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him commented on this verse saying: "Allaah, The Exalted, informs us that some verses of the Quran have clear indications, the interpretation and meaning of which are clear and understood by lay people, without any ambiguity. On the other hand, there are verses whose indications are unclear for many or some people. He who refers the verses whose indications are not clear back to the verses with the clear-cut indications to interpret them are the ones who are surely guided, and the opposite is also true."

Abu Juhayfah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said: "I asked ‘Ali  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him 'Do you have a divine revelation besides what is in the Book of Allaah?' ‘Ali replied: 'No, by Him Who split the grain and created the soul, I know nothing of this, except for understanding which Allaah gives a person about Quran, and what is written on this document." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

However, that person is not correct if he means that the Quranic verses have Thaahir (obvious or exoteric) meanings and Baatin (inner or esoteric) meanings, according to the claims of the advocates of religious innovations, who hold that the obvious meaning is the interpretation of the Quranic according to the principles of the revealed texts and the language, whereas the inner meaning is stripped of any religious and linguistic principles. Those innovators assigned an esoteric interpretation of the Quran that has nothing to do with the explicit or implicit indications of the language or the Quranic context. In so doing, they opened the door for every innovator to distort the meaning of the Quranic verses to support their religious innovations and heretic ideas. Shaykh Muhammad Jameel Ghaazi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: "They relied on a fabricated report to serve their purposes. The report was narrated by Ibn ‘Arabi in his book Al-Futoohaat Al-Makkiyyah. It reads: 'The Messenger said: Every verse of the Quran has a Thaahir (the outer meaning), a Baatin (the inner meaning), a Hadd (the limited meaning) and a Matla‘ (the highest meaning); each of these levels has its men, and each group has its Qutb (spiritual leader) and that Qutb is the pivot of that Kashf (mystical vision).' Although this alleged report does not exist in any reliable Hadeeth books and references, Ibn ‘Arabi says about it: 'Our scholars from among the people of Kashf unanimously agreed on its authenticity.'" [As-Soofiyyah: Al-Wajh Al-Aakhar]

Allaah Knows best.

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