The Qur’an is a book of moral guidance. It therefore gives
models and examples of the righteous, salihiin, to be emulated as well as
models of transgressor, dhalimin, to be avoided. It describes the thoughts,
actions, and fate of the two groups in a historical perspective, a contemporary perspective, and a future perspective. It
also provides intellectual arguments as well as makes pleas to humans to emulate the salihiin
and to avoid the dhalimiin. Some of the intellectual arguments used are related
to Allah’s signs. Verses on signs discuss Allah’s signs for purposes
of itti’adh. The signs may be in the past, the present, or the future.
Signs in the past include stories of prophets and communities, accounts
of the creation of the universe and of humans, conduct of righteous individuals and communities, the fate and humiliation
of individuals and communities that were transgressors, and rebuttal of non-believers.
Signs in the present include signs of Allah in the universe signs
of Allah in humans, bounties of Allah for humans, social organization, and spiritual training, and rebuttal of the non-believers. Signs in the future include prediction of future events, an account of the
events and horrors of the Last Day, punishment and reward. The purpose of this study is to relate the verses to daily experience
of the individual or the community deriving practical and moral lessons. The historical verses are especially relevant since
history repeats itself. Human nature, character, and behavior are the same at all ages. The experience of past eras is therefore
very relevant today. Humans are therefore enjoined to study history in order to learn from the past. Qur’anic verses
are miraculously relevant to contemporary events of life. Verses condemning the Yahuud and Nasaara and polytheists also apply
to any other persons in the present time who behave like those groups. The Qur’an also predicts future events on earth
that people can see and verify for themselves. The verses of ahkaam also attempt to provide guidelines and limits within which
those who want to be righteous can operate.
METHODOLOGY OF TAFSIR
The verses selected are clear. They are understandable without the need for detailed explanation. The verses are selected and are studied
by subject-matter. They are interpreted by precedent using the Qur’an and hadith.
Cross-references to relevant verses and hadiths are provided in the foot notes. The main references are the tafsir
works of Ibn Kathir and al Tabari. Our concern is translation and understanding of the meanings and not translation of words.
A historical approach has been employed to derive lessons from past human experience. The scientific approach has been employed
to draw lessons from Allah’s signs in human biology and the physical universe. The following types of tafsir are not
employed here: rational, philosophical, and juridical. Scientific miracles and abrogation are not addressed.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR TAFSIR SESSIONS
Use a Qur’anic translation that has the Arabic script beside
the translation. Take turns reading translation of the assigned verses for each topic. Make sure you understand the meanings
of all words used in the translation. You can refer to the foot-notes for more detailed explanation of the context of revelation
(sabab al nuzul), related verses and hadiths, and explanation of unfamiliar words. Discuss the assigned issue(s) using the
given points as a guide. List lessons you have learned for your contemporary life as an individual and as a member of the
community or society. Write down your conclusions.
The following general conceptual tools are useful in the discussions:
Qur’anic methodology, comprehensiveness of the Qur’anic vision, the Qur’an as a source of sciences, the
Qur’an opens and challenges human intellect, Allah’s fixed laws in humans and the physical world, the Qur’an
as a solution to problems of humanity: social, economic, political, scientific, educational, and psychological.