Can a non-scholar interpret the Holy Qur’an

Fatwa ID: 01790

Answered by Mufti Abdullah al-Ma’mun

Question:

This is Azim from India and I want to know something from you. Me and some of my friends are reading hindi translation of the Holy Quran in our group in Mosque and our main concern is to understand the teachings of Quran and some of guys from us are not educated enough so that they can read hindi and some guys of our colony are saying that we can't read and teach Quran to each other which is just a translation of the Quran because we are not scholars. And there point is only scholars can understand the Quran, so I need your help on this point. 

Answer:

Bismillah

A non-scholar is required to learn and understand the teachings of the Holy Quran from the scholars. It is not befitting for a layman to assume that he can understand the teachings of the Holy Quran simply by reading a translation of it, regardless what language it may be in. This practice has been strictly frowned upon as we can deduce from the narration mentioned by Hadhrat Jundub Ibn Abdullah raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) that Allah’s messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

 “Whosoever interprets the Book of Allah (Quran) in the light of his opinion, even if he is right, he has erred”. (Sunan Abu Dawud no:3167 and Sunan al-Tirmidhi no:2876)

 Various other narrations mention that Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said such a person should make his abode in the fire of hell. (Refer to Sunan al-Tirmidhi no:2874 and Musnad Ahmed Ibn al-Hanbal no:2429)

There are numerous rulings derived from the Holy Quran that relate to the day to day life of a human being. Understanding and elaborating on these rulings is not and cannot be permitted for those who have not devoted themselves to the many years required in obtaining all the necessary tools, which are the Islamic Sciences such as Arabic grammar, the science of hadith, the science of Quranic exegesis (tafsir), the knowledge of jurisprudential principles etc, and then of course actually developed them to the advanced degree of a specialist. This obvious fact should suffice in making a person realise that the non-scholar should follow the scholars. Thus, if one does not understand the Arabic language, it would be prohibited for him to assume that he can decide on a practical issue of the Deen merely using a translation the Holy Quran, even if he may be considered exceptionally intelligent otherwise.

Therefore a layman is recommended to refer to the scholars in matters relating to the meaning of the verses of the Holy Quran as Allah Ta’aala says: “thus ask the followers of the remembrance if you know not”. (Sura al-Nahl 16:43 and Sura al-Anbiya 21:7)

Only Allah Knows Best

Written by Mufti Abdullah al-Ma’mun

Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham.

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