Principles to discern Nazm
To describe the principles of how to discern nazm is more important than to enumerate the arguments in order to substantiate its existence in the Holy Qur'ān. A person does not feel compelled to deny nazm in the Holy Qur'ān because he does not appreciate its need and import or is not able to see the strength of the arguments in its favour. More often than not, he denies it because he fails to find it in the Holy Qur'ān for to discern it is really an uphill task. Should it become somewhat easier to find, I am hopeful that this will definitely reflect in people's assessment of its key role in understanding the Holy Qur'ān.
I find it really hard in this brief lecture to describe all the principles helpful in discerning the nazm of the Holy Qur'ān. The truth of the matter is that even several rounds of discussion, though can be more helpful, are not enough to gain fuller appreciation of these principles. For this type of work, the right approach is to first impart to you a proper understanding of these principles, and then help you practice them in order to fully assimilate them. As far as the matter of understanding the property of nazm is considered, you may consult academic works of Imām Hamīd al-Dīn Farāhī, who have tirelessly served the cause of the Holy Qur'ān in this age. Particularly, if his work on the nazm of the Holy Qur'ān, Dalā'il Nizām al-Qur'ān, is published, I do not see any hurdle in getting full understanding of these principles. However, to practice these principles and employ them during your study depend upon your own intellectual curiosity. In this short lecture, what I can do for you is that I briefly explain certain salient principles that may help you build further understanding of the matter at hand. During a study of the Holy Qur'ān, I think there are three major hurdles which one has to face. My focus, while delineating the principles, would be on these hurdles for I believe that their elimination is tantamount to removing almost all possible problems.
The first hurdle is the specific diction of the Holy Qur'ān because of which people find it difficult to discern the nazm. They fall terribly short of the particular style of expression of the Holy Qur'ān. Actually there is a world of difference between how we speak or write and how the Holy Qur'ān in particular and the Arabs of the classical age in general would speak and write. This difference is not simply the difference in terms of language but in terms of style and taste. Since we do not get acquainted with this style and taste of the Arabs of the classical times, we have to face a lot of problems while studying the Holy Qur'ān, which is altogether immersed in that style and taste. They who have been in touch with classical Arabic literature know how the Arabs initiate a discourse and then make several digressions and then return to the initial point from where they started. On the one hand, there is vastness of the subject matter and on the other hand, there is brevity and conciseness, which the experts of Arabic language can conveniently appreciate to the exclusion of other people. Sometimes, the Arabs mention a thing and present immediately thereafter an argument to substantiate it without informing the audience that it is an argument for the thing just mentioned. It is left to the intellect of the audience to understand them on the basis of the occasion of speech (mawqa' kalām ). Similarly, they give an answer but do not specify the objection or the question to which it is an answer. It is again the curious ability and intellectual wisdom of the audience to determine it on the basis of the context. Sometimes, a discourse is initiated with a specific point and then digression comes, which at times, prolong so much that if the audience is not cautious they are bound to lose sight of the original point. Similarly, an anecdote would be narrated but all the links which an intelligent audience can of themselves create would be left out quite unhesitatingly. Sometimes, something would be said with a view to achieve certain results without giving a slightest hint about those results.
These and many other similar things cannot be appreciated unless we fully immerse in the Arabic literature and rhetoric discourses of the orators of the classical age. Since the Holy Qur'ān is the paragon of all sublime qualities of the classical Arabic, full knowledge of it should be acquired to help in studying the Holy Qur'ān.
The second hurdle is that people have not been able to appreciate what kind of literature the Holy Qur'ān is. This is the reason that their efforts to look for nazm have not been fruitful. Therefore, it is a question of paramount importance whether the Holy Qur'ān belongs to the genre of scientific literature or that of poets or oracles or is it similar to the discourse of orators? The disbelievers used to compare it with the rhymed discourse (saja') of poets and/or oracles and today, try to equate it with any scientific work on law and order. The truth of the matter is that both of these groups are awfully mistaken. If anything in the external world comparable to the Holy Qur'ān exists, it is the discourse of the orators of the classical age. But it should be noted that it is just a comparison with a closest possible peer. The Holy Qur'ān does not totally and exclusively stand comparable with their discourse. Therefore, it is not right to say that the Holy Qur'ān completely mirrors the oratorical literature of the classical age.
To maintain that the Holy Qur'ān has a sort of affinity with speeches of the Arab orators means that it cannot be disentangled from its specific milieu in which it speaks. Given this characteristic of the Holy Qur'ān, the importance of fully understanding this milieu cannot be emphasized more than what it speaks for itself. This goes without saying that the Holy Qur'ān is a self sufficient source insofar as this matter is considered. The light of the Holy Qur'ān shines and all requisite details become visible to the eye. One is only required to identify that which is entailed by the text of the Holy Qur'ān. Once it is done accurately, the nazm of the Holy Qur'ān becomes so apparent in such a detailed form, intertwined with its specific context, that the reader immediately recognizes it and feels that the text under his consideration has been carved for only what he construes.
Some people rely upon narratives of shān-i nuzūl (occasion of revelation) in order to identify what is entailed by the text of the Holy Qur'ān – the narratives which are found in the commentaries of the Holy Qur'ān. This is not the right approach. These narratives have played a great role in distorting the nazm of the Holy Qur'ān, the narratives which are mostly baseless trivialities. The correct approach is therefore that we should identify the milieu directly from the Holy Qur'ān. As we find out who are they that the Holy Qur'ān is addressing, whether directly or indirectly, and what are the circumstances which the addressees are facing, what are the questions that have poped up, to which proper response is awaited by both friends and foes, and how critical the latter's antagonism has become; who are included in the circle of friends and how many parties have joined the ranks of the enemies and what tactics of warfare they are planning on; they who are allies, what is their stance in the given situation – once all this is found out, the nazm of the Holy Qur'ān of necessity unveils itself. The things that I have mentioned are alluded to by the text of the Holy Qur'ān itself. It only needs some effort on the part of the reader to identify them – identification which culminates in unveiling the nazm of the Holy Qur'ān. To study the Holy Qur'ān thus leaves such enduring effects upon our hearts as may be elicited by an inspiring oratory of an expert orator.
The third problem in this regard is to know who from among the audience of the Holy Qur'ān is being addressed in a given verse/s. He who ponders on the Holy Qur'ān faces no more an acute problem than the identification of the addressees; he comes to observe that the Holy Qur'ān changes its addressees every now and then, so much so that this change is found even in a single verse. At some instances, Muslims are addressed and at others polytheists. Sometimes, the People of the Book are spoken to and at others Muslims are addressed. At times, the singular form of address is employed and at others the plural. On similar lines, change also occurs in the addresser as well. Now Allah is the speaker and now words flow from the tongue of the Holy Prophet (sws). Now Gabriel is doing the talking and now again the Holy Prophet (sws). This change in both the speaker as well as the spoken to upsets dabblers. In fact, owing to this change, it is really difficult to correctly follow the nazm of the Holy Qur'ān.
To know that the Holy Qur'ān has a sort of affinity with the oratorical literature should remove some of the confusions regarding this change in address. What do orators do to mark a shift in their address? They indicate it by simply changing their posture, twisting their eyebrows, changing the tone of their speech, and through subtle inclination towards that which they desire. In like manner, the Holy Qur'ān alludes to the change that it brings in its address. Should the reader be vigilant as to this characteristic of the Holy Qur'ān, any shift in address does not obscure the discourse. He walks with its flow and faces no difficulty in identifying specific addressees of the Holy Qur'ān. However, there are certain aspects of this change in address which may still elude his mind unless he rehearses enough to enable himself to capture them.
I quote here an excerpt from the prolegomena of the commentary of Imām Hamīd al-Dīn Farāhi, Tafsīr Nizām al-Qur'ān, which is very helpful in resolving most of the difficulties regarding Qur'ānic style of change in address:
There is a consensus among the Muslims that the Holy Qur'ān is a divine discourse, which the Almighty revealed to the Holy Prophet (sws). This does not however entail that the entire discourse is issued from the Almighty alone. For instance, it contains expressions like إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُد (You alone we worship) (1:5). It is obvious that this part is spoken by the servants of Allah. Scholars describe this thing as that the Almighty taught mankind to utter this like he said: "say". No doubt, a question arises about how we can suppose that there is something like "say" when it is not there. It is a valid question. But a question also arises about identification of addressees of the Holy Qur'ān; how do we identify them? There are two things to consider in a book: The first thing is to identify who is the speaker and the second is who is the spoken to. The truth about both of them is that although they are sometimes general in nature, the intention is particular. And, sometimes, they are particular but the intention is general. Since in knowing this change of address and the actual intention as to general/particular lies the purport of the text, it is of utmost importance to lay down such principles as may be helpful in this endeavour. In an address, there is an origin (masdar) and an end (muntahā). This origin could be either Allah the Almighty, Gabriel or the Holy Prophet (sws). Similarly, the end could be either Allah, or the Holy Prophet (sws) or people. From among people, it could be either Muslims, or hypocrites, or the People of the Book, or the progeny of Ishmaelite, or a combination of these groups or all of them together. From among the People of the Book, it could be either Jews or Christians or both of them. These are the apparent forms. But confusion or uncertainty still has to be faced for the identification thereof. For instance, there could be some confusion in identification of the origin whether it is the Lord, the Archangel, or the Holy Prophet. He who studies the Holy Qur'ān without vigilance, will find it difficult to distinguish the speaker from this trio. The Holy Prophet (sws) and the archangel both are the messengers of God. Sometimes, they just narrate the saying of their sender and sometimes, of their own accord, say that which Almighty puts into their mouth. Given the status of Gabriel as the messenger of God, he sometimes conveys to the Holy Prophet (sws) the message of the Almighty and sometimes says something as a teacher to the Holy Prophet (sws). The Holy Qur'ān is the admixture of all these things which appear in it without a word of caution. Therefore it becomes very difficult to pinpoint them. It is only the context that can help us in this regard. Needless to say that this is not something peculiar to the Holy Qur'ān. It is an inextricable property of the entire portfolio of divine discourses.
The guiding principle in this regard is that when a discourse originates from the Almighty, it portrays might, potency, grandeur and authority. Consequently, there is reason to believe that such discourse appears on very occasional times but in a very conspicuous manner. Let us understand this through an illustration. Sūrah 'Alaq begins with words as revealed by the Archangel. As the sūrah reaches the point where the disbelievers elicit the divine rage, the Almighty directly takes control of the discourse and says: "كَلَّا لَئِن لَّمْ يَنتَهِ لَنَسْفَعًا بِالنَّاصِيَةِ" (Nay! If he ceases not, we will seize him by the forelock).
In case of the "end", confusion usually arises in the identification of whether it is the believers in general or the Holy Prophet (sws) himself. Sometimes, it appears that the Holy Prophet is being addressed when, in reality, it is the believers who are the end audience. In such a case, the example of the Holy Prophet (sws) is like that of a representative, who by virtue of his position, is supposed to listen to or speak on behalf of his nation. This is why he is addressed on such occasions. The Torah also contains many examples of this kind where Moses is being addressed singularly when the intention is to say something to his nation. Whenever this happens in the Holy Qur'ān, it can be discerned by pondering the context and occasion (mawqa' wa mahal) of the discourse. In Sūrah Tawbah, this verse is a typical example:
إِن تُصِبْكَ حَسَنَةٌ تَسُؤْهُمْ وَإِن تُصِبْكَ مُصِيبَةٌيَقُولُواْ قَدْ أَخَذْنَا أَمْرَنَا مِن قَبْلُ (50:9)
If good comes to you [O Muhammad] it pains them, and if calamity befalls you, they say: "very good! We took precaution already." (9:50)
In this verse, the address is in the singular form but it is believers who are ultimately intended by this verse. Why? The next verse which responds to this verse under consideration affirms our understanding. The Lord says:
قُل لَّن يُصِيبَنَا إِلاَّ مَا كَتَبَ اللّهُ لَنَا هُوَمَوْلاَنَا وَعَلَى اللّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ (51:9)
Say: Nothing befalls us save that which Allah has decreed for us. He is our protecting master. In Allah let believers put their trust! (9:51)
Similarly, although it is apparently the Holy Prophet (sws) who has been addressed in Sūrah Banī Israel, yet the discourse is actually directed towards the believers.
إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَاأَوْ كِلاَهُمَا فَلاَ تَقُل لَّهُمَا أُفٍّ وَلاَ تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَاقَوْلاً كَرِيمًا (23:17)
If one of them or both of them to attain old age before you, say not "Fie" to them nor repulse them, but speak to them a gracious word. (17:23)
There are so many examples where the address is specific but the intention is general.
3. The Holy Qur'an
The third conclusive source for the commentary of the Holy Qur'ān is the Holy Qur'ān itself. The Holy Qur'ān has presented itself as a book that explains itself (kitābanmutashābihan). This means that one part of this book is replica of another. It should be appreciated that in the Holy Qur'ān while one point is mentioned briefly on one occasion, it is explained in a fair detail at another; somewhere it comes by way of merely a claim, and elsewhere it is supported by corroborative evidence. To present one point in different ways is helpful in proper communication thereof; this is very helpful in facilitating understanding of the issue at hand because one aspect missed at one instance is likely to be captured at another. This is why it is emphasized that the Holy Qur'ān per se is a very helpful source for commentary thereof. He who endeavours to solve the interpretative problems that he encounters with the help of the Holy Qur'ān finds that the nazm which he was not able to discern at one point became evident to him at another point or the evidence which he did not see along with one claim of the Holy Qur'ān came his way at another place in the Holy Qur'ān. So much so that the linguistic difficulties of the Holy Qur'ān are cleared up by continuing to ponder other similar linguistic expressions. Since the text of the Holy Qur'ān is conclusively certain, the explanations that it offers is nothing less than a certain body of knowledge. As a consequence, a dissident, no matter how diehard he is, dares not to question the soundness of this knowledge.
4. The Mutawatirand Mashhur Sunnah
The fourth certain source for the commentary of the Holy Qur'ān is mutawātir & mashhūr sunnah. Insofar as the matter of Qur'ānic terms like, salah (the ritual prayer), zakāh (the alms tax), sawm (the fast), hajj (the pilgrimage), qurbānī (animal sacrifice), masjid-i harām (the sacred mosque of Makkah), safā (a place within the precincts of ka'bah), marwah (another place within the precincts of ka'bah), sa'ī (walk between safā and places) and marwah, and tawāf (circumambulation of the ka'bah) is concerned, these should be explained in the light of this Sunnah. The reason is that the Holy Prophet (sws) only has the prerogative to explain what is meant by these terms. The only thing that remains in this regard is to establish the authenticity of these explanations as coming down to us from the Holy Prophet (sws). The truth of the matter is that there is no way to question the authenticity of these explanations because they have been preserved in the ritual practices performed across the Muslim world. These practices have come down to us through the same channel of transmission, tawātur, by which the Holy Qur'ān has reached us. Hence the channel which has been instrumental in preserving the text of the Holy Qur'ān has transmitted to us the meaning and significance of these terms. Therefore, he who concedes the credibility of the Holy Qur'ān cannot doubt the authenticity of the meaning and significance of these terms. To repose faith in the Holy Qur'ān makes it indispensable for him to believe in the knowledge based on Sunnah. Some minor differences in the specific form of Sunnah do not have any importance at all in our religion. All Muslims know for sure that they are obligated to offer five ritual prayers daily – they know this with such certainty as they know the Holy Qur'ān. The question whether Āmīn (amen) should be said slowly or loudly though constitutes a difference of opinion is of little significance, especially when they emanate from solitary reports and not from tawātur. In such matters of secondary importance, an individual has an option to choose what he considers sound without confronting others who adopt the opposite viewpoint. It should however remain clear that to reject that body of Islamic knowledge which is sanctified by tawātur is tantamount to denying the Holy Qur'ān itself – heresy for which there is no room in our religion.
The munkarīn-i hadīthhave become so audacious and daring that they set aside the mutawatirmeaning of terms like sawm, salah, hajj, zakāh, 'umrah and qurbānī and go on describing their self-conceived meanings compatible with their wishes. As explained earlier, this is nothing less than denying the Holy Qur'ān itself. The reason is that the channel which has transmitted the Holy Qur'ān has been instrumental in transmitting the meanings of these terms; not to accept them leaves you with no option to embrace the Holy Qur'ān. The kind of academic blunder that the ignorant from among this group has made in their efforts to distort meanings of these terms, which are otherwise established through a conclusive channel of transmission, can be gauged from the various articles that they have inked about qurbanī, as published in newspapers from time to time. In an effort to broaden the scope of their evil work, they are now questioning the established meaning of words like dunya (temporal world) and akhirah(the eternal world). According to them, dunyameans "present" and a#khirahmeans "future". Now the directive that we should spend in the way of Allah in order to attain the blessings of akhirahmeans that we should not spend every penny here and now but saves something in order to live a better life in future.
In this regard, Imām Hamīd al-Dīn Farāhī has written the following note in the prolegomena of his commentary:
In like manner, all terms of the Islamic sharī'ah as salah, zakāh, jihād, sawm, hajj, masjid-i harām, safā, marwah, and manasik-i hajj and all those acts which are related to them have been preserved from the earlier generations to the present by the mode of tawātur and tawāruth. Minor differences about them are not really considerable. For instance, everyone knows the meaning of lion though there are minor differences as to the exact shape and form of loins of different regions. Similarly, the ritual prayer which is required to be said is exactly the same which the Muslims say, though there are marginal differences in the form of the prayer that they say. They who go after them in an effort to probe them are utterly unaware of the nature of this dīn-i qayyam (straight religion), as preached by the Holy Qur'ān.
Hence the befitting attitude is to hold on to that part which is common among all the Muslims when a question arises as to the exact form and structure of these terms. To insist on what is prescribed by solitary reports is not appropriate. Because this will lead us to the terrible pit of confusion and doubt and make us pass judgements against the deeds of other people, and there would be nothing which could decide what is right and what wrong.
II. The Inconclusive Sources
Now a word about the zanī (inconclusive) sources available for the commentary of the Holy Qur'ān. By zanī is meant that these sources do not confer absolute certitude on the student of the Holy Qur'ān on a stand alone basis; rather because they admit of a certain amount of doubt, they can be relied upon insofar as they fit in well with the text of the Holy Qur'ān. Should these sources say something in contrary to the Holy Qur'ān, the latter shall take precedence. Following is a brief description of these sources.
1. The Hadith Literature
From among all inconclusive sources, the most sacrosanct and hallowed is the corpus of Prophetic traditions and the sayings of the Companions (rta). In case this corpus had not fallen short of the established criteria of authenticity, it would have possessed as much importance and preference as the mutawātir Sunnah. But since this element of doubt about their soundness is not eliminated absolutely, whatever this source offers can only be accepted insofar as it conforms to the conclusive sources. They who exaggerate to give overriding importance to this corpus not only harm the Holy Qur'ān but also fail to raise the status of this corpus in real terms. On the contrary, those who totally deny any role of the Hadīth literature in the study of the Holy Qur'ān deprive themselves of the sublime light that this literature provides to help unravel many references and allusions of the Holy Qur'ān. The middle-of-the- road approach is that we should take as much help from this literature as required in unfolding the allusions of the Holy Qur'ān; anything else should be ignored altogether. When a sound Hadīth appears to contradict the Holy Qur'ān, we should not reject it outrightly but deliberate further; we should only set aside it when there is no way to find some explanation of this Hadīth in the light of the Holy Qur'ān or that this Hadīth contravenes some fundamental postulate of the religion of Islam. Inasmuch as the matter of sound Hadīth narratives is considered, there is seldom any dichotomy between them and the message of the Holy Qur'ān, which cannot be explained away. Nonetheless, it should be remembered that the Holy Qur'ān has overriding importance on all such occasions – never to be lost sight of.
There is another thing that needs to be appreciated in case of narratives of shān-i nuzūl (occasion of revelation); besides establishing the authenticity of their chain of reporting, it should be kept in mind that all narratives of this category do not necessarily explain the first cause of revelation of a certain verse/s of the Holy Qur'ān; rather these narratives usually purport to convey the circumstances for which the related verse/s contain some instruction or edict. This is something which has been reinforced by many a great commentator. To embrace this viewpoint is to escape most of the problems encountered usually during the study of the Holy Qur'ān.
Recourse to narratives of shān-i nuzūl is only indispensable where the Holy Qur'ān makes an allusion to a certain event or incident. For instance, the Holy Qur'ān has made certain allusions to some events in Sūrah Tahrīm. Details of such events must be sought from the Hadīth literature inasmuch as these lie in conformity with the Holy Qur'ān. This follows that such details as the text of the Holy Qur'ān does not admit of or which mar the character of those personalities that are sanctified by the Holy Qur'ān itself should be rejected outrightly.
2. Established History
The second inconclusive source which may be helpful in the commentary of the Holy Qur'ān is the established history of nations. The Holy Qur'ān has referred to the history of various peoples in different ways. Sometimes allusion is made to calamities that befell the predecessors of the Arabs like the 'Ād, the Thamūd, the people of Madyan, and the nation of Lūt (sws). Sometimes the Holy Qur'ān draws attention to the arrival of Abraham (sws) along with his son Ishmael into Makkah, the times of their stay in that region and the construction of the Ka'bah. At other times, the milestones of the history of the People of the Book are invoked side by side making allusions to certain events of contemporary nations. In a nutshell, the Holy Qur'ān in spite of having nothing to do with history as such involves many historical things. To get full insight into them, we need to have general acquaintance with the history and specific circumstances of those particular nations. Otherwise, the lessons or conclusions which the Holy Qur'ān aims to draw by referring to their history may be lost upon the readers.
Hence there is no doubt that we depend upon this source in order to fully grasp the purport of the Holy Qur'ān. However, this does not mean that it has preference over the Holy Qur'ān, should any disagreement arise. This follows that the Holy Qur'ān is the ultimate criterion to judge any information emanating from this source; whatever lies in agreement with the Holy Qur'ān will be accepted and whatever differs will be rejected.
Seen in this perspective, the Holy Qur'ān is the great benefactor of mankind not only in the arena of true divine guidance but also in the realm of historical knowledge, for both of which humans cannot thank enough the Almighty. The discipline of human history was so pathetic that whatever distilled from it was nothing more than fiction, and which catered to the false pride of people; to brag about their predecessors was the ultimate use of history to people. When the Holy Qur'ān emerged, it gave a fresh look to the entire landscape of human history; it narrated the ups and downs of human history in such illustrious manner as to draw effective lessons for the audience and, with strong arguments, cemented its stance that prosperity is but a function of the ethical status of a people. By giving this new tinge to human history, the Holy Qur'ān turned a futile corpus of history into a precious resource for the guidance of mankind. The special benefit in this regard goes to the history of the Israelites and the Ishmaelites, for which descendants of these two nations in particular and the rest of the world in general stand obliged. I say this because their history was not merely an itinerary of events; it was a sacerdotal record of the days of the apostles of God that came to both of these nations. For their history to get distorted, as it did in the hands of the Arabs and the Jews, was a grave loss for the whole world. It meant that all landmarks which led to the right path were lost upon the righteous servants of the Almighty. An immense credit goes to the Holy Qur'ān that it restored these landmarks for never to disappear again, to be always there to guide people till the end of time.
3. Previous Divine Scriptures
The third inconclusive source for the commentary of the Holy Qur'ān is the previous divine scriptures. No one disputes the fact that the Holy Prophet (sws) is but one member of the sacred group of God's apostles and that the Holy Qur'ān is a divine book like other scriptures revealed to prophets. Given consensus on this, a lot of help may be sought from the extant scriptures. True, in order to know the truth from the falsehood, we are not in need of these scriptures. For guidance as to the truth, the Holy Qur'ān, devoid of any shortcoming, is sufficient for us. We do not need stars after sunrise; much less we need these scriptures after the dawn of the Holy Qur'ān. Nonetheless, there are certain incidental benefits which we may draw from them for gaining full understanding of the message of the Holy Qur'ān.
Firstly, to make out some allusions of the Holy Qur'ān, our commentators have to accept some narratives reported by the People of the Book; but since these narratives are nothing more than hearsay, they do not confer any certitude nor do they constitute an argument against the People of the Book because any claim made on their basis would be as shaky as these narratives are. This calls for our direct study of their scriptures so that we could come up with solid information to say anything at all.
Secondly, the Holy Qur'ān completes the message of all the previous scriptures; it amends whatever was changed in them. Consequently, when someone reads the Holy Qur'ān along with these scriptures, they come to realize its due importance and authority; the blessing poured out on this ummah in the form of this Qur'ān is also unfolded so as to become a revealing experience.
Thirdly, the Holy Qur'ān has referred to many historical events while divulging divine edicts or narrating some illustrative incident. To get to the bottom of these historical references, intimate familiarity with these scriptures is indispensable. Because many of our commentators were not acquainted with the Torah and the Gospels, they did not succeed in their endeavours to penetrate such references.
Fourthly, the Holy Qur'ān has accused Jews and Christians of incorporating changes in the word of God, impregnating it with such things as do not belong to it and deleting those facts which were clearly inscribed in it; other allegations included making lawful what was unlawful and vice versa, and their transgressions against the obvious and evident verdicts of their prophets, delivered upon divine bidding. To come up with arguments to support these allegations, an academic ought to do an insightful study of these scriptures; otherwise no fruitful debate may be accomplished with the People of the Book.
Fifthly, in spite of all deficiencies, these scriptures are what we have as remnants of the revelation made to previous prophets. There must be some part of the original revelation extant in these scriptures. He who is well acquainted with the Holy Qur'ān can easily discern that part from these scriptures. Why should he not? What the Almighty revealed to the previous prophets is a treasure trove for the believers. More than anyone else, they have the prerogative to look for it, and embrace it wherever they find it.
(Translated from Islāhī's Mabādī-i Tadabbur-i Qur'ān by Jhangeer Hanif)