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Unformatted text preview: onversation with 'Abd Allah ibn Abbas, 'Umar ibn al-Khattab asked him: 'Why should there be disagreement among this ummah, all of whom follow the same Prophet and pray in the direction of the same qiblah?' To this Ibn 'Abbas replied, 'O Commander of the Faithful, the Quran was sent down to us, we read it and we know the circumstances in which it was revealed. But there may be people after us who will read the Quran without knowing the occasions of its revelation. Thus they will form their own opinion, which might lead to conflict and even bloodshed among them.' Umar disagreed with Ibn 'Abbas for saying so at first but, when the latter departed, Umar pondered over what he had said. He then sent for Ibn Abbas only to tell him that he agreed with his view. Muwafaqat, III, p. 202.] It has been observed that by making this remark, Ibn Abbas was referring to certain misinterpretations of the Quran which had occurred owing to ignorance of the asbab al-nuzul. In particular, some of the Quranic passages had been revealed concerning the unbelievers, but were taken by some commentators to be of general application to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. There were also passages in the Quran which were revealed in reference to the conduct of people who had died before the revelation of certain rulings, and yet these were taken by some commentators to be of general application. [Khudari, Usul, pp. 209-210. Thus when Qudamah b. Maz'un was charged with the offence of wine-drinking, Umar b. al-Khattab decided to punish him, but the defendant cited the Quranic ayah in sura al-Maidah (5:95) in his own defence. This ayah reads 'there is no blame on those who believe and do good deeds for what they consume provided they are God-fearing believers ' Ibn Maz'un claimed that he was one of them. Abd Allah b. Abbas refuted this view and explained that this particular ayah had been revealed concerning people who died before wine-drinking was definitively forbidden.] Furthermore, the knowledge of asbab al-nuzul is informative of the conditions of the Arab society at the time. Their customary and linguistic usages and their nuances of expression were naturally reflected in the Quran. The peculiarities of Arab social customs often gave exegesis of the Quranic text a perspective and offered solutions to some of the doubts/ambiguities which would otherwise be difficult to understand. The asbab al-nuzul take full cognizance of the customary practices of Arabian society and the relationship, if any, of such practices to Quranic legislation. To give an example, the Quranic Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence ~ Kamali 45 [Shatibi, ayah 'Our Lord punish us not, if we forget or make a mistake' (al-Baqarah, 2:286), is held to be referring to unbelief, that is, when words which partake in unbelief are uttered inadvertently. This is forgiven just as are words of unbelief that are expressed under duress. However, the exemption here is not extended to similar pronouncements, such as statements of divorce, freeing of a slave, or sale and pu...
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This note was uploaded on 04/13/2013 for the course ISLAM 101 taught by Professor Islam during the Spring '13 term at Harvey Mudd College.
- Spring '13