Friday, 18 Dhul-Hijjah 1436
Verse 51 of Surah al-Maidah:
Being a commentary to Maulana Imran Hosein’s interpretation of the verse.
By: Hasbullah Shafi’iy
Sayyiduna Umar radiyallahu anhu, in his six-line description of the Quran that we are unable to discuss here except one particular word that is relevant to our subject, most aptly said that the Quran is Barakah. Now, this is not a simple word at all. This word may be registered amongst the most frequently used vocabulary of any Muslim from any part of the world, but only that the meaning of this word is simply untranslatable into any other language, at least not into English. The meaning of this word can only be understood and explained by analogy or events.
Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah radiyallahu anhu, gripped by the pangs of hunger, was waiting in Masjid an-Nabawi for someone to come, one who could understand his state and feed him. Embarrassed to ask directly for food, he had asked both Sayyiduna Abu Bakr and Sayyiduna Umar (r.a.), “Iqri’nee,” which request could either mean “recite to me (from the Quran)” or, “take me as a guest.” Not realising his state, both of them had sat him down in the Masjid and had recited the entire Surah al-Baqarah and Surah Aali ‘Imran respectively one after the other. The poor companion of the Prophet (s) had to listen to the long recitations bearing the pains of his shrinking stomach. Now he was desperately hoping for someone else who could come and perceive instantly the other meaning of the word “Iqri’nee.”
There came the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, the noblest of all the Arabs in language. When Abu Hurayrah requested, “Iqri’nee” hesitantly, about to faint, fearing the same would happen again, the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam smiled and affirmed him that he would not recite the Quran to him like Abu Bakr and Umar but would rather take him as a guest. However, the Messenger of Allah (s) commanded Abu Hurayrah to go and fetch all the As-haabus Suffah, Companions of the Verandah, the poorest of the residents of Madinah, eighty of them, for the meal at his home. So it was done. But what was there at the house of the Messenger of Allah (s)? What could anyone expect in that house of light but Barakah? It was but one small container of milk. Abu Hurayrah was worried he would not get any of the milk. He therefore queued first in the line, but the Prophet (s) gave the container to the others first. This is a recorded miracle of the Prophet (s) witnessed and experienced by all eighty of them that the container passed around and all of them drank from it and when it finally ended up in the hands of Abu Hurayrah, he too drank from it once, then the Prophet (s) told him to drink more and he too drank a second time and as the Prophet (s) told him to drink more he drank from it a third time. Finally, he could not drink a fourth time because he was already full and his stomach could not take anymore. But there was more milk in it.
By Allah, if the entire Madinah was there that day at the Prophet’s house, all of them would have drunk from it and milk would still have remained in the container. This is Barakah. So is the Quran. The Quran remains one Book but does flow infinitely. In fact, every verse of the Quran remains one but meanings flow infinitely because it is from Allah who is the Infinite.
There is not a single exegete (mufassir) of the Quran who would have dared say that he had already exhausted the full commentaries, interpretations and meanings of the Quran and that therefore nothing else could be added to them. That would reflect the meanings of the Quran as finite. How in that case could 20,000 Tafaaseer have been published so far on the meanings of the Quran? No one of the 20,000 different authors ever claimed that no one could add on to the commentary he had himself given and then put a full stop to the science of Tafseer. New knowledge comes out from the Quran and what meanings flow out from the Spring of the Quran – the Spring of Allah’s Kalam – has no limit. It continues and will continue forever till the Last Day.