Its funny how things you do not understand inspire you so much.
Take Sonnet 18 as example.The beauty of Shakespeare's language in this particular is difficult to understand,unless to someone who masters an above-average level of knowledge on English literature.
For example,one of the lines in the sonnet sounds like this,"but thy eternal summer shall not fade",which if translated literally,it will be "but your eternal summer will not fade" as if the summer is belong to the one that Shakespeare is referring to,which is not logic of course.But if you refer to the analysis which I read at this website,it states that actually Shakespeare was referring the beauty of his lover with the sunny,warm,and temperate summer at that time.
And yet,the need-to-explain words of Shakespeare has won many hearts of English and literature lovers.
That also goes with Quran,which there are many not understandable phrases and ayah(sentence),explanation-required ones,and direct ones,but still it is the one that being referred by Muslim as a Holy book.
An ayah in Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow),2:255 which is لاَ إِكْرَاهَ فِى الدِّي ("There is no compulsion in religion") is always falsely interpreted by Pluralist Islamic thinkers.They claim that this ayah means that you cannot force any Muslim to his or her obligations towards Islam.So Muslims can choose whether to salah(pray) or not to pray,to fast or not to,to wear hijjab or not to wear it.
Question is,is that interpretation valid?
Ibn Kathir was an expert in Quran translation and tafsir.He quoted only the tafsirs from Ibn Abbas and Ibn Masoud,and their students.Both Ibn Abbas and Ibn Masoud were the only ones that were recognized by Prophet Muhammad as those whose tafsirs are the most accurate.According to Ibn Kathir, on Quran translation and tafsir,the ayah "There is no compulsion in religion" means that you cannot force any body to become a Muslim,in which if you are already a Muslim,then you must follow all the obligations as a Muslim,as also clarified by the other ayah,2:209,"O you who believe! Enter Silm perfectly, and follow not the footsteps of Shaytan (Satan)".
In a narration by Ibn Abbas,this particular ayah (2:255) was revealed related to a story of Husain from the Ansar that had two Christian children,and Husain himself was a Muslim.He asked The Prophet "Can I force them into Islam?" And this ayah revealed.
The Pluralist,they tend to say that you should have your own understanding and interpretation of the Quran,as the world is changing,and the old views is obsolete and is not valid anymore.But what making me thinking is,the whole world is accepting to accept Sonnet 18 interpretation as what was meant by Shakespeare,so why must the Quran be interpreted differently?
It is logic that the meaning of any writings is only understandable by its author,which in Quran's case,of course The Creator of Mankind,Allah The All Known.Therefore,the most accurate tafsir is that narrated by Ibn Abbas and Ibn Masoud,as they were recognized by the Messenger of Allah.
I rest my case.
I pray for Allah forgiveness for us,I hope that He grant us with a good understanding of Islam,and that we can be good Muslims who are sensitive to the authenticity and sanctity of this deen.
shazlee shah azeman
7th February 2009