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Al-Tabari interpret of the Qur'an that refers to clear and unclear verses

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The surmise of his interpretation is as follows: In the context of the passage, “It is He who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book”, ‘He’ is a reference to Allah or God, the creator from whom nothing is hidden or ambiguous. It means Allah has sent the book i. e. the Qur’an. This passage of ayah further elaborates, “in it are verses [that are] precise - they are the mother of the Book - and others unspecific” (Publications ). It mean that the ayahs are found within this same book and they are either clearly precise (muhkam) or otherwise unclear and unspecific (mutashabih). Understanding Clear Verses (Muh’kamaat) According to Al-Tabari, the word ‘clear’ here has been attributed a number of interpretations.

One such being, the obvious clarification of instructions mentioned in the ayahs for categories of the permitted and the forbidden, the reward and the punishment, the promise and the threat, deeds commanded and those prohibited, the sermons and admonitions, the details and the examples and other matters addressed to the ummah by the agency of the Prophet (SAW). As per this particular verse, Allah referred to these muhkam ayahs as “the mother of the Book” (Publications ).

It means such verses are the foundation or the source of the book and they contain all the significant laws and duties that this religion calls for including the penalties and the responsibilities bequeathed to the followers in this world and the hereafter. It is known per Arab tradition that the olden people used to refer to a majority of a portion as “mother”. The person holding the bulk of the responsibility in a circle was called ‘mother’, so was the banner that gathered groups of people to flock to them during a battle.

Therefore they may have been labeled as such because these ayahs comprise a large portion of the Qur’an or that just like a mother, certain ayahs of this book are a refuge for all the souls that need its guidance in dire circumstances. The term “Mother of the Book” is used in singular instead of a plural even though the ayahs it encompasses, in essence, are multiple. The ayahs are referred to as ‘they’ however, because all the clear verses are intended inclusion yet each verse among them is not a mother of the book.

If that were the case then all verses would have been recognized as the mothers of the book by making it plural. A set of ayahs addressed in the singular sense, is an aspect of the Qur’an that employs this style of narration as a grammatical complement for ‘they’.

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