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Muqaddimah – Tafsir Nizam-ul-Quran – Preface – Part 3

September 5, 2009

6. Another thing that corroborates my thesis regarding the Quranic nazm is the conviction of people whose bosoms were opened by the Almighty to some fruits of the fine ordering of the Holy Quran. These scholars have glimpsed into some of the realities buried in the fine structure of the Book of Allah. They appreciate that the Book of Allah is treasure trove of wisdom and wonders which can only be accessed through an analysis of its order and arrangement. This intensifies their thirst for investigation, increases their satisfaction and improves their understanding. They are thus encouraged to try harder and harder to unearth this treasure. God fulfills their endeavours and they are able to get of it what is destined for them. They are grateful to God on what horizons open up for them in this regard. They attribute their failure to understand something to their own inabilities and lack of understanding. It is a known fact that the Book of God is an ocean of knowledge whose wonders and treasures may never exhaust. Who can claim to have gathered the sunlight and [to have obtained all the knowledge contained in the Book of God]? Who can claim immunity to error? Therefore, such limitations do not put off the flame of their enthusiasm and yearning to learn. Rather, they continue searching for the wealth of knowledge gratefully acknowledging whatever they can achieve through their efforts. Do you not see that those bestowed  with some part of this knowledge have always thanked God for this unparallelled divine largesse? Writes Imam Suyuti:

The first person to highlight the study of correspondence (of the verses and the surahs of the Holy Quran) is Sheikh Abu Bakr Nishaburi. He was a great expert in Islamic law and literature. He would assume, the chair, explain the Quranic verses read out to him and point out the wisdom behind the placement of a certain verse next to the others and of a certain surah alongside the other. He would often disparage the scholars of Baghdad for their lack of knowledge of the correspondence

Imam Suyuti has recorded the following saying of Ibn Arabi:

The art of linking the Quranic verses in a way that the whole text appears as a well arranged single composition is certainly a great knowledge. Only one scholar has engaged himself in such an enquiry. Working on this line of enquiry he showed the whole Surah Baqarh as a coherent discourse. The the Almighty opened this door for me by His grace and bounty but I found that people do not appreciate this knowledge. I see that people lack insight. This compelled me to keep this door sealed and to refer this matter between the Almighty and mye to Himself

Imam Razi, too, in his commentary, invariably thanks God for such grand knowledge granted to him. Makhdum Mahaimi‘s commentary on the Quran primarily deals with the explanation of the interrelationship of the verses. He thanks God for bestowing him with this understanding so profoundly, and expresses his sense of inability and infallibility in such a way that it cannot be lost upon any serious student of his commentary. He considers this knowledge merely his Lord’s bounty upon him and completely negates worthiness of his contribution. I think this is because of his feeling of overwhelming gratitude and great humility that made him give his work the title Tabsir al-Rahman was Tasyir al-Mannan.

The above discussion fully reveals the degree of respect attached to this knowledge by those blessed with insight into it. Obviously, these confessions have sprung from their hearts after they felt that the verses of the Quran are ordered in a very remarkable fashion. As is attested by Sheikh Wali al-Din Malawi:

Those who say that one may not look for interconnection between the verses of the Holy Quran because they were revealed in diverse circumstances are wrong. The fact is that these verses, though revealed in response to certain diverse circumstances, have been ordered (in the present arrangement of the Book) with perfect wisdom

An individual who senses the fragrance of a fine ordering in the Holy Quran, glimpses at its beauty and feels it, cannot deny the presence of this reality i.e. nazm (in the Book of God). However, we may not blame those who hold that the Book in not coherent merely because they been unable to grasp its nazm.

Muqaddimah – Tafsir Nizam-ul-Quran – Preface – Part 4

This is a rendering of English translation of Muqaddimah – Tafsir Nizam ul Quran by the permission of the translator, Tariq Mahmood Hashmi. Original version available here.

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