English volume 5 corresponds to the first half of the third volume of the Arabic text and covers the exegesis of verses 1-41 of the third chapter of the Qurʾan, “The Family of Imrān.”
The most significant discussion in this volume is on the decisive and ambiguous (or allegorical) verses and taʾwīl (interpretation) of the Book based on the following verse:
- He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book, of it there are some verses decisive, they are the basis of the Book, and others are ambiguous; then as for those in whose hearts there is perversity, they follow the part of it which is ambiguous, seeking to mislead, and seeking to give it [their own] interpretation, but none knows its interpretation except Allah; and those who are firmly rooted in knowledge say: We believe in it, it is all from our Lord; and none do mind except those having understanding (3:7).
The discourse on decisive and ambiguous verses is distributed in five comprehensive sections and summarized under ten subjects. These three issues have been discussed and analyzed in a logical and unprecedented manner by the author. In addition, the problem of interpretation by conjecture has also been discussed from both the Qur’anic and traditionalist points of view. Toward the end of the discourse, the author makes the following profound statement:
Interpretation is that reality to which a verse refers; it is found in all verses, the decisive and the ambiguous alike; it is not a sort of a meaning of the word; it is a real fact that is too sublime for words; God has dressed them with words so as to bring them a bit nearer to our minds; in this respect, they are like proverbs that are used to create a picture in the mind and thus help the hearer to clearly grasp the intended idea.”– Allamah Tabataba’i
This section of the volume is a must read for those who want to familiarize with the “structure” of the Qur’an.
Translator: Late Allamah Sayyid Akhtar Rizvi