Refutation of ‘The Study Quran’ by the Ulama of Zabīd

QUESTION:

To the honourable scholars, al-salam ‘alaykum.

Recently, an English translation and commentary of the Quran entitled ‘the Study Quran’, was published. It was undertaken by a group of western academics. The work includes Shia, Sunni, Sufi tafsir, in addition to several essays as appendices. Unfortunately, in spite of some benefits in the work, the authors have, while commentating on certain verses, presented interpretations that accord with the belief in the universal validity of religions. For instance, during the discussion on the tafsir to the verse: Truly the religion in the sight of God is submission (3:20), it says:

“Many Muslims say that this verse shows that the only religion acceptable to God is the one revealed to the Prophet of Islam, but the most universal meaning of it, which been emphasised by many Islamic authorities over the ages, is that Islam in this verse refers to submission to God even if it is not in the context of Islam as the specific religion revealed through the Quran…” [p. 135]

The reader is then referred to the essay at the end of the book entitled ‘The Quranic View of Sacred History and of Other Religions’ in which it is argued that previous scriptures and religions are not abrogated by Islam:

“The notion that previous scriptures have been abrogated in the sense of being nullified or excessively distorted to such an extent that the message no longer reflects the particularity of the original teachings, as some Muslims maintain, would seem to be contradicted by verses such as 5:43: And how is it that they come to thee for judgement …  It would be contradictory for the Quran to speak of the efficacy of judging by the Torah and the Gospel if it were to also maintain that these Scriptures have been abrogated or excessively distorted … If the previous religions were abrogated by the revelation of the Quran, it will be implausible to tell the Prophet Muhammad to seek their counsel when it says, Ask the people of the Reminder, if you know not.” [p. 1767]

Regarding the verse: Whoever seeks a religion other than submission it shall not be accepted of him… (3:85), it says:

“However, the idea that 3:85 abrogates 2:62 is connected to the interpretation expressed by some commentators that this verse denies the “acceptability” of any form of religion other than that brought by the Prophet Muhammad. This opinion is not without its inconsistencies, however, since it does not take into account the more general and universal use of Islam and Muslim in the Quran to refer to all true, monotheistic religion… ” [p. 153]

Moreover, regarding the interpretation of the verse on the Christian trinitarian belief: They certainly disbelieve, those who say, “Truly God is the third of three,”… [5: 73], it says:

However, the verse clearly threatens punishment only for those among them who disbelieved, suggesting that it is not for all Christians. Moreover, an interpretation that considers all Christians to be barred from the garden in the next life would openly contradict both v. 69 and 2:62 where Christians and anyone who believes in God and the Last Day and works righteousness shall have the reward with their Lord. No fear shall, upon them, nor shall they grieve, and is not consistent with the description of Christian virtue in vv. 82-85. [p. 316-17]

The same author says in the above-mentioned essay as he speaks about the concept of trinity criticised in the Quran:

And say not “Three.” Refrain! … (4:171) … They certainly disbelieve, those who say,” Truly God is the third of three…” This, however, is not a direct condemnation of Christian theology, for trinitarian theology does not make God one of three, but rather speaks of the triune God, Who is both one and three in a manner that transcends human understanding. Viewed in this light, 5:73 does not oppose the various forms of orthodox trinitarian doctrine that have prevailed for most of Christian history. Rather, it appears to oppose crude misunderstandings of it that would lead one to believe that there are three gods instead of one. [p. 1779]

Similar notions to the above are frequently found throughout the work.

The author of another essay, also within the work, states the following on the matter of perpetuity of hellfire:

During the early period of Islam, scholars differed about the duration of Hell. The majority of them argued that Hell is perpetual and an actualised state that never ends. But some groups argued otherwise, citing verses that hinted at an end to Hell’s torment and arguing that this was more consistent with God’s saying, ‘My Mercy exceeds My Wrath.’ Thus the scholars fell into three camps. The first believed that although Hell did not end, its punishment and torment did. The proof for this was the verse: Truly Hell lies in ambush, a place unto which the rebellious return, to tarry therein for ages (78:21-23). This was the opinion of Aḥmad ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Qayyim, and Ibn al-ʿArabī; a similar opinion that the majority of Hell’s denizens are ultimately released also appears to have been held by al-Ghazzālī, as is evident in his Fayṣal al-tafriqah (Decisive Criterion). [p. 1849-50]

The work would probably not have gained much popularity were it not for certain popular Muslim preachers in West who promoted and endorsed the work unconditionally without any caution against its absurd interpretations and false beliefs; one of them went to the extent of describing it as ‘A major victory and a gift from god’, and another said, ‘It is probably the best work in English to date’ and called it ‘A mercy from God.’ This latter individual made the matter worse by allowing the hosting of an event in his Islamic institute in America wherein one of the translators of the work was invited to speak about the book. None of the panel attendees refuted or challenged his claims.  Instead, they encouraged the attendees to purchase a copy of the book at the end of the session and get it signed by the translator.  Since the book has gained much popularity and is increasingly bought we fear that it will pollute the minds of readers and therefore seek your guidance and fatwa in regards to the following questions:

1.      What is the status of those who believe in the validity of all religions other than Islam, claiming that it does not abrogate the previous religions: does it take them out of the pale of Islam even if they an interpretation (ta’wil) for such a belief?

2.    What is the ruling on believing that Hellfire or its torment will eventually extinguish? Is there a valid scholarly disagreement over the issue?

3.    What is the ruling on promoting, endorsing, and encouraging people to buy and read such a work, knowing full well its contents, without cautioning readers against the problematic points?

4.    What is the ruling on laymen reading such a work?

ANSWER:

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

All praise belongs to Allah Lord of all the worlds, Alone. May the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon our Master Muhammad the Seal of the Prophets, the one whom there is no Prophet after him, and upon his companions who protected the glory and majesty of Islām and upon the bearers of knowledge who repel the distortions of the extremists, the false ascriptions of the liars and the interpretations of the ignorant such that each of them exhausts his efforts in that struggle. To proceed:

It is extremely saddening and grievous that this painful and disgraceful commentary has been published in a time when the whole world has reached an utmost degree in detailed thought and understanding about the reality of Islam that is not hidden from the eyes.

“Is there manifestation for the stars with daytime?
Or is there continuation for darkness with the Sun?
If the intellects have deviated upon knowledge
What then can the people of advice say?” 

Indeed the Dīn in the court of Allāh is al-Islām. Allāh says:

“Whoever seeks a religion other than al-Islam it shall not be accepted of him and he is in the hereafter from the losers” [Sūrah Ale Imrān Verse 20]

Islām is not attained except through our master Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and one who does not believe in him and what he brought from Allah (Most Transcendent is He) then that person is not called a Muslim. Indeed Allah (Most Transcendent is He) bestowed a great favour upon the believers when He said:

“This day I have perfected your Dīn for you and completed my favour upon you and I am well pleased with Islām as the Dīn for you.” [Sūrah al-Mā’idah Verse 3]  

There is no way of life that Allah is well pleased with other than Islam which is the way of life of the Prophet Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and it is the upright religion.

“All religions other than Islām
Verily they are the whisperings of shaytān.”

As for the commentary called the “Study Qur’ān” in which these individuals followed a path of invalid interpretations and opposition to the text of the Noble Qur’ān, which falsehood cannot come to it from before it or from behind it, revelation from Allah the Possessor of Wisdom the One Who is Praised, then a true Muslim does not take from anyone and everyone without making recourse to the people of knowledge in matters that are wide in their scope and in the variegated investigations. There is no doubt that the one who stated these interpretations is upon a false belief (‘aqīdah bātilah).

It is obligatory on every Muslim that becomes aware of it that he alert and warn others against this commentary called the ‘Study Qur’ān’, against reading it, buying it and selling it because it is built upon immense and manifest deviation in interpretations, where darkness has risen upon darkness. They are not except interpretations like a thicket in which lies a poisonous scorpion and interpolations with blameworthy words and thoughts which reside in an air of darkness with blind fumbling and extremeness in persistence in deviation, seeking the misguidance and deviation of the laypeople and such stubborn ignorance with which discussion is fruitless.

It is obligatory upon whosoever took this commentary that he return to the path of uprightness and correctness otherwise he is from those that Allāh says about them:

“Do you, then, believe in one part of the Book and disbelieve in part of the Book? What recompense is there for anyone of you who do that except disgrace in the life of this world? And on the Day of Qiyāmah they will be returned to the most intense of punishments. Allāh is not unaware of what you do.” [Sūrah al-Baqarah Verse 85

As for that which was mentioned in the eight paragraph of this question then indeed the Book of Allāh has taught us how to converse with the people of the Book who have taken up beliefs about the Prophets (upon our Prophet and upon all the Prophets be peace) contradictory to Islam and the affirmation of the Oneness of Allah (Majestic and Transcendent is He). They are not believers in Allah (The Most Transcendent) such that Allah has said:

“Indeed they have disbelieved those that said ‘indeed Allah is the third of three…” [Surah al-Ma’idah verse 73]  

The Noble Qur’an has called every legally responsible person from mankind and jinn, whom the messengership of our master Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has reached, and the first of them the people of the Book, the Jews and the Christians who gathered upon disbelief in our Master Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). So the Qur’ān called to them with gentleness and encouragement upon Belief and righteous action because they knew the universality of the messengership of the Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). So Allah says in the Qur’ān:

“Say O Mankind Verily I am the Messenger of Allah sent to all of you, Allah to Whom belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth there is no deity worthy of worship except He, He gives life and He gives death so believe in Allah and His Messenger The Unlettered Prophet who believes in Allah and His Words and follow that you may be guided.” [Surah al-A’raf Verse 158]

So this is an explanation of the universality of his messengership for every legally responsible person from human kind and the Imān of any legally responsible person is not established except by believing in the Prophet Muhammad the Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and that he follow his Shar’iah in everything that must be done and that which must be left in the affairs of the Dīn. This is because the Sharī’ah of the Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) abrogates all the previous Sharī’ahs and that which remains in it from the rules that were also in the previous Sharī’ahs they are the rules of the way of the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and not due to the rules of the abrogated Books. For this reason when Sayyidunā ‘Abdullah bin Salām (may Allah be please with him) and his like from the rabbis of the Jews understood the universality of his Messengership they raced towards Islām.

Sayyidunā Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“By the One in Whose power lies the soul of Muhammad no one hears about me from this nation, Jew or Christian, then he dies having not believed in what I have been sent with, except that he will be from the people of the Fire.” [Sahīh Muslim Hadīth 240]

This entry into the fire is not temporary but it is everlasting, inside it forever, and there is no salvation for every responsible person who died upon kufr after the message reached him and the Da’wah of the Prophet Muhammad has now reached every person from the people of this nation.

As for what was mentioned in the third paragraph of the question then know this that Jannah and Jahnnam are created and they are existent and they are forever and there is no difference between the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jamā’ah in this matter and the differing of he who differed is not of consideration because such a difference and no difference are one and the same. In particular when the Books of Aqā’id are replete with evidences confirming them being everlasting and replete with refutation of the claim of those who opposed and came with aberrant interpretations that bear no fruit because valid difference must be such that has a consideration.

“Not every difference has consideration
Except a difference which has a portion of investigation”

The original deviant statement in this is with the Jahmiyyah and they have no evidence from the Qur’ān and Sunnah and he who affiliated with them on the basis of a feeble, rejected, abandoned, understanding is not relied upon. The majority of the scholars answered all that these people claimed as evidence and that is mentioned in the commentaries of the books of Aqā’id like al-Tahawiyyah and other than it and this occasion does not permit for that to be recounted in detail.

The author of Bad’ al-Amāli states:

“The Fire and Paradise will not perish
Nor its people”

Al-Shaykh al-Allāmah ‘Alī bin Sultān al-Qārī says in his commentary: “Verily Jannah and Jahannam and their people will remain with the characteristic of being everlasting and forever as the Book and Sunnah have mentioned in opposition to the Jahmiyyah and those that followed them from Ahl alBid’ah.”

Al-Imam al-Bukhārī has related on the authority of Sayyidunā Abū Sa’īd al-Khudrī, (may Allah be pleased with him), who said,

‘The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Death will be brought on the Day of Judgement in the form of a black and white ram. So a caller will call out: ‘O people of Paradise! Do you know what this is?’ They will stretch their necks and look and reply, ‘Yes. This is death.’ And all of them would have seen it. Then the caller will call out: ‘O people of the fire! So they will stretch their necks and look. So the caller will say: And do you know what this is?’ They will say: ‘Yes, this is death.’ And all of them would have seen it.  It will then be slaughtered. Then the caller will say: ‘O people of Paradise, eternity and no death, and O people of the Fire, eternity and no death.’ Then he (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) recited:

“Warn them of the Day of Regret when the affair will be resolved. But they are in heedlessness and they do not believe.”  

[Sūrah Maryam 19:39]
[Sahīh al-Bukhārī Hadīth 4730]

May the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon our Master Muhammad, his family and his companions.

The poor slave of Allāh the Most High.

Mufti of the Hanafis in Zabīd, al-Shaykh Qāsim Sālih Muhammad Kuzaym

Shaykh al-Hadīth, Muqri’ Zabīd, Sa’īd Dabwan al-‘Abdalī
Al-Sayyid al-Shaykh Muhammad Ahmad Dāwūd al-Battāh
Al-Sayyid al-Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahmān Muhammad ‘Alī al-Battāh
Al-Sayyid al-Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahmān Muhammad ‘Umar alAhdal
Khatīb al-Jam’i al-Kabīr Al-Sayyid Ibrāhīm Muhammad ‘Alī alBattāh
Al-Shaykh Fikrī Husayn Ahmad Khalīl al-Zabīdī
Al-Shaykh ‘Isām Ahmad Qā’id al-Zabīdī
Al-Shaykh Mahmūd Yūsuf al-Najjār al-Zabīdī

May Allah pardon them all.
The Protected Sanctuary of Zabīd, Yemen

Translated into English by Mawlana Ibrar Shafi

View and download answer in PDF – Refutation of ‘the Study Qur’an’ by Ulama of Zabid

Original copy of the answer in Arabic below:

Original Study Quran Fatwa - Zabid

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