By Jamal Ed-Din Zarabozo
In his Tafsir Imam Al-Qurtubi talks about such people who say when they read the Qur’an, in my mind this comes to my mind, or my heart tells me this, and he concludes who reads the Qur’an and says, “ask your heart” or “my heart tells me,” and so forth, they are speaking about God without `ilm (knowledge), which, as we will talk about, one of the greatest sins that we could commit, and that they are actually from those who have nothing to do with Islam, and he said they should be killed as murtadeen (apostates).
When you go to the Qur’an and you read a verse from it and you explain that verse without having the proper knowledge, without following the proper methodology, you might be and only Allah (Exalted be He) knows, actually following your own hawa (desire), you might be following an inspiration from Satan, you might be following conjecture, which Allah speaks about in many places in the Qur’an, or it might actually be some kind of inspiration from Allah, but most likely it is not the last case.
And why is it not the last case? Because as we will talk about it later, you did not follow the proper methodology of talking about the Qur’an and if you did not follow a proper methodology of talking about the Qur’an, then you have committed a sin already.
Just by talking about the Qur’an, without proper knowledge, by giving interpretation of the Qur’an, without proper knowledge, without proper background, without being qualified to do so, then you’ve already committed a sin. And since you are committing a sin, it is very unlikely in most cases that Allah will bless you through that sin to give you the right interpretation of the Qur’an.
When you say that Allah means this or Allah means that in a specific verse, you are actually speaking or saying something on behalf of Allah, you are actually speaking about Allah, and if you are speaking without knowledge, without knowledge, this is one of the greatest sins that you could commit.
In fact, Ibn Al-Qayyim said that it is the greatest sin. He said that speaking about Allah without knowledge is the greatest sin that you could commit. He bases it on this verse:
Say: the things that my Lord has indeed forbidden are: shameful deeds, whether open or secret; sins and trespasses against truth or reason; assigning of partners to Allah, for which He hath given no authority; and saying things about Allah of which you have no knowledge. (Al-A’raf 2:33)
In discussing this verse, he says, first of all there are some sins which are forbidden due to their own evil nature, and others are forbidden because they lead to some evil or have some evil in them.
And he said with respect to this verse, all of these four, they- in their own essence are, prohibited by Allah because of the evil in them. Continuing his discussion, he said that Allah first mentions evils, and he says this is the least of the sins that He mentions, after that He mentions the sins of transpassing against the truth; this is a greater sin that the first one that Allah mentioned.
And then He mentioned making shirk (associating other beings/gods with Allah), and finally He mentioned saying things about Allah of which you have no knowledge. He is saying that Allah is going from the lesser to the greater.
Why that Critical?
And the reason he says is that this last sin of saying about Allah without knowledge, which is actually what you do when you make tafsir without the proper background, without the proper methodology, he says it involves and it includes many things even more than what committing shirk involves. He says it involves and it includes:
– Ascribing something falsely to Allah,
– Changing or altering the religion of Allah,
– Denying what He has confirmed or confirming what He has denied,
– Affirming something declaring false or declaring
something false as true, and it also includes supporting something that Allah dislikes or opposes,
– Supporting something that Allah dislikes or opposes, and liking something that Allah dislikes.
He said, for example, the polytheists claim what they are worshiping instead of Allah was something to take them closer to Allah, so the cause of their shirk was saying something about Allah without knowledge, something they did not know about Allah.
Sheikh Jamal Ed-Din Zarabozo is an internationally known writer and speaker who has lectured in North America, Europe, Australia and the Middle East. He is also the author, translator, and co-author of many books.