Quran, Role of Tradition in Split Exegesis

One of the factors which gave impetus to split exegesis over many centuries is a tendency to make use of traditions and reports in the exegesis of the Qur’an. In fact, in the beginning exegesis was a part or a form of tradition (hadith), and was founded on it. Next to tradition come some linguistic, literary and historical information which has always been used for the purpose of exegesis.

That is why exegesis could never take a step forward beyond the limit fixed for it by the Holy Prophet and the infallible Imams through their companions and those who followed them. It never allowed itself to carry out any independent inquiry into the meanings of the Qur’an, or to compare various concepts or to derive any theories from the literal meanings of the verses. In these circumstances exegesis has been confined to literal interpretation, explanation of single words, in the course of which a new terminology has been developed, and elucidation of certain verses by recounting the occasions of their revelation. This practice could not entail any constructive and progressive role, nor could it imply an idea besides the literal meaning. It could not acquaint us with the basic ideas of the Qur’an dispersed in different verses of it.

Adopted from the book: “Trends of History in Qur’an” by: “Ayatullah Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr”

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