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 Post subject: Re: Definition of محكم /muħkæm/ and متشابه /mutæ,ʃæ:bih/
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2011, 09:04 
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Pragmatic wrote:
I noticed this verse tonight 6:99. It uses "متشابه" and contrasts it with a similar word to describe a physical situation.

I am not sure any more that the two words are in 'contrast' rather than showing different types of the object, in view of another verse that uses "متشابه" in a similar context


In this verse, there is clearly no contrast, but just different types since the same exact word and its negation are used. It is still worthwhile to look into the meaning to see if there are any clues that can shed light on the meaning of the word as used in the verse in the OP.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of محكم /muħkæm/ and متشابه /mutæ,ʃæ:bih/
PostPosted: 04 Aug 2012, 13:27 
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A thought occurred to me last night that I figured I should share here. If you're a mathematician and are presented with these two verses. What conclusion would you make?


Wouldn't you conclude that the look-alike verses are definitive too?

My thought is that all verses of the Quran are Muhkam (definitive). However, some are definitive on their own, while others require support to show that they are. That's where the look-alike verses come in. They serve as emphasis, evidence, elucidating parables for each other. Self-definitive verses, on the other hand, do not require such support; they are definitive on their own.

The look-alike verses must be the majority, hence the verse,


Verse 3:7 tells us that the look-alike verses are vulnerable to misinterpretation by those who wish to make their own definitive interpretation of them, that such approach leads to sedition between believers. Indeed, if God wanted those verses to be self-definitive, He would have.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of محكم /muħkæm/ and متشابه /mutæ,ʃæ:bih/
PostPosted: 12 May 2013, 21:03 
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In his book, مباحث في علوم القرآن, pages 205-211, Dr. Mannaa` Khaleel Al-Qattaan of the Muhammad bin Saud University offers excellent analysis of the words Muhkam and Mutashaabih and shows clearly that they are NOT opposites. Some of the points he makes are:

  • Muhkam means "stopped at." It is derived from a word that means a camel won't move! It is also used for the reins on a horse's mouth which stops it from acting erratically. It is also the base for the word wisdom, because wisdom stops a person from saying or doing what's inappropriate. It is also the basis for the word "ruler" because he stops injustice and settles disputes. Dr. Al-Qattaan argues that the whole of the Quran, as explicitly stated in 11:1, is Muhkam because every word in it is deliberate and accurate. Perfected. To be stopped at and contemplated.

  • Mutashaabih means looking like each other in meaning, familiarity and excellence, suiting each other perfectly. Complimentary. Thus, the whole of the Quran, as clearly stated in 39:23, is Mutashaabih because every sentence in it fits perfectly with every other sentence, confirming it and making it clear.

  • The two words are not opposites. The Quran is both Muhkam and Mutashaabih. Muhkam because it is precise, decisive and excellent. Mutashaabih because its content confirms itself with different words, phrases and expressions which share the same meaning. There is no order, or prohibition, made in one verse that is contradicted in another, as clearly stated in 4:82.

  • As for 3:7, Dr. Al-Qattaan argues that Muhkam there means "obvious", while Mutashaabih means "not so obvious." Thus, the Quran has both. He favors the opinion that defines Ta'weel as the ultimate truth/reality known only to God. Thus, efforts by mortals in trying Ta'weel are futile.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of محكم /muħkæm/ and متشابه /mutæ,ʃæ:bih/
PostPosted: 04 Oct 2015, 04:53 
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One more idea occurred to me and I thought I'd mention it here. The word محكم is passive while the word متشابه is active. One implication of that might be that verses of the Quran have all been made Muhkam, i.e., definitive, by God, but perhaps man is unable to see their definitiveness and thinks many of them are Mutashaabih, i.e., carry multiple meanings. In other words, verses of the Quran are Muhkam by God but Mutashaabih to the people.

This explanation may help in understanding the difference, and apparent contradiction, between the three verses we've been discussing in this topic.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of محكم /muħkæm/ and متشابه /mutæ,ʃæ:bih/
PostPosted: 22 Oct 2017, 21:02 
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In his book, أصول التشريع الإسلامي, in the footnotes of page 227, Hasaballah defines the difference between two Arabic words: تفسير (elucidation) and تأويل (interpretation). Both words are often understood, incorrectly, to mean interpretation. The differentiation between the two words, as Hasaballah put it, is this. An unclear word is elucidated by a certain evidence and interpreted by an uncertain evidence. In other words, interpretations are uncertain, but elucidation is.

Given that, the word تأويله in 3:7 means that a mutashaabih can at best be interpreted; it can never be elucidated. The interjectional clause "and none knows its interpretation" then means that none can even interpret it; only God can.

Thus, the entire arena of exegesis of the Quran, called in Arabic تفسير القرآن, actually is impossible to do! Because the Quran contains, per 3:7, parts that are mutashaabih.

On page 228, Hasaballah mentions how the scholars have defined a Mutashaabih. They said it was a word whose meaning is unclear and unattainable because God reserved to Himself its knowledge and has not provided a means to understand it further. Ironically, scholars kept trying to interpret mutashaabih words despite all this emphasis.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of محكم /muħkæm/ and متشابه /mutæ,ʃæ:bih/
PostPosted: 28 Oct 2017, 22:30 
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Hamza, in his book دراسات الأحكام والنسخ في القرآن الكريم, pages 17-36, lists the different opinions of scholars about what is Muhkam and what is Mutashaabih. The inevitable conclusion from what the scholars said is that they did not agree on what the two words, specially Mutashaabih, mean, nor whether a Mutashaabih can be interpreted, nor who may interpret it, nor what the wisdom is behind it!

Doesn't that prove that the matter is indeterminate, and therefore should not be attempted? And isn't that exactly what 3:7 says?

Mutashaabih is there to test the faith of Muslims. Those who tell themselves they can interpret it and/or attempt to do so are either (a) have deviation (زيغ) in their hearts, or (b) attempting the impossible!

Hamza stated that the consensus of the Sahaaba and the generation that followed them was that Mutashaabih cannot be interpreted and shouldn't be, but only accepted as part of the faith. He quotes Umm Salama, may God have been pleased with her, commenting on

saying "The how is unknown. The sitting up is not unknown. Admitting it is part of faith and denying it is blasphemy."

He, however, leans toward the opinion that a Mutashaabih can be interpreted a bit! He argues "what is the point, then, of contrasting those in whose hears is a deviation with those who are steep in knowledge?" He adds "Those steeped in knowledge are guided by God to interpretation."

Well, the point is obvious. The former attempt to interpret, fully aware that only God can do so, and the latter don't even try.

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 Post subject: Re: Definition of محكم /muħkæm/ and متشابه /mutæ,ʃæ:bih/
PostPosted: 18 Nov 2017, 18:49 
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Linguistic wrote:
Hamza, in his book دراسات الأحكام والنسخ في القرآن الكريم, pages 17-36, lists the different opinions of scholars about what is Muhkam and what is Mutashaabih. The inevitable conclusion from what the scholars said is that they did not agree on what the two words, specially Mutashaabih, mean, nor whether a Mutashaabih can be interpreted, nor who may interpret it, nor what the wisdom is behind it!

Hamza doesn't seem to think so, as he quotes the verse on the back cover of his book! Does he believe that Mutashaabih is synonymous with abrogated? Is he trying to tell his readers that the ending of the verse ("we believe in it, all of it is from our Lord") means having to accept abrogation?

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