Is the Quran Muhkam, Mutashaabih, or both?
Member "Professor" once posed this question for discussion. I woke up this morning with an idea, so I thought I'd write it down
The Quran is all Muhkam by God. It is all set
. It is final. Nothing may be added to it, be taken out of it, or abrogate it
. Its verses detail each other
. These details are presented in multiple ways and may imply many meanings, all of which are meant. The ultimate meaning (تأويل) of some of its verses may not be obvious to us and known only to God, but that's no reason to call those verses not Muhkam. They are Muhkam but we don't know how. When we treat all verses as Muhkam, we comply with God's commands. When we start to delve into its other possible meanings (Mutashaabih), that's when we veer into endless tangents.
Some of it is Muhkam (definitive) and some of it is Mutashaabih (indeterminate). Those verses that imply a variety of meanings are there for a purpose: All the legitimately deduced meanings are intended
. Those who attempt to confine its meanings to only one, do so for one of two reasons: aspiration to find the ultimate meaning, which only God knows, therefore it's a futile effort, or to cause sedition and division. Those steeped in knowledge, on the other hand, accept all of its meanings
The Quran is Mutashaabih (looks alike). All parts of it resemble the other parts in literary prowess and style, in teachings and in benefit. It is consistent
. There are no odd verses that stand out that cause one to wonder if they are part of the Quran. One can tell that the author of each verse is the same and is divine. It has no contradictions or conflicts to resolve, if one would actually study it as a whole and in depth. No part of it has abrogated any other part
It is fascinating that the word God uses, Mutashaabih, is itself Mutashaabih! The word means looks alike, familiar, heteronym, indeterminate. If you think about it, all those meanings are actually related. When something looks like something else you know, you are uncertain if it is the same. It isn't but it sure looks like it.
This notion can be seen in a number of verses, for instance,
There, the people of Paradise, may we and our loved ones be among them, are handed what looks to them like fruits and goodies they've enjoyed on earth. But they are not. They are much better.
There, the Jews were confused about what cow to slaughter and started to see all cows looking alike. They did not follow the simple instruction they first received, which was vague on purpose
: Slaughter a cow! If they had slaughtered the first cow they found, they would have complied with the command and saved themselves the agony. But they chose instead to nitpick. They followed the Mutashaabih! So, God made it harder and harder on them until they almost could not fulfill the command. That's what God warns against in 3:7 when He warns against "following the Mutashaabih."