Ta’weel of the Word Qalb

We should not interpret the names and attributes of Allah or change the obvious meanings of the words. Does this rule apply to all the words of the Qur’an or is it specific to the names and attributes of Allah alone?

For example, the obvious meaning of the words qalb and sadar is heart and chest respectively; can they be interpreted to mean intelligence and center?

In general, we cannot interpret the meanings of the Qur’an, whether the attributes of Allah or other than them, except if the interpretation is based on evidence from either the Qur’an itself, the statements of the Prophet (ﷺ), or the statements of the companions. So, in a sense, the same rule that we used to apply to the attributes of Allah we can use for the rest of the Qur’an. And Allah knows best.

Explanation of the Use of Majaz (Metaphors) in the Qur’an However, we need to differentiate between two things:

1) Metaphoric words (Majaz). 2) Metaphoric sentences (not Majaz).

Metaphoric Sentences: For example, when we say: “Zaid is a fox”, we do not mean: Zaid is an actual fox, the animal. From the context we understand that we are only giving a metaphor of how cunning Zaid is.

This is a metaphoric sentence. This exists in the Qur’an in abundance. For example:

وَٱخۡفِضۡ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ ٱلذُّلِّ مِنَ ٱلرَّحۡمَةِ

“And, out of kindness, lower to them (your parents) the wing of humility..” [1]

Obviously, humility does not have a wing to lower. But from the context we understand: be kind to your parents, etc.

This is not Majaz. It is not the point of dispute between people of Sunnah and people of Bid’ah.

Metaphoric words (Majaz): Again, when we say: “Zaid is a fox”, notice that the word fox does not mean anything other than: fox; the animal. The word fox does not mean cunning in itself. The entire sentence means: Zaid is cunning. But the word fox still means: fox- the animal.

In the example of: “lower the wing of humility”, we see that the word “wing” does not mean anything other than the well known wing (as in a bird’s wing).

What people of Bid’ah say is that the words themselves have an apparent meaning, and a different hidden meaning (Majazy meaning). This is to help them in saying things such as “yad” meaning ability, self, etc.

Ahlus-Sunnah disagrees with this as words can only have one meaning dictated by the context.

Allah Knows Best

Source:  From Multaqa Ahl al-Hadeeth: http://saheefah.org/2007/12/04/explanation-of-the-use-of-majaz-metaphors-in-the-quran/


[1] Surah al-Israa’, 17:24

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