The dimensions of achieving the formal aspect of religious thought according to shi’ism -1

the Holy Quran, which is the pricncipal source of religious thought in IsIam, has given full authority to the external meanings of its words for those who give ear to its message The same external meaning of the Quranic verses has made the sayings of the prophet complementary to the world of the Quran and has declared them to be authoritative like the Quran. for as the Quran says, And we have revealed unto three the Remembrance that thou mayst explain to mankind that which hath been revealed for them.(Quran , XVI,44) and , he it is who hath sent among the unlettered ones a messenger of their own, to recite unto them his revelations and to make them grow , and to teach them the scripture and wisdom(Quran,LXII, 2) And ,A nd Whatsoever the messenger giveth you ,take it And Whatsoever he forbiddeth, abstain ( from it)( Quran,LIX, 7) And, Verily in the messenger of Allah ye have good example (Quran, XXXIII,21) It is quite evident that such verses would not have any real mraning if the words and dees of the prophet and even his silence and approval were authority for us just as the Quran itself is. Thus the words of the prophet are authoritative and must be accepted by those who have heard them orally or received them thought reliable transmission. Moreover, thought such a completely authentic chain of transmission it is known that the Holy prophet said, I leave two things of vaue amidst you in trust which if you hold on to you will never go astray :the Quran and the members of my household. These will never be separated until the Day of Judgment. According to this and other definitely established hadiths the words of the family of the house hold of the prophet from a corpus that is complementary to the prophetic religious sciences and are inerrant in the explanation of the teachings and injunctions of Islam. Their sayings received orally or thought reliable transmission, are reliable and auothoritative.

Traditions of the companions
In the shi’ism hadiths transmitted through the companions are dealt with according to this principle, If they deal with the word and actions of the prophet and do not contradict the hadiths of the Household of the prophet, they are acceptable. If they contain only the view or opininons of the companinons themselves and not those of the prophet, they are not authoritative as sources for religious injunctions. In this respect the ruling of the companions is like the ruling of any other Muslim. In the same way, the companions themselves dealt with companions in questions of Islamic law as they would with any muslin, not as someone special.

Therefore, it is clear that the traditional source from which the formal and aspect of religion is derived, which is an authoritative document and which is also the basic for the religious thought of IsIam,consists of two parts, The book ( the Quran) and the sunnah. By the Book is meant the external aspect of the verses of the Holy Quran, and by the Sunnah, hadith received from the prophet and his revered Household.

The relationship between Book and tradition
The book of God, the holy Quran is the principal source of every from of Islamic thought. It is the Quran which gives religious validity and authority to every other religious source in Islam. Therefore, it must be comprehensible to all. Moreover, the Quran describes itself as the light which illuminates all things. Also it challenges men and requests them to ponder over its verses and observe that there are no disparities or contradictions in them. it invites them to compose similar work, if they can, to replace it. It is clear that if the holy Quran were not comprehensible to all there would be no place for such assertions.

To say that the Quran is in itself comprehensible to all is not in any way contradictory to the previous assertion that the prophet and his house hold are religious authorities in the Islamic sciences, which sciences in reality are only elaborations of the content of the Qumran. For instance, in the part of the Islamic sciences which comprises the injunctions and law of the shari’ah, the Quran cantains only the general principles? The clarification and elaboration of their details , suchas the manner of accomplishing the the daily prayers, fasting, exchanging merchandise, and in fact all acts of worship ( ibadat)and transitions ( mu’amalat) , can be achieved only by referring to the traditions of the holy prophet and his household.

As for the other part of the Islamic sciences dealing with doctrines and ethical methods and practices, although their content and details can be comprehended by all, the understanding of their full meaning depends on accepting the method of the house hold of the prophet. Also each verse of the Quran must be explanined and interpretrd by means of other Quranic verses, not by views which have become acceptable and familiar to us only through habit and custom.

Ali has said: "some parts of the Quran speck with other parts of it revealing to us their meaning and some parts attest to the meaning of ohers" (Nahj al- baldghah, semen 231. This question has been discussed in our work on the Quran which is also to appear shortly in English). And the prophet has said, "parts of Quran verify other parts" (Al- Durr al- manthur, VOI, II, 6). And also: "Whosoever interprets the Quran according to his own opinion has made a plsce for himself in the fire" (Tasir al- Mulla Mushin fayd kashani, Tehran 126, p, 8, Bihar, al- anwar, VOI, XIX, p, 28).

As a simple example of the Quran through the Quran may br cited the story of the torture of the people of Lot about whom in one place God says, and we rained on them a rain and in and in another place He has changed this phrase to, lo! We sent a storm of stones upon them (all) (Quarn, LIV, 34). By relating the second verse to the first it becomes clear that by rain is meant stones from heaven. Whoever has studied with care the hadiths of the household of the prophet, and the outstanding companions who were the followers of the prophet, will have no doubt that the commentary of the Quran through the Quran is the sole method of Quranic commentary taught by the house hold of the prophet (It may be added that this the method employed by the author in his monumental Quantico commentary, al- Mizzen, of which seventeen volumes have already appeared).

The outward and inward aspects of the Quran
It has been explained that the Holy Quran elucidates religious aims through its own words and gives commands to mankind in matter of doctrine and action. But the meaning of the Quran is not Iimited to this level. Rather, behind these same expressions and within these same meanings there are deeper and wider levels of meaning which only the spiritual elite who possess pure hearts can comprehend.

The prophet, who is the divinely appointed teacher of the Quran, says: (Tafsir al- saft, p, 4) "The Quran has a beautiful exterior and a profound interior .He has also said, The Quran has an inner dimension, and that inner dimension has an inner dimension up to seven inner dimensions. Also, in the sayings or the Imams there are numerous refences to the inner aspect of the Quran.

The main support of these assertions is a symbol which God has mentioned in ChapterXIII, verse, 17, of the Quran. In this verse divine gifts are symbolixed by rain that falls from heaven and upon which depends the life of earth and its inhabitants. with the coming of the rain, floods begin to flow and each river bed accepts a certain. Amount of the flood is covered with foam, but beneath the foam there is that same water which is life – giving and beneficial mankind.

The levels of comprehension of people who read the Quran
As is indicated by this symbolic story, the capacity for comprehension of divine sciences, which are the source of man’s inner life, differs among people there are those for whom these is no reality beyond physical existence and the material life of this world which lasts but a few days. Such people are attached to material appetites and physical desires alone and fear nothing but the loss of material benefits and sensory enjoyment. Such people taking into consideration the differences of degree among them can at best accept the divine sciences on the level of believing in a summaryfashion in the doctrines and perfuming the practical commands of Islam in purely outward manner without any comprehension. They worship God with the hope of recompense or fear of punishment in the next world.

These are also those who, because of the purity of their nature, do not consider their well-being to lie in attachment to the transient pleasures of the fleeting life of this world. The losses and gains and bitter and sweet experiences of this world are for them no more than an attractive illusion. Memory of those who passed before them in the caravan of existence, who were pleasure –seekers yesterday and no more than subjects of stories today, is a warning that is continuously present before their eyes. Such men who possess pure hearts are naturally attracted to the world of eternity. They view the different phenomena of this passing world as symbols and portents of the higher world, not as persisting and independent realities.

It is at this point that through earthly and heavenly signs, signs, upon the horizons and within the souls of men, they observe in a spirtual vision the Infinite Light of the Majesty and Glory of God. Their hearts become completely enamored with the longing to reach an understanding of the secret symbols of creation Instead of being imprisoned on the drak and narrow well of personal gain and selfishness they begin to fly in the unlimited space of the world of eternity and advance ever onwards toward the zenith of the spiritual world.

When they hear that God has forbidden the worship of idols, which outwardly means bowing down before an idol, they understand this command to mean that they should not obey other than God , for to obey means to bow down before someone and to serve him. Beyond that meaning that understand that they should not have hope of fear of other than God, beyond that , they should not surrender to the demands of their selfish appetites, and beyond that, that they should not concentrate on anyting except God, May his Name be Glorified.

Like wise when they hear from the Quran that they should pray, the external meaning of which is to perform pray, the particular rites of prayers through its inner meaning they comprehend that they must worship and obey God with all their hearts and souls Beyond that they comprehend that before God they must consider themselves as nothing must forget themselves and remember only God.

It can be been seen that the inner meaning present in these two examples in not due to the outward expression of the command and prohibition in question .Yet the comprehension of this meaning is unavoidable for anyone who has begun to meditate upon a more universal order and has preferred to gain a vision of the universe of reality rather than his own ego, who has preferred objectivity to an egocentric subjectivism.

The complementary relationship between the outward and inward aspect of the Quran
From this discussion the meaning of the outward and inward aspects of the Quran has become clear. It has also become evident that the inner meaning of the Quran does no eradicate or invalidate its outward meaning Rather, it is like the soul which gives life to the body .IsIam, which is a universal and eternal reformation of mankind, can never dispense with its external laws which are for the benefit of society, nor with its simple doctrines which are guardians and preservers of these laws.

How can a society , on the pretense that religion is only a matter of the heart , that man’s heart should be pure and there is no value to actions , live in disorder and yet attain happiness?howcan impure deeds and words cause the cultivation of a pure heart? Or how can impure words emanate from Apure heart? God says in his book, vile women. And vile men for vile woman, Good women are for good men ,and good men for good women(Quran)(XXIV, 26) he also says, As for the good land , its vegetation cometh forth by permission of its Lord while as for that which is bad , only evil cometh fourth (from it). (Quran, VII, 58) Thus it becomes evident that the holy Quran has an out ward and an inward aspect and the aspect itself has different levels of meaning. Theheatith literature, which explains the content of the Quran, also contains these various aspects.

Sources :

  1. shiiah- pages: 136-145