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      The Possibility of Multiple Meaning in Qur'anic Texts

      Journal of Qur'anic Studies

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          The possibility of multiple meaning in the Qur'an is referred to often in works of tafsīr, jurisprudence and culūrn al-Qur'ān . Scholars rely on the textual features of the Qur'an to support this possibility and they draw attention to how we might benefit from it in terms of a wide understanding and flexible practice. This article considers that the possibility of multiple meaning in Qur'anic text is a hypothesis whose premises need to be reviewed in light of their consequences for the understanding of the text and the application of their contents as per the basic tenets of Islam. In this article we look at the evidence for justification of the possibility of multiple meaning and we discuss the need to determine this meaning, or to abandon the possibility. We also consider its sources and places where it is found and its effects on understanding and application. Furthermore, we take the view that the multiplicity of meaning in linguistic texts, including the Qur'an, is only one stage until the cues from the text assist us in determining the intended meaning of the originator of the text. The Qur'anic text has sufficient indications which help in determining the intended divine meaning. These include the explanation provided in the ḥadīth, the first ways of putting the text into practice, and the efforts exerted over fourteen centuries of Qur'anic study. We conclude by pointing out the importance of distinguishing the intended meaning of the text from its application and subsequent concepts. We also show the danger of relying on textual features in adhering to the hypothesis of the possibility of multiple meaning in the Qur'an and of the reliance on individual or subsequent concepts which give the text a multiplicity of possible meanings.

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          Author and article information

          Journal of Qur'anic Studies
          : 2
          : 2
          : 175-179
          Arabic Articles

          Political science,Literature of other nations & languages,Art history & Criticism,Religious studies & Theology,Arab world & Islam,History


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