The writer of this essay was lucky enough to get the four volumes of "Tyseer El-Tafseer" (Making The Interpretation Easy) from Eyad, as a gift, just two years before Eyad died,at the young age of around forty, from cancer. His father, Chief Justice Ibrahim Qattan, had passed away three years earlier. In a sense, Chief Justice Qattan was lucky, due to the fact that he passed away before seeing his oldest son dying from cancer. The writer of these lines deeply mourned and terribly missed both of them. Learning from both of them like learning from a vast sea of profound knowledge and valuable wisdom. Their memory will remain with the writer of these words as long as he lives.
The four volumes of the " Tyseer El-Tafseer " ( Making Interpretation Easy ) have become the main reference the writer of this essay consults when he faces difficulties in understanding any verse or surah,(revelation),in the Qur'an. Chief Justice Qattan has even given the Arabic-Arabic definitions of difficult words in the Qur'an, in the four volumes, so vividly and easy to follow.
Although Oxford University in England usually translates what has been published in the Arab world, the writer, here, has no idea whether the monumental four volumes of "Tyseer El-Tafseer" have been translated into English or not. If they have, it is highly recommended, to those interested, to have them in homes libraries, as a reliable reference for the interpretation of the verses of the Qur'an, although the writer of this essay strongly believe that the Qur'anic Arabic is simply and purely untranslatable. However, some translation from reliable sources is better than translation from unreliable sources.
I Will not burden the novice readers of this essay with the complexity of the details involved in the interpretation of the verses of the Qur'an, but will suggest to remember the following points:
~ Scholars differ in the interpretation of some of the verses of the Qur'an.
~ Scholars differ in their Ijtihad, (relentless dedication in digging out knowledge about the possible correct interpretations of the verses of the Qur'an.)
~ The most reliable interpretations are those that are based upon the archives of the content of the Qur'an and the interpretations recorded by the Sahabah, (Companions),of the Prophet Muhammad such as Abu-Bakr El-Sidiq, The First Caliph after the death of the Prophet, Omar ibn El-Khattab, The Second Caliph, Othman ibn Affan, The Third Caliph and the first person who wrote the Qur'an, Ali ibn Abi Taleb, The Fourth Caliph and First Cousin of the Prophet Muhammad. In addition to those four companions, there were many others, but one name coms to mind is the name of Al-Bukhari who was a man of deity and who spent his life in recording and segregating the more than 600,00 Hadiths, speeches and statements so many people claimed that they heard the Prophet saying, and sirah, (the way the Prophet conducted his daily affairs).
~ As a result of Ijtihad, ( relentless dedication in digging out and searching for knowledge for the sole purpose of correctly interpreting the verses of the Qur'an ),the following Mathahib, (Schools of Thought), had developed:
* Hanafi School of Thought: founder and scholar, Imam, ibn Hanaf.
* Maliki School of Thought: founder and scholar, Imam, ibn Malik.
* Shafi'i School of Thought: founder and Scholar, Imam, ibn Shafi'.
* Hanbali School of Thought: founder and scholar, Imam, ibn Hanbal.
Each one of these four schools of thought has its followers in the Arab and Islamic world and the followers of each of the school of thought seem to concentrate in specific countries or regions of the Islamic world. For example, The Hanbali School of Thought is followed by most Muslims in Saudi Arabia while Maliki School of Thought is followed by majority of Muslims in Iran. So is the case in the rest of the Arab and Muslim world.
The difference between one school of thought and the other three school of thought is simply in details of the interpretation of the verses of the Qur'an, since all Muslims everywhere adhere to the Five Pillars of Islam, outlined/listed in Topic (4) earlier.
There are other ways through which the verses of the Qur'an were interpreted, ranging from historical records to philosophical thoughts to social and scientific thoughts to Shi'a thoughts to Mu'atazalah (the secluded and isolated ones by choice) thoughts, Sufis philosophy(will dedicate a special topic on it, at a later time separate from the course currently at hand). There are also the Fiqh approach for interpretations and it has to do of the derivation of Shari' a laws. Perhaps one of the most reliable ways of interpreting the verses of the Qur'an is the one that is based on KNOWING THE REASON FOR A PARTICULAR VERSE TO APPEAR IN THE QUR'AN IN THE FIRST PLACE.
The writer of this essay has been convinced that knowing, or at least understanding of the reason/reasons behind the appearance of a verse in the Qur'an, in the first place, makes a lot of sense, because of the strength of The Principle of Cause an Effect which applies in the interpretations of countless phenomena in different fields of human endeavors. In other words, each verse(EFFECT) in the Qur'an must have a (CAUSE),a story or event that compelled its appearance in the Qur'an, in the first place.
Final words: If the novice reader, about Islam, can remember just 50 percent of the foregoing, for the time being, he or she has achieved some learning and some value ,he or she can build on,if interested.