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  The Qur'an was revealed in "a clear Arabic tongue" – so why is it important to know the reason behind the revelation of a particular verse? Some people have thought like this, considering knowledge of the reasons behind the revelation of a verse to be of no more than historical interest.

  The great scholars of the Qur'an disagree. 
Al-Suyûtî said: "There are numerous benefits in knowing the reasons behind the revelation of a verse. They are gravely mistaken who think it worthless aside from its historical value. It can reveal a meaning that would otherwise be hidden or resolve a problem in understanding." 

  Al-Wâhidî said: "It is not possible to know the proper meaning of a verse without being familiar with the circumstances that occasioned its revelation. 
  Ibn Daqîq al-Id said: "Clarifying the circumstances behind the revelation of a verse is a very effective way to gain insights into the meaning of the Qur'an." 
  Ibn Taymiyah goes so far as to say: "Knowing the reason for the revelation helps us to understand the verse in the same way that knowledge of the cause bequeaths knowledge of the effect." 

  A survey of the various causes of revelation reveals to us that they are of two kinds:
1. Verses which were revealed to deal with a particular circumstance that beset the Muslims. 
2. Verses which were revealed to answer questions that were posed to the Prophet (peace be upon him).
An example of the first kind would be the verses that were revealed in Sûrah al-Nûr to exonerate `A'ishah after the hypocrites spread rumors about her infidelity. 
  For instance, Allah says: "Those who brought forward the lie are a group from among you. Do not consider it to be an evil to you. On the contrary it is good for you. To every man among them (will come the punishment) of the sin that he earned, and to him who took on himself the lead among them, will be a grievous penalty. Why did not the believers, men and women, when you heard it, think good of their own own folk, and say: 'It is an obvious lie'." [Sûrah al-Nûr: 11-12].

  Another example of this kind can be seen in the verses that refer to the three true believers who nevertheless failed to participate in the Battle of Tabûk. Allah says about their being forgiven: "(He turned in mercy also) to the three who were left behind; (they felt guilty) to such a degree that the earth seemed constrained to them, for all its spaciousness, and their (very) souls seemed straitened to them,- and they perceived that there is no fleeing from Allah (and no refuge) but to Himself. Then He turned to them, that they might repent: for Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful." [Sûrah al-Tawbah: 118].

  Then we have the verses which were revealed to address specific questions posed to the Prophet (peace be upon him) by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.     Examples of this kind are quite numerous. 
  Allah says: "They ask you concerning the forbidden months, about fighting therein. Say: fighting therein is a calumny…" [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 217] 
  And: "They ask you concerning what is permitted to them. Say: Permitted to you are the wholesome things…" [Sûrah al-Mâ'idah: 4] 
  And: "They ask you concerning the soul. Say: The soul is from the affairs of my Lord, and you have been given but little knowledge." [Sûrah al-Isrâ': 85] 
 There are other verses of the Qur'an that Allah simply revealed to Muhammad without a particular context preceding them. The majority of the Qur'an's verses fall into this category.


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