Why Do We Need the Thematic Interpretation of Quran?

A Thematic Interpretation of the Quran - 10

In this final episode, on the ideas that I shared on the thematic interpretation of the Quran, I thought I should talk about the future of Quranic exegeses.

The Quranic interpretation I see developing in contemporary Islamic thought, and I think that the thematic interpretation is the future of Quranic interpretation because this is closer to the changing reality.

Need for a Thematic Interpretation

We live in a very different planet, we have very different questions and different topics from the past; therefore, we need a thematic reading of the Quran in order to be able to answer the questions that we have.

Not that the previous readings were invalid, by any means, they are all important, and anybody who is going to reflect upon the Quran has to be very familiar with the history of literature of the interpretations of the Quran.

But the thematic interpretation is different because it gives new insights and new projections. The previous interpretations, as we mentioned throughout the different episodes, had dealt with the issues of fiqh, issues of language, and extensively researched these issues. But not the interpretation that focuses on the themes, especially the methodological themes that we discussed.

I humbly presented a thematic interpretation of the Quran that revolved around some themes of methodology, and I think that, in the future, this is important to expand on and research the maqasid interpretation, or the objective based interpretation, is an important step forward in that science that qualified scholars are supposed to look into in order to go beyond the interpretations of maqasid that are quite limited of our past and expand the theory in order to meet the challenges of the present times.

Theme of Concepts

The conceptual interpretation, or the concept-based interpretation of the Quran is also very important and is a step forward.

Theme of Values

We also discussed the values, or the values-based interpretation, which is very important also in order to discuss and go beyond the traditional ways of looking at the Quran into ways of looking at the value system that the Quran built and building on the few attempts of doing that in contemporary times into a whole moral way of life that we come up with through that thematic interpretation.

Theme of Logic

A thematic interpretation that focuses on the logical interpretation of the Quran is also important, methodologically speaking, and is needed for current research and current times.

Theme of History

The interpretation that integrates the historical accounts of the Quran with the historical accounts that we have, whether from the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) or afterwards, or before that, it’s very important to integrate the Quran and the Sunnah.

We deal with them sometimes as two different sources, but they are actually one source that has to be integrated.

The chapters of the Hadith that are divided according to fiqh have to be divided today according to the themes of the Quran so that we understand the Quran in light of our understanding of the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) related to the themes of the Quran.

The Sunnah also needs the thematic chapterization and interpretation so that we integrate our knowledge of the Quran with our knowledge of the Sunnah.

Need for a Wider Scope

It’s important for the population of readers and interpreters of the Quran to be much larger than the population we have today. In general, the Quran is really an unexplored book, and I venture to say that, even though I do work in the field of Islamic thought and Islamic law, in fact, it’s because I work in the field of Islamic law and Islamic thought that I say that the Quran is highly unexplored.

There are so many ideas and so many themes that we need to research in order to enrich our current research in Islamic studies in all disciplines and fields.

Therefore, we need an interpreter who is not only specialized in Shariah or in Quranic studies in historical sense, but an interpreter who has a good Islamic knowledge background and also has specializations so that they have an outlook on the Quran that is unprecedented and they bring views and benefits from that marvelous book that we have never heard about before.

We need the scholars of medicine, science, literature, language, law, arts… We need every kind of scholars to look at the Quran and tell us what they see. Because I’m sure that they will see things that people with training in jurisprudence, traditionally, or people with training in Arabic language only would not be able to see.

And this is an essential part of the thematic interpretation that we need to develop for our times. We need to widen the scope of people who reflect upon the Quran.

Deeper Reflection

When Allah ordered the humanity to reflect upon the Quran, He ordered everybody; every human being is requested to reflect upon the Quran and every believer is requested to ask the Quran thematic question and look for answers and look for guidance in the values, in the objectives, in the concepts, in the stories, in how the Quran structures arguments that are relevant to that question that the interpreter is asking.

All of this would bring us in the future of Islamic thought steps forward so that we can build an Islamic thought that is genuine, and genuine means based on the Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and based on fresh understanding.

This is not an innovation; this is renewal that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) mentioned when he mentioned that Allah sends a group of people every century that renews the understanding of faith, and that renewal the thematic interpretation is an essential part.

We ask Allah to accept from us, to forgive us, and increase us in knowledge.

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6 – Part 7 – Part 8Part 9

About Dr. Jasser Auda
Jasser Auda is a Professor and Al-Shatibi Chair of Maqasid Studies at the International Peace College South Africa, the Executive Director of the Maqasid Institute, a global think tank based in London, and a Visiting Professor of Islamic Law at Carleton University in Canada. He is a Founding and Board Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, Member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, Fellow of the Islamic Fiqh Academy of India, and General Secretary of Yaqazat Feker, a popular youth organization in Egypt. He has a PhD in the philosophy of Islamic law from University of Wales in the UK, and a PhD in systems analysis from University of Waterloo in Canada. Early in his life, he memorized the Quran and studied Fiqh, Usul and Hadith in the halaqas of Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo. He previously worked as: Founding Director of the Maqasid Center in the Philosophy of Islamic Law in London; Founding Deputy Director of the Center for Islamic Ethics in Doha; professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada, Alexandria University in Egypt, Islamic University of Novi Pazar in Sanjaq, Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, and the American University of Sharjah. He lectured and trained on Islam, its law, spirituality and ethics in dozens of other universities and organizations around the world. He wrote 25 books in Arabic and English, some of which were translated to 25 languages.