Although the meanings of the Qur’an are easy and clear to understand, one must be careful to make assertions about the religion without relying on an authentic commentary. Not only did Prophet Muhammad(S) bring the Qur’an, he also explained it to his companions, and these sayings have been collected and preserved till this day in the form of Ahadith. Allah, the Exalted, says:“And We have sent down to you (O Muhammad) the message that you may explain clearly to men what is sent for them.” (Qur’an 16:44)
In order to understand some of the deeper meanings of the Qur’an, one should rely upon commentaries which mention these statements of the Prophet as well as his companions, and not upon what they understand from the text, as their understanding of it is limited to their prior knowledge.
A specific methodology exists for exegesis of the Qur’an in order to extract the proper meaning. The Qur’anic sciences, as they are called, are an extremely specialized field of Islamic scholarship which requires mastery in multiple disciplines, like exegesis, recitations, script, inimitability, circumstances behind revelation, abrogation, Qur’anic grammar, unusual terms, jurisprudential rulings, and Arabic language and literature. A person new to the exploration of Qur’an should approach it with humility.
According to scholars of tafseer, the proper method of explaining the aayaath of Qur’an are:
- Tafseer of the Qur’an by Qur’an.
- Tafseer of the Qur’an by the Sunnah of the Prophet.
- Tafseer of the Qur’an by the statements of the Companions.
- Tafseer of the Qur’an by Arabic language and its meaning taken by Sahaba.
- Tafseer of the Qur’an by scholarly opinion if it does not contradict the above four sources.
A final word of advice to the beginner: keep notes, write down what questions arise during your reading, and finally turn to those who have proper knowledge about the religion and accept their explanation if it is based on evidence.