The ‘Conventions of The Arabs’ (Maʿhūd Al-ʿarab) As A Fundamental Principle of Tafsir

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Abdulrahman Helli


This article aims to re-examine a rather neglected yet fundamental principle in the Islamic exegetical heritage, namely, ‘considering the conventions of the Arabs at the time of revelation of the Qurʾān’ - murāʿāt maʿhūd al-ʿArab fī ʿaṣr an-nuzūl. The study adopts the historical approach, inductive and analytical method. It begins with a theoretical and historical introduction of the meaning and implications of this principle by demonstrating -through examples from the tradition- how it was employed for the interpretation and comprehension of the Qurʾān. The article then offers an examination of the significance of this principle in light of the writings of al-imām al-Shāṭibī, who christened the appellation maʿhūd al-ʿArab and then proceeds to presenting the approach of the Indian exegete ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd al-Farāhī on the relevance of the common parlance of the ancient Arabs, with a comparative analysis of their respective approach. The study concludes that the exegetes took care of the conventions of the Arabs, but that was not always the case, the significance of the research can be seen through the prospects of implementing this principle in the field of Qurʾanic Studies for the development of a historical-critical hermeneutical approach for textual analysis.


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Research Article (English)