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How to determine the context of Quranic verses&Ahadith?

By: admin


Most of the explanations given in your answers/articles are based on the rule and that is the CONTEXT of the verses of the Qur’an as well as the Hadith quoted is taken into consideration.

My question is that how do you (or for that matter, someone else interested), find the authentic CONTEXT of a revelation of particular verse(s) and especially ahadith quoted? Is there a science etc. to it?

Jazaakumullah Khair.


The Qur’an is a book compiled and arranged by its ‘author’. The sentences, paragraphs and chapters of the Qur’an are not independent of what precedes or succeeds them, in contrast to what is generally the case with a compilation of independent sayings and quotations. Thus, every sentence, paragraph and chapter of the Qur’an is placed in a particular context which is determined by the verses, paragraphs and chapters that surround them.

In other words, the method of determining the context of a particular verse, group of verses  or Surah of the Qur’an is to deliberate over that verse, group of verses or Surah in the light of the verses and Surahs surrounding it. This deliberation, if done with a thorough knowledge and exposure of the style of the classical Arabic literature would lead to a good understanding of the context of any of the verses under consideration.

In contrast to the Qur’an – being a compiled book which clarifies the context of each verse through means which are internal to itself – determining the context of a given narrative ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) is a much more complex task. The increased complexity of the task is because of the general lack of exhaustive information being narrated in each narration as well as because the determination of the context and the ascertainment of the circumstances of a given narrative are generally based on factors external to the narrative and, therefore, can sometimes even be presumptuous in their nature.

Some of the more important steps that may help in determining the context of a narrative and constructing the circumstances that may have led to the narrated incident are:

-Compiling and analysing all the variations in the reporting of the incident. Sometimes, other reports of the same incident may provide us with valuable information on the context and circumstances prevailing at the time;

-Studying and interpreting the narration in the light of the clear directives of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Sometimes the relevant directives of the Qur’an and the Sunnah guide us to what may have been the circumstances in which the Prophet (pbuh) had recommended a particular course of action;

-Appreciation of the socio-cultural, economic and other norms and traditions of the society in which the Prophet (pbuh) had made a statement.

-Appropriate placement of a given directive or action narrated in a Hadith in the overall corpus of Islam in such a manner that the narrative under consideration is fully explained in the light of the Qur’an or the Sunnah or the universally acknowledged moral and ethical values or common and agreed upon knowledge.

The foregoing application shall go a long way in helping to determine the context of the narrative as well as to ascertain the circumstances under which the Prophet (pbuh) may have spoken any narrated words or carried out a narrated action. 

Hope this helps.


UIUK team

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