Dr. Abdul Rahim Afaki

University of Karachi, Pakistan


This paper seeks to describe the contemporary state of the Qur’ānic hermeneutics focusing the alternate theories concerning the structure of the Qur’ānic text. It restricts to identifying only two such theories: the view that the Qur’ān is a thematically coherent structure wherein all the elements are integrally related to each other to shape the whole text as a unity, and the view that the Qur’ānic text is an atomic collection of verses having fragmented meanings. In amīduddin Farāhī is the major proponentcontemporary Qur’ānic hermeneutics, H īduddīn Khan is that of the latter. The hermeneuticof the former whereas Wah route, which this paper follows, to this dichotomy of underpinnings is defined īduddīn Khan’s remarks on the notion ofby a critical analysis of Wah m al-Qur’ānNaz justifying his view that the Qur’ān is a collection of fragmented meanings rather than a coherent structure. The presentation of the argument in this essay is not neutral in acquainting these theoretical alternates in that it is not free from hypothesizing something in construing the argumentation. It rather tends to justify the notion of thematic coherence by criticizing the view that the Qur’ān is a bundle of discretely arranged verses. 


Literature concerning Qur’anic hermeneutics tends to fall into two sorts: that which attempts an exploration grounded upon the view that the Qur’anic text is a bundle of discrete verses placed together incoherently, and that which may not attempt this at all rather encourage the shoots of intellectual speculation in order to establish the view that the Qur’an is a coherent whole. Wahīduddīn Khan’s exegesis titled Tadhkīr al-Qur’ān (Reminiscence of the Qur’ān) is an exponent of the former view while Farāhī’s notion of Nazm al-Qur’ān (thematic coherence of the Qur’ān) is to represent the latter. This paper critically undertakes Khan’s remarks on Farāhī’s notion of Nazm, the view that the whole structure of the Qur’ān is thematically coherent, which is to say, all of the verses of a sūrah of the Qur’ān are integrally related to each other to give rise to the major theme of the sūrah and again all of the sūrahs are interconnected with each other to constitute the major theme(s) of the Qur’ān as an organic whole. Taking side of those who find the Qur’an as a bundle of discrete verses, Khan opines that the Nazm is not a structured phenomenon objectively found in the Qur’ān, it is instead an ‘excogitative presumption’ being grounded upon one’s ‘subjective reasoning.’ 

My whole argument comprises of two parts. Part One deals with the background of this debate between two distinct approaches towards the Qur’anic text focusing Farahi’s notion of Nazm whereas Part Two critically analyzes Khan’s remarks on Farahi’s hermeneutical approach to the Qur’an.

  1. I.      The Qur’an: A Coherent Structure or an Atomistic Collection of Verses?

 Qur’ānic hermeneutics has always been revolving around the specific discourse of the divine revelation. All of the remaining issues of human life-form are understood or interpreted cognizing the role of the Qur’ān as pivotal in human discourse. The working life-model of this essentiality of the divine and the human is the Prophet Muhammad himself whereas the materialization of the divine-human essentiality in life-discourse is conditioned by Arabic language. So the whole development of Qur’ānic hermeneutics has been the triadic complex of the divine revelation, the human life-form and the language. The orientation of the pre-Islamic (al-jāhilī) tradition was set linguistically and the main contributors to that culture were the poets and the orators. Owing to the linguistic orientation of the pagan culture, the Qur’ān was revealed to the Prophet in the language shared between him and his original public as the Qur’ān says:

“Verily this is heedfully revealed from the Lord of the worlds. The Trustworthy Spirit came down with it, in the perspicuous Arabic language (bi lisān ‘Arabī mubīn), to thy heart so that thou mayest be from amongst the cautioners (al-mundhirīn). …Had we revealed it to any of the non-Arabs, and had he recited it to them, they wouldn’t have believed in it.”[1] 

Arabic language shared between the Prophet and his original addressees would be a precondition for all understanding and interpretation of the Qur’ān construed either by the Prophet, his companions, their successors, or any other individual or group belonging to any stage throughout the history of Muslims. Through the instruments of historical or traditional linguistic signs, the Prophet had not only to deliver the divine meanings to the mortals but he also had to make them understand those divine neologisms. The interpretation of the divine neologisms in terms of the historical signs and symbols of the language led the Prophet to the exegetical objectivism.[2] He was divinely determined to not only deliver the word of Allāh to his addressees but to make them understand it through an appropriate interpretation of it as the Qur’ān says:

“And we have sent down unto thee the reminiscence (al-dhikr) so that thou mayest explain clearly to the people what is sent for them and that they may give thought.”[3]

Owing to the twofold givenness of the traditional linguistic symbols and their divine neologisms that determined the role of the Prophet as an absolutely objectivist interpreter of the Qur’ān, one may understand why the tradition of Qur’ān exegesis started to take shape with the rise of tafsīr bi’l-mā’thūr (traditionist exegesis) grounded upon the reports or āthār concerning the hermeneutic acts and sayings of the Prophet, his companions and their successors. The main proponent of such type of Qur’ān exegesis is ’Abū Ja‘far Muhammad ibn Jarīr at-Tabarī (d. 922/310). His methodology of interpreting the Qur’ān does not owe to the tradition in the sense of a socio-cultural-historical continuum rooted in the Prophetic-hermeneutic life-praxis (the Sunnah) rightly guided by the Qur’ān and further developed and transmitted by the companions to the next generation on the plane of Arabic language. Tabarī, being an exponent of traditionist exegesis, overlooks all of these characteristics of the Qur’ān-tradition relationship, and the problem lies in his conception of the Qur’an. He conceives of the Qur’ān as an atomistic collection of verses, which is to say, he takes the Qur’ān to be a container of discretely placed verses. Owing to this view of the Qur’ān, he, being an exegete, relies on the exegetical remnants (āthār) or reports concerning the meaning of a verse handed down to him by one or few individuals of the previous generation to form a chain of such one-to-one exchanges of remnants which ends at the Prophet. These exegetical remnants always lead one to understanding each verse in isolation.[4] Khan’s so called fragmentary style of interpretation (shadhrātī andāz-e-tashrīh) of the Qur’ān, which is the focal point of this paper, reminds one of Tabarī’s conception of the Qur’ān. In the last section of this paper, I will discuss his views in details. Let us here turn to another option of how to conceive of the Qur’ānic text, which is to say, how to take the Qur’ān as a thematically coherent structure.

The emergence of the Farāhīan School in the twentieth century Qur’ānic hermeneutics has brought a unique novelty both in theoretical underpinnings and applicatory methods concerning the interpretation of the Qur’ānic text. The theoretical foundation of this school is Farāhī’s underpinnings regarding his view of the Qur’ān as a thematically coherent organic whole while the applicatory superstructure of the school is erected by Farāhī’s disciple Amīn Ahsan Islāhī who expounds a complete Qur’ān exegesis, Tadabbur-e-Qur’ān on the Farāhīan lines. Their interpretation of the Qur’ān is grounded upon the preconditions of the cognition of thematic coherence of the Qur’ān and the mastery of linguistic orientation of Arab culture particularly of the pre-Islamic life-world of the Arabs. The former condition enables one to understand the whole of the divine discourse in the perspective of hermeneutical circle while the latter makes one necessitate the divine guidance for the human discourse on the plane of language. That is to say, the former makes it sure that the Qur’ānic verses are to be understood in the perspective of the integral relationship of the verses to the whole discourse and vice versa, which minimizes the possibility of impositions of one’s subjectively prejudged meanings upon the divine text. And the latter helps one interpret the divinely revealed meanings in terms of the linguistic signs and symbols intersubjectively practiced through the tradition and objectively documented in terms of literary forms and cultural life-world. Interpretation of a text for Farāhī is not an additional account which an interpreter may construe himslef regarding the meaning of the text to be understood. Instead, interpretation is an intellectual attempt which leads one to the one-to-one coincidence between the real meaning of the text and its interpretation. Farāhī further elaborates his conception of appropriate interpretation by demarcating interpretation both from misinterpretation or distortion (tahrīf) and elaboration (tafsīl). ‘Interpretation,’ says Farāhī, ‘is the construing of text to mean what it bears transcriptionally or intellectually.’ On the contrary, ‘misinterpretation is the construing of text to what it does not bear’ while elaboration is the description of details of it which are not mentioned inclusively.[5] The mold of hermeneutic attempt from the interpretation to the misinterpretation is a divergence from the objectivist derivation of the meaning from text to the subjectivist imposition of meaning upon the text. The subjectivist motive regarding the mold of meaning through the process of misinterpretation gives rise to the multiplicity of meaning. For, if every individual justifiably misinterprets the clear meaning of the Qur’ānic text in order that it may approve his own subjective belief, it will be inevitable to sanction the multiplicity of meaning of a single text. But Farāhī, rejecting the subjectivist motive of attaining multiple meanings of a text, brings forward the notion of singular meaning (ma‘nā wāhid) in correspondence with singular text. Regarding the singularity-multiplicity difference of meaning of the Qur’anic text, Farāhī cites the example of Rāzī’s interpretation of a Qur’ānic verse leading one to the multiplicity of meaning reducing the Qur’ān to a dubious Book (kitāban mutashābihan). In the verse 1 of Sūrat al-Nasr: Idhā jā’a nasr Allāh wa ’l-fath (When there comes the Help of Allāh, and the Victory), the word fath, according to Rāzī as Farāhī mentions, ‘refers to the Conquest of Mecca, the Conquest of Tā’if, the Conquest of Khaybar, the Conquest in general, the Conquest of knowledge, the Conquest of reason…’ This is the dubiousness of the matter that one is not getting certain about the meaning of a single word rather one has got several connotations in correspondence with the word. Farāhī calls it an intellectual disease and the only remedy for the disease, that is, the multiplicity of meaning, is ‘the adherence to the Qur’ān’ by adjusting all remnants and opinions to the standard of the Book of Allāh. This standardization remains unlikely unless we do believe that ‘the Qur’ān involves nothing but a singular interpretation (al- Qur’ān la yahtamil illā tā’wīlan wāhidan).’ Moreover, Farāhī’s notion of singular interpretation renders the Qur’ān something ‘absolute in meaning (qat‘i ’l-dalālah)’ rather than ‘dubious in meaning (maznūn al-dalālah)’ as Rāzī thought of it.[6] Islāhī fully agrees with Farāhī on the issue of the singular meaning of Qur’ānic text, though he relates this issue to the notion of Nazm (coherence). According to Islāhī, when an interpreter understands a part of the Qur’ān in the perspective of coherence, ‘he cannot adopt anything except one single opinion regarding its meaning.’ If one cuts off a part of the Qur’ān from all of its contextual relationships, which is to say, if one sees a part of the Qur’ānic text in isolation, ‘it will be easier for one to impose several meanings’ on that part of the text rather than to construe one singular meaning. Islāhī believes that the imposition of multiple meanings on the singular text has caused Muslims a huge ‘collective (ijtimā‘ī) and political (sīyāsī)’ drawback in terms of the emergence of multiple sociopolitical-religious groups in the Islamic society. Every group is to have its own specific interpretation of a particular part of the Qur’ān taken in isolation, which makes the Qur’ān have a tendency of bearing several meanings at the same time. But for Islāhī, the Qur’ān, owing to its coherence and context, cannot afford to have more than one meaning. In this regard, one needs not to deliberate to draw one singular meaning out of many rather one must be ‘helpless to adopt one singular meaning, as one cannot justifiably draw multiple meanings after having reflected on the Qur’ānic text in the context of coherence.’[7] The coherence is an essential feature of every expression and the Qur’an is no exception. Coherence is an additional reality (zā’id haqīqat) in the expression as a whole, which is lost if one acquaints with the particular parts of the whole in isolation.[8] He criticizes those scholars who deny the finding of coherence in the Qur’ān and substantiate their view by certain ahādīth engineered in their favour.[9] The Farāhīan-Islāhīan notion of coherence of the Qur’ān states that the whole structure of the Qur’ān is thematic and that thematic structure is absolutely coherent. That is to say, all of the verses of a sūrah of the Qur’ān are integrally related to each other to give rise to the major theme of the sūrah and again all of the sūrahs are interconnected with each other to constitute the major theme(s) of the Qur’ān. This thematic coherence makes the whole sūrah ‘a perfect unity’ (kāmilan wāhidan) and establishes the whole text of ‘the Qur’ān as a unit-word (Kalāman Wāhidan).’[10]  The thematic coherence of sūrah lies in its specific major theme called ‘Amūd (pillar) which dynamically affects the entirety of the sūrah. That is to say, one can never find the pillar  in the elementary order of the verses rather it is a living spirit (rūh) of the sūrah that manifests intrinsically in the kalām as an explanation (sharh) and detail (tafsīl) and as an out put (intāj) and justification (ta‘līl) of the sūrah as a whole. And the only way to decipher the pillar is to reflect (Tadabbur) deeply on the sūrah in its totality.[11]  As the verses are integrally related to each other to give rise to the pillar of a sūrah, all of the sūrahs are interconnected to constitute the coherent structure of the Qur’ān as an organic whole. As there is a  specific ‘Amūd of a sūrah which thematically binds all of its verses to make it a unit likewise the whole text of the Qur’an has a comprehensive theme (Jāme‘ ‘Amūd) which interconnects all of the sūrahs to make it a thematic unit.[12]

  1. II.              Khan’s Remarks on the Notion of Qur’anic Coherence

As regards the notion of thematic coherence of the Qur’an, the exegetes mostly remain apathetic yet there may be found certain incredulous reservations and unconvincing allegations against the notion. The major exemplar of such allegations it is that the coherence is not a structured phenomenon objectively found in the Qur’ānic discourse, it is instead a ‘devisal’ or ‘excogitative presumption (istinbātī qarīnah)’ being grounded upon the ‘subjective reasoning’ rather than the Qur’ānic text. Wahīduddīn Khan, an eminent Indian scholar in his book, Mutāla‘a-e-Qur’ān (Study of the Qur’ān) writes:

“…Some people believe that ‘the coherence of discourse (nazm-e-kalām)’ is the key to understand the Qur’ān. But this [view] is not appropriate, as it is based upon the personal or subjective reasoning (dhātī soach). There is no single verse in the Qur’ān which may testify that the nazm-e-kalām is the key to understand the Qur’ān … It may be taken at most as a devisal or excogitative presumption rather than a textual method. In order to take that view as [an appropriate] method [of understanding the Qur’ān], one is required to have some textual evidence from the Qur’ān rather than one’s subjective devisal.”[13]

Owing to the theoretical and applicatory development of the notion of thematic coherence of the Qur’ān as discussed above, it is hardly justifiable, in my view, to consider the notion as a subjective devisal instead of an objective design. As regards Khan’s adversarial viewpoint to the notion, his reader finds himself a little confused, and the facets of his confusion are more than one.

Firstly, Khan, on the one hand, rejects the possibility of finding the coherence objectively in the Qur’ān, and on the other hand, he fails to interpret the Qur’ān as a bundle of absolutely discrete verses. Although he is not convinced of finding the coherence in the Qur’ān as a principle of interpretation, he admits the presence of a ‘deep order (gehrī tartīb)’ between the verses and sūrahs of the Qur’ān. Yet the common style of the Qur’ānic discourse, in his view, it is that it ‘reminds’ of some particular subject matter in terms of a ‘paragraph.’ That is to say, he perceives the Qur’ān as a ‘reminiscence’ (tadhkīr) in character comprising of various paragraphs dealing with particular subject matter. Drawing upon this view, he explores his method of interpreting the Qur’ān which he calls ‘the fragmentary style of interpretation (shadhrātī andāz-e-tashrīh) of the Qur’ān. In this style of interpretation, a piece of the Qur’ān consisting of unfixed number of verses is taken as a whole description of a particular theme (madmūn). He translates that piece in Urdu and in footnote he puts details of that piece as per exegetical requirement.[14] It implies that he does not reject the theme based integral relationship between the verses but this thematic integrality of the verses is highly tentative in the sense that the thematic interplay and combination of the verses, which he calls paragraph, may vary from two verses to a whole sūrah comprising of up to thirty verses (e.g. Sūrat al-Fajr). Sūrat al-Fajr is not the only sūrah which he takes as a thematic whole but rather he considers the last thirty-two sūrahs of the Qur’ān (from Sūrat al-Infitār (82) to Sūrat al-Nās (114) with an exception of Sūrat al-Mutaffifīn (83)) as the thematic paragraphs wherein the verses are integrally related to each other through certain theme(s). So Khan’s view of the Qur’ān as a bundle of thematic paragraphs, which gives rise to his fragmentary style of interpretation as a method of Qur’ān exegesis, is neither an absolute rejection of the Farāhīan notion of thematic coherence of the Qur’ān nor a firm acceptance of the atomistic view of the Qur’ān as expounded by Tabarī etc.

Secondly, Khan’s notion of shadhrah (particle or fragment) has not been definitely conceived rather it seems to have got had blurred boundaries. Khan perceives shadhrah as a thematically coherent paragraph consisting of various numbers of verses from two to thirty. That is to say, it is not the length of the paragraph which makes it a thematic unit, it is instead the theme concerned which binds the verses together within the indefinite (length wise) boundaries of the shadhrah. If Khan can take Sūrat al-Fajr consisting of thirty verses as a thematic whole wherein the verses are integrally related to each other to give rise to some theme, then why is it not justifiable for Farāhī and Islāhī to interpret Sūrat al-Baqarah comprising of 286 verses as a thematic unit on the same ground of the principle of mutual integrality of the verses? The only difference between the two interpretations it is that the former is a reconstruction of a chapter through the integrality of the verses in terms of a thematically coherent paragraph owing to its small length whereas the latter is also a reconstruction of a chapter through the same integrality but at three different levels of thematic coherence owing to the big length of the chapter. That is to say, both hermeneutical approaches are based upon the verse-to-verse thematic integrality but with a huge difference in their construction as a whole. As regards Khan’s hermeneutical approach to the thematically coherent shadhrah, there is only one facet of the integral relationship between the parts of the Qur’ān which is the verse-to-verse integrality. In case of the Farāhīan-Islāhīan hermeneutical approach to the Qur’ān, one may find a multiplicity of thematic integralities between the various kinds of parts of the Qur’ānic discourse like verse-to-verse, shadhrah-to-shadhrah, sūrah-to-sūrah, group-of-sūrahs-to-group-of-sūrahs etc. For instance, in case of Islāhī’s interpretation of Sūrat al-Baqarah, at the first level, two hundred and eighty-six verses of the sūrah are established as parts integrally related to one another in different numbers (with the exception of verse 177 and verse 188 which are taken as thematic units in themselves) to give rise to the division of the sūrah into thirty-two minor shadhrahs (to use Khan’s term) each with its own minor theme. At the second level, the thematic integrality further expands to unite the minor shadharhs together in different numbers to constitute only six major shadhrahs having their own specific themes.[15] At the third and final level, the six major shadhrahs of Sūrat al-Baqarah are established to be integrally related parts of an organic whole through a major theme.[16] One may say that Islāhī treats Sūrat al-Baqarah as a long shadhrah coherent through a major theme being comprised of various sub-shadhrahs each with its own sub-theme while Khan takes Sūrat al-Fajr as a single paragraph wherein all of the thirty-two verses are integrally related to each other to give rise to a specific theme of the sūrah. But in both the cases the sūrahs are taken as a single statement. The way Islāhī interprets Sūrat al-Baqarah is his general method of Qur’ān exegesis, and his whole thematic-structural scheme of the Qur’ān, though being an applied form of Farāhī’s notion of coherence, is a consolidated objectivist hermeneutic reconstruction of the Qur’ānic text. This objectivist hermeneutic reconstruction of the Qur’ān is not simply to materialize the thematic coherence of the Book. Instead, this applied form of the thematic coherence is to aptly be called the hierarchical-thematic coherence of the Qur’ān. That is to say, Islāhī’s applicatory materialization of Farāhī’s notion of thematic coherence of the Qur’ān is methodically hierarchical, as there are several facets of thematic integrality between the various parts of the Qur’ānic whole ascending from the microscopic to the macroscopic level or the vice versa. The minutest part of the Qur’ānic structure is a single word, and the microscopic form of thematic integrality is the word-to-word relationship which gives rise to the first-order thematic unit, the verse of the Qur’ān. The second-order thematic unit is the minor paragraph based upon the verse-to-verse thematic integrality wherein two or more verses are interconnected with each other through a common thread of some theme. The word-to-word and the verse-to-verse thematic integralities further ascend to the minor-paragraph-to-minor-paragraph integrality giving rise to the third-order thematic unit, the major paragraph having again a specific theme. The hierarchical order of thematic integrality further rises to the major-paragraph-to-major-paragraph relationship to constitute a whole sūrah as a first-order macroscopic thematic unit as compared to a verse as a first-order microscopic thematic unit. Starting from sūrah-to-sūrah integral relationship, the hierarchical-thematic order further ascends at the macroscopic level to shape seven different thematic groups of 114 sūrahs of the Qur’ān. Moreover, these seven groups of sūrahs are thematically-integrally related to each other in order to constitute the Qur’ān as an organic thematic whole.[17]

Thirdly and very interestingly, Khan asks for ‘some textual evidence from the Qur’ān’ in order to establish the notion of coherence as a key principle for the interpretation of the Qur’ān. But he himself does not give any reference to a single verse of the Qur’ān in order to justify his so called fragmentary style of interpretation of the Qur’ān. Khan’s claim that the notion of coherence can be justifiable only if it is clearly described in a verse of the Qur’ān that there is a thematic coherence between the verses of the Qur’ān which makes it an organic whole seems to have not been deeply reflected upon. Besides Khan’s own attempt of treating the Qur’ān in terms of shadhrahs without any reference to the Qur’ānic verse seriously increases the requirement of an in-depth review of his thought regarding the thematic coherence. The structure of the Qur’ān is objectively given with a division at two different levels. At macroscopic level, it is divided into 114 sūrahs and at microscopic level, each of the sūrahs is subdivided into different numbers of verses varies from 3 to 286. At the first glance, this division seems to be random in terms of length, but under the cover of this length-wise-randomness there conceals a theme-wise-coherence. This theme-wise-coherence of the Qur’ān is the identification of the Farāhīan-Islāhīan Qur’ānic hermeneutics which we have briefly discussed above. They have interpreted the Qur’ān in terms of its various minor themes which are bound together through some major theme(s) to make the Qur’ān ultimately a thematic unit. Now Khan should not stay at the claim of requiring an evidence of a single verse describing the presence of Nazm in the Qur’ān, he should instead go through Farāhī’s theoretical underpinning as well as Islāhī’s applicatory construing in order to justifiably accept or reject the notion of coherence.

Fourthly and most importantly, Khan believes that the notion of thematic coherence of the Qur’ān is a subjective devisal rather than an objective design. Khan’s view seems to be a reminiscent of David Hume (1711-1776)’s notion that parts-whole relationship is an ‘arbitrary’ work of human mind rather than being an objective reality. In Part IX of Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Hume, rejecting the objectivity of relations, says:

“…the uniting of these parts into a whole, like the uniting of several distinct countries into one kingdom, or several distinct members into one body, is performed merely by an arbitrary act of the mind, and has no influence on the nature of things.”[18]

Khan seems to follow Hume’s lines while denying the coherent order of the Qur’anic verses and sūrahs,    in the face of his denial of thematic coherence of the Qur’ān Khan admits that there is a deep order[19] between the verses and the sūrahs of the Qur’ān. By ‘deep order’ if he means the theme-wise-coherence concealed under the length-wise-random-structure of the Qur’ān then it is the same what Farāhī and Islāhī call Nazm al-Qur’ān. If that deep order is an objective design, then why he considers the thematic coherence as a subjective devisal. Unfortunately, he does neither explain his claim of considering coherence of the Qur’ān as a subjective devisal nor he elaborates his idea of deep order between the verses and the sūrahs, and so he makes his reader get confused regarding his claims concerning the issue of coherence.  


The notion of thematic coherence of the Qur’ān is not a new issue in the world of Qur’ānic sciences, for long before Farāhī and Islāhī certain Muslim scholars[20] have dealt with it in various ways. However, the way Farāhī and Islāhī have redefined this issue is highly original and hugely productive.[21] But the alternative view namely the concept of the Qur’an as an atomistic collection of verses has also been very popular among the traditionalist Qur’an exegetes. Although the traditionalist Qur’an exegetes mostly remain apathetic towards the Qur’an’s being a coherent structure, Wahīduddīn Khan is unique in that he simply rejects the idea of finding any coherence in the divine text. This paper concludes that his objection on and rejection of the idea of thematic coherence of the Qur’an remain incredulous, confusing and unsatisfactory due to the lack of due process of establishing his views argumentatively and the over simplification of his description.   

[1] Shu‘ar’ā’ 26:192-199

[2]Abdul Rahim Afaki, “The Historicality of Linguistic Signs and the Ahistoricality of Meanings: The Role of Divine Neologisms in the Making of Islamic-Arab Tradition,” Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka (Ed.), Timing and Temporality in Islamic Philosophy and Phenomenology of Life (Dordrecht: Springer, 2007), pp. 193-219

[3] Nahl 16:44

[4] Abdul Rahim Afaki, “Multi-Subjectivism and Quasi-Objectivism in Tabari’s Qur’anic Hermeneutics,” Journal of Shi‘a Islamic Studies, Volume II, Number 3(Summer 2009), pp. 285-306

[5] Hamīduddīn Farāhī, Rasā’il al-Imām al-Farāhī fī ‘Ulūm al-Qur’ān (3rd Reprint, A‘zamgarh: Al-Dā’irat al-Hamīdīyyah, 2005), pp. 227

[6] Ibid., pp. 229-230

[7] Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, Tadabbur-e-Qur’ān (Reflection on the Qur’ān) (Vol. 1, Lahore: Fārān Foundation, 1997), pp. 21-22


[8] Hamīduddīn Farāhī, Majmū‘ah Tafāsīr-e-Farāhī, Urdu trans. Amīn Ahsan Islāhī (Lahore: Fārān Foundation, 1991), p. 30

[9] Rasā’il, p. 262

[10] Ibid., pp. 86-87. Also see Mustansir Mīr, Coherence in the Qur’ān: A Study of Islāhī’s Concept of Nazm in Tadabbur-e-Qur’ān (Indianapolis: American Trust Publication, 1986) and Mustansir Mīr, “The Sūrah as a Unity: A Twentieth Century Development in Qur’ān Exegesis,” G. R. Hawting and ‘Abdul-Kāder A. Shareef (Eds.), Approaches to the Qur’ān (London: Routledge, 1993), pp. 211-224

[11] Rasā’il, p. 85

[12] For the details of Farahi’s theoretical underpinnings and Islahi’s applicatory contribution to the development of coherence based Qur’anic hermeneutics see  Abdul Rahim Afaki, “Farāhī’s Objectivist-Canonical Qur’anic Hermeneutics and its Thematic Relevance with Classical Western Hermeneutics,” Transcendent Philosophy Journal, Vol. 10 (December 2009), pp. 231-266

[13] Wahīduddīn Khān, Mutāla‘a’-e-Qur’ān (Study of the Qur’ān) (Lahore: Dār al-Tadhkīr, 2004), pp. 20-21

[14] Wahīduddīn Khān, Tadhkīr al-Qur’ān, Vol. 1 (Lahore: Al-Maktabat al-Ashrāfīyyah, 1981), pp. 12-13

[15] The thematic division of Sūrat al-Baqarah into six major parts was originally expounded by Farāhī but his interpretation of the sūrah was incomplete, and he was unable to divide the sūrah into six parts with exact number of verses. Instead, he tentatively proposed that division in his unfinished work posthumously published after seventy years of his death. See Hamīduddīn Farāhī, Tafsīr Nizām al-Qur’ān wa Tā’wīl al-Furqān bi ’l-Furqān: Surat al-Baqarah (A‘zamgarh: Al-Dā’rat al-Hamīdīyyah, 2000), pp. 46-50

[16] Tadabbur, Vol. 1, pp. 81-652

[17] Also see Islāhī’s interpretation of the Qur’ānic phrase, sab’an min al-mathānī as discussed in Abdul Rahim Afaki, “Farāhī’s Objectivist-Canonical Qur’anic Hermeneutics and its Thematic Relevance with Classical Western Hermeneutics,” Transcendent Philosophy Journal, Vol. 10 (December 2009), pp. 239-240

[18] David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Compony, 1947), p. 190. It is not the objectivity of parts-whole relationship which Hume denies rather he considers all relations and their necessity as merely subjective. See Section 14 of his famous work, A Treatise of Human Nature in Antony Flew (Ed.),  David Hume on Human Nature and the Understanding (New York: Collier Books, 1962), pp. 200-215

[19] Wahīduddīn Khān, Tadhkīr al-Qur’ān, Vol. 1 (Lahore: Al-Maktabat al-Ashrafīyyah, 1981), p. 13

[20] Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūtī has mentioned several names in this regard like Abū Ja‘far ibn al-Zubayr, Burhān al-Dīn al-Biqā‘ī, Rāzī, Abū Bakr al-Nīsābūrī, ‘Izz al-Dīn ibn ‘Abd al-Salām etc. See Jalāl al-Dīn ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn Abī Bakr al-Suyūtī, Al-Itqān fī ‘Ulūm al-Qur’ān (The Mastery in the Qur’ānic Studies), Vol. 2 (Tehran: Dār Dhawī ’l-Qurbā, Tehran, 2001), pp.211-212. Mustansir Mir has also discussed the brief history of the notion of thematic coherence of the Qur’ān, and he has mentioned some other names as well. See Mustansir Mir, Coherence in the Qur’ān: A Study of Islāhī’s Concept of Nazm in Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān (Indianapolis: American Trust Publications, 1986), pp. 10-24

[21] Mustansir Mir has discussed the impact of the notion of coherence particularly twentieth century Qur’ani scholars’ inclinations towards finding Qur’anic sūrah as a thematic unit in his article. See Mustansir Mīr, “The Sūrah as a Unity: A Twentieth Century Development in Qur’ān Exegesis,” G. R. Hawting and ‘Abdul-Kāder A. Shareef (Eds.), Approaches to the Qur’ān (London: Routledge, 1993), pp. 211-224. Also see Salwa M. S. El-Awa, Textual Relations in the Qur’an: Relevance, Coherence and Structure (London: Routledge, 2006)

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