A nation who did injustice to their book

In surah al-Baqarah, Allah describes a nation to whom he had given a book before us, but they did not do justice to their book. In one ayah, Allah describes how they failed with their book. Allah says,

وَمِنْهُمْ أُمِّيُّونَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ الْكِتَابَ إِلَّا أَمَانِيَّ وَإِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَظُنُّونَ

“Among them are uneducated, unlettered people. They don’t know the book except their own wishful thoughts, and they make nothing but assumptions.”

Amaniy means they don’t know what it says, they just think they know what it says.

This is what these people did with their book. What book is being talked about? The Torah.

The word Allah used is amaniy. One of the great mufassirun of the Quran, ibn Abbas (radi Allahu anhu), and Qatadah, said, “Amaniy in this ayah means that all these people did was tilawah (recitation).” Then when he speaks about Bani Israel, “They know it only by memorizing it and reciting without understanding. They don’t know what’s inside it.”

This is what Muslims today are concerned with teaching their children: recitation and memorization. Ibn Abbas is describing Bani Israel, and their crime against their book. He says all they do with their book is recitation and memorization. Their real crime is that they don’t know what it says.

This description you take to the Muslim world and say, find me a people who love their book, recite their book, and memorize their book, but even the vast majority of the ones who memorize it don’t know what it means. Who does this describe?

It’s a scary thought because the ayah is describing Bani Israel.

[From Why and How to Learn the Arabic Spoken in the Quran by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan]


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