Why do Khulafa sometimes interpret some verses of the Holy Quran differently?


Someone wrote to Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa that Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra and Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh had interpreted Surah al-Nisa, chapter 4, verses 16-17 differently. Huzooraa, in a letter dated 19 July 2020, gave the following guidance on this issue:

“The Holy Quran has not been revealed for any particular age or for any particular nation but Allah the Exalted has revealed it for the guidance of the whole world till the Day of Resurrection. [God] also gives the knowledge to deduce [answers] to issues from [the Quran] to His chosen people in every age according to the circumstances of that time. Thus, Allah says in the Holy Quran:

وَ‭ ‬اِنۡ‭ ‬مِّنۡ‭ ‬شَيۡءٍ‭ ‬اِلَّا‭ ‬عِنۡدَنَا‭ ‬خَزَآئِنُهٗ‭ ‬۫‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬مَا‭ ‬نُنَزِّلُهٗۤ‭ ‬اِلَّا‭ ‬بِقَدَرٍ‭ ‬مَّعۡلُوۡمٍ

“‘And there is not a thing but with Us are the treasures thereof and We send it not down except in a known measure.’ (Surah al-Hijr, Ch.15: V.22)

“Allah the Exalted, according to His promise made to the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, the Chosen One, sent his ardent devotee, the Promised Messiahas to revive Muhammad’ssa Faith and to guide the world in this age. According to these Quranic glad tidings, He also gave him ample share of Quranic knowledge and its spiritual insights. 

“Then, through his agency and blessings, He bestowed Quranic knowledge on every individual who succeeded to the position of Khilafat after him. These individuals, after receiving knowledge from God Almighty and according to their understanding, explained the verities of the Holy Quran to the world during their respective eras according to the circumstances of that time.

“One meaning of the glad tiding given by the Holy Prophetsa regarding the Holy Quran having various layers and hidden meanings, is that those who have received the blessings of divine knowledge from God Almighty will continue to deduce [answers] to such issues and derive such insights as a result of which, this Book will remain evergreen throughout the ages.

“Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra and Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh have all interpreted the verses that you have mentioned in your letter on the basis of their God-given knowledge. Hence, they inferred various kinds of evils found in the society from these verses, explained the wickedness of these [evils] and admonished their followers to avoid them.

“Hence, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra has understood these verses to mean to refer to such undesirable acts and bad morals, which are related to wicked actions like quarrels and mischief. 70 to 80 years ago, men and women who unnecessarily created an atmosphere of strife and disorder in their surroundings, were considered extremely wicked. In those days, sexual misconduct of men with men and women with women was not commonly known in society. Therefore, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra interpreted the undesirable actions described in these verses according to what was generally included in the scope of wickedness in that era. 

“Now in this new age, this kind of sexual misconduct of men and women […] is becoming common in society. Therefore, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh has interpreted these verses of the Holy Quran in this way according to the circumstances of our age, and he has understood the wickedness mentioned in these verses to mean the sexual misconduct that is spreading in the present age.

“There is nothing wrong with such differences in understanding the Holy Quran; rather, the Holy Prophetsa referred to such scholarly differences found in his ummah as a mercy because new avenues for different kinds of reasoning based on the Holy Quran open up as a result of it.”

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