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I am currently reading topics on Islamic hermeneutics, i.e. interpretation of the religious scripture, Quran. What is the difference between Islamic hermeneutics and TAFSEER?


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To put it extremely briefly, it was primarily used in context of Biblical studies (and still is), and has slowly begun to be applied on the Qur'an as well. The point initially was to develop methodologies in order to correctly understand what the text of the Bible truly meant, but slowly these methodologies began being applied to all texts. Scholars of this field went back and forth presenting different methodologies, some reaching conclusions that the authorial intent can absolutely never be understood from a text, whereas others reaching conclusions that it can be understood more or less.

Individuals such as Gadamer were probably the most influential (and also detrimental) in this field, as they begun to discuss and lay out the philosophical foundations for hermeneutics (look into his work Truth and Method). Today there are different schools of thoughts and the studies in it have increased and have also effected Qur'anic studies.

With that being said, Qur'anic hermeneutics is essentially the science which works on developing methods in understanding the text of the Qur'an and discusses the different methodologies that currently exists. It discusses the principles & tools upon which one can do tafseer (i.e. understand what God actually meant by any given verse and rightfully attribute them to Him).

I have studied one book on Qur'anic hermeneutics with someone who specialized in the field of tafseer. It is in Farsi - if you can read Farsi, I can send you the PDF.


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Hermeneutic is defined as "theory or philosophy of interpretation of meaning" and it is in fact a kind of research methodology that specifies to humanities and social sciences. Therefore it speaks about this question: "how is the process of understanding?" or "how does a meaning transfer from a person's mind to the other's" and questions like these.

There are great differences between Hermanutical way and interpretational way that is used by religious scholars. Among the main differences is that religious interpreters attempt to deduce the meanings of the Divine Legislator (Allah) from the scriptures while based on Hermanutical way, scholars approach the scripture apart from its writer and they do not care about its writer's implications and study the scripture qua scripture. So according to Hermanutical way every word and sentence of scripture could have different meaning in different periods and indeed this is history that gives meaning to the scripture.

With Duas.


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