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The Concept of al-Qur'an an-Natiq

The Concept of al-Qur'an an-Natiq

"Al-Qur'an an-natiq" means the "speaking Qur'an." This is a famous title given to the Shi'a Imams to describe their proximity to the Qur'an; they are the custidians of the Qur'anic message and its interpretation; they are the embodiment of the Qur'anic values and its ideals. This concept is based on the various sayings of the Propet in which the Qur'an and the Ahlul Bayt are shown to never separate from one another.
The famous hadith of thaqalayn says:

"I am leaving two precious things behind among you: the Bood of Allah and my Ahlul Bait. The two shall not separate from one anothre until they come to me at the fountain of Kawthar (on the Day of Resurrection)."1

In another hadith, Umm Salama, the wife of the Prophet, quotes him as folows:
"Ali is with the Qur'an and the Qur'an is with Ali; they shall never separate from one another until they reach to me at the Fountain ( on the day of Resurrection)."2

Abu Sa'id al-Khudari reports that one day we were sitting waiting for the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) to come out. He came to us while we saw that the strap of his shoe was broken; he gave it to Ali to repair. Then he said,

"One of you will wage war for the interpretation (ta'wil) of the Qur'an just as I waged war for its revelation (tanzil)."Abu Bakr said, "Am I the one? The Prophet said, "No" Then Umar said, "Am I the one?" The Prophet said, "No" but the one who is repairing the shoe. 3

Imam Ali himself said, "Ask me before you lose me, for by the One who split the grain and created the soul, if you ask me as to which verse was revealed at night time or at day time, whether it is of Meccan or Medinite [era], during journey (of the Prophet) or while in Medina, whe it is abrogator or abrogated, whether, it is clear or allegorical, and whether you need int interpretation or context of its revelation I Shall inform you about it."4

It is based on these facts supported by the Sunni sources that the Shi'as use the title "al-Qur'anu n-Natiq" for their Imams. As we saw above, Imam Ali himself claims to have the true and inner meaning of the Qur'anic verses. This claim and belief has been there from the earliest days of Shi'ism. So it is incorrect to place the beginning of this concept on the latter perion by saying that "the belief that the Imams were the speaking (al-natiq) Qur'an, who knew the esotric interpretation of the Book, most probably began during al-Baqir's time."5

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1. At-Tirmidhi, Sahih, vol.5 (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, n.d.) p.328-329, hadith # 3874, 3876; as-Suyuti, ad-durru l-Manthur, vol.6. p.7. 206; Ibnu l-Maghazili ash-Shafi'i Namaqib Ali bin Abi Talib, p.234, hadith # 281.

2. Al-Hakim, al-Mustkrak ala s-sahhihayn vol.3 (Beirut: Dar al-Ma'rifa, n.d.) p.124; al-Khuwarazmi, al-Manaqib, p.110; Majma'u z-Zawa'id, vol.9, p.134 as-Sayuti, Tarikhu l-Khulafa: p.173.

3. An-Nisa'i Khasa'isu Amiru l-Mu'minin Ali bin Abi Talib, p.134; Muhibbu d-Din at-Tabari, Dhakha'iru lk-Uqba, p.139.

4. Al-Mufid, al-Ikhtisas, p.236.

5. Abdulaziz Sachedina, Islamic Messianism, p.15.

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