Discussion and Debate in Early Commentaries of the Qurʼān
In verse 119 of sūrat al-Nisā, the fourth sūrat of the Qurʼān, Satan is quoted as having said about the pagans, “I will lead them astray, and fill them with fancies, and I will command them and they will cut off the cattle's ears: I will command them and they will alter God's creation”. What precisely was meant by the phrase “alter God's creation” apparently gave rise to vehement debate in the early period of Qurʼānic commentary. The argument centers on the phrases “nature” and “natural order”, as well as the word “a'rāf” which is taken to denote the limbo between paradise and hell. Many later Qurʼān commentators, like al-Tabarī and al-Samarqandī, considered these debates about the meaning of many passages in the word of God as revealed to the Apostle of Islam as having really occurred among the founders of Qurʼānic commentary. They extrapolated them from the enormous mass of traditions that they collected and presented in their commentaries.
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