Is it permissible for anyone to interpret the Aayaat according to their understanding?

Question 55: Some people claim that everyone is entitled to interpret the Aayaat (Qur’aanic verses) according to their understanding and according to the context. They claim that the text is sacred, but understanding it is not sacred. For example, Aayat-ul-Kursee (the Qur’aanic Verse of Allaah’s Throne, Soorah Al-Baqarah, 2:255) and the Aayaat that speak about the Throne and the Hand of Allaah. If this claim is false, who is entitled to interpret the Qur’aan, and what is the extent of the sacredness of such interpretation?

We ask that you give us the Tafseer (exegesis of the meanings of the Qur’aan) for this Aayah of Soorah Al-`Imraan:  It is He Who has sent down to you (Muhammad peace be upon him) the Book (this Qur’aan). In it are Verses that are entirely clear, they are the foundations of the Book [and those are the Verses of Al-Ahkaam (commandments), Al-Faraa’id (obligatory duties) and Al-Hudood (legal laws for the punishment of thieves, adulterers)]; and others not entirely clear. So as for those in whose hearts there is a deviation (from the truth) they follow that which is not entirely clear thereof, seeking Al-Fitnah (polytheism and trials), and seeking for its hidden meanings, but none knows its hidden meanings except Allaah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: “We believe in it; the whole of it (clear and unclear Verses) are from our Lord.” And none receive admonition except men of understanding.

We hope you will clarify for us what is meant by Aayaat that are Mutashaabihaat or Muhkamaat? Who are “the firmly grounded in knowledge” mentioned in the Qur’aan whom Allaah entrusts with interpreting it and guides them to do this?

Answer: It is not permissible to give Tafseer except by the scholars who are well versed in the methodology of Tafsir. It is not permissible to give Tafseer of the Qur’aan based on ignorance and inclinations. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Whoever interprets the Qur’aan without knowledge, let him assume his seat in Hellfire. (Related by Al-Tirmidee)… read more here.

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