Al-Qur’an and Cultural Bias

Have you ever stumbled upon people that questioned the interpretation of Al-Qur’an? I think this is a quite common issue right now, and muslims, especially muslim youth, are struggling to answer this question, some even might be the ones that are questioning this kind of issue.

There is an urgency to explain these kind of issues towards muslim youth. Questions like, What if there is a misinterpretation of the Qur’an? What if the interpretation from these Imams and Ulama were influenced by other things such as culture or even gender?

These questions should be answered, but answered in a right way. We’re in a time where we are pushed to be more critical, but at the same time we’re being pushed to put religion aside. The current youth right now does not want dogmatic answers, they want logical answers, answers that they can fathom, that they can make sense with.

Fortunately, Alhamdulillah, i found a very logical and reasonable answer regarding this issue, from brother Daniel Haqiqatjou. Here’s what he had to say:

“Some “reformists” are quick to dismiss the great jurists of Islam, claiming that these imams were but a product of their culture and hence blindfolded by their biases. If only such people would look in the mirror and realize that they too “might” be a product of their culture, and that they could be the ones superimposing their biases on the revealed. And if we want to be fair, the degree of their culture’s conformity to Islam, and the degree they were intellectually cultured by the Qur’an and Sunnah, is much greater than ours.” -Dr Hatem al-Haj

Is it possible to understand Allah’s message as it was meant to be understood? If everyone is biased, then clearly not. Everyone’s understanding would be merely a reflection of their own biases as opposed to Allah’s intended meaning. In reality, sunniIslam has answered precisely this question. The correct and authoritative understanding of Allah’s message is first and foremost that of the Prophet peace be upon him, and then that of the Sahaba. Why the Sahaba? Because they were the most knowledgeable and observant of the Prophet’s sunna. And then their followers, i.e., the Tabi’in and so on. When we see certain ideas and positions predominant across the khalaf, who lived across hundreds of different cultures and geographies over the centuries, it is also not plausible to say that they were suffering from bias,.especially given that they too were much closer to the sunna than we are in the modern age.

Furthermore, there is the process of ijtihad. People who comment like this usual have no idea about how it or the Arabic language works. They just assume bias as if its inevitable.

There is a process, principles, that guide interpretation. And the Arabic is not able to be interpreted however one wishes. And if this does happen, there are other scholars to refute their mistakes.


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