On the Dichotomy Between Muhkam and Mutashabih by Hussein Abdul-Raof (Leeds University, UK)
In Qur’anic studies, the expression (Muhkam) is the antonym of (Mutashabih). The controversy, however, among Qur’anic exegetes is about the meaning of Mutashabih and the mode of reading or rather the linguistic analysis of Q3:7 and whether Qur’an scholars share with God the knowledge of unravelling the meanings of Mutashabih. The other interesting matter related to Mutashabih is concerned with the translation of this expression as ‘ambiguous’ while our discussion below illustrates that this word has other meanings and functions. The third matter related to the notion of Mutashabih is the claim made by Orientalists such as Leah Kinberg (2001) that ‘the other verses Q11:1 and Q39:23 contradict Q3:7’ (ibid:70). The fourth problem is the theological implications posed by Q7:28, Q18:29, and Q76:30, whether they are Muhkam or Mutashabih, the correlation between the Mutashabih and dissention, and the subsequent controversial issue of free will as opposed to predestination which has been projected through the opposition between Mu’tazili and mainstream exegetes.