Qur'an is a divine book. It is the most distinguished and extraordinary among all the heavenly and worldly books. It is the blend of all divine books. There is nothing between the earth and heavens which is not mentioned in it. It is acceptable to recite Qur'an loudly in melodious tune and also to memorize it. The word “hifz” means to protect it and to memorize it. This is a general understanding. The real meaning of “hifz” is to understand the meaning of Qur'an and to act accordingly. Haafiz is he who follows the guidance of Qur'an and protects his life from evil and enlightens his mind and heart with the glory of Qur'an. Allah Ta'aala says in the Qur'an: “Are they not attempting and thinking on Qur'an or their hearts are locked?” Qur'an is the supreme and selected book for the one who thinks and comprehends. In it there is description of whole universe from its beginning till the end. Indeed, understanding one verse of Qur'an is more regardful than merely reciting it with rhythm.
The progeny of Rasoolullaah (SAWS) who is the “qareen” (pair) of Qur'an knows it in the best way at length as they are the commentators of Qur'an. Qur'an cannot speak by itself. You need to have someone who can make you understand the meaning of Qur'an. The progeny of Rasoolullaah (SAWS) is the speaker and narrator of Qur'an and every Imaam (AS) in their periods are the narrators of Qur'an. All Imaam (AS) are the doctors and healers of the souls of mumineen and they are intellectuals and knowledgeable. The verses of Qur'an can be broadly divided into two categories; namely ‘mohkamaat' and ‘motashabehaat'. The former one is that which includes the orders, rules and regulations laid down by Allah for the religion and it also encompasses the stories of Prophets and the account of their followers. The latter one consists of verses which needs commentary. Allah Ta'aala Himself says in the Qur'an that everything has its interior (secret, baatin ) and exterior (evident, zaahir ) and we have made everything in pairs. Now if anyone follows only one aspect of the Qur'an whether interior or exterior without regarding it as a whole then he is a tyrant and his prayers will not be accepted. This is the reason that the descendants of Rasoolullaah (SAWS) have given the meaning of each verse in both the aspects; its interior as well as exterior. According to our Isma'ili Taiyebi tenets only one who has the knowledge of revelation of Qur'an and practices the teachings of the progeny of Rasoolullaah (SAWS) through his Da'i is entitled to give commentary of Qur'an.
There are about 100 translations of Qur'an freely available in the market. There are about 30 translations in English language, around 100 in Urdu language and many have translated Qur'an in Persian and Arabic language. It is difficult to name each one. People who follow the Isma'ili Taiyebi tenets and belong to the community of Bohras are very often accused of not having any authentic commentary or translation of Qur'an and also that there are no Haafiz in these communities. These accusations are baseless. They accuse because they do not know the hierarchy and history of Isma'ili Taiyebi Imaamat and Da'wat. They have no knowledge about the literature and the books of Da'wat-e-Haadiyah. They cannot acquire this knowledge easily. The reason is that the Bohra community is called as Firqah-e-Baateniyah (community of esoteric knowledge) which means that the principles, ethics, doctrines, thoughts, commentary, facts and religious books are kept secret from the other communities. The secrecy is to such an extent that if a person wants to know the in depth understanding of principles then he is screened for the liabilities, loyalty and truthfulness and he is granted permission only after he gives covenant to the Imaam or Da'i. People question about the commentary and explanation of Qur'an but they don't know that no one except the Imaam or Da'i or their representatives can give this knowledge. This has given birth to ill-assumptions in the people.
In fact the commentary of Qur'an is divided into seven parts in the books of Isma'ili Taiyebi Da'wat. These seven parts are briefly described as under:
- First part constitutes the stories of Ambiyaa (AS) and the account of their communities.
- Second part deals with the discipline, character, teachings, and words of wisdom. It also has the sayings of Rasoolullaah (SAWS) (ahaadees; pl. of hadees) and the reports from Ahl ul-Bayt (AS).
- Third part has practices of religion (shari'at), the pillars of Islam, an account of permissible and forbidden; and social norms.
- Fourth part consists of esoteric knowledge of the tenets of Isma'ili Taiyebi sect; hidden meanings of the stories of Prophets; commentary on the selected motashaabeh verses of Qur'an.
- Fifth part includes the discussions with the general population, arguments, debate and lectures proving the truthfulness and distinctiveness of Isma'ili sect. The mistake of general populace and their distraction from the right path.
- Sixth part has the whole hierarchy from Rasoolullaah (SAWS) to the A'immat-e-Taahereen (AS) till Saiyedna Badruddin Hasan bin Wali (AQ). Its history and account.
- Seventh part which is the most important part and deals with the truthfulness of the principles of Imaamat. It has a detailed explanation of ranks and status of Imaam (AS) and Imaamat from Aql-e-awwal (First intellect) and spiritual Adam (AS) till the completion of Kaur-e-a'zam (the great period). It has the innermost and quintessential knowledge of Isma'ili tenets. It has a detailed description of this world and man; birth and death; beginning and end; interior of the evident knowledge; interior of the interior knowledge; factual of the fact and secret implications of the facts.
Allah Ta'aala describes about the corn in Surat ul-Baqarah that out of one seed there are seven corns; out of one corn there are 100 grains which makes the total of 700 grains. In the same way it is mentioned in the esoteric books of Da'wat that Awliyaullah (friends, saints of Allah) (AS) and A'immat-e-Taahereen (pure, pious Imaam) (AS) are the bottomless oceans of knowledge. One verse has seven, seventy and seven hundred meanings and connotations. A student of Imaam Ja'far us-Saadiq (AS) asked him, O son of Rasoolullaah (SAWS), meaning and description of the Qur'anic verse which you described is different from that you did elsewhere. Imaam (AS) replied to his query and said, we describe the elucidation of a verse in seven ways. The student was surprised and said, O my master, you describe it in seven ways! Imaam (AS) said, we describe it in seventy ways. The student was left spellbound and was not able to utter a single word. Imaam (AS) said, if you had ability to understand more then I would have described it in seven hundred ways.
This world cannot exist without the progeny of Rasoolullaah (SAWS) i.e. Imaam (AS). The absence of Imaam (AS) in this world would lead to chaos and disarray. Every Imaam (AS) is the centre of a circle (centre of the present era) around which the time encircles and the world exists. The Imaam (AS) of the period is the only narrator of Qur'an and explains its meaning. Our speech, lectures and discourses always have verses of Qur'an and its account. The number of the verse and the name of Surah are never mentioned in the speech. The books on the Isma'ili belief and ideology always have the verses of Qur'an in the beginning and end of every chapter or lectures. These verses are in praise of Allah. The innermost core and essence of each verse is explained in detail with a satisfactory commentary on it. In the time of Imaam Mustansir Billaah (AS), his Baab Saiyedna Mo'aiyad Sheeraazi Saheb (AQ) recited highly enriched 800 lectures in the presence of elite and influential assembly members. It is the matter of pride that Da'wat has this precious and valuable collection of 800 lectures. The diction, elocution and enunciation of the Arabic language in these lectures reflect the level and standard of his Arabic knowledge. This collection of lectures is equal to the commentary of half of Qur'an. This is why it ranks to the highest status in Da'wat because it is the only stream of pure and crystal clear water which quenches us with the knowledge of Ahl ul-Bayt (AS) and A'immat-e-Taahereen (AS) and gives a truthful and most authentic commentary and explanation of Qur'an.