There are primarily two factors that call for the interpretation of the Qur’?nic revelation. Firstly it?s the Qur’?nic language. The language in which the Qur’?n was revealed was the highest level of the literary language (Hochsprache) of the Classical Arabic poetry. It is not the Arabic which the likes of Hariri, Mutanabbi, Zamakhshari and Razi used in their works or the Arabic which is found these days in the newspapers of Syria and Egypt or that which emanates from the pen of the poets and writers of these lands. No doubt these manifestations of the language are also Arabic, but the difference in the style and diction of this Arabic and in that of the Qur’?nic Arabic, which can aptly be termed as the Classical Arabic of the highest level, is something like the difference in the language of Shakespeare or Milton or Keats or Dickens and the language one finds these days in Newsweek or Time or the Economist. The literature of the Classical Arabic, which is of real worth to the understanding of the Qur’?nic language, idiom, metaphor and hermeneutics, comprises works of the Classical poets as ?Imru al-Qays, Zuhayr, ?Amr Ibn Kulthum, Labid, Nabigah, Tarfah, ?Antarah, A?sha and Harith Ibn Halizzah and elocutions of orators as Quss Ibn Sa?idah. This undertaking is ordinarily not possible for a layman and he/she must refer to authentic commentaries to get the needed help.
Secondly it is the ever-increasing number of situations not dealt with in the previous literature, which calls for de novo interpretative works. For instance, issues like cloning, homosexuality, genetically-modified food, Internet ethics, etc., all require an extensive interpretation of the relevant Qur’?nic revelations for today?s Muslim community.
A fundamental difference between the Christian Biblical interpretation and the Muslim Qur’?nic exegesis must be kept in mind: A Christian Biblical interpretator is essentially a sensualist and molds the scriptures as he/she deems fit for him/herself. For instance he/she may totally skip the Old Testament food regulations (as if those repetitive chapters and verses simply do not exist at all in the Bible) or may not have scruples about choosing a candidate for a Church college by vote instead of by a lot after the example of the Apostles (Acts 1:26). He/she may be a “Blue-Ribbonist” despite the Old Testament?s frequent craving for wine (e.g., Judges 9:13). It has to be born in mind that a gross over-stepping of the scripture of this sort is not possible for a Muslim.
In the following I shall briefly mention two outstanding and epoch-making Qur’?nic commentaries which, owing to their original work, had (and continue to have) enormous impact on directing the 20th century Qur’?nic scholarship.
By Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905) and his pupil Rashid Rida (1865-1935), which was published from Cairo (1954-1961) in 12 volumes, each approximately 500 pages, covers the 12/30th of the Qur’?n.
The uniqueness in Abduh?s approach springs from the fresh emphasis he puts on the Qur’?n as a source of spiritual and worldly guidance (“hidaya”). Abduh views the Qur’?n not primarily the source of law or dogmatics, or an occasion for philologists to display their ingenuity, but a book from which Muslims ought to derive guidance for this world and the next.
This approach of Abduh is illustrated by the following example: In Qur’?n, 2:58, God speaks to the Jews, under the leadership of Joshua, saying: “Enter this town, and eat of the plenty therein as ye wish; but enter the gate with humility?”
Abduh writes on this verse: “We shall not try to determine which town is meant in this verse since the Qur’?n did not try to determine this either. The importance of this verse does not depend on the exact geographical location of this town, but lies in the admonition to thankfulness towards the Almighty.” (Vol. I, p. 324)
Abduh?s approach to the Qur’?n is wholly rationalistic. He renders the Qur’?nic term ?Furqan??? (Qur’?n, 3:3) as “reason by which men discern between right & wrong”.
In order to determine the meaning of a certain word or verse, Abduh makes ample use of its context rather than the relevant views expressed by previous scholars, and often gives a very satisfactory explanation. Likewise, Abduh does not recognize the relevance of the traditions, as was recognized by the previous scholars, in the Qur’?nic interpretation.
By Ameen Ehsen Islahi (1904-1997, sub-continent), published in Lahore in 9 volumes.
This monumental commentary is indeed an original approach to the comprehension of the Qur’?n begun by Islahi?s teacher Hamid-ud-din Farahi (1863-1930, sub continent).
Islahi asserts that it?s incorrect to say that the Qur’?n is a disjointed jumble of revelations and successfully establishes that the Qur’?n possessed overall structural and thematic coherence (“nazm”).
He has presented conclusive evidence that the Qur’?n is divided into seven discrete groups. Each group has a distinct theme. Every group begins with one or more Meccan Surah and ends with one or more Medinan Surah. In each group, the Meccan Surahs always precede the Medinan ones. The relationship between the Meccan Surahs and Medinan Surahs of each group is that of the root of a tree and its branches. In every group, all the phases of the Prophet?s mission are depicted.
Two surahs of each group form a pair so that each member of the pair complements the other in various ways. Surah 1, however, is an exception to this pattern: it is an introduction to the whole of the Qur’?n as well as to the first group which begins with it. There are also some surahs which have a specific purpose and fall in this paired-surah scheme in a particular way.
Each surah has specific addressees and a central theme round which the contents of the surah revolve. The central theme highlights a particular aspect of the central theme of the group of which the particular surah is a part. Every surah has distinct subsections to mark thematic shifts, and every subsection is paragraphed to mark smaller shifts.
Following is a brief description of the seven Qur’?nic groups according to Islahi:
- Group I [Surah 1 – Surah 5]
Central Theme: Islamic Law
Group II [Surah 6 ? Surah 9]
Central Theme: The consequences of denying the Prophet(P) for the Mushrikin of Mecca
Group III [Surah 10 – Surah 24]
Central Theme: Glad tidings of the Prophet?s domination.
Group IV [Surah 25 – Surah 33]
Central Theme: Arguments on the Prophethood of Muhammad(P) and the requirements of faith in him
Group V [Surah 34 – Surah 49]
Central Theme: Arguments on the Oneness of God and the requirements of faith in it
Group VI [Surah 50 – Surah 66]
Central Theme: Arguments on the Day of Judgment and the requirements of faith in it
Group VII [Surah 67 – Surah 114]
Central Theme: Admonition to the Quraysh about their fate in the Herein and the Hereafter if they deny the Prophet(P)
Islahi?s way of understanding the Qur’?nic coherence is being studied and analyzed by scholars of the sub-continent and in England as well.
 J. Jomier, Le Commentaire Coranique du Manar, Paris 1954
 Mustansir Mir, Coherence In The Qur’?n: A Study Of Islahi’s Concept Of Nazm In Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, (Indianapolis: American Trust Publications, 1986)