Should we allow questions like these:

  • How do you interpret this ayat?
  • What does Mohammad (s.a.v) means by saying .... in this Hadith?

I personally think we should allow those kinds of questions. But it think some people might think it is not good fit for QA format. What do you think?

3 Answers 3


Over at Christianity.SE, the policy is that interpretation questions are allowed, as long as a framework for interpretation is included in the question. For example:

How is verse XYZ interpreted according to [Baptists, Methodists, etc]?

I think a similar approach could be taken here. And this would be my suggestion. This allows the questions to be asked, without a voting war between various interpretations.

Here are a couple examples from Christianity, of (IMO) good interpretation questions, that ask for answers from a specific viewpoint:

And furthermore, to address @ashes999's concern regarding "I think..." answers, Christianity has a policy of requiring that answers cite an authoritative reference. This could be a Bible commentary, or an article by a prominent historical or modern theologian, official church writings, etc.

On the other side of the coin, Biblical Hermeneutics has taken the opposite approach, and said that no interpretation questions are permitted.

Although, at least at BH, there's the option to migrate the question to Christianity.

I don't know how Jewish Life & Learning has approached this.

  • I can't upvote, but I agree here. Interpretations according to schools or scholars is OK as long as that context is mentioned, plus cite a source. Personal opinions to be avoided.
    – Ansari
    Jun 21, 2012 at 19:04
  • Just for clarification, Biblical Hermeneutics questions are primarily about interpretation. What is largely off-topic are questions of doctrine and application of a text. (Though our answers are often informed by or touch upon doctrine and application.) Jul 3, 2012 at 19:20
  • But +1 for suggesting interpretive frameworks. This makes partisan bickering less attractive and pushes a site to be more objective. Jul 3, 2012 at 19:22
  • @JonEricson: Thank you for the clarification.
    – Flimzy
    Jul 4, 2012 at 5:08

I support Flimzy's answer.

I don't think we should completely disallow personal interpretations, but require that such answers should clearly state that the interpretation or understanding is a personal one. As long as such answers don't present their interpretation as the interpretation but only their understanding it should be fine and would not mislead others. I expect that most of the times answers with clear references would be up-voted over those not providing references. So either provide a reference or state clearly that it is personal understanding (not an understanding that is widely accepted among scholars and experts).

The rational for this suggestion is the following: suppose the site grows so much that we have expert Muslim scholars among over users. It would be against the goal of the site to not allow such users give their expert interpretations.


I don't think it's a good idea. If the goal of the site is "teach people about Islam," then we're getting into personal opinions, probably from people who have no foundation of Islamic studies from which to vett their opinions.

In other words, we will get a ton of "I think ...," without any proof.

That, in my opinion, runs contrary to what we're trying to build with the site. (Besides, opinion questions are not a good fit to the SE style.)

  • I'm going to have to disagree on this one. As long as the framework goes along with what @Flimzy said.
    – Dynamic
    Jun 21, 2012 at 18:35
  • @Dynamic Fair enough.
    – ashes999
    Jun 21, 2012 at 18:36

You must log in to answer this question.