The science of asbaab-un-nuzool

I’m told that learning the science of asbaab-un-nuzool (circumstances of revelation) is key to understanding and interpreting the Quran. What do you say?

Unfortunately, asbaab al-nuzool is not a science, because all narrations that mention the circumstances of revelation are uncertain in their attribution (ظني الورود) as they have been narrated by a few to a few (آحاد). You will notice, after reading the classic books, that the scholars and narrators have often differed about the circumstances of revelation of the same verse. Furthermore, jurists (الفقهاء) and foundationists (الأصوليون) have agreed that interpretation of a verse and analyzing it for the purpose of deriving teachings and rulings from it, is not bound by its circumstances of revelation, but rather by its general meaning, unless specified elsewhere (العبرة بعموم اللفظ لا بخصوص السبب).

That does not mean that learning the circumstances of revelation is useless; it only means that it is a not a precise discipline to rely on for exegesis (tafseer) or analysis (Ijtihaad).

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