Saturday, September 4, 2010

What are Tafsirs of quran

Tafsir al-Qur'an: Definition, Function and Development


The word tafsir is derived from the Arabic word fasara, which

literally means to lift the curtain, to make clear, to show the

objective, and hence by analogy tafsir is the body of knowledge which

aims to make clear the true meaning of the Qur'an, its injunctions and

the occasions of its revelation. This research is based upon the

traditional transmitted material about the Qur'an. Although tafsir is

an Arabic word the process was known before the age of Islam. Jews and

Christians used the term in various ways for their translations and

commentaries on the Bible in the past.[1 ]Another word ta'wil has been

also used to denote the interpretation or reclamation of meanings of

the Qur'an text. Some scholars believe that ta'wil is synonymous with

tafsir, others have denied and suggest that tafsir refers to the

illumination of the external meaning of the Qur'an while ta'wil is the

extraction of the hidden meanings. [2]

The commentator or exegete is called a mufassir. His responsibility is

to explain the text of the Qur'an as fully as possible. He aims to

show where, when and why a subject is written and what it meant during

the time of the Prophet, his companions and subsequent followers. He

eventually tries to make the text communicate meaningfully within his

or her own time and cultural framework.

Basic Conditions / requisites

According to Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlawi, a Mufassir should keep in mind

the following three conditions in his exegesis of the Qur'an:

• a) Every word should be explained with its real meaning. In order to

achieve the mufassir should have command in linguistic knowledge and


• b) Everything needs to be explained within its reference and context

to the main theme.

• c) The interpretation should not be contrary to that of the Sahaba

(Muhammad's companion) who witnessed the coming of the revelations to

the Prophet.[3]

Though there are both Muslims and non-Muslims who have written

commentaries on the Qur'an, the majority of Muslim scholars insist

that the mufassir must be a Muslim. He should be sound in belief,

aqida; well grounded in the knowledge of Arabic and its rules as a

language." He should "have the ability for precise comprehension" of

the Qur'an and "abstain from the use of mere opinion.[4]

A mufassir should have the knowledge of the science of recitation of

the Qur'an, Ilm al-Tajwid. He should know the Ilm al-Hadith to

recognize that which is Mubhem, ambiguous, and to elaborate on that

which is Mujamil, brief or abridged. He must have studied thoroughly

the various schools of thought, Ilm al-Fiqh. The Mufassir should have

knowledge of Asbab al-Nuzul, reasons for the revelation of the

different verses and should have knowledge about the theory of

abrogation of verses of the Qur'an, al-Nasikh wa al-Mansukh.[5]

Kinds of tafsir

In later years, commentators and Qur'anic scholars formulated various

rules of interpretation. Foreign thoughts, knowledge and reasoning

were also woven into the fabric of Islamic thought and culture. This

amalgamation emerged in several kinds of tafsir and can be divided

into two or three groups, i.e., tafsir bil riwaya, by transmission;

tafsir bil-ra'y, sound opinion or knowledge and tafsir bil-ishara, by


• Tafsir bil-riwaya (also known as Tafsir bil-mathur) includes the

interpretation of the Qur'an by Quranic verses and use of the

explanations of the prophet and his companions. Books of this class of

tafsir include those attributed to Ibn Abbas, Ibn Abi Khatim, Ibn

Habban, and that of Imam Suyuti known as Al-Dur al-Mansu, tafsir by

Khatir and al-Shukani may also be included in this group.

• Tafsir bil-ray (or Tafsir bil-dirayah) is not based directly on

transmission of knowledge from the past, but on reason. Exegesis is

derived through opinion based on reason and Ijtihad or Qiyas. In this

area we find tafsirs like al-Kashaf by Zamakshari (d. 1144).

• Tafsir bil-ishara: It goes into the detail of the concepts and ideas

associated with the words and verses of the Qur'an. This kind of

tafsir is often produced by mystically inclined authors. The most

famous are those by al-Razi and al-Khazin.

Ibn Jarir has reported through Muhammad ibn Bashshar Muammal, Sufyan

and Abul Zanad that Ibn Abbas said, "tafsir is of four kinds: One

which Arabs can know from the language; second which no one can be

excused for not knowing; third which only the scholars know; and

fourth, which God alone knows."[6]

Early Development: tafsir in the dtime of Muhamma

During the lifetime of the Prophet, his companions used to ask him

questions relating to the interpretation of the Qur'an and the

different aspects of the injunctions contained in it. The prophet used

to explain to them the revelation. Muslim scholars believe that the

result of such inquiries was that the companions came to know all

about the causes of revelation, Asbab an-Nazul of different verses.

They also became aware of the verses that were abrogated and those

verses that were replaced by other verses.

The authority to explain was granted to the Prophet by God himself as

laid down in the Qur'an, "We have sent down unto thee (also) the

Message; that thou mayest explain clearly to men what is sent for

them, and that they may give thought" (Surah 16:44). Therefore, Muslim

scholars state that the things said by the Prophet in explanation or

to which he gave silent approval were committed to memory by the

companions. Being men of great learning many of them had not only

memorised the Qur'an but also had full knowledge of when, where and

why verses of the Qur'an were revealed.

Tafsir in the time of the Khulafa Rashidoon

After the death the Prophet, the companions taught others the Qur'an

and its interpretation. Scholars recognise that the Khulafa Rashidoon,

the rightly guided, were Mufassirin of the Qur'an. Others from the

Prophet's time that were recognised as scholars of the Qur'anic tafsir

are Abdallah Ibn Abbas (d. 687), Abdallah Ibn Mas'ud (d. 653), Ubayy

Ibn Ka'b (d. 640 AD), Zayd Ibn Thabith (d. 665), Abu Musa al-Ashari

(d. 664) and Abdallah Ibn Zubayr (d. 692).[7] It is generally stated

that in the subsequent period after Muhammad, three schools were

established to explain the Qur'an: The Meccan school led by Abdallah

Ibn Abbas, the Madinan school led by Ubayy Ibn Ka'b and the Iraqi

school led by Abdallah Ibn Mas'ud. The methodologys adopted by them

was based more on transmission, riwaya. While Abdallah Ibn Abbas who

is repudiated to be the first exegete in the history of Islam, in the

light of the traditions it would seem that Abdallah Ibn Mas'ud had a

reputation in teaching the Qur'an. Muhammad recognised the efforts of

Abdallah Ibn Masud's learning of the Qur'an, so much so that he

recommended others to learn from him. Ali Ibn Abi Talib said about his

scholarship, "He knows the Qur'an and the Sunnah and his knowledge is

the best."[8]

Tafsir in the time of the Tabi'un

Many of the companions of the Prophet taught the Qur'an and its

exegesis to the next generation of Muslims, Tabi'un. The conversion of

many people from different faiths and walks of life made it imperative

that the Tabi'un should not only treasure the existing information but

also build on it a body of learning known as Ulum al-Qur'an.

It is believed that within a half century after Muhammad's death three

main schools of Qur'anic tafsir had developed in Makkah, Madinah and

Iraq. The Makkan group is said to have been taught by Ibn Abbas. The

best known of the group among learners are Mujahid (d. 722), Ata (d.

732) and Ikrima (d. 729).

The Madinan group had the best known teachers such as Ubay b. Kab.

This group had some well known Muffasirin for example, Muhammad b. Kab

al-Qarzi (d. 735), Abul Alliya al-Riyahi (d. 708) and Zaid b. Aslam

(d. 747).

The Iraqi group who followed Ibn Masud had centres in Basra and Kufa.

The best known among the teachers in tafsir were Al-Hasan al-Basri (d.

738), Masruq (d. 682) and Ibrahim al-Nakhai (d. 713).

Tafsir in the time of Taba' Tabi'un

In the period following the above, others like al-Suddi (d. 745) and

Sulayman (d. 767) came forward in this field and some of their work

survives in the collections of Hadith and recent versions attributed

to them. A complete book of tafsir by Mujahid (d. 935)is available

which is based on a manuscript from the 13th century AD.[9] However

the oldest work of tafsir extant today is of Al-Tabari (d. 922

AD).[10] Some believe that he was the first man to write Qur'anic

exegesis explaining it side by side with the Sunnah. Since then the

process of tafsir has continued until today. Some of the classical

tafsirs amongst the Sunni Muslims are those of al-Baghawi; al-

Zamakhshari, al-Baidawi, Al-Ghazali, al-Qartabi, al-Jalalayn,

al-Mudarik, al-Hussain, Al-Jalalayn, al-Mazhari and Azizi, etc .[11]

Tafsir in modern times

Though the mood of tafsir writing in modern times is the same to make

the text understandable and relevant, there have been other areas in

which attempts are made to interpret the Qur'anic text in the light of

"modern and scientific reason". The earliest effort in this area was

of Sayyid Ahmad Khan (d.1898). His modernist but incomplete subject

wise commentary was entitled simply Tafsir al-Qur'an. He tried to

interpret the question of revelation, miracles and the message of the

Qur'an in the light of available "enlightenment" from the West. To

encourage social and educational reforms he tried to strike a balance

between western and eastern ideas and find support in the Qur'an.

Muhammad Abduh (d. 1905), from Egypt is considered by some the most

significant exponent of the modernist school. He spent his time as a

teacher and later as a judge, mufti, giving decisions, fatwas which

embodied the modernist stance. He struggled against the traditional

enterprise of tafsir. His incomplete tafsir of the Qur'an, tafsir

al-Manar, based upon his class lectures and the text of his legal

decisions has been edited and published by Rashid Rida, his


Other tafsirs in this arena are Tarjuman al-Qur'an by Abul Kalam Azad

(d. 1958), Fi Zilal al-Qur'an by Syed Qutub (d. 1960), and Tafhim al

Qur'an, by Mawdudi (d. 1979). In English there are several

commentaries available today as of Yusuf Ali, Mawdudi, and of

Muhammad Asad etc. Abridged and some incomplete editions of a few

classical commentaries, e.g. Tabari, Baidhawi, Zamkhshari and Ibn

Kathir are also available.

Differences in tafsir

One tafsir may differ with another on the interpretation of a text of

the Qur'an. There are a number of reasons for this but the most

important one may be external or internal. In Ibn Taimiya's opinion,

for example, a Mufassir may have used unsound material and his

interpretation actually rests on some pre conceived belief or other

motive thus introducing false innovation, bida.

Some Mufassirin have used the Isra'iliyat, the Jewish origins of the

narratives mentioned in the Qur'an particularly derived from

non-canonical Jewish and Christian traditions. Such material was used

by some of the Sahaba, but it was referred to more by the Tabi'un and

by later generations. The other difference may have been internal. A

Mufassir may have had difficulty understanding the words or may

explain them according to the limitations of his circumstances.[13]It

is due to such reasons that some scholars in their exposition of kind

of tafsirs have divided Tafsir bil-ray further into two categories:

Tafsir mamduh (praise worthy tafsir) and Tafsir madhumumah

(blameworthy tafsir). Tafsir madhumumah is a tafsir which has mostly

relied on dha'if (weak) and mawdu' (spurious) traditions; has not

given consideration to the saying of the sahaba (companions of

Muhammad); has no regard for the Arabic language in its interpretation

and given no consideration to phenomena that are in conformity with

the meaning of the Arabs.


Much has been written to interpret the Qur'an to help Muslim

communities in their daily doings through the years. Nowadays as we

saw above, the Qur'an is interpreted in the light of scientific

reasons and methodology. However, the best method and foremost way is

to interpret the Qur'an by the Qur'an and use the Prophet's Sunnah and

the way the Sahaba understood the text as mentioned in the classical




[1] Robert Britton, The Last of the Prophets, p. 109, (Worthing:

Churchman Publishing, 1990).

[2] Suyuti, al-Itqan fi Ulum al-Qur'an, chapter 77, pp. 424-430.

[3] Abdur Rahman I. Doi, Shariah: The Islamic Law, p.22, (London: Taha

Publishers, 1984).

[4] Ahmad Von Denffer, Ulum al-Qur'an: An Introduction to the Sciences

of the Qur'an., p.122 (Leicester: Islamic Foundation, 1994).

[5] Abdur Rahman I. Doi, Shariah: The Islamic Law, p.35.

[6] Imam Ibn Taymiyah, tr. M. Abdul Haq Ansari, An introduction to the

exegesis of the Qur'an, p. 48, (Riyadh: Ibn Saud Islamic University,


[7] Al-Suyuti, Al-Itqan fi Ulum al Qur'an, p. 968, cited by Doi, pp.25-26.

[8] Al-Dhabi, p.86 cited by Doi, pp. 26.

[9] Surti, Tafsir Mujahid, 2 Vols. (Beruit, n.d), cited by Ahmad Von

Denffer, p.130

[10] Helmut Gatje, The Qur'an and its exegesis, p. 34, (Oxford:

Oneworld, 1997).

[11] Thomas Patrick Hughes, Dictionary Of Islam, p.522, (Delhi: Cosmos

Publication, 1978).

[12] Rashid Rida, Tafsir al-Manar, 12 vol., (Beirut: Dar al-Kutb

al-Ilmiyya, 1999).

[13] Ibn Taymiyah, tr. M. Abdul Haq Ansari, An introduction to the

exegesis of the Qur'an, p.17.


___ The Holy Qur'an. (tr. A. Yusuf Ali), Maryland: Amana Corp. 1983.

Gattje, Helmut. The Qur'an and its exegesis, [English trans. & ed.

Alford T. Welch], (Oxford: Oneworld, 1997),

Hughes, Thomas Patrick. Dictionary of Islam, (Delhi: Cosmo Publications. 1978).

Imam Ibn Taymiyah, tr. M. Abdul Haq Ansari, An introduction to the

exegesis of the Qur'an, (Riyadh: Ibn Saud Islamic University, 1989).

Mawdudi, Abul A'ala. Towards understanding the Qur'an, Vol 1, [Ed.

Zafar Ishaq], (Leicester: Islamic Foundation, 1988).

Rahman I. Abdur, Doi, Shariah: The Islamic Law, (London: Taha

Publishers, 1984).

Robert Britton, The Last of the Prophets, (Worthing: Churchman

Publishing, 1990)

Von Denffer, Ahmad. Ulum al-Qur'an: An introduction to the Science of

the Qur'an, (Leicester: Islamic Foundation, 1985)

Welch, A.T. "Al-KUR'AN" in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 5:400-432. New

Edition. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1990.


The word tafsir (pl. tafasir) is a noun derived from the verb

fassara/yufassiru/ tafsir, meaning explanation, exposition,

elucidation, explication, interpretation and commentary. It also means

‘to elucidate what is meant from a difficult word’ (Ibn Manzur, 1994,

V: 55; alZabidi, n.d., III: 470). Technically, tafsir is the term

encompassing both scholarly efforts to explain the and make it more

understandable and also the branch of Islamic science that deals with


The word tafsir occurs in the just once, at 25.33: ‘They never bring

you any simile but We bring you the truth and a better exposition

(tafsir an).’

Ta’wil is word that has a similar meaning to tafsir. Ta’wil is derived

from the verb awwala/yuawwilu/ meaning to interpret dreams, explain,

explicate, tafsir, kashf (discover), elucidate and result. Some

scholars think that tafsir and had different meanings from early on,

while others believe that at least up until the end of third/ninth

century there was no differentiation in meaning. The word appears in

the in seventeen different places across fifteen verses, and has

various meanings such as ‘the end or intended result of something’,

‘interpretation of a dream’ and ‘exposition of a saying’. Once

conceptualized, it was used to denote a person using his.........


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Abu al-Qasim Mahmud ibn Umar al-Zamakhshari. Known widely as

al-Zamakhshari (in Persian: محمود زمخشری). Also called Jar Allah

(Arabic for "God's neighbour") (1074 or 1075 – 1143 or 1144) was a

medieval Muslim scholar of Iranian origin [1][2][3][4], who subscribed

to the Muʿtazilite theological doctrine, who was born in Khwarezmia,

but lived most of his life in Bukhara, Samarkand, and Baghdad.



• 1 Biography

• 2 Works

o 2.1 Zamakhshari and the Chorasmian Language

• 3 See also

• 4 References

• 5 External links

[edit] Biography

Al-Zamakhshari was born in Zamakhshar, Khwarezmia, and became a

renowned scholar of the Mutazilite school of Islam[citation needed].

He used Persian for some of his work, although he was a strong

supporter of the Arabic language as well as an opponent of the

Shu'ubiyya movement.[5] After losing one of his feet to frostbite, he

carried a notarized declaration that his foot was missing due to

accident, rather than a legal amputation for any crime.[6]

He is best known for Al-Kashshaaf, a seminal commentary on the Qur'an.

The commentary is famous for its deep linguistic analysis of the

verses, however has been criticised for the inclusion of Mu'tazilite

philosophical views.

For many years he stayed in Makkah, for which he became known as

Jar-Allah ("God's neighbour"). He later returned to Khwarizm, where he

died at the capital Jurjaniyya.

He died in 1144 at al-Jurjaniya, Khwarezm.

He studied at Bukhara and Samarkand while enjoying the fellowship of

jurists of Baghdad.

[edit] Works

Zamakhshari's fame as a commentator rests upon his commentary on the

Qur'an. In spite of its Mu'tazili theology it was famous among


Works include:

• Al-Kashshaaf ("the Revealer", Arabic: کشاف ) — A tafsir of the Qur'an) [7]

• Rabi al-Abrar [7]

• Asasul-Balaghat dar-Lughat (Arabic:اساس البلاغه) — Literature[7]

• Fasul-ul-Akhbar [7]

• Fraiz Dar-ilm Fariz [7]

• Kitab-Fastdar-Nahr [7]

• Muajjam-ul-Hadud [7]

• Manha Darusul [7]

• Diwan-ul-Tamsil [7]

• Sawaer-ul-Islam [7]

• Muqaddimat al-Adab [8] مقدمه الادب (Arabic to Chorasmian Language dictionary)

• کتاب الامکنه والجبال والمیاه (Geography))

• مفصل انموذج (Nahw: Arabic grammar)

• and more [7]

[edit] Zamakhshari and the Chorasmian Language

The greater part of the now extinct Iranian Chorasmian language

vocabulary is to be found in the form of interlinear glosses

throughout a single manuscript (of ca. 596/1200) of the Moqaddemat

al-adab by the native Chorasmian speaker, Zamakhshari[3]. Some other

manuscripts of the same work contain but a few such glosses. Thus the

Moqaddemat al-adab is a very important primary source for the study of

this extinct language.

[edit] See also

• List of Iranian scientists

• Islamic scholars

[edit] References

1. ^ Jane Dammen MacAuliffe, Quranic Christians: An Analysis of

Classical and Modern Exegesis,Cambridge University Press, 1991, pg 51

2. ^ By Norman. Calder, Andrew Rippin, Classical Islam: A Sourcebook

of Religious Literature, Routledge, 2003, pg 119

3. ^ a b Encyclopedia Iranica, "The Chorasmian Language", D.N.Mackenzie

4. ^ "Zamakhshari" in Encyclopedia of Islam, by C.H.M. Versteegh,

Brill 2007. Excerpt: "one of the outstanding scholars of later

medieval Islamic times who made important contributions..despite his

own Iranian descent, a strong proponent of the Arab cause vis-à-vis

the Persophile partisans of Shabiyya."

5. ^ 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, volume 1, al-Zamakhshari

6. ^ Samuel Marinus Zwemer, "A Moslem Seeker After God"

7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Salaam Knowledge

8. ^ [1] [2]


• ZAMAKHSHARI. LoveToKnow 1911 Online Encyclopedia. © 2003, 2004 LoveToKnow.

• 1911


[edit] External links






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ZAMAKHSHARI [Abu-1 Qasim Mahmud ibn `Umar uzZamakhsharij (1074-1143),

Arabian theologian and grammarian, was born at Zamakhshar, a village

of Khwarizm, studied at Bokhara and Samarkand, and enjoyed the

fellowship of the jurists of Bagdad. For many years he stayed at

Mecca, from which circumstance he was known as Jar-ullah (" God's

client"). Later he returned to Khwarizm, where he died at the capital

Jurjaniyya. In theology he was a pronounced Mo`tazilite (see

Mahommedan Religion: section Sects). Although he used Persian for some

of his works he was a strong supporter of the superiority of the

Arabic language and an opponent of the Shu`ubite movement.

Zamakhshari's fame as a commentator rests upon his commentary on the

Koran, called al-Kashshdf (" the Revealer"). In spite of its

Mo`tazilite theology it was famous among scholars and was the basis of

the widely-read commentary of Baidhawi (q.v.). It has been edited by

W. Nassau Lees (Calcutta, 1856), and has been printed at Cairo (1890).

Various glosses on it have been written by different authors. His

chief grammatical work is the Kitab ul-mufassal, written about 1120

and edited by J. P. Broch (2nd ed., Christiania, 1879). Many

commentaries have been written on this work, the fullest being that of

Ibn Ya`ish (d. 1245), edited by G. Jahn (2 vols., Leipzig, 1876-86).

Of his lexicographical works the Kitab Muqaddimat ul-Adab was edited

as Samachscharii Lexicon Arab. Pers. (ed. J. G. Wetzstein, 2 vols.,

Leipzig, 1844), and the Asas ul-balagha, a lexicon of choice words and

phrases, was printed at Bulaq, 1882. Of his adab works the Nawabigh

ul-kalim, an anthology, was edited by H. A. Schultens (Leiden, 1772),

by B. de Meynard in the Journal asiatique, ser. 7, vol. vi., pp. 313

ff. (cf. M. de Goeje in Zeitschr. d. deutsch. morg. Gesellschaft, vol.

xxx. pp. 569 ff.). The Atwaq udh-Dhahab was edited by J. von

Hammer-Purgstall (Vienna, 1835); by H. L. Fleischer (Leipzig, 1835);

by G. Weil (Stuttgart, 1863); and by B. de Meynard (Paris, 1876; cf.

de Goeje as above). (G. W. T.)

Biographical Data :

Name : Zamakhshari Jarullah

Period : 1074 - 1142

Biographical detail : Author

Jarullah was the surname of Muhammad Bin Umar Al Zamakhshari, the

Mutazalite from Zamakhshar, a village in Khwarizm. He got the surname

of Jarallah (neighbour of God) on account of his residing for a long

period in Makkah.

Zamakhshari was the author of an excellent commentary on the Qur’an

called Kashaf and many other works such as Asasul-Balaghat dar-Lughat,

Rabi ul Abrar, Fasul-ul-Akhbar and Fraiz Dar-ilm Fariz,

Kitab-Fastdar-Nahr, Muajjam-ul-Hadud, Manha Darusul, Diwan-ul-Tamsil,

Sawaer-ul-Islam etc.

from the

Encyclopædia Britannica

also called Jār Allāh (Arabic: “God’s Neighbour”)

born March 8, 1075, Khwārezm [now in Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan] died

June 14, 1144, Al-Jurjānīya, Khwārezm

Persian-born Arabic scholar whose chief work is Al-Kashshāf ʿan

Ḥaqāʾiq at-Tanzīl (“The Discoverer of Revealed Truths”), his

exhaustive linguistic commentary on the Qurʾān.

As is true for most Muslim scholars of his era, little is known of his

youth. He was apparently well-traveled and resided at least twice

(once for an extended period of time) in the holy city of Mecca, where

he earned his nickname, Jār Allāh. He studied at Bukhara and Samarkand

(both now in Uzbekistan) and also spent time in Baghdad. At some point

in his travels, one of his feet had to be amputated (probably because

of frostbite), and thereafter—so the story goes—al-Zamakhsharī felt

obliged to carry with him affidavits from noted citizens attesting

that his foot had not been amputated as punishment for some crime.

Theologically, he was affiliated with the rationalist Muʿtazilah

school. As a philologist, he considered Arabic the queen of languages,

in spite of the fact that his own native tongue was Persian (and

though he wrote several minor works in that latter language). His

great commentary, Al-Kashshāf ʿan Ḥaqāʾiq at-Tanzīl, was written in

Arabic and became the work for which he is best known. A comprehensive

study of the Muslim scripture that focused on its grammatical nuance,

it was completed in 1134 (published at Calcutta in 1856 in 2 vol.). It

was widely read, in spite of its Muʿtazilite bias, especially in the

East; in the western portions of the Islamic world, his dogmatic point

of view was offensive to the Mālikīyah school, though the great

14th-century Arab historian Ibn Khaldūn regarded the work highly.

Of al-Zamakhsharī’s grammatical works, Al-Mufaṣṣal fī ʿilm

al-ʿArabīyah (“Detailed Treatise on Arabic Linguistics,” written

1119–21, published 1859; it is sometimes titled Kitāb al Mufaṣṣal fī

al-Naḥw ["Detailed Treatise on Grammar"]) is celebrated for its

concise but exhaustive exposition. He was also the author of a

collection of old proverbs; though well regarded, this work has been

considered second to the anthology Al-Amthāl ("The Proverbs") written

by his close contemporary Abū Faḍl al-Maydānī with whom al-Zamakhsharī

had a notorious and somewhat undignified feud. Al-Zamakhsharī’s other

works include three collections of apothegms as well as treatises on

moral discourses and a number of poems.

Medieval Sourcebook:

Zamakhshari (1070-1143 CE):

The Discoverer of Truth, c. 1130 CE


     [Horne Introduction]

Zamakshari (1070-1143 CE) was born and died in Khiva in Turkestan. He

was, however, another of the many youths eager for knowledge who took

advantage of the wide-spread dominion of the Arab caliphs to travel

through the East. He journeyed indeed through such hardships that he

lost a leg, frozen in a snowstorm; and he dwelt so long in Mecca, the

holy city, that he was called the "Neighbor of God." Through men such

as Zamakhshari Islam learned its final form.


Praise to God, who has sent from heaven the Qur'an, in the form of an

address of which the words are coherent and arranged in order, and who

has sent it in continuous chapters according to the demands of

necessity; who has willed that it should begin by expressing the

praise due to God, and end by recounting his power and protection; who

has included in it two kinds of revelations, the one obscure, the

other perfectly clear; who has divided the Qur'an into Suras, and the

Suras into verses, and has distinguished the different parts by

divisions and conclusions: qualifications which apply only to that

which has been created, and produced without a model, and could only

be the attributes of things which have had a beginning and recognize

an author of whom they are the work. Praise to him who has reserved to

himself alone the privilege of priority and eternity, and who has

given to everything save himself the characteristic of having been


Praise to him who has created the Qur'an, the sense of which is a

light to guide the spirit, the demonstrations of which are clear; like

an inspiration which blazons forth its proof and authentic title; like

a lecture written in the Arabic language, and free from all faults,

which is the key to open the treasures of all spiritual and temporal

blessings, and which confirms and witnesses the truth of all the Holy

Books which have preceded it; like a miracle which, alone among all

miracles, has existed during all the passage of the centuries, and a

book which, alone among all books, will be repeated in every language

and in every place.

By this book, he has shut the mouths of the most nobly born Arabs, in

that they are challenged to produce something to be compared with it,

he has rendered mute the most eloquent orators in that he has defied

them to imitate it. Amongst those who possess the greatest command of

the language in all its purity, no one has the enterprise to compose

anything which equals it, or even approaches it. No one of those who

are distinguished for their eloquence has dared to compete with him in

a single chapter equal to the shortest Sura included in the Qur'an.

Yet the orators of the land are more numerous than the pebbles of the

Batha valley and more plentiful than the grains of sand in the desert

of Dahna. The blood of patriotism has not boiled in their veins, and

zeal for the honor of their cause has not moved them to the

undertaking, although they are known to be naturally inclined to

disputes and quarrels, and ready to embrace with ardor and without

moderation every opportunity for rivalry and hostility; although when

roused to fight for the defense of their reputation, they are quick to

face the gravest dangers, and will plunge themselves into every excess

to obtain the object of their desires. If any one opposes their title

to glory or prevails against them, they oppose him in great numbers;

if any one in their hearing boasts of a glorious deed, they respond

with a multitude of glorious deeds.

God has employed against them two kinds of weapons, first the written

law, then the sword; but they have not challenged him to combat nor

attempted to cope with the sword, although the drawn sword is no more

than a trifling weapon, fitted only for badinage, if the strength of

authentic truth is not joined to the victorious point. Certainly, if

they have in no way put up even a semblance of resistance to the truth

which has been presented to them, it is simply because they know well

that the sea, released from its boundaries, would envelop and overflow

any mere well made by human hands; and the sun, by the brightness of

its fire, eclipses the light of all the stars.

May the favors of God shine on the most worthy of those who have

received revelations, on the friend of God, Abu'l Rasem Mohammed, son

of Abd-Allah, son of Abd-Almotalleb, son of Haschem, whose standard is

raised amongst the descendants of Lowaiy; who has been fortified by

constant protection and assisted by wisdom, whose visage radiates

glory, and who shines with all the signs of nobility; on the

illustrious Prophet whose name has been inscribed in the Law and the

Gospel! May blessings fall also upon his sainted descendants, on those

successors to his authority who have with him the ties which are born

of marriage!

It is well known that, in the profundities of science and the

principles of the arts, there is little difference between the learned

of different classes. Those who practice the various arts are equal,

or nearly equal. If one professor outdistances another, it is only by

a few steps; and if one artist outstrips another, it is only by a

short distance. But where one sees a true difference among the

classes, where they make every effort to surpass each other, where

there is true emulation and rivalry, there one finds real inferiors

and superiors, of the sort that there is among those who pursue the

same career from incomprehensible distances, distances so great that

one alone balances a thousand others. There are, in the sciences as in

the arts, the beauties of certain delicate points; there are subtle

thoughts which arouse the wisdom of reflective spirits, profound,

hidden secrets covered with veils which very few men, even among those

of the most distinguished talent, can lift, secrets which can only be

discovered and brought to light by those who among men of merit are

like the pearl placed in the center of the necklace, and like the

stone which is set in the gold of the ring. Ordinary men have not the

eyes to create such excellences, and are as though chained to their

seats by a servile desire to imitate, and can not even flatter

themselves that any one will trim the hair from their foreheads and

give them freedom.

Of all the sciences, that which abounds in the most difficulties,

which demands the greatest effort in spirit, which offers the largest

number of problems capable of fatiguing the strongest intellect, I

mean those extraordinary subtleties from which it is difficult to

extricate oneself, which are locked as if in vaults, whose thread is

cut and difficult to regain---that science is the interpreting of the

Qur'an. It is a science for which, as has been said by Djahed in his

work entitled, "Composition of the Qur'an," no savants are fitted, and

to which they devote their lives without hope of complete success.

I have often noticed that my confreres in religion, men who hold the

foremost rank among the disciples of the true faith and law, men

exceptionally proficient in the knowledge of the language of the Arabs

and in the fundamental dogmas of religion, have been enthusiastic in

expressing their satisfaction and admiration every time that,

consulted by them for the interpretation of some passage of the

Qur'an, I have explained their difficulty and disclosed to them the

truth which was hidden from them. They expressed a keen desire for me

to write a work treating on the subject in all its phases. At last

they joined in begging me to dictate to them a commentary which should

unveil all the mysteries of the Holy Book, and help them to understand

the different explanations and opinions. I excused myself from doing

as they desired, but they continually renewed their pleading; and, to

conquer my resistance, they employed the mediation of the chief

religious men, and the most learned among those who professed

doctrines of justice and unity. I realized that it was obligatory upon

me to defer to their desires, so that I came to consider such a work

as a personal duty and task; but that which finally brought me to

consent was that I saw our age to be in a state of decay, and the men

of our time to be degenerating I realized that far from being able to

raise themselves to worthy heights in the two sciences of thought and

exposition, they were not even capable of attaining to those weaker

means which serve as instruments in the interpretation of the Qur'an.

I therefore resolved to write this book that it might be for them The

Discoverer of Truth.

Golden Necklaces; or, The Maxims of Zamakhshari.

I. When you go to the mosque, walk with reverence; and when you pray,

fill your heart with humility. Think of the power of the glorious

King, and do not forget what is written concerning the temptations of

the devil. Consider before what all-powerful sovereign you kneel, and

what deceitful enemy you have to combat. Verily, no one can maintain

himself on a firm foundation in this difficult world, except it be the

man who is loyal to noble principles and fortified by his profession

of faith; the faithful who sighs in fear of chastisement, contrite,

repentant, eager in the pursuit of reward, who spurs his horse into

the arena of obedience, and disciplines his spirit in the practice of


II. Did I say to you that our country is destined to mourning? That

will become true when an unjust sovereign rules. Tyranny is heavier

than the horse's hoofs, more destructive than the unchained torrents,

more deadly than the poisoned winds of Yemen, more devastating than

the plague. Tyranny prevents prayers rising to heaven and prevents the

blessings of heaven from falling upon the earth. Flee far from the

abode of this menace, even if you are one of the highest nobles of the

land, the most illustrious because of your wealth and your children.

Fear lest the birds of ruin fatten on the land, and earthquakes or

lightnings destroy its inhabitants.

III. Do not pride yourself on the nobility of your birth, for that

belongs to your father; join to your hereditary virtues those which

you have acquired recently. By this union you will be truly noble. Do

not feel elated over the nobility of your father, if you can not draw

pride from that which is in yourself; for the glory of ;your ancestors

is vain if you have not a personal glory. There is the same difference

between the fame of your ancestors and your own fame that there is

between your food of yesterday and of to-day; for the feast that has

passed can not calm the hunger of to-day, and still less can it

provide for the days which follow.



From: Charles F. Horne, ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of

the East, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol. VIII:

Medieval Persia, pp. 134-139.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has

been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.


This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook

is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to

medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the

document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying,

distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use.

If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission

is granted for commercial use.

Quranic Books The Message of Qur'an Vol. 06 The Wine-bearer

The Receptionists (The welcoming party) ◄

Wives in Paradise. (The Houris) ►

God has given the perfect bounties to the dwellers of Paradise, things

that will serve them well. The wine bearers will be circulating among

the dwellers of Paradise and they will serve them the wine of


Their over and covert beauty will attract the dwellers of Paradise so

much that they will become oblivious of everything else like sadness

and hardships. All the hardships that they could have suffered from

God will be erased.

They have been mentioned in the various verses of the Qura’n and they

have been praised in manner that every reader will be impressed. The

Qura’n has used various descriptions as it has done for other

bounties. The word “Ghilmaan” has been mentioned in verse 24 of Surah


“And they will be served by youth as handsome as well guarded pearls.”

The word “Yatufuu” tells us that they will always be around the

dwellers of Paradise.

“Lulu-um-Maknoon” means the pearl in the oyster, clear and beautiful.

It has an extra ordinary radiance when it is extracted from it. The

youth of Paradise will like the same as if they are pearls just

extracted from the oysters.

It is true that there is no need for servers in Paradise because the

dwellers will get whatever they want automatically but the presence of

these serving youth is an added honor.

Though the verse does not state clearly why they will hang around but

in other verses that we will mention later it seems that their duty is

to serve the people with all the dibbles they desire.

The word “Lahum” tells us that there will be fixed servants for each

person in Paradise. Since paradise is not the place for sadness so the

servants too will feel happy in serving them.

The notable point is that many commentators have quoted a hadith of

the Messenger which says:

“Once he was asked: “If the servants will be like newly extracted

pearls from oysters then what the guest of Paradise would be like?”

The Messenger answered: “By Him who controls my life the prominence of

those being served on the server is like that of the moon over the


We would like to remind that the word “Ghilman” is the plural of

“Ghulaam” and it means young men and not servants who serve.

It is also known that the young men are fast, strong and exuberant in

their work. Qura’n at once place calls them ‘Wildaan” or young men. In

verses 17 and 18 of Surah Waqiah the Book says:

“And they will be served by immortal boys with cups and jugs and a

beaker of wine.”

The word “Wildaan” is the plural of “Waleed” and means young children

and here it means young boys. Some people have said that these will be

young boys or the sons of believers who will serve their parents but

this does not seem true (3) because if they too are believers then

they will be served and not serve themselves.

His entry will be debarred if he is not a believer.

The word “Mukhulla-diin” describes their ever lasting freshness.

Another verse describes it better. Verse 19 of Surah Insaan says:

“And around them will be boys with eternal youth to serve them. If you

see them you will think of scattered pearls.’

This also tells us that “Wildaan” means “Ghilmaan” who were first

referred to as freshly extracted pearls from oysters and here they are

called “Lu’lu am mansoora”

Many commentators have said that these are the sons of the polytheists

or those believers who did not do good deeds. God will not punish

these boys because of their parents but will enter them into Paradise

as serfs. They will serve the believers and will be happy doing so.

But this seems implausible because of what we have said earlier and

the tradition quoted about it is unconfirmed.

They are mentioned in yet another instance. Verse 45 of Surah Saffat says:

“Around them will be passed a container of pure wine.”

A similar meaning is conveyed by verse 15 of Surah Dahr that says:

“Amongst them will be passed around vessels of silver and goblets of crystal.”

Verse 71 of Surah Zukhruf says:

“To them will be passed around dishes and goblets of Gold”

The word “Sihaaf” is the plural of “Sahfah”. According to Zamakhshiri

(in Misbahol Lughat) it means a bid square utensil and its real

meaning is to be spread out evenly and so it seems to be a large

serving dish.

“Akwab” is the plural of “Kob” which means a utensil used for drinking

which does not have a handle and is sometimes called Qalah.

The notable point is that according to some commentators “Sihaaf”

denotes innumerability and “Akwab” has limitations so the first is

more. This is more so that the dishes for serving food are larger and

more than the cups used for drinks for they have more variety. (4)

The linguistic purity and eloquence of Qura’n demands that it should

keep these finer points in view (Reflect)

Though the last verses have not given the details of these servers but

we can discern them from the previous ones for they tell us who they

are and what their attributes are.


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v • d • e

Part of the series on

Qur'anic exegesis

v • d • e

Most famous


Tafsir ibn Kathir (~1370)

Tafsir al-Qurtubi (~1273)

Tafsir al-Tabari (~922)

Tafsir al-Jalalayn

between (1460-1505)


Fi zilal al-Qur'an

Tanwir al-Miqbas

Ma'ariful Quran

Shi'a: Tafsir al-Mizan

between (1892-1981)

Sunni tafsir

Tafsir al-Baghawi

Tafsir of Fakhr al-Din

Dur al-Manthur


Shi'a tafsir

Al-Mizan Fi Tafsir al-Qur'an

Holy Quran (puya)

Majma' al-Bayan

Nur al-Thaqalayn


Sufi tafsir

Tafsir Ibn Arabi

Mu'tazili tafsir



Asbab al-nuzul

Tafsir (Arabic: تفسير‎, tafsīr, "interpretation") is the Arabic word

for exegesis or commentary, usually of the Qur'an. It does not include

esoteric or mystical interpretations, which are covered by the related

word Ta'wīl. An author of tafsīr is a mufassir (Arabic: 'مُفسر‎,

mufassir, plural: Arabic: مفسرون‎, mufassirūn).

Contents [hide]

1 The Sources of Tafsīr (Uṣūl al-Tafsīr)[1]

2 The approaches of tafsir

3 Prohibited tafsir

4 Major Commentators (Mufassirūn)

5 Modern Writers of Tafsīrs (Mufassirūn)

6 Tafsīr written in other languages

7 Sources

8 See also

9 External links

[edit] The Sources of Tafsīr (Uṣūl al-Tafsīr)[1]

There are two approaches to interpreting the Qur'an, a) based on

tradition and b) based on language, context and context of situation

of the text. In the former approach there are four traditional sources

for commentary of the Qur'an:

1.The Quran: The highest form of tafsīr is when one verse of the Quran

is used to explain another.

2.The Ḥadīth: the second highest grade of tafsīr is where Muhammad

commented on the meaning or virtues of particular verses of the Quran,

and those statements have been passes down to us. Many of the great

collections of Ḥadīth have separate sections about tafsīr.

3.The reports of the Ṣaḥābah: The Ṣaḥābah, or companions of Muhammad,

also interpreted and taught the Quran. If nothing is found in the

Quran or the Hadīth, the commentator has recourse to what the Ṣaḥābah

reported about various verses.

4.The reports of the Tābi'ūn, the next generation who learned from the

Ṣaḥābah: these people grew up with people who had enjoyed everyday

interaction with Muhammad, and had often asked about the meanings of

verses or circumstances of their revelation.

In the latter approach there are numerous sources of interpretation

which include: a) Historical Sources There are two types of historical

resources of interpretation, (a) foundational and absolutely authentic

and (b) secondary and supportive. The Qur’ān, alone is the basic and

foundational resource while the sound aḥādīth (the prophetic

traditions), established historical facts and the Scriptures of the

earlier nations constitute the ancillary and secondary resource.

b) Linguistic Resources The classical Arabic poetry and the text of

the Qur’an are two resources which can be used as foundational

reference in ascertaining the meaning and signification of the

remaining literal and figurative diction of the Qur’ān and its style

of expression. Many of the words of the Qur'an have remained in

continuous usage from the time of its revelation to this day. This

makes them known to all.

It needs to be appreciated that in this approach all the sources of

Qur'an interpretation are to be used in the light of the principles of

coherence in the Qur'an. This approach was introduced and attracted

scholars in the last century especially in Indian sub-continent and

Eypt. In India it was Farahi championed this approach in his

prolegomena to his Tafsir entitled Nizam al-Qur'an. In Egypt it was

adopted by Rashid Rida and others.

[edit] The approaches of tafsir

This article has been nominated to be checked for its neutrality.

Discussion of this nomination can be found on the talk page. (December


The standard approach [1] taken by any major Tafsir (like at-Tabari

and Ibn Kathir) is very conservative for the following reasons

The Quran states that it is made easy to understand (V11:1, V41:3,

V41:44, V54:17, V54:22, V54:32, V54:40 and in many other places) so no

one is allowed to divert its literal meaning.

Prophet Muhammad said:

وقال رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وسلم): من قال في القرآن برأيه فأصاب فقد

أخطأ (أي أخطأ في فعله بقيله فيه برأيه وإن وافق قيله ذلك عين الصواب)

translation: the one who interprets Quran from his own point of view

and he was right then he erred. Err here refers to the act of trying

to interpret Quran the wrong way, which means no guessing should be

made, trying to know the meaning should only be based on authentic

sources and certain reasoning.

Abu Bakr (the companion of prophet Muhammad) said:

قال أبو بكر الصديق (رضي الله عنه): أي أرض تقلني وأي سماء تظلني إذا قلت

في القرآن ما لا أعلم ! Translation: If I say what I don't know about

the Quran, which land shall hold me, and which sky shall I be beneath?

(I.e., I can't imagine myself in such a position.)

This can be seen in the introduction of any major Tafsir.

The standard approach of Tafsir depends on:

Interpreting Qur'an by Qur'an. Because what is made brief in a place,

it is detailed in another.

it mentioned in Quran { الر كِتَابٌ أُحْكِمَتْ آَيَاتُهُ ثُمَّ

فُصِّلَتْ مِنْ لَدُنْ حَكِيمٍ خَبِيرٍ } meaning translation { ALR.

(This is) a Book, with verses basic or fundamental (of established

meaning), further explained in detail,- from One Who is Wise and

Well-acquainted (with all things) } (Quran V11:1)

The Sunnah (traditions of prophet Muhammad) is another source as it

mentioned in Quran that

{ بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَالزُّبُرِ وَأَنْزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الذِّكْرَ

لِتُبَيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ مَا نُزِّلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ

يَتَفَكَّرُونَ } meaning translation { (We sent them) with Clear Signs

and Books of dark prophecies; and We have sent down unto thee (also)

the Message; that thoumayest explain clearly to men what is sent for

them, and that they may give thought. } (Quran V16:44) and { وَمَا

أَنْزَلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ إِلَّا لِتُبَيِّنَ لَهُمُ الَّذِي

اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً لِقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ } meaning

translation { And We sent down the Book to thee for the express

purpose, that thou shouldst make clear to them those things in which

they differ, and that it should be a guide and a mercy to those who

believe. } (Quran V16:64)

Quran is sent down in the clear language (Arabic) which have a

systematic way of shaping words (see morphology) one can know the

meaning by knowing the root and the form the word was coined from.

It is mentioned in Quran {بِلِسَانٍ عَرَبِيٍّ مُبِينٍ} meaning { In

the perspicuous Arabic tongue.} (Quran V26:195)

There are various approaches to interpret the Qur'an--

Interpretation of the Qur'an by the Qur'an: Because of the close

interrelatedness of the verses of the Qur'an with one another, the

Qur'anic verses explain and interpret one another.[2] Many verses or

words in the Qur'an are explained or further clarified in other verses

of the Qur'an.[3] Tafsir al-Mizan is an example of this kind.

Interpretation of the Qur'an by the Hadith: In this approach the most

important external aids used in interpreting the meanings of the

Qur'an are the hadith — the collected oral traditions upon which

Muslim scholars (the ulema) based Islamic history and law. While

certain hadith — the hadith qudsi — are thought to reflect non

canonical words spoken by God to Muhammad, Muslims do not consider

these to form any part of the Qur'an.

Interpretation of the Qur'an by the History: Most commentators

considered it extremely important for commentators to explain how the

Qur'an was revealed—when and under which circumstances. Much

commentary, or tafsir, was dedicated to history. The early tafsir are

considered to be some of the best sources for Islamic history. Famous

early commentators include at-Tabari and Ibn Kathir.

(These classic commentaries usually include all common and accepted

interpretations; modern fundamentalist commentaries like that written

by Sayyed Qutb tend to advance only one of the possible


Commentators feel fairly sure of the exact circumstances prompting

some verses, such as Surah Iqra, or many parts, including ayat

190-194, of surat al-Baqarah. In other cases (e.g. Surat al-Asr), the

most that can be said is which city Muhammad was living in at the time

(dividing between Meccan and Medinan suras.) In some cases, such as

surat al-Kawthar, the details of the circumstances are disputed, with

different traditions giving different accounts.

Theologies approach: Theologists are divided into myriad of sects; and

each group clung to the verse that seems to support its belief and try

to explain away what was apparently against it.

The seed of sectarian differences was sown in academic theories or,

more often than not, in blind following and national or tribal

prejudice; but it is not the place to describe it even briefly.

However, such exegesis should be called adaptation, rather than

interpretation. There are two ways of interpreting a verse — One may

say: "What does the Qur’an say?" Or one may say: "How can this verse

be explained, so as to fit on my belief? " The difference between the

two approaches is quite clear. The former forgets every preconceived

idea and goes where the Qur’an leads him to. The latter has already

decided what to believe and cuts the Qur’anic verses to fit on that

body; such an exegesis is no exegesis at all.[4]

Philosophic approach: The philosophers try to fit the verses on the

principles of Greek philosophy (that was divided into four branches:

Mathematics, natural science, divinity and practical subjects

including civics). If a verse was clearly against those principles it

was explained away. In this way the verses describing metaphysical

subjects, those explaining the genesis and creation of the heavens and

the earth, those concerned with life after death and those about

resurrection, paradise and hell were distorted to conform with the

said philosophy. That philosophy was admittedly only a set of

conjectures — unencumbered with any test or proof; but the Muslim

philosophers felt no remorse in treating its views on the system of

skies, orbits, natural elements and other related subjects as the

absolute truth with which the exegesis of the Qur'an had to


Scientific approach:Some people who are deeply influenced by the

natural and social sciences followed the materialists of Europe or the

pragmatists. Under the influence of those secular theories, they

declared that the religion's realities cannot go against scientific

knowledge. one should not believe except that which is perceived by

any one, of the five senses; nothing exists except the matter and its

properties. What the religion claims to exist, but which the sciences

reject -like The Throne, The Chair, The Tablet and The Pen — should be

interpreted in a way that conforms with the science; as for those

things which the science is silent about, like the resurrection etc.,

they should be brought within the purview of the laws of matter; the

pillars upon which the divine religious laws are based — like

revelation, angel, Satan, prophethood, apostleship, Imamah (Imamate)

etc. - are spiritual things, and the spirit is a development of the

matter, or let us say, a property of the matter; legislation of those

laws is manifestation of a special social genius, who ordains them

after healthy and fruitful contemplation, in order to establish a good

and progressive society. They believe one cannot have confidence in

the traditions, because many are spurious; only those traditions may

be relied upon which are in conformity with the Book. As for the Book

itself, one should not explain it in the light of the old philosophy

and theories, because they were not based on observations and tests —

they were just a sort of mental exercise which has been totally

discredited now by the modem science.[4]

Sufistic: It is an interpretation of the Qur’an which includes

attribution of esoteric or mystic meanings to the text by the

interpreter. In this respect, its method is different from the

conventional exegesis of the Qur’an, called tafsir. Esoteric

interpretations do not usually contradict the conventional (in this

context called exoteric) interpretations; instead, they discuss the

inner levels of meaning of the Qur'an. A hadith from Muhammad which

states that the Qur’an has an inner meaning, and that this inner

meaning conceals a yet deeper inner meaning, and so on (up to seven

levels of meaning), has sometimes been used in support of this

view.[5] Islamic opinion imposes strict limitations on esoteric

interpretations specially when interior meaning is against exterior


Esoteric interpretations are found mainly in Sufism and in the sayings

(hadiths) of Shi'a Imams and the teachings of the Isma'ili sect. But

the Prophet and the imams gave importance to its exterior as much as

to its interior; they were as much concerned with its revelation as

they were with its interpretation.[4]

[edit] Prohibited tafsir

Muslims believe that it is prohibited to perform Qur'anic

interpretation using solely one's own opinion. This, they base on an

authenticated hadith of Muhammad which states that it is prohibited.

Imam al-Ghazali qualifies this tradition, with the following understanding:

"The truth is that prophetic Traditions (akhbar) and statements of the

Prophet's companions and of other pious Muslims in early Islam (athar)

prove that 'for men of understanding there is wide scope in the

meanings of the Qur'an'. Thus 'Ali (may God be pleased with him!)

said, 'except that God bestows understanding of the Qur'an upon a

man.' If there is no meaning other than that which is related [from

Ibn 'Abbas and other exegetes] what is that understanding of the

Qur'an [which is bestowed upon a man]? The Prophet (may God bless him

and greet him) said, 'Surely the Qur'an has an outward aspect, an

inward aspect, a limit and a prelude.' This is also related. by Ibn

Mas'ud on his own authority and he is one of the scholars of Qur'anic

interpretation. [If there are no meanings of the Qur'an besides the

outward ones], what is the meaning of its outward aspect, inward

aspect, limit and prelude? 'Ali (may God show regard to his face!)

said, 'If I so will I can certainly load seventy camels with the

exegesis of the Opening Sura of the Book.' What then is the meaning of

this statement of 'Ali, when the outward exegesis of this sura is

extremely short us [and can be set forth in a few pages]? Abu Darda'

said, 'One cannot [fully] understand the religion until one sees the

Qur'an from different perspectives.' A certain religious scholar said,

'For every Qur'anic verse there are sixty thousand understandings

[comprehensible to man]. The understandings of it which remain

[incomprehensible to man] are even more than these in number.'[7]

[edit] Major Commentators (Mufassirūn)

Major Tafsīrs of the Quran include:

Muḥammad ibn Jarīr al-Ṭabarī (838-923 CE): Tafsīr al-Ṭabarī.

Ibn Kathīr (1301-1373 CE): Tafsīr ibn Kathīr - A classic tafsīr,

considered to be a summary of the earlier tafsīr by Ibn Jarīr

al-Ṭabarī. It is especially popular because it uses ḥadīth to explain

each verse and chapter of the Quran.

Fakhruddīn al-Rāzī (865-925 CE): Mafātīḥ al-Ghayb ('Keys to the

Unseen') also known as Al-Tafsīr al-Kabīr ('The Great Exegesis') - a

voluminous work covering many aspects of the meanings of the Quran,

including science and medicine. Ibn Taymiyyah once critically said of

this commentary that it 'contains everything but tafsīr'.

Yahyā ibn Ziyād al-Farrā': Ma'ānī al-Qur'ān (The Meanings of the Quran).

Qāḍī Abū Sa'ūd al-Ḥanafī: Irshād al 'Aql as-Salīm ilā Mazāyā al-Qur'ān

al-Karīm also known as Tafsīr Abī Sa'ūd.

Imām Abū 'Abdullāh ibn Aḥmad al-Qurṭubī (1214-1273 CE): Al-Jāmi'

li-Aḥkām al-Qur'ān ('The Collection of Quranic Injunctions') by the

famous Mālikī jurist of Cordoba, in Andalucia. This ten-volume tafsīr

is a commentary on the Quranic verses dealing with legal issues.

Although the author was a Mālikī, he also presents the legal opinions

of other major schools of Islamic jurisprudence; thus it is popular

with jurists from all of the schools of Islamic law. One volume of

this tafsīr has been translated into English by Aisha Bewley.

Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad al-Tha'labī (died 427 AH / 1035 CE): Tafsīr

al-Tha'labī, also known as al-Tafsīr al-Kabīr ('The Great


Qaḍi Abū Bakr ibn al-'Arabī: Aḥkam al-Qur'ān - The author is generally

known as 'Qaḍi ibn al-'Arabī' (ibn 'Arabī, the judge) to distinguish

him from the famous Sufi ibn 'Arabī; he was a Mālikī jurist from

Andalucia (Muslim Spain) His tafsīr has been published in three

volumes and contains commentary on the legal rulings of the Quran

according to the Mālikī school.

Al-Jaṣṣāṣ: Aḥkam al-Qur'ān ('The Commands of the Quran') - Based on

the legal rulings of the Ḥanafī school of Islamic law. This was

published in three volumes and remains popular amongst the Hanafis of

India, the Middle East and Turkey.

Maḥmūd Ālūsī al-Ḥanafī: Tafsīr Rūḥ al-Ma'ānī fī Tafsīr al-Qur'ān

al-'Azīm wa al-Saba' al-Mathānī ('The Spirit of Meanings on the

Exegesis of the Sublime Quran and the Seven Oft-repeated [Verses]') -

often abbreviated to Rūḥ al-Ma'ānī.

Ismā'īl Haqqī al-Bursawī: Rūḥ al-Bayān - the ten-volume Arabic work by

the founder of the Hakkiyye Jelveti Sufi Order.

Ibn 'Ajībah: Al-Baḥr al-Muḥīṭ ('The Encompassing Ocean'), generally

known as Tafsīr ibn 'Ajībah - a two-volume work by a Moroccan Sheikh

of the Darqāwī branch of the Shādhilī Order of Sufis.

Ma'ālim al-Tanzīl- by Ḥasan bin Mas'ūd al-Baghawī (died 510 AH/1116

CE) also known widely as Tafsīr al-Baghawī - A popular tafsīr amongst

Sunni Muslims, it relies heavily on the Tafsīr of al-Tha'labī, whilst

placing more emphasis on Prophetic traditions (ḥadīth).

Abu al-Qāsim Mahmūd ibn 'Umar al-Zamakhsharī (died 1144 CE):

Al-Kashshāf ('The Revealer'). Al-Zamakhsharī belonged to the

Mu'tazilah sect, but nevertheless this tafsīr has been popular among

scholars down the years, and is usually printed along with Sunnī

supercommentaries, pointing out what they consider to be mistakes,

made because of the author's Mu'tazilite beliefs.

'Abdullāh bin 'Umar al-Baiḍāwī (died 685 AH/1286 AD) - Anwār

al-Tanzīl, also famous as Tafsīr al-Bayḍāwī - a shortened version of

Al-Kashshāf, with Mu'tazilite references altered; printed in two

volumes. In Turkey it is often published with marginal notes by an

Turkish Sheikh called 'al-Qunawī' in seven volumes.

Al-Muḥarrar al-wajīz fī tafsīr al-kitāb al-ʿazīz ('The Concise Record

of the Exegesis of the Noble Book') - commonly known as Tafsīr ibn

'Aṭiyyah after its author, Ibn ʿAṭiyyah (d. ~ 541 or 546 AH), a Maliki

judge from al-Andalus. This tafsīr work is popular in North Africa.

Zad al-Masir fi ‘Ilm al-Tafsir - Written by the great Ḥanbalī polymath

Ibn al-Jawzi.

Tafsīr an-Nasafī - Written by the great Hanafi theologian al-Nasafī

and published in two volumes.

Tafsīr Abī Ḥayyān also called Al-Baḥr al-Muḥīṭ - This tafsīr is in

several volumes and contains many stories that some commentators

consider to be unreliable. However, it is popular in North Africa as

it originated from Andalucia.

"Tafsīr al-Jalālayn" ('The Commentary of the Two Jalāls') - This

Arabic tafsīr was begun by Jalāluddīn al-Maḥallī (in 1459), and was

subsequently completed, in the same style, by his student, the famous

Shāfi'ī Sheikh Jalāluddīn al-Suyūṭī (died 911 AH/1505 CE), who

completed it in 1505. Jalālayn is very popular with Muslims all over

the world due to its simplicity. It has also been translated

completely by Aisha Bewley.

Al-Durr al-Manthūr fī al-Tafsīr bi-l-Ma'thūr ('The Threaded Pearl

Concerning Commentary Based on Traditions'), also by Jalāluddīn

al-Suyūṭī. This tafsīr, in Arabic, concentrates on the hadīths that

have been transmitted relating to each verse and subject in the Quran.

It has been published in six volumes.

[edit] Modern Writers of Tafsīrs (Mufassirūn)

Dr Syed Hamid Hasan Bilgrami: Fuyuooz ul-Qur'ān ('Benevolences of

Quran') in Urdu. Dr Bilgrami, former Vice Chancellor Islamic

University of Bahawalpur, Pakistan; An Educationist, Sufi and Widely

acknowledged as one of the leading scholars of the Muslim World,

received Religious and Spiritual Knowledge from Hazrat Qibla Maulana

Qazi Ahmed Abdus Samad Farooqui Quadri Chishti of Tekmal, Hyderabad

Deccan, India (Hazrat Qibla migrated from India to Karachi, Pakistan

in 1950). Dr. Bilgrami wrote one of the most accepted Urdu

commentaries, Fuyuooz ul-Qur'ān (Fayyuz-Ul-Quran), (two Volumes).

'Allāmah Ghulām Rasūl Sa'īdī: Widely acknowledged as one of the

leading scholars of the Muslim World, he has written a twelve volume

tafsīr of the Qur'an, including in it discussions of modern problems

that society faces.

'Allamah Sayyid Pīr Muhammad Karam Shāh al-Azharī: A great scholar of

the last century, wrote one of most accepted Urdu commentaries, Ḍiyā'

al-Qur'ān ('The Light of the Quran')[8], which strictly focuses on

explaining the verses.

Allāmah Sayyid Sa'ādat 'Alī Qādarī: Elder brother of Muftī Justice

Sayyid Shujā'at 'Alī Qādarī, has written an Urdu tafsīr, entitled

Yā'ayyuhalladhīna Āmanū, which covers modern-day issues in a very easy

to understand style

Muftī Muhammad Shafī': Ma'ārif-ul Qur'ān, is a detailed and

comprehensive commentary of the Quran written in Urdu, and has been

translated to English. The author is the father of Muftī Taqī Usmānī.

It is published in eight volumes, and addresses many modern issues.

Bahr-ul-Uloom Muhammad Abdul Qadeer Siddiqi Qadri Hasrat:

Tafseer-e-Siddiqui[9], in Urdu. Written early last century by the

former dean of theology of Osmania University. As a professor of

Arabic and theology, he attempted to interpret the Quranic Arabic in

Urdu as well to as address some critical current issues.

Sayyid Quṭb: Fī Zilāl al-Qur'ān ('In the Shade of the Quran') in

Arabic. - Many praise it as a modern tafsīr, but at the same time,

many critics including some sunni scholars say that Quṭb had little

Islamic knowledge, and wrote his commentary according to his own

opinion. It has also been attacked for not following the style of

classical tafsīrs.

Sayyid Abul A'lā Maudūdī: Tafhīm al-Qur'ān ('Understanding of the

Quran'), a six-volume tafsir, written in Urdu. The English translation

was released as Towards Understanding the Qur'an, and it was also

translated into Malayalam and Kannada.

Amīn Ahsan Islāhī: Tadabbur-i Qur'ān - written in Urdu by

Indian/Pakistani scholar. Based on the idea of the nazm (thematic and

structural coherence) in the Quran.[2]

Ghulam Ahmad Pervez: Matalib-ul-Furqān - written in Urdu by a

Pakistani scholar. [3]

Muḥammad al-Ghazzālī, a recent Egyptian scholar who died in 2001 (not

the Imām al-Ghazālī): "A Thematic Commentary on the Qur'an" - A tafsīr

that tries to explore the themes that weave through the entire Quran

as well as the main theme of each chapter.

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi began to write a tafsīr called Isharat al I'jaz

(Signs of Miraculousness) in 1910s. The former written in Ottoman

Turkish (translated into Arabic, English etc.) in the classical

exegesis style, with special emphasis to combining linguistical

nuances with theological depth. Consists of one volume only,

addressing the exegesis of the first chapter and part of the second

chapter of the Quran. The latter, Risale-i Nur, written mainly in

Turkish, is a larger work, with four main volumes. It consists of

extensive exegesis of certain verses and explanation of the

fundamentals of how to approach the Quran. It especially explains the

verses that 21. Century's people need most. In other words, it studies

the verses about the six articles of belief of Islam Religion such as

believing in God, day of judgment. It also gives logical answers to

the questions asked by Atheists. This work is written in a more

accessible style to the general public and is translated into 52

languages. [4], [5], [6] Nursi also wrote Muhakamat in Arabic (also

translated into Turkish) which outlines in a sophisticated manner the

hermeneutics of the Quran. Mathnawi al Nuriya, written in Arabic

(abridged Turkish translation and also a non-academic English

rendition is available),can also be considered an exegetical work in

that it contains his deep reflections on different verses of the

Quran. Born toward the end of the Ottoman State, Nursi, an erudite

exegete and theologian, died in 1960 in modern Turkey.

Allāmah Sayid Muḥammad Ḥusayn al-Ṭabāṭabā'ī: Tafsīr Al-Mīzān - A

twenty-volume work using the methodology of explaining the Qur'an

through the Qur'an, and compiled by a Shī'ah author.

Al-Habib Muhammad Ridwan Al-Jufrie wrote Tafsir Al-Jufrie Baina

Tafwidh Wa Ta'wil in the Arabic language.

Tahir ul Qadri: Irfan ul Quran - Available both in English and in

Urdu, by prominent scholar Tahir ul qadri.[7]

[edit] Tafsīr written in other languages

Tafsīr was almost always written in Arabic but during the 20th century

with the emergence of modern states, the need was felt by Muslims to

write commentaries in local languages so that those who do not know

Arabic can still have access to the meaning of the Qur'an.

The following are a list of tafsīrs that have been written in

non-Arabic languages.


Bangla/Bengali Ma'āriful Qur'ān. Translated from the Urdu original by

Muftī Muḥammad Shafī' Deobandī.

Tafheemul Quran,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/

Get Holy verses of Quran with Bengali interpretation daily by e-mail.

Apply to be a member of Al-Quran Protidin (আল-কুরআন প্রতিদিন).


Risale-i Nur Külliyatı: by Bediüzzaman Said Nursi. Published in 13

volumes, it remains the most popular tafsīr in Turkish.[10]

Elmalılı Tefsir: by Elmalılı Muhammed Hamdi. Published in 10 volumes,

it remains the most popular tafsīr in Turkish.[11]

Büyük Kur'an Tefsiri, by Konyalı M.Vehbi. A voluminous tafsīr written

in simple Turkish, but less popular than the Elmalili tafsīr[12]. Its

original title was Hulasatül Beyan fi Tefsiril Kuran,

Kur'ân-ı Kerîm'in Türkçe Meâl-i Âlisi ve Tefsiri: by Ömer Nasuhi

Bilmen. An eight-volume tafsīr, written in the first half of the

Twentieth Century. The language used is Ottoman Turkish, which many

modern Turks find difficult to understand[13].


Tafsīr-i Hilāl (six volumes) by Muftī Muḥammad-Ṣādiq Muḥammad Yūsuf

Mamamsodiq Mamamyusupov).Published in 2003.


Majmu'ah Tafasir-e Farahi ('A Collection of Farahi's Commentaries of

the Quran')(one volumes), by Amin Ahsan Islahi, published by Faran

Foundation, Pakistan. The Tafseer is available in Al-Mawrid, A

Foundation for Islamic Research and Education

Fuyuooz-ul-Quran ('Benevolences of Quran')(two volumes), by Dr Syed

Hamid Hasan Bilgrami, published by Ferozsons, Pakistan.

Irfan ul Quran by Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri is rearded as one of the

most modern tafsir in Urdu

Tibyān al-Qur'ān (twelve volumes) by 'Allāmah Ghulām Rasūl Sa'īdī.

Diyā' al-Qur'ān (five volumes) by Pīr Muḥammad Karam Shāh al-Azharī.

Nur al-'Irfan by Muftī Aḥmad Yār Khān Na'īmī. This is a short work,

often printed in the margin of Kanz al-Īmān (see above).

Tafsīr al-Qur'ān by Muftī Sayyid Na'īm al-Dīn Murādābādī.

Tafsīr Yā'ayyuhalladīna Āmanū,( two Volumes) by Allāmah Syed Sa'ādat

'Alī Qādarī.

Tafsīr Na'īmī (30 volumes) by Muftī Aḥmad Yār Khān Na'īmī.

Khazaain-ul-Irfan by Maulana Naeem-ud-Deen Muradabadi

Tafsir e Naeemi by Mufti Ahmed Yar Khan Naeemi

Tafsir e Nurul Irfan by Mufti Ahmed Yar Khan Naeemi

Tafsir ul Hasanat by Allama Abul Hasnat Syed Ahmed Shah

Tafsir e Nabawi by Maulana Nabi Baksh Halwai

Tafsir e Fayuzur Rahman Ruhul Bayan Translated by Mufti Faiz Ahmed Owaisi

Tafsir Zia-ul-Quran by Pir Muhammad Karam Shah al-Azhari

Tibyan-ul-Quran by Allama Ghulam Rasool Saeedi

Tafsir e Mazharul Quran by Mufti Azam Mazharullah Dehalwi

Tafsir e Siddiqui by Maulvi Abdul Qadeer Siddiqui Qadri

Tafsir e Ibne Kaseer Translated by Zia ul Quran

Tafsir e Mazhari Translated by Zia ul Quran

Tafsir e Ibne Abbas Translated by Zia ul Quran

Tafsir e Durre Mansoor Translated by Zia ul Quran

Tafsir e Yaqoobe Charkhi Translated by Zia ul Quran

Tafsir e Khazin Translated by Farid Book Stall

Quran Majeed aasan tareen terjuma o tafseer Dr.Muhammad Faruq

Khan,First print 2008,Mardan,Khyber pukhtun khwa

Tafsīr-e Kabīr, by Mirzā Bashīruddīn Maḥmūd Aḥmad, 10

[Ma'āriful Qur'ān] by Mufti Shafi Usmani.

[Maarif ul Quran] by Moulana Idrees Khandalwi.

Volumes. A tafsīr by a writer belonging to the Aḥmadiyah sect.

Tafsīr 'Urwat al-Wuthqā, 8 volumes.

translated into English ("Towards Understanding the Qur'an"),

Malayalam and Kannada.


Muḥammad Amani Maulavī: author of Tefsīr in Malayalam, four volumes,

published by Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen.


Cumar Faruuq: Tafsir in Somali online in audio format at

Maxamed Cumar Dirir: Tafsir in Somali online in audio format (MP3) at


Kashaful Quran: by Hafiz Mohmmad Idris Toru, NWFP, Pakistan, Published

by University Press Peshawar in Two Volumes,volume 1 contains 15 parts

which was published in 1959.volume 2 published after his death in


Tafseer Darmungwi: This translation is done by mulana of village

darmung or Darbang situated near peshawer cant.


[edit] Sources

1.^ a b Usool at-Tafseer Dr. Bilal Philips

2.^ Tafseer Al-Mizan

3.^ The Fundamentals of Understanding Islam

4.^ a b c d Tafseer Al-Mizan

5.^ Tabataba'i, Sayyid Muhammad Husayn (1998). The Qur'an in Islam:

Its Impact and Influence on the Life of Muslims. Zahra Publications.

ISBN 0710302665.

6.^ Tabataba'i, Allamah. "The Outward and Inward Aspects of the

Qur'an". Tafseer Al-Mizan. Retrieved 23 November


7.^ Quasem, Muhammad Abul. "Understanding the Qur'an and its

Explanation by Personal Opinion which Has Not Come Down by Tradition".

The Recitation and Interpretation of the Qur'an: Al-Ghazali's Theory.

University of Mayala Press.

8.^ [1]






Tafsir-e-Ashrafi currently being written by Shaykh al Islam Sayyad

Muhammad Madani al Ashrafi of Kicchocha Sharif, India

[edit] See also

Asbab al-nuzul

Quran translations

[edit] External links

Usool at-Tafseer Dr. Bilal Philips

Tafsir Ibn Kathir in English

English Tafsir Maariful Quran

Tafsir from the Hadith

Various Tafsirs

Audio Tafsir of the Qur'an in English from a Sunni standpoint

Qur'an-based Tafsir

Researches about the tafsir in arabic

He is the respected Imam, Abu Al-Fida', `Imad Ad-Din Isma il bin 'Umar

bin Kathir Al-Qurashi Al-Busrawi - Busraian in origin; Dimashqi in

training, learning and residence.Ibn Kathir was born in the city of

Busra in 701 H. His father was the Friday speaker of the village, but

he died while Ibn Kathir was only four years old. Ibn Kathir's

brother, Shaykh Abdul-Wahhab, reared him and taught him until he moved

to Damascus in 706 H., when he was five years old.

Ibn Kathir's Teachers

Ibn Kathir studied Fiqh - Islamic jurisprudence - with Burhan Ad-Din,

Ibrahim bin `Abdur-Rahman Al-Fizari, known as Ibn Al-Firkah (who died

in 729 H). Ibn Kathir heard Hadiths from `Isa bin Al-Mutim, Ahmad bin

Abi Talib, (Ibn Ash-Shahnah) (who died in 730 H), Ibn Al-Hajjar, (who

died in 730 H), and the Hadith narrator of Ash-Sham (modern day Syria

and surrounding areas); Baha Ad-Din Al-Qasim bin Muzaffar bin `Asakir

(who died in 723 H), and Ibn Ash-Shirdzi, Ishaq bin Yahya Al-Ammuddi,

also known as `Afif Ad-Din, the Zahiriyyah Shaykh who died in 725 H,

and Muhammad bin Zarrad. He remained with Jamal Ad-Din, Yusuf bin

Az-Zaki AlMizzi who died in 724 H, he benefited from his knowledge and

also married his daughter. He also read with Shaykh Al-Islam, Taqi

Ad-Din Ahmad bin `Abdul-Halim bin `Abdus-Salam bin Taymiyyah who died

in 728 H. He also read with the Imam Hafiz and historian Shams Ad-Din,

Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Uthman bin Qaymaz Adh-Dhahabi, who died in 748

H. Also, Abu Musa Al-Qarafai, Abu Al-Fath Ad-Dabbusi and 'Ali bin

`Umar As-Suwani and others who gave him permission to transmit the

knowledge he learned with them in Egypt.

In his book, Al-Mu jam Al-Mukhtas, Al-Hafiz Adh-Dhaliabi wrote that

Ibn Kathir was, "The Imam, scholar of jurisprudence, skillful scholar

of Hadith, renowned Fagih and scholar of Tafsir who wrote several

beneficial books."

Further, in Ad-Durar Al-Kdminah, Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar AlAsqalani said,

"Ibn Kathir worked on the subject of the Hadith in the areas of texts

and chains of narrators. He had a good memory, his books became

popular during his lifetime, and people benefited from them after his


Also, the renowned historian Abu Al-Mahasin, Jamal Ad-Din Yusuf bin

Sayf Ad-Din (Ibn Taghri Bardi), said in his book, AlManhal As-Safi,

"He is the Shaykh, the Imam, the great scholar `Imad Ad-Din Abu

Al-Fida'. He learned extensively and was very active in collecting

knowledge and writing. He was excellent in the areas of Fiqh, Tafsfr

and Hadith. He collected knowledge, authored (books), taught, narrated

Hadith and wrote. He had immense knowledge in the fields of Hadith,

Tafsir, Fiqh, the Arabic language, and so forth. He gave Fatawa

(religious verdicts) and taught until he died, may Allah grant him

mercy. He was known for his precision and vast knowledge, and as a

scholar of history, Hadith and Tafsir."

Ibn Kathir's Students

Ibn Hajji was one of Ibn Kathir's students, and he described Ibn

Kathir: "He had the best memory of the Hadith texts. He also had the

most knowledge concerning the narrators and authenticity, his

contemporaries and teachers admitted to these qualities. Every time I

met him I gained some benefit from him."

Also, Ibn Al-`Imad Al-Hanbali said in his book, Shadhardt Adh-Dhahab,

"He is the renowned Hafiz `Imad Ad-Din, whose memory was excellent,

whose forgetfulness was miniscule, whose understanding was adequate,

and who had good knowledge in the Arabic language." Also, Ibn Habib

said about Ibn Kathir, "He heard knowledge and collected it and wrote

various books. He brought comfort to the ears with his Fatwas and

narrated Hadith and brought benefit to other people. The papers that

contained his Fatwas were transmitted to the various (Islamic)

provinces. Further, he was known for his precision and encompassing


Ibn Kathir's Books

1 - One of the greatest books that Ibn Kathir wrote was his Tafsir of

the Noble Qur'an, which is one of the best Tafsir that rely on

narrations [of Ahadith, the Tafsir of the Companions, etc.]. The

Tafsir by Ibn Kathir was printed many times and several scholars have

summarized it.

2- The History Collection known as Al-Biddyah, which was printed in 14

volumes under the name Al-Bidayah wanNihdyah, and contained the

stories of the Prophets and previous nations, the Prophet's Seerah

(life story) and Islamic history until his time. He also added a book

Al-Fitan, about the Signs of the Last Hour.

3- At-Takmil ft Ma`rifat Ath-Thiqat wa Ad-Du'afa wal Majdhil which Ibn

Kathir collected from the books of his two Shaykhs Al-Mizzi and

Adh-Dhahabi; Al-Kdmal and Mizan Al-Ftiddl. He added several benefits

regarding the subject of Al-Jarh and AtT'adil.

4- Al-Hadi was-Sunan ft Ahadith Al-Masdnfd was-Sunan which is also

known by, Jami` Al-Masdnfd. In this book, Ibn Kathir collected the

narrations of Imams Ahmad bin Hanbal, Al-Bazzar, Abu Ya`la Al-Mawsili,

Ibn Abi Shaybah and from the six collections of Hadith: the Two Sahihs

[Al-Bukhari and Muslim] and the Four Sunan [Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi,

AnNasa and Ibn Majah]. Ibn Kathir divided this book according to areas

of Fiqh.

5-Tabaqat Ash-Shaf iyah which also contains the virtues of Imam Ash-Shafi.

6- Ibn Kathir wrote references for the Ahadith of Adillat AtTanbfh,

from the Shafi school of Fiqh.

7- Ibn Kathir began an explanation of Sahih Al-Bukhari, but he did not

finish it.

8- He started writing a large volume on the Ahkam (Laws), but finished

only up to the Hajj rituals.

9- He summarized Al-Bayhaqi's 'Al-Madkhal. Many of these books were not printed.

10- He summarized `Ulum Al-Hadith, by Abu `Amr bin AsSalah and called

it Mukhtasar `Ulum Al-Hadith. Shaykh Ahmad Shakir, the Egyptian

Muhaddith, printed this book along with his commentary on it and

called it Al-Ba'th Al-Hathfth fi Sharh Mukhtasar `Ulum Al-Hadith.

11- As-Sfrah An-Nabawiyyah, which is contained in his book Al-Biddyah,

and both of these books are in print.

12- A research on Jihad called Al-Ijtihad ft Talabi Al-Jihad, which

was printed several times.

Ibn Kathir's Death

Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar Al-Asgalani said, "Ibn Kathir lost his sight just

before his life ended. He died in Damascus in 774 H." May Allah grant

mercy upon Ibn Kathir and make him among the residents of His


His full name is Abu Al-Fida, 'Imad Ad-Din Isma'il bin 'Umar bin

Kathir Al-Qurashi Al-Busrawi. He was born in 1301 in Busra, Syria

(hence Al-Busrawi). He was taught by Ibn Taymiyya in Damascus, Syria

and Abu al-Hajjaj Al-Mizzi, (d. 1373), Fiqh with Ibn Al Firkah, Hadith

with ‘Isa bin Al-Mutim, Ahmed bin Abi-Talib (Ibn Ash-Shahnah) (died in

730AH), Ibn Al-Hajjar (died in 730AH), the Hadith narrator of Ash-Sham

(modern day Syria and surrounding areas), Baha Ad-Din Al-Qasim bin

Muzaffar bin ‘Asakir (died in 723AH), Ibn Ash-Shirazi, Ishaq bin Yahya

Al-Ammuddi, aka ;Afif Ad-Din, the Zahriyyah Shaykh (died in 725AH),

and Muhammad bin Zarrad.[1][dead link]

Upon completion of his studies he obtained his first official

appointment in 1341, when he joined an inquisitorial commission formed

to determine certain questions of heresy. Thereafter he received

various semi-official appointments, culminating in June/July 1366 with

a professorial position at the Great Mosque of Damascus.

Scholastic achievements

Ibn Kathir wrote a famous commentary on the Qur'an named Tafsir

al-Qur'an al-'Adhim which linked certain Hadith, or sayings of

Muhammad, and sayings of the sahaba to verses of the Qur'an, in

explanation. Tafsir Ibn Kathir is famous all over the Muslim world and

among Muslims in the Western world, is one of the most widely used

explanations of the Qu'ran today.

Ibn Kathir was renowned for his great memory regarding the sayings of

Muhammad and the entire Qur'an. Ibn Kathir is known as a qadi, a

master scholar of history,also a muhaddith and a mufassir (Qur'an

commentator). Ibn Kathir saw himself as a Shafi'i scholar. This is

indicated by two of his books, one of which was Tabaqaat ah-Shafai'ah,

or The Categories of the Followers of Imam Shafi.

Later life and death

In later life, he became blind. He attributes his blindness to working

late at night on the Musnad of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal in an attempt to

rearrange it topically rather than by narrator.

Ibn Kathir died in February 1373 in Damascus.


Tafsir ibn Kathir

The Beginning and the End (Arabic: Al Bidayah wa-Nihayah or Tarikh ibn

Kathir). Available on wikisource

Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya (Ibn Kathir)

al-Baa'ith al-Hatheeth: an abridgement of the Muqaddimah by Ibn

al-Salah in Hadith terminology

Tabaqaat ah-Shafi'iah

Talkhis al-Istighatha

Signs Before the Day of Judgement

Sins and their Punishments

Stories of The Prophets (Qasas ul Anbiya)


1.^ [1] Ibn Kathir Biography

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