The Sahabah and Tabi’oon known for their Tafsir: al-Suyooti

In his famous work detailing the sciences of the Qur’an, sheikh Jalaal al-Deen al-Suyooti included a section on the different generations of mufassiroon (Qur’anic exegetes). What follows is a condensed and streamlined presentation of the first part of this chapter, as prepared by sheikh Muhammad ibn ‘Umar Bazmool:

طبقة الصحابة
The Level of the Sahabah

اشتهر بالتفسير من الصحابة عشرة : الخلفاء الأربعة ، وابن مسعود ، وابن عباس ، وأبي بن كعب ، وزيد بن ثابت ، وأبو موسى الأشعري ، وعبد الله بن الزبير . ـ

Those who are well known among the sahabah for tafsir are ten: the four Khulafaa’ [Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, and ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib], ibn Mas’ood, ibn ‘Abbas, Ubay ibn Ka’b, Zayd ibn Thaabit, Abu Moosaa al-Ash’ari, and ‘Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr.

أما الخلفاء ؛ فأكثر من روي عنه منهم : على بن أبي طالب ، والرواية عن الثلاثة نزرة جداً ، وكان السبب في ذلك تقدم وفاتهم ، كما أن ذلك هو السبب في قلة رواية أبي بكر رضي الله عنه للحديث ، ولا أحفظ عن أبي بكر رضي الله عنه في التفسير إلا آثاراً قليلة جداً ، لا تكاد تجاوز العشرة ، وأما على ؛ فروي عنه الكثير . ـ

As for the Khulafaa’, then the one from whom the most is transmitted is ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib, while what is transmitted from the other three is very little. The reason for that is because those three died earlier, just as that is the reason why there is little in the way of hadeeth narrated from Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), nor was much preserved from Abu Bakr in the way tafsir except for a very few statements which hardly even amount to ten in total. But as for ‘Ali, then a great deal was transmitted from him.

وأما ابن مسعود ؛ فروي عنه أكثر مما روي عن علي . ـ

As for ibn Mas’ood, then more has been transmitted from him than was transmitted from ‘Ali.

وأما ابن عباس ؛ فهو ترجمان القرآن الذي دعا له النبي : اللهم فقّهه في الدين ، وعلمه التأويل . وقال أيضاً : اللهم آته الحكمة . وفي رواية : اللهم علمه الحكمة . وقد ورد عن ابن عباس في التفسير ما لا يحصى . ـ

And as for ibn ‘Abbas, he was the Interpreter of the Qur’an, from whom the Prophet supplicated, “O Allah, grant him understanding of the religion and teach him the interpretation.” And he also said, “O Allah, grant him al-hikmah“, and in another narration, “O Allah, teach him al-hikmah.”  Such a great amount of tafsir has been transmitted from ibn ‘Abbas that it cannot be enumerated.

وأما أبي بن كعب ؛ فعنه نسخة كبيرة . ـ

And as for Ubay ibn Ka’b, a considerable amount has been conveyed from him.

وقد ورد عن جماعة من الصحابة غير هؤلاء اليسير من التفسير ؛ كأنس ، وأبي هريرة ، وابن عمر ، وجابر ، وأبي موسى الأشعري ، وورد عن عبد الله بن عمرو بن العاص أشياء تتعلق بالقصص وأخبار الفتن والآخرة وما أشيهها بأن يكون مما تحمّله عن أهل الكتاب . ـ

And a small amount of tafsir has been narrated from a group of the sahabah besides these ones, such as Anas [ibn Maalik], Abu Hurayrah, ibn ‘Umar, Jaabir, and Abu Moosaa al-Ash’ari. And some things have been transmitted from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas relating to the stories of previous nations, information about the end of times and the hereafter, and the likes of these, for he was one of those who transmitted from Ahl al-Kitab.

طبقة التابعين
The Level of the Tabi’oon

قال ابن تيمية : أعلم الناس بالتفسير : أهل مكة ؛ لأنهم أصحاب ابن عباس ؛ كمجاهد ، وعطاء بن أبي رباح ، وعكرمة مولى ابن عباس ، وسعيد بن جبير ، وطاووس ، وغيرهم . وكذلك في الكوفة : أصحاب ابن مسعود . وعلماء أهل المدينة في التفسير ؛ مثل : زيد بن أسلم الذي أخذ عنه ابنه عبد الرحمن بن زيد ومالك بن أنس . اهـ . ـ

Ibn Taymiyah said: The most knowledgeable of people when it comes to tafsir are the people of Mecca, because they were the companions of ibn ‘Abbas. These include Mujaahid, ‘Ataa’ ibn Abi Ribaah, ‘Ikrimah the freed slave of ibn ‘Abbas, Sa’eed ibn Jubayr, Tawoos, and others. Similarly in the al-Kufa, there were the companions of ibn Mas’ood. And there were the scholars of tafsir among the people of al-Madinah, such as Zayd ibn Aslam – from whom both his son ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Zayd and Maalik ibn Anas took knowledge. [End quote]

ومنهم : الحسن البصري ، وعطاء بن أبي سلمة الخراساني ، ومحمد بن كعب القُرَظي ، وأبو العالية ، والضحاك بن مزاحم ، وعطية العوفي ، وقتادة ، ومرة الهمداني ، وأبو مالك . ـ

And among the Tabi’oon known for tafsir were al-Hasan al-Basri, ‘Ataa’ ibn Abi Salamah al-Khurasaani, Muhammad ibn Ka’b al-Qurathi, Abu’l-‘Aaliyah, al-Dhahhaak ibn Muzaahim, ‘Atiyyah al-‘Awfi, Qataadah, Murrah al-Hamdani, and Abu Maalik.

ويليهم : الربيع بن أنس ، وعبد الرحمن بن زيد بن أسلم في آخرين . فهؤلاء قدماء المفسرين ، وغالب أقوالهم تلقّوها عن الصحابة . ـ

And those who followed them were al-Rabee’ ibn Anas and ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Zayd ibn Aslam in the latter period of the Tabi’oon. And most of their statements were taken from the Sahabah.

[Tahdheeb wa Tarteeb al-Itqaan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an, prepared by Muhammad ibn ‘Umar Bazmool, pg. 525-527]

See also: The Importance of Tafsir and its Sources: Sheikh al-Fawzan

See also: Ibn Taymiyah on the Books of Tafsir

Also, to learn about the well-known mufassiroon who came after the early generations, please visit our Mufassir Profiles. For example, learn about the two famous works of tafsir by imam al-Suyooti:

al-Suyooti – Mufassir Profile

al-Jalalayn – Mufassir Profile

See also: About the Books of Tafsir

See also: “The best of you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it”: ibn Kathir

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4 thoughts on “The Sahabah and Tabi’oon known for their Tafsir: al-Suyooti

  1. Pingback: Ibn Taymiyah on the Books of Tafsir | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: The Importance of Tafsir and its Sources: Sheikh al-Fawzan | Tulayhah

  3. Alhamdulillah v beneficial knowledge about Sahabas work in tafseer and Hadith
    Can be more informative if one can have more of such topics in detail
    BarakAllahu fikum

    • wa feekum baarakAllaah. InshaAllaah if we come across more material regarding the efforts of the earlier generation in the field of tafsir, we will consider translating it.

      In the mean time, sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen has included some biographical information on ibn ‘Abbaas, ibn Mas’ood, Mujaahid and Qataadah in his introduction to the sciences of Tafsir. This work has been translated into English and is published under the title, “The Fundamentals of Tafseer & Tafseer of Soorahs: al-Faatihah, al-Ikhlaas, al-Falaq and an-Naas”.

      Also, we at Tulayhah have produced a series of “Mufassir Profiles” providing information about some of the famous books of tafsir and their authors. You should see the link below the article.

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