Tafsir of the Qur’an and its Connection to the Qiraa’aat: al-Suyooti

Sheikh Jalal al-Deen al-Suyooti mentioned the following point in his famous manual of Qur’anic Sciences, al-Itqaan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an:

 من المهم معرفة التفاسير الواردة عن الصحابة بحسب قراءة مخصوصة ، وذلك أنه قد يرد عنهم تفسيران في الآية الواحدة مختلفان ، فيظن اختلافا وليس باختلاف ، وإنما كل تفسير على قراءة ، وقد تعرض السلف لذلك . ـ

An important issue is being aware that the explanations transmitted from the Sahaabah are according to specific qiraa’aat (variant recitations of the Qur’an). So because of that, perhaps there might be two different explanations of a single ayah and therefore one might think that these two explanations are in conflict when in fact there is no conflict – rather it is only that each one is an explanation of a particular recitation. And this is something which the salaf were aware of.

فأخرج ابن جرير في قوله تعالى : لقالوا إنما سكرت أبصارنا [ الحجر : 15 ] . من طرق عن ابن عباس وغيره أن سكرت بمعنى سدت ومن طرق أنها بمعنى أخذت . ـ

For in his explanation of Allah’s statement:

لَقَالُوا إِنَّمَا سُكِّرَتْ أَبْصَارُنَا

They would surely say, “our eyes have been sukkirat” [15:15]

ibn Jarir [al-Tabari] brought an explanation from ibn ‘Abbaas and others from more than one route of transmission that the word “sukkirat” carries the meaning of “sealed up”, while in other narrations also from ibn ‘Abbaas and also from multiple routes of transmission it comes that he held it to mean “enchanted”.

ثم أخرج عن قتادة قال : من قرأ سُكِّرَتْ مشددة ، فإنما يعني سدت ، ومن قرأ : سُكِرَتْ مخففة ، فإنه يعني سحرت ، وهذا الجمع من قتادة نفيس بديع . ـ

But then ibn Jarir brought an explanation from Qataadah who said: whoever recites it as “sukkirat” with a shaddah, this means “sealed up”, while whoever recites it as “sukirat” without a shaddah, this means “enchanted”. And this is a wonderful reconciliation of these two explanations by Qataadah.

ومثله قوله تعالى : سرابيلهم من قطران [ إبراهيم : 50 ] . أخرج ابن جرير عن الحسن أنه الذي تهنأ به الإبل . [ ص: 457 ] وأخرج من طرق عنه وعن غيره : أنه النحاس المذاب ، وليسا بقولين . وإنما الثاني تفسير لقراءة من ( قَطْرٍ آنٍ ) بتنوين قطر وهو النحاس و ( آن ) شديد الحر كما أخرجه ابن أبي حاتم هكذا عن سعيد بن جبير . ـ

And something similar is Allah’s statement:

سَرَابِيلُهُم مِّن قَطِرَانٍ

Their garments will be made of qatiraan [14:50]

Ibn Jarir brought a narration from al-Hasan al-Basri that it means that with which camels are tarred. However ibn Jarir also brought a number of narrations – both from al-Hasan and others – that it means molten copper. But these are not two different positions; rather the second statement is an explanation of those who recite it is “Qatr Aan” with “qatr” being copper and “aan” meaning extremely hot. And this is similar to what ibn Abi Haatim reported from Sa’eed ibn Jubayr.

وأمثلة هذا النوع كثيرة ، والكافل ببيانها كتابنا ” أسرار التنزيل ” وقد خرجت على هذا قديما الاختلاف الوارد عن ابن عباس وغيره في تفسير آية : أو لامستم [ النساء : 43 ] . هل هو الجماع أو الجس باليد . فالأول تفسير لقراءة لَامَسْتُمُ . والثاني لقراءة ( لَمَسْتُمْ ) ولا اختلاف . ـ

And there are many examples of this sort, and our book “Asraar al-Tanzil[1] can assist in clarifying them.

And I will conclude this subject with a final point of differing explanations transmitted from ibn ‘Abbaas and others regarding the ayah:

أَوْ لَامَسْتُمُ

… or have touched (a woman) … [4:43]

the difference of opinion being: does this touching mean sexual intercourse or merely touching with one’s hand? The first position is the explanation for the recitation “laamastum” while the second position is the explanation for the recitation “lamastum“, so in fact there is no conflict here.

[al-Itqaan 2/457-458. I originally came across this benefit through the website of sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Shehri here. Sheikh al-Shehri is a professor in the department of Qur’an and its Sciences at Imam Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as well as the general director for the Tafsir Center for Qur’anic Studies in Riyadh.]

[1] Translator’s Note: This book is available under the title Qatf al-Azhaar fee Kashf al-Asraar [ قطف الأزهار في كشف الأسرار للسيوطي]

For an in-depth treatment of the role and impact of the qiraa’aat in the tafsir of the Qur’an, please consult al-Qiraa’aat w’al-Atharuhaa fee al-Tafsir w’al-Ahkam, the PhD dissertation of sheikh Muhammad Bazmool.

See also: A Note on the Different Qiraa’aat: Sheikh bin Baaz

See also: An Example of Added Meaning from the Different Qiraa’aat

See also: Qiraa’aat and their Conditions for Acceptance: Sheikh Muqbil

See also: Who Knows the Ta’weel? : Imam al-Sa’di

See also: Did Fir’awn claim divinity, or worship other gods?: al-Shawkaani, al-Qurtubi, & al-Baghawi

See also: Why do the Mufassiroon differ?: ibn Taymiyah [forthcoming, inshaAllaah]

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4 thoughts on “Tafsir of the Qur’an and its Connection to the Qiraa’aat: al-Suyooti

  1. Pingback: A Note on the Different Qiraa’aat: Sheikh bin Baaz | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: An Example of Added Meaning from the Different Qiraa’aat | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Qiraa’aat and their Conditions for Acceptance: Sheikh Muqbil | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: Did Fir’awn claim divinity, or worship other gods?: al-Shawkaani, al-Qurtubi, & al-Baghawi | Tulayhah

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