The Types of Tafsir: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad ibn ‘Umar Bazmool wrote and posted the following on his personal blog:

أنواع التفسير
The Types of Tafsir

ـ 1 – التفسير نوعان : ـ
ـ = تفسير بالرواية ، ويقال له تفسير بالمنقول، تفسير بالمأثور. ـ
ـ = تفسير بالدراية، ويقال له تفسير بالمعقول، تفسير بالرأي. ـ
والمراد بالتفسير بالمأثور: أن يقتصر المفسر على نقل معنى الآية إما من آية أخرى، أو من حديث، أو من قول صحابي، أو من قول أجمع عليه التابعون. ففي التفسير بالمأثور لا يأتي المفسر بشيء بمعنى من عنده أصلاً. ـ
والمراد بالتفسير بالرأي ، أن يأتي المفسر بمعنى الآية من جهة اللغة والعقل. يعني من عنده باجتهاده. ـ

Tafsir falls into two broad categories:

Tafsir bi’l-Riwayah [Narration-Based Tafsir], which is also known as Tafsir bi’l-Manqool and Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor.

Tafsir bi’l-Dirayah [Opinion-Based Tafsir], which is also known as Tafsir bi’l-Ma’qool and Tafsir bi’l-Ra’yi.

What is meant by Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor is that the mufassir restricts himself to transmitting the meaning of the ayah either by means of another ayah, or a hadith, or a statement of a Sahabi, or a statement which the Tabi’oon agreed upon. So in Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor, the mufassir does not bring anything which originates from himself regarding the meaning of an ayah.

And what is meant by Tafsir bi’l-Ra’yi is that the mufassir brings the meaning of an ayah from the angle of linguistics and intellectual reasoning, i.e. from his own efforts of independent reasoning.

 ـ 2 – طرق التفسير بالمأثور
للتفسير بالمأثور أربعة طرق وهي التالية: ـ
الأولى : تفسير القرآن بالقرآن. ـ
الثاني : تفسير القرآن بالسنة. ـ
الثالث : تفسير القرآن بقول الصحابي. ـ
الرابع : تفسير القرآن بقول التابعين إذا اتفقوا واجمعوا!. ـ

The ways of making Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor [Narration-based Tafsir]:

There are four ways to make Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor, which come as follows:

First: Explaining the Qur’an by means of the Qur’an itself.

Second: Explaining the Qur’an by means of the Sunnah.

Third: Explaining the Qur’an through the statement of a Sahabi.

Fourth: Explaining the Qur’an by a statement from the Tabi’oon, if they agreed on that and had consensus.

ـ 3 – تفسير القرآن بالقرآن ، له صور: ـ
تفسير الآية بالآية . ـ
تفسير الآية بالقراءة المتواترة الواردة فيها. ـ
تفسير الآية بالقراءة الشاذة. ـ
واختلف في حجية القراءة الشاذة ، والصواب أنها لا تنزل عن كونها خبراً عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فهي في حكم المرفوع. ـ

Explaining the Qur’an by the Qur’an itself comes in a few different forms:

Explaining one ayah by referring to another ayah.

Explaining an ayah by referring to a mutawaatir qiraa’ah (canonical variant mode of recitation) which have been transmitted regarding that same ayah.

Explaining an ayah by referring to a shadh qiraa’ah (non-canonical variant mode of recitation).

There is some differing regarding the value of a shadh qiraa’ah as a proof, but the correct opinion is that they do not fall below the minimum threshold to be considered as transmitted material from the Prophet (ﷺ), so they take the ruling of being attributed to the Prophet (ﷺ).

ـ 4 – تفسير القرآن بالسنة . ـ
الأصل فيه قوله تعالى: (بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَالزُّبُرِ وَأَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الذِّكْرَ لِتُبَيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ مَا نُزِّلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ) (النحل:44) فالرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم بين للناس ما نزل إليهم من القرآن العظيم! وهذا له صور ؛ ـ
– أن يفسر الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم الآية مباشرة. كتفسيره المغضوب عليهم باليهود والضالين بالنصارى. ـ
– أن يفسر الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم معنى الآية بدون أن يذكرها مبائرة، فكلما ورد عنه في أحاديث حكم السرقة تفسير لآية السرقة. وكل ما ورد في أحكام الصلاة تفسير لإقامة الصلاة، وهكذا! ـ
أن يفسر الرسول صلى الله عليه القرآن بهديه العام، فقد كان خلقه القرآن. ـ

Explaining the Qur’an by means of the Sunnah.

The basis of this is Allah’s statement:

وَأَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الذِّكْرَ لِتُبَيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ مَا نُزِّلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

And We have also sent down unto you the dhikr so that you may explain clearly to the people what is sent down to them, and that they may give thought. [16:44]

So the Messenger (ﷺ) explained what was revealed to him of the Qur’an to the people. And this came in a few different forms:

That the Messenger (ﷺ) would explain an ayah directly, such as his explaining al-maghdhoobi ‘alayhim as the Jews and al-Dhaalleen as the Christians [in surah al-Fatihah].

That the Messenger (ﷺ) would explain the meaning of an ayah without mentioning it directly. For whatever is narrated from him in a hadeeth regarding the legislative rulings for thieves is an explanation of the ayaat regarding thieves, and whatever is narrated from him regarding the legislated guidelines of the prayer is an explanation of “establishing the prayer”, and so on.

That the Messenger (ﷺ) would explain the Qur’an by his overall guidance, for his entire character was the Qur’an.

ـ 5 – تفسير الصحابي . ـ
الأصل فيه ما تعلموه من معاني القرآن العظيم من الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم، فحتى لو اجتهد في بيان الآية، فإنه يبني ذلك على ما تعلمه من معاني القرآن العظيم من الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم. من أجل ذلك حكم أهل الحديث أن تفسير الصحابة للقرآن في حكم المرفوع! ـ
ومن اشهر الصحابة في تفسير القرآن العظيم : ـ
الخلفاء الراشدون رضي الله عنهم. ـ
عبدالله بن عباس رضي الله عنه. ـ
عبدالله بن مسعود رضي الله عنه. ـ

The Tafsir of a Sahabi

The basis of this is that the Sahabah learned the meanings of the Qur’an from Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ), so even if they made their own independent reasoning in explaining an ayah it was still based on what they had learned of the meanings of the Qur’an from Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ). And so because of that, the verdict of Ahl al-Hadeeth is that the tafsir of the Sahabah takes the ruling of being attributed to the Prophet (ﷺ).

And some of the most well-known Sahabah in the field of explaining the Qur’an were:

The four Rightly-guided Khulafaa’ (may Allah be pleased with them)

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him)

‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him)

ـ 6 – التفسير بالرأي
قسمان : ـ
– تفسير بالرأي المحمود المقبول. ـ
– تفسير بالرأي المذموم ، المردود. ـ
والتفسير بالرأي المحمود المقبول ما التزم فيه صاحبه بشروط قبول التفسير بالرأي وهي التالية: ـ
أ. أن لا يخالف التفسير بالمأثور مخالفة تضاد. ـ
ب . أن لا يأتي بمعنى يخرج بالآية عن سياقها، وسباقها ولحاقها. ـ
ج . أن لا يأتي بمعنى للفظ يخرج به عن معانيه في اللغة. ـ
د . أن لا يأتي بمعنى يوافق ويؤيد أهل البدع والضلال . ـ
هـ . أن لا يأتي بمعنى يخرج عن موضوع الدين ومقاصده . ـ

Tafsir bi’l-Ra’yi [Opinion-based Tafsir]

Tafsir bi’l-Ra’yi is divided into two categories:

The praise-worthy and accepted Tafsir bi’l-Ra’yi.

The blame-worthy and rejected Tafsir bi’l-Ra’yi.

The praise-worthy and accepted Tafsir bi’l-Ra’yi is that whose author adheres to the conditions for the acceptance of Tafsir bi’l-Ra’yi, which are as follows:

a. That it does not differ from the Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor in a way that opposes or conflicts with it.

b. That it does not produce an interpretation of the ayah which goes against the surrounding context.

c. That it does not produce an interpretation of a word which goes against the linguistic meanings of that word.

d. That it does not produce an interpretation which agrees with and aids the people of innovation and misguidance.

e. That it does not produce an interpretation that goes against the contents and objectives of the religion.

ـ 7 – التفسير بالرأي المذموم . ـ
هو ما اختل فيه شرط من شروط قبول التفسير بالرأي . ـ
ومن أشهر كتب التفسير بالرأي المذموم المردودة، كتب تفسير الشيعة ، والباطنية، والمعتزلة، وإشارات الصوفية التي اختل فيها شرط القبول! ـ
وتفسير الكشاف للزمخشري من كتب تفسير الرأي المذموم، التي ردها العلماء بسبب بدعته، وقد اساء الأدب في مواضع بعبارته مع الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم، ومع أهل السنة. ـ
ويغني عنه في ما يتعلق ببلاغة القرآن كتاب ابن عطية المحرر الوجيز فإنه أحسن حالا منه، وكتاب البحر المحيط لأبي حيان الأندلسي، وكتاب السمين الحلبي الدر المصون. ـ

The blame-worthy Tafsir bi’l-Ra’yi

The blame-worthy Tafsir bi’l-Ra’yi is that which fails to fulfill any one of the conditions for the acceptance of Tafsir bi’l-Ra’yi.

The most famous books of blame-worthy and rejected Tafsir bi’l-Ra’yi are the books of tafsir which fail to fulfill the aforementioned conditions for acceptance produced by the Shi’a, and the Baatiniyyah, and the Mu’tazilah, and the Soofis who seek out the hidden meanings.

And Tafsir al-Kashshaaf of al-Zamakhshari is one of those books of blame-worthy Tafsir bi’l-Ra’yi. It has been refuted by the scholars due to its innovations, and it displays bad etiquette in several places regarding how it refers to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and the people of the Sunnah.

And we are not in need of it what it mentions in regards to Balaaghah [linguistic eloquence] of the Qur’an, thanks to the tafsir of ibn ‘Atiyyah, al-Maharrar al-Wajeez, for this one is better than that one. And also there is the book al-Bahr al-Muheet of Abu Hayyaan al-Andalusi and the book al-Durr al-Masoon of al-Sameen al-Halabi.

ـ 8 – التفسير بالرأي المحمود لا يستقيم إلا بمراعاة التفسير بالمأثور، فلابد أن يجمع بين الرأي والأثر، بالمعقول والمنقول، بالرواية والدراية! ـ
وهذا يتحقق بالشرط الأول أن لا يخالف التفسير بالمأثور مخالفة تضاد. ـ
والتفسير العلمي من هذا الباب إذا التزم فيه بشروط قبول التفسير بالرأي ! ـ
وكتاب جواهر القرآن لطنطاوي جوهري خرج بالتفسير عن موضوع الدين وجعله كأنه كتاب علوم، هذا غير المعاني التي أوردها وتخالف التفسير بالمأثور مخالفة تضاد! ـ

Praise-worthy Tafsir bi’l-Ra’yi cannot be done without deference and attention to Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor, for it must combine opinions with transmitted reports, intellect with transmitted knowledge, and narrations with insights! And in this way, it fulfills the first condition, that it does not differ from the Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor in a way that it opposes or conflicts with it.

And scientific explanations of the Qur’an fall into this category if they adhere to the conditions for the acceptance of Tafsir bi’l-Ra’yi.

But the book Jawaahir al-Qur’an by al-Tantaawi Jawhari went outside the realm of the subject matter of the religion in his tafsir and made it as if it was a science textbook. These types of things are not the meanings which Allah intended and they conflict and oppose the Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor.

ـ 9 – موقف المدرسة العقلية من التفسير بالمأثور. ـ
المدرسة العقلية ويمثلها المعتزلة ومن وافقهم، وفي العصر الحديث محمد عبده وتلاميذه ! ـ
هذه المدرسة تنتقد التفسير بالمأثور من ثلاث جهات: ـ
الأولى : من كثرة الاختلاف بين الروايات في التفسير. ـ
الثانية : بكثرة الضعيف والموضوع . ـ
الثالثة : بأن فيه الكثير من الإسرائيليات . ـ
وهذه الاعتراضات كلها مردودة . ـ

The Position of the “Rationalist” School regarding Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor

The Rationalist School of though is similar to the Mu’tazilah and those who agree with them, and in our present day and age they are Muhammad ‘Abdu and his students [such as Muhammad Rashid Rida and Sayyid Qutb].

This school of thought criticizes Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor from three angles:

Firstly: Due to the the large number of different positions found in the narrated statements of explanation of the Qur’an.

Secondly: Due to the large number of weak and fabricated narrations.

Thirdly: Because they contain a large number of Israa’eeliyyaat narrations.

And all of these criticisms are rejected.

ـ 10 – أما كثرة الاختلافات في التفسير بالمأثور ، فهي تسوغ رده، لأن ما صح من روايات التفسير بالمأثور الاختلاف فيه من باب اختلاف التنوع لا التضاد والتعارض. ـ
فقد يفسر الصحابي الآية بلفظ والآخر بلفظ آخر والمعنى واحد. وقد يذكر صحابي مثالاً لتقرير معنى الآية، ويذكرصحابي آخر مثالا آخراً في تقرير نفس المعنى. وقد يعبر بعض الصحابة عن المعنى العام ، ويعبر بعضهم عن بعض أفراده. ـ
وكل هذا لا تضاد ولا تعارض فيه، والحمد لله. ووجود التعارض والتناقض والتضاد فيما صح من الوارد من أندر ما يكون، ولله الحمد! ـ

As for the criticism of the large number of different positions found in Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor, and that this taints the whole, this is not that case for those various differing narrations in Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor which are authentic fall into the category of differing of type, not differing which involves conflict or contradiction.

For one Sahabi might explain an ayah with one wording while another explains it with another wording, but the meaning is one and the same. Or one Sahabi might mention one example to make the meaning of an ayah clear while another Sahabi mentioned another example to make the very same meaning clear. Or some of the Sahabah might refer to the general overall meaning of an ayah while others might refer to some specific parts of that overall meaning.

However none of this produces opposing meanings or contradictions, alhamdulillah. And the actual presence of conflicting or contradictory narrations among what it actually authentic is something incredibly rare and uncommon, alhamdulillaah.

ـ 11 – أما ورود روايات ضعيفة ومردودة وكثرة ذلك، فلا يؤثر والحمد لله، لأن المعتمد هو ما يثبت من هذه الروايات، أما ما لا يثبت فإنه مردود لا التفات له. ـ
وللعلماء مسالك في التصحيح والتضعيف منها ما يعتمد على أسانيد الرواية ومنها ما لا يعتمد على أسانيد الرواية، فليرجع في كل فن إلى أهله. ـ

And as for their criticism of the inclusion of weak and rejected narrations and the proliferation of that, this is something which is not really significant, alhamdulillah, because what is relied on are those narrations that have been authentically verified. As for those which have not been authentically verified, then these are rejected and not paid any attention.

And the scholars have various methods of determining the authenticity or weakness of reports, some of which depend on the chain of narration while other do not rely on the chain of narration. And for every science and area of expertise one should refer back to its experts.

ـ 12 – أما ورود الإسرائليات في التفسير بالمأثور ، فهذا لا يؤثر فيه، لأن الإسرائليات على ثلاثة اقسام: ـ
القسم الأول : ما يوافق ما عندنا فهذا نقبله ونرويه، والأصل اعتماد شرعنا، وإنما يروى استئناسا، وعليه يحمل ما جاء في الحديث عنه صلى الله عليه وسلم: “حدثوا عن بني إسرائيل و لا حرج”. ـ
القسم الثاني : ما يخالف ما عندنا، فهذا نرده و لا نرويه، و لا أعلم أن أئمة التسفير اعتمدوا من ذلك في تفاسيرهم شيئا. ـ
القسم الثالث : ما لا يخالف و لا يوافق، فهذا لا حرج في روايته، و لا نصدق و لا نكذب كما جاء في الحديث! ـ
فبطل اعتراضدهم وانتقادهم للتفسير بالمأثور، ولله الحمد! ـ

And as for their criticism regarding the inclusion of Israa’eeliyyaat narrations in Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor, then this is not something which is really significant, because the Israa’eeliyyaat narrations fall into three categories:

The First Category: That which is in agreement with what we have, so we accept these and narrate them. And the foundation on which we rely is our sharee’ah; these Israa’eeliyyaat narrations are only mentioned in order for us to be familiar with them. And this is based on what is mentioned in the hadeeth of the Prophet (ﷺ), “Narrate from Banu Israa’eel, there is no harm in that.”

The Second Category: That which conflicts with what we have, so we reject this and do not narrate it. And I do not know of any of the leading figures of the field of Tafsir who have relied on this category of Israa’eeliyyaat narrations in their books of tafsir at all.

The Third Category: That which neither conflicts nor agrees with what we have, and there is no harm in narrating these, however we neither affirm nor deny their contents, as has been mentioned in the hadeeth.

So their rejection and criticisms of Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor are not valid, alhamdulillaah.

ـ 13 – التفسير الإشاري، من التفسير بالرأي، فيقبل منه ما توفرت فيه شروط القبول. ـ
وهو على ثلاثة أنواع : ـ
النوع الأول : ما كان صحيح المعنى والاعتبار في الاستدلال صحيح. فهذا مقبول، كتفسير ابن عباس لسورة (إذا جاء نصر الله والفتح). ـ
النوع الثاني : ما كان صحيح المعنى غير صحيح الاعتبار، فهذا يقبل المعنى لصحته، ويرد الاستدلال فيه لبطلانه! ـ
النوع الثالث : ما كان باطل المعنى والاعتبار، فهذا يرد المعنى والاستدلال، كقول بعضهم : (فاذبحوا البقرة) قال: عائشة. (فقاتلوا أئمة الكفر) قال: أبوبكر وعمر. ونحو هذه الأباطيل. ـ

Tafsir al-Ishaari [explaining the Qur’an according to perceived “hidden meanings” which may or may not be supported by the text] is a subcategory of Tafsir bi’l-Ra’yi, and when such explanations fulfill the conditions for acceptance then they are acceptable.

And Tafsir al-Ishaari is of three types:

The First Type: That whose meaning is correct and its method of demonstrating that meaning from the text at hand is also correct. This would be accepted, and an example is ibn ‘Abbaas’ tafsir of surah al-Nasr (110).

The Second Type: That whose meaning is correct but its attempt to find that meaning in the text is not correct. So the meaning is accepted due to that fact that it is correct, while the attempt to link that meaning to that particular text is rejected due to the fact that that is false.

The Third Type: That whose meaning is false and its attempt to find that meaning in the text in also false. So both the meaning and the attempt to link that meaning to that text is rejected. Some examples of this would be “slaughter the cow” [2:67] and they say this is referring to ‘Aa’ishah, or “so fight the leaders of disbelief” [9:12] and they say that this is referring to Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, and other such statements of falsehood.

[Taken from the sheikh’s person blog here.]

See also: Understanding the Qur’an: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

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

See also: The Conditions for Making Tafsir: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

See also: Narration-based Tafsir before Opinion-based Tafsir: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

To learn more about the various books of tafsir and where they fall into these categories, see: Mufassir Profiles

See also: About the Books of Tafsir

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3 thoughts on “The Types of Tafsir: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

  1. Pingback: The Conditions for Making Tafsir: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Understanding the Qur’an: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Narration-based Tafsir before Opinion-based Tafsir: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh | Tulayhah

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