Thematic Tafsir: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

In the introduction to a speech entitled, “Security and Fear in the Noble Qur’an“, Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh mentioned:

والتفسير له عدة علوم مختلفة يعلمها أهل الاختصاص، ومنها: التفسير الموضوعي للقرآن. ـ

The field of Tafsir – explaining the Qur’an – is comprised of a number of different sub-disciplines which are known by those who specialize in this area. One of these sub-fields is: Thematic Tafsir of the Qur’an.

والتفسير الموضوعي على قسمين: ـ

Thematic Tafsir can be divided into two main categories:

القسم الأول: التفسير الموضوعي باعتبار موضوع ما، كهذا الموضوع، وكما نقول مثلاً التوحيد في القرآن، الرسالة في القرآن، الإيمان باليوم الآخر في القرآن، القدر في القرآن، الصلاة في القرآن، الفتنة في القرآن، الرجال في القرآن، النساء في القرآن، وحتى إن بعض أهل العلم كتب: الجبال في القرآن. ـ

○ The first category is: thematic tafsir that is oriented around a particular theme, such as the subject of this lecture, or if we were to say, for example, “al-Tawheed in the Qur’an”, “Divine Revelation in the Qur’an”, “Belief in the Last Day in the Qur’an”, “al-Qadr in the Qur’an”, “Prayer in the Qur’an”, “Fitnah in the Qur’an”, “Men in the Qur’an”, “Women in the Qur’an”, and so on. And one of the scholars even wrote a book called, “Mountains in the Qur’an.”

وهذه موضوعات كثيرة متنوعة كل موضوع جاء متكررًا في القرآن، من أهل العلم من يفرده ويجمع ما اشتمل عليه بشيء يسمى في علوم التفسير (التفسير الموضوعي للقرآن)، هذا نوع. ـ

There are a great number of different themes to choose from, each topic being mentioned multiple times in the Qur’an. There are some scholars who isolate a number of individual subjects and collect them all into something which is referred to in the sciences of tafsir as “Thematic Tafsir of the Qur’an”. This is one type of thematic tafsir.

القسم الثاني: التفسير الموضوعي باعتبار سورة بعينها، فيكون الاعتبار بالسورة، يعني مثلاً التفسير الموضوعي لسورة البقرة، التفسير الموضوعي لسورة المائدة، التفسير الموضوعي لسورة الكهف، وهذا يسميه بعض أهل العلم المتأخرين الذين كتبوا في التفسير يسميه (مقاصد السور) مقاصد سورة البقرة، وكما قال شيخ الإسلام ابن تيمية: ومقصد سورة المائدة العقود، وهكذا. ـ

○ The second category is: thematic tafsir that is oriented around a particular surah itself. So this is focused on the surah, meaning, for example, the thematic tafsir of surah al-Baqarah, or the thematic tafsir of surah al-Maa’idah, or the thematic tafsir of surah al-Kahf. And some of the latter-day scholars who have authored such works have referred to this as “The Themes of the Surahs” – for instance, “The Themes of surah al-Baqarah“. This is as Sheikh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyah said, “The main theme of surah al-Maa’idah is contractual agreements”, for example.

وهذا تفسير المقاصد مما يختلف فيه أهل العلم إثباتًا وعدمًا، استيعابًا أو تجزئةً، مما ليس في هذا المقام وقت لإيضاحه. ـ

And this type of “major themes”-oriented tafsir is something which the scholars differ as to whether it should be embraced or avoided, and then whether that embrace or avoidance should be complete or only partial. But we do not have the time to explain all of that in this sitting.

[Taken from a transcript of sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh’s lecture al-Khawf w’al-Aman fee al-Qur’an al-Kareem here.]

For further discussion of the points raised in the final paragraph, see: ‘Ilm al-Munasabat and its proper place: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

For some examples of first type of “thematic tafsir“, see:

For some examples of second type of “thematic tafsir“, see:

See also: The Arrangement of the Final Chapters of the Qur’an: Ibn Taymiyah

See also: How to Identify the Theme of a Surah: Sheikh Musa’id al-Tayyar

5 thoughts on “Thematic Tafsir: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

  1. Pingback: ‘Ilm al-Munasabat and its Proper Place: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Central Themes of Surah al-Baqarah: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Introduction to the Thematic Tafsir of Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: A Central Theme of Surah al-Baqarah: Sheikh Muhammad al-Rabee’ah | Tulayhah

  5. Pingback: How to Identify the Theme of a Surah: Sheikh Musa’id al-Tayyar | Tulayhah

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