The Difference Between Usool al-Tafsir and ‘Uloom al-Qur’an: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, and answered the following question regarding the difference between Usool al-Tafsir (the principles of Qur’anic explanation) and ‘Uloom al-Qur’an (the fields of Qur’anic study):

سؤال : كيف نفرق بين أصول التفسير وعلوم القرآن؟ أو بتعبير آخر كيف أعرف أن هذا المبحث يندرج ضمن علوم القرآن أم أصول التفسير، وهل التفريق بين علوم القران وأصول التفسير عرف عند الأولين أم المتأخرين؟ ـ

Question: How do we distinguish between Usool al-Tafsir and ‘Uloom al-Qur’an, or whatever other terminology may be used? How can be know whether a study falls under the field of ‘Uloom al-Qur’an or Usool al-Tafsir? And was this distinction between ‘Uloom al-Qur’an and Usool al-Tafsir known to the earlier generations of scholars, or only to the later generations?

الجواب : (أصول التفسير ) اسم من أسماء علوم القرآن عند بعضهم توسعاً. والحقيقة أن أصول التفسير من علوم القرآن ، إذ هي قواعد التفسير ، ومنها جملة مندرجة في النوع الموسوم بقواعد يحتاج إليها المفسر. ونوع حروف وكلمات يحتاج إلى معرفتها. هذا غير قواعد تفسير تؤخذ من أنواع أخرى من أنواع علوم القرآن. ـ

Response: Usool al-Tafsir is one of several names that some people use to refer to ‘Uloom al-Qur’an generally. But in fact, Usool al-Tafsir is just a part of ‘Uloom al-Qur’an, in which case it refers to the principles of Tafsir. In ‘Uloom al-Qur’an, there are a number of topics which fall under the category of principles which the mufassir needs to know. Then, there is another category involving the particles and words which he must be familiar with which are not the principles of tafsir and are instead taken from other areas within the larger field of ‘Uloom al-Qur’an.

فكل أصول تفسير هي من علوم القرآن .وليس كل علوم قرآن هي اصول تفسير؛ فمثلاً من أنواع علوم القرآن معرفة اسمه وصفاته. ومعرفة أول ما نزل وآخر ما نزل، ومعرفة أمور أخرى تتعلق بالقرآن كمعرفة خصائص القرآن التي تذكر في باب الرقى، ونحو ذلك. ـ

So all of Usool al-Tafsir is part of ‘Uloom al-Qur’an, but not everything in ‘Uloom al-Qur’an is Usool al-Tafsir. For example, some of the categories of ‘Uloom al-Qur’an include knowing the names and characteristics of the Qur’an, knowing what was revealed first and what was revealed later, and knowing a number of other issues related to the Qur’an such as knowing the unique features of the Qur’an which are mentioned in the chapter on al-ruqya, and so on.

والضابط في ذلك؛ أن علوم القرآن تشمل كل ما يعين المفسر على فهم الآية ومعرفة المراد منها بحسب الطاقة البشرية فهذا يستقل باسم أصول التفسير، ويندرج في علوم القرآن. ـ

وكل ما يتعلق بالتعريف بالقرآن وذكر أمور تتعلق به، غير تفسير معناه وبيان المراد منه، هو من علوم القرآن، و ليس من أصول التفسير. ـ

And the general guideline for this topic is: ‘Uloom al-Qur’an encompasses everything which aids the mufassir in understanding an ayah, knowing its intended meaning as much as is within human capacity – and all of these topics can be independently referred to by the term Usool al-Tafsir, which is a sub-field of ‘Uloom al-Qur’an.

But everything which is connected to the definition of the Qur’an and discussion of the various topics related to it while not dealing with the explanation its meaning or clarification of what is meant to be understood from it, then all of this falls under ‘Uloom al-Qur’an but is not part of Usool al-Tafsir.

فكل اصول التفسير من علوم القرآن، وليس كل علوم القرآن من أصول التفسير. وبالله التوفيق. ـ

So all of Usool al-Tafsir is part of ‘Uloom al-Qur’an, but not all of ‘Uloom al-Qur’an is part of Usool al-Tafsir.

And success is with Allah.

[Taken from Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool’s Facebook page here. Originally posted on December 5th, 2017.]

See also: Introductory ‘Uloom al-Qur’an Books: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh [Forthcoming, inshaAllaah]

See also: The Types of Tafsir: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

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


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