Did You Know? … about the Books of Tafsir: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad ibn ‘Umar Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, posted the following series of “did you know…?” questions related to the books of tafsir on his Facebook page:

هل تعلم أن تفسير ابن جرير الطبري وتفسير ابن كثير يعتبران من الكتب الجامعة بين الرواية والدراية يعني بالمنقول والمعقول . فلا يعدا من كتب التفسير بالمأثور الا تجوزا بحسب الغالب عليهما. ـ

○ Did you know that Tafsir ibn Jarir al-Tabari and Tafsir ibn Kathir are both classified as those books which combine the perspectives of both narrations and expert scholarship – i.e. both transmitted material and intellect-based analysis? So they are only counted among the books of narration-based tafsir due to that being their predominant content.

هل تعلم أن كتب التفسير بالمأثور هي الكتب التي يقتصر دور المفسر فيها على مجرد ايراد الروايات كتفسير عبدالرزاق وابن أبي حاتم . ـ

○ Did you know that the books of narration-based tafsir are those books whose authors limit themselves to only transmitting the narrated statements? These are books such as Tafsir ‘Abd al-Razzaaq and Tafsir ibn Abi Haatim.

هل تعلم أن كتب التفسير بالمأثور اهتمت فقط بتفسير القرآن بالروايات عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وعن الصحابة والتابعين. فلم تورد ما يتعلق بتفسير القرآن بالقرآن الا ما جاء ضمنا في الروايات المشار إليها. ـ

○ Did you know that the narration-based books of tafsir are limited in their scope only to the explanations of the Qur’an that come with a chain of narration from Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ), or from the Companions, or from the Taabi’oon? So they do not mention what is connected to the explanation of the Qur’an by the Qur’an unless it comes as part of a narration which includes that.

هل تعلم أن كلمة أهل العلم متفقة أن أعظم كتب التفسير واصحها كتاب ابن جرير الطبري . ـ
ويكاد يكون تفسير ابن كثير ملخصا له. ـ
واحسن منه في التلخيص كتاب البغوي في التفسير. ـ
ولا اعرف كتابا يسامت تفسير البغوي في اختصاره وسلامته من البدعة وجمعه لكلام السلف. ـ

○ Did you know that the scholars are unanimous in their stance that the greatest and most sound book of tafsir is the Tafsir of ibn Jarir al-Tabari?

Or that Tafsir ibn Kathir is practically a condensed version of it?

Or that an even better condensed book of tafsir is the Tafsir of al-Baghawi?

And I do not know of any other book of tafsir which compares to Tafsir al-Baghawi in terms of its brevity, it safety from innovations, and its gathering of the statements of salaf.

هل تعلم أن كتاب ابن الجوزي زاد المسير من كتبه المحررة. وهو كالكشاف لأقوال السلف في الآية . ـ
فاق في تحريره كتاب الماوردي في التفسير ! ـ

○  Did you know that the Tafsir of ibn al-Jawzi – Zaad al-Maseer – is one of those extremely detailed and comprehensive works, for it is practically a comprehensive listing of the different positions that the salaf had of each ayah. In fact it even surpasses the tafsir of al-Mawardi in this aspect!

هل تعلم أن علم التفسير إلى اليوم يكتشف المشتغلون به الجديد والجديد من معاني القرآن وعلومه . فسبحان الله … لا تفنى عجائبه ولا تنقضي غرائبه! ـ

○ Did you know that even until today, those who focus on the field of al-Tafsir continue to uncover new things regarding the meanings of the Qur’an and the Qur’anic sciences. SubhanAllaah! The wonders of the Qur’an never end and its amazements never cease!

هل تعلم أن كتاب الكشاف للزمخشري من كتب التفسير بالرأي المذموم . وحرم بعض أهل العلم مطالعته لغير العالم العارف بما فيه. ـ
ويغني عن ابحاث البلاغة القرآنية فيه كتاب ابن عطية المحرر الوجيز في التفسير . فإنه أهون بكثير من الزمخشري في بدعته. ـ

○ Did you know that the book al-Kashshaaf by al-Zamakhshari is one of the blameworthy books of Opinion-based Tafsir? In fact, some of the scholars even held it to be forbidden for anyone other than a knowledgeable person familiar with its issues to read and peruse this work. And ibn ‘Atiyyah’s Al-Muharrar al-Wajeez fee Tafsir suffices us from needing to rely on al-Zamakhshari for research into the linguistic eloquence of the Qur’an, for his work is much lighter in terms of innovations than al-Zamakhshari’s.

هل تعلم أن من كتب التفسير ما استبطنت غيرها . ـ
كتاب القرطبي الجامع لأحكام القرآن استبطن احكام القرآن لابن العربي. ـ
كتاب الشوكاني فتح القدير استبطن تفسير النسفي وجملة كبيرة من الدر المنثور للسيوطي. ـ
كتاب الالوسي استبطن كتاب أبي السعود في التفسير. ـ
والاستبطان غير التلخيص . ـ

Did you know that some of the books of tafsir drew heavily from others?

al-Qurtubi’s book al-Jaami’ li-Ahkam al-Qur’an drew heavily on Ahkam al-Qur’an of Ibn al-‘Arabi.

al-Shawkaani’s book Fath al-Qadeer drew heavily on the tafsir of al-Nasafi and took a great deal from al-Suyooti’s al-Durr al-Manthoor.

al-Aloosi’s tafsir drew heavily on the tafsir of Abu al-Sa’ood.

And drawing heavily is something different than summarizing.

[Taken from a series on posts on sheikh Muhammad Bazmool’s Facebook page on November 21st, 2017]

Translator’s Note: A question was posed in the comments of this post, as well as the Sheikh’s response:

سؤال: هل كتاب العلامة الشنقيطي أضواء البيان يعتبر من كتب التفسير المأثور؟ ـ

Question: Is the book Adhwaa’ al-Bayaan by the great scholar [Muhammad al-Ameen] al-Shinqitee classified as one of the narration-based books of tafsir?

جواب الشيخ : كتابه من الكتب الجامعة بين الرواية والدراية. ويكاد يحصر اهتمامه في قضيتين : الآية التي جاءت آيات أخرى تفسرها. وأحكام القرآن. ولو يجرد كلام الشيخ فقط في تفسير القرآن بالقرآن لكان مفيداً جداً. ـ

Response: His tafsir is one of those which combines both narrations and expert-level scholarship, and its focus is almost entirely directed in two areas: 1) those ayaat whose explanation can be found in other ayaat, and 2) the legal rulings found in the Qur’an. However, if one were only to look at the sheikh’s explanation of the Qur’an according to the Qur’an, this would still be a very beneficial work.

For more information about the books of tafsir and their distinguishing features, visit our Mufassir Profiles

For more recommendations on the books of tafsir, visit our About the Books of Tafsir collection

See also: Ibn Taymiyah on the Books of Tafsir

See also: The Great Status of Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari: al-Dhahabi

See also: Notes on the Book “Safwah al-Tafaasir”: Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan

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