The Best Method of Tafsir: al-Zarkashi

Sheikh Badr al-Deen al-Zarkashi included the following brief but comprehensive words in part of his discussion of the sources of tafsir in his famous handbook to the Qur’anic sciences, al-Burhan:

قيل : أحسن طريق التفسير أن يفسر القرآن بالقرآن ، فما أجمل في مكان فقد فصل في موضع آخر ، وما اختصر في مكان فإنه قد بسط في آخر . فإن أعياك ذلك فعليك بالسنة ، فإنها شارحة للقرآن ، وموضحة له ، قال الله – تعالى – : وما أنزلنا عليك الكتاب إلا لتبين لهم الذي اختلفوا فيه وهدى ورحمة لقوم يؤمنون ( النحل : 64 ) ولهذا قال – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : ألا إني أوتيت القرآن ومثله معه . يعني السنة ؛ فإن لم يوجد في السنة [ ص: 316 ] يرجع إلى أقوال الصحابة ، فإنهم أدرى بذلك ، لما شاهدوه من القرائن ، ولما أعطاهم الله من الفهم العجيب ، فإن لم يوجد ذلك يرجع إلى النظر والاستنباط بالشرط السابق . ـ

Some have said that the best method of tafsir is to explain the Qur’an by means of the Qur’an itself because whatever has been mentioned in general terms in one place has been explained in more detail in another place and whatever has been summarized in one spot has been discussed at length elsewhere.

And if you are not able to do that, then you must turn to the Sunnah for it is an explanation of the Qur’an and serves to make it clear. Allah said:

وَمَا أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ إِلَّا لِتُبَيِّنَ لَهُمُ الَّذِي اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ ۙ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً لِّقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ

And We have not revealed the Book to you except for you to make those things which they have differed about clear to them and as guidance and mercy for a people who believe [16:64]

It was in this same vein that the Prophet said, “Indeed, I have been given the Qur’an and the likes of it along with it”, meaning the Sunnah.

Then if you are not able to find anything in the Sunnah, refer back to the statements of the Sahabah for they are the most knowledgeable people on this subject on account of the events and circumstances that they witnessed surrounding the revelation of the Qur’an and due to the amazing understanding that Allah granted them.

And if you are not able to find anything there, then take recourse to scholarly investigation and attempting to derive a ruling according to the principles that we have mentioned previously.

[al-Burhan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an 2/315-316]

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

See also: The Best Methods of Explaining the Qur’an: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

See also: The Types of Tafsir: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

See also: Turning Away from the Sources of Tafsir: Ibn Taymiyah

See also: How the Prophet Explained the Qur’an: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

See also: Why Study the Sayings of the Salaf?: Muhammad Bazmool

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

3 thoughts on “The Best Method of Tafsir: al-Zarkashi

  1. Pingback: How the Prophet Explained the Qur’an: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: The Importance of Tafsir and its Sources: Sheikh al-Fawzan | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: The Best Methods of Explaining the Qur’an: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool | Tulayhah

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