Abu Hayyaan

 — Abu Hayyaan —

-Name of the Mufassir:

He is Abu ‘Abdullah, Muhammad ibn Yusuf ibn ‘Ali ibn Yusuf ibn Hayyaan, al-Andalusi, al-Ghranaatee. He is most well-known as Abu Hayyaan. He was an expert in the Arabic language and in the different qiraa’aat, and was a renowned reciter, scholar and author during his time. He died in the year 745Ah/1344CE.

-Name of the Book:

al-Bahr al-Muheet [البحر المحيط]

-General Description of the Book:

Abu Hayyaan devoted his attention in this book primarily to grammar-related issues and was extensive in his discussion of the different opinions among grammarians. This work has become a primary reference work for the grammar of the Qur’an and its language, and is closer to a work of grammar than a work of tafsir in some respects. Abu Hayyaan frequently included statements and positions from the tafsir works of al-Zamakhshari and ibn ‘Atiyyah, which he would routinely follow up with comments about their relative strengths – especially regarding critiques of the Mu’tazilah beliefs contained in al-Zamakhshari’s statements.

However, the author did not neglect other aspects of tafsir, and after discussing the grammar-related aspects of an ayah he would then turn to providing a summarized explanation of the ayah’s contents with transmitted statements supporting the the views which he had chosen in his earlier grammar discussion. In this part of his explanations, he would primarily focus on vocabulary, the causes for revelation, the abrogated and abrogating ayaat, the different recitations and their linguistic implications, etc.


In general, he took the understanding of the Ash’ari theological school and thus made ta’weel of Allah’s names and attributes, meaning that he would explain them in a way contrary to their apparent meanings and contrary to the understanding of the salaf.

-Stance regarding Fiqh (legal) Rulings:

He would discuss the fiqh rulings at hand and convey the different opinions of the founders of the four major schools of jurisprudence as well as others. He would also include references to the books of fiqh.

-Stance regarding Qiraa’aat (different recitations):

Abu Hayyaan mentioned both the well-known and odd recitations as well as their linguistic implications. He transmitted statements of both the salaf and later scholars regarding their meanings. He was very meticulous and detailed in his discussions of these matters, and would consistently draw attention to any peculiarities in the grammatical issues of the different recitations, as well as relevant points related to subtle linguistic points.

-Stance regarding poetry, linguistic analysis, grammar, etc.:

Abu Hayyaan was extensive in his discussions of grammar and al-‘iraab, and he was an authority in these matters. He would collect the statements of previous grammarians on a subject as well as his own. The work also includes discussions regarding the literary conventions and eloquence of the language. Explanations of odd vocabulary was also a focal point. It is said that his tafsir was more akin to a work of grammar than a work of tafsir in some respects.


القول المختصر المبين في مناهج المفسرين لمحمد بن حمد الحمود النجدي

التفسير والمفسرين لمحمد حسين الدهبي

التيسير لمعرفة المشهور من أسانيد وكتب التفسير  لعلي بن أحمد الرازحي

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See also: Advice Regarding the Books of Tafsir with Distorted ‘Aqeedah