al-Amritsari

 — Thanaullah al-Amritsari —

-Name of the Mufassir:

He is Abu’l-Wafaa’ Thanaullah al-Hindi al-Amritsari, and he was sometimes referred to as “the ibn Taymiyah of his era.” He was born in Amritsar, in the Punjab region of Northern India. By the age of 14, both of his parents had died, and around that age he began seeking knowledge and devoted himself to studying for the next ten years. He was an important scholar in India during his time. He was a founding member of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, an important organizer and secretary general of the Ahl-e-Hadith, and a representative of the Ahl-e-Hadith at the International Islamic Conference in 1345Ah/1926CE. The sheikh authored many works during his lifetime, and performed a great service in his skillful refutations of the many contemporary challenges to Islam of his era, such as the Christian missionaries, Indian Nationalists, idol worshipers, and especially against the Qadiyani (Ahmadiyyah) sect and its founder. Towards the end of his life, he fled to nearby Lahore in neighboring Pakistan where he died in the year 1367Ah/1948CE.

-Name of the Book:

Tafsir al-Qur’an bi-Kalaam al-Rahman [تفسير القرآن بكلام الرحمن]

It should be noted that Al-Amritsari wrote a number of books of tafsir, however most of these were in Urdu. This particular books of tafsir was originally written in Arabic, and it is the subject of this profile.

-General Description of the Book:

As the title suggests, this book of tafsir was primarily devoted to explaining the Qur’an by means of the Qur’an itself. In the introduction to his book, al-Amritsari focuses on the following three areas that informed his approach: 1) the merit of explaining the Qur’an by the Qur’an itself, 2) the importance of the Arabic language for understanding the Qur’an, and 3) warning again reliance on explaining the Qur’an purely based on one’s own opinions. With these principles in mind, the author approached his tafsir by taking one or two ayaat at a time and providing a gloss, some brief explanatory notes and mentioning other relevant ayaat. Following this formula, the sheikh produced a relatively short tafsir in which he generally would only mention what he held to be the strongest explanation, while mostly avoiding lengthy discussion of asbaab al-nuzool, hadith narrations, or the details of legal or linguistic matters. The only exceptions would be in matters of ‘aqeedah, where the sheikh would sometimes give additional clarification or focus, either in the text itself or in footnotes

‘Aqeedah:

Although the author received his formative learning through the Deobandi system, he later continued his studies under several scholars of the Ahl-e-Hadith and adopted their way and understanding. In initially writing this tafsir, he showed some lingering influence of his Deobandi schooling in terms his understanding of Allah’s names and attributes, however when these issues were pointed out to him and clarified, he retracted and corrected all or the majority of his mistakes. Thus, this tafsir follows the understanding of the salaf in its explanations of Allah’s names and attributes.

The author also devotes some space in his book to clarifying points of belief and refuting certain errant understandings.

-Stance regarding isnaads (chains of narration):

The author limited himself to mentioning the hadith collection where a hadith narration could be found without mentioning the chain of narration. However, as this work was primarily focused on explaining the Qur’an by means of the Qur’an itself, al-Amritsari did not make extensive use of hadith narrations in his explanation.

-Stance regarding Fiqh (legal) Rulings:

The author endeavored to select the most sound position and not limit himself to the views of any particular fiqh madhhab. That being said, this book does not delve into fiqh matters in any detail.

-Stance regarding Israa’eeliyyaat (Judaeo-Christian traditions):

The author avoided any reliance on Israee’eeliyyaat narrations, and would only sometimes make mention of them in footnotes in order to comment on and discredit their contents.

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

In part of his introduction, al-Amritsari includes a section discussing the importance of the Arabic language for properly understanding the Qur’an. However, the sheikh did not make extensive use of linguistic analysis in this tafsir of his. He would sometimes mention Arabic poetry to support his points, and in some places he even used lines from Farsi or other non-Arabic poetry in his explanations.

Having a background in the fields of al-balaaghah and al-mantaq [the study of linguistic eloquence, and the study or logic, respectively], the author would sometimes employ terminologies from those fields in ways that could be confusing to non-specialists.

Bibliography:

مقدمة تفسير القرآن بكلام الرحمن للشيخ ثناء الله الأمرتسري

مقدمة تفسير القرآن بكلام الرحمن للشيخ صفي الرحمن المباركفوري

تعريف موجز بـ (تفسير القرآن بكلام الرحمن) لثناء الله الامرتسري هنا


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