— al-Baydhawi —
-Name of the Mufassir:
He is Abu’l-Khair, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Baydhawi, al-Shaafi’ee. He was also known by the honorific title Naasir al-Deen. He was was judge in Shiraaz, Persia. His most well-known written works were in the sciences of usool al-fiqh, usool al-deen, and his tafsir. There is differing about precisely when he died, but most historians place it in the year 685Ah/1286CE.
-Name of the Book:
Anwar al-Tanzeel wa Asrar al-Ta’weel [أنوار التنزيل وأسرار التأويل]
-General Description of the Book:
al-Baydhawi composed his famous tafsir by relying largely on three earlier books of tafsir. He drew most heavily of al-Khashshaaf of al-Zamakhshari, particularly for his linguistic discussions, and then on the tafsir of Fakhr al-Deen al-Razi for his assorted insights, and then on the tafsir of al-Raaghib al-Asfahaani for his discussions of vocabulary and related insights. He also supplemented these materials with his own commentary and with narrations from the salaf. Despite the relative brevity of his work compared to those of al-Zamakhshari and al-Razi, al-Baydhawi still included many tangential discussions in his tafsir, especially drawing on the scientific discussions of al-Razi in his explanations of the ayaat regarding the creation.
This is a celebrated work of tafsir which has generated a large number of scholarly commentaries and glosses on it. Part of its popularity derives from its place within the academic curriculum of the Ottoman empire. It is valued for its synthesis and abridgement of important previous works, while avoiding much of the Mu’tazilah doctrine of al-Zamakhshari.
This book follows the Ash’ari school of theology in its ta’weel of Allah’s names and attributes, meaning that it interprets them in a way contrary to their apparent meaning and contrary to the understanding of the salaf.
Despite his dependence of al-Zamakhshari in this tafsir, al-Baydhawi intended to avoid the inclusion of material which supports the Mu’tazilah school of theology. In fact, in parts of his tafsir he would compare the Mu’tazilah position to more orthodox stances and explain why the orthodox positions were superior. Despite this however, some Mu’tazilah material still made its way into his tafsir by way of the content he borrowed from al-Zamakhshari.
-Stance regarding Fiqh (legal) Rulings:
In his discussions of the ayaat specifically pertaining to fiqh matters, he would engage in some discussions of the relevant issues without delving into them extensively. In general, he would support and champion the positions of his own Shaafi’ee madhhab in his explanations.
-Stance regarding Qiraa’aat (different recitations):
He would sometimes mention the different qiraa’aat in his explanations, however he did not limit himself to only the well-known recitations and would sometimes mention odd recitations as well.
-Stance regarding Israa’eeliyyaat (Judaeo-Christian traditions):
al-Baydhawi only very rarely included Israa’eeliyyaat narrations in his tafsir, and when he did he would preface them with indirect language like, “it is reported” or “it is said” in order to indicate that these stories were weak and not well-attested.
As part of his drawing on al-Zamakhshari’s tafsir, al-Baydhawi chose to include his ahaadeeth on the virtues of the different surahs in the end of his own tafsir of each surah as well. This was despite it being well-known that these sections of al-Zamakhshari’s tafsir were composed primarily of fabricated and weak ahaadeeth.
-Stance regarding poetry, linguistic analysis, grammar, etc.:
al-Baydhawi included material related to al-‘Iraab, linguistic meanings and elements of linguistic eloquence from al-Zamakhshari’s tafsir. He also included material related to vocabulary and linguistic derivation from al-Raaghib al-Asfahaani. He supplemented both of these sources with some further commentary of his own without going into exhaustive detail.
-Those who drew heavily from this tafsir:
al-Nasafi made his tafsir an abridgement of both al-Baydhawi’s work and al-Zamakhshari’s.
التفسير والمفسرين لمحمد حسين الدهبي
التيسير لمعرفة المشهور من أسانيد و كتب التفسير
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