al-Naysaburi

 — al-Naysaburi —

-Name of the Mufassir:

He is Nithaam al-Deen ibn al-Husayn ibn Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, al-Khurasaani, al-Naysaburi. He is also known by the honorific title Nithaam al-A’raj. He was a respected scholar and reciter of the Qur’an in the region of Naysabur in Persia. He was skilled in al-tafsir, the Arabic language, literature, and the natural sciences. He was also a well-known Sufi and ascetic. He died in the year 728Ah/1328CE.

-Name of the Book:

Gharaa’ib al-Qur’an wa Raghaa’ib al-Furqan [غرائب القرآن ورغائب الفرقان]

The work is commonly referred to as Tafsir al-Naysaburi.

-General Description of the Book:

al-Naysaburi made his tafsir an summary of Tafsir al-Kabeer of Fakhr al-Deen al-Razi, which he then supplemented with quotes from al-Zamakhshari and others. However he did not limit himself to merely summarizing or transmitting the statements of these earlier works, but he also would include his own additions, critiques, and corrections regarding their contents. Although he mostly paraphrased from al-Razi, he would more frequently quote directly from al-Zamakhshari, which he would indicate by saying “in al-Khashshaaf he said…” or “Jarullaah said…”. In cases where the opinions of these two primary sources fell into conflict, al-Naysaburi would appoint himself as the arbitrator between them and present his opinion as to what was correct. In addition to all this, al-Naysaburi’s work also contained his own original commentary, as well as what he felt to be authentic of the transmitted explanations of the Sahabah and Taabi’oon. His personal commentary would often stray far afield from the content of the ayaat at hand, whether by explaining supposed “hidden meanings” of the text, or delving into discussions of philosophy and natural sciences.

One of the distinguishing features of this tafsir is its presentation style, which is unique among the books of tafsir. al-Naysaburi would begin his explanation by first mentioning the ayah or ayaat at hand, and then he would mention the different recitations, each of which he would carefully attribute to one of the ten well-known reciters. He would then mention each of the possible pauses in reciting the ayah and what each would imply. Next, he would discuss the relationship of the ayah at hand in the context of its surrounding passage. He would then launch into an explanation of the meaning of the ayah with great attention to its grammatical and rhetorical features. Following all of this, he would then discuss the positions and evidences of the different fiqh schools. He would finally end with some remarks on the “hidden meanings” of the text.

‘Aqeedah:

al-Naysaburi was clearly strongly inclined towards Sufism, as is indicated by his resorting to the practice of Tafseer al-Ishaari, or explaining the Qur’an according to perceived “hidden meanings” which may or may not be supported by the text. In regarding to Allah’s names and attributes, he followed the Ash’ari school of theology in interpreting them in ways contrary of their apparent meanings and contrary to the understanding of the salaf, which is not surprising given that his work is a summary of al-Razi’s, who was a figure-head of the Ash’ari creed.

Due to some ambiguous passages in his tafsir, some have claimed that al-Naysaburi leaned towards Shi’ism. However, what is apparent is that this was not the case, as his tafsir contains explicit and unambiguous refutations of Shi’a beliefs in certain places. He was also critical of Mu’tazilah beliefs.

-Stance regarding Fiqh (legal) Rulings:

Discussions of fiqh rulings occupied a place of importance in this tafsir. al-Naysaburi would mention the different positions and evidences of the various schools of jurisprudence and include some of his own notes on their stances. In generally, he supported his own Shaafi’ee madhhab, however he was not fanatical towards it and would yield to a position outside his madhhab when the evidence presented itself. This work also includes some discussions of Usool al-Fiqh and the rationales underlying certain rulings.

-Stance regarding Qiraa’aat (different recitations):

al-Naysaburi would begin his tafsir of each ayah with a detailed discussion of the different recitations, carefully attributing each recitations to one of the ten well-known reciters. He would then discuss all of the possible appropriate places of pause in reciting an ayah, as well their respective implications on the meaning of that ayah. The sciences of recitation were an important and distinguishing feature of al-Naysaburi’s work.

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

al-Naysaburi paid particular attention to issues issues of language throughout his tafsir and made linguistic explanations a cornerstone of his tafsir. In particular, he focused on grammar, al-‘Iraab, eloquent rhetorical usages, and explaining unfamiliar vocabulary.

Bibliography:

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

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