— al-Qurtubi —
-Name of the Mufassir:
His name is Abu ‘Abdullah, Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Farh al-Ansaari al-Khazraji al-Andaloosi al-Qurtubi.He was born in Cordoba, Spain and excelled in the sciences of tafsir, hadeeth and fiqh. He was also known for his zuhd (abstemiousness) and dedication to worship. He later moved to Egypt, where he died in the year 671Ah/1273CE.
-Name of the Book:
Jaami’ li-Ahkam al-Qur’an [جامع لأحكام القرأن]
-General Description of the Book:
As the books title would suggest, the issues of fiqh are an overarching and ever-present interest in al-Qurtubi’s tafsir, and it is the most famous of the fiqh-based works of tafsir. However, fiqh was not the only feature of this work. In his introduction to this celebrated book of tafsir, imam al-Qurtubi identified a number of goals and topical areas to which he intended to pay special attention throughout his work. First and foremost was explaining and clarifying the Speech of Allah, which he describes as using the statements of the salaf and those who followed their ways to explain the general meanings and and clarifying those difficult passages. He specifically listed the following areas of interest: linguistics, grammar, variant recitations, refutations of deviance and misguidance, and making mention of ahaadeeth which would elucidate issues of legislative rulings and the causes for the revelation.
Al-Qurtubi was an Ash’ari in ‘aqeedah. He made ta’weel of Allah’s names and attributes in his works, meaning that he interpreted them in a manner contrary to both their apparent meanings and contrary to the understanding of the salaf. This is clearly seen both in his tafsir as well as in his book al-Asnaa fi Sharh Asmaa Allah al-Husnaa. He relied on the explanations of previous scholars – such as al-Juwayni, al-Baaqilaani, al-Razi, ibn ‘Atiyyah and others – for his explanations of Allah’s names and attributes.
However, his book also contains a number of instances of his refutations and censuring deviant beliefs and practices, including those of the Mu’tazilah, the Qadariyyah, the Rawaafidhah, the people of philosophy, the extreme Sufis.
-Stance regarding isnaads (chains of narration):
Including relevant ahaadeeth to the ayaat under discussion was a frequent practice of al-Qurtubi in his tafsir. Although he generally did not mention the chain of narration, he placed a condition on himself that he would accurately attribute each hadeeth that he included to the collection where it could be found. He mentioned this condition in his introduction, taking issue with the general lack of citing ahaadeeth in the books of fiqh and tafsir of his age. As one reads through his tafsir, one can see that he did indeed fulfill this self-imposed condition.
Another similar condition that he placed upon himself was also attributing the statements that he collected to those who said them, citing the maxim, “Part of the blessings of knowledge is attributing a statement to its author.” Consequently, he included many statements of the salaf concerning fiqh rulings in his tafsir, as well as the latter-day people who followed them. He frequently relied on the previous tafsirs of ibn Jareer al-Tabari, ibn ‘Atiyyah, ibn al-‘Arabi al-Maaliki, Alkiyaa al-Hirasi, and Abu Bakr al-Jisas.
-Stance regarding Fiqh (legal) Rulings:
As the title of his tafsir might suggest, this work payed special attention to issues of fiqh and al-Qurtubi was rather thorough in his treatment of them. He would mention both the different fiqh positions and opinions related to the ayah under consideration and their respective evidences, including discussions both directly related and those only tangentially connected to the subject at hand. He was fair and balanced in his discussion and was not fanatical towards his own Maaliki madhhab. On the contrary, he would follow the evidences to whatever conclusions they presented, and this is one of the exemplary features of his work. This fairness and lack of partisanship is a distinguishing feature of the work that sets it apart from many other fiqh-heavy works of tafsir.
He also gave attention to mentioning the abrogating and abrogated verses.
-Stance regarding Qiraa’aat (different recitations):
He would make mention of the different qiraa’aat in moderation.
-Stance regarding Israa’eeliyyaat (Judaeo-Christian traditions):
In his introduction, al-Qurtubi declared that he would avoid the abundant mention of historical tales and Biblical stories except where their inclusion was called for. However, he did sometimes mention strange Judaeo-Christian tales.
-Stance regarding poetry, linguistic analysis, grammar, etc.:
Throughout his tafsir, al-Qurtubi engaged in grammatical discussions and explanations of unfamiliar Qur’anic words and phrases. He would frequently appeal to linguistic considerations in his fiqh decisions. He would also frequently mention Arabic poetry in order to explain or clarify a point.
-Those who drew heavily from this tafsir:
Muhammad al-Shawkaani relied very heavily on al-Qurtubi’s tafsir in his Fath al-Qadeer, often using his wordings directly.
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
ترجيحات الامام القرطبي في التفسير من الآية الواحدة والاربعين من سورة التوبة إلى آخر سورة يونس : بحث مقدم لنيل درجة الماجستير لخلود سليمان سليم العصيبي
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See also: Recommended Books of Tafsir