— al-Razi —

-Name of the Mufassir:

He is Muhammad ibn ‘Umar ibn al-Husayn ibn al-Hasan, al-Shafi’ee, al-Razi. He is best known by the honorific title Fakhr al-Deen, or Fakhr al-Deen al-Razi. He was born in Tabaristan in modern-day Iran. Among his areas of expertise was the Arabic language and philosophy. He died in the year 606Ah/1209CE.

Note: It is widely held that al-Razi died before completing his tafsir, but there is disagreement as to how much and which parts he did complete. One strong opinion is that al-Razi finished al-Fatihah (01) until the end of al-Qasas (28), from al-Saffaat (37) until the end of al-Ahqaaf (46), al-Hadeed (57), al-Mujaadilah (58), and al-Hashr (59), and then from al-Mulk (67) until the end. His student Ahmad ibn Khaleel al-Khawli subsequently finished what remained.

 -Name of the Book:

Mafaateeh al-Ghaib [مفاتيح الغيب]

It is also known as Tafseer al-Kabeer [تفسير الكبير], or simply Tafseer al-Razi.

-General Description of the Book:

al-Suyooti described this book in al-Itqaan by writing, “al-Imam Fakhr al-Deen filled his tafsir with the sayings of sages and philosophers and their doubts. He would move from one topic to another such that the reader would feel amazed at the lack of relevancy to what was actually in the text of the ayah.” Abu Hayyaan also described al-Razi’s work in his own tafsir by writing, “al-Razi brought together many long discussions in his tafsir that have no place in a tafsir. For this reason, some of the scholars have said, ‘The work contains everything in it except for tafsir.'”

Despite these and other similar comments, the book is regarded as work of encyclopedic scope on a number of different sciences, combining both beneficial and misleading material within it. Among the subjects more akin to tafsir, the work contains much discussions of fiqh positions – especially Shaafi’ee fiqh – as well as issues of rhetoric (balaaghah) and grammar. Outside of this, the work is replete with long discussions regarding the natural sciences, medicine, philosophy, ‘ilm al-kalaam (speculative theology), and other such matters. He would also frequently bring up questions and doubts, which he would often leave unanswered or only partially answered.


This book has become a point of reference for the Ash’ari position on Allah’s names and attributes, which is typified by interpreting Allah’s names and attributes contrary to their apparent meanings and contrary to the understanding of the salaf. The author drew heavily from Mu’tazilah authors in a number of areas such as usool al-fiqh and linguistics, but despite this was rather critical of their theological beliefs.

-Stance regarding Fiqh (legal) Rulings:

At nearly every chance to discuss ayaat containing fiqh rulings, al-Razi would avail himself of the opportunity to present the positions of the different schools of jurisprudence, along with his support of the position of his own Shaafi’ee madhhab and their evidences.

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

He would engage in long discussions of rhetoric and grammar throughout his work. He was also very interested in the small differences or wordings in similar ayaat and would pause to point them out and discuss them.


التفسير والمفسرين لمحمد حسين الدهبي

التيسير لمعرفة المشهور من أسانيد و كتب التفسير

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