al-Shirbini

 — al-Shirbini —

-Name of the Mufassir:

He is Shams al-Deen Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Shirbini. He is most commonly known as “al-Khatib al-Shirbini”. He was born in Egypt and lived most of his life in Cairo. He authored many books in Shafi’i Fiqh, tafsir, grammar and other subjects. He died in 977 AH, corresponding to 1570 CE.

-Name of the Book:

al-Siraaj al-Muneer fee al-I’aanah ‘alaa Ma’rifah ba’dh Ma’aani Kalaam Rabanaa al-Hakeem al-Khabeer [السراج المنير في الإعانة على معرفة بعض معاني كلام ربنا الحكيم الخبير]

The book is most commonly referred to as al-Siraaj al-Muneer.

-General Description of the Book:

al-Khatib al-Shirbini set out to write a book of tafsir which was neither excessively long nor negligently short in which he would mention what he held to be the strongest explanations along with the necessary amount of grammar. al-Shirbini would sometimes list multiple opinions or delve into more depth linguistically due to the strength of alternate explanations or their being widely circulated, but these discussions would be prefaced with the phrase “it has been said” or “some say” in order to indicate that the first position mentioned was the strongest one. In part because of this, al-Siraaj al-Muneer is characterized by being fairly easy to read through.

Some of the most important sources used in this book include quotes from the previous books of opinion-based tafsir such as those of al-Zamakhshari, al-Razi, al-Baydhawi, al-Nasafi, Abu Hayyaan, Jalal al-Mahilli, and al-Baqaa’i. But al-Shirbini also transmitted narrations from the salaf and drew on the previous books of narration-based tafsir as well, such as those of ibn Jarir al-Tabari, al-Baghawi, and ibn Kathir. But al-Shirbini did not limit himself to mere quoting, as he would follow up the quotes he selected with his own comments or rebuttals.

al-Siraaj al-Muneer has a number of distinguishing characteristics. One of the distinct features of this tafsir its great attention to mentioning the munasabat (connections/links) between the different ayaat and surahs. The book also frequently includes exhortations, reminders, heart-softeners, and the like throughout its pages. Al-Shirbini also gave attention to the issues of fiqh rulings in his book, though only where directly relevant and without excessive detail, and likewise with “scientific explanations”.

‘Aqeedah:

al-Shirbini 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.

-Stance regarding isnaads (chains of narration):

The author endeavored to limit himself to only mentioning ahaadith which were saheeh or hasan in his tafsir. In keeping with this, when he transmitted any fabricated ahaadith from al-Zamakhshari or al-Baydhawi regarding the virtues of the surahs or any weak hadith on other topics, he would include comments to indicate their weaknesses or defects.

-Stance regarding Fiqh (legal) Rulings:

al-Shirbini gave importance to discussing legal rulings in his tafsir, however he limited himself to only mentioning them when a fiqh rulings was immediately relevant to the ayah at hand or when understanding a fiqh issue would aid in understand the ayah. In general, al-Shirbini did not engage in drawn-out legal discussion or detailed notes and comparisons of the positions of the different schools except in a few cases. He would sometimes weigh the various opinions and select the one he held to be correct, which was usually the position of his own Shaafi’ madhhab.

-Stance regarding Qiraa’aat (different recitations):

al-Shirbini restricted himself to only mentioning the seven well-known qiraa’aat in his tafsir.

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

The author would sometimes mention odd Israa’eeliyyaat narrations without commenting on their veracity or the quality of their contents.

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

al-Shirbini limited himself to only mentioning the grammar that is necessary to understand the ayah under discussion, and to not venture beyond that into discussions more appropriate for books specialized in grammar and linguistics.

Bibliography:

العلامة الخطيب الشربيني ومنهجه في تفسير السراج المنير – رسالة ماجستير لوفاء محمود سعداوي

التفسير والمفسرين لمحمد حسين الدهبي


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

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