— al-Tabari —
-Name of the Mufassir:
He is Abu Ja’far, Muhammad ibn Jareer ibn Yazeed al-Tabari. He was born in the Tabaristan region of Persia, and traveled in pursuit of knowledge at an early age before eventually settling in Baghdad. His scholarship was unmatched during his time, and he is sometimes referred to at “the father of tafsir” or “the imam of the mufassiroon” due to his great influence on the genre.
In addition to his prowess in the field of tafsir, he was also a recognized authority in fiqh and history, as well as being skilled in hadeeth and qiraa’aat. His two most famous works are his tafsir and his collection of history, both of which have survived until this time. He was originally a Shaafi’ee, but later reached the level of mujtahid and became the founder of his own well-known madhhab. However, like many other historical schools of jurisprudence, the Jareeri madhhab has not survived until today. He died in the year 310Ah/932CE.
-Name of the Book:
Jaami’ al-Bayaan fee Ta’weel Ayy al-Qur’an [جامع البيان في آي القرآن]
It is also commonly referred to as Tafsir al-Tabari, or Tafsir ibn Jareer.
-General Description of the Book:
The tafsir of Ibn Jareer is one of the most celebrated and valuable works of tafsir authored, and has received praise and commendations of scholars both east and west, both of the past and the modern era. It is best known as one of the reliable books of al-Tafsir al-Naqli (transmitted narration-based commentary), however it also a rich resource in al-Tafsir al-‘Aqali (non narration-based commentary) due to its mention of benefits derived from the text, its linguistic discussions, its weighing various positions, and other merits.
This book is in accord with the ‘aqeedah of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah, however Ibn Jareer does sometimes relate some statements which run contrary to the these orthodox beliefs without providing any commentary on them.
-Stance regarding isnaads (chains of narration):
He was consistent in mentioning the chains of narrations for the various statements he reported – whether they be statements of the Prophet (ﷺ) or others – , however he usually would not follow that up with a clarification of the authenticity or weakness of these reported statements.
-Stance regarding Fiqh (legal) Rulings:
He would mention the legal rulings derived from the ayaat, as well as the statements of the scholars and the positions of the madhabs regarding them. He would then select one of the positions and support it with knowledge-based evidences. He would also mention ijmaa’ when it occurred, as well as the evidences which supported that. Ibn Jareer was himself skilled in fiqh and a mujtahid in his own right, and his work of tafsir became a reference work for later mufassiroon in the field of fiqh, not to mention in general.
-Stance regarding Qiraa’aat (different recitations):
He was an authority on the well-known qiraa’aat, and he gave much attention to mentioning them and their variant meanings. He also would rebut odd variant recitations as well as what they contained of distorted meanings.
-Stance regarding Israa’eeliyyaat (Judaeo-Christian traditions):
The tafsir of ibn Jareer includeds many Israa’eeliyyaat narrations, and he would include the chains of narrations for these just as he did for any other narrations included. He would especially relate stories and information from K’ab al-Akhbar, Wahb ibn Munabbih, ibn Jurayj, and al-Suddi, as well as others. He usually would follow these reports up with critiques, however he was not adamant in critiquing everything which he related of Israa’eeliyyaat narrations.
-Stance regarding poetry, linguistic analysis, grammar, etc.:
His book contains a great mass of linguistic and grammar-based discussion, and consequently gained a reputation for this. Ibn Jareer would often refer to aspects of the Arabic language, sometimes using a linguistic point to strength a certain position or conclusion, and he included pre-Islamic poetry in this vein as well. He would not only frequently refer back to the positions of well-known grammarians, but he would also discuss their various positions and weigh them against one another.
القول المختصر المبين في مناهج المفسرين لمحمد بن حمد الحمود النجدي
التفسير والمفسرين لمحمد حسين الدهبي
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See also: Recommended Books of Tafsir