— al-Tha’labi —
-Name of the Mufassir:
He is Abu Ishaaq, Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Tha’labi. He hailed from the Naysaaboor region of Persia. His expertise was primarily in the fields of tafsir and the Arabic language. He was also a well-known preacher and speaker during his time. He died in the year 427Ah/1035CE.
-Name of the Book:
al-Kashf wa’l-Bayaan ‘un al-Tafseer al-Qur’an [الكشف والبيان عن التفسير القرآن]
-General Description of the Book:
In the introduction to his tafsir, al-Tha’labi launched into a critique of most of the books of tafsir which had previously been authored, even criticizing the celebrated work of ibn Jareer al-Tabari which is widely recognized as the model and reference point for the field of tafsir. Despite his hopes to produce a tafsir that avoided the pitfalls of previous authors, al-Tha’labi’s work itself has also been subject to much scholarly criticism, particularly for its heavily inclusion of weak and fabricated ahaadeeth as well as an abundance of odd and incredible Israa’eeliyyaat narrations and fables. Aside from these features, his work also emphasizes linguistic issues and fiqh matters.
His explanations follow the Ash’ari school of theology in interpreting Allah’s names and attributes, contrary to the understanding of the salaf.
-Stance regarding isnaads (chains of narration):
al-Tha’labi listed the full chains of narration for the statements of the salaf that he would use throughout his tafsir in his introduction, and thereafter only mentioned the abbreviated forms of these chains in the text of his work. However, what is apparent is a lack of concern regarding the authenticity of the reports which he included, as evidenced by heavy reliance on certain weak chains of narration.
The author would also include a section at the close of each surah in which he would collect ahaadeeth regarding the virtues of that chapter. However, most of this material was fabricated, and the author did not include any indication of this fact or the gradings of the individual reports. Among the fabricated ahaadeeth he included were a number of reports that were well-known to have been fabricated by the Shi’a.
Many later scholars have censured al-Tha’labi for his lack of attention to the authenticity of the ahaadeeth he included in his work, and have concluded that al-Tha’labi was not skilled in the sciences of hadeeth and largely unable to distinguish between authentic, weak, and fabricated reports.
-Stance regarding Fiqh (legal) Rulings:
al-Tha’labi delved deeply into fiqh-related matters in his tafsir, and would enter into discussions of the various positions on a matter, differences of opinion, the various evidences employed, ancillary topics and even tangential side topics. This penchant for engaging in tangential discussions far afield from the ayaat at hand was not exclusive to fiqh discussions and occurred throughout his tafsir.
-Stance regarding Israa’eeliyyaat (Judaeo-Christian traditions):
One of the unique features of al-Tha’labi’s tafsir is his great interest in Israa’eeliyyaat narrations and fables. He included a great number of these stories throughout his tafsir, without any follow-up commentary regarding their validity or contents. This is especially striking because he includes a number of stories whose contents reach new heights of strangeness.
-Stance regarding poetry, linguistic analysis, grammar, etc.:
al-Tha’labi devoted extensive attention and space to linguistic discussions in his tafsir. He gave particular attention to explaining vocabulary, including root meanings, morphology, derivations, etc. He would draw on Arabic poetry in the midst of his linguistic explanations.
-Those who drew heavily from this tafsir:
al-Baghawi made his tafsir an abridgement of al-Tha’labi’s, however he purged his work of the fabricated and weak ahaadeeth and the innovated beliefs found in al-Tha’labi’s tafsir.
التفسير والمفسرين لمحمد حسين الدهبي
التيسير لمعرفة المشهور من أسانيد وكتب التفسير لعلي بن أحمد الرازحي
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