Ibn Abi Hatim

 — Ibn Abi Hatim —

-Name of the Mufassir:

He is Abu Muhammad, ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Abi Hatim Muhammad ibn Idris al-Tamimi al-Hanthala al-Razi. He was born in the year 240 or 241AH/854CE in Persia. From an early age, he learned the religion from two of the greatest scholars of his time, Abu Zur’ah and his father Abu Hatim. He traveled extensively, including to the Hijaz, Iraq, al-Sham and Egypt, seeking the highest chains of narration from the most reliable teachers. Like his father, he was a great scholar of hadith, in addition to his skills in fiqh and tafsir. He wrote a number of books which became indispensable works in the hadith sciences and other fields. He died in the year 327AH/938CE.

-Name of the Book:

The work is most commonly referred to as Tafsir Ibn Abi Hatim, but its full name is Tafsir al-Qur’an al-‘Atheem Musnadan ‘an Rasool Allaah ﷺ wa’l-Sahabahu wa’l-Tabi’een [تفسير القرآن العظيم مسنداً عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم والصحابة والتابعين]

-General Description of the Book:

The tafsir of Ibn Abi Hatim is considered to be one of the best examples of narration-based tafsir, and it has served as a major source for such subsequent works to draw on. Although the work has not reached us in its complete original form, significant sections of it are still available and in print, reconstructed from partial manuscripts as well as from what later mufassiroon transmitted from ibn Abi Hatim’s original. The current printed versions include the author’s introduction and complete explanation of surah al-Fatihah [01] through the end of surah al-Ra’d [13] and from surah al-Mu’minoon [23] until the end of surah al-‘Ankaboot [29], with portions of other surahs compiled from quotations in later works.

Ibn Abi Hatim outlined his general approach to this book in his introduction. His aim was to compile the most authentic explanations of the Qur’an from the Sunnah and from the statements of the Sahabah, Tabi’oon, the following generation and the following generation, and to do this for every ayah, phrase and word of the Qur’an for which he found a transmitted explanation. If an explanation from the Prophet himself was found, then ibn Abi Hatim would suffice with that rather than bringing other similar explanations from the Sahabah or those after them. In the event that an explanation from the Prophet was not present, if there were multiple similar statements from the Sahabah then he would mention the highest and most sound narration with its full chain and then simply list the other Sahabah who had also given that explanation. If however there were differing explanations from the Sahabah, he would select representative samples of the differing statements along with their chains of narration and then list others who has also voiced similar explanations. If no statements from the Sahabah could be found, then he would take a similar approach with the statements of the Tabi’oon, and so on with each successive level. All of these factors contribute to the clear organizational structure of the work.

This tafsir consists almost entirely of narrations with only the scarcest of further commentary in cases of need, such as occasional notes regarding the chains of narration or mentioning a point of consensus or similar remarks. It also has preserved some narrations from earlier books which have been lost to history, such as the tafsirs of Sa’eed ibn Jubayr, Muqatil ibn Hayyan and others.

‘Aqeedah:

Ibn Abi Hatim adhered to the ‘aqeedah of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jama’ah. An outline of his ‘aqeedah for instance can be found in the book ‘Aqeedah al-Raziyyeen in which he transmitted the creed of two great scholars of the Sunnah, Abu Zur’ah al-Razi and his father Abu Hatim al-Razi.

-Stance regarding isnaads (chains of narration):

Ibn Abi Hatim would select what he held to be the highest and most sound chain of narration for a particular explanation and provide it in full, and then simply list the names of others who also voiced the same explanation through lower or weaker routes without mentioning their chains. One of the distinguishing features of this book is the highness of its chains of narrations, meaning that there are relatively few transmitters in the chain between its origin and ibn Abi Hatim. It should be noted though that this book does still contain some weak chains, as it was not the goal of the author to limit himself only to authentic narrations but rather to identify and provide the most authentic narrations that were available on an issue. However the work is distinguished for the overall strength of its contents.

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

Ibn Abi Hatim included many Israa’eeliyyaat narrations within his tafsir, even in some cases including some whose meanings are clearly in opposition to the authentic texts of the religion.

-Those who drew heavily from this tafsir:

Both al-Suyooti in al-Durr al-Manthoor and ibn Kathir in his tafsir drew heavily from the narrations in ibn Abi Hatim’s tafsir, among others.

Bibliography:

التفسير والمفسرون لمحمد حسين الدهبي

مقدمة المألف لتفسير ابن ابي حاتم

مقدمة المحقق أسعد محمد الطيب لتفسير ابن ابي حاتم

الإمام ابن أبي حاتم وتفسيره لحسين عكاشة

 التعريف ببعض كتب أئمة الإسلام [انظر هنا]


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