Ibn al-Jawzi

 — Ibn al-Jawzi —

-Name of the Mufassir:

He is Abu’l-Faraj, ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn al-Jawzi. He held expertise in a number of different fields, including tafsirhadeeth, fiqh, and history. He was also a very prolific writer, authoring more than 300 works during his life. Part of his enduring popularity derives from his great skill in penning moving admonitions and heart-softeners. He died in the year 597Ah/1201CE, in his hometown of Baghdad.

-Name of the Book:

Zaad al-Maseer fee ‘Ilm al-Tafseer [زاد المسير في علم التفسير]

-General Description of the Book:

Zaad al-Maseer is a distinguished book of narration-based tafsir, in which the author drew on reliable sources and organized the statements in a very convenient way for the student of knowledge. In the introduction to his book, ibn al-Jawzi expressed dissatisfaction with some of the existing works of tafsir during his time, which he described as hardly fulfilling the objective of clarifying the meanings of Allah’s speech or focusing on the essential components of tafsir, instead devoting much space to extraneous and tangential topics. Thus, the author undertook this work to provide a more focused tafsir for readers.

Ibn al-Jawzi condensed Zaad al-Maseer from a much more extensive work of tafsir which he had previously authored entitled al-Mughni. The author drew upon his many areas of expertise to produce this valuable work.

‘Aqeedah:

In general, ibn al-Jawzi presented contradictory positions regarding ‘aqeedah, sometimes affirming Allah’s attributes according to their apparent meanings as they came in the texts while at other times making ta’weel (interpretations which run contrary to the apparent meaning) of them. In this tafsir, he more frequently leaned towards ta’weel of Allah’s names and attributes or remaining silent regarding their meanings altogether.

-Stance regarding isnaads (chains of narration):

Ibn al-Jawzi would collect the various statements of the salaf regarding an ayah without mentioning the chains of narrations. His work does an excellent job of condensing and organizing the various narrated statements. Rather than listing a number of different narrations which all conveyed the same meaning in slightly different wordings, ibn al-Jawzi would summarize the different positions which they contained. So, he might say, “regarding the explanation of this ayah, there are three different opinions” and then he would present each position in turn and identify which scholars had statements to that effect. This style of presentation makes Zaad al-Maseer a very useful aid for navigating and sifting through the different positions found in narration-based tafsir.

That being said, ibn al-Jawzi intentionally limited himself to merely collecting and conveying the various opinions, without weighing their relative strengths or weaknesses or selecting a preferred position, and thus this aspect of the work is best used as a supplement to other works.

-Stance regarding Fiqh (legal) Rulings:

He would mention the different positions of the scholars regarding the ayaat containing fiqh rulings without going into detail. Only rarely would he weigh the merits of the different stances or indicate a preference for one over another. Rather, he mostly limited himself to collecting and presenting the different stances.

Also, as a scholar of the Hanbali school of jurisprudence, ibn al-Jawzi did pay attention to explaining the rulings of the Hanbali school. This is a useful contribution, as the Hanbali school does not have a well-known book of tafsir which focused on fiqh issues from its perspective, unlike the other three schools of jurisprudence.

-Stance regarding Qiraa’aat (different recitations):

Ibn al-Jawzi was very attentive to this area throughout his tafsir and mentioned both the well-attested and odd recitations.

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

He included mention of the Israa’eeliyyaat narrations of al-Suddi and others in his book.

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

Ibn al-Jawzi devoted much attention to linguistic discussions in his book and drew heavily on a number of previous works in this vein. He also regularly employed Arabic poetry to illustrate the meanings of words.

Bibliography:

القول المختصر المبين في مناهج المفسرين لمحمد بن حمد الحمود النجدي

شرح مقمدة في أصول التفسير لمحمد بازمول

التيسير لمعرفة المشهور من أسانيد وكتب التفسير  لعلي بن أحمد الرازحي


Back to Mufassir Profiles Index

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

Advertisements