Makki ibn Abi Taalib

 — Makki ibn Abi Taalib —

-Name of the Mufassir:

He is Abu Muhammad, Makki ibn Abi Taalib Hummush ibn Muhammad ibn Mukhtar, al-Qaysi. He was an expert scholar of the Qur’anic sciences and Arabic language, as well as a a leading expert teacher of the qiraa’aat. He was born in 355AH/966CE al-Qayrawan, a center of learning in North Africa, where he began his studies. In 368AH/979CE at the age of thirteen, he embarked on his first trip for seeking knowledge when he traveled to Egypt. He spent the next 25 years of his life between Egypt, Qayrawan and the Hijaz taking and perfecting the qiraa’aat from some of the most renowned teachers of the time. In 393 AH he made his way to al-Andalus (Islamic Spain) and remained there for the rest of his life. He settled in Cordoba, where he taught Qur’an and acted as the Imam and Khateeb for the main masjid of the city for a number of years. He was known to be a righteous and humble man. He left a legacy of a large number of students who became leading reciters and authored 89 books both on the Qur’anic sciences and other subjects. He died in the year 437AH/1046CE at the age of 82.

-Name of the Book:

al-Hidayah ilaa Buloogh al-Nihayah [الهداية إلى بلوغ النهاية]

-General Description of the Book:

The author describes his tafsir in its introduction by writing:

I have compiled this work from the knowledge of Allah’s Book which has reached me and I have worked to make it abridged, clear, composed of choice material and concise. I studied what has reached me of the most well-known explanations of the Sahabah, Tabi’oon and those after them while avoiding odd reports to the best of my ability and drawing on what I could recall at the time of writing. I have mentioned transmitted narrations, including what I have been able to accumulate from the hadith of the Prophet, which have been transmitted directly to me as well as what I found to be authentic in what others have relayed, all the while leaving out the chains of narrations in order to facilitate the memorization of this work for whoever would like to do so. …

Initially, I set out to discuss the minute intricacies and fine points of grammar and case endings, but then I lightened this focus so as not to stretch out this work and also because I have already written another concise book devoted to explaining case ending issues. Furthermore, my goal for this book was simply to explain what is recited, to clarify its stories and contents, to disclose its difficult-to-grasp meanings and mention the differences of opinions regarding them, to make clear the abrogated and abrogating verses and explain and list the reasons for revelation if I have been able to find something regarding these topics in what has been narrated directly to me or what has been relayed to others which I found to be authentic. I provide my own glosses of difficult passages based on the explanations of earlier scholars in order to help the reader better understand the meaning, and when the meanings are not difficult I may just mention the original wordings themselves. …

Throughout his tafsir, Makki drew most heavily on 1) the tafsir of his own teacher al-Idfawi and 2) the tafsir of ibn Jarir al-Tabari, especially for his narrations and commentary. He typically selected what he held to be stronger narrations and would omit the chains of narrations. Other important sources included the works of great linguists and scholars such as al-Nuhhaas, al-Zujaaj, al-Firaa’ and others. His work also pays great attention to the qiraa’aat and their meanings.

‘Aqeedah:

It is clear from his tafsir that his ‘aqeedah was salafi. This is based on his affirmations of Allah’s beautiful names and attributes without any denial or distortion in the ayaat al-sifaat and his call to hold fast to the creed of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah. 

-Stance regarding isnaads (chains of narration):

Makki’s primary source for narrated statements, whether from the Prophet, the Sahabah, or later scholars, was Tafsir al-Tabari, but rather than including the full chains that al-Tabari had mentioned, Makki would suffice with simply attributing the statements to their speakers without any chain. Despite his efforts to primarily stick to sound and reliable narrations, his tafsir does include some weak and fabricated reports.

-Stance regarding Fiqh (legal) Rulings:

Makki was schooled in the Maliki madhhab, however he was not guilty of fanatical attachment to it. He generally did not engage in lengthy discussions of legal matters, sufficing to mention the different positions on a matter without additional comments. He would mention legal opinions from the Sahabah, the salaf and leading scholars, and he would occasionally add some additional comments and weigh the merits of those positions based on evidences.

-Stance regarding Qiraa’aat (different recitations):

As one of the leading experts on the qiraa’aat, Makki gave special attention to the qiraa’aat in his tafsir. This attention included not only mentioning the different qiraa’aat, but also the meanings that follow from those variations, the grammatical differences, and the rules of where one can pause and begin within an ayah.

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

Makki did include some Israa’eeliyyaat stories regarding the earlier prophets and previous nations. While many of these fall under the acceptable form of Israa’eeliyyaat narrations, some are clearly in contrast to the correct belief.

-Stance regarding the Qur’anic Sciences:

At the beginning of each surah, the author would mention whether a surah was Makki or Madani, and in cases where there was differing he would discuss the matter and support one side. He would also sometimes mention the virtues of a surah and the reasons for revelation. In cases where there were multiple reasons for revelation, he would list them and then explain which was strongest in his opinion. Likewise, he also paid attention to the abrogating and abrogated verses, to the extent that he would address reports which claimed that certain ayaat had been abrogated when in fact they had not.

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

Makki was a scholar of linguistics and thus featured discussions of linguistics, grammar and linguistic eloquence heavily throughout his book. The analysis of word roots and linguistic derivation received special attention. He drew from some of the most important books of grammar and linguistics of his time, such as al-Nuhhaas, al-Zujaaj, al-Firaa’ and others. He generally championed the clear and apparent meanings recognized by the scholars while eschewing odd positions and interpretations. Despite his expansive knowledge of these subjects, he had made it his goal to be fairly brief in this tafsir, and thus would sometimes refer readers to one of his relevant other books for more extended discussions of a topic.

-Those who were influenced by this tafsir:

The tafsir of Makki was influential on later mufassiroon of al-Andalus (Islamic Spain) such as ibn ‘Atiyyah and al-Qurtubi.

Bibliography:

مقدمة للهداية إلى بلوغ النهاية لمصطفى مسلم

مقدمة للهداية إلى بلوغ النهاية لمكي بن أبي طالب

مقدمة لالابانة عن معاني القراءات لعبد الفتاح إسماعيل شلبي


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Read excerpts from some of the other works of Makki ibn Abi Taalib here

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