Responding to Some Current Misconceptions in Tafsir: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool penned the following short clarification to certain current misconceptions regarding some technical aspects in the field of Tafsir:

خلفيات علمية
Some Background Knowledge

ينتقد بعض الناس مصطلح (التفسير بالمأثور) ، ويورد عليه بأنه حادث، لم يأت في كلام السابقين، وإنما جاء في كلام الدكتور محمد حسين الذهبي في كتابه التفسير والمفسرون. ـ
وبأن تفسير القرآن بالقرآن اجتهادي، إذ المفسر هو الذي يتدخل فيه بحمل الآية على الآية. ـ
وتفسير الصحابي باجتهاد منهم! وكذا تفسير التابعين. ـ
و لا يصح أن يحكم بصحة شيء من التفسير واعتماده إلا التفسير النبوي. ـ

There are some people who criticize the use of the term “al-Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor” – “Narration-based Exegesis” -, and they take it to be something new which was not present in the speech of the previous scholars; rather, it only came into use with the speech of Dr. Muhammad Husain al-Dhahabi in his book “al-Tafsir w’al-Mufassiroon“.

And they also say that tafsir of the Qur’an by the Qur’an is something which is a matter of individual scholarly efforts, thereby making it the mufassir who enters into this enterprise by interpreting this ayah in light of that ayah.

And they say that the tafsir of the Sahabah was of their own individual scholarly efforts! And likewise with the tafsir of the Taabi’oon.

And that it is not correct to rely on or consider any explanation of the Qur’an to be accurate except for the tafsir of the Prophet himself.

أقول: هذا الكلام يقرره بعض الأخوة ، وفيه عندي نظر من جهات متعددة؛ ـ

I say: These ideas have been accepted as fact by some brothers, and here is my opinion regarding these ideas from a number of different angles. Continue reading

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The Difference Between Usool al-Tafsir and ‘Uloom al-Qur’an: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, and answered the following question regarding the difference between Usool al-Tafsir (the principles of Qur’anic explanation) and ‘Uloom al-Qur’an (the fields of Qur’anic study):

سؤال : كيف نفرق بين أصول التفسير وعلوم القرآن؟ أو بتعبير آخر كيف أعرف أن هذا المبحث يندرج ضمن علوم القرآن أم أصول التفسير، وهل التفريق بين علوم القران وأصول التفسير عرف عند الأولين أم المتأخرين؟ ـ

Question: How do we distinguish between Usool al-Tafsir and ‘Uloom al-Qur’an, or whatever other terminology may be used? How can be know whether a study falls under the field of ‘Uloom al-Qur’an or Usool al-Tafsir? And was this distinction between ‘Uloom al-Qur’an and Usool al-Tafsir known to the earlier generations of scholars, or only to the later generations?

الجواب : (أصول التفسير ) اسم من أسماء علوم القرآن عند بعضهم توسعاً. والحقيقة أن أصول التفسير من علوم القرآن ، إذ هي قواعد التفسير ، ومنها جملة مندرجة في النوع الموسوم بقواعد يحتاج إليها المفسر. ونوع حروف وكلمات يحتاج إلى معرفتها. هذا غير قواعد تفسير تؤخذ من أنواع أخرى من أنواع علوم القرآن. ـ

Response: Usool al-Tafsir is one of several names that some people use to refer to ‘Uloom al-Qur’an generally. But in fact, Usool al-Tafsir is just a part of ‘Uloom al-Qur’an, in which case it refers to the principles of Tafsir. In ‘Uloom al-Qur’an, there are a number of topics which fall under the category of principles which the mufassir needs to know. Then, there is another category involving the particles and words which he must be familiar with which are not the principles of tafsir and are instead taken from other areas within the larger field of ‘Uloom al-Qur’an. Continue reading

On Modern Readings of the Qur’an and Sunnah: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote the following series of posts on his social media page under the title “In Defense of Hadith” [الدفاع عن الحديث]:

Part 1

الشبه التي يقذفها الطاعنون في الحديث، أصبحت مجرد دعاوى، قد استبان كذبها، وكثرت الردود عليها؛ أقصد مثل شبهة : أن السنة لم تدون في زمن الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم. وشبهة أن الأحاديث متعارضة ومخالفة للواقع العلمي. والطعن في بعض الصحابة ورواة الحديث. هذه الشبه والحمد لله انتهت، فالردود عليها كثيرة. ـ

A number of doubts which those who disparage the hadeeth have devolved into baseless allegations, with their falsity having been made clear and many numerous refutations having been produced. I am referring to doubts such as that the sunnah was not collected during the time of the Messenger. Or the doubt that there are ahaadith which contradict and go against scientific knowledge. Or their disparagement of some of the Sahabah or the narrators of hadith. But these doubts have been put to rest – alhamdulillaah – for there are many refutations against them.

وقد اتجه اليوم الذين يريدون إبطال السنة إلى اتجاه آخر، عُرف بالقراءة العصرية الجديدة للسنة . فاتجهوا إلى : = الهرمونطوقيا. = الأنسنية أو الألسنية. = التفكيكية . = المقاصدية . ـ

But those who aim to invalidate the Sunnah today take a different approach, an approach known as “new modern readings of the Sunnah“. These people have turned to

  • Hermeneutical readings
  • Humanist or Linguistic readings
  • Deconstruction
  • Recourse to the Maqaasid

فاتجهوا إلى هذه الأساليب في قراءة نصوص الشرع، يحققوا هدفهم. فماذا هو الهدف من القراءة العصرية الجديدة للنصوص؟ ـ

So the have turned to these methods of approaching the texts of the Sharee’ah [i.e. the Qur’an and the Sunnah], thereby achieving their goals. But what is the goal of these new modern readings of the texts?

Part 2 Continue reading

Central Themes of Surah al-Baqarah: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

In a discussion on the connections between different sections of individual surahs, Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool provided an example in this quick outline of the contents of surah al-Baqarah:

مثال آخر: الآيات من آية رقم ( ١)، إلى الآية رقم ( ٢٠ ) من سورة البقرة تعتبر المقدمة بالنسبة لمحتوى السورة، حيث وصف القرآن بما هو أهله، ووصف متبعيه ومخالفيه كلا بما يستحقه. ـ

Another example of the relationships between different groups of ayaat to one another within a surah comes in surah al-Baqarah[1].

Ayaat 1-20 can be considered as an introduction to the contents of this surah as it describes the Qur’an in the way that it deserves and characterizes the followers and violators of the Qur’an in ways appropriate for each of them.

ثم يأت المقصد الأول من آية رقم ( ٢١-٢٥ ) في دعوة الناس كافة إلى الإسلام. ـ

Then we come to the first section, from ayah 21-25, which is inviting all of mankind to Islam.

ثم يأت المقصد الثاني من آية رقم (٤٠ -١٦٢ ) في دعوة أهل الكتاب، دعوة خاصة إلى ترك باطلهم والدخول في هذا الدين الحق. ـ

Then we come to the second section, from ayah 40-162, which is inviting the Ahl al-Kitab. More specifically, it is inviting them to abandon their false beliefs and enter into this religion of truth. Continue reading

How to Contemplate the Qur’an: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote the following on his social media:

كيف تتدبر القرآن ؟ ـ
How to Contemplate the Qur’an

ـ ∆ إذا قرأت آية فاعرف معناها … ثم تساءل ماذا يريد الله أن يعلمك بهذه الآية ! ـ

Whenever you read an ayah, first become acquainted with its meaning, and then ask yourself: What is it that Allah wants to teach me with this ayah?

ـ ∆ إذا قرأت آية فيها قصة تفكر في العبرة من هذه القصة وما المقصود منها ! ـ

Whenever you read an ayah that contains a story, contemplate what the lesson from this story is and what is its purpose.

ـ ∆ إذا قرأت الآية فانظر إلى ألفاظها … واسأل نفسك : لماذا جاءت الآية بهذا اللفظ بدلا من غيره … لماذا جاء التعبير بهذا التركيب دون غيره …. وتمسك بيدك مطالع العلوم … ـ

Whenever you read an ayah, look at its wording and ask yourself: why does this ayah use this wording instead of something else? Why is this expression used here, with this word order, rather than something else? So grab hold of the rungs of the ladder to knowledge. Continue reading

How and Why the Sahabah used Israa’eeliyyaat Narrations: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

In his book devoted to the subject of Narration-based tafsir (al-Tafsir bi’l-Mathoor), sheikh Muhammad Bazmool included the following question and answer in response to an issue that has confused some people:

الاشكال الرابع : كثرة الروايات الاسرائيلية عن الصحابة ، ألا تمنع من اعتماد التفسير بالمأثور والرجوع إليه ؟

The Fourth Concern: There are many Israa’eeliyaat [Judaeo-Christian] stories transmitted from the Sahabah? Shouldn’t this stop up from relying of Narration-based Tafsir and making it our reference point?

والجواب : لا يصح عن الصحابة الكثير من الروايات الاسرائيلئة ، وما صح عنهم من ذلك لا يمنع اعتماد التفسير بالمأثور ؛ لأنهم إنما كانوا يوردونها تعجبا واستشهادا ، لا أصلا واعتمادا . ـ

The Response: There are actually not a large number of Israa’eeliyaat stories authentically transmitted from the Sahabah, but the material of this sort which has been authentically traced back to them does not stop us from relying on Narration-based tafsir. That is because they only relayed these stories out of amazement or as secondary supporting evidence, not as the basis for their understanding or the foundation of the explanations.

والموقوف الشرعي من الاسرائيليات بحسب نوعها . ـ

And the proper legislated approach towards Israa’eeliyaat narrations differs according to what kind of Israa’eeliyaat narrations they are.

فما خالف ما جاءنا في القرآن العظيم والسنة النبوية نوده . ـ

○ Whatever goes against what has come to us in the Qur’an or the Prophetic Sunnah or contradicts it, then we reject it. Continue reading

The Principles of al-Salafiyyah in Surah al-Fatihah: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura’ University in Mecca, wrote:

الصراط المستقيم له أركان دلت عليها سورة الفاتحة ؛ بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ (1) الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (2) الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ (3) مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ (4) إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ (5) اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ (6) صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ (7) ـ

There are certain pillars of the Straight Path (al-Siraat al-Mustaqeem) which are indicated in surah al-Fatihah:

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ (1) الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (2) الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ (3) مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ (4) إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ (5) اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ (6) صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ (7)

In the name of Allah, al-Rahman, al-Raheem * All praise is due to the Lord of all creation * al-Rahman, al-Raheem * The Owner of the Day of Recompense * You alone do we worship, and You alone do we ask for help * Guide us to the Straight Path * The path of those upon whom You have bestowed Your favor, not those who have warranted wrath, nor the misguided ones.

فقوله تعالى: (إياك نعبد وإياك نستعين) دل على الإخلاص لله سبحانه وتعالى. ـ

Allah’s statement:

إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ

You alone do we worship, and You alone do we ask for help

indicates sincerity (ikhlaas) towards Allah.

وقوله تعالى: (صراط الذين أنعمت عليهم) دل على المتابعة لما جاءت به الرسل. ـ

And His statement:

صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ

The path of those upon whom You have bestowed Your favor

indicates following what the Messengers came with. Continue reading

If They Incline Towards Peace, then Incline Towards it: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In surah al-Anfaal, Allah provides the following instructions to the Believers regarding their interactions with the disbelievers:

وَإِن جَنَحُوا لِلسَّلْمِ فَاجْنَحْ لَهَا وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّـهِ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ

But if they incline to peace, then incline to it as well. And place your trust in Allah. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower. [8:61]

Commenting on this in his famous books of tafsir, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir wrote:

يقول تعالى : إذا خفت من قوم خيانة فانبذ إليهم عهدهم على سواء ، فإن استمروا على حربك ومنابذتك فقاتلهم ، ( وإن جنحوا ) أي : مالوا ( للسلم ) أي المسالمة والمصالحة والمهادنة ، ( فاجنح لها ) أي : فمل إليها ، واقبل منهم ذلك ؛ ولهذا لما طلب المشركون عام الحديبية الصلح ووضع الحرب بينهم وبين رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – تسع سنين ؛ أجابهم إلى ذلك مع ما اشترطوا من الشروط الأخر . ـ

Allah is saying: If you fear betrayal from a certain people, then break the peace treaty with them, so that you are both on equal terms [c.f. 8:58]. If they continue being hostile and opposing you, then fight then [c.f. 8:60].

وَإِن جَنَحُوا

but if they incline …

meaning: lean towards

لِلسَّلْمِ

towards peace

meaning: towards ceasing hostilities, forming a treaty, and making peace

فَاجْنَحْ لَهَا

then incline to it as well

meaning: lean towards it and accept that from them. It was in line with this that when the Mushrikoon sought a peace treaty and to pause hostilities between them and Allah’s Messenger for a period of nine years during the Year of al-Hudaybiyyah, the Prophet accepted that while also stipulating a few other conditions. Continue reading

“We showed him the way, either he will be grateful or ungrateful”: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote the following words regarding an ayah from the beginning of surah al-Insaan:

 قول الله تبارك وتعالى: ﴿إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِراً وَإِمَّا كَفُوراً﴾ (الإنسان:3). في هذه الآية الكريمة يعلمنا الله جل وعلا أنه هدى الإنسان إلى طريق الشكر وإلى طريق الكفر، فأرسل رسله صلوات الله عليهم وسلامه، يعلمون الناس السبيل، ويدعونهم إلى الصراط المستقيم، ويحذرونهم طريق الكفر والضلال طريق أصحاب الجحيم . وفي الآية وقفات : ـ

There is Allah’s statement:

إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِراً وَإِمَّا كَفُوراً

We showed him the way, either he will be grateful or ungrateful [76:3]

In this noble ayah, Allah is teaching us that He has guided mankind to the path of shukr (gratitude) and the path or kufr (ingratitude/disbelief), for He sent His messengers (may Allah’s peace and salutations be upon them) who taught mankind the way, called them to the Straight Path, and warned them against the path of kufr, misguidance and the way of the people of the Hell-fire.

And this ayah contains a number of points:

الأولى : الهداية المقصودة هنا هي هداية الدلالة والإرشاد ؛ وذلك ما جعله الله تعالى في بعثة الرسل الكرام عليهم الصلاة والسلام، يعلمون الخلق ويرشدونهم إلى طريق الحق: الصراط المستقيم. ومن هذه الدلالة ما أنعم به سبحانه على الإنسان من نعمة العقل، والفطرة التي جبله عليها ليقبل الخير والحسن. وليس المراد بالهداية في الآية هنا هداية التوفيق لقبول الحق، أو هداية التوفيق للعمل، أو الثبات على الحق، أو هداية السبيل لدخول الجنة. ـ

First: What is intended by “guidance” here is the guidance of directing and showing, and that is what Allah did in sending the Messengers. They taught the people and directed them to the path of the truth – the Straight Path. And another aspect of this type of direction is that He blessed man with the gift of intellect and the innate disposition towards the truth and goodness (the fitrah) which He instilled in him. So the intended meaning of “guidance” here in this ayah is not the guidance of granting one success in accepting the truth or granting success in acting according to the truth or being steadfast upon the truth, nor is it referring to the guiding one to path of entering al-Jannah. Continue reading

The Best Methods of Explaining the Qur’an: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote the following in a series of social media posts dealing with the fundamentals of al-tafsir:

افضل طرق التفسير ؛ ـ
The Best Methods of Explaining the Qur’an

ـ = تفسير القرآن بالقرآن وقد علمنا الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم هذه الطريقة كما مر في حديث استشكال الصحابة لقوله تعالى : (الذين ٱمنوا ولم يلبسوا إيمانهم بظلم) . فما أجمل في مكان فصل في آخر . ـ

Explaining the Qur’an by means of the Qur’an itself. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) taught us this method, as comes in the hadeeth where the Companions were confused by Allah’s statement:

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَمْ يَلْبِسُوا إِيمَانَهُم بِظُلْمٍ

They who believe and do not mix their belief with thulm [6:82]

For whatever is left general in one place is explained in further detail in another.

ـ = تفسير القرآن بالسنة . فإن من وظيفة الرسول بيان معاني ما نزل إليه. وما مات الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم إلا وبين جميع ما نزل بطريق البيان النبوي وقد سبقت الإشارة إليها. ـ

Explaining the Qur’an by means of the Sunnah. One of the tasks of the Messenger was to explain the meanings of what was revealed to him, and the Messenger did not die until after he had explained all of what had been revealed to him through some method of Prophetic explanation which we have discussed elsewhere. Continue reading