An Introduction to the Science of the Qur’an
(How to Study and Understand the Quran)
Dr. Hasanuddin Ahmed, I.A.S.
CHAPTER - 9
ILMU TAFSIRIL QUR’AN
SCIENCE OF INTERPRETING THE TEXT OF THE QUR'AN
The branch of Ulum al Qur'an concerned with the `tafsir' (exegesis) of the Qur'an is the most important and supreme science. Since the Qur'anic messages are guidance for mankind and are available to all who seek guidance, it is but necessary to understand them. The science which helps in this understanding is therefore, of prime importance. Ilm al tafsir is certainly the main science surrounded by all the other `Ulum al‑Qur'an. The ultimate purpose of each science is to understand the message of the Qur'an whereas the science of tafsir is directly concerned with the main purpose.
Abu Hayyan Andulasi (d. 445/1053) in his book Bahrul Muheet has defined the science of `tafsir' in the following words:
“Tafsir is a science which discusses the pronunciation of the Qur'anic words, their meanings, provisions and the connotations, laid therein.
According to the definition provided by the renowned Qur'anic scholar, Badruddin Zarkashi (d. 792/392) the word `tafsir' is derived from the root `fassara' meaning to bare open, or expose.
He has offered a short definition of the science of `tafsir' as follows:
“It is a science through which is known the understanding the Book of Allah revealed on His Prophet and the elucidation of its meaning and extraction of its injunctions and wisdom.”
Minhaj‑al Qur'an has defined `tafsir' as follows
"Tafsir is a science which discusses to the extent of human capability, the divine intention expressed through the words of the Qur'an.”
The eminent Qur'anic scholar Jalaluddin Suyuti (d. 911/1505) in Al‑itqan fi ulumil Qur'an has defined `tafsir' as follows:
“Tafsir is a science which discusses revelation of the Qur'anic ayaat, their backgrounds, ayaat revealed in Makkah and Medina, ayaat precise and identical, revocatory and revoked, general and particular, conditional unconditional, concise and elaborate, related to valid and invalid, annunciation and denunciation, order and prohibition, and the lessons and examples.”
Mustafa bin Abdullah known as Haji Khalifah (1018/1609 ‑ 1067/1657) in his renowned book Kashfuz Zunoon has defined tafsir as follows:
"Tafsir is a science in which the meanings of the Qur'an are determined in the light of Arabic grammar to the extent of human capability."
In short, `tafsir' is a science with the help of which the messages revealed on the Prophet are understood, to the extent of human ability. It helps in the endeavours to elucidate the meanings, injunctions and topics of the Qur'an and to reach the divine intention.
The Science of Tafsir basically depends upon the literature of Arabic language. Theology and fundamentals of Jurisprudence etc. The objective of Tafsir is to identify the meaning of the Holy Qur'an through the Tafsir, and the benefit of Tafsir is to accuratise the injunctions of the Qur'an.
In fact the science of tafsir encompasses all the sciences which lead to the understanding of the divine intention contained in the Qur'an. There is complete harmony between the ayaat of the Qur'an, and the ayaat (signs) scattered throughout the universe. For the better understanding of the ayaat of the Qur'an, it is not only necessary but inevitable to have scientific knowledge of the signs in the universe.
All such sciences which help to understand the divine signs can be included in the science of `tafsir' which is not narrow but very wide including linguistics, physics and many more.
The word ` tafsir' is used only once in the Qur’an:
" And no question do the bring to you but we reveal to you the truth and the best explanation (thereof)". (Qur’an 25:33)
Here the word tafsir is used for explanation.
The derived meanings of `tafsir' are `explanation' elucidation or clarification. The renowned grammarian Abu Hayyan Andulasi (d. 445/1053) says in Al-Bahr al muheet. “To bare open the back of the animal used for riding by removing the saddle is called tafsir”. In the act of making bare the sense of elucidation is present. As a term tafsir means explanation and commentary of the Qur'an. Tafsir comprises various strategies and methods adopted to obtain knowledge which contributes to the proper understanding and acquiring knowledge of the Qur'an. The science of tafsir aims at knowledge and understanding concerning the Qur'an, to explain its meanings, extract its legal ruling and grasp its underlying reasons. Tafsir explains the apparent meaning of the Qur'an.
The science of tafsir provides well founded guidelines in the face to which one should not say anything about the Qur'an without having the proper knowledge.
Difference between Tafsir and Tawil
The word tawil is also used in connection with the understanding of the Qur'an, and therefore, it also deserves attention. The word tawil is derived from the root awwala meaning to revert, to return or to retrieve. The derived meaning of tawil is to revert to the one out of several possible meanings. In other words if there is a possiblity of infering several meanings of a passage, tawil is to retrieve one out of those meanings. Tawil is, thus to get back the words or combination of words to their factuality so as to have full comprehension of their meaning.
When applied to the understanding of the Qur'an, tawil is to derive such a meaning of a passage of the Qur'an for which justification is possible. The meaning should be in full agreement with the text and not contrary to the basic teachings of Islam. In other words tawil is to prefer one of the many possible interpretations. Preference is based on ijtehad (research).
According to some scholars tawil is the explanation of the inner meanings (batin) of the Qur'an.
According to the renowned Qur'anic scholar Zamakhshari (d. 539/1144) tawil is derived from the root ayala meaning to take care of or to guard. Tawil thus means to place the words at their proper place and to determine their meaning.
It may be noted that `tawil' is not used as a term.
When the Prophet passed away the source of revelation came to an end and one could not ask the Prophet or any one else for an authoritative solution to new problems and one could not hope for more revelation to come. The believers approached the Qur'an itself for clarification.
Interpretation of the Qur'an by the Qur'an
The need for an explanation of the ayaat of the Qur'anic text arose quite early. After the Prophet when his living guidance was not available, it became imperative to resort to distilling every thing out of the text and consequently resort to an extensive interpretation of them. This branch of tafsir is based on the principle of explaining the meaning of one portion of the Qur'an by the other portions. Many of the questions which arise out of a certain passage have their explanation in other parts of the Qur'an. The interpretation of the Qur'anic ayaat by the Qur'an can be considered as the highest and most reliable source of tafsir.
It is the foremost duty of a Mufassir to seek an explanation of an ayah from the Qur'an by referring to another ayah or ayaat of the Qur'an. If still there is any need of further clarification the Mufassir can refer to other sources.
Muhammad Aslam Jairajpuri says:
"The very first principle for explaining the Qur'an intelligibly is that the elucidation is done with the Qur'an itself: for Allah accepts full responsibility for the interpretation: " Further, it is for Us to make it (teachings of the Qur'an) clear. "(Qur'an 75:19)”
According to some scholars if this method is properly exercised there is no need to turn to other sources.
During the lifetime of the Prophet even before the entire Qur'an was revealed believers used to ask the Prophet the meaning of certain words or their bearing on problems as they arose, or details of certain narratives. It is quite obvious that the explanation of the Qur'anic ayaat as given by the Prophet are a reliable source of `tafsir'.
Thus hadith was accepted as the second source of interpretation of the Qur'an besides the Qur'an.
Next in rank are the explanations offered by companions of the Prophet. For about 40 years after the Prophet i.e., upto50/670 historical traditions containing reports about how the companions (among whom the Qur'an was first revealed) understood it was given great importance.
There is some evidence that in early generation after the Prophet the companions were opposed to offering any interpretation of the Qur'an. This attitude gradually changed.
Commentaries which were more or less coloured by faiths of old ideas of the new converts appeared in large number.
The Qur'anic scholar Sabuni in his book Tibyan has classified tafsir into three groups:
1 Tafsir bil‑riwayah or tafsir ma'thur (traditional commentary). 2 Tafsir bil‑ray' (rational commentary) is also called tafsir bil‑dirayah (by knowledge) 3. Tafsir bil‑Ishara (by indication or signs)
1. Traditional Commentary
As in the case of all reports, according to the science of riwayah (ulum al hadith), the interpretations available through a chain of authentic transmission and traced back to a sound source are to be accepted as important and reliable source of tafsir. Traditional commentary depends entirely on the traditions attributed to the Prophet, his companions and the tabi’een. These commentaries suffer from two major draw‑backs: 1. The number of traditions concerning the Qur'anic explanations is very limited. 2. A large number of traditions attributed to the Prophet and also to Ali bin Abu Talib and ibn Abbas are on scrutiny found to be unauthentic.
In the circumstances one has to be careful in the matter of traditional tafsir and it is necessary to make a fresh attempt to reach a better understanding. The celebrated exegete ibn Jarir al Tabari (d.310/927) has included weak traditions in his tafsir which can be regarded as an encyclopedia of traditional commentary.
Tafsir of ibn 'Atiyya (d.542/1147) is one of the traditional commentaries. Jalaluddin Suyuti's Dur al manthur fit tafsir bil mathur can be considered the best representative of traditional commentaries.
Isra'iliyat (Jewish legends)
Some traditions termed as `Israiliyat' i.e., of `Jewish origin' have found their way in the collections of traditions. These are mostly based on Talmudic literature. Scholars of ilm al hadith have identified them and warned the scholars to be cautious as far as these traditions are concerned. Some exegetes have however, based their explanations on such material. Traditions of Jewish origin have been used very little by the companions but more by the tabi'een and still more by succeeding generations.
There are some traditions of Jewish origin (Isra'iliyat), which are authentic and considered to be true because the Qur'an confirmed them or because they were found to be correct as per the test prescribed by ilm al hadith. Some of them are false because the Qur'an rejected them or because they were found to be false or doughtful as per the test precribed by ilm al hadith.
There is a general repugnance against the traditional use of `Israiliyat' (Jewish legends) when expounding Qur'anic narratives. This repugnance has become more prominent in recent times.
Muhammad Abduh goes further than most of his contemporaries and claims the right to reject any tradition that does not confirm to the understanding of the Qur'an, whether a `tradition' is one of the `israiliyat' or not.
2. Rational Commentary
Some outstanding companions continued their study of the Qur'an according to their intellectual capacities. They considered that the use of reason in studying the Qur'an was essential. The approach of rational commentators was not a reaction to the rigid attitude of the traditionalists. It was a result of internal forces of growth in the Muslim society. Zamakhshari's tafsir is a purely rational commentary. Interpretations which diverged from the obvious meaning of the Qur'anic text and had arbitrary character were severely criticised. However, some scholars argued that when reason exceeds its own limitations and tries to interpret the Qur'an on its (reason's) own terms, then the Qur'an is relegated into a secondary place.
"Such interpretations which probably sometimes diverged markedly from the obvious meaning of the text and had an arbitrary character, were severely attacked as arbitrary opinion (tafsir bil‑ra'y).”1 Thus whatever views some scholars have wanted to project and advocate have at times, taken the form of Qur'anic commentaries.
This kind of tafsir is not based directly on riwayah (transmission) by the predecessors, but on the use of knowledge and reason. The process of applying knowledge and reason is termed as `ijtihad'. Tafsir bil‑ray is to be differentiated from interpretation based on mere opinion. Tafsir based on personal opinion has been condemned as there is a tradition which warns against this method. It is termed as tafsir`madhmum' (blame worthy). Tafsir bil‑ray based on authentic sources of tafsir, was approved by the Prophet. It is termed as tafsir mahmud (praiseworthy). There is a tradition in support of this method.
Although `tafsir bil‑ray' (if based on knowledge and reason and if it is in full agreement with the sources of tafsir) is considered as tafsir mahmud. The companions of the Prophet and the `tabi'een were reluctant to offer their explanations based on mere opinion.
3. Tafsir bil‑ishara
Some sufis and mystically inclined authors have attempted to interpret the Qur'an, beyond its apparent meanings. They concern themselves with meanings attached to the ayaat which are not visible to any one. They proclaim that Allah has opened their heart and bestowed signs to them by which they are guided. The attitude of the sufi commentators is that the ayaat of the Qur'an, apart from having obvious meanings, in addition have deep meanings descernible only by those who are inspired. According to them harmony between the normal understanding of the Qur'anic ayaat and their hidden meaning is possible. Sayings of the Sufis on the meaning of the Qur'anic ayaat do not constitute tafsir, Many Qur'anic scholars including Ashraf Ali Thanawi subscribe to this view. According to al Aqa'id by al Nasafi: " The ayaat of the Qur'an should be taken in their obvious meaning. To reject the obvious meaning in favour of an interpretation, as is done by the 'batiniya' is a heresay". According to Denffer. "Tafsir bil‑ishara is not a matter of science and scientific principles, which may be acquired and then used, as are the other branches of Ulum al Qur'an and of tafsir. Some scholars have therefore, rejected it from the view point of general acceptability and said it is based on mere opinion.1"
It is to be noted that the beliefs of the Sufis are reflected in their commentaries. The main (belief) being about the person of the Prophet. Strange deological discussions such as 'haqiqat a Muhammadia' and 'al Ruh al Muhammadi' were introduced. As observed by Rashid Ahmed Jullandari:
"The personality of Prophet Muhammad (S) as depicted by the Qur'an is no more than that of an inspired human being. But inlater day he appears in Sufi literature with the same attributes as Jesus in Christian literature. As far as Jili's portrayal in his book al‑Insan al Kamil is concerned, he (Muhammad) is at the centre of the Universe. Tustari's tafsir seems to have been Jili's source".2
Sahl al Tustari (d.283/896) was perhaps the first Sufi whose observations (malfudhat) concerning interpretation of the Qur'an were compiled as commentary by one of his disciples. This tafsir is very small in size. The method adopted by Tustari is different from other commentators. He chooses a few ayaat from every Surah and shows their spiritual significance.
Jili and, the great Sufi scholar ibn 'Arabi were influenced by Tustari who in turn was affected by the teaching of the Christians and the Shias.
Abed‑al Rahman al Sulami (d.412/1021) was a Sufi writer His tafsir, Haqa'iqal ‑ tafsir is not an original work. He compiled the sayings of the Sufis. For example he included the sayings of al‑Hallaj and of Jafar al Sadiq in his tafsir. According to ibn Taimiya a large number of the sayings of Ja'far al Sadiq quoted by Sulami are not authentic. This tafsir, therefore was a target of criticism by scholars who alleged that al Sulami fabricated traditions.
Abu Hamid Ghazali emphasized the role of reason in the understanding of the Qur'an. Later, however, when sufi commentary was severely criticized by the Qur’anic scholars, Ghazali came to the rescue of the Sufi commentators and supported symbolic commentary. He opined that the meaning of the Qur'an is revealed only to the elect and therefore, the symbolic interpretation of an ayaat which occurs to the mind of the sufis should not be rejected. According to him the ultimate ideal should be to keep a balance between the two aspects of the ayaat; the out ward (obvious) and the inward.
Tafsir `Ilmi (Scientific exegesis)
A commentator's main concern is to help his readers to understand the Qur'an as the contemporaries of the Prophet understood it in the days when the Qur'an was revealed.
The need was felt to develop scientific instruments whereby to control the progress of the Science of Qur'anic commentary (ilm al tafsir).
In the 2nd /8th century itself the principle was recognized that the knowledge of Arabic language and the Arabic idioms of the time of the Prophet was necessary for a proper understanding of the Qur'an. Acceptance of this principle gave rise to intensive cultivation of Arabic Grammar lexicography and `Arabic literature!
Tafsir which seeks to draw all possible fields of human knowledge into the interpretation of the Qur'an is termed as scientific exegesis.
This branch of exegesis should be differentiated from another approach in which scholar seeks all sciences in the Qur'anic text for example ibn Abi al Fadhl al Mursi (1147 ‑ 1257 ) finds in the Qur'an, astronomy, medicine, weaving, spinning, seafaring, agriculture, pearl ‑ diving etc etc.,
The commentary of Tantawi Jawhari (d.1359/1940) is an apt example of such motivated approach. He interpreted almost every passage of the Qur'an to prove that scientific facts which were discovered in the modern time existed in the Qur'anic text. He has proceeded so far that his commentary might be qualified as a manual for the general public on biology and other sciences.
A Bird's eye view of Tafsir Literature
The tafsir literature produced during the last several centuries is very profuse and valuable.
As a result of the development of modern methods of critical scholarship and of the growing awareness of the Muslim scholars there is new and threatening challenge to the approach of the classical commentators.
A commentator today cannot afford to be unaware of the genuine doubts entertained by the believers or of the deliberate attacks that are being made constantly by the oriental scholars.
Critical evaluation shows that the exegists in spite of their best efforts have not done full justice with the divine text. Some of the modern exegists have exposed the shortcomings of their predecessors. The views of Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad are presented here:
"The exact message of the Qur'an has for centuries been steadily kept out of view; so much so, that a very low standard of approach to it has come into vogue. This is noticeable not merely in the approach to the Qur'anic content but to almost everything connected with it ‑ its language and idiom, its phrase structure, and its style.
In every age, the author of a work is normally the product of his intellectual environment. It is only those who are gifted with vision and insight who form the exception. When we look back into the history of the commentators of the Qur'an from the earliest centuries of Islam right up to the close of the last century, we find that the standard of approach to the meaning of the Qur'an had steadily deteriorated. This was the result of a gradual decadence in the quality of the Muslim mind itself. When the commentators found that they could not rise to the heights of the Qur'anic thought, they strove to bring it down to the level of their own mind.
If we are to see the Qur'an in its true light, it will be necessary for us to lift all those veils which have, from age to age, been laid thereon under the stress of influences alien to the spirit of the Qur'an, and then search for the reality about it in its own pages."1
Muslim scholars have contributed numerous books of lasting value with their own human limitations and the limitations of their age the oldest text available is attributed to ibn Abbas (d.68/689) although some doubt its authenticity. Other old books of tafsir, still available to us, include the works of Zaid bin Ali (112/740) and Majahid, the famous tabi' (d. 104/722)
1. Tafsir Al‑Tabari Jami al bayan fi tafsir al Qur'an (in 30 volumes) known as tafsir Al Tabari by Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Jarir al Tabari (310/922) is a monumental work. This is a tafsir bil‑riwayah and is based on the traditions as well as the reports from the companions and the tabi'een. It is amine of historical information, as the author was both a historian and a Muhaddis (traditionalist) This tafsir, however, suffers from the defect that it contains a large number of reports including isra'iliyat that are not authentic. This tafsir is referred to by almost all later exegetes. No English translation of this commentary is available.
2. Bahr al Ulum known as Tafsir al Samarqandi by Abu al Laith al Samarqandi (d. 373/983). The author has not quoted asnad for the reports from the companions and from the tabi'een.
3. Al Kashf wal byan'an tafsir al Qur'an known as Tafsir al Tha'labi by Ahmed bin Ibrahim al Th'alabi al Neshapuri (d.383/993). This tafsir contains some unreliable stories.
4. Mu'alim al tanzil known as tafsir al Baghwi by Hassan Mas'ud al Baghwi (d. 510/1116). This is an abridgement of tafsir al Tha'labi.
5. Al Kashshaf by Abbu‑l‑Qasim Mahmud ibn `Umar al Zamakhshari (d. 538/1144) is a scholarly work with emphasis on Arabic diction and grammar. It takes rational and ethical view and belongs to the class of tafsir‑bil‑ray'. Its a standard work of mu'tazilite tafsir. It is full in the explanation ofwords and idioms. A number of commentaries have been written on this commentary.
6. Mufatih al Ghayb known as Tafsir Kabir by Fakhruddin Muhammad Razi (d. 606/1209) This tafsir is very comprehensive, covering a wide range in the field of tafsir. Interpretations based on sound arguments are provided. It belongs to the class of tafsir bil‑ray' Razi has taken care to counter the Mu'tazalite beliefs of Zamakhshari by providing additional material.
7. Ruh‑al‑ma'ani by Shihab al‑Din Muhammad al‑Alusi al Baghdadi (d. 669/1270). It can be regarded to be the best of tafsir bil‑ray'. Al Alusi criticises earlier exegetes who belong to the class of tafsir bil‑riwayah and with cogent arguments exposes the unsound reports used by them.
8. Anwar al tanzil by Qadhi Nasiruddin `Abd Allah bin Umar al Baidhawi (d. 685/1286). It is almost a summary of Zamakhshari. He has also drawn from the Muffaradat and tafsir kabir. It belongs to the class of tafsir bil‑ray'.
9. Tafsir al Qur'an al azim (In 8 Volumes) known as tafsir Ibn Kathir by Abul Fida Isma'il ibn Kathir al Dimashqi (d.774/1372). This is a voluminous work. The author has given more emphasis on soundness of reports. It has great authority among the scholars. The commentator has rejected the Isra'iliyat. This tafsir belongs to the class of tafsir Qur'an bil Qur'an.
10. One eminent scholar Sabuni has abridged tafsir ibn Kathir which is known as Mukhtasar. This is a valuable contribution to Qur'anic literature. English translation of this tafsir is not available.
11. Itqan fi ulumil Qur'an by Jalaluddin Suyuti (d. 911/1505). It is an introduction to his book Majma' ul Bahrain and covers a comprehensive study of the sciences of the Qur'an.
12. Al‑durr‑al‑manthur fi‑l‑tafsir bil‑mathur known as tafsir al suyuti also by Jalaluddin Suyuti.
13. Tafsiral‑Jalalain by Jalal al Din al Mahalli (d. 864/1459) and Jalaluddin Suyuti. It is a combined contribution of two scholars having `jalal' (pl. Jalalain) as common name hence the tafsir is named `Jalalain'. It is a concise and meritorious commentary on which many commentaries have been written. It contains short but useful notes on various passages of the Qur'an.
Modern commentaries are written for another public than the ‘classical’ ones, but they are still very much traditional in content and form.
14. Shah Wali Allah (1115/1703 ‑ 1176/1762) can be regarded as precursor of modern Qur'anic interpretation. The commentary of Tantawi jawhari (d. 1359/1940 ) can be considered as a departure from the usual course of commentary. It can be considered as a manual on the physical and biological sciences for the general public.
15. Tafsir‑al‑Qur'an Wahu‑wa‑al‑huda wal‑furqan (Urdu) by Syed Ahmed Khan (1232/1817 ‑ 1316/1898). Sir Syed was the founder of the Aligarh movement in India. He was the first Muslim who felt the need of a fresh orientation of Islam and ardently worked for it. One may differ from his views but there can be no denying the fact that he was almost the first to react to the modern age. He was firm in his conviction that the truth of the Qur'an would be demonstrable at all times.
"Sayyid was first and last a religious man. It was the broad concept of religion he had and its true spirit that instigated him to undertake the work for the community and to exalt the knowledge of the public good".1
His commentary, (in six Vols.) covers the first seventeen Surahs. It was published at least twenty years ahead of the commentary of Muhammad Abduh. It belongs to the class of tafsir bil‑ray. The approach was greatly opposed by the orthodox Muslims who even procured religious sanction against the author that he was a `murtid'. Syed Ahmed Khan's approach however, is scientific. He differed from the earlier exegetes and their approach wherein they saw supernatural element in simple and down‑to‑earth teachings of Islam. He refuted many notions as having no authority from the Qur'an. His approach is diametrically opposed to that of the tafsir bil‑riwayah.
"No body intent upon understanding the phenomenon of ideological change from so called medieval to modern Islam in the nineteenth century can afford to ignore the religious thought of the Indian Muslim Sayyid Ahmed Khan ". 1
16. Mohd. Abduh (1295/1849 ‑ 1323/1905) like Syed Ahmed Khan he endeavoured to uplift his contemporary Muslims through better understanding of the Qur’an. He might be called the Egyptian counterpart of Syed Ahmed Khan. He made sincere effort to evaluate Qur'anic teaching by re‑interpreting them. In the beginning of 1898 his disciple Mohd. Rashid Rida urged him to write a tafsir. He agreed.
17. Tafsir al‑Qur'an al‑hakim known as tafsir al‑manar by Muhammad Rashid Rida ( d. 1354/1935 ). It is known as tafsir al‑manar since a considerable portion of this work was published in instalments in the Egyptian periodical al manar. Al‑manar promoted an ideology which is known as the ‘Manar School of Thought'. Its main stand was that the teachings of the Qur'an are quite different from Western approach. While accepting the modern sciences which exposed truth the adherents of the school opposed western philosophies.
18. Fi Zilal al Qur'an (In the shade of the Qur’an) by Sayid Qutub (d. 1386/1966). He was closely associated with the movement known as Ikhwan al Muslimun, which invited the Muslims to join for the reestablishment of Islam. This monumental work was mostly written during imprisonment of the author (1954‑64). He was executed by the Egyptian Government in 1964.
19. Tafhim al Qur'an ( Urdu ) by Abul A'la Mawdudi (d. 1400/1979) The author was the founder of Jama'at‑i‑Islami. This tafsir which was completed over a period of 30 years in 1973 places great emphasis on the Qur’anic concepts. In Tafhim al Qur'an Mawlana Mawdudi has, in the first instance, furnished the Urdu rendering passage by passage and then explained in the exegetic notes. Tafhim al Qur'an was translated into English and edited by Zafar Ishaq Ansari.
20. Tarjuman al Qur'an (Urdu)
The commentary of Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad (1305/1888 ‑ 1378/1958), Tarjuman al Qur'an is a monumental work. It is however, incomplete. It is a sad reflection how the political career adversely affected the magnum opus of a great commentator. This commentary covers only 18 Paras (ajza). Mawlana Azad started this work in 1915. It was programmed to complete the work by 1916. Mawlana Azad during this period was actively associated with the Indian Freedom Movement. In March 1915 he was arrested and all his papers were confiscated by the British Government in India. While the manuscripts of the Tarjuman al Qur'an was in Government custody. A portion of the office of the police commissioner caught fire. In 1927 the Mawlana again started the work. Two volumes of the book covering the elaborate commentary of Surah Al fatiha and 18 Paras was published during his life time. The third volume could not be published during his life time. After the demise of Mawlana Azad in 1958 the third volume could not be traced. On the request of Mawlana Azad Dr. Syed Abdul Latif rendered the completed portion of the Tarjuman al Qur'an into English. The First Volume was published in 1962, the Second in 1967 and the Third after the demise of Dr. Latif in 1978.
21. Mafhum al Qur'an
Mafhum al Qur'an by Gulam Ahmed Parvez (1321/1903 ‑ 1405/1985) was published in Urdu in 1961. It was the ardent desire of Allama Parvez and of all those influenced by his unique interpretation of the Qur'an to render Mafhum al Qur'an into English. This urge and demand increased, particularly after the publication of his book Islam ‑‑‑ A challenge to Religion. It was in 1983 that G.A. Parvez undertook the project of rendering Mafhum al Qur'an into English. He could only complete upto Surah Al‑Kahaf (18) ‑ slightly more than half the text of the Qur'an, when illness overtook him. He breathed his last on February 24, 1985. After his demise the Tolu‑e‑Islam Trust took up the editing of the work and its publication. The English rendering was published in 1996 under the title `Exposition of the Holy Qur'an'.
22. Al Muntakhab fi Tafsir al Qur'an
The language of the Qur'an became the standard of Arabic and because of the last fourteen hundred years. When Arabic speaking people were divided into more than small states national feelings (which is against the basic concept of Islam) were encouraged. Under this policy of the West colloquial languages were given undue importance and artificial difference between regional Arabic and the language of the Qur'an (which is still the standard Arabic) were created. This difference has given rise to elaborate translation like paraphrases of the text of the Qur'an in regional Arabic. ` Al Muntakhib Fi Tafsir al Qur'an' published by the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs is the best example of such effort.
Tafsir Literature in English:
There is a dearth of tafsir literature in English. The English readers have to contend mostly with the foot notes provided by the following translators:
1. Abdullah Yusuf Ali
2. Mawlana Muhammad Ali of Lahore
3. Mawlana Abdul Majid Daryabadi
4. Muhammad Asad.
5. English Version of Tafhimul Qur'an translated edited by Zafar Is‑haq Ansari.
All the above renderings contain valuable exegetic footnotes. In addition, English translations of some other commentaries are also available.
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1 Fazlur Rahman - Islam Second Edition University of Chicago Press 1979.
1 Ahmed Von Denffer - Ulum al Qur’an ‑ Page: 134.
2 Rashid Ahmed Jullandhari – Qur’anic Exegesis and Classical Tafsir, Islamic Quaterly Vol. XII.
1 Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad – The Tarjumal al Qur’an rendered into English by Dr. Syed Abdul Latif preface pages XXXI & XXXII.
1 Mohd. Umar al – din, Aligarh scholar 1955.
1 Christian W Troll.