Qur'anic Commentary The Qur'an

How Tafsir is Performed ?

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Imam Ibn Taymiyyah

If you ask what is the best method of tafsir, the answer is that the best way is to explain the Qur’an through the Qur’an. For, what the Qur’an alludes to at one place is explained at the oth­er, and what it says in brief on one occa­sion is elab­o­rat­ed upon at the oth­er. But if this does not help you, you should turn to the Sun­nah, because the Sun­nah explains and elu­ci­dates the Qur’an. Imam Abu Abd Allah Muham­mad ibn Idris al-Shafi‘i has said : All that the Prophet, peace be upon him, has said is what he has derived from the Qur’an.”

Allah has said :

We have sent down to you the book in truth that you may judge between men, as Allah guides you ; so don’t be an advo­cate for those who betray their trust.” (al-Qur’an, 4:105)

We have sent down to you the mes­sage that you may explain clear­ly to peo­ple what has been sent to them, and that they think over it.” (al-Qur’an, 16:44)

We sent down the Book to you for the express pur­pose that you should make clear to them those things in which they dif­fer, and that it should be a guide and a mer­cy to those who believe.” (al-Qur’an, 16:64)

This is why the Prophet(P) said : Know that I have been giv­en the Qur’an and some­thing like it”
Ahmad, Mus­nad, Vol. IV 131 ; Abu Dawud, Sunan, Sun­nah, 5, name­ly the Sun­nah. In fact, the Sun­nah, too has been giv­en to him through wahy as the Qur’an, except that it has not been recit­ed to him as the Qur’an. Imam al-Shafi‘i and oth­er schol­ars have advanced a num­ber of argu­ments in sup­port of this point ; but this is not the place to quote them.For dis­cus­sion see al-Shafi‘i, al-Risalah

In order to under­stand the Qur’an, you should first look to the Qur’an itself. If that does not help, then turn to the Sun­nah. The Prophet(P) sent Mu‘adh(R) to Yemen and asked him : How will you judge the cas­es (that come to you)?” He replied : I will judge accord­ing to the Book of Allah”. But if you do not get any­thing there, what will you do?”, the Prophet(P) asked. He said : I will refer to the Sun­nah of the Prophet(P)”. But if you do not get it even there, what will you do?”, the Prophet(P) asked again. He replied : I will exer­cise my judg­ment.” Hear­ing this the Prophet(P) pat­ted Mu‘adh(R) on the shoul­der and said : Praise be to Allah who has guid­ed the Mes­sen­ger of His Mes­sen­ger to what pleas­es His Mes­sen­ger.” This hadith has been report­ed in the Mus­nad and Sunan col­lec­tions of hadith with a good isnad.Ahmad, Mus­nad V:230, 236, 242 ; al-Dari­mi, Sunan, Muqad­dimah, 30 ; al-Tir­mid­hi, Sunan, Ahkam, 3 ; Abu Dawud, Sunan, Adhiyah, 11

When you do not get any help from the Qur’an or the Sun­nah, turn to the words of the com­pan­ions. For they know the Qur’an bet­ter : they have wit­nessed its rev­e­la­tion, and passed through the sit­u­a­tions in which it was revealed : and know it and under­stand it ful­ly. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly true of the schol­ars and lead­ers such as the Four Right­eous Caliphs and Abdul­lah ibn Mas‘ud. Imam Abu Ja‘afar Muham­mad ibn Jair al-Tabari reports : Abu Karayb nar­rat­ed to us, say­ing : Jabir ibn Nuh informed us that : al‑A‘mash informed us from Abu Duha : from Mas­ruq that Abdul­lah ibn Mas‘ud said : By the one besides whom there none hav­ing the right to be wor­shipped, there is no verse in the Qur’an about which I do not know in whose case and at what place was it revealed. If I were aware that any­one knew the Qur’an more than me, and I could reach him, I would cer­tain­ly have gone to see him.“Ibn al-Athir, Jami‘ al-Usul fi Aha­dith ar-Rasul, 13921972, Vol. IX p. 48 Al‑A‘mash has also report­ed through Abu Wa‘il that Ibn Mas‘ud said : When any­one of us learned ten vers­es of the Qur’an, he did not pro­ceed fur­ther unless he had known what they meant and what action they demanded.”

Anoth­er great schol­ar is Abdul­lah ibn Abbas(R), the nephew of the Prophet (P) and the com­men­ta­tor of the Qur’an. He attained that stature in virtue of the Prophet’s prayer : O Allah ! Give him knowl­edge of Islam and teach him the mean­ing of the Qur’an.“Ahmad, Mus­nad, Vol. 1 : 266, 314, 328, 335 Muham­mad ibn Bashshir nar­rat­ed to us, that Waki‘ informed us, that Sufyan informed us from al‑A‘mash : from Musim (ibn Sabah Abu Duha) from Mas­ruq : that Abdul­lah ibn Mas‘ud(R) said : What a good inter­preter of the Qur’an Ibn Abbas is!” Ibn Jarir has also report­ed this hadith through Yahya ibn Dawud, from Ishaq al-Azraq, from Sufyan, from al‑A‘mash, from Mus­lim ibn Sabah Abu Duha, from al-Mas­ruq with slight­ly dif­fer­ent words : What a good inter­preter Ibn Abbas is of the Qur’an!” He has also report­ed the same words through Bun­dar, from Ja‘far ibn Awn from al‑A‘mash. These words are, there­fore, the actu­al words of Ibn Mas‘ud(R) which he said about Ibn Abbas(R). Ibn Mas‘ud(R) died, most prob­a­bly, in 33 A.H. Ibn Abbas(R) lived for thir­ty six years after him, and added a lot to the trea­sury of Islam­ic knowledge.

Al‑A‘mash quotes from Abu Wa‘il that Ibn Abbas(R) was appoint­ed leader of the Hajj by Ali(R); he deliv­ered a ser­mon and read from Surah al-Baqarah, or Surah al-Nasr accord­ing to anoth­er report, and explained it in such a way that had the Romans, Turks and the Dalamites heard it, they would have embraced Islam. This is the rea­son why most of what Isma‘il ibn Abd al-Rah­man Sad­di has writ­ten in tafsir con­sists of the expla­na­tions of these two schol­ars : Ibn Mas‘ud(R) and Ibn Abbas(R).

An Intro­duc­tion to the Prin­ci­ples of Tafsir, 1993 al-Hidaayah. Tak­en from Islaam​.comEndmark

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