Sources of Tafsir

Towards Understanding
The Quran
Introduction Of Tafsir
Need and Methodology of Tafsir
Scholars are required to elaborate upon the meanings of Allah SWT’s
Speech and to convey the meanings
Seek the meanings from proper resources
Scholars are required to learn and convey the meanings, just as Allah
SWT said,
(And remember) when Allah took a covenant from those who were given the
Scripture (Jews and Christians) to make it known and clear to mankind, and not to
hide it, but they threw it away behind their backs, and purchased with it some
miserable gain. And indeed worst is that which they bought. (Al-Imran 3:187)
Need and Methodology of Tafsir
And Allah SWT says
Verily, those who purchase a small gain at the cost of Allah’s covenant and their
oaths, they shall have no portion in the Hereafter (Paradise). Neither will Allah
speak to them not look at them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify
them, and they shall have a painful torment. (Al-Imran 3:77)
Need and Methodology of Tafsir
Allah SWT criticized • For ignoring Allah SWT’s Book that was
the People of the
revealed to them
scriptures – Jews
• For acquiring and indulging in the affairs of
this life, all the while being distracted from
and Christians –
adhering to Allah SWT’s Book.
who came before us
We Muslims are
thus required to
• Refrain from doing what Allah SWT
criticized the People of the Scriptures for
• Heed what Allah SWT commanded us
• Learn and comprehend the Book of Allah
• Convey all that is in the Book of Allah
Need and Methodology of Tafsir
Allah SWT said
Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become
humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the
truth? And let them not be like those who were given the Scripture before, and a
long period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are
defiantly disobedient.
Know that Allah gives life to the earth after its lifelessness. We have made clear to
you the signs; perhaps you will understand. (Al-Hadid 57:16-17)
Sources for Tafsir
Sources for
Tafsir of
Sources of Tafsir - Quran
Best method is to explain the Quran with the
Quran itself.
What is mentioned in general terms in one place in
the Quran, is usually explained in another place.
When one does not find this easily, he should look
to the Sunnah.
Sources of Tafsir - Sunnah
Purpose of Sunnah is to explain the Quran and
elaborate upon its meanings. Allah SWT said,
Surely, We have sent down to you (O Muhammad ‫)ﷺ‬the Book (this Quran) in truth
that you might judge between men by that which Allah has shown you, so be not a
pleader for the treacherous. (An-Nisa 4:105)
Sources of Tafsir - Sunnah
Allah SWT said,
And We have also sent down unto you (O Muhammad ‫)ﷺ‬the Dhikr [reminder and advice (i.e; Quran)],
that you may explain clearly to men what is sent down to them, and that they may give thought. (An-Nahl
This is why the Messenger of Allah ‫ ﷺ‬said
‫أال ي‬
ُ ُ‫إّن ا‬
ُ‫وتيت ال ُق ْرآ َن َومثْ لَهُ َم َعه‬
“I was given the Quran and its equal with it”, in reference to the Sunnah. (Ahmad 4:131)
Sunnah was a revelation from Allah SWT just as the Quran, althought
it is not recited as the Quran is recited.
Sources of Tafsir – Statements of
If Tafsir not found in Quran or Sunnah, then refer to the statements
of the Companions
Companions were the most knowledgeable of Tafsir, for they
witnessed the situations and incidents when Quran was revealed.
Imam Abu Jafar bin Jarir At-Tabari narrated that Abdullah bin Masud
said – “By He other than Whom there is no God, no Ayah in the
Book of Allah was revealed but I have knowledge about whom and
where it was revealed. Verily, if I know of a person who has more
knowledge than me in the Book of Allah that the animals can reach
(by travelling on them), I will travel to meet him.”
Sources of Tafsir – Statements of
Abdullah bin Abbas, the cousin of Messenger of Allah
‫ ﷺ‬, was a great scholar and explainer of the Quran.
The Prophet ‫ ﷺ‬invoked Allah for the benefit of Ibn
‫اوي َل‬
ِ ‫ين َو َعلَّ ْم ُه ال َّت‬
ِ ‫اللَّ ٌه َّم ف ِّق ُه فِي ال ِّد‬
O Allah! Teach him Fiqh in the religion and interpretation
Sources of Tafsir – Tafsir of Tabi’n
Tab’in are second generation of Islam.
If Tafsir not found in Quran, the Sunnah, or with
the Companions, then refer to the Tafsir of Tabi’n.
Sources of Tafsir – Tafsir of Tabi’n
Illustrious Tabi’n
whose Tafsir scholars
refer to
• Mujahid bin Jabr – He reviewed the Mushaf
with Ibn Abbas thrice from beginning to end
asking him about each and every Ayat in it.
• Said bin Jubayr
• Ikrimah – the freed servant of Ibn Abbas
• Ata bin Abi Rabah
• Al-Hasan Al-Basri
• Masruq bin Al-Ajda
• Sa’id bin Al-Musayyib
• Abu Al-’Aliyah
• Ar-Rabi’ bin Anas
• Qatadah
• Ad-Dahhak bin Muzahim
Unreliable Sources for Tafsir
Israelite Narrations
Tafsir by mere
Scientific Theory
Unreliable Sources for Tafsir
Israelite Narrations
Should only be used as supporting evidence,
not as evidence themselves.
Types of these narrations
• Authentic – we have something in our religion that
testifies to its truth.
• False – Based on what we have in our religion.
• Unconfirmed – We neither affirm nor deny this type.
We are allowed to narrate it.
Unreliable Sources for Tafsir
Mere Opinion
It is prohibited to indulge in Tafsir by mere opinion.
Explain what one has knowledge of, silence otherwise. For instance,
Ibn Jarir (At-Tabari) reported that Abu Ma’mar said that Abu Bakr
As-Siddiq said, “Which land will carry me and which heaven will shade me if I
said about Allah’s Book that which I have no knowledge of?”
Unreliable Sources for Tafsir
Mere Opinion
Muhammad bin Jarir reported that Ibn Abbas said that the Prophet
‫ ﷺ‬said,
‫َم ْن قاَ َل ِِف الْ ُق ْر ِان بَِرأْيِِه أ َْو ِِباَ الَ يَ ْعلَ ُم فَ ْليَتَبَ َّوأْ َم ْق َع َدهُ ِم َن النَّا ِر‬
Whoever explains the Quran with his opinion or what he has no knowledge of ,
then let him assume his seat in the Fire.
Unreliable Sources for Tafsir
Scientific Theory
Some scientific theory are
hypothesis and educated guesses.
Quran is absolute undeniable fact
(‫) قطعي‬
Makki & Madani Surah
Scholars have three opinions in regard to this
• Makki surahs are those that were revealed in Makkah (regardless of
whether it took place before or after Hijra) and Madani were those
revealed in Madina.
• Makki surahs were those revealed to the Makkan community/audience,
and madani surahs are those revealed for the sake of Madinan
Abu Ubayd narrates in Fadha'il al-Quran from Maymūn Ibn Mehrān:
“whenever in the Quran it says 'O mankind' , or ‘O children of Adam’ and it is a
Meccan surah. And where it says, ‘O you who believe’ then it is a Madani surah.”
• A Makki Surah is that which was revealed before the Hijra even if it was
not in the city of Makka. And a Madani Surah is that which was
revealed after the Hijra even if the verse was revealed in Makkah.
Importance of knowing Makki & Madani
To recognize the Nāsikh (abrogating) &
Mansūkh (abrogated) verses and chapters.
To recognize the gradual history of the
Divine Law and the wisdom behind it.
To build trust and reliance that the Quran has
reached us free from error and alteration.
‫بِ الْعالَ ِ‬
‫صلَّى ال ٰلي ُه‬
‫َْ َ َ َ‬
‫تَع ٰاٰل ع ٰلى خ ِْيخ ْل ِق ِه ُم َّم ٍد َّوع ٰلى اٰلِِه واَصحابِهِ‬
‫َ َ َْ َ َ َ‬
‫َ َْ‬
‫اَ ْْجعِ‬
‫ي اِٰم ْي‬
‫َ َْ‬
‫تَ َقبَّ َل الليهُ منياَ و من ُك ْم‬

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