Fakhrud-Deen ibn ‘Alee ar-Raazee (1150-1210 CE/544-606 AH) was a Shaafi‘ee scholar who excelled in the grammatical sciences as well as philosophy.His tafseer is printed in eight large volumes; however, his contemporaries mentioned that Fakhrud-Deen did not complete his tafseer. It has been suggested that the work was completed by his disciple, Shams ad-Deen Ahmad ibn al- Khaleel al-Khuwayyee.Ar-Raazee’s tafseer is quite popular among scholars due to its extensive treatment of various topics from a wide range of sciences. This tafseer is noted for its concentration on the relationship between verses and chapters. However, the tafseer is, for the most part, like an encyclopedia of natural sciences.
The author delves into mathematics and natural sciences and evaluates the opinions of astronomers and philosophers using their terminology. The various arguments of the Mu‘tazilah are mentioned and mildly refuted and the positions of the various fiqh math-habs are explained whenever verses containing legal issues appear. However, he always favors his school, the Shaafi‘ee math-hab on legal issues. Ar-Raazee also discussed grammatical issues, but to a much lesser extent than his discussions of natural sciences.
1.Tafseer al-Qurtubee, Jaami‘ Ahkaam al-Qur’aan wa al-Mubayyin li Maa Tadammana min as-Sunnah wa Aay al-Furqaan
Aboo ‘Abdillaah Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Ansaaree al-Qurtubee (d. 1273 CE/671 AH) was born in Cordoba in what is now Spain. He started his studies there and participated in jihaad against the Christians, in the course of which he was captured, but he managed to escape. He eventually travelled to the east, settling in Egypt, where he died. He is most famous for his tafseer, but he is also noted for his book on the afterlife, at-Tathkirah bi Ahwaal al-Mawtaa wa Ahwaal al-Aakhirah and a book on zuhd, the downplaying of worldly ambitions in order to concentrate on success in the hereafter.
His tafseer starts with an introduction of some seventy pages on the virtues of the Qur’aan, the etiquettes of its recitation and the proper methodology of tafseer. The tafseer is characterized by a heavy emphasis on fiqh issues, but it is by no means limited to that. One may consider al-Qurtubee’s work in the category of at- tafseer bid-diraayah because fiqh by its nature involves deductions from the texts. However, he includes the hadeeths relevant to each verse, as well as explanations of the sahaabah, taabi‘oon and major scholars, although usually stripped of the isnaad. When quoting a hadeeth, he cites the book where it may be found or the author who mentioned it.
After presenting the text of a verse, he will state the number of issues relating to it that he plans to discuss. He usually starts with an explanation of the vocabulary of the verse, quoting a line or two of poetry to illustrate the definition of any difficult words. He also mentions variant recitations and their reciters. In discussing fiqh issues, he mentions the major opinions along with their evidence, then evaluates them. He generally supports the Maalikee position, although not always. He also refutes deviant sects like the Shee‘ah, the Mu‘tazilah, and the Qadareeyah, but he does so with scholarly etiquette. His tafseer is considered one of the monumental works in this field, and is indispensable for the fiqh issues of the Qur’aan.
2.Tafseeral-Baydaawee, Anwaar at-Tanzeel wa Asraar at-Ta’weel
Naasirud-Deen, ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Alee al-Baydaawee (d. 1291 CE/691 AH) was a Persian scholar of the Shaafi‘ee math-hab and was appointed chief judge of Shiraaz. His tafseer was an abridgement of al-Kash-shaaf by az-Zamakhsharee, with most of the Mu‘tazilee philosophy deleted. However, he does occasionally get caught up in az-Zamakhsharee’s explanations. He has also followed az- Zamakhsharee’s practice of mentioning at the end of every chapter weak and fabricated hadeeths extolling the virtues of reading that chapter. Al-Baydaawee draws some of his material from Mafaateeh al-Ghayb of ar-Raazee and Tafseer ar-Raaghib al-Isfahaanee and includes narrations from the sahaabah and the taabi‘oon. Hence, he does not leave any verse about the wonders of creation without expounding on the theories and facts of natural sciences. He also mentions Qur’aanic recitations, but does not limit himself to the authentic ones. Nevertheless, the tafseer is quite free from Israa’eeleeyaat. Its language is also very polished and elegant. Islaamic scholars throughout the ages have held this tafseer in high esteem, and many commentaries on it and annotated versions of it have been produced.
3.Tafseeral-Baydaawee, Anwaar at-Tanzeel wa Asraar at-Ta’weel
‘Abdullaah ibn Mahmood an-Nasafee (d. 1302 CE/701 AH) was a Hanafee scholar of wide renown. He wrote numerous books on usool al-fiqh and commentaries on earlier works. His tafseer was an abridgement of al- Baydaawee’s tafseer in which he deleted the fabricated hadeeths on the virtues of each chapter. In his discussions of the various recitations, he limits himself to the authentic seven and attributes each to its reciter. An-Nasafee debated the various legal issues connected with verses by explaining the arguments of each math-hab, refuting them and supporting the positions of his own math-hab, the Hanafee school. Discussions of grammatical issues are mostly very brief. On the whole, the tafseer is medium-sized and its style is brief and clear.
4.Tafseer al-Khaazin, Lubaab at-Ta’weel fee Ma‘aani at-Tanzeel
‘Alee ibn Khaleel ash-Shayhee (1279-1340 CE/678-740 AH) was known by the nickname of “ al-Khaazin” (the warehouseman) because he used to be in charge of a book warehouse in Damascus. This Shaafi‘ee scholar was born and raised in Baghdaad, but did the greater part of his studies in Damascus. He wrote a vast number of books on a variety of topics, such as the ten-volume work called Maqbool al-Manqool, in which he gathered the hadeeths found in the Musnads of ash-Shaafi‘ee and Ahmad, the six major books, the Muwatta’ of Maalik, and the Sunan of ad-Daaraqutnee. His tafseer is a condensed version of al-Baghawee’s tafseer with additions from earlier tafseers. He mentions many Biblical tales (Israa’eeleeyaat) without evaluating them. Al-Khaazin also wrote extensively on the battles which took place during the Prophet’s era wherever mention was made of them in the verses. His tafseer also deals with legal issues in great detail, sometimes touching on areas not related to tafseer at all. There is also great emphasis in the tafseer on spiritual lessons and advice, a reflection of al- Khaazin’s Soofee leanings. The tafseer is in seven medium-sized volumes and is in wide circulation and is particularly liked by those who enjoy stories; however, the tafseer needs critical revision before being used as a reliable reference for scholars.
5.Tafseer Abee Hayyaan, al-Bahr al-Muheet
Muhammad ibn Yoosuf ibn Hayyaan al-Andaloosee (1256-1344 CE/654-745 AH), more commonly known by the name Aboo Hayyaan, was a scholar in the field of recitations and poetry and was a master in the field of grammar. In his early years, he belonged to the Thaahiree school of law, but later left it for the Shaafi‘ee school. He studied in schools throughout North Africa and eventually settled in Egypt. This tafseer is in eight large volumes and is widely used by scholars as an important reference work on grammatical constructions in the Qur’aan. Aboo Hayyaan mentions in detail the differences among grammarians and makes most of his tafseer from a grammatical point of view, so much so that it bears a closer resemblance to a grammar book than it does to a tafseer of the Qur’aan. However, he does develop the other areas of tafseer, such as fiqh issues, recitations, Qur’aanic eloquence, and narrations from early orthodox scholars. In numerous places, he also refutes many of az-Zamakhsharee’s philosophical arguments, as well as his grammatical positions.
6.Tafseer an-Naysaabooree, Gharaa’ib al-Qur’aan wa Raghaa’ib al-Furqaan
Nithaamud-Deen ibn al-Hasan an-Naysaabooree (d.1328 CE/728 AH), nicknamed an-Nithaam al-A‘raj, was born in Qum, but grew up in Nishapur, where he became a famous literary scholar, grammarian, and Qur’aan reciter. An-Naysaabooree wrote his tafseer by critically condensing ar-Raazee’s tafseer, adding additional material from al-Kash-shaaf and other tafseers, as well as tafseers of the sahaabah and taabi‘oon. The format used in his tafseer is quite unique among tafseers. After mentioning the verse, he mentions the various recitations, carefully attributing them to one of the ten major reciters.
Then he mentions the possible places where pauses may take place and explains the resulting meanings of the verse. After that, he discusses the relationship between verses and begins the tafseer by explaining the grammatical meaning of the verses. He then mentions the fiqh issues and the opinions of the various philosophical and theological arguments, firmly defending the orthodox position of Ahl as-Sunnah. Verses concerning the wonders of creation are discussed from the viewpoint of natural sciences. Due to the author’s strong Soofee leanings, he delves into the spiritual implications and his personal enlightenment at the end of each verse’s tafseer. This tafseer is presently printed in the margin of one edition of Tafseer at-Tabaree and is widely read by scholars.
This tafseer is the product of two scholars, both of whom had the title, “Jalaalud-Deen” (Glory of the Religion): Jalaal ad-Deen as-Suyootee (1445-1505 CE), author of ad-Durr al-Manthoor, and Jalaalud-Deen al-Mahallee (1389-1460CE/791-864 AH). The former was discussed previously, so we will only concern ourselves with the latter. His name was Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem al-Mahallee and his birthplace was Egypt. He became a great scholar of the Shaafi‘ee math– hab and refused the post of the chief judge, preferring to teach fiqh in the local schools and engage in trade. He wrote a number of simple and concise books in various fields which became very popular. He began his tafseer starting with Soorah al-Kahf (18) and ending with Soorah an-Naas (114). He then did the tafseer of the first soorah, al-Faatihah; however, he died before completing the rest. As-Suyootee then began from Soorah al-Baqarah (2) and ended with Soorah al-Israa’ (17), which is a little less than one half of the Qur’aan. He followed al- Mahallee’s format. The basic meanings of the verses are explained and the most probable opinions are mentioned. Grammatical explanations are only relied on where absolutely necessary. Some reference is also made to the more famous recitations. There are very few areas where the two authors differed. One of them concerns the rooh (soul), which al-Mahallee explains in Soorah Saad (38) as a subtle body or substance that brings man to life when it is blown into him. As- Suyootee agrees with him in his own tafseer of Soorah al-Hijr (15), but in his tafseer of verse 85 of Soorah al-Israa’:
“And they ask you about the rooh. Say: ‘The rooh is by my Lord’s command,’ for you have been only given a little amount of knowledge,”
as-Suyootee contradicts al-Mahallee. He wrote that this verse clearly indicates that the reality of the rooh is the exclusive knowledge of Allaah; hence, it would be better not to try to define it. In spite of this tafseer’s brevity (one volume), it is without a doubt a very valuable work and it is among the most popular tafseers. Numerous editions have been printed, and many commentaries have been written on it, the most famous being Haasheyah al-Jamal and Haasheyah as–Saawee.
8.Tafseer al-Khateeb ash-Shirbeenee, As-Siraaj al-Muneer
Muhammad ibn Muhammad ash-Shirbeenee (d. 1569 CE/1569 AH) was an Egyptian scholar of the Shaafi‘ee school of legal thought. He was most commonly known by the title, “al-Khateeb.” His tafseer is a concise abridgement of earlier tafseers and is filled with many quotes from Tafseer ar-Raazee. He avoids conflicting opinions, choosing only the most suitable or likely among them. Grammatical breakdowns are only given where necessary and, occasionally, recitations from the famous seven mentioned. Also, he only mentions reliable hadeeths (saheeh or hasan) and criticizes some of the earlier mufassirs, like az- Zamakhsharee and al-Baydaawee, for their use of fabricated hadeeths. Ash- Shirbeenee took care to note various problematic verses and the relationship between verses. As for legal issues, he only mentions them occasionally and in concise terms. However, the author often mentions weird stories and the strangest of Israa’eeleeyaat without making any comment on their accuracy.
9.Tafseer Abis-Sa‘ood, Irshaad al-‘Aql as-Saleem ilaa Mazaayaa al-Kitaab al- Kareem
Abus-Sa‘ood Muhammad ibn Mustafaa al-‘Imaadee (1489-1574 CE/894-982 AH) was born in a village near Constantinople and became a scholar of the Hanafee school. He taught in many Turkish Islaamic schools and was appointed judge in a number of cities, including Constantinople itself. Later, he was appointed a muftee and remained one for over thirty years. His tafseer was based on al-Kash-shaaf and that of al-Baydaawee, except that he avoided many of their pitfalls. He did, however, fall into the trap of mentioning fabricated hadeeths concerning the merits of each soorah. The author spends a great deal of effort explaining the eloquence and miraculous construction of Qur’aanic expressions. He only mentions variant recitations where they further explain the verses. Very few Israa’eeleeyaat are mentioned and the various legal opinions on legal issues are listed only occasionally. He sometimes mentions the various grammatical meanings of verses and chooses the most appropriate after producing proof to that effect. The tafseer has been reprinted in five medium-sized volumes numerous times and is quite popular among scholars due to its clarity and beauty.
10.Tafseer al-Aaloosee, Rooh al-Ma‘aanee fee Tafseer al-Qur’aan al-Atheem wa as-Sab‘ al-Mathaanee
As-Sayyid Mahmood Afandee al-Aaloosee (1802-1853 CE/1217-1269 AH) was among the greatest Shaafi‘ee scholars of ‘Iraaq. He was appointed muftee of Baghdaad and was very familiar with the legal positions of the various math-habs. In fact, he often followed the opinions of Aboo Haneefah on many issues. The author has compiled in his tafseer the opinions and narrations of the early scholars and the explanations of latter-day scholars with great care and honesty. All statements are attributed to their authors, and their conflicting opinions are weighed without any bias. Al-Aaloosee often times refutes the unorthodox interpretations and heretical explanations of the Mu‘tazilees and the Shee‘ah.
He also mentions the scientific theories relating to the verses on creation and criticizes those he considers inaccurate or unlikely. Grammatical and legal issues are discussed at great length through the tafseer without bias. Al-Aaloosee severely criticizes the Israa’eeleeyaat and even ridicules them occasionally. He also mentions the variant recitations, but does not restrict himself to the authentic ones. Many quotes from classical literature are used to support his grammatical arguments, and he usually closes off his tafseer by mentioning the spiritual implications.
Rooh al-Ma‘aanee is a virtual tafseer encyclopedia, in which most of what has been written on tafseer has been gathered and critically presented. Despite the author’s occasional overemphasis on technical areas not directly related to tafseer, his approach is always balanced and unbiased.