God, Islam, Rasuls, Prophets, Angels, Muslims, Mankind

Tafsir of the Quran?

Arabic word tafsir (tafseer) means  interpretation and the author of a given tafsir is called  mufassir. Some people even quotes a hadith that tafseer of the Quran is very serious issue: “from Ibn Abbas: Allah’s Messenger said: “He who says (something) concerning the Quran without knowledge, he has taken his seat of fire.” We do not think this hadith is correct.

The most of the hadiths are lies in the name of the Prophet Muhammad. This hadith is also motivated to make tafsir of the Quran monopolized for some religion traders! That’s not fair obviously. So many hadiths (ahadith) were created to implement political or other agendas in the name of the prophet.

The Quran contains history, spirituality, economic issues, political facts, science, morality etc. So, different expert in different fields can explain the Quran. It is also the fact that with time everything evolves therefore based on time and place the Quran needs to be reinterpreted. If a top-ranking scholar of a particular field interpreted the Quran, say 500 years before, may not be relevant at this modern time.

For instance, even few hundred years before people did not understand the most of the scientific aspects of the Quran and if some modern scientists explain those Quranic issues it should be treated as excellent and helpful work, tafsir of the scientific aspects of the Quran.

Anyway there are different kinds and different approaches of tafsir of the Quran. Early tafsirs of the Quran are based on hadith, understanding the Quran of sahaba and tabiiun. It is a very complicated issue indeed!

There are many versions of tafsirs too:  for instance, Sunni Tafsir (Tanwir al-Miqbas known as Tafsir Ibn Abbas;  Tafsir al-Tabari; Maalim al-Tanzil by al-Baghawi; Al-Muḥarrar al-Wajiz by ibn Atiyyah; Tafsir ibn Kathir by ibn Kathir; Zad al-Masir by Abul-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi etc.), Shia Tafsir (Tafsir Imam Jafar al-Sadiq; Tafsir al Imam al-Askari; Tafsir al-Ayyashi by Muhammad b. Masud al-Ayyashi; Rawz al-jinan ve ruh al-jinan by Abu l-Futuh al-Razi; Tafsir Qomi by Ali Ibn Ibrahim Qomi etc.), Mutazilah tafsir, Ahmadiyya Tafsir, Sufistic tafsir (Hakaik al-tafsir by Sulemi; Tafseer-e-Rafai by Faqeer Syed Muhammad Rafai Arab etc.), and philosophic tafseer.

Religion is very complicated subject because we have to believe in God (Allah) without seeing Him, without hearing from Him, without experiencing Him. Therefore, a true religious person must be very kind, humble and forgiving and he/she must not claim that his/her approach, interpretation or belief is absolute and the rest of the world is wrong. Thank you and may God bless you.

Musa Ali, PhD.

An atheist on Wed, 3/30/11, Mohammad Asghar commented

No where the Quran does it say that you have to read Tafsir to understand its messages. However, Tafsir became, in the past, and it remains even now, an essential part of the Islamic tradition, as many Muslims had failed then and they fail even today  to

understand many of the Quranic verses without help. To help them, men wrote the Tafsir, and not by Allah!

This being the fact, do you think that all the Tafirs are correct and they have no errors in them?

Your suggestion implies that the Tafsir that were written in the past has become obsolete. That is why you are asking me to read the “updated modern Tafsir.”

Does it not mean that those Muslims who had relied on the “outdated” Tasfir were misled and they did not follow Islam correctly?

Please clarify. Also please do me a favor: Tell me which branch of Islam is the “true Islam”?

As far as praying to Allah for guidance is concerned, I did try it in the past and it did not work. For instance:

Before starting my ritual prayer, I used to seek Allah’s protection from Satan against his mischief. But it did not help and while being engaged in prayer, I found myself overwhelmed by Satan. He put all the dirty things in my mind (should I say “heart,” as Allah says in the Quran that the heart is the seat of intelligence!)

Anyway, I will heed your advice once you have told me with absolute certainty that so and so branch of Islam is true.


Mohammad Asghar


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