I have been studying the Quran for more than three decades, I have read many excellent classical and modern commentaries in Arabic, Urdu and English, from my favourite Tafsir Kabir of Imam Razi, Tafsir ibn Kasir to Tadabur al Quran (islahi) and Zia ul Quran (pir Karam shah), all are great and fascinating treasure troves to be explored again and again. Here I would like to share my experience of benefitting from these tafasir. My approach is both structured and interactive which will deepen understanding of Quranic themes and the times in which it was revealed.
The basic philosophy of my approach is that the glorious Quran is a book of guidance, so it gives clear and doable advice that is both comprehensible and beneficial for us, another feature of the Quran is that it is Divine Mercy, kindness to mankind, this has to be appreciated and felt in our hearts, yet another amazing quality of the Quran is that it is Furqan, a standard by which right and wrong are to be judged, so it provides us a criterion by which we can measure the good and evil around us.
Purpose of Tafsir: to help the Quran reader to clearly understand the exact meaning of the Quran, and to translate the meaning of the message.
This will require:
- Explaining various linguistic styles. Interpret the special archaic terms. Describe particular socio-cultural backgrounds of the Quranic discourse.
- Tafseer is therefore a noble activity that endeavours to translate, interpret, explain and rephrase the Divine Message.
- The job of the Mufasir is “To study the Quran as an artistic, linguistic and rhetorical work”, to bring out a treasury of ideas that one can discover under this unique literary style.
- It’s a methodical analysis of the Sacred Book.
- To explain allusions, references, cultural background and explanations of ambiguous passages.
Methodology of Mufassereen
- Intertextuality: extensive use of Quran-cross referencing Hadith: usually what is mentioned briefly in one place and further elaborated in another place.
- Context: the circumstances of revelation, are important for understanding the
- Identifying aspects of meaning: a single term may have multiple meanings in different contexts but in some places, it means: faith, God consciousness and mindfulness. The Mufasir points out the different aspects of meaning.
- Explaining the idioms of the Quran, it widely uses metaphors and idioms, that need explaining.
Categories of Tafsir
- Linguistic: concerned with grammar, syntactic analysis and rhetoric of the Quranic discourse. Use old poetry. 2 Great friends: Zamakashari and Bardawi.
- Philosophical and Rational: mainly concerned with refuting the arguments of philosophers for example Raza.
- Historical: parables of nations and people example Khazir.
- Jurisprudence: looking at the law- Sharia and Qurtabi, an extensive and detailed Tafseer in twenty volumes.
Learning outcomes of the study of Tafsir of the Quran are:
- You should experience the Glorious Quran as an enthralling narrative, one that captivates and pleases you, moves you, touches your heart and motivates you to act righteously
- Understanding how the different themes and stories in the Quran come together to give a comprehensive and coherent worldview is done by studying the context of revelation, Makkan and Madani suras, asbab an nuzul .
- Produce Insightful, zappy and relevant commentary that helps to apply the Quran to everyday life, by carefully examining meanings of Arabic words and phrases, literary forms and style (similes and metaphors, real and synecdoche, and metonymy
- To highlight the action points, questions, praise points, repentance points, sajda points, and challenges of the Quran that will help you to gain a deeper understanding of the Quran.
- Discover the Gems that will enhance your moral character, nuggets of wisdom that will improve your social relations and spiritual ideals that will bring you closer to Allah, and make you a passionate lover of God and an obedient servant of the blessed prophet.