Tafseer 1


Module Information

Name of ClassTafseer 1
Credit Hours3 Hours
Class DescriptionThis course is a survey of the principles of Quranic exegesis. The first half of the curriculum focuses on ‘uloom al-Qur’an (background knowledge required of anyone who undertakes explanation of the Qur’an, especially its use of the Arabic language). The second half is a survey of works of tafseer, including the major classical works of tafseer bil-ma’thoor and tafseer bil-ra’y as well as modern trends in tafseer, particularly thematic tafseer.
Instructor NameSheikh Riaz Ansary
Required TextDr Bilal Philips, Usool al-Tafseer
Supplementary TextStudy notes by Sheikh Riaz Ansary


  • To enable the students to worship Allah by understanding Tafseer.
  • To enable the student to understand the origins of the science of usool al-tafseer.
  • To familiarize the student with the nature of revelation and the unique qualities of the Qur’an, including its unparalleled preservation, it’s seven ahruf and its recitations.
  • To acquaint the student with the proper methodology for Qur’anic exegesis.
  • To provide the student with understanding of the major background branches of knowledge required of a mufassir.
  • To acquaint the student with the linguistic issues knowledge of which is necessary for a full appreciation of the Qur’an’s message and the mastery and beauty of its control of language and of literary devices.
  • To familiarize students with the major classical and contemporary approaches to tafseer and the most important works of tafseer.

Topics Covered


  • Usool al-tafseer and ‘uloom al-Qur’aan defined,
  • The objective and importance of these branches of knowledge

Al-Wahy (Revelation)

  • Definition and usages of the term wahy and its related verb forms in the Qur’an
  • Ways that wahy occurs

 o       Without an intermediary

 o       Dreams

 o       Direct speech

 o       With an intermediary

 o       Revelation to the angels

 o       Revelation of the Qur’aan by Jibreel to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam)

  • Doubts about wahy

 o         materialist doubts

 o         the theory of secondary revelation

 o         doubts about revelation to the Prophet (pbuh) in particular

  • Differences between Qur’aan, hadeeth qudsee, and regular hadeeths

The Qur’an’s Uniqueness

  • Maps of reality
  • Criteria for judging a scripture
  • Shaykh Mahmood al-Zayn’s example
  • Some examples of accuracy of information in the Qur’aan
  • scientific facts
  • historical facts
  • predictions of the future
  • The Qur’an’s freedom from internal contradiction
  • The authenticity of the Qur’an’s preservation

Compilation of the Qur’an

  • Compilation of the Qur’an
  • in the Prophetic era
  • in Aboo Bakr’s caliphate
  • in ‘Uthmaan’s caliphate

The Seven Ahruf

  • definition
  • hadeeths on the seven ahruf
  • tribal dialects
  • ar-Raazee’s explanation of the meaning of the seven ahruf
  • Suspicions and doubts about this issue

The Recitations

  • prominent reciters among the Sahaabah
  • regional centers
  • the seven most famous reciters whose names are associated with authentic qiraa’aat
  • the remaining three of the prominent reciters whose recitations have been transmitted by tawaatur
  • conditions for a valid recitation

Tafseer Methodology

  • Etiquette of a haafiz
  • Qualifications of a mufassir

 o    Arabic language

 o    usool al-fiqh

 o    tawheed

 o    asbaab an-nuzool

 o    stories of the Qur’aan

 o    abrogated and abrogating

 o    hadeeths that clarify the mujmal and mubham

 o    [commentaries of the Sahaabah]

 o    [fiqh]

 o    [history]: customs of Jaahiliyyah, by way of contrast with Islam

 o    [natural history]

 o    Divinely bestowed knowledge

  • Methodology of Tafseer

 o    Linguistic familiarity

 o    Qur’aan by Qur’aan

 o    Qur’aan by the Sunnah

 o    Commentaries of the Sahaabah

 o    Asbaab al-nuzool

 o    Naasikh and mansookh

 o    Areas in which ijtihaad is not possible

 o    Linguistically-based clarifications

 o    itihaad

 o    Discernment (ra’y)

 Asbaab al-nuzool

  • Intro: Qur’anic verses are of two types
  • Definition of asbaab al-nuzool
  • Benefits of this knowledge
  • How to know?
  • Explicit
  • zaahir
  • What to do about conflicting reports of asbaab al-nuzool?
  • Is general wording to be given precedence over asbaab al-nuzool?

Makkan and Madeenan verses

  • Categorization criteria
  • Benefits of this knowledge
  • How to know the difference
  • Distinctive features of each type
  • Differences in identifying the Makkan and Madeenan soorahs
  • Division of soorahs based on the purity of their attribution
  • purely Makkan;
  • purely Madeenan;
  • Mixed

Abrogation (Naskh)

  • Definition
  • linguistic
  • technical
  • uses of the term naskh by the Salaf
  • Conditions for its occurrence
  • Evidence for its occurrence
  • Doubts about its occurrence
  • Knowledge of the Occurrence of naskh
  • Types of abrogating and abrogated texts
  • Types of naskh with regard to the Qur’an

Qur’anic language

  • Rhymes in the Qur’an
  • Pure rhymes
  • Near rhymes
  • Assonant rhymes
  • How the Qur’an transformed word meanings
  • The Qur’an as literature
  • Word choice
  • Subtle uses of grammatical devices
  • Iltifaat (particularly changes of person)
  • The general (al-‘aamm) and specific (al-khaass)
  • Definition
  • Words that convey generality
  • Types of general texts
  • Specification
  • Levels of clarity in wording
  • Muhkam and mutashaabih
  • Why would Allah include mutashaabih verses in the Qur’an?
  • Haqeeqah/majaaz

 o       Definitions

 o       Types of haqeeqah

 o       Controversy over the existence of majaaz in the Arabic language and in the Sharee‘ah texts

  • Types of majaaz

 o    Logical (‘aqlee)

 o    Linguistic (lughawee)

  • Kinaayah (allusion or euphemism)
  • Mubhamaat
  • Wording order: precedence
  • Analogies
  • Oaths
  • Arguments
  • Stories

Ma’thoor Tafseers (methodologies and selected readings)

  • ‘Abdur-Razzaaq al-San‘aanee
  • Ahmad ibn Hanbal
  • Sufyaan al-Thawree
  • al-Tabaree
  • al-Suyootee, Durr al-Manthoor
  • Ibn ‘Atiyyah al-Muharar al-Wajeez
  • Ibn al-Jawzee, Zaad al-Maseer
  • Ibn Katheer, Tafseer al-Qur’aan al-‘Azeem
  • al-Baghawee, Ma‘aalim al-Tanzeel
  • al-Zamakhsharee, al-Kash-shaaf
  • Fakhr al-Raazee, Mafaateeh al-Ghayb
  • Ibn ‘Aashoor al-TaÍrÊr wa al-tanwÊr

Fiqhee tafseers (methodologies and selected readings)

  • al-Jassaas, Ahkaam al-Qur’aan
  • Ibn al-‘Arabee, Ahkaam al-Qur’aan
  • Al-Qurtubee, al-Jaami ‘ li Ahkaam al-Qur’aan
  • al-Kyaa al-Haraasee
  • Muhammad ‘Alee al-Saaboonee, Rawaa’i‘ al-Bayaan

Soofee Tafseers

  • Ishaaree tafseers (methodology and selected readings)
  • Sahl al-Tustaree, Tafseer al-Qur’aan al-‘Azeem
  • Aboo Abdul-Rahmaan al-Sulamee, Haqaa’iq al-Tafseer
  • Mahmood al-Aaloosee, Rooh al-Ma‘aanee
  • Metaphysical Soofee tafseer:
  • Muhiy al-Deen Ibn al-‘Arabee
  • ‘Abdul-Razzaaq al-Qaashaanee

Shi’ite Tafseers:

  • General beliefs
  • Beliefs about the Qur’an
  • Approaches to tafseer
  • Ma’thoor tafseers
  • Furaat b. Furaat,  Tafseer Furaat
  • Al-Qummee, Tafseer al-Qummee
  • Al-‘Ayyaashee, Tafseer al-‘Ayyaashee
  • Ra’y tafseers
  • Al-Tabarsee, Majma‘ al-Bayaan

Thematic Tafseers and the Coherence School

  • al-Raazee
  • al-Biqaa‘ee
  • al-Islaahee
  • Mustansir Mir
  • Israr Ahmad Khan
  • Muhammad Draz
  • Fazlur-Rahman

Islamist Tafseers

  • Sayyid Qutb, Fee Zilaal al-Qur’aan
  • Abul A‘la al-Mawdudi, Tafheem al-Qur’an

Scientific Tafseers

  • Sayyid Ahmad Khan
  • Al-Tantaawee al-Jawharee
  • ‘Abdul-Majeed al-Zindaanee

Modernists and Contextualists

  • Fazlur-Rahmaan
  • Nasr Aboo Zayd
  • Khaled Abou El-Fadl
  • Aminah Wadood
  • Muhammad Arkoun

Translations of the Qur’aan

  • Controversy over its legality
  • History of translations
  • Major English translations
  • Translations of tafseer