Kinds of tafsir
In later years, commentators and Qur’anic scholars formulated various rules of interpretation. Foreign thoughts, knowledge and reasoning were also woven into the fabric of Islamic thought and culture. This amalgamation emerged in several kinds of tafsir and can be divided into two or three groups, i.e., tafsir bil riwaya, by transmission; tafsir bil-ra’y, sound opinion or knowledge and tafsir bil-ishara, by indication.
- Tafsir bil-riwaya (also known as Tafsir bil-mathur) includes the interpretation of the Qur’an by Quranic verses and use of the explanations of the prophet and his companions. Books of this class of tafsir include those attributed to Ibn Abbas, Ibn Abi Khatim, Ibn Habban, and that of Imam Suyuti known as Al-Dur al-Mansu, tafsir by Khatir and al-Shukani may also be included in this group.
- Tafsir bil-ray (or Tafsir bil-dirayah) is not based directly on transmission of knowledge from the past, but on reason. Exegesis is derived through opinion based on reason and Ijtihad or Qiyas. In this area we find tafsirs likeal-Kashaf by Zamakshari (d. 1144).
- Tafsir bil-ishara: It goes into the detail of the concepts and ideas associated with the words and verses of the Qur’an. This kind of tafsir is often produced by mystically inclined authors. The most famous are those by al-Razi and al-Khazin.
Ibn Jarir has reported through Muhammad ibn Bashshar Muammal, Sufyan and Abul Zanad that Ibn Abbas said, “tafsir is of four kinds: One which Arabs can know from the language; second which no one can be excused for not knowing; third which only the scholars know; and fourth, which God alone knows.” [ ]
Please read the article, as I do not yet know the status of Yusuf Ali’s Tafsir.
What follows are the remaining 2 Ayat of the first five sent down to the Prophet and their Commentary by Yusuf Ali.
Sura 96 Ayat 4,5
- He Who taught (the use of) the Pen,-(6206)
6206 The symbol of a permanent revelation is the mystic Pen and the mystic Record. See n. 5593 to 68:1.
5593 – The Pen and the Record are the symbolic foundations of the Revelation to man. The adjuration by the Pen disposes of flippant charge that Allah’s Messenger was mad or possessed. For he spoke words of power, not incoherent, but full of meaning, and through the record of the Pen, that meaning unfolds itself, in innumerable aspects to countless generations. Muhammad was the living Grace and Mercy of Allah, and his very nature exalted him above abuse and persecution.
The Arabic words for “teach” and “knowledge” are from the same root. It is impossible to produce in a Translation the complete orchestral harmony of the words for “read”, “teach”, “pen” (which implies reading, writing, books, study, research), “knowledge” (including science, self-knowledge, spiritual understanding), and “proclaim”, an alternative meaning of the word for “to read”. This proclaiming or reading implies not only the duty of blazoning forth Allah’s message, as going with the prophetic office, but also the duty of promulgation and wide dissemination of the Truth by all who read and understand it. The comprehensive meaning of qara’ refers not only to a particular person and occasion but also gives a universal direction. And this kind of comprehensive meaning, as we have seen, runs throughout the Qur’an—for those who will understand.
- Taught man that which he knew not. (6207)
6207 Allah teaches us new knowledge at every given moment. Individuals learn more and more day by day; nations and humanity at large learn fresh knowledge at every stage. This is even more noticeable and important in the spiritual world.
Tafsir al-Qur’an: Definition, Function and Development | Dr Steven Masood. 2016. Tafsir al-Qur’an: Definition, Function and Development | Dr Steven Masood. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.stevenmasood.org/article/tafsir-al-quran-definition-function-and-development. [Accessed 27 December 2016].