‘Nahmaduhu Wa Nusalli Ala Rasoolilah Kareem~
Rabbi’shrah li sadri, Wa yassir li amri
~Fa’ Aouzobillahi Minash Shaitaannir Rajeem’…. ‘Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim’
‘Assalam Alaikum Wa Rehmath Ullahi Wa Barkatahu’
Narrated by Hadrat Umar RA, “While we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah, (SAW), one day a man came up to us whose clothes were extremely white, whose hair was extremely black, upon whom traces of travelling could not be seen, and whom none of us knew, until he sat down close to the Prophet, (SAW), so that he rested his knees upon his knees and placed his two hands upon his thighs and said,
‘Muhammad, tell me about Islam.’ The Messenger of Allah, (SAW), said, ‘Islam is that you witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and you establish the prayer, and you give the Zakat, and you fast Ramadan, and you perform the hajj of the House if you are able to take a way to it.’
He said, ‘You have told the truth,’ and we were amazed at him asking him and [then] telling him that he told the truth.
He said, ‘Tell me about iman.’ He said, ‘That you affirm Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day, and that you affirm the Decree/commands, the good of it and the bad of it.’
He said, ‘You have told the truth.’
He said, ‘Tell me about ihsan.’ He said, ‘That you worship Allah as if you see Him, for if you don’t see Him then truly He sees you.’
He said, ‘Tell me about the Hour.’ He said, ‘The one asked about it knows no more than the one asking.’ He said, ‘Then tell me about its tokens/ signs.’ He said, ‘That the female slave should give birth to her mistress, and you see poor, naked, barefoot shepherds of sheep and goats competing in making tall buildings.’
He went away, and I remained some time. Then Rasullullah asked, ‘Umar, do you know who the questioner was?’ I said, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’
Rasullullah said, ‘He was Jibril who came to you to teach you your deen’.” Muslim (8) narrated it.
In the above hadith, it clearly states 5 points which we know as the 5 Pillars of islam.
These 5 pillars make the foundation of Islam. Every house needs a strong foundation, your life needs a strong foundation. Today’s topic is to show you how establishing a strong foundation into your life is not difficult and can benefit you greatly in the Dunya and the Aakhiraah.
A major misconception about Islam is that, Islam is a difficult religion to practice and a burden on oneself. Whereas in reality, Islam is an easy religion to follow, the religion of mercy and compassion, the religion of tolerance and ease. Its principles and deeds are the most ideal of principles and the most virtuous of deeds, in which are the best interests of this world and the Hereafter. By missing out on them, nothing good can be attained.
Allah mentions many times in the Quran,
لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا
for e.g. Allah says He does not burden any soul with a responsibility heavier than that he can bear. Barakah, verse 286
He also states,
يُرِيدُ اللّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلاَ يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ
“Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you.” Barakah verse185
The Prophet (S.A.W) was a chief example of how Islam should be practiced, and he himself made a similar statement ‘Make things easy (for the people) and do not make them difficult” when he sent Muad ibn Jabl and others as governors to Yemen.
Allah has laid down few key exercises of faith for a Muslim, some of them are performed daily, some weekly, some monthly, some yearly and some are obligatory as a minimum of once in a lifetime. All of them are made by Allah to make life easy.
The first pillar is obviously Imaan which is obtained by reciting the Shahaadah…
اشْهَدُ انْ لّآ اِلهَ اِلَّا اللّهُ وَ اَشْهَدُ اَنَّ مُحَمَّدً اعَبْدُه وَرَسُولُه
Without this belief, none of your actions, no matter the intention, is accepted. It is imperative that you believe in the Kalimah Shahaadah.
How does praying 5 times a day make life Easy?
Salah is an act of worship and it is obligatory for every Muslim who is sane and mature, to offer Salah five times a day. Some people see it as a burden to pray 5 times every day, and deem Islam as a difficult religion to practice. Whereas in fact, the goal of worship is to be conscious of Allah. It is a best way to inculcate in a man a sound personality. It is an unmatched formula of intellectual mediation and spiritual devotion. For a person to be successful, you need to be conscious of Allah and Salah makes a strong link between Allah and oneself. If a person looks at success as just making money, then they will think of Salah as a burden, but success is beyond material in this world.
How does fasting make like Easy?
Fasting 30 days every year, i.e. abstaining completely from drinking, eating and sexual relations with spouses, is a training for Muslims. It teaches man a sense of devotion, hope, patience and willpower. Muslims voluntarily give up Halal things in Ramadan – which is a training to give up Haram things outside Ramadan. Allah is making our life easy by giving us training. When one sick, Allah gives us the concession to fast later or if it is dangerous for your health to fast, then Allah makes provision for those circumstances too.
How does giving away your money as Charity make life Easy?
Zakah means purity. It develops a sense of generosity, to be thankful to Allah for all His blessings and to share it with others. It purifies the heart of the contributor from selfishness and greed, as well as the heart of the recipient from envy and jealousy. The feeling of gratitude and thankfulness to Allah is necessary for survival in this life, as this world is filled with trials, success and failures. The basic question of ‘Why Me?’ during difficulty leads people to do Haram things, and Zakah teaches to be grateful in order to overcome any difficult situation.
The last pillar is Hajj, which is every muslims desire to visit the Holy City of Makkah where the Kaabah, otherwise known as the ‘House of Allah’ is located. It’s the central location where every muslim faces towards salaah, and prostrates to Allahs pleasure. It is compulsory for muslims whom have the means by way of wealth and health to visit the city and perform the Hajj. Howver, Allah makes a concession that you do not have to go if you cannot.. In fact, Allah even allows you to take donations from wealthy people who wish to give you the financial means to perform Hajj…even more, your children can perform Hajj on your behalf after you’ve passed on as well! How merciful is Allah!
Madinah is where our prophet (SAW) rests. It is important to visit it as well when in Saudi Arabia.
The above only forms the foundation of Islam. A muslim still needs to build a shell and beautify the house with windows, doors, etc which is made by means of performing Sunnah, Nafl, and by doing good and forbidding wrong. As per many places in the Quran, one in Surah Al-Imran, verse 104:
وَلْتَكُنْ مِنْكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ ۚ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ
And there may spring from you a nation who invite to goodness, and enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency. Such are they who are successful.
We’ll digress a little before I conclude.
Another aspect of the Hadith Jibrail is when Rasulullah mentions about the day of Qiyaamah.
‘That the female slave should give birth to her mistress,
“The best and most well-founded explanation of the hadith, is the opinion of Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar which implies that it refers to the spread of disobedience to one’s parents. The child will become as if he/she is a parent. I think this sign has become increasingly noticeable in a heart-breaking way. A son, who is still being cared for by their parents, gives them orders in an irrespective way that hurts their feelings and honor. A daughter will treat her mother in a way mistress treats her slaves. This has become common practice.”
and you see poor, naked, barefoot shepherds of sheep and goats competing in making tall buildings.’
Here is obvious that bedouins who were once shepherds in the desert, today are building the worlds tallest buildings in the Arab peninsula.
Brothers , our time is near ending. If it is not Qiyaamah, it is our detah which can happen today, tomorrow, 5 years, 10 years, Allah only knows… let us prepare for the Aakihirah, were here only but a short time, let us not waste our opportunity to live a life of a king in the Aakhirah.
قَالَ اللَّهُ هَٰذَا يَوْمُ يَنْفَعُ الصَّادِقِينَ صِدْقُهُمْ ۚ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ۚ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِي
Allah will say: “This is the day on which the truthful will profit from their truth; they shall have gardens beneath which rivers flow to live therein forever. Allah is well-pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. This is the mighty achievement.”
I end off by narrating a saying my esteemed ustaad told me this week:
Islam is such a diverse and easy religion that you should fit your life to fit into Islam, and not Islam to suit your lifestyle. Certainly you will attain success , InshaaAllah.
May Allah grant us the tawfeeq to perform good A’maal and follow the sunnah to the most of our capabilities.
SPENDING ON ONE’S FAMILY ON ‘AASHURA DAY:
RASULULLAH ﷺ is authentically reported to have said:
‘Whoever expands his spending on his family on the day of ‘Ashura, ALLAH ﷻ will inflate his sustenance for the rest of that year.’
(Shu’abul Iman & Al-Istidhkar)_
Tried & Tested,
Several narrators of this Hadith have echoed the following testimony:
‘We have tried this, & have found it to be accurate.’
In fact, one narrator of this Hadith, a great Muhaddith and Faqih,
Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah (rahimahullah) said:
‘I have been doing this for fifty to sixty years and have always seen its benefit.’
(Lataiful Ma’arif, pg.113)
Source and Authenticity:
This Hadith has been reported by several Sahabah (radiyallahu ’anhum).
This has also been reported with a good chain as the statement of Sayyiduna ‘Umar.
There are several legitimate practices in Islam that have been wrongfully deemed as innovations!
One such deed is: Spending on one’s family on the day of ‘Ashura (The 10th of Muharram)
There are approximately ten Hadith Masters that have declared this Hadith as reliable.
See here for full details:
• This is not restricted to food only.
• One can spend in any form that is deemed most appropriate.
(Al-Hadiyyatul ‘Alaiyyah, pg.311)
• Lastly, this Hadith provides an ideal solution during these times of global financial constraint.
Try it & see the difference INSHA-ALLAH !
DARUL HADITH RESEARCH CENTRE
It’s become common practice to buy gifts, which has commercialized AAshura, this should not be such..
Spending on the family is ‘ on the day ‘ cook better food, spend on useful things, not wastage (Tabdheer/Israf) or fuzul khartcho.
If children need new clothes, etc, on the day, can get for them… but don’t go out of your way and commercialize AAshura.
It is Sunnah to give gifts..but…
There’s no fixed day to give gifts, any day of the year can be used, with the intention of sunnah.
There’s nothing in hadith and Qur’an which says we must imitate (Mushaabaha) Christmas which is exchanging gifts..
Day of AAshura is surely an auspicious day, but it’s not to be sensationalized.
Just spend little extra than a normal day, such as better food, wear nicer clothes, more family time, than a regular day.
Allah knows best…
July 6, 2015
Sadly, Quranic studies in general, and tafsir in particular, are often the weakest parts of the curricula of Islamic schools, institutes and universities. What follows is a suggestion on how to study this noble science.
As with all disciplines in Islamic studies, they are interrelated as part of a holistic curriculum. Thus, to truly benefit from tafsir, one must also study related sciences, especially lugha, nahw, sarf, balaghah, usul al-fiqh, and sirah. So, as one completes the elementary stage, one should have also completed elementary study in these fields too. This is very important so as to not leave any gaps in one’s understanding.
The objective at this stage is to study completely an abridged and easy tafsir that gives one a general understanding of the Quran. This is a vital stage as it introduces the science of tafsir to the beginner. It must be emphasised that the book one chooses must be studied cover to cover, without getting preoccupied with the troublesome aspects (variant readings, conflicting interpretations, linguistics, etc.) of each ayah.
Tafsir al-Muyasir, al-Muntakhab fi Tafsir al-Quran al-Karim, and the recently published al-Mukhtasar fi al-Tafsir by Markaz al-Tafsir all give the general meaning of each ayah, without explaining each and every word. At first glance, this might seem to be a deficiency, as one would expect to have each word explained, but these works serve as excellent starting points in getting the gist of an ayah before further and deeper investigations. A student should be able to explain the general meaning of each ayah. A committee of scholars worked for years on each of these and one engaged with tafsir can really appreciate the efforts, as they present the most accurate interpretation of each ayah summarised in contemporary Arabic.
To compensate for the lack of vocabulary explanation in the aforementioned books, one should also add a work that defines the ambiguous words (gharib al-Quran) such as Kalimat al-Quran: Tafsir wa Bayan by Hasanayn Muhammad Makhluf. A similar work is al-Siraj fi Gharib al-Quran by al-Khudayr. Both of these contemporary works are easily arranged by ayah sequence. A more classical work is the excellent Tafsir Gharib al-Quran by Makki al-Qaysi, sometimes printed with the title al-‘Umdah. A simple classical work arranged like a dictionary is Tuhfat al-Arib by the famous grammarian and exegete Abu Hayyan.
One might ask, what about Tafsir al-Jalalayn by al-Mahalli (d.864) and al-Suyuti (d.911)? Whilst a short abridgement, it is not suitable for beginners because it has many difficult passages covering technical linguistic issues and variant readings (qira’at) that need further commentary and explanation. It assumes a certain level of learning on behalf of the reader. This is clear to anyone who has studied it. Yet, if any tafsīr is included in a curriculum, it is usually this one. The truth is that it more suitable for a higher level review for scholars and teachers, to be read alongside its hawashi, such as those by al-Jamal (which is excellent) and al-Sawi (abridged from the former). Its fame, in part, owes to being including in the Azhar curriculum over the centuries, where in previous times the students were much more grounded in linguistics and variant readings than they are today. If one, however, has been trained and has good grounding in linguistics and variant readings then it is an excellent choice.
A much more suitable pre-modern work (by a contemporary of al-Suyuti) for the elementary level is Jami’ al-Bayan by Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Iyji al-Shafi’i (d.905), which is a very clear and concise summary of the great works. As he states in his introduction, he wrote his tafsir as he felt there was a need for something like it, as aspirations had lowered and abilities weakened in his time for the study of the classics. He heavily relies on Tafsir Ibn Kathir and Tafsir al-Baghawi for validating narrations, and depends only on hadiths found in the canonical Six Books of Hadith. His stated main sources, in addition to the aforementioned, are al-Wasit by al-Wahidi, Tafsir al-Nasafi, al-Kashaf by al-Zamakhshari with the following three glosses: Hashiyat al-Tibi (highly regarded by al-Suyuti and Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani), Hashiyat al-Kashf by Siraj al-Din ‘Umar al-Thani, and Hashiyat al-Taftazani. The final work upon which he relies is Tafsir al-Baydawi. He uses expressions to indicate authorities, such as saying ‘or’ (aw) between statements to indicate the Salaf (i.e. the Companions and Followers), and saying ‘it is said’ (qila) for the views of the later exegetes. It is an excellent tafsir for beginners as it prepares one well for future study.
Other easy classical commentaries suitable for the beginner include Tafsir Ibn Abi Zamanin al-Andalusi (d.399), by the famous early Maliki master, which is abridged from Tafsir Yahya b. Sallam (d.200).
A popular contemporary work among my teachers and peers is Aysar al-Tafasir by Abu Bakr al-Jaza’iri, which was written after the president of the Islamic University of Medina specifically asked him to write a tafsir that resembles Tafsir al-Jalalayn, but with a Salafi agenda, which could replace the former in institutions of religious education. It is based on Tafsir al-Tabari, Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Tafsir al-Maraghi, and al-Saʿdi’s Taysir al-Karim al-Rahman.
However, I personally much prefer Safwat al-Tafasir by al-Sabuni. It is quite similar to al-Iyji’s tafsir in that it is based on the classical commentaries. It focuses on introducing each surah, explaining vocabulary (al-lughah), highlighting subtleties (latifah), benefits (fawa’id), places verses in context in relation to others (al-munasabah), causes of revelation (asbab al-nuzul), and rhetorical devices (al-balaghah). I would venture as far as to say that it is the best introductory tafsir written by a living scholar. Some of the criticisms against it by contemporaries in Arabia are exaggerated and do not affect its overall value.
It is important at this stage to be consistent. One should plan well and designate a set amount to study each week, sticking to it till one completes the task. A manageable amount is to read half a juz a week, or the tafsir of about a page from the Mushaf al-Madinah a day. In this manner, one will have completed the basic tafsir of the Quran in approximately one year.
The objective at this stage is to familiarise oneself with multiple aspects of tafsir, especially concerning the explanation of words and the various narrations regarding each ayah, without striving to find which is preponderant (tarjih) nor being too concerned when different statements are attributed the same authorities, such as Ibn ‘Abbas
This level is the beginning of specialization. One moves beyond having a general picture about each ayah that presents only one meaning and moves towards exegetical methodology (usul al-tafsir) and the various statements of the exegetes (aqwal al-mufassirin).
It is important that one understands exegetical methodology, the causes of different opinions, the categories of interpretation, the rules of interpretation, the rules of giving preponderance (tarjih), knowing the nomenclature of the exegetes, knowing the variant readings (qira’at), causes of revelation (asbab al-nuzul), abrogation (al-nasikh wa al-mansukh), etc.
Thus, one should read works that address such issues, taking care to memorise to various views of the early exegetes.
Zad al-Masir by Ibn al-Jawzi is an intermediate tafsir that concisely presents the various opinions without selecting the preponderant view. It was designed as an intermediate tafsir to give basic tools to student before going into depths. It is both comprehensive and concise. One may use it to build upon al-Iyji’s work by determining who said what about each ayah.
Tafsir Ibn Juzayy is another excellent intermediate work, which may compliment reading Zad al-Masir. It is notable for its focus on definitions and the branches of learning that lead out from the Quran.
Gharib al-Quran by Ibn Qutaybah is a highly influential work that is quoted by many of the classical works such as those by al-Tabari, al-Qurtubi, and al-Razi. It is relatively brief and is the best place to begin when looking for the meaning of some of the more ambiguous words. Due to its conciseness, I prefer it to similar, but more expansive, works such as Majaz al-Quran by Abu ‘Ubaydah and Ma’ani al-Quran by al-Farra’.
One might ask, for the intermediate level, what about Tafsir al-Baydawi? Whilst this is a very popular commentary that is still studied (in part not in whole) in some institutes, it is not suitable even for intermediate students. It is a difficult book as is clear to anyone who has studied it. It cannot be fully understood without further commentary and thus attracted more than 2,000 marginal glosses (hawashi), the most famous by al-Tibi, as scholars grappled to understand and engage with certain passages. Why such a large number, you might ask? It was later adopted and promoted in the curriculum of the Ottoman Empire by Shaykh al-Islam Abu al-Su’ud and ratified by Sultan Sulayman. Its standing grew to such an extent that certain teaching positions were only given to someone who had written a gloss on it. This partly explains why it has attracted a huge amount of glosses in manuscript. It is, by far, the most popular tafsir among scholars of the later pre-modern period (‘asr al-muta’akhirun). It is a Sunni refinement of Tafsir al-Zamakhshari, removing the Mu’tazali arguments, whilst retaining its linguistic discussions, which are somewhat perplexing to most students, and even many teachers, today due to the paucity of contemporary understanding of Arabic linguistics. Again, as with Tafsir al-Jalalayn, this is a book for experts to review, not for curriculum study in my view.
At this stage one starts to address to issue of preponderance (tarjih) with the aim that the student should know which view is most correct about what is said about each ayah, as well as the strongest non-preponderant views, as these have the possibility of also being correct. One should research issues in the major references and practically apply the methodologies, focusing on the specialised features which distinguish each exegete, be that language, fiqh, variant readings, etc.
The best references for seeking the preponderant views in vocabulary and narration are: (1) al-Tabari, (2) Ibn ‘Atiyyah, (3) Ibn ‘Ashur, (4) Abu Hayyan, (5) al-Razi, and (6) al-Raghib.
Tafsir al-Tabari – all knowledge of tafsir has its foundation in this book, as it shows one how to deal with: reconciling the variant opinions of the commentators, interplay with other ayat, deduce rulings, etc. in order to establish the correct meaning. It is so well known and widespread that I doubt I need to elucidate its virtues.
Tafsir Ibn ‘Atiyyah pays great attention to establishing the preponderant view (tarjih) from the sayings of the Salaf (the first three generations), and it helps to train the student in the method of tarjih for other narrations not addressed by Ibn ‘Atiyyah. It was highly regarded by Ibn Khaldun and Ibn Taymiyyah due to its extensive and meticulous research, summarising the formative tradition with the most accurate narrations, and was influential on later exegetes such as al-Qurtubi, Abu Hayyan, Ibn Kathir, and al-Shawkani.
Ibn ‘Atiyyah sources include the premier books of his time in tafsir, qira’at, fiqh, and lugha with the aim of tafsir the pinnacle of Islamic studies. He is unique for his time in that he included nothing of the Isra’iliyat common in tafsir books.
When Ibn Atiyyah quotes from earlier scholars, he looks very critically at what they say, making sure that what he quotes is correct and accurate. In this way, he was able to purge any interpretation that sought to give Qur’anic words or statements anything other than their immediate meanings. He rejects all suggestions that Qur’anic statements may have hidden meanings that could be known only to an elite group of people. To him, the Qur’an is God’s book addressed to all mankind in a direct and straightforward manner. This does not allow any room for hidden meaning.
Ibn Atiyyah explains his methodology by stating: ‘I proceed in this commentary according to the word order of every verse, explaining its rulings, grammatical positions, linguistic functions, meanings and the pronunciation of different methods of recitation.’ It is excellently arranged and follows a logical progression with an emphasis on linguistics.
When he speaks of the legal implication of verses and sentences, Ibn Atiyyah does not confine himself to the Maliki madhab, nor does he always support the views of the madhab. He analyzes the evidence supporting each view and gives preponderance to views that have solid evidence.
Tafsir Ibn ‘Ashur, al-Tahrir wa al-Tanwih (The Verification and Enlightenment), is in my view by far the greatest tafsir of the last century. I believe that if any modern tafsir work is still read in centuries ahead, it will be this one. Yet, it has largely been overlooked, having been overshadowed by modernist works by the likes of Rida and Qutb. However, unlike many 20th century exegetes, Ibn ‘Ashur was firmly grounded in the classical tradition, hailing from a scholarly aristocratic family of judges. The distinguishing feature of his tafsīr is his identification of the ta’lil, or rationale as well as underlining the maqasid, or objectives. He also highlights rhetorical devices and reconciling different views. It gives one a solid foundation in tafsir.
It was published between 1956 and 1970 and was the fruit of a lifetime of scholarship of the highest order.
He is critical of most tafasir in that they are dependent on previous works, basically gather what are dispersed among the abridged and extensive tafasir. My own readings support this observation too. There are certain works that are so original and pioneering that they influenced many subsequent works to the extent that one finds entire passages copied. Al-Zamakhshari’s tafsir is a prime example. Most post-Zamakhshari linguistic tafasir cannot avoid engaging with it.
Ibn ‘Ashur goes on to state the most important exegetes in his view:
al-Baydawi, which he says is a summary of al-Zamakhshariand al-Razi in a wonderful achievement
The glosses on al-Zamakhshari by al-Tibi, al-Qazwini, al-Qutb, and al-Taftazani
The gloss on al-Baydawiby al-Khafaji
What is most intriguing for me is that al-Zamakhshari, a noted Mu’tazali, is listed first before the others, as Ibn ‘Ashur’s exegesis of 42:51 could draw criticism of I’tizal, even though it is presented as an Ash’ari view.
Ibn ‘Ashur himself emphasizes that tafsir is the art of expounding meaning and what can be deduced from it thereof. It is firmly grounded in the classical tradition, as can be deduced by his list of important tafāsīr, in focusing on linguistic analysis and Ibn ‘Ashur’s mastery of Arabic allows him to make penetrating insights in his exegesis.
Ibn ‘Ashur listed the following eight objectives (maqasid) for his tafsir:
Reforming Islamic education
Explaining correct beliefs
Defining Quranic law
Clarifying the policy of the Islamic community
Analyzing the history of ancient punished community
Demonstrating sound Quranic methods of proof and deduction
Demonstrating the miraculous nature of the Quran
Tafsir Abu Hayyan – is the apex of classical grammatical and linguistic tafsir and is the first point of reference in this regard.
Tafsir al-Razi – excellent at solving problems and is one of the main references scholars keep coming back to, alongside al-Tabari and Ibn ‘Ashur. Ibn Taymiyyah once infamously stated that ‘in it is everything except tafsir!’ Many later scholars criticised this statement, as Tafsir al-Razi is extremely popular, for good reason. Rather, as some retorted, ‘in it is everything plus tafsir,’ indicating its encyclopaedic scope.
al-Mufradat fi Gharib al-Quran by al-Raghib al-Asfahani is the main reference for defining Quranic vocabulary. The definitions here take precedence over those found in other works.
The objective of this stage is to read the major references and give preponderance based on the skills acquired in the previous stage.
How does one identify the major works? I personally check the listings of major scholars. The main references are Muhammad al-Zarqani (Z), Muhammad Husayn al-Dhahabi (DH), al-Fadl b. ‘Ashur (IA), Nur al-Din ‘Itr (I), Mustafa al-Bugha/Muhyi al-Din Mistu (B), Abdullah al-Juday’ (J), Ibrahim Rufaydah (R), Manna’ al-Qattan (Q), Musa’id al-Tayyar (T), and Muhammad al-Sabuni (S).
Ibn Ashur probably has the most specialized knowledge and is well-versed in the tradition, al-Dhahabi and al-Sabuni probably have the best overview, Rufaydah has good judgment in grammar, and Juday’ and al-Tayyar are probably the most insightful. I have highlighted in bold those that are listed by seven or more authorities, and adjusted the script to facilitate proper pronunciation.
Muqātil (d. 150; the earliest preserved tafsīr) none listed but still important nevertheless
Yaḥyā ibn Sallām (d. 200) IA
al-Farrāʾ (d. 207) R
Abū ʿUbaydah (d. 209) R
al-Zajjāj (d. 311) R, Z
al-Ṭabarī (d. 311) (ma’thūr) IA, DH, R, Z, Q, J, B, I, T, S
Abū Mansụ̄r al-Māturīdī (d. 333) – the first major theological tafsīr IA
al-Naḥḥās (d. 338) R, J (I’rab) Z (nasikh mansukh)
al-Jasas (d. 370) ahkam J, S
al-Samarqandī (d. 375) ma’thur DH, Z, Q, S
al-Thaʿlabī (d. 427) ma’thur IA, DH, S
Makki al-Qaysi (d. 437) J
al-Wāḥidī (d. 468) R, Z (basit), Z (asbab)
ʿAbd al-Qāhir al-Jurjānī (d. 471) a major linguistic tafsīr IA
Ilkiyā al-Harāsi (d. 504) J, S
al-Baghawī (d. 516) ma’thur DH, Z, J, S
al-Zamakhsharī (d. 538) a major linguistic tafsīr (with al-Jurjānī) IA, R, Q, B, I, S
Ibn ʿAṭiyyah (d. 542) – ma’thur masterpiece in tarjīḥ IA, DH, R, Q, J, T, S
Ibn al-Jawzī (d. 597) J, T
Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 604) IA, DH, R, Z, Q, B, S
al-Qurtụbī (d. 671) R, Z, Q, J, B, S
al-Nasafī (d. 710) ra’y DH, R, Z, Q, I, S
al-Khāzin (d.725) DH, Z, Q, I, S
al-Naysābūrī (d. 728) – ra’y lists the qira’āt, DH, Z, S
Ibn Juzayy (d. 741) T
Abū Ḥayyān al-Gharnāṭī (d. 745) – the apex of grammatical tafsīr , DH, R, Z, Q, J, T, S
Ibn Kathīr (d. 774) – distinguished in ḥadīth DH, Z, J, B, I, T, S
al-Bayḍāwī (d. 791) IA, DH, R, Z, Q, J, I, S
Ibn ʿArafah (d. 803) IA
al-Thaʿālibī (d. 875) DH, R, I, S
al-Suyūṭī (d. 911) al-Durr al-manthūr (and Tafsīr al-Jalālayn) DH, Z, Q, J, S
al-Khaṭīb al-Sharbīnī (d. 977) – ra’y gives tarjīḥ DH, R, Z, S
Abū al-Suʿūd (d. 982) IA, DH, R, Z, Q, I, S
al-Siyālkūtī (d. 1066) – best hashiya on al-Bayḍāwī, though incomplete IA
al-Khafājī (d. 1069) one of the best hawashi on al-Bayḍāwī IA, R
al-Shawkānī, (d.1250) both ma’thūr and ra’y R, J
al-Ālūsī (d. 1270) IA, DH, R, Z, Q, I, S
Ibn ‘Āshūr (d. 1393) the tafsīr of our age J, T