What Is Tafsir?

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What Is Tafsir?

In the vast tapestry of Islamic scholarship, Tafsir holds a distinguished place as a key discipline that delves into the interpretation and understanding of the Quran, the holy book of Islam. The term ‘Tafsir’ is derived from the Arabic root word ‘fasara,’ which means to explain or to expound. Thus, Tafsir involves the systematic explanation and commentary on the verses of the Quran to unravel their meanings, context, and implications. This profound endeavor has been essential for Muslims throughout history to grasp the wisdom and guidance contained within the sacred text.

The Purpose Of Tafsir

At its core, Tafsir aims to illuminate the meanings of the Quranic verses, addressing linguistic nuances, historical context, and the jurisprudential implications of the revealed text. It serves as a bridge between the timeless wisdom of the Quran and the dynamic context of human existence. The primary objectives of Tafsir include:

  1. Understanding Linguistic Nuances: The Quran was revealed in classical Arabic, and Tafsir helps elucidate the linguistic subtleties embedded in the verses. Scholars analyze the choice of words, sentence structures, and grammatical nuances to extract a deeper understanding of the divine message.
  2. Providing Historical Context: Many Quranic verses were revealed in response to specific events during the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Tafsir provides historical context, helping readers comprehend the circumstances that led to the revelation of particular verses and the lessons derived from them.
  3. Exploring Jurisprudential Implications: Tafsir plays a crucial role in extracting legal and ethical principles from the Quran. Scholars engage in a meticulous study of verses to derive guidance for Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) and ethical conduct.

Methods Of Tafsir

Tafsir is approached through various methods, each catering to different aspects of interpretation. Some of the prominent methods include:

  1. Tafsir Bil-Ma’thur: This method relies on explaining the Quran using the Quran itself. Scholars cross-reference verses within the Quran to provide a coherent and harmonious interpretation.
  2. Tafsir Bil-Ra’y: This method involves personal reasoning and scholarly opinion to interpret the Quranic text. It may include linguistic analysis, historical context, and the scholar’s understanding of the subject matter.
  3. Tafsir Bil-Hadith: Hadiths (sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad) are used to explain and provide context to Quranic verses. This method aims to align the understanding of the Quran with the teachings and practices of the Prophet.

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Prominent Tafsir Scholars

Throughout Islamic history, numerous scholars have dedicated their lives to the study and explication of the Quran. Some of the most revered Tafsir scholars include:

  1. Ibn Kathir: Renowned for his comprehensive work, “Tafsir al-Quran al-Azim,” Ibn Kathir’s commentary is widely respected for its clarity and adherence to authentic sources.
  2. Al-Jalalayn: The collaborative effort of two scholars, Jalal ad-Din al-Mahalli and Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuti, resulted in “Tafsir al-Jalalayn,” a concise yet insightful commentary highly valued for its accessibility.
  3. Ibn Abbas: Known as a companion of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Ibn Abbas is recognized for his deep understanding of the Quran. His explanations are often cited in various Tafsir works.


Tafsir stands as a testament to the Islamic tradition’s commitment to intellectual exploration and understanding. As Muslims seek to deepen their connection with the Quran, Tafsir provides a rich resource for unlocking the layers of meaning within its verses. Whether through linguistic analysis, historical context, or jurisprudential insights, Tafsir continues to be a vibrant and evolving discipline that nourishes the hearts and minds of those in pursuit of divine wisdom.


What Is The Meaning Of Tafsir?

tafsīr, (Arabic: “explanation,” “exegesis”) the science of explanation of the Qurʾān, the sacred scripture of Islam, or of Qurʾānic commentary. So long as Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, was alive, no other authority for interpretations of the Qurʾānic revelations was recognized by Muslims.

What Is An Example Of A Tafsir?

Some important examples of such tafsirs include Anwar al-Tanzil by al-Baydawi and Mafatih al-Ghayb by Fakhr al-Din al-Razi. Some parameters used by these scholars including linguistic resources, historical sources, methodological concepts such as maqasid or socio-cultural environment taken into consideration.

What Is Tafsir And The Important?

Tafsir is the explanation of the text of the Quran with full detail including circumstance of the revelation of the portion in question, time of their revelation, interprelation and application. It is also known as commentary or exegesis.

What Is A Tafsir Book?

Tafsir is a body of commentary and explication, aimed at explaining the meanings of the Qur’an, the central religious text of Islam. Tafsir can broadly be categorized by its affiliated Islamic schools and branches and the era it was published, classic or modern.

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