If you learn Quran, you must have encountered the term “Tafseer” or “Tafsir Al Quran” to be more specific.
The Holy Quran is the message of Allah (SWT) to humanity, the guide to the righteous path, and the source of all knowledge. Due to the great importance of the Quran, we must learn it with understanding.
Learning Quran with meaning and understanding is one of the unique Quran sciences that’s called “Tafseer Quran”.
In this article, we’ll get to know what is the “Tafsir”, the importance of Quran Tafseer, types of Tafseer, and how to learn Tafseer e Quran.
What is Tafsir Al Quran? (Tafseer Quran Definition)
“Tafseer” or “Tafsir” is actually an Arabic word that derived from the root word “فَسَّرَ” which linguistically means to provide a detailed explanation or interpretation of a text.
“Tafsir Al Quran” can be defined as one of the advanced Quran sciences that attempts to provide elucidation, explanation, interpretation, context, or commentary of Quranic verses for clear understanding and conviction of Allah’s (SWT) message.
The Mufassir is the person who provides Tafaseer of the Quran. He/She aims to show where, when, and why the Quranic verses are revealed and what they meant during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), his companions, and subsequent followers. Most significant Islamic scholars saw the role of Mufassir as part of being a jurist, theologian, and grammarian.
Why Learn Tafsir Al Quran?
And they do not come to you with an argument except that We bring you the truth and the best explanation.The Holy Quran [25:33]
There are many reasons why every Muslim should learn Tafseer Quran.
The right application of Islam religion is based on the proper comprehension of the guidance from Allah (SWT). Without learning Quran Tafseer, mankind will have no correct understanding of the Quranic verses which represent Allah’s Almighty commands and guidance.
Some people who learn Arabic reading and even excel in it might think that they don’t need to learn Tafsir Al Quran. They actually in grave error to think so. Firstly, because the language of the Quran is a special Arabic that was spoken at the time it was revealed, by the people who witnessed the revelations. Moreover, the Arabic is very eloquent language; words can have multiple meanings, so if one does not research the meaning behind a certain word in a certain verse, then they might wrongly interpret it.
Although the Quran was translated into many languages, It only gives the literal meaning of the words of the Quran. On the other hand, Tafsir comes with the context in which a particular verse (Ayah) was revealed, hence giving a context to each and every word, which consequently means a better understanding of Quran and its verses.
Quran Translation & Tafseer also plays a critical role in setting the laws of Islam. It utilizes both of Quranic verses and Hadith of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to provide a complete, clear, and comprehensive set of Islamic instructions.
Tafsir Al Quran is a typical science that follows clear rules and methodology. This endeavors unifying the interpretation of the Quran and eliminating any confusion or conflict in verses meaning.
What are The Types of Tafsir?
Tafseer can be generally divided into two types from the methodology perspective:
- Tafsir bil-Riwaya (Tafsir bil-Ma’thur)
- Tafsir bil-Ra’y (Tafsir bi-AlDiraya)
1. Tafsir bil-Riwayah (Tafsir bil-Ma’thur)
Tafsir bi-Al-Ma’thur (in Arabic: التفسير بالمأثور) or Tafsir bi-al-Riwaya (in Arabic: تفسير بالرواية) involves the interpretation of the Qur’an by Quranic verses and the use of the explanations of the prophet (PBUH) and his companions.
This type of Tafseer Quran is the most used method throughout history to interpret the Quran and agreed upon by all scholars.
The methodology of Tafseer bil-Riwaya depends on 2 main resources. The first resource is the holy Quran itself by using another portion of the Quran to comprehend certain Quranic verse(s). The second one is the Hadith of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the sayings of his companions.
Best books of Tafsir Al Quran bil-Riwayah are attributed to Ibn Abbas, Ibn Abi Khatim, and Ibn Habban.
2. Tafsir bil-Ra’y (Tafsir bi-AlDiraya)
Tafsir bi-Al-Ray (in Arabic: التفسير بالرأي) or Tafsir bi-Al-Diraya (in Arabic: تفسير بالدراية) is not based directly on the transmission of knowledge from the past but on reason. Exegesis is derived through opinion based on reason and “Ijtihad” or “Qiyas”.
This type of Tafseer Quran depends on comparing the verses, traditions, and sayings of the renowned companions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Thus, by this comparison and contrast, scholars reason and reach a particular interpretation of the verses of the Quran.
The most unique feature of Tafsir bi-Al-Diraya is the inclusion of the opinions of the commentator, thus forming a more objective view on Quranic verses. Additionally, the relative rareness of traditional sources is also a practical reason why this Tafseer methodology is augmented. In this regards, Allah (SWT) says in the Quran:
[This is] a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that they might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded.The Holy Quran [38:29]
One of the best books of Tafsir Al Quran bil-ray is attributed to Al-Zamakhshari.
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How to Learn Tafseer Quran?
There are 4 main ways to learn Tafsir Al Quran…
You can learn Quran translation by yourself through authenticated Tafseer books.
You may start with brief Tafsir books such as Al-Jalalayn or Al-Tafseer Al-Muyassar. Spend a few years in totally absorbing/memorizing one of these books. Do not refer to any other book of Tafseer. The idea is that you become familiar with the understanding of each Qur’anic verse, without paying attention to disputes over Tafseer. Whenever you come across a verse you must be able to recall a full understanding of it according to this book.
Once you perfected the Tafseer in this book, you should do the same process with more advanced Tafsir books such as Tafsir Ibn Katheer and Tafsir Al-Tabari.
2- A Near Mosque or Islamic Center/School
If there is a near Mosque or Islamic Center/school, it’ll be a good idea to learn Tafsir Quran with the assistance of professional Quran tutors who have pre-defined learning programs.
3- Private Quran Tafsir Tutor
If there is a Quran Tafseer tutor near to you, you may ask him/her to provide you or your kids with private Quran Tafseer classes at home. This way could be better than the previous one because the tutor will be focusing on one student, providing a better learning experience.
4- Online Quran Tafsir Course
The last and considered the most effective yet affordable method is to learn Tafsir Al Quran online. You can either get an online recorded Quran Tafseer course or study Tafseer online step-by-step with a professional Quran tutor.
Online Quran Tafseer Classes at Aya Institute
Now, you or your kids can take online Tafsir classes by expert and certified teachers with the highest levels of Quran education through one-to-one live sessions.
Our Quran male/female tutors will help you to learn Quran Tafseer online, develop a correct interpretation of the Quran, knowing the situation in which the verses were revealed as well as understanding the Quranic verses in-depth with the explanation.
Our Tafseer teachers possess detailed knowledge of Quran with Tafseer, and excellent tutoring methods, in addition to providing a proper learning environment, so that you can study the Quran and learn its Tafseer in a comfortable and reliable way.
If you want to start learning Tafsir Al Quran for your or for your kids, proceed with booking free trial now.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Online Quran Translation Classes are sort of advanced Quran learning. Accordingly, for beginners, we recommend that they first take Quran Recitation with Tajweed online course or learn Noorani Qaida at least.
What You’ll Learn in Online Quran Tafseer Classes by Aya Institute
- Definition of Tafseer
- Understanding the science of Tafsir Al Quran
- Meaning of verses word by word
- The contextual meaning of the Word
- Learn Islamic laws
- Skills in scholarly writings
- The sophistic and complicated ideas through the oral display
- Quranic explanations in Arabic
- Explain each and every Sura and its verses with other parts of the Quran and Hadees with references
- Understand the commands of Allah (SWT)
- Virtues of the Quran
- Importance of recitation and understanding
- Comparison of Quran with other previously revealed scriptures
- Order of Quran in the era of Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiqui and Usman (R.A)
- Virtues and problems of ta’awwuz and tasmiyah.
- Tafseer of entire Quran (in parts) Meaning of verses
- Arabic Grammar
- Understanding of Allah Almighty’s commands (Ahkam)
- Application of commands
- Usul Tafsir
- Ilmul Blagah
- Meaning of verses
- Rabt b/t Surah
The Qualifications of a Mufassir
Since the Quran is the source of all knowledge and guidance, its interpreter/translator must have specific qualities and qualifications in order not to mislead the Muslims.
There are certain criteria that a Mufassir (The commentator of the Holy Qur’an) must meet before he/she is allowed to explain the Qur’an to people. In this regards, Imâm ash-Shâfi’î said:
It is impermissible for any person to give verdicts concerning the religion of Allâh, unless he is knowledgeable of the Book of Allâh, and its nâsikh from its mansûkh, and its muhkam from its mutashâbih, and its interpretation, and its process of revelation, and its makkî from its madanî, and its asbâb an-nuzûl. On top of this, he must be knowledgeable of the Sunnah…Imam al-Shafi’i (d. 204 A.H.)
Hereunder a brief list of qualities and qualifications that a Mufassir required to have to practice Tafsir Al Quran:
- The Proper Intentions
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “All actions are by intentions”. The Mufassir must intend to please Allah (SWT) by this action of interpreting the Quran, and he must intend to guide people to the straight path to the best of his/her abilities.
- The Correct Islamic Beliefs (Aqeedah)
If a person is not a Muslim, or from a heretical or misguided sect, then he/she cannot be trusted in interpreting the Qur’an, for his motive will be to defame Islam or to defend his particular denomination or beliefs.
- Have Strong Faith in Allah (SWT) and The Holy Quran
The Mufassir must love and respect the Quran and have the proper beliefs concerning it. Part of this belief is that he must believe that the Qur’an is the actual kalam of Allah (and not an ‘expression’ of the kalam of Allah!). In this regard, Ibn al-Qayyim (d. 758 AH) said: “A Mufassir must witness that it (the Qur’an) is the kalam of Allah, which Allah actually spoke, and which was revealed to the Prophet (PBUH) by inspiration. And none can grasp its meanings unless his heart is free of misgivings and doubts with regards to the Qur’an, and if a person does not really believe that the Qur’an is from Allah, then there is a disease in his heart (which prevents him from understanding the Qur’an).”.
- Repentance and a Pious Heart
A Mufassir must fear Allâh to the best of his/her abilities, and if he falls into sin, he/she must immediately repent to Allâh for that sin, and not return to it. In this regard, Ibn Qayyim said: “No heart can understand the Qur’ân, or grasp its meanings, except if it is pure, and it is impossible for a heart full of evils and innovations to understand the meanings of the Qur’ân properly.”.
- Proper Understanding of The Fundamentals of The Islam Religion
A Mufassir must have good knowledge of the Islam religion and its teaching in order to avoid falling into many of the heresies that misguided sects did with regards to the understanding of the Qur’ân.
- Follow The Proper Methodology of Tafsir
Tafseer is divided into different categories according to the methodology used in interpreting the Quran. Each methodology has certain rules and criteria. A Mufassir must follow a certain methodology and abide by its rules.
- Knowledge of The Arabic Language, Vocabulary, Grammar, Arabic Morphology, Arabic Rhetoric
This knowledge must be on a scholarly level; a person whose primary language is Arabic is not necessarily knowledgeable of Arabic to the level that is required to interpret the Quran.
- The Knowledge of The Sahih, da’îf shâdh and bâtil qira’âts
- Knowledge of The Fiqh
A Mufassir needs to know Fiqh science so that he can interpret the verses pertaining to Islamic laws in a proper manner.
- Knowledge of Asbab an-Nuzûl, and related sciences
- Knowledge of Nâsikh from its Mansûkh, and related sciences
- Knowledge of The Hadith of the Prophet (PBUH), in Particular, Those Related to The Interpretation of The Quran
- Knowledge of all The Other Branches of Ulûm al-Qur’ân, including Makkî and Madanî, Muhkam and Mutashâbih, and The Types of i’jâz of the Qur’ân
The Best 5 Quran Tafseer Books
There are many good Tafsir Al Quran books attributed to brilliant Islamic scholars across history. Hereunder a list of the best 5 Tafseer books…
1. Tafsir ibn Kathir by Ibn Kathir
Tafsir Ibn Kathir is the most renowned and accepted explanation of the Quran in the entire world. In it one finds the best presentation of Ahadith (stories), history, and scholarly commentary. Muslims consider it to be the best source based on Quran and Sunnah.
2. Tafsir al-Tabari by Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari
Jāmiʿ al-bayān ʿan taʾwīl āy al-Qurʾān, popularly Tafsīr al-Ṭabarī, is a Sunni tafsir by the Persian scholar Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari. It immediately won high regard and retained its importance for scholars to the present day. It is the earliest major running commentary of the Quran to have survived in its original form.
3. Tafsir al-Qurtubi by Al-Qurtubi
Tafsir al-Qurtubi is also known as Al-Jami’li-Ahkam or Al-Jami’ li Ahkam al-Qur’an or Tafsir al-Jami’. The basic objective of this tafsir was to deduce juristic injunctions and rulings from the Quran yet, while doing so, al-Qurtubi has also provided the explanation of verses, research into difficult words, discussion of diacritical marks and elegance of style and composition.
4. Tafhim-ul-Quran by Abul A’la Maududi
Tafhim-ul-Quran is a 6-volume translation and commentary of the Qur’an by the Pakistani Islamist ideologue and activist Syed Abul Ala Maududi. Maududi began writing the book in 1942 and completed it in 1972. It is a combination of orthodox and modernist interpretation and has deeply influenced modern Islamic thought.
5. Tafsir al-Jalalayn by Al-Mahalli and Al-Suyuti
Tafsīr al-Jalālayn is a classical Sunni interpretation of the Qur’an, composed first by Jalal ad-Din al-Maḥalli in 1459 and then completed after his death by his student Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuti in 1505, thus its name, which means “Tafsir of the two Jalals”. It is recognized as one of the most popular exegeses of the Qur’an today.