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Majma' al-bayan fi tafsir al-Qur'an (book)

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Majma' al-bayan fi tafsir al-Qur'an
Author Fadl b. Hasan al-Tabrisi (468/1075 - 548/1153)
Original title مَجمَعُ البَیان فی تَفسير القُرآن
Language Arabic
Subject Exegesis of Qur'an


Majmaʿ al-bayān fī Tafsīr al-Qurʾān (Arabic: مَجمَعُ البَیان فی تَفسير القُرآن) written by Fadl b. Hasan al-Tabrisi (d. 548/1153) is one of the most important Qur'anic commentaries in the Islamic world that Shi'a and Sunni scholars have referred to and regarded as one of the old references which has been compiled in the best way with consistent headings. The Importance of this book is because of being comprehensive, authenticity of the content, having precise order, having clear and useful points, and justice in reviewing different opinions.

This commentary covers topics such as: recitation, diacritics, glossary, difficult words, semantics, causes of the revelation of verses, related narrations and elaboration of stories. One of the most important points of this commentary is its discussions regarding the relation between the verses in which further or apparently less connected verses were explained and from this perspective, al-Tabrisi can be considered among rarest Shi'a exegetes who have reflected on the relations between verses.

About the Author

The Shi'a commentator, theologian and faqih, Amin al-Islam Abu 'Ali Fadl b. Hasan al-Tabrisi was among the greatest scholars of 6th/12th. Many biographers have spoken about al-Tabrisi's scholarly position and have praised him well. There are different opinions about his birthplace whether he is from Mazandaran province or Tafrish (the possibility that Tabris is the Arabized pronunciation of Tafrish) in Markazi province, near Qom and Saveh (both in Iran). In any case, the scientific and intellectual personality of al-Tabrisi was formed in Mashhad and Sabzevar and was bloomed there. There, he taught different topics and there he became old and passed away. His grave is in Mashhad near the holy shrine of Imam al-Rida (a) at the beginning of a street named al-Tabrisi after him.

Al-Tabrisi was among the multi-stylist commentators. He wrote three commentaries, Majma' al-bayan, Jawami' al-jami' and al-Kafi al-shafi, the most comprehensive of the three is Majma' al-bayan and most compact of which is al-Kafi al-shafi. According to what he has written at the introduction of Jawami' , he saw the commentary al-Kashshaf after writing Majma' al-bayan and al-Kafi al-shafi and he was astonished by Zamakhshari's great literary and eloquent discussions and his rational inclinations and thus he wrote a commentary more concise than Majma' al-bayan under the influence of Zamakhshari's al-Kashshaf and his eloquent approach.

Discussions

This commentary covers topics such as: recitation, diacritics, glossary, difficult words, semantics, causes of the revelation of verses, related narrations and elaboration of stories. This commentary is very much influenced by al-Shaykh al-Tusi's al-Tibyan, with the difference that classifying issues, al-Tabrisi has helped the reader better benefit the text selectively. Those who are more interested in one section of the commentary can easily just refer to the recitation, literature and commentary of that section separately. Majma' al-bayan does not engage topic-based issues; rather it quotes Sunni commentators' ideas and criticize them using a scholarly approach.

One of the most important advantages of this commentary is its establishment of relations between the verses in which further or apparently less connected verses were explained and from this perspective, al-Tabrisi can be considered among rarest Shi'a exegetes who have reflected on the relations between verses.

Methodology

Al-Tabrisi's method in Majma' al-bayan is that he first mentions some of the verses of a Sura, then he explains them under different titles from perspectives of various sciences. He first reviews them regarding recitation and differences between recitations and judge their best (under the title of Hujja [proof]), then he discusses the vocabulary and difficult words, then talks about their diacritics, then he discusses the causes of revelation, then the general meaning of those verses and finally discusses the relation between those verses under the heading Nazm [order].

This approach helps the reader to find out his specific question quickly under one of the mentioned parts and do not have to search it among many pages like other commentaries.

Position

Majma' al-bayan is one of the most important Qur'anic commentaries in the Islamic world that Shi'a and Sunni scholars have referred to and regarded as one of the old references which has been compiled in the best way with consistent headings. In his preface to this commentary, al-Shaykh Shaltut, the Sunni mufti wrote that,

"Majma' al-bayan is unique among commentaries. This commentary's comprehensiveness, depth and variety of topics, categorization and order are its unprecedented advantages among commentaries before it and rare in works after it.

The importance of Majma' al-bayan is for its comprehensiveness, reliability and authenticity of the discussions, accurate order and clear, helpful interpretation and fair criticism of others' opinions."

References