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Tafsir al-'Ayyashi (book)

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Tafsir al-'Ayyashi
Author Muhammad b. Mas'ud al-'Ayyashi
Original title التفسير
Language Arabic
Series 2 volumes
Subject Exegesis of the Qur'an
Genre Hadith
Publisher Maktaba al-Ilmiyya al-Islamiyya
Exegesis
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Tafsīr al-ʿAyyāshī (Arabic:تَفسیر العَیّاشی), written by Muhammad b. Mas'ud al-'Ayyashi (d. 320/932-933), is among the Shi'a Hadith-Based Quranic Exegesises. The author was one of the great Shi'a hadith scholars, living contemporary with al-Kulayni during the Minor occultation period. This book is considered as one of Shia hadith sources.

According to what is transmitted from this exegesis to the later writings, most likely the book originally included the interpretation of the whole Qur'an, but only a part of the first volume (from the beginning of Qur'an 2 (Sura al-hamd) until the end of Qur'an 18 (Sura al-Kahf) still survives.

The distinction between exegesis of al-'Ayyashi and Tafsir al-Qummi or Tafsir Furat al-Kufi (other exegesises of the early centuries based on hadiths) is al-'Ayyashi's special respect for the Jurisprudential aspects of Ayat al-Ahkam. He has also attended the Islamic theology and Shi'a and none-Shi'a sects, and remarked some hadiths considering these issues. However, omitting the transmitters of the hadiths by the author, decreases the value of the book.

Introducing the Book

Tafsir al-'Ayyashi, belonging to the Minor occultation period (260/874 -329/941), is of the old Twelver Shi'a exegesises. Same as other exegesises of that period, it interprets the verses by means of related hadiths. Still it enjoys a Jurisprudential aspect more than other contemporary Shi'a exegesises, such as Tafsir al-Qummi and Tafsir Furat al-Kufi, owing to the author's attentive consideration of Ayat al-Ahkam

The Loss of Parts of the Book

According to what is transmitted from this exegesis to the later writings, most likely the book originally included the interpretation of the whole Qur'an, but only a part of the first volume (from the beginning of Qur'an 2 until the end of Qur'an 18 still survives.

Exegesis scholars have used and narrated hadith from this book, which was originally written in two volumes. In his book, Shawahid al-tanzil, Hakim al-Haskani has narrated about 30 hadiths from it. Likewise, al-Shaykh al-Tabrisi has narrated about 70 hadiths from both volumes of this book. Al-'Allama al-Majlisi says that he has seen two copies of this exegesis. The second volume of the book is lost ever since. Aqa Buzurg Tihrani counts six different manuscript and printed copies of the first volume.

The Position of the Book and the Author

Although both Shi'a and sunni rijal scholars and biographers have acclaimed al-'Ayyashi and presented him as one of the greatest Shi'a scholars in jurisprudence and hadith, some have criticized him for his widely narrating from unreliable hadith transmitters. Many Shi'a scholars such as al-Sayyid Hashim al-Bahrani in his commentary on the Qur'an al-Burhan, al-'Allama al-Majlisi in Bihar al-Anwar, and al-Fayd al-Kashani in Tafsir al-Safi have largely quoted from this book. 'Allama Tabataba'i has written a preface for this book, stating the significance and great position of this exegesis.

Characteristics

In a short introduction to his book, al-'Ayyashi has mentioned some hadiths about the merits of the Qur'an, abandoning the hadiths in contradiction to the Qur'an, reproaching the interpretation of the Qur'an according to one's own idea, studying the Qur'anic sciences; such as Naskh (the abrogating and abrogated [verses]) , al-Zahir and al-Batin, Muhkam and Mutashabih (decisive and allegorical words), and the necessity of consulting the infallible Imams (a) for understanding and interpreting the Qur'an.

Conforming to other Shi'a exegesis works in that period, the author has stated some hadiths regarding the virtues of Ahl al-Bayt (a) and the vices of their enemies, and has sought to promote the Imami beliefs and doctrines.

The distinction between exegesis of al-'Ayyashi and Tafsir al-Qummi or Tafsir Furat al-Kufi (other exegesises of the early centuries based on hadiths) is al-'Ayyashi's special respect for the Jurisprudential aspects of Ayat al-Ahkam. He has also attended the Islamic theology and Shi'a and none-Shi'a sects, and remarked some hadiths considering these issues.

The author has omitted the transmitters of the hadiths, as he has explained in the introduction, due to briefness of the book and convenience of scribers, and to represent the book by one who has received it from the author, through listening or permission, in a proper chance.

The Printings of the Commentary

  1. The printing of Maktaba al-Islamiya, Tehran, 1380/1961
  2. The printing of Mr. Sayyid Hashim Rasuli Mahallati in 2 volumes, with an introduction by 'Allama Tabataba'i.
  3. The printing of Bi'that Institute in 3 volumes, Qom, 1421/2001. In this printing 116 lost hadiths which have been related in other Shi'a and none-Shi'a books are compiled, and al-'Ayyashi's means to other transmitters of hadith are mentioned.

References