Tafsir al-Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a) (book)
|Author||Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a)|
|Original title||التفسير المنسوب الی الامام أبي محمد الحسن بن علي العسکري|
|Publisher||Madrasa al-Imam al-Mahdi (a)|
Tafsīr al-Imām al-Ḥasan al-ʿAskarī (a) (Arabic:تفسير الامام الحسن العسکري) is a Shi'a, Hadith-based exegesis of the Qur'an from the 3rd/9th century. In this Tafsir some verses are interpreted, while most of interpretations are about the miracles of Prophet Muhammad (s) and the infallible Imams (a). Although the referents of verses were mentioned, less attention have been paid to the causes of revelation (Sha'n al-Nuzul) and there is no mention of grammatical or rhetorical discussion. The chain of narrators (Sanad) of the book shows that narrating this book was prevalent among the muhaddiths and faqihs of the 4th/10th and 5th/11th centuries in Qom. The available book only contains form the begging of the Qur'an to the 282nd verse of Sura al-Baqara.
The Tafsir starts with some hadiths about the merits of the Qur'an, interpretations of it, etiquette of reciting it, and continues with hadiths about the virtues of Ahl al-Bayt (a) and vices of their enemies.
Overall, 379 hadiths are quoted in the book, most of which are as lengthy as several pages; thus sometimes the structure of hadiths is missing or even some of them suffer from incoherence.
In this Tafsir some verses are interpreted, while most of interpretations are about the miracles of Prophet Muhammad (s) and the infallible Imams (a). Although the referents of verses were mentioned, less attention have been paid to the causes of revelation and there is no mention of grammatical or rhetorical discussion.
Interpretation of a verse usually starts with explanation of the words in the verse and then hadiths related to the verse are quoted. In some cases, the hadiths related to the cause of revelation of the verse are mixed with exegetical hadiths of the verse.
Meaning of Shi'a, meaning of Rafidi, Taqiyya and virtues of some of the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (s), including Khabbab b. Aratt and 'Ammar b. Yasir are some additional topics mentioned in this Tafsir. Some exegetical points such as the interpretation of the Forbidden Tree as the tree of the knowledge of Muhammad (s) and Ahl al-Bayt (a) are only found in this book.
The chain of narrators (Sanad) of the book shows that narrating this book was prevalent among the muhaddiths and faqihs of the 4th/10th and 5th/11th centuries in Qom. Muhammad b. Qasim Istarabadi al-Khatib, known as Mufassir al-Jurjani, - who is maybe the compiler of the book - has narrated the content of the book from the two narrators of the book: Abu al-Hasan Ali b. Muhammad b. Sayyar (Yasar) and Abu Ya'qub Yusuf b. Muhammad b. Ziyad.
In the short introduction form the two narrators of the book, they said after that Hasan b. Zayd came into power they were forced to emigrated from their hometown. Since they said that they went to Imam Hasan al-'Askari (a), they must have entered Samarra after 254/868, the year that Imam al-'Askari (a) became Imam.
They added that they learned what they have narrated in 7 years from Imam al-'Askari (a); however, they did not mention the martyrdom of the Imam in 260/874. Apparently, they returned to their hometowns after the martyrdom of Imam al-'Askari (a).
Although the book is among the earliest Shi'a exegeses, its authenticity is a subject of controversy. Al-Shaykh al-Saduq (d. 381/991) is the first Shi'a scholar who has frequently quoted excerpts from the Tafsir in his works; without discussing the authenticity of it. He had taken the text of the book directly from al-Istarabadi. At the beginning of Man la yahduruh al-faqih, he mentioned that what he has compiled in this book is Sahih (reliable and authentic) from his viewpoint and the hadiths in it were taken from authentic and famous sources. Moreover, in a chapter of "Talbiya" he has narrated a hadith from al-Istarabadi and at the end of the hadiths he mentioned that he has narrated the rest of it in the Tafsir. Therefore, if al-Shaykh al-Saduq were not the compiler of the book, he was probably the editor of it. This hypothesis is also supported by what al-Najashi (d. after 463/1071) reported that there were two exegetical works among those of al-Shaykh al-Saduq, titled as "Tafsir al-Qur'an" and "Mukhtasar al-Tafsir".
Another piece of evidence is a hadith that al-Shaykh al-Saduq has narrated in al-Tawhid from the same chain of narrators. At the end of the hadith, al-Shaykh al-Saduq said that he has narrated the complete hadith is his Tafsir.
Doubts about Authenticity
The first Shi'a scholar who cast doubt on the authenticity of the book is Ibn al-Ghada'iri. In his book al-Du'afa', Ibn al-Ghada'iri has described Muhammad b. Qasim al-Istarabadi as a weak (unreliable) and liar. He also said the two narrator who has narrated the book via their fathers form Imam al-'Askari (a) are unknown and hence, cannot be trusted. He believed that this Tafsir is "forged" by Sahl b. Ahmad b. 'Abd Allah al-Dibaji (d. 380/990-1).
However, the supporter of the authenticity of the book have tried to clear up the doubts about its authenticity. First they questioned the attribution of al-Du'afa to Ibn al-Ghada'iri. Then they argued that according to the Tafsir, Ibn Sayyar and Abu Ya'qub has narrated the text of the Tafsir directly form Imam al-'Askari (a). In addition, al-Najashi has described Sahl b. Ahmad as someone that there is no dispraise about him, also al-Khatib al-Baghdadi mentioned that he was a Shi'a and al-Shaykh al-Mufid (d. 413/1022) performed Salat al-Mayyit to his body; all of which show that he had a high status among Shi'a.
Other scholars have questioned the authenticity of the Tafsir as there is Hasan b. Khalid al-Barqi in the chain of narrators of the book, while - as it is believed by al-Shaykh al-Tusi - al-Barqi did not meet any Imams and could not have narrated hadith form them directly. However, some scholars who have studied various manuscripts of the book said al-Barqi is not in any chains of narrators of hadiths in this book.
Besides al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Abu Mansur Ahmad b. Ali al-Tabrisi has mentioned this book among the sources of his book al-Ihtijaj. Since he pointed that the Tafsir was not famous, he has mentioned the complete chain of narrators of it.
Moreover, Sa'id b. Hibat Allah al-Rawandi has quoted an excerpt from the Tafsir without mentioning its name. Ibn Shar Ashub has also quoted from the book, and mentioned its name; but not the chain of narrators.
Furthermore, 'Abd al-Jalil al-Qazwini has mentioned a book titled as Tafsir al-Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a) as one of the famous Shi'a exegesis in his book al-Naqd - which he was writing in 560/1165. However, because he did not quote anything from the book, it is not certain that what he has mentioned is this book.
- The oldest available Persian translation is titled as Athar al-akhyar, translated by Abu al-Hasan Ali b. Hasan Zavari'i (d. 984/1576-7). It is a translation of the whole text of the book.
- A translation by Ghudrat Allah Husayni Shahmuradi of Sura al-Fatiha from this Tafsir along with a lengthy introduction proving the authenticity of the Tafsir.
- An Urdu translation by Sayyid Husayn Bahrilui (Barilui) (d. 1361/1942) titled as Athar Haidari.
The Arabic text has been published several times.
The book was compared to 6 available manuscripts of it and published in Qom in 1409/1988-9, by the efforts of Sayyid Muhammad Baqir Abtahi.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from تفسیر امام حسن عسکری (ع) in Farsi WikiShia.