Al-Burhan fi tafsir al-Qur'an (book)

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Al-Burhan fi tafsir al-Qur'an
Bibliographical Information
Bibliographical Information
Authoral-Sayyid Hashim al-Bahrani
Subjectexegesis of Qur'an
PublisherDifferent publications

Al-Burhān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān (Arabic: البرهان فی تفسیر القرآن) is one of the most important Shi'ite narrative exegesis of the Qur'an by al-Sayyid Hashim al-Bahrani. The author has discussed different issues like Islamic sciences, stories, nabawi hadiths (hadiths that narrated from the Prophet (s)) and the virtues of Ahl al-Bayt (a). Al-Bahrani was an Akhbari and his exegesis was written in an Akhbari manner. Some of the exegetes have criticized his work.

Author and Motivation

Al-Sayyid Hashim al-Bahrani, well known as al-'Allama al-Bahrani was one of the jurists, traditionalists and Shi'a exegetes in 11th/17th century and early 12th/18th century.

In the preface of his book, he stated that his motivation for writing the book was presenting a source for understanding exegetical theories and the teachings of Ahl al-Bayt (a) in ta'wil and secrets of the Qur'an.

Structure and the Manner of Compiling

Al-'Allama al-Bahrani has gathered many hadiths of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) in the book. He states in his preface:

"This book will help you know about many secrets of the Qur'an. Some of the religious sciences, stories, life of prophets and the virtues of Ahl al-Bayt (a) will be understandable for you by this book. … I have gathered narrations from valid and authentic hadith collections whose compilers are among trustworthy scholars. I have narrated most of the hadiths from Shi'a transmitters but in the case that Sunni hadiths were in correspondence with Shi'a's or in the case that a hadith of Sunnis was about the virtues of Ahl al-Bayt (a), I used their hadiths as well. I also mentioned some hadiths from Ibn 'Abass in interpreting the Qur'an because he was pupil of Imam 'Ali (a). "

His manner in this exegesis is as follows: first, he mentions the name of the sura, the place that it was revealed, merits of the sura and the number of the verses. Then he refers to verses that have especial hadiths in explaining their content and discusses about those hadiths.

In al-Burhan, al-'Allama al-Bahrani sufficed to mention the hadiths. He wrote the chains of transmission and the hadith of Sunnis at the end of each chapter.

He considered his book as a statement of the Ta'wil of the verses of the Qur'an and by Ta'wil, he meant the hadiths that are narrated from infallibles. He also mentioned the virtue of infallibles. He did not add any comment on the hadiths but in his long introduction, he presented his views and analysis on the exegetical theories. There is another introduction for this book by Abu l-Hasan Sharif al-'Amili al-Isfahani (d. 1138/1725-6 or 1140/1727-8) under the title Mir'at al-anwar wa mishkat al-asrar.

Al-'Allama al-Bahrani has presented his ideas on interpretation and Qur'anic quests in 16 chapters in introduction. He believed that the Qur'an should be exclusively interpreted by Imams (a). Even though that his notion of interpretation is close to Ta'wil, in the 6th chapter, he has expressly prevented other people to interpret the Qur'an. In the 15th chapter, he has stated some points on the unity of the Qur'an and 'Itrat. He has also emphasized on the inner meaning of the Qur'an and that its knowledge is in the hands of Ahl al-Bayt (a). In the last chapter, he has mentioned some of the sources of the book and has introduced some terms such as Nasikh and Mansukh, Muhkam and Mutashabih, 'Am and Khas, Taqdim and Ta'khir but he has not presented any definition about these terms. The atmosphere of the book is proving the rightfulness of Ahl al-Bayt (a) and introducing their virtues.


The author used following hadiths collections in his book:

  1. Tafsir al-Qummi
  2. Tafsir al-'ayyashi
  3. Basa'ir al-darajat, by Muhammad b. Hasan al-Saffar
  4. Al-Kafi, by al-Kulayni
  5. Qurb al-isnad, by 'Abd Allah b. ja'far al-Himyari
  6. Al-Irshad, by al-Shaykh al-Mufid
  7. Al-Ikhtisas, by al-Shaykh al-Mufid
  8. Al-'Amali by al-Shaykh al-Mufid
  9. Kitab al- zuhd, by Husayn b. Sa'id al-Ahwazi
  10. Kitab Sulaym b. Qays al-Hilali
  11. Kitab Ibn Shadhan
  12. The book of 'Ali b. Ja'far that contains his questions from Imam al-Kazim (a)
  13. Kitab man la yahduruh al-faqih, by al-Shaykh al-Saduq
  14. Kamal al-din wa tamam al-ni'ma, by al-Shaykh al-Saduq
  15. Ma'ani al-akhbar, by al-Shaykh al-Saduq
  16. 'Ilal al-sharayi', by al-Shaykh al-Saduq
  17. Bisharat al-Shi'a, by al-Shaykh al-Saduq
  18. Sifat al-Shi'a, by al-Shaykh al-Saduq
  19. Al-Tawhid, by al-Shaykh al-Saduq
  20. 'Uyun akhbar al-rida, by al-Shaykh al-Saduq
  21. Al-Khisal, by al-Shaykh al-Saduq
  22. Thawab al-a'mal wa 'iqab al-a'mal, by al-Shaykh al-Saduq
  23. Al-Tahdhib, by al-Shaykh al-Tusi
  24. Al-Istibsar, by al-Shaykh al-Tusi
  25. Al-'Amali, by al-Shaykh al-Tusi
  26. Khasa'is al-'a'ima, by al-Sayyid al-Radi
  27. Al-Manaqib al-fakhira fi l-'itra al-tahira, by al-Sayyid al-Radi
  28. Al-Mahasin, by Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Khalid al-Barqi
  29. Majma' al-Bayan, by al-Shaykh al-Tabrisi
  30. Jawami' al-jami', by al-Shaykh al-Tabrisi
  31. Misbah al-shari'a, the hadiths in this book has been attributed to Imam al-Sadiq (a)
  32. Minhaj al-haqq wa l-yaqin, Wali b. Ni'mat Allah Husayni Radawi Ha'iri
  33. Ta'wil al-ayat al-bahira fi l-'itra al-tahira, al-Shaykh Sharaf al-Din al-Najafi
  34. Ma anzal min al-qur'an fi ahl al-bayt (a), al-Shaykh Muhammad b. 'Abbas b. Marwan b. Mahyar, well-known as Ibn Juham
  35. Tuhfa al-ikhwan, by Sayyid b. Tawus
  36. Al-Tara'if, by Sayyid b. Tawus
  37. Rabi' al-abrar, by al-Zamakhshari
  38. Al-Kashshaf fi tafsir al-Qur'an, by al-Zamakhshari
  39. Majmu'a waram, by al-Shaykh Abu l-Husayn Waram
  40. Al-Manaqib, by Muhammad b. 'Ali b. Shahr Ashub
  41. Al-Ihtijaj, by al-Shaykh Ahmad b. 'Ali b. Abi Talib al-Tabrisi
  42. Kamil al-ziyarat, by Ibn Qulawayh al-Qummi
  43. Mashariq anwar al-yaqin, by al-Shaykh Rajab al-Barsi

And some other sources that have been mentioned in different chapters of the book.


Muhammad Mahdi al-Asifi writes:

"Despite the author's ample efforts in al-Burhan exegesis, there are some unauthentic and distorted hadiths which convey ideas of exaggeration (al-Ghuluw). It is more likely that the author did not mean to refine unauthentic hadiths or he meant but it was not enough. He has used the sources that are accused for being distorted and has narrated some hadiths that have unreliable chains of transmission and incoherent content. So, it can be concluded that al-Burhan is a beneficial scholarly effort for researchers who are familiar with the texts and are knowledgeable about reliable and coherent hadiths and are able to differentiate between authentic and unauthentic hadiths. The fact that this book contains some unauthentic hadiths does not mean that it is a worthless book but it is similar to Bihar al-anwar by al-'Allama al-Majlisi which has some unauthentic hadiths, but given this quality, it is a great work that is a huge help to Shiite library. However, gathering the hadiths is the first step and after that, the second step begins which is refinement of the hadiths and differentiating the authentic from unauthentic narrations. The third step is to extract general rules and fundamentals of the exegetical approach of Ahl al-Bayt (a). Without completing all the three steps, it is not possible to benefit from the exegetical hadiths of Ahl al-Bayt (a)."

Muhammad Hadi Ma'rifat in his al-Tafsir wa l-mufassirun states:

"Al-Sayyid Hashim al-Bahrani is one of the accomplished traditionalists who gathered hadiths. He did not present any idea about the acceptance, rejection or compromise of the hadiths that are against reason or other narrations. "

Sayyid Muhammad 'Ali Ayazi:

"The author is one of the Akhbaris who believes that the interpretation of the Qur'an is permissible only through the hadiths of Ahl al-Bayt (a) and interpretation through reasoning, ijtihad and spiritual taste is forbidden."



  1. Manuscript of the library of Waziri, Yazd, no 5998
  2. Manuscript of the central library of University of Tehran, no 844
  3. Manuscript of Dar al-Kutub of Cairo, no 19109
  4. Manuscript of the library of Faydiyya in Qom, (tafsir 16-40-39)
  5. Manuscript of the public library of Ayatollah al-Hakim, Iraq, no 690
  6. Manuscript of the library of the faculty of literature of the University of Tehran, no 457
  7. Manuscript of the library of the faculty of theology of the University of Tehran, no 20b & 25b
  8. Manuscript of the library of the Holy Shrine of Imam al-Rida (a) in Mashhad, no 83-91
  9. Manuscript of the library of the higher school of Shahid Mutahhari in Tehran, no 2057

Lithography and Printing

Beside old publications, al-Burhan has been published a number of times:

  1. 'Isma'iliyan institute, published in five Volumes, Qom
  2. Al-Wafa institute, published in four volumes, Beirut
  3. 'Islammiya bookstore, in five volumes, Tehran
  4. Al-Risala institute, in 1403 AH/1982-3
  5. Bi'that institute, in five volumes, Tehran, with an introduction of al-Shaykh Muhammad Mahdi al-Asifi