Tafsir al-Qummi (book)

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Tafsir al-Qummi
Bibliographical Information
Bibliographical Information
Author'Ali b. Ibrahim al-Qummi
Original titleتفسير القمي
Series2 volumes
PublishedDar al-Kutub


Tafsīr ʿAlī b. Ibrāhīm al-Qummī (Arabic: تفسير علي بن إبراهیم القمي ), better known as Tafsir al-Qummi (Arabic: {Arabic: تفسير القمي), is among the oldest and most important Shi'a commentaries of the Qur'an. It is a riwa'i tafsir (a commentary based on hadith), written by 'Ali b. Ibrahim al-Qummi, a well-known scholar of fiqh (jurisprudence) and hadith. Al-Qummi lived contemporary to Imam al-Hadi (a) and Imam Hasan al-'Askari (a), and was one of the teachers of al-Kulayni.

Writing Style and Special Characteristics

Tafsir al-Qummi is among the most important Twelver Shi'a commentaries, and most other Shi'a commentaries refer back to it. In the introduction, the author explains his exegetical methodology.

Some of its special characteristics are as follows:

  • Based on hadith: This has made the author sometimes forgot the apparent meanings of the verses
  • A Ta'wili commentary: Many verses have been interpreted through the virtues of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) or through their enemies' vices.[1] These are considered to be the esoteric meanings of the verses.
  • Explains difficult words, occasion of revelation, Qur'anic stories, and verses of rulings in brief.
  • Discusses ideological issues and renounces false schools: Evidences are taken from the Qur'an to renounce non-Islamic schools such as idolaters, Zindiqs (unbelievers), and Dahris (physicalists),[2] and some Islamic sects such as Mu'tazilites and Qadaris (fatalists), whom he calls the true Mujabbirahs (theological determinists).[3]
  • Discusses issues in Qur'anic studies such as abrogation, muqatta'ah letters, clear and ambiguous verses and non-exclusiveness of verses.
  • Defends the school of the Twelve Imams (a) and mentions the virtues of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) and their enemies' vices.
  • Discusses the suras in the order they appear in the Qur'an.
  • Mostly comprised of hadith quoted by 'Ali b. Ibrahim from his father, Ibrahim b. Hashim, from Ibn Abi 'Umayr and his teachers. The rest have been quoted from Abu l-Jarud and various others.[4]

Doubt in Attributing the Commentary to Ali b. Ibrahim


Although some great Shi'a scholars have authenticated this commentary, there is some doubt as to whether it should be attributed to 'Ali b. Ibrahim al-Qummi. There has been much discussion regarding this issue due to some evidence to show that it is not his commentary, but that it is his commentary together with other interpretive hadith.

Advocates of Attribution

al-Najashi[5] and al-Shaykh al-Tusi[6] consider the author of this tafsir to be Ali b. Ibrahim. Additionally, some early Shi'a scholars such as al-Shaykh al-Tusi in Tahdhib al-ahkam[7], al-'Allama al-Hilli in Sa'd al-Su'ud[8], al-Shaykh al-Tabrisi in I'lam al-Wara bi a'lam al-huda[9], and Ibn Shahr Ashub in al-Manaqib[10] have quoted from this commentary. It has also been the reference for many other later books such as The Four Books, Majma' al-Bayan, Tafsir al-Safi, Wasa'il al-Shi'a, and Bihar al-Anwar.

Critics of Attribution

Some great contemporary Shi'a scholars have expressed doubt in attributing the commentary to Ali b. Ibrahim. For example, Agha Buzurg Tihrani did not consider the whole book to be Ali b. Ibrahim's.[11] Also, Muhammad Hadi Ma'rifat[12] and Hashim Ma'ruf al-Hasani[13] did not accept the attribution of this commentary to him.

These scholars claim that the author of the whole tafsir is Abu l-fazl al-'Abbas b. Muhammad, a student of Ali b. Ibrahim, who has taken what was dictated to him from his teacher and combined it with the tafsir of Abu l-Jarud.

These critics also say that the introduction to the commentary is such that it seems someone else is quoting from Ali b. Ibrahim, and that there are discussions in the introduction such as that regarding the distortion of the Qur'an which cannot be definitely attributed to Ali b. Ibrahim. They believe that the introduction of the commentary is actually adopted from Tafsir al-Nu'mani.[14] Another point is that the reference for this commentary, including the chain of transmitters for it and even in quoting from Ibrahim b. Hashim, the father of Ali b. Ibrahim, or others contemporary to him such as Muhammad b. Yahya al-'Attar al-Qummi and Sa'd b. 'Abd Allah al-Ash'ari, there are transmitters other than Ali b. Ibrahim himself which proves that not all of the commentary belongs to him.[15]


  1. Cf. Tafsir al-Qummi, vol. 1, pp. 35 & 203
  2. Tafsir al-Qummi, vol. 1, pp. 205 & 236; vol 2, p. 78.
  3. Tafsir al-Qummi, vol. 1, pp. 212; vol 2. pp. 60, 89 & 398.
  4. Qadi Zadih, Kazim, Pazhuhishi darbari-yi Tafsir Ali b. Ibrahim al-Qummi; the entry of "Tafsir Ali b. Ibrahim al-Qummi" in the Daneshnameh Jahan-e Islam.
  5. al-Najashi, Ahmad b. 'Ali. Rijal Najashi, p. 260.
  6. al-Shaykh al-Tusi.al-Fihrist, p. 152.
  7. al-Shaykh al-Tusi. Tahdhib al-ahkam, vol. 4, pp. 49 - 50.
  8. Sayyid b. Tawus. Sa'd al-Su'ud, pp. 83 - 90.
  9. Tabarsi, Fadl b. al-Hasan. I'lam al-wara bi a'lam al-huda, vol. 1, p. 296.
  10. Ibn Shahr Ashub. Manaqib Al Abi Talib, vol. 3, pp. 33 & 313.
  11. Agha Buzurg Tihrani. al-Dhari'ah, vol. 4, p. 302.
  12. Ma'rifat, Muhammad Hadi. Siyanat al-Qur'an min al-Tahrif, p. 187.
  13. Hasani, Hashim Ma'ruf. Bayn al-Tasawwuf wa al-Tashayyu', p. 198.
  14. Ustadi, Reda, Ashna'i ba tafasir wa mufassiran.
  15. Musawi, Sayyid Ahmad. Pazhuheshi piramun tafsir Qummi.


  • Agha Buzurg Tihrani, al-Dhari'ah ila tasanif al-Shi'a, Dar al-Adwa', Beirut, 1402 AH.
  • Al-Tusi, Muhammad b. Hasan, Al-Fihrist, Nashr al-Fiqahah, 1417 AH.
  • Al-Tusi, Muhammad b. Hasan, Tahdhib al-ahkam, Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyyah, 1986.
  • Hasani, Hashim Ma'ruf, Bayn al-tasawwuf wa al-Tashayyu', Dar al-Ta'aruf, Beirut.
  • Ibn Shahr Ashub, Muhammad b. Ali, Manaqib Al Abi Talib, al-Maktabat al-Haydariyyah, Najaf, 1998.
  • Ma'rifat, Muhammad Hadi, Siyanat al-Qur'an min al-Tahrif, al-Tamhid Publication, Qom, 2008.
  • Al-Najashi, Ahmad b. Ali, Asma' Musanaf al-Shi'a, Jami'at al-Mudarrisin, Qom, 1416 AH.
  • Ustadi, Reda, Ashna'i ba tafasir wa mufasiran.
  • Sayyid b. Tawus, Ali b. Musa, Sa'd al-Su'ud, Radi Publication, Qom, 1985.
  • Tabarsi, Fadl b. al-Hasan, I'lam al-wara bi A'lam al-huda, Al al-Bayt Publication, Qom, 1417 AH.