Tafsir

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Tafsir interpretations and explanations of Al-Qur'anul-Karim. According to the Shariah (the Islamic Law), tafsir is a body of knowledge, the study of which enables one to understand the quran revealed to hazrat muhammad (Sm) and the instructions of Shariah. Treatises on tafsir deal with issues such as the structure of the Quran, its semantic and morphological explanations and grammatical analysis, meaning of its verses, causes of revelation of the verses, associated events, and nasikh-mansukh (the authority that abrogates and items abrogated).

In the parts dealing with tafsir of the collection of the hadith, especially in Al-J'ami by Imam Bukhari and Imam Tirmizi, the verses of the Quran are presented along with description of related Hadith. In many instances, morphological explanations of terms are also given. In the past, the words tafsir and ta'bil were considered synonymous. Later, the word tafsir gradually came to be applied in a wider sense with semantic and theoretical notes while ta'bil used to be applied for emphasising one of the many possible interpretations of the essence of the verses.

Tafsir was in currency from the time of the Prophet Muhammad (Sm). His sahabis (companions) could understand the literal meaning of the verses of the Quran. In case some found it difficult to understand the inner meanings of any, they looked to the Prophet (Sm), who gave the explanations. Among the interpreting companions, the most famous was Hazrat Abdullah ibn Abbas (R).

The full tafsir of the Quran did not see the light of the day during the time of the sahabis. Tafsir developed as a discipline towards the beginning of the second century of the Hegira calendar. The compilation of both vetted and non-vetted tafsirs started during the Khilafat regime of the Abbasides. Noted among the vetted tafsirs are Jami'ul Bayan fi Tafsiril Qur'an by Ibn Zarir Tabari (died 310 Hegira), Bahrul Ulm by Abul Layas Samarkandi (died 327 Hegira), Ma'alimut-tanzil by Ibn Masud Baghavi (died 510 Hegira) and Tafsirul Qur'anil Azim by Ibn Kasir (died 774 Hegira). Worth mentioning among the non-vetted tafsirs are Mafatihu'l Ghayb by Imam Razi (died 606 Hegira), Anwarut-tanzil by Kazi Nasiruddin Baydhawi (died 691 Hegira), and Madriku't-tanzil by Imam Nasafi (died 710 Hegira). Some alims (religious scholars) of the Sufi, Shi'ite and Mu'tajila communities have written tafsirs in which they depicted their own interpretations.

In Bangladesh, as well as in most other Muslim countries, Tafsir has a great role to play in the religious and day to day life of Muslims. All educational institutions, including the madrasahs and the maktabs that offer education on Shariah, have arrangements for study of tafsir along with the Quran and the Hadith. In sermons or public gathering, Ulemas often use tafsirs to describe and explain religious affairs and ways of life. [Muhammad Shafiqullah]