Tafsir of the Quran is the explanation of its verses. According to Ibn-e-Abbas, Tafsir is divided into four categories:
- A type that the Arabs know by their language
- A type which no one can be excused from not knowing (i.e. mandatory to know)
- A type which the scholars are aware of and
- A kind which none can know except for Allah
As for the first type, Arabs know it because of their speech. They know the grammar, principles, and structure of their mother tongue.
The second category is the one that includes all Muslims. Everyone should know the basic principles of Islam.
The third type is that which scholars are aware of. If they know all about Uloom-ul-Quran, they can conduct Ijtihaad. This makes them capable of interpreting the verses of the Quran in a way that others can understand.
The last category is the one that is only known by Allah (SWT). This contains the knowledge of the unseen – for example, the time of the Day of Judgment, the actuality of the attributes of Allah (SWT), etc.
Why Should We Read Quran Tafseer?
Understanding Quran doesn’t require language. Instead, it also needs an intellectual level that agrees with the elevation and level of the Book. At the time of its revelation, not all Arabs understood the Quran in the same way. Instead, they used to differ in their understanding of the Book according to their intellectual elevation.
Therefore, it is essential to read the Tafseer to create a personal perspective regarding the Word of Allah. Blindly following the norms tends to get boring at some point. Reading Tafseer helps you dive in, reflect, and implement the Quran in your life.
Comparison of Different Tafseer Books
Below, we have analyzed a few Tafseer books available in the English language. Analyze and pick the one that seems viable for you.
Tafheem ul Quran by Mawlana Sayyid Abu’lA’la Mawdudi is one of the most cherished Tafseer books. It is a six-volume translation and explanation of the Holy Book.
It contains modern commentary rather than a traditional discourse on the verses. Consequently, it has deeply influenced modern Islamic thought. It includes debates and discussions about sociology, economics, history, and politics.
Mawdudi has successfully explained how Islam guides us in all spheres of life.
2. Tafseer Ibn Katheer
Tafseer ibn Katheer is one of the most comprehensive translations of the Quran. There are ten volumes in this package. However, you can purchase individual parts if you need them.
Some scholars consider it as a summary of the previous Tafseer by Al-Tabari. It is popular because it uses a hadith to explain each verse and chapter of the Quran.
3. Illuminating Discourses on the Noble Quran (five volumes)
This is a translation of nine Tafseer volumes of the Holy Quran, formulated by Maulana Ashiq Ilahi al-Barni. Some features of this Book are as follows:
- The references are provided in detail
- It is straightforward and easy-to-understand
- It avoids Israelite traditions
- It explains authentic Ahadith, Quranic verses, exegesis of Tafseer imams, and statements of Sahaba
- It discusses some aspects of Tasawuf, an explanation of the revelation circumstances, Islamic laws elucidated from the verses, and words of wisdom.
This is an eight-volume Tafseer of the Quran. Its author is Pakistani Sunni Islamic scholar Mufti Muhammad Shafi. Its original language is Urdu, and it is one of the most notable Tafseer books. The work has a narrative style and focuses on the context as well as a detailed explanation of the verses. There is a subject-wise discussion on the topics.
The detail and gripping narrative style keep the readers engaged in the verses. Its detail, coupled with an interesting style, has turned it into one of the most-read Tafseer books of all time.
Apart from these, there are many other famous Tafseer books recommended by scholars. We suggest you seek the assistance of your favorite scholar. Ask them to guide you as they might know your intellectual caliber.
Whatever book and scholar you pick, make sure you stay consistent on this journey and seek help where needed.