Tafsir was Not Recorded in the Time of the Prophet (s.a.w.) as an Independent Science

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Tafsir, or the interpretation, of the Qur’an was not recorded in the time of the Prophet (s.a.w.) as an independent field of study, but statements of the Prophet (s.a.w.) which bore on the interpretation of the verses of the Qur’an were transmitted from him, just as ahadits were transmitted from him.  The era of the companions continued like this, without tafsir being recorded independently.  Then came the time of the successors, who took their knowledge of the Qur’an and sunnah from the companions.  Each group of successors received knowledge directly from the companions.  So, they collected everything that was transmitted by the companions from the Prophet (s.a.w.) as ahadits, and they heard from the companions what concerned the interpretation of the verses of the Qur’an.  So, the scholars of each region collected what their predecessors knew, as the people of Makkah did with regard to the tafsir of ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.), and as the people of Kufa did with regard to ibn Mas’ud’s (r.a.) traditions on tafsir.  Subsequent to this, the science of tafsir was recorded as an independent science and has continued to be recorded to this day.

Tafsir, in the time of the companions and the successors, was narrated and memorised, and after their time, ahadits were recorded which contained tafsir.  Imam Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah (r.a.) and Imam Waqi’ ibn Jarrah (r.a.) were some authorities that recorded ahadits.  Then, towards the end of the Umayyad dynasty, and at the beginning of the Abbasid dynasty, tafsir was provided for each verse of the Qur’an according to the order of the muswhaf, the Qur’an in its complete ordered form.  This was done by a number of scholars, including Imam ibn Majah (r.a.), Imam ibn Jarir ath-Thabari (r.a.), and others.  In the Abbasid period, tafsir with interpretation was recorded along with tafsir that consisted only of transmitted reports and sayings.


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