How to be a Mufassir

27 Aug

A Mufassir is a master of Qur’anic exegesis – noted scholars authorized to interpret the Qur’an and teach these interpretations to the masses. Some of the most commonly heard names around this discipline would be Ibn Abbas, At-Tabari and Ibn Katheer.

Tafseer is no simple feat and bestows considerable authority the Mufassir as sharia is mainly derived from it. Before one can endeavour to take on such a heavy responsibility, there are a few prerequisites to fulfill – and they are as follows:

Requirements of a Mufassir

  1. His ‘Aqidah must be sound.
  2. He must be free of his nafs (i.e, overcome it)
  3. He must be a master of (all the 13 disciplines of) the Arabic language.
  4. He must be learned in the disciplines related to the Qur’an itself (e.g Tajweed, Qiraat, Asbab an-Nuzul, Nasikh wal Mansukh, etc)
  5. He must be of high intellect and understanding.

The exegesis itself should be done in this order:

  1. Because the Qur’an is essentially self-explanatory, it must first and foremost be explained via references within itself.
  2. Afterwards, use references in the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh)
  3. If he fails to find an explanation, look to the sayings of the companions
  4. Then, the sayings of the Tabi’in

The Adab of a Mufassir

A Mufassir must possess the following qualities:

  1. Good intention ( حسن النية و صحة المقصد ) – because actions are by their intentions, and ones intention of delving in the disciplines of sharia should be first and foremost the betterment of society.
  2. Excellent mannerisms ( حسن الخلق ) – as such is obvious of one who has triumphed over his nafs.
  3. To be actively practicing what he knows ( الإمتثال و العمل ) – for the benefit of this is more than the expanse of his knowledge and understanding.
  4. Trustworthiness ( تحري الصدق و الضبط في النقل ) – he must be able to quote and make references accurately
  5. Humility ( التواضع و لين الجانب ) – because boastfulness is an impregnable barrier between knowledge and benefiting from it.
  6. Dignity ( عزّة النفس ) – for knowledge raises its acquirer above inferior matters.
  7. Unafraid to uphold the Truth ( الجهر بالحق ) – for such is a considerable jihad, to be able to stand up against an unjust leader.
  8. Excellent self-conduct ( حسن السمت ) – more specifically, to be solemn in all his actions, even when sitting, standing, walking, and so on.
  9. Patience and deliberation ( الأناة و الروية ) – thus ensuring accuracy in his words.
  10. Puts the more knowledgeable before himself ( تقديم من هو أولى منه ) – he must not openly challenge other Mufassireen in their lifetime, nor despise them after they have deceased. He should instead encourage learning from them and reading their books.
  11. Well-versed in presenting knowledge ( حسن الإعداد و طريقة الأداء ) – the explanation of the ayat should be done in an orderly fashion. For example, he could begin with explaining the Asbab an-Nuzul, and then explain the Mufradaat, afterwards proceed to identify the literary and grammatical instruments (Balaghah and Nahu) used, and so on.

[taken from: Mabaahith fi ‘Ulum Al-Qur’an by Mannaa’ al-Qatthaan (1990), Ch 24: Shuruut al-Mufassir wa Aadaabihi]

Terms explained

‘Aqidah: belief system

Nafs: the sense of self, also known as ego

Tajweed: the (high precision) art of reciting the Qur’an

Qiraat: the study of the different styles of Qur’anic recital

Asbab An-Nuzul: the study of the reasons behind the revelation of individual Qur’anic verses

Nasikh wal Mansukh: the study of early rulings and their nullification against more recent ones, during the time of revelation.

Mufradaat: synonyms

Balaghah: a discipline in Arabic literature

Nahu: Arabic grammar and syntax

1 Comment

Posted by on August 27, 2012 in Qur'an


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One response to “How to be a Mufassir

  1. Nur Hamdy

    October 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Assalammualaikum ya Akhi. I just stumbled upon this wordpress of yours and Masya’Allah,what an awakening this is. Now my questions of being a Mufassir are all answered thanks to this post of yours. Jazakallah Khair,may Allah bless you in everything you do,be it both in life and the Hereafter. Barakallau Fik. Assalammualaikum. 🙂


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