Two More Volumes of Tafsir Ishraq al–Ma’ani

In the latest installments of his important multi-volume Qur’an commentary, Syed Iqbal Zaheer’s selection of material is, on the whole, intelligent and apt, which is successful, in a large measure, in elucidating the Qur’anic passage/s under discussion. Equally impressive and rewarding is his use of Hadith corpus in amplifying the Qur’anic message. His sources of Hadith are authentic, as is evident from the list of works on Hadith consulted by him, says the reviewer, PROF. A. R. KIDWAI

Author: Syed Iqbal Zaheer,
Book: Tafsir Ishraq al-Ma’ani Vol. IX, 2004, pp. 330 – Vol. X, 2005, pp. 312
Publisher: Iqra Welfare Trust, Bangalore,
Reviewed by: Prof. A. R. Kidwai

It is gratifying that two further volumes of this significant project on Tafsir in English have come out, which seeks to present ‘a quintessence of Qur’anic commentaries,’ Volume IX covers Surahs 25to 29 and Volume X Surahs 30 to 34. Appended to each volume is an extensive Index. Zaheer has assiduously gleaned relevant material for explicating things Qur’anic from a range of Tafsir works. Among his classical sources are Ibn Taymiyah, al-Alusi, Ibn Kathir, Tabari, Ibn Qayyim, Suyuti, Qurtubi, Razi and Zamakhshari. He has drawn in an equal measure, upon recent Tafsir works of Muhammad Asad, Mufti Muhammad Shafi,’ Abdul Majid Daryabadi, Sayyid Mawdudi, Shabbir Ahmed ‘Uthmani, Sayyid Qutb, Ashraf Ali Thanwi and Abdullah Yusuf Ali. His selection of material is, on the whole, intelligent and apt, which is successful, in a large measure, in elucidating the Qur’anic passage/s under discussion. Representative of it is his elaborate elucidation of Surah al–Ahzab (Vol. X, pp.101-239).

A host of themes, events and commands are explained on the authority of the leading Qur’an and Hadith scholars, both classical and modern. Zaheer is to be commended for maintaining a remarkable balance in providing background material from the Qur’an. In dealing with the contents of Surah al–Ahzab such as the battle of the Trench, the punishment meted out to Banu Qurayzah, the Qur’anic scheme of social reform manifest in the Prophet’s marriage with the wife of his adopted son, and segregation of sexes, Zaheer has done a good job in placing before readers a conspectus of Tafsir literature. It facilitates a better understanding of the Qur’an.

Equally impressive and rewarding is his use of Hadith corpus in amplifying the Qur’anic message. His sources of Hadith are authentic, as is evident from the list of works on Hadith consulted by him. As many as 30 ahadith in their original Arabic are cited in his commentary on Surah Saba.’ It speaks volumes about his thorough familiarity with relevant material and his concern for authenticating his annotations with the primary sources. Standard works on Sirah, and Arabic/Qur’anic lexicon are Zaheer’s other major source. Several Qur’anic passages are elucidated by citing relevant circumstantial material from authorities such as Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Manzur and al–Raghib al–Isfahani.

Like earlier volumes in the series, these two also stand in need of rigorous language and copy-editing which will enhance further the value of this important multi–volume Tafsir project. Zaheer deserves credit for his editorial assiduity, for his wide–ranging familiarity with Tafsir corpus, and for his sincere commitment to the cause of promoting the message of the Qur’an.