Tafsir Ishraq al-Ma’ani – Vol XII

Title: Tafsir Ishraq Al-Ma ‘ani – Vol. XII, 2008. PP. 384. ISBN: 8I90I3320II.
Author: Syed Iqbal Zaheer
Reviewer: Prof. A.R. Kidwai
Publisher: Iqra Welfare Trust, Bangalore.
Review Published in: The Muslim World Book Review, 29/ 03/ 2009 

It is heartening to note the appearance of the latest volume of this ambitious project which seeks to present before English speaking readers an intelligent and informed selection of both classical and recent Tafsir. This amalgam is geared towards explaining the meaning and message of the Qur’an for those who do not have access to several Tafsir yet wish to benefit from them. It is thus a noble mission, which the author has been carrying out assiduously over the years. The present volume covers Surahs Fussilat (4I) to al-Tur (52.).

Among the authorities on Tafsir recurrently cited are: Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, Ibn Kathir, al-Qurtubi, al-Razi, and al-Zamakhshari on the one hand, and Muhammad Asad, Mufti Shafi‘, Abdul Majid Daryabadi, Abu’l A‘la Mawdudi, Ashraf ‘Ali Thinwi, Shabbir Ahmad ‘Uthmani, and ‘Abdullah Yusuf ‘Ali on the other.

While elucidating the Qur’anic allusions and events, Zaheer relies on classical tafsir and, in relating the message of the Qur’an to our time, he draws upon Daryabadi, Mawdudi and Yusuf ‘Ali. Another valuable feature of his venture is his constant reference to Ahadith which, needless to add, offer the best commentary on the intended meaning of the Qur’an. Take his annotations on Surah al-Hujurat (pp. 267-302) as illustrative. He quotes more than forty pertinent Ahadith on the issues under discussion. Not only does he bring out the thrust of the social laws enumerated in this particular Surah, but he explains also such Qur’anic terms as ahl a-hall wa’i-‘aqd and mu’min.

Likewise in his commentary on Surah al-Tur, he delves deep into primary sources and standard Tafsir in order to explain the Qur’anic terms: al-bayt al-ma’mur and al-bahr al-masjur (pp.339-342). In so doing, Zaheer draws upon both Ahadith and Abdullah Yusuf ‘Ali’s fairly recent interpretation of the same. Thus, the reader gets a broad and clear picture of some Qur’anic concepts. This approach also brings to light the variety of approaches undertaken to unravel the truths embodied in the Qur’an and how Muslim scholars down the ages have grappled with the challenges of grasping the meaning of the Qur’an.

The author often reproduces the texts of Ahadith in Arabic which enhances the academic value of the work. The author’s remarkably extensive index (pp. 355-384) is also a pointer to his earnest effort for elaborating on a wide range of Qur’anic themes, terms, personalities, concepts and allusions. This otherwise valuable work, however, stands in need of thorough language improvement and copy-editing. It is hoped the next volumes would be more presentable and reader-friendly.