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At present, the Shīʿīs, who differ from the Sunnī majority concerning the legitimacy of the political and spiritual succession to Muḥammad, comprise about ten percent of the Islamic community. Like the Sunnīs, they enjoy a rich tradition of scholarship in Islamic sciences, including both ḥadīth collection and classification as well as qurʾānic exegesis. Just as their conception of the legitimate leadership of the Muslim community evolved differently from that of their Sunnī counterparts, so, too, did their understanding of the Qurʾān itself. The following, therefore, will discuss, first, the attitude of the Shīʿa towards the Qurʾān and then provide an overview of the principles and methods of Shīʿī exegesis. It will conclude with a presentation of some of the major Shīʿī exegetes and their works. ^ Back to top The attitude of the Shīʿa to the Qurʾān One of the bones of contention between Sunnī and Shīʿī Islam concerns the integrity of the Qurʾān. The Shīʿa (q.v.) disputed the canonical validity of the ʿUthmānic codex, the textus receptus, of the Qurʾān (see collection of the qurʾān; codices of the qurʾān ) and cast doubt on the quality of its editing, alleging political tendentiousness on the part of the editors — namely, the three first caliphs (see caliph ), particularly the third of them, ʿUthmān b. ʿAffān (r. 23-35/644-56). Shīʿī (mainly Imāmī) criticism of the qurʾānic text was most severe in the first centuries of Islam (see politics and the qurʾān; textual criticism of the qurʾān ). The editors were accused of falsification (taḥrīf) of the qurʾānic text by both the omission of some phrases and the addition of others (see revision and alteration ). Moreover, the claim that the Qurʾān had been falsified is one of the principal arguments to which early Shīʿī ¶ tradition resorted to explain the absence of any explicit reference to the Shīʿa in the Qurʾān. In Shīʿī qurʾānic commentaries many traditions are found accusing the Companions of the Prophet (q.v.) of violating the integrity of the qurʾānic text. In one of these traditions, cited in the commentary (tafsīr) ascribed to the Imām Ḥasan al-ʿAskarī (d. 260/873-4), it is stated that “Those whose ambitions overcame their wisdom (alladhīna ghalabat ahwāʾuhum ʿuqūlahum, i.e. the ṣaḥāba) falsified (ḥarrafū) the true meaning of God's book and altered it (wa-ghayyarūhu)” (ʿAskarī, Tafsīr, 95; cf. Kohlberg, Some notes, 212 and n. 37). A treasure trove of such traditions is Kitāb al-Qirāʾāt (known also as Kitāb al-Tanzīl wa-l-taḥrīf) by Aḥmad b. Muḥammad al-Sayyārī (fl. late third/ninth century), of which an annotated edition is in preparation by M.A. Amir-Moezzi and E. Kohlberg. A similar tradition — which, however, does not blame the Companions of the Prophet for the falsification — is found in the Qurʾān commentary of al-ʿAyyāshī (d. ca. 320/932): “Had the book of God not been subject to additions and omissions, our righteousness would not have been hidden from any [person] of wisdom” (lawlā annahu zīda fī kitāb Allāh wa-nuqiṣa minhu mā khafiya ḥaqqunā ʿalā dhī ḥijan; ʿAyyāshī, Tafsīr, i, 25). In a similar tradition it is stated: “The [Qurʾān] contained the names of [various] persons, but these names have been removed” (kānat fīhi asmāʾu l-rijāl faulqiyat; ibid., i, 24). The commentator does not attempt to validate this general claim with examples of texts that, in his opinion, have been altered. Just how unspecific these traditions are can be demonstrated by an account ascribed to Imām Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq (d. 148/765), cited in relation to verse q 2:79: “On leaving the house of the [caliph] ʿUthmān, ʿAbdallāh b. ʿAmr b. al-ʿĀṣ met ¶ the Commander of the Faithful [ʿAlī; see ʿalī b. abī ṭālib ] and said to him: „O ʿAlī, we have spent the night on a matter with which we hope God will strengthen this community.‟ ʿAlī answered him: „I know how you spent the night: you have falsified, altered and changed (ḥarraftum wa-ghayyartum wa-baddaltum) nine hundred letters/words (ḥarf); falsified three hundred letters/words, changed three hundred letters/words and altered three hundred letters/words. [And then ʿAlī added this verse, q 2:79]: Woe to those who write the book (q.v.) with their hands and then say, „this is from God‟” (fa-waylun lilladhīna yaktubna l-kitāba bi-aydīhim thumma yaqūlūna hādhā min ʿindi llāhi; ibid., i, 66). It is obvious that the figures quoted here are not to be taken at face value, just as the three different verbs used to describe the editorial activity ( ḥarrafa, ghayyara and baddala) in no way indicate discrete falsification techniques (see forgery; corruption ).
al-Nuʿmān. see parable ). Goldziher. A recurrent tradition on which Nūrī bases his argument in favor of taḥrīf draws an analogy between the Shīʿīs and the Jews (a notion that in itself is very common in Shīʿī literature): “Just as the Jews and the Christians (see jews and judaism. ¶ whence Brunner. 288). it does not contain any falsifications. Qirāʾāt. 1107/1693 or 1109/1697). boundaries and precepts. beginning in the fourth/tenth century. 421). to the point that “there is hardly a new book on the general subject of the qurʾānic sciences whose 2 . and some of the criticism became muted. al-Sharīf al-Murtaḍā (d. see Kohlberg. tradition no. 35. this community [i. In a well-known tradition. Some notes.. see virtues and vices. according to Shīʿī belief. law and the qurʾān ) and one part customs and parables ( sunan wa-amthāl. And the exalted parts of the Qurʾān refer to us” (wa-lanā karāʾim al-Qurʾān. ca 114/732) declares: “The Qurʾān was revealed [consisting of] four parts: One part concerning us [the Shīʿa]. Kulaynī. This discrepancy results from a textual gap between the incomplete qurʾānic text found in the possession of the Sunnīs and the ideal text that. One of the most radical works ever written on this matter is the Faṣl al-khiṭāb fī taḥrīf kitāb rabb al-arbāb by the eminent Shīʿī scholar Ḥusayn Taqī Nūrī l-Ṭabarsī (d.) is bound to happen to this community” (inna l-yahūd wa-l-naṣārā ghayyarū waḥarrafū kitāb nabiyyihim baʿdahu fa-hādhihi l-umma ayḍan lā budda wa-an yughayyirū l-Qurʾān baʿda nabiyyinā ṣallā llāh ʿalayhi wa-ahlihi li-anna kulla mā waqaʿa fī banī Isrāʾīl lā budda wa-an yaqaʿa fī hādhihi l-umma. people of the book ) altered and falsified the book of their prophet [sic. tradition no. Nūrī. and Abū ʿAlī l-Faḍl b. 418. a tendency to moderation became apparent. Tafsīr. The dispute. (On the various positions taken by Imāmī-Shīʿīs on this question.) and regulations ( farāʾiḍ wa-aḥkām.v.) ¶ Despite the moderate views expressed by these and other Shīʿī scholars. 439. Nevertheless.v.. and Muḥammad Bāqir alMajlisī (d. In this work Nūrī brought together a great number of traditions referring to the question of the falsification of the Qurʾān. cf.. what is found in the ʿUthmānic codex is the truth but not the whole truth since it does not include all the revelations made to Muḥammad (see revelation and inspiration ). Prominent scholars in Iran during the Ṣafavid period — including Muḥammad b. which in turn was longer than the version in the ʿUthmānic codex (ibid. that Nūrī's extreme anti-Sunnī tone was criticized even by the Shīʿī scholars of his day. Abū Jaʿfar al-Ṭūsī (d.e. one part commandments (q. commanding and forbidding. the opinion that the Qurʾān was falsified has been perpetuated throughout the history of Shīʿism and persists to this day. the Muslims] shall alter and falsify the Qurʾān after our Prophet — may God bless him and his family — for everything that happened to the Children of Israel (q. Murtaḍā al-Kāshānī. Richtungen. 1110/1699 or 1111/1700) — revived the debate about the integrity of the Qurʾān. In other words.v. 548/1153) — held that although the text of the Qurʾān as we have it is incomplete. ibid. ¶ Furāt. see community and society in the qurʾān ). It should be stressed. 2. is no longer in anyone's possession but will be revealed by the Mahdī in the eschatological era (see eschatology )..” q 2. tradition no. Qirāʾāt. better known as al-Shaykh al-Mufīd (d. however.000 verses (q. 413/1022). i. Other accounts refer to the length of the original Qurʾān. which appears in the writings of most early Imāmī commentators. 20 and 21 where a tripartite division is suggested. in which allusion is made to division into either three or four parts: Sayyārī. the question of taḥrīf never ceased to be a burning issue in Shīʿī-Sunnī discourse. 436/1044). tradition no. Ḥasan al-Ṭabarsī (d. known as Muḥsin al-Fayḍ (d. 16). Kāfī. ImāmīShīʿī scholars — among them Muḥammad b. 1320/1902). see prophets and prophethood ] after him. Sulaymān al-Baḥrānī (d. q 33 is given as an example of a text that in the original Qurʾān was two and two-third times longer than Sūrat al-Baqara (“The Cow. one part concerning our enemies. 1. 460/1067). The discrepancy between the qurʾānic text and the Shīʿī viewpoint is not necessarily one that a “correct” interpretation can remedy.Numerous Shīʿī utterances refer to the nature of the original text of the Qurʾān prior to its alleged corruption by the Sunnīs. Faṣl. It is believed to have contained 17. one of the eminent Imāmī-Shīʿī exegetes. Sayyārī. 11. ii. Imām Muḥammad al-Bāqir (d. 1091/1680). in the wake of the political and social changes that Shīʿism underwent. Later. ibid. 627-8. christians and christianity. also the following sources. Hāshim b. basing their anti-Sunnī polemics upon traditions extant in the early Shīʿī corpus of tafsīr and ḥadīth (see ḥadīth and the qurʾān ). see sūras ).
i.author can afford not to include a long chapter dealing with taḥrīf” (Brunner. cited in both Sunnī and Shīʿī sources.e. but did not reveal the injunction “encircle [the Kaʿba (q.v. for example. ʿAyyāshī. This tripartite argumentation in no way suggests that these were three separate approaches to the problem. This is the principle underlying the broad attempt to interpret many obscure qurʾānic verses (mubhamāt) as well as some quite clear ones. Tafsīr. Abī Ṭālib” (inna fī-kum man yuqātilu ʿalā taʾwīl al-Qurʾān kamā qātaltu ʿalā tanzīlihi wa-huwa ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib. Ḥasan and Ḥusayn (ʿAyyāshī.v. each exclusive of the other. where further sources are cited. A fundamental principle of Shīʿī exegetical tradition is that the authority to interpret the Qurʾān is reserved for ʿAlī and his descendants. their authority to interpret the Qurʾān and other religious scriptures. Livre.” So too is the meaning of the verse [ q 4:59] “Obey God and obey the messenger and those in authority (q. A major distinction is that the Shīʿī exegetes attempt to find in the Qurʾān explicit references to such themes as the imāms' (see imām ) ¶ supernatural and mystical qualities. support their distinctive views by reference to qurʾānic proof-texts (see exegesis of the qurʾān: classical and medieval ).” This verse was revealed in relation to ʿAlī.e. i. and n.)] seven times.) to the imāms (walāya) and dissociation from their enemies (barāʾa). it presents religious laws and general rulings yet does not go into details. the three together demonstrate the problems that Shīʿī exegetes faced and the attempts they made to resolve them. i. or such major Shīʿī doctrines as the duty of loyalty (q. Milal. Two additional arguments are (a) the Qurʾān contains hidden meanings. the most 3 . 189.) and did not [explicitly] mention three or four [prayers] until this was interpreted by the messenger. Ismāʿīlī taʾwīl. in the answer al-Bāqir gave to one of his disciples concerning the reason ʿAlī is not mentioned in the Qurʾān: Say to them [i. a prerogative reserved for the interpreter. The other approach — that the Qurʾān ¶ teaches principles while tradition expounds their details — is expressed.) among you. The dispute.). and he is ʿAlī b. Even a cursory reading of the early Shīʿī tafsīrs reveals how wholeheartedly this approach was embraced by Shīʿī commentators. similes.v. kings and rulers ). ^ Back to top Principles and methods of Shīʿī exegesis Shīʿī exegetes. 27. 543. see obedience. The most common approach explaining the absence of references to the Shīʿa in the Qurʾān asserts that it is in the nature of the Qurʾān to speak in symbols and codes (see metaphor. This idea of ʿAlī and (implicitly) also his descendants being presented by the Prophet himself as interpreters of the Qurʾān is also deduced from other traditions. Significant as it may be. According to this tradition. Muḥammad is said to have declared: “There is one among you who will fight for the [correct] interpretation of the Qurʾān just as I myself fought for its revelation. Gimaret and Monnot. perhaps even more than their Sunnī counterparts. and cf. that issues relating to the Shīʿa were deliberately omitted from the Qurʾān — is not the sole argument used by Shīʿī authors to explain the absence of any explicit mention of the ahl al-bayt/Shīʿa in the Qurʾān (see people of the house ).v. as referring to the Shīʿa. Rather. Shahrastānī. restricts itself to general principles. In a well-known ḥadīth. the imāms. also Poonawala. the claim of forgery — i. 445. which the exegete should decipher (see polysemy ) and (b) the Qurʾān teaches principles while tradition expounds their details. 209-10). by its very nature. see traditional disciplines of qurʾānic study ). the reason ʿAlī and his disciples are not mentioned explicitly in the Qurʾān is that the Qurʾān. So also he revealed [the verses about] the pilgrimage (q. to those who put this question to you]: God revealed to his messenger [the verses about] prayer (q. 231. symbolic imagery ) and according to this approach it should come as no surprise that the Qurʾān does not mention the Shīʿa explicitly: those who know how to read between the lines can decipher the passages that allude to the Shīʿa. Tafsīr. 276.v.
in the words of al-Ṭūsī (d. Poonawala. al-Qāḍī l-Nuʿmān. the two things that Muḥammad is reported to have bequeathed to his believers. just as the family of the Prophet.). According to one version. in Shīʿī tradition the family of the Prophet plays the equivalent role: only through the mediation of the imāms. recorded in both Sunnī and Shīʿī works. since it is unlikely that [Muḥammad] would order us to keep something which we cannot keep. for the 4 . Ayoub. are not authorized to pronounce their own views (ibid. These as well as numerous other traditions have but one purpose — to make clear that those qualified to interpret the Qurʾān are the imāms. mention as the thaqalān the Qurʾān and the family of the Prophet (q. Among Shīʿīs. see sunna ). i. Tafsīr. theology and the qurʾān ). Nevertheless. Other versions of this tradition. Tibyān. n. Shīʿī scholars had to walk a fine line: on the one hand. Mashāriq. and that this right was bestowed upon them directly by God. as among other religious circles and groups operating on the fringes of society. There are significant differences between the Sunnī and Shīʿī exegetical traditions regarding both the identity of these two “things” and the interpretation of the ḥadīth. they are the book of God (kitāb Allāh) and the Prophet's practice ( sunnat nabiyyihi. Ismāʿīlī taʾwīl. the duty of the text's interpreters is restricted to preserving traditions in their name and making these available to believers (see teaching and preaching the qurʾān ). Bursī. 337.) to Jerusalem (q. typology and secret codes became favorite methods of interpreting the Qurʾān. 135. The speaking Qurʾān. The authority of the imāms as interpreters of the Qurʾān is reiterated in many traditions other than the ḥadīth al-thaqalayn.. ʿAyyāshī.. on the other hand. Although aware of the conventional interpretation of this verse as referring to an ¶ actual journey during which the Prophet was borne from Mecca (q. i. the Qurʾān] and how to speak clearly” (naʿrifu taʾwīl al-kitāb wa-faṣl al-khiṭāb.. “The Night Journey”.v. 28).e. see ascension ). An illustration of the allegorical approach (taʾwīl) of Shīʿī Qurʾān exegesis may be seen in the interpretation of the night journey of Muḥammad referred to in the first verse of q 17 (Sūrat al-Isrāʾ. The interpreters are thus no more than a ¶ vehicle and. 183. 200). they wished to give whenever possible expression to their real intentions. allegory. This is one of the clearest manifestations of the doctrine of precautionary dissimulation (q. at least theoretically. One tradition defining the many functions of the imāms includes their role as interpreters of the Qurʾān: “We know how to interpret the book [i. In the absence of the imāms.g. ii. only heterodox factions such as the Nuṣayrīs and the Druze (see druzes ) went so far as to view the inner meaning of the Qurʾān as the exclusive. taqiyya). i. the fact that many Shīʿī factions throughout their history flourished under Sunnī rule required the use of survival techniques both in everyday life and when committing their religious doctrines to writing. see e.v. The thaqalān are further viewed as being forever intertwined with each other (lan yaftariqā) or.e. are present at all times” (Ṭūsī. Qummī.v.famous of which is “the tradition about the two weighty things” (ḥadīth al-thaqalayn). Asās al-taʾwīl. The explanation given in Shīʿī sources as to the discrepancy between the two versions of this tradition is that while in Sunnī exegesis the practice ¶ of the Prophet is considered a tool for interpreting the Qurʾān (and is therefore mentioned in conjunction with the book itself). ahl al-bayt). they had to make sure that the expression of such ideas did not arouse the wrath of their Sunnī opponents. The distance from here to the creation of the metaphor describing the imāms as “the speaking book of God” ( kitāb Allāh al-nāṭiq) is short indeed (see e. and those we are ordered to follow. i. 397).v. 651. Sometimes it derives from an existential necessity: religious and ideological minorities may find themselves in danger as a consequence of overt and careless expression of ideas unpalatable to the ruling majority (see heresy. Ibn Isḥāq-Guillaume. the descendants of the Prophet. see also hidden and the hidden ) should be concealed from the masses and be the unique privilege of the elect. 17. And indeed..v. binding authority. 460/1067): “This tradition proves that [the Qurʾān] exists in every generation. At times such techniques derive from an elitist outlook. 27. one which maintains that religious secrets (q. are both the exoteric (ẓāhir) and the esoteric (bāṭin) meanings of the qurʾānic text revealed to believers. 3-4). Ismāʿīlī as well as Nuṣayrī authors interpreted this passage as a symbol of the spiritual progress of the imāms or other persons within the divine realm. (For the Ismāʿīlī approach. Tafsīr.g.
alKhaṭṭāb]” (wa-laysa fī-l-Qurʾān [shayʾ] wa-qāla al-shayṭān illā wa-huwa al-thānī. to adopt antinomian attitudes toward the religious precepts of the Qurʾān. It is worth mentioning that this tendency. see corruption. often held that allegory was the only correct interpretation and thus belittled and even ¶ ignored the revealed meaning of the texts. Thus. and once a law assumed a symbolic meaning its literal meaning. the Umayyads and the ʿAbbāsids. punishment stories. modesty ). a more general formulation of this idea is also attributed to this imām. reward and punishment ). see also wives of the prophet. Bar-Asher. paraphrasing Kitāb al-Iftikhār. see adultery and fornication. chastity. Consistent allegorical interpretation led its practitioners.Nuṣayrī interpretation. was no longer binding. respectively. Tafsīr. is found in the Qurʾān itself. ʿāʾisha bint abī bakr ). see chastisement and punishment. the Shīʿa]. Many qurʾānic verses whose apparent meanings have a negative connotation or refer generally and vaguely to evil or to evildoers (see good and evil.jibt wa-l-ṭāghūt (see idols and images. jibt ). the house of God (see house. Heterodox groups. astray ) and the like are interpreted as referring to the enemies of the Shīʿa in general or to specific persons among them. The commentator never claims explicitly that expressions such as those just mentioned refer 5 . Hārūn al-Ṣāʾigh [fl..e. according to these circles. Exposé. 361/971]). Secret language in Shīʿī exegesis is evident on two levels. 24. The origins. Ismāʿīlī taʾwīl. see error.mufsidūn fī l-arḍ (corrupters on earth. De Sacy. ii.]. arrogance. fourth/tenth century] in Bar-Asher and Kofsky. al. munkar (dishonor). see devil ). 31-50. to refer to specific historical luminaries of Sunnī Islam. Scripture and exegesis. see anger ).g. The second level is added by the Qurʾān commentator himself.. 150/767). The first level. the exegetes believe. al-maghḍūb ʿalayhim (those against whom [God] is wrathful. inter alia. in particular the first three caliphs. should be noted. oppression ) are taken. 122-4). In another tradition. almsgiving (q. The Nuṣayrī-ʿAlawī religion. in contrast. interpret Muslim law. al-faḥshāʾ wa-l-munkar and many others. by the prominent Ismāʿīlī dāʿī Abū Yaʿqūb al-Sijistānī [d. When tracing the exegete's method of unraveling the meaning of obscure expressions one often discovers that the exegete not only avoids disclosing the secrets of the text but actually further conceals them. two of Muḥammad's wives (ʿĀʾisha and Ḥafṣa [q. zakāt) means that those with knowledge should provide reliable mentors to guide the people (see knowledge and learning ). evil deeds. ca. Negative qurʾānic terms such as baghy (insolence. symbolizes an audience with the imām. “the pillars of Islam” are given in Ismāʿīlī writings symbolic meanings: the five obligatory prayers correspond to the five divine ranks (ḥudūd) in the Ismāʿīlī hierarchical system. Shīʿī Qurʾān exegesis is further characterized by a radical anti-Sunnī bias.) Ismāʿīlīs tend to employ allegory to. an unpublished critical edition of this epistle is offered by Bryer. 218. the imām said: “Whenever you hear God [in the Qurʾān] mentioning someone of this nation in praise. more often than not.g. ṣawm) entails observing silence and not betraying religious secrets to the uninitiated. 240 f. 89-97. faḥshāʾ (indecency. ʿAyyāshī. al-fujjār (the wicked). 673). al-ḍāllūn (those who are astray. ii. This distinction became especially glaring with regard to legal matters. oppression ). A blatant antinomian interpretation of the pillars of Islam is offered e. A significant difference. for example. To Muḥammad b. domestic and divine ). Imāmī Shīʿī and most Ismāʿīlīs — maintained that the allegorical interpretation that extracts the true meaning of the Qurʾān does not aim to invalidate the plain meaning of the text (see e. however. prevalent in Ismāʿīlism. 240). and when you hear God denigrating people who flourished in the past. it underlies such obscure or general qurʾānic expressions as al.v.. pride ).v. al-shayṭān (Satan. it refers to our enemies” (idhā samiʿta llāha dhakara aḥadan min hādhihi l-umma bi-khayrin fa-naḥnu hum wa-idhā samiʿta llāha dhakara qawman bi-sūʾin mimman maḍā fa-hum ʿaduwwunā. it refers to us [i. the daughters of the first and the second caliphs. cited in the same source. is shared by Ghulāt groups such as the Nuṣayrīs and the Druzes. see insolence and obstinacy. Muslim (d. since God's knowledge resides with him (Poonawala. In an utterance attributed to al-Bāqir he goes so far as to state that “every occur-¶ rence in the Qurʾān of the words „Satan says‟ is [to be understood as referring to] „the second‟ [namely the caliph ʿUmar b. ibid.v. pilgrimage to Mecca.g. cf. through allegorical or typological interpretation. one of his disciples. see the epistle of the Nuṣayrī author Abū ʿAbdallāh al-Ḥusayn b.. ii. by the fourth epistle of the Druze canon (al-Kitāb al-Maʿrūf bi-l-naqḍ al-khafī. fasting (q. Moderate allegorists — e. i.
tradition no. “shiny-eyed” or “blueeyed” (referring to ʿUmar. The insertion of the words fī walāyat ʿAlī (concerning the [duty of] loyalty to the house of ʿAlī) in several places in the Qurʾān is intended to provide ¶ scriptural authority to the doctrine of walāya.v. In many places where the commentator introduces a Shīʿī version of a qurʾānic 6 .). lith. or (b) the words āl Muḥammad (the family of Muḥammad) or occasionally āl Muḥammad ḥaqqahum ([deprived] of their rights) as the object of a verb from the root ẓ-l-m (to do an injustice to/to usurp). Druze and Nuṣayrī factions. which appear often in the Qurʾān. Qummī. Another current feature of early Shīʿī (mainly Imāmī) exegesis is the use of variant readings (qirāʾāt) of the qurʾānic text or. 160-7. Scripture. ʿUmar or other enemies of the Shīʿa. the addition of words believed to have been omitted from it (see readings of the qurʾān ). aʾimmatin rather than ummatin. sex and sexuality ). such additional concepts as the cyclical creation (q. in the case of the Ismāʿīlī. Spottnamen.e.g. “fox” (usually applied to Abū Bakr “because of his cunning and fraudulence” (li-ḥilatihi wa-makrihi.. as the addition of the words ilā ajalin musamman (for a given time) to the mutʿa verse ( q 4:24). for q 3:110 most early Shīʿī exegetes read: “You are the best leaders [leg. Majlisī. Biḥār. 372. 295-308. cf. Qirāʾāt. In other words.) of the world and the transmigration of souls (q. the transition from the covert stratum in the Qurʾān to the overt stratum of the interpretation is not direct but undergoes a further process of encoding. Tafsīr. cf.. 63.v.) and finds an echo in q 20:102. The underlying assumption is that every Shīʿī is familiar with these code words which are an integral part of his religious-cultural upbringing. Tafsīr.v. among them q 2:91: “Believe in what God has revealed to you [+ concerning ʿAlī]” (āminū bi-mā anzala llāh [+ fī ʿAlī]) or q 4:166: “But God bears witness to what he has revealed to you [+ concerning ʿAlī]” (lākinna llāh yashhadu bi-mā anzala ilayka [+ fī ʿAlī]). he resorts to code words such as “the first” (alawwal) and “the second” (al-thānī)..v. This physical feature was considered unfortunate by the ancient Arabs (q. 65) and zurayq.v. nation] ever brought forth to humankind” (kuntum khayra aʾimmatin ukhrijat lil-nās). The differentiation between variant readings and additions by the commentators or their sources inheres primarily in terminology.to Abū Bakr. badāʾ (the appearance of new circumstances that cause a change in an earlier divine ruling). These are primarily (a) the words fī ʿAlī (concerning ʿAlī) in various qurʾānic verses. Qummī. Tafsīr.) Prominent among the other type of alterations is the insertion of certain words generally proclaimed to be missing from the ʿUthmānic codex of the Qurʾān. see also pre-islamic arabia and the qurʾān ). i. ¶ e. rather. 4. ʿAyyāshī. see Goldziher. (For the first verse.) with shiny (or blue) eyes (q. Kohlberg. the intercession (q. “And let those who find not the means to enter into a [+ mutʿa] marriage be abstinent till God enriches them of his bounty” (Sayyārī. and. is meant to emphasize the temporary nature of mutʿa marriage (see marriage and divorce. shafāʿa) of prophets and imāms on behalf of their communities. The implication of these variants is that the institution of the imāmate and other principles associated with it originate in the Qurʾān. i. Shīʿī commentators believe that this addition stresses that the injustice (see justice and injustice ) referred to by words and verbs derived from the root ẓ-l-m alludes specifically to the injustice perpetrated against the family of the Prophet and his offspring. 113-20). Examples of ¶ these alterations are the common textual substitution of aʾimma (imāms) for umma (nation or community) or slight changes to the word “imām” itself. 69. Such textual alterations are based on the assumption that the qurʾānic text is flawed and incomplete. In other cases Shīʿī exegesis is designed to support the Shīʿī doctrine of the imāmate and concepts derived from it. etc. i. Furāt. or the immunity of prophets and imāms from sin (see sin. major and minor ) and error. temporary marriage. see abstinence ). i. Bar-Asher. Some Imāmī Shīʿī views. for the second. or in q 2:143: “Thus we appointed you midmost leaders” (wa-kadhālika jaʿalnākum aʾimmatan wasaṭan). according to which the wicked will rise on the day of resurrection (q. Tafsīr. the Shīʿa. 9.v. for these and other derogatory appellations. Scholars who held the view that the Qurʾān is corrupt believed that the Mahdī will eventually reveal the true text and uncover its original intention. The same method is applied with regard to other doctrines. esp. 110. ḥabtar. For example. Less known is the addition of the word mutʿa in q 24:33: wa-l-yastaʿfifi lladhīna lā yajidūna nikāḥan [+ bi-l-mutʿa] ḥattā yughniyahumu llāhu min faḍlihi. 218. examples being ʿiṣma (see impeccability ). in certain cases. 378.
Tafsīr. the Shīʿī) version. ṣād (the total numerical value of which is 161) at the head of q 7 (Sūrat al-Aʿrāf. Shīʿīs are certain that the true version of the Qurʾān is that known to them. In his interpretation of q 108 (Sūrat al-Kawthar). “The Heights”. two apocryphal sūras were also included: sūrat al-walāya. the letters alif. Tafsīr. he does so by using typical formulas. ii. “thus the verse was revealed to Muḥammad by [the angel] Gabriel” (q. On the basis of such a rejection of the “Sunnī” text one might have expected the Shīʿa to insert these alternative versions and additions into the text of the Qurʾān or at least to implement them when the text is read on ritual occasions (see ritual and the qurʾān. Tafsīr.e. however. i. the rank of plenipotentiary among the imāms (Poonawala. 142. against such accounts. Qummī.v. see friends and friendship. ii. The technique of numerical calculation of letters is primarily applied to the mysterious letters (q. 198-206. Le guide divin. This contradiction is typical of the Shīʿa: on the one hand an uncompromising position of superiority was adopted on the theoretical-doctrinal level.v. on the practical level. The Shīʿī version is preceded by such utterances as (a) nazala Jibrīl [or Jibrāʾīl] bi-hādhihi l-āya hākadhā ʿalā Muḥammad. identical with the one that ʿAlī possessed and bequeathed to his daughter. At this point he is stopped by the imām.g.e. 295). clients and clientage )” and sūrat al-nūrayn. These include statements formulated in the negative such as (a) ʿalā khilāf mā anzala llāh. said to have been discovered in the city of Bankipore. “[the version in the textus receptus] contradicts the form in which it was revealed” (see e. This tension and paradox is reflected in the many Shīʿī exegetical traditions in which Shīʿī qirāʾāt are mentioned. ʿAyyāshī. lām.e. 63.. “the sūra of divine friendship (i. Richtungen. ibid. This behavior of the Shīʿa reveals a paradox. not only do they not reject the canonical codex. Ismāʿīlī taʾwīl. and for similar versions.. which cites q 3:110 or q 25:74 as examples of such verses).g.g. an opposing tendency is sometimes revealed: Someone is reading from the Qurʾān in the presence of one of the imāms. see e. the textus receptus) until such time as “the righteous savior” (al-qāʾim) shall come with the correct version of the Qurʾān. 218.e. “[This verse] is one of those falsified [or altered] in the book of God” (Qummī. besides the Shīʿī alternative versions to some of the qurʾānic verses. who tells him that it was revealed in a different version. a year which had been 7 . Tafsīr. 297. i. India..v. 353. thus reading into it the Shīʿī tenet of waṣāya. ii. Fāṭima (q. 217. or followed by (b) hākadhā nazalat. recitation of the qurʾān ). i. In reality. on the other hand the constant fear of persecution from the hostile Sunnī environment brought about. 10. which underrate the importance of the ʿUthmānic codex. at other times it is stated that the version cited was the reading of one of the imāms (e.verse. i. according to an account attributed to ¶ al-Bāqir. 7991. whence its title muṣḥaf Fāṭima. 111). they actually endorse it (see e. 389). almost no action was taken by the Shīʿa to canonize their variant readings. Other methods of Shīʿī exegesis are based on the word and letter order and calculations of the numerical value of letters (see numerology ). however. For example. Tafsīr. noted by scholars as early as the nineteenth century. “the codex of Fāṭima” (see muṣḥaf ). Tafsīr. on this issue. 218-9). On the one hand. 21). to the year 161 of the hijrī calendar (777 c. 281).g. and inserts in his reading the Shīʿī version of the verse.g. Qummī. Qummī. fawātiḥ al-suwar) appearing at the head of twenty-nine sūras. The imām then proceeds to read the “true” (i. ¶ In the absence of such a firm declaration it is difficult to decide whether the alteration is a mere commentary or whether the exegete is in fact suggesting an alternative reading to the canonical text despite the absence of such typical expressions as those mentioned above. or (b) fīmā ḥurrifa min kitāb Allāh. ʿAyyāshī. Muḥammad and ʿAlī. At times even stronger expressions are used to stress that certain passages in the canonical text are incorrect. i. Tafsīr. between God and ʿAlī.e. mīm. Qummī. a pragmatic attitude that included ¶ the adoption de facto of the ʿUthmānic codex.). In some of them one finds the following situation: A disciple of the imām is reading from the (canonical) Qurʾān in the presence of the imām. see light ). The divine guide. 200-27. who instructs him to read according to the version followed by the people (i. on the other hand. see people of the heights ) allude. As. One exception is a late attempt reflected in a manuscript of the Qurʾān.). ii. al-Sijistānī presents a transposition of the words and letters of the sūra. “thus [the verse] was revealed” (see e. the sūra of the two lights (i. see Amir-Moezzi. Goldziher. in which.
Ibrāhīm Rassī (d. The work is not extant. there is the tafsīr by Shawkānī (d. Needless to say. however. the eponym of the Zaydi-Jārūdī sub-sect. which are mainly compilations of early sources. 444/1052) are among those credited with a tafsīr (Ṭihrānī. Biḥār. a Qurʾān commentary in Persian by Abū l-Futūḥ Ḥusayn b. exegetical material other than Qurʾān commentaries per se proliferates in all genres of Imāmī-Shīʿī literature.) The Zaydī exegetical tradition remains largely unexplored and most Zaydī works of tafsīr are still in manuscript form. that is. al-Nāṣir lil-Ḥaqq al-Uṭrūsh (d. excerpts of it are. 1184/1770). Ḥusayn al-Daylamī (d. first half of fourth/tenth century). incorporated in al-Qummī's Tafsīr (Bar-Asher. Anthropomorphism). 8 . Some very comprehensive Imāmī-Shīʿī tafsīr works. Abrahamov. See also persian literature and the qurʾān . There is no evidence that Qurʾān commentaries were written by members of Ghulāt groups (such as the Druzes and the Nuṣayrīs).v. Somewhat later is Muḥammad b. Mundhir Abū l-Jārūd. 231-346. index. Scripture. 255. 363/973) and Kitāb al-Kashf by Jaʿfar b. first half of the sixth/twelfth century). Ṭihrānī. Dharīʿa. 1250/1834). Manṣūr al-Yaman (fl. to whom is ascribed a treatise constituting a sort of introduction to the Qurʾān (Majlisī. Hibat Allāh (d. Sulaymān al-Baḥrānī. iv. 7-8). Muḥammad Hamadhānī.) Ismāʿīlī doctrinal writings include a vast amount of exegetical material but little is known of specific Ismāʿīlī exegetical works. and particularly Ismāʿīlī. 333/947. al-Ṭabarsī's Majmaʿ and the Rawḍ al-jinān wa-rūḥ al-janān. which occurred in the year 329/941. 360/971). ¶ the Jārūdiyya (Ṭihrānī. The most outstanding tafsīrs of the post-ghayba period ¶ are al-Ṭūsī's Tibyān. The most prominent among these are Taʾwīl al-āyāt al-ẓāhira fī faḍāʾil al-ʿitra al-ṭāhira by Sharaf al-Dīn ʿAlī l-Ḥusaynī l-Astarābādī (fl. on which see Bar-Asher. ^ Back to top Major Shīʿī exegetes and their works The earliest Imāmī-Shīʿī Qurʾān commentaries known to us are from the end of the third/ninth century. Jaʿfar al-Nuʿmānī (d. xc. 302-7. Dharīʿa. 251). Among the few that have come down to us are Kitāb Asās al-taʾwīl by the dāʿī alQāḍī l-Nuʿmān b. Dharīʿa. and Mizāj al-tasnīm by the Yamamite Ismāʿīlī Sulaymānī dāʿī. a comprehensive commentary of a legendarymythical nature on the first two sūras of the Qurʾān attributed to Imām Ḥasan al-ʿAskarī (d. Ismāʿīl b. a small exegetical treatise of a Ṣūfī character (see ṣūfism and the qurʾān ) attributed to Imām Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq and Tafsīr al-ʿAskarī. 260/874. iv. tafsīr and taʾwīl. (For other Ismāʿīlī exegetical works. Ibrāhīm al-Kūfī (Tafsīr Furāt al-Kūfī). Jaʿfar b. (For a detailed survey of Shīʿī tafsīr works.(incorrectly) predicted as the one in which the fall of the Umayyad dynasty would occur (ʿAyyāshī. s. It should further be noted that Shīʿī. prior to the Great Occultation (al-ghayba al-kubrā) of the twelfth imām. 304/917) and Abū l-Fatḥ Nāṣir b. Furāt b. These include the works of Furāt b. were composed in Ṣafavid Iran. 261. ii. Biobibliography. ca. exegesis is characterized by the use of a secret script designed to encrypt information — mainly names of persons — that the author wishes to conceal for precautionary reasons. Ibrāhīm b. respectively: Ḥaqāʾiq al-tafsīr al-qurʾānī. one of the best known and most prolific authors of the late Zaydiyya. iv. Kitāb al-Ṣāfī fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān by Muḥsin al-Fayḍ and Kitāb al-Burhān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān by Hāshim b. 246/860). Tafsīr. Manṣūr al-Yaman. better known as Ibn ʿUqda (d. 1-97). al-ʿAskarī). all of whom flourished in the last decades of the third/ninth century and the beginning of the fourth/tenth century. 251). Representative of modern Imāmī-Shīʿī Qurʾān exegesis are Ṭabāṭabāʾī's Mīzān and Min waḥy al-Qurʾān by Muḥammad Ḥusayn Faḍl Allāh. Ḥayyūn Maghribī (d. Other compositions are the two commentaries ascribed to the sixth and eleventh imāms. Numerous examples of this practice are found in the Kitāb al-Kashf by the dāʿī. Another outstanding Jārūdī scholar who is credited with a tafsīr is Aḥmad b. cf. The Zaydī imāms al-Qāsim b. ʿAlī al-Rāzī (fl. see Ṭihrānī. al-ʿAyyāshī (Tafsīr) and al-Qummī (Tafsīr). 244-7). tenth/sixteenth century). iii. iv. although the Qurʾān is widely cited and often commented on in their sacred writings. 46-56. see Poonawala. A Qurʾān commentary is also ascribed to Ziyād b. Finally. Dharīʿa.
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