Tafseer : Ussul Al tafseer. and Tareekh Al tafseer

Q637 :I will be grateful if you will kindly explain the meaning of the following two terms: Ussul Al tafseer and Tareekh Al tafseer

A637 : The two terms are used in the study of the Qur'an and its interpretation. The term tafseer means, in its original linguistic sense, "explanation, clarification, interpretation, etc." However, in an Islamic context it refers to the explanation and interpretation of the Qur'an. Since the Qur'an is God's final message to mankind, revealed by Him and preserved in its original form, it is only natural that Muslims should give much attention to the study of the Qur'an and understanding its meaning. This has developed into a major branch of Islamic studies, known as tafseer. Any course of study leading to a university degree in the Islamic studies is bound to have tafseer as an integral and major component. It is indeed a branch in which many scholars specialize. Over the centuries, many scholars have written new commentaries on the Qur'an, trying to explain its meaning. These often have new contributions to make to the study of the Qur'an. In the 20th century, two very eminent scholars have written invaluable commentaries in Arabic. These are Sheikh Rasheed Reda and Sayyid Qutb. Also Maulana Maudoodi wrote Tafheem Al Qur'an which is a commentary running in several volumes in Urdu. Other scholars have written books, or pieces of research, or articles which also contribute to the explanation of the Qur'an. Indeed, the efforts to explain and interpret the meaning of the Qur'an date back to the early days of Islam, with the Prophet explaining to his companions, and to Muslims in general the meaning of numerous verses. Abdullah ibn Abbas is perhaps the most famous commentator on the Qur'an among the companions of the Prophet. He achieved that position of eminence in fulfillment of the Prophet's prayer when he held him as a newborn baby and prayed close to the Ka'aba: "My Lord, make him highly conversant in Islam and teach him in interpretation (of the Qur'an)". Other scholarly companions of the Prophet were known to explain the meaning of surahs and verses. The study of the trends and the development of interpreting the Qur'an comes under the heading Tareekh Al tafseer, or "History of Qur'anic interpretations." As there is a continuous process of studying the Qur'an and explaining its meaning, certain rules and principles are bound to be developed for such studies. For example, scholars agree that the best interpretation of the Qur'an is that which uses the Qur'an itself. This refers to the fact that certain ideas are expressed in the Qur'an in a general way at one point, but elaborated upon later. This elaboration provides the best interpretation of the earlier general statement. Secondly, the Hadith is to be taken as a major basis for interpreting the Qur'an. The third source is statements and comments made by the Prophet's companions. But there are other rules and principles that have been developed by scholars over the centuries. These are studied under the heading Ussul Al tafseer, which may be translated as "Principles of the Qur'anic Interpretation."

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )