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Al-Muqaddimah fi Usul al-Tafsir


Course Overview

This course focuses on the essential principles of Qur’anic exegesis posited by Ibn Taymiyyah in his Al-Muquaddimah fi Usul al-Tafsir text.

The text promotes a methodological framework of Tafsir that provides exegetes with the tools and principles to understand and unravel the Divine intent behind Quranic verses. The course also places emphasis on understanding the thinking process of the author and providing a comparative study of his work.


About the Text

Among the extant works of Ibn Taymiyyah is a small treatise entitled ‘Muqaddimah fi Usul al-Tafsir’ (An Introduction to the Principles of Qur’an Interpretation’) that he dictated from memory whilst in prison in response to a question about proper Qur’an interpretation (Tafsir).

This work sets out the proper principles to be deployed in interpreting the Quran and gives advice on the types of Tafsir one should depend on from among the numerous works of Tafsir that are available. The text places emphasis on the fact that the reader of the Qur’an should always keep in mind who the speaker is and who it is spoken to. It has proven to be a unique work in that, despite its conciseness, this small work of scholarship has been quoted by Qur’anic scholars from the earliest times like Ibn Kathir and Al-Suyuti unto the present day.


About the Author

Taqi al-Din Ahmad ibn Abd al-Halim (more commonly known simply as Ibn Taymiyyah was born into a family of reputable Hanbali scholars in Harran in modern day Turkey in 661 A.H. / 1263 C.E.  He left a lasting legacy on Islamic reformation, and was teacher to the likes of Imams Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, Ibn Kathir, Al-Dhahabi, Al-Mizzi and Ibn Daqiq al-‘Id. He wrote profusely on a range of subjects before he passed away in 728 A.H. / 1328 C.E.


Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students should be able to:

  • understand how the Quran is best explained by the Quran
  • understand how the Prophet explained the Quran
  • understand how the Companions and their successors explained the Quran
  • recognise different sources of Tafsir
  • understand why there are differences in Tafsir
  • recognise ideological and sectarian biases in Tafsir works
  • evaluate the pros and cons of Tafsir based on reason
  • consider whether new hermeneutical methods are useful in interpreting the Quran

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