Aims, Methods and Contexts of Qurʼanic Exegesis (2nd/8th–9th/15th Centuries)

Publication Year



Medieval interpretations of the Qur'an often serve as points of reference for Muslim thought; yet Qur'an commentaries were shaped not only by the Qur'an itself, but also by their authors' ideological viewpoints, their theories of interpretation, their methods, and the conventions of the genre. This volume is the first to focus solely on the complicated relationship between exegetes' theoretical aims, their practical methods of writing, and the historical and intellectual contexts of Qur'an commentaries (tafsīr). Experts in various aspects of the Qur'an and its interpretation have contributed essays, spanning the 2nd/8th to the 9th/15th centuries, the period in which the commentarial tradition developed and flourished. They emphasise the ways in which geography, human networks, hermeneutical systems and genre boundaries affected the writing of these texts. This volume offers fresh analytical perspectives and addresses new methods for the study of tafsīr. It also provides resources for scholars, by including editions and translations of the introductions to al-Basīt of Abū'l-Ḥasan 'Alī al-Wāḥidī (d. 486/1076) and the Tahdhīb fī Tafsīr al-Qur'ān of al-Ḥākim al-Jishumī (d. 494/1101), as well as translated selections from the introduction to the tafsīr of 'Abd al-Razzāq al-Kāshānī (d. 736/1336). The detailed studies in this volume will help scholars and students alike to comprehend accurately the purpose and content of Qur'an commentaries individually and as a genre.


1: The Aims of Tafsīr
1: Feras Hamza: Tafsīr and Unlocking the Historical Qur'an: Back to Basics?
2: Karen Bauer: Justifying the Genre: A Study of Introductions to Classical works of Tafsīr,
3: Walid A. Saleh: The Introduction to al-Wāḥidī's al-Basīt: An Edition, Translation and Commentary
4: Suleiman A. Mourad: Towards a Reconstruction of the Mu'tazilī Tradition of Qur'anic Exegesis: Reading the Introduction to the Tahdhīb of al-Ḥākim al-Jishumī (d. 494/1101) and Its Application
2: Methods and Sources of Tafsīr
5: Robert Gleave: Early Shi'i Hermeneutics: Some Exegetical Techniques Attributed to the Shi'i Imams
6: Andrew Rippin: The Construction of the Arabian Historical Context in Muslim Interpretation of the Qur'an
7: Roberto Tottoli: Methods and Contexts in the Use of Hadiths in Classical Tafsīr Literature: The Exegesis of Q. 21:85 and Q. 17:1
8: Martin Nguyen: Letter by Letter: Tracing the Textual Genealogy of a Sufi Tafsīr
9: Tariq Jaffer: Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī's System of Inquiry
10: Ludmila Zamah: Master of the Obvious: Understanding Ẓāhir Interpretations in Qur'anic Exegesis
11: Stephen Burge: Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūṭī, the Mu'awwidhatān and the Modes of Exegesis
3: Contextualising Tafsīr
12: Claude Gilliot: A Schoolmaster, Storyteller, Exegete, and Warrior at Work in Khurāsān: al- Ḍaḥḥāk b. Muzāḥim al-Hilālī (d. 106/ 724)
13: Michael E. Pregill: Methodologies for the Dating of Exegetical Works and Traditions: Can the Lost Tafsīr of Kalbī be Recovered from Tafsīr Ibn 'Abbās (also known as al-Wādiḥ)?

Series Title
Qur'anic studies series
Series Volume
Oxford University Press in association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies
ISSN Number