How to Study Tafseer Properly

Tafsir

One of our teachers, Shaykh Haitham Hamdan, recommends the following three steps to learning tafseer:

  1. Get yourself a brief Tafseer book, one or two volumes. Such as Al-Jalalayn (Arabic version is here), Zubdat Al-Tafseer (available only in Arabic), or Al-Tafseer Al-Muyassar (available only in Arabic).  Spend a few years in totally absorbing/memorizing one of these books. Do not refer to any other book of Tafseer. The idea is that you become familiar with an understanding of each Qur’anic verse, without paying attention to disputes over Tafseer. Whenever you come across a verse you must be able to recall a full understanding of it according to this book.
  2. Then move on to an intermediate Tafseer, such as Ibn Katheer’s (Arabic version is here).  Stick to it for several years until you have absorbed it all.
  3. Finally, get one or more advanced Tafseers, such as Al-Tabari’s (available only in Arabic). Or get a specialized Tafseer such as one on Fiqh, such as Qurtubi (Arabic version is here), or linguistic tafseers, such as Abu Hayyan’s (available only in Arabic).

Nouman Ali Khan also has a good flowing video commentary of the Qur’an entitled Qur’an, Cover to Cover with an emphasis on coherence and subtleties lost in translation.  It is still in the process and currently he has covered over half of the Qur’an.  It is, however, not free and requires $11 dollars a month for unlimited access to it.

For even a more thorough look into this topic, see this page.

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