Al-Mizan: An Exegesis of the Qur'an Volume 1

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Al-Mizan: An Exegesis of the Qur'an Author:
Translator: Allamah Sayyid Sa'eed Akhtar Rizvi
Publisher: World Organization for Islamic Services (WOFIS)
Category: Quran Interpretation

Al-Mizan: An Exegesis of the Qur'an

Author: Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai
Translator: Allamah Sayyid Sa'eed Akhtar Rizvi
Publisher: World Organization for Islamic Services (WOFIS)

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Al-Mizan: An Exegesis of the Qur'an

Al-Mizan: An Exegesis of the Qur'an Volume 1

Publisher: World Organization for Islamic Services (WOFIS)


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Al-Mizan An Exegesis of the Qur'an, vol 1

From Suratul Fatiha (1) to Suratul Baqarah (2), verse 93

The first volume of the renown commentary on the Qur'an written by one of the greatest commentators on the Qur'an in modern times. This volume contains the exegesis of Suratul Fatiha (1) and Suratul Baqarah (2) to verse 93. Translated by Allamah Sayyid Sa'eed Akhtar Rizvi.

Author(s): Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn at-Tabataba'i

Translator(s): Allamah Sayyid Sa'eed Akhtar Rizvi

Publisher(s): World Organization for Islamic Services [W.O.F.I.S.]

Table of Contents

Foreword. 5

Preface 9

Suratul Fatiha, The Chapter Of The Opening 1:1-5  19

Commentary. 19

Verse 1. 19

Verse 2. 23

Verses 2,3 & 4. 25

Traditions 27

From Philosophical Point Of View. 29

Footnote 32

Suratul Fatiha: Verses 6-7. 33

Commentary. 33

Qur’an. 33

Tradition. 42

Footnote 49

Suratul Baqarah, The Chapter of The Cow 2:1-5  50

286 verses – Medina 50

General Comment 50

Commentary. 50

A Philosophical Discussion. 54

Another Philosophical Discussion. 55

Reply to the First Argument 56

Reply to the Second Argument 56

Suratul Baqarah: Verses 6-7. 58

Commentary. 58

Tradition. 58

Suratul Baqarah: Verses 8-20. 61

Commentary. 62

Suratul Baqarah: Verses 21-25. 64

Commentary. 64

Miracle And Its Quiddity. 66

The Miracle Of The Qur’an. 66

First Specific Challenge: The Knowledge It Contains 69

Second Specific Challenge: The Recipient Of The Revelation. 70

Third Specific Challenge: Its Prophecies And Information Of Unseen. 71

Fourth Specific Challenge: No Discrepancies In The Qur’an. 73

Fifth Specific Challenge: Its Eloquence 75

Two Questions 76

The Reality Of Miracle According To The Qur’an. 80

1. The Qur'an Confirms the General Rule of the Cause-and-Effect 81

2. The Qur'an Affirms Miracle (Super-Natural Events) 81

3. Whatever is Caused by Natural Causes is Really Caused by Allah. 84

4. The Souls of the Prophets do have Influence Over the Super-Natural Events 85

5. Whatever is Caused by Psychical Power Depends on a Command from Allah  86

6. The Qur'an Attributes the Miracle to an Invincible Cause 87

7. The Qur'an Counts Miracle as a Proof of the Truth of the Claim of Prophethood  88

Suratul Baqarah: Verses 26-27. 96

Commentary. 96

Qur’an. 96

An Essay On Compulsion And Delegation. 99

Tradition. 101

A Philosophical Discussion. 111

Footnote 116

Suratul Baqarah: Verses 28-29. 117

General Comment 117

Commentary. 117

Suratul Baqarah: Verses 30-33. 121

Commentary. 121

Tradition. 126

Footnote 129

Suratul Baqarah: Verse 34. 130

General Comment 130

Commentary. 131

Tradition. 132

Suratul Baqarah: Verses 35-39. 134

Commentary. 134

Tradition. 147

Footnotes 161

Suratul Baqarah: Verses 40-44. 162

General Comment 162

Commentary. 162

Suratul Baqarah: Verses 45-46. 164

Commentary. 164

Footnotes 166

Suratul Baqarah: Verses 47-48. 167

Commentary. 167

1. What is the meaning of intercession?  170

2. The Objections Against Intercession. 174

First Objection. 174

Reply. 174

Second Objection. 175

Reply. 175

Third Objection. 176

Reply. 176

Fourth Objection. 177

Reply. 177

Fifth Objection. 179

Reply. 179

Sixth Objection. 180

Reply. 180

3. Who will benefit from intercession? 181

4. Who are the intercessors? 184

Intercessors in This Life 184

Intercessors in the Hereafter 185

5. Intercession: about what? 186

6. When will intercession be effected? 186

Tradition. 187

A Philosophical Contemplation. 196

A Social Discourse 197

Footnotes 200

Suratul Baqarah: Verses 49-61. 201

Commentary. 202

Tradition. 204

Footnotes 208

Suratul Baqarah: Verses 62. 209

Commentary. 209

A Historical Discussion. 210

Footnotes 213

Suratul Baqarah: Verses 63-74. 214

Commentary. 215

Tradition. 221

A Philosophical Discourse About Making The Dead Bodies Alive And About Metamorphosis 223

An Academic And Ethical Discourse On Unquestioning Adoption Of Concepts And Rulings 226

Footnotes 230

Suratul Baqarah: Verses 75-82. 231

Commentary. 231

Tradition. 235

Footnotes 236

Suratul Baqarah: Verses 83-88. 237

Commentary. 238

Tradition. 240

Footnotes 241

Suratul Baqarah: Verses 89-93. 242

Commentary. 242

Tradition. 243

Footnotes 248


The late Islamic scholar, thinker and philosopher, al-`Allamah as-Sayyid Muhammad Husayn at-Tabataba'i (al-`Allamah at-Tabataba'i) came from the celebrated Tabataba'i family of Tabriz. For the last three centuries, this family has produced generation after generation of renowned religious scholars in Azarbayjan (Iran). They are descendants of the second Imam, al-Hasan ibn `Ali (peace be on both of them). The clan is also referred to with the title, al-Qadi.

Al-`Allamah at-Tabataba'i was the son of as-Sayyid Muham­mad ibn as-Sayyid Muhammad Husayn at-Tabataba'i. al-`Allamah was born in Tabriz on 30/ 12/ 1321 A. H. (17/3/ 1904 C. E.) His father died in 1330 (1912). The orphaned child grew up in Tab­riz, and after completing the religious education there, in circa 1341 (1923) he went to an-Najaf al-Ashraf (Iraq), the most important centre of the highest Shi'ah religious learning.

In an-Najaf al-Ashraf, he began his higher studies with such illustrious scholars as ash-Shaykh (al-Mirza) Muhammad Husayn (son of Shaykhu 'l-Islam al-Mirza `Abdu 'r-Rahim) Na'ini al-Gha­rawi (1277/1860-1 - 1355/1936) and ash-Shaykh Muhammad Husayn (son of al-Hajj Muhammad Hasan, Mu'inu 't-Tujjar) Isfahani (1296/1878 - 1361/1942).

These two, together with ash-Shaykh Diya'u 'd-Din (son of Mawla Muhammad) `Iraqi (1278/ 1861-2 - 1361 / 1942) are held in the highest regard in the Shi `ah world. They were among the most prominent scholars not only in the fields of the Shiite jurisprudence and the fundamentals of jurisprudence, but in all Islamic subjects. The opinions they expounded and the theories they established have been followed by all those who came after them.

Each of them founded his own school of thought. They trained thousands of Shi `ah scholars and jurists; and all the maraji `u 't-taqlid of the Shi`ite world, to this day, are their students. The Isfahani was a philosopher, unsurpassed in his time, a man of literature and a good poet of Arabic and Persian; he was a genius whose achievements made others to look upon him as their ideal. The Na'ini has carved for himself a niche in the history because of his bold opinions and decrees in the political and social life of the Muslim ummah.

al-`Allamah at Tabataba'i was much influenced by these two teachers, (and especially by the Isfahani) in the development of his thoughts and knowledge. A third influence was of as-Sayyid Abu 'l-Qasim Ja'far (son of as-Sayyid Muhammad al-Musawi) Khwansari (1313/1895-6 - 1380/1961), known as “the math­ematician.” al-`Allamah at-Tabataba'i was proud of learning the mathematics from him.

Also, he wrote a book on some topics of higher mathematics, applying therein some special theories of his teacher. The book is mentioned in adh-Dhari `ah, vol, ii, pp. 232 - 233. He learned philosophy and metaphysics from as-Sayyid Husayn (s/o as-Sayyid Rida s/o as-Sayyid Musa-) al-Husayni (1293/1876 - 1358/1939) of al-Badkubil a well-known teacher of philosophy and related subjects in those days.

In ethical and spiritual field, he received his training from his relatives, as-Sayyid (al-Mirza) `Ali Agha (s/o al-Mirza Husayn al-Qadi) Tabataba'i

(1285/1869 - 1366/1947), a well-known divine who established a school of spiritual and ethical training which is flourishing to this day.

All those influences combined in al-`Allamah at-Tabataba'i to create in him a well-balanced academic and spiritual person­ality. A well-respected authority on religious subjects of juris­prudence and its fundamentals; a philosopher of independent views and various new theories; an inspired model of ethical and spiritual perfection, who not only taught morality but lived it - this was al-`Allamah at-Tabataba'i. Yet it will be correct to say that his scholarship was overshadowed by his fame and prestige as a philosopher and a spiritual man.

al-`Allamah at-Tabataba'i returned to Tabriz in 1353 (1934) where he was welcomed as a religous scholar. There he spent his time teaching higher philosophy to willing disciples - but it was a small place for his talents. In 1364 (1945) he migrated to Qum, the most important centre of religious education in Iran.

In Qum, he remained engaged in imparting knowledge of ethics, philosophy and exegesis of the Qur'an to the students who had already attained to a high level of erudition. There he remained till his death on Sunday, 18/1/1402 (15/11/1981). May Allah bestow His mercy on him. Amen.

Many religious leaders of the present generation were and are among his students and disciples, the most famous being the late Murtada Mutahhari (1338/ 1920 - 1399/ 1979).

al-`Allamah at Tabataba'i's fame rests on his various aca­demic works - the , most important being his great exegesis of the Qur'an,al-Mizan fitafsiri'l-Qur'an . It may correctly be said to be the foundation stone of the academic prestige which al-`Allamah at-Tabataba'i was accorded in the Muslim world.

Among his other works isUsul-e falsafah wa rawesh-a realism (The Fundamentals of philosophy and the Doctrine of Realism). This book is a comparative study of Islamic philosophy and various modern anti-Islamic schools of thoughts, especially the Marxism. His disciple, late Murtada Mutahhari, wrote footnotes and explanations to this work, thus making it easily comprehensible to the average man.

A third bookShi`ah dar Islam (Shi`ah in Islam), was first published in Persian; later it was published in English also, with the title: Shi`ite Islam. This book is based on al-`Allamah's dis­cussions with Professor Kenneth Morgan of Colgate University, held in the summer of 1384 (1963) about Shi'ah and Shi'ism.

However, it is thetafsir ,al-Mizan (published in Arabic in 20 volumes) which presents the true picture of the author's academic taste and his way of thinking. Before starting this work, the author made a detailed plan to explain the Qur'an with the help of the Qur'an itself; and he faithfully fulfilled this pledge upto the end of the book. He has outlined this scheme in his Preface, in volume one.

It was a grace of Allah that He inspired us a few years ago to prepare and publish atafsir of the Qur'an in English. We wanted it to be atafsir that would help the reader to understand the divine Book and its verses, as much

as practically possible - atafsir that would bring its sublime meanings and divine themes nearer to the human mind; would explain the context in which the verses and chapters were revealed, would cover the points that are necessary for understanding its meaning and fully com­prehending its import - all this without ignoring the Tradition of the Prophet and his Ahlu 'l-bayt (as) in arriving at the final conclusion.

On the other hand, we wanted it to be in sympathy with the mentality of the present day's readers, Muslim as well as non-Muslim, looking at the problems that boggle their minds and the questions that demand responsible and knowledgeable answers - to the extent it is related to the Qur'an and its explanation.

After much deliberation, we found thattafsir ,al-Mizan , satisfies our both requirements to a great extent.

So, seeking the help of Allah, we decided to get it translated in the English language. Even before embarking on this work, we were fully aware that it was a gigantic task; we understood that the responsibility would be heavy and the efforts to bring this scheme to completion herculean; the expenses would be huge and the difficulties himalayan.

We knew all of it, and our only weapon was, and is, our reliance on Allah. We sought His help to make our dream come true; and to help us reach the end goal and prepare and publish the complete set. A few years ago, we entered into an agreement with someone to translate the first volume; but he did not fulfil his promise, although we gave him all the time and facilities - and even more - that were needed for it.

At last we requested al-`Allamah ar-Radawi to take this im­portant responsibility on his shoulders, and we are thankful to Allah that al-`Allamah ar-Radawi fulfilled his promise.

We have written in short about al-`Allamah as-Sayyid Sa’eed Akhtar Rizvi (s/o as-Sayyid Abu 'l-Hasan [ 1309/1891 -1394/1974] ) in the preface of his book, The Family Life of Islam, in which we, inter alia,wrote:

Sayyid Rizvi is one of the most sincere preachers of Islam and an active scholar, both when he was in Tanzania in the Bilal Muslim Mission (an Islamic organization active in Tanzania), and also now that he has returned to his own country of India. In the way of spreading Islam he has rendered enormous services and has been most active.

al-`Allamah Rizvi has written scores of books and booklets in English, Urdu and Swahili, many of which have been published; and we have given in the above-mentioned preface some titles which have been published by us. Some of his books have been translated and published by us in French,. Italian, Japanese, Thai, Indonesian, Hausa and some other languages.

Here we must express our thanks to him for the efforts he has made and the difficulties he has overcome in renderingal-Mizan into English. The original Arabic book is replete with academic terms of all disciplines, Islamic as well as non-Islamic, and with philosophical discussions related mostly to metaphysics.

The learned translator has discharged his trust faithfully and conveyed the original idea into English truthfully. What you find in your hands is the true rendering of what al-`Allamah at-Tabataba'i wrote in Arabic. The

translator has written some footnotes where he thought it necessary - without altering the original text in any way.

We left the entire responsibility of the translation in the hands of the translator, relying on his erudition and knowledge of Arabic language, philosophy and Islamic subjects and his long experience in rendering purely Islamic esoteric ideas into a western language like English.

Now he is personally responsible for the English translation, just as al-`Allamah at-Tabataba'i (may Allah have His mercy on him!) was personally responsible for the explanations of the Qur'anic verses, and the general discussions he wrote in histafsir ,al-Mizan .

We have prepared two lists for this book:

1. Names of the authors referred to in the twenty volumes ofal-Mizan .

2. Names of the books which need a somewhat detailed introduction.

These two lists have been added in the first volume of the English translation only; two other lists will be printed with every volume.

We pray to Allah and beseech Him to make our deed purely for His pleasure, to help us complete the work we have started, and to guide us aright in every step we put forward on this road. Surely, He is the best Guardian and the best Helper.

World Organization For Islamic Services

(Board of Writing, Translation and Publication)

27/10/1402 17/8/1981

Tehran – IRAN