A Brief Critique of Atomistic Tafsir

This is a key quotation by Badr al-Din al-Islahi, which I have preliminarily translated from Arabic, in which he critiques the Qur’anic commentators that came before Abd al-Hamid al-Farahi for their limitation in understanding the scripture’s composition (nazm/nizam):

‘Despite their appreciated effort, their exertion was not spent except in disclosing the coherence between adjacent verses, or the following and previous surahs, and they did not make an examination in regard to the coherence with which the speech is composed from its beginning to its end so that it becomes a single piece. Therefore, they were content with merely explaining the coherence between them [verses and surahs] without looking to a general, comprehensive command for everything that the verse or the surah comprises. For this reason they did not hit the mark in most places, rather they proceeded haphazardly. That was because most of the verses and likewise most of the surahs also are not connected in every place, rather the following verse or surah perhaps is connected with that some way before it, so the one searching for coherence between them whilst lacking [knowledge] of their flow, how can he be guided to their composition? And how can he understand their objective? So if he proceeds at random in regard to them it is not at all strange.’ [al-Farahi, Dala’il al-Nizam, p. 4]

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3 thoughts on “A Brief Critique of Atomistic Tafsir

  1. Very interesting.
    I am sure you would like to have a look at my blog where I am rendering the English version of Tafsir Nizam-ul-Quran by Hamiduddin Farahi. I sincerely believe that he was one of his kind when it comes to understanding the language of Quran; very few reached the level he did. Additionally, his disciple Amin Ahsan Islahi did a great job in expanding Farahi’s thought and works in his won Tafsir, the 9 volume Tadabbur-e-Quran

    Just my 2 cents!

  2. Masha’Allah I think that the content of this site is excellent! I think I will link it to my blog (arabizi.wordpress.com) because the way you explain some important concepts here is so good that it would be easier for readers to come straight here. The language of the Qur’an is key to understanding the text, and without that understanding we find many misinterpretations, keep posting!

    Jazakallahu khairan

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