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Principles of Tafseer 2011 Fall

Principles of Tafseer: Approaches to Tafseer IV - 2011 Fall Session

Required Textbook: None
Prerequisite
: None
When: Mondays 6:30 PST - 7:30 PST November 7 through November 28.

Basic Outline of the Class

Study of al Ishaari and Sufi tafseers

For previous classes we used this textbook: Methodologies of the Qur'anic Commentators by Jamaal Zarabozo.

2011-09-26 Class Notes

We will begin with to understand where we are try to catch up. This portion of the class is class approaches, this is not principles of tafseer, we are discussing about different categories of actual works of tafseer where we review different tafseers.

Categories of Tafseer


1. Tafseer bil Ma’thoor (تفسير بالمأثور) - tafseer based on reports. There are some tafseer that are pure, these are just collections of the hadeeth and sahaba etc. for example tafseer of Abi ibn Haatim, Ibn Al Mundhir. They contain just reports with the isnad back to Prophet or Sahabi. Most of the tafseer falls into fall into this category. Like Tafseer of Tabari and Ibn Katheer and they put in this category because there are lot of reports in it. When they conclude it is  based on this reports. When you consider the methodology the best way is to interpret the Qur’an in the light of Qur’an and to interpret in the light of Hadeeth and in the light of student of Prophet i.e sahabah thus these books are considered of extreme importance.

Tabari and Katheer are mixed, they are based on reports and also have opinion. They give more information about reports, such as more details about chains.

2. Tafseer bil Raiy - tafseer based on Opinion, which can be further divided into praiseworthy and blameworthy opinion.

2a. Tafseer bil Ra’y al maqbool (تفسير بالرأي المقبول) - tafseer based on acceptable opinions i.e praiseworthy. Majority of them are actually Ashari also to come extent about Maturidis. Ashrais have some opinion that are not in consistent with sahabah.

2b. Tafseer bil Ra’y al madhmoom (تفسير بالرأي المذموم) - based on blameworthy or unacceptable opinions. These are tafseers from Mu’tazilh and Shia. Last quarter we spent time in studying the tafseer from Mutazilah and Shia


3. Other: Tafseer that don’t fit in the above categories, such as
a) Fiqhi tafseer where the goal is to interpret Qur’an and concentrate solely on  the fiqh aspects of Qur’an.
b) Something that has become very popular in last century is scientific tafseers.
c) Thematic tafseers - Tafseer Al-Mawdoo3, take a topic and take all the verse talking about this topic.
d) Linguistic tafseers
e) Tafseer Al-Ishaari - We will be discussing these type of tafseer in the class.


Basic components of performing proper tafseer
You can define a methodology for tafseer, what is the best way to follow in order to get the proper  meaning of the Qur’an in general you can say that best way to get the meaning of the Qur’an is based on four components:

1) Using the right approach i.e methodology.
2) Having a sound database i.e. information that you are using should be correct i.e. authentic hadeeth or authentic report, meaning of the Arabic language has to be correct.
3) Sincere intention behind the tafseer.
4) Tawfeeq or guidance from Allah.

Is tawfeeq the only component for performing tafseer?
Question: Shouldn’t having tawfeeq in and itself be sufficient, if you have this why do you need other components?
A: Obviously if someone has tawfeeq from Allah, he will be guided by Allah but the principle in the shariah is that we have to follow the asbab (or causes), even with respect to  Prophet as mentioned by Suyooti, for example in dealing with people when Prophet knew that someone has guilty and  even if he knew that someone is munafiq he cannot act unless there is command form Allah. There are things that points us to what is true, anytime someone claims that he has understanding about Qur’an and he cannot point us to why this has to be considered correct then at the minimum there will be suspect on this claim.


The above categorization is mostly from Ashari sources and it is not the best categorization, but it is widely accepted, hence we follow it.


Tafseer al Ishari

Meaning of this term depends upon who you ask. There are three different translations of the term:
1. Commentary by spiritual allusion
2. Tafseer based on inner meaning
3. Implicatory explanation (based on the implication of the verse)

Big picture of the term al Ishari
Let us say we have a verse from the Qur’an. This verse has an apparent meaning, which means obvious clear meaning of the verse, it does not need any specialization in Arabic language or mujthahid to derive this meaning.

Important Axioms of Tafseer
Everything in the Quran is true according to its literal or apparent meaning unless there is evidence to the contrary.

For example, at the end of Surah Yusuf, where in Allah swt says:

لقد كان في قصصهم عبرة لأولي الألباب ما كان حديثا يفترى ولكن تصديق الذي بين يديه وتفصيل كل شيء وهدى ورحمة لقوم يؤمنون

There was certainly in their stories a lesson for those of understanding. Never was the Qur'an a narration invented, but a confirmation of what was before it and a detailed explanation of all things and guidance and mercy for a people who believe.” [12:111]

Allah swt says that these stories are not fables. What Allah swt says in the Quran is truth. Who can be more truthful than Allah swt.

ألم تر كيف ضرب الله مثلا كلمة طيبة كشجرة طيبة أصلها ثابت وفرعها في السماء

Sahih International

Have you not considered how Allah presents an example, [making] a good word like a good tree, whose root is firmly fixed and its branches [high] in the sky? [14:24]



When Allah swt is giving us a parable, something that is not literally true, then he points it out. For example, Surah Ibrahim [14:24] where he gives us a parable about tree and ..... Allah swt gives parables for people so that people may reflect.

Rejection of clear understanding of the Quran is kufr. Many scholars have mentioned it like An-nasafi. When you reject the dhaheer or apparent meaning of the Quran then it is kufr. When we give examples of Tafseer al Ishari, then you will appreciate the principles that we are discussing now.

At the same time it is accepted and it is true, that there are meanings of the Quran that go beyond the plain meaning of the text. You cant reject the clear meaning of the text but at the same time which goes beyond that. The meaning requires reflection from human beings, as Allah swt says in Surah sa’d:29

كتاب أنزلناه إليك مبارك ليدبروا آياته وليتذكر أولو الألباب

Sahih International
[This is] a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that they might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded.


Verses require reflection and people who should know these meaning the best should be the people of Ahl Sunnah wal Jamah the reason is that these people know the basic principle of the deen, they know the rule to derive the text. they have the detail from the shariah and they know the methodology of the principle to derive the understand from Qur’an. Thus these people should derives these meanings. This is made obvious when you look at the understanding of the Quran by the sahaaba and how they were aware of the deeper meanings of the Quran.

Thus there are 3 important aspects regarding the meaning of the quran.
1. Clear and Apparent Meaning.
2. Rejection of these clear meaning
3 . This does not meaning that there are no deeper meaning but to derive these meaning there are certain tools that needs to be used.


Returning back to the example of the verse before we started discussing the above important principle. In addition to the apparent meaning, we have derived meaning which are based on the implications of the verse. Those derived meaning sometimes there is clear relationship some where beyond the mantooq i.e. stated meaning, sometimes the relationship is very direct and very clear, it is beyond the clear meaning but when someone explains to you you can see it, it is not difficult to see it.

Other times there seems to be there is something missing here it is difficult to imply that something implies something. The one who says this many times might say this is based in inspiration of Allah but I cannot prove but this is because of my relationship with Allah. At the same time the meaning might be ok but

The derived meaning contradicts of apparent meaning and there is not relationship with apparent meaning at all. This is Batani tafseer, where inner meaning is completely meaning from apparent meaning.

For example, last quarter we did the tafseer of Shia and they have many times this kind of batani tafseer as there is no relationship between what the apparent meaning is what they are deriving like lul wa marjaan is hassan and hussain, basically they are claiming that apparent meaning is not meaning at all, it is true hidden meaning which you cannot derive by any means but only way to know is that you have some kind of revelation from Allah. This is common among Ithna Ashari and specailly among Ismailis and among sufis and this is far exterme of Tafseer Al-Ishaari.

Ahl us sunnah should be the ones taking the lead in the derived meaning of the verses, because they have the right tools and the right approach. Sufis also do this, but they also do the other two.   

Some books of Uloom al Quran, define tafseer al ishari as simply spiritual influence and cannot be derived from any knowledge or text.

A good tafseer ishari is tafseer based on opinion, but we will not be focusing on this, but rather the tafseer written by person who does not have good knowledge but presents in such a way that it has influence, and this is the most dangerous type of tafseer.

We will discuss what are the conditions for accepting tafseer al ishari. Az-zarkashi says tafseer al-ishari is not tafseer at all and he rejects it and he gives the reason why he rejects it. This is an extreme opinion. He gives an example. (note: you cannot reject something based just on one example and this is known as falsability ...). Zarqashi has a four volume book on uloom al quran called ...

He said that this tafseer (by sufis) of the verse  Yaa Ayyu alldieen katilon... tafseer that he gives there is one explanation of this verse (ishaar way) the verse is telling us to fight the enemy which is closest to us and the one which is closest to us is nafs and thus this means to fight our nafs. Obviously this is an incorrect understanding of the verse.

Three examples of Tafseer al Ishari

Surah Baqarah verse 266
Sahih International
Would one of you like to have a garden of palm trees and grapevines underneath which rivers flow in which he has from every fruit? But he is afflicted with old age and has weak offspring, and it is hit by a whirlwind containing fire and is burned. Thus does Allah make clear to you [His] verses that you might give thought.


In this  verse Allah swt is giving us the parable with some kind of message in it. And the following tafseer is from tafseer al ishari

“It is referring to someone does good for all of his life and then just before he is about to die he does act of evil which ruins everything what he has done before like fire comes and destroys what he did.”


Surah Nisa verse 4:36

واعبدوا الله ولا تشركوا به شيئا وبالوالدين إحسانا وبذي القربى واليتامى والمساكين والجار ذي القربى والجار الجنب والصاحب بالجنب وابن السبيل وما ملكت أيمانكم إن الله لا يحب من كان مختالا فخورا

Sahih International
Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side, the traveler, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful.


This verse clear and here is the tafseer al ishari or inner meaning of the

“the neighbor who is near kin is heart and neighbor who is stranger is nature and the companion is intellect guided by shariah and the wayfarer are limbs of a body that are obedient to Allah”


The third example is interpretation of the words “Alif Laam Meem”.

“If we look to the nature of the sounds which the letter represent. A is a breathing and come from the throat, L is a lingual-palatal-dental sound from the middle of the mouth and M is a liable or lip-sound. Can we not take them as symbolical of the Beginning, Middle and End? If so, are they not appropriate to the Suras which treat specifically of Life, Growth, and Death - the Beginning and the End? In the New Testament Greek scripture, the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. The symbolism of the three things is better with three letters.”

Of those three first tafseer does it has direct relationship to the apparent meaning (blue referring to the color used by Shaikh Jamaal on the whiteboard) or which has some relationship  to the apparent meaning (red) or that which does not have any relationship to the apparent meaning (black), referring to circles pointing to the apparent meaning.

Shaikh Jamaal said that the first  tafseer has a direct relationship or is Blue. The second and third tafseers do not have any relationship (black).

Homework: Think about the three examples and shaikh will reveal their sources.

2011-10-03 Class Notes

There were internet connectivity issues at Sacramento and the class was not broadcast.

2011-10-10 Class Notes


Last time we were trying to find out if we can find any justification for tafseer al ishaari, which is to derive further meaning from the text.

We discussed whether we can find any support for it from the Qur’an itself. Tadabbur is one of the mechanisms.
For example, if we said 4+4 =8 then you cannot go further from it, but Qur’an is not a series of statements like 4+4=8, but it asks us to ponder or make tadabbur, it asks us to ponder upon the signs, there is some need for reflection and to go beyond the plain meaning. So we can say that there is some support for this kind of tafseer from the Qur’an itself.

What about evidence from the hadeeth to support this type of tafseer?
There is a hadeeth when the sahaba were worried about the verse where you should not mix your imaan with dhulm (wrongdoing) and they went and asked the prophet. The prophet explained that it means shirk and not just any type of wrongdoing. Do you think this is evidence for this type of tafseer?

We can say there this validity for tafseer al ishaari, but it does not mean any type of tafseer al ishari, we are talking about the correct and tafseer that does not go beyond, for example, you can perform ta’weel but there are constraints on how you can perform taweel, so we are talking about the right kind of tafseer al ishaari.

Tafseer al ishaari is to go from stated meaning or apparent meaning to a more deeper meaning of the text.

There is a hadith they use to justify Tafseer Al-Ishari, you can find this is many books of Tafseer and Uloom-ul-Quran, which we will discuss next. It is the hadeeth that discusses harf.

أنزل القرآن على سبعة أحرف لكل حرف منها ظاهر و باطن و لكل حرف حد و لكل حرف  مطّلع

Hadeeth narrated by .... : “The Qur’an has been revealed in 7 ahrufs, for every harf it has Ad-Dhahr and Batn and every harf has hadd and every hadd has Mutalla3”

There are four words here that are very important which were not translated on purpose in the above hadeeth.
1. Dhahir
2. Baatin
3. Hadd
4. Mutalla3

The meaning of the above four words are:
1. Apparent or exposed
2. Hidden
3. Limit
4 Vantage point, or place from which you can see or perspective.

You will find this hadeeth in At-Tabari, At-Tha3labi and other numerous mufassir like Az-Zarqashi, As-Suyooti has this hadith. It is been narrated as the hadeeth also as the statement of Ibn Masood.

Can we use this hadeeth as justification for Tafseer al-Ishari?
This would be important hadeeth on how to interpret the Qur’an.

Different understandings of the words Dhahir and Batin by scholars
What is meant by Dhahir and Batin ?

Common interpretation of Dhahir means the Tilawah and Batn is Understanding and Derivation.

At-Tabari said Ad-Dhahir said is recitation and interpration is Batin.

Ahmed Shakir said Dhahir it is clear and Batn is what is derived from the people of knowledge.

Hasan al Basri says that Dhahir is the clear wording, and if you inspect the Dhahir and make analogy then you will find the Batin.

Abu Ubaid said that Dhahir is when Allah swt speaks to us about the destruction of the people of the past and batin is what we derive from that story.

There is also a rare interpretation even narrated from Ibn Masood and he says Dhahir is those who are acting upon that verse now (at his time) and Batn is acting upon it in the future.

With respect to the Hadd:

Some say it is limit of knowledge beyond which people cannot go. Some say it is limit on what is prohibited. At-tabari said it can also mean reward and punishment on either applying or non applying the verse.

Vantage Point:

Tabari said, that umar said If everything in the world belong to me and I would ransom it for my own self against the terror of the lookout point (mutalla3).

What do you think of the above interpretations? Is there anything dangerous in any of the above statements?
There are many differences in the above interpretations. All of these interpretations are not problematic, because they do not lead to anything that we should be afraid of or cautious of. Those people who are know for tafseer al ishaari have a different interpretation of the word dhahir and batin.

Al-Tustari’s view of Dhahir and Baatin
Those who delve into tafseer al ishari are mostly sufis and in the next lecture we will discuss the history of sufism, because it is important to know their history. One of their common beliefs is that there is an outward shariah and then there is a reality (haqeeqah). There is the masses (عوام) who follow the shariah and there is the select few (خواص) who are guided by Allah swt who are known as khawas.

Al-Tustari says that the thaahir is the public knowledge and the baatin is the knowledge of the elect. And the muttala3 is the heart -- you see the reality through you heart.

Abu Talib al Makki’s view of Dhahir and Baatin
Abu Talib al Makki (ابو طالب المكّي) , who two centuries later wrote, he was Ghazali before al Ghazali, Al-Ghazzali wrote the book ihya uloom al deen -- Al-Makki wrote Qoot al Quloob (nourishment of heart) -- similar to the role of Ihya now. He said the thaahir is the words for the experts in the Arabic language (Ahl-al-Arabiyya) , the baatin is for the people of certainty -- Ahl ul yaqeen. The hadd is the limit of ahl ul thaahir. The muttala3 are the people who are loving and fearing after they had feared the terror of the day of judgement.  

Footnote: Explanation of hadeeth is like the tafseer of Qur’an. Remember the red line and black line and blue line from the first lecture and you can see how far we are drifting from the words of the hadeeth.

Analysis of Tustari and Makki’s interpretation of this hadeeth

When the Tustari made this statement the Awliya are still within the Sunnah of Prophet, they have been blessed by Allah to understand things more. Probably by the time of Al-Makki things had already started to change, in the sense that they are special and their way is special and you cannot question their way, everything is halal to them. Thus Tustari’s concept will be closer to Ahl-ul-Sunnah.

Problem with this type of interpretation, which you cannot find before the third century Hijra, where you describe two types of people is going to open the door for confusion. People can claim that “I know things what you dont know” and so forth. Thus this kind of interpretation is very dangerous.

Authenticity of the hadeeth
Shaikh could not find any evidence that this hadeeth is authentic. Ibn Taymiyaah has harsh words for it, and he describes it as محتلقة -- a fabricated hadeeth. Nobody else describes it the same as ibn Taymiyyah. Al-Albani says it is weak, Ahmed Shakir says it is weak. Shuaib Al-Arnoot said it is weak.

As a narration of Ibn Masood, Shuaib Al-Arnaoot said that the chain is hasan. Sheikh did not find any other reference for this.

Al Ghazali has interesting theories about interpretation of the Qur’an and if we have time we will discuss it later.

Ad-Dhahir cannot contradict a Batn. Otherwise, the Qur’an can not be termed mubeen.

That is only hadith which directly indicates reference tafseer al-Ishari that Shiekh is aware of. So we have finished evidences from the Qur’an and Sunnah, next we move to the statements of the sahaba.

Evidence for tafseer al Ishaari from the Sahaba

If we look at the examples of sahabah. It is related to verse “Idha jaa3a nasrullahi fath...” in Sahih Bukhari

Narrated Ibn `Abbas:
`Umar used to make me sit with the elderly men who had fought in the Battle of Badr. Some of them felt it (did not like that) and said to `Umar "Why do you bring in this boy to sit with us while we have sons like him?" `Umar replied, "Because of what you know of his position (i.e. his religious knowledge.)" One day `Umar called me and made me sit in the gathering of those people; and I think that he called me just to show them. (my religious knowledge). `Umar then asked them (in my presence). "What do you say about the interpretation of the Statement of Allah: 'When comes Help of Allah (to you O, Muhammad against your enemies) and the conquest (of Mecca).' (110.1) Some of them said, "We are ordered to praise Allah and ask for His forgiveness when Allah's Help and the conquest (of Mecca) comes to us." Some others kept quiet and did not say anything. On that, `Umar asked me, "Do you say the same, O Ibn `Abbas?" I replied, "No." He said, 'What do you say then?" I replied, "That is the sign of the death of Allah's Apostle which Allah informed him of. Allah said:-- '(O Muhammad) When comes the Help of Allah (to you against your enemies) and the conquest (of Mecca) (which is the sign of your death). You should celebrate the praises of your Lord and ask for His Forgiveness, and He is the One Who accepts the repentance and forgives.' (110.3) On that `Umar said, "I do not know anything about it other than what you have said." (Reported by Al-Bukhari.)

Umar b Khattab asked different people about the meaning of the verse. And they said that it was an order to remember Allah when victory comes. Then he asked Ibn Abbas what it meant. He said that this is Allah (SWT) informing the Prophet (SAWS) that his time is coming. As if He is saying “This is the sign that your time is coming.” Umar then replies I have no knowledge except what you have said.


How do you respond to this? This is the thaahiri meaning -- it was sent directly to the Prophet (SAWS). A

Similarly there is another example about Surah Al Maidah, [5:3]  where Allah swt says ....  

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا

“This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion”

Some of the sahaba were very happy when it came, but Umar cried. Why did he cry?
If you have familiarity of the role of the messengers, then you know if the Deen is completed and it becomes obvious that there is no more room for the prophet saws to be alive after this verse was revealed. And this is the reason why Umar cried when he heard that this verse was revealed.

There is another narration in Ibn Abi Shaibah, in this case after this verse was revealed Umar started to cry and Prophet asked what is making you cry and he said “I am crying because we used to be in a situation when our deen was increasing and now it is completed and nothing is completed after that comes deficiency” and Prophet said what you are saying in true (Sheikh does not know the authenticity)

The verse in the Quran about tadabbur and the actions of the sahaba, we know that there is room for tafseer al ishari. There is definitely room for us to read the Quran and from the context, to arrive at a deeper meaning than the apparent meaning of the text. At the same time, this approach to tafseer can be abused. Some of them say that this word does not really mean this and come up with their own understanding of the text that has no relation to the text.

Conditions or Criteria or Principles for performing tafseer al ishaari
Scholar recognised that fact it can be abused and thus they laid down some condition, that must meet. So we recognize that there is some validity to it at the same time it can be abused. It can beneficial and thus we have to keep it in the proper limits so that we cannot abuse the Quran.

Shaikh is asking students what can be these conditions, and these are some of their answers and comments from the shaikh.

1. Batin cannot contradict the dhaahir meaning. Even the mutazaillah and other groups agree on this principle.
The shia’s and sufis went into extreme ishaari way.

2. It cannot contradict other things that are established in the Deen. For example, if verse says “This is the last messenger” you cannot contradict and say there is going to be other person who is going to come.

3. There has to be some kind of link between the tafseer al ishaari and the text. You should be able to show how you were able to derive the tafseer.

4. It cannot contradict the Arabic language and grammar. Because the Quran is revealed in the Arabic language and the understanding should not contradict the Arabic language.

5. There should be some limit in derivation itself, on what area you can derive. It should not be used to derive things in Aqeedah. What about Fiqh?

6. It cant apply for unseen.

7. Individual cannot be dogmatic about their tafseer al ishari. You cannot insist that this is the correct meaning of the verse.


When tafseer al ishaari is done properly it is known as raiy bil jaiz, tafseer based on praise worthy opinion. There is room for it. But unfortunately throughout our history most of ulema like Tabari and Ibn Katheer in the tafseer they did not give us lesson. Unfortunately this kind of approach to Quran was left to Sufis, for the most part. If not all of them but most of them falls under the tafseer done by Sufi’s.


2011-10-17 Class Notes


Unfortunately, the people who would be foremost in making tafseer bil ra’y like Tabari and Ibn Katheer, but they were more interested in focusing on the sources and the basic meanings. The “inner meanings” unfortunately were left to Sufis and others. And we need to know how to deal with those tafseers.

The term or word Sufism is not rooted in our texts
As mentioned last time, today we will be concentrating on the history of Sufism.  The word sufi or the term sufism is not from the Qur’an. One of the reasons why scholars prefer the term ahl as sunnah wal jamah for people who follow the prophet, is because that is the term mentioned in the Quran. The term is rooted in our text. Even the term salafi is derived and is not a preferred term.

Origins of the word “Sufi”
We do not find the word Sufi in the Qur’an or Sunnah. Where does it come from? Some claim that it come from term Ahl-al-suffah (أهل الصفّة).  They were the people who migrated to Madinah and those who don’t have means for sustenance and thus they stayed in the northern side of Mosque. This was the temporary shelter for those people who emigrated to Medina and were allowed by the prophet to stay in the Masjid, because they did not have the means, and once they settle down in Medina they moved out of the masjid.  

Ahl-al-Suffah - People with special status
So if you are trying to say that Ahl-al-Suffah had special status, there’s no real indication of that. But Sufi cannot be really derived from this according to the rules of the Arabic language.

Saff - People of the first row
They also claim that it comes from Saff, and claim that those people who are in the first row in front of Allah.

But all of the above theories of the origins of the word Sufi are debunked by the scholars, there is no credible evidence for it.

Sufi - People who wore coarse woolen (“soof”) clothing
The strongest opinion is that the word Sufi goes back to the word soof which means woolen clothing. They first appeared in Basrah. And as a sign of their denunciation of this world, they used to very heavy or coarse clothing, clothing that is non-luxurious to set themselves apart from the rest of the people.

The woolen clothing was also the cloths of Christian monks wear, and also this was the cloth the Prophet Isa used to wear.

Once Muhammad Ibn Sireen was asked by some people that there are some people who prefer to wear woolen clothing and that is their sign and they claim that they are imitating Isa and his answer was “The guidance of Prophet Muhammed is more beloved to me and Prophet used to use cotton and others.”

So from the name, you get a bit of an understanding of the foundation: it points to a path that is different to that of the Prophet (SAWS) -- they give an emphasis to a certain type of clothing that the prophet never emphasized. You can’t do this from a Shari’ah point of view unless you have proof.

Different stages of spread of Sufism
There were at least three plus one stages to the spread of Sufism:
1) Appearance of people known as Zuhaad (زهّاد) or nusaak (نسّاك).
2) Development of vague terminology
3) Development of a belief system
3+1) Development of Tareeqahs [note: this one is not mentioned in conventional lists]

Why did the Zuhaad or Nusaak appear in the early Islamic history?
Early part of the second century of Hijrah in Basra the Muslim state began to bringing in lot of wealth as a consequence lots of Muslims becoming richer and thereby using the things of dunya and so forth. For some people this was over indulgence in this duniya. The earliest sign of something which later developed into sifiam??? sufism??? which is reaction for this over indulgence.

Reaction is always dangerous and will end up in the opposite extreme. For example, there were people who were mujassama in their belief in Allah, reaction to this was the people who denied all the attributes of Allah. The proper response should be balance of this dunya with the hereafter. You should not give up this dunya or take a very negative view of this world.

Zuhaad, is one who is not interested in this world. And Nusaak are ones who concentrate on the ritual aspects of the worship. They began to concentrate on the act of worship which we may not seen in the Sunnah of Prophet or actions of Sahabah.

Zarara ibn Awfa (زراره ابن عوفه)  one time in salat ul-Fajr heard the recitation of the Qur’an about the day of judgement (74:8)

And when the trumpet is blown,



he fainted and died. This was during the time of Tabi’een. The greatness of Qur’an was so much that they used to faint or die when they used to hear the verses that were very strong and powerful. Sahabah used to object to it like Asmaa bint Abu Bakr, Hafash bint ‘Umar, Muhammed Ibn Sireen said this is not the practise of sahabah. If you go to Quran


The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts become fearful, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases them in faith; and upon their Lord they rely -



when they hear the mention of Allah their heart shake and their Imaan increases when Qur’an is recited to it. You see this sign in their hair,on their skin reacting to the words of the Quran and you get a kind of tranquility by remembrance of Allah.

Thus, this kind of reaction where people faint during the time of Tabieen, they said this is not proper and this is not the best state. People thought that this state of death is above other people, even above the Sahabah. Some of later scholar said that this is not the state which people should want to be. But if this happened that Allah will forgive him without him being intended to be in that state. This is like fasting beyond what is suggested by Shariah. Aamir ibn Abdullah Ibn Zubair and he used to fast contineously and his father Abdullah ibn zubair said this is not what I saw from Abu Bakr and Umar, and he quoted the hadeeth of 3 people …... (fa laysa minni). [[I marry, I fast, I pray, ..... ]]

في الصحيحين { أن نفرا من أصحاب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال أحدهم : أما أنا فأصوم لا أفطر ، وقال الآخر : أما أنا فأقوم لا أنام ، وقال الآخر : أما أنا فلا أتزوج النساء ، وقال الآخر : أما أنا فلا آكل اللحم فقام النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم خطيبا فقال : ما بال رجال يقول أحدهم كذا ، وكذا لكني أصوم وأفطر وأقوم وأنام وأتزوج النساء وآكل اللحم فمن رغب عن سنتي فليس مني } .


Prophet is laying down an important principle. But unfortunately by the time of Tabieen people started forgetting this principle. All though you see this practise which was not right but their Aqeedah was right. When it comes to belief about Allah (swt) we do not find at that stage that they are introducing anything new.

As-Sahl al-Tustari (203-271)
He has famous of statement regarding Allah’s names and attributes it is recorded by Al-Qusairi in his Risala and one of the scholar used this quote in Sharh Aqeedah At-Tahawiyyah. This is a sign that the belief was not different but only their practise was different.

One thing particular which occurred a lot, which is quoted by Ibn Taymiyyah a lot, he says “This early people sometimes they get into a state a feeling of closeness to Allah and state were they will forget themselves and they would become kind of not in complete sense and they don’t know what they are saying and we should excuse them from their statement.”

Even Sufis call this is state of intoxication. It looks like they are experiencing something and that leads to say something. One of the person who was active in worship of Allah and known to enter this state and he started saying that one the Day of Judgement I will cover the Hell fire with my garment.

From the beginning there are problems , there was a group in Iraq and they were known for something called sama’a, which means to listen. They used to gather and sing poetry and listen to poetry, even sometimes dancing to it, they were an extreme group, and they were called sufis. These were the original sufis. And historians cannot explain how this term was used to the group now known as sufis.

There is no doubt that the sufis were straying from the path of the Prophet, even at the beginning.

Malik bin Dinar (d.130 AH)  
Malik bin Dinar narrated some hadith which is At... A man will not reach this state of Siddiqeen until he leaves his wife as if she is a widow. Someone asked him why don’t you get married and he said if I could divorce myself I would do so. Through out the year he refused to eat meat, except on the occasion of Adha. He also used to quote from the books of the Christians and Jews which had mysticism/mystic contents.
(Footnote: His grave is located 50 km from Abu Maahi’s home town and 1 km from Umm Maahi’s house. Every 5 years they have a large gathering known as Uroos and the huge mosque grave is part of mosque )

Rabiya Al-Adawiyyah
She was one the early women who was famous to write love poetry towards Allah. One time she saw someone hugging his son. She said :I don't think in my heart there is place to love anyone other than Allah” Obviously having love for Allah is established in Quran and Sunnah but you have to have proper balance. Once you lose this balance that is were the problem starts.

Most of the people in this early part they were not distinguishable from Ahl us Sunnah they were not known as separate groups. They were individuals within Ahl-ul-sunnah and not outside this fold. They were within the boundary of Ahl-ul-sunnah. Their idea to closer to Allah through spiritual exercises and special efforts like fasting long period of time and praying for along time and punishing themself. After a while they begin to become more isolated and by about the fourth century, this is where the second period of vague beliefs begins to develop.

Development of their own approaches (3rd and 4th century)
Up until this time, their ways are still different but not that extreme. E.g. kitaab al-luma by al-sarraj. In these books they tell people what people should do to purify themselves, these works were originally rooted in the Qur’an and Sunnah, but they take it too far. One of the issues is that the texts that they rely on ahadith which are very weak -- much of the time, these ahadith are even fabricated or baseless. There is no way to trace some of these ahadith which have been quoted, back to the Prophet (saws).

Appearance of new terminology - Sufi development during 6th century
By 555 Hijri when Ghazali died (who wrote ihyaa uloom al-deen). One of the things by his time, they were outside of the fray of Ahl us Sunnah wal Jamaah. When Al-Ghazzali wrote ihya uloom al-deen, it made sufi practices became more acceptable to ahlul-sunnah wal jama’ah. (Footnote: Imam Ghazali’s brother whose name was Ahmad al Ghazzali, and he was an important figure in the teaching and practice of Sufism at the time).

New terminology starts to appear that is vague or ambiguous. Any time you try to introduce new terminologies to matters of aqeedah this in itself is dangerous, how does one make sure that the new term is consistent with the Qur’an and Sunnah? This is the issue with philosophers and mutakallimoon. They create new terms and try to define them as part of Aqeedah and thus it is difficult to define what do you mean by that as this is not part of Quran and sunnah.

Al-Fanaa, Al-Baqaa
The same thing is true with terms by sufism as they started explaining their experience in vague term, like Al-fanaa (الفناء),  Annihilation, which  is extremely important stage to reach also same is to reach the stage Al-Baqaa (البقاء), subsistance, Al-wajd etc.

When you hear these terms, the first question you should ask is what do you mean by these terms?
Suppose I tell you that fanaa is to extinguish any desire other than what Allah commanded me. Suppose if I tell you that fanaa is to become united with Allah. Suppose if I tell you that fanaa is to get to state where you don’t recognize anything other than majesty of Allah. The problem is that these terms are intermixed and exchanged, frequently within the same text.t This terminology is many time vague and ambiguous. They say it is difficult what you are experiencing. This is the type of problem that happens in Sufism. Because they have a form of purification that is different from the Quran and Sunnah they end up with terms that are vague and depending on how you define them might be completely innocent, or might be statements of kufr.

Al-ujwiri in his book  kashf al-mahjoob. When a man becomes annihilated from his attributes, he is neither separated nor united. In Fanaa there is no love or hate and in baqaa there is no union or separation

But he goes on to refute those that say you become one with Allah (SWT). Nonetheless, he then says a man’s true servitude to Allah lies in Al-Fanaa and Baqaa. Is this true? If fanaa means to avoid anything that displeases Allah and Baqaa means to remain in that state, then yes. But you can take these terms and interpret them any way you like.

2011-10-24 Class Notes


We were in the middle of discussing the history of Sufism, as we said the earliest period of sufism what can be described, their Aqeedah was fine but they went beyond sunnah in some act in order to get closer to Allah.

Contents of handout sent by Shaikh Jamaal Zarabozo
Early Individuals known for their “Sufi tendencies or statements or states or practices”
Abdul Waahid ibn Zaid (d. 151-160) Basran, student of Hasan al-Basri
Raabiah al-Adawiyyah (d. 171-180)
Maroof al-Karkhi (d. 200/815)
Al-Haarith al-Muhaasibi (d. 243/857) (Basrah and Baghdad)
Saari al-Saqati (d. 251/865)
Sahl al-Tustari (d. 271-283/896) (Basra)
Al-Junaid al-Baghdaadi (d. 298/910) (Baghdad)
Abu Bakr al-Waasiti (d. 320)
Abdul Rahmaan al-Sulami (d. 412/1021)
Al-Qushari (d. 465/1072)
Abu Hamid al-Ghazaali (d. 505/1111)
Ahmad al-Ghazaali (d. 520/1126)

Eary Sufi “Manuals”
Kitab al-Luma’ by Abu Nasr al-Sarraaj (d. 378)
Qoot al-Quloob by Abu Taalib al-Makki (d. 386)
Al-Taaruf limadhhab ahl al-Tasawwuf – al-Kalabaadhi (d. 380)

Various works by Abdul Rahman al-Sulami (d. 412)
Al-Risaalah by Al-Qushari (d. 465/1072)
Ihyaa Uloom al-Deen by Abu Hamid al-Ghazaali (d. 505/1111)

End of contents of handout

Intermediary period of Sufism
They developed their terminilogy that was specific to them, since it is not from Quran and sunnah there is confusion on what does this mean. First time the sufi manual started to be produced. Many of the works of the sufis have been translated, because the orientalist like them a lot.

By 4th and 5th, by 6th and 7th there was new development within the sufi movement this is when the new belief started to develop, they were greatly influenced by non Islamic philosophy like greek philsophy, Iraninan mysticism and Christian mysticism.
(Footnote: Mysticism existed in Christianity and Judaism even before it arose in Islam).

If you tell many Sufis nowadays that are in the Sufi system come from non-Islamic sources, many of them won’t be concerned about that. Why? Because they believe in the unity of religions -- so to them it may not be a big deal.

Final stage of development for Sufi ideology
There are three main ideologies that developed during this time. Every tariqah follows one of these three philosophies

1) Illuminist Philosophy (اشراق)
Suhrawardi - d. 635H in Baghdad wrote a very famous book called Awaarif al-Ma’aarif (عوارف المعارف). It believes that when you get to a certain point in your spiritual training/exercise, your soul becomes illuminated and you see things/understand things that you didn’t see before. Usually that light is the light of Prophet (SAWS) that lights everything. Related is the belief that if it weren’t for Muhammad, Allah would not have created the heavens and earth (sometimes said as lawlaak -- لولاك).

2) Al-Hulool School (الحلول)
This is now the belief that Allah dwells and is incarnate in human beings. For example,

Al Halaaj, who was crucified in the year 309H, but this kind of belief and thoughts revived later, he is the one who said “I am the Haqq”. He was brought to sixty more ulemas and he did not get convinced and finally he was crucified in 309H.

Jalaal Al-Din Al-Rumi who came later and is very much respected and loved by the West, explained that when Hallaj said I am Haqq and Rumi explained, when his love for God is limited?? to utmost limit he became his own enemy and hates his ownself. Thus he said “I am the Haqq” that means I am annihilated, only Haqq remains. This is utmost limit of servitude. To make a false claim and to be proud “you are god and I am servant” this is false and this is Kibr. Because there is nothing but Allah. In so doing you are affirming your own existence, and enforcing duality. Similarly if you say “he” that means there is a real. So when Hallaj said this, he meant to say that Hallaj did not exist but it was Allah who was saying that.

Quotation of Rumi:
When Hallaj’s love for God reached its utmost limit, he became his own enemy and he naughted himself. He said, ‘I am the Real,’ that is ‘I have been annihilated; the Real remains, nothing else’. This is extreme humility and the utmost limit of servant hood. It means ‘He alone is.’ To make a false claim and to be proud is to say, ‘You are God and I am the necessary result. If you say, ‘He is the real’, that too is duality, for there cannot be a ‘He’ without an ‘I’. Hence The Real said I am the real. Other then He nothing else existed. Hallaj had been annihilated, so those were the words of the Real.

3) Monism (وحدة الوجود)

The founder of this school is Mohiuddin Ibn Arabi who died 638H is Damascus, he has a very famous statement in book Al-Futoohaat al-Makkiyyah (الفتوحات المكيّة). He said the lord is the slave and the slave is the lord, Al-Adb Huwa al-Rabb, Rabb is also a Abd, I wish that I knew which was the one required to create out the require duty. If I were to say the servant is to do obligotry duty that is true, but if it lord has to do then how can I say. So if you say everything is Allah and then there is no obligation and no submission as everything Allah. He said when Bani Israel worshipped calf, they worshiped nothing is Allah. since everything is Allah irrespective of whatever your worship. Whatever firaun said that he was lord was correct and his mistake was people did not convince about it.

Note: Related to punishment, The outward is punishment and inward  is a reward. They say that there is no real punishment, everything is Allah.

Some people go to extreme to defend Ibn Arabi, he was daiee calling towards his belief which Kufr, Still now people among sunnis refer to him as Sheikh Al-Akbar. he is originally from Andalus don’t confuse him with Ibn Al-Arabi, Ibn Al-Arabi was Maaliki scholar from Andalus. (Note: This distinction between ibn Arabi and ibn Al-Arabi, we are discussing ibn Arabi in this paragraph). This is Ibn Al-Arabi, he has a book in Usul al Fiqh. Nasir Al-Aql said they have dhahir and Batin and when they are the reading their writing you will feel that they are imam of Ahl Sunnah but when you continue you will see very different view.

The Sufi tariqahs

The book which shaikh Jamaal sent us has discussion about how students should behave with their teachers. Students would move from teacher to teacher. In 4th or 5th century there was no tariqah, which means that you belong to one teacher.

Origins of Tariqah
The first tareeqah that existed revolved around revolved around Sh. Adbul Qader Al-Jilani d 561H. He is very important individual in the history of sufism. The first tareeqah revolve around him. You can say Al-Jeelani was Hanbali in his Fiqh and Ahl Sunnah in his Aqeedah and when it came to manner of student and teacher he was very strict. He originated this kind of term that “the student belong to his circle.  He was known to be very pious and because of his piety and after he died, a number of stories were circulated about his piety and his miracles. Most of the stories about Jilani originated after his death. What is true without any question it was his action that started this tareekah movement. He emphasised the relation between sheikh and student. He taught special kind of Dua to his student.

In 7th and 8th the tareeqah became separate institution. In the 9th century they started the concept of Bayaa. Also there is special dress, special color the wear and each one had special Dhikr and Dua they make. The one distinguishes between tareeqah is the Dhikr. This Dhikr is received through dream and other inspiration. They had certain conditions and rituals to join the group. Over time they had special graves that they visit. Once you take Bai’a then you need to take instruction from shiekh and not from Quran and sunnah. And when you see something which is contradicting Quran and Sunnah what the sheikh say, they follow their sheikh. In some tareeqahs they say you have to be like a dead body in the hands of the people who are washing you. They have their own ways to analyze the Quran.

They make their own parallel truths. They basically are saying that the Qur’an is not the source. They have to have something that shows that they are different from the masses and which is not in Quran and sunnah -- they have something that no-one else has. By definition they have to have some kind of bid’a. Sh Nasir Al-Aql: I have studied many different tariqahs. All of them agree on certain points, and all of them have beliefs that contradict the Qur’an and Sunnah. If any of you know of any tariqah free of contradictions, please bring it to me. Even in ‘aqidah they have inconsistencies.

One of the problem in Sufism, when someone say that if he has attachment to Sufism there is no way to know what he likes in Sufism and how deep he is into Sufism. It could be clear kufr, or it could be that you simply emphasize zuhd and asceticism, and ritual acts of worship. What is true, is that all the tariqahs at their core, have some aspect of one of the 3 groups above.

In every topic of aqeedah, Sufis have beliefs that contradict what can be proven from the Qur’an and Sunnah. Even sources of truth (E.g. visions and dreams) and some of the beliefs about the Prophet (SAWS). Beliefs about Prophet, they say that he is light and he is not human being, they say he is sources of all light and everything is created to him. They,like Ibn Arabi, claim that position of Wali is above the Prophet. Ibn Arabi said that Khatm al-Awliya is greater the Khatm al-Anbiya.

With respect to Qadaa wal Qadr, their belief is that their awliya are the one in charge in this world and they know the unseen and they own it.

One of thing what we can see in the Sufism a lot is the idea of mysticism, what is the real goal and idea behind mysticism?
To have direct individual experience of God, then why do you need Quran and Sunnah after that. For you that is going to be the haqq. What you get out of that experience is the truth for you and that is what you are going to follow. This is very dangerous to Islam and it poses threat to what Prophet brought. In Quran Allah says allathee asraa be abdihi (took up his slave). and Prophet also said I am Abd of Allah.  And now some one comes and say that to say Abd is Kibr. This is blasphemous.

Note: There is book called Maqasid by An-Nawawi, this is not written by him and this has Sufi influence, unfortunately this is been falsely attributed to An-Nawawi. This book has been translated to English by Nuh Ha Mim Keller.

Note: In terms of Ahkaam any new thing introduced is permissible, but with respect to Ibaadath, it is opposite any new introduction is Bida`. You cannot introduce new act of worship which is not in Quran and Sunnah. This is big problem in Sufism, where they introduced new kind of worship. Similarly with respect to Aqeedah we cannot have any new thing introduced, as this is only what Allah knows. Ritual act of worship is not open for new introduction. Once you open a small door for Bida` it grows big.

Sufi tareeqhas, there is no question about its existence, we have to understand how to deal with it, once we know what is the goal that needs to be met than they have to remove all the innovations that they have introduced. Ibn Al-Qayyim took a book from Sufi Sheikh “Manaazil” and wrote a large commentary on that. Ibn Taymiyyah has commentary on Fath-ul-Ghaib from Jeelani and this is in his majmoo’. Sometimes in those Sufi writing there are things which is close to Kufr, may be this is not intentional, because they get carried away. And Ibn Al-Qayyim tries hard to deal with such writing. Sheikh Jamaal has read Qutubjazak al Qulub, Ihya uloom ad-deen and there is no question there is benefit in Qoot al Qulub and Ih7a uloom ud deen, but you have to be careful about the hadeeth they quote, you have be careful on the matters on Aqeedah, matters of Dhikr and Dua. Thus when you go to this book you have to be careful on what you are looking for.


2011-10-31 Class Notes


(Handout from Shaikh Jamaal Zarabozo)

List of Important Sufi Tafseers
  • Tafseer al-Quran al-Adheem by al-Tustari (b circa 203 Hijri) تفسير القرآن العظيم (للتسترى)
  • Haqaaiq al-Tafseer by al-Sulami (b. 330) حقائق التفسير (للسلمى)
  • Kashf al-Asraar wa Uddah al-Abraar by Mayboodi (d. mid 500s)
  • Ibn Barrjaan al-Andalusi (d. 536) (Shaikh is not familiar with this tafseer)
  • Araais al-Bayaan fi Haqaaiq al-Quran by al-Sheeraazi (d. 666)  عرائس البيان فى حقائق القرأن (لأبى محمد الشيرازى)
  • Al-Taweelaat al-Najamiyyah by al-Samnaani (d. 654) التأويلات النجمية (لنجم الدين داية، وعلاء الدولة السمنانى)
  • Tafseer ibn Arabi = Tafseer al-Kaashaani (d. 736)
  • Rooh al-Bayan by al-Buroosawi (d. 1137)
  • Al-Bahr al-Madeed by ibn Ajeebah (d. 1224) البحر المديد في تفسير القرآن المجيد
  • Rooh al-Maani by Mahmood al-Aloosi (d. 1270)


On this list there are couple of tafsirs which Sh is not familiar with as #4. The earliest sufi tafseer which is by al-Tustari, there are still tafsirs that are coming out now.


Discussion of Tafseer al-Quran al-Adheem by al-Tustari

Biography of al Tustari
We spoke about al-Tustari already a little bit earlier in this class. He was born in 203, he is from tustari. His uncle was already an early Sufi, thus from early on he was attracted to his uncle and his practices. He was known to be a honest individual, his narration according to Ibn Hajar was Sadooq or Thiqaah, His narration is not included in the six books. In his work he does not pass on much of information, in his words he describes his own inspiration. He is described by Ad-Dahabi as Az Zaid, He was student of Dhunoon al-Misri and they were companions or peers.

al Tustari’s approach to Tafseer of the Quran
This tafseer goes back to Tustari, This is not complete commentary of Quran, there are around 1,000 verses which is good itself in his tafseer. In his tafseer he wouldn’t use Sufi but he will use Al-A3raf (one who knows) or Al-Waly (a friend of god or saint). One important thing about Sufi approach is that they distinguish between Ilm and Ma3rifah, so when they speak about ma3rifah, it is not learned knowledge that is passed on, but this is some kind of inspiration from Allah and his own experience with this. To become A3rif and have ma3rifah this is built upon having spiritual exercise.

In his tafseers he talks about Dhahir (outward) and batin (esoteric), outward and inward meaning of Quran. In his tafseer he gives sometimes little bit of both. He says somethings in the Quran are clear and some are less clear. And he says that the things that are less clear are for the auwliya.

His book is published, in his tafseer he emphasizes following the Quran and the sunnah of Prophet. He makes an interesting statement about the Prophet that He is the ultimate authority and no one was as fearful of Allah swt as the Prophet was of Allah swt. He is saying that Prophet is above and beyond everyone and we  have to look at him to find what is the best example to get closer to Allah. Many other aspects of Aqeedah with respect to names and attributes there is no deviation seen. Which is good.

Extreme beliefs in Sufi Tafseer even in early non-extreme Sufism such as Tustari

1. Going beyond the limits or raising the level of the Prophet to an extreme, just as Christians praised Jesus to the level of Allah

There is one thing recognising the place of Prophet (Saw), but we have to avoid going to extreme even with respect to Prophet (saw). The clear example are the Christians, where they raised the status of Jesus to the level of Allah. So, we should not go beyond the limit, it is easy to fall into danger. You can see through out the tafseer, the belief of light of Prophet (saw) it is co-eternal with Allah. This light is key behind all of this existence.

Even with respect to Surah Tariq, where Allah is talking about star, He says At-Tariq is heart of Prophet (saw).

In Surah Fajr Al-Fajr. Al-Fajr is also refers to Prophet (saw). He is saying that Al-Fajr, The inner meaning of [the verses] is [the following: By the dawn [89:1] refers to Muḥammad, from whom the lights of faith, the lights of acts of obedience and the lights of the two worlds of  existence gushed forth (tafajjarat)

So we can attribute the idea of light of Muhammad starts from the time of At-Tustari, or at least he is the one who discussed in deatils These Sufi thoughts originated as early as 230 Hijri

2. False or extreme beliefs about aqeedah, all of creation originated from Muhammad and some unsubstantiated claims about the origins of two groups of people, the Murid and the Muraad

Another example is the Surah Al-A3raaf verse 122 :loins of the …. This is talking about the light of Prophet.
[[to do paste the verse here]]

He says that  Dhuriyyah means it comprises of three parts. The first is Muhammad, when God wanted to create Muhammad from his light. The second part is Adam, god created him from the light of Muhammad and clay of Adam is contributing to physical body of Prophet Muhammad. And the third part is progeny of Adam. He created the Murid??? seekers of knowledge from Adam and the Muraad??? the one who give knowledge from Muhammad. So here is bringing in racism between the two categories of Murid and Muraad.

He says that why most of people live under the mercy of Allah and special people...

Regarding Surah An-Najm [53:13]
He said:That is, in the beginning when God, Glorified and Exalted is He, created him as a light within a column of light, a million years before creation,with the essential characteristics of faith, in a witnessing of the unseen within the unseen. He stood before Him in servanthood by the lote tree of the Ultimate Boundary [53:14], this being a tree at which the knowledge of every person reaches its limit.


When Tustari talks about aqeedah and the beleifs,you will find it is not a problem, even then you can find false beliefs in the matter of aqeedah, which talks about the creation. And you can trace it back to Tustari. And this is the most eggregious aspect of Aqeedah in his tafseer.

3. Deeper meaning of words without presenting any evidence

Other times what you see a lot in his tafseer, for example, the plain meaning of the text and deeper meaning.
Umm al-Qura Wa Man Awlaha

The Dhahir meaning it refers to Makkah and inner meaning refers to Heart and those around it are the parts of the body. Thus one of them safe guard the heart and following the lust.  He says beyond apparent meaning there is something called fahm, he is not denying the Dhahir meaning, there is fahm which is result of spiritual exercised.

When Allah speaking about Day [75:9] and the sun and moon are brought together.
He said:Its inner meaning is the following: the moon represents the light of the sight of the physical eye which pertains to the natural self, and the sun represents the light of the sight of the eye of the heart which pertains to the spiritual
self and the intellect.

The important question which cannot be answered is that what is the basis of this ? Because they says we cannot experience what they experience.

Refuting the tafseer of Tustari
Was the Prophet (saw) successful or not in conveying the message?
If he was successful and if this were things important then why Prophet did not pass this one to us, why did Abu Bark or Umar pass this on. If you can experience this, why didnt Abu Bakr and Umar didnt have it and pass this on.

Either Prophet did not conveyed the message completely or this person is passing on what he is passing on. One of this has to be true.

Another example of incorrect understanding of words of the Quran - Basmallah

Alif Lām Mīm
Alif Lām Mīm is a name of God, Mighty and Majestic is He, and within it are meanings and attributes that people of understanding (fahm) know, not to mention the many meanings that it holds for the people of outward [knowledge]. If these letters are read separately, Alif stands for God’s assembling [things in their creation] (taʾlīf), Mighty and Majestic is He, for He brought together all things as He willed. The Lām stands for His pre-eternal grace (luṭfuhu al-qadīm) and the Mīm stands for His great glory (majduhu al-ʿaẓīm)

Incorrect understanding of the word Jihaad
Every time you go through the passages and say the Jihaad is now inner Jihaad, you are giving a meaning of the Quran which is not based on any evidence.

9:23 Jaahid Al-Kuffar

Once again the verse is describing jihaad against the disbelievers and he translates it as struggle against your own souls.

Tafseer misses the dhaahir meaning of the verse
Sometimes he gives you interpretations, there might be good message in it, but as a whole they are not related to the verse and you are missing the true and dhaahir meaning of the verse, which you should emphasize.

Example Surah Su3rah when Allah is quoting Ibrahim wa idha maridhtu wa huwa yasfeen.

He says that he has created me to serve him, he feeds me with sweetness of Iman, and he feeds me with food and water, if I get sick, he cures me, and if I try to do something that is desire, he keeps me from it, and he is the one the who gives me death and brings me back to life, and he says it means dhikr.  And then he says that he will forgive on the day of Judgement.

There might be good points, but instead you have gone far away from the dhaahir meaning of the verse.

Even though he was from the early Sufis, even though he was a pious individual, there are enough dangerous aspects in his tafseer that the Shaikh would not recommend it to anybody, specially now a days and this time. We do not know what might lead us to Shirk and kuffar. And we should try to avoid it. Thus getting new things will make you a Prophet, with new message. The characteristics of Prophets are that they followed the shariah of Rasool but they get inspiration from Allah, essentially they claim that they are Prophets. There is no doubt there is concept called inspiration, first thing what they have to do is to compare this inspiration with Quran and Sunnah to make sure this is not from the Nafs or Shaytaan. When you get to a point to claim such this, this is essential to claim that he is Prophet. At-Tustari was also into alchemy and numerology as well. 786 also comes from Sufi concept.

Question: Can one argue that when Omar Al khatab once caught a man steeling and told the man that he was going to turn him in. The man asked Omar to let him go as it was his first time doing such an act while Omar called him a liar as Allah would never expose some one the first time they do a sin you are only exposed if you continually doing so. Would that story show that Omar had a spiritiual opening that revealed the state of the theif?
Answer: In this story there is no where that Umar claims that this is the inspiration from Allah, this can be his Ijthihaad, These people are claiming that it is the knowledge that coming from Allah.

Question: Are there Sufi's that disagree with Tustari's opinion on the Light of Muhammad. In other words to various Sufi's argue and debate each other with regard to batini tafseers
Answer: As long as against sufism, whatever you say goes on well. They say all of these leads to Allah, thus other than critquing them you can say anything and they wont mind. It is not necessary case the every tareeqah have the same belief, but most of them believe in the Light of Muhammadiya, but Sheikh dont know, but there is something like this then it will be very surprising.


Discussion of Haqaaiq al-Tafseer by al-Sulami

al Sulami’s goals in writing this tafseer
Sulami works is published in two volumes. There is a big difference between Sulami and Tustari, the goal behind this tafseer is like tabir’s??? tustari’s??? work where he passed on the Dhahir meaning of the Quran.

Sulami focused solely on the esoteric meaning of Quran since his tafseer is later than Tustari’s tafseer and his tafseer is based on reports. He does have quite a few reports.

Biography of al Sulami
al-Sulami comes from Khurasaan, he father was known to scholar. He wrote around 100 books, which is contributed to him. Some of then are from Ulum-al-Quran. With respect tafseer there is one more book At-Tabaqqat As-Sufiyyah, this is biographical dictionary wtih chronological order with all the interesting stories about sufi’s before his time.

al Sulami is known to fabricate hadeeth in support of Sufi philosophies
The worst things about al Sulami he is not considered as trustworthy, Daraqutni says that he used to fabricate hadeeth for sufism, Al Baghdadi said that he is not trustworthy, IT says that he attributes many thing to Jaffer As-Sadi, which he is innocent of. By this times Sufism and Shia were becoming closer to each other?????

Many people looked at his tafseer, and they concluded that there are many things which is unacceptable. For example Al-Wahidi said Al-Sulami written a book haqaq al-tafseer “If he believes this tafseer, then he has committed Kufr”.

Ad-Dhabhi quotes number of people and one of them said that “they are outwardly showing Islam but inwardly they are attacking Islam”. This is the distinguish character between At-tustari and Al-Sulami


Surah Ra’d:4 inner meaning “Wa huwa laahi...rawaasi”
He says “someone said Allah is one who spread this earth and put this mountain from among the awliya from them is the risk and from them is salvation and whoever travels to them succeeds and whoever goes away from awliya goes astray’”


2011-11-07 Class Notes


We will continue with Tafseer al Ishari and with Sufi tafseers in whole.

Qur’an is the book of Allah swt and it is a guidance for us, yet you have to be careful about what people write about Qur’an when they interpret it. We hope people approach the Qur’an with a pure heart and pure intention, but that is not always the case. This is not unique to Islam, this is also true about the previous nations, the Jews and Christians distorted their books, they distorted the wordings, which is protected by Allah swt, but distortion of the meaning which was prevalent in the previous nations is true for us too.


The sad thing about it is that the same books that are less reliable can sometime contain insight and material which is good, but it is difficult to discern what is good and isn’t good. You kind of have to know what is good and what isn’t good in there. So we need to be conscious of these tafseers.

Al-tustari’s tafseer even though more respected than those after him, there are issues. As-Sulami has the same issues.

The more that Sufi becomes its own distinct way of thinking, the more you can see it in the tafseer.

3. Kashf al-Asraar wa Uddah al-Abraar (كشف الأسرار و عدة الأبرار) by Mayboodi (d. mid 500s)

This is important tafseer, it is in 10 volumes, a good portion of it is in Farsi language, and it is the largest tafseer in Farsi. The compiler of this work is Rasheedudeen Aby Fadl al Mayboodi. We do not know when he was born and died. He began writing his tafseer in the year 520 Hijri.  He wrote most of his tafseer in Persia. He lived in the Persian speaking area, and most of that area during that time was Shafiee, and some claim that Mayboodi was Shafiee.

Khawaja Abdullah Al Ansari was his teacher and he was also known as Al-Harawi (الحروي).  He was from Herat and he is Hambali and a Sufi. He is the author of the book manaazil al-saa’ileen -- describing the states of the individual as he moves along the spiritual path. The basis of madaarij al-saalikeen, by Ibn Al-Qayyim. d 481H. May also have written a tafseer.

Mayboodi read his tafseer, but wanted to build on it. Often calls Harawi as “the master of the way.” Also used Al-Qushairi. He wrote a book called Al-Risaalah Al-Qushairiyyah -- a basic manual of sufism and also had a collection of tafseer.

Mayboodi did not take the Ashari view about creationism. He condemned the view that Quran was a creation and not the speech of Allah swt. He said Aql (intellect) plays a role only in interpreting the Shariah, but not in making new laws.

He says that there are two ways of acquiring knowledge
1. Outward knowledge through narrations from the Prophet (SAWS) and the Sahabah.
2. Inwardly through the grace of divine unveiling or mukaashafah.

You see this also in his tafseer. Some portions of it he is like a strict mufassir from Ahlus-Sunnah -- like At-Tabari or Ibn Katheer. But the inward knowledge, the limits of those kinds of knowledge become outwardly visible. There is a deeper meaning, another level of understanding. You see a tafseer that is both.

His tafseer is broken into three parts and each part is called naubat which means turn. Naubat #1 is just the translation of Quran in Farsi, just the basic meaning. The naubat #2 is the outward meaning. The Naubat #3 is reserved for mystical meaning, and he calls is Rumooz al Nawfat????   Part #3 is mostly in Persian, where in you see him going away from the meaning of the verse. In this part he is just trying to show the Sufi way. Much of that part is in poetry and it has rhyme. It was influenced by love poetry and it was very popular in this part of the world. Where in you continually speak about your love for Allah swt, and many times it goes beyond what is acceptable.

Sahih International

It is He who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book; in it are verses [that are] precise - they are the foundation of the Book - and others unspecific. As for those in whose hearts is deviation [from truth], they will follow that of it which is unspecific, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation [suitable to them]. And no one knows its [true] interpretation except Allah . But those firm in knowledge say, "We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord." And no one will be reminded except those of understanding.



We are familiar in Surah Al Imran about muhkamat and mutashabihat. Which are the clear and the not so clear verses. What is the purpose behind it. Mutashabihat are those verses that are open to more than one meaning, and you understand them in the light of the Muhkamat verses, which are the foundation of the book.

According to Mayboodi, the clear verses give you the Shariah and mutashabihat give you the Haqeeqat. The clear verses are meant for the masses, and the unclear verses are for the khawas (the special ones), who get comfort and blessing. But there is a large difference between the two of them.

Khawas get deeper understanding and get an intimacy with Allah swt. The masses get comfort but it is not like the postion of the khawas.

Reading from the Mayboodi Tafseer on Ayat al Kursi

There is a mix of things, there are good and clear things, but then you find that the individual has gone too far, and it cannot be substantiated or prove that they are correct.

He begins by saying that Allah possesses all divinity, and to him belongs all .... his attributes are eternal. A general description of Allah swt that you can find in books of aqeedah.

But then he goes into love poetry. He says Allah is the keepsake of the lover’s heart, he is the loved one of the soul of mystics, Allah is the cure for the hearts that are sick with his love, Allah is the light in the heart of those who are acquainted with him. Allah is a salve for those who are in the pain of love for him.

These are descriptions of one who is in deeply love with somebody.  And if you are not with your loved one, then you are in pain.

The only problem with it is that the Prophet (SAWS) did not quite speak in this fashion nor does the Qur’an. So why doesn’t Allah (SWT) speak in this fashion.

Then he quotes Junaid (who was an earlier Sufi), Whoever recites Allah and taking pleasure from this recitation and then remembers someone else while reciting it, then on the Day of Resurrection you will get whip of Allah’s rebuke, and Allah will be your enemy.

Here he is speaking about what would happen to you on the day of judgement, when you remember Allah swt but your heart is occupied in something else.

What do you think about this?

Shirk is worshipping something other than Allah swt. Here the implication that if you occupy the heart with love of anybody else, then you will be punished for it.

How do you counteract this view?
Really the question is where does this come from? He said that Allah swt said this to the prophet on the Me’raaj he said “How can someone come to know me have anything to do with another?”

But that means either there to quote it, or the Prophet (SAWS) told you. Even if what you are saying is correct, you can’t attribute it to Allah (SWT) without any basis. Was he present along with the prophet when this was said? No. Then where did he get this quote from, you cannot just make it up. Otherwise you can start attributing many fictional statements to the prophet.

How can you refute this statement: “The eye that sees you is immune from harm. The soul that finds you becomes free from death.”

If you claim to see Allah in this creation and then claim that no harm can come to you, what is your proof for it?

What is meant by their above statement? If they mean in Jannah then there is no problem, but if they claim it is in this world, then it is problematic.

Then he quotes Al-Herawi: “O you who are fittingly generous, and cherisher of the worlds, in union with you there can be no grief, you are the witness and the judge” and then later when explaining “no sleep takes him …” -- there’s a beautiful nice/meaning, but then, there is another strange passage.

This tafseer influenced a lot of people, specially those who speak Farsi.

The tafseer itself is half Arabic and half Farsi. There are at least three dissertations in English on this topic, because Sufism is very popular with the orientalists.

What we needed is naubat #4 to clean up naubat #3, spoken in jest by Shaikh Jamaal.

This is really the point at which tafseers diverge. After this they begin to be more aqeedah oriented.

Some Sufis are rational, you can discuss with them aspects of the deen, even with a Salafi-like passion. But they get to a certain point when they start to talk about experience, unveiling. The proper way -- which Abdulqaader al-Jeelani points out -- is that he took the way he felt after feeling inspirations is to take it to the Qur’an and Sunnah.

But if you don’t you are establishing a new way of looking at Allah (SWT) when you take inspiration in this way. Not so much with Mayboodi, but after him, e.g. Ibn Al-Arabi, they are putting themselves in the place of Prophets and messengers.

If you feel that you are touched by god, it happens to non muslims to when they go through a near death experience. When you go through some experience that an angel came and saved your life, then you try to reaffirm your kufr and shirk, it reinforces their feeling, some of their strange ideas and beliefs. This is the way that shaitan can confuse you.

Arrogance is at the heart of this kufar
If shaytaan can convince you that you are receiving revelation from God, it can convince you to do anything. It requires a kind of kibr or arrogance to think that you are so special that you have received revelation from Allah (SWT). You are putting yourself above the Prophet (SAWS). You are saying that you have reached a level that is so superior or khawas that no one else is reaching it. You are saying that no one else has reached that level, You should wake up and realize that this is from Shaytan.

We will speak about ibn Arabi, called futahat al Makkiyah (الفتوحات المكّيّة) and khusoos al-hikam (خصوص الحكم).   He had visions in Makkah and it fills many volumes, and it is bigger than the Quran.  The khusoos al hikam was given to him by the prophet by his hand in his dream.

We find many people thinking that they are prophets of god, there must be something in their heart that shaytan is using it to drive this feeling into their heart.

You have to look at your inspiration in the light of Quran and Sunnah, If you start receiving truths that are supra Quran and Sunnah, then you should become suspicious about it. If you find anything that is above and beyond the teaching of the sahaba, then you have to ask yourself where is it coming from?

There is inspiration ihaam. But you have to be frank with yourself and question where it came from?

Once you start feeling that you are receiving inspiration or truth that are hidden from somebody else, then you have to question it.


Tafseer ibn Arabi = Tafseer al-Kaashaani (d. 736)

ibn Arabi lived from 560 to 740. He is known as Shaikh al-Akbar.  Orientalists love to write about him. Some of them claim that he is known as ibn al Arabi

Came from a prominent family. But when he was quite young he had a dream of Jesus and Moses and Muhammad. Sh was reminded on the road to Damascus. In any case, he felt he was someone very special.

When going around the Ka’bah, he started having visions and then wrote al-futoohaat al-makkiyyah (الفتوحات المكّيّة). He later moved to Damascus where he is buried. Apparently wrote over 300 books. But the two he’s most famous for are futoohat and Fuṣūṣ al-Hikam (فصوص الحكام).

It’s funny that we have double standards for sufis. He claimed to be khaatim al-awliyaa. And claimed that he has authority over all of the awliyaa. He also claimed on the Day of Judgement that he will intercede for everyone.

There has to be something in your heart or kibr that you could read the Qur’an and know about the Prophet (SAWS) and Abu Bakr and ‘Umar and then believe for yourself that you’re going to intercede for everyone. If I was to see that in a vision, I would not believe it and most wouldn’t believe it. You have to have something in your heart willing to make you willing to believe something like this.

Unfortunately when it is done in a cloak of Sufism, we accept it and people don’t see it for what it is. The main belief he is known for is wahdat al wujood (وحدة الوجود) or monism.

His basic understanding of Allah in this creation out of a desire to see himself manifested. Although Allah (SWT) is transcendent, everything that exists is a manifestation of Allah (SWT). And hence everything around us is God. “All the creation is God and is a veil between us and seeing God. When man reaches a state of perfection, he unites with God in such a way that he sees God in the mirror of his existence, and God sees his essence in the mirror of the human being.

Laisa kamithlihi shay’. Why is there a k and then mithlihi. Some think it’s emphasis, and other say that there’s nothing even similar to being similar to God. But Ibn ‘Arabi then says there is nothing like Allah (SWT) or the perfect human self. One of his principles of tafseer is that you must interpret the Qur’an according to any and all possible meanings. Otherwise you’re saying that Allah didn’t use the language correctly.

He says that awliyaa are almost at the level of Prophets and can give opinions.


His translation of Surah Al-Toor, the mountain refers to the body.
It is manifest, bait-ul-ma3mur refers to the heart.
You take these words and give them meaning that cannot be seen by anyone except those that were inspired by Allah.
The first to use philosophical tafseer. Greek philosophy has what is called the active intellect.
There are different spheres. He was one of the first to  propagate this and bring into tafseer.

For example when Allah says:

Sahih International

O mankind, fear your Lord. Indeed, the convulsion of the [final] Hour is a terrible thing.



Make what is outside of you a protection from your Lord because Allah is inside and the what is inside of you. So it means to protect yourself.  

There are two copies out there which are called tafseer ibn arabi. But it probably isn’t from ibn Arabi. It’s not from Ibn Arabi, but from someone who was from his school probably Abdurrazaaq Al-Kaashaani (d. 736H).

Ibn Arabi probably debated people like Ibn Taymiyah. The problem is that such people claim to be enlightened so you can’t refute them based on information. Wahdat al wujood is clear kufr. Other people like Ghazaali never make statement such as this.

How do you get to be a wali? Sh then explained that for catholics there’s a process. They look for 3 miracles etc. But for Sufis it’s not so formal. You expect some karaamaat -- some miracles attributed to him. Typically if someone is very important in a tariqah he is made a wali. But now someone comes and claims to be a Prophet (SAWS) and claims there are no awliyaa according to him. What do you do?

Kashaani is Persian and Shi’i and he was one of the ones very influential into bringing Ibn Arabi’s thought into Shi’ism. It’s not a complete tafseer. From the book “Tafseer aIbn Arabi.”

Tafseer for Aayat ul kursi: “Allahu la ilaaha illa huwa” -- he’s the only deity in existence. So if you are doing an act of worship, it goes to Allah whether you worship Allah -- whether knowingly or unknowing.

In addition they confuse the “iraadah al-kawniyyah” and “iraadah al-shar’iyyah”. Since everything that happened was by the will of Allah, doesn’t that mean that everything that happens is because of Allah’s will? When Allah (SWT) allows something to happen in this creation, these are based on certain laws that Allah has intended to exist. He allows kufr to exist and brings kufr into existence. But from a “shari’ah” point of view, he may not be pleased with it.

The term kursi in classic language is small throne and not more that of normal seat. The kursi is heart of the believer, the Arsh is first spirit (Rooh al Awwal) and there are 8 spheres.

Ruh Al Bayaan -- either Buroosawi or Bursawi or also known as Isma’il al-haqqee.

Sheikh one day was looking for ruh al-ma’aan. But he was looking for Ruh Al-Ma’aan.

A weird mix of Turkish, Persian and Arabic. It’s very extensive, and it has a lot of bizarre passages.

Example: Ayat ul kursi and he talks about the word Allah. And says that it is the most amazing and unique the word. You drop a letter from it it retains its meaning. E.g. drop first letter, you have lillah. He’s from the time of the Ottoman empire. Born in 1063H in Bulgaria or 1632CE. Moved to Istanbul and met Uthmaan Fadli. In his tafseer sometimes when he quotes him he calls him “his thought and his soul.” He’s from the jilbatiyyah sufi order. Developed an interest in Persian, esp the Mathnawi of Rumi. His sheikh sent him to what is now Bosnia. Mostly Arabic, but every now and then, he puts in some Turkish and Persian.



2011-11-21 Class Notes

Rooh al-Bayan by al-Buroosawi (d. 1137)

Ruh Al Bayaan -- either Buroosawi or Bursawi or also known as Isma’il al-haqqee
Bursawi was born in what is now known as Bulgaria during the Ottomon empire. His tafseer is a very Sufi tafseer. He         

He is Turkish and he was born in Bulgaria (which is now), his tafsir as we mentioned last time it is a very sufi tafseer, he brought some of the leading statement of Sufis and he brought a particular rumis poetry in his interpretation of Quran, he was greatly influenced by Ibn Arabi which he quotes quite often. He claims that his tafsir was inspired by his sheikh usman al-fadli.

We do find other sources as well, as you read the tafsir the things which jump out at you is sufi aspects. He quotes from Muhiuddeen shahzada who is also from Ottoman empire he is written and commentary on commentary of Ashari tafseer by Baydawi, he explined both the tafseer and quran, one of the important aspects of Sh. Sahazada it is one of the excellent in nuiances of Arabic language. Bursawi quotes from him as well, but you will find a lot from Ibn Arabi and from Sh. Uthman from Al-Ghazzali and from other sufi tafseers. There is no question of the tafsirs we have been discussing this is like very wide and touches every verse of Quran. His approach is that every word from Quran there is some emission from it and usually it is of mystic nature.

We are not saying that everything is off the wall, but there certain thing which higlight of Sufi aspects and you will find mixture of good and bad. In his tafseer of Ayat-ul-Kursi.


He says Allah is greatest name of 99 names and most specific names. When you say the name Allah, you are saying it with all of His attributes, without singling out any one attribute. It can not be applied to anyone except Allah. E.g. someone can be called “Raheem.”

He says that when you hear the name, you feel “taalu”: He should be such that his heart and he sees nothing but Allah and he fears no one other than Allah. If some one understand the true existence of Allah then he will not turn to anyone other than Allah. None of these is really controversial, and he also explains his meaning.

He said that when Effendi Buftada gave a speech, and he once said “Ya Allah” and the people became so entranced, that they began to dance, and they could not stop weeping. It is also said when sultan died the minister came to him and asked him for help and the crowd started to attack the house of minister and the Sheikh said Ya Allah and all of them dispersed.
He says when the Awliya mentions the name of Allah marvelous things happen as they purify themselves and this things won’t happen when we say “Ya Allah”.

Is this problematic at all?
Counter Argument: There is nothing proved from Prophet (saw) that he said Ya Allah and marvelous things happen neither from the sahaba we have heard this. These are things which we find in sufism.

So many times you will read the tafseers of sufis you find these types of stories, glorifying them. “If Angel Jibreel comes to us then we will do all of the works done by Prophet  Isa”, what they claim is that there is no difference between them and prophets. So we can see that people are elevating themselves to the levels of the Prophets.
Tafsir of “La ilaha illa huwa”
Qutb al-aqtaab (قطب الأقطاب): If you call someone Qutb, this is person who is running the show of this world and if they say Qutb al-aqtaab which is superlative term, so the person who is referred is  bahayuddin naqshabandi. He used to use term Ya Huwa (يا هو) and Ya Man huwa huwa (يا من هو هو). They have become obsessed with huwa.

He said that There are three levels for declaration of tawheed.
1) For beginner illaha illa allah
2) For interm La ilaha illa Anta
3) For the pure ones, the declaration of tawheed is La ilaha ila Ana, because they are in state of complete annihilation, they are not existing any more, everything is else is Allah thus you cannot say Anta, Huwa it all becomes Ana.


He goes on to say that those who say “laa ilaaha illa Allah” is better than saying Allah Allah or Huwa Huwa. He went on to saying that you are denying of existence of other creation but at one stage that you are completely unified and he recites a poertry which says “give us union with you where we have nothing but you”

This is one of the main tafsir of that time and this is the concept of Tawheed. One of the things about studying tafsir at one level you appreciate the greatness and depth of Quran and at another level we can see how the word of Allah is so abused, even if you are reading you will get something which is very far off from actual message. When we think about common people and what they rely on, we have to have some kind of appreciation, they might be sincere but this is what we are getting out from it as they learned to something which is not right and result in something right. The is necessary of dawah to these people who are relying on this tafsir, massive effort is required.

One of the things in mysticism is that all road leads to Allah. So there is lot of cross influence between religion, with Jewish or Christian mysticism. Especially there is group in Christian called gnosticism who had this as their core preachings. You also see lot of Buddhism in this mysticism.

Next one in the list is Ibn Ajeeba but we will do Al-Aloosi.

Rooh al-Maani by Mahmood al-Aloosi (d. 1270)

Al-Aloosi tafsir is called as Ruh ul ma`aan, its very large work which has about 18 volumes and it is very encyclopedic in natrue and he is been called the second to Ar-Razi. Al-Aloosi we are studying here as example of tafsir Al-Ishari. If we look at many of books in Uloom al Quran, they will put this tasfisr under Praiseworthy tafsir. But we have caegorized under this as there are enough sufi material in this, thus as the source work this is place where it will be categorised.

The Author is Syed Mahmoud al-Aloosi (d. 1270AH) i.e. 1854 (http://ar.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%84%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%8A_%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%83%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%B1), and he is from Iraq. Obviously who is he ruled by the Ottomans. He is known to be salafi in his Aqeedah and Shafi in his Madhab and Hanafi in his fatwa. Becasue he was appointed as Mufti of Baghdad for Hanafi, although he come from Shafii background but he was well versed in Hanafi thus he used to give fatwa. He was well versed in Sufism and Philosophy, in particular the philosophy of Ibn Sina and Sufism of Ibn Arabi. From the time he was very young he was dedicated to study he did not waste time in playing like other kids do. It is said by 20 years he was already writing the books on some of the difficult word in Quran.

When you look at his tafsir you will see his salafi beliefs and you will see many times he is refuting Mutazilah and Shia beliefs. His books is filled with linguistic study of Qur’an, sometime he goes into detail in linguistic aspects. He also gets into detail with matters of Fiqh and he is not attached to any madhab, he is open to whatever seems to be right in fiqhi opinion. He is very tough when it comes to Israliyyaat, however he does use weak hadith and he use hadith without ascribing it to anyone. You have the aspect of tafisr al-ishari also but it has sufi influence. He is quoting Ibn Arabi and some of the sufi scholars. This is the “Salafi Sufi tafsir with Ibn Arabi.”  How this can be possible ?

Sheikh wishes that there was a Salafi Ishaari tafseer, but this is more a salafi sufi tafseer.

Ad-Dhahabi doesn’t put this under the category of tafisr al-ishari at all but this is praiseworthy tafsirs.

Al-Aloosi was brought up in a Shafi’i family and very early he was indoctrinated into a Sufi Tariqah. But one of the things you should know is that the time he was born was the time the Wahhabi movement was entering into Iraq.

So they have a bad reputation -- in particular they were seen as renegades. They were claiming that this was kind of revolution.

Aloosi studied under salafi scholars, such as Al-Suwayri. These were a group of scholars that had a huge amount of respect for Ibn Taymiyah and they accepted the call of Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab.

There was time when they gave him a death sentence to Al-Aloosi to supporting this and the one who protected him was the people from the tareeqah. So if you are writing a tafseer in that environment, would it be understandable that you have some aspects of Sufism there?

Many modern books written about him. Some people say he was never into sufism and it was a cover (they use the phrase tuqiyyah). Sometimes to get the truth out there you need to be careful. As he is already been protected by Naqshabandi, So if you take an approach against the Naqshibandis this will be a disaster. This is one of the view.

Another view is that he was able to combine together both the Salafism and the Sufism. Sheikh’s view is that he developed into a Salafi. As you go further long in his tafsir and you will see less sufi influence and his son Nu’maan who completed this tafsir is staunch salafi. It could have been the case he was moving out of his sufi beliefs but there is no question that he was very well versed with sufism as this is clear from his tafsir as well. His son wrote a book called Tarikh Najd which is commentary on one of the book from Muhammed ibn Abdul Wahhab. There were strong links about salafi movement in difference parts during the time of Al-Aloosi.

Example of his tafseer of Surah Fussilat verse 53:

Sahih International

We will show them Our signs in the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. But is it not sufficient concerning your Lord that He is, over all things, a Witness?


In his tafsir he quotes Ibn Arabi, he says said Sheikh Al-Akbar (Qaddasa sirrahu which means may Allah purify his soul) and he quotes 2 lines of poetry “” (http://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=7&tTafsirNo=52&tSoraNo=41&tAyahNo=53&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=1), in his own discussion of this lines of poetry it is pointing of wahdatul wujood, he doesn’t refute it here but supports it, he says that the reason is that to reach such a state to understand such a thing and see this things. In other place in the verse he refutes the Wahdatul Wujood but here we still a find a small passage in here. So you cannot conclude why he has this in this place. So you can see this sometime acceptance to Sufism and some other time refuting sufism.


2011-11-28 Class Notes


List of Important Sufi tafseers
Tafseer al-Quran al-Adheem by al-Tustari (b circa 203 Hijri) تفسير القرآن العظيم (للتسترى)
Haqaaiq al-Tafseer by al-Sulami (b. 330) حقائق التفسير (للسلمى)
Kashf al-Asraar wa Uddah al-Abraar by Mayboodi (d. mid 500s)
Ibn Barrjaan al-Andalusi (d. 536) (Shaikh is not familiar with this tafseer)
Araais al-Bayaan fi Haqaaiq al-Quran by al-Sheeraazi (d. 666)  عرائس البيان فى حقائق القرأن (لأبى محمد الشيرازى)
Al-Taweelaat al-Najamiyyah by al-Samnaani (d. 654) التأويلات النجمية (لنجم الدين داية، وعلاء الدولة السمنانى)
Tafseer ibn Arabi = Tafseer al-Kaashaani (d. 736)
Rooh al-Bayan by al-Buroosawi (d. 1137)
Al-Bahr al-Madeed by ibn Ajeebah (d. 1224) البحر المديد في تفسير القرآن المجيد
Rooh al-Maani by Mahmood al-Aloosi (d. 1270)


Aloosi’s tafseer is very encyclopeadic and it contains many different things. Last time somebody asked if somebody has done a cleaned up version of Rooh al Maani. According to shaikh nobody has attempted it so far. Even the one that is published has not been edited properly either.

Example of tafseer from Rooh al Maani

Aloosi goes into details into many things and one of his excursions is into grammar. In his tafseer of Ayat Al Kursi he goes into a lot of depth into just allahu la ilaha illa hu.

It is made of subject and predicate. He says it means he is the one worthy of worship. Hua is nominative or it can have five meanings and says three of them cannot be relied upon. In one case it could be a predicate. And this discussion goes on for over a page.

When he speaks of footstool, he says the majority of the predecssors have considered this verse to be mutashabiha or unclear. We have said that it is a salafi sufi tafseer. And he gives salafi opinion and then he quotes his sufi masters and says that they dont have any problems with this verse. They say that kursi is manifestation or center through all of commands and prohibitions go through, and they come into existence. Both of them are referenced by the feet of Allah swt.
Kursi is manifestation of Allah’s commands occur in this world.

From aqeedah point of view, how can you know this? Unless you have visited the kursi and have watched it happen.

If the entire world and all of it was to fall into the knower’s heart, he will not know it??????   It is part of the dominion of Allah and you go through it to know Allah swt.

This is sufi speech. And for some people it might sound very interesting, but what is the basis for it. What is the source for it? This is a common problem for sufi tafseers. It goes back to important premise and knowledge of Allah swt should be based on evidence. It cannot be based on dreams or visions.  If you cannot affirm it then you should just leave it.


Al-Bahr al-Madeed by ibn Ajeebah (d. 1224H - 1804CE) البحر المديد في تفسير القرآن المجيد

Ibn Ajeebah was born around 1160H and died in 1224H. Al Bahr al Madeed was in manuscript form for a long time after ibn Ajeebah died. But since 1999 two editions have been published and it has become a very popular work in Arab world, specially in Morocco. ibn Ajeebah was from Morocco.

His tafseer is interesting for a number of reasons. He is looked upon as a good scholar and a non sufi scholar. At a certain age while he was becoming prominent, he received a copy of ..... Ibn Ata-Allah from the shaathili tareekah. After reading it, he abandoned esoteric knowledge and devoted himself to acts of devotion and began to detest the world.

“I began to despise the world. Whenever someone came close to me, I fled.” He was from a royal family and he became an independent sufi. Later on his life, he stoped in Zawiyaah and met shaikh Al Darqawi and one of his students, who is famous in Spain and has an institute named after him. Ayesha Bewley is related to Al Darqawi; this tareekah is famous amongst Caucasian/European muslim converts.

When he met Al Darqawi, they put him through a special intensive training, not just dhikhr. They wanted to kill his nafs. He was ordered to put on harqa a rough woolen cloth that poor people would wear and he was ordered to beg at the market. And this was all done to destroy his ego. And after he reached a stage, known as fuqara, he was ordered to walk bear foot from village to village in Morocco. It is a very dry and barren country wearing heavy woolen clothes.  And they would call upon people of the village. And they were arrested for dangerous innovations, such as wearing patched woolen clothes and also for allowing women to make dhikr.  But because he came from a noble family, it didnt take long for him to be released.

And then he started writing sufi teachings. The al Darqawi tareekah is a branch of the shaathili tareekah and he was made head of a branch of the Darqawi tareekah called Tareekah Al-Darqawi Al-Ajabiyyah. And his tomb is a site for people to visit.

.....
An author .... says that ibn Ajeebah is shaikh for both knowledge. And it is reflected in his tafseer. You can see both esoteric and ishaari aspects in his tafseer. His knowledge

In the esoteric part he takes a lot from Kushayri and also from a Persian sufi known as Ruzbiyan al Bakari????? who was the author of Arasi al Bayaan.

He makes clear that there are outward and inward aspect of every verse of the Quran (a hadith that he quotes) and he makes it clear from the beginning of his tafseer. He said don’t be fooled by people that say that there are no ishaari aspects of verse. We discussed this hadeeth and we concluded that it is not authentic.

The outward meaning is for grammarians and those interested in language. The inner meanings are for those who are trying to extract the laws and rulings. And the .... meaning is for ......


Examples of his tafseer

Sahih International

And the stars and trees prostrate.



At the beginning of Surah al Rahman, where Allah swt speaks about stars and trees prostrate. He says that the star alludes to the light of natural reason and trees to fikar or discursive thought. Both of which are eclipsed and effaced when the sun of inner knowledge is dawned. Intuitive thought envelopes all existence, because they are part of the universal intellect. And this is tied with knowledge of Allah swt.  Stars and trees prostrate because of their aqal or human knowledge. And this kind of knowledge is when divine qualities maybe revealed.   ........  

He says you are acquiring knowledge and you reach the levels of the prophets and you can reach that stage and receive the reality.

He says human intellect has to bow down to the intuitive knowledge of the sufis who have reached the level of unveiling.

He says if there is a contradiction between what non-sufis can see and what the sufi scholars can see because of their unveiling of their knowledge, and he asks who would have preference, non sufi knowledge or sufi knowledge?  And his answer is of course the sufi knowledge.


He says science of tafseer is the best knowledge and none should undertake it without reaching a level of esoteric knowledge, he should have mastered arabic language, grammar, balaghaah, hadeeth, fiqh and ....  and after reaching this level and performed ... and reached level of tareekah..   and if you do not reach this level then you should remain silent.

There are some good things in the above paragraph, you have to gain knowledge of Arabic Language, grammar, hadeeth.

But for them to make such unusual meanings e.g. the one above, leaves us in a “no-win” situation -- it’s not an argument over evidence. He’s a sufi, so you just have to accept his opinion.

Sahih International

The criminals will be known by their marks, and they will be seized by the forelocks and the feet.

55:42

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Sahih International

So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?

55:43

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Sahih International

This is Hell, which the criminals deny.

55:44

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Sahih International

They will go around between it and scalding water, heated [to the utmost degree].




He is quoting Kushayri and says the mujrimoon are those who deny hellfire, they are two groups of people. The first are the muttaqalimoon, who are scholars of .... who speak about Allah’s attributes without knowledge. Basically those who question the sufi scholars. He says they will be pulled by their forelocks into the hellfire .....  and there is no doubt about it.

He says the second group of the mujrimoon are the ignorant sufis who are cut off from the straight path, who do not follow the knowledge of the perfect master, that is they have acquired knowledge on their own, they will be pulled by the feet into the hellfire.... and there is no doubt. And the marks by which they are known ....

The true are the ones who are humble. And the tongue  of their state or lisaan al haal says more about them ....


What do you walk away from all of this discussion of ishaari tafseers?

Could this be really what Allah swt meant by these verses?

It could be delusional or they are being tricked by Shaitan. You can have an aalim who has a bad intention. There could be some peer sahibs who have bad intentions.

Ahl al Sunnah have to be blamed a lot, because very few have been willing to challenge the Sufis. The masses look upon them as auliyah and on the other hand you have mere scholars of hadith or professors, who would appeal to their hearts. Sufis have a lot of power. If you speak out against them or stop them, then you are labeled as a filthy wahaabi. They have very good P.R., they have labeled all of their critics wahaabis, and it means the same thing all over the world.

One has to be careful about speaking out against them, but we should still do it. There are many graves around the place and people do shirk, and then if you try to stop them, then you are labeled a filthy wahhabi.

They have very good PR.

Sometimes, these walis seem to be powerful. In one situation there was a real sufi person. One time he was outside the mosque and looking at a tree, and said this is not a tree, this is Allah. He claimed something like 3,000 people became Muslim at his hand. But they were not to be seen. He had followers.

But what kind of Islam is that going to be.

This whole thing we’ve been studying is one of the saddest things that Shaikh Jamaal has ever seen. We have the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and people have gone to great trouble to preserve it. And then to have it in the hands of people who just destroy it. If someone gives you an exoteric and an esoteric explanation, what are you going to choose? It’s of course more appealing and more memorable for most people. And the claims that they make that mutakallimoon would be dragged by their forelocks into hellfire is just sad.  Someone has good intentions and then gets taken away. If you think about how many tafseers are written, and put up the charts, there are far more problematic tafseers than good ones.

The next stage in this continuum would be the tafseer of the fuqaha, how did they derive the ahqaam or rulings from the Quran.

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