Clarification On Acceptance Of Tafseer Of Ibn Abbas (R.A)

Question: Assalamu Alaikum Dear Sheikh,

The following issue is by no means a criticism or accusation or meant to insult  the Darul Uloom on my part,  but I am just repeating what I was told to seek clarification and for you all to have your say if you choose to do so. I was informed that the Darul Uloom does not hold the tafseer of Ibn Abbas(RA) in high regard nor do they have a high amount of respect for his tafseer although it is highly regarded as one of the best tafseer that exists. I was told that the Rasool (peace be upon him) made special dua to Allah for him to be given knowledge and it was accepted but that you all only take his tafseer conveniently and normally seek to dismiss his tafseer if it goes against the point of view of the Darul Uloom. Would you please clear up this issue as i find it very hard to believe that the Darul Uloom holds this view especially as I have not seen anything to support such a statement.

Answer: Assalamu Alaikum,

This is a false statement made against the Darul Uloom. The great Sahabi, Abdullah Bin Abbas (R.A) was indeed one of the greatest authorities of Tafseer among the Sahabah. There is no doubt about his greatness in the field of knowledge, and especially the commentary of the Holy Quran.

At the Institute, we teach Tafseer Jalalain and also Tafseer Ibn Katheer. In these commentaries, the Tafseer of the verses of the Quran are given and commentaries are taken from different Sahabahs and Tabieen scholars who were experts in the field of Tafseer.

It should be understood however, that like Abdullah Bin Abbas (R.A), there were other great commentators and exegetes from among the Sahabahs who were also great experts in the field of Tafseer and knowledge of the Holy Quran. The likes of Zaid Bin Thaabit (R.A) (the scribe of Wahy (revelation)), Ubai bin Ka’ab (R.A) (who was known as the great scholar of the Quran in the Ummah), Abdullah bin Masood (R.A) (who was known as one of the greatest scholars among the Sahabahs), Mu’az bin Jabal (R.A), Abu Musa Al Ash’ari (R.A), Umar (R.A), Ali (R.A), Aisha (R.A), Abu Huraira (R.A), Abdullah bin Umar (R.A), and others, were masters in the field of the sciences of Islam including that of Tafseer. So, there were quite a number of Sahabahs who were recognised by the Tabi’een and Atba’utTabieen scholars to be great authorities in the field of Tafseer of the Holy Quran. Due to various interpretations given in the commentary of certain verses, by different sahabahs, the scholars of the early centuries, from the period of Tabieen and Atba’utTabieen have given preference to certain interpretations above others. It is in line with this, the Imams of Fiqh have preferred the commentaries of certain Sahabahs above others in different verses of the Quran. Hence, on account of this, all scholars coming in the later generations have followed the same trend and have relied on the authentic works of Tafseer Ibn Katheer, Tafseer Ibn Jareer At Tabari and other famous commentaries. Those who are experts in the field of tafseer have explained the verses of the Holy Quran based on the explanations and interpretations given by different Sahabahs. It would happen that in doing this, they would give preference to the explanation of a certain companion above the other.

These are all accepted, and have always been the way of adopting sound interpretations and explanations of the verses of Holy Quran. Accepting the Tafseer of one companion, and not accepting that of another, is not a sign or an indication of rejecting the commentary/Tafseer of any companion. Just as in the science of Ahadith where one companion’s narration is preferred above the narration of another, so too, in the field of Tafseer/commentary of the Holy Quran, one companion’s commentary can be preferred above another. All the Sahabahs are just and fair, and they have all learnt the religion of Islam directly from the Prophet (s.a.w).

Hence, the knowledge they possess of the book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet (s.a.w) is authentic, reliable, sound and correct. There have been differences among them with respect to their opinions, verdicts and commentaries in different verses, and the scholars after them have adopted the sound and reliable opinions/verdicts/commentaries based on what seems to be the best in their view. Therefore, it is totally wrong, and it is sheer ignorance on the part of a person to accuse a scholar/scholars of not accepting a particular opinion/verdict/commentary of a certain companion, when in reality, they have accepted the opinion of other great companions of the Prophet (s.a.w).

And Allah Knows Best.

Mufti Waseem Khan.