Pictured above: ‘Allāmah Buzurg Tehranī
The following is an excerpt from “al-Dharī’ah Ilā Taṣānīf al-Shia” by the famous bibliographer ‘Allāmah Buzurg Tihranī describing an exegesis entitled “Tafsīr al-A’immah lī Hidāyat al-Ummah” by al-Shaykh ‘Abdallah bin Muhammad Riḍa al-Nuṣayrī.
(The exegesis is) By the master, the exegete and scholar of hadith, Muhammad Riḍa bin ‘Abd al-Husain al-Nuṣayrī al-Ṭūsī, who lived in Isfahān and was the writer of “Kashf al-Āyāt (Discovering the Verses)” which he finished writing in the year 1067/1657(A.H./A.D.) as will be mentioned in another volume.
The above mentioned exegesis of his was very large. It is said that it was thirty volumes long, I saw two volumes of it. One of the volumes was the first, it was a large and thick volume in which the author began with an introduction of the exegesis in about 20 chapters related to the Qurān. He then began with the exegesis of sūrah al-Fātiḥah, and then subsequently the exegesis of some verses from sūrah al-Baqarah until the end of the fourth verse.
The first volume started with the following words:
أين رتبة الانسان الذي بدئ خلقه من طين و أعلى مقام محامد رب العالمين و أنّى قدرة المخلوق من سلالة من ماء مهين و العروج على ذروة وصف من هو فوق وصف الواصفين: كيف نحمده و نحن من الجاهلين
On the back of the volume there is an ownership statement, in the handwriting of the son of the writer himself, denoting that the book was owned by him. He has written that that he came to own the book through inheritance, however he has not mentioned the date upon which he inherited the book. The owner’s name in his signature is as such, “ ‘Abdallah bin Muḥammad Riḍa al-Nuṣayrī al-Tūsī”.
This volume was subsequently owned by al-Sayyid Shubbar bin Muḥammad Tanwān al-Ḥawīzī al-Najafī 1 from the year 1160/1747 until 1182/1769 as is evident from some of his writings in the book during the two mentioned dates. It was finally transferred to al-‘Allāmah al-Shaykh Asadallah al-Dizfūlī al-Kāẓimī, the author of, “al-Maqābīs” who endowed the volume and wrote a statement of endowment on the volume in his writing. I saw the volume in Kāẓimīyah in the library of the deceased al-Shaykh Muḥammad Amīn who was from amongst the family of the previously mentioned al-Shaykh Asadallah.
The second of the two volumes that I saw was also large and thick in size. This volume was from the beginning of sūrah al-Tawbah until the end of sūrah Hūd. I saw it in Najaf in the library of al-Shaykh Muḥammad Jawād Muḥyī al-Dīn al-Jāmi’ī.
I have no knowledge of the rest of the volumes of this work other than what our master, al-Shaykh Abū al-Majd Āqā Riḍā al-Iṣfahānī wrote to me that there were 15 volumes of this work present in the Qazwīnīyah library in Iṣfahān. Iqbāl al-Dawlah took three volumes of the work during his reign over Iṣfahān and did not return them to the library. The rest of the volumes are present in the library. The method of this exegete from what I have seen from amongst the volumes of this exegesis was to first start by mentioning a couple of verses along with their Farsi translation which he would write in red between the lines. Then he would start the exegesis of the verses through the hadith tradition, first by translating the narrations to Farsi and then offering exegesis in Arabic. He would then mention different matters related to the verses in a couple of chapters, for example; a chapter on their excellence, a chapter on specific matters related to the verses, a chapter on their revelation etc. He would then mention another group of verses and carry on as mentioned.
He typically narrates from “Tafsīr al-‘Ayyāshī” and “Tafsīr al-Baiḍāwi”. He also narrates from “al-Iḥtijāj” by al-Ṭabrisī, as well as other hadith works. He also narrates from the exegesis of Ghayāth bin Ibrāhīm that which he narrated from “Tafsīr Furāt” (Furāt bin Ibrāhīm al-Kūfī). He narrated the entirety of “Tafsīr al-Imām al-‘Askarī (peace be upon him)” and the entirety of “Tafsīr al-Qummī” as well as the summarised version of it in accordance with his belief that both “Tafsīr al-Qummī” and the summarised version of it are by the same author. He writes, at the beginning of the first volume that,
“I did not leave anything out from “Tafsīr al-Imām al-‘Askarī” and from the two exegeses of Abī al-Husain ‘Alī bin Ibrāhīm bin Hāshim al-Qummī because he has mentioned at the beginning of the summarised version that ‘it is a summary of an exegesis that was narrated from the Imams from that which was written by the trustworthy, al-Shaykh al-Ṣāliḥ Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Alī bin Ibrāhīm”
The author understood the statement “that which was written by the…” to be referring to the “summary” although it was really referring to the “exegesis” (which was by ‘Alī bin Ibrāhīm al-Qummī). The summarised version of “Tafsīr al-Qummī” by al-Kaf’amī was previously mentioned2 and will also be mentioned again under the title of “Mukhtaṣar Tafsīr al-Qummī”. As such, we do not know which summarised exegeses were used in this particular exegesis…
- Āqā Buzurg points out that the author confused the work entitled, “Mukhtaṣar Tafsīr al-Qummī” to be by the author of the original “Tafsīr al-Qummī” by A’lī bin Ibrāhīm al-Qummī. As mentioned by Āqā Buzurg, the summarised version of the exegesis was actually by al-Kafa’mī which Āqā Buzurg mentions in volume one of al-Dharī’a with reference to Riyāẓ al-‘Ulamā where al-Ufandī mentions that he saw a collection of manuscripts by al-Kafa’mī which included “Mukhtaṣar Tafsīr al-Qummī” amongst summarised versions of other exegeses such as “Majma’ al-Bayān” by Shaykh Ṭabrisī3.
- This work has not been printed, however there are a couple of libraries that possess manuscripts of different volumes of this work. Āqā Buzurg’s description of the first volume of the work that he saw seems very similar to the description documented by Sayyid Ishkavarī in the manuscript catalogue of the Mara’shī Najafī library for manuscript #853. In addition to the details provided by Āqā Buzurg, Sayyid Ishkavarī adds that the first few chapters of the first volume discuss topics such as, “methods of exegesis, names of the Qurān and its excellence, the revelation of the Qurān, specific details in relation to the chapters and verses of the Qurān, the manner in which the Qurān was written, the multiple readings of the Qurān and methodologies to solve apparent contradictions within the Quran4.
- One particular manuscript of the second volume that may be of particular interest is #12867 in the Mara’shī Najafī library. This volume was possessed by the famous hadith collector and writer of “Bihār al-Anwār”, ‘Allāmah Majlisī, as is indicated by his handwriting on the first page of the words,
لمحمد باقر بن محمد تقي عفي عنهما
As well as a rectangular stamp with the words,
محمد باقر بن محمد تقي موسوي
There is also a statement of endowment at the beginning of the manuscript indicating that the manuscript was endowed to the students of religious sciences in Isfahan under the custodianship of certain individuals5.
- The National Library of Iran possesses a manuscript of this work that starts from the beginning of sūrah al-Isrā. The manuscript begins by quoting a narration from al-Kāfī from the chapter on the excellence of the Qurān about reciting the Musabbahāt6. A stable link to a description of the manuscript possessed by the library and a digitised version can be found here.
- ‘Ayān al-Shia v. 7 pg. 330 ↩
- al-Dharī’ah v. 1 pg. 355 ↩
- al-Ufandī, Riyāẓ al-‘Ulamā v. 1 pg. 23 ↩
- Fihrist Nuskhay hāyay Khatti… Mara’shī Najafī, entry #853 ↩
- Fihrist Nuskhay hāyay Khatti… Mara’shī Najafī, entry #12867 ↩
- The Musabbahāt are those chapters which begin with the glorification of Allah, typically through the words سَبَّحَ ,يُسَبِّحُ, or سُبْحَانَ ↩