Usool at-Tafseer: The Methodology of Qur’anic Interpretation

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Usool at-Tafseer by Br. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, addresses the actual step-by-step methodology of providing an accurate interpretation (tafsir) of the Qur’an to ensure that interpretations are not merely the result of human whims and fancies. The author also explores the methods of revelation and the historical collection of the Qur’anic text.

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The title of this book, Usool at-Tafseer (literally, ‘The Fundamental Principles of Qur’anic Interpretation’), essentially refers to the branches of knowledge necessary for providing an accurate interpretation of the Qur’anic texts, such as Arabic grammar and syntax, Arabic literature, and Qur’anic sciences (‘Uloom al-Qur’ân). Familiarity with modern fields of learning, like the pure sciences and social sciences, is also necessary for a commentator in this era to make the Qur’anic explanations relevant to modern human society. Usool at-Tafseer addresses the actual step-by-step methodology of interpreting the Qur’an to ensure that interpretations are not merely the result of human whims and fancies. These subjects were traditionally mentioned in the books of usool al-fiqh (the fundamental principles of Islamic Law) and the introductions to the classical books of tafseer. The core material for this book was taken from the excellent work Mabâhith fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’ân, by Shaykh Mannâ‘ al-Qattân. However, supplementary material was also gathered from other classical and current works on the subject, as the footnotes clearly indicate. Those chapters of particular relevance to the English-speaking reader were chosen, while others which include Arabic linguistic issues beyond the comprehension of the average reader were not included.

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