Abdullah Ibn Abbas (RA) on the types of tafsir, in light of the methodology of Tafwid


The way of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamah, from the Salaf as well as the Khalaf, with regards to some of the attributes of Allah which are difficult to interpret or unclear in its meaning, from that which is present in the Qur’an as well as narrations of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), is to adopt the methodology of Tafwid (to relegate its true meaning to Allah) or Taweel (an appropriate figurative/hidden interpretation/explanation).

The Wahhabiya instead have a self-refuting & incoherent methodology with regards to taweel. They argue that taweel is to deny the Qur’an or distort the meaning, yet they themselves would widely use figurative interpretation wherever it suits them by claiming that the figurative meaning they apply is “apparent”and “obvious” or that “its a “tafsir type of taweel” and so on.

When it comes to the method of Tafwid, the Wahhabiyya engage in complete mockery of it. They counter it with feeble arguments such as “Are you saying the Qur’an was revealed without meaning ?” “Are you saying the meaning of Qur’an got lost?” “Are you saying the layman cannot understand the Qur’an? Why don’t you follow the layman’s interpretation?” “Are you saying the apparent of Qur’an is kufr ?” and so on.  If one comes across a paranoid Wahhabi of this type, all that one requires to answer him is to provide the following explanation of Abdallah Ibn Abbas (Allah’s blessings be on him):

Imam Ibn Jarir al-Tabari  has reported that Ibn Abbas said,

“tafsir is of four kinds:

One which Arabs can know from the language;

second which no one can be excused for not knowing;

third which only the scholars know;

and fourth, which God alone knows.”


This famous statement of Ibn Abbas (radiallahu anhu) has been quoted by none other than Ibn Taymiyya in his book muqaddima fi usul al-tafsir. Also mentioned by Imam Ibn Kathir in his tafsir of the Quranic verse 3:7.

If the pseudo-Salafi even after this is yet insistent on forcing his anthropomorphic interpretation upon Muslims then relate to him the narration of the Prophet(peace and blessings be upon him):

Imam Ahmad recorded that Ayesha (Allah’s blessings be upon her) said,

“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) recited, (It is He Who has sent down to you the Book. In it are verses that are entirely clear, they are the foundations of the Book; and others not entirely clear), until, (Men of understanding) and he said, “When you see those who argue( يُجَادِلُونَ) in it (using the Mutashabihat), then they are those whom Allah meant. Therefore, beware of them.

Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim recorded this narration with the wording: “When you see those who follow ( يَتَّبِعُونَ) what is not so clear of the Qur’an, then they are those whom Allah described, so beware of them.


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