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Ethics

Ali Bin Ibrahim Qummi's Tafsir Reliable?

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This is an interesting article I found. I thought you e-rijalists might be interested :P

 

http://www.islamquest.net/en/archive/question/en21823#

 

Ali bin Ibrahim bin Hashim Qummi is one of the great Shiite scholars.  As per Najashi's and Sheikh Tusi's reports, he has a book titled "Tafsir Qummi". The book is available to all for the time being and some of its narrations are mentioned in some reliable books like Al-Kafi. As for the authenticity of the content of this book, there is a doubt as to whether or not all the contents can be ascribed to Ali bin Ibrahim. In addition, assuming that this book has been authored by Ali bin Ibrahim, the authenticity and reliability of all the narrators of this commentary book is not substantiated and established.
In the commentary ascribed to Ali bin Ibrahim, the author of the book have authenticated all the masters from whom narrations have been reported. In other words, he considers all of them reliable and trustworthy.
 
Detailed Answer
Ali bin Ibrahim bin Hashim Qummi is one of the great Shiite scholars. He was one of the masters (mashayikh) of late Ya'qub Kulayni who has reported a lot of narrations from him in his Al-Kafi.[1]
Concerning Ali bin Ibrahim Qummi, Najashi writes: "Ali bin Ibrahim, Abul Hasan Qummi is a narrator who recorded traditions; he is reliable and of a correct religion; he has heard a lot of narrations and written different books including a commentary book and ...". [2]
Sheikh Tusi also writes in his Al-Fehres: "Ali bin Ibrahim bin Hashem Qummi has written many books including the book of Tafsir and al-Nasikh (abrogator) and al-Mansookh  (abrogated)".[3]
Based on the above, he has written many books including a commentary book. The book which is now known as Tafsir al-Qummi is attributed to Ali bin Ibrahim and its narrations are mentioned in Behar al-Anwar, Wasail al-Shi'ah and other hadith books.

Tafsir Qummi
Perhaps the first person who conducted a comprehensive and detailed research into what is known allegedly as Ali bin Ibrahim's commentary book was Aqa Buzurg Tehrani. We will quote him here due to the importance and precision of his utterances: "In this commentary, Qummi reports most of the narrations on the authority of his father and from Imam Sadiq (A.S). In fact, he also narrates from the rest of his masters and from Imam Sadiq (A.S) on their authority.
The narrator of this book, as pointed out in the beginning of this Tafsir, is "Abulfazl Al-Abbas bin Muhammad bin Qasim bin Hamzah bin Musa bin Ja'far".[4] Since he had seen that this Tafsir had quoted narrations only from Imam Sadiq (A.S), he has narrated in his book some of Abil Jarud's narrations from Imam Baqir (A.S). That is why the context of interpretation and chain of transmission of narrations are identical and alike until the beginning of the interpretation of Surah Aal-e Imran.  As of this point, Ali bin Ibrahim narrates from his father but when it reaches the verse 49 of Surah Aal-e Imran (and I inform you of what you should eat and what you should store in your houses)[5] the style of the interpretation of the narrations changes because the chain of transmission of the narrations reads as such:
«حدثنا أحمد بن محمد الهمدانی قال حدثنی جعفر بن عبد الله قال حدثنا کثیر بن عیاش عن زیاد بن المنذر أبی الجارود عن أبی جعفر محمد بن علی (ع)..»
As we know, this chain of transmitters is the very famous chain of scholars to Abil Jarud's Tafsir. Najashi's chain of transmission [6] to this Tafsir and also Sheikh Tusi's chain of transmission[7] to it are also the same chain of transmission.
Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Hamedani, better known as Ibn Uqdah, is in the category of Sheikh Kulayni's students whereas Ali bin Ibrahim is Kulayni's teacher and master. How is it possible and rational on the part of Ali bin Ibrahim to report traditions from the student of his students?
Hence, it is the first hadith which Abul Fazl has reported in this book from his teacher, Ibn Uqdah."[8]
Based on the above, this is not Ali bin Ibrahim's book; rather he who has compiled it has made profuse use of Ali bin Ibrahim's narrations.

Authentication of the Narrators of Tafsir Qummi
In the preface to Tafsir Qummi, the author writes: "What we mention in this book are all from the masters and trustworthy scholars who also narrate from others whose obedience God has made obligatory  upon all…"[9]
Based on this claim in the beginning of this book, some have commented that all those who are in the chain of the transmission of Ali bin Ibrahim's narrations up until those who are connected to Infallible Imams are trustworthy because the author of the Tafsir has testified to their being trustworthy.
Sheikh Hur Amili says: "Ali bin Ibrahim has testified to the effect that the traditions used in his Tafsir are true and that he has reported the entire narrations from trustworthy Shia narrators."[10]
Confirming what Sheikh Hur Amili has said, the author of Mu'ajam Rijal al-Hadith says: "Ali bin Ibrahim means to say that his Tafsir is authentic and that he has reported the narrations from the Infallibles (A.S) on the authority of prominent masters and trustworthy Shiite narrators. Hence, his testimony and authentication are general encompassing all his masters and the narrators from whom he has directly or indirectly reported traditions.  It is, therefore, incorrect to say that his testimony includes only the masters whom he has reported from directly."[11]
In short, there is a book titled "Tafsir Qummi" which is available to all for the time being and some of its narrations are mentioned in some reliable books like Al-Kafi. As for the authenticity of the content of this book, there is a doubt as to whether or not all the contents can be ascribed to Ali bin Ibrahim. In addition, assuming that this book has been authored by Ali bin Ibrahim, the authenticity and reliability of all the narrators of this commentary book is not proven.
 
[1] Aqa Buzurg Tehrani, Al-Zari'ah Ila Tasanif al-Shi'ah, vol.4, p. 302, Ismailiyan, Qom, 1408 A.H.
[2] Najashi, Ahmad bin Ali, Fehres Asmaa Musannefi al-Shi'ah (Rijal of Najashi), p. 260, Islamic Publications Office, Qom, sixth edition, 1365 (1986).
[3] Sheikh Tusi, Al-Fehres, researched and edited by Aal-e Bahrul Ulum, Sayyid Muhammad Sadiq, p. 266, al-Maktabat al-Murtazawiyah, Najaf, first edition (date not known).
[4] Qummi, Ali bin Ibrahim, Tafsir al-Qummi, researched and edited by Musavi Jazaeri, Sayyid Tayyib, vol.1, p. 27, Dar al-Kitab, Qom, third edition, 1404 A.H.
[5] «و أنبئکم بما تأکلون و ما تدخرون فی بیوتکم‏»
[6] Rijal Najashi, p. 170
[7] Al-Fehres, p. 204.
[8] Al-Zari'ah, vol.4, p. 303.
[9] Tafsir Qummi, vol.1, p. 4.
[10] Wasail al-Shi'ah, vol.30, p. 202.
[11] Indeed, based on his opinion, wherever there is a contradicting report which is stronger and more concrete, that is preferred over the claim of the author of the book. Vide: Al-Khoei, Abul Qasim, Mu'ajam Rijal al-Hadith, vol.1, p. 49, Center for Publication of Shiite Works, Qom, 1410 A.H.
Edited by PureEthics

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