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Tafsir Al-Tustari is one of the books of interpretation of the Holy Quran. It was authored by Sahl Al-Tustari, one of the Sunni Sufi scholars in the third century of Islamic history. The book consists of statements made by Sahl, which were collected by Abu Bakr Muhammad bin Ahmad Al-Baladi, as mentioned at the beginning of the book. Abu Bakr used to ask Sahl about the meaning of certain verses, and Sahl would provide his interpretation, which Abu Bakr then included in the book under Sahl’s name.
The distinctive feature of this interpretation is its small size. It does not provide a complete interpretation of all the verses of the Holy Quran, but only offers an interpretation for some of them. The comments included in the book were responses to questions posed by some of Sahl’s students in the Tustari school of Sufism, and thus the interpretation is concise, reflecting the approach of the Sufi scholars.
The style of interpretation used in this text is Sufi interpretation of the Quran. The author has a strong background in Sufi behavior based on the principles of Sharia and following the Prophet. He spoke about some verses of the Quran, explaining what inspired him about them. The reader can see indications of the correct Sufi interpretation and find in it the realization of the author’s statement: “Our foundations are seven…holding fast to the Book of Allah, following the Sunnah of the Prophet, eating lawful things, refraining from harm, avoiding sins, repentance, and fulfilling rights.”
Sahal Al-Tastari covered his interpretation within the framework of the Quran, explaining what the Imams or many of them said about interpreting the verses. He did not present a traditional interpretation of the Quran, but rather gathered what he could of linguistic, legal, ethical, and cosmic meanings, and other areas discussed in the Quran. He spoke about the effects that the verse had on his heart and what his believing feelings were in this field. He did not say that this is an interpretation as the interpreters say, nor did he say that it is the only interpretation that the verse accepts. However, Sahal did not limit himself in his interpretation to the indicative aspect of the Quran. He often mentioned the apparent meaning of the verse, which most of the interpreters shared before mentioning the indicative meaning or some of what he sees as the indicative meaning. He sometimes limited himself to the apparent meaning and did not speak about the indicative meaning, and at other times, he limited himself to the indicative meaning because of the clarity of the apparent meaning or its widespread use among people.
Editions and studies of the book:
Editions of the Tafsir:
The Tafsir of Al-Tustari has multiple verified editions, including:
- Tafsir Al-Tustari, edited by Mahmoud Gherallah, printed by Dar Al-Qafia for Publishing in Egypt, 1422 AH – 2002.
- Tafsir Al-Tustari, edited by Mohammad Bassel Ayoun Al-Soud, printed by Dar Al-Kotob Al-Ilmiyah in Beirut, 1423 AH – 2002.
- Tafsir Al-Quran Al-Karim by Abu Mohammad Sahl bin Abdullah bin Younus bin Ali bin Abdullah bin Rafei Al-Tustari, edited by Taha Abdel-Rauf Saad and Saad Hassan Mohammad Ali, printed by Dar Al-Haram for Publishing, 2004.
- Tafsir Al-Tustari, edited by Mohammad Bassel Ayoun Al-Soud, printed by Dar Al-Kotob Al-Ilmiyah in Beirut, 2007.
Studies on the Tafsir:
As for the studies and writings that were written on the book Tafsir Al-Tustari, or that Tafsir Al-Tustari was a part of, they include:
- “From the Sufi heritage of Sahl bin Abdullah Al-Tustari”, a study and verification by Dr. Mohammad Kamal Jaafar.
- “Tafsir and Mufassirun” by Dr. Mohammad Hussein Al-Dhahabi.
- “Methods of Tafsir” by Dr. Al-Shahat Al-Sayed Zaghloul.
- “Methods of Mufassirun” by Dr. Muneer Abdel-Haleem Mahmoud.
- “Tafsir by Opinion: its rules, regulations, and flags” by Dr. Mohammad Hamad Zaghloul.
- “Munahil Al-Irfan” by Al-Zarkashi.
- “The Beliefs of the Imams of Guidance from the Sufis: Junaid bin Mohammad and Sahl Al-Tustari as an example” by Dr. Abdullah bin Saleh Al-Barak.
- “Doctrinal Mistakes in the Tafsir of Al-Tustari” prepared by Salam Omar Hajjazi under the supervision of Mahmoud Youssef Al-Shawki.
- “The Sheikh of the Gnostics: Imam Al-Tustari” by Mahmoud Al-Tustari Gherallah.