Sufi Koran Commentary: a Survey of the Genreby A. Godlas (This is a web-based version of the article "al-Tafsir al-Sufi" to be published by the Encyclopaedia Iranica)
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The Second Phase: Moderate, Esoteric, and Persian Commentaries
Moderate Commentary: T¨a¿lab^One work of the "moderate" form is al-Kashf wa-'l-baya@n ¿an tafs^r al-Qor÷a@n of Abu@ Esáháa@q Ahámad b. Moháammad b. Ebra@h^m T¨a¿lab^ (d. 427/1035) (see Goldfeld), better known for his ¿Ara@÷es al-maja@les f^ qesáasá al-anbia@÷. T¨a¿lab^, who had read the entirety of the H®aqa@÷eq al-tafs^r to Solam^ himself, included in his commentary not only Sufi esha@ra@t, but hadith, commentaries of the early Muslim generations, Esra@÷^l^ya@t, and discussions of syntax and feqh. Hence, Ate¶ considered it to be both an exoteric (záa@her) and a Sufi esoteric (ba@tÂen) work (Ate¶, 1974, p. 97).
Moderate Commentary: Qoshayr^Another example of this "moderate" form is ¿Abd-al-Kar^m b. Hawa@zin Qoshayr^'s (d. 465/1074) LatÂa@÷ef al-esha@ra@t, written in Arabic, and examined to a degree by R. Ahmad (pp. 16-69) and by its modern editor, Basyu@n^ (Qoshayr^, vol. 1, pp. 3-37). In the LatÂa@÷ef, Qoshayr^--who was a Sha@fe¿^-- both explicated the literal meaning of Koranic verses and discussed their esoteric implications . In spite of the fact that Qoshayr^, unlike Solam^, did not cite earlier authorities, Ate¶ maintained that Qoshayr^ frequently utilized Solam^'s tafs^r, borrowing poetry from Solam^ and contemplating Solam^'s tafs^r while writing the LatÂa@¿ef (1974, p. 100). In addition to the LatÂa@÷ef al-esha@ra@t, Qoshayr^ wrote another Sufi commentary which is still in manuscript, "The Great Commentary" (al-Tafs^r al-kab^r), but which has briefly been discussed by Böwering (1989, p. 571).
Moderate Commentary: Sohraward^A final example of "moderate" commentary of this period is the Arabic tafs^r, Nog@bat al-baya@n f^ tafs^r al-Qor÷a@n of Sheha@b-al-D^n Abu@ H®afsá ¿Omar b. Moháammad Sohraward^ (d. 632/1234), the famous Sha@fe¿^ author of the Sufi manual ¿Awa@ref al-ma¿a@ref. It is extant only in manuscripts (Brockelmann, GAL, SI, p. 789, #4) --one of which was copied with the permission (eja@za) of Sohraward^ himself (Ate¶, 1974, p. 161). According to Ate¶, Nog@bat al-baya@n is largely an exotericly oriented tafs^r, although to a certain extent it does deal with asceticism (zohd) (Ate¶, 1974, p. 162).
Esoteric Commentary: Deylam^What distinguishes the second form of Sufi commentary from other Sufi tafs^rs of the second phase or period is that both examples of the "second form" consist almost entirely of esoteric Sufi commentary; they cannot be considered to be part of a "school" of commentaries; and they were written in Arabic. Tasád^q al-ma¿a@ref or, as it is also titled, Fotu@há al-Raháma@n f^ esha@ra@t al-Qor÷a@n was written by the little known Sunni Sufi, Abu@ T¨a@bet ¿Abd-al-Ma@lek Deylam^ (d. 598/1193) and was only recently discovered by Böwering (and is still unpublished). Although commentary from Solam^'s authorities in the H®aqa@÷eq al-tafs^r comprises about half of Deylam^'s tafs^r, Deylam^ did not just directly import this material, but rather seems to have elaborated on it. The source of the remaining half of the content of the Tasád^q al-ma¿a@ref is Deylam^ himself (Böwering, 1987, p. 232; and EIranica, sv. "Deylam^").
Esoteric Commentary: Ru@zbeha@n Baql^The other tafs^r of the second form of the second phase, ¿Ara@÷es al-baya@n f^ háaqa@'eq al-Qor÷a@n--written by the Sha@fe¿^ Sufi, Abu@ Moháammad Ru@zbeha@n b. Ab^ Nasár Baql^ Sh^ra@z^ (d. 606/1209)--is similar to Tasád^q al-ma¿a@ref in a number of ways, while also exhibiting some differences. Like Deylam^'s tafs^r, Ru@zbeha@n's ¿Ara@÷es al-baya@n is an esoteric Sufi tafs^r, written in Arabic, comprised almost equally of material from earlier tafs^rs and commentary from the author himself. Among the differences between the two tafs^rs are that (in addition to using his own commentary) Ru@zbeha@n directly borrowed from Solam^'s two tafs^rs, quoting his authorities verbatim without any embellishment. Consequently, ¿Ara@÷es al-baya@n became the primary vehicle for the transmission of much of Solam^'s Zia@da@t for nine-hundred years (until Böwering's recent discovery and publication of the Zia@da@t); and the ¿Ara@÷es is the only major witness to the unique manuscript of the Zia@da@t. A second significant difference between Deylam^'s tafs^r and that of Ru@zbeha@n is that Ru@zbeha@n included much Sufi material from Qoshayr^'s LatÂa@÷ef al-esha@ra@t in the ¿Ara@÷es; while Daylam^ apparently did not utilize Qoshayr^ as a source (Böwering, 1987, p. 232). A final point concerning the ¿Ara@÷es al-ba@yan is that although it was published in lithograph, it is rare and riddled with significant errors. Hence S®ala@há-al-D^n S®a@w^ began an edition, which is now being followed by Godlas, who, after having located sixty-five manuscripts, is working on a critical edition, translation, and study of its entirety (Godlas, 1991, p. 33; 1996, p. 31, and forthcoming).
Persian Commentaries: Maybod^The third form of the second phase consists of the two Persian commentaries of Maybod^ (d. 530/1135) and Darwa@jik^ (d. 549/1154-55). The first of these, Abu'l-Fazµl Rash^d-al-D^n Maybod^'s published tafs^r, Kashf al-asra@r wa-¿oddat al-abra@r, is known as the commentary of K¨úa@jah ¿Abd-Alla@h Ansáa@r^ (d. 481/1089) (a H®anbal^), since it contains much of Ansáa@r^'s esoteric commentary. Nevertheless, Maybod^ (a Sha@fe¿^) added his own esoteric commentary, extensive traditional tafs^r be'l-rewa@ya, and other exoteric commentary on matters such as variant readings, feqh, contexts of revelation (asba@b al-nozu@l), and related hadith, in addition to a literal translation of the Koranic Arabic into Persian. The literature on Kashf al-asra@r has been surveyed by Masarrat (1374 à./1995) and papers delivered at a conference on Maybod^ were edited by Pindar^ (1374 à./1995).
Persian Commentaries: Darwa@jik^There is some confusion concerning the name of Darwa@jik^ and the title of his unpublished Persian tafs^r, which appears to have been composed in Bukhara in the year 519/1125 (Storey, I/1, p. 4). Böwering only lists the nesba, Darwa@jik^, along with his death date, 549/1154 (Böwering, 1991, p. 42). Storey at first listed his name as Abu@ Nasár Ahámad b. H®asan b. Ahámad Solayma@n and noted that he was "commonly called 'Za@hed^'" (Storey, I/1, p. 4). Later, Storey gave a few possibilities for his name and nesba (including Darwa@jik^) but noted that a ms. discussed by Ritter provided a nearly identical author's name--Abu@ Nasár Ahámad b. H®asan b. Ahámad--whose nesba was tentatively "Daran^" and whose death was in 549/1154-55 (Storey, I/2, p 1190). Various titles given to the tafs^r are Tafs^r-e Za@hed^, Tafs^r-e Sayf-al-D^n, LatÂa@÷ef al-tafs^r (Storey, I/1, p. 4 and I/2, p. 1190) and Tafs^r-e Za@hed, Tafs^r-e DRwa@Jk^, and LatÂa@÷ef al-tafa@s^r (Na@ser^ and Da@nesh Pazhu@h, p. 218). Storey listed a number of manuscripts (most of which are partial) and also noted that a characteristic of this tafs^r is the reoccurrence of the Arabic phrase, Qa@la al-shaykò al-ema@m al-za@hed (the shaikh, the ascetic, the leader [or the ascetic leader] said) (Storey, I/1, p. 1190).
Copyright A. Godlas 1998 All rights reserved.