Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Chronologically Reading Ibn ‘Atiyyah’s Interpretation of the Zakāh Passages

  • Mu'ammar Zayn Qadafy Albert-Lüdwig Üniversität, Freiburg, Germany
Keywords: Medieval tafsir, Ibn 'Atiyyah, Chronological reading of the Qur'an, Zakah verses

Abstract

This paper traces a chronological interpretation of the Qur’ān in a synchronic tafsir work (musalsal-type). It investigates Ibn ‘Aṭiyyah’s commentary (al-Muḥarrar al-Wajīz) on seven zakāh verses (7:156, 27:3, 41:7, 2:43, 2:277, 5:55, 9:71), which represent the Meccan, early Medinan and late Medinan revelations, according to the traditional theory of chronology. The macro-analysis is carried out by approaching al-Muḥarrar as a commentary that gathers, abridges and refashions its six sources, including the tafsir books of: (1) Ṭabarī (d. 923), (2) al-Zajjāj (842-922), (3) al-Naḥḥās (d. 949), (4) Thaʿlabī (d. 1035), (5) al-Mahdawī (d. 1039) and (6) Ibn Abī Ṭālib (d. 1046). This study finds, despite having wealthy traditional materials at hand, Ṭabarī and those who followed him did not possess diachronic awareness of them due to their loyalty to the synchronic methodology of displaying Qur’ānic commentary on the one hand and the structural analysis of the Qur’ānic verses on the other. In contrast, Ibn ‘Aṭiyyah has maintained his chronological awareness by accommodating three meanings of the Qur’ānic zakāh, each of which corresponds to a different period of revelation.

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2021-12-07
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