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Different Approaches to Sunni-Shi‘I Exegetical Differences: Al-Ṭabāṭabā’ī, Hamka, and Shihab on Ahl Al-Bayt


Exploring how Qur’ān exegetes deal with differences helps reveal different ways Muslims approach their internal diversity. This study examines the approaches of three modern exegetes incorporating both Sunni and Shi‘i literature in their works, i.e. al-Ṭabāṭabā’ī (1904-1981), Hamka (1908-1981), and Quraish Shihab (1944-), to addressing exegetical differences around Ahl al-Bayt mentioned in sūrat al-Aḥzab verse 33. Taking the inspiration of conflict resolution strategies to notice the three scholars’ concern for Sunnism and Shi’ism, this study finds that they demonstrate different levels of concern: al-Ṭabāṭabā’ī is ‘fully competing’, Hamka is ‘partially avoiding’, and Shihab is ‘partially compromising’. Their different interpretive strategies can explain this difference: al-Ṭabāṭabā’ī employs an objectivist approach of ‘interpretation of the Qur’ān in light of the Qur’ān itself’, Hamka focuses on a lucid style of Qur’ān interpretation accessible to a broader audience, and Shihab prefers a multi-subjective approach. This study implies that there is still a lack of tafsīr having equally serious concern for both Sunni and Shi‘a.


Ahl al-Bayt, Sunni-Shi'i tafsir, al-Tabataba'i, Hamka, Quraish Shihab



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