Takhṣīs in the Tafsīr: Muḳātil b. Sulaymān’s Interpretation of Verses regarded with Falsification of Bible in the Context of’s Muḥammad’s Tabs̲h̲īr Tefsirde Tahsis: Muḳātil b. Suleymān’ın Kitāb-ı Muḳaddes’in Tahrifine Dair Âyetleri Hz. Muhammed’in Tebşiri Özelinde Yorumlaması

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Cumhuriyet Ilahiyat Dergisi, vol.25, no.3, pp.1001-1020, 2021 (Journal Indexed in ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 25 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.18505/cuid.888132
  • Title of Journal : Cumhuriyet Ilahiyat Dergisi
  • Page Numbers: pp.1001-1020
  • Keywords: Al-tafsīr al-kabīr, Muḳātil b. sulaymān, Tabs̲h̲īr, Tafsīr, Takhṣīs


© Published by Sivas Cumhuriyet Üniversitesi, İlahiyat Fakültesi / Sivas Cumhuri-yet University, Faculty of Theology, Sivas, 58140 Turkey. All rights reserved.Muḳātil b. Sulaymān’s (d. 150/767) tafsīr named al-Tafsīr al-kabīr, is accepted as the first completed tafsīr that has reached us from the early sources of tafsīr literature. One of the issues that the mufassir, deals with emphatically by emphasizing the concealment of the Prophet’s tabs̲h̲īr in the Bible. The Mufassir make a connection between the concealment of the Prophet’s tabs̲h̲īr and the falsification of the Bible. When we examine the verses that Muḳātil commented to prove his claim related with falsification of these books, we encounter the phenomenon of takhṣīs in tafsīr. Takhṣīs is a term used in the literature of fiḳh method, in the sense of explaining with a word, with a proof, that some of the individuals it covers are meant. Considering the content of this term, it is understood that Muḳātil’s takhṣīs in tafsīr means limiting the meaning of words with many meanings to only one content. The main is-sue that prompted Muḳātil to make a takhṣīs in tafsīr is falsification. The issue of falsification of the Bible has been a subject that attracted the attention of Muslim scholars. Because in the Ḳurʾān, the distortion of the Torah is described in the following terms: يحرفون “they distort”, فبدل “altered”, يلون السنتهم “who twist their tongues”, يكتمون “they conceal”, ولا تلبسوا الحق بالباطل “confound not truth with falsehood”, وتكتموا الحق “conceal the truth”, يكتبون الكتاب بِايَْد۪يهِمْْ “They write the book with their hands”. The Ḳurʾān’s statement on this matter encouraged the criti-cism of the scholars about the Torah. Among the issues criticized there are; tabs̲h̲īr of Muḥam-mad in previous books, the origin of the Torah, inaccuracy in chronological order, stylistic differences, information errors and contradictions. Among these criticisms directed at the Pe-ople of the Book, Muḳātil focuses on tabs̲h̲īr. The main source that leads him to argue that Muḥammad was heralded in previous books is the verses of the Ḳurʾān. In addition to this, it is highly probable that the geography where the mufassir lived was also influential in shaping his criticisms. Considering the Jewish population in the neighborhoods where he lived, such as Balk̲h̲ and Marw, it is possible for the commentator to develop a dialogue with the Jews, and it is also possible that his criticisms will be shaped within the framework of these dialo-gues. Muḳātil’s falsification criticism is expressed in the context of the Prophet’s tabs̲h̲īr. However, the mufassir’s emphasis on tabs̲h̲īr goes beyond the criticism of falsification. The mufessir always keeps the issue alive on the reader’s agenda with short phrases such as “ كتم أمر محمد / بكتمان أمر محمد Muḥammad’s subject is hidden in the Torah”, “ نعت محمد / صفة محمد / Muḥammad’s qualification”. As far as we can determine, there are fifty-two verses in al-Tafsīr al-kabīr that Muḳātil consider directly related to tabs̲h̲īr. He deals with the issue of distortion in thirty-eight verses. The number of verses that the mufassir associates with both distortion and tabs̲h̲īr is thirty-six. The number of verses that he does not associate with falsification but only about tabs̲h̲īr is twelve. Among them, it has been determined that Muḳātil made takhṣīs in the interpretation of forty-eight verses in total. When we classify his takhṣīs’s, we can form a tidy framework under four main headings: in the interpretation of sila sentences, idioms and idiomatic expressions, determining the content of words, and indicates of pronoun. Since the thought of tabs̲h̲īr is one of the main motifs in the mind of the commentator, his tafsīr’s follow a parallel course to this motif. In the interpretation of many verses, there are examples of interpretations that will legitimize this thought and confirm this claim. As a matter of fact, in the interpretation of the expression يلوون ألسنتهم بالكتاب “While reading the Book, they bend their tongues” in the 78th verse of sūrat āl ʿImrān, it is said that Muḥammad’s qualification in the Torah were deleted and other adjectives were written instead of it. In the tafsīr of the 37th verse of sūrat al-Nisāʾ, there are the expressions like this: “The concealment of Muḥammad’s tabs̲h̲īr and its removal from the Torah ( بكتمان أمر محمد و محوه من التوراة )”. Muḳātil narrowed the content of the expression, which has a wide meaning area. This narrowing of the meaning is technically considered an example of takhṣīs. Other examples where takhṣīs made in tafsir are present in the interpretations of the phrases of guidance/aberration, right/false, be-lief/disbelief, verse, word, stinginess, knowledge, promise, declaration, turning away and the book of Allah. The tafsīr’s extreme loyalty to the context is accompanied by his limiting the meaning of words with broad content to a narrow content.