“Tafsir” of the Topic, “Thematic Tafsir”

Preparing a khutbah for a local MSA?

Trying to give your college friend some da’wah?

Craving an intimate relationship with the Book of Allah?

Good news: Whatever it is you’re pursuing, QMadinatayn’s upcoming seminar, “Heavenly Hues: Thematic Tafsir” harmonizes well with your Qur’an-related goals.

But what is thematic tafsir?

Thematic Tafsir (or “tafsir mawdhu’ee” {تفسير موعوضي} in Arabic) is a contemporary approach to exegesis of the Qur’an that pertains to the themes therein.

The mufassir (scholar of tafsir) begins with a particular theme–refer to the list below for some examples–and then surveys the Qur’an for a deeper understanding of this theme in a purely Islamic context. The premises, therefore, are formulated prior to the actual study. In other words, thematic tafsir serves the MESSAGE of the Qur’anic text rather than the order of verses. This is a slight diversion from classical tafsir, which calls for a chronological, sequence-driven analysis of the Qur’an, verse-to-verse, chapter-to-chapter.

To give you a glimpse of Qur’anic themes, consider the following topics addressed in the Qur’an:

  • Marital rights in Islam
  • Social justice
  • Rules of worship
  • Heart and soul purification
  • Human relations
  • World of the unseen
  • Concept of God

Say a mufassir chose the topic of HUMAN RELATIONS. He would determine the scope of this subject by exploring its various dimensions (i.e. marital relations; interpersonal communications, dissolving conflict, etc.); next, he would compile all the verses pertinent to the subject in study, making sure they cover the various dimensions; then he would classify this list of verses based on subtopics; and from there, he would study the list from different tafsir books and infer lessons and guidance from the tafsir to apply in real life.

And remember when Hasan al-Basri said, {إنّ من كان قبلكم رأو القرآن رسائل من ربهم فكانوا يتدبرونها بالليل وينفّذونها بالنهار} “There were once a people before you who regarded the Qur’ân as a message from their Lord; hence they would contemplate upon it in the night and act upon it in the day…” May Allah grant us all the greatest gift: the gift of understanding, internalizing, implementing and appreciating His Divine Book. Ameen, Ammen, Allahumma Ameen.


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