The Methodology of al-TafsÊr al-MawÌË≤ ≤ ≤ ≤ ≤Ê: A Comparative Analysis

Mohamed El-Tahir El-Mesawi
2005 unpublished
The notion of thematic interpretation of the Qur≥Én (al-tafsÊr al-mawÌË≤Ê) has attained a remarkable degree of conceptual and methodological clarity in the works of MuÍammad ≤Abd Allah DrÉz, MuÍammad MaÍmËd ×ijÉzÊ, MuÍammad BÉqir al-Øadr and Fazlur Rahman. They provide cases that allow testing of methodological feasibility and intellectual fecundity of this approach to Qur≥Énic exegesis. A common and important aspect of their works, as the textual analysis shows, is the attempt to search for a
more » ... ur≥Énic conceptual framework for social theorization informed and guided by the fundamental Islamic world-view. A quick survey of the literature shows a general agreement on the basic meaning of the thematic study of the Qur≥Én. That is, it consists of treating a specific topic as expounded by the Qur≥Én so as to construct what can be considered as a/the Qur≥Énic view of that topic. However, there is a major difference of opinion on the scope and the method(s) to be applied in conducting tafsÊr al-mawÌË≤Ê. The writers of this genre of Qur≥Énic exegesis show a general dissatisfaction with the traditional, verse-by-verse approach to Qur≥Én interpretation. Barring few exceptions, they seldom spell out the epistemological premises and methodological guidelines of their work. This study analyzes the ideas of four scholars whose works show striking methodological similarities despite the difference of their academic background and socio-cultural experience. 1 The selected scholars are: MuÍammad ≤Abd Allah DrÉz of Egypt (1894