This English rendering of "Tafhim al-Qur'an" aims to answer contemporary questions and make the Qur'an relevant to the concerns of the day. Each "surah" is prefaced by an account of the backgrounds and teachings.
It is well structured. each surah starts off with a brief introduction which consists off the meaning of the title, the period in which the surah was revealed and the back gound of the surah. The author then translates each ayat word by word and then explains the meaning of each ayat in detail.
Some readers might have to read the contents more than once in order to understand the exact meaning.
Over all the structure is very good and so is the explanation.
(There are atleast 6 volumes to this tile)
The introduction mentions that this is the first of 12 books, this volume addresses the first two surrahs in the Quran, and each of the other three volumes tackles a few at a time until Volume 4 which goes up to Surrah 16. I am still waiting for the rest of the volumes that have not yet come out, but I studying the first 4 in depth, so I have enough to keep me busy.
As for the book, I would confidently say that for any non-Arabic-speaking reader intending to have a deep and unbiased and rational understanding of the Quran, this work is indispensible. This is an excellent translation of a monumental and indispensible commentary on the Noble Quraan. This commentary could be considered one of the most influencial and popular Islamic books that served, among other things, to guide the Islamic movement worldwide. It presents the Quran in its true spirit: the last heavenly revelation, intended for the mankind forever to come; at the same time being a commentary on the revolutionary movement of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. The timelessness of the Quranic message along with its close connection with the seerah (life) of the Prophet Muhammad is duely captured in this commentary. I recommend it for all readers.
I have read the original Urdu version and occasionally refer to English version. I would recommend it to anybody Muslim or non Muslim who sincerely wants to understand Quran and its relevance today.
Muslim and non Muslim scholars have mentioned some flaws in this book. It would take lots of space to analyze them all in this short space. However it should be noted that scholarship of nobody is final. There is always room for disagreement. This would be in accordance with what Maudoodi has been preaching himself all his life. That one should never consider his words to be last on any subject!
The most interesting aspect of this Tafseer I find is its analysis of current western ideologies. It convincingly proves that current ideologies of secularism, communism, nationalism, modernism etc are not beneficial for the ultimate well being of mankind. Quran not only shows how a person can go to heaven but also tells how one can establish utopian society which provides best room for spiritual and moral growth of mankind and at the same time is most progressive , most modern and most adaptive in terms of science and technology. Material growth doesn't have to be at the expense of moral values and moral requirements of society don't necessarily have to regress material progress. Western civilization went from one extreme where before renaissance all scientific and material progress was considered bad and was opposed both by state and church to another extreme where religion has been relegated to backseat. In this context this commentary convincingly argues that the only hope to take out the mankind from both these extremes is Islam.
It is also interesting to note that a reader Mr. Geoffrey Dennis has termed this commentary a racist one. Being a student of comparative religion and having gone through Islamic , Christian and Jewish religious texts and their commentaries, I can say with confidence that there are far less anti Jewish messages in Quran compared to both Old and New Testament. The meaning of these messages as I understand them (and Quran makes it clear) is that there are good people and bad people in any community. Quran condemns only the 2nd group be they Jews , Christians or Muslims. The only thing Maudoodi has done is to further explain these verses in the light of both Old and New Testaments. One could find tonnes of such quotations all over in this commentary. To call him racist is to call all these texts ( Old and New Testament and Quran) racist. By the way some of most devout followers of Maudoodi were Jewish converts to Islam like Maryam Jamilah etc.
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