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The Methods Used by the Shi'ites Commentators and their Different Groupings

All the groups mentioned above are Sunni commentators. Their method, used in the earliest commentaries of this period, was based on ijtihad, that is, the reports of the companions and the followers of the companions were examined according to certain rules in order to reach an acceptable understanding of the text. This resulted in varying opinions amongst those making ijtihad, and caused disorder, contradiction and, even, fabrication to enter into the body of the traditions.

The method employed by the Shi'ites commentators, however, was different, with the result that the patterning of the groups was also different. The Shi'ites commentators in their study of a verse of the Qur'an, viewed the explanation given by the Prophet as proof of the meaning of the verse, they did not accept the saying of the companions, or the followers, as indisputable proof that the tradition was from the Prophet. The Shi'ites commentators only recognized as valid an unbroken chain of narration from the Prophet and through members of his family. Accordingly, in using and transmitting the verses concerning Qur'anic commentary, they restricted themselves as to the use of traditions transmitted by the Prophet and by the Imams of the Prophet's family. This has given rise to the following groups:

The first group comprises those who have learned these traditions from the Prophet and from the Imams of the Prophet's family, studying and recording them according to their own method but not in any particular order. Among them we may mention such scholars as Zar?rah, Muhammad ibn Muslim, Ma'rüf and Jarir who were companions of the fifth and sixth Imams (26) The second group comprises the first compilers of the commentaries, like Fur?t ibn Ibr?him al-Küfi, Abü Hamzah al-Thumali, Muhammad al-'Ayy?shi, 'All ibn Ibrahim 'S al-Qummi and al-Nu'm?ni who lived between the second and fourth centuries after Hjjrah. (27the method of this group was similar to that of the fourth Sunni group of Commentators.

Thus, they avoided any. Kind of ijtih?d or passing of judgment. We should remember that the Imams of the Prophet's family were living amongst Muslims and available for questioning (on matters of commentary, for example) for a s. period of almost three hundred years. Thus the first groups us were not divided chronologically but rather according to their he relationship with the Imams.

There are very few who recorded the tradition without a rig chain of transmission. As an example, we should mention one of the students of aI-'Ayyashi who omitted to record the of chains of transmission. It was his work, instead of the original f aI-'Ayyashi which came into common use.

The third group comprises masters of various sciences, like he al-Sharif al-Rezi(28)who provided a commentary concerned with Qur'anic language and Shaykh al-Tusi who wrote a en commentary and analysis on metaphysical matters. (29) Included, too, is sadr al-Din al-Shir?zi's philosophic work,(30)s al-Maybudi al-KünAbAdi's gnostic commentary (31) and 'Abd . 'All al-Huwai's commentary Nur al-thaqalayn.

(32) Hashim Alan Bakir?ni composed the commentary al-Burhdn(33) and al-Fayd tgh al-Kashani compiled the work known as al-Safl (34) There were others who brought together many different themes to their commentaries, like Shaykh al-Tabarsi who in his Majma' al-bayan (35) researches different fields of language, rise grammar, Qur'an recitation, gnosis of death, after-life and paradise, and knowledge of the traditions.

Adopted from the book: "Quran per Islam" by: "Allamah sayyid Mohammad Hossein Tabatabai"

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