The prominent Iranian scholar, Amin od-Din Abu Ali Fazl bin Hassan Tabarsi
Compiled by: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On 22nd of the Islamic month of Zil-Qa'dah in 534 AH, the prominent Iranian scholar, Amin od-Din Abu Ali Fazl bin Hassan Tabarsi, completed his monumental exegesis of the holy Qur’an, titled "Majma' al-Bayan" at an advanced age in the city of Sabzevar.
In the preface to this work, he gives the reasons for his writing it and for his choice of title. He also describes the methodology used in the commentaries on every ayah of the holy Qur’an. At the time of the work's preparation, there were already several exegesis of the Holy Book in circulation, written by both Sunni and Shi'ite scholars. He divides his commentary on every passage into five sections: introductory discourse, reading guide, language discourse, revelation and circumstances surrounding it, and meaning. He employs ta'wil in many cases to deduce the inner or implied meaning of an ayah.
On passages related to theological, jurisprudential or philosophical issues, he gives the views of all sides and then gives his own judgement. The originality of Tabarsi's exegesis is that he gives his readers an opportunity to see the varying opinions on different issues mentioned in the Qur'an. He then discusses these views and declares his own stand.
“Majma’ al-Bayan” is unanimously accepted by both Sunni and Shi'ite scholars because of the author’s independent stance that takes into consideration the views of the various schools of thought, and covers historical facts, as well as the opinions of philologists, traditionists, commentators and poets. Tabarsi’s exegesis covers many theological issues, including the divinely-decreed Imamate of Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), the practice of “taqiyyah” (dissimulation of one's faith in times of danger), the infallibility of the Imams, God's Justice, etc. He also discusses the concept of the Saviour of mankind, Imam Mahdi (AS), his advent in the end times, the purpose of his coming and his global government of peace and justice.