This Friday, 18 Safar 1438, marks the completion of the entire 1,607 page text of Imam Ibn Al-Jawzi’s Zad ul-Masir fi `Ilm it-Tafsir. This monumental four volume commentary (we used the four volumes in one edition, which explains the huge pagination and small print) on the Qur’an was read over a five year period and completed.
We still have a large maqra’ to do in commemoration of the event but I am still reeling from the turn of events that has transpired.
What can I do to fully understand the turn of events? How amazing was this huge journey! When we started out some five years ago, the point of the class was to show what the Qur’an was and what it was not. I did not know if I would complete the task or if I was even up to it.
Remember this was a five year journey. Along the way were death threats against me by different groups, slander against me, takfir made on me by an aberrant group of Orthodox believers, the Institute (at the time that it was open) had one of the windows smashed by a group of practicing Muslims,
then when that was repaired another group of practicing Muslims smashed one on the other side, bouts of illness due to the winter and summer months, vociferous Romanian neighbours that were throwing dirty diapers over the fence that were unfastened, leaving their contents to belch all over the porch of the place, having to move places after to takfir helped to force the shutdown of the Institute.
Then came the Arabs approaching me and telling me that it was time for me to look out for my own people and that I had invested enough in the `Ajam. “These are people of shirk, brother. They were never real Muslims anyway,” one brother offered as consolation during a home visit with me.
I had to move from one home to another as practicing Muslims yet again showed themselves as treacherous. My children were supremely worried and so were a lot of other people. I turned my attention back towards my children, Kinanah, indeed Egypt and vowed to start assisting the villages and looking at my own community first. Then came the Arab uprisings and Egypt’s transformation, 27 family members being arrested and then a jail break happening in the south of Egypt that left 47 cops dead. Good Lord.
But there would always be that brother. Hey, are we starting tafsir again? One would nudge me. They would not always say something. Sometimes it was just their presence. Oh, yeah. I need to do tafsir, I would remember. That it would begin again.
No matter what, it was still there. “Oh, brother. You shouldn’t do the tafsir. I heard…Someone said…they’re weak hadees in that book.”
Right. I would ask them if they were doing any other tafsir and when they had studied the science of tafsir.
“Akee, we need to use hikmah,” the piety pimps would start. They would blather on about what we should and should not do and the “Koran and Hadees.” I lovingly ignored them and continued with the tafsir classes.
We then reached the end of the line. I am both excited and also sad. No one who listens to these 200 classes and thousands of hours can claim that the Qur’an has any ayat that condone murder or wanton violence. With that being said, you also cannot find men and women being addressed as equals in the pages of the Qur’an (simply because they are not).
Neither are children the equals of adults, the ruled the equal of the rulers, the laymen that of the scholars and so forth. Then there were supporting texts. Egypt is mentioned some five times and more in the Qur’an. Certain historical references were made that had to be addressed.
So I would recommend further reading on ancient Egypt, some books in Arabic and some in English. Then came the battle of Issus, the Byzantine march and so many other riveting historical milestones that I would just keep referencing additional works.
Overall, I recommended perhaps 200+ books on various topics from geology all the way to Persian history. No two classes were exactly the same.
And now it’s over. So for the next three weeks (I’m officially on break) I get to reflect on what was accomplished and how great was the achievement. At the end of the class, I issued a challenge.
Any Muslims in the Anglosphere…wherever you are. Bring it. The Slaves of Allah with me that completed the class showed that the entire tafsir of the Qur’an could be completed and it could hold muster with any college course.
We did the same thing when we spent a year completing the entire As-sirat un-Nabawiyyah of Imam `Abdul Malik Ibn Hisham (d. 213 AH). This was after we were told ‘no one can sit through all of that.’
None of the Anglosphere Muslims in the United States, Canada or the UK have recorded (they might have done it but didn’t register it for posterity) a comparable task, so we wait for them to bring their A game. It’s not even a fair fight.
It can’t be braggadocio when you’ve done it and maybe no one else can. Just a friendly challenge. Can Anglosphere Muslims do something besides Rihlahs, Deen Intensives, Inter-Faith directives, Religious Indifferentism Conferences (whose checking for that anyway?!) and so many other gatherings that insult the intelligence of the common man?
If so, it’s time you leveled up and brought your A game. It has to be better than your Z game. It’s time to be the Alif. How long have you been the Ya’?
In a few weeks, when all the classes have been uploaded, you have a water mark for your competition. Let’s see how far you can take it. We just want some friendly competition…someone to compare notes with in the race of life.
May the Almighty Lord over all accept this monumental task from us, forgive us any shortcomings in the recordings, my additional notes, translation and the like and reward our diligence and honesty in bringing it to the people abundantly.
Until next time,
Al-Hajj Abu Ja`far Al-Hanbali