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February 2nd, 2010

The Authenticity of Ibn Abbas

Submitted by Bashir.

An excerpt from Todd Lawson’s book, “The Crucifiction and the Koran” (pg. 44&45)

Thousands of exegetical traditions are ascribed to him by both Sunni and Shi”i authors. The Tanwir al-miqbas is a short tafsir ascribed to Ibn Abbas, and like works attributed to other early figures in Islamic history, carries many questions of authenticity. Indeed, the current debate on whether or not it is accurate to speak of tafsir as an early activity casts a certain amount of perplexity over any discussion of the subject. For several reasons, the traditions associated with Ibn Abbas are generally thought to be untrustworthy, at least as far as the ascription is concerned. As observed by Smith:
One issue that must be dealt with by anyone undertaking a specific study of this question is why so little of the material concerning specific passages of the Qur’an attributed to this man by later writers of tafsir is not to be found, or is found in different form, in his own (i.e. the work at hand) tafisr…one hopes that in the near future we may be able to discuss these questions armed with fewer opinions and more facts. (Smith, pg. 42)

Fortunately, one fact that has recently come to light: The Tanwir al miqbas is an abridgment by Al-Dinawari (d. 308/920) of perhaps a Muhammad al Kalbi (d. 146/763) tafsir. (See Andrew Rippin, “The Exegetical works ascribed to Ibn Abbas…………”)

Hence it is with a certain amount of abdication that the following discussion is related to Ibn Abbas: rather we should associate it with al-Kalbi, who, nevertheless cited much on the authority of Ibn Abbas. (As is evidenced in the work at hand, Abu Tahir Muhammad ibn Yacub al Firuzabadi, tanwir al miqbas min tafsir ibn abbas, 2nd edition)

3 Responses to “The Authenticity of Ibn Abbas”

  1. ZA: I am anxiously waiting your opinion on this data in terms of Ibn Abbas’ Tafsir.

  2. I am not a specialist in this field, but what he has written seems fair to me.

  3. From what I can gather, almost all literature from early Islam has issues with authenticity.

    Until I get the book by Andrew Rippin I can only speculate.

    Nonetheless, Todd Lawson did find some muslims who defined MUTAWAFIKKA as death. But even those muslims who thought that jesus had died, they still believed that jesus was never put on to a cross, they also believed that Allah caused the image of Jesus to be cast on another individual. They also belived that jesus would physically return in the end days.

    I am willing to bet anything that Imam Maliki believed that Jesus never went on a cross, his face was cast upon another, then Jesus escaped, Allah caused Jesus to die (somehow), and he will physically return in the ends days.

    I am confused as to why HMGA and m. ali never pointed this out to me, i.e. the total beliefs of Imam Maliki.

    I will soon post the mufassirs who thought that Jesus had died, I remember that this is what the one Mutazali scholar wrote.

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