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Safwah at-Tafāsīr – Book Review

Title: Ṣafwah at-Tafāsīr

Author: MuḥammadʿAlī as-Ṣābūnī

Publisher: Dār ul-Ḥadīth

Volumes: 3

Format: Hardcover

Language: Arabic


This is a concise tafsīr of which its author said: it is comprehensive, based on both narrated reports and rational argument, based on the most authentic well known tafāsīr such as al-Ṭabarī, al-Kashshāf, Ibn Kathīr, al-Baḥr al-Muḥīt and Rūh al-Maʿānī.

It is written in a simple style that is easy to understand, paying attention to literary style and linguistic form.

He says in the introduction: “I have titled my book Ṣafwah at-Tafāsīr (The Best of Tafsīrs) because it combines the best of the major detailed tafāsīr in a brief, organised and clear fashion.”

This tafsīr by Shaykh as-Ṣābūnī – a scholar of the recent times – focuses on introducing each sūrah, explaining vocabulary (al-lugha), highlighting subtleties (laṭīfah), benefits (fawā’id), places verses in context in relation to others (al-munāsabah), causes of revelation (asbāb an-nuzūl), and rhetorical devices (al-balāgha).

It covers the commentary of the Qur’ān in three volumes, which makes it easily accessible for students studying tafsīr and wanting to read through an Arabic book on the subject from cover to cover. The Arabic words used are often understood easily by a student in his second or third year of studying the language.


For each Sūrah the author begins with a brief introduction in the form of bullet points, wherein he discusses the context of the Sūrah, providing basic details of the content, and often mentioning the reason as to why the Sūrah was named such.

When discussing the commentary of āyāt, the author categorises them according to the discussion and topic, for example – in Sūrah al-ʿArāf the author groups verses 1 – 30 as one section, followed by verses 31 – 51 as the second section. In addition, for each section the author presents a small introduction in which he discusses the al-lugha (vocabulary), al-munāsabah (relevance of this coming section to the one that preceding it) and asbāb un-nuzūl (reason for revelation, discussing the background story and context as to why the verses in this section were revealed). Thereafter, the verses in that section are presented as a whole without any commentary, subsequently followed by verses and their commentary.

As a conclusion to that particular section, the author concludes by mentioning – where relevant – al-balāgha (rhetorical devices), laṭīfah (subtleties), fawā’id (benefits that can be derived from these group of āyāt).


I would highly recommend this book for students who begin studying the translation of the Qur’ān within their theology course as the use of vocabulary is ideal even for a beginner of the Arabic language. It is a comprehensive and concise book of tafsīr, which is not exhaustive, and finishing it cover to cover throughout your Qur’ānic studies is not an impossible goal.

May Allāh overlook any shortcomings.

Written by Ḥuzaifa Sāleḥ

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