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Module One:

Classical Exegesis of the Quran


This module is designed to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the application of Quranic exegetical methodology by studying famous exegetical works. Various passages of the Quran with theological, legal and spiritual emphasis will be critically discussed by studying these exegetical works based on tradition (riwayah) and deduction (dirayah). Classical and contemporary interpretations of the Quran in the Muslim world will also be discussed.

Primary Text

Primary Text:

  • Tabari’s Tafsir: Jami` al-bayan `an ta'wil ay al-Qur'an,
  • Zamakhshari’s tafsir: al-Kashshaf 'an haqa'iq al-Tanzil,
  • Razi’s Tafsir al-Kabir

About the Text: In agreement with the great Arabic and Quranic scholar Hamid al-Din Farahi (d.1930), Shaykh Akram Nadwi has chosen the following Quranic commentaries for study:

  • Tabari’s Tafsir. This is a comprehensive tafsir. Tabari was chosen because it is the main source of narration-based exegesis (al-tafsir bi’l-riwayah); it is early, and safe from blameworthy religious innovation (bid’ah); and contains a wealth of Prophetic commentary, as well as the exegesis of the Companions, students of the Companions and the early generation. It is an important source for obtaining information about older commentaries which have not survived to the present day. Its rich content encompasses discussions of language, historical notes, law, recitation, theology and Arabic literature, which has made it a major source for academic research and historical inquiry.
  • Al-Kashshaf was written in the 12th century CE. It is considered a primary source by all major scholars. However, it is criticised for the inclusion of Mu?tazili philosophical views. Nevertheless, his work is the best for understanding the language of the Quran, its eloquence and miraculous nature. The work shows how the Quran was understood at the time of its revelation; hence, it has been used by Sunnis throughout the centuries in their religious seminaries.
  • Razi’s Tafsir al-kabir was selected because of its brilliance at showing the various rational angles from which a Quranic verse can be understood. The book is ten volumes in length. It is not unusual for contemporary works to use it as a reference.

About the Authors:

  • Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari is a classic Sunni scholar (838-923 CE). As well as being a great commentator of the Quran and a great historian, he was also a master jurist with his own school of law (which eventually died out).
  • Abu al-Qasim Mahmud ibn Umar al-Zamakhshari (1074 or 1075 – 1143 or 1144 CE) was of Iranian origin, who subscribed to the Mu?tazilite theological doctrine.
  • Muhammad ibn Umar Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (1149-1209 CE) was a well-known Persian Islamic theologian and philosopher.

Recommended Reading list In addition to preparing the relevant materials from the core text before class, it is important that students undertake further readings. Below is a list of texts and/or authors recommended by Shaykh Akram to help students prepare before the tafsir class:

  • Al-Qurtubi, Muhammad ibn Ahmad, al-Jami li-ahkam al-Quran: tafsir al-Qurtubi, Beitrut: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2000
  • Ibn Kathir, Ismail ibn Umar, Tafsir al-Azim li-Ibn Kathir, Damascus: Dar Ibn Kathir, 1994
  • Farahi,
  • Sayyid Qutb,
  • Mawdudi,
  • Amin Islahi.

Further study

Teaching Method

Teaching Method

Each class will consist of a 55 minute lecture, where the primary text will be read in Arabic along with its translation, commentary and relevance to the wider field. There will be an encouragement for the teaching to be interactive, with questions both posed of the students and welcomed from them. The teacher may also use power point presentations and post recorded webinars for study aid.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

  • demonstrate a knowledge of the major exegetical types and works
  • analyse and critically evaluate Quranic exegetical works
  • relate multiple meanings of Quranic text by reference to exegetical works
  • demonstrate a critical ability to deduct theological, legal and spiritual meanings from the Quranic verses by following exegetical methodology


The module will cover the following topics:

  • Application of usul al-tafsir
  • Study of selected Quranic passages with theological, spiritual and legal implications
  • Introduced to the style of the narration-based exegesis of Tabari and Ibn Kathir
  • Introduced to the style of the deductive exegesis of Zamakhshari and Razi
  • Introduced to the style of contemporary exegesis by Nursi, Mawdudi and Qutb


This course will involve one short in-course essay and end-of-course written examination.

Teacher Profile

Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwi is an Islamic scholar from the Indian city of Jaunpur and a graduate of the world renowned Nadwatul Ulama (India) where he studied and taught Shariah.

Shaykh Akram is a Muhaddith of the highest calibre who has specialised in Ilm ul Rijal [the study of the narrators of Hadith]. He has Ijaza (licenses) from many of the most renowned scholars of our time including Shaykh Abul Hasan Ali Al-Nadwi, Shaykh Abdul-Fattah Abu Ghuddah and Shaykh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. Shaykh Akram Nadwi has a doctorate in Arabic Language and has authored and translated over 25 titles on Language, Jurisprudence, Qur'an and Hadith.

In May 2010, he completed a monumental 57-volume work on the lives of female scholars of Hadith in Islamic History. Also now available in English is Madrasah Life (2007) the translation (from Urdu) of his personal memoir of a student’s day at Nadwat al-Ulama.

His al-Fiqh al-Islami vol1 published by Angelwing Media is an original compilation of the fiqh (the codified legal rulings) of Imam Abu Hanifah and his school. For the first time in the English language, the detailed rulings of this school are presented together with the evidence on which they are based; every argument is fully and carefully referenced. Also, the author has taken present day circumstances into consideration, making al-Fiqh al-Islami the first authentic, reliable and relevant account of Hanafi practice in the English language.

Shaykh Akram is the recipient of the Allama Iqbal prize for contribution to Islamic thought. As a leading scholar steeped in traditional Islamic learning and in modern academia, Shaykh Akram is currently a research fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Oxford.

Fees & Registration

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Foundation Level

[One Year] 2014/2015

Certificate in Classical Arabic and Islamic Sciences

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Applied Arabic and Grammar 1

Foundation Module 1: Level 1

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Applied Arabic and Grammar 2

Foundation Module 1: Level 2

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Applied Arabic and Grammar 3

Foundation Module 1: Level 3

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Quranic Exegesis (Tafsir)

Foundation Module 2; Unit 1

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Foundation Module 2; Unit 2

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Islamic Law (Fiqh)

Foundation Module 2; Unit 3:

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Usul al-tafsir

Foundation Module 2; Unit 4

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Usul al-fiqh

Foundation Module 2; Unit 5

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Usul al-hadith

Foundation Module 2; Unit 6

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Intermediate Level

Scheduled for 2015/16

Diploma in Advanced Arabic, Quran and
Shariah Studies
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Advanced Level

[Year One] 2014/2015

Degree in Islamic Scholarship (‘alimiyyah)

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Classical Exegesis of the Quran

Advanced Module 1

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Hadith criticism & fiqh
methodology of Bukhari
& Tirmidhi

Advanced Module 2
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Comparative Fiqh

Advanced Module 3

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Usul al-fiqh
Maqasid al-Shariah

Advanced Module 4

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Islamic History

Advanced Module 5

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Advanced Module 6

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Sacred Sciences Journey
(Umrah, April 2015)

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Islamic Law & Spirituality School
(Residential, August 2015)

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