The Holy Qur'an

At-Tafsīr-ul-Kabīr – The Grand Exegesis

At tafsir Ul Kabir
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The Review of Religions is pleased to continue our serialisation of the first-ever full English Translation of At-Tafsīr-ul-Kabīr – The Grand Exegesis. This is the magnum opus of Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), Second Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and whilst parts of it have previously been published in other works, such as the five-volume Holy Qur’an with English Translation and Commentary, it has never before been translated in its entirety.

This is one of the most insightful and in-depth commentaries of the Holy Qur’an ever written, and The Review of Religions has the honour to publish it for our English readers for the first time.

By Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), Second Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

Translated by Murtaza Ahmad
Edited by The Review of Religions Translation Team

As I have already stated above, according to the lexicons [for lexical analysis, see the September 2020 edition], there is no special meaning for إِنْعَام (inām, meaning favour or reward). Rather, every good thing, be it  secular or religious, that is given to anyone as an acknowledgement that one is pleased with them is an inām. The Holy Qur’an also uses the word in this broad sense. In Sūrah Banī Isra’īl, Allah Almighty states:

وَإِذَا أَنْعَمْنَا عَلَى الإِنْسَانِ أَعْرَضَ وَنَأَى بِجَانِبِهِ

That is, ‘When we bestow any favour on man, he turns away and goes aside’ [1] – in other words, ‘instead of being grateful for these favours, he becomes heedless of Us.’ It is evident from this verse that inām also signifies worldly provisions such as knowledge, skill, prestige, etc., for these are the very types of things that are favours/rewards and which people, after having received them, then forget God instead of turning to/paying attention to Him. 

Protection against troubles and difficulties is also called نِعْمَة [ni’mah, or favour] in the Holy Qur’an. Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اذْكُرُوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ هَمَّ قَوْمٌ أَنْ يَبْسُطُوا إِلَيْكُمْ أَيْدِيَهُمْ فَكَفَّ أَيْدِيَهُمْ عَنْكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ

‘O ye who believe! Remember Allah’s favour upon you when a people (maliciously) intended to stretch out their hands against you, but He withheld their hands from you; and fear Allah. And on Allah should the believers rely. [2]

In this verse, protection against the attacks of the enemy is also termed a favour.

However, whereas every beneficence is a favour, it cannot be denied that there are some types of benefits which are especially deserving to be called as favours [or in’am] because they stand at the peak of all the different types of blessings. Thus, God Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an:

وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَى لِقَوْمِهِ يَا قَوْمِ اذْكُرُوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ جَعَلَ فِيكُمْ أَنْبِيَاءَ وَجَعَلَكُمْ مُلُوكًا وَآتَاكُمْ مَا لَمْ يُؤْتِ أَحَدًا مِن الْعَالَمِينَ 

That is to say, ‘and remember the time when Moses said to his people, ‘O my people, always call to mind when Allah bestowed his ni’mah upon you. And this ni’mah is that he raised prophets from among you and made you kings and gave you that which He did not give to any other nation among mankind.” [3]

In this verse, those things which can be designated as favours to man have been enumerated, and the Jews have been told here that they have been granted a large portion of these types of favours. 

There are three types of excellences of man: (1) worldly and personal (2) spiritual and personal. (3) worldly or spiritual in relation to others. That is, aside from worldly and religious excellences, there is also another type of excellence which is to the [relative] superiority of an individual or a people has over their rivals. People are naturally desirous of this type of excellence. In other words, they seek not just to acquire excellence, but the kind of excellence that would give them superiority/an advantage over their contemporaries and rivals. In the aforementioned verse, Prophet Moses (as) has attributed all these three types of excellences to the Israelites: 

(1) Worldly favours were bestowed upon them, so much so that they inherited kingship for a long period of time.

All worldly excellences need kingship for their development. The people who hold kingship possess all the means of worldly progress, whether they benefit from them or not. For this reason, establishing kingship among a people for an extended period of time signifies that all the ways of making worldly progress have been opened to them. 

(2) As kingship is the means to worldly success and its culmination, so too is prophethood the means of religious success and the culmination of religious progress. Regarding this point, Prophet Moses (as) says to his people that both the means and ultimate favour [of prophethood] have been granted to them – and not just one or two prophets, but rather a long line of prophets has been bestowed upon them. 

(3) The third type of favour is progress relative to others. That is, not only is one bestowed worldly and religious favours, but is given them in more abundance in comparison with other nations, which grants them prestige and superiority over their contemporaries.

In the verse:

وَآتَاكُمْ مَا لَمْ يُؤْتِ أَحَدًا مِن الْعَالَمِينَ

Prophet Moses (as) draws the attention of his people towards the fact that Almighty Allah also bestowed on them the favour of superiority over other peoples. [4] He bestowed on them not only kingship but also sovereignty . He did not just give them prophethood; He also raised among them such prophets as were the [bearers of the] torch of guidance for other prophets, and to whom other prophets were subservient. Thus, they enjoyed all three types of [divine] favours – secular, religious, and secular and religious superiority over other nations. These words, which were uttered by Prophet Moses (as) are from the Holy Qur’an. A discerning reader cannot remain unimpressed by looking at the brevity of its words and the comprehensiveness of its meanings.  


  1. The Holy Qur’an, 17:84
  2. The Holy Qur’an, 5:12
  3. The Holy Qur’an, 5:21
  4. The Holy Qur’an, 5:21