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. Where applicable, this five-volume commentary has also been consulted.

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

Here, the objection could be raised as to how another prophet could appear after the Holy Prophet (sa) given that he is the Seal of the Prophets [Khātam-un-Nabiyyīn]? The reply to this objection too is also found in verse [seventy] of Sūrah al-Nisā’. For the wording of this verse is وَمَن يُطِعِ اُللَّهَ وَالرَّسُولَ [‘And whoso obeys Allah and this Messenger’], meaning the spiritual ranks mentioned in this verse [i.e. the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs and the Righteous] would be bestowed on those who obey Allah and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa). It is evident that the mission of the one who truly obeys the Holy Prophet (sa) cannot differ from that of the Prophet (sa), nor can he bring any new shariah. Thus, the prophet who is subservient to the Prophet Muhammad (sa) does not contravene the latter’s status of being the Seal of the Prophets. Rather, he  fulfils the true meaning and significance of Khātam-un-Nabiyyīn.

 One contemporary commentator of the Holy Qur’an, who is in the habit of repeatedly referring to his own translation of the Qur’an, has written in his commentary that had this prayer been for the purpose of being granted prophethood, then at least it should have been taught to the Holy Prophet (sa) before he was raised as a prophet. However, since it was recorded in the Holy Qur’an this shows that it was taught to the Holy Prophet (sa) after he was granted prophethood. Thus, his being taught this prayer after he was raised as a prophet shows that this prayer was not meant for one’s being granted prophethood. This objection is utterly absurd and shows the author’s lack of deliberation. The prayer that has been taught in the verse اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ [‘Guide us on the right path’] is in accordance with human nature. Praying in these words is blessed only because the Qur’anic words themselves are blessed and free from error. Otherwise, all seekers after truth  –  whether they believe in a religion or not  –  when their hearts desire to discover the truth, pray to Almighty Allah, using similar words, saying, ‘O Allah! Show us the right path, the path trodden by your beloved ones.’ Can any reasonable person accept that, before he was raised as a prophet, the Holy Prophet (sa) did not desire for God Almighty to guide him to the right path and to be led to the path of His loved ones? Even to entertain such a thought can make one a disbeliever. It was this very longing within the heart of the Holy Prophet (sa) which drew the grace of God Almighty to him. This very yearning has been captured in the words اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ [‘Guide us on the right path’]. The Qur’anic wording differs only to the extent that, firstly, the words that have been chosen are perfect and free from all flaws; secondly, through the means of these words, it has been intended that this deep yearning be aroused in the heart of those supplicants who otherwise would not have developed this desire; thirdly, a sense of hope is given that if one prays in such a way, it will be answered. In fact, one is commanded to offer this prayer. Otherwise, to entertain the thought that the heart of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, was devoid of such sentiments is tantamount to grossly dishonouring him, and in fact, it is blasphemy against Almighty Allah, because it amounts to the claim that the passionate desire to be guided in the right path was not found in the heart of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, and yet Allah Almighty had forced prophethood on him (sa). We seek Allah’s refuge from such tales. 

Again, if this objection is reasonable, then, can one even say whether the Holy Prophet (sa) was virtuous or not before the Holy Qur’an was revealed? Was he immersed in the love of God Almighty or not? And, prior to the revelation of the Holy Qur’an, had he, or had he not, enjoyed nearness to God Almighty? If the answer to these queries is in the affirmative, then anyone can ask,  in that case, why do we need to offer the prayers that have been mentioned in the Holy Qur’an?  Why do we need to observe the fasts mentioned in the Holy Qur’an? Moreover, why do we need to perform jihad and follow the other commandments of the shariah prescribed therein? If the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) attained righteousness and divine love without acting on these commandments, then we can also do it without following them. Setting aside matters of faith, even in worldly matters, one can ask as to how the first chicken or the first egg were created? How was the first seed and the first tree created? ? If they say that these things will emerge the same way they did in the beginning and that there is no need to work within the laws of nature to cultivate them, people would think them ignorant. God Almighty has one law at the time when the seed is lost, and another law for when the seed has been created. Prior to the revelation of the Holy Qur’an to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa), pure and divine teachings had vanished from the world. Then the feeling of love had surged in the pure nature of the Holy Prophet (sa) and Allah Almighty accepted them and blessed them, even though they were not expressed in specific words or a particular manner. However, with the revelation of the Holy Qur’an, each matter had its own rules. Without following them, those favours cannot be enjoyed now which could have been attained earlier. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa)  laid the foundation of the faith and the shariah, so now a person who does not follow that law and shariah can never succeed.

We can also look at this question from another angle: Is prophethood only a title or position, or are righteousness, piety and nearness to God required to be a prophet? If they are, then the question is: can a non-prophet surpass a prophet in respect of righteousness, piety and nearness to God? If the said commentator, and anyone who concurs with him in this view, replies to this that, yes, a non-prophet may be greater than a prophet in these respects, then it is only dispute over semantics. However, if the answer to this question is that a non-prophet cannot be greater than a prophet in these respects, such a person effectively claims that no one from among this ummah can attain nearness to Allah to the degree that the people in the past did, even if they are a zillī[1], burūzī[2] or a prophet subservient to the Prophet Muhammad (sa). Anyone who asserts this undoubtedly declares the followers of the Prophet Muhammad (sa) deprived of this favour.

Another objection that this very commentator has raised is: why is it that not a single Muslim’s prayer in this regard has been answered during the last 1,300 years? The reply to this is that the acceptance of a prayer depends on the quantity and  the nature of the prayer. This critic admits that the rank of ṣiddīqiyyah [the Truthful] can be attained by this ummah. Hence, the same objection can be raised against what he believes: how many people among this ummah have been raised to the rank of ṣiddīqiyyah [the Truthful]? If during the past 1,300 years this status has been bestowed on Abū Bakr (ra) alone, then this same objection could be levied as to why, during the past 1,300 years, this prayer has not been accepted from anyone else? And if this rank has been bestowed on others also, then the question would be, were these people superior or inferior in rank to Umar (ra), Uthman (ra) and Ali (ra)? If they were inferior, then how could people of inferior rank be raised to the status of ṣiddīq [truthful] while those who were superior in status, were raised only to the rank  of shahīd [martyr]  and could not attain the status of ṣiddīq [truthful].

In short, the objection that is made against the continuity of prophethood can also be levied against the continuity of ṣiddīqiyyah [the station of the truthful]. Hence, this objection arises because of a lack of deliberation and is not based on truth.

Serialisation of Verse 7 of Sūrah al-Fātiḥah will continue in the next edition.


[1] Zilli: Signifies such complete devotion to the Holy Prophet (sa) and such self[1]effacement that a person begins to reflect the image of his Master (sa).[Publishers]

[2] Burūzi: Spiritual manifestation; or the person who is the spiritual manifestation of a prophet or saint. [Publishers]