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Marginalia and Peripheries: A Tunisian Historian and the History of Quranic Exegesis

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This article is an examination of the premises of the academic study of tafsīr, the genre of Qurān commentary, as it has been so far been practiced. It takes as its starting point a work written by the late Tunisian Mufti Ibn Āshūr. The work is a short history of the genre of tafsīr and its significance. The main argument of this work is that al-Baydāwī and the glosses written on his Qurān commentary represent the apogee of the genre. The article attempts to understand this narrative in relation to Islamic religious history. It concludes that as long as the gloss is not made part of the academic study of the history of tafsīr we will always be presenting a romanticized narrative of the past that fails to reflect its scholastic core.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilisation, University of Toronto 4 Bancroft Avenue, Toronto, Ontario MSS 1C1 Canada, Email:


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