Fihrist-i Rāhnimā-yi Mowzūʻī-yi al-Mīzān (ʻArabī-Fārsī) [A Subject Index to the al-Mīzān Quran Exegesis]

Author: Qom seminary teachers' community
Reviewed by: Muhammad-Reza Fakhr-Rohani

Ayatollah Allameh Tabatabai

Fihrist-i Rāhnimā-yi Mowzūʻī-yi al-Mīzān (ʻArabī-Fārsī) [A Subject Index to the al-Mīzān Quran Exegesis], Qom: Daftar Intishārāt Islāmī, 1373 Sh/ 1994. 230 pp.

The late Ayatollah Allama Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥusayn Ṭabāṭabāʼī of Tabriz, Iran (1281-1360 Sh/ 1904-1981) authored several books and treatises. It is evident that his magnum opus in the field of Quranic studies has been his 20-volume al-Mīzān fī Tafsīr al-Qurʼān, published in Arabic in both Iran and Lebanon. A well-known philosopher and theologian and top-ranking expert in Shii Islamic fiqh (laws), he received his Shii Islamic religious education in his hometown, Tabriz, Najaf, and Qom. It was in Qom where he made a name as a philosopher and a Quran exegete. Originally a series of lectures on the Quran, his efforts later on appeared in the form of his magnum opus, al-Mīzān fī Tafsīr al-Qurʼān, commonly referred to as al-Mīzān, published in twenty volumes in Arabic.

The late Ayatollah Sayyid Muḥammad Bāqir Mūsawī Hamadānī (1304-1379 Sh/ 1925-2000), a distinguished disciple of the late Allama Ṭabāṭabāʼī, translated al-Mīzān into Persian. Although those who can use the Arabic original prefer it for more accuracy and scholarly purposes, the Persian version benefits those who prefer to read it in Persian.

As no cumulative, volume-by-volume index was prepared, nor any index for the whole collection, a team of scholars produced the present work. It is thematic or subject index to al-Mīzān. As such, it has adopted a thematic or subject-oriented approach, beginning with the intellect (ʻaql), and then the main divisions of the Shii articles of faith. There are fourteen broad and ad hoc terms under which finer classifications are provided. Like a great majority of Persian and Arabic text, a table of contents comes at the end of the volume. It lists where a certain topic might be found.

As some people may use the Arabic original in contrast to the Persian version, the book has been arranged in such a way that every subject or topic is followed by a volume number, followed by the page range where the topic can be found. To differentiate the Arabic original from its Persian version, there are two letters of the alphabet as abbreviations. ʻAyn stands for Arabic, and F stands for Farsi (Persian). Under each abbreviation, the first page of any discussion is indicated. In this way, the book directs the reader to both Arabic and Persian editions. For further elaboration, the entries are followed by the Quranic references.

The Quranic references are indicated in both suras’ titles plus their serial numbers, followed by the Quranic verses relevant to the headword of the entry indicated.

As the author was also a renowned faqih, he rendered detailed analyses of the fiqh-oriented aspects of the topics he dealt with in al-Mīzān. Such an approach indicates that a considerable number of Islamic fiqh-oriented, legal rules are derivable from the Holy Quran. This does not stand in opposition to having a narrative-oriented outlook of the Holy Quran where it renders a sketch of certain aspects of the prophetic experience of the pre-Islamic prophets mentioned or alluded to in the Holy Quran.

A final point: As al-Mīzān has been translated into English, Russian, and Turkish, it would be wiser to develop such indexes for those who might wish to use the aforementioned translations.