Imam Suyuti’s 15 Qualifications to be a Mufassir

Imam Suyuti mentioned in his compendium on the sciences of the Qur’an, al-Itqan fi Ulum al-Qur’an, that there are 15 disciplines that a person must master in order to be qualified to interpret the Qur’an. They are:

  1. Knowledge of Arabic language and its vocabulary
  2. Knowledge of Arabic grammar (nahu)
  3. Knowledge of Arabic morphology (sarf)
  4. Knowledge of Arabic words and word structure (ishtiqaq)
  5. Knowledge of Arabic rhetoric
  6. Eloquence
  7. Manners of oratory
  8. Knowledge of qira’at
  9. Knowledge of the principles of fiqh (usul al-fiqh)
  10. Knowledge of fiqh
  11. Knowledge of asbab an-nuzul
  12. Knowledge of naskh and mansukh (abrogation)
  13. Knowledge of hadith
  14. Knowledge of ulum al-Qur’an
  15. Divine endowment (divinely endowed talent). This is a type of gift from Allah to whomever He chooses. This type of intellect was what the Prophet ﷺ prayed for when he prayed for Ibn ‘Abbâs: “O Allah, grant him an understanding of interpretation.”

Based on this criteria, tafsir is not a simple affair. It requires a great deal of expertise, skills, and knowledge, with years of requisite study. It typically requires one to go through a full-time alimiyyah program (about five years of study) and then specialize in ulum al-Qur’an for about another two years. Commenting on the Qur’an is a specialized art that should only be done by those who have the requisite qualifications to do so.

Further Reading



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