ABU’L-FOTŪḤ RĀZĪ, JAMĀL-AL-DĪN ḤOSAYN B. ʿALĪ B. MOḤAMMAD B. AḤMAD B. EBRĀHĪM B. AL-FAŻL B. ŠOJĀʿ B. HĀŠEM ḴOZĀʿĪ, Shiʿite commentator on the Koran who lived in the first half of the 6th/12th century. He came of an illustrious Arab family, his ancestor Bodayl b. Warqāʾ having fought, together with his sons, alongside ʿAlī at Ṣeffīn (q.v.). The family became established in Nīšāpūr, until Abu’l-Fotūḥ’s grandfather moved to Ray. Since one of the teachers of Abu’l-Fotūḥ, Ḥasan b. Moḥammad Ṭūsī, died about 500/1106, it has been assumed (M. Qazvīnī, see bibliography) that he was born not later than ca. 480/1087. As his student Montaǰab-al-dīn was born only in 504/1110, he must have been alive at least until ca. 525/1131, though he may well have lived until about the middle of the 6th/12th century. He was buried in the shrine of ʿAbd-al-ʿAẓīm in Ray.
He is best known for his commentary, Rawż al-ǰehān wa rawḥ al-ǰanān fī tafsīr al-Qorʾān. The work was most likely completed after 510/1116. This early monument of Persian prose emphasizes preaching and moral admonition; but it includes careful and literate explanations of Arabic grammar and philology, as well as lessons in reasoning, rhetoric, poetry, and principles of jurisprudence. In citing traditions, Abu’l-Fotūḥ did not limit himself to Shiʿite authorities but freely used the Sunnite, and especially Muʿtazilite, collections as well. However, he always supported the Shiʿite side in controverted issues. On theological questions he reflects the Shiʿite kalām of his time, which sided with the Muʿtazilites on the problems of God’s unity and justice but differed from them on the definition of faith, the problem of intercession, and, of course, the imamate. A Sufi inclination of the author has also been noted. The Rawż al-ǰenān, known also as Tafsīr-e Abu’l-Fotūḥ, closely resembles the Tebyān of Shaikh Abū Jaʿfar Ṭūsī in structure and content. Abu’l-Fotūḥ cites Ṭabarī five times and evidently used his commentary in the Arabic rather than its Persian translation. He cites Zamaḵšarī once (referring to Koran 36:80). The Rawż al-ǰenān was printed in Tehran, first in five volumes (I-II, 1323/1905; III-V, 1315 Š./1936); then in ten (1320 Š./1941); and finally in six, entitled Tafsīr rawḥ al-ǰenān wa rūḥ al-ǰanān (1382-88/1963-68).
Another work of Abu’l-Fotūḥ is Rawḥ al-albāb fī šarḥ al-Šehāb, a commentary on the Ketāb šehāb al-aḵbār of the Shafeʿite traditionist Moḥammad b. Salamāt Qożāʿī. It is extant in an incomplete manuscript (see M. T. Dānešpažūḥ, Fehrest-e ketābḵāna-ye ehdāʾī-e Meškāt III, Tehran, 1332 Š./1953, pp. 1333-37). Abu’l-Fotūḥ is also said to have written the Arabic original of (Mokālamāt-e) Ḥosnīya (Ḏarīʿa VII, p. 20), printed as the third treatise in Maǰlesī’s Ketāb-e ḥelyat al-mottaqīn (Tehran, 1332 Š./1953). This is an account of a debate in which a slave girl named Ḥosnīya worsted the Sunnite scholars in the court of Hārūn al-Rašīd. Another title doubtfully ascribed to him is a treatise called Yūḥannā. This is a piece of anti-Sunnite polemic also existing in Arabic and Persian versions (Ḏarīʿa XXV, pp. 296-97). A Christian wishing to convert to Islam questions jurists of the four Sunnite schools. Finally he meets a Shiʿite shaikh who answers all his difficulties. But since neither Ebn Šahrāšūb nor Montaǰab-al-dīn mentions these last two treatises among Abu’l-Fotūḥ’s works, their ascription to him is highly doubtful.
Aʿyān al-šīʿa XXVII, pp. 61-72.
D. Dastān and B. Solaymān, Feqh az tafsīr-e Rawż al-ǰenān wa rawḥ al-ǰanān, Tehran, 1349 Š./1970.
Ebn Šahrāšūb, Maʿālem al-ʿolamāʾ, ed. ʿA. Eqbāl, Tehran, 1353 Š./1934, p. 128.
ʿA. Ḥoqūqī, Taḥqīq dar tafsīr-e Abu’l-Fotūḥ Rāzī, Tehran, 1346 Š./1967.
Ḵᵛānsārī, Rawżat al-ǰannāt, Tehran, 1307/1889-90, pp. 184f.
Montaǰab-al-dīn, Fehrest, in Maǰlesī, Beḥār al-anwār CV, Tehran, 1391/1971, pp. 220f.
Nūrallāh Šoštarī, Maǰāles al-moʾmenīn I, Tehran, 1375/1955-56, p. 489.
Qazvīnī, intro. to vol. V of the first edition of Rawż al-ǰenān.
H. Massé, “Le Tafsīr d’Abū’l-Futūḥ Rāzī,” Mélanges offerts à William H. Marçais, Paris, 1950, pp. 243-49.
(M. J. McDermott)
Originally Published: December 15, 1983
Last Updated: July 21, 2011
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