On Tafsir Al-Mizan

A fatwa translated for Islam-QA site

All Praise is for Allah.

The author of this book “Al-Mizan fi Tafsir Al-Qur’an” was one of the big and foremost leaders of Shi’a. His name is Muhammad Hussain Bin Muhammad from the family of Al-Tabataba’I Al-Tabrizi. He is called Tabrizi since he belongs to Tabriz, the second biggest city of Iran, after Tehran. He was born in 1903 A.D., and lived in Qom for the purpose of learning and teaching. Finally, he became one of the leading professors, engaging in teaching, issuing verdicts (fatwa) and authoring books in the Shi’a religious schools in Qom. When he died in 1980 A.D., the Iranian state announced official mourning to mark his demise.

With this in mind, a Muslim should desist from reading the books of this author in the first place, due to the dangerous and deviant beliefs of the Twelver Shi’as (Rafidhis).


This boof “Al-Mizan fi Tafsir Al-Qur’an” is the first modern exegesis (tafsir) of the Qur’an by the Shi’ah, after the two exegeses ‘Majma’ Al-Bayan’ by Al-Tabrasi and ‘Al-Tibyan’ by Al-Tusi. It was originally a series of lectures delivered by Al-Tabatabai to his students. Its first volume was published in 1956 A.D. Other volumes came out of the press in succession until a total of 20 volumes. These were later translated into English and Persian.

This information has been summarized from the masters thesis presented in Jordan University in the year 1994 A.D. The thesis title was “Tabatabai’s Tafsir (Al-Mizan fi Tafsir Al-Qur’an): A critical and methodological study” by the researcher Yusuf Al-Faqir (vol 6, page 23).


We have a number of observations regarding this exegesis, some of which are:

1.He insinuated that some part of the Qur’an has been lost. This is disbelief, which we know a lot of Shi’a scholars hold. While speaking on the authentication of the Qur’anic text by multiple sources during the compilation of the Qur’an, he said:

“All in all, what these narrative sources prove is that whatever is present between the two covers of the printed Qur’an is the Word of Allah. Nothing has been added to it, and nothing has been tampered with therein. However, they do not prove with definiteness that some part of the text is not missing.” (Al-Mizan 12/125)

He also states that:

“All in all, the above narration, as you can see are narrated by individuals (not multiple narrators) which are strengthened by other corroborative evidences that definitely rules out any distortion of the Qur’anic text by addition or tampering. However there is no corroborative evidence for these individual reports that there is nothing missing from the text. Hence, the doctrine that no part o the text has been lost, is simply speculative. The claim by some that the Qur’anic text has been faultlessly preserved by numerous narrators in all three aspects (i.e. addition, tampering or subtraction of words) has no authoritative evidence.” (Al-Mizan 12/126)

2.Occult Explanation of the Qur’an: This is in fact breaking the bonds of the Islamic in the name of ‘vision’, revelation or inspiration. You will this heretical method of exegesis, when he attempts to explain the verse of the Qur’an: “Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is as (if there were) a niche and within it a lamp, the lamp is in glass, the glass as it were a brilliant star, lit from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east (i.e. neither it gets sun-rays only in the morning) nor of the west (i.e. nor it gets sun-rays only in the afternoon, but it is exposed to the sun all day long), whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself), though no fire touched it. Light upon Light! Allah guides to His Light whom He wills. And Allah sets forth parables for mankind, and Allah is All-Knower of everything.” (Al-Noor 24:35)

Here, he presents the fictional research of a supposed narrative from Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq, that he was asked about this narration, and he said: “This is an example that Allah set forth about us (the family of the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him)), that the Prophet and the Imams (according to Shi’a faith) are the proofs and signs of Allah, through whom people are guided towards Allah’s Oneness and other aspects of the religion.”

Then Al-Tabatabai comments on this fictional quote:

“This narration is a sort of hint to one of the possible meaning , in fact the best meaning of the verse, i.e. the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) and the pure members of his household, may Allah’s Peace be upon them. Otherwise, the apparent meaning of the verse would be general and include other Prophets, their chosen successors, companions and friends” (Al-Mizan 15/141)

3.Numerous fabricated and concocted narrations and hadiths, which are totally baseless. He uses them to ‘prove’ false concepts and beliefs. The examples of these narrations in this work are so numerous that we cannot even count them.

Dr. Muhammad Hussain Al-Dhahabi (may Allah have Mercy on him) says:

“The most infamous teachings of the Twelver Shi’as are four: (1) infallibility of their Imams (‘ismah), (2) the promised Mahdi (mahdiyah), (3) the coming back to life of their Imams and their return to the world (rij’ah), and hiding their true beliefs (taqiyyah).

Infallibility (‘ismah): They believe that their Imams are infallible from all minor and major sins during their whole lives, and that they can neither make a mistake nor forget.

The Mahdi (mahdiyah): They mean by this their final promised messiah who will appear at the end of times. He will fill the earth with peace and justice, just as it were filled with fear and injustice. The first one to profess this belief was ‘Kaisan’, the freed slave of ‘Ali Bin Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him). Kaisan claimed that ‘Ali’s son, Muhammad Bin Al-Hanafiyya is the Mahdi. Later this belief penetrated all the Imami Shi’a factions, and each of these sects has its own awaited messiah.

Return from the Dead (rij’ah): This is the belief which naturally springs from the belief in Mahdi. It means that after the appearance of the Mahdi, the Prophet will return to the world, along with the ‘Ali, Hussain, and Hassan. In fact all their Imams will return along with their (supposed) opponents like Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. Then these Imams would punish their opponents. After having exacted their revenge, they will all die and will be resurrected on the Day of Judgment.

Hiding their true beliefs (taqiyyah): This means pretending. This is one of their basic principles and part of the religion they hide from the public. This is their secret system whose instructions they follow. They pray secretly for their Hidden Imam (according to their belief the last Imam is alive (since centuries) but went into hiding out of fear for his life). Outwardly, they express allegiance to the ones in authority, but once they become strong, they start an armed rebellion against the tyrannical state.” (Al-Tafsir wa Al-Mufassiroon 3/65-66).

Al-Mizan is full of such false beliefs. Just as an example of the type of weird arguments presented by the author in this book, look at how he ‘proves’ the belief in ‘return from the dead’ (rij’ah), with all that it entails, by using the verse: “And (remember) the Day when We shall gather out of every nation a troop of those who denied Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), and (then) they (all) shall be gathered (and driven to the place of reckoning),” (Al-Namal 27:83)

Tabatabai says:

“The apparent meaning of the verse is that this gathering is other than (i.e. before) the Day of Judgment…” and he went on to give an unfeasible reason for this explanation. (Al-Mizan 15/400)

4.He affirms the landmark juristic (fiqhi) issues where the Shi’a are grossly in error and oppose what the Muslims have agreed upon e.g., mut’ah [temporary marriage]. He argued in favor of its permissibility and tried to refute those who say that it is illegal (haram) in more than one place in this book. See Al-Mizan 4/279-316.
5.The sources and references he generally quotes are those books of the Shi’a which are drenched in misguidance, e.g. “Al-Safi” by the spiteful Mullah Muhsin Al-Kashani (popularly known as Al-Faidh Al-Kashani). This Kashani has filled his book with slander against the rightly guided Caliphs and the wives of the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him). He quoted him in Al-Mizan 1/309. The list of such references is about 83 books, as enumerated by Yusuf Al-Faqir in his above mentioned thesis (page 83).
6.There are other deviances in creed as well, along the lines of rhetoric reasoning, e.g. in the issues related to Allah’s Names and Attributed, seeing Allah on the Day of Judgment etc. In most cases he agrees with Mu’tazilla interpretations which are against the Qur’an and Sunnah. For more information on these issues, see Yusuf Al-Faqir’s thesis (page 139-160).

In the end, we would like to warn against reading this book, except by experts who are able to distinguish the good from the bad, can tell the truth and falsehood apart. However, it is not permissible for laymen to subject themselves to this maze of ambiguities and doubts, which extinguished the light of the heart and mind.

Allah knows best.