Al-Tabari: The most distinguished Muslim interpreter and historian

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Al-Tabari is considered as one of the distinguished interpreters and historians in Islamic history. He is known for his two books “Tafseer al-Tabari” and “The history of al-Tabari,” his name is Mohammed bin Jarir.

He was known as Abu Jaafar al-Tabari. He was born in 224 AH (839 AD) and died in 310 AH (923 AD).


Al-Tabari merged between the sciences of interpretation, jurisprudence and history, he did not like imitation. He was born in Aamel city in Tabaristan and grew up in under the supervision of his father, who took care of him since he was child, where he saw the intelligence and passion for science.

Thus, he memorized the Quran at the age of seven, then he went to the schools of scholars to learn from them, his father allocated enough money to complete his education in the best way. Al-Tabari’s knowledge, talent and ability to study by heart was reflected in his writings.


In addition, Al-Tabari was characterized by honesty and asceticism, where he limited his livelihood to the earnings of his own garden, which he inherited from his father, he rejected any gifts from kings and others, where he tended to spent his life in asceticism.
Ibn Katheer described it as saying: “he was a worshiper, ascetic, pious, and doing what’s right, in a way that he fears no one, and he was a great righteous person.”

Al-Tabari was also known for his good way of speaking and never tend to hurt anyone. He was not arrogant in front of his friends, colleagues or students, nor that did he have any grudge in his heart.

However, he has been accused of falsehoods, including the severe ordeal he suffered in his late days due to doctrinal differences in the capital of Baghdad, that’s why lived Besieged in his home until he died in Baghdad.


In addition to his famous two books of interpretation and history, he has also written many books and works, for example: “The Enlightenment in the Features of Religion,” “The Book of Good Self and Noble Ethics,” “Literature in the judges , souls, rituals and monuments, where he specified a book for each of them.

Imam al-Nawawi said: “The nation agreed that no one make classifications like Al-Tabari.”

Ibn al-Atheer said: “Abu Jaafar is the most accurate one who narrated the history, his interpretation indicates the abundant and investigation, he was diligent in the provisions of religion did not imitate anyone, but he was imitated by some people who followed his sayings and opinions. He was black, slim body, and good speaker.”


Imam Al-Tabari was able to employ a number of his sciences in jurisprudence, language, religion and doctrine, to come out with his interpretation, which has become a reference till today, as well as writing his book “History of Al Tabari.”

The history of the nations and kings or the “History of prophets and kings” which is known by “The history of Al Tabari”, is considered as a reference book in its field, its idea was preceding, it documents the world from the beginning of creation to the end of the year 302 AH, from the story of Adam till the time Al Tabari lived in.

The books tells the news in sequence and stated the evidences, the book has been printed many times and Orientalists very much concerned with it, because of it preceding and unique topic.


In his book Tafsir al-Tabari, he made an unprecedented effort, as he is the first one to organize the various stages of interpretation as per the abundant explanatory material of his time. That’s how he established a method followed by those who came after him.

His interpretation combines between meaning, language and the most famous sayings about the meaning and the grammar of the verses, where it is a combination between history, copying, excerption, language, evidences and weighting, but it reveals an unusual talent and great patience for this work, which took many year, it was said it reached forty years.

Al-Tabari explained that his intention in interpreting the Holy Quran is to identify the possible interpretations of the verses and to investigate them, “what we intended in this book is to clarify the possibilities of the interpretations of the verses, without the methods of its reading.”

Al-Tabari spent his last days in his home where he lived in science sanctuary, until he died at the age of 85, he still had a lot of black hair in his head and beard as per the story of Ibn Katheer, he was buried in his home in Baghdad, and his funeral was an event.