MUFASSIR - مُفسّر
Literally: That expounds a text.
As an Islamic term: An ‘âlim who has the authority and ability and has the virtue to expound the hidden meanings of Qur’an.
“If you were to ask: It is the mark of hidâyah and eloquence (balâghat) to elucidate, provide clear explanations, and to save minds from confusion. But the mufassirs have been at variance over âyahs like this and have suggested different possibilities, and have propounded conflicting aspects of the phrases. So how can the haqq be recognized among all these?
You would be told: All are haqq, for the listeners vary greatly. For the Qur'an was not revealed for the people of only one century, but for the people of all the centuries; nor for only one class, but for all the classes of mankind; and each of these has its own share and part in understanding the Qur'an. Between people there are vast differences of understanding, and their tastes vary greatly, and they incline to different sides of the Qur'an and appreciate different aspects of it, and their pleasures are diverse, and their temperaments are all different. How many things there are that one nation deems beautiful which another does not even notice, and which one enjoys greatly while another does not even recognize their existence. You can draw further analogies in the same way.
It is because of this mystery and hikmah that in most places the Qur'an is not specific and makes its statements general so that everyone can appraise them according to their own taste and appreciation. The Qur'an has ordered its sentences and positioned them in such a way that numerous different possibilities unfold from its various aspects, and [different people with] their diverse understandings may reflect on them and each may receive his share. You can make further analogies. That is to say, all these different aspects are permissible on condition they are not opposed to the sciences of Arabic, are approved by the science of rhetoric (balâghat), and are acceptable to the ‘ilm of the principles and aims of the Sharî'ah. Thus, it emerges from this point that one of the aspects of the Qur'an's miraculousness is its word-order and its arrangement in a style that conforms to the understandings of the people of all ages and all classes.” Signs of Miraculousness ( 47 )
“If you were to ask: The Qur'an is one of the dharûriyyah of religion, yet there has been dispute over its meanings?
You would be told: In every passage of the Qur'an there are three propositions:
The First: This is Allah's Word.
The Second: Its intended meaning is the haqq.
It is kufr to deny these two.
The Third: Its intended meaning is this.
If this last proposition is muhkamât or expounded, it is wâjib to have îmân in it once one is informed about it and to deny it is kufr. If it is clear or is a nass that has another possible meaning, it is not kufr to deny it since it is open to tafsir. Tafsir, however, should not be based on personal whims. Mutawâtir Hadiths are the same as Qur'anic âyahs in this regard. However, where there is denial of the first proposition in connection with Hadiths, these should be considered carefully.” Signs of Miraculousness ( 73 )
“First Subtle Point: The expressed idea that: "Al-Qur’an Al-Hakîm's mysteries are not known; mufassirs have not understood its haqiqah." have two aspects. And those who say this are of two groups.
The First is the people of haqq and the exacting scholars. They say: "The Qur'an is an unending and inexhaustible treasury. Together with submitting to and accepting its nass and muhkamât, each age also receives its share of its hidden haqiqahs, in the form of supplements; it cannot trespass on the share of another which is concealed." Yes, that is to say, as time passes more haqiqahs of Al-Qur’an Al-Hakîm are further unfolded. Not, Hâsha and Kallâ!1 causing doubt concerning the apparent Qur'anic haqiqahs which Salaf as-Sâlihîn have expounded. Because having îmân to them is a necessity. They are nass, definite, fundamental and basic. Through the decree, عَرَبِىٌّ مُبِينٌ 2 Qur’an states that its meaning is clear. From beginning to end, the Ilahî address revolves around those meanings, corroborates them and causes them to reach the degree of being self-evident. To not accept those nass meanings suggests, Hâsha summa hâsha!3 denying Janâb-i Haqq and insulting Hazrat Prophet's understanding. That is to say, those nass meanings have been taken successively from the source of Prophethood. Ibn Jarir al-Tabari wrote his great tafsir relating all the meanings of the Qur'an through a chain of authentic transmissions to the source of Prophethood.
The Second Group are either foolish friends who cause harm and make matters worse, or they are enemies cunning as the shaytan who want to oppose the ordinances of Islam and haqiqahs of îmân. They want to find a way into the fortified Surahs of Al-Qur’an Al-Hakîm, which, in your words, are each like steel strongholds. People like that spread about ideas like the above in order, Hâsha!, to create doubts about the haqiqahs of îmân and the Qur'an.” The Twenty-Ninth Letter-First Section-First Subtle Point
“You know that it is one thing to know the existence of a thing and another to know its quality and essence. Also, a single proposition comprises numerous ordinances. Some of them are necessary, and some are theoretical (nadharî) and controversial…
… so from now on we shall distinguish between the necessary (dharûrî) and that which is not necessary. Thus, the matters in the Qur’an’s answer which is understood to be necessary ordinances may not be denied. It is like this: Dhu’l-Qarnayn was a person whose existence is corroborated by Allah. Under his direction and guidance a barrier was constructed between two mountains in order to repel the incursions of dhâlims and nomads. Ya’juj and Ma’juj were two raiding tribes. At the Ilahî command, the barrier will be destroyed. And so on. According to this analogy, the ordinances indicated by the Qur’an are the dharûriyyah of the Qur’an. Denying even a letter of them is impossible.
However, the Qur’an makes no defining or specific statement concerning the boundary of reality and the details of circumstances for those subjects and their predicate. Rather, in accordance with the rule, “A general statement can express or signify a particular (has) one with none of the three types of signification” (delalat-i selase) – and the rule of the logic, “The subject and predicate of a preposition may be conceived of in any form” it is established that the Qur’an does not indicate them specifically; but it may accept them. That is to say, those statements are theoretical (nadharî) statements. They may indicate other things. They are the subjects that give rise to opinion for ijtihad. They are open to interpretation. Their being disputed by Muhaqqiqîn shows that they are theoretical (nadharî).” Rational Arguments ( 68 )