The Great commentary or “The Keys to the Unknown” (Mafätih Al-Ghayb) (Fakhr Razi)

It is the theological and Intellectual commentary in sixth and seventh centuries and one of the several important and outstanding of The Noble Quran commentaries in Arabic. The main name of this commentary is “The Keys to the Unknown” (“Mafätih Al-Ghayb), but due to its great volumes (great size) is became famous to “Great Commentary”! Its commentator has Ash’arite religion and in this commentary not only explicitly but also practically defendin each part of the theological religion of Abol Hassan Ashäri and rejected his opponents’ views especially the “Mu’tazilites.

####Author’s brief biography:
Fakhr Al-Din Mohammad Abu Abdullah Razi, the jurist, philosopher, theologian and great commentator in Islam world in sixth and seventh centuries, that was born in Iran, “Rey” city, in 1148 or 1149A.D. (543 or 544A.H.). His father by the name of Ziyä Al-Din Omar the son of Hussein Razi that is originally from “Hyrcania” (Ämol), was the scholar of “jurisprudence”(feghh) and “methodology”(osul) and was proficiency in preaching and oration. Due to his father, the Fakh Al-Din Razi also called “Imam Fakhr Razi”, “Fakhr Razi” and “Ibn Al-Khatib”. From the beginning, he studied in the presence of his father and his masters dynasty from his father and he, from his master and he from his master ended up to “Abol Häshem Ashari” deceased 946A.D(334A.H.), the chief of “Ash’arites” religion. In “methodology” (osul) and “theology”(kaläm) had Ash’arite religion and in “subsidiaries”(foroo’) and jurisprudence had Shäfi’ite religion. For learning, teaching and recounting the scientific oration, he traveled to big cities and scientific centers such as: Khwarazm. Then discussed with Mu’tazilites and finally was expelled from there. He went to “Transoxiana” (Mävarä’onnahr) and cities such as: Bukhara, Samarkand, Khujand, etc. He debated with jurists and scholars and overcome all of them and nobody has the courage to discuss or debate with him. Sometimes he became sharp and was backbiting. He was skilled orator and had the high respect of kings and governors in his time. He was richman, and skilled in sciences of jurisprudence, commentary, theology, philosophy, medicine and mathematics.He has books in all the above mentioned fields that his books also like himself, gained publicity and importance .In all countries, he was discussing and researching. Imam Fakhr in the latter part of his life lived in “Herat”. At that time, Herat had been occupied by “Mohammad Khwäram Shäh. He died at the age of 62 in Herat on Monday in 1210/March. A.D.(606 A.H. EydeFetr) and buried him near Herat in Mardäkhän.

The book’s structure and division:
some consider this commentary as an encyclopedia in “theology”(kaläm) science due to the stating of theological discussions. The Fakhr Al-Din Razi(Imam Fakhr Al-Din Razi) in this commentary, comments the verses with intellectual attitude and has mentioned the information and sciences of that time with their relation. Therefore the commentary is full of sages, philosophers words and intellectual disputes. He, in commentary of verses, classified regularly the subjects relevant to the verse and for rejecting his opponents views (such as Mu’tazilism and “Keramiyeh” explains in detail their subjects. He also paid attention to the differences of “theological”(kalämi) sects, different religions differences and has remembered the Ash’arites, imamism, dualism, compulsionists, Kharijites, Raväfez. The commentary has been compiled on the basis of an introduction and parts that the introduction itself, consists of chapters. On the whole, the commentary consists of 32 parts but its number of volumes differs in different printings. On the same chapter one, from the introduction, has commented the “ I take refuge in Allah from the damned devil”(a’oozo belläh menal al-sheytan al-rajim). The commentator has started each sura with its name, the place of revelation, number of verses, and the “cites” (sayings) relevant to that and then with mentioning of one or two or some verses, gives a short explanations about its relation with the former verse. If there is a tradition or Hadith by prophet, companion or successors, studies them and finally says his views. With considering to this fact that the basis of all theological subjects is Quran verses, we state some philosophical theological subjects of this commentary here:

1-Knowledge of God and if in this knowledge , the opinion and reasoning are permissible or not?
2- Faith and Islam (the difference of both of them).
3- Divine word and discussion about “temporality”(hodoos) and “eternities” (qodoom).
4- The vision of God (rôyat of God).
5- Divine Justice
6- Predestination and free will, decree and destiny
7- Quran miracle
8- God’s will
9- The subjets of “belief in corporeality of God”(tajsim), trinity, resurrection, infallibility of prophets, intercession of prophet, shiism belief in “Imamate” (leadership) of “sinless ones”(ma’soom) and the necessity of sinless person in every time, etc, with this explanation that Fakhre Razi and Ash’arite believe that all people are sinless, not a person, and it is against the shiism belief, etc.

FakhrRazi, among the commentators, has tried to explain the Quarn verses. He, in some cases of commentary, despite theological and intellectual tendency, uses the Quran by Quran method in commentary of verses. In this commentary sometimes has been done mystically pointing sand some verses, have Gnostically method.

Introducing the commentary from the viewpoint of some authorities:
Ghäzi Noorollah Shooshtari: Fakhr Al-Din Räzi, has got the bases of his commentary from Abol Fathe Räzi and for removing the illusion, has added some his suspicious (the suspicious that he made for himself) to it.
Halabi reject the Shooshtari’s word and believes that due to Imam Fakhr Räzi has been rationalist many times, with reading the “rational”(intellectual) commentaries such as shiism commentaries, has been influenced and has talked contrary to the Ash’arite beliefs.
Zahabi: This commentary is a kind of permissible “personal commentary” (personal commentary means: a commentary by his own opinion).
AllämeTabätabäi: On one hand calls this commentary the theological commentary and on the other hand, named the theologians’ commentary, “comparison”(tatbigh) and has rejected it.

The cause of Great Commentary’s fame:
One reasons of Great Commentary’s renown and validity is about its effect on the subsequent commentaries Such as: Bayzävi: in Anvär Al-Tanzil, Neyshäburi in Gharä’eb Al-Quran, Äloosi in Rooh Al-Mäni, AllämeTabätabäi in Al-Mizän and SeyyedMohammd Rashid Reza in Al-Menär, that all of them have many used of its reasoning way,“Great commentary” content and method. Tantävi also in “Al-Javäher” has commented the Quran as the same method of Fakhr Räzi.

The negative points of “Great commentary” from the the viewpoint of authorities:
This commentary,due to FakhrRäzi’s skill in different sciences,also containing all kinds of subjects and has converted to an encyclopedia, therefore, in opinion of some commentary scholars, this volume of subject, has reduced the importance of commentary.
Abu HayänGhornazi (the commentator of 7 and 8 centuries): in commentary of FakhrRazi, there is a subject, that in commentary sciences, does not need it.
IbnTeymiyeh: in it, except commentary, is found a word about every subject.
Sivati: This commentary is full of sages and philosophers words but its commentary discussions are irrelevant with verses.
IbnKhalkän: In this commentary, there are many strange and unfamiliar subjects.

Also, some have criticized in its contents, therefore said it has full of fault such as: Abo ShämeMoghadasi, deceased in 1257 A.D.(655A.H.) says:FakhrRäzi in his commentary has stated in a best form the serious doubts of Islam and Sunnite opponents but could not solve them. EghbälLähoori says: he considers the “Great commentary” as a barrier to correct understands of Quran.

The commentator’s opinion of “Great Commentary” and his answer to the opponents:
In the beginning of this commentary he states the reason of subjects’ diversity and exposition,answers to the hypercriticals and says: my reason in diversity and expounding of the subject is as follows: to make strong the religion, inspiration of certainty and removing the doubt. At one time, I said that by using the profits of “The Opening” (Al-fätehe) surawe can understand ten-thousand subjects. But some jealousies, ignorant, perverses and enemies have thought that I am like themselves ignorant, did not believe my word and denied it, therefore, when I started writing, for proving my word, I wrote the “expounding”(tafsili) commentary of “The opening” (Al-Fätehe) sura.

The printing of book:
“The Great commentary” on the whole, including 32 parts, but its volumes numbersare different in various printing. There are several manuscripts of this commentary. Also many researches have been done about this commentary. Two summaries of this commentary have been printed by the name of Al-Tanvir Fi Tafsir Fi Mokhtasar Al-TafsirAl-Kabir written by Mohammad the son of Abi Al-Ghasem Rabghi, deceased in1309A.D. (709A.H.), “Al-Vazeh Fi TalkhisTafsir Al-Quran” written by Mohammad the son of Nasafi deceased in 1288A.D. (687A.H.).

Sources :

  1. 1- Islam world encyclopedia quoted by Manhäj Al-Mofaserin, Lesän Al-Mizän, “Tabaghät”(groups of) Al-Shäfe’iye, Tahzib Al-Tafsir Al-Kabir, Al-Etghän Fi Oloom Al-Quran and dozens of other sources

  2. 2- Persian encyclopedia (Masäheb).

  3. 3- Mojam Al-Adebä

  4. 4- Reyhänat Al-Adab