Journal of Islamic Studies 24 (3):335-357 (2013)

This paper explores the paradox of the existence of few complete and independent Qurʾān commentaries written by the Ottoman ulema. A common view is that Ottoman Qurʾān commentaries are primarily glosses and super-commentaries on Bayḍāwī's Anwār al-tanzīl. I show that this was just one aspect of the Ottoman Turkish engagement with tafsīr, and that there was a wide range of Ottoman exegetical activity induced by political, social and, to a lesser extent, educational factors. I suggest that the reason for the low number of Qurʾān commentaries written by the Ottoman ulema has to do with the nature of the ilmiyye , which valued specialization in fiqh above all else. I show that the main impetus for writing complete and independent Qurʾān commentaries came from political leaders, who actively commissioned these works. In the course of its discussion, the paper identifies the major trends in the writing of tafsīr among the Ottoman Turks from the fifteenth through nineteenth centuries
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DOI 10.1093/jis/ett024
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