Science of explanation and interpretation of the Qur'an. It arose after the death of Muhammad to deal with ambiguity, variant readings, defective texts, and apparent contradictions in the scripture. Starting from mere personal speculation, tafsir developed into a system of systematic exegesis of the Qur'an's text, proceeding verse by verse and sometimes word by word. Early efforts relied on the Hadith, later giving rise to a more dogmatic type of tafsir. The most comprehensive work was compiled by the scholar al-Tabari. Some Muslim modernists have employed tafsir as a vehicle for reformist ideas.
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