Carullah Zemahşerî

Dil Araştırmacısı, Kelâm Araştırmacısı, Tefsirci, Edebiyatçı

Diğer İsimler
Ebû'l-Kâsım Mahmud İbn Ömer ez-Zemahşerî el-Harezmî’

Linguist, kalam and interpretation scholar (B. 1075, Zamakhshar/Harezm- D. 1144, Cürcaniye). His full name is Ebû'l-Kâsım Mahmud Ibn Ömer ez-Zemahşerî el-Harezmî. Since he lived in Mecca for a long time he was given the name “Cârullah” and known as “Cârullah Zemahşerî”. Besides he was given the title of “Fahr-ı Harezm”. He was born during the period of Malik Shah who was one of the Seljuk Sultans. He received his first education most probably from his father who was the imam of the town. After learning how to read and write and memorizing the Holy Koran he went for educational purposes to Bukhara which was a center of science and civilization during the period. He learnt from various masters in Bukhara fiqh methodology (Islamic law), Hanefî fiqh, hadith (words of the Holy Prophet), interpretation (tafsir) of the Holy Koran, kalam (Islamic philosophy), logics, philosophy and Arabic. During this period of education he went to numerous places in Khorezm and Khorasan regions and developed his knowledge by joining numerous chains of science.

Zemahşerî went to Mecca in 1109 and stayed there for a while to benefit from the period’s famous authors such as Şerif Ali Ibn Hamza Vehhâs (Death 1132). Meanwhile he traveled to some places in the Arabian Peninsula and cities of Yemen to improve his knowledge of Arabic. After these trips he returned to his hometown and went to Mecca again in 1124. After this trip to Mecca he stayed there for a long time and wrote many of his works here including his famous interpretation work known briefly as “el- Keşşâf”. Later he returned to Khorezm as an educated scholar and stayed in Cürcaniye at the riverside of Seyhan until he passed away in 1143.

Among masters of Zemahşerî can be mentioned Mahmut Ibn Cerîred-Dabbî (Death 1113-14) with whom he studied syntax and literature, Ali Ibn Muzaffer en-Neysabûrî, el-Hayyâtî from whom he learnt fiqh; Rükneddin Muhammed el-Usûlî from whom he received knowledge of methodology (ways to follow in religion); Ebu Mansur Nasr el-Hâris from whom he learnt hadith and Ebû’l-Hattâb Nasr Ibn Ahmed el-Batır (Death 1101). Zemahşerî is an ardent Mu’tazilite in creed and a hanafite in fiqh. He was criticized many times because of being a Mu’tazilite and gained opposition. He had a cynical, humiliating, sharp and rigid attitude towards scholars of ahle sunnah (People who follow the sunnah of the Holy Prophet). Even though it is narrated that he gave up his Mu’tazilite belief and joined the Sunni belief such a case cannot be observed in his works.

Because of being a Mu’tazilite, Zemahşerî was not respected by Seljuk sultans and viziers in spite of his level in sciences. Even rulers about whom he wrote praises and encomia ignored him. However he did not return from his way. He raised numerous students. Zemahşerî who was a productive scholar has about fifty works.

Zemahşerî’s tafsir known briefly as “el-Keşşâf” is important rather in terms of language and rhetoric. He tried to prove the wonders of Holy Koran in his work in terms of rhetoric. All following tafsir scholars benefited from him about this aspect and his tafsir “el-Keşşâf” was accepted as “Ümmü’t-tefâsîr, mother of interpretations or the main interpretation”. However since its author belongs to the Mu’tazilite order and applied such interpretations in his tafsir (because of some expressions such as “creatures are creators of their actions, Allah is impossible to be seen by believers in the afterlife, sinners are nor believers neither infidels, they are in between, magic does not have authenticity” this tafsir was often criticized and many works, interpretations, compendiums and postscripts were written with the purpose of sorting out, debunk and refusal of these interpretations).

There are about thousand couplets in “el-Keşşâf” which are presented as witness to the tafsir. Meanings of these couplets and in what aspect they were brought as witness could not be understood. These are difficult to understand and independent works were written for their explanation and interpretation. Since the author of “el- Keşşâf” was a hanafite in terms of practical order explanations of fiqh problems were done in this direction in the work. However about some issues the Shafii order was taken as basis. Besides differences of Koran recitations were mentioned on a large scale. Nevertheless these differences were not used as material in the tafsir.

One of the most criticized aspects of “el-Keşşâf” is that he gave place to irregular recitals and accepted them as evidence in the tafsir. On the other side he also gave place to weak or fabricated ahadith in his work. There were also severe critics of Sunni scholars in “el-Keşşâf”. The author almost mocked them and claimed that they were incapable of understanding the Koran and its verses. He used a conversational method in his tafsir in question-answer form (if you say this, I will say this...) which must have been a rhetorical method of the period.

“Keşşâf Tafsir” was one of the most studied and used tafsir in Sunni Islam’s madrasahs even though it included contradictory interpretations with Sunni principles. It is a general belief that this work is the best tafsir to present the Holy Koran’s rhetorical (understandable by the addressee, to the point) and laconic (to explain many things with few words) characteristics.


Esâsu'l-Belâğa (It is an alphabetic Arabic dictionary due to the last letters of words), A'cebu'l-Ucâb fi ŞerhiLâmiyyeri'l-Arab (Interpretation of eş-Şenferî Ibnü’l-EvsIbnü’l-Hacer’s work titled ‘Lâmiyyetu’l-Arap’), el-Mufassal (On Arabic language and grammar), el-Enmûzec (Summary from his book titled el-Mufassal, on Arabic language’s syntax, published in Beirut in 1979-80), Ruûsü’l-Mesâil (Disputed fiqh issues between Hanefî and Şâfiî orders, 1987 published), el-Fâik fi Garîbi'l-Hadîs (An alphabetic and comprehensive hadith dictionary. Published in Haydarabadand Cairo, 1364), el-Keşşâf fı Kırâât, el-Müstaksâ fi Emsâli'l-Arap (This is a work on Arabic proverbs.), Makamât (This consists of recommendations, guidance and advises.), Mukaddimetu'l-Edep (This is a grammar and dictionary.), el-Keşşâf an Hakâikı’t-Tenzîl ve Uyûni’l-Ekâvîl fı Vücühi’t-Te’vîl (This work is briefly known as “el-Keşşâf” which is his most important work and a tafsir).  

REFERENCE: Şamil İslam Ansiklopedisi (1988), İskender Pala / Ansiklopedik Divan Şiiri Sözlüğü (1989), Nuri Yüce / “Zemahşerî” (MEB İslam Ansiklopedisi, c. 13, s. 514), Erciyes Üniversitesi İlahiyat Fakültesi Dergisi (c.11, 1 Ocak 2001), İhsan Işık / Ünlü Bilim Adamları (Türkiye Ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi, C. 2, 2013) - Encyclopedia of Turkey’s Famous People (2013) - Resimli ve Metin Örnekli Türkiye Edebiyatçılar ve Kültür Adamları Ansiklopedisi (C. 12, 2017).



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