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Christopher Melchert



The celebrated Ṣaḥīḥ of al-Bukhārī (d. 256/870) includes a long book of qurʾānic commentary. It is unusual in the Ṣaḥīḥ as a whole in relying heavily on reports from Companions: 72 percent of all the unique reports given full isnāds in the book, as opposed to only about 9 percent of all reports in the whole Ṣaḥīḥ. It is also unusual in the density of comment from later authorities (without isnāds) and in the number of comments from Bukhārī himself. Bukhārī accepts without demur that the Qurʾān includes loan words. In comparison with other commentaries on the Qurʾān such as those of ʿAbd al-Razzāq before him and al-Ṭabarī and Ibn Abī Ḥātim after, Bukhārī’s evidently plays down disagreement over the interpretation of words, legal applications, and textual variants. In comparison with the commentaries of al-Tirmidhī and al-Nasāʾī, Bukhārī’s includes very many comments from philologists. Bukhārī’s commentary is valuable for making out the larger history of Qurʾān commentary inasmuch as it testifies to the development of genre expectations in the mid-ninth century CE. It shows that the synthesis of ḥadīth and adab approaches was already under way, as well as other developments previously remarked in commentaries of the tenth and eleventh centuries.

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