An Introduction to the al-Mizan
Abu al-Qassim Razzaqi
The History of Al-Mizan
Before giving an account of its salient features and contents, we shall record a short history of al-Mizan. ‘Allamah Tabataba’I, who came to the Hawzah of Qum in 1325 A.H., wrote and lectured extensively on different branches of Islamic sciences. Commentary and exegesis of the Qur’an was one of the topics of his discussions, which he held with the scholars and students of the Howzeh-ye ‘Ilmiyyah of Qum. About the motive of writing al-Mizan, ‘Allamah Tabataba’I himself states that when he came to Qum from Tabriz, he tried to evaluate the requirements of the Islamic society as well as the conditions prevailing in the Howzeh-ye ‘Ilmiyyah of Qum, and after due consideration of the matter he came to the conclusion that the school was badly in need of a commentary of the Qur’an for a better understanding and more effective instruction of the sublime meanings of the purest of all Islamic texts and the highest of all Divine gifts. On the other hand, since materialistic notions were gaining prevalence, there was a great need for a rational and philosophical discourse to enable the Howzah to rise to the occasion for elaborating the intellectual and doctrinal principles of Islam with the help of rational arguments in order to defend the Islamic position. He thus considered it his duty to make efforts in fulfilling these two urgent needs with the help of God, the Most High. The lectures on exegesis of the Qur’an were planned according to this scheme. Perhaps ‘Allamah Tabataba’I might have delivered lectures on the entire Qur’an for his students for several times, and in the meanwhile he might have written a commentary. During these sessions of well-thought out discourse he might have rendered these lectures into his terse and eloquent prose, which was later printed in a number of volumes.
The first edition of al-Mizan in Arabic was printed in Iran and then it was printed in Beirut. Till now more than three editions have been printed in Iran and in Beirut in large numbers, and very few of the public and private libraries will be found without a complete set of it. All other libraries, too, at least have some of the volumes of this commentary on their shelves.
The original text of al-Mizan is written in Arabic, consisting of twenty volumes, and each volume has about four hundred pages of big size. It was intended that all those interested in reading the exegesis of the Qur’an may be properly benefited from this treasure of the Qur’anic teachings. Some of the pupils of ‘Allamah Tabataba’i have translated this book into Persian under his able direction and supervision, and each one of the Arabic volume was translated in two volumes of the Persian, making a total number of forty. The share of this responsibility was shouldered by Aqa Sayyid Muhammad Baqir Musawi Hamadani. With the view that the entire Persian translation of al-Mizan should not appear in different styles, which would have affected the book’s readability, ‘Allamah Tabataba’I gave him the beginning volumes of al-Mizan also for retranslation. We hope that this fine exegesis of the Divine words of the Qur’an will be translated into other living languages of the world also, and will be made accessible to all those who want to quench their thirst for divine knowledge and who are eager to be familiar with the life-giving principles of Islam. It would be in the fitness of things that this exegesis is placed in the hands of the committed individuals and scholars who are familiar with the language of the Qur’an also. It will be a great service if the universal message of the Qur’an is projected in such a manner that humanity is delivered from the unholy clutches of pagan cultures. The monotheistic culture of the Qur’an alone is capable of emancipating human beings from all kinds of servitude and indignities.