This video is a 42-minute recording of a lecture by Professor Andrew Rippin entitled, Interpreting Interpretation: Understanding Muslim Exegesis, delivered in 2009 at the IIS. The lecture was part of a series of talks at the IIS’ Qur’anic Studies Workshop on Qur'an Commentaries, Sources, Methods and Hermeneutics.

The lecture elaborates on the importance of Tafsir tradition in the study of the Qur’an. The primary focus of the lecture is on the distinction between the acts of ‘translation’ and ‘interpretation’ in relation to the Tafsir traditions.

Reflecting on the inescapable need of referring to Tafsir works in understanding the Quran, Prof. Rippin suggests: “Tafsir is not about extracting or clarifying the meaning of the text so much as it is about defending the integrity, the perfection, the completeness, the intelligibility, the meaningfulness of the scriptural text, all of which is driven by the actual historical-cultural position of the interpreter (and) the need to respond to newly emerging pressures which affect the intelligibility of the text”. Increasingly, scholarship on the Qur’an is moving in the direction of exploring historical and contemporary works on Tafsir.

Professor Andrew Rippin is currently Professor Emeritus of Islamic History at the University of Victoria and Senior Research Fellow at The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS).