Tafsir refers to a genre of Muslim literature and to the process of interpretation itself, especially (but not solely) that of scripture. Both aspects of the topic have received attention, with the main focus on the genre of literature, itself a major emphasis of the traditional Muslim educational system, and the writing of which was an endeavor that most major Muslim intellectuals undertook. Books of tafsir generally follow the text of the Qurʾan from beginning to end, providing glosses, grammatical analysis, theological reflection, and narrative embellishment. Many works are enormous, reflecting the sense that writing a work of tafsir is, in and of itself, an act of spiritual devotion. Such works also reflect the cultural interactions of the areas in which they were written and the paths the transmission of knowledge took (and continue to take today) across the Muslim-dominated world. The mutual enrichment of Jewish midrash and Muslim tafsir in medieval times is especially notable.
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