Some years ago, I wrote a blogpost on Sayyid Abūʾl-Qāsim Riżavī Qummī Lāhorī (1833–1906) and on his extensive Persian exegesis Lavāmiʿ al-tanzīl va savāṭiʿ al-taʾwīl - I have now corrected some of the links to volumes of the text available as pdfs online. The first volume was printed in Lahore in 1299/1882:
It begins with an extensive table of contents. There are seventeen preliminaries, to which I will return, followed by the discussion of the istiʿādha (formulaic seeking refuge from Satan), the basmala and the Fātiḥa. Each verse or section is divided into mabāḥis; further sub-divisions of exegetical glosses are called īrād and ishkāl. While the approach and register is scholarly - and he has an extensive key for the sources that he cites (both Shiʿi - khāṣṣa - and Sunni - ʿāmma) - the language is accessible and simple, perhaps indicating that the work was not merely intended for a scholarly Persophone audience of ʿulema but also for a wider Persian reading public (which in Lahore in this period was extensive as we know from the publishing and the literary scene onto which Iqbal emerged slightly later).
The table of contents is followed by three (chronogrammatic) poems in praise of the exegesis by Mīr Mūsā Shāh and Maulvī Muḥammad Sharīf Kābulī (the link may well be through Riżavī's Qizilbash patron ʿAlī Riżā Khān who spent some time in Kabul and was as we know a loyalist during 1857 - I have not for the moment attempted to identify the poets but one suspects if they are major figures that some taẕkira somewhere will throw up some details). Then we have a bunch of endorsements (taqrīẓāt) starting with Mīrzā Abūʾl-Qāsim Ṭabāṭabāʾī (1826–1901),
followed by the famous leader of the Tobacco boycott from Sāmarrāʾ Mīrzā Muḥammad Ḥasan Shīrāzī (1815–1896),
and Shaykh Muḥammad Ḥusayn Ardakānī, known as Fāżil-e Ardakānī (1820–1885)
These endorsements - and we are also told that the exegesis was initiated in 1296/1879 just a few years prior - attest to the fame and network that Riżavī and his son had in the shrine cities of Iraq and the ways in which Shiʿi scholars of North India were rather well integrated into the hierocratic networks of the period.
Any work of exegesis tells us much about the exegete, his training and his contexts and the ways in which he seeks to engage the revelation. The preliminaries are therefore predicated on his understanding of the totality of the Qurʾanic arts that are needed to study the text. It also shows us that the exegetical uses of the Qurʾan in Riżavī's Hindustānī context went beyond merely reading the text but indicated the totality of the Qurʾanicity of the lived experience and engage with the artefact, the sonoscope and the totality sensory and cultural experience of the Qurʾan.
In the khuṭba, he tells us that in these last days of the 13th century (late 19th century CE), in North India and Lahore in particular (cited as the place of composition), many different confessions are using the Qurʾan and the process of exegesis to put forward a defence of their 'corrupt' and 'vain' theologies, 'resisting and denying the truth' of the revelation and sound doctrine. Given this contested nature of Islam in the colonial period and the role of the Qurʾan as a primary signifier of meaning of one's confessional adherence, Riżavī invokes the convention of meaning a group of friends (and students) asking him to present the Shiʿi tradition and case through the exercise of exegesis. His function is to explain difficult issues, response to objections and removed any doubts (whether ancient or modern) about the Shiʿi tradition in a godly and precise and effective manner, eschewing fake narratives and keeping decorum and an ethical mode of presentation founded upon proofs and reliable indicators. His method is to take forward the argument and the tradition through the complete homology and confluence of the use of rational discourse as well as citation of the authority of revelation (ʿaql va naql). Following further pious supplications, he then says that the work is dedicated to - and here again a whole list of honorifics that suggest scholarly status - Nawāb (Sir) Nawāzish ʿAlī Khān Qizilbāsh (1828–1890), the son of his patron ʿAlī Riżā Khān Qizilbāsh (d. 1865).
Here are the headings of those seventeen preliminaries (and the two most commonly cited authorities are Majmaʿ al-bayān of al-Ṭabrisī and Majmaʿ al-baḥrayn by Fakhr al-Dīn al-Ṭurayḥī - and on Sunni positions, the authority of Tafsīr-e kabīr or Mafātīḥ al-ghayb of Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī - as we have seen in the work of his teachers and the circles in Lucknow in this period, Rāzī represented authoritative Sunni positions on exegesis and kalām):
1. on the names of the Qurʾan and their meanings;
2. on both the exoteric and the esoteric exegesis (on the tafsīr and the taʾwīl) and on the distinction between the cognitive content and meaning (maʿnā) and the exposition (bayān);
3. on the Qurʾan as the defining 'miracle' of the Prophet and on some of the Qurʾanic arts needed to make sense of this miracle (in the sense of its eloquence and order and style) - while critiquing the majoritarian (Sunni) idea of the Prophet being 'unlettered' (ummī), and asserting the the Prophet was the source of many of the sciences and arts that were latter expanded;
4. on the precedence and superiority of the Qurʾan over other scriptures;
5. on the meaning of the seven aḥruf;
6. on the seven or fourteen canonical recitations (qirāʾāt) - he presents two tables for these and also asserts their being extensively corroborated in their transmission (mutawātir);