Narrated from ‘Allāma himself:
When I cam to Qum, I studied the educational program at the Hawza, and I measured it with the needs of the Islamic society. I found deficiencies in it, and I felt it was my duty to try and eradicate them. The most important deficiencies in the Hawza program were in the area of Qur’anic exegesis (tafsīr) and intellectual sciences. As a result I began to study tafsīr and philosophy. Despite the fact that at the time tafsīr of the Qur’an, which is a science that requires research and scrutiny, was not being addressed, it was not considered worthy of study by those who had the ability to do research in the fields of jurisprudence (fiqh) and principles of jurisprudence (usūl). Rather teaching tafsīr was considered a sign of having weaker qualifications! However I knew I could not use this as an excuse in front of God [so as not to study tafsīr] and I continued my studies until I completed the writing of Tafsīr al-Mizān.
Narrated by ‘Allāma himself:
Initially I carried out an exhaustive research of Bihārul-Anwār in order that I might publish a work on a specific subject. Following that I put in a great deal of effort in gathering verses and traditions until it came to my mind that I should write a tafsīr. However I felt that the Qur’ān was an endless ocean and therefore I separated those verses relating to the hereafter and I wrote on seven subjects, until I came up with a tafsīr of the Qur’ān that was finally completed, comprising of 20 Arabic volumes. In this tafsīr, verses are explained using the Qur’ān itself as opposed to the views of the commentator. And I learned this style [of tafsīr] from my teacher the late Qādhī.
Tafsīr al-Mīzān is one of the best commentaries that has been written on the Holy Qur’an, and I can even claim that it is the very best commentary available among both the Shī’a and the Ahl-Sunna that has ever been written to this day.
Our people will only understand the worth of Tafsīr al-Mīzān after 60-100 years.
The best way to know what a great man he (‘Allāma) was, is through his wayfaring towards God, and the intellectual effects of his teaching and writing. All the great individuals in the religious seminary (hawza elmiyeh) of Qum who have currently taken upon the task of teaching the principles of the Ja’farī school of thought were his students. His excellent Tafsīr Al-Mīzān that is the cause of pride in the intellectual world is one of his precious literary monuments and the mother of all his works.
Ayatullah Hasanzādeh Āmulī
From the time that I received Al-Mīzān, I no longer used the rest of my library, for this book was always on my studying table.
Imām Mūsa Sadr narrated from Shaykh Muhammad Jawād Mughniye
‘Allāma stayed up on the night of Qadr researching and studying the verses of the Qur’ān and finally completed his tafsīr on this auspicious night, which is the equivalent of 1000 months. At last at the end of Al-Mīzān he wrote:
“With the praise and grace of God the writing of this book has come to an end on this blessed night, the 23rd night of the Holy month of Ramadhan…”
Ayatullah Hasanzādeh Āmulī
One day he (‘Allāma) called for me and said, “I would like Al-Mīzān to be translated and I believe you should do this”.
I accepted the offer and translated the first volume which was in Arabic – and contained very precise and condensed information – into two volumes [of Farsi]. One day I visited him and said, “Agha! You are a learned scholar but I am someone who cannot resort to others (taqlīd) in certain matters. Therefore as I translate your discussions do I have your permission to write any difference of opinion I might have in the footnotes?”
He replied with one meaningful sentence, “Let us discuss and criticize between ourselves first, and not among the public.”
Accepting my point of view is an indication of his academic justice and noble spirit. From then on whenever I had an objection to make I would first discuss it with him, and if I was not satisfied then only would I write it in the footnotes.
Ayatullah Makārim Shīrāzī
One day I met ‘Allāma Tabātabā’ī and said to him,
“This great tafsīr [Tafsīr Al-Mīzān] has not yet been recognized in the religious seminary (hawza) as it should be, nor have people realized its true value. Only if this tafsīr is taught in the hawza and discussed, and its contents critiqued and analyzed, then perhaps after a period of 200 years will its value be truly recognized.”
Another time I said to him,
“When I become occupied with studying this tafsīr, and when I see how you relate verses to each other and verify one with the other and thereby extract a meaning from them, I cannot explain it except to say that at that time divine inspiration must have taken over your hand.”
He (‘Allāma) shook his head and said, “This is just a positive outlook on your part, we haven’t done anything”!
‘Allāma Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tehrānī