Historical accounts show that Quran interpretation sessions have been held in Muslim lands since the first centuries after the advent of Islam. But when we review the list of Quran exegeses written over the past 14 centuries, we come to the conclusion that the only woman who has written a Quran interpretation is Banu-ye Mujtahedeh Sayyedeh Nusrat Begum Amin al-Tujjar Isfahani, known as Banu Amin.
She wrote the Makhzan al-Irfan fi Tafsir al-Quran in Persian and in 15 volumes.
Banu Amin (1890-1982) was a Mujtahid (had reached the level of Ijtihad which is the highest scholarly level in Fiqh). Her scholarly status was so high that such great scholars like Ayatollah Seyed Shahbeddin Mar’ashi Najafi and Allameh Amini had received permission from her to narrate Hadith.
Training many scholars, founding an Islamic seminary for women in her hometown of Isfahan, central Iran, establishing a high school for girls and writing a number of books in different fields were among her services to Islam and Muslims.
The Makhzan al-Irfan fi Tafsir al-Quran is considered to be among comprehensive exegeses of the Quran. It offers interpretation of the verses in a narrative and analytical style. Its main approach is ethical and mystical.
The exegesis begins with a preface in which the author cites her motivation for writing the interpretation, the virtue of the Quran, Tafsir Bil Ray ( a kind of Tafsir of the Quran which is based on reasoning and on what is called ‘Ijtihad’ rather than being based on the transmission of knowledge), and other issues related to Quranic sciences.
In her interpretation, she first mentions a number of verses and then begins to expound on the messages of the verses with a simple and easy-to-understand language. The author also sometimes cites words from Mulla Sadra and other philosophers and mystics.
As for her purpose of embarking on the work, she writes that for some time she had been thinking time and again about writing a brief Quran exegesis benefiting from the words of Ahl-ul-Bayt (AS) and using the writings of previous interpreters until she finally started by writing a word-for-word translation of the verses and explaining some Ayat al-Muhkamat (clear and unambiguous verses).
As mentioned before, the main approach in the Makhzan al-Irfan fi Tafsir al-Quran is ethical and educational. The interpreter in this work tries to pursue educating the human Nafs (self) and lead it away from worldly matters and bring it closer to God.
Banu Amin in this work has benefited from both Shia and Sunni Quran exegeses and mentioned their views. Among the Quran interpretations she has benefited from are the Tafsir of Mulla Sadra, Majma al-Bayan, Qomi exegesis, Rawd al-Jinan wa Ruh al-Janan (also known as Tafsir Abu al- Futuh), Kashf al-Asrar, Al-Mizan, Al-Burhan, Tafsir al-Baydawi, and Al-Durr Al-Manthur Fi Tafsir Bil-Ma'thur by al-Suyuti.
Here and there, she has also used interpretations by the Sahabah and Tabi’in such as Ibn Abbas, Ibn Mas’ud and Ikrima.