The Seven Oft-Repeated Verses: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote the following valuable discussion in his tafsir of surah al-Hijr:

قوله تعالى : ولقد آتيناك سبعا من المثاني والقرآن العظيم ، ذكر – جل وعلا – في هذه الآية الكريمة أنه أتى نبيه – صلى الله عليه وسلم – سبعا من المثاني والقرآن العظيم ، ولم يبين هنا المراد بذلك . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَاكَ سَبْعًا مِّنَ الْمَثَانِي وَالْقُرْ‌آنَ الْعَظِيمَ

And We have certainly given you, [O Muhammad], seven of the often repeated [verses] and the great Qur’an. [15:87]

In this noble ayah, He mentioned that He have His prophet (ﷺ) seven of the oft-repeated (verses) and the great Qur’an, but He did not clarify the intended meaning of this here.

وقد قدمنا في ترجمة هذا الكتاب المبارك : أن الآية الكريمة إن كان لها بيان في كتاب الله غير واف بالمقصود ، أننا نتمم ذلك البيان من السنة ، فنبين الكتاب بالسنة من حيث إنها بيان للقرآن المبين باسم الفاعل . فإذا علمت ذلك ; فاعلم أن النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – بين في الحديث الصحيح : أن المراد بالسبع المثاني والقرآن العظيم في هذه الآية الكريمة : هو فاتحة الكتاب . ففاتحة الكتاب مبينة للمراد بالسبع المثاني والقرآن العظيم ، وإنما بينت ذلك [ ص: 315 ] بإيضاح النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – لذلك في الحديث الصحيح . ـ

And we have already mentioned in the interpretation of this Blessed Book that if a noble ayah has an explanation in the Book of Allah which is not sufficient in terms of conveying the intended meaning, then we complete that explanation by means of the sunnah, so we explain the the Qur’an with the sunnah since it is an explanation of the clear Qur’an by the doer himself [i.e. by the Prophet Muahmmad].

So if you know that, then know that the Prophet (ﷺ) clarified in an authentic hadeeth that the intended meaning of the seven oft-repeated (verses) and the Magnificent Qur’an in this noble ayah is that it is the Opening of the Book [i.e. surah al-Faatihah]. So the Opening of the Book is clearly the intended meaning of the seven oft-repeated (verses) and the Magnificent Qur’an – and this was only explained by the clarification of the Prophet (ﷺ) in the authentic hadeeth.

قال البخاري في صحيحه في تفسير هذه الآية الكريمة : حدثني محمد بن بشار ، حدثنا غندر ، حدثنا شعبة ، عن خبيب بن عبد الرحمن ، عن حفص بن عاصم ، عن أبي سعيد بن المعلى ، قال : مر بي النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – وأنا أصلي ، فدعاني فلم آته حتى صليت ، ثم أتيت فقال : ” ما منعك أن تأتيني ؟ ” فقلت : كنت أصلي . فقال : ” ألم يقل الله : ياأيها الذين آمنوا استجيبوا لله وللرسول [ 8 \ 24 ] ، ثم قال : ألا أعلمك أعظم سورة في القرآن قبل أن أخرج من المسجد ، فذهب النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – ليخرج ، فذكرته ، فقال : الحمد لله رب العالمين [ 1 \ 2 ] ، هي السبع المثاني ، والقرآن العظيم الذي أوتيته ” . حدثنا آدم ، حدثنا ابن أبي ذئب ، حدثنا سعيد المقبري ، عن أبي هريرة – رضي الله عنه – قال : قال رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : ” أم القرآن هي السبع المثاني ، والقرآن العظيم ” . ـ

al-Bukhari said in his Saheeh in the tafsir of this noble ayah:

Abu Sa’eed al-Mu’alli said: While I was praying, the Prophet (ﷺ) passed by and called me, but I did not go to him until I had finished my prayer. When I went to him, he said, “What prevented you from coming?” I said, “I was praying.” He said, “Didn’t Allah say, ‘O you who believe, respond to Allah and to His Messenger’?” [8.24]. Then he added, “Shall I tell you the greatest surah in the Qur’an before I leave the masjid?” When the Prophet (ﷺ) intended to leave, I reminded him and he said, “That is: al-hamdu lillaahi Rabb al-‘alameen [i.e. surah al-Faatihah]. It is the seven oft-repeated (verses) and the great Qur’an which has been given to me.”

And Abu Hurayrah said:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “The mother of the Qur’an is the seven oft-repeated (verses) and the great Qur’an.

فهذا نص صحيح من النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – أن المراد بالسبع المثاني والقرآن العظيم : فاتحة الكتاب ، وبه تعلم أن قول من قال : إنها السبع الطوال ، غير صحيح ، إذ لا كلام لأحد معه – صلى الله عليه وسلم – ومما يدل على عدم صحة ذلك القول : أن آية الحجر هذه مكية ، وأن السبع الطوال ما أنزلت إلا بالمدينة . والعلم عند الله تعالى . ـ

So this is an authentic text from the Prophet (ﷺ) that the intended meaning of the seven oft-repeated (verses) and the great Qur’an is the Faatihah al-Kitaab [i.e. surah al-Faatihah]. So with this knowledge, you now know that the statement of those who say, “it refers to the seven long surahs”[1] is not correct. For there is no other opinion [that is accepted] alongside his (ﷺ), and from that which shows the lack of correctness of that statement is that the ayah of surah al-Hijr is Makki [i.e., it was revealed in the first 13 years of the Prophet’s da’wah], and that seven long surahs were not revealed until the time of al-Madinah. And the knowledge is with Allah.[2]

وقيل لها : ” مثاني ” ; لأنها تثنى قراءتها في الصلاة . ـ

And it is said that the word ‘oft-repeated’ is used because its recitation is repeated during the salaah.

وقيل لها : ” سبع ” ; لأنها سبع آيات . ـ

And it is said that the word ‘seven’ is used because it is comprised of seven ayaat.

وقيل لها : ” القرآن العظيم ” ; لأنها هي أعظم سورة ; كما ثبت عن النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – في الحديث الصحيح المذكور آنفا . ـ

And it is said that the term al-Qur’an al-‘Atheem (the Great Qur’an) is used because it is the greatest surah, as has been confirmed from the Prophet in the previously mentioned authentic hadeeth.

وإنما عطف القرآن العظيم على السبع المثاني ، مع أن المراد بهما واحد وهو الفاتحة ; لما علم في اللغة العربية : من أن الشيء الواحد إذا ذكر بصفتين مختلفتين جاز عطف إحداهما على الأخرى ، تنزيلا لتغاير الصفات منزلة تغاير الذوات . ومنه قوله تعالى : سبح اسم ربك الأعلى الذي خلق فسوى والذي قدر فهدى والذي أخرج المرعى [ 87 \ 4 ] ، وقول الشاعر : إلى الملك القرم وابن الهمام وليث الكتيبة في المزدحم .  ـ

And the term al-Qur’an al-‘Atheem (the Great Qur’an) is only used as an apposite[3] of “the seven oft-repeated (verses)” because the intended meaning of them both is one and the same, which is surah al-Faatihah. For it is known in the Arabic language that when one thing is mentioned with two different characteristics, then it is possible to juxtapose one of them to the other as apposites, bringing differing attributes in the form of differing essences. And an example of this is His statement:

سَبِّحِ اسْمَ رَ‌بِّكَ الْأَعْلَى * الَّذِي خَلَقَ فَسَوَّىٰ * وَالَّذِي قَدَّرَ‌ فَهَدَىٰ * وَالَّذِي أَخْرَ‌جَ الْمَرْ‌عَىٰ

Exalt the name of your Lord, the Most High, * Who created and proportioned * And who destined and then guided * And who brings out the pasture [87:1-4]

[Adhwaa’ al-Bayaan 2/315-316]

[1] Translator’s Note: The “seven long surahs refer to the following: al-Baqarah, Aali ‘Imran, al-Nisaa’, al-Maa’idah, al-An’aam, al-‘Aaraaf, and Yunus. This was the opinion of a number of companions. Some others substitute al-Anfal and al-Tawbah – which some consider to be one surah – for Yunus in their listing.

[2] Translator’s Note: al-Haafidh ibn Kathir discusses the different opinions on the intended meaning of “The Seven Oft-repeated (Verses)” in his tafsir as well, and mentions the two opinions that it could refer to the seven long surahs or to surah al-Faatihah. After bringing the different evidences and mentioning which mufassiroon held which position, and then bringing the two hadeeth narrations which Imam al-Shinqitee also mentioned here, ibn Kathir then went on to offer the following beneficial clarification by writing:

 فهذا نص في أن الفاتحة السبع المثاني والقرآن العظيم ، ولكن لا ينافي وصف غيرها من السبع الطول بذلك ، لما فيها من هذه الصفة ، كما لا ينافي وصف القرآن بكماله بذلك أيضا ، كما قال تعالى : ( الله نزل أحسن الحديث كتابا متشابها مثاني ) [ الزمر : 23 ] فهو مثاني من وجه ، ومتشابه من وجه ، وهو القرآن العظيم أيضا ، كما أنه – عليه السلام – لما سئل عن المسجد الذي أسس على التقوى ، فأشار إلى مسجده ، والآية نزلت في مسجد قباء ، فلا تنافي ، فإن ذكر الشيء لا ينفي [ ص: 548 ] ذكر ما عداه إذا اشتركا في تلك الصفة ، والله أعلم . ـ

So this text is supporting the position that al-Faatihah is the seven oft-repeated (verses) and the Great Qur’an. However, there is nothing preventing something else – such as the seven long surahs – from being characterized by this due to what they contain of these features. Likewise, there is nothing preventing the Qur’an in its entirety from being characterized as such, as Allah says:

اللَّـهُ نَزَّلَ أَحْسَنَ الْحَدِيثِ كِتَابًا مُّتَشَابِهًا مَّثَانِيَ

Allah has sent down the best statement, a Book (this Quran), its parts resembling each other in goodness and truth, oft-repeated. [39:23]

So it is oft-repeated in one sense, and it is resembling itself in another sense, and it is also the Great Qur’an.

This is like what he (ﷺ) said when he was asked about the masjid which was established upon al-taqwa and he pointed at his masjid, while the ayah [9:109] was revealed concerning Masjid al-Qubaa’. So did not result in any contradiction, for indeed the mentioning of one thing does not negate the mention of something in addition to it if they both share in that characteristic. And Allah knows best.

[Tafsir ibn Kathir 4/548-549]

[3] Translator’s Note: The grammatical term “apposition” or ‘aṭf [عطف] refers to the use of two coordinate nouns or noun phrases placed next to each other in order to rename something or describe it in a different way. For example, one might say, “I went with my friend, Zayd, to the store,” and here ‘my friend’ and ‘Zayd’ are referring to the same person.

See also: Tafsir of Surah al-Fatihah: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

See also: Tafsir of Surah al-Fatihah: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: Tafsir of Surah al-Fatihah: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: Two Qur’anic proofs that Ismaa’eel is the sacrificed son: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: The Names and Revelation of Surah al-Fatihah: Tafsir al-Baghawi

And click here for more from sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee.

5 thoughts on “The Seven Oft-Repeated Verses: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

  1. Pingback: Tafsir of Surah al-Fatihah: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Tafsir of Surah al-Fatihah: Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Tafsir of Surah al-Fatihah: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: The Names and Revelation of Surah al-Fatihah: Tafsir al-Baghawi | Tulayhah

  5. Pingback: We gave Ibrahim good in this life: Tafsir al-Shawkani | Tulayhah

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