An Example of Added Meaning from the Different Qiraa’aat

The different qiraa’aat (recitations) of the Qur’an are an important part of tafsir and the sciences of the Qur’an, but a subject which does not receive much discussion in the English language. We have translated a brief introduction to this matter from sheikh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez bin Baaz, which we would recommending reading as a primer before proceeding with this article.

What follows is a simple and – inshaAllaah – easy-to-understand example of how the differences in the transmitted recitations can add to the meaning of an ayah, as illustrated in these excerpts from the tafsirs of sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee and imam Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari. Please note that some level of familiarity with Arabic will greatly facilitate understanding this example.

In part of his explanation of surah Maryam, sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote the following:

قوله تعالى : واذكر في الكتاب موسى إنه كان مخلصا وكان رسولا نبيا ، اعلم أن في قوله ” مخلصا ” قراءتين سبعيتين : قرأه عاصم وحمزة والكسائي بفتح اللام بصيغة اسم المفعول ، والمعنى على هذه القراءة أن الله استخلصه واصطفاه : ويشهد لهذا المعنى قوله تعالى : قال ياموسى إني اصطفيتك على الناس برسالاتي وبكلامي الآية [ 7 \ 144 ] ، ومما يماثل هذه القراءة في القرآن قوله تعالى : إنا أخلصناهم بخالصة ذكرى الدار [ 38 \ 46 ] ، فالذين أخلصهم الله هم المخلصون بفتح اللام . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَاذْكُرْ‌ فِي الْكِتَابِ مُوسَىٰ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ مُخْلَصًا وَكَانَ رَ‌سُولًا نَّبِيًّا

And mention in the Book, Moosaa. Indeed, he was mukhlasan, and he was a messenger and a prophet. [19:51]

You should know that there are two different readings of the word mukhlasan that are present in the seven well-known recitations. ‘Aasim, Hamzah, and al-Kasaa’ee recited it with a fathah on the letter laam, which makes it take the form of ism al-maf’ool (direct object). According to this recitation, the meaning is that Allah selected and chose him. And this meaning is attested to by Allah’s statement:

قَالَ يَا مُوسَىٰ إِنِّي اصْطَفَيْتُكَ عَلَى النَّاسِ بِرِ‌سَالَاتِي وَبِكَلَامِي

[Allah] said, “O Moosaa, I have chosen you over the people with My messages and My words…” [7:144]

And among the wordings in the Qur’an which resemble this reading is Allah’s statement:

إِنَّا أَخْلَصْنَاهُم بِخَالِصَةٍ ذِكْرَ‌ى الدَّارِ‌

Indeed, We chose them for an exclusive quality: remembrance of the home (of the Hereafter) [38:46]

For those whom Allah has chosen are the mukhlasoon, with a fathah on the letter laam.

وقرأه نافع وابن كثير وأبو عمرو وابن عامر ” مخلصا ” بكسر اللام بصيغة اسم الفاعل ، كقوله تعالى : وما أمروا إلا ليعبدوا الله مخلصين له الدين [ 98 \ 5 ] ، وقوله تعالى : قل الله أعبد مخلصا له ديني الآية [ 39 \ 14 ] . ـ

And the reading of Naafi’, ibn Kathir, Abu ‘Amr, and ibn ‘Aamir is mukhlisan, with a kasrah on the letter laam, which makes it take the form of the ism faa’il (subject). [According to this recitation, the meaning is that he is sincere to Allah]. This is like Allah’s statement:

وَمَا أُمِرُ‌وا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا اللَّـهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ

And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, [being] sincere to Him in religion [98:5]

And His statement:

قُلِ اللَّـهَ أَعْبُدُ مُخْلِصًا لَّهُ دِينِي

Say, “Allah [alone] do I worship, sincere to Him in my religion [39:14]

[Adhwaa’ al-Bayaan 3/431]

And the great mufassir Abu ‘Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari wrote the following in part of his explanation of the same ayah in surah Maryam:

واختلفت القراء في قراءة ذلك ، فقرأته عامة قراء المدينة والبصرة وبعض الكوفيين : ( إنه كان مخلصا ) بكسر اللام من المخلص ، بمعنى : إنه كان يخلص لله العبادة ، ويفرده بالألوهية ، من غير أن يجعل له فيها شريكا ، وقرأ ذلك عامة قراء أهل الكوفة خلا عاصم ( إنه كان مخلصا ) بفتح اللام من مخلص ، بمعنى : إن موسى كان الله قد أخلصه واصطفاه لرسالته ، وجعله نبيا مرسلا . ـ

The reciters held different positions regarding the recitation of this ayah. The general recitation of the reciters of al-Madinah and al-Basra, as well as some of the reciters of al-Kufa, was:

إِنَّهُ كَانَ مُخْلِصًا

Indeed, he was mukhlisan

with a kasrah on the letter laam in the word mukhlisan. This takes the meaning of: Indeed, he was sincere towards Allah in worship and he singled Him out in deification without taking any partner with Him in that.

Meanwhile, the majority of the reciters of the people of al-Kufa except for ‘Aasim recite it as:

إِنَّهُ كَانَ مُخْلَصًا

Indeed, he was mukhlasan

with a fathah on the letter laam in mukhlasan. And this takes the meaning of: Indeed, Moosaa was selected and chosen by Allah to convey His message, and He made him a prophet who was sent.

قال أبو جعفر : والصواب من القول في ذلك عندي : أنه كان صلى الله عليه وسلم مخلِصا عبادة الله ، مخلَصا للرسالة والنبوة ، فبأيتهما قرأ القارئ فمصيب الصواب . ـ

And I, Abu Ja’far, say: In my opinion, the correct position in this matter is that Moosaa (ﷺ) was sincere (mukhlisan) to Allah in his worship, and he was selected (mukhlasan) for the messengership and prophethood. So whichever one of these two transmitted recitations the reciter recites, he will be correct.

[Tafsir ibn Jarir 18/210]

See also: A Note on the Different Qiraa’aat: Sheikh bin Baaz

See also: Qiraa’aat and their Conditions for Acceptance: Sheikh Muqbil

See also: Tafsir of the Qur’an and its Connection to the Qiraa’aat: al-Suyooti

See also: Who Knows the Ta’weel? : Imam al-Sa’di

See also: Did Fir’awn claim divinity, or worship other gods?: al-Shawkaani, al-Qurtubi, & al-Baghawi

See also: The Disconnected Letters: Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan

See also: Understanding the Ayaat al-Sifaat: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: About the Books of Tafsir

See also: The Meanings of Muhkam, Mutashaabih, and Ta’weel: al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah

See also: The Conditions for Making Tafsir: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

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6 thoughts on “An Example of Added Meaning from the Different Qiraa’aat

  1. Pingback: A Note on the Different Qiraa’aat: Sheikh bin Baaz | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Who Knows the Ta’weel? : Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Qiraa’aat and their Conditions for Acceptance: Sheikh Muqbil | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: The Conditions for Making Tafsir: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh | Tulayhah

  5. Pingback: Tafsir of the Qur’an and its Connection to the Qiraa’aat: al-Suyooti | Tulayhah

  6. Pingback: Did Fir’awn claim divinity, or worship other gods?: al-Shawkaani, al-Qurtubi, & al-Baghawi | Tulayhah

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