Learning the Qur’an – Both Wordings and Meanings: ibn Taymiyah

In part of a longer discussion about the qiraa’aat, sheikh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyah wrote:

فإن أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم تلقوا عنه ما أمره الله بتبليغه إليهم من القرآن لفظه ومعناه جميعا كما قال أبو عبد الرحمن السلمي – وهو الذي روى عن عثمان رضي الله عنه عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال : ” { خيركم من تعلم القرآن وعلمه } ” كما رواه البخاري في صحيحه وكان يقرئ القرآن أربعين سنة . قال – حدثنا الذين كانوا يقرئوننا عثمان بن عفان وعبد الله بن مسعود وغيرهما : أنهم كانوا إذا تعلموا من النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم عشر آيات لم يجاوزوها حتى [ ص: 403 ] يتعلموا ما فيها من العلم والعمل . قالوا : فتعلمنا القرآن والعلم والعمل جميعا .ـ

The Companions received the Qur’an – both its wordings and its meanings – from the Messenger (ﷺ) as Allah had commanded Him to convey it to them. This is just as Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami described it, and he was the one who relayed from ‘Uthman that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

The best of you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it

as has been recorded by al-Bukhari in his Saheeh along with the comment that Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami had been a teacher of the Qur’an for forty years.

Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami also said:

Those under whom we learned the Qur’an – ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affaan, ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood, and others – told us that whenever they had learned ten ayaat from the Prophet (ﷺ), they used to not move forward past that until they learned the knowledge which those ayaat contained and actions which they entailed. They said, “We learned the Qur’an along with knowledge and deeds all together.”

ولهذا دخل في معنى قوله : ” { خيركم من تعلم القرآن وعلمه } ” تعليم حروفه ومعانيه جميعا ; بل تعلم معانيه هو المقصود الأول بتعليم حروفه وذلك هو الذي يزيد الإيمان كما قال جندب بن عبد الله وعبد الله بن عمر وغيرهما : تعلمنا الإيمان ثم تعلمنا القرآن فازددنا إيمانا وأنتم تتعلمون القرآن ثم تتعلمون الإيمان . ـ

So in light of this, teaching the wordings of the Qur’an and its meanings are both included in the meaning of “The best of you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it.” In fact, gaining knowledge of the Qur’an’s meanings is the primary goal of teaching its wordings. It is knowledge of the meanings that increases one’s eemaan, just as Jundub ibn ‘Abdullah, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr, and others said:

We learned eemaan first before learning the Qur’an, so then the Qur’an increased us in eemaan. However now you learn the Qur’an first before learning eemaan.

وفى الصحيحين عن حذيفة قال: (( حدثنا رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم -حديثين: رأيت أحدهما، وأنا أنتظر الآخر؛ حدثنا أن الأمانة نزلت في جذر قلوب الرجال، ونزل القرآن…)) وذكر الحديث بطوله ولا تتسع هذه الورقة لذكر ذلك وإنما المقصود التنبيه على أن ذلك كله مما بلغه رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إلى الناس . ـ

And in both al-Bukhari and Muslim, there is the reported that Hudhayfah said:

Allah’s Messenger told us about two events. I have witnessed one of them, and I am waiting for the other to occur. That trustworthiness was sent down and settled in hearts of men and then the Qur’an was revealed…

and he mentioned a long hadith which these pages do not have enough space to mention here. But the point of this hadith is to draw attention to the fact that all of the qiraa’aat and huroof were transmitted from the Prophet to the people.

وبلغنا أصحابه عنه الإيمان والقرآن حروفه ومعانيه وذلك مما أوحاه الله إليه كما قال تعالى : { وكذلك أوحينا إليك روحا من أمرنا ما كنت تدري ما الكتاب ولا الإيمان ولكن جعلناه نورا نهدي به من نشاء من عبادنا } وتجوز القراءة في الصلاة وخارجها بالقراءات الثابتة الموافقة لرسم المصحف كما ثبتت هذه القراءات وليست شاذة حينئذ . والله أعلم . ـ

And the Sahabah transmitted both al-eemaan and the Qur’an to us – both its meanings and its wordings – all of which had been revealed from Allah to the Prophet. This is just as Allah said:

وَكَذَٰلِكَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ رُوحًا مِّنْ أَمْرِنَا ۚ مَا كُنتَ تَدْرِي مَا الْكِتَابُ وَلَا الْإِيمَانُ وَلَـٰكِن جَعَلْنَاهُ نُورًا نَّهْدِي بِهِ مَن نَّشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا

And thus We have sent to you an inspiration of Our Command. You did not know what is the Book or what is eemaan, but We have made it a light by which We guide whom We will of Our servants. [45:52]

And it is permitted to recite with any of the qiraa’aat which have been authentically transmitted and match the official text of the ‘Uthmani Mushaf, just as these well-known qiraa’aat have been authentically transmitted, so long as they are not shaadh. And this is permissible both in the salah and outside of it.

And Allah knows best.

[Majmoo’ al-Fataawaa 13/403-404]

See more material from the same letter:

Clarifying some Misconceptions about the Seven Qiraa’aat: Ibn Taymiyah

The Seven Qiraa’aat are all Part of One Harf: ibn Taymiyah [Forthcoming, inshaAllaah]

Where Do the Differences in the Qiraa’aat Come From?: ibn Taymiyah

See also: Preservation of the Wordings and Meanings of the Qur’an among the Salaf: Tafsir ibn Kathir

See also: How the Sahabah Memorized the Qur’an: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr

See also: Which is more virtuous – memorizing the Qur’an, or seeking ‘ilm? : Ibn Taymiyah

See also: Naseehah to the Qur’an: Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan

See also: The Need for Teaching Tafsir: Ibn ‘Uthaymeen

See also: “The best of you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it”: ibn Kathir

See also: “The best of you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it”: Sheikh al-Albani

See also: The Great Attention that the Salaf gave to the Qur’an: Ibn al-Jazari

13 thoughts on “Learning the Qur’an – Both Wordings and Meanings: ibn Taymiyah

  1. Pingback: Which is more virtuous – memorizing the Qur’an, or seeking ‘ilm? : Ibn Taymiyah | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: The Need for Teaching Tafsir: Ibn ‘Uthaymeen | Tulayhah

  3. سلام عليك و رحمة الله،
    In regards to the statement Abdullah ibn Mas’ood, and others – told us that whenever they had learned ten ayaat from the Prophet (ﷺ), they used to not move forward past that until they learned the knowledge which those ayaat contained and actions which they entailed. They said, ‘We learned the Qur’an along with knowledge and deeds all together.’” How can we Implement action when Allah speaks about his ruboobiyyah or stories of the previous nation’s? Because, I want to memorize, learn the meaning and act upon it. بارك الله فيك

    • wa ‘alaikum as salaam wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh,

      May Allah reward you for your desire to act upon this information, and may He enable both us and you to be sincere towards the Qur’an.

      As believers, one of the actions that we are obligated to take towards the Qur’an is to affirm and believe in its contents. So when Allah is providing us with information about His ruboobiyyah (Lordship), for example, we must believe in this information.

      Also, we ought to contemplate it and be moved by Allah’s greatness: how He created this creation so perfectly, how He provides for us and all creation, how He arranged and organized the creation according to His wisdom, etc. Consider what Allah says at the end of surah Aal ‘Imraan [3:190-194]

      Also, throughout the Qur’an Allah often mentions His Ruboobiyyah as a proof of His Uloohiyyah (His right to be worshiped). Consider for example in surah al-Baqarah 2:21. So these places where Allah mentions His Ruboobiyyah are proofs for His sole right to be worshiped, and thus we should respond appropriately by worshiping Him alone.

      As for the stories of the Prophets, then the Prophets and Messengers of Allah are role models for us, and there are many lessons and benefits that the scholars extract from their stories. For some examples of these, consider these excerpts from sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di (who was the main teacher of sheikh ibn ‘Uthaymeen) in his explanation of the story of Moosaa and al-Khadr, and his explanation of the story of Moosaa’s mother.

      And before closing, I would just add that the books of tafsir (Qur’anic explanation) are indispensable for learning the meanings of the Qur’an and how to act accordingly. Tafsir ibn Kathir has been translated into English and Tafsir al-Sa’di is in the process of being translated into English and I believe two volumes are currently available. These are wonderful resources for anyone who wants to understand the Qur’an. Also, a main goal of this site it to provide translations of explanations of the Qur’an from the scholars, and we hope that the material we provide here will also help readers to better understand the Qur’an and act according to it.

      Wa feekum baarakAllaah – Khalil Klopfenstein

  4. Pingback: “The Best of You are Those Who Learn the Qur’an and Teach it”: Sheikh al-Albani | Tulayhah

  5. Pingback: Clarifying some Misconceptions about the Seven Qiraa’aat: Ibn Taymiyah | Tulayhah

  6. Pingback: The Great Attention that the Salaf gave to the Qur’an: Ibn al-Jazari | Tulayhah

  7. Pingback: The Dots and Tashkeel in the Mushaf: ibn Taymiyah | Tulayhah

  8. Pingback: Benefits of the Multiple Qiraa’aat: al-Suyooti | Tulayhah

  9. Pingback: What the Memorizer of the Qur’an Ought to Know: Makki ibn Abi Taalib | Tulayhah

  10. Pingback: How the Sahabah Memorized the Qur’an: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr | Tulayhah

  11. Pingback: Why do the Mufassiroon differ?: Ibn Taymiyah | Tulayhah

  12. Pingback: Where Do the Differences in the Qiraa’aat Come From?: ibn Taymiyah | Tulayhah

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