How the Sahabah Read and Divided the Qur’an: ibn Taymiyah

Sheikh al-Islam ibn Taymiyah wrote the following letter on the subjects of “Dividing the Qur’an into Daily Portions”, “How Much to Recite”, and “The Legislated Amount of Optional Fasting and Night Prayers.” This letter has been translated in full with some abridgement of technical and tangential discussions. The omitted sections are signaled by ellipses (…). Section headings have been added in bold and placed inside brackets for ease of navigation.

وقال شيخ الإسلام فصل في ” تحزيب القرآن ” وفي ” كم يقرأ ” وفي ” مقدار الصيام والقيام المشروع ” . عن { عبد الله بن عمرو رضي الله عنهما قال : أنكحني أبي امرأة ذات حسب فكان يتعاهد ابنته فيسألها عن بعلها فتقول : نعم الرجل لم يطأ لنا فراشا ولم يفتش لنا كنفا مذ أتيناه فلما طال ذلك عليه ذكر ذلك للنبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فقال : القن به فلقيته بعد فقال : كيف تصوم ؟ قلت : كل يوم . قال : متى – أو كيف – تختم ؟ قلت : كل ليلة . قال : صم من كل شهر ثلاثة أيام واقرأ القرآن في كل شهر . قلت : إني أطيق أكثر من ذلك . قال : صم ثلاثة أيام من كل جمعة . قلت : إني أطيق أكثر من ذلك . قال : أفطر يومين وصم يوما قال : قلت إني أطيق أكثر من ذلك . قال : صم أفضل الصوم صوم داود صيام يوم وإفطار يوم واقرأ القرآن في كل سبع ليال مرة . قال : فليتني قبلت رخصة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وذلك أني كبرت وضعفت } ” فكان يقرأ على [ ص: 406 ] بعض أهله السبع من القرآن بالنهار والذي يقرؤه يعرضه من النهار ليكون أخف عليه بالليل ; فإذا أراد أن يتقوى أفطر أياما وأحصى وصام مثلهن كراهية أن يترك شيئا فارق عليه النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم . ـ

[The Legislated Amount of Optional Fasting and Night Prayers]

It is relayed from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr that he said:

My father married me to a women from a good family, so he used to always ask his daughter-in-law about her husband, and she would say, “What a good man he is, he has not come to my bed or approached me since he married me.” So after that continued for a while, my father mentioned this to the Prophet, who said, “Let me talk with him.” So I met with him and he said, “How do you fast?” I said, “Every day.” He said, “How often do you complete a recitation of the entire Qur’an?” I said, “Every night.” He said, “Fast three days of every month, and recite the Qur’an once in a month.” I said, “I am able to do more than that.” He said, “Fast three days every week.” I said, “I am able to do more than that.” He said, “Do two days off and one day of fasting.” I said, ” I am able to do more than that.” He said, “Fast the the best kind of fasting, which is the fasting of Dawud: one day on and one day off. And recite the Qur’an once every seven nights.”

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr said, “If only I had accepted one of these allowances from Allah’s Messenger, for I have become old and weak.” He used to read a seventh of the Qur’an to one of his family members each day and he would have them check his memory so that it would be easier for him to recite that portion during the night. And whenever he wanted to gain some strength, he would skip fasting for a number of days while counting those days to make them up later, for he disliked leaving anything that he used to do during the time of the Prophet.

وقال بعضهم : في ثلاث وفي خمس وأكثرهم على سبع . وفي لفظ : ” { اقرأ القرآن في شهر قلت : إني أجد قوة . قال : فاقرأه في سبع ولا تزد على ذلك } ” رواه بكماله البخاري وهذا لفظه . وروى مسلم الحديث بنحوه واللفظ الآخر مثله . وفي رواية { ألم أخبر أنك تصوم الدهر وتقرأ القرآن كل ليلة فقلت : نعم يا نبي الله . وفيه قال : اقرأ القرآن في كل شهر قال : قلت يا نبي الله إني أطيق أفضل من ذلك قال فاقرأه في كل عشر قال : قلت يا نبي الله إني أطيق أفضل من ذلك قال : فاقرأه في سبع ولا تزد على ذلك . قال : فشددت فشدد علي وقال لي النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إنك لا تدري لعلك يطول بك عمرك قال : فصرت إلى الذي قال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم } ” وعن عبد الله بن عمرو عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال : ” { اقرأ القرآن في كل ثلاث } ” رواه أحمد وأبو داود . ـ

Some narrations mention three or five nights, but most say seven.

In one narration, it is worded:

“Recite the Qur’an once a month.” I said, “I have it within me to do more.” He said, “Then recite it once a week, and do not increase beyond that.”

This is narrated in full by al-Bukhari, and that is his wording. And Muslim relayed a similar hadith with another wording like this one. And in one narration:

“I have heard that you fast every day and recite the entire Qur’an every night.” I replied, “Yes, O Prophet of Allah.”

and also in the same narration:

The Prophet said, “Recite the Qur’an once a month.” ‘Abdullah said, “I said: O Prophet of Allah, I am able to do better than that.” He said, “Then recite it once every ten days.” ‘Abdullah said, “I said: O Prophet of Allah, I am able to do better than than.” He said, “Then recite it once every week, and do not increase beyond that.” ‘Abdullah said, “I pushed for more, so I was replied to firmly, for the Prophet said to me, ‘You do not know – maybe you will live to a long time.’ And here I am, just as the Prophet said.”

And ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr said that the Prophet said, “Recite the Qur’an once every three days.” This is transmitted by Ahmad and Abu Dawud.

قلت هذه الرواية نبه عليها البخاري . وقال بعضهم : في ثلاث وهو معنى ما روي عن { سعد بن المنذر الأنصاري أنه قال : يا رسول الله أقرأ القرآن في ثلاث ؟ قال : نعم وكان يقرؤه حتى توفي } [ ص: 407 ] رواه أحمد من طريق ابن لهيعة . وذكر أن بعضهم قال : في خمس وأكثرهم على سبع فالصحيح عندهم في حديث عبد الله بن عمرو أنه انتهى به النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إلى سبع كما أنه أمره ابتداء بقراءته في الشهر فجعل الحد ما بين الشهر إلى الأسبوع وقد روي أنه أمره ابتداء أن يقرأه في أربعين وهذا في طرف السعة يناظر التثليث في طرف الاجتهاد . ـ

I say: al-Bukhari mentioned this narration.

Some narrations say, “In three days”, and this is the meaning of what was relayed from Sa’d ibn al-Mundhir al-Ansari:

he said, “O Messenger of Allah, can I recite the entire Qur’an in three days?” The Prophet said, “Yes”, and Sa’d continued in that way until he died.

This was recorded by Ahmad via ibn Lahi’ah.

Some narrations say “in five days”, but most narrations say seven.

[How Much to Recite]

And what is correct according to those narrations of the hadith of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr is that the Prophet stopped at seven days, and likewise that he began his instruction by telling him to recite it in one month. So he set the limits between completing it every month and completing it every week.

And it has also been transmitted that the Prophet began by instructing him to complete a recitation in forty days. So forty days would be on the outer limit of allowance, while three days would be on the opposite limit of striving.

وأما رواية من روى : ” { من قرأ القرآن في أقل من ثلاث لم يفقه } ” فلا تنافي رواية التسبيع فإن هذا ليس أمرا لعبد الله بن عمرو ولا فيه أنه جعل قراءته في ثلاث دائما سنة مشروعة وإنما فيه الإخبار بأن من قرأه في أقل من ثلاث لم يفقه ومفهومه مفهوم العدد وهو مفهوم صحيح أن من قرأه في ثلاث فصاعدا فحكمه نقيض ذلك والتناقض يكون بالمخالفة ولو من بعض الوجوه . ـ

And as for the narration of those who transmit

“Whoever completes the entire Qur’an in less than three days has not understood it.”

then there is no contradiction between this narration and the one mentioning seven days. This narration is not a command to ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr, nor does it indicate that always completing the Qur’an in three days is a recommended act. This narration is only informing us that whoever recites the Qur’an in less than three days has not understood it. And the correct understanding to derive from this hadith is that whoever completes the Qur’an in three days or more does not fall under this condition of not understanding it.

فإذا كان من يقرؤه في ثلاث أحيانا قد يفقهه حصل مقصود الحديث ولا يلزم إذا شرع فعل ذلك أحيانا لبعض الناس أن يكون المداومة على ذلك مستحبة ; ولهذا لم يعلم في الصحابة على عهده من داوم على ذلك أعني على قراءته دائما فيما دون السبع ولهذا كان الإمام أحمد – رحمه الله – يقرؤه في كل سبع . ـ

So if a person finishes the Qur’an in three days sometimes, then it is possible that he does understand it, and he has done what was intended by this hadith. And the fact that completing the Qur’an in three days was sometimes allowed for certain people does not mean that always doing so is recommended. In line with this, we do not know of any of the Sahabah during the lifetime of the Prophet who stuck to that practice – i.e. always completing the Qur’an in less than seven days. Because of that Imam Ahmad used to complete it once a week.

والمقصود بهذا الفصل أنه إذا كان التحزيب المستحب ما بين أسبوع إلى شهر – وإن كان قد روي ما بين ثلاث إلى أربعين – فالصحابة إنما كانوا يحزبونه سورا تامة لا يحزبون السورة الواحدة كما روى { أوس بن حذيفة قال : قدمنا على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم في وفد ثقيف قال : فنزلت الأحلاف على المغيرة بن شعبة ونزل رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم بني مالك في قبة له قال : وكان كل ليلة يأتينا بعد العشاء يحدثنا قائما على رجليه حتى يراوح بين رجليه من طول القيام وأكثر ما يحدثنا ما لقي من قومه من قريش . ثم يقول : لا سواء كنا مستضعفين مستذلين بمكة فلما خرجنا إلى المدينة كانت سجال الحرب بيننا وبينهم ندال عليهم ويدالون علينا فلما كانت ليلة أبطأ عن الوقت الذي كان يأتينا فيه فقلنا : لقد أبطأت عنا الليلة قال : إنه طرأ علي حزبي من القرآن فكرهت أن أجيء حتى أتمه . { قال أوس : سألت أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم كيف تحزبون القرآن ؟ قالوا : ثلاث وخمس وسبع وتسع وإحدى عشرة وثلاث عشرة وحزب المفصل واحد } . رواه أبو داود وهذا لفظه وأحمد وابن ماجه وفي رواية للإمام أحمد قالوا : نحزبه ثلاث سور وخمس سور وسبع سور وتسع سور وإحدى عشرة وثلاث عشرة وحزب المفصل من ( ق حتى يختم . ورواه الطبراني [ ص: 409 ] في معجمه فسألنا أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم كيف كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يحزب القرآن ؟ فقالوا : كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يحزبه ثلاثا وخمسا فذكره .ـ

The point of this discussion is that the preferred way of dividing the Qur’an is to complete it within somewhere between one week and one month – even though some narrations mention between three and forty days.

[Dividing the Qur’an into Daily Portions]

And the Companions used to only make their divisions of the Qur’an around complete surahs; they did not make the dividing lines fall within a surah. This is as has been related from Aws ibn Hudhayfah, who said:

We came upon the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) in a delegation of Thaqif. The signatories of the pact came to al-Mughirah ibn Shu’bah as his guests. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) made Banu-Malik stay in a tent of his.

Musaddad – who was in the delegation of Thaqif which came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) – said: The Prophet used to visit and talk with us every day after the night prayer.

Abu Sa’eed said: He remained standing for such a long time (talking to us) that he put his weight sometimes on one leg and sometimes on the other due to his long stay. He mostly told us how his people, the Quraysh, behaved with him. He would say, “We were not equal; we were weak and degraded at Mecca. When we came over to Medina the fighting began between us; sometimes we overcome them and at other times they overcome us.”

One night he came late, not coming at his usual time. We said to him, “You came late tonight!” He said, “I was completing my nightly portion of reading from the Qur’an and I didn’t want to come until I had finished it.”

Aws said: I asked the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ): How do you divide the Qur’an for daily recitation? They said: Three, five, eleven, thirteen, and the mufassal surahs.

This is reported by Abu Dawud – and this was the wording in his report -, as well as by Ahmad and ibn Majah. In the narration of Imam Ahmad, the Companions said:

We would divide it as: three surahs, five surahs, seven surahs, nine surahs, and eleven, and thirteen, and the mufassal surahs from surah Qaaf to the end.

And al-Tabarani mention in his Mu’jam that: We asked the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) how Allah’s Messenger used to divide the Qur’an. They said, “Allah’s Messenger used to divide it as three, five…” and then he mentioned the rest of the hadith.

وهذا الحديث يوافق معنى حديث عبد الله بن عمرو في أن المسنون كان عندهم قراءته في سبع ; ولهذا جعلوه سبعة أحزاب ولم يجعلوه ثلاثة ولا خمسة وفيه أنهم حزبوه بالسور وهذا معلوم بالتواتر ; فإنه قد علم أن أول ما جزئ القرآن بالحروف تجزئة ثمانية وعشرين وثلاثين وستين . هذه التي تكون رءوس الأجزاء والأحزاب في أثناء السورة وأثناء القصة ونحو ذلك كان في زمن الحجاج وما بعده وروي أن الحجاج أمر بذلك . ومن العراق فشا ذلك ولم يكن أهل المدينة يعرفون ذلك . ـ

This hadith is in agreement with the meaning of the hadith of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr that what they considered desirable was to recite the Qur’an in seven days, and as a result they divided the Qur’an into seven sections, and they did not divide it into three or five sections. And these narrations also show that they divided the Qur’an by surahs, which is something known through numerous mutually-reinforcing narrations to that effect.

For it is a fact that the first person to divide the Qur’an into sections based on word-count divided it into twenty-eight sections, thirty sections, and sixty sections. This was done in a way that resulted in the beginnings of the different portions and sections possibly falling in the middle of a surah or in the middle of a story, etc. That was done during the time of al-Hajjaaj ibn Yusuf and thereafter. And it has been narrated that al-Hajjaaj commanded that to be done. So that method of division spread in Iraq, while the people of al-Madinah were not familiar with it.

وإذا كانت التجزئة بالحروف محدثة من عهد الحجاج بالعراق فمعلوم أن الصحابة قبل ذلك على عهد النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وبعده كان لهم تحزيب آخر ; فإنهم كانوا يقدرون تارة بالآيات فيقولون : خمسون آية ستون آية . وتارة بالسور لكن تسبيعه بالآيات لم يروه أحد ولا ذكره أحد فتعين التحزيب بالسور . ـ

So, if divisions based on word-count were only introduced during the time of al-Hajjaaj in Iraq, then we know that the Companions before that time, both during the era of the Prophet and afterwards, used a different method of dividing the Qur’an. So sometimes they would estimate by ayaat, saying, “fifty ayaat, sixty ayaat“, and sometimes they would divide along the lines of surahs. However, dividing the Qur’an into sevenths along the lines of ayaat [i.e. by the count of ayaat, rather than by complete surahs] was not transmitted or mentioned by anyone. So their division of the Qur’an was done along the lines of complete surahs.

وهذا الذي كان عليه الصحابة هو الأحسن ; لوجوه : ” أحدها ” أن هذه التحزيبات المحدثة تتضمن دائما الوقوف على بعض الكلام المتصل بما بعده حتى يتضمن الوقف على المعطوف دون المعطوف عليه فيحصل القارئ في اليوم الثاني مبتدئا بمعطوف كقوله تعالى : { والمحصنات من النساء إلا ما ملكت أيمانكم } وقوله : { ومن يقنت منكن لله ورسوله } وأمثال ذلك . ويتضمن الوقف على بعض القصة دون بعض – حتى كلام المتخاطبين – حتى يحصل الابتداء [ ص: 411 ] في اليوم الثاني بكلام المجيب كقوله تعالى : { قال ألم أقل لك إنك لن تستطيع معي صبرا } . ـ

This method that the Companions used is the best practice. This is for a number of reasons:

First: This new form of division always ends up making breaks in the middle of passages that should be connected. It even sometimes happens that it results in breaks in the middle of a list, and so the reciter would end up starting out on day two of reciting with the second part of a list, like Allah’s statement:

وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ

And [also prohibited for you are] married women, excepted for what your right hand possesses … [4:24]

or Allah’s statement:

وَمَن يَقْنُتْ مِنكُنَّ لِلَّـهِ وَرَسُولِهِ

But whoever of you devoutly obeys Allah and His Messenger … [33:31]

and other such similar situations.

And this type of word-count division would also result in breaks in the middle of stories, or even breaks in the middle of a dialogue. It could even be that one might start on day two of reciting with a response to a previous statement, such as Allah’s statement:

قَالَ أَلَمْ أَقُلْ إِنَّكَ لَن تَسْتَطِيعَ مَعِيَ صَبْرًا

He said, “Didn’t I say that you would never be able to have patience with me?” [18:72]

” الثاني ” أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم كانت عادته الغالبة وعادة أصحابه أن يقرأ في الصلاة بسورة ك ( ق ونحوها وكما كان عمر رضي الله عنه يقرأ ” بيونس ” و ” يوسف ” و ” النحل ” { ولما قرأ صلى الله عليه وسلم بسورة المؤمنين في الفجر أدركته سعلة فركع في أثنائها . وقال : إني لأدخل في الصلاة وأنا أريد أن أطيلها فأسمع بكاء الصبي فأخفف لما أعلم من وجد أمه به } ” . ـ

Second: It was the general practice of the Prophet and His Companions to recite whole surahs in the prayer, such as surah Qaaf or something similar. Likewise, ‘Umar used to recited surahs Yunus, Yusuf, or al-Nahl in the prayer. Once the Prophet was reciting surah al-Mu’minoon in the Fajr prayer, but then he heard some coughing so he went into rukoo’ in the middle of the surah, and afterwards he said, “I had begun the prayer with the intention to elongate it, but then I heard a child crying, so I shortened it because I know that it would be difficult for the child’s mother [i.e. to continue praying with us while her child is crying].

[ ص: 412 ] وأما ” القراءة بأواخر السور وأوساطها ” فلم يكن غالبا عليهم ; ولهذا يتورع في كراهة ذلك وفيه النزاع المشهور في مذهب أحمد وغيره ومن أعدل الأقوال قول من قال يكره اعتياد ذلك دون فعله أحيانا ; لئلا يخرج عما مضت به السنة . وعادة السلف من الصحابة والتابعين . ـ

And as for reciting just the ends of surahs or only sections from the middle of surahs, this was not something that they commonly did. Because of that, to be on the safe side, some held those things to be disliked. And there is a well-known difference of opinion on this subject within the Hanbali madhhab, as well as elsewhere, but the most fair stance is that of those who consider it to be disliked if done regularly, but not if only done occasionally, since doing so was not completely outside the realm of what we find in the Sunnah or the practices of the salaf – that is, the Sahabah and the Taabi’oon.

وإذا كان كذلك فمعلوم أن هذا التحزيب والتجزئة فيه مخالفة السنة أعظم مما في قراءة آخر السورة ووسطها في الصلاة وبكل حال فلا ريب أن التجزئة والتحزيب الموافق لما كان هو الغالب على تلاوتهم أحسن . ـ

So, if that is the case, then it becomes clear that dividing and partitioning the Qur’an in ways contrary to the Sunnah is worse than merely reciting the ends of middles of a surah in the prayer. In any case, there is no doubt that dividing the Qur’an according the predominant method that the Prophet and his Companions used while reciting would be best.

و ” المقصود ” أن التحزيب بالسورة التامة أولى من التحزيب بالتجزئة . ـ

And the point of all this is that dividing the Qur’an along the lines of complete surahs is more appropriate than dividing it into separate chunks or sections.

” الثالث ” أن التجزئة المحدثة لا سبيل [ فيها ] إلى التسوية بين حروف الأجزاء ; وذلك لأن الحروف في النطق تخالف الحروف في الخط في الزيادة والنقصان يزيد كل منهما على الآخر من وجه دون وجه وتختلف الحروف من وجه …ـ

Third: This new method of division by word-count is not actually able to produce completely equal sections. That is because the word-count differs depending on whether one does it according to oral pronunciation or written form, with each method producing different results.

فإذا قرأ القارئ في اليوم الأول البقرة وآل عمران والنساء [ ص: 415 ] بكمالها وفي اليوم الثاني إلى آخر براءة وفي اليوم الثالث إلى آخر النمل : كان ذلك أفضل من أن يقرأ في اليوم الأول إلى قوله : { بليغا } وفي اليوم الثاني إلى قوله : { إنا لا نضيع أجر المصلحين } فعلى هذا إذا قرأه كل شهر كما أمر به النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم عبد الله بن عمرو أولا عملا على قياس تحزيب الصحابة ; فالسورة التي تكون نحو جزء أو أكثر بنحو نصف أو أقل بيسير يجعلها حزبا كآل عمران والنساء والمائدة والأنعام والأعراف . ـ

So then, if a person were to recite all of al-Baqarah, Aal ‘Imraan, and al-Nisaa’ on the first day, then to the end of surah al-Baraa’ [a.k.a. surah al-Tawbah] on the second day, and then to the end of surah al-Naml on the third day, that would be better than for him to recite up until


… far-reaching [4:63]

on the first day, and then to

إِنَّا لَا نُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُصْلِحِينَ

Indeed, We do not allow the reward of the good-doers to be lost [7:170]

on the second day.

Building off of this, if one were to recite the Qur’an every month as the Prophet initially instructed ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr to do, then one would do so by following the same method of division as the Sahabah. So, any surah which is roughly the same length as a juz’ or about a juz’ and a half or slightly less than a juz’ would be treated as one section. For example, this would apply for Aal ‘Imraan, al-Nisaa’, al-Maa’idah, al-An’aam, and al-A’raaf.

29 Day Schedule for Completing the Qur’an – ibn Taymiyah

وأما البقرة فقد يقال : يجعلها حزبا وإن كانت بقدر حزبين وثلث ; لكن الأشبه أنه يقسمها حزبين للحاجة ; لأن التحزيب لا بد أن يكون متقاربا ; بحيث يكون الحزب مثل الأجزاء ومثله مرة ودون النصف وأما إذا كان مرتين وشيئا فهذا تضعيف وزيادة . ـ

As for surah al-Baqarah, one could say that it should be treated as its own section, although is is equivalent to two and one third juz’s. But what is closer to this method of 30 part division would be to divide it into two sections out of necessity, because the divisions ought to be similar in size. So a section in this division should be similar to a word-count juz’, so the best thing to do would be a little less than a juz’ and a half. But if you did two whole juz’ plus a little bit more all at once, that would be more than twice as much as a normal day’s reading.

وعلى هذا فإلى الأعراف سبعة أجزاء والأنفال جزء وبراءة جزء فإن هذا أولى من جعلها جزءا ; لأن ذلك يفضي إلى أن يكون نحو الثلث في ثمانية والذي رجحناه يقتضي أن يكون نحو الثلث في تسعة وهذا أقرب إلى العدل . وتحزيب الصحابة أوجب أن يكون الحزب الأول أكثر ويكون إلى آخر العنكبوت العشر الثاني سورتين سورتين . ـ

So according to this method of division, there would be seven sections up to the end of surah al-A’raaf. Then al-Anfaal and al-Baraa’ would each be their own separate sections, which is better than combining the two into one section. That is because combining them would result in about a third of the Qur’an being covered in eight sections, but according to our calculation having about a third of the Qur’an spread across nine sections is closer to equal divisions. And the division used by the Sahabah would entail that the first third would be a little bit longer and that the second ten sections would be two surahs each day.

وأما يونس وهود فجزءان أيضا أو جزء واحد لأنهما أول [ ص: 416 ] ذوات { الر } ويكون على هذا الثلث الأول سورة سورة والثاني سورتين سورتين ; لكن الأول أقرب إلى أن يكون قريب الثلث الأول في العشر الأول فإن الزيادة على الثلث بسورة أقرب من الزيادة بسورتين وأيضا فيكون عشرة أحزاب سورة سورة وهذا أشبه بفعل الصحابة ويوسف والرعد جزء وكذلك إبراهيم والحجر وكذلك النحل وسبحان وكذلك الكهف ومريم وكذلك طه والأنبياء وكذلك الحج والمؤمنون وكذلك النور والفرقان وكذلك ذات { طس } الشعراء والنمل والقصص وذات { الم } العنكبوت والروم ولقمان والسجدة جزء والأحزاب وسبأ وفاطر جزء و يس والصافات وص جزء والزمر وغافر و حم السجدة جزء والخمس البواقي من آل حم جزء . ـ

As for Yunus and Hud, then these should also be two separate sections. Or they could be one single section, for the are the beginning of the Alif Lam Ra surahs. If they were treated as one section together, then the first third of the Qur’an would be one surah each day, while the second third would be two surahs each day. However treating them a separate sections is closer to making the first third of the Qur’an fit into the first ten nights of reading, because going over one third by a single surah is better than going over by two surahs.

So then, the first ten sections would be one surah for each section, which is the method closest to how the Sahabah did their division. Then Yusuf and al-Ra’d would be a single section, and likewise for Ibrahim and al-Hijr, and for al-Nahl and al-Israa’, and for al-Kahf and Maryam, and for Taha and al-Anbiyaa’, and for al-Hajj and al-Mu’minoon, and for al-Noor and al-Furqan.

Then the surahs which begin with Taa Seen – al-Shu’araa’, al-Naml, and al-Qasas – would be one section. Then the surah which begin with Alif Lam Meemal-‘Ankaboot, al-Room, Luqman, and al-Sajdah – would be one section. Then al-Ahzab, Saba’, and Fatir would be one section. Then Yasin, al-Saffaat, and Saad would be one section. Then al-Zumar, Ghafir, and Fussilat would be one section. Then the remaining five surahs that open with Ha Meem would be one section.

والثلث الأول أشبه بتشابه أوائل السور والثاني أشبه بمقدار جزء من تجزئة الحروف وهو المرجح . ثم ” القتال ” و ” الفتح ” و ” الحجرات ” و ” ق ” و ” الذاريات ” جزء ثم الأربعة الأجزاء المعروفة وهذا تحزيب مناسب مشابه لتحزيب الصحابة رضي الله عنهم وهو مقارب لتحزيب الحروف وإحدى عشرة سورة حزب حزب ; إذ البقرة كسورتين ; فيكون إحدى عشرة سورة وهي نصيب إحدى عشرة ليلة . والله أعلم . ـ

So the first third of the Qur’an is organized according to the beginnings of surahs while the second third is organized in a way that resembles the length of word-count divisions – and this organization of the first two thirds is widely accepted.

Following that, Muhammad, al-Fath, al-Hujurat, Qaaf, and al-Dhaariyaat would all be one section. Then there would be the four popularly-known juz’ divisions after that, for these divisions are compatible with the method that the Sahabah used to divide their reading of the Qur’an and they correspond to the length of the word-count division sections.

So the first eleven surahs would be taken as one section each – that is while treating surah al-Baqarah as if it were two surahs. So then, these first eleven surahs would be the portion of the first eleven nights of reading.

And Allah knows best.

[Majmoo’ al-Fataawaa 13/405-416]

Translator’s Note: In order to facilitate implementing this reading schedule for those who would like to, we have put together the chart above. The chart was made by consulting the text, another similar chart found online in the Arabic language, and a small pamphlet entitled Jadwal al-Salaf fee Ramadhaan by sheikh ِAbu Salah Muhammad Hisham Tahiri. In this pamphlet, sheikh Abu Salah marked the first half of surah al-Baqarah as from ayah 1-195, and the second half from ayah 196 until the end.

For more details about the seven day reading schedule, see: How the Sahabah Used to Divide the Qur’an: Tafsir ibn Kathir

See also: Etiquette of Reciting and Listening to the Qur’an: ibn ‘Uthaymeen

See also: How to benefit from reading the Qur’an during Ramadan: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

See also: Can one take more than one month for reading the Qur’an with contemplation?: Sheikh bin Baaz

See also: “We are not able to perform qiyaam al-lail”: Responses from the salaf

See also: What is the minimum amount of time to complete reciting the Qur’an: Sheikh bin Baaz


7 thoughts on “How the Sahabah Read and Divided the Qur’an: ibn Taymiyah

  1. Pingback: How the Sahabah Used to Divide the Qur’an: Tafsir ibn Kathir | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Can one take more than one month for reading the Qur’an with contemplation?: Sheikh bin Baaz | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: What is the minimum amount of time to complete reciting the Qur’an: Sheikh bin Baaz | Tulayhah

    • May Allah facilitate it for you. Before publishing this translation, I tried the 29 day schedule and found it beneficial. Reading complete surahs can help one to focus in on meanings of the surah as a whole and its themes. BaarakAllaahu feek.

  4. Asalam aleikum….

    There is a pocket size mushaf that is divided into 6 sections….

    *One part has 3 surah (baqara – nissa)
    *Second section 5 surah (maida – baraa’)
    *Third section 9 surah (Yunus – kahf)
    *Forth section 11 surah (Maryam – an’kaboot)
    *Fifth section 16 surah (rum – jaathiya’)
    *Sixth section (Ahqaf till nas)

    Using this mushaf someone completes recitation in 6days….

    Is it from the way of the salaf or the best is the seven days partition the way sahaba did???

    BarakaLlahu feekum.

    • wa ‘alaikum as salaam wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh,

      In his book, al-Tibyan fee Adab Hamalah al-Qur’an, Imam al-Nawawi mentions that most of the salaf used to complete the Qur’an every seven days, while some are reported to have completed it once every two months, or every month, or every ten days, or eight, or six, or five, or four, or three, or less than that. He goes on to say, as have many other scholars, that the amount of time depends on the person: they should find what is most beneficial for them in terms of contemplation and khushoo’ while reciting. You may also be interested in seeing this article from sheikh bin Baaz.

      And according to this article from ibn Taymiyah, whichever division one selects, it would be best to follow the method of the Sahabah, which was to begin and end one’s daily reading with the beginnings and ends of surahs rather than to stop and start in the middle of them.

      wa feekum baarakAllaah

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