Abu Muhammad Makki ibn Abi Taalib (died 437 AH) was one of the great scholars of the Qur’anic sciences in his era, having produced enduring works in the fields of the qiraa’aat, tajweed, tafsir, and the Arabic language. What follows is a small excerpt from al-Ri’aayah li-Tajweed, a definitive work on tajweed among the earlier generations:
باب ما يكمل به حال طالب القرآن
What the Seeker of the Qur’an Needs in Order to be Proficient
ينبغي لطالب القرآن أن يتعلم أحكام القرآن فيفهم عن الله ما فرض عليه ، ويلقن عنه ما خاطبه به ، فينتفع بما يقرأ ويعمل بما يتلو وأن يتعلم الناسخ والمنسوخ فيعلم ما فرض عليه مما لم يفرض عليه وما سقط العمل به مما العمل به واجب ، وأن يتعلم الفرائض والأحكام ، فما أقبح حامل القرآن أن يتلو فرائضه وأحكامه عن ظهر قلب وهو لا يعلم ما يتلو ، فكيف يعمل بما لا يفهم معناه ؟ فما أقبح أن يسأل عن فقه ما يتلوه ولا يدريه ! فما مثل من هذه حالته إلا كمثل الحمار يحمل أسفارا . ـ
The one seeking to learn and memorize the Qur’an ought to learn the legal rulings of the Qur’an so that he can know and understand from Allah Himself what Allah has mandated for him and comprehend what He is addressing him with. In doing so he can benefit from what he is reading and act according to what he is reciting.
He should also learn what is naasikh and what is mansukh so that he can distinguish what is binding on him from what is not mandatory on him, and that which is no longer acted on from that which is he required to carry out.
So let him learn the legal obligations and rulings, for what is worse than a person who carries the Qur’an and recites its obligations and rulings by heart but doesn’t know what he is reciting? How will he act according to something he does not understand? What is worse than someone who asks about the meaning of something he recites while not even knowing it? There is nothing more fitting to describe the condition of such a person than a donkey hauling around tablets.
وينبغي له أن يعرف المكي من المدني فيفهم بذلك ما خاطب الله به عباده في أول الإسلام ، وما ندبهم إليه في آخر الإسلام ، وما افترض الله في أول الإسلام ، وما زاد عليه من الفرائض في آخره . يقوي بذلك على معرفة الناسخ والمنسوخ لأن المدني هو الناسخ للمكي في أكثر القرآن ، ولا يمكن أن ينسخ المكي المدني ; لأن المنسوخ هو المتقدم في النزول قبل الناسخ له . ـ
He also ought to know the makki portions of the Qur’an from the madani portions in order to thereby understand what Allah was telling His slaves in the beginning of Islam vs what He was charging them with later in Islam and what Allah made obligatory in the early days of Islam vs what obligations He added to that later. This will strengthen his understanding of the naasikh and mansukh, because the madani ayah will be a naasikh for the makki in many places in the Qur’an, while it is not possible for a makki ayah to abrogate a madani one since the mansukh text will be what came first before the its naasikh arrived.
ومن كماله أن يعرف الإعراب والغريب ، فذلك مما يسهل عليه معرفة معنى ما يقرأ ، ويزيل عنه الشك فيما إعراب ما يتلو . ـ
Something else to add to his competency is to know the i’raab (grammatical declension) and unique vocabulary. Knowledge of these things will make it easier for him to know the meaning of what he is reading and will remove confusion about the i’raab of what he is reciting.
فهذا كله من كمال وتمام شرفه وبراعته وتهذيبه . فقد قالت عائشة رضي الله عنه : الماهر في كتاب الله مع السفر الكرام البررة والذي يشق عليه القرآن له أجران بمشقته وتلاوته . ـ
All of this contributes to his competency and proficiency and adds a level of refinement and polish to him. A’ishah said, “The one who is proficient in Allah’s Book is with the noble messenger angels, and the one who finds it difficult to recite the Qur’an will have two rewards for his difficulty and for his recitation.”
ولا ينتفع بشيء مما ذكرنا حتى يخلص النية فيه لله جل ذكره عند طلبه أو بعد طلبه كما تقدم . فقد يبتدئ الطالب للعلم يريد به المباهاة عند طلبه والشرف في الدنيا أو لا يعتقد به شيئا من ذلك ، فلا يزال به فهم العلم حتى يتبين أنه على خطأ في اعتقاده فيتوب من ذلك ويخلص النية لله تعالى فينتفع بذلك ويحسن حاله . فقد قال بعض العلماء : لقد طلبنا العلم لغير الله فما زال العلم بنا حتى ردنا إلى الله تعالى أو كلاما هذا معنى . وقال مجاهد رضي الله عنه : لقد طلبنا العلم زمانا ما لنا فيه كثير نية ، ثم حسن الله فيه النية بعد . ـ
But none of this will be of any benefit to a person unless he purifies his intention to be purely for Allah throughout all of this, both during his study and afterwards, as we have already mentioned in a previous section. A student of knowledge might begin his studies in pursuit of self-aggrandizement and notoriety, or perhaps he doesn’t see any problem with that, but understanding the knowledge he has been learning would not leave him be until it became clear to him that that belief of his was mistaken, at which time he would repent from that and make his intention purely for the sake of Allah, and then he would find benefit in it and his condition would be set aright. And some of our scholars have said this, that we were seeking knowledge not for the sake of Allah, but the knowledge would not let us be until we turned back to Allah, or something to that effect. Mujahid said, “We had sought knowledge for some time while not having a lot of good intention, but then Allah rectified our intentions after that.”
[al-Ri’aayah li-Tajweed pages 86-88. Imam al-Qurtubi also quoted heavily from this passage in part of the introduction to his tafsir (see tafsir al-Qurtubi 1/37).]
 Translator’s Note: The term naasikh is generally translated as “abrogating” and the term mansukh is usually translated as “abrogated”. This translation is in line with the meaning generally intended by the scholars of fiqh, however when the salaf used these terms they did not necessary mean “abrogation”. Sheikh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyah explains this by writing:
لفظ النسخ في عرف السلف يدخل فيه كل ما فيه نوع رفع لحكم أو ظاهر أو ظنّ دلالة حتى يسمّوا تخصيص العام نسخًا، ومنهم من يسمّي الاستثناء نسخًا إذا تأخّر نزوله
According to the understanding of the salaf, the word al-naskh includes anything that involves any kind of removal of an ayah‘s legal rulings, its most apparent meaning, or what one might think that it entails – such that they even refer to one ayah providing further details about what another had left general as naskh. There were even some who would refer to an ayah which included an exception to a ruling mentioned in another ayah as naskh when the revelation of that ayah with the exception came at a later date than the initial ayah.
[Manhaj al-Sunnah 5/690]
See also: Makki and Madani Series