What about the Qiraa’ah of ibn Mas’ood?: Makki ibn Abi Taalib

Makki ibn Abi Taalib, one of the great scholars of the Qur’anic sciences among the earlier generations, posed and responded to the following question in part of a larger work addressing a number of questions surrounding the multiple recitations of the Qur’an, or qiraa’aat:

فإن قيل: قد روي عن النبي “صلى الله عليه وسلم”، أنه قال: “من أراد أن يقرأ القرآن غضا، فليقرأه بقراءة ابن أم عبد”، يعني ابن مسعود. وعنه أنه قال: “من أراد أن يسمع كلام الله غضا، كما أنزل فليسمعه من في ابن أم عبد”. وقد تركت قراءة ابن مسعود اليوم، ومنع مالك وغيره أن يقرأ بالقراءة، التي تنسب إلى ابن مسعود. ـ

If one were to ask: It has been transmitted that the Prophet said:

Whoever wants to recite the Qur’an fresh, then let him recite with the recitation of ibn Umm ‘Abd

– meaning ibn Mas’ood. And he also said:

Whoever wants to hear Allah’s speech fresh just as it was sent down, then let him listen to ibn Umm ‘Abd.

But the qiraa’ah of ibn Mas’ood has been abandoned today, and imam Maalik and others forbade reciting with the qiraa’ah that has been attributed to ibn Mas’ood.

فالجواب: أن ما قاله الحسين بن علي الجعفي قال: إن معنى ذلك أن ابن مسعود كان يرتل القرآن، فحض النبي الناس على ترتيل القرآن بهذا القول. دليله قوله في الحديث الآخر: فليسمعه من في ابن مسعود، فحض على سماع ترتيل القرآن. وكذلك الجواب عن الحديث الذي روى عنه “صلى الله عليه وسلم”، أنه قال: “من أراد أن يقرا القرآن غضا كما أنزل، فليقرأه كما يقرأ ابن مسعود”. ـ

The response would be what al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali al-Ja’fi said: that the meaning of all that is that ibn Mas’ood used to recite the Qur’an at a slow and measured pace, so the Prophet was encouraging the people to also recite in a slow and measured pace with these statements.

The support for this comes in the latter of the two hadith, “…then let him listen to ibn Mas’ood.” So he was encouraging the people to listen to this slow and measured recitation of the Qur’an. And this would also be the response to another hadith that the Prophet said:

Whoever wants to recite the Qur’an fresh as it was sent down, then let him recite it as ibn Mas’ood recites it.

قال الجعفي: معناه أنه ليس يريد به حرفه الذي يخالف المصحف، إنما أراد ترتيله إذا قرأ. حض النبي “صلى الله عليه وسلم” أمته على ترتيل القرآن. وقد أمر الله “تبارك وتعالى” نبيه بذلك فقال: {وَرَتِّلِ الْقُرْآنَ تَرْتِيلًا} . ـ

al-Ja’fi said: The meaning is not that the Prophet was referring to a harf that differs from the text of the official ‘Uthmani mushaf; he was only referring to the slow and measured pace that ibn Mas’ood used when reciting.

The Prophet encouraged his ummah to recite the Qur’an in a slow and measured way, and Allah had also commanded His prophet to do so by saying

وَرَتِّلِ الْقُرْآنَ تَرْتِيلًا

and recite the Qur’an with slow and measured recitation [73:4]

 قلت : ولا ينكر أن يكون “صلى الله عليه وسلم”، أراد حرفه الذي كان يقرأ به، ونحن نقرأ بذلك من قراءته، ونتولى ذلك، ونرويه، ونرغب اليوم فيه، ما لم تخالف قراءته المصحف. فإن خالف المصحف لم نكذب بها، ولم نقرأ بها؛ لأنها خارجة عن الإجماع، منقولة بخبر الآحاد، والإجماع أولى من خبر الآحاد؛ ولأنا لا نقطع أنها قراءة ابن مسعود على الحقيقة، إذ لم يصحبها إجماع. ـ

I say: There is nothing to disprove that the Prophet was referring to the harf which ibn Mas’ood used to recite with, and until today we continue to recite, utilize, transmit and accept those parts of his recitation which do not differ from the text of the official ‘Uthmani mushaf. If a part of his recitation differs from the text of the official ‘Uthmani mushaf, we do not deny it, but we do not recite with it. That is because it falls outside of what was unanimously accepted [i.e. the text of the official ‘Uthmani mushaf] and and did not reach the level of mutawaatir transmission*. The consensus position is more deserving of consideration than something which did not reach the level of mutawaatir transmission. However, even though a recitation attributed to him may not have that same level of unanimous acceptance, we do not completely discard the possibility that it may actually be a recitation of ibn Mas’ood.

ولذلك قال مالك وغيره: القراءة التي تنسب إلى ابن مسعود. فقال: تنسب إليه. ولم يقل قراءة ابن مسعود، والشيء قد ينسب إلى الإنسان، وهو غير صحيح عنه. ـ

That is why Maalik and others used the phrase, “the qiraa’ah which is attributed to ibn Mas’ood.” They would say, “attributed to him” rather than saying “the qiraa’ah of ibn Mas’ood” because something can be attributed to a person while not actually having been authentically transmitted from him.

ولذلك قال إسماعيل القاضي: ما روي من قراءة ابن مسعود وغيره، يعني مما يخالف خط المصحف، ليس ينبغي لأحد أن يقرأ به اليوم؛ لأن الناس لا يعلمون علم يقين أنها قراءة ابن مسعود، وإنما هو شيء يرويه بعض من يحمل الحديث، ولا يجوز أن يعدل عن اليقين إلى ما لا يعلم يقينه. ـ

That is why Ismaa’eel al-Qaadhi said: It is not appropriate for anyone today to recite with whatever is transmitted from the qiraa’ah of ibn Mas’ood or others – referring to those things which differ from the text of the official ‘Uthmani mushaf – because the people do not have certain knowledge that it is actually the qiraa’ah of ibn Mas’ood; it is only something which somebody who relays hadith has transmitted. And it not permissible to leave certainty for something which is not known with certainty.

وقد فسرنا هذا القول فيما مضى، وهو مارد مالك وغيره، وإنما عنوا من ذلك ما يخالف خط المصحف لا يقرأ به اليوم. ـ

And we have previously explained this statement, but that is what Maalik and others meant; they only meant that in this age whatever differs from the text of the official ‘Uthmani mushaf should not be recited with.

[al-Ibaanah ‘an Ma’aani al-Qiraa’aat pg 96-99]

Translator’s Note: Dr. Muhammad Moosaa Nasr, one of the salafi scholars of recent times who specialized in the Qur’anic sciences and qiraa’aat, mentioned the following point of benefit and clarity in one of his many written works in the field:

التواتر عند أئمة القراء على ضروب ؛ منها التواتر المعروف عند المحدثين ؛ ومنها – بل من أكثرهم – : ما كان آحادا ، فصح سنده واستفاض واشتهر وتلقته الأمة بالقبول ، فهو كالمتاوترفي العمل به قراءة وإقراءاً ، وكثير من خلافات القراء من هذا القبيل ؛ لكن القراءات المقبولة عند القراء لابد لها من ثلاثة أركان : ١ – صحة السند مع الشهرة والاستفاضة . ٢ موافقة الرسم العثماني . ٣ موافقة وجه من وجوه النحو ولا يشترط أن يكون أفصحا . انظر منجد المقرئين لابن الجزري (ص ١٥-٢٤) وغيرها من كتب الفن . ـ

The term “mutawaatir” has more than one meaning among the leading reciters. One is the mutawaatir that is commonly used among the scholars of hadith. Another meaning – in fact this is the meaning that most of them use – is actually something that comes through a single person at some point in the chain of narration, however its chain of narration is sound, it is widespread and well-known, and has been met with acceptance by the ummah at large. Such a thing is like mutawaatir is terms of how it is dealt with for reciting and teaching, and most of the differences among the leading reciters fall into this category. That being said, those qiraa’aat which are accepted by the leading reciters all must fulfill three requirements:

  1. A sound chain of narration for a qiraa’ah that is well-known and widespread
  2. Being in accord with the text of the official ‘Uthmani mushaf
  3. Falling within the bounds of Arabic grammar, though it is not required that the qiraa’ah be the most elegant form of the language

For more information, refer to Munajjid al-Muqri’een of ibn al-Jazari (pages 15-24) and other such books in this area of specialization.

[al-Qawl al-Mufeed fee Wujoob al-Tajweed pg 10 (footnote number 11)]

See also: ibn Mas’ood and the ‘Uthmani Mushaf: Tafsir ibn Kathir

See also: How the Prophet Would Recite the Qur’an

See also: Why ‘Uthman selected Zayd ibn Thaabit over ibn Mas’ood

See also: Non-Canonical Recitations Can Help Explain the Qur’an: al-Zarkashi

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

See also: The Beauty of Reciting the Qur’an Properly: ibn al-Jazari

See also: Benefits of the Multiple Qiraa’aat: al-Suyooti

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3 thoughts on “What about the Qiraa’ah of ibn Mas’ood?: Makki ibn Abi Taalib

  1. Pingback: ibn Mas’ood and the ‘Uthmani Mushaf: Tafsir ibn Kathir | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Non-Canonical Recitations Can Help Explain the Qur’an: al-Zarkashi | Tulayhah

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

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