A Brief Introduction to the Qiraa’aat: Sheikh bin Baaz

Sheikh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bin Baaz, the former Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was once asked:

 أرجو أن تعطوني نبذة عن القراءات، ولماذا يوجد عشر قراءات رغم أن القرآن نزل على سبعة أحرف فقط؟  ـ

I hope that you could give me a brief summary of the Qiraa’aat [variant recitations], and why there are ten of them despite the Qur’an having been revealed in only seven dialects.

He responded by saying:

علم القراءات معلوم لدى القراء ولدى أهل العلم، والأصل أن الله جل وعلا أنزل القرآن على سبعة أحرف، وهي أحرف متقاربة، تارةً باختلاف اللفظ وتارة باختلاف المعنى لكن مع التقارب، ولما تنازع الناس في عهد عثمان رأى عثمان -رضي الله عنه- ومن كان في زمانه من الصحابة كعلي -رضي الله عنه- وطلحة والزبير وغيرهم من أعيان الصحابة فرأوا جمع القرآن على حرفٍ واحد، حتى لا تكون هناك منازعات، والقراء الذين اختلفوا في القراءات السبعة والعشرة إنما هي قراءات لا يختلف بها المعنى في الغالب، إلا اختلافاً يسيرا، إما زيادة حرف أو نقص حرف أو اختلاف في الحركات الرفع والنصب، فاختلاف القراءات السبع والعشر اختلاف يسير، لا يخرج عن كونه في حرف واحد مما نزل به القرآن. ـ

The science of the Qiraa’aat is well-known to the reciters and the people of knowledge. Its origin is that Allah revealed the Qur’an in seven dialects, and these dialects were very near to one another – sometimes they would differ in wording and sometimes they would differ in meaning while still being very close to one another.

Then when the people started to differ during the era of ‘Uthman, ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) and the Sahabah who were alive in his era such as ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him), Talhah, al-Zubayr and others prominent Sahabah decided to gather the Qur’an according to one single dialect so that there would be no more divisions among the people.

And as for the reciters who differ along the lines of the seven qiraa’aat or the ten qiraa’aat, these are only qiraa’aat that for the most part do not differ in their meanings. They only differ from one another slightly, either by the addition of a letter, or the subtraction of a letter, or in a word taking a different case ending. So the differences among the seven qiraa’aat and the ten qiraa’aat are minor and none of them are outside of them all being from one single dialect in which Allah had revealed the Qur’an.

[Taken from the sheikh’s website here.]

And on another instance, he was asked:

 نرجو أن تتفضلوا بإعطائنا نبذه مختصرة عن القراءات السبع؟ ـ

We would like for you to favor us by providing a brief overview of the seven qiraa’aat.

To which he replied:

القراءات السبع معلومة عند أهل العلم، وهكذا القراءات العشر ، والقراء معروفون، وفي إمكانك أن تراجع كتاب الشاطبي، حتى تعرف معنى هذه القراءات ، وتعرف أيضاً ما قيل في القراءات الثلاث التي هي تكمل العشر مما كتب فيها . ـ

The seven qiraa’aat are well-known among the people of knowledge, as are the ten qiraa’aat. And the reciters are also well-known. If you are able to do so, you should refer back to al-Shaatibi’s book on this subject so that you can know the meaning of these qiraa’aat as well as what has been said about the ten qiraa’aat that make complete the ten.

وهذه القراءات تختلف في بعض الحروف في إدغام ، وفي إظهار، وفي رفع ، وفي نصب، وفي مد ، وفي عدم مد، لكنها ترجع إلى المصحف الشريف الذي رسمه عثمان والصحابة، إلا أنها تختلف في بعض الأشياء اليسيرة مثل: فأزلهما، فأزالهما الشيطان، مثل: نزاعة للشوى، نزاعة للشوى، في الرفع، وما أشبه ذلك . ـ

These qiraa’aat differ in some of their letters as it relates to idghaam or ithhaar, as it relates to whether a word takes the case ending of a subject or object, as it relates to whether a letter is elongated in recitation or not – however all of this finds its source in the official Mushaf which ‘Uthman and the Sahabah recorded. They only differ in some minor things. For example:

فَأَزَلَّهُمَا الشَّيْطَانُ

Then the Shaytan caused them to slip [2:36]

compared to :

فَأَزَالَهُمَا الشَّيْطَانُ

Then the Shaytan misdirected them [2:36, according to the recitation of Hamzah]

Or another example:

نَزَّاعَةً لِلشَّوَى

pulling off the scalps [70:16, according to the recitation of Hafs ‘an ‘Aasim]

compared to:

نَزَّاعَةٌ لِلشَّوَى

a remover of the scalps [70:16, according to the recitation of the majority]

with a change in the case ending here. And there are other similar examples.

هذه ترجع إلى قواعد اللغة فاختلاف القراء فيها على حسب ما رووا عن مشايخهم عن الصحابة – رضي الله عنهم وأرضاهم-، وهو اختلاف يسير لا يضر بالقراءة ولا يخل بالقراءة من جهة المعنى . ـ

All of this goes back to linguistic principles, for the differences between the reciters in their recitations are according to what was transmitted to them from their teachers, which was transmitted to them from the sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them and they with Him). These are minor differences which do not detract or impinge upon the recitations in respect to their meanings.

ولكن يجب على القارئ أن يلتزم بما رسم في المصحف، حتى لا يقع النـزاع والاختلاف بين القراء في بلده، فإذا كان في بلده على قراءة حفص فيقرأ بقراءة حفص، وإذا كان في بلده على قراءة آخرين كورش وغيره، يقرأ بقراءته في بلده التي يعيش بها بين أهلها، حتى لا يقع بينه وبينهم النـزاع، والاختلاف، والشريعة تمنع من أسباب الاختلاف ، وتحض على أسباب الائتلاف والاجتماع، نسأل الله للجميع الهداية.  ـ

However a reciter must stick to what is written in the Mushaf so that he does not bring about differing and arguing among the reciters of his country. So if the people in his country are used to the Hafs recitation, then he should recite the Hafs recitation. And if the people of his country are used to some other recitation, such as Warsh or some other one, then he should recite with that while in the country where he lives among his people. This is so that conflict and differing will not occur. The Sharee’ah prohibits the things which bring about differing and encourages the factors which bring about unity and togetherness. We ask Allah to guide us all.

[Taken from the sheikh’s website here.]

Read more about the qiraa’aat in our Qiraa’aat Article Index

Read more about the transmission of the Qur’an in our Preservation of the Qur’an Article Index

Also explore our Compilation of the Qur’an Article Index

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