Parts of the Qur’an that were Revealed Multiple Times: al-Suyooti

Imam Jalal al-Deen al-Suyooti included the following chapter in part of his famous handbook on the Qur’anic sciences, al-Itqan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an. What follows is the slightly abridged form of this chapter in sheikh Muhammad Bazmool’s condensed edition of al-Itqan:

النَّوْعُ الثالث والعَشَرَون : مَا تَكَرَّرَ نُزُولُهُ . ـ
Chapter 23: Parts of the Qur’an that were Revealed Multiple Times

صَرَّحَ جَمَاعَةٌ مِنَ الْمُتَقَدِّمِينَ وَالْمُتَأَخِّرِينَ بِأَنَّ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ مَا تَكَرَّرَ نُزُولُهُ . ـ

A large number of both the earlier and later scholars have explicitly stated that parts of the Qur’an were revealed more than once.

قَالَ ابْنُ الْحَصَّارِ : قَدْ يَتَكَرَّرُ نُزُولُ الْآيَةِ تَذْكِيرًا وَمَوْعِظَةً ، وَذَكَرَ مِنْ ذَلِكَ خَوَاتِيمَ سُورَةِ النَّحْلِ ، وَأَوَّلَ سُورَةِ الرُّوم‏ِ . ـ

Ibn al-Hassaar said:

An ayah might be revealed more than once to serve as a reminder and exhortation. Some examples of this are the end of surah al-Nahl and the beginning of surah al-Room.

وَذَكَرَ ابْنُ كَثِيرٍ مِنْهُ آيَةَ الرُّوحِ . وَذَكَرَ قَوْمٌ مِنْهُ الْفَاتِحَةَ . وَذَكَرَ بَعْضُهُمْ مِنْهُ قَوْلَهُ : مَا كَانَ لِلنَّبِيِّ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الْآيَةَ [ التَّوْبَةِ : 113 ] . ـ

Ibn Kathir listed the ayah al-Rooh [17:85] as another example, and some have also mentioned surah al-Fatihah as another example. Some have also mentioned Allah’s statement:

مَا كَانَ لِلنَّبِيِّ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَن يَسْتَغْفِرُوا لِلْمُشْرِكِينَ وَلَوْ كَانُوا أُولِي قُرْبَىٰ مِن بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُمْ أَصْحَابُ الْجَحِيمِ

It is not proper for the Prophet and those who have believed to ask forgiveness for the polytheists, even if they were relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are companions of Hellfire. [9:113]

as another instance.

وَقَالَ الزَّرْكَشِيُّ فِي الْبُرْهَانِ : قَدْ يَنْزِلُ الشَّيْءُ مَرَّتَيْنِ تَعْظِيمًا لِشَأْنِهِ ، وَتَذْكِيرًا عِنْدَ حُدُوثِ سَبَبِهِ وَخَوْفِ نِسْيَانِهِ . ثُمَّ ذَكَرَ مِنْهُ آيَةَ الرُّوحِ ، وَقَوْلُهُ : وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ طَرَفَيِ النَّهَارِ الْآيَةَ [ هُودٌ : 114 ] . ـ

In al-Burhan, al-Zarkashi wrote:

Something might be revealed twice in order to highlight its importance and to serve as a reminder when the reason that the original revelation was sent down recurred again and it was feared that this might be forgotten.

He then mentioned the ayah al-Rooh [17:85] and Allah’s statement:

وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ طَرَفَيِ النَّهَارِ وَزُلَفًا مِّنَ اللَّيْلِ ۚ إِنَّ الْحَسَنَاتِ يُذْهِبْنَ السَّيِّئَاتِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ ذِكْرَىٰ لِلذَّاكِرِينَ

And establish prayer at the two ends of the day and at the approach of the night. Indeed, good deeds do away with misdeeds. That is a reminder for those who remember. [11:114]

قَالَ : فَإِنَّ سُورَةَ الْإِسْرَاءِ وَهُودٍ مَكِّيَّتَانِ ، وَسَبَبُ نُزُولِهِمَا يَدُلُّ عَلَى أَنَّهُمَا نَزَلَتَا بِالْمَدِينَةِ ; وَلِهَذَا أَشْكَلَ ذَلِكَ عَلَى بَعْضِهِمْ ، وَلَا إِشْكَالَ ; لِأَنَّهَا نَزَلَتْ مَرَّةً بَعْدَ مَرَّةٍ . ـ

al-Zarkashi also said:

Both surah al-Israa’ and surah Hood are Makki surahs, but reports regarding the circumstances of revelation of these surahs would indicate that they were revealed in the Madani period. As a result, some have had trouble reconciling these details, but there is no actual problem, for this is just a case of something being revealed more than once.

قَالَ : وَكَذَلِكَ مَا وَرَدَ فِي سُورَةِ الْإِخْلَاصِ مِنْ أَنَّهَا جَوَابٌ لِلْمُشْرِكِينَ بِمَكَّةَ ، وَجَوَابٌ لِأَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ بِالْمَدِينَة‏ِ . كَذَلِكَ قَوْلُهُ : مَا كَانَ لِلنَّبِيِّ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الْآيَةَ [ التَّوْبَةِ : 113 ] . ـ

He also said:

Another similar case is that surah al-Ikhlas [112] has been reported to have been a response to the Mushrikoon of Mecca, as well as being a response to the Ahl al-Kitab of al-Madinah. And there is a similar situation with:

مَا كَانَ لِلنَّبِيِّ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَن يَسْتَغْفِرُوا لِلْمُشْرِكِينَ وَلَوْ كَانُوا أُولِي قُرْبَىٰ مِن بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُمْ أَصْحَابُ الْجَحِيمِ

It is not proper for the Prophet and those who have believed to ask forgiveness for the polytheists, even if they were relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are companions of Hellfire. [9:113]

قَالَ : وَالْحِكْمَةُ فِي هَذَا كُلِّهِ : أَنَّهُ قَدْ يَحْدُثُ سَبَبٌ مِنْ سُؤَالٍ أَوْ حَادِثَةٍ تَقْتَضِي نُزُولَ آيَةٍ ، وَقَدْ نَزَلَ قَبْلَ ذَلِكَ مَا يَتَضَمَّنُهَا فَيُوحِي إِلَى النَّبِيِّ – صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ – تِلْكَ الْآيَةَ بِعَيْنِهَا ; تَذْكِيرًا لَهُمْ بِهَا وَبِأَنَّهَا تَتَضَمَّنُ هَذِهِ . ـ

He said:

The wisdom being all of this is that something requiring the revelation of an ayah such as a question or an event might take place but something had already been revealed which addresses that situation, so the Prophet would be inspired with that very same ayah again in order to remind the people of that ayah and to show that that ayah served to address the current situation.

ـ [ ص: 141 ] تَنْبِيهٌ : قَدْ يُجْعَلُ مِنْ ذَلِكَ الْأَحْرُفُ الَّتِي تُقْرَأُ عَلَى وَجْهَيْنِ فَأَكْثَرَ . وَيَدُلُّ لَهُ ، مَا أَخْرَجَهُ مُسْلِمٌ مِنْ حَدِيثِ أُبَيٍّ إِنَّ رَبِّي أَرْسَلَ إِلَيَّ أَنْ أَقْرَأَ الْقُرْآنَ عَلَى حَرْفٍ ، فَرَدَدْتُ إِلَيْهِ : أَنْ هَوِّنْ عَلَى أُمَّتِي فَأَرْسَلَ إِلَيَّ أَنِ اقْرَأْهُ عَلَى سَبْعَةِ أَحْرُفٍ . فَهَذَا الْحَدِيثُ يَدُلُّ عَلَى أَنَّ الْقُرْآنِ لَمْ يَنْزِلْ مِنْ أَوَّلِ وَهْلَةٍ ، بَلْ مَرَّةً بَعْدَ أُخْرَى . ـ

A Note: Another possible example of this is when the different ahruf of an ayah lead to two or more different ways of reciting it. This is supported by the hadeeth of Ubay which Muslim reported, that the Prophet said:

My Lord instructed me to recite the Qur’an in one harf, and then I replied, “Make it easy on my ummah,” so He instructed me to recite it in seven ahruf.

So this hadeeth indicates that the Qur’an was not revealed in the seven ahruf all at once. Rather it was done at different times.

وَفِي ” جَمَالِ الْقُرَّاءِ ” لِلسَّخَاوِيِّ بَعْدَ أَنْ حَكَى الْقَوْلَ بِنُزُولِ الْفَاتِحَةِ مَرَّتَيْنِ : إِنْ قِيلَ : فَمَا فَائِدَةُ نُزُولِهَا مَرَّةً ثَانِيَةً ؟ قُلْتُ : يَجُوزُ أَنْ تَكُونَ نَزَلَتْ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ عَلَى حَرْفٍ وَاحِدٍ ، وَنَزَلَتْ فِي الثَّانِيةِ بِبَقِيَّةِ وُجُوهِهَا ، نَحْوُ : مَلِكِ وَمَالِكِ وَالسِّرَاطَ وَالصِّرَاطَ ، وَنَحْوُ ذَلِكَ . انْتَهَى . ـ

In the book Jamaal al-Qurraa’, after mentioning the report that surah al-Fatihah was revealed twice, al-Sakhawi said:

Now, if someone were to ask, “What is the benefit of revealing it a second time?” One could respond by saying: It is possible that the first time it was revealed it was sent down in one harf but then the second time it was sent down with the rest of the different recitations, such as

مَلِكِ     وَ    مَالِكِ

Malik and Mālik

or

السِّرَاطَ      وَ     الصِّرَاطَ

al-Sirāt and al-S̥irāt

and so on.

[Tahdheeb wa Tarteeb al-Itqan 1/220-221. In al-Itqan this chapter is #11 (1/140-141)]

See also: Which Surahs were Revealed in Installments or All at Once: al-Suyooti

See also: What to do when Multiple “Reasons for Revelation” are Mentioned for the Same Ayah?: al-Suyooti

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

Read more about the Ahruf and Qiraa’aat in our Qiraa’aat Article Index

Read more about the “Reasons for Revelation” in our Asbaab al-Nuzool Article Index

2 thoughts on “Parts of the Qur’an that were Revealed Multiple Times: al-Suyooti

  1. Pingback: What to do when Multiple “Reasons for Revelation” are Mentioned for the Same Ayah?: al-Suyooti | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Which Surahs were Revealed in Installments or All at Once: al-Suyooti | Tulayhah

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