The Reasons for Making the Qur’an Into Divisions of Surahs: al-Suyooti

Imam Jalal al-Deen al-Suyooti dedicated one chapter of his famous handbook of Qur’anic sciences, al-Itqan, to discussing the number of surahs, ayaat, words and letters in the Qur’an. Part of this chapter included the following points of benefit related to why the Qur’an has been divided into surahs:

فَائِدَةٌ : قِيلَ : الْحِكْمَةُ فِي تَسْوِيرِ الْقُرْآنِ سُوَرًا تَحْقِيقُ كَوْنِ السُّورَةِ بِمُجَرَّدِهَا مُعْجِزَةً وَآيَةً مِنْ آيَاتِ اللَّهِ ، وَالْإِشَارَةُ إِلَى أَنَّ كُلَّ سُورَةٍ نَمَطٌ مُسْتَقِلٌّ . فَسُورَةُ يُوسُفَ تُتَرْجِمُ ، عَنْ قِصَّتِهِ ، وَسُورَةُ ” بَرَاءَةٌ ” تُتَرْجِمُ عَنْ أَحْوَالِ الْمُنَافِقِينَ وَأَسْرَارِهِمْ ، إِلَى غَيْرِ ذَلِكَ . وَسُوِّرَتِ السُّوَرُ سُوَرًا طِوَالًا وَأَوْسَاطًا وَقِصَارًا ; تَنْبِيهًا عَلَى أَنَّ الطُّولَ لَيْسَ مِنْ شَرْطِ الْإِعْجَازِ ، فَهَذِهِ سُورَةُ الْكَوْثَرِ ثَلَاثُ آيَاتٍ ، وَهِيَ مُعْجِزَةٌ إِعْجَازَ سُورَةِ الْبَقَرَةِ ، ثُمَّ ظَهَرَتْ لِذَلِكَ حِكْمَةٌ فِي التَّعْلِيمِ وَتَدْرِيجِ الْأَطْفَالِ مِنَ السُّورِ الْقِصَارِ إِلَى مَا فَوْقَهَا تَيْسِيرًا مِنَ اللَّهِ عَلَى عِبَادِهِ لِحِفْظِ كِتَابِهِ . ـ

A Point of Benefit: The wisdom behind dividing the Qur’an into surahs is to realize the fact that a surah is miraculously inimitable on its own and is one of Allah’s signs, as well as indicating that each surah has its own independent and unique nature. For surah Yusuf deals with the story of Yusuf, while surah al-Baraa’ah deals with the situations and hidden natures of the munafiqoon, and so on.

Furthermore, the surahs have been fashioned into long, medium and short lengths, which alerts us to the fact that length is not a prerequisite for being miraculously inimitable. Surah al-Kawthar is only three ayaat but it is just an inimitable as surah al-Baqarah.

Moreover, the wisdom of these divisions becomes even more clear when it comes to teaching these surahs to children and gradually moving them from shorter to longer and longer surahs, which is something that Allah has done to make it easier for His servants to memorize His Book.

قَالَ الزَّرْكَشِيُّ فِي الْبُرْهَانِ : فَإِنْ قُلْتَ : فَهَلَّا كَانَتِ الْكُتُبُ السَّالِفَةُ كَذَلِكَ ؟ . قُلْتُ : لِوَجْهَيْنِ ، أَحَدُهُمَا : أَنَّهَا لَمْ تَكُنْ مُعْجِزَاتٍ مِنْ جِهَةِ النَّظْمِ وَالتَّرْتِيبِ . وَالْآخَرُ : أَنَّهَا لَمْ تُيَسَّرْ لِلْحِفْظِ . ـ

al-Zarkashi wrote in al-Burhan: Continue reading

The Chains of the Seven Famous Reciters From Highest to Lowest

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool shared the following post on his Facebook page along with the words, “This came to me via WhatsApp – my Allah reward whoever sent it with good.”

ترتيب أسانيد القراء من حيث العلو و النزول
The Chains of Transmission of the Famous Reciters Arranged from Highest to Lowest

ـ 1- ابن عامر الشامي ،أعلى القراء سندا
حيث يروي عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم بواسطة واحد فقط
– ابن عامر عن أبي الدرداء رضي الله عنه عن النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم

1 – Ibn ‘Aamir al-Shami had the highest chain of narration among the famous reciters as he transmitted from the Prophet with only one intermediary between them.

Ibn ‘Aamir, on the authority of Abu al-Darda’, on the authority of the Prophet.

ـ 2- ابن كثير المكي و عاصم الكوفي ، يرويان عن النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم بواسطتين
– عاصم عن أبي عبد الرحمن السلمي عن أبي بن كعب رضي الله عنهما عن النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم
– ابن كثير عن عبد الله بن السائب عن أبي بن كعب رضي الله عنهما عن النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم

2 – Ibn Kathir al-Makki and ‘Aasim al-Kufi. Both of them had two intermediaries between them and the Prophet.

‘Aasim, on the authority of Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami, on the authority of Ubay ibn Ka’b, on the authority of the Prophet.

ibn Kathir, on the authority of ‘Abdullah ibn al-Saa’ib, on the authority of ‘Ubay ibn Ka’b, on the authority of the Prophet.

Continue reading

Four Central Themes of the Makki Surahs

The following Q&A took place with via Twitter with Sheikh ‘Abdullah al-‘Awaaji, a professor of Tafsir at the Islamic University of al-Madinah:

س – جزاكم الله خيرًا وأحسن إليكم . قوله تعالى في سورة الإسراء آية ٥٥ (ولقد فضلنا بعض النبيين على بعض وآتينا داود زبورا) . ما علاقة ذكر تفضيل الأنبياء على بعض والآيات السابقة عن المكذبين للبعث؟ هل من مناسبة؟ ـ

Question: May Allah reward and be good to you. There is Allah’s statement in ayah 55 of surah al-Israa’:

وَلَقَدْ فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَ النَّبِيِّينَ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۖ وَآتَيْنَا دَاوُودَ زَبُورًا

And We have made some of the prophets exceed others, and to Dawud We gave the Zabur [17:55]

What is the connection between mentioning the different levels of merit among the Prophets and the previous ayaat about those who deny Allah’s ability to give life to the dead? Is there any link between them?

ج ـ واياكم والمتابعين . أربعة موضوعات تغلب في القرآن المكي : ١-ان يقيم سُبحانَه الحُجَجَ على التوحيد و إبطالِ الشِّركِ، ٢-ويذكَرَ الأدِلَّةَ على صِحَّةِ البَعثِ والجزاءِ،٣-وثبوت القرآن الكريم .٤-وصدق الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم .وهو هنا ذكرها كلها من اول السورة  ـ

Response: And you and all of our followers as well!

Four main topics predominate the Makki surahs of the Qur’an:

  1. Establishing the proofs for al-tawheed and the falsehood of al-shirk
  2. Mentioning the evidences which show that the resurrection and recompense of the dead is real
  3. Showing the veracity of the Qur’an
  4. Affirming the Messenger

And all four of these topics are mentioned in the beginning of this surah. Continue reading

Two Kinds of People and How to Deal with Them: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah issues the following command in surah al-A’raaf:

خُذِ الْعَفْوَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْعُرْفِ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْجَاهِلِينَ

Take what is given freely, command the good, and turn away from the ignorant. [7:199]

In part of his tafsir of this ayah, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir mentioned:

وقال بعض العلماء : الناس رجلان : فرجل محسن ، فخذ ما عفا لك من إحسانه ، ولا تكلفه فوق طاقته ولا ما يحرجه . وإما مسيء ، فمره بالمعروف ، فإن تمادى على ضلاله ، واستعصى عليك ، واستمر في جهله ، فأعرض عنه ، فلعل ذلك أن يرد كيده ، كما قال تعالى : ( ادفع بالتي هي أحسن السيئة نحن أعلم بما يصفون وقل رب أعوذ بك من همزات الشياطين وأعوذ بك رب أن يحضرون ) [ المؤمنون : 96 – 98 ]ـ

One of the scholars said:

There are two kinds of people: 1) The first is a good person. Accept the good behavior that he freely shows to you and don’t charge him with anything above his ability or make things difficult for him.

As for 2) the bad person, then enjoin him to do good, but if he continues in his misguided ways and is unresponsive to your attempts, instead persisting in his ignorant behavior, then turn away from him. Perhaps that will foil his schemes, as Allah said: Continue reading

Right Guidance and Right Actions: ibn ‘Uthaymeen

Allah begins surah al-Najm with the following oath:

وَالنَّجْمِ إِذَا هَوَىٰ * مَا ضَلَّ صَاحِبُكُمْ وَمَا غَوَىٰ

By the star when it descends * your companions had not gone astray, nor has he erred. [53:1-2]

Sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen brings a brief benefit in discussing the second ayah:

ـ {والنجم إذا هوى} النجم اسم جنس يُراد به جميع النجوم، وقوله {إذا هوى} : لها معنيان، المعنى الأول: إذا غاب، والمعنى الثاني: إذا سقط منه شهاب على الشياطين التي تسترق السمع وهو مقسم به {ما ضل صاحبكم وما غوى} هذا جواب القسم، أي المقسم عليه {ما ضل صاحبكم} أي: ما جهل، {وما غوى} أي: ما عاند، لأن مخالفة الحق إما أن تكون عن جهل، وأما أن تكون عن غي، قال الله تعالى: {لا إكراه في الدين قد تبين الرشد من الغي} فإذا انتفى عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم الجهل، وانتفى عنه الغي تبين أن منهجه صلى الله عليه وسلم علم ورشد، علم ضد الجهل وهو الضلال، {ما ضل صاحبكم} ورشد ضد الغي {قد تبين الرشد من الغي} إذاً النبي عليه الصلاة والسلام كلامه حق وشريعته حق، لأنها عن علم ورشد

al-Najm – literally “the star” – a singular word for the entire class referring to all stars, and His statement:

إِذَا هَوَىٰ

when it hawaa

has two meanings: Continue reading

Assorted Qur’an Benefits #35

The following short quotes and excerpts were originally published on our social media channels during the first half of October 2019:

♦ The Sickness and the Cure

Allah says in surah al-Israa’:

إِنَّ هَـٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ يَهْدِي لِلَّتِي هِيَ أَقْوَمُ وَيُبَشِّرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ الَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ الصَّالِحَاتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ أَجْرًا كَبِيرًا

This Qur’an certainly guides to that which is most correct and gives glad tidings to the believers who do righteous good deeds that there will be a great reward for them. [17:9]

In his book of narration-based tafsir, Jalal al-Deen al-Suyooti wrote the following under this ayah:

 وأخرج ابن أبي حاتم عن قتادة في الآية قال : إن هذا القرآن يدلكم على دائكم ودوائكم؛ فأما داؤكم فالذنوب والخطايا، وأما دواؤكم فالاستغفار . ـ

Ibn Abi Haatim brought the following quote from Qatadah under his explanation of this ayah:

Indeed, this Qur’an shows you your sickness and your cure. As for your sickness, it is sins and errors, and as for your cure, it is seeking Allah’s forgiveness.

[al-Durr al-Manthoor 9/622]


♦ “We Offered the Trust to the Heavens and the earth and the mountains …”

Allah informs us in surah al-Ahzab:

إِنَّا عَرَضْنَا الْأَمَانَةَ عَلَى السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَالْجِبَالِ فَأَبَيْنَ أَن يَحْمِلْنَهَا وَأَشْفَقْنَ مِنْهَا وَحَمَلَهَا الْإِنسَانُ ۖ إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُومًا جَهُولًا

Indeed, we offered the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, and they declined to bear it and feared it; but man took it upon himself. Indeed, he was unjust and ignorant. [33:72] Continue reading

Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 158-167: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the fifteenth installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 158-167. This passage centers around proofs of Allah’s sole right to be worshiped, and the punishment for concealing or rejecting these proofs. See the series guide here for more information about this series and other installments.

إِنَّ الصَّفَا وَالْمَرْوَةَ مِن شَعَائِرِ اللَّـهِ ۖ فَمَنْ حَجَّ الْبَيْتَ أَوِ اعْتَمَرَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِ أَن يَطَّوَّفَ بِهِمَا ۚ وَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ شَاكِرٌ عَلِيمٌ

al-Safa and al-Marwa are some of Allah’s signs. So whoever makes Hajj to the House or makes ‘umrah, then there is no blame on him if he goes back and forth between them. Whoever does good voluntarily, then Allah is Appreciative and All-Knowing. [2:158]

إن الصفا والمروة- وهما جبلان صغيران قرب الكعبة من جهة الشرق- من معالم دين الله الظاهرة التي تعبَّد الله عباده بالسعي بينهما. فمَن قصد الكعبة حاجًّا أو معتمرًا، فلا إثم عليه ولا حرج في أن يسعى بينهما، بل يجب عليه ذلك، ومن فعل الطاعات طواعية من نفسه مخلصًا بها لله تعالى، فإن الله تعالى شاكر يثيب على القليل بالكثير، عليم بأعمال عباده فلا بضيعها، ولا يبخس أحدًا مثقال ذرة.ـ

158. al-Safa and al-Marwa, two small mountains near the Ka’bah on its east side, are some of the visible symbols of Allah’s religion which Allah’s slaves rush between as a form of worship. So whoever sets out for the Ka’bah to make Hajj or ‘umrah, there is no sin or blame on him for rushing back and forth between them. In fact, he is required to do that. And whoever does any acts of obedience of his own choice, purely for Allah, then Allah is Appreciative and will reward him a great deal even for a small act, and He is All-Knowing of the deeds of His slaves, so the deeds will not be lost nor will anyone be deprived of even a mustard seed’s worth of reward.

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَكْتُمُونَ مَا أَنزَلْنَا مِنَ الْبَيِّنَاتِ وَالْهُدَىٰ مِن بَعْدِ مَا بَيَّنَّاهُ لِلنَّاسِ فِي الْكِتَابِ ۙ أُولَـٰئِكَ يَلْعَنُهُمُ اللَّـهُ وَيَلْعَنُهُمُ اللَّاعِنُونَ

Those who conceal any of the clarity and guidance which We have revealed after We have made it clear for the people in the Book – those people are cursed by Allah and cursed by those who curse [2:159] Continue reading

Introduction to the Parables of the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Allah says in surah al-Kahf:

وَلَقَدْ صَرَّفْنَا فِي هَذَا الْقُرْءَانِ لِلنَّاسِ مِنْ كُلِّ مَثَلٍ وَكَانَ الإِنْسَانُ أَكْثَرَ شَيْءٍ جَدَلا

In this Qur’an, We have certainly put forward every kind of parable for mankind, but man is above all else prone to dispute. [18:54]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee included the following words in his commentary on this ayah:

قوله تعالى : ولقد صرفنا في هذا القرآن للناس من كل مثل وكان الإنسان أكثر شيء جدلا ، قوله : ولقد صرفنا [ 18 \ 54 ] ، أي : رددنا وكثرنا تصريف الأمثال بعبارات مختلفة ، وأساليب متنوعة في هذا القرآن للناس . ليهتدوا إلى الحق ، ويتعظوا . فعارضوا بالجدل والخصومة ، ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَلَقَدْ صَرَّفْنَا فِي هَذَا الْقُرْءَانِ لِلنَّاسِ مِنْ كُلِّ مَثَلٍ وَكَانَ الإِنْسَانُ أَكْثَرَ شَيْءٍ جَدَلا

In this Qur’an, We have certainly put forward every kind of parable for mankind, but man is above all else prone to dispute. [18:54]

Regarding His statement:

وَلَقَدْ صَرَّفْنَا

We have certainly put forward …

i.e. We have repeatedly and frequently presented these parables to the people throughout the Qur’an with a number of different wordings and in various styles. This is done so that they might be guided to the truth and be admonished, but instead they turn away in argumentation and contention. Continue reading