Questions Regarding the Recitation of ibn Mas’ood: ibn Hajr and al-Nawawi

Imam al-Bukhari included the following narration in his Saheeh, in his chapter on tafsir of the Qur’an:

 حَدَّثَنَا عُمَرُ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبِي، حَدَّثَنَا الأَعْمَشُ، عَنْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ، قَالَ قَدِمَ أَصْحَابُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ عَلَى أَبِي الدَّرْدَاءِ فَطَلَبَهُمْ فَوَجَدَهُمْ فَقَالَ أَيُّكُمْ يَقْرَأُ عَلَى قِرَاءَةِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ قَالَ كُلُّنَا‏.‏ قَالَ فَأَيُّكُمْ يَحْفَظُ وَأَشَارُوا إِلَى عَلْقَمَةَ‏.‏ قَالَ كَيْفَ سَمِعْتَهُ يَقْرَأُ ‏{‏وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا يَغْشَى‏}‏‏.‏ قَالَ عَلْقَمَةُ ‏{‏وَالذَّكَرِ وَالأُنْثَى‏}‏‏.‏ قَالَ أَشْهَدُ أَنِّي سَمِعْتُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقْرَأُ هَكَذَا، وَهَؤُلاَءِ يُرِيدُونِي عَلَى أَنْ أَقْرَأَ ‏{‏وَمَا خَلَقَ الذَّكَرَ وَالأُنْثَى‏}‏ وَاللَّهِ لاَ أُتَابِعُهُمْ‏.‏

al-A’mash narrated that some of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood’s students came to see Abu al-Darda’ who had also been looking for them. When Abu al-Darda’ found them he said, “Which of you recites according to the qiraa’ah of ‘Abdullah?” and al-A’mash said, “All of us.” He replied, “Then which of you have memorized it?” so al-A’mash pointed to ‘Alqamah. Abu al-Darda’ asked, “How did you hear him recite

وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا يَغْشَىٰ

By the night when it covers [92:1]

‘Alqamah said:

‏وَالذَّكَرِ وَالأُنْثَى

By the male and the female [compare to 92:3]

Abu al-Darda’ said, “I testify that I heard the Prophet reciting it like that, but these people want me to recite it as:

وَمَا خَلَقَ الذَّكَرَ وَالْأُنثَىٰ

And by He who created the male and the female [92:3]

but I swear by Allah that I will not follow them.

Similar narrations can also be found in the collections of Muslim and al-Tirmidhi.

Commenting on this in his explanation of Saheeh al-Bukhari, al-haafidh ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani wrote:

قوله‏:‏ ‏(‏وهؤلاء‏)‏ أي أهل الشام ‏(‏يريدونني على أن أقرأ وما خلق الذكر والأنثى، والله لا أتابعهم‏)‏ هذا أبين من الرواية التي قبلها حيث قال ‏”‏ وهؤلاء يأبون علي ‏”‏ ثم هذه القراءة لم تنقل إلا عمن ذكر هنا، ومن عداهم قرءوا ‏”‏ وما خلق الذكر والأنثى ‏”‏ وعليها استقر الأمر مع قوة إسناد ذلك إلى أبي الدرداء ومن ذكر معه، ولعل هذا مما نسخت تلاوته ولم يبلغ النسخ أبا الدرداء ومن ذكر معه‏.‏ ـ

Regarding his statement, “but these people” – i.e. the people of Syria – “want me to recite ‘and by He who created the male and the female’, but I swear by Allah that I will not follow them.” This is even more clear than the previous narration in which he said, “but these people reject me doing so.”

It should be known that this recitation has not been transmitted from anyone besides those mentioned here, as everyone besides them recited it as

وَمَا خَلَقَ الذَّكَرَ وَالْأُنثَىٰ

and by He who created the male and the female [92:3]

So that is the definitive position on the matter of this difference, despite this authentic chain of narration going back to Abu al-Darda’ and those mentioned alongside him here. And perhaps it was the case that this variant recitation was one of those which was abrogated, but news of its abrogation had not yet reached Abu al-Darda’ and those mentioned alongside him.

والعجب من نقل الحفاظ من الكوفيين هذه القراءة عن علقمة وعن ابن مسعود وإليهما تنتهي القراءة بالكوفة ثم لم يقرأ بها أحد منهم، وكذا أهل الشام حملوا القراءة عن أبي الدرداء ولم يقرأ أحد منهم بهذا، فهذا مما يقوى أن التلاوة بها نسخت‏.‏ ـ

What is amazing is that the memorizers of al-Kufah in this hadith relayed this variant recitation from ‘Alqamah and ibn Mas’ood – and it through them that the transmission of the qiraa’ah of al-Kufah comes -, yet none of the reciters of the qiraa’ah of Kufah recite it that way! Likewise with the people of Syria: they learned their recitation from Abu al-Darda’ but none of their reciters recited it in this way. So this is something which further bolsters the position that that way of reciting had been abrogated.

[Fath al-Bari #4944]

Imam al-Nawawi also included the following comments in his explanation of this hadith in Muslim’s collection:

قَوْله: (عَنْ عَبْد اللَّه بْن مَسْعُود وَأَبِي الدَّرْدَاء أَنَّهُمَا قَرَآ: {وَالذَّكَر وَالْأُنْثَى}) قَالَ الْقَاضِي: قَالَ الْمَازِرِيُّ: يَجِب أَنْ يُعْتَقَد فِي هَذَا الْخَبَر وَمَا فِي مَعْنَاهُ أَنَّ ذَلِكَ كَانَ قُرْآنًا ثُمَّ نُسِخَ، وَلَمْ يُعْلَم مَنْ خَالَفَ النَّسْخ فَبَقِيَ عَلَى النَّسْخ، قَالَ: وَلَعَلَّ هَذَا وَقَعَ مِنْ بَعْضهمْ قَبْل أَنْ يَبْلُغهُمْ مُصْحَف عُثْمَان الْمُجْمَع عَلَيْهِ، الْمَحْذُوف مِنْهُ كُلّ مَنْسُوخ، وَأَمَّا بَعْد ظُهُور مُصْحَف عُثْمَان فَلَا يُظَنّ بِأَحَدٍ مِنْهُمْ أَنَّهُ خَالَفَ فيه، وَأَمَّا اِبْن مَسْعُود فَرُوِيَتْ عَنْهُ رِوَايَات كَثِيرَة مِنْهَا مَا لَيْسَ بِثَابِتٍ عِنْد أَهْل النَّقْل، وَمَا ثَبَتَ مِنْهَا مُخَالِفًا لِمَا قُلْنَاهُ فَهُوَ مَحْمُول عَلَى أَنَّهُ كَانَ يَكْتُب فِي مُصْحَفه بَعْض الْأَحْكَام وَالتَّفَاسِير مِمَّا يَعْتَقِد أَنَّهُ لَيْسَ بِقُرْآنٍ، وَكَانَ لَا يَعْتَقِد تَحْرِيم ذَلِكَ، وَكَانَ يَرَاهُ كَصَحِيفَةٍ يَثْبُت فيها مَا يَشَاء، وَكَانَ رَأْي عُثْمَان وَالْجَمَاعَة مَنْع ذَلِكَ لِئَلَّا يَتَطَاوَل الزَّمَان وَيَظُنّ ذَلِكَ قُرْآنًا. ـ

Regarding the statement that ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood and Abu al-Darda’ both used to recite:

وَالذَّكَرِ وَالأُنْثَى

By the male and the female [compare to 92:3]

al-Qadhi said: al-Maziri said:

How we ought to understand this report and the meanings it entails is that this recitation was part of the Qur’an that was subsequently abrogated, but that this fact wasn’t known to those who went contrary to its abrogation, which is why they continued to recite what had been abrogated.

He also said:

And perhaps this all took place before the ‘Uthmani Mushaf – that source that the people united on and anything which it omitted was abrogated – reached them. As for after the ‘Uthmani Mushaf had become widespread, then none of them could be suspected of having gone against it.

Now, as for ibn Mas’ood, there are a number of narrations about him, many of which are not authentic according to the scholars of hadith. Then for those which are authentic and contain reports that contradict what we have said here, it is possible to understand them as referring to how he used to write some legal rulings and tafsir – things which he certainly did not believe to be Qur’an – in his personal mushaf, as he did not hold doing so to be prohibited. Rather, he considered it to be his own personal ledger in which he could write whatever he wanted. Meanwhile, ‘Uthman and most of the Sahabah felt that that should not be done lest, over time, people would come to think that such things were actually part of the Qur’an itself.

قَالَ الْمَازِرِيُّ: فَعَادَ الْخِلَاف إِلَى مَسْأَلَة فِقْهِيَّة، وَهِيَ أَنَّهُ هَلْ يَجُوز إِلْحَاق بَعْض التَّفَاسِير فِي أَثْنَاء الْمُصْحَف؟ قَالَ: وَيَحْتَمِل مَا رُوِيَ مِنْ إِسْقَاط الْمُعَوِّذَتَيْنِ مِنْ مُصْحَف اِبْن مَسْعُود أَنَّهُ اِعْتَقَدَ أَنَّهُ لَا يَلْزَمهُ كَتْب كُلّ الْقُرْآن، وَكَتَبَ مَا سِوَاهُمَا وَتَكَرُّرهمَا لِشُهْرَتِهِمَا عِنْده وَعِنْد النَّاس. وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ. ـ

al-Mazari said:

This difference of opinion is ultimately an issue of fiqh, which is: it is permissible to write some commentary within a written copy of the Qur’an?

He also said:

It is possible to understand the reports of ibn Mas’ood having omitted surahs al-Falaq and al-Nas from his personal mushaf as him simply believing that there was no need to write the entire Qur’an, so he wrote down the other parts while these two surahs were so frequently repeated and so familiar to him and to the people at large. And Allah knows best.

[Sharh al-Nawawi #1365]

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

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

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

See also: Ibn Mas’ood and the Prophet’s Final Review of the Qur’an

See also: Ibn Mas’ood and Surahs al-Falaq and al-Nas

See also: The Dispute Between ‘Umar and Hisham: Ibn Hajr

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

3 thoughts on “Questions Regarding the Recitation of ibn Mas’ood: ibn Hajr and al-Nawawi

  1. Pingback: What about the Qiraa’ah of ibn Mas’ood?: Makki ibn Abi Taalib | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Ibn Mas’ood and the Prophet’s Final Review of the Qur’an | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Ibn Mas’ood and Surahs al-Falaq and al-Nas | Tulayhah

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