Ibn Mas’ood and Surahs al-Falaq and al-Nas

In efforts to spread doubts about the preservation of the Qur’an, some will cite reports that ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood did not consider Surahs al-Falaq [113] and al-Nas [114] – collectively known as the Mu’awidhatayn – to be part of the Qur’an. This is an issue which has been covered extensively by Islamic scholarship, including recently in a study devoted to this very topic by Dr. Waleed Muhammad al-Kandari (Director of the Tafsir and Hadith department in Kuwait University’s College of Sharee’ah) and Dr. Mubarak Sayf al-Hajiri (Instructor in the Graduate School and College of Sharee’ah at Kuwait University). In this work, the authors first compiled and examined all of the transmitted narrations on this topic, waded through the different statements of major scholars on this issue, and then summarized their findings. What follows is a translation of the last part of their discussion and their conclusions section:

وقال ابن كثير : “وهذا مشهور عند كثير من القراء والفقهاء : أن ابن مسعود كان لا يكتب المعوذتين في مصحفه ، فلعله لم يسمعهما من النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ، ولم يتواتر عنده ، ثم لعله قد رجع عن قوله ذلك إلى قول الجماعة ، فإن الصحابة ، رضي الله عنهم ، كتبوهما في المصاحف الأئمة ، ونفذوها إلى سائر الآفاق كذلك ، ولله الحمد والمنة .”ـ

Ibn Kathir said:

This is something well-known among many of the reciters and scholars of fiqh, that ibn Mas’ood did not used to write the Mu’awidatayn (surahal-Falaq and al-Nas) in his mushaf. Perhaps this was because he did not learn them directly from the Prophet and they were not relayed to him at a level that he found sufficient for affirming them to be Qur’an. Then it seems that later he retracted this stance of his and agreed with the general opinion, for the Sahabah wrote both of these surahs in the ‘Uthmani Mushafs and sent them off to the different cities with those two surahs, and Allah is deserving of all praise.

وتعرض ابن حجر بهذه المسألة بكلام حسن ، نذكر بتمامه ، قال ابن حجر : وقد تأول القاضي أبو بكر الباقلاني في كتاب الانتصار وتبعه عياض وغيره ما حكى عن بن مسعود فقال لم ينكر بن مسعود كونهما من القرآن وإنما أنكر اثباتهما في المصحف فإنه كان يرى أن لا يكتب في المصحف شيئا الا إن كان النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم أذن في كتابته فيه وكأنه لم يبلغه الإذن في ذلك قال فهذا تأويل منه وليس جحدا لكونهما قرآنا وهو تأويل حسن إلا أن الرواية الصحيحة الصريحة التي ذكرتها تدفع ذلك حيث جاء فيها ويقول أنهما ليستا من كتاب الله نعم يمكن حمل لفظ كتاب الله على المصحف فيتمشى التأويل المذكور وقال غير القاضي لم يكن اختلاف بن مسعود مع غيره في قرآنيتهما وإنما كان في صفة من صفاتهما انتهى وغاية ما في هذا أنه أبهم ما بينه القاضي ومن تأمل سياق الطرق التي أوردتها للحديث استبعد هذا الجمع وأما قول النووي في شرح المهذب أجمع المسلمون على أن المعوذتين والفاتحة من القرآن وأن من جحد منهما شيئا كفر وما نقل عن بن مسعود باطل ليس بصحيح ففيه نظر وقد سبقه لنحو ذلك أبو محمد بن حزم فقال في أوائل المحلي ما نقل عن بن مسعود من إنكار قرآنيه المعوذتين فهو كذب باطل وكذا قال الفخر الرازي في أوائل تفسيره الأغلب على الظن أن هذا النقل عن بن مسعود كذب باطل والطعن في الروايات الصحيحة بغير مستند لا يقبل بل الرواية صحيحة والتأويل محتمل والإجماع الذي نقله إن أراد شموله لكل عصر فهو مخدوش وإن أراد استقراره فهو مقبول وقد قال بن الصباغ في الكلام على مانعي الزكاة وإنما قاتلهم أبو بكر على منع الزكاة ولم يقل إنهم كفروا بذلك وإنما لم يكفروا لأن الإجماع لم يكن استقر قال ونحن الآن نكفر من جحدها قال وكذلك ما نقل عن بن مسعود في المعوذتين يعني أنه لم يثبت عنده القطع بذلك ثم حصل الاتفاق بعد ذلك وقد استشكل هذا الموضع الفخر الرازي فقال إن قلنا إن كونهما من القرآن كان متواترا في عصر بن مسعود لزم تكفير من أنكرهما وأن قلنا إن كونهما من القرآن كان لم يتواتر في عصر بن مسعود لزم أن بعض القرآن لم يتواتر قال وهذه عقدة صعبة وأجيب باحتمال أنه كان متواترا في عصر بن مسعود لكن لم يتواتر عند بن مسعود فانحلت العقدة بعون الله تعالى ـ

Ibn Hajr took up this issue in such a nice way that we shall mention his entire text. Ibn Hajr wrote:

In his book al-Intisar, al-Qadhi Abu Bakr al-Baqilani interpreted the narrations regarding ibn Mas’ood – and his interpretation was also taken up by ‘Iyaadh and others – by saying:

Ibn Mas’ood did not deny them being part of the Qur’an; he only criticized including them in the written mushaf. It has been recorded that he did not write anything in the mushaf unless the Prophet permitted it to be written in the mushaf, so it seems that the permission to include these two surahs in the mushaf had not reached him. So this was his personal understanding and he was not rejecting the fact that these two surahs were part of the Qur’an.

This would be a nice interpretation of the events were it not for the authentic and explicit narration which we previously mentioned which blocks that interpretation. That narration being the narration in which ibn Mas’ood said, “these two surahs are not part of Allah’s Book.” Yes, it is possible to understand the phrase “Allah’s Book” to be referring to the mushaf, in which case the above interpretation would work.

And someone besides al-Qadhi said, “Ibn Mas’oods disagreement with the others was not about if these two surahs were part of the Qur’an; it was only about a certain feature of them.” But this is nothing more than al-Qadhi’s argument in vaguer terms, and whoever critically examines the various chains of narrations of the event which I had mentioned above would find this interpretation difficult to defend.

Now, as for al-Nawawi’s statement in Sharh al-Madhhab that:

The Muslims have unanimously agreed that the Mu’awidhatayn and al-Fatihah are part of the Qur’an and that whoever rejects either of these parts has disbelieved. The reports of ibn Mas’ood rejecting this are false and there are no authentic reports regarding that.

The matter is not so clear-cut as that. And even before al-Nawawi, Abu Muhammad ibn Hazm said something similar in the beginning of al-Mahalli:

The reports of ibn Mas’ood rejecting the Mu’awidhatayn as part of the Qur’an are baseless and false.

Likewise, in the beginning of his tafsir, al-Fakhr al-Razi said:

The most likely scenario is that these reports regarding ibn Mas’ood are baseless and false.

But invalidating an authentically-transmitted narration without a valid reason is unacceptable. In reality, the narration is authentic and the interpretation is plausible. But as for the consensus that al-Nawawi mentioned, then if he meant that this consensus was present in all eras, then that is not accurate. But if he mentioned that to affirm the importance of this issue, then that is fine. While speaking about those who refused to pay the zakah during the time of Abu Bakr, ibn al-Sabbagh said:

Abu Bakr only fought them because they withheld the zakah, but he did not say that they had disbelieved as a result of withholding the zakah. The reason why they didn’t declare them to be disbelievers is because consensus on this point had not yet been established. … But today we do declare those who refuse to pay the zakah to be disbelievers. … And likewise with what has been reported about ibn Mas’ood and the Mu’awidhatayn.

In other words, this matter was not a clear-cut issue at the beginning but then the consensus was established.

But al-Fakhr al-Razi pointed out a challenge with this line of thinking when he said:

If we say that there was widespread agreement that the Mu’awidhatayn were part of the Qur’an during the time of ibn Mas’ood, that would necessitate declaring anyone who rejecting that point to be a disbeliever. But if we say that there was no widespread agreement that the Mu’awadhatayn were part of the Qur’an during the time of ibn Mas’ood, that would necessitate that part of the Qur’an was not mutawatir. … This is is a difficult puzzle to solve.

To which I would reply by proposing that there was widespread agreement during the time of ibn Mas’ood, but that it was not at the level of mutawatir in ibn Mas’ood’s view, thereby solving this puzzle by Allah’s assistance.

وقال العيني : “وهذا كان مما اختلف فيه الصحابة ، ثم ارتفع الخلاف ، ووقع الاجماع عليه ، فلو أنكر اليوم أحد قرآنيتهما كفر .” ـ

al-‘Ayni said:

This was something that the Sahabah initially disagreed about, but then later this disagreement was resolved and then reached consensus about it. So anyone who rejects the Mu’awidhatayn being part of the Qur’an today has disbelieved.

In Conclusion

ثبت عن عبدالله بن مسعود رضي الله عنه انكارُه أن تكون المعوذتان من كتاب الله , وهو أمر مشكل من مثله , ولكنه دون التهويل الذي هوّله الذين ينكرون ثبوت ذلك عنه , ولا يقتضي الإلزامات التي يرتبون على ذلك , ورفع الإشكال حميد , والاجتهاد في ذلك سائغ من مثل ابن مسعود رضي الله عنه , وفي زمنه , حال جمع القرآن وكتابة المصاحف , ثم حصل بعد الإجماع على أن ما في المصحف كله من كتاب الله عز وجل , وفيه المعوذتان . ـ

It has been authentically recorded that ibn Mas’ood did not consider the Mu’awidhatayn to be part of the Book of Allah, which is difficult to accept from someone of his status, but we can accept that without falling into the alarm that some who reject such reports have fallen into and without it entailing the dire consequences that such a stance would bring about, and this situation was later resolved in a good way.

It is perfectly acceptable for someone of ibn Mas’ood’s status to have exercised his scholarly reasoning in this issue, especially in the time in which he was living during the gathering of the Qur’an and the writing of the official Mushafs. It was only later that consensus was reached that everything in the official ‘Uthmani Mushaf was part of the Book of Allah, including the Mu’awidhatayn.

ولا يصح في حال من الأحوال رفع الإشكال عن طريق جحد الروايات الصحيحة الثابتة , وردّها , والتنكر لها , واستبعاد أن يكون صدر ذلك عن ابن مسعود , ثم ردّ تلك الروايات الصحيحة المروية عنه في ذلك . ـ

Under no circumstances is it acceptable to attempt to resolve a problematic issue by rejecting, rebutting and disputing authentically-transmitted narrations or saying that it is far-fetched for ibn Mas’ood to have said such and thing and then simply rejecting those authentically-transmitted narrations on that basis.

ويحُمل ما رُوي عن ابن مسعود في ذلك , على أنه لم يسمع النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يقرأ بهما في الصلاة , وسمعه يُعوّذ بهما الحسن والحسين رضي الله عنهما , فظنّ أنهما مما يُعوذ به من الأذكار النبوية , وليستا من القرآن . ـ

One could explain the reports of ibn Mas’ood’s statement by saying that he did not hear the Prophet reciting the Mu’awidhatayn in prayer but only heard him using them to seeking protection for al-Hasan and al-Husayn, thus thinking that they were only Prophetic supplications for seeking protection and not part of the Qur’an.

وهذه شبهة تمنع من تهويل الأمر , وقد ثبت − ولله الحمد − أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قرأ بهما في صلاته , كما في حديث عقبة بن عامر رضي الله عنه , وقد تواتر عند الصحابة رضي الله عنهم أنهما من القرآن المنزل تواتر سائر القرآن , فأودعوهما في المصحف . ـ

This speculative explanation could fend off exaggerating this issue. And alhamdulillaah, it has been authentically reported that the Prophet did recite the Mu’awidhatayn in prayer, as is mentioned in the hadith of ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Aamir. Furthermore, the Sahabah widely agreed that the Mu’awidhatayn were part of the Qur’an with the same level of agreement that they held for the rest of the Qur’an, which is why they included them in the official ‘Uthmani Mushaf.

وقد قرأ القرآن على عبدالله بن مسعود رضي الله عنه وعرضه عليه , جماعة من التابعين , منهم : الأسود , وعلقمة , وزرّ بن حبيش , وأبو عبدالرحمن السلمي , وأبو عمر الشيباني , ومسروق . وقال الجزري : “وإليه تنتهي قراءة : عاصم , وحمزة , والكسائي , وخلف , والأعمش” , المعوذتان في قراءة هؤلاء جميعا عن ابن مسعود رضي الله عنه , مثبتة في مصاحفهم , فدلّ على حصول الإجماع , وهذا يؤيد قول ابن كثير المتقدم : “ثم لعله قد رجع عن قوله ذلك إلى قول الجماعة” , وعليه فالمعوذتان قرآن منزل متواتر عند كافة الصحابة , والحمد لله رب العالمين . ـ

What’s more, a large number of Tabi’oon learned and reviewed the Qur’an under ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood, including: al-Aswad, ‘Alqamah, Zurr ibn Hubaysh, Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami, Abu ‘Umar al-Shaybani, and Masrooq. al-Jazari said:

The chains of the following qiraa’aat go back to ibn Mas’ood: ‘Aasim, Hamzah, al-Kisaa’i, Khalaf, and al-A’mash.

and the Mu’awidhatayn are included in all of these qiraa’aat going back to ibn Mas’ood, as they are firmly located in our mushafs. All of this shows that universal consensus was reached, which in turn strengthens the earlier statement of ibn Kathir, that:

Then it seems that later he retracted this stance of his and agreed with the general opinion

So, following from that, the Mu’awidhatayn are part of the Qur’an as Allah revealed and as universally agreed upon by all of the Sahabah, and all praise is due Allah, Lord of all creation.

[Ma Ruwiya ‘an ibn Mas’ood min al-Mu’awidhatayn Laysata min al-Qur’an pg. 28-31]

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

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

See also: Points of Contrast Between Surah al-Falaq and Surah al-Nas

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

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

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

4 thoughts on “Ibn Mas’ood and Surahs al-Falaq and al-Nas

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

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

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