Why do the Transmitters of a Single Qiraa’ah Differ?: Makki ibn Abi Taalib

In one of his writings, Makki ibn Abi Taalib, a great scholar of the qiraa’aat from the earlier generations, took up the question of why two transmitters of a single qiraa’ah would differ if they both learned from the same reciter. In his answer, he used the example of the most common recitations from his home of North Africa and al-Andalus as his primary examples:

باب: “العلة في كثرة اختلاف المروي عن الأئمة القراء” ـ
The Reason Why There are Many Differences Transmitted from the Leading Reciters

فإن سأل سائل، فقال: ما العلة التي من أجلها كثر الاختلاف عن هذه الأئمة، وكل واحد منهم قد انفرد بقراءة اختارها مما قرأ به على أئمته؟ ـ

If someone were to ask, “Why is it that there are many differences relayed from these leading reciters when each one of them has just one recitation which he chose and which he recited to his teachers?”

فالجواب: أن كل واحد من الأئمة قرأ على جماعة بقراءات مختلفة، فنقل ذلك على ما قرأ، فكانوا في برهة من أعمارهم يقرئون الناس بما قرءوا، فمن قرأ عليهم بأي حرف كان لم يرده عنه، إذا كان ذلك مما قرءوا به على أئمتهم. ـ

We could respond by saying that each one of the leading reciters used to recite a number of different qiraa’aat, and so they transmitted these different qiraa’aat to their students. At any particular moment in their lives, people were reciting to them with the recitation that was most familiar to them. So whoever recited in any of the acceptable ways, they would not reject that so long as it was something which they themselves had recited to their teachers.

ألا ترى أن نافعا قال: قرأت على سبعين من التابعين، فما اتفق عليه اثنان أخذته، وما شذ فيه واحد تركته؟. يريد، والله أعلم، مما خالف المصحف. فكان مما قرأ عليه بما اتفق فيه اثنان من أئمته لم ينكر عليه ذلك. ـ

Haven’t you seen what Naafi’ said? “I recited to seventy of the taabi’oon, so I took whatever two of them agreed on, and I left whatever was particular to just one.” Here, and Allah knows best, he was referring to the things which differed from the text of the official ‘Uthmani mushaf. So then, whoever recited to him with anything that two of his teachers had both held, he would not disapprove of that. Continue reading

Is Tajweed Mandatory? And is it Part of the Religion?: Muhammad Bazmool

In part of his explanation of the book al-Itmam al-Dirayah li-Qurra’ al-Niqayah, sheikh Muhammad ibn ‘Umar Bazmool addressed the question of whether tajweed in reciting the Qur’an is an obligation and whether the science of tajweed has any basis or not, as some assert.

ـ▪من أجل هذا قيل بوجوب ضبط القرآن في حروفه، فيُعطىٰ كل حرف حقّه ومُستحقّه، بما يخرج بقراءته عن اللّحن الجليّ. ـ

… Due to this, some say that it is mandatory to be precise in one’s pronunciation of the Qur’an and that one must give each letter its due rights, so as to avoid falling into obvious major errors when reciting.

أما تجنب اللحن الخفيّ، وهو ما يتعلّق بمخارج الحروف بالضّبط، ومقدار المدود وما يشبه ذلك مما لا يؤثّر في بُنية الكلمة ومعناها؛ فهذا يُستحبّ. وهذا وجه تقرير طلب علم التّجويد؛ فإن القراءة باللّحن الجليِّ لم ينزل القرآن بها، وليست بقرآن. ـ

As for avoiding subtle minor errors – i.e. those related to the exact makharij al-huroof (places of articulation), the length of the mudood (elongated vowels), and other such things which do not have any effect on the form or meaning of a word – then this is virtuous but not obligatory. So this is what the student of tajweed should remember, for reciting the Qur’an with obvious major errors is not how the Qur’an was revealed and is not, in fact, the Qur’an.

فإن قيل: ما الدّليل على أن تجنّب اللّحن الخفي ليس بواجب؟ فالجواب: جاء في الحديث عن عائِشَةَ رضي اللّه عنها، عن النبيِّ ﷺ قال: (مثل الذي يقرأُ القرآنَ وهو حافظٌ له مع السَّفَرَة الكرامِ البررةِ، ومثل الذي يقرأُ، وهو يتعاهَدُهُ، وهو عليه شديدٌ، فلَهُ أجرَانِ)، وفي رواية: (الماهر بالقرآن مع السّفرةِ الكرام البررَةِ، والَّذي يَقْرَاُ القُرآنَ ويَتَعْتَعُ فِيهِ، وَهُوَ عَليهِ شاقٌّ؛ لَهُ أجْرَانِ) أخرجه البخاري في كتاب التفسير. ـ

Now, what if one were to say, “What is the evidence that avoiding subtle minor errors isn’t mandatory?”

One could reply by mentioning what has come in the hadith of A’ishah that they Prophet said:

Whoever recites the Qur’an, having memorized it, is with the righteous and noble messenger angels. And whoever recites the Qur’an, struggling to do so and experiencing difficulty, then he will have two rewards.

And in another narration: Continue reading

A Subtle Point Regarding Adam’s Repentance

One of the valuable books of Badr al-Deen ibn Jamaa’ah (d. 733AH) was Kashf al-Ma’aani fee al-Mutashaabih min al-Mathaani, which focuses on providing explanations for the slight differences in otherwise similar ayaat. He raises and then answers the following question regarding a difference of wordings between the story of Adam as told in surah al-Baqarah and the story as told in surah Taha:

مسألة: قوله تعالى: فَمَنْ تَبِعَ هُدَايَ ، وفى طه: (فَمَنْ اتبِعَ هُدَايَ) ؟ . ـ

Question: In surah al-Baqarah, Allah says:

فَمَن تَبِعَ هُدَايَ

So whoever tabi’a (follows) My guidance … [2:38]

but in surah Taha He says:

فَمَنِ اتَّبَعَ هُدَايَ

So whoever ittaba’a (follows) My guidance … [20:123]

Why is that?

جوابه: يحتمل والله أعلم أن: (فَعِلَ) التي جاء على وزنها: (تبع) لا يلزم منه مخالفة الفعل قبله (وافتَعَلَ) التي جاء على وزنها: (اتبع) يشعر بتجديد الفعل. وبيان قصة آدم هنا لفعله، فجئ بـ (تَبِعَ هُدَايَ) وفى طه جاء بعد قوله: (وَلَمْ نَجِدْ لَهُ عَزْمًا) (وَعَصَى آدَمُ رَبَّهُ فَغَوَى) فناسب من اتبع، أي: جدد قصد الاتباع. ـ

Response: Allah knows best, but one explanation is that the form I verb which is used in


tabi’a (follows) [2:38]

does not imply any change in behavior between this “following” and his previous actions, while the form VIII verb which is used in Continue reading

Responding to Doubts About the End of the Hellfire: Imam al-Shinqitee

The great mufassir sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee devoted one of his books, Daf’u Eehaam, entirely to addressing supposed contradictions in the Qur’an. In part of his chapter on surah al-An’aam, Imam al-Shinqitee discussed the apparent contradiction between certain ayaat that could be understood to indicate an end to the punishment of the Hellfire and the many other ayaat which indicate the opposite. The general outline of his discussion proceeded as such:

    1. Presenting the apparent contradiction
    2. Response
      1. Specific response regarding the ayah in surah al-An’aam
      2. General response to the claims that the Hellfire or its inhabitants will come to an end
        1. Five Possible scenarios
          1. Scenario #1 that the Hellfire will come to an end, and response
          2. Scenario #2 that the inhabitants of the Hellfire will die, and response
          3. Scenario #3 that the inhabitants of the Hellfire will be removed from it, and response
          4. Scenario #4 that the punishment of the Hellfire will be decreased, and response
          5. Claim that Allah may choose to not enact His threats of punishment, and response
          6. Scenario #5 that the Hellfire and its punishment will continue forever
          7. Claim that eternal punishment for one lifetime of sins in unfair, and response

For the sake of clarity and reference, we have inserted section headings into the text in brackets.

What follows is the complete text of sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee’s discussion:

[Presenting the apparent contradiction]

قَوْلُهُ تَعَالَى: قَالَ النَّارُ مَثْوَاكُمْ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ الْآيَةَ

Allah’s statement:

قَالَ النَّارُ مَثْوَاكُمْ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ اللَّـهُ

He will say, “The Fire is your residence, wherein you will abide eternally, except for what Allah wills.” [6:128]

هَذِهِ الْآيَةُ الْكَرِيمَةُ يُفْهَمُ مِنْهَا كَوْنُ عَذَابِ أَهْلِ النَّارِ غَيْرَ بَاقٍ بَقَاءً لَا انْقِطَاعَ لَهُ أَبَدًا وَنَظِيرُهَا قَوْلُهُ تَعَالَى: فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ شَقُوا فَفِي النَّارِ لَهُمْ فِيهَا زَفِيرٌ وَشَهِيقٌ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا مَا دَامَتِ السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالْأَرْضُ إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ رَبُّكَ [11 106 – 107] ، وَقَوْلُهُ تَعَالَى: لَابِثِينَ فِيهَا أَحْقَابًا [78 23] . ـ

Some have understood from this ayah that the punishment of the people of the Hellfire will not continue eternally without any end. Another ayah to this is Allah’s statement:

فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ شَقُوا فَفِي النَّارِ لَهُمْ فِيهَا زَفِيرٌ وَشَهِيقٌ * خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا مَا دَامَتِ السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالْأَرْضُ إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ رَبُّكَ

As for those who were wretched, they will be in the Fire. For them therein is exhaling and inhaling. * Abiding therein as long as the heavens and the earth endure, except what your Lord should will. [11:106-107]

as well as: Continue reading

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. Continue reading

How to Distinguish Muhkam from Mutashaabih: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote the following question and answer:

كل أهل البدع يستدلون بالقرآن والسنة، ويرون أدلتهم محكمة وأدلة مخالفيهم من المتشابه! ما السبيل الذي استطيع أن أميز أن استدلالي بالآية أو الحديث هو استدلال بالمحكم دون المتشابه؟ ـ

[Question] All of the people of innovation use the Qur’an and the Sunnah as evidences to support their positions and consider their own evidences to be muhkam (clear-cut and definitive) while believing that the evidence of those who oppose them are mutashaabih (ambiguous and uncertain). How can I determine if my use of an ayah or hadith to support a position is actually relying on something muhkam rather than something mutashaabih?

هذا السؤال يجول في خاطر بعض الناس ويبحث عن جواب، واسأل الله تبارك وتعالى أن يعين عليه ، فأقول: ـ

[Response] This question deals with a challenge that some people face and for which they are searching for an answer. I ask Allah to aid us in that, and I would respond:

أولاً : لتعلم أنه ليس مجرد الاستدلال بالآية أو بالحديث يجعل استدلالك مبني على حجة صحيحة، حتى يتحقق في الآية التي تستدل بها والحديث أنهما من المحكم وليسا من المتشابه. ولذلك جاء عن عبدالله بن عمرو بن العاص رضي الله عنه: “العلم آية محكمة أو سنة ماضية أو فريضة قائمة”؛ فانظر لم يقل العلم الآية و الحديث، حتى قيد الآية بأن تكون محكمة والسنة بأن تكون ماضية . ـ

First, you should know that just because you bring an ayah or a hadith to support your point does not necessarily mean that what you are trying to prove is built of a strong foundation until you verify that the ayah or hadith which you are using as evidence is actually muhkam and not mutashaabih. There is something in this vein from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas where he said,

“Knowledge is a muhkam verses or an established sunnah or a valid derived ruling.”

Notice that he did not say “knowledge is an ayah or a hadith” without stipulating that the ayah had to be muhkam and that the sunnah had to be established. Continue reading

How Do Differences in the Qiraa’aat Affect the Tafsir?

The following Q&A took place with sheikh ‘Abdullah al-‘Awaaji, former professor of Tafsir at the Islamic University of al-Madinah, on Twitter on February 10th, 2020:

هل اختلاف اللفظ في القراءات يغير تفسير الكلمة في القرآن الكريم

Question: Does a difference in wording among the qiraa’aat change the explanation of that word in the Qur’an?

الاختلاف في القراءات بالنسبة للمعنى نوعان١-ما لا أثر له في التفسير، الاختلاف في وجوه الأداء،كالتسهيل والإمالة والمدود.٢-ما له أثر في التفسير،وأثره نوعان: ـ

Answer: There are two types of differences among the qiraa’aat when it comes to the meaning of a word:

1) Differences which do not have any effect on the explanation of the word. These are differences in the way that a word in articulated, such as lightening, imalah, and the mudood.

2) Differences which do have an effect on the explanation. These effects can be furthered divided into two categories: Continue reading

Completing the Qur’an in Three Months for One who is Ill: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr

The following question was posed to sheikh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr during the radio program Noor ‘Alaa al-Darb:

سؤال: لا أستطيع ختم القرآن الكريم في شهر؛ لشدة ما أعانيه من مرض يُضعفني عن القراءة، فهل يجوز ختم القرآن لمدة تصل إلى ثلاثة أشهر؟ ـ

Question: I am unable to complete the Qur’an in one month due to the difficulty I face from an illness which makes me too weak to recite. Is is permissible for me to complete the Qur’an over a period of three months?

الجواب: {لاَ يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْساً إِلاَّ وُسْعَهَا} [البقرة: 286]، فإذا كان لا يستطيع أن يختم في شهر أو أقل من شهر فإنه يختم في المدة التي يتمكن فيها من قراءة القرآن؛ لأن هذا من ضمن التكاليف الشرعية التي تسقط عند العجز، فإذا عجز عن ذلك فلا يكلف الله نفسًا إلا وسعها، وإذا حبسه المرض عن تحقيق ما يريد وكان قبل ذلك يفعله كأن كان يقرأ في كل سبع، ثم بعد ذلك مرض وصار لا يطيق ذلك كُتب له من الأجر ما كان يعمله صحيحًا، وإذا كان السفر يعوقه عما كان يفعله في الحضر كُتب له ما كان يفعله مقيمًا، وهذا من فضل الله -جل وعلا- ولطفه بعباده. ـ


لاَ يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْساً إِلاَّ وُسْعَهَا

Allah does not charge a soul beyond its capacity [2:286]

So if he is not able to complete the Qur’an in a month or less then he should complete it in the amount of time which it takes him to complete it. That is because this falls under the legal responsibilities of the Sharee’ah which are dropped when one is unable to fulfill them. So if he is unable to do that, then Allah does not charge a soul beyond its capacity. Continue reading

‘Uthman’s Gathering the Qur’an According to One Harf: Sheikh bin Baaz

Former mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sheikh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bin Baaz was asked the following question:

هل صحيح أن عثمان رضي الله عنه عندما جمع القرآن في مصحف واحد حذف بعض الأحرف أم أنه أثبت بعض القراءات دون بعض؟ ـ

Is it true that when ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) gathered the Qur’an into one single written collection he discarded some of the ahruf or that he established one of the qiraa’aat as official to the exclusion of the others?

He replied by saying:

 ثبت عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قوله: ((إن هذا القرآن أنزل على سبعة أحرف فاقرؤوا ما تيسر منه))[1]، وقال المحققون من أهل العلم: إنها متقاربة في المعنى مختلفة في الألفاظ. وعثمان رضي الله عنه لما بلغه اختلاف الناس وجاءه حذيفة رضي الله عنه وقال: (أدرك الناس) استشار الصحابة الموجودين في زمانه كعلي وطلحة والزبير وغيرهم فأشاروا بجمع القرآن على حرف واحد حتى لا يختلف الناس فجمعه رضي الله عنه، وكون لجنة رباعية لهذا، ويرأسهم زيد بن ثابت رضي الله عنه، فجمعوا القرآن على حرف واحد وكتبه ووزعه في الأقاليم حتى يعتمده الناس وحتى ينقطع النزاع، أما القراءات السبع أو القراءات العشر فهي موجودة في نفس ما جمعه عثمان رضي الله عنه في زيادة حرف أو نقص حرف، أو مد أو شكل للقرآن، كل هذا داخل في الحرف الواحد الذي جمعه عثمان رضي الله عنه، والمقصود من ذلك حفظ كلام الله ومنع الناس من الاختلاف الذي قد يضرهم ويسبب الفتنة بينهم، والله جل وعلا لم يوجب القراءة بالأحرف السبعة بل قال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: ((فاقرأوا ما تيسر منه))[2] فجمع الناس على حرف واحد عمل طيب ويشكر عليه عثمان والصحابة رضي الله عنهم وأرضاهم لما فيه من التيسير والتسهيل وحسم مادة الخلاف بين المسلمين. ـ

It is reliably transmitted that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “This Qur’an has been revealed in seven ahruf, so recite whichever of them is easy for you.” And the expert scholars have said that these ahruf are very near in meaning but differ in wordings.

When news of the people differing reached ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) and Hudhaifah (may Allah be pleased with him) said to him, “Save the people!”, he consulted with the Sahabah who were alive during his era, such as ‘Ali, Talhah, al-Zubayr and others, and they advised him to collect the Qur’an according to one single harf so that the people would not differ. Continue reading

The Punishment of al-Rahman

Badr al-Deen ibn Jamaa’ah, one of the teachers of ibn Kathir, wrote the following in his book dedicated to explaining slight differences in the wordings of otherwise similar ayaat in the Qur’an:

مسألة: قوله تعالى: (أَنْ يَمَسَّكَ عَذَابٌ مِنَ الرَّحْمَنِ) ومناسبة مس العذاب: الجبار المنتقم؟ . وما فائدة تكرار ذكر ” الرحمن ” في هذه السورة أكثر من غيرها؟ . ـ

Question: Regarding Allah’s statement:

إِنِّي أَخَافُ أَن يَمَسَّكَ عَذَابٌ مِّنَ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ

[Ibrahim said to his father] “I certainly fear that a punishment from al-Rahman will touch you” [19:45]

Wouldn’t it be more fitting to use names like al-Jabbaar [the Mighty] or al-Muntaqim [the Vengeful] when discussing punishment afflicting someone?

Also, what should we understand from the repetition of the name al-Rahman [the Most Merciful] throughout this surah [surah Maryam] more than any other names? Continue reading