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

In a small booklet dedicated to a study of the narrated statements regarding the final review of the Qur’an that the Prophet performed with the angel Jibril in the year of his death, sheikh Muhammad Bazmool included the following valuable and clarifying discussion:

المسألة التاسعة : العرضة الأخيرة ، هي قراءة زيد أو قراءة ابن مسعود؟ ـ
Issue #9: The Final Review of the Qur’an, was it in the recitation of Zayd ibn Thabit or the recitation of ibn Mas’ood?

عن شَقِيقُ بْنُ سَلَمَةَ، قَالَ خَطَبَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ فَقَالَ وَاللَّهِ لَقَدْ أَخَذْتُ مِنْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم بِضْعًا وَسَبْعِينَ سُورَةً، وَاللَّهِ لَقَدْ عَلِمَ أَصْحَابُ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَنِّي مِنْ أَعْلَمِهِمْ بِكِتَابِ اللَّهِ وَمَا أَنَا بِخَيْرِهِمْ‏.‏ قَالَ شَقِيقٌ فَجَلَسْتُ فِي الْحِلَقِ أَسْمَعُ مَا يَقُولُونَ فَمَا سَمِعْتُ رَادًّا يَقُولُ غَيْرَ ذَلِكَ‏.‏ ـ

Shaqeeq ibn Salamah said: ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood addressed us one day and said:

I swear by Allah that I learned seventy-something surahs directly from Allah’s Messenger, and I swear by Allah that the Companions of the Prophet know that I am one of the most knowledgeable of them when it comes to the Qur’an, although I am not the best of them.

and Shaqeeq said, “I sat in the sittings, listening to what was said and I did not hear anyone refuting what he said.”

ولفظ مسلم : عَنْ شَقِيقٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، أَنَّهُ قَالَ ‏{‏ وَمَنْ يَغْلُلْ يَأْتِ بِمَا غَلَّ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ‏}‏ ثُمَّ قَالَ عَلَى قِرَاءَةِ مَنْ تَأْمُرُونِي أَنْ أَقْرَأَ فَلَقَدْ قَرَأْتُ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم بِضْعًا وَسَبْعِينَ سُورَةً وَلَقَدْ عَلِمَ أَصْحَابُ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَنِّي أَعْلَمُهُمْ بِكِتَابِ اللَّهِ وَلَوْ أَعْلَمُ أَنَّ أَحَدًا أَعْلَمُ مِنِّي لَرَحَلْتُ إِلَيْهِ ‏.‏ قَالَ شَقِيقٌ فَجَلَسْتُ فِي حَلَقِ أَصْحَابِ مُحَمَّدٍ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَمَا سَمِعْتُ أَحَدًا يَرُدُّ ذَلِكَ عَلَيْهِ وَلاَ يَعِيبُهُ ‏.‏ ـ

In the wording of Muslim, Shaqeeq relayed that ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood said

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The Historical Spread of the Qiraa’aat: 300AH to Present

In part of his master’s thesis on the different qiraa’aat and their effects on religious rulings, Dr. Waleed Al-Maneese included the following chapter regarding the historical spread of the qiraa’aat in different regions of the Muslim world, with particular focus on the year 300 onwards. For more information on the earlier period of the qiraa’aat, see The Early History of the Qiraa’aat: al-Suyooti.

السرد التاريخي لانتشار القراءات في وانحسارها في البلدان
A Collection of Points on the Historical Spread and Decline of the Different Qiraa’aat in the Various Lands

والذي توصلت إليه من خلال النقول التي تجمعت لديّ حول السرد التاريخي لانتشار القراءات في الأمصار وانحسارها منها ما يلي : ـ

What follows is material that I have gathered from various reports related to the historical spread of the different qiraa’aat in the various lands and their subsequent declines in popularity. It goes as follows:

١) إلى عصر الإمام ابن مجاهد الملقب بـ ( مُسبّع السبعة ) والذي ألف كتابه سنة 300 هـ كانت القراءات السبع يقرأ بها في الأمصار ، ولكن كان الغالب على أهل المدينة قراءة نافع ، وعلى أهل مكة قراءة ابن كثير ، وعلى أهل الشام قراءة ابن عامر ، وعلى أهل البصرة قراءة أبي عمرو ويعقوب ، وعلى أهل الكوفة قراءة عاصم وحمزة . ـ

1) From the time of the Prophet up through the time of Imam ibn Mujahid (also known as “The Selecter of the Seven” who wrote his book on the qiraa’aat in the year 300AH), the seven qiraa’aat were recited in the major cities, however what was predominant was:

  • the qiraa’ah of Nafi’ among the people of al-Madinah
  • the qiraa’ah of ibn Kathir among the people of Mecca
  • the qiraa’ah of ibn ‘Aamir among the people of Syria
  • the qiraa’ahs of Abu ‘Amr and Ya’qub among the people of al-Basrah
  • the qiraa’ahs of ‘Aasim and Hamzah among the people of al-Kufah

قال مكي بن أبي طالب: وكان الناس على رأس المائتين بالبصرة على قراءة أبي عمرو ويعقوب ، وبالكوفة على قراءة حمزة وعاصم ، وبالشام على قراءة ابن عامر ، وبمكة على قراءة ابن كثير ، وبالمدينة على قراءة نافع ، واستمروا على ذلك فلما كان على رأس الثلاثمائة أثبت ابن مجاهد اسم الكسائي وحذف يعقوب. اهـ

Makki ibn Abi Taalib said:

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Allusions to the Battle of Badr in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

The main discussion of the Battle of Badr in the Qur’an occurs throughout surah al-Anfal, to the extent that al-Suyooti mentioned:

وأخرج سعيد بن منصور والبخاري ، وابن المنذر وأبو الشيخ ، وابن مرديه عن سعيد بن جبير قال : قلت لابن عباس : سورة “الأنفال” قال : نزلت في بدر، وفي لفظ : تلك سورة بدر . ـ

Sa’eed ibn Mansoor, al-Bukhari, ibn al-Mundhir, Abu al-Sheikh, and ibn Mardawayh all reported that Sa’eed ibn Jubayr said:

I said to ibn ‘Abbaas, “Surah al-Anfal,” and he said, “It was revealed about the Battle of Badr.”

and in the wording of one narration, he said, “That is the surah of Badr.”

[al-Durr al-Manthoor 7/5]

However, there are a number of places outside of surah al-Anfal that some of the mufassiroon say that this seminal battle has also been mentioned. In a short aside in an excellent discussion of the last ayah in surah al-Furqan, sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee discussed the topic by writing:

وقال جماعة من أهل العلم : إن المراد بالعذاب اللازم لهم المعبر عن لزومه لهم ، بقوله : فسوف يكون لزاما ، أنه ما وقع من العذاب يوم بدر ، لأنهم قتل منهم سبعون وأسر سبعون ، والذين قتلوا منهم أصابهم عذاب القتل ، واتصل به عذاب البرزخ والآخرة فهو ملازم لا يفارقهم بحال ، وكون اللزام المذكور في هذه الآية العذاب الواقع يوم بدر ، نقله ابن كثير عن عبد الله بن مسعود ، وأبي بن كعب ، ومحمد بن كعب القرظي ، ومجاهد ، والضحاك ، وقتادة ، والسدي ، وغيرهم ، ثم قال : وقال الحسن البصري : فسوف يكون لزاما ، أي : يوم القيامة ولا منافاة بينهما ، انتهى من ابن كثير ، ونقله صاحب ” الدر المنثور ” عن أكثر المذكورين وغيرهم . ـ

A number of scholars have said that the punishment attached to the disbelievers – meaning the punishment which has been latched on to them – mentioned in His statement Continue reading

Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 40-46: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the fourth installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 40-46. This passage is comprised of an address to Banu Israa’eel – the Children of Israel. See the series guide here for more information.

يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ اذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتِيَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَأَوْفُوا بِعَهْدِي أُوفِ بِعَهْدِكُمْ وَإِيَّايَ فَارْهَبُونِ

O Children of Israel, remember My blessing which I bestowed upon you and fulfill My covenant so that I fulfill your covenant and fear none but Me [2:40]

يا ذرية يعقوب اذكروا نعمي الكثيرة عليكم، واشكروا لي، وأتموا وصيتي لكم: بأن تؤمنوا بكتبي ورسلي جميعًا، وتعملوا بشرائعي. فإن فعلتم ذلك أُتمم لكم ما وعدتكم به من الرحمة في الدنيا، والنجاة في الآخرة. وإيَّايَ- وحدي- فخافوني، واحذروا نقمتي إن نقضتم العهد، وكفرتم بي. ـ

40. O offspring of Ya’cub, remember My many blessings upon you, be grateful to Me, and fulfill My commandment to you: that you would believe in all of My scriptures and messengers and act according to My divine laws. Then, if you do that, I will fulfill the promise that I made to you of mercy in this life and salvation in the next. And it is only Me alone that you should fear. And beware of my punishment if you should break the covenant and disbelieve in Me. Continue reading

Ten Areas to Memorize for Excellence in Tafsir

The following Q&A was conducted with sheikh ‘Abdullah al-‘Awaaji, a professor of Tafsir at the Islamic University of al-Madinah, via the Qur’anic Consultations Twitter page:

س/ اشتركت في حلقة نقرأ فيها تفسير السعدي والحمد لله فهل نحفظ التفسير لنفهم معاني الآيات؟ ـ

Question: Alhamdulillaah, I participate in a class where we go through Tafsir al-Sa’di. Should we memorize the tafsir in order to understand the meanings of the ayaat?

ج/ لا أختار لكم حفظ التفسير كله ولكن الذي يحفظ لإتقان التفسير : ـ

Response: I would tell you not to memorize the entire tafsir but instead to memorize those things which bring about excellence in the field of tafsir.

١-علم مفردات القرءان لا سيما المتكررة (وهو مايسمى غريب القرآن) ومتوسطها للمبتدئ ألف كلمة وللمنتهي مائة كلمة تقريبا

1) Knowledge of Qur’anic vocabulary, especially those words which are used frequently, which is referred to as Ghareeb al-Qur’an. These would be about 1,000 words for the beginner, and then to finish off with roughly another [less frequently used] 100 words.

٢-وعلم التفسير النبوي الصحيح الصريح وهو مئة حديث تقريبا

2) Knowledge of the authentic explicit statements of tafsir from the Prophet, and this amounts to about 100 hadith narrations. Continue reading

Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 30-39: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the third installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 30-39, which focuses on the story of Adam. See the series guide here for more information.

وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةً ۖ قَالُوا أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَن يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَاءَ وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ ۖ قَالَ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

And when your Lord said to the angels, “I am going to make an authority on the earth.” They said, “Will you place someone who corrupts it and spills blood in it while we exalt Your praises and sanctify You?” He said, “I certainly know what you do not know.” [2:30]

واذكر- أيها الرسول- للناس حين قال ربك للملائكة: إني جاعل في الأرض قومًا يخلف بعضهم بعضًا لعمارتها. قالت: يا ربَّنا علِّمْنا وأَرْشِدْنا ما الحكمة في خلق هؤلاء، مع أنَّ من شأنهم الإفساد في الأرض وإراقة الدماء ظلما وعدوانًا ونحن طوع أمرك، ننزِّهك التنزيه اللائق بحمدك وجلالك، ونمجِّدك بكل صفات الكمال والجلال؟ قال الله لهم: إني أعلم ما لا تعلمون من الحكمة البالغة في خلقهم.ـ

30. And mention to the people, O Messenger, when your Lord said to the angels, “I am going to place a people on the earth who will follow one after the other in maintaining it.” They said, “O our Lord! Teach and guide us to the wisdom behind creating these people when part of their lot is to corrupt the earth and shed blood out of oppression and enmity. Meanwhile we obey Your command and exalt You above having any shortcomings, as fits with Your praiseworthiness and majesty. And we praise You for every perfect and majestic attribute of Yours. Allah said to them, “I certainly know a profound wisdom for creating them that you do not know.”

وَعَلَّمَ آدَمَ الْأَسْمَاءَ كُلَّهَا ثُمَّ عَرَضَهُمْ عَلَى الْمَلَائِكَةِ فَقَالَ أَنبِئُونِي بِأَسْمَاءِ هَـٰؤُلَاءِ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ

And He taught Adam the names, all of them. Then He presented them to the angels and said, “Tell me the names of these things if you are truthful.” [2:31] Continue reading

Reasons Why the Tafsir of the Sahabah Differed: Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote a brief post accounting for the differences found among the Qur’anic explanations of the Sahabah. We have translated it below:

الاختلاف الواقع بين الصحابة في التفسير هو من اختلاف التنوُّع، ولا يقع بينهم اختلاف من باب التضادِّ، إلا فيما لا يصحُّ عنهم. ـ

The differing that did occur among the Sahabah in the field of tafsir is simply variations on a theme. There was not any differing among them that was actual in opposition or conflict, except for things that cannot actually be authentically attributed to them.

ووجه ما يجيء عنهم من اختلاف في التفسير يعود إلى أمرين: ـ

The reasons why there were some differences among their explanations of the Qur’an all go back to two issues:

الأمر الأوَّل: أن تتعدَّد أسماء الشيء وأوصافُه، وشروطه وأركانه، فتارةً يذكره أحدُهم باسمٍ غير ما يذكره به الآخر، وتارةً يذكره بركن فيه غير ما يذكره الآخر، ولا اختلاف تضاد بينهما، كمن يقول: اركع ركعتين، والآخر يقول: اسجد سجدتين، فالسجود والركوع من أركان الصلاة، ويعبَّر بهما عن الركعة من القيام والقراءة والركوع والرفع منه والسجود والجلوس بين السجدتين والسجود الثاني. ـ

1. A single thing can have multiple names, or multiple characteristics, conditions or key parts. So sometimes one of the Sahabah would call something a certain name while another mentioned it by a different name. In other instances, perhaps one of them would refer to the entire thing by one of its essential components while another mentioned it by a different key part. So there is no conflict or contradiction between the two. This is just like if one person said, “Pray two raka’aat” and another person said, “Pray to sajdahs”, because the sujood and the rukoo’ are both essential pillars of the salaah. So the term rukoo’ can be used to refer to the entire salaah without the need to mention the standing, recitation, bowing, coming back up from bowing, prostrating, sitting between the two prostrations or the second prostration. Continue reading

A Question about the Length of the Makki Surahs

I posed the following question to sheikh ‘Abdullah al-‘Awaaji, a professor of Tafsir at the Islamic University of al-Madinah, via Twitter on the @ConsQuran channel on November 2, 2019:

احسن الله إليكم . ذكر السيوطي في الاتقان : “أخرج الطبراني ، عن ابن مسعود : نزل المفصل بمكة ، فمكثنا حججا نقرؤه ، لا ينزل غيره .” كيف نفهم هذا اثر وسور طويل نزلت قبل الهجرة كسورة الكهف و سورة يوسف وسورة الأعراف ونحوها . بارك الله فيك . ـ

[Question] May Allah be good to you. al-Suyooti mentions the following quote in al-Itqan:

al-Tabarani brought a report from ibn Mas’ood that:

The Mufassal surahs were revealed in Mecca, so we remained reciting these for years without anything else being revealed.

How should we understand this narration when long surahs such as surah al-Kahf, surah Yusuf, surah al-A’raf and others were revealed before the Hijrah?

May Allah bless you.

أولًا في ثبوت ذلك عن ابن مسعود رضي الله عنه نظر والراجح تضعيفه وقد مال محققو الاتقان ط المجمع الى تحسينه تساهلًا لانه يتعلق بالتفسير ،وممن ضعفه لعلتين مؤثرتين المحقق أد/ سعد الحميد في ج ١ من تخقيقه لسنن سعيد بن منصور وهذه صورة كلامه ـ

[Response] Firstly, there is some question as to whether this is actually an authentically transmitted statement of ibn Mas’ood. The predominant opinion is that it is weak, though the verifier of al-Itqan inclined towards grading it as acceptable due to his more relaxed standards with material related to tafsir. One of those who graded this report as weak due to two problems in its chain was the verifier Dr. Sa’d al-Humayd in the first volume of his critical edition of the Sunan of Sa’eed ibn Mansoor, and you can see the image of his comments below. Continue reading

Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 21-29: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the second installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 21-29. See the series guide here for more information and previous installments.

أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

O mankind! Worship your Lord who created you and those before you in order that you might exercise taqwa (2:21)

نداء من الله للبشر جميعًا: أن اعبدوا الله الذي ربَّاكم بنعمه، وخافوه ولا تخالفوا دينه؛ فقد أوجدكم من العدم، وأوجد الذين من قبلكم؛ لتكونوا من المتقين الذين رضي الله عنهم ورضوا عنه. ـ

21) This is a call from Allah to mankind as a whole telling them to worship Allah who has nurtured and raised them up with His blessings and to fear Him and not go against His religion. For Allah brought you into existence out of nothing, and He brought those who were before into existence as well. This is so that you would be among those who exercise taqwa, those with whom Allah is pleased and who are pleased with Allah.

الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ الْأَرْضَ فِرَاشًا وَالسَّمَاءَ بِنَاءً وَأَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَأَخْرَجَ بِهِ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ رِزْقًا لَّكُمْ ۖ فَلَا تَجْعَلُوا لِلَّـهِ أَندَادًا وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

He who made the earth a bed for you and the sky a canopy, and He sent rain down from the sky. With it, He brought forth fruits as provision for you. So do not make any equals with Allah while you know. (2:22) Continue reading

Applying Hadith Criteria to Statements of Tafsir: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh mentioned the following points in his explanation of ibn Taymiyah’s famous introduction to the principles of tafsir:

هاهنا تنبيه مهم وهو أنه ليست قواعد مصطلح الحديث منطبقة دائما على أسانيد المفسرين، لهذا يخطئ كثيرون من المعاصرين في نقدهم لأسانيد التفسير على طريقة نقدهم لأسانيد الحديث؛ بل تجد أحدهم يتعّجب من ابن جرير وابن كثير والبغوي بل ابن أبي حاتم ونحو ذلك من إيرادهم التفاسير عن الصحابة والتابعين بالأسانيد التي هي على طريقة مصطلح الحديث ربما كانت ضعيفة؛ لكنها على طريقة مصطلح الحديث الذي اعتمده المفسرون تكون صحيحة. ـ

Here we must bring your attention to an important point, which is that the principles of hadith classification are not also applied to the chains of narrations of those who explain the Qur’an. Many people in this age have made the mistake of applying the methods of criticism used for the chains of Prophetic hadith narrations to the chains of narration used in tafsir. In fact, you will find such people who are astonished that ibn Jarir and ibn Kathir and al-Baghawi and even ibn Abi Hatim and others of similar caliber would mention explanations of the Qur’an from the Sahabah and Tabi’oon which might be graded as “weak” according to the methods of classification in the hadith sciences. However, according to the methods of classification relied upon by the scholars of tafsir, these same reports would be graded as “authentic”.

مثال ذلك حديث السّدي، السدي صاحب تفسير، له تفسير يفسر باستنباطه ويفسر وينقل عن غيره، يروي التفسير عنه أسباط بن نصر يروي التفسير عنه أسباط بن نصر، السدي فيه ربما كلام، وأسباط بن نصر أيضا فيه كلام ربما ضُعِّف بل جعل ممن اُنتقد على مسلم إيراد حديثه، فيأتي فيقول هذا الإسناد حسن بل ربما يقول هذا ضعيف، وهذا عند العلماء بالتفسير هذا من أجود الأسانيد؛ بل هو أجود أسانيد تفسير السدي، وإن كان أسباط فيه كلام فذلك الكلام فيه في الحديث، أما في العناية بالتفسير فلو به خصوصية خاصة تفسير السدي، وقد نقله عن كتابه وحفظه، ولهذا لما ترجم له العلماء قال راوي تفسير السدي. ـ

One example of that is the narrations of al-Suddi, the one who authored a book of tafsir in which he explained the Qur’an and derived legal rulings and also transmitted explanations of others. Asbat ibn Nasr related some explanations of the Qur’an from al-Suddi. Regarding al-Suddi, perhaps there is some criticism, and perhaps there is also criticism regarding Asbat ibn Nasr; perhaps he is weak. In fact, perhaps a person would be criticized for bringing one of his narrations, such that one might relay it and consider it to be sound when it actually might be weak. But according to the scholars of Tafsir, narrations by this route are some of the best in terms of their chain of narration, or rather the best chain of narration for al-Suddi’s tafsir even though there is some criticism of Asbat. However that criticism is about his narrations of hadith reports, but when it comes to his attention to Tafsir, if Asbat were to have a specialty it would be in the tafsir of al-Suddi for he transmitted it both by a written copy and by memory. That is why when the scholars provide biographical information about him they refer to him as “the transmitter of Tafsir al-Suddi.” Continue reading