Learning the Apparent Meanings of the Qur’an Before the Deeper Meanings: al-Zarkashi

In part of his discussion of tafsir in his famous handbook to the Qur’anic sciences, Badr al-Deen al-Zarkashi included the following beautiful words:

 والسماع لا بد منه في ظاهر التفسير ليتقي به مواضع الغلط ، ثم بعد ذلك يتسع الفهم والاستنباط ، والغرائب التي لا تفهم إلا باستماع فنون كثيرة . ولا بد من الإشارة إلى جمل منها ليستدل بها على أمثالها ، ويعلم أنه لا يجوز التهاون بحفظ التفسير الظاهر أولا ، ولا مطمع في الوصول إلى الباطن قبل إحكام الظاهر . ـ

… One must learn the transmitted explanations of the apparent meanings of the Qur’an in order to avoid falling into error, and then follow that up by expanding his understanding of and extrapolation from those ayaat.

And there are a number of unusual matters which one cannot understand without having studied a number of different disciplines. I will mention a group of such instances to illustrate this matter and so that you will understand that one should not dismiss the importance of memorizing the explanations of the Qur’an’s apparent meanings first and foremost, nor should one aspire to understand the deeper meanings before gaining a solid understanding of the base-level meanings. Continue reading

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

Parts of the Qur’an that were Revealed Multiple Times: al-Suyooti

Imam Jalal al-Deen al-Suyooti included the following chapter in part of his famous handbook on the Qur’anic sciences, al-Itqan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an. What follows is the slightly abridged form of this chapter in sheikh Muhammad Bazmool’s condensed edition of al-Itqan:

النَّوْعُ الثالث والعَشَرَون : مَا تَكَرَّرَ نُزُولُهُ . ـ
Chapter 23: Parts of the Qur’an that were Revealed Multiple Times

صَرَّحَ جَمَاعَةٌ مِنَ الْمُتَقَدِّمِينَ وَالْمُتَأَخِّرِينَ بِأَنَّ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ مَا تَكَرَّرَ نُزُولُهُ . ـ

A large number of both the earlier and later scholars have explicitly stated that parts of the Qur’an were revealed more than once.

قَالَ ابْنُ الْحَصَّارِ : قَدْ يَتَكَرَّرُ نُزُولُ الْآيَةِ تَذْكِيرًا وَمَوْعِظَةً ، وَذَكَرَ مِنْ ذَلِكَ خَوَاتِيمَ سُورَةِ النَّحْلِ ، وَأَوَّلَ سُورَةِ الرُّوم‏ِ . ـ

Ibn al-Hassaar said:

An ayah might be revealed more than once to serve as a reminder and exhortation. Some examples of this are the end of surah al-Nahl and the beginning of surah al-Room.

وَذَكَرَ ابْنُ كَثِيرٍ مِنْهُ آيَةَ الرُّوحِ . وَذَكَرَ قَوْمٌ مِنْهُ الْفَاتِحَةَ . وَذَكَرَ بَعْضُهُمْ مِنْهُ قَوْلَهُ : مَا كَانَ لِلنَّبِيِّ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الْآيَةَ [ التَّوْبَةِ : 113 ] . ـ

Ibn Kathir listed the ayah al-Rooh [17:85] as another example, and some have also mentioned surah al-Fatihah as another example. Some have also mentioned Allah’s statement:

Continue reading

Levels of Explanation Needed for the Qur’an: al-Zarkashi

In his famous handbook to the Qur’anic sciences, al-Burhan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an, sheikh Badr al-Deen al-Zarkashi dedicated one chapter to discussing the different levels of explanation needed for different parts of the Qur’an. We have added a numbering system to this translation in an effort to facilitate navigating the the sections and many examples it includes:

ينقسم القرآن العظيم إلى : ما هو بين بنفسه ، بلفظ لا يحتاج إلى بيان منه ، ولا من غيره ، وهو كثير . ومنه قوله – تعالى – : التائبون العابدون ( التوبة : 112 ) الآية ، وقوله : إن المسلمين والمسلمات ( الأحزاب : 35 ) الآية ، وقوله : قد أفلح المؤمنون ( المؤمنون : 1 ) ، وقوله : واضرب لهم مثلا أصحاب القرية ( يس : 13 ) ، وقوله : ياأيها الذين أوتوا الكتاب آمنوا بما نزلنا مصدقا ( النساء : 47 ) . ـ

The Qur’an can be divided into the following categories:1. Those parts which are clear in and of themselves, with wordings that do not require any further clarification, and these are very common.

Some examples include:

Ex 1. Allah’s statement:

التَّائِبُونَ الْعَابِدُونَ الْحَامِدُونَ السَّائِحُونَ الرَّاكِعُونَ السَّاجِدُونَ الْآمِرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَالنَّاهُونَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَالْحَافِظُونَ لِحُدُودِ اللَّـهِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ

They are those who repent, worship, praise, fast, bow, prostrate, command the good, forbid evil, and observe the regulations of Allah. And give glad tidings to the believers [9:112]

Ex 2. and His statement: Continue reading