The Seven Qiraa’aat are all Part of One Harf: ibn Taymiyah

Sheikh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyah once received a letter with a series of questions about the qiraa’aat in it, including:

وسئل عن قول النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ” { أنزل القرآن على سبعة أحرف } ” ما المراد بهذه السبعة ؟ وهل هذه القراءات المنسوبة إلى نافع وعاصم وغيرهما هي الأحرف السبعة أو واحد منها ؟ وما السبب الذي أوجب الاختلاف بين القراء فيما احتمله خط المصحف ؟ وهل تجوز القراءة برواية الأعمش وابن محيصن وغيرهما من القراءات الشاذة أم لا ؟ وإذا جازت القراءة بها فهل تجوز الصلاة بها أم لا ؟ أفتونا مأجورين . ـ

The sheikh was asked about the Prophet’s statement, “The Qur’an was sent down in seven ahruf

(a) what is meant by these seven?

(b) Are the qiraa’aat attributed to Naafi’ and ‘Asim and others the seven ahruf or just one of them?

(c) What is it that causes there to be differences among the reciters within the bounds of the text of the official ‘Uthmani Mushaf?

(d) Is is permissible to recite the recitation of al-A’mash or ibn Muhaysin or other such shadh [non-canonical] recitations? If so, is allowed to pray with them?

We would greatly appreciate if you could deliver some verdicts for us.

[Majmoo’ Fataawaa 13/389]

What follows is part of Ibn Taymiyah‘s response to these questions, touching on the fourth question (d) and the second question (b) while also addressing a number of related topics such as the collection of the Qur’an:

وأما القراءة الشاذة الخارجة عن رسم المصحف العثماني مثل قراءة ابن مسعود وأبي الدرداء رضي الله عنهما ( والليل إذا يغشى والنهار إذا تجلى والذكر والأنثى كما قد ثبت ذلك في الصحيحين . ـ

There are the shadh [non-canonical] qiraa’aat which do not match with the text of the official ‘Uthmani mushaf, such as the recitation of ibn Mas’ood and Abu al-Dardaa’ (may Allah be pleased with them both) of: Continue reading

Reciting Surah al-Sajdah and Surah al-Insan on Fridays: ibn Taymiyah

Ibn Taymiyah was asked the following questions about the recitation for the Fajr prayer on Fridays:

وسئل عن الصلاة يوم الجمعة بالسجدة : هل تجب المداومة عليها أم لا ؟ . ـ

There is a question about making sajdah in the [fajr] prayer on Friday – are we required to always put this into practice or not?

فأجاب : الحمد لله . ليست قراءة { الم } { تنزيل } التي فيها السجدة ولا غيرها من ذوات السجود واجبة في فجر الجمعة باتفاق الأئمة ومن اعتقد ذلك واجبا أو ذم من ترك ذلك فهو ضال مخطئ يجب عليه [ ص: 205 ] أن يتوب من ذلك باتفاق الأئمة . وإنما تنازع العلماء في استحباب ذلك وكراهيته . فعند مالك يكره أن يقرأ بالسجدة في الجهر . والصحيح أنه لا يكره كقول أبي حنيفة والشافعي وأحمد ; لأنه قد ثبت في الصحيح { عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه سجد في العشاء بـ { إذا السماء انشقت } } وثبت عنه في الصحيحين { أنه كان يقرأ في الفجر يوم الجمعة { الم } { تنزيل } و { هل أتى } } . وعند مالك يكره أن يقصد سورة بعينها . وأما الشافعي وأحمد فيستحبون ما جاءت به السنة مثل الجمعة والمنافقين في الجمعة . والذاريات واقتربت في العيد والم تنزيل وهل أتى في فجر الجمعة . ـ

Response: al-hamdulillaah. Neither reciting surah al-Sajdah which contains a sajdah nor reciting any other surah containing a sajdah is mandatory for the Fajr prayer on Fridays. This is the unanimous position of the scholars, and whoever believes that it is mandatory or that whoever does not practice this is blameworthy is misguided and mistaken and needs to repent from that. This is also the unanimous position of the scholars.

The only area of disagreement among the scholars is whether it is encouraged or disliked to do this, for Malik disliked recited surahs with a sajdah in the audible prayers, however the correct opinion is that this is not disliked, which was the position of Abu Hanifah, al-Shafi’ee, and Ahmad. That is because of what has been authentically transmitted in the Saheeh that the Prophet made sajdah in the ‘Ishaa’ prayer when he recited surah al-Inshiqaaq. And is has also been authentically transmitted in both al-Bukhari and Muslim that he used to recited surah al-Sajdah and surah al-Insaan in the Fajr prayer on Fridays. Continue reading

Paying Attention to Who the Qur’an is Addressing: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote:

تحت عبارة: اتباع كلام الله، وكلام الله أولى! ومثلها عبارة: أريد حديثاً أن الرسول فعله أو قاله؛ تحت هاتين العبارتين ترد شريعة الله ، ويخالف دينه! يصدق على هاتين العبارتين أنهما: كلمة حق يراد بها باطل! وتوضيح ذلك؛ ـ

Consider the phrase, “Follow the Speech of Allah, for the Speech of Allah comes first!” or the phrase, “Give me a hadith that the Prophet did that or said that!” Both of these phrases run counter to the sharee’ah that Allah legislated and go against His religion! It would be accurate to say that both of these phrases are true statements which are used to support falsehood.

Let me explain:

لا خلاف في أن الأصل هو اتباع كلام الله، وليس ذلك أولى بل هو الواجب على المسلم؛ ولكن ذلك محله فيما كان محكماً لا متشابهاً، وإلا كنا من الذين في قلوبهم زيغ، فيتبعون المتشابه منه. ـ

There is no disagreement that the very foundation of the religion is following Allah’s Speech. That is not just something good; it is something binding on every Muslim. However, the place for that is when it comes to the clear and definitive verses, not the ambiguous verses. If we were to do otherwise, then we be among those people who have deviation in their heart and follow the ambiguous parts of the Qur’an as a result.

ومن المتشابه أن تأت إلى الآية التي ليست في حق عموم المسلمين إنما خاصة بالحكام، أو خاصة بفئة من المسلمين في حال معين، فتأت وتجعلها عامة في حق كل المسلمين. ـ

An example of this ambiguity which some people follow is that they take an ayah that is not directed at the Muslims as a whole but is exclusively dealing with the rulers or specifically directed at military units of the Muslims in a particular circumstance and then treat it as if it applied generally to all Muslims. Continue reading

Using a Non-Canonical Recitation as Evidence: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In surah al-Ma’idah, Allah describes the expiation of a broken oath as follows:

 فَكَفَّارَتُهُ إِطْعَامُ عَشَرَةِ مَسَاكِينَ مِنْ أَوْسَطِ مَا تُطْعِمُونَ أَهْلِيكُمْ أَوْ كِسْوَتُهُمْ أَوْ تَحْرِيرُ رَقَبَةٍ ۖ فَمَن لَّمْ يَجِدْ فَصِيَامُ ثَلَاثَةِ أَيَّامٍ

… So its expiation is the feeding of ten needy people from the average of that which you feed your families or clothing them or the freeing of a slave. But whoever does not find the means – then a fast of three days. … [5:89]

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir addressed the ayah at length in his tafsir. In the midst of his discussion, he turns to a question regarding the fast:

واختلف العلماء : هل يجب فيها التتابع أو يستحب ولا يجب ويجزئ التفريق؟ على قولين : أحدهما أنه لا يجب التتابع ، هذا منصوص الشافعي في كتاب ” الأيمان ” ، وهو قول مالك لإطلاق قوله : ( فصيام ثلاثة أيام ) وهو صادق على المجموعة والمفرقة ، كما في قضاء رمضان ; لقوله : ( فعدة من أيام أخر ) [ البقرة : 184 ] . ـ

The scholars have differed as to whether the days of fasting for this expiation must be done consecutively or if that is only recommended without reaching the level of obligation, thus making it permissible to fast them non-consecutively. They fall into two camps:

The first position holds that it is not required to fast them consecutively. This the opinion of Imam al-Shafi’ee as is mentioned in the book al-Ayman, as well as being the position of Imam Malik. This was based off the general nature of Allah’s statement:

فَصِيَامُ ثَلَاثَةِ أَيَّامٍ

then a fast of three days

which could apply to both fasting them consecutively or non-consecutively, just as is the case when making up any missed days of Ramadan according to Allah’s statement: Continue reading

Responding to Doubts About the Prohibition of Music: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

One of the most commonly-cited evidences for the prohibition of music is the ayah from surah Luqman

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ لِيُضِلَّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُوًا ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ

And among the people are those who purchase idle talk to mislead others from the path of Allah without knowledge and who take it as a mockery. For these ones, there is a humiliating punishment. [31:6]

and the “idle talk” in this ayah was explained to refer to music, as was explained by ibn Mas’ood, ibn ‘Abbaas and others. Another commonly-cited evidence is the hadeeth of the Prophet

لَيَكُونَنَّ مِنْ أُمَّتِي أَقْوَامٌ يَسْتَحِلُّونَ الْحِرَ وَالْحَرِيرَ وَالْخَمْرَ وَالْمَعَازِفَ

There will be some people from my nation who will consider illicit sexual intercourse, silk, alcohol and musical instruments to be permissible.

which is reported in Saheeh al-Bukhari (#5590). We have previously translated an explanation of this ayah from surah Luqman which brings several more pieces of evidence for the prohibition of music. We would recommend reading that article before proceeding, as it serves as a foundation for this topic.

After understanding the evidences for the prohibition of music, it bears mentioning that there are some who cast doubt on the validity of these primary pieces of evidence listed above. While these doubts may appear to be academic, they are ultimately without a sound foundation, as Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool explains below:

قال : هذا التفسير اجتهاد من ابن مسعود رضي الله عنه. وحديث المعازف مختلف فيه . ـ

Some say: This explanation of ibn Mas’ood is simply his personal scholarly opinion, and there is some differing as to the hadith of musical instruments.

قلت : لاحظ ان تفسير ابن مسعود رضي الله عنه للآية ليس فيه ما يخالف لفظها بل هو يقرر معناها فهو يقول : من لهو الحديث في الآية الغناء لانه يحصل به اضلال للناس في باب الشهوات. فاللام ليست للتعليل بل للعاقبة، كاللام في قوله تعالى: ({فَالْتَقَطَهُ آلُ فِرْعَوْنَ لِيَكُونَ لَهُمْ عَدُوّاً وَحَزَناً إِنَّ فِرْعَوْنَ وَهَامَانَ وَجُنُودَهُمَا كَانُوا خَاطِئِينَ }) (القصص:8). ـ

I say: It must be noted that ibn Mas’ood’s explanation of this ayah does not contain anything that is at odds with the ayah itself. Rather, his explanation affirms the ayah‘s meaning, as he is saying that one example of the “idle talk” mentioned in this ayah is music because it leads to the misguidance of people by way of lowly desires. So the preposition laam in the ayah is not meant to imply causation but rather consequence, like the laam in Allah’s statement: Continue reading

Why do the Mufassiroon differ?: Ibn Taymiyah

One section of the book Majmoo’ al-Fataawa ibn Taymiyah begins with the following question:

وسئل رحمه الله عن قوله صلى الله عليه وسلم { من فسر القرآن برأيه فليتبوأ مقعده من النار } ” فاختلاف المفسرين في آية واحدة إن كان بالرأي فكيف النجاة ؟ وإن لم يكن بالرأي فكيف وقع الاختلاف والحق لا يكون في طرفي نقيض أفتونا . ؟

He was asked – may Allah have mercy on him – about the statement of the Prophet, “Whoever interprets the Qur’an according to his own opinion, then let him take his seat in the Hell-Fire”:

If the different positions that the hold mufassiroon regarding certain ayah arose due to their personal opinions, then how can they be saved? Or if these different positions where not a product of their own personal opinions then how did these different opinions come to be when the truth is not at odds with itself? Won’t you give us a verdict?

Sheikh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyah responded by saying:

فأجاب رحمه الله تعالى ينبغي أن يعلم أن الاختلاف الواقع من المفسرين وغيرهم على وجهين : ” أحدهما ” ليس فيه تضاد وتناقض ; بل يمكن أن يكون كل منهما حقا وإنما هو اختلاف تنوع أو اختلاف في الصفات أو العبادات وعامة الاختلاف الثابت عن مفسري السلف من الصحابة والتابعين هو من هذا الباب فإن الله سبحانه إذا ذكر في القرآن اسما مثل قوله : { اهدنا الصراط المستقيم } فكل من المفسرين يعبر عن الصراط المستقيم بعبارة يدل بها على بعض صفاته وكل ذلك حق بمنزلة ما يسمى الله ورسوله وكتابه بأسماء كل اسم منها يدل على صفة من صفاته فيقول بعضهم : { الصراط المستقيم } كتاب الله أو اتباع كتاب الله [ ص: 382 ] ويقول الآخر : { الصراط المستقيم } هو الإسلام أو دين الإسلام ويقول الآخر : { الصراط المستقيم } هو السنة والجماعة ويقول الآخر : { الصراط المستقيم } طريق العبودية أو طريق الخوف والرجاء والحب وامتثال المأمور واجتناب المحظور أو متابعة الكتاب والسنة أو العمل بطاعة الله أو نحو هذه الأسماء والعبارات . ـ

One needs to understand that the differing which occurs among the mufassiroon – and among others as well – occurs in two ways.

First, there is differing which does not actually involve any opposition or contradiction. In fact, it is possible that both of the different stances are true and that it is only a differing of categorization or a differing in descriptions or acts of worship. Out of what has been authentically transmitted, the bulk of differing among the scholars of tafsir of the salaf, namely the sahabah and the taabi’oon, falls into this category. For when Allah mentions a term in the Qur’an such as His statement: Continue reading

Hajj is During Well-Known Months: Tafsir al-Sa’di

While discussing some of the rulings related to Hajj in surah al-Baqarah, Allah informs us that:

الْحَجُّ أَشْهُرٌ مَّعْلُومَاتٌ ۚ فَمَن فَرَضَ فِيهِنَّ الْحَجَّ فَلَا رَفَثَ وَلَا فُسُوقَ وَلَا جِدَالَ فِي الْحَجِّ ۗ وَمَا تَفْعَلُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ يَعْلَمْهُ اللَّـهُ ۗ وَتَزَوَّدُوا فَإِنَّ خَيْرَ الزَّادِ التَّقْوَىٰ ۚ وَاتَّقُونِ يَا أُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ

Hajj is during well-known months. So whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself therein, there is no rafath and no fusooq and no jidal during Hajj. And whatever you do of good good – Allah knows it. And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is taqwa. So have taqwa, O you of understanding. [2:197]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di explained this ayah in his tafsir by writing:

يخبر تعالى أن { الْحَجَّ } واقع في { أَشْهُرٌ مَعْلُومَاتٌ } عند المخاطبين, مشهورات, بحيث لا تحتاج إلى تخصيص، كما احتاج الصيام إلى تعيين شهره, وكما بين تعالى أوقات الصلوات الخمس. وأما الحج فقد كان من ملة إبراهيم, التي لم تزل مستمرة في ذريته معروفة بينهم. والمراد بالأشهر المعلومات عند جمهور العلماء: شوال, وذو القعدة, وعشر من ذي الحجة, فهي التي يقع فيها الإحرام بالحج غالبا.ـ

Allah informs us that

الْحَجَّ

Hajj …

takes place during

أَشْهُرٌ مَعْلُومَاتٌ

… well-known months

i.e. well-known to those to whom this revelation was originally addressed. Well-known such that there was no need to specify it as had been the case which explicitly naming the month of fasting or how Allah had clarified the times of the five daily prayers. But the Hajj had been part of the religion of Ibrahim which had continued to be practiced among his descendants and was known to them. According to the majority of scholars, the intended meaning of the well-known months is Shawwaal, Dhu’l-Qa’dah, and Dhu’l-Hijjah because these are the months in which people enter in a state of ihram for Hajj for the most part.

ـ { فَمَنْ فَرَضَ فِيهِنَّ الْحَجَّ } أي: أحرم به, لأن الشروع فيه يصيره فرضا, ولو كان نفلا. واستدل بهذه الآية الشافعي ومن تابعه, على أنه لا يجوز الإحرام بالحج قبل أشهره، قلت لو قيل: إن فيها دلالة لقول الجمهور, بصحة الإحرام [بالحج] قبل أشهره لكان قريبا، فإن قوله: { فَمَنْ فَرَضَ فِيهِنَّ الْحَجَّ } دليل على أن الفرض قد يقع في الأشهر المذكورة وقد لا يقع فيها, وإلا لم يقيده. ـ

فَمَن فَرَضَ فِيهِنَّ الْحَجَّ

So whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself therein … Continue reading

A Primer on Abrogation: al-Zarkashi

In his landmark manual of the Qur’anic sciences, sheikh Badr al-Deen al-Zarkashi mentioned the following important discussion in his chapter on naasikh and mansookh – abrogated and abrogating – verses:

قسم بعضهم النسخ من وجه آخر إلى ثلاثة أضرب

Some scholars have taken another approach to categorizing abrogation, resulting in three categories:

الأول : نسخ المأمور به قبل امتثاله ، وهذا الضرب هو النسخ على الحقيقة ، كأمر الخليل بذبح ولده ، وكقوله تعالى : إذا ناجيتم الرسول فقدموا بين يدي نجواكم صدقة ( المجادلة : 12 ) ثم نسخه سبحانه بقوله : أأشفقتم ( المجادلة : 13 ) الآية . ـ

One: Abrogation of a command before it could be carried out, which is indeed abrogation. An example of this would be the command for Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, or Allah’s statement:

إِذَا نَاجَيْتُمُ الرَّسُولَ فَقَدِّمُوا بَيْنَ يَدَيْ نَجْوَاكُمْ صَدَقَةً

When you [wish to] privately consult the Messenger, present before your consultation a charity. [58:12]

which Allah then abrogated by saying:

أَأَشْفَقْتُمْ

Have you feared … [58:13]

until the end of the ayah.

الثاني : ويسمى نسخا تجوزا ، وهو ما أوجبه الله على من قبلنا كحتم القصاص ولذلك قال عقب تشريع الدية : ذلك تخفيف من ربكم ورحمة ( البقرة : 178 ) وكذلك ما أمرنا الله به أمرا إجماليا ثم نسخ ، كنسخه التوجه إلى بيت الله المقدس بالكعبة ، فإن ذلك كان واجبا علينا من قضية أمره باتباع الأنبياء قبله ، وكنسخ صوم يوم عاشوراء برمضان . ـ

Two – which can only be loosely called “abrogation” – is what Allah had mandated on those before us, such as the decree of legal retribution. It was in this vein that immediately after the legislation of blood-money Allah said:

ذَٰلِكَ تَخْفِيفٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ

This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. [2:178]

And likewise what Allah commanded in general terms and then abrogated, such as His abrogation of facing towards Allah’s Sacred House in Jerusalem by facing instead towards the Ka’bah, for that had been something binding on us under His commandment to follow the previous prophets. Another example of this is the abrogation of fasting the Day of ‘Aashooraa’ by fasting Ramadan. Continue reading

Some Background on the Field of ‘Uloom al-Qur’an: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr

In the introduction to his explanation of Manthoomah al-Zamzami – an introduction to the Qur’anic sciences in poem form -, sheikh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr included the following remarks which include important background information regarding the field of ‘Uloom al-Qur’an:

التأليف في علوم القرآن يندر أن تجد متنا يناسب شرحه في دورة مثلا كما يوجد في العلوم الأخرى، العلوم الأخرى ألف فيها للمبتدئين، كتب كثيرة للمبتدئين؛ في الفقه، في العقائد، في الحديث، في كذا..، كتب كثيرة تناسب المبتدئين، كتب ألفت للمتوسطين، كتب ألفت للمنتهين. ـ

When it comes to the field of the Qur’anic sciences it is rare to find a primer suitable to be explained in a conference setting like the primers that you can find for other fields. In other sciences there are works that have been written for the beginning level, many books suitable for beginners. This is the case in fiqh, in ‘aqeedah, in hadeeth, and so on. There are plenty of books suitable for beginners, books written for intermediate students, and books written for advanced students.

تعال يا أخي إلى علوم القرآن، ما الذي يناسب المبتدئين من هذه العلوم؟ نجد في الدورات عناية بمقدمة شيخ الإسلام ابن تيمية مقدمة التفسير ، شيخ الإسلام رحمه الله إمام من أئمة المسلمين، يكفي أن هذا الكتاب لشيخ الإسلام، لكن هل هو على طريقة المتون التي تعنى بالحدود والأمثلة والتعاريف وضبط الفن وضبط أنواع الفن كالعلوم الأخرى؟ يعني: هل نجد متنا في علوم القرآن مثل ما نجد النخبة مثلا ، أو الكتب التي ألفت للتدرج في تلقي العقيدة الصحيحة؟ ما نجد، يعني على سبيل الاستقلال للعلماء الذين يؤلفون على الجادة لطلاب العلم ما تجد إلا ما ندر. ـ

Let’s look, my brother, at the Qur’anic sciences – what would be a suitable work in this field for the beginning student? We find conferences generally giving attention to the Muqaddimah al-Tafsir of Sheikh al-Islam ibn Taymiyah, the sheikh of Islam (may Allah have mercy on him) and one of the leading figures of the Muslims. It is enough to know that this book was written by this Sheikh al-Islam, but is this work written in the typical mold of a primer that focuses on delimiting the subject, providing examples, giving definitions, precisely defining the field and the various sub-fields within it as we find in the primers of other sciences? In other words, do we find source texts for the Qur’anic sciences like al-Nukhbah al-Fikr, for example or like the books written to help the student gradually progress in acquiring the correct ‘aqeedah? We do not find these, meaning not as their own independent works written by the scholars as part of a progression of knowledge for students of knowledge. Except for the rare exception, we do not find such works. Continue reading

What the Salaf Meant by “Abrogation”: Ibn al-Qayyim

In the midst of a discussion urging people not to be hasty or eager to issue legal rulings, ibn al-Qayyim mentioned the following narration about naskh – frequently translated as “abrogation” – and then added some valuable commentary afterwards:

وقال ابن وهب : حدثنا أشهل بن حاتم عن عبد الله بن عون عن ابن سيرين قال : قال حذيفة : إنما يفتي الناس أحد ثلاثة : من يعلم ما نسخ من القرآن ، أو أمير لا يجد بدا ، أو أحمق متكلف ، قال : فربما قال ابن سيرين : فلست بواحد من هذين ، ولا أحب أن أكون الثالث ـ

… ibn Sireen said: Hudhayfah said,

The only ones who issue legal rulings to the people are one of the following three types: 1) someone who knows which parts of the Qur’an have been subject to naskh, 2) a ruler who cannot find any alternative, or 3) an imbecile who fancies himself as being qualified.

The sub-narrator said: I think ibn Sireen said, “I am neither one of the first two, and I would not like to be the third.”

قلت : مراده ومراد عامة السلف بالناسخ والمنسوخ رفع الحكم بجملته تارة وهو اصطلاح المتأخرين ، ورفع دلالة العام والمطلق والظاهر وغيرها تارة ، إما بتخصيص أو تقييد أو حمل مطلق على مقيد وتفسيره وتبيينه حتى إنهم يسمون الاستثناء والشرط والصفة نسخا لتضمن ذلك رفع دلالة الظاهر وبيان المراد ، فالنسخ عندهم وفي لسانهم هو بيان المراد بغير ذلك اللفظ ، بل بأمر خارج عنه ، ومن تأمل كلامهم رأى من ذلك فيه ما لا يحصى ، وزال عنه به إشكالات أوجبها حمل كلامهم على الاصطلاح الحادث المتأخر . ـ Continue reading