Reconciling Differing Reports About Whether a Surah is Makki or Madani

While most surahs of the Qur’an are unanimously categorized as either Makki or Madani, there have been differing reports and opinions about the proper classification of a small group of twelve surahs. Some of these differences stem from differences in terminology, instances of repeated revelation, Madani ayaat being included in an otherwise Makki surah, or other reasons. In the article below, sheikh Muhammad al-Tahir ibn ‘Aashoor discusses the differing classifications of surah al-Mutaffifeen (83) and demonstrates how to understand the differing reports and come to a conclusion. Being one of the famous mufassiroon of recent centuries, Ibn ‘Aashoor (d. 1393AH/1973CE) had the benefit of drawing on the wealth of tafsir literature before him, as is evident in this passage and his entire book:

وقد اختلف في كونها مكية أو مدنية أو بعضها مكي وبعضها مدني . فعن ابن مسعود والضحاك ومقاتل في رواية عنه : أنها مكية ، وعن ابن عباس في الأصح عنه وعكرمة والحسن والسدي ومقاتل في رواية أخرى عنه : أنها مدنية ، قال : وهي أول سورة نزلت بالمدينة ، وعن ابن عباس في رواية عنه وقتادة : هي مدنية إلا ثماني آيات من آخرها من قوله : إن الذين أجرموا إلى آخرها . ـ

The scholars have differed as to whether surah al-Mutaffifeen (83) is

a. Makki
b. Madani
c. Part Makki and part Madani

It has been relayed that ibn Mas’ood, al-Dhahhaak and in one narration Muqatil held it to be Makki, while it is transmitted from ibn ‘Abbaas according to the most authentic narration from him,’Ikrimah, al-Hasan, al-Suddi and Muqatil in a different narration that they held it to be Madani. And Muqatil said, “It was the first surah to be revealed in al-Madinah.” It has also been relayed in one narration from ibn ‘Abbaas as well as from Qatadah that it is a Madani surah except for the last eight ayaat beginning from Allah’s statement: Continue reading