Why do the Qiraa’aat Differ?: Makki ibn Abi Taalib

Makki ibn Abi Taalib, one of the great scholars of the Qur’anic sciences among the earlier generations, posed the following question and answer in his book al-Ibaanah dealing with some foundational issues around the qiraa’aat, or multiple recitations of the Qur’an. What follows is one chapter from this work:

باب: “سبب اختلاف القراءة فيما يحتمله خط المصحف” ـ
Chapter: The Reason Why the Qiraa’aat Differ Within the Bounds of the Text of the Official ‘Uthmani Mushaf

فإن سأل سائل فقال: ما السبب الذي أوجب أن تختلف القراءة، فيما يحتمله خط المصحف، فقرءوا بألفاظ مختلفة في السمع والمعنى واحد. نحو: جُذوة وجِذوة، وجَذوة. وقرءوا بألفاظ مختلفة في السمع وفي المعنى نحو: يُسَيِّركم، ويَنْشُرُكم. وكل ذلك لا يخالف الخط في رأي العين؟ ـ

If someone were to ask: What is it that causes the qiraa’aat to differ within the bounds the text of the official ‘Uthmani mushaf?

The reciters may recite variant wordings in how they are pronounced while the meaning is one, such as

لَّعَلِّي آتِيكُم مِّنْهَا بِخَبَرٍ أَوْ جُذْوَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ

… perhaps I may bring to you from there some information, or a judwah … [28:29 according to the qiraa’ah of Hamzah and Khalaf]

لَّعَلِّي آتِيكُم مِّنْهَا بِخَبَرٍ أَوْ جِذْوَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ

… perhaps I may bring to you from there some information, or a jidwah … [28:29 according to the qiraa’ah of Naafi’, ibn Kathir, Abu ‘Amr, and ibn ‘Aamir]

لَّعَلِّي آتِيكُم مِّنْهَا بِخَبَرٍ أَوْ جَذْوَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ

… perhaps I may bring to you from there some information, or a jadwah … [28:29 according to the qiraa’ah of ‘Aasim]

And sometimes they recite variant wordings in terms of both their pronunciation and meanings, such as:

هُوَ الَّذِي يُسَيِّرُكُمْ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ

It is He Who enables you to travel through the land and the sea … [10:22]

هُوَ الَّذِي يُنْشِرُكُمْ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ

It is He who disperses you throughout the land and the sea … [10:22 according to the qiraa’ah of ibn ‘Aamir]

And all the while none of these are in conflict with the text of the official ‘Uthmani mushaf in terms of its appearance (i.e. the form of the words without dots of tashkeel). Continue reading

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What about the Qiraa’ah of ibn Mas’ood?: Makki ibn Abi Taalib

Makki ibn Abi Taalib, one of the great scholars of the Qur’anic sciences among the earlier generations, posed and responded to the following question in part of a larger work addressing a number of questions surrounding the multiple recitations of the Qur’an, or qiraa’aat:

فإن قيل: قد روي عن النبي “صلى الله عليه وسلم”، أنه قال: “من أراد أن يقرأ القرآن غضا، فليقرأه بقراءة ابن أم عبد”، يعني ابن مسعود. وعنه أنه قال: “من أراد أن يسمع كلام الله غضا، كما أنزل فليسمعه من في ابن أم عبد”. وقد تركت قراءة ابن مسعود اليوم، ومنع مالك وغيره أن يقرأ بالقراءة، التي تنسب إلى ابن مسعود. ـ

If one were to ask: It has been transmitted that the Prophet said:

Whoever wants to recite the Qur’an fresh, then let him recite with the recitation of ibn Umm ‘Abd

– meaning ibn Mas’ood. And he also said:

Whoever wants to hear Allah’s speech fresh just as it was sent down, then let him listen to ibn Umm ‘Abd.

But the qiraa’ah of ibn Mas’ood has been abandoned today, and imam Maalik and others forbade reciting with the qiraa’ah that has been attributed to ibn Mas’ood.

فالجواب: أن ما قاله الحسين بن علي الجعفي قال: إن معنى ذلك أن ابن مسعود كان يرتل القرآن، فحض النبي الناس على ترتيل القرآن بهذا القول. دليله قوله في الحديث الآخر: فليسمعه من في ابن مسعود، فحض على سماع ترتيل القرآن. وكذلك الجواب عن الحديث الذي روى عنه “صلى الله عليه وسلم”، أنه قال: “من أراد أن يقرا القرآن غضا كما أنزل، فليقرأه كما يقرأ ابن مسعود”. ـ

The response would be what al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali al-Ja’fi said: that the meaning of all that is that ibn Mas’ood used to recite the Qur’an at a slow and measured pace, so the Prophet was encouraging the people to also recite in a slow and measured pace with these statements.

The support for this comes in the latter of the two hadith, “…then let him listen to ibn Mas’ood.” So he was encouraging the people to listen to this slow and measured recitation of the Qur’an. And this would also be the response to another hadith that the Prophet said:

Whoever wants to recite the Qur’an fresh as it was sent down, then let him recite it as ibn Mas’ood recites it. Continue reading

How the Prophet Would Recite the Qur’an

Sheikh Muhammad Moosaa Aal Nasr, one of the salafi scholars of recent times who specialized in the qiraa’aat and Qur’anic sciences, compiled this beneficial discussion of how the Prophet would recite the Qur’an. Sheikh Muhammad Moosaa was also a long-term student of sheikh al-Albani and limited himself to only using authentic hadith narrations throughout this chapter:

صفة قراءة النبي للقرآن الكريم
How the Prophet Would Recite the Qur’an

قال ابن القيم في [ زاد المعاد (١/٣٣٧) ] : وكان صلى الله عليه وسلم يقطع قراءته ، ويقف عند كل آية فيقول : ( الحمد لله رب العالمين ، ويقف ، الرحمن الرحيم ، ويقف : مالك يوم الدين ) وذكر الزهري أن قراءة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم كانت آية آية ، وهذا هو الأفضل ، الوقوف على رءوس الآيات وإن تعلقت بما بعدها .  ـ

وذهب بعض القراء إلى تتبع الأغراض والمقاصد ، والوقوف عند انتهائها ، واتباع هدي النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وسنته أولى . وممن ذكر ذلك البيهقي في “شعب الإيمان” وغيره ، ورجح الوقوف على رءوس الآي وإن تعلقت بما بعدها . أ.هـــ.

Ibn al-Qayyim wrote in Zaad al-Ma’aad (1/338):

The Prophet used to pause while reciting, stopping at every ayah. So he would say

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

and then pause

الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

and pause

مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ

al-Zuhri mentioned that the recitation of Allah’s Messenger went one ayah at a time, and this is what is best – pausing before the beginning of each new ayah, even if the meaning of the preceding ayah is linked to it. Continue reading

“Allah commanded me to recite to you”: Sharh al-Nawawi

It is reported in both al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Qatadah that Anas ibn Malik said:

عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ لأُبَىٍّ ‏”‏ إِنَّ اللَّهَ أَمَرَنِي أَنْ أَقْرَأَ عَلَيْكَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ آللَّهُ سَمَّانِي لَكَ قَالَ ‏”‏ اللَّهُ سَمَّاكَ لِي ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ فَجَعَلَ أُبَىٌّ يَبْكِي ‏.‏

The Prophet said to Ubay, “Allah has commanded me to recite to you.” Ubay said, “Did Allah mention me by name to you?” The Prophet replied, “Allah mentioned you by name to me.” Anas said: That caused Ubay to cry.

[Muslim #799]

And in the narration of al-Bukhari, there is an addition to the end of the hadith from one of the subnarrators:

قَالَ قَتَادَةُ فَأُنْبِئْتُ أَنَّهُ قَرَأَ عَلَيْهِ ‏{‏لَمْ يَكُنِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ‏}

Qatadah said: I was told that the Prophet recited surah al-Bayyinah (97) to him.

[al-Bukhari #4960]

In his commentary on Saheeh Muslim, Imam Abu Zakariyyah Yahya al-Nawawi mentioned the following commentary on this hadith:

وفي الحديث فوائد كثيرة . منها : استحباب قراءة القرآن على الحذاق فيه وأهل العلم به والفضل ، وإن كان القارئ أفضل من المقروء عليه ، ومنها : المنقبة الشريفة لأبي بقراءة النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – عليه ، ولا يعلم أحد من الناس شاركه في هذا ، ومنها : منقبة أخرى له بذكر الله تعالى له ، ونصه عليه في هذه المنزلة الرفيعة ، ومنها : البكاء للسرور والفرح مما يبشر الإنسان به ويعطاه من معالي الأمور . ـ

There are a number of benefits to be found in this hadith.

One benefit is the encouragement to recite the Qur’an to someone who is skilled in it, a person of knowledge and virtue. That is the case even if the one reciting is more virtuous than the one to whom he is reciting. Continue reading

A Discussion of the People of Jannah: Tafsir al-Qurtubi & Tafsir al-Sa’di

In surah al-Tur, Allah describes the situation of the believers in Jannah by saying:

وَأَقْبَلَ بَعْضُهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ يَتَسَاءَلُونَ * قَالُوا إِنَّا كُنَّا قَبْلُ فِي أَهْلِنَا مُشْفِقِينَ * فَمَنَّ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْنَا وَوَقَانَا عَذَابَ السَّمُومِ * إِنَّا كُنَّا مِن قَبْلُ نَدْعُوهُ ۖ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْبَرُّ الرَّحِيمُ

And they will approach one another, inquiring of each other. * They will say, “Indeed, we were previously among our people, fearful. * So Allah conferred favor upon us and protected us from the punishment of al-samoom. * Indeed, we used to supplicate Him before. Indeed, it is He who is al-Barr, al-Raheem.” [52:25-28]

Commenting on this in his book of tafsir, Imam al-Qurtubi wrote:

قوله تعالى : وأقبل بعضهم على بعض يتساءلون قال ابن عباس : إذا بعثوا من قبورهم سأل بعضهم بعضا . وقيل : في الجنة يتساءلون أي يتذاكرون ما كانوا فيه في الدنيا من التعب والخوف من العاقبة ، ويحمدون الله تعالى على زوال الخوف عنهم . وقيل : يقول بعضهم لبعض بم صرت في هذه المنزلة الرفيعة ؟ قالوا إنا كنا قبل في أهلنا مشفقين أي قال كل مسئول منهم لسائله : إنا كنا قبل أي في الدنيا خائفين وجلين من عذاب الله . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَأَقْبَلَ بَعْضُهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ يَتَسَاءَلُونَ

And they will approach one another, inquiring of each other

ibn ‘Abbaas said: when they are raised from their graves they will ask one another.

But others explained it to mean that they will ask one another in Jannah, meaning they will discuss the hard work and fear of the ultimate outcomes that they had during the worldly life and they will praise Allah for removing that fear from them.

Still others said: They will say to one another, “How did you get to this elevated station?” They will say, Continue reading

Hasten to the Remembrance of Allah: Adhwaa’ al-Bayaan

Allah addresses the believers in surah al-Jumu’ah by commanding:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نُودِيَ لِلصَّلَاةِ مِن يَوْمِ الْجُمُعَةِ فَاسْعَوْا إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ وَذَرُوا الْبَيْعَ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

O you who have eemaan, when the call for prayer on the day of al-Jumu’ah is called, then hasten to the remembrance of Allah and leave off business. That is better for you, if you knew [62:9]

Many scholars of tafsir have addressed the command to “hasten” to the prayer, as there are clear hadith narrations that prohibit rushing to the prayer. After the death of the great mufassir sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee, his long-time student sheikh ‘Atiyyah Saalim took on the task of completing the former’s tafsir, Adhwaa’ al-Bayaan, in which he addressed this issue by writing:

قوله تعالى : فاسعوا إلى ذكر الله . قرأ الجمهور : ( فاسعوا ) ، وقرأها عمر : ( فامضوا ) ، روى ابن جرير – رحمه الله – أنه قيل لعمر رضي الله عنه : إن أبيا يقرؤها ( فاسعوا ) ، قال : أما إنه أقرؤنا وأعلمنا بالمنسوخ ، وإنما هي ( فامضوا ) . وروي أيضا عن سالم أنه قال : ما سمعت عمر قط يقرؤها إلا فامضوا . ـ

Allah’s statement:

فَاسْعَوْا إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ

… then hasten to the remembrance of Allah [62:9]

the majority of the reciters recite it as:

فَاسْعَوْا

then hasten

while ‘Umar recited it as: Continue reading

Non-Canonical Recitations Can Help Explain the Qur’an: al-Zarkashi

It is well-known to those familiar with the Qur’an that there are multiple canonical recitations (qiraa’aat) which are all authentic based upon meeting certain conditions and which add to the meaning of the Qur’an while not contradicting one another. Following from this, there are also non-canonical (shadh) recitations which do not meet these conditions for acceptance but can still be found within the books of tafsir and the sciences of the Qur’an. Some orientalists and missionaries attempt to use the mere existence of these non-canonical recitations to cast doubt on the authenticity of the Qur’an as a whole. This translated excerpt from the great scholar Imam al-Zarkashi explains one source of these non-canonical recitations and their value in understanding the Qur’an.

Badr al-Deen Muhammad al-Zarkashi, a student of the great mufassir Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir, is most well-known for authoring an extensive handbook for the Qur’anic sciences, al-Burhan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an. What follows is one section from his chapter dealing with the Qiraa’aat [variant Qur’anic recitations]:

الأمر الثامن : قال أبو عبيد في كتاب ” فضائل القرآن ” : إن القصد من القراءة الشاذة تفسير القراءة المشهورة وتبيين معانيها ; وذلك كقراءة عائشة وحفصة : ( حافظوا على الصلوات والصلاة الوسطى صلاة العصر ) ( البقرة : 238 ) . ـ

The eighth issue: In his book Fadhaa’il al-Qur’an, Abu ‘Ubayd wrote:

One point behind a non-canonical recitation of the Qur’an is to act as an explanation of a well-known canonical recitation and to clarify its meaning. That is like the recitation transmitted from ‘A’ishah and Hafsah:

حَافِظُوا عَلَى الصَّلَوَاتِ وَالصَّلَاةِ الْوُسْطَىٰ صلاة العصر

Strictly guard the prayers, especially the middle prayer – the ‘asr prayer [compare to 2:238]

وكقراءة ابن مسعود ( والسارق والسارقة فاقطعوا أيمانهما ) ( المائدة : 38 ) . ـ

Or like ibn Mas’ood’s recitation:

وَالسَّارِقُ وَالسَّارِقَةُ فَاقْطَعُوا أيمانهما

and the male and female thief – cut off their right hands [compare to 5:38] Continue reading

Clarification on the Ahruf and Qiraa’aat of the Qur’an: ibn Hajr

In his Saheeh, under the book of the Virtues of the Qur’an, Imam al-Bukhari included a long hadith of the dispute between ‘Umar and Hisham which ended with the Prophet saying:

إِنَّ هَذَا الْقُرْآنَ أُنْزِلَ عَلَى سَبْعَةِ أَحْرُفٍ فَاقْرَءُوا مَا تَيَسَّرَ مِنْهُ

This Qur’an was sent down in seven ahruf [dialects], so recite whatever of it is easy for you.

[Saheeh al-Bukhari #4992]

In one part of his celebrated explanation of Saheeh al-Bukhari, al-haafidh ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalaani included the following valuable content regarding the ahruf [dialects] and qiraa’aat [modes of recitation] of the Qur’an, as well as important information about the number, canonization, and conditions for acceptance of the qiraa’aat, in his explanation of that hadith:

قال أبو شامة : وقد اختلف السلف في الأحرف السبعة التي نزل بها القرآن هل هي مجموعة في المصحف الذي بأيدي الناس اليوم أو ليس فيه إلا حرف واحد منها ، مال ابن الباقلاني إلى الأول ، وصرح الطبري وجماعة بالثاني وهو المعتمد . وقد أخرج ابن أبي داود في ” المصاحف ” عن أبي الطاهر بن أبي السرح قال : سألت ابن عيينة عن اختلاف قراءة المدنيين والعراقيين هل هي الأحرف السبعة ؟ قال : لا ، وإنما الأحرف السبعة مثل هلم وتعال وأقبل ، أي ذلك قلت أجزأك . قال : وقال لي ابن وهب مثله . ـ

Abu Shamah said:

The salaf differed regarding the seven ahruf in which the Qur’an was revealed: are all of the seven ahruf present in the mushaf that is in people’s hands today, or is it only one harf that we have? al-Baaqilaani leaned towards the first position, while al-Tabari and the majority of scholars explicitly stated the second, which is the generally-accepted position.

In Kitaab al-Musaahif, ibn Abi Dawud brings a report from Abu’l-Taahir ibn Abi’l-Sarh wherein he said,

“I asked ibn ‘Uyaynah about the differences between the reciters of al-Madinah and Iraq – are these the seven ahruf?” “No,” he replied, “the seven ahurf are only things like ‘approach’, ‘come here’ or ‘come on’.” Whichever one of those you say would suffice.”

And he also said:

ibn Wahb also told me something similar.

والحق أن الذي جمع في المصحف هو المتفق على إنزاله المقطوع به المكتوب بأمر النبي [ ص: 647 ] – صلى الله عليه وسلم – وفيه بعض ما اختلف فيه الأحرف السبعة لا جميعها ، كما وقع في المصحف المكي ” تجري من تحتها الأنهار ” في آخر ” براءة ” وفي غيره بحذف ” من ” وكذا ما وقع من اختلاف مصاحف الأمصار من عدة واوات ثابتة بعضها دون بعض ، وعدة هاءات وعدة لامات ونحو ذلك ، وهو محمول على أنه نزل بالأمرين معا ، وأمر النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – بكتابته لشخصين أو أعلم بذلك شخصا واحدا وأمره بإثباتهما على الوجهين ، وما عدا ذلك من القراءات مما لا يوافق الرسم فهو مما كانت القراءة جوزت به توسعة على الناس وتسهيلا ؛ فلما آل الحال إلى ما وقع من الاختلاف في زمن عثمان وكفر بعضهم بعضا اختاروا الاقتصار على اللفظ المأذون في كتابته وتركوا الباقي . قال الطبري : وصار ما اتفق عليه الصحابة من الاقتصار كمن اقتصر مما خير فيه على خصلة واحدة ، لأن أمرهم بالقراءة على الأوجه المذكورة لم يكن على سبيل الإيجاب بل على سبيل الرخصة . ـ

And the correct understanding is that everything in the mushaf is agreed to have been revealed by Allah – without any room for doubt about this – and written by the command of the Prophet, and that it contains some of the differences found between the seven ahruf but not all of them. For example, there is what comes at the end of surah al-Baraa’ [i.e. surah al-Tawbah] in the mushaf of Mecca:

تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ

… beneath which rivers flow [compare to 9:100] Continue reading

The Dispute Between ‘Umar and Hisham: Ibn Hajr

Imam al-Bukhari mentioned the following narration in his Saheeh, in the section on the merits of the Qur’an:

حَدَّثَنَا سَعِيدُ بْنُ عُفَيْرٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي اللَّيْثُ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي عُقَيْلٌ، عَنِ ابْنِ شِهَابٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي عُرْوَةُ بْنُ الزُّبَيْرِ، أَنَّ الْمِسْوَرَ بْنَ مَخْرَمَةَ، وَعَبْدَ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنَ عَبْدٍ الْقَارِيَّ، حَدَّثَاهُ أَنَّهُمَا، سَمِعَا عُمَرَ بْنَ الْخَطَّابِ، يَقُولُ سَمِعْتُ هِشَامَ بْنَ حَكِيمٍ، يَقْرَأُ سُورَةَ الْفُرْقَانِ فِي حَيَاةِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَاسْتَمَعْتُ لِقِرَاءَتِهِ فَإِذَا هُوَ يَقْرَأُ عَلَى حُرُوفٍ كَثِيرَةٍ لَمْ يُقْرِئْنِيهَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَكِدْتُ أُسَاوِرُهُ فِي الصَّلاَةِ فَتَصَبَّرْتُ حَتَّى سَلَّمَ فَلَبَّبْتُهُ بِرِدَائِهِ فَقُلْتُ مَنْ أَقْرَأَكَ هَذِهِ السُّورَةَ الَّتِي سَمِعْتُكَ تَقْرَأُ‏.‏ قَالَ أَقْرَأَنِيهَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم‏.‏ فَقُلْتُ كَذَبْتَ فَإِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَدْ أَقْرَأَنِيهَا عَلَى غَيْرِ مَا قَرَأْتَ، فَانْطَلَقْتُ بِهِ أَقُودُهُ إِلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقُلْتُ إِنِّي سَمِعْتُ هَذَا يَقْرَأُ بِسُورَةِ الْفُرْقَانِ عَلَى حُرُوفٍ لَمْ تُقْرِئْنِيهَا‏.‏ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ أَرْسِلْهُ اقْرَأْ يَا هِشَامُ ‏”‏‏.‏ فَقَرَأَ عَلَيْهِ الْقِرَاءَةَ الَّتِي سَمِعْتُهُ يَقْرَأُ‏.‏ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ كَذَلِكَ أُنْزِلَتْ ‏”‏‏.‏ ثُمَّ قَالَ ‏”‏ اقْرَأْ يَا عُمَرُ ‏”‏‏.‏ فَقَرَأْتُ الْقِرَاءَةَ الَّتِي أَقْرَأَنِي، فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ كَذَلِكَ أُنْزِلَتْ، إِنَّ هَذَا الْقُرْآنَ أُنْزِلَ عَلَى سَبْعَةِ أَحْرُفٍ فَاقْرَءُوا مَا تَيَسَّرَ مِنْهُ ‏”‏‏.‏

… al-Miswar ibn Makhramah and ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Abd al-Qari told us that they both heard ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab say:

I heard Hisham ibn Hakeem reciting surah al-Furqan while the Prophet was still alive, so I listened to his recitation and I noticed that he recited it differently in several ways from how Allah’s Messenger had recited it to me. I nearly struck him while he was still praying, but I held myself back until he completed the prayer and then I grabbed him by his shawl and said, “Who taught you this surah that I just heard you recite?” He said, “Allah’s Messenger recited it to me.” I said, “You have misspoken, for Allah’s Messenger recited it to me in a different way than how you recited it.”

So I immediately set off to see Allah’s Messenger, taking him along with me. I said to the Prophet, “I heard this person recite surah al-Furqan in some ways other than how you taught it to me.”

Allah’s Messenger said, “Let him go. Recite it, Hisham.” So he recited it in the way I had heard him recite it before. Then Allah’s Messenger, “That is how it was sent down,” and then said, “Recite it, ‘Umar.” So I recited it in the way I had been taught, and Allah’s Messenger said, “That is how it was sent down. This Qur’an was sent down in seven ahruf [dialects], so recite whatever of it is easy for you.”

[Saheeh al-Bukhari #4992]

While there has been much differing among the scholars as to the meaning of the seven ahruf, the correct meaning – inshaAllaah – is that they are different dialects of the Arabic language in which the Qur’an was revealed. However, as scholars have pointed out, ‘Umar and Hisham were both from the tribe of Quraysh and thus shared the same dialect. This raises the question: if they shared the same dialect, why would they differ in which harf they recited the Qur’an in?

The great scholar of hadith ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalaani addressed this point in his explanation of Saheeh al-Bukhari by writing:

قوله : ( فإن رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – قد أقرأنيها ) هذا قاله عمر استدلالا على ما ذهب إليه من تخطئة هشام ، وإنما ساغ له ذلك لرسوخ قدمه في الإسلام وسابقته ، بخلاف هشام فإنه كان قريب العهد بالإسلام فخشي عمر من ذلك أن لا يكون أتقن القراءة ، بخلاف نفسه فإنه كان قد أتقن ما سمع .ـ

Regarding ‘Umar’s statement, “For Allah’s Messenger recited it to me…” Continue reading

Benefits of the Multiple Qiraa’aat: al-Suyooti

In his famous handbook on the Qur’anic sciences, Jalal al-Deen al-Suyooti devoted a section to issues related to the qiraa’aat [modes of recitation] of the Qur’an. For an introduction to the qiraa’aat, please see here or here. What follows is one excerpt from that section discussing the benefits that come from the differences in the qiraa’aat:

وقال بعض المتأخرين : لاختلاف القراءات وتنوعها فوائد : ـ

One of the latter-day scholars said that there are a number of benefits that come from the differences and variations in the qiraa’aat:

منها التهوين والتسهيل والتخفيف على الأمة . ـ

○ One benefit is that this makes reciting the Qur’an easier, simpler, and less onerous for this ummah.

ـ [ ص: 275 ] ومنها إظهار فضلها وشرفها على سائر الأمم ، إذ لم ينزل كتاب غيرهم إلا على وجه واحد . ـ

○ Another benefit is clearly demonstrating the virtue and honor of this ummah above other nations, for the scriptures of those nations were only revealed in one way.

ومنها : إعظام أجرها ، من حيث إنهم يفرغون جهدهم في تحقيق ذلك وضبطه لفظة لفظة ، حتى مقادير المدات وتفاوت الإمالات ، ثم في تتبع معاني ذلك واستنباط الحكم والأحكام من دلالة كل لفظ ، وإمعانهم الكشف عن التوجيه والتعليل والترجيح . ـ

○ Another benefit is the increased reward, since one could devote their efforts to perfecting their recitation and getting each word exactly correct, and even going into the lengths of the mudood and difference in the imaalaat.

Furthermore, there is the opportunity to look into the meanings of these different recitations and to derive benefits and legal rulings from what each wording indicates. Delving into these differences and examining them reveals what the ayah actually indicates, the reasoning for a ruling, and assists in weighing the merits of different interpretations.
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