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#61 [Permalink] Posted on 5th January 2011 17:07
The verses that came first

It is authentically said that the first verses to Come to the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) were the verses from which Surah al-'Alaq begins. As in Sahih al-Bukhari, Sayyidah 'A'ishah (RA) while relating its background has said that the very first beginning of revelations to the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam)
actually was through true dreams. Following that, came his zeal to worship in seclusion. During this period, he would spend night after night in the Cave of Hira' and stay in the state of I'tikaaf { devoted to his 'ibadah (worship) when one day, right there in that cave, there came an angel from Allah Almighty and the very first thing he said was (lqra: 'Read'). The Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said: 'I am unable to read.'

After that, relating the event himself, he (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said that the angel, hearing this answer of mine, caught hold of me and embraced me with such force that I had to go through unbearable strain.' Then he released me and said: (lqra: 'Read'). I said: 'I am unable to read.' Thereupon, he seized me the third time, gave a hard embrace and then released me. After that he said:
Recite with the Name of your Lord who created, created Man out of a blood-clot. Recite and Your Lord is Most Generous who taught by the Pen, taught Man what he did not know. [96:1-3]

These were the first verses to be revealed to him. Thereafter, the coming of Wahy stayed discontinued for three years. This period is known as the period of fatrah, that is, the period when Wahy was discontinued for a short interval of time. Then, it was after three years that the same angel who had visited him in the Cave of Hira
became visible to him between the heaven and the earth. He read to him the verses of Surah al-Muddaththir. Thereafter, the sequence of Wahy was reactivated.

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#62 [Permalink] Posted on 5th January 2011 17:10
The Makki and Madani Verses

While looking at the titles of the Surahs of the Holy Qur'an, you may have noticed the entry, Makkan (or Meccan, Makkan, Makkiyyah) with some Surahs, and Madani (Medinan, Medinite, Madanayyah) with some others. It is necessary to understand correctly what it means. In the terminology of the commentators, the 'Makkiyah' means a verse that was revealed to the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) earlier than he actually reached Madinah by way of hijrah (emigration). Similarly, the 'Madaniayah' or the Madani verse means that it was revealed after he migrated to Madinah. Some people take 'Makki to mean that the verse concerned was revealed
in the city of Makkah, and so the 'Madani' is supposed to have been revealed in Madinah.

This view is not correct because there are several verses which were not revealed in the city of Makkah, yet are called Makki because they had already been revealed before hijrah. As such, the verses that were revealed in Mina, 'Arafat, or during the Journey of Ascent (Mi'raj) are also called Makki. So much so, that the verses revealed during the journey of hijrah enroute to Madinah are also called Makki.

Similarly, there are several verses which were not revealed in the city of Madinah, but they are Madani. For example, there were several journeys that the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) had to undertake while going many hundred miles away from Madinah, and the verses revealed at all those places are called Madani anyway.

So much so that the particular verses that were revealed on the occasion of the Conquest of Makkah or the military campaign of Hudaybiyyah in the city of Makkah
Accordingly, the Qur'anic verse:

Surely, Allah commands you to fulfil trust obligations towards those entitled to them. [4:58] is Madani although it was revealed in Makkah al-Mukarramah. (alBurhan, v. 1, p. 88, and Manahil al-'Irfan, v. 1, p.88)

Then there are Surahs which are either totally Makki, or totally Madani'. For instance, Surah al-Muddaththir is wholly Makki and Surah 'Al-'Imran is wholly Madani. But, on occasions, it has so happened that one or some Madani verses find a place in the

Surah which is wholly Makki. On other occasions, it has happened just the
reverse. For instance, Suraha-A'raf is Makki, but in it the verses from (7:163) to (7:172) are Madani, similarly Surah al-Hajj is Madani but four of its verses, that is, those from (22:52) to (22:56) are Makki.

This also makes it clear that the incidence of a Surah being Makki or Madani is generally conditioned by the nature of the majority of its verses and so it happened frequently that the initial verses of a Surah which were revealed before Hijrah were regarded as Makki, although some of its verses may have been revealed later on
following Hijrah.
(Manahil al-'Irfan, v. 1, p. 192)
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#63 [Permalink] Posted on 5th January 2011 17:13
Characteristics of Makki and Madani Verses

The scholars of Tafsir, after having made a thorough investigation into the Makki and Madani Surahs, have come up with a set of characteristics that tell right off if a Surah is Makki or Madani. Some of these characteristics are recognized as universal rules while others hold good most of the time. The universal rules are as follows:

1. Every Siirah in which the word KALLA (never) appears is Makki. This word has been used 33 times in 15 Surahs, and all these verses are in the last half of the noble Qur'an.

2. Every Surah in which (according to the Hanafiyyah) there appears a verse of Sajdah is Makki.

3. Every Surah, with the exception of Surah al-Baqarah, in which the story of Adam and Iblis finds mention, is Makki.

4. Every Surah in which a permission of jihad or a description of its injunctions has been given is Madani.

5. Every verse which mentions the hypocrites is Madani.

The following characteristics are general and mostly frequent, that is, sometimes the contrary may happen, but usually and mostly it follows the said pattern:

1) In Makki Surahs, generally, the form of address used is "O people", and in Madani Surahs it is "O believers".

2) The Makki 'Ayat (Verses) and Surahs are generally short and brief while the Madani verses and chapters are long and detailed.

3) The Makki Surahs mostly consist of subjects such as, Oneness of Allah, Prophethood, affirmation of the Hereafter, the panorama of the Resurrection, words of comfort for the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) and events relating to the past communities, and in these, the' number of injunctions and laws taken up is much less as compared with the Madani Surahs where family and social laws, injunctions of jihiid and expositions of limits and duties appear frequently.

4) In Makki Surahs, most of the confrontation is against idolaters while in Madani Surahs it is against the people of the book and the hypocrites.

5) The style of Makki Surahs is more majestic. It has profusion of metaphors, similies and allegories, and the vocabulary used is extensive. Contrary to this, the style of the Madani Surahs is comparatively simple.

This difference in the style of Makki and Madani Surahs initially owes its origin to a variety of conditions, circumstances and addressees. Muslims had to deal mostly with the idolaters of Arabia during their Makkan life. No Islamic state was born yet. Therefore, during this period, more emphasis was laid on the correction of beliefs, reform of morals, logical refutation of the idolaters and the miraculous nature of the noble Qur'an. Contrary to this, an Islamic state had risen in the Holy city of Madinah. People were rushing into the fold of Islam, group after group, Idolatery stood refuted intellectually. The ideological confrontation was now wholly against the people of the book. Therefore, greater attention was paid to education in injunctions, laws, limits and duties, and on the refutation of the people of the book. The style adopted matched these objectives.

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#64 [Permalink] Posted on 5th January 2011 17:16
The Gradual Revelation of the Noble Qur'an

As said earlier, the noble Qur'an was not revealed to the Holy prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) suddenly and simultaneously. On the contrary, it was revealed, little by little, over a span of nearly twenty three years.

At times, Sayyidna Jibra'il (AS) would come with a small verse, or even with some unit of a verse. Then, there were times when several verses would be revealed at one time. The smallest portion of the Qur'an which was revealed as such is Ghairu-Aulidh-Darrar (al-Nisa': 4:94) which forms part of a long verse. On the other
hand, the whole of Surah al-An'am was revealed at one time.
(Ibn Kathir, v. 2, p. 122)

Rather than being revealed all at once, why was the Qur'an revealed little by little? The polytheists of Arabia had themselves put this question to the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) Allah Almighty has taken it upon Himself to answer the question in the following words:
َٚ
The disbelievers said, "Why has the Qur'an not been sent down upon him all at once?" (We did) like this, so that We may strengthen your heart thereby, and We have recited it very distinctly. They bring not to thee any similitude but that We bring thee the truth, and better in exposition" (25:32-33)

It is sufficient to understand a gist of the wisdom behind the gradual revelation of the Holy Qur'an as stated by Imam al-Razi (RA) in his explanation of this verse. He says:

1. The Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) was ummiy, that is, being unlettered, he did not read or write. So, had the entire Qur'an been revealed at one time, it would have been difficult to remember and document. Contrary to this, Sayyidna Musa (RA) knew reading and writing, therefore, the Torah was revealed to him at one single time.

2. If the entire Qur'an had been revealed all at once, immediate compliance of all its injunctions would have become obligatory, and this would have gone against the wise graduation which has featured as a matter of concern in the Shari'ah of our Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam).

3. The Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) had to go through ever-new tortures inflicted by his people. That Sayyidna Jibra'il (AS) came, again and again, with the words of the noble Qur'an, made his stand against these tortures bearable, and gave strength to his heart.

4. A large portion of the Qur'an is devoted to answers given to people who posed questions, while some other portion refers to various particular events. Therefore, the revelation of those verses was appropriate at the time when those questions were asked, or those events came to pass. This increased the 'insight of Muslims and when the Qur'an unfolded that which was unseen, its truth became all the
more manifest.
(al-Tafsir al-Kabir, v. 6, p. 336)

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#65 [Permalink] Posted on 5th January 2011 17:18
Sabab al-nuzul: (Cause of revelation)

The verses of the noble Qur'an are of two kinds. In the first place, there are the verses that Allah Almighty revealed on His own. Their revelation was not caused by some particular event or a question asked by someone. In the second place, there are those verses which were revealed in answer to some question or with reference to some event. This could be termed as the background of these verses. This background is known, in the terminology of the commentators, as the 'sabab al-nuzul (cause' of revelation) or the 'sha'n' of nuzul (the 'background' of revelation). For instance, take the verse in Surah al-Baqarah:

َٚ Do not marry female associators unless they come to believe, and a Muslim slave girl is better than a female associator, even though she is liked by you. (2:221)

This verse was revealed in the wake of a particular event. During the days of Ignorance, Sayyidna Marthad ibn Abi Marthad al-Ghanavi (RA) had a relationship with a woman, named 'Anaq. After embracing Islam, he migrated to Madinah while that woman stayed behind in Makkah al-Mukarramah. There was an occasion when Sayyidna Marthad visited Makkah al-Mukarramah on a certain business. 'Anaq came to him with an invitation to sin. Sayyidna Marthad refused flatly and said: 'Now Islam has come between me and you, but should you so wish, I can marry you after clearing it with the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam).' After returning to Madinah, Sayyidna Marthad sought his permission to marry the woman he said he liked. Thereupon, this verse was revealed, and it prohibited marriage with mushrik women.
(Asbab al-Nuzul by al-Wahidi, p. 38)

This event is the 'sha'n' or 'sabab' of nuzul (cause' or 'background' of revelation) behind the verse mentioned above. The background of revelation is, therefore, very important in the exegesis of the noble Qur'an. There are many verses the meaning of which cannot be correctly understood unless the circumstances underlying their
revelation become known .
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#66 [Permalink] Posted on 5th January 2011 17:23
The Preservation of the Holy Qur'an In the days of the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam)

Since the noble Qur'an was not revealed all at once, on the contrary, different verses from it used to have been revealed as and when appropriate, therefore, it was not possible from the very beginning to write and preserve it in a book form. So, during the initial stage of Islam, major emphasis was laid on memory as a means of preserving the noble Qur'an. When Wahy used to come in the very beginning, the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) would tend to repeat its words instantly so that they would be memorized well enough. Thereupon, Allah Almighty directed him through the verses of Surah al-Qiyamah that he need not repeat words in a hurry
immediately as Wahy came. Allah Almighty would Himself endow him with a memory that he will be unable to forget the words of the Wahy once its descention has been completed. So it was that the moment the Qur'anic verses would come to him, they would be committed to his memory the next moment.

Thus the blessed chest of the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) was the most protected vault of the noble Qur'an, in which there was no chance of even some common mistake, editing or alteration. Moreover, as a matter of additional precaution, he used to recite the Qur'an before angel Sayyidna Jibra'il (AS) every year during the month of Ramadan; and the year he left this mortal world he completed cumulative review of Qur'anic recitation (daur) twice with Sayyidna Jibra'il (AS) (Sahih al-Bukhari with Fath al-Bari, p. 36, v. 9).

Again, as it was, he would not restrict his teaching of the Companions to just the meanings of the noble Qur'an, but had them memorize its words as well. Then, the revered Companions were themselves so enamoured with the desire to learn and remember the noble Qur'an that everyone of them was anxious to get ahead of the other.

There were women who claimed no mahr (dower) from their husband except that they would teach the Qur'an. Hundreds of Companions, freeing themselves from all other concerns, had devoted their whole lives for this purpose. Not only did they memorize the Qur'an but also went on repeating it within their nightly prayers. When
someone migrated from Makkah al-Mukarramah and came to Madinah al-Tayyibah, says Sayyidna 'Ubadah ibn Samit (RA) the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) would entrust him to one of us Ansars so that he could teach Qur'an to the newcomer.

The Mosque of the Prophet was so filled with voices generated by learners and
teachers of the Qur'an that the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) had to ask them to lower their voices so that mistakes are not made (Manahil al-Irfan, Pg 234).

So, within a fairly short time, there was on hand a large group of the noble Companions who had the glorious Qur'an all committed flawlessly to their memory.

Included in this group were, in addition to the Four Guided Caliphs, persons like Sayyidna Talhah (RA), Sayyidna Sa'd (RA), Sayyidna Ibn Mas'ud (RA), Sayyidna Hudhayfah ibn Yaman (RA), Sayyidna Salim Mowla abi Hudhayfah (RA), Sayyidna Abu Hurayrah (RA), Sayyidna 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar(RA), Sayyidna 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas (RA) Sayyidna 'AmI' ibn al-'Aas (RA), Sayyidna 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar (RA), Sayyidna Mu'awiyah (RA), Sayyidna 'Abdullah ibn Zubayr (RA), Sayyidna 'Abdullah ibn al-Sa'ib (RA), Sayyidah 'A'ishah (RA), Sayyidah Hafsah (RA(, Sayyidah Umm Salmah (RA)

In short, memorization of the Qur'an was given more emphasis in early Islam as this was the only protected and trust-worthy method given the conditions of that time. The reason is that the number of people who could read or write was very limited in those days. The means of publishing books, such as the printing press, etc., were not
there. Therefore, in that situation, if writing was taken to be sufficient, it would have neither been possible to spread out the Qur'an cm an extensive scale nor to protect it reliably. In its place, Allah Almighty had blessed the people of Arabia with a memory of such dimensions that thousands of poetic lines would normally rest in the memory of one person after another. Ordinary, run-of-the-mill villagers would remember by heart their genealogies and those of their families, and unbelievably enough - even those of their horses!

Therefore, this power of memory was well utilized for the conservation and protection of the noble Qur'an and it was through it that the verses and chapters of the noble Qur'an reached all over into the far corners of Arabia.

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#67 [Permalink] Posted on 5th January 2011 17:26
The writing of Wahy

Besides having the Qur'an committed to memory, the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) made special arrangements to have the Qur'an committed to writing as well. Sayyidna Zayd ibn 'Thabit (RA) says: 'I used to write down the words of Wahy for him. When Wahy came to him he felt burning with heat and the drops of
perspiration would start rolling down on his body like 'pearls. When this state would go away from him, I would present myself before him with a shoulder-bone or a piece (of something else). He would go on dictating and I would go on writing. When I would be finished with writing, the sheer weight of copying the Qur'an would give me the feeling that my leg is going to break and I would never be able to walk. In any case, when I would be finished with writing, he would say: 'Read'. I would read it back to him. If there was a shortcoming, he would have it corrected and then let it be known to people (Majma' al-Zawaid with reference to Tabrani 1/156).

Besides Sayyidna Zayd ibn Thabit (RA) there were many other Companions who carried out the duty of committing the Wahy to writing. Some of those who can be specially mentioned, in addition to the Four Guided Caliphs, are Sayyidna 'Ubayy ibn Ka'b (RA), Sayyidna Zubayr ibn 'Awwam (RA), Sayyidrra Mu'awiyah (RA), Sayyidna Mughirah ibn Shu'bah (RA), Sayyidna Khalid ibn al-Walid (RA), Sayyidna Thabit ibn al-Qays (RA), Sayyidna Aban ibn Said (RA) and others (Fath al-Bari, 9/18)

Sayyidna 'Uthman (RA) says that it was the blessed practice of the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) so that he, soon after the revelation of a certain portion of the Qur'an, would pointedly instruct the scribe of the Wahy to write it in such Surah after such and such verse (for details see Fath al-Bari, 9/18 and Zad al-Ma'ad
1130).

Since paper was not available in Arabia during those days, therefore, these Qur'anic verses were mostly written on stone slabs, parchments, date branches, bam80o units. tree leaves and animal stones. However, at times, paper pieces have also been used (Ibid.; 9/11)

Thus, there existed, during the times of the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) a copy of the noble Qur'an which he had arranged to be committed to writing under his supervision. Although, it was not there as a formally prepared book, but it certainly was there in the form of various units of available writing materials. Along with it, it was also the practice of some revered Companions that they would make copies of the Qur'anic verses and keep them for personal recollection. This practice was common since the very early period of lslam.

Accordingly, much before Sayyidna 'Umar (RA) embraced Islam, his sister and brother-in-law had in their possession verses of the Qur'an which they had written and kept in book form (Sirah ibn Hisham).
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#68 [Permalink] Posted on 5th January 2011 17:30
Preservation: In the period of Sayyidna Abu Bakr (radiallahu anh)

However, it was characteristic of all copies of the noble Qur'an made during the days of the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) that they were either written on different available writing surfaces, for instance, a verse would appear on parchment, another on tree leaf and yet another on a bone; or they were not complete copies.

One Companion would have only a single Surah in his record while someone else would have five or ten Surahs and some others will have only a few verses. Then there were Companions having in their possession explanatory sentences as well along with the text of the verses.

On these grounds, Sayyidna Abu Bakr (RA) during his tenure of Khilafah, thought it necessary to bring together all these scattered units of the Qur'an and thus have them preserved. The motives and the methods behind this great achievement of his have been explained in detail by Sayyidna Zayd ibn Thabit (RA) when he says: "One day, soon after the battle of Yamamah, Sayyidna Abu Bakr (RA) sent a message calling me in. When I reached him, Sayyidna 'Umar (RA) was present there.

Sayyidna Abu Bakr (RA) said to me: 'Umar has come just now and he tells me that a large group of Huffaz (those who had committed the Qur'an to memory) have met their death as martyrs in the battle of Yamamah, If the Huffaz of the noble Qur'an continue to meet their shahadah (martyrdom) in this manner, I am afraid a large portion of the Qur'an may just go extinct. So, in my view, you should begin the
task of having the Qur'an collected together under your order'. I said to 'Umar (RA): 'How can we do what the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) himself did not do?' 'Umar (RA) replied: 'By God, this is for nothing but good.' After that, this is what 'Umar (RA) continued telling me, until I too started seeing the truth, and now, my view was the same as 'Umar's', After that Sayyidna Abu Bakr (RA) told me: 'You are young, and intelligent. We have no doubts about you. You have been working as a scribe of Wahy as well under the supervision of the Messenger of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) , so you search and collect the verses of the 'noble Qur'an'." Sayyidna Zayd ibn Thabit (RA) says: "By God, had these blessed people commanded me to haul some mountain, that would have been much less weightier than this duty of collecting the Qur'an. I said to them: 'How are you doing something that the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) did not do?' Sayyidna Abu Bakr (RA) said: 'By God, this is good, nothing but good.' After that, this is what Sayyidna Abu Bakr (RA) kept saying to me again and again until Allah Almighty put my heart at rest for the same view that was the view of Sayyidna Abu Bakr (RA) and 'Umar (RA).
Consequently, I started searching for the Verses of the Qur'an and it was from the branches of date palms, slabs of stones and hearts of people that I finally collected the noble Qur'an." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab Fada'il al-Qur'aan)

At this point while we are dealing with the process of the collection of the Qur'an, we should have a clear perception of the method used by Sayyidna Zayd ibn (RA) . As mentioned earlier, he was himself a Hafiz of the Qur'an, therefore, he could have written down the whole Qur'an from his memory. In addition to that, there were
hundreds of Huffaz (memorizers of the Qur'an: plural of Hafiz) present at that time; the noble Qur'an could have still been written down by entrusting the duty to a selected group from out of them.

Also, the copies of the noble Qur'an committed to writing during the times of the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) could have been used by Sayyidna Zayd to make his copy of the Qur'an. But he, guided by his caution and concern, did not limit himself to anyone of the many methods available. On the contrary, by using all these
methods simultaneously, he did not allow any verse to be included in his master copy of the Qur'an unless he received written and verbal testimonies proving its uninterrupted succession.

In addition to that, the verses that the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) had arranged to be written under his supervision, were still preserved by the Companions. Sayyidna Zayd collected them together so that the new copy be made from them.

Consequently, a public proclamation was made to the effect that anyone possessing any number of written verses of the noble Qur'an should bring them over to Sayyidna Zayd. When a written verse was brought to him by someone, he used to verify its authenticity by the following four methods:

1) To begin with, he tested its reliability against his own memory.

2) Then, Sayyidna 'Umar (RA) too was a Hafiz of Qur'an, and as proved by reliable reports, Sayyidna Abu Bakr
(RA) had assigned him too to work with Sayyidna Zayd on this project. When someone came with some
verse, Sayyidna Zayd (RA) and Sayyidna 'Umar (RA) used to receive it jointly (Fath al-Bari with reference to
ibn Abi Dawud),

3) No written verse was accepted until such time that two trustworthy witnesses had testified to the fact that the particular verse was written in the presence of the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam)(al Itqan, 1/10)

4) After that, these verses in writing were collated with collections that different Companions had prepared for themselves (al-Burhan fi 'Ulum al-Qur'an, by Zarkashi, 1/238).

If this functional methodology behind the collection of the Qur'an during the period of Sayyidna Abii Bakr (RA) kept in mind, it would become perfectly simple to understand what Sayyidna Zayd ibn Thabit (RA) meant when he said: "I found the last verses of Surah al-Bara'ah beginning with Surely, (9:128) there has come to you, from your midst, a Messenger... with Sayyidna Abu Khudhaymah (RA) only. They were not found with anyone else except
him."

This never means that no person other than Sayyidna Abu Khudhaymah (RA) remembered these verses, or somebody else did not have these in the written form, or anyone other than him did not know of their being part of the Qur'an. On the contrary, it means that these verses were not found with anyone from among those who were coming along with different verses written as dictated by the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam).

Otherwise, as far as the fact of these verses being part of the Qur'an is concerned, everyone knew it in an uninterrupted succession. There were hundreds of Companions who remembered it as well. Moreover, these were available in writing with Companions who possessed complete collections of the Qur'anic verses. But,
among those written separately under the supervision of the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) this verse was found only with Sayyidna Abu Khudhaymah (RA) and not with anyone else (al-Burhan, 1/234-45).

So, in every way possible, it was with great caution and concern that Sayyidna Zayd ibn Thabit (RA) by collecting the Qur'anic verses, wrote them out in an organized form on pages of paper (al-Itqan, 1160).

But, each Surah was written in separate folios, therefore, this copy was composed of many folios. In the terminology of Qur'anic Studies, this copy is called the "Umm" (literally, 'the mother', meaning 'the original') and it had the following features:
In this copy, the Qur'anic verses were indeed arranged in accordance with the order identified by the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) but the Surahs were not so arranged, rather they were written separately
(Ibid),

Incorporated in this copy were all seven Huruf (versions) of the Qur'an (which have been explained earlier).
(Manhil al'Irfan, 1/246 and Tarikh aI-Qur'an by al-Kurdi, p. 28)

Collected here were all verses the recitation of which has not been abrogated.
The purpose of having this copy made in writing was to prepare an organized document with the collective endorsement of the whole ummah, so that, reference can be made to it when needed.

These folios committed to writing on the orders of Sayyidna Abu Bakr (RA) remained with him during his life-time. Then, they remained with Sayyidna 'Umar (RA) . After the martyrdom of Sayyidna 'Umar, they were transferred to the custody of Umm al-Mu'minin Sayyidah Hafsah (RA). After the death of Umm al-Mu'minin Sayyidah Hafsah (RA), Marwan ibn al-Hakam had these burnt since the copies of Qur'an ordered by Sayyidna 'Uthman (RA) were ready at that time, and a consensus of the ummah had already been reached to the effect that following these copies of the Qur'an, in script and arrangement of Surahs, was obligatory. Marwan ibn al-Hakam thought it inadvisable to let any copy which was contrary to this script and arrangement remain in existence (Fath al-Bari, 9/16)
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#69 [Permalink] Posted on 5th January 2011 17:36
Preservation: In the period of Sayyidna 'Uthman (radiallahu anh)

When Sayyidna 'Uthman (RA) became Khalifah, Islam had grown out of Arabia reaching into the far-flung areas of Byzantium and Iran. As people from new areas embraced Islam, they would learn the noble Qur'an from the Mujahidin of Islam or from the traders because of whom they had found the blessing of Islam. On the other side, you have already read that the noble Qur'an was revealed incorporating seven versions with various readings, and different Sahabah. (Companions) had learnt it from the Holy Prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) in accordance with different readings, therefore, every Companion taught Qur'an to his disciples in accordance with that particular reading which they had themselves learnt from the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam).

In this manner, this difference in readings reached far-out countries. Until such time that people knew that the noble Qur'an has been revealed incorporating seven Huruf (versions) no harm was done by this difference. However, when this difference reached those far-out countries, and the fact that the noble Qur'an has been revealed incorporating different readings was not fully publicised there, disputes among people started showing up.

Some people began to insist on their reading as correct and that of others as incorrect. On the one hand, these disputes posed the danger that people would fall into the grave error of declaring the readings of the noble Qur'an which have followed in uninterrupted succession as incorrect. On the other hand, there was no such standard copy available throughout the Islamic world which could become the rallying authority for the entire ummah, except, of course, the copy committed to writing by Sayyidna Zayd ibn Thabit (RA) which was there in Madinah.

Since other copies were written individually, and in them, there was no provision to incorporate all the readings, therefore, the only reliable method to resolve these disputes was that copies which incorporate all valid readings be spread out all over the Islamic world, and then, by seeing them it could be decided as to which reading is correct and which incorrect. Sayyidna 'Uthman (RA) accomplished this very remarkable feat during the period of his Khilafah.

Details of this feat, as given in hadith narrations, inform us that Sayyidna Hudhayfah ibn Yaman (RA) was engaged in jihad on the Armenian-Azerbaijan front. There he noticed that differences were rising among people about readings of the noble Qur'an. So, on his return to Madinah, he went straight to Sayyidna 'Uthman (RA) and once there, he pleaded: 'Ya Amir al-Mu'minin! Before this Ummah falls a prey to differences in the book of Allah like. the Jews and Christians, you should do something about it.' Sayyidna 'Uthman asked: 'What is the matter?' In reply, Sayyidna Hudhayfah (RA) said: 'I was on jihiid mission fighting on the Armenian front. There I saw people of Syria following the reading of Ubayy ibn Ka'b (RA) which would not be familiar to the people of 'Iraq, and the people of Iran follow the reading of 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud (RA) which would not be familiar to the people of Syria. As a result of this, they are charging each other of being kafirs.'

In fact, Sayyidna 'Uthman (RA) had himself sensed the danger much earlier. He was told that there were cases right there in Madlnah al-Tayyibah itself where a teacher of the noble Qur'aan 'would teach the text to his disciples in accordance with one reading, and another teacher would do so in accordance with another reading. In this way, when the disciples of different teachers came together, differences would crop up between them, and there were occasions when this difference would extend to teachers, and they too, would declare each other's reading to be incorrect. When Sayyidna Hudhayfah ibn Yaman (RA) too invited his attention to this danger, Sayyidna 'Uthman (RA) convened a meeting of some highly-regarded Companions and sought their advice. He said: I have been informed that there are people who say to each other things like "my reading is better than yours" - and this could touch the extreme limits of kufr. So, what is your opinion in this connection?' The Companions themselves asked Sayyidna 'Uthman (RA) :'What are your own thoughts on this subject?' Sayyidna 'Uthman (RA) said: "I believe we should unite everyone on one book so that we face no difference or division.'

The Companions, approving of this opinion, supported Sayyidna 'Uthman (RA).
Consequently, Sayyidna 'Uthman (RA) gathered people together and delivered a sermon and in it he said: "You who live so close to me in Madinah, if you can falsify each other and differ with each other in respect of the readings of the noble Qur'an, it is quite obvious that those who are far away from me will be indulging in falsification and disputation on a much larger scale. Therefore, let everyone get together and come up with a copy of the Qur'an following which becomes obligatory for all."

With this in view, Sayyidna 'Uthman (RA) sent a message to Sayyidah Hafsah (RA) requesting her to let them have the blessed folios of the Qur'anic text (prepared under the orders of Sayyidna Abu Bakr (RA) which she had in her custody). He promised that these will be returned to her after copies have been made. Sayyidah Hafsah (RA) sent these pages of the Qur'an to Sayyidna 'Uthman (RA), He then formed a group of four Companions which was composed of Sayyidna Zayd ibn 'Thabit, Sayyidna 'Abdullah ibn Zubayr, Sayyidna Sa'id ibn al-'Aas and Sayyidna 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Harith ibn Hisham (RA) . This group was entrusted with the duty of making several copies from the original copy of Sayyidna Abu Bakr's Qur'anic folios and making sure that Surahs too are arranged in order. Out of these four Companions, Sayyidna Zayd was an Ansari, while the rest of the three were Qurayshis.

Therefore, Sayyidna 'Uthman (RA) said to them: 'When you and Zayd differ in respect of any portion of the Qur'an (that is, differ as to how a certain letter should be written) you write it in the language of the Quraysh because the noble Qur'an has been revealed in their very language."

Basically, this duty was entrusted to only four distinguished persons named above, but later on, other Companions were also attached to help them out. (Fath al-Bari, pp. 13-15, v. 9)

They performed the following functions in connection with the writing of the Qur'an:

1. In the copy prepared during the period of Sayyidna Abu Bakr (RA), Surahs were not placed in sequence,
rather each Surah was written separately. They wrote down all Surahs in their proper sequence in a single
copy. (Mustadrak,2/229)

2. The verses of the noble Qur'an were written in a way so that all readings backed by uninterrupted succession could be incorporated within their script. Therefore, no dots or desinential marks were placed on them so that the text could be recited in accordance with all readings that are supported by uninterrupted succession.. (Manahil al- 'Irfan, 1/253-254)

3. Upto this time, there existed only one single copy of the noble Qur'an - complete, authentically standard and collectively attested by the whole ummah. These distinguished persons prepared more than one copy of this newly organized Mushaf (copy of the Qur'an). It is generally believed that Sayyidna 'Uthman (RA) had accomplished the preparation of five copies, but Abu Hatim Sijistani says that a total of seven copies were prepared. Out of these one was sent to Makkah al-Mukarramah, one to Syria, one to Yaman, one to Bahrain, one to Basrah and one to Kufah, and one was preserved in Madinah al-Tayyibah.

4. To accomplish the task cited above, these revered elders basically worked through the pages of the Qur'an which were written during the times of Sayyidna Abu Bakr (RA). But, along with it, as a matter of added precaution, they adopted exactly the same method that was employed during the times of Sayyidna Abu Bakr (RA) . Consequently, assorted copies of texts committed into writing during the days of
the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) which were preserved by different Companions were recalled once again, and it was, by yet another collation with these, that the new copies were prepared.

This time, a separately written verse of Surah al-Ahzab, (33:23) [Among the believers, there are men who came true to the covenant they had with Allah. So, some of them have fulfilled their vows (by sacrificing their lives in the way of Allah), and some of them are (still) waiting, and they did not change (their commitment) in the least.] found with Sayyidna Thabit al-Ansari (RA) only. As we have explained
earlier, it does not mean that nobody else remembered this verse because Sayyidna Zayd (RA) has himself said: 'While writing the copy of the Qur'an, I could not find the particular verse of Surah al-Ahzab which I used to hear the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) recite.'

This shows very clearly that the verse under reference was something Sayyidna Zayd and other Companions remembered very well. On the
other hand, it also does not mean that this verse never existed in writing anywhere, because this verse was obviously there in the pages of the Qur'aan written during the times of Sayyidna Abu Bakr (RA)

Besides that, obviously enough, this verse was also included in the copies of the noble Qur'an which were written and preserved by the Companions on their own. But, like it was in the days of Sayyidna Abu Bakr (RA) , this time too, all those scattered documents, available with the Companions in writing, were collected together, therefore, Sayyidna Zayd (RA) and others with him did not write down any verse into these copies of the Qur'an until such time when they did find it in those written documentations as well.

As such, the fact was that other verses were found written separately too with several Companions, but this verse from Surah al-Ahzab was not found written separately with anyone else except Sayyidna
Khudhaymah (RA).

5. After having these several standard copies of the Qur'an prepared, Sayyidna 'Uthman (RA) had all copies personally kept by different Companions burnt so that all copies of the Qur'an become uniform in terms
of the script, incorporation of accepted readings and the order of chapters, leaving no room for any difference between them.

The entire ummah acknowledged this achievement of Sayyidna 'Uthman (RA) with admiration, and the Companions supported him in this venture. The only exception is that of Sayyidna 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ood (RA) who was somewhat unhappy about it, something that cannot be taken up here in its proper perspective. Sayyidna 'Ali
(RA) says: "Say nothing about 'Uthman unless it be in his favour because, by God, whatever he did in connection
with copies of the Qur'an was done in the presence of all of us, and with our advice and counsel."
(Fath al-Bari, 9/15)
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#70 [Permalink] Posted on 5th January 2011 17:41
Steps taken to facilitate Recitation

After the afore-mentioned achievement of Sayyidna 'Uthman (RA) the ummah reached a consensus on the rule that it is not permissible to write the text of the noble Qur'an using any method other than the 'Uthmani Script.

Consequently, all copies of the Qur'an were, later on, written in accordance with this method, and the Companions and their successors, may Allah be pleased with them all, by bringing forth repeatedly, reproductions of the standard 'Uthmani copies of the Qur'an, helped spread the noble Qur'an on a vast scale.

But, the copies of the noble Qur'an were still devoid of dots and vowel points or desinential marks which made it difficult for non-Arabs to recite them freely. As Islam spread out wide and deep in non-Arab countries, the need to add dots and vowel points became acute, in order that people may be able to recite them easily. Several steps were taken to achieve this purpose. Their brief history is as follows:

Inclusion of Dots

The practice of placing dots over or under letters was just not there among early Arabs, however, the readers were so used to this style that they had practically no difficulty in reading dot-less writing to the limit that they would easily distinguish between doubtful letters by referring to the context.

Specially, there was no possibility of any doubt in the case of the noble Qur'an because its preservation did not rest on writing, rather on the strength of memories, pursuant to which, Sayyidna 'Uthman (RA) had assigned Qaris, accomplished reciters of the Qur'an, along with its copies sent out to various parts of the Muslim world so that they could teach how to read it.

There are different reports as to who first placed dots on the copy of the noble Qur'an. Some reports say that this feat was first accomplished by Hadrat Abu al-Aswad al-Du'ali (RA) (al-Burhan, 11250). Some say he did this under the instructions of Sayyidna Ali (RA) (Subh al-A'sha, 3/155).

There are others who have said that Ziyad ibn Abi Sufyan, the Governor of Kufah, asked him to do this. Then there is yet another report which credits Hajjaj ibn Yusuf with this feat who did it with the help of Hasan al-Basri, Yahya ibn Ya'mur and Nasr ibn 'Asim al-Laythi, may Allah's mercy be upon them all. (Tafsir al-Qurtubi, 1163)

Marks for correct reading

In the beginning, like dots, the Qur'an did not have any desinential marks either. Here too, reports are at variance as to who placed desinential marks first. Some say Abu al-Aswad al-Du'air did it first while others claim that this was accomplished by Hajjaj ibn Yusuf through Yahya ibn Ya'mur and Nasr ibn 'Asim al-Laythi. (Ibid)

Keeping in view all reports in this connection, it appears that desinential marks were first invented by Abu al-Aswad al-Du'ali, but they were not like what they are today. Instead, placed there for fathah was a dot over the letter, for kasrah a dot under the letter, for dammah, a dot in front of the letter; and there were two dots (over, under and in front as written previously) for tanwin or nunnation. It was only later that Khalil ibn Ahmad innovated the signs of hamzah (glottal stop) and tashdid (doubling). (Subh al-A'sha, 3/160-161)

After that, Hajjaj ibn Yusuf requested Yahya ibn Ya'mur, Nasr ibn 'Asim al-Laythi and Hasan al-Basri, may Allah's mercy be upon them all, to simultaneously place dots and desinential marks on the text of the noble Qur'an. On this occasion, the present forms of desinential marks were chosen to replace dots as expression of case signs.
The purpose was to avoid confusing them with dots intrinsically belonging to letters.

Ahzib or Manazil

It was the practice of Companions and their Successors that they would complete the recital of the entire Qur'an once every week. For this purpose, they had identified fixed portions for their daily recitation which is known as 'hizb' or 'manzil'. Thus the entire Qur'an was divided over seven 'ahzab' (plural of 'hizb') 'manazil' (plural of 'manzil'). (al-Burhan, 1/250)

Ajza' or Parts

Today, the Qur'an is divided over thirty 'ajza' (plural of 'juz') or parts. This division in parts has nothing to do with the meaning of the Qur'an. In fact, this division in thirty equal parts has been made to serve as teaching aid for children as, it will be noticed, there are places where the designated part ends with an unfinished statement. It is
difficult to say with certainty as to who brought about this division of the Qur'an in thirty parts. Some people believe that Sayyidna 'Uthman (RA) had arranged to have these written in thirty different folio-units while their copies were being made, therefore, this division dates back to his time for sure. But, this humble writer was
unable to find any proof of this position in the writings of earlier scholars. However, 'Allamah Badr aI-Din al- Zarkashi has written that the thirty parts of the Qur'an have been known all along and they customarily appear in copies of the Qur'an used in schools. (al-Burhan, 1/250; Manahil al-Trfan, 1/402)

Ahhmas and A'shar: The sets of Fives and Tens

Another sign used in Qur'aanic copies of early centuries was that they would write the word, khams (five) or its abbreviation ( خ) after every five verses (on the margin); and the word, 'Ashr (ten) or its abbreviation ( ع) after every ten verses. The former kind of signs were called 'Akhmas' (a pentad or group of five) and the later, 'A'shar' (a decade or group of ten). Consequent to another difference among early scholars, these signs were considered permissible by some, and reprehensible or Makruh by others. Saying, with any degree of certainty, as to who was the first to place the signs, is difficult indeed. According to one view, Hajjaj ibn Yusuf was its inventor, while another view credits this to an order of 'Abbasi Khalifah, al-Ma'mun (al-Burhan, 1/251).

But, these two views do not appear to be sound since the idea of a'shar seems to be there during the times of the Companions. For example, Maeruq' a well-known Tabi', says that with Sayyidna 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud (RA) the placement of 'A'shar' markings in the copy of the Qur'an was makruh. (Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah, 2/497).

Ruku' or Section

Moreover, the signs of Akhmas and A'shar were abandoned later on but, yet another sign which continues on even to this day is the sign of ruhu' or section. This has been determined in terms of the contents of the noble Qur'an whereby a sign of ruhu: (the letter t on the margin) is placed at the conclusion of a statement. Inspite of his efforts, this humble writer was unable to locate anything authentic which would tell us as to who originated the ruku', and in what period. However, this much is almost certain that the purpose of this sign is to identify an average portion of verses which could be recited in one raka'ah . It is called 'ruku" so that ruku' (bending position)
could be made in Salah after reaching this point. There are 540 ruku'at in the whole Qur'an. So, by reciting one ruku' in every raka'ah of tarawih., it is possible to complete the recital of the entire Qur'an on the night of the
twenty seventh (Fatawa 'Alamgiryah, Fasl al-Tarawih, 1/94).

Rumuz al-Aiqaaf: Stop Signs

Another useful step taken to facilitate recitation and phonetically, correct pronunciation (tilawah and tajwid) was to provide signs with Qur'anic sentences which could tell the nature of making a stop (breathing) there. These signs are known as the 'rumuz' (signs) or 'ala mat (symbols) of auqaf (stops). Their purpose is to help a person who does not know Arabic to stop at the correct spot during his recitation, and thus, avoid causing a change in meaning by breaking his breath at the wrong spot. Most of these signs were first invented by 'Allamah Abu 'Abdullah Muhammad ibn Tayfur Sajawandi, may Allah's mercy be upon him (Al-Nashr fi al-Qira'at al-'Ashr, 1/225).


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#71 [Permalink] Posted on 5th January 2011 17:42
The printing of the Holy Qur'an

Before the advent of the printing press, all copies of the Qur'an were calligraphed by hand, and for this purpose, there always has been, in every age, a large group of calligraphers whose sole purpose in life was nothing else except the calligraphy of the Qur'an. The amount of hard work put in by Muslims in writing the words of the Qur'an in ever better styles, and the way they demonstrated their intense emotional involvement with this great book has a long and interesting history of its own which would need a regular book. This is not the appropriate place to go in such details.

With the invention of the printing press, the noble Qur'an was first printed at Hamburg in 1113 Hijrah, a copy of which is still present in Dar al-Kutub al-Misiriyyah. After that, several orientalists arranged the publication of the copies of Qur'an but they were not received with much approval in the Muslim world. After that, Mawlay 'Uthman was the first person among Muslims who had one manuscript of the Qur'an printed at St. Petersburg, a Russian city, in 1787 A.D. Similarly, another manuscript was printed in Qazan also. In 1828 A.D., the Qur'an was printed by lithography on stone slabs in the Iranian city of Tehran. After that, printed copies of the Qur'an became common throughout the world. (Tarikh al-Qur'an by al-Kurdi, p. 186, and 'Ulum al-Qur'an by Dr. Subhi Saleh; Urdu Translation by Ghulam Ahmad Hariri, p. 142)

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#72 [Permalink] Posted on 5th January 2011 17:45
An introduction to the science of Tafsir

Now we can turn to the requisites of 'Ilm al-Tafsir or Exegesis. The literal meaning of 'tafsir' in the Arabic language is 'to open' or to explain, interpret or comment.

Technically, the science of tafsir is a branch of knowledge in which the meanings of the Qur'an are explained and its injunctions and wisdoms are described openly and clearly
(al-Burhan), Addressing the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) , the Glorious Qur'an says, We revealed the Qur'an to you so that you explain to the people what has been sent down to them (16:44).

Once again, the Qur'an says: Surely, Allah did a great favour to Muslims when He sent a Messenger to them from among them who would recite His verses before them and purify them and teach them the book and the Wisdom (3:164).

Keeping this in view, it should be noted that the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) did not only teach the words of the Qur'an, but he also explained these in details. This is why, on some occasions, the revered Companions had to devote years together in learning a single Surah; details will, inshallah appear later on.

Until such time that the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) graced this mortal world with his presence, seeking the explanation of any verse was not much of a problem. When the Companions faced any difficulty, they would turn to him and get a satisfying answer. But, later on after him, it became necessary that the tafsir of Qur'an be preserved as a permanent branch of knowledge so that, along with the words of the noble Qur'an, its correct meaning as well stands protected and conserved for the Muslim ummah, and heretics and deviationists find no room there for distortion of its meanings. So, with the grace and taufiq of Allah Almighty, this ummah accomplished this wonderful mission with such efficiency that today we can say without any fear of doubt or rejection that not only are the words of this last book of Allah protected but also stands protected even that correct tafsir and explanation which has reached us through the Holy Prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wasallam) and his Companions (radiallahu anhum) who were ever-prepared to sacrifice their lives for him.

In what ways the Muslim ummah protected and preserved the 'ilm (science) of tafsir? What extreme hardships they faced in this pursuit? How many stages did this struggle had to go through? All this has a long and fascinating history which cannot be taken up in the present context (for this, please see 'Ulum. aI-Qur'an, a detailed work on this subject). The intention here is to state briefly as to what are the sources of Qur'anic exegesis and how these sources have been utilized in explaining the noble Qur'an by all those countless books on 'Ilm al-Tafsir' available in every language. These sources are six in number:

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#73 [Permalink] Posted on 5th January 2011 17:46
The Sources of Tafsir

1. The Glorious Qur'an

The first source of the knowledge of tafsir is the Holy Qur'an itself. Accordingly, it happens very often that a certain point which is brief and requires explanation is invariably clarified by some other verse of the Qur'an itself.

For instance, there appears that sentence of "Guide us in the right path" prayer in the Surah al-Fatihah: 1:6 that is, "Guide us in the straight path - the path of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace"" Now it is not clear here as to who are those whom Allah Almighty has blessed. But, in another verse, they have been identified
very clearly where it is said: So, these are the people whom Allah Almighty has blessed, being the prophets, their true followers, the martyrs (in the way of Allah) and the righteous. (4:69)

Therefore, when respected commentators explain some verse, they first check to see if a tafsir of this verse is already there elsewhere in the noble Qur'an itself. If it is there, they elect to go by it as their first choice.

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#74 [Permalink] Posted on 5th January 2011 17:47
2. The Hadith

The words and the deeds of the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) are called Hadith, and as it has been stated earlier, Allah Almighty had sent him with the Qur'an solely for the purpose that he should explain to people, openly and explicitly, the correct meanings of the noble Qur'an. Consequently, he discharged this duty with grace and excellence both by his words and deeds. In fact his whole blessed life is after all, a practical tafsir of Qur'an.

It is for this reason that respected commentators, in order to understand the Qur'an, have laid the greatest emphasis on Hadith as the second source, and it is in the light of ahadith that they have determined the meanings of the book of Allah. However, because all sorts of narrations - sound, weak, and fabricated - are included in Hadith , therefore research-oriented commentators do not accept a narration as trustworthy until it withstands the principles used in the scrutiny of Hadlth narrations.

Hence, finding a Hadith report somewhere, looking at it, and then employing it to determine a certain tafsir is not correct, because that report could be weak, even contrary to other stronger reports. This is really a very delicate matter, and venturing therein is the exclusive prerogative of those who have spent their years in mastering these fields of knowledge.
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#75 [Permalink] Posted on 5th January 2011 17:48
3. The Reports from the Sahabah (Companions - radiallahu anhum)

The noble Sahabah (Companions), may Allah be pleased with them all, had received their education directly from the Holy Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam). In addition to that, they were personally present on the scene when Wahy came, and they had themselves witnessed all circumstances and backgrounds of the revelation of the Qur'an.

Therefore, naturally, the recorded statements of these blessed souls are far more authentic and trustworthy in explaining the noble Qur'an; the later people cannot take that place. Hence, in the case of verses the explanation of which is not found in the Qur'an or Hadith, statements recorded from the noble Companions are given the highest priority.

Consequently, if there is a consensus of Companions on the explanation of a certain
verse, the commentators follow just that, and explaining it in any way, other than that, is not permissible. By the way, if the statements of Companions differ in the interpretation (tafsir) of a certain verse, then the commentators who come later examine them in the light of arguments and determine as to which interpretation
or explanation can be given preference. In order to handle this situation, there is an important corpus of rules and regulations already codified under the sciences of Usul al-Fiqh, Usul al-Hadith and Usul al-Tafsir a detailed discussion of which is not appropriate here.
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