|Part I||Need For Divine Guidance|
|Intuitional (Mystic) Faculty|
|Part II||Introduction to al-Qur’an|
|Nomenclature of Al-Qur’an|
|History of Descent or Nuzool of Al-Qur’an|
|Makki and Madni Verses|
|Sequence of the Qur’an Shareef|
|Shan-e-Nuzool of Al-Qur’an|
|Seven Qirats of Al-Qur’an|
|Naskh or Abrogation of Verses|
|Muhkam and Mutashabih|
|Fazail (Virtues) Qur’an|
|Qur’an and the Suhaba al-Kiram (RA)|
|Rules of Reverence for Reading the Holy Qur’an|
Allahu Ta’ala created this universe with perfection and systematic organisation. Out of this, He chose our planet for life. He created everything in this planet which is needed to sustain life. He stretched the earth and flattened it so that it could be lived upon. He made it neither too hard nor too soft, neither too hot or too cold unlike other planets. He created an environment within and on the earth to sustain life. He decorated the skies with sun, moon and millions of stars. He created the vast oceans, the plant and the animal kingdoms. Finally, He created the master of this universe “Man”. Man is not essential for the survival of the universe, if it would have been so the universe would not have survived without him. On the contrary the universe is very important for the survival of man. This fact is mentioned in the Qur’an and Hadith (traditions of the holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) at many places.
In the the Qur’an Allahu Ta’ala says:
وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمْ مَا فِي السَّمَوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا
“And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth” (45:13)
And a Hadith (tradition of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) mentions:
إنَّ الدُّنيا خُلِقَت لَكُم
“Indeed, world has been created for you.”
Since the universe was essential for the survival of man, it was created first and later on man was sent to this universe.
Man is the crown of all the creation – the best Creation of Allah Ta’ala. He says in the Qur’an:
لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ فِي أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ
“Indeed we have created man in the best of moulds” (95:4)
For whom was this cream of all the creation (Man), created?
This question arises almost in the mind of every human being. But unfortunately mostly people do not get an answer to this inner query. Usually people die without knowing this reality; they live throughout their lives in complete ignorance just like animals. Many people ponder over this question but they do not have enough intelligence to understand it. Their inherent intellectual capability is clouded and obscured by prejudice, ignorance and blind faith in the religion of their parents. These factors work on their minds subconsciously right from the days of childhood and consequently they never perceive the Ultimate Truth.
When a man is born, he is in a state of ignorance, inexperience and helplessness. As he grows, he starts acquiring knowledge.
Faculties for acquiring knowledge:
Man learns through the sense of touch about the temperature of a thing and its consistency. His sense of smell helps him to distinguish between noxious and pleasant smell. The sense of taste informs him whether the eatable is sweet, sour, bitter, pungent or delicious, which enables him to relish it well and also helps him to avoid harmful food. Much of the knowledge comes through his hearing and optical senses. He observes the universe and its strange phenomenon with his eyes. Books and electronic visual aids go a long way in adding to his knowledge. Another important sense is auditory. Man goes on hearing different things right from his birth and stores that knowledge in his memory centre of the brain.
This sensual experience plays a tremendous role in man’s acquisition of knowledge. There are three schools of thought regarding acquisition and efficiency of knowledge for realization of the ultimate truth. One section of people believes that sensual experience is useless. They withdraw from the world and its beauties and preach self-abnegation and ascetic life. This was the dominant feature of Christianity in the middle ages. Another section believes in only sensual experience and the faculty of intellect. They think that the knowledge gained through five senses and crystallised by the intellect can lead to the realisation of the Ultimate Truth. They include the Greek philosophers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and their followers along with some of the modern scientists. This group and their ideology will be discussed later on in some detail, Insha-Allah.
The third group believes in the Qur’an. The Qur’an teaches that an empirical attitude is very essential for the spiritual life. The Qur’an always encourages man to use more and more of his sensual experience in understanding the Truth. It does not teach self-abnegation and withdrawal from the world.
The Qur’an says:
إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لَآيَاتٍ لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ
“Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of Night and Day, there are signs for men of understanding. “ (3:190)
أَفَلَا يَنْظُرُونَ إِلَى الْإِبِلِ كَيْفَ خُلِقَتْ () وَإِلَى السَّمَاءِ كَيْفَ رُفِعَتْ () وَإِلَى الْجِبَالِ كَيْفَ نُصِبَتْ () وَإِلَى الْأَرْضِ كَيْفَ سُطِحَتْ()
“Do they not look at the camels, how they are made? And at the sky, how it is raised high? And at the mountains, how they are fixed firm? And at the earth? How it is spread out? (88:17-29)
These and the other Qur’anic exhortations about acquiring sensual knowledge have culminated in the birth of modern science.
This is the primary and important factor behind the Renaissance in Europe. Church opposed learning during the middle ages. In Europe It often opposed acquisition of knowledge, and science was branded as black magic and consequently its study was prohibited in the Christendom in Europe. Church preached Ptolemaic system which was opposed by Copernicus, who put forward Copernican system and it falsified the Biblical view of the Cosmology. The Church authorities felt insulted and prosecuted the scientists like Copernicus, Galileo and others. In contrast, the Muslims had far advanced knowledge in many fields under the Qur’an inspirations, which repeatedly exhorts man to study the universe, its physical, biological and celestial components and their changes. Europe was quite ignorant about these tremendous advances that were being made in the Islamic world till the Muslims conquered Spain. When this Islamic Scientific approach reached Europe through Spain, they began to imbibe it, culminating in the scientific revolution, which the world is witnessing these days.
But this sensual method of acquiring knowledge too has its own limitations, which will be discussed later on, Insha Allah.
This is the second most important faculty of man for acquiring knowledge. This distinguishes man from other animals and plants. The sensual faculty is present in animals as well, but they lack the intellectual faculty. Man has used this intellectual faculty and attained mastery over various ingredients of the universe whether they are physical, chemical, environmental or biological.
With the help of these two faculties i.e., sensual and intellectual, man has made great advances in the fields of Chemistry, Physics, Biological Sciences, Geography, Astronomy and other such fields.
Those people, who saw the success of the faculty of intellect in the fields of Chemistry, Physics and other Biosciences tried to use the same tool (human intellect) for understanding the Truth. These people never succeeded in this. The Greek philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and their followers, whose ideas supposedly moved the world, stretched their intellect to its maximum and put forward so many hypotheses about the Ultimate Truth. Though this is not the place to discuss their ideologies in detail, I would like to quote some of their main conclusions that were drawn by them about the Truth, so that one can understand the absurdity of their theories.
Theory of Emanationism:
To explain the relation of God and the world is one of the most difficult problems in the philosophy of religion. It is well nigh an impossible task and philosophers have always stumbled over it. According to Neo-plotonic theory, only one emanates from one, yet three things may emanate three kinds of knowledge possessed by first intelligence out from each kind. God did not create the world through an act of volition, for creation thus understood implies consciousness and will, both of which are limitations with regard to the Absolute. Knowing implies an object that confronts the knower as something alien to him. God being infinite and absolute has nothing outside His being; hence nothing can confront Him as something other than He.
This theory further states that the world emanates from God not directly but through intermediaries. These intermediary agencies are of various grades. First intelligence knows the god, there emanates from it the second intelligence, as it knows its own essence, there emanates from it the soul of the highest celestial sphere, and finally, as it knows itself as a possible being only, there proceeds from it the body of that sphere.
Whereas the philosophers endowed the first intelligence and in a similar fashion all the subsequent descendant intelligences, with three kinds of knowledge as stated above, they circumscribed God’s knowledge to His own glorious self-only. It was in keeping with the Aristotelian description of God as thought thinking itself, it must be itself that thought thinks and its thinking is thinking on thinking.
Theory of Cause and Effect Relation and Eternity of Matter:
These philosophers put forward the theory that cause and effect have direct relation, one cause can have one effect and that every effect must be preceded by one cause. Taking the example of the world, they say that if the world is taken as an effect, then there must have been one cause for it and for that cause also there must have been one cause and from this the Aristotelian school of thought put forward doctrine of eternity of the world. They could not understand this simple thing that for one effect there can be many causes and that can be both positive and negative and the effect can be delayed also. They also failed to understand the reality of the will of God and its relation with His creative activity. The Qur’an uses these two words “Amr” and “Khalq” to explain it.
Pringle Pattison, as quoted by Dr. lqbal, deplores the paucity of vocabulary of English language and says that English language has only one word for these two words of “Amr “ and “Khalq“ , in English both words are termed as “creation’.
Allahu Ta’ala says in the Qur’an:
أَلَا لَهُ الْخَلْقُ وَالْأَمْرُ
“To Him belongs the creation and direction (Khalq and Amr).
He says that Arabic language is more fortunate to have these two words to express the two ways in which the creative activity of Allah Ta’ala reveals itself to us. On the contrary English language possesses only one word “creation” to express the relation of God and the universe on the one hand; and the relation of God on the other.
Aristotle’s Active and Passive Intellect Theory:
This is quoted from his last book on the soul (De-Anima), in which he makes the distinction between the active and creative intellect on the one hand and the passive intellect on the other. Active intellect, according to Aristotle, is the third between the object and the passive intellect, as light is the third besides the eye and the object. Thus active intellect is said to create the truths that we know just as light may be said to make colours which we perceive with its aid. We see here Aristotle’s general principle that “what is potentially, comes to be actually by the agency of something that already is actually” (Metaphysics, I049 b24). In passive intellect all concepts are merely potential, they are made real or actual by active intellect; actualised intellect thus may be called intellect in action. The active intellect is said to be separable from matter and impassive and unmixed, being in its essential nature an activity. There is no intermission in its thinking, it is only in separation from matter that it is fully itself and it alone is immortal and everlasting, while the passive intelligence is perishable and there is no thinking at all apart from this (De Anima 430).
Aristotle has left unexplained the precise relation between the active and passive intellects and the unity and individuality of the human personality. It seems vain to look in his doctrine for the possibility of personal immortality. The true interpretation of Aristotle on these points was a cause of dispute even among his own immediate disciples. It is needless to comment on these incoherent and baseless statements.
Another famous, so called rationalist philosopher, disbelieved his senses, distrusted all the knowledge acquired by him and disowned all the traditional authority and stopped at thought, finding certainty in the dictum ‘cogite ergo sum’ – ‘I think, therefore, I am’. He held that the reason was competent to explain the ultimate reality.
Famous German philosopher, on the other hand revealed the limitations of reason and reduced the whole work of rationalists to a heap of ruins, but he according to Dr. lqbal consistently, could not affirm the possibility of knowledge of God on the basis of his principles.
Kant further says that: “I think” which accompanies every thought is formal condition of thought and the transition from a purely formal condition of thought to ontological substance is logically illegitimate. He further says indivisibility of a substance does not prove its indestructibility.
Challenging the theory that intellect is a product of evolution, he says: “If intellect is a product of evolution, the whole mechanistic concept of the nature and origin of life is absurd, and, the principle which science has adopted must clearly be revised. We have only to state it to see the self-contradiction. If intellect is an evolution of life, then the concept of life that can evolve intellect as a particular mode of apprehending reality must be the concept of more concrete activity than that of any abstract mechanical movement, which the intellect can present to itself by analysing its apprehending content. And yet further if the intellect be a product of the evolution of life, it is not absolute but relative to the activity of that which has evolved it; how then in such cases, can science exclude the subjective aspect of knowing and build on the objective presentation as an absolute? Clearly the biological sciences necessitate a reconsideration of scientific principle.
An eminent Mathematician and scientist, has conclusively shown that traditional theory of materialism is untenable. It is obvious that theoretically colours and sounds etc. are subjective states only and form no part of nature. He says our perceptions are illusions. His theory reduces one half of the nature to ‘dream’ and other half to the conjecture.
We cannot deny the importance of intellect in knowing the Reality but of course, it has its own limitations. It is impossible for any person to know all the pros and cons of a thing keeping everything about that thing in mind at the same time. Fancies often overlap intellect and inferences drawn by the intellect get fogged. Take the example of a dead body lying in a room; rarely would anybody sleep in that room. Though the intellect will clearly know the dead body is harmless, and there should be no problem in sleeping in that room, yet the fancy ideas overlap the intellect and people feel afraid of sleeping there. In this example one can clearly understand that many things influence the intellect. Hence its decisions cannot be fool proof; there is always possibility of errors and wrong interpretations.
A well-known Muslim Historian and father of Sociology, says that intellect has its own boundaries beyond that it cannot work. He gives the example of a balance and says that with the help of balance (which is meant for weighing gold and silver), if one tries to weight a mountain, one can imagine the fate of that balance, similarly, he says that using only intellect to know the Reality is same as weighing a mountain with a balance meant for weighing gold.
Changing Intellectual Experience:
Imam Gazzali (RA) says, “When a man is born, he has no knowledge.” Naturally, when a man is born his sensual and intellectual truths are also in infancy and as he grows, his faculties also develop. At every step of his intellectual development, he realises that at his previous step he was at fault and that now he has become wiser.
Again at the next step of intellectual development, he feels the same that at his previous step (which he was labelling as wiser) he was wrong and this process continues throughout his life. With this thing in mind at which step man will feel that he has obtained perfection? Obviously he will never feel so. When this is the state of his growing and changing his intellectual interpretations how can he decide with the help of this intellect about the absolute Reality without any blemish of error? Hence finite cannot comprehend infinite and every effort to do so is doomed to fail.
The people who rely only on this faculty of intellect for knowing the Reality always wander in the labyrinth of imagination about the Reality.
Having noted the limitations of intellect in knowing the Reality, one has to explore other faculties. Intuition is the next higher faculty after intellect, before discussing this faculty further, the author feels tempted to present the view point of some of the famous scholars, in this regard.
“Heart is a kind of inner intuition or insight, feeds on the rays of the Sun and brings us in contact with the aspects of Reality other than those open to sensual perception.”
“The revealed and mystic literature of mankind bears ample testimony to the fact that religious experience has been too enduring and dominant in the history of mankind to be rejected as mere illusion. There seems to be no reason, thus, to accept the moral level of human experience as fact and reject its other levels as mystical and emotional. The facts of religious experience are facts among other facts of human experience and in the capacity of yielding knowledge by interpretation; one fact is as good as another.”
The mystic state brings us in contact with the total passage of Reality in which -all the diverse stimuli merge into another and form single unity in which the ordinary distinction of subject and object does not exist.
He himself narrates his spiritual story as follows:
“The thirst of knowledge was innate in me from an early age. It was like a second nature implemented in me by Allah. No sooner had I emerged from my boyhood than I had already broken the fetters of tradition and authority and freed myself from hereditary beliefs. The diversity in beliefs and the varsity of doctrines in the sects that divide the men are like a vast ocean strewn with shipwrecks. Each sect believes itself to be exclusively in possession of truth and of salvation. From the periods of adolescence I again and again plunged myself into this vast ocean. Struck with the contradictions that I encountered in endeavouring to disentangle the truth and falsity of these opinions, I was led to make the following reflection:
The search after the truth being the aim that I propose myself, I ought to, in the first place, ascertain as to what are the foundations of certitude. In the next place, I ought to recognise that certitude is the clear and complete knowledge of things such as leaves no room for doubt, no possibility of error. (Cf. AI Munqidh minal Dhalal)
AI-Gazzali examined the sum total of knowledge that he had acquired hitherto and found that none of it could stand the test as proposed by him.
He further says,
“We cannot hope to find the truth except in the matters which carry their evidence in themselves, i.e., in sense perception and infallible and necessary principles of thought. We must, therefore, first of all establish these two on a firm basis”.
But he doubted the infallibility of sense perception; he could plainly see that they do often deceive us. “No eye can see the movement of shadow, but still the shadow moves; a gold piece can cover any star, but a star is a world larger than the earth.”
The information given by sense experience can be contradicted and convicted of falsity in an indisputable manner by the verdict of reason. AI-Gazzali’s confidence in sense information having been shaken, he turned towards the scrutiny of what he called the necessary principles, but he doubted even those. According to AI-Gazzali, in spite of his great respect for Mathematics and Logic, it is not possible to guarantee absolutely the truth of mathematical axioms and laws of logic. Are ten more than three? Can a thing be and not be at the same time? Perhaps he could not tell. His senses have sometimes deceived him, why should not his reason?
His doubt with regard to sense perception made him very hesitant to accept the infallibility of reason.
“Well”, says, AI-Gazzali, “perhaps there is above reason another judge, who if approached would convict reason of falsity and if such a third arbiter is not yet apparent, it does not follow that he does not exist.’’
AI-Gazzali could not find a way out of this doubt and his experience of dream phenomena deepened it more. “While asleep you assume your dreams to be indisputably true, once awake you recognise them for what they are i.e., baseless chimeras. Who can assure you then of the reliability of the notions, which when awake, you derive from the senses and from reason? In relation to your present state they may appear real but is it not possible that should they enter upon another state that will bear the same relation to your present state as the latter does to your condition when asleep? With awakening into that new state you might recognise that the conclusions of reasons are themselves no more than mere chimeras of their own brand.”
AI-Gazzali later suggested that, that state might be death. He says that when we would be awakened in life after death, it would be a true, though different existence. (Cf. Kimiya-Sa-adat).
While narrating his spiritual struggle he further says,
“After my confidence in sense perception and reason got shaken, I was overtaken by sophistication for quite some time. Then Allah cured me of this disease and my condition improved. I developed confidence in axiomatic truths, but this was not due to any logistic or empiricist but was something intuitional. After getting cured of this disease, there were four groups in front of me that appeared to me searchers of truth viz, first was scholastic group (Mutakaillimeen) who claimed to be the people of reason. Second was Carmathian sect (Baatiniya) who claimed that they possess special teachings and secrets and they have acquired knowledge directly from Imam Ma’soom; third was the group of philosophers who claimed to be the people of logic and argument: fourth was the group of mystics who called themselves the people of intuition and manifestation (Kashaf & Shahood). I studied the books and arguments of all the groups but was not satisfied by any of these.
I read the books of scholastics and wrote myself many books about ‘Ilme-kalam’. Though it fulfils its own needs but it was not enough for me. It was based on such prefaces which have been put forward by the opposite group and these scholastics have believed them blindly or it has been based on the Qur’an, Hadith and Ijma (science dealing with consensus of Muslim opinion) which are not effective for a person who does not believe anything except axiomatic truths.”
Before framing my opinion about the philosophers, I thought it important to study it first thoroughly. Though I was busy writing books and teachings, about three hundred students used to attend my lesson in Baghdad, still I spared sometime for it and studied Greek Philosophy in the course of two years. Then I continued to think over it for another year. I found that Philosophy consists of six kinds of knowledge viz., Mathematics, Logistics, Physics, Politics, Ethics, and Metaphysics. First five have nothing to do with religion neither in negation nor affirmation, nor negation of these important for affirmation of religion. In Physics some of their views confront religion but they are few; in this one should believe that physical laws are in the hands of Allah and that these laws are not independent. But those people, who see the intelligence and subtlety of these philosophers in the field of Physics, feel brow beaten and think that they will be similarly intelligent in other fields also, although this is not necessary that one who is expert in one field will be expert in another field as well.
Afterwards when they see their irreligious beliefs and non- belief, they also refute religion while following their footsteps.
On the other hand less knowledgeable ignorant friends of Islam take it as their obligatory religious duty to refute every theory and claim of philosophers blindly. They think doing so is a great service to Islam, so much so that they even reject their research in Physics. The harmful effect of this is that those people who understand the truth of these theories and research in Physics find their belief in Islam shaken and become doubtful about Islam. In short, the branch of philosophy that confronts religion is Metaphysics (Ilahiyat). These philosophers have always stumbled over it. In fact, the preconditions, which they had formulated in Logistics, they could not themselves stick to them in Metaphysics. That is why Metaphysics is surrounded by controversy. I found the views of these philosophers to be like darkness over darkness, if anybody would say such things about his dream, he will be labelled as having perverted taste. I wonder that even a mad person will not get satisfied over such ideas and how about of those who claim to be intellectuals with hair splitting subtlety.
Finally, I reached to the conclusion that philosophers cannot satisfy me and that intellect alone cannot encompass all the purposes and neither can solve all the problems.
Then remains the Carmathian sect, I got a chance to study this sect in detail when I was writing my book ‘Al-Mustazhari. I saw that their beliefs depend upon the teaching of Imam Ma’soom, but the very existence and truth of Imam Ma’soom itself needs a proof. Both of these things are extremely doubtful.
Now remained mystics only and I devoted myself fully towards it. I believe that Mysticism is both theoretical and practical. The theoretical part was easy for me, I went through Quwat ul-Quloob of Abu Talib Makki and the tracts of Harith al-Muhisibi, Junaid, Shibi, Ba Yazid al-Bustimi and other mystics, and whatever could be acquired through knowledge I acquired, but I learned that one cannot reach to truths through reading only but one can reach there through intuition after changing one’s practical state. The branches of knowledge, which were my wealth, whether of Shari’ah or intellectual, have given me certitude about the existence of Allah, Prophet-hood and resurrection, and this was not due to any proof but was as a result of reason and experience, the details of which are difficult to convey. This thing had become quite clear to me that salvation in Hereafter lies in adopting righteousness (Taqwa) and stopping the self (‘nafs’) from its passions and lusts. For this the relation of the heart with the world should break with the complete devotion towards Allah, attractions towards Hereafter and disinterest towards mundane world. But this was not possible without staying away from wealth and worldly honour and without running away from obstacles and mundane relations. When I thought over my condition, I learned that I am sunk in mundane relation from top to toe, my best deed was teaching (of religion), but on deep introspection I found that I was concentrating on those branches of knowledge, which are neither important nor full in Hereafter. I looked into my intention of teaching, I found that it was not completely for the pleasure of Allah, but it was also to achieve fame. When I had established the conviction that I was standing on the edge of the cave of destruction, I knew that if I did not try to reform myself then I would be in deep trouble.
For quite sometime I had intended to leave Baghdad, but was unable to decide, six months passed like that, sometimes mundane lusts attracted me and sometimes Iman (unflinching faith in the basic tenets of Islam) was reminding me that a few years of life are left behind, your departure from the world is near, a long journey is ahead and all these teachings are based on hypocrisy and imaginations. Sometimes baser self (‘nafs’) would say that if you leave all this, it will be difficult to get it again. In this way another six months passed till things got out of control, I could not say the things that I wanted to when people came to see me; I became so sad that even my digestion was effected. I could not swallow even a sip of water and consequently became very weak. Doctors gave up hope and said that something had affected my heart.
When I saw myself helpless in this situation, I turned towards Allah and invoked Him in that restless state. Its result was that it became easy for me to leave all the status and honour. I decided to go to Makkah and thought that I will go to Syria. I gave up my excuses to leave Baghdad. When Iraqi people came to know about it, they started criticising me, but I bade goodbye to Baghdad and went to Syria, there I stayed for two years. There I had no engagement except solitude and Mujahada (training of the self and purging it of the worldly desires, which corrupt the spirit). I started purifying my heart as I had learned from the books of mystics. I stayed in seclusion for a long time in Jama Masjid, of Damascus. From there I went to Masjid-e-Aqsa (Bayt-ul-Muqaddus). After seeing Hadhrat Ibrahim (in a dream), I developed the desire to go for Haj, then I went to perform Haj. From there I went to my hometown.
Imam Gazzali’s Conclusions:
In seclusion the spiritual epiphany or revelation which I experienced is difficult to convey but I can tell you that I learnt with certitude that only mystics are truly on the path of Allah. Their morality and their way is the straightest path.
Such bliss is, undoubtedly, beyond the reach of the intellectuals and scholars, who rely too much on intellect as the main tool of realising the truth. The mystics all-external and internal movements are directly derived from the lamp of prophet-hood and there is no light on the earth better than the light of prophet-hood, from which light can be obtained.
I learnt that Man is composed of body and QALB and that QALB is a spiritual entity, which is the instrument for understanding Allah. QALB does not mean fleshy heart that is present even in animals. As there is health and disease for the body, so is there soundness and disease for the QALB. Salvation is for those who will meet Allah with the sound QALB (Qalb-e-Saleem).”
The experiences and the consequent conclusions arrived at by Imam AI-Gazzali have been quoted at length because, this is an ideal example to understand the real course which the seeker of Truth should follow. He has superbly analysed all the sects and all the faculties of understanding the Truth and has been quite lucky that Allah has taken him out of fallacies and shown him the right path. He found that the Greek philosophers and scientists have stolen some facts from the teachings of the Prophets and then claimed to be the originators of these facts, that is why they miserably failed in collaborating their claims and in knowing the Truth.
Hadhrat Ali (RA):
He possessed extra-ordinary knowledge than most of the companions of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). Once he was asked by some people if he was told anything special by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), which others did not know? He said, “No, Rasulullah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) didn’t tell him anything special but that he has been blessed by extraordinary ‘Fahm’ (intuition), which Allah bestows upon His exceptional bondsmen.”
Haffiz lbne Qayyim:
‘Fahm’ (intuition) is a great gift of Allah to a man and that is a Nur (synonymous to light) which Allah puts in the QALB (heart) of man, which helps a man to understand those things which others do not understand even if the other person is equal to him in memory and intellectual power. The ‘Fahm’ is the title of ‘Siddiqiyat’ and a specific sign of ‘Wilayat-u-Nubuwwa’. In this there are different grades of Ulema so much so that sometimes thousand Ulema are counted equal to one Aalim. Look at the ‘Fahm’ of Hadhrat Ibne Abbas (RA) when Hadhrat Umar (RA) asked the Tafseer (interpretation) of Surah An-Nasr from him and other Suhaba, Hadhrat Ibne Abbas (RA) said that he understands that in this Surah there is message of departure of Rasulullah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) from the world which has been revealed in this Surah, that the time of his (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) departure from the world is near and Hadhrat Umar (RA) agreed with this interpretation. This meaning remained concealed from other Suhaba though Ibne Abbas (RA) was younger in age than others. As such there was no such indication in this Surah, if one considers the literal meaning only. If that intuition from Allah would not have come to him, he could have not understood this real meaning.” (Madaarij-u-Salikeen).
Proof of Intution from Hadith:
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:
“One who puts in action the knowledge which he obtains; Allahu Ta’ala teaches him that knowledge which he did not know”
It is this knowledge and understanding which one gets without one’s endeavour and effort that is called intuition. Rasulullah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) further said:
“One who worships Allah with sincerity for forty days, Allah Ta’ala opens up springs of knowledge and understanding in his QALB which then come to his tongue.”
Talbees-e-Iblees in Mystic Experience
Deceptive and misleading potential of pseudo-mystic experience:
Allah Ta’ala says in the Qur’an:
وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا () فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا ()
“By the soul, and the proportion and order given to it. And its inspiration, as to its wrong and its right.” (91:7-8)
Allah Ta’ala created man as a wonderful creature, a treasure house of wonderful capabilities. One of these wonderful things which was created in man was ‘NAFS’ (baser self). Allah Ta’ala says that He then made ‘NAFS’ proportionate and inspired in it instincts of both evil and good. Both these instincts are inherent properties of ‘NAFS’. That means ‘NAFS’ is inherently capable of both things viz., righteousness as well as evil. Here in this verse Fajoor (wrong) was mentioned first and then Taqwa (righteousness), from this sequence it has been inferred that if ‘NAFS’ is left like that, without reforming it, then its evil properties will predominate, same is admitted by Hadhrat Yusuf (AS) when he said, as mentioned in the Qur’an:
وَمَا أُبَرِّئُ نَفْسِي إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لَأَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ إِلَّا مَا رَحِمَ رَبِّي إِنَّ رَبِّي غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
“Yet I don’t absolve myself (of blame): the (human) soul certainly incites evil, unless my Lord do bestow His mercy but surely my Lord is oft-Forgiving, most Merciful.” (12:53)
In this verse, Hadhrat Yusuf (AS) admits that the basic property of ‘nafs’ is to incite evil. The point to be stressed here is that these are the words of a Prophet and he also says that it is only by the Mercy of Allah that the evils of ‘NAFS’ (self) can be avoided. Allah has protected Prophets from evil; they could not commit a sin as Allah had bestowed upon them the intense mercy so that their ‘nafs’ could not incite evil. But the fact remains that Hadhrat Yusuf (AS) admits that the basic property of ‘nafs’ is to incite evil. In the Aayat quoted first, it is stated that evil has been ingrained first in ‘nafs’.
Allah Ta’ala further says:
“And shown him two highways” (90:10)
Here also Allah Ta’ala says that both potentials have been inspired in man.
How Does ‘Lateefa Nafs’ Mislead:
Allah Ta’ala has given a special function to everything in this world, for example, Cyanide has the property of killing a person, if anybody takes it, he will die, in the same way oxygen helps in burning and carbon dioxide extinguishes fire. A mango tree always gives us mangoes and never an apple and an apple tree always gives apple and not mangoes. Though; Allah Ta’ala has the power and capability of growing mangoes from apple tree and apple from mango tree but it is the Sunnah (tradition) of Allah Ta’ala that He does not change these properties of things. Believing in Allah is not a pre-condition for such things, even if a nonbeliever of Allah sows the seeds of a mango tree, he will also get the mango tree and even if a Muslim takes cyanide, he will most likely die. The function Allah has assigned for a certain thing, that thing will normally execute that function only.
Having understood that, one can similarly understand that ‘nafs’ also has certain functions and it will execute them. We have seen that if ‘nafs’ is left alone, the evil will predominate, as this is the basic property of ‘nafs’.
Now when somebody goes to some self-made mystic, or some Yogi or a Christian priest or a Jew Rabi, these people advise him some kind of exercises that help in lightening of the ‘nafs’. They advise them to observe a fast for a long time or to remain in solitude and do some sort of Yoga practice or concentrate on a particular point for a considerable time. All these things help in making ‘nafs’ light. After sometime, because of these exercises, ‘nafs’ manifests some of its properties that were hidden in it. For this to happen faith in Allah and His messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is not a precondition. Anybody, irrespective of any religion can do it and reach this state of ‘nafs’. When these people experience some unusual manifestations of ‘nafs’, they get deceived and feel that they have found the Reality. With the result they remain attached to their Guru (a mentor) for rest of their lives, thinking themselves as extra-ordinary people. In this way they never come out of their compound ignorance (Jahal-e-Murakkab).
It is human nature that a person cannot believe something without any reason, there has to be some basis for his beliefs.
So, how do these people remain attached to these ignorant mystics (Jahil Sufis) or yogis, Christian priests or Rabbis? The reason is the same that before going to them they were not seeing anything and after they went to them, did some exercises, started seeing unusual manifestations of ‘nafs’, they become convinced that they have seen God and some people even believe that they have become God (Na-uooz billah) (we seek refuge in Allah).
How Astrologers Got Deceived:
Astrologers get deceived in the same way. Actually what happens when Allah Ta’ala wishes something, He announces it to the Angels. This commandment descends through the angels from Arsh (the Empyrean) to the 7th heaven, then to the 6th and so on till it reaches the first heaven. From here the angels descend with this commandment and produce the desired changes in the celestial bodies and the stars. Then these angels descend to the earth and get that command executed. As already mentioned Allah Ta’ala has fixed up the functions of things, and He does not change them. The astrologers, who study the stars, see with their experience, that a particular event always takes place on the earth following a particular movement or change of the stars. Since they cannot see beyond the stars, they believe that stars are effective in themselves and the stars only have caused this event and they believe that the stars are the gods (Inna- Lillahi-Wa-Inna-lllahi-Rajioon). The reality is that these stars are under the control of Allah Ta’ala and it is He who produces the changes in them as He wishes. Since these changes of the stars are most of the times linked with a particular event on the earth, so they get misled, thinking that stars are doing all this.
In the same way one can imagine how these pseudo mystics get deceived. As the astrologer’s view stops at the stars and he thinks that he has touched the top, so does the pseudo mystic’s view stops at the ‘nafs’ and he thinks that he has realized the Truth. As the astrologer does not appreciate that there are so many higher and higher, finer and finer states above the stars because they are invisible to him, so does the pseudo mystic not appreciate that there are much higher and finer faculties than ‘nafs’ in man, which remain hidden from him.
Role of Satan (Iblees) in Mystic Experience:
Iblees is the perpetual enemy of man. Ever since man has been created, Iblees follows him. Allah Ta’ala has also given special characteristics to Iblees. It is stated in the Hadith (tradition) that Iblees runs in the blood of man and also sits on his heart. Iblees is capable of doing many extraordinary things which ignorant people think divine, hence get deceived. In any mystic experience, there remains always the probability that Iblees might have put a deceptive and misleading interpretation in the heart of that person who is going through this experience, except the prophets. It is this thing that is called ‘Talbees-e-Iblees’. Only Prophets have been protected from it and no other person other than prophets is safe from such Talbees of Iblees.
There is a famous incident known about the Hadhrat Shaikh Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani (RA). He was a great Wali (saint) of Muslim Ummah. His mystic experiences were of par excellence. It is said that once, while he was walking he saw a light (Nur) between the heavens and the earth. From this Nur, a voice was heard, which said,” O! Abdul Qadir, your Salah (prayer) has been waived off for you’. Since Hadhrat Shaikh (RA) was a great scholar and he knew that Iblees could do such things, he relied upon the Prophetic knowledge, which is safe from the effects of Iblees and NAFS. Prophetic knowledge states that Salah is compulsory for every adult, sane and conscious person. It cannot be considered waived off in any circumstances. So Hadhrat Shaikh (RA) rejected the exhortation of lblees without any hesitation.
Spiritual Faculties of Acquiring Mystic Experience
We have seen earlier the limitations of sensual and intellectual faculties in acquiring knowledge. The sensual faculty and intellect or reasoning faculty have their own limitations. Then we have seen the immense potential of mystic experience in understanding the Reality. Mystic experience uses spiritual faculties for acquiring knowledge viz., QALB, ROOH etc.
QALB as the Spiritual Faculty of Acquiring Mystic Experience:
This topic is discussed in detail in the author’s another book “Instrument for Understanding the Qur’an”. Here a brief synopsis is given.
What is QALB?
QALB is not synonymous with human heart, which consists of muscular, and connective tissues filled with some venous and arterial blood that we see in the left side of the chest, but as for the definition given in Jalalain (an authentic commentary of the Holy Qur’an), QALB is an instrument, which has been given the capability of perceiving the Divine Attributes.
القلب وهو مشرق اللطيفة الإنسانية و يطلق على نفس اللطيفة النورانية الربانية العالمة التي هي مهبطة الأنوار إلهية الصمدانية وبها يكون الإنسان إنساناً و بها يستعد الكتاب الأوامر و اجتناب الزواجر و هي خلاصة تولدت من الروح الروحاني و يعبر عنها الحكيم بالنفس الناطقة و لكونها هدف سهام القهر و الطف و المظهر الجمال و منشأ البسط و القبض و مبدأ المحو و الصحو و منبع الأخلاق المرضية و الأحوال الردية و كثير من الناس ذهب إلا أن تلك مضغة هي محل علم و قيل أنه في الدماغ و قيل أنه مشترك بينهما و بني ذالك على إثبات الهواس الباطنية و الكلام فيها مشهور و من راجع وجدانه إدراك أن بين الدماغ و القلب رابطة معنوية و مراجعة سرية لا ينكرها من كان له قلب أو ألقى السمع و هو شهيد
Allah Ta’ala says in the Qur’an:
إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَذِكْرَى لِمَنْ كَانَ لَهُ قَلْبٌ أَوْ أَلْقَى السَّمْعَ وَهُوَ شَهِيدٌ
“Verily in this is a message for any that has a heart and understanding or who gives ear and is a witness”
And He further says:
وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَحُولُ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَأَنَّهُ إِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ
“And know that Allah cometh in between a man and his heart” (8:24)
فَمَنْ يُرِدِ اللَّهُ أَنْ يَهْدِيَهُ يَشْرَحْ صَدْرَهُ لِلْإِسْلَامِ
“Those whom Allah willeth to guide – He openeth their breast to Islam” (6:125)
This opening up of breast, which is seat of QALB, has been linked with understanding of guidance from Allah.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has said:
“My eyes sleep, my heart does not”
He further said:
إن في الجسد لمضغة إذا صلحت صلح الجسد كله و إذا فسدت الجسد كله ألا وهى القلب
“Indeed there is a piece of flesh in human body if it stays alright, the body stays alright and if it goes astray, the body goes astray listen! That is QALB.”
إنه ليغا على قلبي و إني لأستغفر الله في كل يوم مائة مرة
“Indeed, a ghain (a sort of a veil) is put in my heart and indeed I seek Istigafar (forgiveness) from Allah hundred times every day”.
It is because of this Istigfar (forgiveness) that veil was being lifted and the QALB-E-MUBARAK of Rasulullah (Salailahu Alaihi Wasallam) continued to receive higher and higher states of the Divine knowledge.
Abu-Al-Hasan Bin Muhammad Asfahani (RA) used to say:
من وقت ادم إلى قيام الساعة الناس يقولون القلب القلب و أنا أحب أن أرى رجلا يصف إلى الشق القلب أو كيف القلب فلا أرى
From the time of Adam (AS) upto the Day of Judgement (Qiyamah), people would continue to say-QALB, QALB. I would like to find a person who could tell me what QALB is but, I cannot find such a person. People call QALB a piece of flesh but that is present in children as well as in insane people. Then what is QALB? If I call “intellect” as QALB that is not right. If I call “ROOH” as QALB that is also not right. If I call “knowledge” as QALB that is also not QALB. All the constituents of Reality are related to QALB but QALB is something other than these.
Shah Wali-ullah Muhaddis Dehlvi (RA) says,
“QALB is that thing by which one loves and hates.”
for Shah Sahib QALB is the seat of love and hatred.
Hadhrat Haji lmdad-Ullah Muhajir Makki (RA), a great spiritual saint of the recent past as well as Shaikh of great scholars like Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (RA), Maulana Rashid Ahmed Gangohi (RA) and Maulana Qasim Nanotvi (RA) (Founder of Darul Uloom Deoband) used to say that he has been bestowed upon by Allah some special blessings and these include knowledge about QALB as well, that means Allah had given him such knowledge by which he could understand the Reality of QALB and its attributes.
ROOH as the Second Spiritual Faculty for Acquiring Knowledge About Reality:
Human soul (ROOH) is another faculty with tremendous potential of knowing the Reality.
Allah Ta’ala says:
قُلِ الرُّوحُ مِنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّي
“Say, the spirit is of the command of my Lord.”
This ROOH is very fine in nature. This fine nature helps it to penetrate deeply into the depths of reality that is not possible for things such as the eyes or other senses.
Rasulullah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:
الأرواح جنود مجندة فما تعارف منها ائتلف وما تناكر منها أختلف
“(Human) souls (ROOH) are a (groups of) collected souls, those who came to know one another, loved one another (in the world) and those who did not know one another, differed (in the world).”
From this Hadith the capability of the souls of recognising each other is clearly evident.
Allahu Ta’ala says in the Qur’an:
وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِنْ بَنِي آدَمَ مِنْ ظُهُورِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَأَشْهَدَهُمْ عَلَى أَنْفُسِهِمْ ألَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ قَالُوا بَلَى شَهِدْنَا أَنْ تَقُولُوا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَذَا غَافِلِينَ () أَوْ تَقُولُوا إِنَّمَا أَشْرَكَ آبَاؤُنَا مِنْ قَبْلُ وَكُنَّا ذُرِّيَّةً مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ أَفَتُهْلِكُنَا بِمَا فَعَلَ الْمُبْطِلُونَ () وَكَذَلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ الْآيَاتِ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ ()
“When thy Lord drew forth from the children of Adam from their loins, their descendants and made them testify concerning themselves (saying) Am I not your Lord (Who cherishes and sustains you)? They said: Yea! we do testify! (This,) lest ye should say on the Day of Judgement: of this we were never mindful” (7:172-174)
This covenant was made before man appeared on this earth. Souls of whole mankind acknowledged the supreme authority of Allah and recognised Him as their only Cherisher and Sustainer. This acknowledgement is inherent in ROOH-E-INSAANI (Soul of man). This faculty remains latent in man, when he is born. At birth he has no knowledge. As he grows, the first faculty of acquiring knowledge that develops in man is sensual, but the intellectual faculty is still in infancy. After that his intellectual faculty goes on developing, the progress of which depends upon so many other co-factors.
The spiritual faculties of QALB, ROOH and others do not develop until they find the congenial atmosphere for growth. The majority of the people in the world do not try to provide the congenial atmosphere to QALB and ROOH where they could grow and bear the fruit, hence these people fail to understand and recognise the Reality. There are some people who deny these faculties, but one should remember that if someone does not know a thing that does not mean, that thing does not exist. It is same as a blind man denying the presence of the moon.
There are other higher spiritual faculties in man, other than QALB and ROOH as well but they are so comprehensive that their description is beyond the scope of this booklet.
We have seen the limitations of sensual and intellectual faculties and have also seen that mystic experience is a faculty of immense potential by which knowledge about Reality can be acquired upto the unimaginable levels. We have also seen that mystic experience can get mixed with deception and erroneous interpretations. Hence it cannot be relied upon as the ultimate truth. So, finally we are left with Prophetic faculty of acquiring knowledge. This is the highest faculty and the safest where there is absolutely no chance of any deception, erroneous interpretations or Talbees-e-Iblees (deception caused by Satan).
Rasulullah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:
“When a man is born, an Angel and a Satan are posted on his QALB’’’. The Angel guides him to righteousness and to Satan incites him to evil deeds”.
Satan cannot affect the Prophets; the receptors responsive to satanic effects were removed from their Qalbs (Hearts). Prophets are immune to the effects of Satan. The Satans posted on their hearts were also made harmless so that they could not incite evil in them.
Incident of SHAQQ-I-SADR:
Shadad Bin Aous quotes Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) as saying:
“One day I was in the valley of Bani Lais Bin Bakr with my foster brothers, suddenly I saw three persons. One of them was carrying a large golden tray filled with ice. In another narration, it is narrated that one was carrying a spouted silver jug and the other was carrying a pot of green emerald filled with ice. Then they caught me from amongst my companions, my all companions ran away towards their homes. Then one of these three made me to lie down on the ground very gently, other person incised my chest from the joints of chest up to the umbilicus but I did not feel any pain. Then he brought out the vessels, nerves (could be either of them) of my abdomen and washed them quite nicely with this ice and then placed them back in their original positions. The other person told him to move away and then he put his hand in my chest and brought out my heart, I was seeing it. He incised it and, brought out a black clot and said, “It is the part of the Satan”, and then they filled it (heart) with something, which they had got with them. Then he pointed towards his left and right as if he was asking for something, then they gave him a ring of Nur, the light which was dazzling, then they put a seal on my heart and my heart got enlightened, filled with Nur and that Nur was of Nubuwawah (Prophet-hood), Hikmah (Wisdom). Then he put back the heart at its place. I was feeling the coolness and joy of this seal for a long time. Then they moved their hands from the umbilicus up to the chest and that opening (incision) got closed. They lifted me gently and embraced me and kissed me between my two eyes. They told me, “O Friend of Allah, Don’t ask anything, if you would know as to what betterment is for you, then you would become very happy. They left me and flew towards the heavens and I was watching them”.
Ulema say that this washing of QALB was not peculiar about Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) only but was common to all the prophets. In them that part which was belonging to Satan, was removed too. (Madaarij-e-Nubuwwah)
This incident of Shaqq-e-Sadr (opening of breast) was repeated four time to Rasulullah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) viz:
It is this quality of the prophets which immunizes them against evil. None amongst mankind, other than the prophets, can claim this perfection. Prophets were born as human beings only. They had all the characteristics of human beings. As Allah created prophets for a special purpose, so special arrangements were made for them so that they could serve the purpose for which they were created. One of them was the same as mentioned in the Hadith of Shaqq-e-Sadr i.e., the receptors in their hearts responsive to Satan, were removed from them so that their mystic experience could perceive only the Truth without any overshadowing, deception or interference from Satan. This important point should be borne in mind that whatever the experience prophets convey to mankind is nothing but the Absolute Truth.
Allah Ta’ala is infinite, His Essence and His Attributes are infinite. His Greatness and His Vastness is unimaginable. Allah Ta’ala wished to give expression to His Attributes, for this purpose, He created the universe. He created man for this job. Here it should be remembered that this is the real job of a man in this world, that is, to know Allah Ta’ala and His Attributes. As man was created basically for knowing Allah, so he was equipped with the faculties of acquiring knowledge like sensual, intellectual and spiritual.
But at the same time the very purpose of man’s creation demanded that man should have opposite faculties as well like self (NAFS), so that he would be distinct from the Angels, who can do only good, and Satan, which can do only; evil. Man was created as a mixture of opposites; both good and bad faculties were mixed in him. This created a problem for man. His sensual, intellectual and spiritual faculties were becoming overshadowed by the lust of self (NAFS) and cunningness of Satan. In addition to this one important characteristic of self (NAFS) is negligence and this is so dominant that man has to strive very hard to overcome this negligence what is called MUJAHADAH in the terminology of mystics. (Mujahaddah – Endeavour for self purification. In the Qur’an three states of self are explained: a) Nafs Ammarrah: Self dominated by vice, greed in particular. b) Nafs Lawamah: Penitent self. c) Nafs Mutmainnah: contended self, free from evil tendencies.)
This was one reason that Merciful Allah showed Mercy upon the mankind by sending Prophets in whom both these evil forces of man viz, ‘nafs’ and Satan were taken care of. Prophets were bestowed with NAFS-MUTMAINNA rather than NAFS-AMMARA. NAFS-MUTMAINNA is that NAFS, which does not incite evil but righteousness only. Their Satan was also deprived of the evil properties.
The second reason for sending the Prophets was that there was a great discrepancy between the limited faculties of man and the infinite Attributes of Allah, so the need arose for intermediaries between man and these Eternal Attributes. The intermediaries resembled on the one hand man, and on the other with the Divine Attributes. This job could not be assigned to the angels as they did not resemble man. So Allah selected only some people from amongst mankind for this job, Allah gave them special capabilities which were necessary for the divine communication. Their hearts were congenial with Mala-u-Aala – a higher body of Angels. It is in association with these Angels that the Prophets could venture such great tasks and accomplished them in a very short time inspite of the fact that they apparently seemed to be alone with the whole world against them. Later on, Allah Ta’ala used to mould the hearts of the people, and used to safeguard these prophets, through angels. We conclude that prophets could only perceive the Truth without any misinterpretation, deception and also in its totality. Therefore there is only one way of salvation, only one way of knowing the truth that is through the prophets of Allah, who receive divine revelation that is called WAHY.
Why the Qur’an Only?
There is no doubt that Hadhrat Muhammad (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was a Prophet. Even the opponents of Islam have no alternative but to accept his Prophet-hood. Modern scientists, Embryologists and Zoologists who are free from religious prejudice admit that the Qur’an is supernatural revelation. An illiterate man like Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), born in a conservative and ignorant society, could never come up with such perfect knowledge about realities as is contained in the Qur’an.
One of the essential qualities of Prophet-hood is truth. A prophet cannot tell a lie. Allah says in the Qur’an that Muhammad (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is the last Prophet, prophet hood ended with him. There will be no prophet now onwards up to the Day of Judgement (Qiyamah), so we have to believe him as the last prophet. We believe in Hadhrat Isa (AS) Jesus Christ and Hadhrat Musa (AS) (Moses) as Prophets. They did not say that they were last prophets, so believing in Muhammad (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) does not mean denying prophet-hood of any other prophet. On the other hand the Qur’an has endorsed their Prophet-hood as well.
Secondly, only the Qur’an, the last testament, exists in its original form as Allah Himself has guaranteed its safety whereas we don’t have the Bible and the Tourah (Pentateuch) in their original forms present in the world. We have no other divine book available these days in the world in original form, of course except the Qur’an.
I hope that I have proved beyond any doubt my point that to understand Reality, prophet hood is essential and, as Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is the last Prophet and the Qur’an, last revelation from Allah, so to understand Reality, only one door is open and that is the Qur’an.
All Praises for Allah The Almighty.
The most commonly used name of the last Divine book revealed by Allah on Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is Al-Qur’an. Allah Ta’ala has used this name at least sixty one times in Qur’an.
Meaning of Al-Qur’an:
The majority of Ulema believe that the word Al-Qur’an is derived from QARA, YAQRA’U, which means to collect, then this word was commonly used for reading as in written statements the letters and the words are collected. Others say that Al-Qur’an is named so because it collects the fruits of all the earlier Divine Books while others say that it collects all the knowledge.
Other names of Al-Qur’an:
Alama Abu-al-Ma’ali has counted fifty five names of Al-Qur’an while some others have counted more than ninety. These people have in fact counted the attributes of Al-Qur’an as its names e.g. Karim, Hakim etc.
Actually Al-Qur’an has five names viz, Al- Qur’an, Al-Furqan, Az-Zikr, Al-Kitab, Al-Tanzeel. (Uloom-Ul-Qur’an)
The Qur’an is named Al-Furqan as it differentiates between Truth and Falsehood. Allah Ta’ala says:
تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي نَزَّلَ الْفُرْقَانَ عَلَى عَبْدِهِ لِيَكُونَ لِلْعَالَمِينَ نَذِيرًا
“Blessed is He, Who sent down the Criterion to His servant, that it may be an admonition to all creatures.”(25:1)
It is named Az-Zikr, as it is full of advices and the incidents of past which in turn make a sane person wiser. Allah Ta’ala says:
إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ
“We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption).” (15:9)
It is named so, as it collects past incidents and other information excellently. Allah Ta’ala says:
طسم () تِلْكَ آيَاتُ الْكِتَابِ الْمُبِينِ
“Ta. Sin. Mim. These are verses of the Book that makes (things) clear.”(26:1-2)
It is named so, as it is a revealed book from Allah Ta’ala. He says:
وَإِنَّهُ لَتَنْزِيلُ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
“Verily this is a Revelation from the lord of the worlds.”(26:192)
WAHY (Divine Revelation):
The need for Divine Guidance is discussed in detail in part-1
Meaning of WAHY:
This word “WAHY” in Arabic has many literal meanings viz., to write, to send, what is to be sent, to inculcate, to subjugate, to put some good or bad word in heart, that word which is put in heart, order and intuition or inspiration etc.
Al-Qur’an itself uses this word “WAHY” in many such meanings. Allah says in the Qur’an:
فَخَرَجَ عَلَى قَوْمِهِ مِنَ الْمِحْرَابِ فَأَوْحَى إِلَيْهِمْ أَنْ سَبِّحُوا بُكْرَةً وَعَشِيًّا
“So Zakariya came out to his people from his chamber: He told them by signs to celebrate Allah’s praises in the morning And in the evening”(19:11)
Here the word is used:
وَأَوْحَى رَبُّكَ إِلَى النَّحْلِ أَنِ اتَّخِذِي مِنَ الْجِبَالِ بُيُوتًا وَمِنَ الشَّجَرِ وَمِمَّا يَعْرِشُونَ
“And thy Lord taught the Bee to build its cells in hills”. (16:68)
وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَى أُمِّ مُوسَى أَنْ أَرْضِعِيهِ
“So, We sent this inspiration to the mother of Moses: “Suckle (thy child).” (28:7)
These last two verses show that Al-Qur’an has not used this word “WAHY” exclusively for Prophets only but has also used for the creatures like bee and non-prophets like mother of Hadhrat Musa (AS).
Technical meaning of WAHY in Shari’ah:
“Words of Allah revealed to a prophet from His prophets.” (Uloom ul-Qur’an, Umdat-ul-Qari)
Allah Ta’ala first created this universe and then created the man with the faculties of senses and the intelligence, yet it was impossible for the man to know the Absolute infinite Reality with the help of these limited faculties, so Allah Ta’ala came to man’s rescue by sending His Guidance in the form of “WAHY” through prophets.
To understand the exact nature of “WAHY” is just impossible as it was exclusively experienced by prophets of Allah alone. Nobody else can imagine the exact nature of “WAHY”.
Kinds of WAHY:
One classification is on the basis of recitation viz.,
1. Wahy-Matloo: That WAHY from Allah which is recited regularly. This term is used for Al-Qur’an i.e., WAHY-Matloo is that in which both words and meaning are from Allah.
2. WAHY GAIR-MATLOO: That WAHY from Allah to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) which is not in Al-Qur’an and is not recited like Al-Qur’an. In this the meaning is from Allah and words are from Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).
Other classification is based on the way of receiving ‘WAHY’ by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).
1. Direct speech from Allah:
In this type of ‘WAHY’ Allah Ta’ala speaks directly to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), there is no intermediary like Angels etc. This speech of Allah is not like human speech. This is very difficult for us to understand its real nature. This is considered to be the best form of the WAHY. This type of speech of Allah was heard by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) during his ascent to the heavens, what is called as Me’raj, as is mentioned in the Qur’an:
فَأَوْحَى إِلَى عَبْدِهِ مَا أَوْحَى
“So did (Allah) convey the inspiration to His servant (conveyed) what He (meant) to convey.” (53:10)
Allah Ta’ala also talked to Hadhrat Musa (AS) directly.
وَكَلَّمَ اللَّهُ مُوسَى تَكْلِيمًا
“And to Moses Allah spoke direct.”(4:164)
2. WAHY’ through Angels:
In this type of WAHY the revelation is sent to a Prophet through an angel. Either the Prophet listens only the voice of the angel, or angel comes in the shape of human being as Hadhrat Jibra’eel (AS) used to come in the guise of Hadhrat Dhahya Kalbi (RA), a handsome companion of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), or rarely the angel would come in his real form to the prophet.
3. WAHY through inspiration or dreams:
In this type of WAHY Allah Ta’ala inspires directly in the heart of prophet something which the prophet realises that it is hundred percent WAHY. This can happen while awake or in dream. The dream of a prophet is also a WAHY as Al-Qur’an mentions about the dreams of Hadhrat Yousuf (AS) and Hadhrat Ibrahim (AS):
إِذْ قَالَ يُوسُفُ لِأَبِيهِ يَا أَبَتِ إِنِّي رَأَيْتُ أَحَدَ عَشَرَ كَوْكَبًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ رَأَيْتُهُمْ لِي سَاجِدِينَ
“Behold, Joseph said: To his father: “O my father! I did see eleven stars and the sun and the moon: I saw them prostrate themselves to me.” (12:4)
Methods of ‘WAHY’ on Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)
Hadhrat Aayesha (RA) narrates that one day a Sahabi, Hadhrat Haarith bin Hisham (RA) asked Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), how WAHY comes to him, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) replied: “Sometimes it comes like ringing of a bell and this type of WAHYis toughest for me, and when this process ends, I remember whatever has been said. And sometime an angel comes to me in the form of a man.”(Sahih Bukhari)
Salsalat-ul-Jaras (صلصلة الجرس ) :
It literally means the ringing of a bell. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) compared this with the ringing of a bell. It was not because of the fact that it exactly resembled the ringing of bell, then, why was this comparison made? Great Ulema have given different explanations viz.,
i) To know the exact nature of ‘WAHY’ is impossible for any body, its actual nature was only experienced by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). There were no words to explain its exact nature, that is why Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) explained it with most appropriate words from the sensual world and he (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) found it appropriate to compare it with the ringing of a bell.
ii) Some Ulema believe that it was the sound of the wings of the angels that produced the sound like that of a ringing bell. (Uloom -Ul-Qur’an)
iii) Imam-ul-Asr Hadhrat Alama Anwar Shah Kashmiri (RA) while quoting Ibne Arabi (RA) says that it was compared to the ringing of a bell, not because its sound resembled with it, but because it resembled the ringing bell in continuity and secondly as it is difficult to localise the direction of the sound of a ringing bell, so was it difficult to localise the direction of ‘WAHY’. Since, it is the word of Allah, Who has no single direction, so is His word without any particular direction. (Faizul Bari)
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said that this type of WAHY was toughest for him and it was relatively easy for him when the angel used to come with ‘WAHY’ in the form of a man. Hadhrat Aayesha (RA) narrates: “I have witnessed descent of WAHY on Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) during very cold days of winter, after the completion of WAHY I used to see lot of sweating on the blessed forehead of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).” (Sahih Bukhari)
In other tradition it is mentioned that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to turn pale, ashen grey in colour during descent of WAHY.
It is reported that once Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), placed his blessed head on the thigh of Hadhrat Zayd bin Thaabit (RA) and descent of ‘WAHY’ started during that very time, Hadhrat Zayd (RA) felt so much weight on his thigh that he thought it was going to crack.
Hadhrat Umar (RA) says that when ‘WAHY” used to come to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), there used to be sounds like those of buzzing of bees around his blessed face. This should not be confused with the earlier Hadith where ‘WAHY’ has been compared with ringing of a bell, later (ringing of a bell) was experienced by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and former i.e., buzzing of bees was experienced by the listeners around, so no confusion.
Arrival of Angel in Human Appearance:
In the Hadith of Hadhrat Aayseha (RA) mentioned above, the second form of ‘WAHY’ that has been mentioned is coming of an Angel in the form of a human being. Hadhrat Jibreaal (AS) used to come usually in the guise of Hadhrat Dhahya Kalbi (RA), most handsome amongst the companions of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). In the famous Hadith of Hadhrat Umar (RA), Hadhrat Jibrael (AS) came in the form of a stranger whom no Sahabi knew. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) says that it was the easiest form of ‘WAHY’ for him.
Arrival of Angel in his Actual Form:
It is reported that Hadhrat Jibrael (AS) came in his actual form only three times with the WAHY to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). He has six hundred wings and his one wing is enough to spread between whole earth and the heavens.
Dreams of prophets are also WAHY. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to receive this form of WAHY even before Prophet-hood. Hadhrat Aayesha (RA) says: “WAHY got started to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) in the form of dreams, whatever he used to see in dream, would come true next day like broad day light.”
Direct Speech from Allah:
This type of direct speech from Allah was heard by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) during his ascent (Me’raj) to the heavens. In other tradition, it is mentioned that Allah Ta’ala spoke to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) once in a dream also.
Inspiration from Angel into the QALB:
In one tradition it is reported that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:
“Jibra’eel (AS) once inspired (something) in my QALB”.
In this form of WAHY, the angel does not come in front but just puts some word in QALB without being seen. This is a form of intuition or ‘Ilham’. Intuition or ‘Ilham’ of prophets is 100 percent WAHY as compared to intuition or ‘Ilham’ of other pious people which always has a possibility of falsehood or misinterpretation. It is for this reason that to follow ‘Ilham’ of prophets is obligatory while as to follow ‘Ilham’ of others is not.
Al-Qur’an is the word of Allah and is not a creation or Makhlooq but it is an Attribute of Allah, the Creator. Therefore, it was always with Allah like his other Attributes. Allah Ta’ala says:
فِي لَوْحٍ مَحْفُوظٍ
“Nay! This is a glorious Qur’an, (inscribed) in Al-Lauhi-i-Mahfooz (the preserved Tablet).” (85:22)
That means before the creation of the universe, Al-Qur’an was there in Lauh-i-Mahfooz, the preserved or guarded tablet. From here Al-Qur’an was sent down to Aasmaan-e-Duniya (Lowest Heaven) to Bait-ul-Ma’moor, this is called first descent or Nuzool.
First Descent or Nuzool:
Whole of Al-Qur’an was sent down in total at one instance of time from Lauh-i-Mahfooz to Bait-ul-Ma’moor in Aasmaane Duniya. This is called first Nuzool and this type of sending down of whole of the Qur’an at one instant of time is called ‘Inzaal’. The Qur’an has used two words for its Nuzool or descent viz.,
i. Inzaal: This means sending down whole of it at one instant of time only.
ii. Tanzeel: This means sending down gradually in piece-meal over a period of time? Allah Ta’ala says:
وَآتَيْنَاهُمْ مِنَ الْآيَاتِ مَا فِيهِ بَلَاءٌ مُبِينٌ
“We sent it down during a blessed night: For We (ever) wish to warn (against Evil).” (44:3)
This verse is about the first Nuzool. There is consensus amongst the Ulema that this first descent was in Lailat-ul-Qadr (Night of Prayer) in the month of Ramadhan. There are different versions as to which day of Ramadhan it was, as the day has not been specified. Generally it is believed that it was the night of 27th of Ramadhan.
Reasons for First Nuzool
Alama Zarqani says that this Nuzool of Al-Qur’an from Lawh-i-Mahfooz to Bait-ul-Ma’moor was done to convey the message that the Al-Qur’an was a well protected Book as it was not only revealed on the blessed Qalb of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) but was also preserved in Lawh-i-Mahfooz. (Manahil-ul-Irfan, Uloom-ul-Qur’an)
From BAIT-UL-MA’MOOR the Qur’an was sent down to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) in piece meal over a period of twenty three years, This type of descent is called TANZEEL.
وَقُرْآنًا فَرَقْنَاهُ لِتَقْرَأَهُ عَلَى النَّاسِ عَلَى مُكْثٍ وَنَزَّلْنَاهُ تَنْزِيلًا
“(It is) a Qur’an which We have divided (into parts from time to time), in order that thou mightest recite it to men at intervals: We have revealed it by stages.” (17:106)
This second type of Nuzool or Tanzeel has also started in the month of Ramadhan, when the age of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was forty years. (Al-Itqaan)
One reason for this step wise descent was given in above mentioned verse and other reason is also given by the Qur’an itself, viz.,
وَلَا يَأْتُونَكَ بِمَثَلٍ إِلَّا جِئْنَاكَ بِالْحَقِّ وَأَحْسَنَ تَفْسِيرًا () الَّذِينَ يُحْشَرُونَ عَلَى وُجُوهِهِمْ إِلَى جَهَنَّمَ أُولَئِكَ شَرٌّ مَكَانًا وَأَضَلُّ سَبِيلًا()
“Those who reject faith say: “Why is not the Qur’an revealed to him all at once?” Thus (is it revealed), that We may strengthen thy heart thereby, and We have rehearsed it to thee in slow, well arranged stages, gradually.
And no question do they bring to thee but We reveal to thee the truth and the best explanation (thereof)”. (25:32-33)
First verse of the Qur’an:
There is consensus amongst the Ulema that the initial verses of the Surah Alaq are the first verses of Al-Qur’an which were revealed to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). There is an authentic tradition in almost in all the authentic books of Hadith on the authority of Hadhrat Aayesha (RA).
Aisha (RA) (the mother of the faithful believers) narrated:
“The commencement of the Divine Inspiration to Allah’s Apostle was in the form of good dreams which came true like bright daylight, and then the love of seclusion was bestowed upon him. He used to go in seclusion in the cave of Hira where he used to worship (Allah alone) continuously for many days before his desire to see his family. He used to take with him the journey food for the stay and then come back to Khadija (his wife) to take his food likewise again till suddenly the Truth suddenly the Truth descended upon him while he was in the cave of Hira. The angel came to him and asked him to read. The Prophet replied, “I do not know how to read.”
The Prophet added, “The angel caught me (forcefully) and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, ‘I do not know how to read.’ Thereupon he caught me again and pressed me a second time till I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read but again I replied, ‘I do not know how to read (or what shall I read)?’ Thereupon he caught me for the third time and pressed me, and then released me and said, ‘Read in the name of your Lord, who has created (all that exists), has created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous.” (96:1-3) Then Allah’s Apostle returned with the Inspiration and with his heart beating severely. Then he went to Khadija bint Khuwailid (his wife) and said, “Cover me! Cover me!” They covered him till his fear was over and after that he told her everything that had happened and said, “I fear that something may happen to me”. Khadija replied, “Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your kith and kin, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously and assist the deserving calamity-afflicted ones.”
Khadija then accompanied him to her cousin Waraqa bin Naufal bin Asad bin ‘Abdul ‘Uzza, who, during the Pre-Islamic Period became a Christian and used to write in Hebrew alphabet. He would write from the Gospel in Hebrew as much as Allah wished him to write. He was an old man and had lost his eyesight. Khadija said to Waraqa, “Listen to the story of your nephew, O my cousin!” Waraqa asked, “O my nephew! What have you seen?” Allah’s Apostle described whatever he had seen. Waraqa said, “This is the same one (angel Gabriel) who keeps the secrets, whom Allah had sent to Moses. I wish I were young and could live up to the time when your people would turn you out.” Allah’s Apostle asked, “Will they drive me out?” Waraqa replied in the affirmative and said, “Anyone who came with something similar to what you have brought say was treated with hostility; and if I remain alive till the day when you will be turned out then I would support you strongly.” But after a few days Waraqa died and the Divine Inspiration was also paused for a while. (Bukhari Shareef)
Reasons for Stepwise Descent
Imam Raazi while commenting on these verses of Al-Qur’an in his famous Tafseer, Tafseel Al-Kabeer, writes following reasons:
1. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was illiterate, if Qur’an would have been sent down whole of it at a time, then it would have been difficult for him (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) to remember. On the other hand Hadhrat Musa (AS) was literate, so the whole Taurah was sent to him in one go.
2. If the whole Qur’an would have been sent down at a time, then the implementation of all the laws would have become obligatory at once which would have been against the benefits of systematic stepwise descent.
3. Day by day the non-believers increased their actions of teasing Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), so frequent coming of Angel Jibra’eel (AS) with the Qur’anic verse made it easy for him (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) to face these hardships and also provided him solace.
4. Large portion of the Qur’an was sent down to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) in response to the questions posed to him or the situation faced by him (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), so it was most appropriate that the Qur’an was sent down like that and not once only. As the Qur’anic predictions were also coming true, that further brightening its truthfulness.
Period of Fatrat:
Hadhrat Jibra’eel (AS) came first time to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) with the first WAHY (of Surah Alaq) in the Cave of Hira, and then there was a gap of three years during which no WAHY was revealed to him. This period is called as the period of Fatrat.
After the period of Fatrat, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) narrates the next appearance of Jibra’eel as: “Suddenly I saw the Angel who had come to me in cave Hi’ra and he was sitting on a chair.”
This time Surah Muddhathir was revealed in full. In this way Surah Muddithir is second in sequence of descent.
Nuzool of Surah Fatihah:
Imam Baihaqi has quoted on the authority of Hadhrat Umru-b-Hubail that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) before the announcement of Prophet-hood, used to say to Hadhrat Khadijah (RA), that whenever he used to go in solitude, some one used to call him, O! Muhammad, O! Muhammad, and one day he read whole Surah Fatihah to him (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).
This means that Surah Fatihah was revealed before first verse of Surah Alaq. Allama Anwar Shah Kashimiri (RA) has given an explanation for this. He says that it is possible that Surah Fatihah was sent down twice, first time it was read to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) as a part of the Qur’an and second time it was sent down as a permanent part of the Qur’an.
It has been a tradition with the commentators of the Qur’an to label the verse of the Qur’an either Makki or Madini, so one must know what is meant by these terms. Most accepted version is that those verses which were sent down to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) before the Hijrah (migration) to Madinah are called Makki Aayaat (verses) and those verses which were sent down after the Hijrah are called Madani. It is not true that those verses which were revealed in Makkah are called Makki and those which were revealed in Madinah are called Madani. Even those verses which were revealed in Arfat, Minah, on the way to Madina or during the night of Mi’raj in the heaven are all called Makki and the verses which were revealed after the Hijrah outside Medinah or even in Makkah itself at the time of Fatah-i-Makkah (victory of Makkah) are called Madani. There are some Surahs which are called Madani but they contain some verses which were revealed in Makkah and vice verse. So, a Surah has been labelled as Makki or Madani as per the majority of its verses that have been revealed in Makkah or Madinah. If majority of its verses were revealed in Makkah it is called Makki and if majority of its verse were revealed in Madina, then it is called Madani.
Some Characteristic of Makki & Madani verses
1. Any Surah, having an Ayat which starts with the word Kalla, is Makki. This word has come in 15 Surahs – 33 times. All these Surahs are Makki.
2. All those Surahs which have an Ayat of Sajdah are Makki except Surah Haj as per Shaafi school of thought.
3. All those Surahs in which something is narrated about the incident of Hadhrat Adam (AS) and Shaitaan except Surah Baqarah are Makki.
4. All those Surahs in which something about Jihad is narrated are Madani.
5. All those Surahs which have some mention about hypocrites (Munafiqeen) are Madani.
6. Makki Surahs usually address people as “O! People “and Madani Surahs usually address as “O! Believers”
7. Makki Aayaat and Surahs are usually smaller and Madani Aayaat and Surahs are usually longer and detailed.
8. Makki Surahs usually deal with Tawheed, Prophet-hood and Resurrection, whereas Madani Surahs deal with Social, Cultural, Administrative and other laws. (Uloom-Ul-Qur’an)
Al-Qur’an was revealed to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) over a very long period of twenty three years. It started with the word IQRA in the cave of Hira when the Angel Jabraeel (AS) first time came to him with first verses of the Qur’an Shareef of the Surah Al-Alaq. Then revelation of the Qur’an Shareef continued part wise over the next 23 years. The Qur’anic verses covering a very wide range of topics were revealed and the revelation was often sent in relation to ground situations faced by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and his companions. These ground situations ranged from the incidents related to the battle field to marital relations of consorts and included in between a large variety of things. Some Surahs like Al-Anam were revealed at a time and it is narrated by Ibne Umar (RA) in a tradition that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said that Surah Al-Anam was revealed to him (whole of it) in one go. On the other hand Surah Al-Baqra was revealed part wise over a period of more than nine years.
When any verses or Surah was revealed to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), he used to call his companions and ask them to write these verses or Surah and at the same time instructed them to place those verses or Surah at such and such place. It is worth mentioning here that the sequence of revelation of the Qur’an Shareef and the sequence in which it was compiled are different. The sequence which we see these days in written form is not the same sequence in which it was revealed. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), under the Divine guidance, used to order his companions to place a particular part of the Qur’an Shareef at a particular place. The first verses which were revealed were from Surah Al- Alaq and that is placed in the 30th Juz i.e., the last part of the Qur’an Shareef.
Uthman bin Abu-Al-Aas (RA) narrates that while he was sitting once with Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), he said, , “Jabraeel came to me and asked me to keep this Ayat in this Surah viz.
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنْكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ
“Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin and He forbids all shameful deeds and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you that ye may receive admonition. (16:90)
There are numerous Ahadith Shareef which prove beyond any doubt that the present sequence of the Qur’an Shareef was framed by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) himself only and not by his Sahabah later on.
Muslim narrates an authentic Hadith Shareef from Abu Dardaa (RA):
“One, who learns the last ten Aayaat of Surah Kahf by heart, is protected from Dajjal.”
Similarly in many Ahadith Shareef it is quoted that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) recited such and such Surah e.g., Al-Baqra, Aal-e-Imran, Nisa, Aaraaf etc.,
Bukhari and Muslim narrate that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to recite Surah Alf Laam Meem Tanzeel (As-Sajda) and Surah Dahr in the Fajar Salah of Fridays.
All these Ahadith Shareef prove that the Surah were framed by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) himself and the fact the verses of Al-Qur’an were collected and compiled by Zaid bin Thabit during the Khilaafat of Hadhrat Uthman (RA) of which Hadhrat Abu Bakr and Hadhrat Umar (RAA) had given orders after the departure of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) from the world, is true but we should know that they only collected the verses of the Qur’an Shareef which were not collected in one place. They neither added nor subtracted anything from the Qur’an Shareef, nor did they change any sequence. The sequence was decided by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and the sequence which we have this time is the sequence decided by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), and Sahabah-Al-Kiram only compiled it in one place.
Qazi Abu Bakr in Al-Intisar says:
“The sequence of Al-Qur’an was an obligatory order and Jabraeel (AS) used to tell Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) to keep a particular Ayat at a particular place.” He further says: “That whole Qur’an Shareef which Allah Ta’ala revealed and ordered to keep safe in written form of which He did not cancel recitation after revelation, that the same Qur’an Shareef which is with us between two title covers as compiled by Hadhrat Uthman, he did neither delete anything from it nor added anything to it and its sequence and arrangements are the same as arranged by Allah Ta’ala and Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), he neither brought any verse forward and nor did take any verse backward from its original position and the Ummah recorded the same sequence from Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).” (Al-Itqan)
The Author of Al-Itqan writes:
“The Qur’an Shareef is written in the guarded tablet (Lowhe-Mehfooz) in the same sequence as it is with us and Allah Ta’ala sent the whole of the Qur’an Shareef down to Aasman-e-duniya from Lowhe-Mehfooz in one go and then from Aasman-e-duniya it was revealed to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) part wise as per the need, so the sequence of revelation is different than the sequence of recitation.”
Ibne Al-Hissar said,
“Keeping of a particular Ayat at a particular place was decided as per WAHY (revelation), Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) himself ordered to keep a particular Ayat at a particular place.”
Now think for a while about the blessed life span of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) of twenty three years after he announced his Prophet-hood. How difficult and trying times he had to face while in Makkah-Al-Mukarama for the first thirteen years before Hijrah. One must recapitulate all those varied events spread over thirteen years, and not forget the condition of the Muslims and pagans of Makkah after Hijrah, and establishment of an Islamic state and various expeditions. Through all those twenty three long years verses of the Qur’an Shareef were being revealed and simultaneously they were being arranged in a definite sequence under the Divine guidance and after Rasulullah’s (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) blessed soul departed from this world, the Qur’an Shareef was complete in the form of a flawless book, no contradictions, no need for any rearrangements, miraculous sequence and inter-relation of verses. This was simply miraculous. No human being ever can say something for twenty three years about the ground realities and in the end what he had said in all those years will make up a flawless marvellous book. Humanly, it is simply impossible. This is enough proof of the Divine nature of the Qur’an Shareef and its being the greatest miracle and proof of the Prophet-hood of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).
Shan-e-Nuzool means the particular circumstances, context or events in which or in response to which, particular verses of Al-Qur’an were revealed to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). This is also a very essential science needed for understanding Al-Qur’an. There are two types of verses in Al-Qur’an, one includes those which Allah sent down Himself and were not in response to any particular event or question posed towards Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). The second type includes those verses which were sent down in response to a particular event or question. It is for understanding of the second type of verses one needs to know the Shan-e-Nuzool. Some people believe that it is not important to know the Shan-e-Nuzool, but this are not correct, as it is very difficult to understand the correct meaning of these verses without having in mind the background for which or in response to which these verses were revealed.
“It is not possible to understand the meaning of a verse of Al-Qur’an unless one refers to its Shan-e-Nuzool” (Al -Itiqan)
Ibne Daqeeq says:
“The Shan-e-Nuzool helps strongly in understanding Al-Qur’an” (al-itiqan)
Ibne Taymiyah says:
“To Know Shan-e-Nuzool, helps in understanding of a verse of Al-Qur’an (Al Itiqan)
1. Al-Qur’an contains the verse:
تَبَّتْ يَدَا أَبِي لَهَبٍ وَتَبَّ
“Perish the two hands of Abu Lahab and perish he!” (111:1)
If one does not know its Shan-e-Nuzool one would wonder as to why Allah Ta’ala called a particular person by name and then cursed him with such words. After knowing its Shan-e-Nuzool, it is very easy to understand it. Once it so happened that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) called Quraish tribe to a mountain namely Safa soon after he was bestowed upon with prophet-hood, he invited them to believe in one Allah and His Messenger. On hearing it, one of his uncles namely Abu Lahab said:
تباً لك الهذا دعوتنا
“May you perish, is this what you invited us for”
It was in response to these words of Abu Lahab that Allah Ta’ala revealed the above quoted verses of Surah Lahab to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)
2. Another verse reads:
وَمَا رَمَيْتَ إِذْ رَمَيْتَ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ رَمَى
“And you (Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)) threw not when you did throw, but Allah threw” (8:17)
It is again very difficult to understand these words of Allah unless one knows the Shan-e-Nuzool. These were revealed in the battle of Badr, when Rasullullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was trapped by the unbelievers (Kufaar) and he threw a handful of sand towards them and then succeeded in coming out of that trap as the non-believers were unable see him after he threw sand towards them.
3- Again another verse reads;
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَقْرَبُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَأَنْتُمْ سُكَارَى
“O you who believe! Approach not As-Salat when you are in drunken state”. (4:43)
If one does not know the Shan-e-Nuzool of this verse, he can say if wine is totally prohibited in Islam then what is the meaning of this verse of the Qur’an? The Shaan-e-Nuzool of this Ayat is quoted on the authority of Hadhrat Ali (RA). He says that Abdul Rehman bin Auf (RA) once invited some Sahabah to meals, it was before the wine was prohibited in Islam. After taking their meals they also drank wine and one of the Sahabah led the congregation of Salah in that drunken state. He committed some mistakes while reciting the Qur’an. This Ayat was revealed after this incident. After coming to know the Shan-e-Nuzool of this Ayat, one can easily understand its meaning. Here, we should know that wine was forbidden in Islam in stepwise fashion, not all at once. The complete prohibition of the consumption of wine was later on decreed in another Ayat.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:
إنّ هذا القران اُنزل على سبعة أحرف فأقرءُوا ما تيّسّر منه
“Indeed the Qur’an was revealed in seven (types of ) Haroof or words (or Qirats), so read (the way) that is easier to you”. (Sahih Bukhari )
In Sahih Muslim there is a Hadith which states that once Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was sitting near a pond which belonged to Bani Gifar clan and Angel Jibra’eel (AS) came to him and asked him to order his Ummah to recite Al-Qur’an as per a single Harf (word) or Qirat. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) told him that his Ummah was not capable of doing it, then Jibra’eel (AS) came again and asked Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) to order his Ummah to recite Al-Qur’an as per two haroof (words) or Qirats. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) repeated the same words which he had said on first occasion, this process continued and in the end Jibre’aal (AS) asked Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) to order his Ummah to recite the Qur’an as per seven Haroof or (words) or Qirats. This permission to recite Al-Qur’an as per seven Haroof was to make it easy for the Ummah.
What is meant by Haroof? There are many schools of thought about it, some say that these mean seven different types of words, some say seven different types of Qirats while others say that these mean seven different dialects of different clans of Arabs.
Imam Tahawi’s opinion: He says that Al-Quran was revealed in the same dialect which was used by Quraish, since Arabs were living in different tribes to follow the Quraish dialect, so in the initial days of Islam, these tribes were allowed to recite the Qur’an in their own dialect, choosing an equivalent word and Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) himself had chosen these equivalent words, e.g., word ‘Halumma’ instead of ‘T’aal’, both meaning the same thing. But this permission was only in the early days of Islam and later it became easy for other tribes also to follow Quriash dialect and this permission was lifted. (Mushkilul Aathar Lil Tahawi; Uloom-Ul-Qur’an)
Difference in Seven Types of Qirats:
1. Difference in nouns: In this there is difference either in number or gender. In one, word كلمة is recited and in other كلمات.
2. Difference in verb: In this there is difference of present, past or future tenses.
3. Difference of Aerab (diacritical marks): In which there is difference of Zabr (Fateh), Zer (Kasrah) and Pesh (Zammah).
4. Difference in number of words: In this there is difference of a word i.e., in one type of recitation (Qirat) a word is used and in other the same word is missing.
5. Substitutions of a word: In this an equivalent of a word is recited in other Qirat.
6. Difference in sequence: In this one type of word is preceding a particular word and in other the same word is succeeding that particular word
7. Difference in recitation: In this same word is recited differently in different Qirats.
Sahih Muslim narrates a Hadith on the authority of Hadhrat Ubai bin ka’b (RA): “While I was in the Masjid, someone entered and offered Salah in which he recited the Qur’an to which I objected (as he recited differently), then another person entered and he recited the Qur’an yet differently than his earlier friend. After they completed Salah, we all went to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and I said, “This person recited the Qur’an to which I objected and then his friend also recited yet in a different way. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) asked both of them to recite the Qur’an and (once they recited), Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) admired their recitation. This created a great doubt (about the truthfulness of Islam) in my mind and I felt as if I have again reached towards the period of Jahilliya. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) sensed that and gave a (gentle) blow on my chest, I went all in perspiration and I felt as I was seeing Allah in this state that I could distinguish between right and wrong. Then he (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) told me, “O! Ubai, the Qur’an was sent to me and I was told to recite in one Harf (word), I recited by saying, O Allah, make it easy for my Ummah, then it was returned to me and I was told to recite in two Harf (words), I repeated the same till I was told to recite it in seven Haroof (words)”.
From this Hadith and those quoted earlier we understand that the Qur’an was revealed in seven Haroof. Now, here a few questions arise which need to be discussed viz;
1- Do these seven Qir’ats still exist?
2- Did Hadhrat Uthmaan (RA) abrogate six Qir’ats when he compiled the Qur’an?
3- The Qur’an is a word of Allah and has been promised everlasting protection, then how come some of the Qir’ats can be abrogated?
4- What is meant by the fact that Hadhrat Uthamaan (RA) asked the Sahabah to follow his compilation alone and that he unified all the seven Qir’ats in his one compilation?
Alaama Zarqani (RA) in Manaahil-ul-Irfan writes:
“All the seven Qir’ats or Haroof exist in the Qur’an that Hadhrat Uthmaan’s (RA) compiled. There was consensus amongst all the Sahabah about the fact that Hadhrat Uthmaan’s (RA) compilation contained all the seven Qir’ats (Haroof) and they all agreed to abandon their own compilations and follow the compilation of Hadhrat Uthmaan (RA). Hadhrat Uthmaan (RA) actually copied that copy of the Qur’an which was compiled by Hadhrat Abu Bakr (RA) which again contained all the seven Qir’ats or Haroof.”
Alaama Zarqani (RA) further writes:
“Their is a consensus amongst the most of earlier and later Ulema of Muslim Ummah that Hadhrat Uthmaan’s (RA) compilation contained all the seven Qir’ats or Haroof and it was same as was presented to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) by Hadhrat Jibraeel (AS) in his last presentation in the last Ramadhan of Rasulullah’s (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) life .”
Imam Ahmad has quoted a Hadith in his Musnad that:
Hadhrat Jibraeel (AS) used to recite the Qur’an to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) once during every Ramadhan. During the last Ramadhan of Rasulullah’s (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) life, Jibraeel (AS) recited Al-Qur’an (whole of it) twice. As quoted earlier from Imam Tahawi (RA), that in early days of Islam different tribes were allowed to follow their dialects and when the Qur’anic revelation got completed and the time of departure of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) came near, Hadhrat Jibraeel AS) recited Al-Qur’an to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) which was as per the dialect of Quraish and which contained all the seven Qir’ats. Alama Zikariya(RA) says that Haztrat Uthmaan (RA) completed the Qur’an as per this last recitation of Hadhrat Jibraeel (AS).
Alama Ibne-al-Jazri says that I have studied these differences in the Qir’ats and have observed that they do not exceed three states, viz;
1. Difference of words and not meaning. For example the words like Maalik and Malik, both having same meaning.
2. Difference between these words with the possibility of incorporating them in a single word.
3. Difference between these words without the possibility of incorporating them in a single word, but they coincide in meaning with each other by some other reason, so no difference. (Manahil-ul-Irfan).
Literal meaning of Naskh: Abrogation, replacement of one thing by another thing.
Technical meaning: Lifting of law of Shari’ah by the reasons of Shari’ah.
Naasikh: That Ayat of the Qur’an which abrogates either recitation or command or both of some other Ayat of the Qur’an.
Mansookh: That Ayat of the Qur’an which is abrogated.
“None of Our revelations do we abrogate or cancel to be forgotton, but We substitute something better or similar. Knowest thou not that Allah hath power over all things.” (2:106)
Occasion of Descent or Shaan-e-Nuzool of these Verses:
Enemies of Islam particularly Jews were raising objections about the Qur’an by saying that Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was a strange person that one day he commands Muslims to do a thing and the other day he changes the same commandment with another one, so it is not the word of Allah as that has to be eternal and unchanging.
Let’s discuss this problem of Naskh in some detail. It is one of the delicate discussions regarding the Uloom-ul-Qur’an. Naskh literally means abrogation or replacement of one thing by another. In Shari’ah it means that when the Qur’an came with some commandment, people thought that commandment was forever but in actual sense since Allah – being All-knowing and All-powerful sent a particular commandment for a time being and not forever, so He later sent another commandment, abrogating or modifying the earlier commandment. This is a change as we look at it and it is not a change at all as regards to Allah, as He had sent the earlier commandment for a limited time only and not forever, therefore, in no way a defect in the eternal nature of the Qur’an. It is similar to a government’s way of enacting a law and implementing the same part wise over a period of years.
Here the Qur’an uses the word abrogation of ‘Ayat’. The word ‘Ayat’ in addition to verse of the Qur’an also means a sign in the nature or history or a miracle. If we take this meaning then there is no confusion. These verses will then mean that Allah Ta’ala brings forth different signs and miracles from time to time to prove the truthfulness of – the Islam, the Qur’an and the Prophet-hood of Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). Some Ulema like Abu Muslim Asfahani think that by these Ayats abrogation of previous Shari’ats like Shari’ah of Ibrahim (AS), Dawood (AS), Musa (AS), Eisa (AS) is implied. If this meaning is taken, then again there is no controversy, as everyone agrees that Al-Qur’an has abrogated all previous Shari’ats.
The question under discussion, in which people have different opinions, is that whether some Qur’anic verses have been abrogated by the other Qur’anic verses or not? There is consensus amongst Ulema of Ahl-Sunnah Wal Jama’at that some Qur’anic verses have been abrogated by some other Qur’anic verses either in recitation or command or both. Here we have to understand that as to what things have been changed? Has this change occurred in beliefs – that one day the Qur’an said Allah is one and next day it said, no there are many gods (Naoodh-billah), or has there been a change in narrations of incidents of past that it has narrated the incident of Nuh (AS) in one way and then after sometime the other way. We have to understand that the Qur’anic teachings as regards to beliefs, history or predictions have been consistent. Then what is the change, which is being discussed? The Qur’an has been gradual in changing the society and in that course it has revealed the commands about the improvement of social values in a gradual manner. It is this thing that is termed as Naskh or change or abrogation all about.
Step-wise Ban on Wine:
The Qur’an banned wine in three stages. To drink was in the blood of the Arabs. They were used to it since ages, and to ban it in one step was not convenient for them. The Qur’an first mentioned the evil effects of wine, then asked the Muslims to refrain from it while going for Salah and finally it was banned totally for all times to come. Allah Ta’ala says in Al-Qur’an:
يَمْحُو اللَّهُ مَا يَشَاءُ وَيُثْبِتُ وَعِنْدَهُ أُمُّ الْكِتَابِ
“Allah doth blot out or confirm what He pleaseth; with Him is the Mother of the Book” (13:39)
وَإِذَا بَدَّلْنَا آيَةً مَكَانَ آيَةٍ وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يُنَزِّلُ
“When We substitute one revelation for another, and Allah knows best what He reveals (in stages).” (16:101)
Naskh in Previous Shari’ats:
1. It is mentioned in Torah that Allah Ta’ala told Hadhrat Nuh (AS) when he came out of the ship after the Great Flood that He has made every living animal Halal (permissible for eating) for him and his progeny. Then Allah Ta’ala forbade eating many of these animals in the subsequent Shari’ats like that of Hadhrat Yaqoob (AS), Hadhrat Musa (AS) and Hadhrat Eisa (AS) etc.
2. It is mentioned in Torah that Allah Ta’ala asked Hadhrat Adam (AS) that he should marry his daughters to his sons. In each pregnancy Eve (AS) would give birth to a boy and a girl. Girl born in one pregnancy was married to the boy born in another pregnancy and vice versa. This was banned in subsequent Shari’ats.
3. Allah Ta’ala asked Hadhrat Ibrahim (AS) to sacrifice his son then this command was abrogated.
4. Worldly affairs and hunting is permissible in all days including Saturdays but it was banned on Saturdays in the Shari’ah of Hadhrat Musa (AS).
5. It was permissible in the Shari’ah of Hadhrat Yaqoob (AS) for a man to marry two sisters at the same time, later it was banned in the Shari’ah of Hadhrat Musa (AS).
6. Talaq or divorce was permissible in the Shari’ah of Hadhrat Musa (AS), but it was allowed in the Shari’ah of Hadhrat Eisa (AS) only when the offence of adultery would be proved against the women. Without proving this charge, it was not allowed to them. (Manahil-ul-Irfan)
Naskh in the Qur’an
1. Naskh of Both Recitation as well as Commandment:
There is consensus amongst the Ulema of Ahle-Sunnah-Wal_Jam’at that there have been some verses of the Qur’an whose recitation as well as commandment have been abrogated. These verses were even lifted from the memory centers of Sahaabah (RA). Muslim has reported on the authority of Hadhrat Ayesha (RA), she says,
“There was an Ayat in the Qur’an in which it was mentioned that a boy is Haram (in marriage) to a girl if he has sucked breast of the mother of that girl for ten known times during his breast feeding period in infancy. Afterwards this commandment was abrogated and it was replaced by five time suckling instead of ten. Finally both recitation as well as commandment of these verses was totally lifted and abrogated as per the majority of Ulema except Imam Shafaee who says that recitation of this Ayat has been abrogated but its second command, i.e. five time suckling by a baby makes him/her haram for the children of that women still persists.
This Hadith of Hadhrat Ayseha (RA) is also quoted by Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi and Dhari-Qutni in addition to Muslim Shareef.
2. Naskh of Recitation but not of Commandment:
Abu Dawood, Ibne Majah, Musnad Ahmad, Rooh-ul-M’aani, Imam Raazi in his Tafseer Kabeer and Imam Nawawi in his commentary on Muslim Shareef quote on the authority of Hadhrat Umar (RA) that following verse was a verse of the Qur’an which was later on abrogated.
ؤ الشيخوخة إذا زينا فارجموهما الشيخ
“When an old man and old women will commit adultery, stone (Rajam) both to death ”
Its recitation has been abrogated but its command still persists. Imam Shafaee (RA) here also differs from others and he says that this narration is Dhaeef (weak). For details consult the books on Fiqh or jurisprudence.
Can We Call These Verses – the Qur’an?
Answer is no, we cannot call them Al-Qur’an, for Al-Qur’an – Tawatur or continuity is must. As you know Al-Qur’an is defined as:
إنّه الكلام المعجز المنزل على النبي . ألمكتوب في المصاحف ألمنقول بالتواتر ألمتلو بتلاوته
“- It is the miraculous word of Allah, – revealed on the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), – written on Mus-haf, – passed on from generation to generation with Tawatur, – the recitation of which is an act of worship”.
What is meant by Tawatur?
Tawatur means something that is passed on in such a way that in each generation its narrators are countlessly numerous, and logically it be impossible for so many people living in different parts of the world to get united for telling a tell. For a verse to be part of Al-Qur’an, this Tawatur is must. Only those verses of the Qur’an which have come to us from Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) by Tawatur are recited as the Qur’an. Some of the verses, which were revealed to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and Sahabah used to recite them were later lifted from their memory. Bukhari, Muslim, Trimidhi, Dhari-Qutni and Ahmad-b-Hambal quote a Sahabi namely Abu Musa Asha’ri (RA) who says that he used to recite a lengthy Surah, as long as Surah Tobah, but it was lifted from his memory and he remembered only the following verse from that Surah, viz;
لو كان لابن آدم واديان في مال لابتغى واديا ثالثا و لا يملا جوف ابن آدم إلا التراب
These abrogated verses were totally lifted from the memory of Sahabah and the Qur’an was completed and recited to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) by Hadhrat Jibraael (AS) during the last Ramadhan of Rasulullah’s (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) life. It was this final shape of the Qur’an that is protected by Allah and has reached to us by Tawatur without undergoing any change even equal to an iota. Now the question arises as to what is the status of these abrogated verses which have reached us not by Tawatur but by one or two narrations from those verses that are preserved and have reached us by Tawatur in the shape of Al-Qur’an?
Answer: One thing is clear that these verses are not part of the Qur’an as they have not been transmitted by Tawatur. Ulema treat them as traditions called Khabr-e-Wahid.
3. Naskh of command and not recitation:
“And as for those who can fast with difficulty, they have to feed a Miskeen” (2:184)
This Ayat of Al-Qur’an has been abrogated by following Ayat of the Qur’an.
فَمَنْ شَهِدَ مِنْكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ
“So whoever of you sights (the crescent) the month (of Ramadhan i.e., is present at home), he must observe fast.” (2:185)
كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ إِنْ تَرَكَ خَيْرًا الْوَصِيَّةُ لِلْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُتَّقِينَ
“It prescribed for you, when death approaches any of you, if he leaves wealth, that he makes a bequest to parents and next of kin, according to reasonable manners. (this is) a duty upon al-Muttaqun (the pious).” (2:180)
This Ayat is abrogated by following ayat of Al-Qur’an.
يُوصِيكُمُ اللَّهُ فِي أَوْلَادِكُمْ لِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلُ حَظِّ الْأُنْثَيَيْنِ…
“Allah commands you are regards your children’s (inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females….” (4:11)
إِنْ يَكُنْ مِنْكُمْ عِشْرُونَ صَابِرُونَ…
“If there are twenty steadfast persons amongst you, they will overcome two hundreds…” (8:65)
This Ayat of the Qur’an is abrogated by the following Ayat of the Qur’an.
الْآنَ خَفَّفَ اللَّهُ عَنْكُمْ وَعَلِمَ أَنَّ فِيكُمْ ضَعْفًا فَإِنْ يَكُنْ مِنْكُمْ مِائَةٌ صَابِرَةٌ يَغْلِبُوا مِائَتَيْنِ….
“Now Allah has lightened your (task), for He knows that there is weakness in you. So if there are of you a hundred steadfast persons, they shall over come two hundreds…..” (8:66)
يَحِلُّ لَكَ النِّسَاءُ مِنْ بَعْدُ
“It is not lawful for you (to marry other) women after this, …..” (33:52)
This Ayat is abrogated by following Ayat:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِنَّا أَحْلَلْنَا لَكَ أَزْوَاجَكَ اللَّاتِي
“O Prophet (Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam))! Verily We have made lawful to you your wives, to whom you have paid their Mahr…” (33:52)
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نَاجَيْتُمُ الرَّسُولَ فَقَدِّمُوا
“O you who believe! When you (want to) consult the Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) in private …” (58:12)
This Ayat is abrogated by:
أَأَشْفَقْتُمْ أَنْ تُقَدِّمُوا بَيْنَ يَدَيْ نَجْوَاكُمْ صَدَقَاتٍ
“Are you afraid of spending in charity before you private consultation (with him)?…” (58:13)
The issue of abrogation has been taken differently by the ancient and modern scholars; the two have differed in its terminology as well. The ancient scholars used it more widely. When any injunction which was first stated in general form, and afterwards on some other occasion was particularised, or when something in the beginning was expressed summarily and later on in details, then, from the linguistic point of view it was said that the later has abrogated the former. This actually was the meaning which ancient scholars gave to the word ‘abrogation’. The abrogation of this kind exists in the Qur’an; for example, the Makkan chapters generally mention the universals and principles and the chapters revealed in Madinah discuss them in detail and also give comments as well.
On account of this difference among the commentators about the significance of the term ‘Naskh’ (abrogation), the number of abrogated verses rose considerably. Imam Suyuti, however, after affecting a suitable reduction brought them to nineteen only. But Shah Waliyullah Muhaddith Delhvi (RA) has provided solution for fourteen of them and he considers only five as abrogated, out of which four have been mentioned above.
Naskh of the Qur’an by Sunnah:
We have seen that there is consensus amongst the Ulema about the Naskh of the Qur’an by the Qur’an but there is controversy amongst the learned scholars of Islam that whether the Qur’an can be abrogated by Hadith or Sunnah. Imam Maalik (RA), Imam Abu Haniefa (RA) and his school of thought and majority of Muhadditheen agree that Naskh of the Qur’an by Sunnah is permissible as whatever Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) says is also from WAHY called WAHY-Gair-Matloo.
On the other hand Imam Shafaee (RA), Imam Ahmad (RA) and some others do not agree to the fact that Sunnah (or Hadith) can abrogate the Qur’an. According to them Qur’an can be abrogated only by Qur’an itself.
Knowledge of Muhkam and Mutashabiha is another very vast field for the learners and scholars of the Qur’an.
Literal meaning of Muhkam (Un-ambiguous): It is that thing having established meaning, to stop (from falsehood, disruption or discontinuity). If it is read as ‘Hikam’, then it has many meanings like justice, knowledge, sobriety, Prophet-hood, Qur’an etc.
Literal meaning of Mutashabiha (Ambiguous): It means resemblance; one thing resembles to other thing so much so that one is mistaken for the other.
As Al-Qur’an says:
إِنَّ الْبَقَرَ تَشَابَهَ عَلَيْنَا
“Verily, to us are all heifers alike” (2:70)
Ulema are having different opinions regarding the technical meaning of these two words viz., Muhkam and Mutashabiha. Al-Qur’an also uses two words in different meanings. Al-Qur’an says:
كِتَابٌ أُحْكِمَتْ آيَاتُهُ
“(This is) a book with verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning)” (11:1)
As per this Ayat the whole Qur’an is having well established meaning, is well organised and there is no chance for any discontinuity or contradiction in it.
Al-Qur’an further says:
اللَّهُ نَزَّلَ أَحْسَنَ الْحَدِيثِ كِتَابًا مُتَشَابِهًا
“Allah has revealed from time to time the most beautiful Message in the form of a Book, consistent with itself.” (39:23)
In this verse the whole Qur’an has been called Mutashabih, meaning – ‘consistent with itself’. Al-Qur’an further says:
هُوَ الَّذِي أَنْزَلَ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ مِنْهُ آيَاتٌ مُحْكَمَاتٌ هُنَّ أُمُّ الْكِتَابِ وَأُخَرُ مُتَشَابِهَاتٌ
“It is He, Who has sent down to thee the Book in it are verses, basic or fundamental, clear (in meaning). They are the foundation of the Book; others are not entirely clear.” (3:7)
In this verse the Qur’an says that there are some verses in the Qur’an which are Muhkam and others are Mutashabih.
Different Opinions of Ulema about the Meaning of Muhkam and Mutashabih:
1. Muhkam means one that has a clear-cut meaning and argument and in which Naskh (abrogation) is not possible. It is also taken as opposite of Naskh.
Mutashabih means one whose meaning has been kept hidden and one can neither know it by logic nor through narrations, like the Day of Judgement, particular letters in the beginning of some Surahs, appearance of Dajjal etc,.
2. Muhkam is that which can have only one interpretation whereas Mutashabih can be interpreted in different ways. This opinion has been attributed to Ibne Abbas, and most of the people agree with it.
3. Muhkam is that which is self explanatory unlike Mutashabih which needs some explanation. This opinion is put forward by Imam Ahmad.
4. Muhkam is straight in meaning and sequence and in Mutashabih one cannot rely only upon the literal meaning but needs some other clues to understand it clearly. This opinion is attributed to Imam-al-Harmain.
5. Muhkam verses are those which are related with deeds, and Mutashabih are those which are about the beliefs and are to be believed whether one understands them or not. Alama Suyuti (RA) has quoted this view from Ikramah and Qataadah. (Manaahil-ul-Irfan)
Types of Mutashabih:
1. Whose understanding is impossible for man – like the Essence of Allah, the Day of Judgement etc. Allah has kept these things hidden.
2. Which can be understood by the learned scholars of Islam only and not by common people. This is evident by a dua of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) about Hadhrat Ibne Abass (RA) in which he said: “Oh, Allah bestow him (Ibne Abbas) with special understanding of Deen and teach him interpretation (of the Qur’an).” (Mufradut-ul-Qur’an by Alama Raagib Asfahani)
Purpose of Mutashabih:
1. It is mercy and benevolence of Allah that He has kept such things hidden. How can a man tolerate the Tajalliyat of Rabb-ul-Alameen? In keeping secret the Day of Judgement, there are again so many benefits for man.
2. To test Iman-bil-Gaib: Mutashabih also helps to differentiate between true believer and a false believer. False believer questions the Mutashabih whereas true believer believes these things quietly and honestly.
3. Imam Raazi (RA) says that since Al-Qur’an is both for common man as well as scholars, former remain contented with simple and straight commandments like Muhkam whereas the scholars, want to do research and think-deeply, so for them there is enough material in the Qur’an in the form of Mutashabih.
4. Establishing supremacy of the Qur’an: These Mutashabih make great scholars also helpless and finally they resign by saying that Allah alone knows their meaning. (Manaahi-ul-Irfan)
Some examples of Mutashabihhat:
الرَّحْمَنُ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ اسْتَوَى
“The most gracious is firmly established on the Throne” (20:5)
وَيَبْقَى وَجْهُ رَبِّكَ
“But will abide (for ever) the Face of Thy Lord” (55:27)
يَدُ اللَّهِ فَوْقَ أَيْدِيهِمْ
“The hand of Allah is over their hands”. (48:10)
وَالسَّمَوَاتُ مَطْوِيَّاتٌ بِيَمِينِهِ
“And the Heavens will be rolled up in His right hand.” (39:67)
Ideal Attitude Towards Mutashabihat:
Imam Maalik (RA) was asked about the Ayat of Istawa, present in the Qur’an:
الرَّحْمَنُ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ اسْتَوَى
الاستواء معلوم و الكيف مجهول و السوال عن هذا بدعه
“Istawa is known, its nature (i.e., in what way) is unknown and to ask question about it is a bida’t (innovation). Same answer is also reported from Hadhrat Ummi Salma (RA) but she also added that to have Iman on this is obligatory.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:
“The Qur’an has not been revealed in such a way that one part of it will prove the other part wrong, whatever you understand from it, act as per that and what ever is Mutashabih, have Iman (belief) in that.” (Manaahil-ul-Irfan)
1. Uthman (RA) reported that the Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:
“The best of you is he who has learnt the Qur’an and then teaches it.”
2. Uqbah-b-A’mer reported that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) came out while we were in Suffah and asked:
“Who among you likes to go out everyday at morn to Bathhan or Aqiq and bring two large humped she-camels without committing a sin and severing blood-tie? We replied: “O Apostle of Allah! Everyone of us likes that. He said: “Is it not better for you that you should come our at morn to the mosque and teach or learn two verses from the Book of Allah than (to have) two she camels, and three verses better than three she-camels, and four verses better than four camels and their equivalent number better than the equivalent she-camels?” (Muslim)
3. Abu Huriarah (RA) reported that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:
“Does anyone of you like, when he returns to his family, to find therein three big fat pregnant she-camels? Yes, we replied. He said: Then three verses which anyone of you reads in his prayer are better than three big fat pregnant she-camels.”
4. Ayesha (RA) reported that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:
“One who has got expert knowledge in the Qur’an is with the honourable pious scribes; and one who reads the Qur’an and struggles therein while it appears difficult to him gets double rewards.”
5. Ibne Omer (RA) reported that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:
There is no envy except for two: a man whom Allah has given the Qur’an and who stands up by it throughout the night and throughout the day, and the man whom Allah has given wealth and who spends there from throughout the night and throughout the day.” (Agreed upon)
6. Abu Musa (RA) reported that Rasulullha (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:
“The parable of the believer who reads the Qur’an is parable of a citron whose fragrance as well as taste is pleasant, and the parable of believer who does not read the Qur’an is the parable of the fresh date that has got no fragrance but its taste is sweet, and the parable of the hypocrite who does not read the Qur’an is like the parable of the basil which has got no fragrance but whose taste is bitter, and the parable of the hypocrite who reads the Qur’an is the parable of the fragrant flower which has got a pleasant smell but whose taste is bitter. (Agreed upon)
And in a narration: The believer who reads the Qur’an and acts upon it is like an action and the believer who neither reads the Qur’an nor acts upon it is like a fresh date.”
7. Omar-b-Al Khattab (RA) reported that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Allah will raise up (in status) some people by this Book and bring down others.” (Muslim)
8. Hadhrat Abu Syed Khudri (RA) reported Osaid-b-Huzair (RA): That while he was reciting Surat Al-Baqara (The Cow) at night, and his horse was tied beside him, the horse was suddenly startled and troubled. When he stopped reciting, the horse became quiet, and when he started again, the horse was startled again. Then he stopped reciting and the horse became quiet too. He started reciting again and the horse was startled and troubled once again. Then he stopped reciting and his son, Yahya was beside the horse. He was afraid that the horse might trample on him. When he took the boy away and looked towards the sky, he could not see it. The next morning he informed the Prophet who said, “Recite, O Ibn Hudair! Recite, O Ibn Hudair!” Ibn Hudair replied, “O Allah’s Apostle! My son, Yahya was near the horse and I was afraid that it might trample on him, so I looked towards the sky, and went to him. When I looked at the sky, I saw something like a cloud containing what looked like lamps, so I went out in order not to see it.” The Prophet said, “Do you know what that was?” Ibn Hudair replied, “No.” The Prophet said, “Those were Angels who came near to you for your voice and if you had kept on reciting till dawn, it would have remained there till morning when people would have seen it as it would not have disappear. (Agreed upon)
9. Bara’s reported: A man was reciting the chapter Cave (Surah Al-Kahaf) where there was a horse by his side tied up with two ropes. A cloud covered him and it began to come nearer and nearer while his horse was jumping up. When it was dawn, he came to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and narrated it to him. He said: That was the consolation that came down with the Qur’an. (Agreed upon)
10. Abu Syed Al-Mualla reported: while I was praying within the mosque, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) called me but I did not reply to him. Thereafter I came to him and asked: O Apostle of Allah! Verily I was praying. He said: Did not Allah say: Respond to Allah and to his Apostle when he calls you? Then he said: Shall I not teach you the most meritorious chapter of the Qur’an before you go out of the mosque? He took hold of my hand. When we wished to come out, I said: O Apostle of Allah! You have said that you would teach me the most meritorious chapter of the Qur’an. He said: All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, that is the seven oft repeated verses and the great Qur’an which I have brought.
11. Ziyad-b-Labeed reported that the Prophet (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) mentioned something. He said: That (will come to pass) at the time when learning will depart. I asked: O Messenger of Allah, how will learning depart while we have been reading the Qur’an and educating our children to read it and while our children will educate their children to read it up to the resurrection Day? He said: O Ziyad! may thy mother be heavy with thee! If I had been the most learned man at Medina, I could have taught you. Do not the Jews and Christains read the Torah and the Bible while they do not know what is therein? (Ibne Majah, Tirmizi)
12. Abu Huriarah (RA) reported that the Apostle of Allah said: “Don’t make your houses graveyards. The devil flees away from the house wherein the chapter ‘Baqarah’
(2nd chapter of Al-Qur’an) is read. (Muslim)
13. Abu Omamah (RA) reported: I heard the Apostle of Allah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) say: “Read the Qur’an; as it will be an intercessor on the Resurrection Day for its readers. Read the two brilliant chapters ‘Baqarah and Aal-e-Imran’ because they will be like two clouds (as it were) on the resurrection Day, or two canopies, or two flocks of birds in rows, giving shade to their readers. Read the chapter ‘Baqarah’. To take recourse to it is a blessing and to give it up is a cause of grief, and the indolent will be unable to overtake it. (Muslim)
14. Nawas-b-Sam’an reported: I heard the Apostle of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) say: “The Qur’an will be brought on the Resurrection Day along with those who used to act on it. The chapters ‘The Baqarah’ and ‘The family of Imran’ will come in advance of it as if they will be like two clouds or two black canopies with a shining light between both of them, or both will be like two flocks of birds in rows giving shade to their readers. (Muslim)
15. Obai-b-Ka’ab (RA) reported that the Apostle of Allah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) asked: “O Abul Munzir! Do you know as to which verse of the Book of Almighty Allah is the greatest near you?” I said: “Allah and His Apostle know the best.” I asked: “O Abu Munzir! do you know as to which verse of Book of Almighty Allah is the greatest near you?” I said: He is Allah; there is no deity but He, the Ever-living, the Ever-subsisting (2: 255). Then he struck my breast with his hand and said:”O Abu Munzir! may learning welcome thee with cheers!” (Muslim)
16. Hadhrat Abu Huriarah (RA) reported that the Apostle of Allah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) entrusted me with the charge of Zakat during Ramadhan. Somebody came to me and began to take away some food-stuffs. I over-took him and said: I must take you to the Prophet. He said: I am a needy man with a big family in my charge, and so I have got a pressing need. He said: Then I left him go free and went at the dawn (to the Prophet). The Prophet asked: “O Abu Huriarah! What did your prisoner do last night?” I said: “O Apostle of Allah! He complained of a pressing need and a big family. Then I felt pity for him and let him go away.” He said: “Behold! He belied you and he will soon return.” Then I came to know that he would soon turn on account of the Prophet’s saying ‘that he would soon turn back’. I noticed that he came to take food-stuffs. So I arrested him and said: “I must take you to the Prophet of Allah.” He said: “Leave me as I am a needy man with a big family in my charge. I shall not come again.” Then I showed kindness on him and let him have his way. I went at the dawn and the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) asked me: “O Abu Huriarah! What did your prisoner do?” I replied: “O Apostle of Allah! he complained of a pressing want and a big family. Then I took compassion on him and let him have his way.” He said: “Behold! He belied you and will come soon back.” Then I noticed that he came to take the food-stuffs. I arrested him and said: “I must take you to the Prophet and this is the last of three times. Verily you promised that you would not come again but you have come.” He said: “Leave me; I shall teach you some words with which Allah may give you benefit. When you go to your bed, read the verse of Throne, “He is Allah, there is no deity but He, the Ever-living, The Ever-Subsisting, till you finish the verse (2:255Q). A protector from Allah will not cease to come over you, and the devil will not come to you till morning.” Then I let him to go his way. I went at the dawn and the Prophet asked me: “What did your prisoner do?” I replied: “He promised me that he would teach me some words with which Allah will do me benefit.” He said: “Behold! he has spoken the truth to you though he is a great liar. Don’t you know with whom you were speaking since three nights?” I said: “No.” He said: “He is the devil.” (Bukhari)
17. Ibn Abbas (RA) reported: When Jibraeel (AS) was seated near the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), he heard a voice from above. He raised up his head and said: It is door of Heaven which has been opened today and which was never opened before except today. An angel got down from it. He said: He is an angel who has come down to the earth today and who did never come down before but today. He greeted and said: Give good news of two lights which you have been given and which no prophet before you was given—the Opening of the Book and the last portion of the chapter Baqarah (2:84-86). You will never read a letter from them for which you will not be given (reward) there for. (Muslim)
18. Abu Mas’ud (RA) reported that the Apostle of Allah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “As for the two verses at the end of the chapter Baqarah, whoso reads them at night, they are sufficient for him. (Agreed upon)
19. Abu Darda (RA) reported that the Apostle of Allah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Whoever commits to memory ten verses from the beginning of the chapter Cave, (18:1) will be protected from Dajjal. (Muslim)
20. Same Suhaabi (RA) reported that to Apostle of Allah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) asked: “Will not any one of you be able to read one third of the Quran in one night? They replied: And how can one read one-third of the Qur’an? He said: ‘Say, He is Allah, the One’, (i.e., Surah Ikhlas) it will be equivalent to one-third of the Qur’an. (Bukhari from Abu Syeed)
21. Ayesha (RA) reported that the Prophet (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) sent a man in command of an army, and the latter used to read (the Qur’an) for his companions in their prayer and end with ‘Say, He is Allah, the Single (112Q). When they returned, they mentioned it to the Prophet. He said: Ask him for what reason he did so? They asked him. He said: because it is descriptive of the Merciful, and I like to read it. The Prophet said: Inform him that Allah loves him. (Muslim)
22. Annas (RA) reported that a man said: “O Apostle of Allah! I like this chapter; ‘Say, He is Allah, the one (112Q). He said: Your love for it will admit you into the Paradise. (Bukhari)
23. Oqbah-b-A’mer (RA) reported that the Apostle of Allah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Do you not see the verse sent down this night the like of which was never seen? He said: ‘Say, I seek refuge with the Lord of the dawn (113Q)’ and ‘I seek refuge with the Lord of men (114Q)’.” Muslim
24. Ayesha (RA) reported; whenever the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) went to his bed every night, he used to join together his palms, blow breath unto them and read therein: ‘Say, He is Allah, the One (112Q), ‘Say, I seek refuge with the Lord of the dawn (113Q), ‘Say, I seek refuge with the Lord of men (114Q), and rub therewith his body as far as he could, beginning there with from his head and face and what was projecting from his body. He used to do it thrice.(Agreed upon)
25. Abdullah-b-Amr (RA) reported that the Apostle of Allah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “The readers of the Qur’an will be asked: Read, ascend and recite as you used to do in the world, as your rank is at the time of the last verse you read.”(Ahmad)
26. Ibne Abbas (RA) reported that the Apostle of Allah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “He, in whose breast there is nothing of the Qur’an is like a destroyed house.” (Trimizi)
27. Abu Syeed (RA) reported that the Apostle of Allah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:
“The Glorious and the Exalted Lord will say: Whoever is kept engaged by the Qur’an for (His) remembrance and beseeching, I give him more than what the beseechers are given; and the excellence of the Word of Allah above all other words is like the excellence of the Allah over His creatures.”(Tirmizi)
28. Ibn Mas’ud (RA) reported that the Apostle of Allah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Whoso reads a letter from the Book of Allah gets one virtue in its place; an one virtue has got ten rewards like it. I don’t say that ‘Alif, Lam, Mim’ is a letter, Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Mim is a letter.”(Tirmizi)
29. Hares-b-A’war reported: “I was walking within the mosque when some people were engaged in vain discussions. I went to Ali and informed him of this. He said: Are they doing this still? ‘Yes, said I. He said: Behold! I heard the Apostle of Allah say: Behold! there will soon appear calamity. I asked: What will be the way of getting out of it, O Messenger of Allah? He said: the Book of Allah wherein there are the tidings of those before you and the tidings of those after you and the discussions of what occurs among you. It is clear, not a vain discourse. Whoso among the oppressors’ abandons it, Allah shall ruin him; and whoso seeks guidance in what is besides it, Allah shall misguide him and it is the firmest rope of Allah, and it is the great reminder and it is the straight path. It is a thing with which passions neither go astray, nor the tongue falsify, nor the learned are satisfied with it, nor does it grow old by excessive repetitions, nor its wonders come to an end. It is a thing from which the Jinn did not turn away when they heard it, so much so that they said: We have heard a wonderful Qur’an that guides to truth: so we affirm our faith in it. Whoso speaks according to it, speaks the truth; and whoso acts on it, is rewarded; and whoso decides therewith is just; and whoso invites to it, is guided to straight path. (Tirmizi, Darimi)
30. Mauz Al-Johany reported that the Apostle of Allah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Whoso reads the Qur’an and acts upon it what is therein, his parents will be adorned on the Resurrection Day with a crown of which the brilliance will be greater than the rays of sun in the houses of this world provided it (sun) exists in your midst. What is then your conjecture about one who works up to it?” (Ahmad, Abu Dawood)
31. Ali reported that the Apostle of Allah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Whoso reads the Qur’an, and commits it to memory, and admits its lawful things as lawful and unlawful things as unlawful. Allah will admit him into the Paradise and will accept his intercession for ten persons out of his family members, for every one of whom the fire has become sure.” (Ahmad, Tirmizi)
32. Abu Huriarah reported (RA) that the Apostle of Allah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) asked Obia-b-Ka’ab: “How do you read (the Qur’an) in prayer? Then he read the mother of the Qur’an (1Q). The Apostle of Allah said: I swear by One in whose hand my life is, the like of it was never revealed either in the Torah, Zabur, Injeel; and it is the seven oft-repeated verses’ and the greatest Qur’an which I have been given. (Tirmizi)
33. Same reported that the Apostle of Allah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Learn the Qur’an and read it. The parable of the Qur’an for one who learns, reads and stands up therewith in prayer is like the parable of the bag filled with musk which diffuses its smell in every direction; and the parable of one who learns it and sleeps while it is in his belly is like the parable of a bag of musk that is closed up.” (Tirmizi)
It is reported on the authority of Hadhrat Ibne Masood (RA) and Hadhrat Ubi-bin-Ka’b (RA) that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to recite to them (Suhaba) ten verses of the Qur’an and they would not learn eleventh unless they would learn what was contained in those ten verses about deeds, so they used to learn both the Qur’an and ‘Aamal’ (deeds) together.” (Qurtubi)
Mota Umam Maalik has reported that Hadhrat Ibne Umar (RA) took eight years to learn Surah-al-Baqarah.
Imam Malik has quoted Nafae saying that he heard from Ibne Umar that Hadhrat Umar (RA) learnt Surah-al-Baqarah in about twelve years.
Abdullah bin Masood (RA) said: “It was difficult for us to memorise the words of the Qur’an but to act upon it was easy for us. And after us it will be easy for the people to memorise the Qur’an but to act upon its commands will be difficult for them”
It is reported on the authority of Ibne Umar (RA) “that the distinguished companions of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), first generation of this Ummah were not used to memorise more than a Surah at a time and they were bestowed with the Tawfeeq of doing the deeds as per that (Surah) and the people of the last part of this Ummah will be reciting the Qur’an, amongst them will be even children and blind, but they will not be bestowed with the Tawfeeq of doing deeds as per the Qur’an. (Qurtubi)
Madh-bin Jabal used to say: “Learn whatever you want to learn but you will get reward only for that upon which you act”
Some other scholars said: “Wise people exert for understanding and foolish people exert only for memorising”
After cleansing the teeth with miswaak (a twig of particular tree chewed and used as a toothbrush) and performing wudhu (ablution), one should sit in a quiet place with grace and humility and face towards the Qiblah (direction towards Ka’bah in Makkatul Mukarramah). Then with an attentive heart, deep devotion and zest befitting the occasion, one should recite the Qur’an, imagining all the time that he is reciting it to Almighty Allah. If one understands the meaning, one should pause and reflect on the verses of promise and mercy and should beg for His forgiveness and compassion. On the verses of punishment and admonition, one should seek His refuge, as except Him there is no Helper. On the verses pertaining to his Majesty and Sanctity, one should say “Subhaan Allah “(Glory is to Allah). If one does not spontaneously shed tears while reading the Holy Qur’an, one must induce one self to weep a little. For a lover, the moments of greatest pleasure are those when, in the presence of his beloved, he is full of self reproach and shedding tears profusely.
One should not read fast unless one desires to memorise it. The Qur’an should be placed in a slightly elevated position on a wooden stand or on a pillow.
One should not talk to others during recitation. If one is forced by necessity to speak to someone, it should be done after first closing the Qur’an, and before resuming reading again first recite Ta’awwudh (seeking refuge of Allah against Satan). If people nearby are occupied in their work, reading in a low voice is appreciated, otherwise reading loudly is more rewarding.
One should have clean body and clothes.
One should think that Allah is listening with a particular attention and that angels are also listening to his recitation as angels have not been bestowed with this treasure so they encircle one who recites the Qur’an.
One should recite with proper ‘Makharij’ and ‘Tarteel’.
One should recite the Qur’an at least once in a day. In one tradition on the authority of Sayid Khudri (RA) Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Give the eyes their share of Ibadat (worship). Sahabah asked as to what was the share of eyes in worship? Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said that the share of eyes is to look at the Qur’an” (Qurtubi)
It is narrated on the authority of Ubadah b Saamat (RA) that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “Better worship of my Ummah is to recite the Qur’an while looking at it.” (Qurtubi)
One should apply the commands of the Qur’an on one’s day to day happenings.
One should testify the truthfulness of the Qur’an after finishing the recitation.
One should not keep anything over the Qur’an. It should be kept above every other book.
One should keep it over a selected place in the room and should not be placed on the floor.
Torn off pages of the Qur’an should be buried in some nice piece of land where there are least chances of trampling or these should be burnt and ash buried or may be thrown into a river.
One should not seek worldly gains by reciting the Qur’an or by teaching it.
One should not recite in such a way that it would resemble singing.
One should not recite it in Markets and at odd and obscene places.
One should not throw the Qur’an if one wants to hand it to other.
One should not use it as a pillow
One should not use gold for any purpose like writing with gold etc. as gold is from worldly beauties.
One should make Dua at the end of recitation particularly after finishing the recitation of whole of the Qur’an. Hadhrat Anas b Maalik (RA) used to call his family members and make dua at the end of completing recitation of the Qur’an.
One should not forget the Qur’an after memorising it.
It is reported on the authority of Ibne Umar (RA) that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Analogy of Hafiz of the Qur’an is like that of a man who has a camel, if he keeps him tied up with the rope round its neck, the camel stays and when he keeps it free without tying up, the camel runs away, similarly if the Haafiz-e-Qur’an recites the Qur’an day in and day out, the Qur’an stays with him (in his memory) and when he leaves recitation, Qur’an also leaves (his memory) i.e., he forgets it.” (Muslim)
Abdullah b Masood (RA) says: “Qari-Qur’an (the specialist in reciter of Qur’an) should distinguish himself from those people who are sleeping by remaining awake till late in night, by weeping from those who are laughing, by keeping quiet from those who are gossiping, by humility from the arrogant and by remaining thoughtful from those who are enjoying.”
Hadhrat Abdullah b Umar (RA) says: Qari-Qur’an should not gossip like others.
He should not become fool like other fools.
He should forgive others and be good to others as in his chest is the treasure of the Qur’an.
He should talk less, laugh less and live with dignity.
He should not have vanity and pride.
He should not indulge in useless discussions and quarrels.
He should not harm others.
He should help others when they seek his help.
He should teach others the teachings of the Qur’an.
He should have high morals.
He should himself act as per the Qur’anic commandments and he should try his best to understand the Qur’an.
The Masha’ikh (the spiritual mentors) have mentioned six external and six internal rules of reverence for reading the Holy Qur’an, which are given below:
Rules of External Reverence.
1) Perform Wudu and then sit facing the Qiblah in an extremely dignified manner (It is disrespectful to sit leaning against the wall with feet stretched out in front while reciting the Holy Qur’an. This should be avoided. Likewise the Qur’an should not be placed directly on the lap.)
2) Do not proceed fast, but read with measure and correct pronunciation.
3) Try to weep, even if you have to compel yourself to do so.
4) The response to the verses of mercy or of punishment should be the same as explained earlier.
5) Reading should be in a low voice if insincerity is apprehended on your own part or disturbance is caused to others. Otherwise read in a loud voice.
6) Read in a melodious voice, because there are numerous Ahadith laying emphasis on this aspect.
Rules of Internal Reverence:
1) The heart should be full of the glory of the Qur’an i.e. realising how sublime it is.
2) Bear in the heart the Loftiness, Majesty and Magnificence of Almighty Allah, Whose revelation the Qur’an is.
3) The heart should be free from distraction and doubts.
4) Dwell upon the meanings and enjoy reading it.
5) Submit your heart to the subject-matter of the verses you are reading. For instance, on the verses containing a message of mercy, the heart should be filled with delight. And on the verses of chastisement the heart should tremble with awe.
6) The ears should be as attentive as if Almighty Allah Himself is speaking and the reader is listening to Him.
May Allah, out of His mercy and kindness, grant all of us the ability to read the Qur’an according to these rules of reverence.
Warning for Learners of Qur’an:
Narrated by Abu Hurayrah (RA), it has been narrated on the authority of Sulayman ibn Yasar who said: People dispersed from around Abu Hurayrah, and Natil, who was from the Syrians said to him:
“O Shaykh, relate (to us) a tradition you have heard from the Messenger of Allah (Sauallahu Alaihi Wasallam).” He said: “Yes. I heard the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) saying: The first man (whose case) will be decided on the Day of Judgement, will be a man who died as a martyr. He shall be brought (before the Judgement Seat). Allah will make him recount His blessings (i.e. the blessings which He had bestowed upon him) and he will recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his life). (Then) will Allah say: What did you do (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I fought for Thee until I died as a martyr. Allah will say: You have told a lie. You fought so that you might be called a “brave warrior”. And you were called so. (Then) orders will be passed against him and he will be dragged with his face down ward and cast into the Hell. Then there will be brought forward a man who acquired knowledge and imparted it (to others) and recited the Qur’an. He will be brought, Allah will make him recount His blessings and he will recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his lifetime). Then will Allah ask: What did you do (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I acquired knowledge and disseminated it and recited the Qur’an, seeking the pleasure. Allah will say: You have told a lie. You acquired knowledge so that you might be called “a scholar” and you recited the Qur’an so that might be said: “He is a Qari” and such has been said. Then orders will be passed against him and he shall be dragged with his face downward and cast into the Fire. Then will be brought a man, whom Allah had made abundantly rich and has granted every kind of wealth. He will be brought, Allah will make him recount His blessings and he will recount them and (admit having enjoyed them in his lifetime). Allah will (then) ask: What have you done (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I spent money in every cause in which Thou wished that it should be spent. Allah will say: You are lying. You did (so) that it might be said about (you): “He is a generous fellow” and so it was said. Then will Allah pass orders and he will be dragged with his face downward and thrown into the Hell.” (Bukhari)
It is reported in one tradition that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “One who seeks lIm (religious knowledge) for something other than pleasing Allah or intends something other than pleasing Allah, should think his abode in the Hell” (Qurtubi)
It is reported on the authority of Abu Hurairah (RA) that Rasulullah (SaIlaIIahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “One who learns lIm (religious) not for Allah’s sake but seeks with it worldly benefits will not (even) smell the fragrance of Jannah (The paradise).” (Tirmizi)
It is reported on the authority of Abu Hurairah (RA) that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Seek refuge with Allah from ‘Jubb-ul-Hazan’. He (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said that it was a valley in Jahannum from which Jahannum (The Hell) itself seeks refuge with Allah one hundred times a day. He (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was asked as to who will be the people who will be thrown in that valley. He (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said “Qari-e-Qur’an (reciters of the Qur’an) who are hypocrites by their deeds.” (Tirmizi)
There are so many Ahadith in this regard so it is very important for the student of the Qur’an to make his intention purely to please Allah and not for any mundane purposes and also to live his life as per the Qur’anic principles.
Rewards for Reciters and Listeners of the Qur’an:
There is a promise of reward for all the deeds performed as per Shari’ah but the reward for teaching, learning, reciting and listening of the Qur’an is quite extra-ordinary. All other acts of worship lead to Qurb (nearness) of Allah indirectly whereas the recitation of the Qur’an leads to nearness of Allah directly. When someone recites the Qur’an, he immediately comes under the shower of blessings of Allah. Allah Ta’ala listens to the recitation of the Qur’an with particular attention. The Angels surround the reciter in large numbers as the angels have not been given this treasure of recitation of the Qur’an.
Out of the rewards that the Qari or reciter of the Qur’an will be given, some are as follows:
1. His pan of the pious deeds of the balance on the Day of Judgement will be heaviour.
2. They will have Nur on the Day of Judgement because of recitation of the Qur’an in the world.
3. They will enjoy Divine protection along with their family and property.
4. The Qur’an will intercede for its reciter on the Day of Judgement.
5. It will protect its reciter from the Hell-fire.
6. There are specific rewards for reciting specific Surahs. For example, those who recite Surah Baqarah and Surah Aal-e-lmran, these two Surahs will form clouds over its reciter on the Day of Judgement and protect him from the scorching heat of the sun. Surah ‘Mulk’ will give company in the grave to its reciter. Similarly there are specific rewards for reciting specific verses.
8. Reciter of the Qur’an will be told to recite and ascend. He will ascend one step for every verse and his place in Jannat (Paradise) will be where he will stop reciting.
It has been reported on the authority of Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (RA) that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “As soon as the people assemble in some house from the houses of Allah (mosques) where they recite the Qur’an and learn it amongst themselves, the ‘Sakeena’ (contentment) and Rahmat (mercy) descends upon them and covers them. The Angels surround them and Allah makes a mention of them amongst the angels. (Muslim)
Allah Ta’ala says:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَتْلُونَ كِتَابَ اللَّهِ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَأَنْفَقُوا مِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ سِرًّا وَعَلَانِيَةً يَرْجُونَ تِجَارَةً لَنْ تَبُورَ () لِيُوَفِّيَهُمْ أُجُورَهُمْ وَيَزِيدَهُمْ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ إِنَّهُ غَفُورٌ شَكُورٌ ()
“Those who rehearse the Book of Allah establish regular Prayer and spend (in Charity) out of what We have provided for them secretly and openly hope for a Commerce that will never fail: For He will pay them their wages in full nay He will give them (even) more out of His Bounty; for He is Oft-Forgiving Most Ready to appreciate (service). (35:29-30)
It is reported on the authority of Abdullah-b-Masood (RA) that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “One who reads one word from the book of Allah (The Qur’an), there is one Thawab for him and one Thawab is like ten, I don’t say that Alif Lam Meem’ is a single word, but Alif is one, Lam is one and Meem is one word.” (Tirmizi)
This Hadith is enough for exhorting the Muslims for reciting the Qur’an day and night.
It is reported on the authority of Uqbah-b-Aamir (RA), that Rasulullah (SallaIIahu Alaihi Wasallam) came to us and asked: “Who amongst you likes to go to Bathan or Al-Aqeeq and come with two pregnant she-camels without any sin and without harming your relations? We said, “We like that” Then he said, “If you walk up to the mosque and learn or recite two verses from the Qur’an (Book of Allah) that is better than two she-camels and three verses are better than three and four are better than four.” (Muslim)
Abdullah-b-Umar (RA) reports that Rasulullah (SaIlaIlahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Beholder of the Qur’an will be told (on the Day of Judgement) recite and ascend, recite as you used to recite in the world, for your destination is at the last verse you recite. (Tirmizi)
Abu Amamah (RA) reports that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Recite the Qur’an for it will intercede in favour of its reciter on the Day of Judgement” (Muslim)
Reward for Listening to the Qur’an:
Allah Ta’ala says:
وَإِذَا قُرِئَ الْقُرْآنُ فَاسْتَمِعُوا لَهُ وَأَنْصِتُوا لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ
“When the Qur’an is read listen to it with attention and hold your peace: that ye may receive Mercy.” (7:204)
In this verse there is definite promise of mercy for those who listen the Qur’an and also keep quiet while it is being recited.
وَإِذَا سَمِعُوا مَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ تَرَى أَعْيُنَهُمْ تَفِيضُ مِنَ الدَّمْعِ مِمَّا عَرَفُوا مِنَ الْحَقِّ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا آمَنَّا فَاكْتُبْنَا مَعَ الشَّاهِدِينَ
“And when they listen to the revelation received by the Messenger thou wilt see their eyes overflowing with tears for they recognize the truth: they pray: “Our ‘Lord! We believe; write us down among the witnesses.” (5:83)
وَإِذْ صَرَفْنَا إِلَيْكَ نَفَرًا مِنَ الْجِنِّ يَسْتَمِعُونَ الْقُرْآنَ فَلَمَّا حَضَرُوهُ قَالُوا أَنْصِتُوا فَلَمَّا قُضِيَ وَلَّوْا إِلَى قَوْمِهِمْ مُنْذِرِينَ
“Behold We turned towards thee a company of Jinns (quietly) listening to the Qur’an: when they stood in the presence thereof they said “Listen in silence!” When the (reading) was finished they returned to their people to warn (them of their sins)” (46:29)
These two verses speak of the heart moulding effectiveness of listening to the Qur’an, first verse reveals how the Qur’an affects men and the second verse shows how it affects even the Jinns:
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to ask some of his companions (RA) to recite the Qur’an so that he (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) would listen. Listening to the Qur’an is also a great act of worship of unique nature. May Allah grant us Tawfeeq1 of reciting the Qur’an all day and night, the way He likes it (Ameen).
Cleanliness Needed for Recitation of the Qur’an:
The book that Allah Subhanahu-Wa-Ta’ala revealed to the best of the Prophets, Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) through best of the Angels, Jibrael (AS) for the best of the Ummah, Ummah of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), deserves a great respect while touching it, reading it or while placing it at any place.
While reciting it, there should be cleanliness of body, place, clothes, mouth and heart – that should be free from Shirk, Fisq and doubts.
Allah Ta’ala says:
إِنَّهُ لَقُرْآنٌ كَرِيمٌ () فِي كِتَابٍ مَكْنُونٍ () لَا يَمَسُّهُ إِلَّا الْمُطَهَّرُونَ()
“That this is indeed a Qur’an most honorable in a Book well-guarded Which none shall touch but those who are clean” (56:77-79)
It is not permissible to recite the Qur’an at dirty and odd places. It is not permissible to recite it in markets where people are busy with their worldly affairs.
It is reported on the authority of Hadhrat Ali (RA) that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:
“Clean your mouths from the Qur’an”
“Indeed, your mouths are roads for the Qur’an, clean them with Miswaak.”
Reverence of Pages and Words of Qur’an:
Allah Ta’ala says:
بَلْ هُوَ قُرْآنٌ مَجِيدٌ () فِي لَوْحٍ مَحْفُوظٍ ()
“That this is indeed a Qur’an most honorable In a Book well-guarded”
فَمَنْ شَاءَ ذَكَرَهُ () فِي صُحُفٍ مُكَرَّمَةٍ () مَرْفُوعَةٍ مُطَهَّرَةٍ () بِأَيْدِي سَفَرَةٍ () كِرَامٍ بَرَرَةٍ()
“By no means (should it be so)! For it is indeed a Message of instruction. Therefore let whose will keep it in remembrance. (It is) in Books heId (greatly) in honour. Exalted (in dignity) kept pure and holy (Written) by the hands of scribes Honorable and Pious and Just.” (80:11-16)
بَلْ هُوَ قُرْآنٌ مَجِيدٌ () فِي لَوْحٍ مَحْفُوظٍ()
“Nay this is a Glorious Qur’an (Inscribed) in Tablet Preserved!” (85 :21-22)
Qur’an and its interpretation:
Allah Ta’ala says:
إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا ذِكْرَى لِلْعَالَمِينَ
“Verily this is no less than a message to (all) the worlds”
The Qur’an has been revealed neither for a particular nation nor for a particular period but has been sent for the whole world and for all the people of all times. lt is for this reason that there is an immense vastness in the meaning of the words of the Qur’an as it has to accommodate the solution and answers for a great variety of situations and problems of different times which are entirely different from one another. So, it was not feasible to have words of limited meaning in the Qur’an. Thus a great field has been provided for the scholars of the Qur’an in the vast ocean of meaning. It is one of the miracles of the Qur’an that despite its vastness it has been able to keep in check its interpreters. There have been some mischievous elements from time to time that tried or are trying to misinterpret the Qur’an but an unseen Divine Hand of protection is always protecting it and maintaining its purity.
وَأَنْ تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
“And that ye should say of Allah that of which ye have no knowledge”
Allah Ta’ala categorically declared:
إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ
“We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and we sill assuredly guard it (from corruption)” (15:9)
وَلَا تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ
“And pursue not that of which thou hast no knowledge” (17:36)
Rasulullah (SallaIIahu Alaihi Wasallam) laid down the practical guidelines for the protection of the Qur’an. A Hadith says: “One, who says something about the Qur’an without knowledge, should find his abode in the Hell.” (Tirmidi)
Another Hadith says:
“One, who interprets Qur’an as per his own opinion, he did wrong even if his opinion may be correct.” (Tirmizi)
Hadhrat Abu Bakr Siddiq (RA) used to say “Which earth will carry me, which sky will cover me if I say anything about Qur’an of my own opinion or without knowledge.”
Sources of Tafseer
(Interpretation of the Qur’an)
1. The Qur’an: The Qur’an itself is the first source of interpretation of the Qur’an. Some verses of the Qur’an are explained by some other verses of it. For example, the verse:
اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ
“Show us the straight way” (1:6)
This verse is explained by another verse of the Qur’an as:
الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ مِنَ النَّبِيِّينَ وَالصِّدِّيقِينَ وَالشُّهَدَاءِ وَالصَّالِحِينَ
“On whom is the Grace of Allah – of the Prophets (who teach) the sincere (lovers of Truth the martyrs, and the Righteous (who do good)” (4:69)
“On whom is the Grace of Allah – of the Prophets (who teach) the sincere (lovers of Truth the martyrs, and the Righteous (who do good)”
2. Hadith: Hadith is the second most important source of Tafseer of Qur’an. Teaching of the Qur’an to the people was one of the main jobs of Rasulullah (SallaIIahu Alaihi Wasallam). Allah Ta’ala says
هُوَ الَّذِي بَعَثَ فِي الْأُمِّيِّينَ رَسُولًا مِنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ
“It is He Who has sent amongst the unlettered a messenger from among themselves, to rehearse to them His Signs, to purify them, and to instruct them in The Book and Wisdom” (62:2)
It is yet another miracle of the Qur’an that not only its words have been preserved in pristine purity but its interpretations in the form of Hadith have also been preserved in a miraculous way. How the Ahadith have been preserved, should be seen in various Hadith books. In this regards it is mandatory for the interpreter of the Qur’an to rely on authentic Hadith books.
3. Sahaba-al-Kiram: The companions of Rasulullah (SaIlallahu Alaihi Wasallam) constitute the third important source of interpretations as they were directly taught by Rasulullah (SalIaIlahu Alaihi Wasallam), so their interpretation is taken as next to Hadith even some Ulema include this in the definition of Hadith as well while others call it ‘Ather’.
4. Tabaeen: Tabaeen are the students of Sahaba, so if a tabaee quotes some Sahabi, it is also regarded as authentic.
5. Literal meaning of Arabic Language: Those verses of the Qur’an which are simple in meaning and do not have any complexity can be their understood by simple literal meaning only, but to interpret the whole Qur’an on the basis of literal meaning only, is not permissible.
The interpreter of the Qur’an should have full command over:
i. Arabic Language
ii. Arabic Grammar – both sequential and analytic
iii. Shaan-e-Nuzool (background of revelation)
iv. Naasikh and Mansookh (abrogating and abrogated verses)
V. Sunnah of Rasulullah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam)
vi. Interpretations by Hadith
vii. Interpretations of Sahaba
viii. Interpretations of Tabaeen
ix. Arabic proverbs (Arab Muhawarah)
x. Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence
6. Intellect: If intellect is used along with above mentioned branches of knowledge then it can be used for interpretation of the Qur’an. If the intellect is used in the absence of these things then that intellect is usually led by Devil towards Devil, and not towards the Truth. The verse of the Qur’an which says:
وَإِذِ اسْتَسْقَى مُوسَى لِقَوْمِهِ فَقُلْنَا اضْرِبْ بِعَصَاكَ الْحَجَرَ
“And remember Musa prayed for water for his people; We said “Strike the rock with thy staff”. (2:60)
Sir Syed stretches his intellect and interprets the verse
اَضُرِبْ بِعَصَاكَ الْحَجَر
as “Walk on this rock with the help of the stick”
In the above mentioned verse the Qur’an mentions miracle of Hadhrat Musa (AS) that Allah asked him to strike a rock with his stick, by which twelve springs sprouted from that rock. Since Sir Syed did not like that he should be labeled as an orthodox and unscientific by the English people, who had honoured him with ‘Sir’, and they should not look down upon him, he denied this well known miracle of Hadhrat Musa (AS) and misinterpreted the verse by twisting the meaning of the words of the Qur’an.
This intellect is a double edged sword it can lead one to heights if used properly but it can also lead to lowest ebb if used otherwise.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) prayed for Hadhrat lbne Abbas (RA) as
“O Allah! Teach him the interpretation of the Qur’an and bestow him with the proper sense of Deen.”
It is by way of this Dua that Ibne Abbas (RA) properly used his extraordinary intellect for the interpretation of the Qur’an.