LQS 3.1: The Suspension of Revelation

LQS 3.1: The Suspension of Revelation
ص و القرآن ذي الذكر

By the Qur’an bearing the Reminder1

This post is the sixth in a series of summaries of Ayatollah Hādī Ma’rifat’s book entitled, Amūzish Ulūm Qurānī (Learning the Qurānic Sciences). For an introduction to Ayatollah Hādī Ma’rifat and his works, click here. To read the previous post which covered Sheikh Mufīd and Sadūq’s discussion concerning the revelation of the Qurān, click here.

The dialogue between Sheikh Sadūq and Mufīd provided sufficient context in terms of the discussion of how the Qurān came to be revealed. What is certain, from the previous discussion, is that whether or not the Qurān was revealed all at once, it was definitely revealed piecemeal. This is a fact upon which there is general agreement, and as sheikh Ma’rifat points out, the Qurān seems to be indicative of this as well in the following verse,

وَ قُرْءَانًا فَرَقْنَاهُ لِتَقْرَأَهُ عَلىَ النَّاسِ عَلىَ‏ مُكْثٍ وَ نَزَّلْنَاهُ تَنزِيلا

We have sent the Qurān in [discrete] parts so that you may read it to the people a little at a time, and We have sent it down piecemeal2 3

Sheikh Ma’rifat focuses his discussion on this aspect of the revelation of the Qurān. His discussion centers around the question of when the revelation of the Qurān began and how long it continued for.

This is an interesting subject considering that there seem to be two dates to consider when discussing the beginning of revelation. The first is referred to as the mab’ath i.e. the beginning of the Prophet’s prophethood. There is a difference of opinions concerning the specific date of this event, sheikh Ma’rifat adopts a common view, claiming that this event occurred on the 27th of Rajab, when the Prophet was 40 years old4. It is famously narrated that the first five verses of Sūrah al-‘Alaq were revealed upon the Prophet on this occasion5. The other date that should be considered is that of the Qurān being revealed in Ramadhan which is indicated by many verses and narrations.

Sheikh Ma’rifat attempts to reconcile these two dates. But in order to do that, he first makes note of an important point. That is, Sheikh Ma’rifat asserts that the Qurān was revealed over the course of 20 years, as indicated by the narration mentioned in the previous post, which is as follows,

Hafs bin Ghiyāth narrates from Imam al-Sādiq,

“I asked him [Imam al-Sādiq] about what Allah has said in the Qurān, ‘The month of Ramadhān is that in which the Qurān was revealed…’6 whilst at the same time, Allah revealed the Qurān over 20 years from beginning to end.

Abū ‘Abdallah responded, ‘The Qurān was sent down as one piece in the month of Ramadhān to bayt al-ma’mūr7 and then sent down over a period of 20 years'”8

Now as sheikh Ma’rifat notes, mab’ath occurred when the Prophet was 40 and the Prophet passed away at the age of 63. This leaves a period of 23 years as the duration of the Prophet’s prophethood, whilst the narration claims that the Qurān was revealed for a period of 20 years. Continue reading “LQS 3.1: The Suspension of Revelation”

  1. Suād 38:1
  2. al-Isrā 17:106
  3. There is an apparent reason provided for the Qurān being revealed piecemeal as opposed to all at once within the Qurān. This is found in al-Furqān 25:32, “The faithless say, ‘Why has not the Qurān been sent down to him all at once?’ So it is, that We may strengthen your heart with it, and We have recited it (to you) in a measured tone”
  4. Sheikh Mufīd presents the same date in Masār al-Shī’ah pg.59, Tabarī mentions that the maba’th occurred while the prophet was at the age of 40; Tabarī, Jāmi’ al-Bayān fī Tafsīr al-Qurān v. 2 pg. 292
  5.  Al-Mas’ūdī, Murūj al-Dhahab v. 2 pg. 282
  6. al-Baqra 2:185
  7. Often translated as “the oft-frequented house”
  8. Kulaynī, Usul al-Kāfī v. 2 pg. 649