LQS 4: Asbāb al-Nuzūl – The Causes of Revelation

LQS 4: Asbāb al-Nuzūl – The Causes of Revelation
و كلهم آتيه يوم القيامة فردا

And each of them will come to Him alone on the Day of Resurrection1

This post is the seventh in a series of summaries of Āyatullah Hādī Ma’rifat’s book entitled, Āmūzish ‘Ulūm Qurānī (Learning the Qurānic Sciences). For an introduction to Āyatollah Hādī Ma’rifat and his works, click here. To read the previous post which covered Sheikh Yūsufī Gharavī’s critique of the suspension of revelation (fatrah), click here.

The fourth chapter of sheikh Ma’rifat’s book discusses what are commonly referred to as asbāb al-nuzūl (causes of revelation) (s. sabab al-nuzūl). He defines a sabab al-nuzūl as, that which caused the Qurān to be revealed to address it2.

The asbāb al-nuzūl are typically documented in the form of narrations. The main work that is typically mentioned in the context of this subject is that of Wāhidī Nishapūrī (d. 468 AH/1076 AD) entitled, Asbāb al-Nuzūl al-Qurān. This work largely serves as the foundation of other Sunni works concerned with narrations of asbāb al-nuzūl such as Suyūtī’s (d. 911 AH/1505 AD), Lubāb al-Nuqūl fī Asbāb al-Nuzūl, which in addition to being largely composed of narrations taken from Wāhidī is also a much later work3.

As for Shia works, narrations related to the reason/cause for the revelation of certain verses can be found in the Four Books.

There are many examples of instances in which narrations of asbāb al-nuzūl aid one in understanding a verse of the Qurān. One such example which is often quoted in books about the Qurānic sciences is that of surah al-Baqrah, Verse 158 which is as follows: Continue reading “LQS 4: Asbāb al-Nuzūl – The Causes of Revelation”

  1. Maryam 19:95
  2. Ma’rifat, al-Tamhīd fī ‘Ulūm al-Qurān v. 1 pg. 267
  3. There is a lack of works written specifically about narrations related to asbāb al-nuzūl; for a more comprehensive survey of works related to asbāb al-nuzūl refer to, Andrew Rippin, The Exegetical Genre “asbāb al-nuzūl”: A Bibliographical and Terminological Survey

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

LQS 3: The Revelation of the Qurān

LQS 3: The Revelation of the Qurān
انا انزلناه في ليلة القدر

Indeed We sent it down on the Night of Ordainment1

This post is the fifth in a series of summaries of Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat’s book entitled, Amouzish Ulum Qurāni (Learning the Qurānic Sciences). For an introduction to Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat and his works, click here. To read the previous post which discussed narrations claiming that Satan interrupted revelation, click here.

In the third chapter of his book, Allamah Ma’rifat discusses a series of issues that surround the beginning of revelation. Upon looking through his discussion, I found that it requires some context in terms of discussions that have previously occurred between our scholars. Due to this, I have instead focused this post on a view that Sheikh Saduq and his student, Sheikh Mufid, both discuss after which I have clarified some points and posed some questions. God willing in the next post I will discuss Ayatollah Ma’rifat’s view on some of the matters discussed within this post.

The following is a discussion concerning the issue of “how” the Qurān was revealed; that is, was it revealed all at once upon the Prophet, or was it sent down gradually over a period of many years. This discussion centres around a narration that brings forward many interesting views and questions concerning matters discussed in the Qurānic sciences. The narration 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…’2 whilst at the same time, Allah revealed the Qurān over 20 years from beginning to end.

Abu Abd Allah responded, ‘The Qurān was sent down as one piece in the month of Ramadhān to bait al-ma’moor3 and then sent down over a period of 20 years'”4

Continue reading “LQS 3: The Revelation of the Qurān”

  1. al-Qadr 97:1
  2. al-Baqra 2:185
  3. Often translated as “the oft-frequented house”, there are differences of opinion as to what bait al-ma’moor is. A popular opinion, as mentioned by Allāmah Tabrasi is that it is a house in the fourth heaven where angels perform acts of worship
  4. Kulayni, Usul al-Kāfi v. 2 pg. 649, I have refrained from mentioning the whole chain of narration, or discussing any of the narrators for the sake of brevity and because such discussions require the development of a thorough and consistent framework of evaluation. Although it is interesting to note that Hafs Bin Ghiyāth was Sunni, however Sheikh Tusi seemed to rely on him, for a thorough discussion, page 148 of the sixth volume of Syed al-Khoei’s Mu’jam al-Rijāl can be referred to.

LQS 2.2: Satanic Verses Part 2

LQS 2.2: Satanic Verses Part 2
و كلمة الله هي العليا

And the word of Allah is the highest1

This post is the fourth in a series of summaries of Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat’s book entitled, Amouzish Ulum Qurāni (Learning the Qurānic Sciences). For an introduction to Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat and his works, click here. To read the previous post which introduced the Myth of the Cranes, click here.

When attempting to analyse the narrations concerning the corruption of revelation that Tabari has narrated, what must first be understood is the context in which such narrations were introduced. Upon reading the narrations, one would presume that they were presented in relation to the revelation of Surah al-Najm. However, on the contrary, Tabari has mentioned them in his exegesis for the 52nd verse of Surah al-Hajj which is as follows,

وَ مَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّسُولٍ وَ لَا نَبِىٍّ إِلَّا إِذَا تَمَنَّى أَلْقَى الشَّيْطَنُ فىِ أُمْنِيَّتِهِ فَيَنْسَخُ اللَّهُ مَا يُلْقِى الشَّيْطَنُ ثُمَّ يُحْكِمُ اللَّهُ ءَايَتِهِ  وَ اللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيم‏

We did not send before you any apostle or prophet but that when he recited [the scripture] Satan interjected [something] in his recitation. Thereat Allah nullifies whatever Satan has interjected, [and] then Allah confirms His signs, and Allah is All-knowing, All-wise. 2

It should be noted that this verse is an instance where one’s theological views or exegetical understanding of the verse directly affects the translation of the verse. Tabari by presenting the aforementioned narrations as exegesis for the verse implies that Satan corrupted what the Prophet was reciting. As such, it should be noted that even if the narrations do not hold to be true, an explanation must be provided for what the verse means. Continue reading “LQS 2.2: Satanic Verses Part 2”

  1. al-Toubah 9:40
  2. al-Hajj 22:52

LQS 2.1: Satanic Verses Part 1

LQS 2.1: Satanic Verses Part 1
و ما ينطق عن الهوى ان هو الا وحي يوحى

Nor does he speak out of [his own] desire, it is nothing except revelation that is revealed [to him] 1

This post is the third in a series of summaries of Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat’s book entitled, Amouzish Ulum Qurāni (Learning the Qurānic Sciences). For an introduction to Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat and his works, click here. To read the previous post which discussed the phenomenon of revelation, click here.

As previously mentioned, there exist numerous traditions that are indicative of Satan’s interference during Revelation. These narrations are particularly associated with the revelation of Surah al-Najm and are referred to as myths of the cranes (for reasons that will soon become clear). They can be found in various works, particularly what is popularly known as Tafseer al-Tabari (Jami’ al-Bayan) and Suyuti’s Durr al-Manthur2.

These narrations are attributed to the likes of famous companions such as Ibn Abbas or Sa’eed ibn Jubair. Below, I have presented an abridged translation of one such narration and have thereafter offered some explanatory notes, in the next post I hope to offer some criticism that Allamah Ma’rifat brings forth for such narrations in the first volume of his al-Tamheed. Continue reading “LQS 2.1: Satanic Verses Part 1”

  1. al-Najm 53:3-4
  2. Jami’ al-Bayan v. 17, pg. 131 – 134, Durr al-Manthur v. 4 pg. 194 & 366 – 378

LQS 2: The Phenomenon of Revelation

LQS 2: The Phenomenon of Revelation
اقرأ باسم ربك الذي خلق

Read in the Name of your Lord who created[1]

This post is the second in a series of summaries of Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat’s book entitled, Amouzish Ulum Qurāni (Learning the Qurānic Sciences). For an introduction to Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat and his works, click here. To read the previous post which discussed the sources for Qurānic research, click here.

The second chapter of the book discusses the phenomenon of revelation (wahi). In this post I will attempt to briefly cover Ayatollah Ma’rifat’s discussion concerning the usage of the word “أَوْحَى” (a derivative of wahi), some issues surrounding the matter of Prophetic revelation, as well as his discussion on the different forms through which prophetic revelation was conveyed to Prophets.

The root letters, و ح ي, have multiple “dictionary definitions” according to different scholars. The famous linguist, Raghib Isfahani, defined wahi as, “a prompt signal”[2]. Ibn Fars defined it as, “the delivery of knowledge in a hidden manner (or in some other manner) to someone else”[3]. In Taaj al-Urus, wahi is defined as, “indication”. Most meanings across different dictionaries tend to associate secrecy, speed and the transfer of knowledge with the term wahi.

In terms of its usage within the Qurān, the word wahi and its derivatives have been used 87 times. The verb “أَوْحَى”, a derivative of “وَحِي” has had four primary usages within the Qurān which are the subject of discussion. The first meaning is the same as the dictionary definition as seen in surah Maryam when Prophet Zakariya exits from a place of worship and signals to his people.

فَخَرَجَ عَلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ مِنَ الْمِحْرَابِ فَأَوْحَىٰ إِلَيْهِمْ أَن سَبِّحُوا بُكْرَةً وَعَشِيًّا

So Zakariya came out to his people from the chamber. He told them by signs to celebrate Allah’s praises in the morning and in the evening[4] [5]

Continue reading “LQS 2: The Phenomenon of Revelation”

LQS 1: The Sources for Qurānic Research

LQS 1: The Sources for Qurānic Research

This post is the first in a series of summaries of Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat’s book entitled, “Amouzish Ulum Qurāni” (Learning the Qurānic Sciences). For an introduction to Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat and his works, click here.

In the first chapter of his book, Ayatollah Ma’rifat provides a basic introduction to the Qurānic sciences[1] and then introduces some of the first works that were written pertaining to the Qurānic sciences as well two famous works that were written later on, namely, “al-Burhan fi Ulum al-Qurān”, by Badr al-Deen Zarkashy and “al-Itqān fi Ulum al-Qurān”, by Jalāl al-Deen Suyuti. In what follows, I hope to provide a brief introduction to these works as well as some other works that have been written in the field of the Qurānic sciences.

During the first few centuries after hijra, most works written in relation to the Qurānic sciences pertained to individual subjects rather than many subjects together. Perhaps the first known book to be written in this field was by Yahya bin Ya’mar, a student of Abu Aswad al-Du’ali who himself was a student of Imam Ali. Continue reading “LQS 1: The Sources for Qurānic Research”

Allamah Haadi Ma’rifat

Allamah Haadi Ma’rifat

My last post concerning the sciences of the Qurān provided a brief outline of some of the different sciences that are associated with the Qurān as well as some of the questions that are asked and researched within each respective science.

Now, I feel as if it would be beneficial to delve into a book that will discuss some matters pertaining to each science and attempt to offer brief explanations for different issues. One particular book that I feel would serve this purpose well is that of Allamah Haadi Ma’rifat’s which is entitled, “Amouzish Ulum Qurāni” (Learning the Qurānic Sciences). However, before delving into this book, I’d like to offer some insight into Allamah Haadi Ma’rifat’s life and provide a brief explanation of this book.

Allamah Haadi Ma’rifat (may Allah bless his soul), was born in the holy city of Najaf in the year 1891.

It was here that he pursued his studies, first studying basic Arabic grammar under his father and classical logic under other well-known teachers.
Later, he moved on to studying the principles of jurisprudence (Usul al-Fiqh) and jurisprudence (Fiqh). After a period of time, he moved onto attending the classes of eminent jurists such as Ayatollah Khoei. During this time he began to engage in research along with a group of other scholars in which each of them would choose different subjects and research them. During these research projects Ayatollah Haadi Ma’rifat chose to research the sciences of the Qurān. Continue reading “Allamah Haadi Ma’rifat”