Al-Itqān: Meccan and Medinan Chapters

Al-Itqān: Meccan and Medinan Chapters

In a previous post I introduced “Al-Itqān fī ‘Ulūm al-Qurān” by al-Suyūṭī. I have recently been reading through some chapters of the book and have found many interesting discussions. What follows is a summary of al-Suyūṭī’s discussion on Meccan and Medinan chapters.

Importance of Knowing the Location of Revelation

Many scholars have attested to the importance of knowing the location of revelation of the chapters of the Qurān, particularly for an exegete. This is because knowing where a chapter was revealed can aid one in knowing when the chapter was revealed. This in turn can assist one in determining if that chapter has verses that can act as abrogating verses for other verses. This is according to the view that abrogating verses must come after the verses that they abrogate.

It should be noted that al-Suyūṭī only mentions a few benefits for studying the location of revelation of different chapters. Perhaps the most important reason to study the location of revelation of different chapters is that such knowledge provides necessary context when interpreting different verses. Many verses can be understood very differently if taken to have been revealed later on in the Prophet’s life versus earlier on in his life. In short, any sort of added context aids in the understanding of a text.

Definitions of Meccan/Medinan

To begin with, it should be noted that the words, “Meccan” and “Medinan” have been defined in 3 different ways. That is there are three different understandings of what these words mean which are as follows. Continue reading “Al-Itqān: Meccan and Medinan Chapters”

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”

An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qurān

An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qurān
سبحانک لا علم لنا الا ما علمتنا

Glory be to thee, We have no knowledge except for that which you have taught us[1]

For a while now I have wanted to briefly introduce some of the different subjects that are discussed and researched as a means to understand the Qurān. However, practically I have found this task very difficult due to numerous reasons, one of them being simply because of the numerous subjects that are associated with the Qurān[2]. Anyhow, my goal here is to introduce merely some of the numerous subjects that are critical to one’s understanding of the Qurān.

1. Exegesis of the Qurān (Tafsir)

Perhaps the most widely studied subject in relation to the Qurān is that of exegesis. Exegesis is sometimes defined as, “Attempting to understand the intent of Allah in accordance to the capabilities of human beings”[3]. That is, exegesis is an attempt to understand the intended meaning of Allah within the Qurān while taking into account that man is a limited being and is not necessarily capable of perceiving the depths of the meanings within the Qurān. Throughout history, exegesis has been the subject of a lot of debate and discussion and literally thousands of exegeses (tafasir) have been written in attempting to convey understood meanings of the Qurān. Continue reading “An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qurān”