A Narrative on the Schematic Arrangement of the Qur’ān (Part 1/2)

A Narrative on the Schematic Arrangement of the Qur’ān (Part 1/2)


Hadīth

I. Introduction

A narrative informs us that the sūrahs of the Qur'ān have been arranged in a certain sequence: First the seven long sūrahs called the sab' tiwāl,[1]then the mi'īn sūrahs, then the mathānī and the mufassal at the end.

In this article, the authenticity of this narrative shall be assessed.

II. Representative Texts

حدثنا هشام بن إسماعيل الدمشقي ، عن محمد بن شعيب عن سعيد بن بشير ، عن قتادة ، عن أبي المليح ، عن واثلة بن الأسقع ، عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال : أُعطيتُ السَّبعَ الطُّوَل مكان التوراة ، وأُعطيت المئينَ مكان الإنجيل ، وأُعطيت المثاني مكان الزَّبور ، وفُضلت بالمُفَصَّل

Wāthilah ibn al-Asqa' reports from the Prophet (sws): "I have been given the seven tuwal in place of the Torah, the mi'īn in place of the Injīl, the mathānī in place of the Psalms and have been further blessed with the mufassal."[2]

In a separate text, 'Abdullāh ibn Mas'ūd (rta) is reported to have said:

حدثنا معاذ بن هانئ ثنا إبراهيم بن طهمان ثنا عاصم عن المسيب بن رافع قال قال عبد الله السبع الطول مثل التوراة والمئين مثل الإنجيل والمثاني مثل الزبور وسائر القرآن بعد فضل

The seven tuwal are like the Torah, the mi'īnlike the Injīl, the mathānī like the Psalms and all the remaining Qur'ān is furthermore.[3]

III Criticism on the Narrative

A. Criticism on the Matn

1. No Explanation from the Prophet (sws)

There is no explanation from the Prophet (sws) as to which sūrahs belong to each of the four categories of the sab' tiwāl, the mi'īn, the mathānī and the mufassal respectively. Similarly, we have no guidance from him regarding the meaning of the terms mi'īn, mathānī and mufassal. As a result, people have attempted to give their own interpretations in this regard which has mostly resulted in differing opinions.

Sab' Tiwāl

According to al-Suyūtī,[4] one group believes that the first of these is Sūrah Baqarah and the last is Sūrah Barā'a.[5]

Another opinion recorded by al-Suyūtī is that a narrative from Ibn 'Abbās (rta) reported by al-Hākim and al-Nasā'ī says that the sab' tiwāl are: Baqarah, Āl-i 'Imrān, Nisā', Mā'idah, An'ām, A'rāf. The narrator forgot the seventh.[6] In a narrative from Sa'īd Ibn Jubayr[7] reported by Ibn Abī Hātim and others and in a narrative from Ibn 'Abbās (rta),[8] the seventh is Sūrah Yūnus, while according to a narrative in the book of al-Hakīm, it is Sūrah Kahaf.[9]

Mi'īn

In the opinion of al-Bayhaqī, al-Zarkashī and al-Suyūtī,[10] it refers to sūrahs whose verses are more than a hundred or near to it.

Mathānī

In the opinion of al-Bayhaqī, they are sūrahs which have less than hundred verses, but more than those of the mufassal sūrahs.[11] According to al-Farrā', they are called mathānī because they are read more than the tuwal and the mi'īn sūrahs.[12] Al-Suyūtī has recorded another opinion about the reason for them being called mathānī: they form a pair to the mi'īn sūrahs.[13] In the opinion of al-Nikzāwī,[14] they are called so because in them anecdotes are repeated for the sake of teaching a lesson and for informing us (وقيل لتثنية الأمثال فيها بالعبر والخبر). In Jamāl al-qurrā',[15] mathānī are sūrahs in which anecdotes are repeated. Still another opinion recorded by al-Suyūtī[16] is that mathānī is a name applied to the Qur'ān as a whole and also to Sūrah Fātihah.

Mufassal

According to al-Suyūti,#[17]they are placed after the mathānī sūrahs being among the shorter sūrahs and are called so since there are a lot of divisions between the sūrahs because of the basmalah. Others say that they are called so because they contain very few abrogated verses and for this very reason they are also called the muhkam, as is specified in a narrative in al-Bukhārī from Sa'īd ibn Jubayr.[18] Al-Suyūtī goes on to say that there is a consensus that the last of these is Sūrah Nās. However, about the first there exist the following twelve opinions:

i. Sūrah Qāf (50) (on the basis of the Hadīth of 'Aws ibn Hudyafah)

ii. Sūrah Hujurāt (49) (as specified by Nawawī)

iii. Sūrah Muhammad (47) (al-Māwardī has attributed this to the majority)

iv. Sūrah Jāthiyah (45) (attributed to Qādī 'Iyād)

v. Sūrah Sāffāt (37)

vi. Sūrah Saff (61)

vii. Sūrah Mulk (67) (the above three are narrated by Ibn Abī Sayf in his Nukat al-tanbīh)

viii. Sūrah Fath#(48) (narrated by Kamāl al-Dhumārī in his al-Sharhal-tanbīh)

ix. Sūrah Rahmān(55) (narrated by Ibn Sayyid in his notes on al-Mu'atta')

x. Sūrah Insān (76)

xi. Sūrah Sabbaha (narrated by Ibn al-Firkāh from al-Marzūqī in his Ta'līq)

xii. Sūrah Duhā (93) (narrated by al-Khattābī)

Another opinion about the mufassal as quoted in Imām Rāghib's Mufradāt is that the last hizb (Sūrah Qāf (50) to Sūrah Nās (112)) of the Qur'ān is the mufassal.

Al-Suyūtī[19] goes on to say that within the mufassal sūrahs, there are long (tiwāl), medium (awsāt) and short (qisār) sūrahs. In the opinion of Ibn Ma'an, the long ones end on Sūrah Nabā' (78), the medium ones on Sūrah Duhā (93) and the short ones on the last sūrah of the Qur'ān.

2. Scheme of Sūrahs in the Qur'ān

Let us take a look at the table of sūrahs and the number of verses each has:

Name No of Verses

1. Fātihah 6

2. Baqarah 286

3. A%l-i 'Imrān 200

4. Nisā' 176

5. Mā'idah 120

6. An'ām 166

7. A'rāf 206

8. Anfāl 75

9. Barā'a 129

10. Yūnus 109

11. Hūd 123

12. Yūsuf 111

13. Ra'd 43

14. Ibrāhīm 52

15. Hijr 99

16. Nahl 128

17. Banī Isrā'īl 111

18. Kahaf 110

19. Maryam 98

20. Tāhā 135

21. Anbiyā 112

22. Hajj 78

23. Mu'minūn 118

24. Nūr 64

25. Furqān 77

26. Shu'arā' 227

27. Naml 93

28. Qasas 88

29. 'Ankabūt 69

30. Rūm 60

31. Luqmān 34

32. Sajdah 30

33. Ahzāb 73

34. Sabā' 54

35. Fātir 45

36. Yāsīn 83

37. Sāffāt 182

38. Su'ād 88

39. Zumar 75

40. Mu'min 85

41. Hamīm-Sajdah 54

42. Shūrā 53

43. Zukhruf 89

44. Dukhān 59

45. Jāthiyah 37

46. Ahqāf 35

47. Muhammad 38

48. Fath 29

49. Hujurāt 18

50. Qāf 45

51. Dhāriyāt 60

52. Tūr 49

53. Najm 62

54. Qamar 55

55. Rahmān 78

56. Wāqi'ah 96

57. Hadīd 29

58. Mujādalah 22

59. Hashr 24

60. Mumtahinah 13

61. Saff 14

62. Jumu'ah 11

63. Munāfiqūn 11

64. Taghābun 18

65. Talāq 12

66. Tahrīm 12

67. Mulk 30

68. Qalam 52

69. Hāqqah 52

70. Ma'ārij 44

71. Nūh 28

72. Jinn 28

73. Muzzammil 20

74. Muddaththir 56

75. Qiyāmah 40

76. Dahr 31

77. Mursalāt 50

78. Nabā' 40

79. Nāzi'āt 46

80. 'Abas 42

81. Takwīr 29

82. Infitār 19

83. Mutaffifīn 36

84. Inshiqāq 25

85. Burūj 22

86. Tāriq 17

87. A'lā 19

88. Ghāshiyah 26

89. Fajr 30

90. Balad 20

91. Shams 15

92. Layl 21

93. Duhā 11

94. Alam Nashrah 8

95. Tīn 8

96. 'Alaq 19

97. Qadr 5

98. Bayyinah 8

99. Zilzāl 8

100. 'Ādiyāt 11

101. Qāri'ah 11

102. Takāthur 8

103. 'Asr 3

104. Humazah 9

105. Fīl 5

106. Qurasyh 4

107. Mā'ūn 7

108. Kawthar 3

109. Kāfirūn 6

110. Nasr 3

111. Lahab 5

112. Ikhlās 4

113. Falaq 5

114. Nās 6

A little deliberation on the above table reveals the following facts:

i. We cannot ascertain where the mi'īn sūrahs end, after which the mathānī sūrahs begin. A simple glance at the table above will show that the mi'īn sūrahs are not grouped together. They are rather erratically arranged. One possibility is to regard Sūrah Sāffāt, the thirty-seventh sūrah having 182 verses to be the last of the mi'īn sūrahs because after this there is no sūrah which has more than a hundred verses.

However, two questions arise on this:

a. How can Sūrah Ra'd which is the thirteenth sūrah and has 43 verses, Sūrah Ibrāhīm which is the fourteenth sūrah and has 52 verses, Sūrah Hajj which is the twenty second sūrah and has 78 verses, Sūrah Nur which is the twenty fourth sūrah and has 64 verses, Sūrah Furqān which is the twenty fifth sūrah and has 77 verses, Sūrah 'Ankabūt which is the twenty ninth sūrah and has 69 verses, Sūrah Rūm which is the thirtieth sūrah and has 60 verses, Sūrah Luqman which is the thirty first sūrah and has 34 verses, Sūrah Sajdah which is the thirty second sūrah and has 30 verses, Sūrah Ahzāb which is the thirty third sūrah and has 73 verses, Sūrah Sabā' which is the thirty fourth sūrah and has 54 verses and Sūrah Fatir which is the thirty fifth sūrah and has 45 verses can be classified among the mi'īn sūrahs since each has much less than a 100 verses?

b. How can Sūrah Shu'arā'which isthe twenty sixth sūrah having 227 and Sūrah Saffāt which is the thirty seventh sūrah having 182 verses be classified among the mi'īn sūrahs since each has much more than a 100 verses?

ii. If the mathānī sūrahs are the ones whose number of verses is less than a hundred but is more than that of the mufassal sūrahs, a simple look at the table will reveal that there are many mufassal sūrahs whose number of verses is more than the mathānī sūrahs.

iii. Should the sūrahs having very close to a hundred verses (eg. Hijr which has 99 verses and Maryam which has 98) be classified among the mi'īn sūrahs or the mathānī?

3. Verse Number is not always Proportional to the Length

Since the verses of the Qur'ān are not of the same size and length, the number of verses itself cannot become a standard to judge the length of a sūrah. Thus there are verses which consist of just one word and there are verses which consist of several sentences. Why then would the Prophet (sws) use such a standard?

4. Contradiction in the Texts

Whilst some texts[20] report that the Prophet (sws) said that he has been given the mi'īn in place of the Injīl and the mathānī in place of the Psalms, others[21] report the reverse ie: mi'īn in place of the Psalms and mathānī in place of the Injīl. The narrative reported by Barā'[22] gives an entirely new scheme:

وعن البراء بن عازب أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال إن الله أعطاني السبع الطوال مكان التوراة وأعطاني المبين مكان الإنجيل وأعطاني الطواسين مكان الزبور وفضلني بالحواميم والمفصل ما قرأهن نبي قبلي

The Almighty has given me sab' tuwāl in place of the Torah, the mubīn in place of the Injīl, the tawāsīn in place of the Psalms and has further given me the hawamīm and the mufassal which no prophet before me has read.

Similarly, a narrative attributed to Anas ibn Mālik[23] also gives another scheme:

وأخرخ ابن نصر وابن مردويه عن أنس بن مالك قال سمعت رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم يقول إن الله تعالى أعطاني السبع الطوال مكان التوراة وأعطاني الراءات إلى الطواسين مكان الإنجيل وأعطاني ما بين الطواسين إلى الحواميم مكان الزبور وفضلني بالحواميم والمفصل ما قرأهن نبي قبلي

Anas said that he heard the Messenger of God say: "I have been given the al-sab' al-tiwāl in place of the Torah, the [sūrahs from the] al-rā'āt to the tawāsīn in place of the Injīl, the sūrahs between the tawāsīn and the hawāmmīm in place of the Psalms and have been further blessed with the hawāmmīm and the mufassal – none of the prophets before me recited the likes of them.

Moreover, the two narratives reported in al-Tabarānī's Al-Mu'jam al-kabīr[24] present the scheme in an incomplete manner.

B. Criticism on the Isnād

If all variants of the narrative attributed to the Prophet (sws) are studied, it is found that three Companions: Wāthilah ibn al-Asqa', Abū Umāmah and Thawbān narrate it from the Prophet (sws).[25] Their chains of narration can be summarized as follows:

1. Wāthilah ibn al-Asqa'

Wāthilah ibn al-Asqa'

Abū Malīh

Abū Burdah

Layth ibn Abī Sulaym

Fazārī

Ibn Himyar

Muhammad ibn Hafs

al-Tabarī

Qatādah

Sa'īd ibn Bashīr 'Imrān al-Qattān Sa'd ibn Qays

Following of these narrators are regarded as suspect by authorities:

i. Qatādah ibn Di'āmah

Qatādah is famous for tadlīs[26] and all variants of the narrative are his 'an'anah.

ii. Sa'īd ibn Bashīr al-Azdī

According to al-Nasā'ī, he is da'īf;[27] Ibn Hibbān[28] records that he has a very bad memory and makes a lot of errors and reports from Qatādah narratives which do not have any corroboration. Al-'Uqaylī[29] records that according to Yahyā ibn Ma'īn, he is laysa bi shay'.

iii. 'Imrān ibn Dāwar al-Qattān

'Uqaylī[30] records that in the opinion of Yahyā ibn Ma'īn, 'Imrān ibn Dāwar al-Qattān is da'īf and Ahmad ibn Hanbal says that he is hopeful that he may be sālihal-hadīth. According to al-Nasā'ī[31] also, he is da'īf. Ibn Hajar[32] records that he is sadūq and is forgetful.

Al-Mizzī[33] records that 'Abbās al-Dūrī reports from Yahyā ibn Ma'īn that he is laysa bi al-qawī and at another place Yahyā says that he is laysa huwa bi shay' and that Yahyā ibn Sa'id al-Qattān did not consider him worthy of being narrated from; similarly, at one instance, Abū Dā'ūd al-Sajistānī has calls him da'īf and at another he says that he has not heard anything bad about him.

iv. Layth ibn Abī Sulaym

One group of scholars has regarded him to be suspect. According to Ibn Hibbān[34] in his last years, he had a bad memory and would not know what he was narrating, would mix-up the chains of narration and make mursal narratives marfū' and wrongly attribute reports to sound narrators; Ibn Hibbān goes on to add that Yahyā ibn Sa'īd al-Qattān, Yahyā ibn Ma'īn, 'Abd al-Rahmān ibn Mahdī and Ahmad ibn Hanbal have forsaken him. He also adds that in the opinion of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, he is da'īf al-hadīth jiddanand makes many mistakes. According to al-Nasā'ī, he is da'īf.[35] Ibn Hajar says that he is sadūq, mixes up a lot, is not able to distinguish between his narratives and has been forsaken.[36] Al-Mizzī[37] records that Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Ibn Abī Hātim and Abū Zur'ah regard him to be mudtarib al-hadīth and that Ibn Abī Hātim also regards him to be da'īf al-hadīth. Ibn Hajar[38] records that Yahyā ibn Ma'īn calls him to be munkar al-hadīth and Ibn Sa'd and Ya'qūb ibn Shaybah regard him to be da'īf al-hadīth

v. Sa'd ibn Qays

He is majhūl. No information is available on him. He could actually be Sa'īd ibn Bashīr because in the given narratives Qatādah is the teacher of both and Muhammad ibn Shu'ayb is enlisted as a student of both. After allسعد بن بشير could easily have become سعيد بن قيس.[39]

vi. Muhammad ibn Himyar

According to Abū Hātim[40] he is yukatabu hadīthuhū wa lā yuhtajju bihī. Ibn al-Jawzī[41] has recorded in his al-Mawdū'āt that Ya'qūb ibn Sufyān says that he is laysa bi al-qawī. Al-Dhahabī[42] says about him: lahū gharā'ib wa afrād.

vii. Muhammad ibn Hafs al-Wassābī

Al-Dhahabī records that Ibn Abī Hātim abandoned him when he was told that al-Wassābī was not attested to and that according to Ibn Mandah, he is da'īf.[43] Ibn Hibbān[44] says: yughribu.

It may also be noted that the al-Tabarī narrative chain is broken because in the opinion of Ibn Abī Hātim, Muhammad ibn Hafs never met Muhammad ibn Himyar.[45]

It may further be noted that in a narrative recorded by al-Tabarī, one of the narrators below Sa'īd ibn Bashīr is Dā'ūd ibn al-Jarrāh. This seems to be an example of tashīf because there is no evidence of any Dā'ūd ibn al-Jarrāh reporting from Sa'īd ibn Bashīr or being the informant of the subsequent narrator: Muhammad ibn Khalf al-'Asqalānī. It seems that the actual person who reports from Sa'īd ibn Bashīr is Rawwād ibn al-Jarrāh because authorities specify Sa'īd ibn Bashīr as his teacher and Muhammad ibn Khalf al-'Asqalānī as his student.[46] In all probability, the word (داود) Dā'ūd could have become (رواد) Rawwād.

2. Abū 'Umāmah

Abū 'Umāmah

Abū Malīh

Abū Bardah

Layth ibn Abī Sulaym

Fudayl ibn 'Iyād

Ahmad ibn Yūnus

Muhammad ibn 'Uthmān ibn Abī Shaybah

al-Tabarānī

Following of these narrators are suspect:

i. Layth ibn Abī Sulaym

See above.

ii. Muhammad ibn 'Uthmān ibn Abī Shaybah

Although some authorities have regarded him to be trustworthy, here is what al-Dhahabī[47] records about him: 'Abdullāh ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal, 'Abdullāh ibn 'Usāman al-Kalbī, Ibrāhīm ibn Ishāq al-Sawwāf and Dā'ūd ibn Yahyā say that he is a great liar and Ibn Khirāsh says that he fabricates narratives. Ja'far ibn Muhammad al-Tayālisī says that not only is he a great liar, he attributes to people narrations which are never reported by those who have actually heard them.

3. Thawbān

Thawbān, the mawlā of Muhammad (sws)

Abū Asmā' 'Amr ibn Marthad al-Rahbī

Shaddād ibn 'Abdullāh

Yahyā ibn Abī Kathīr al-Yamāmī

Ayyūb ibn 'Utbah al-Yamāmī

al-Hajjāj ibn Muhammad

Hilāl ibn al-'Alā

'Abdullāh ibn Muhammad ibn Muslim

+

Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Hamdūn

Abū Muhammad al-Hasan ibn Ahmad al-Makhladī

Abū Ishāq Tha'labī

Abū Sa'īd Ahmad ibn Ibrāhīm al-Sharīhī

al-Baghwī (in his tafsīr)[48]

In the above chain, Ayyūb ibn 'Utbah is suspect.




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Handling Mature Children

Let us Promise…

An Introduction to Ghāmidī’s Mīzān

Visit to a Graveyard

Are We Ready to Die?

A Shame to Humanity[1]!

A Critical Evaluation of Variations found in the ‘Uthmānic Copies (Part 4/4)

A Critical Evaluation of Variations found in the ‘Uthmānic Copies (Part 3/4)

A Critical Evaluation of Variations found in the ‘Uthmānic Copies (Part 2/4)

A Critical Evaluation of Variations found in the ‘Uthmānic Copies (Part 1/4)

The Key to Successful Marriage

Taming the Tongue

Sexual Intimacy between Husband and Wife

Pretension and Pomposity

The Cause of Truth

Narrative on the Changes made in the Qur’ān by al-Hajjāj ibn Yūsuf

Sūrah Mā’idah (64-89)

Sympathy

A Man of Steel

Critical Evaluation of Ustuwānah al-Mushaf Narratives

Humility

Fasting in Extreme Conditions

How to overcome Selfishness

Nothing but the Truth, Please!

Narratives on the Collection of the Qur’ān by ‘Alī(rta) (part 1/3)

Narratives on the Collection of the Qur’ān by ‘Alī(rta) (part 2/3)

Narratives on the Collection of the Qur’ān by ‘Alī(rta) (part 3/3)

A Tribute to Brig (retd.) Noor Ahmed Husain (Quaid e Azam’s Last Military ADC)

Courage

Appendix C: A Brief Biographical Sketch of Hamīd al-Dīn al-Farāhī (1863-1930) [1]

Appendix B:  A Brief Summary of the Views of Traditional and Radical Western Scholars

Appendix A:  A Summary of the View of Traditional Muslim Scholars

A Critical Evaluation of Farahī’s View on the Collection of the Qur’ān

A Citizen of Paradise (Written on the Martyrdom of Dr Habib ur Rahman)

Forgiveness

Gratitude

Your Questions Answered

Reason and Revelation

Your Questions Answered

Explanation of Some Qur’ānic Words

Explanation of Some Jarh Terms

The Warrior who became a Martyr

A Narrative on the Placement of Sūrah Anfāl (8) and…

A Critical Analysis of the Narratives on the… (Part 1/2)

A Critical Analysis of the Narratives on the… (Part 2/2)

Your Questions Answered

Travelling Alone!

A Narrative on the Schematic Arrangement of the Qur’ān (Part 2/2)

A Narrative on the Schematic Arrangement of the Qur’ān (Part 1/2)

The Word Rusul in the Qur’ān

Your Questions Answered

Mustafā A‘zamī’s Critique on “The Dishonest Scribe” Narratives

A Passionate Preacher of the Qur’an passes away!

Animal Sacrifice

… And the List is Unending!

English Translation of the first volume of Tadabbur-i Qur’ān

Sūrah Ghāshiyah

Your Questions Answered

Jihād in the Qur’ān

Your Questions Answered