Some issues about The revelation of the Qur’an 1

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The condition and order of revelation of Qur’anic verses
That the chapters and verses were not revealed in one place but rather in stages over a period of twenty –three years during the Prophet’s mission is a authenticated not only by historical evidence but also from the various. In XVII:106 we read: “ And it is a Qur’an that we have divided that you may recite it to mankind at intervals and we revealed it by (successive) revelation,” As further proof there are abrogating and abrogated verses which are directly related to events from different periods and circumstances and which obviously were not revealed at one time.

At this point we should note that the chapters and verses were not revealed in the order in which they are set out, that is the first chapter “al- Fatihah” (The Opening) was revealed after “The Cow”, “The Family of “Imran”, “Women”, and “ The Table Spread”, This is true for the order of the verses which do not necessarily follow chronologically. The content of a Qur’anic text may for example show that the content of some chapters and verses concord with the first period of the Prophet’s mission-like the chapters “The Clot”, and “Nun” but are recorded at the end of the Qur’an.

Many chapters and verses which correspond to the time after the migration like “The Cow”, “The Family of “Imran”, “Women” “The Spoils” and “ Repentance have been placed at the beginning of the Qur’an.

The contents of the chapters and verses are thus directly related to the events, circumstances and different needs of the period of the Prophet’s mission: the chapters and verses with only with the calling of the polytheists to belief in God’s oneness and the struggle against the idol- worshippers corres- pond to time before the migration when the Prophet was inviting the people to Islam in Mecca.

The verses dealing with battles and those dealing with social laws revealed after the events and circumstances associated with the establishment and progress of the Islamic society in Medina.

Dividing The chapters and verses according to the position of revelation
We many divide the chapters and Qur’anic verses according to the place, time and circumstances of their revelation: Some of the chapters are Meccan and some Medinan, usually those revealed before the Prophet’s migration are counted as Meccan. The majority of the chapters and especially the shorter ones, are of this type. Those revealed after the migration are counted as Medinan even though they may have been revealed outside Medinan or even in Mecca.

Some chapters and verses were revealed while The Prophet was travelling and some while he was resident in a place. The verses are also divided according to whether they were revealed by day or by night, in peace or in war, or when the Prophet was on earth or in the heavens, he was alone or with others.

Some chapters were revealed more than once such as the chapter “al- Fatihah,” which was revealed once in Mecca and once in Medinan. Some verses revealed several times like, “Which is it of favours of your Lord do you deny”, in the chapter “The Beneficent” which is repeated thirty times, and the verses,” And indeed your Lord He is truly the Mighty, the Merciful,” which is repeated eight times.

Sometimes one verses, occurs in more than one chapter such as “they say: when is the fulfilment of promise, if your are truthful”We find, too, that a sentence as a complete verses in one chapter and as part of another verses elsewhere, for example, the sentence, “ Allah! there is no God save Him, The Alive, The Eternal, “ is a complete verses in the beginning of “chapter and as part of “The Family of “Imran”, Yet, in “The Cow”, it is part of the “al- Kursi” verses. Most chapter and verses, however, were revealed in one place at one time and not recur in the Book. Similar verses appear in different places in the Qur’an because of certain subjects which demand repetition. One of the significant features of the Qur’an is the difference in the length the chapters. We may compare “Abundance” (the shortest chapter) and “The Cow”, ( the longest).

Likewise we may the length of verses, with the shortest being the single arabic word “ mudhammatan” (dark green with foliage) and the longest, composed of thirty sentences being the two hundred and eighty-second verse of “The Cow”,( whose subject concerns debt).

All these differences are in accordance with the demands of the revelation. Some times it happens that two verse are closely connected in meaning but differ greatly in length, for example, the thirtieth and thirty- first verse of “The Cloaked One’, the first being a single sentence and the second more than eleven sentence.

We should not forget that most of the shorter verse like “The Dawn” and “The Night” are Meccan, and those whose subject matter is treated in greater length and detail are Medinan. The first verse to be revealed to the Prophet was during the revelation of the first verse of “The Clot” and the last to be revealed was verses 281 of “The Cow”: “ And guard yourselves against a day in which you will be brought back to Allah. Then every soul will be paid in full that which it has earned and they will not be wronged.

The reason for the revelation
Many of the verses are connected with events and circum – stances which took place as the Prophet called the people to Islam, for example “The Cow”.

Other chapters, like “The Tribe”, refer to the exile of the Banu al- Nadir and the chapter “ The Coursers” was revealed for the Bedouin Arabs of the Dry Valley and other tribes. Some chapters or verses were revealed because of the need to explain the laws, and directions of Islam, for example, the chapter “ Women” which defined marriage and the inheri- tance of Women “ The Spirits” which explains how to deal with the prisoners –of war captured as booty and, chapter “Divorce” which was revealed, as its name suggests, to explain divorce.

The circumstances leading to the revelation of the chapters and called “ reasons for revelation” and there are countless traditions on this subject.

Amongst the Sunni’s there are many traditions which deal with the reasons for revelation, several thousand narrations may be enumerated (although in the Shi’ah School only a few hundred may be counted). Many of these are without a chain of narration and not accepted as fully trustworthy, moreover, a considerable number are classified as weak.

Studying and criticizing the narrations of “the reason for the revelation”
The dubious nature of the majority of these may be ascribed to the following reasons. Firstly, it is obvious from the from of many of these sayings that the narrator had not learned them through oral transmission but rather based on his own judgement, that the revelation of a certain verses was con -nected with certain events. Thus the narrator like a certain event to a verse of suitable meaning mentioned in the tradition.

This is subjective view, carried out through ijtihad or personal reflection upon the matter, the and not actual reason for revelation leaned orally through transmission from the Prophet. As proof of this argument, we cite many inconsistencies among these traditions. These are verses, for example, recorded as having several conflicting “ reason for revelation” which are totally unconnected with each other.

Ibn “Abbas, for example, who is not alone in this practice relates several “ reasons for the revelation” of one single verse. The existence of such conflicting reason is because many have been arrived at through subjective deliberation rather than transmitted directly from the Prophet. This results in one narrator attributing a certain verses to a particular event while another narrator attributes it to another event.

On other occasions a narrator relates two different reason for the revelation of one verses and thus implicates himself in two conflicting views, then he rejects the first view in favour of the second. We are led to conclude, moreover, that most of these narrations are fabrications or deceitfully transmitted under the pretence of trustworthy narrators. Such doubt concerning the validity of many of these traditions greatly endangers their credibility.

Secondly, it has been related with certainty that the early Caliphs strictly prohibited the recording and writing down of the narrations and, whenever a sheet of paper or tablet was found on which a saying had been writing, it was burned. This prohibition lasted until nearly the need of the first century after Hijrah, that is for a period of about ninety years. The effect of this prohibition was that the narrators and scholars of sayings were free to make small additions or changes during oral transmission of the sayings. These additions gradually accumulated until the original meaning of the sayings was lost.

This becomes very clear on investigation of an event or subject has been related by two different narrators, one may come across a sayings which describes an event and see the same event described in a different way by another narrator. False sayings were not only introduced by attributing them to respected narrators but also by the hypocrites.Their sayings soon became part of the main body of sayings and this further undermined the credibility of this particular section of the Science of tradition.

The method used in describing “ The reason for the revelation”
Past scholars of Islam, and in particular the Sunni scholars, attached great importance to the order or revelation of the chapters. Among the narration on the subject is that of Ibn “Abbas, who has said that “the beginning of each chapter which was revealed in Mecca was recorded as having in that very place, then God added what He wanted to it.

Sources

The quran in islam-pages: 88to92

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