Shan-e-Nuzool of Al-Qur’an Revelation Of Quran
Shan-e-Nuzool means the particular circumstances, context or events in which or in response to which, particular verses of Al-Qur’an were revealed to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). This is also a very essential science needed for understanding Al-Qur’an. There are two types of verses in Al-Qur’an, one includes those which Allah sent down Himself and were not in response to any particular event or question posed towards Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). The second type includes those verses which were sent down in response to a particular event or question. It is for understanding of the second type of verses one needs to know the Shan-e-Nuzool. Some people believe that it is not important to know the Shan-e-Nuzool, but this are not correct, as it is very difficult to understand the correct meaning of these verses without having in mind the background for which or in response to which these verses were revealed.
“It is not possible to understand the meaning of a verse of Al-Qur’an unless one refers to its Shan-e-Nuzool” (A1 -Itiqan)
Ibne Daqeeq says:
“The Shan-e-Nuzool helps strongly in understanding Al-Qur’an” (al-itiqan)
Ibne Taymiyah says:
“To Know Shan-e-Nuzool, helps in understanding of a verse of Al-Qur’an (A1 Itiqan)
- Al-Qur’an contains the verse:
“Perish the two hands of Abu Lahab and perish he!”
If one does not know its Shan-e-Nuzool one would wonder as to why Allah Ta’ala called a particular person by name and then cursed him with such words. After knowing its Shan-e-Nuzool, it is very easy to understand it. Once it so happened that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) called Quraish tribe to a mountain namely Safa soon after he was bestowed upon with prophet-hood, he invited them to believe in one Allah and His Messenger. On hearing it, one of his uncles namely Abu Lahab said:
“May you perish, is this what you invited us for”
It was in response to these words of Abu Lahab that Allah Ta’ala revealed the above quoted verses of Surah Lahab to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)
- Another verse reads:
“And you (Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)) threw not when you did throw, but Allah threw” (8:17)
It is again very difficult to understand these words of Allah unless one knows the Shan-e-Nuzool. These were revealed in the battle of Badr, when Rasullullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was trapped by the unbelievers (Kufaar) and he threw a handful of sand towards them and then succeeded in coming out of that trap as the non-believers were unable see him after he threw sand towards them.
3- Again another verse reads;
“O you who believe! Approach not As-Salat when you are in drunken state”.
If one does not know the Shan-e-Nuzool of this verse, he can say if wine is totally prohibited in Islam then what is the meaning of this verse of the Qur’an? The Shaan-e-Nuzool of this Ayat is quoted on the authority of Hadhrat Ali (RA).
He says that Abdul Rehman bin Auf (RA) once invited some Sahabah to meals, it was before the wine was prohibited in Islam. After taking their meals they also drank wine and one of the Sahabah led the congregation of Salah in that drunken state. He committed some mistakes while reciting the Qur’an.
This Ayat was revealed after this incident. After coming to know the Shan-e-Nuzool of this Ayat, one can easily understand its meaning. Here, we should know that wine was forbidden in Islam in stepwise fashion, not all at once.
The complete prohibition of the consumption of wine was later on decreed in another Ayat.
Seven Qirats of the Qur’an
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:
“Indeed the Qur’an was revealed in seven (types of) Haroof or words (or Qirats), so read (the way) that is easier to you”. (Sahih Bukhari )
In Sahih Muslim there is a Hadith which states that once Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was sitting near a pond which belonged to Bani Gifar clan and Angel Jibra’eel (AS) came to him and asked him to order his Ummah to recite Al- Qur’an as per a single Harf (word) or Qirat.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) told him that his Ummah was not capable of doing it, then Jibra’eel (AS) came again and asked Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) to order his Ummah to recite Al-Qur’an as per two haroof (words) or Qirats.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) repeated the same words which he had said on first occasion, this process continued and in the end Jibre’aal (AS) asked Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) to order his Ummah to recite the Qur’an as per seven Haroof or (words) or Qirats. This permission to recite Al-Qur’an as per seven Haroof was to make it easy for the Ummah.
What is meant by Haroof? There are many schools of thought about it, some say that these mean seven different types of words, some say seven different types of Qirats while others say that these mean seven different dialects of different clans of Arabs.
Imam Tahawi’s opinion: He says that Al-Quran was revealed in the same dialect which was used by Quraish, since Arabs were living in different tribes to follow the Quraish dialect, so in the initial days of Islam, these tribes were allowed to recite the Qur’an in their own dialect, choosing an equivalent word and Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) himself had chosen these equivalent words, e.g., word ‘Halumma’ instead of ‘T’aal’, both meaning the same thing.
But this permission was only in the early days of Islam and later it became easy for other tribes also to follow Quriash dialect and this permission was lifted. (Mushkilul Aathar Lil Tahawi; Uloom-Ul-Qur’an)
Difference in Seven Types of Qirats of Quran:
1. Difference in nouns: In this there is difference either in number or gender. In one, word is recited.
2. Difference in verb: In this there is difference of present, past or future tenses.
3. Difference of Aerab (diacritical marks): In which there is difference of Zabr (Fateh), Zer (Kasrah) and Pesh (Zammah).
4. Difference in number of words: In this there is difference of a word i.e., in one type of recitation (Qirat) a word is used and in other the same word is missing.
5. Substitutions of a word: In this an equivalent of a word is recited in other Qirat.
6. Difference in sequence: In this one type of word is preceding a particular word and in other the same word is succeeding that particular word
7. Difference in recitation: In this same word is recited differently in different Qirats.
Sahih Muslim narrates a Hadith on the authority of Hadhrat Ubai bin ka’b (RA): “While I was in the Masjid, someone entered and offered Salah in which he recited the Qur’an to which I objected (as he recited differently), then another person entered and he recited the Qur’an yet differently than his earlier friend.
After they completed Salah, we all went to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and I said, “This person recited the Qur’an to which I objected and then his friend also recited yet in a different way.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) asked both of them to recite the Qur’an and (once they recited), Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) admired their recitation. This created a great doubt (about the truthfulness of Islam) in my mind and I felt as if I have again reached towards the period of Jahilliya.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) sensed that and gave a (gentle) blow on my chest, I went all in perspiration and I felt as I was seeing Allah in this state that I could distinguish between right and wrong.
Then he (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) told me, “O! Ubai, the Qur’an was sent to me and I was told to recite in one Harf (word), I recited by saying, O Allah, make it easy for my Ummah, then it was returned to me and I was told to recite in two Harf (words), I repeated the same till I was told to recite it in seven Haroof (words)”.
1- Do these seven Qir’ats still exist?
2- Did Hadhrat Uthmaan (RA) abrogate six Qir’ats when he compiled the Qur’an?
3- The Qur’an is a word of Allah and has been promised everlasting protection, then how come some of the Qir’ats can be abrogated?
4- What is meant by the fact that Hadhrat Uthamaan (RA) asked the Sahabah to follow his compilation alone and that he unified all the seven Qir’ats in his one compilation?
Alaama Zarqani (RA) in Manaahil-ul-Irfan writes:
“All the seven Qir’ats or Haroof exist in the Qur’an that Hadhrat Uthmaan’s (RA) compiled. There was consensus amongst all the Sahabah about the fact that Hadhrat Uthmaan’s (RA) compilation contained all the seven Qir’ats (Haroof) and they all agreed to abandon their own compilations and follow the compilation of Hadhrat Uthmaan (RA). Hadhrat Uthmaan (RA) actually copied that copy of the Qur’an which was compiled by Hadhrat Abu Bakr (RA) which again contained all the seven Qir’ats or Haroof.”
Alaama Zarqani (RA) further writes:
“There is a consensus amongst the most of earlier and later Ulema of Muslim Ummah that Hadhrat Uthmaan’s (RA) compilation contained all the seven Qir’ats or Haroof and it was same as was presented to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) by Hadhrat Jibraeel (AS) in his last presentation in the last Ramadhan of Rasulullah’ s (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) life.”
Imam Ahmad has quoted a Hadith in his Musnad that:
Hadhrat Jibraeel (AS) used to recite the Qur’an to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) once during every Ramadhan. During the last Ramadhan of Rasulullah’ s (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) life, Jibraeel (AS) recited Al-Qur’an (whole of it) twice. As quoted earlier from Imam Tahawi (RA), that in early days of Islam different tribes were allowed to follow their dialects and when the Qur’anic revelation got completed and the time of departure of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) came near, Hadhrat Jibraeel AS) recited Al-Qur’an to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) which was as per the dialect of Quraish and which contained all the seven Qir’ats. Alama Zikariya(RA) says that Haztrat Uthmaan (RA) completed the Qur’an as per this last recitation of Hadhrat Jibraeel (AS).
Alama Ibne-al-Jazri says that I have studied these differences in the Qir’ats and have observed that they do not exceed three states, viz;
1. Difference of words and not meaning. For example, the words like Maalik and Malik, both having same meaning.
2. Difference between these words with the possibility of incorporating them in a single word.
3. Difference between these words without the possibility of incorporating them in a single word, but they coincide in meaning with each other by some other reason, so no difference. (Manahil-ul-Irfan)