Islamic Culture

Q&A: Collection of the Holy Qur’an, The Seven Recitations and Tafsir of the Ayah: “While Allah created you and that which you do”


Dear Brother, Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatahu

1. In the book Ash-Shaksiyah 3 (Islamic Personality Volume III), under the topic “The First Evidence – The Book”, under the point “Fourth” it says: “The research on it does not concern the question whether it is from the Qur’an. Rather it concerns its submission and delay…”  What is meant by that?

2. Concerning the recitations: Some consider the recitations that were transmitted through Tawatur to be seven, others consider them to be ten. What is the correct opinion on this issue?

3. The recitations that were transmitted as Ahad (not reaching the status of Tawatur), and are in harmony with the Uthmani scripture and the Arabic meaning, how to treat them? Can they be applied for recitation?

Also the odd recitations that have been transmitted as Ahad but do not correspond with what has been written in the Mushaf, how to treat them?

4. Do you have a specific assessment on the issue of the seven letters?

5. I have another questioning pertaining to Tafsir and hope that I have not overburdened you. The question concerns the explanation of the holy Ayah:

وَاللَّهُ خَلَقَكُمْ وَمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

“While Allah created you and that which you do?”

(As-Saffat, 37:96)

Some of the translations I have consulted say: It is possible that it is the origin and it is possible that it is the consequence, so how to decide between the two? What is the impact on the Islamic schools of thought in connection to the topic of al-Qadaa’ wal-Qadar?

Barakallahu Feek, may Allah open the gates of His blessings on you.

Wassalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatahu



Wa Alaikum Assalaam wa Rahmatullahi Wabarakatahu

1. What you have mentioned from what came in As-Shaksiya 3 (Islamic Personality Volume III)… There was a confusion which has been revised and corrected, and the passage became as follows:

“Fourth: The collection of the Qur’an is a controversy transferred from the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, because transmission is upon hearing from the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم verbally, and this is the subject of research. The collection of verses into one Mushaf does not concern the question whether the Ayat are from the Qur’an, and the collection was not through scripture from the Huffaz. Rather it was a gathering of papers that had been written down between the hands of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and were then arranged according to every Surah as read by the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم, then encountering what the Huffaz had from it of the Qur’an and storing them in one place…”

2. The Recitations transmitted through Tawatur (repeated chains of transmissions):

A. The seven recitations transmitted through Tawatur are the ones by which the Muslims read in the presence of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم as much as Allah willed. They are collected in Uthman’s Mushaf (ra). A number of the Tabi’in and their Tabi’in from the Scholars of recitation collected the recitations and their lines of transmission (Isnad). In the books they laid down the lines of transmission in detail, inspecting all of which is connected to them.

These are the Scholars, the owners of the seven recitations:

– Nafi’ Bin Abdul Rahman Bin Abi Na’eem Al-Lithi (Mawlahum) Abu Ruwaim the Madinese Reciter, died in 169 AH in Madina.

The ones who narrated from him were: Qalun, who died around 220 AH in Madina and Warsh, who died 197 AH in Egypt.

– Abdullah Bin Kathir Abu Mu’abbad Mawla ‘Amro Bin ‘Alqama al-Kanani ad-Dari al-Makki, who has born 45 AH in Mecca and died in Mecca in 120 AH.

The ones who narrated from him were: Al-Bazzi Ibn Abi Bazza, the Meccan Muaddhin who died 250 AH in Mecca and Qunbul al-Makki al-Makhzumi, who died 291 AH in Mecca.

– Abu ‘Amro Bin al-‘Ala’ al-Mazani, the reciter of the people of Basra who was born in Mecca in 68 or 70 AH, he grew up in al-Basra and died in Kufa in 154 AH.

The ones who narrated from him were: Ad-Duri who resided in Baghdad and died 246 AH and As-Susi who died 261 AH.

– Abdullah Bin ‘Amir al-Yahsabiy, the Imam of the people of ash-Sham in recitation, he was from the Tabi’in and died in Damascus in 118 AH.

The one who narrated from him was: Hisham Bin ‘Ammar ad-Dimashqiy, born 173 AH and died 242 AH in Damascus.

– ‘Assim Bin Abi an-Najud al-Assadiy (Mawlahum) al-Kufiy, who died at the end of the year 127 AH.

The one who narrated from him was: Shu’ba al-Kufiy al-Assadiy al-Bazzaz al-Kufiy, who died around 190 AH.

– Hamza Bin Habib az-Ziyat al-Kufiy, born 80 AH and died 156 AH in Hulwan.

The ones who narrated from him were: Khalaf Bin Hisham al-Bazzaz, who died in Baghdad in 229 AH and Khalad Bin Khalid al-Kufiy, who died in Kufa in 220 AH.

– Al-Kasa’iy (because he resided in Kasa’) al-Kufiy, the reciter with Nahuw, born around 120 AH and died in Ranbawih in 189 AH.

The ones who narrated from him were: Abul Harith al-Laith Bin Khalad al-Bahgdadiy, who died in 240 AH and Hafs ad-Duriy, who was the former narrator from Abi ‘Amro.

The Masahif that are currently being printed come in the recitation of Hafs from ‘Asim, in the same scripture used by ‘Uthman (ra). There are other print versions of the Mushaf that come in the recitation of Warsh or Qalun from Nafi’, especially in some African regions.

The best known among the Scholars who collected the seven recitations is Imam Ahmad Bin Musa Bin al-Abbas, better known as Ibn Mujahid, who died in 324 AH. He singled out the known seven recitations and reported them in his book “As-Sab’a fi al-Qira’at”, where he mentioned the Scholars of the seven readings. These seven recitations have occupied firm positions in registration and became a destination for students of recitation. Ibn Mujahid built his choice upon very high conditions. He did not take a recitation except from an Imam who was known for his accuracy and integrity, and who spent a lifetime with internalizing the science of recitation, with the agreement of taking and receiving from him. This resulted in the outcome of the recitation of those seven we have mentioned above.

B. And when Shams ad-Din Abu al-Khair Ibn al-Jazri, Muhammad Bin Muhammad Bin Yusuf, who died in 833 AH, came, he researched the transmission of the recitations and found another three recitations, which he saw to be like the seven recitations that came through Tawatur in accordance with the ‘Uthmani scripture. He put them down in writing in his book “An-Nashr fi al-Qira’at al-‘Ashr”, mentioning the names of the three scholars he had added. They are:

Abu Jaafar Yazid Bin al-Qa’qa’ al-Madani, who died 130 AH.

Yaqub Bin Ishaq al-Hadrami al-Kufi, who died in 205 AH.

Khalaf Bin Hisham Abu Muhammad al-Bazzar al-Assadi al-Baghdadi, who died in 229 AH.

I have paid interest to the seven Mutawatir recitations, as I mentioned in my book “Taysir al-Wusul ila al-Usul” with their lines of transmission and their transmitters… I did not study the other three recitations mentioned by al-Jazri, although al-Jazri and other Scholars placed them on the same level as the seven Mutawatir recitations. I will research them in detail in the future in sha Allah, to attain this noble knowledge.

3. With regard to the recitations that are not Mutawatir, whether they comply with the scripture of the ‘Uthmani Mushaf or not, reciting the Qur’an with them is not permissible. They are not Qur’anic, because the Qur’an is what has been transmitted from the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم through Mutawatir transmission.

4. Revelation of the Qur’an in Seven Letters:

The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

إِنَّ هَذَا القُرْآنَ أُنْزِلَ عَلَى سَبْعَةِ أَحْرُفٍ، فَاقْرَءُوا مَا تَيَسَّرَ مِنْهُ

“This Qur’an was revealed in seven letters. Read from it what is facilitated for you.” (Agreed upon)

He صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

أَقْرَأَنِي جِبْرِيلُ عَلَى حَرْفٍ فَرَاجَعْتُهُ، فَلَمْ أَزَلْ أَسْتَزِيدُهُ وَيَزِيدُنِي حَتَّى انْتَهَى إِلَى سَبْعَةِ أَحْرُفٍ

“Jibril made me read in one letter so I reviewed it. I did not add to it but he kept adding to me until he terminated seven letters.” (Al-Bukhari)

The scholars differed as to the meaning of “seven letters”, some of them settled the differences of language in the Mutawatir recitations and collected them in seven groups: “Wujuh al-I’rab – Az-Ziyadah wa an-Naqs – At-Taqdim wa at-Ta’khir – Al-Qalab wa al-Ibdal – The forms of pronunciation such as Tarqiq, Tafkhim, Imala, Fath…” and some of the scholars settled them to be Arab languages that did not come out by Mutawatir recitations …

After studying the subject, I assume that the seven letters are languages as in “dialects” of the Arab tribes from which the Arabic tongue emerged, which were the subject of competition between the eloquent at the time of the descent of the Holy Quran. This because the Mutawatir recitations do not depart from language “dialects” of these tribes, which are the seven famous fluent dialects at the time of the revelation of the Holy Qur’an:

• Quraish • Tamim • Qais • Asad • Hadheel • section of the Kenana • section of at-Ta’iyeen

This is what I perceive to be correct in this matter, so what is meant be the seven letters are the seven dialects of the Arabic tribes mentioned above. This does not mean that it is permissible to recite the Qur’an in all his wordings in the dialects of these seven tribes, rather the Qur’an has to be recited solely as reported from the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم through Tawatur, because recitation in other than what came through Tawatur is not permissible, since what is not mutawatir cannot be considered from the Qur’an.

5. As for the translation of the Ayah:

وَاللَّهُ خَلَقَكُمْ وَمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

“While Allah created you and that which you do?”

(As-Saffat, 37:96)

The “ما” is a linking element, i.e. Allah سبحانه وتعالى created you and created the idols that you worship. The obvious meaning (Nass) of the Ayah is evidence for that, since Allah سبحانه وتعالى says:

فَرَاغَ إِلَى آلِهَتِهِمْ فَقَالَ أَلَا تَأْكُلُونَ مَا لَكُمْ لَا تَنْطِقُونَ فَرَاغَ عَلَيْهِمْ ضَرْبًا بِالْيَمِينِ فَأَقْبَلُوا إِلَيْهِ يَزِفُّونَ قَالَ أَتَعْبُدُونَ مَا تَنْحِتُونَ  وَاللَّهُ خَلَقَكُمْ وَمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

“Then he turned to their gods and said, “Do you not eat? What is [wrong] with you that you do not speak?” And he turned upon them a blow with [his] right hand. Then the people came toward him, hastening. He said, “Do you worship that which you [yourselves] carve, While Allah created you and that which you do?”

(As-Saffat, 37:92-96)

It is obvious that the Ayah

وَاللَّهُ خَلَقَكُمْ وَمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

“While Allah created you and that which you do?”

(As-Saffat 37:96)

Comes after

قَالَ أَتَعْبُدُونَ مَا تَنْحِتُونَ

“He said, “Do you worship that which you [yourselves] carve”

(As-Saffat 37:95)

Therefore what is meant are the idols.

Those who interpreted the “ما” as an original element and understood from it “Allah created you and your actions”, had they understood that Allah created the actions of man and their understanding had stopped at the creation, meaning that Allah created them and the actions, such that He created the ability to undertake action, giving man the power to undertake action, they would not have gone far astray. Rather they interpreted “and Allah created your actions” to mean “He has forced you to undertake them”. Such that Allah سبحانه وتعالى has forced us to every action we undertake, and we do not have a choice in doing anything, neither the evil nor the good action. This is of course wrong, because there are actions up to the choice of man, who is rewarded and punished for them. Hence saying that Allah سبحانه وتعالى is forcing us to undertake all of our actions without any choice is a wrong statement.

فَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًا يَرَهُ وَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا يَرَه

“So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it, And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.”

(Az-Zalzala, 99:8)

As for the topic of al-Qada’ wal-Qadar and the Islamic difference of opinion on it, this is a very long issue. Its details are mentioned in the first volume of ash-Shakhsiyah (Islamic Personality Volume I), so please review it from there. And Allah is with you.

Your Brother,

Ata’ Bin Khalil Abu Al-Rashtah

18th Dhul Qi’ddah 1434 AH

24th September 2013 CE