I want to know about the 7 styles of reading quraan. How did this come about and what is it? I heard of these Warsj of Nafi' and Hafs  'Asim. 



In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.




 The word ‘Qirā’at’ according to the dictionary means ‘to recite’ or ‘to read’. It is used for any type of reading, be it the Qur’ān or any other literature.

According to the terminology of the ‘Ulamā’, the word ‘Qirā’at’ when used in relation to the Qur’ān means ‘a special manner of reciting the Qur’ān according to that which was recited by an Imām[1] of Qirā’at’.[2] Therefore, the manner in which the Qur’ān is recited will be called ‘Qirā’at’ and the recitation itself will be called ‘Tilāwat’.


The cornerstone of the different Qirā’āt (variants) is a Hadīth of Nabī e, “The Qur’ān has been revealed in seven Ahruf (categories of differences).[3]” (Bukhari)


Due to the fact that this Hadīth is the pivot upon which the entire science of Qirā’at revolves, we shall to the best of our ability try and explain the different aspects of Qirā’at in relation to this Hadīth as explicitly and briefly as possible, leaving out the intricate technicalities, except where necessary.

An important point to take note of, which will help the reader with a clear understanding, is that two similar terminologies have been used in this answer, which although are similar in context but are very different in meaning:

  1. 1.‘Sab’ah Ahruf’ – This refers to the words mentioned in the Hadīth. Further explanation shall follow.
  2. 2.‘Sab’ah Qirā’āt’ or ‘Seven Modes’ – This refers to the seven types of Qirā’āt (methods of reciting the Qur’ān).


Background And Origin of Qirā’ah

The fact that all the Ambiyā’ ‘Alayhimus Salām before Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam were sent to specific tribes and for a specific period of time while Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam was sent as a universal Nabī till the final day, is well known. It is in accordance to this, that every Nabī came equipped with that which was necessary to help him accomplish his mission.


As Nabī’s Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam mission was gigantic, he was also equipped accordingly. He was sent directly to a nation who spoke the most fluent of languages and that too in a myriad of dialects. And as Islām was spreading like wildfire, it was the need of the hour for such a divine scripture to be revealed which could be read in a multitude of ways without any conflicting differences of meaning, so as to accommodate the different dialects of the tribes. Although the Qur’ān was not revealed according to the different dialects, it was revealed in such a manner which accommodated all the dialects.

This is understood from the Hadīth of Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam, “The Qur’ān has been revealed in Sab‘ah (seven) Ahruf.”  (Bukhārī)


Meaning of The Sab’ah (Seven) Ahruf

As to the exact meaning of this Hadīth and the word ‘Ahruf’, the ‘Ulamā’ have greatly differed. It has remained one of the highly contended topics in their circles for centuries. One of the reasons for this is that no explicit explanation was given by Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam or any of the Sahābah or Tābi‘īn.[4]

After a deep study of the Qur’ān and the different Qirā’āt (variants), some ‘Ulamā’ have explained such a meaning which explains the Hadīth fairly well, leaving little doubt.  This is considered as the most preferred view according to many later scholars.[5]

This view states that the term Sab‘ah (seven) Ahruf refers to seven categories of differences around which the differences of Qirā’at revolve. We cannot ascertain the exact number of Qirā’āt (variants) revealed upon Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam but it is certain that whatever differences these Qirā’āt have revolve around these categories.[6]

For example, one category constitutes the difference of a word (noun) either being singular or plural, or it being either in the masculine or feminine form. One Qirā’at (variants) may use a word (noun) in the singular form whilst the others in the plural form. Similar is the case of the masculine and feminine forms. There are seven such categories of differences.


This does not mean that every word of the Qur’ān can be recited in multiple ways. Only specific words that have been narrated from Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam can be recited in multiple ways. And it also does not mean that such words can be recited in seven different ways. [7] Though some can be, but majority of such words can be recited in only 2 or 3 ways. Thus, the seven Ahruf refers to the basic categories of the differences that can be found in the entire Qur’ān and not the number of ways a certain word can be recited.



Relationship Between Ahruf And Qirā’āt

It is important to understand that the Sab‘ah (Seven) Ahruf and the Sab‘ah (Seven) Qirā’āt are not the same thing nor are they entirely different.[8] Rather, the Qirā’āt are a portion of the Ahruf.

The word Qirā’at is used in reference to two things:

  1. 1.A manner of recitation of the whole Qur’ān adopted by a Sahābī or an Imām of Qirā’at. It is under this category that the Sab‘ah (Seven) or ‘Asharah (Ten) Qirā’āt fall. We shall in future refer to these as ‘Qirā’āt (modes)’ or ‘Qirā’āt’ or ‘modes’ only. Further explanation on this shall soon be presented.
  2. 2.Each different mode of reciting a particular word which has multiple modes of recitation. We shall in future refer to these as ‘Qirā’āt (variants)’ or ‘variants’ only – also referred to as Wujuhāt in Arabic.[9]



What was revealed upon Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam was the seven Ahruf. These are basic categories of differences whilst the components contained therein are the variants. For instance, in the category which constitutes the difference of a word being singular or plural, an example is:        (وَالَّذِيْنَ هُمْ لِاَمَانتِهِمْ وَ عَهْدِهِمْ رَاعُوْنَ) ) in the plural form and وَالَّذِيْنَ هُمْ لِاَمَانَتِهِمْ وَ عَهْدِهِمْ رَاعُوْنَ) ) in the singular form. These two words are called variants (Wujuhāt). Similarly, every such difference in the Qur’ān is called a Qirā’at (variant), irrespective of which category of differences it falls under. Therefore, the different Qirā’āt (variants) are components that make up the Ahruf.


Thus, we can conclude that the Ahruf and variants were revealed upon Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam. As for the first type of Qirā’āt, they were not exactly revealed as they are recited nowadays. Further explanation on this shall soon be given later on.


Note: At times, the word Qirā’at is used to refer to the subject or science of Qirā’at. This usage will be evident from the context it is used in.


Revelation of Qirā’āt (variants)

The revelation of the different Qirā’āt (variants) began after the emigration to Madīnah. When droves of people from different tribes started embracing Islam and they found it difficult to recite the Qur’ān, Allāh eased this difficulty by revealing the different Ahruf and Qirā’āt.

Till Nabī’s Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam emigration to Madīnah, whatever was revealed could only be recited in one manner. There were no differences or variants in any word.[10]

It should be noted that the different Qirā’āt (variants) are not a variation of narrations but they are a variation of revelation. This means that all the acceptable Qirā’āt (variants) were revealed as they are and the differences are not due to different narrations of the same word.[11]

As for the science of Hadīth, many such narrations of a single Hadīth can be found which differ in their wordings. This is mostly because it was permissible to narrate a Hadīth in one’s own words as long as the meaning was maintained. This caused a variation of narrations. But this was not permissible when narrating the Qur’ān. It was necessary to maintain the original words. Therefore, it is understood that the variants of the Qur’ān were revealed as they are whilst the many variants of the Hadīth are the work of the narrators.[12]


Narration of Qirā’āt (variants)

Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam taught the Sahābah the Qur’ān as it was revealed. In this way many Sahābah learnt much of it directly from Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam. But many of them learnt great portions of it from each other due to Nabī’s Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam engrossment in other responsibilities of prophet hood. These noble Sahābah took great precaution in narrating and teaching whatever they had learnt. They would not tolerate the slightest of alterations in the Qur’ān.

 The Sahābah’s knowledge with regards to the Qur’ān differed from each other. There were those who had memorized most of the Qur'ān in Nabī’s Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam era while others had only learnt a portion of it.


After the demise of Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam, the wars and conquests of many surrounding countries began. Due to this, the Sahābah dispersed in different directions and taught the new Muslims what they knew of the Qur’ān according to the different Qirā’āt (variants) they had learnt. Thus, the narration of the Qur’ān with its different Qirā’āt (variants) began.


But the protection, propagation and narration of the Qur’ān were much more complicated than it seemed. Together with the many acceptable and reliable variants, people later narrated such variants that were not proven to be part of the Qur’ān. This was because they were unaware that these variants had either been abrogated or had some other discrepancies. These unacceptable variants were of a few types:


  • Some were abrogated during the lifetime of Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam.
  • Some did not match the script upon which the Sahābah had consensus of only it being the Qur’ān.
  • Some had extra or less words in comparison to the narrations of majority of the narrators.
  • Some had none of the above mentioned discrepancies but were isolated narrations that contradicted what majority of the narrators had.   

As Islām spread quickly, these unacceptable variants quickly spread all over the Muslim empire. A mixture of acceptable and unacceptable variants and narrations mushroomed in all the major cities that were the centres of learning.


But Allāh’s promise of safeguarding the Qur’ān was never to fail. He created such men who dedicated their lives to this cause. They collected, researched and taught the acceptable Qirā’āt (modes) and variants. They separated what truly was the Qur’ān from the rest. The work of these great personalities marked the inception of a new chapter in the history of the science of Qirā’at.


Background of The Sab’ah (Seven) Qirā’āt

The differentiation of the reliable Qirā’āt and variants began as early as the first century A.H. And as has always been the system of Islām that its preservation is wholly based on memorisation of knowledge and its transmission from heart to heart, the Qirā’āt and variants too were narrated in this manner. The tradition of compiling and gathering these Qirā’āt in script started much later. Although the earliest book is dated as early as the end of the first century A.H.,[13] most of the famous and authentic books only appeared in the 3rd century and onwards.

The purpose of these books was to serve only as a secondary means of safeguarding the Qirā’āt and variants. Just as the narration of the Qur’ān was based on memorisation and the compilation of its script was mainly to serve as a backup for its safeguarding in case of the loss of Huffāz or some other calamity, the safeguarding of the Qirā’āt and variants was exactly the same. These books would only serve as a backup or reference.


As for the preservation by heart, many ‘Ulama sifted through the thousands of narrations and filtered them to attain the authentic variants. For this, they searched for the most authentic narrators they could find in their eras and areas and only narrated from them. And preservation of Dīn – especially the Qur’ān – being a great responsibility upon the Ummah, they placed the most stringent of measures to serve as a yardstick in accepting and rejecting Qirā’āt (variants).


The conditions that a Qirā’at (variant) would have to meet in order to be considered part of the Qur’ān were three (3):

  1. 1.The variant should coincide with the grammar rules of the Arabic language.[14]
  2. 2.It should match the orthography (script) of one of the copies of the Qur’ān prepared in the era of ‘Uthmān Radiyallāhu ‘Anhu.
  3. 3.It should be narrated through numerous authentic unbroken chains of narrators such that it is not possible to accuse the narrators of fabricating that particular variant (i.e. it should be Mutawātir).[15]


Note: From here onwards, wherever the word ‘acceptable’ is used in relation to Qirā’āt (modes) and variants, it will mean that they conform to these 3 conditions. And where the words ‘reliable’ or ‘authentic’ are used will mean that such Qirā’āt (modes) and variants have authentic chains of narration but not as mentioned in the third condition regardless of whether they meet the other 2 conditions or not.



Whichever Qirā’āt (variants) met all three conditions were considered acceptable. These conditions remained the yardstick throughout the centuries and ‘Ulamā’ based their research on these.[16]

Many ‘Ulamā’ singled out the acceptable variants and rejected the rest and these continued to be narrated from heart to heart. But with the overwhelming presence of so many unacceptable and unauthentic variants, many people were still in the dark with regards to the acceptable ones.


The 3rd century saw the appearance of many compilations of Qirā’āt (modes) and variants. These compilations were of 2 types:

  1. 1.Some ‘Ulamā’ gathered whatever Qirā’āt they had knowledge of and transcribed them, regardless of whether they were authentic or not. This caused a problem of uncertainty with regards to the acceptability of the variants.
  2. 2.Others selected certain Qirā’āt from the many that they had learnt from different teachers. This was done in order to present to the students of Qirā’āt a few acceptable Qirā’āt that they could easily learn rather than learning all of them. Generally such ‘Ulamā’ selected what they considered to be the most famous or most acceptable.[17]


This resulted in different counts of Qirā’āt in each compilation. Some compiled 5, whilst others had 7, 8, 10, 14, and 25. Some had even greater numbers.

From amongst these ‘Ulamā’, the personality of Imām Abū Bakr Ibn Mujāhid[18] Rahimahullāh – who passed away in 324 A.H. – stands out. Many others accomplished this task before and after him but his fame and acceptance in the Muslim empire was so overwhelming that he was considered the highest authority on Qirā’at during his era. Due to this, his book which consisted of the Qirā’āt of seven A’immah gained widespread acceptance and fame all over the Muslim world.


Such great was the fame of Imām Ibn Mujāhid Rahimahullāh that Imām Jazrī Rahimahullāh says, “I have no knowledge of any Imām of Qirā’at whose students were greater in number then those of Ibn Mujāhid. And we have not heard of greater crowds of students around anybody than those around him.”[19]

Therefore, thousands of students studied these Qirā’āt under him and many others learnt them from his students. Thus, a trend of narrating only these seven Qirā’āt began despite the presence of many other acceptable ones some of which were even more accepted by the ‘Ulamā’ then these. Eventually these came to be known as the Sab‘ah (seven) Qirā’āt. These were the Qirā’āt of Imām Nāfi‘ Madanī Rahimahullāh, Imām Ibn Kathīr Makkī Rahimahullāh, Imām Abū ‘Amr Basrī Rahimahullāh, Imām Ibn ‘āmir Shāmī Rahimahullāh, Imām ‘āsim Kūfī Rahimahullāh, Imām Hamzah Kūfī Rahimahullāh and Imām Kisā’ī Kūfī Rahimahullāh.


Imām Ibn Mujāhid Rahimahullāh researched the various prevalent Qirā’āt and variants for years. He did not only suffice at this, but he also analysed and researched the narrations of those narrating from the A’immah. He mastered and taught these seven Qirā’āt for many years, exerting all his time, energies, knowledge and capability. Finally, satisfied with his choice, he compiled them in his famous book called Kitāb-us-Sab‘ah Fil Qirā’āt.[20]     

There is a great misconception amongst the people that the term Sab‘ah (seven) Ahruf in the Hadīth refers to the Sab‘ah Qirā’āt. This claim and concept is totally baseless. The Sab‘ah Qirā’āt are a great portion of the seven Ahruf but not the seven Ahruf themselves. It is mere coincidence that both are seven in number.[21] It is evident that Imām Ibn Mujāhid Rahimahullāh only chose the 7 A’immah out of the many acceptable ones in the 4th century whilst the Sab‘ah Ahruf were revealed in the beginning of the 1st century. How can the Hadīth of Sab‘ah (seven) Ahruf then be referring to something that was only done 3 centuries later!


The choice of these A’immah and their Qirā’āt was largely based on the fact that they were widely accepted in their respective cities. It was as though the people approved of these Qirā’āt. This was due to a few reasons: 

  1. 1.These A’immah had dedicated their lives to the science of Qirā’at.
  2. 2.Their Qirā’āt (variants) did not contravene the Arabic grammar and the Uthmānī orthography (script).
  3. 3.They were given exceptionally long lives in which the people unanimously accepted their Qirā’āt.
  4. 4.Their chains of narrators linking them to Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam were exceptionally authentic.
  5. 5.Their knowledge of Qirā’at and the Arabic language placed them a level above the rest in society and more importantly in the circles of the ‘Ulamā’.[22]

Note: It is important to note that there were other A'immah who also had these characteristics in them but were not included in these seven. The acceptability of their Qirā'āt was no less than these. The compilations of many other ‘Ulamā’ other than Imām Ibn Mujāhid Rahimahullāh included these Qirā’āt.


These seven A’immah had many narrators who preserved and narrated the Qirā’at of their respective Imām. At times, the narrators were direct students of the Imām and at times they narrated through the means of the students of the Imām. Many times, they would differ with each other in certain variants. This was due to their Imām having taught some of them certain such variants which he did not teach the others.

‘Ulamā’ then only chose two narrators for each Imām and left out the rest, thus choosing a total of 14 narrations. The reason for choosing two was the same as that of choosing the seven Qirā’āt i.e. abridging the Qirā’āt for learning and narrating purposes. They carefully chose these particular narrators because their narrations encompassed most of what the other narrators had.[23]

These narrators were those who are known today as Imām Warsh who is a narrator of Imām Nāfi’s Qirā’at, Imam Hafs who is a narrator of Imām ‘Āsim’s Qirā’at, etc.

But Imām Ibn Mujāhid’s Rahimahullāh work gained so much fame that many Muslims were led to believe that these were the only acceptable Qirā’āt and narrations. Anything beyond this was deemed unacceptable whereas this contradicts reality.


Background of The ‘Asharah (Ten) Qirā’āt

Despite many people clinging on to the Sab‘ah Qirā’āt, there still were other authentic and acceptable Qirā’āt present. Although they were not as famous as the seven, large numbers of people had accepted them. They were also taught, learnt and narrated. History bears testimony that rather than learning the Sab‘ah Qirā’āt, many people only learnt these Qirā’āt. Therefore, their reliability and acceptability was no less than the Sab‘ah Qirā’āt.

But the acceptability of any Qirā’at largely depends on how many people learn and narrate it in every era. If enough people do not narrate it, then it might still be reliable but not proven to be a part of the Qur’ān if it has any discrepancies from those mentioned previously. So from these other Qirā’āt, 3 continued to be narrated extensively through numerous authentic unbroken chains of narrators, thus meeting the 3 conditions for the acceptance of a Qirā’at that we previously discussed. These were the Qirā’āt of Imām Abū Ja‘far Yazīd Ibn Qa‘qā‘ Rahimahullāh, Imām Ya‘qūb Al-Hadramī Rahimahullāh and Imām Khalaf Ibn Hishām Rahimahullāh.

Imām Khalaf Rahimahullāh, who is a narrator of Imām Hamzah Rahimahullāh of the Sab‘ah Qirā’āt, has his own choice of acceptable variants which are relatively different from his narration from Imām Hamzah Rahimahullāh (in the Sab‘ah Qirā’āt). These variants form a whole separate Qirā’at which is part of these three Qirā’āt.

These three came to be known as the Thalātha (Three) Qirā’āt and these combined with the Sa‘bah (Seven) Qirā’āt came to be known as the ‘Asharah (Ten) Qirā’āt. The term Sa‘bah Qirā’āt was coined in the beginning of the 4th century by Imām Abū Bakr Ibn Mujāhid Rahimahullāh whilst the term ‘Asharah Qirā’āt was coined in the mid 4th century. The first personality who compiled these 10 Qirā’āt was Imām Abū Bakr Ibn Mahrān[24] Rahimahullāh – who passed away in 381 A.H.[25] He maintained the system of choosing Qirā’āt adopted by Imām Ibn Mujāhid Rahimahullāh. His work encompassed all the acceptable Qirā’āt present.


Apart from these 10 Qirā’āt, there still were a few others that were famous and reliable to a large extent. But they did not gain much acceptance in their respective cities and were not learnt and narrated by enough people. Some of their variants also did not match the ‘Uthmānī orthography (script). These Qirā’āt have also been compiled by ‘Ulamā’ but for reasons other than the preservation of the Qur’ān. This is because they are not proven to be part of the Qur’ān. There are 4 such Qirā’āt.[26] These make up the Arba‘-‘Asharah (Fourteen) Qirā’āt.


The compilations on Qirā’at after this were mostly based on the Sa‘bah or ‘Asharah Qirā’āt. ‘Ulamā’ either followed in the footsteps of Imām Ibn Mujāhid Rahimahullāh, gathering a few famous Qirā’āt, and expounded on them, or they gathered the ‘Asharah Qirā’āt in trying to gather and expound on all the acceptable Qirā’āt. And because the compilation and narration of Qirā’āt had other benefits apart from safeguarding the Qur’ān, the unreliability of many other Qirā’āt did not stop the ‘Ulamā’ from compiling them and deriving other benefits. Therefore, till now some ‘Ulamā’ have also been compiling the unacceptable Qirā’āt.


The Sa‘bah Qirā’āt remained more popular then the ‘Asharah Qirā’āt throughout the ages. This may have been due to the fact that ‘Ulamā’ wrote such books on the Sa‘bah Qirā’āt which were easy to understand[27] or memorise[28], facilitating easy learning of these Qirā’āt. Such books on the ‘Asharah Qirā’āt were not easily found or were not found at all. Much later, ‘Ulamā such as Imām Jazrī Rahimahullāh – who passed away in 833 A.H. – compiled such books either separately for the Thalāthah Qirā’āt[29] or comprehensive books for the ‘Asharah Qirā’āt.[30]


And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Nabeel Valli

Student Darul Iftaa
Lusaka, Zambia

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.



Note From Mufti Ebrahim Desai Dāmat Barakātuhu:

Students of Hadīth experience much difficulty in understanding the Hadīth:

أنزل القرآن على سبعة أحرف

Many misunderstand Sab’ah Ahruf as the famous Sab’ah Qirā’āt, Moulānā Nabeel Valli has also studied Qirā’āt and compiled a treatise on the intricacies of the topic. In this brief, Moulānā Nabeel Valli very simply explains the background of Ahruf being the categories/types of differences a Qirā’at and the different recitations of the Qurrā’ will revolve around. While Sab’ah Ahruf itself is a revelation, it is not necessary that the Sab’ah Qirā’āt itself is a revelation. This brief is very useful in understanding some of the intricacies of Qirā’at.

[1]  A highly knowledgeable, authoritative and reliable personality in a particular science of Dīn.

[2]  At-Tibyān Fī ‘Ulūm-il-Qur’ān, Pg 57 / Manāhil-ul-‘Irfān, Vol. 1, Pg 336


[4]  'Ulūm-ul­-Qur’ān, Pg 116.

[5]  Manāhil-ul-‘Irfān, Vol. 1, Pg 146

 Al-Itqān, Pg 124


[6]  This view is attributed to 4 ‘Ulamā’: ‘Allāmah Ibn Qutaibah, Qādī Ibn Tayyib, Imām Abu-ul-Fadl Rāzī and Imām Jazrī. They have slightly differed in specifying the 7 categories but those outlined by Imām Rāzī þ are the most comprehensive, and include whatever the other 3 ‘Ulamā’ have outlined and even more. His choice of categories are:

  1. a)Difference of nouns being singular or plural, or being in the masculine or feminine form.
  2. b)Difference of verbs being in the past, present or imperative tense.
  3. c)Differences of grammar rules. (Nahw and Sarf
  4. d)Difference of omission and addition of words in different Qirā’āt (variants).                   
  5. e)Difference of a word preceding another in one Qirā’at (variant) and the opposite in another.
  6. f)Difference of interchanging words or letters for each other.
  7. g)Difference of dialects in particular words. (Manāhil-ul-‘Irfān, Vol 1, Pg 132 / Al-Itqān, Pg                              

[7]  Manāhil-ul-‘Irfān, Vol. 1, Pg 131

[8] ‘Ulūm-ul-Qur’ān, Pg 99

[9] At times the words Harf or Ahruf are used for both these types of Qirā’āt. For example, the Harf of Zaid Ibn Thābit t or the Harf of Imām Nāfi‘þ. Although this usage has not been adoted in this book, but can be found in certain Arabic texts.

[10]  One may object that the Makkī verses also have multiple Qirā’āt (variants), then how is it possible that the different Qirā’āt (variants) were revealed in Madīnah and not in Makkah?

The answer to this is that Nabī e would recite whatever had been revealed of the Qur’an to Jibra’īl u each year in Ramadān and he also recited  almost the entire Qur’an twice to Jibra’īl u in Ramadān 10 A.H. in which the Qirā’āt (variants) pertaining to the Makkī verses were revealed and recited.

[11]  Manāhil-ul-‘Irfān, Vol. 1, Pg 128 / Muqaddamah ‘Ilm-ul-Qirā’at, Pg 24

[12]  This is not always the case. Some Ahādīth are such that Nabī e mentioned the same Hadīth on different occasions with different wordings, thus the different variants.

[13]  This was the book of the Tabi‘ī, Yahya Ibn Ya‘mur

[14]  This is not a condition in reality, rather it is the outcome of the other 2 conditions. Whichever variants meet the other 2 conditions will also coincide with the grammar rules of Arabic. This condition has been specifically used to disprove the claims of some ‘Ulamā’ of Nahw and linguistics that many variants contradict the Arabic grammar rules. For this reason they have rejected many acceptable variants which are part of the Qur’ān. These rules have been extracted from the Qur’ān, Hadīth, Arabic poetry and sayings, therefore such rules are extracted by them whilst the Qur’ān which is free from error was revealed by Allāh. This is strange that they reject that which was revealed due to it not conforming to their extracted rules.

The reality is that such ‘Ulamā’ have been deficient in outlining these rules. Evidence for this is that other ‘Ulamā’ have presented examples of such variants from the Hadīth, Arabic poetry and sayings showing that these variants are in accordance to Arabic grammar rules. ‘Allāmah Abū Hayyān þ has proven this in his Tafsīr, Al-Bahr-ul-Muhīt. Therefore, not a single variant can be found in the Qur’ān which opposes any grammar rule, not even in the collection of unreliable variants! This is why this condition is not an independent condition. (Qirā’āt-e-Sahīhah Aur Shādhah Ka Hukm, Pg 130)

[15]  This condition of multiple chains (Tawātur) is according to majority of the ‘Ulamā’ and Imām Jazrī’s þ initial view. Thereafter he resorted to sufficing upon the authenticity of the chains of narration as long as they reach the level of Mashoor or Mustafīd i.e. it has multiple chains but not as many as Mutawātir. This is also the view of Imām Makkī Ibn Abī Tālib þ. Therefore, they accept such variants which are in conformity with their opinion even if they are not part of the ‘Asharah Qirā’āt whilst majority of the ‘Ulamā´ only accept the ‘Asharah. The rest are considered as Shādh Qirā’āt (variants).

Due to this difference in opinions, the definition of Shādh will also differ:

  1. a)Imām Jazrī þ and Imām Makkī Ibn Abī Tālib: A variant which matches the ‘Uthmānī orthography but does not have authentic chains of narration, or has authentic chains of narration but is not accepted by the Ummah, or does not at all match the ‘Uthmānī orthography despite having authentic chains of narration.
  2. b)Majority ‘Ulamā’: A variant which does not have numerous authentic unbroken chains of narrators i.e. it is not Mutawātir. (Al-Qirā’āt-us-Shādhah, Pg 10)

Ruling regarding Shādh variants - There are 3 aspects in this regard:

  1. I.Are Shādh variants part of the Qur’ān?

They are not proven to be part of the Qur’ān but may be used for other purposes such as Tafsīr of other verses, extraction of Shar‘ī rulings and grammar rules, e.t.c. Explicit rejection of these variants will not lead to disbelief but it has been disliked by the ‘Ulamā’. 

  1. II.Is it permissible to recite them outside Salāh?   (Munjid-ul-Muqri’īn, Pg 70)
    1. a)Reciting them whilst considering part of the Qur’ān is strictly not permissible. Hāfiz Ibn ‘Abd-ul-has narrated the Ijmā‘(consensus) of the Ummah on this. Such a person may be punished or even imprisoned.
    2. a)Reciting them for other purposes such as those mentioned above is permissible.
    3. III.Is it permissible to recite them in Salāh?

‘Ulamā’ and Fuqahā’ have differed a little on this but the general view of majority of the ‘Ulamā’ is impermissibility of it and the invalidity of Salāh. (Ghayth-un-Naf‘, Pg 7)


[16]  The 3 conditions are primarily taken from An-Nashr, Pg 19 / Munjid-ul-Muqri’īn, Pg 18.

[17]  Munjid-ul-Muqri’īn, Pg 20/21

[18]  Imām Ahmad Ibn Mūsā Ibn ‘Abbās Ibn Mujāhid At-Tamīmī Al-Baghdādī

[19]  Ghāyat-un-Nihāyah Fi Tabaqāt-il-Qurrā’, Vol. 1, Pg 142

[20]  Qirā’āt-e-Sahīhah Aur Shādhah Ka Hukm, Pg 134.

[21] ‘Ulūm-ul-Qur’ān, Pg 98/99

[22]  Manāhil-ul-‘Irfān, Vol. 1, Pg 339 / At-Tibyān, Pg 61

[23]  Qirā’āt-e-Sahīhah Aur Shādhah Ka Hukm, Pg 138 / An-Nashr, Pg 39

[24]  Imām Ahmad Ibn Husain Ibn Mahrān Al-Isbahānī An-Nīsābūrī

[25]  Preface of Kitāb-us-Sab‘ah Fil Qirā’āt, Pg  21

[26]  These are the Qirā’āt of Hadrat Hasan Basrī, Imām Yahya Yazīdī, Imām Sulaimān  A‘mash  and Imām Ibn Muhaisin.

[27]  Such as ‘Allāmah Dānī’s  At-Taysīr

[28]  Such as ‘Allāmah Shātbī’s  Hirz-il-Amānī Wa Wajh-ut-Tahānī (famous as Shātbiyyah).

[29]  This is called Ad-Durrat-ul-Mudīyyah

[30]   This is called Tayyibat-un-Nashr


Does reading the Qur'an in the mind equivalent to having the same reward with one pronouncing the alphabets loudly.



In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.


Almighty Allah Ta’ala says:

وَأَنْ أَتْلُوَ الْقُرْآنَ فَمَنِ اهْتَدَى فَإِنَّمَا يَهْتَدِي لِنَفْسِهِ وَمَنْ ضَلَّ فَقُلْ إِنَّمَا أَنَا مِنَ الْمُنْذِرِينَ



“And to recite the Quran; so whoever takes the right path, takes the right path for his own good. As for the one who goes astray say (to him) I am only from those who warn.” (Surah Naml (The Ant) 27:92)


Tilawat of the Quran refers to verbal recitation irrespective of the recitation being soft or aloud.


In verbal recitation one pronounces the letters and words. If the recitation is soft, he would hear himself and if the recitation is aloud, then another person around him will hear his recitation.


When reciting in the mind there is no verbal recitation. While recitation of the Quran in the mind is virtuous, it is not like verbal recitation. In some instances merely reciting in the mind will not be valid, for example reciting the Quran in Salat. If one recites in his mind without verbal recitation the recitation will not be valid.



And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best


Mufti Saeed Ahmed Golaub


Student Darul Iftaa


Checked and Approved

Mufti Ebrahim Desai



Uthman (Radhi Allahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallaho alaihe wasallam) said: "The best amongst you is he who learns the Qur'an and teaches it." In most of the books, this hadith is quoted with the word 'and' between 'learns' and 'teaches' as above. Thus the greatest reward would be for him who learns the Holy Qur'an and thereafter teaches it to others. But in some of the books this 'hadith' is narrated with the word 'or', in which case the meaning would be ''The best amongst you is he who learns the Qur'an or teaches it."


According to this version, the reward is general, i.e., equally great whether one learns himself or teaches to others. Thus there would be equal virtue for both.


The Qur'an is the basis of the religion of Islam, and on the preservation and propagation of the Qur'an depends the very existence of this faith. Hence the virtue of learning and teaching the Qur'an is self-evident and does not need further elucidation.


There are, however, various degrees of excellence. The highest is to learn the Qur'an along with its meanings and purport and the least is to learn its words only.


The 'hadith' mentioned above is supported also by another saying of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihe wasallam) as reported by Sa'id ibn-I-Salim (Radhi Allaho anhu): "If a person who has acquired knowledge of the Holy Qur'an considers another person who has been gifted with something else to be more fortunate than himself, he has shown disrespect to the blessings of Allah bestowed on him on account of hi learning the Qur'an."


It is evident that since the Qur'an, being the Word of Allah, is superior to all other discourses as mentioned in some of the 'ahadith' quoted later, its reading and teaching must be superior to everything else.


Mullah Ali Qari quotes from another 'hadith' that whoever acquires the knowledge of Holy Qur'an stores the knowledge of prophethood in his forehead.


Sahl Tastari (Radhi Allahu anhu) says that the proof of love for Allah is the existence of love for the word of Allah in one's heart.


In 'Sharah Ihya', the list of people who will be given shelter in the shade of 'Arsh' (Throne of Allah) on the fearful Day of Judgement includes those persons who teach the Qur'an to the children of Muslims and also those who learn the Qur'an in their childhood and are devoted to its recitation when grown up.


(Adapted from Fadha'il Qur'an)


The Magnetism of the Holy Quran

“The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, they feel a fear in their hearts and when its verses are recited unto them, they increase their faith; and they put their trust in their Lord (Alone)”


Every single word in the Quran Majeed was divinely revealed from Allah Ta’ala to our beloved Nabi Sallallāhu Alayhi Wasallam. It has been preserved intact throughout many generations and remains unchanged. Alhamdulillah! The Quran contains the numerous attributes and qualities of Allah Ta’ala. The Holy Quran relates, historical events, warnings, punishments, Jannah, Jahannum, creation, prophets, reminders, promises etc.

It is in the Holy Quran that Allah Ta’ala states His reason for creating us:

“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship me” (51:56).


Thus is it possible that we may dwell in such ignorance and carelessness despite being reminded? The ayat is directly from Allah Ta’ala and leaves no room for dispute.

And so we are warned:

“And whosoever turns away (blinds) himself from the remembrance of the Most Gracious (Allah) ie: (the Quran and the worship of Allah), we appoint for him Shaytaan to be a Qarin (an intimate companion) to him.” (43:36)


My sisters, there is such delight and sweetness in reading the Holy Quran, It cleanses the heart of bad akhlaq, hypocrisy, jealousy, malice, and enmity, Insha Allah. Through reading and understanding the Quran, the heart is softened and adorned with honour, truthfulness and sincerity. Allah Ta’ala says:

“Those who strive for me, I will definitely show them the straight path” (29:69)


We must remember to ask Allah Ta’ala to increase our knowledge. There is great reward in memorising the Quran, however we need to make an effort to read up on the tafseer of the Holy Quran, “The best of you is the one who learns Quran and teaches it.” (Bukhari)


Many muslims desire to learn he Holy Quran, either through studying the tafseer or by its memorisation. Allah Ta’ala will Insha Allah aid the one who wishes to learn the Quran, Ameen. Allah Ta’ala says: “And, We have indeed made the Quran easy to understand and remember, but is there any that will remember?”(54:17)


However, we are afraid to challenge ourselves! We often set ourselves up for failure even before we have begun, by allowing doubt to overcome us. Shaytaan creates doubt in us. He whispers to us that we will not succeed. We begin to question our own abilities based on his whispers, Astagfirullah.

  • ~I don’t have the time!
  • ~What if I forget work that I have already learnt, when I learn new work?
  • ~I don’t understand its meanings.
  • ~How do I know if I am reciting correctly?

If there is a strong desire in our hearts to learn the Quran, yet we find that we struggle with the above mentioned points, then here are just a few possible solutions to our concerns.

  • We need to be positive and make dua to Allah Ta’ala to make this journey easy for us. It is important to turn to Allah Ta’ala for guidance and help. We need to realise that we will be undertaking this great ibaadat for the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala. It may be helpful to keep a notebook throughout this journey, documenting important milestones, such as making the niyyah.
  • It is a reality that students may need to adopt a healthier lifestyle, than that which we may be currently living. It is necessary to pay more attention to our bodies nutritional needs, exercise frequently, eat food that is not doubtful and avoid stimulants.
  • As students of the Holy Quran, Tajweed is essential. Pay attention to the pronounciation of the Arabic letters. Remember that audio assistance, eg: CDs are widely available; however this does not take preference over the supervision of a teacher. Perhaps get a hifz buddy, who attends classes with you or who has completed hifz. Memorising the Quran is made easier if the student uses 1 particular type of print of Quran, as the mind takes “shots” of the pages and ayat as you learn. It is important that we remember that our time is valuable and limited. We must be cautious against wasting our time in unnecessary activities.
  • Memorise the Quran at a suitable pace and avoid rushing. Recite the Quran melodiously; however be careful not to disregard tajweed in doing so. Recite the Quran audibly. Keep a timetable for new sabaq and dohr. Consistency is compulsory. Taste the words, feel the words flow on your tongue and reside in your heart and soul.
  • Regarding the language barrier, students may choose to study “Quran Arabic” before commencing Hifz, whilst others prefer to read the tafseer simulateoulsy.
  • Upon memorising the surahs, it is essential that we use these surahs, when performing salaah. Share the knowledge gained with other fellow muslims.

The Quran, Insha Allah becomes a “Constant Companion” for the Hafidh, and he in turn, becomes a “Protector of the Holy Quran” Ameen



  • 92 Chapters revealed in Makkah
  • 22 chapters revealed in Madinah
  • Contains more than 6000 verses
  • Approximately 77000 words 
  • 25 Prophets mentioned by name 
  • 14 Sajdah e tilawat 
  • Revealed over a period of 23 years to Rasulullah Sallallāhu Alayhi Wasallam.


By Ismail Ebrahim Desai

Darul Iftaa Student

Faculty of Tafseer and Qur’anic Sciences

09 January 2013

















In different books of Uloomul – Qura’an, the Ulema have differed on the number of Aayaat and Huroof. What could be the reason for this difference in numbers?



In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu `alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.


The scholars of Tafseer(exegesis) have unanimously concurred that the total number of verses in the Qura’an are not less than six thousand.[1] However, they have differed in the number of Aayaat beyond six thousand.[2]

Some say that the number of verses are: six thousand, two hundred and seventeen. This is the opinion of Imam Nafi (rahmatullahi alayh).


The Ulema of Makah opine that the number of verses are: six thousand, two hundred and twenty. This is the opinion of Mufassirrul-Ummah, Hadhrat Abdullah Bin Abbas (radhiyallahu Anhu).

The Ulema of Kufa opine that the number of verses are: six thousand, two hundred and thirty three.

Others have given different figures such as: 6234, 6214 and 6205. (Manaahil-ul-Irfaan, 270/1, Daarul – Salaam, Al-Burhaan Fi Uloomil Qura’an, 491/1)

The reasons for these differences of opinion are multifold. Hereunder are some of the reasons for these differences:

1. Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) used to pause at the end of a certain verse to teach the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) that it is the end of the verse.


When the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) became aware of that, Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) began joining the preceding verse with the forthcoming verse desirous of the complete meaning.


Some Mufassireen regard the verse upon which Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) paused, to be one, therefore, they would join the preceding verse with the forthcoming verse considering both “verses” to be one single verse.

Others regarded the preceding verse to be completely independent from the forthcoming verse, hence, both the verses were not combined.[3]

2. The Ulema of Kufa have regarded the opening/beginning portion of every chapter to be an independent verse. Whereas, the rest of the Ulema do not regard the beginning portion of every Surah(chapter) to be an independent verse. Hence, it will not be counted as a separate verse.[4]

3. Some Ulema regard the Basmalah at the beginning of every chapter to be an independent verse. While others opine that it occurs only once in the Qura’an and that it occurs at the beginning of every Surah besides Surah Baraa’ah, as an indication to a new chapter and not an independent verse.[5]


4. The Basmalah was revealed with the Surah in some of the seven dialects of recital. In certain dialects in which it was revealed in, it will be counted as an independent verse. In certain dialects, it won’t be counted as a separate verse since it was not revealed with every Surah in that specific dialect.[6]

There are many differing opinions regarding the total number of Huroof(alphabets) in the Qura’an. The basis of this difference is the same as mentioned above.


All the above factors form the basis for the difference of opinion that exists among the Mufassireen regarding the number of Aayaat (verses) and Huroof(alphabets). 



فتاوى حقانية.كتاب تفسير القران.132/2

اجمعوا علي ان عدد ايات القران ستة الاف اية.البرهان فى علوم القران.فصل في سور القران و اياته و كلماته و حروفه.176.دار  الحديث.

2 مناهل العرفان.270/1.دار السلام.

3 مناهل العرفان.المحث التاسع في ترتيب ايات القران و سوره.271/1.دار السلام.

4 ذلك مذهب الكوفيين لانهم عدوا كل فاتحة من فواتح السور اللتي فيها شيء من حروف الهجاء اية و غير الكوفييين لا يعتبرون شيء من الفواتح اية اطلاقا.

مناهل العرفان.ترتيب ايات القران و سوره.268/1.دار السلام.

طريقة معرفة الآية:

لا سبيل إلى معرفة آيات القرآن إلا بتوقيف من الشارع لأنه ليس للقياس والرأي مجال فيها إنما هو محض تعليم وإرشاد بدليل أن العلماء عدوا {المص} آية ولم يعدوا نظيرها وهو {المر} آية وعدوا {يس} آية ولم يعدوا نظيرها وهو {طس} آية وعدوا {حم عسق} آيتين ولم يعدوا نظيرها وهو {كهيعص} آيتين بل آية واحدة فلو كان الأمر مبنيا على القياس لكان حكم المثلين واحدا فيما ذكر ولم يجيء هكذا مختلفا.

ذلك مذهب الكوفيين لأنهم عدوا كل فاتحة من فواتح السور التي فيها شيء من حروف الهجاء آية سوى حمعسق فإنهم عدوها آيتين وسوى طس. ولم يعدوا من الآيات ما فيه ر وهو الر والمر وما كان مفردا وهو ق ص ن أي لم يعدوا شيئا منها آية.

وغير الكوفيين لا يعتبرون شيئا من الفواتح آية إطلاقا. وحيث قلنا: إن المسألة توقيفية فلا يشتبهن عليك هذا الخلاف. لأن كلا وقف عند حدود ما بلغه أو علمه. ولا تقولن كيف عدوا ما هو كلمة واحدة آية؟ لأن الوارد عن الشارع هو هذا كما عدت كلمة {الرَّحْمَنُ} في صدر سورة الرحمن آية وكما عدت كلمة {مُدْهَامَّتَانِ} آية وقوفا عند الوارد.

[مناهل العرفان في علوم القرآن 1/ 340]

5 احكام القران لابن عربي.14/1.المكتبة التوفيقية.

احكام القران للتهانوى.5/1.كراتشي.

وَأما الْبَسْمَلَة فَالْخِلَاف فِي كَونهَا آيَة من كل سُورَة لَا فِي كَونهَا من الْقُرْآن

[المواقف 3/ 382]

وَأما الْبَسْمَلَة فَالْخِلَاف فِيهَا مُتَحَقق بِلَا شُبْهَة إِلَّا أَنه فِي كَونهَا آيَة من كل سُورَة كَمَا هُوَ القَوْل الْجَدِيد للشَّافِعِيّ أَو من الْفَاتِحَة فَقَط

وَفِي الْبَوَاقِي كتبت للتيمن كَمَا هُوَ قَوْله الْقَدِيم أَو كَونهَا آيَة

[المواقف 3/ 399]

[الفائدة الثالثة الخلاف في البسملة أوائل السور أمن كل سورة هي أم لا]

(الثَّالِثَةُ : الْبَسْمَلَةُ آيَةٌ مُنْفَرِدَةٌ بِنَفْسِهَا، فَاصِلَةٌ بَيْنَ السُّوَرِ الْقُرْآنِيَّةِ، لَيْسَتْ مِنْ أَوَّلِ كُلِّ سُورَةٍ لَا الْفَاتِحَةِ وَلَا غَيْرِهَا عَلَى الصَّحِيحِ مِنَ الْمَذْهَبِ، وِفَاقًا لِلْإِمَامِ أَبِي حَنِيفَةَ، وَأَمَّا مَالِكٌ – رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ – فَقَالَ: لَيْسَتْ هِيَ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ رَأْسًا. وَعِنْدَ الشَّافِعِيِّ – رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ – أَنَّهَا آيَةٌ مِنْ كُلِّ سُورَةٍ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ، سِوَى بَرَاءَةَ. وَمُرَادُ مَنْ قَالَ إِنَّهَا لَيْسَتْ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ غَيْرُ الَّتِي فِي سُورَةِ النَّمْلِ، فَإِنَّهَا بَعْضُ آيَةٍ إِجْمَاعًا، فَيَكْفُرُ مُنْكِرُهَا بِخِلَافِ الْبَسْمَلَةِ غَيْرِهَا، فَتَبَصَّرْ

[لوامع الأنوار البهية 1/ 34]

وقد قالت طائفة من أهل العلم: إن البسملة من الفاتحة.

وقالت طائفة أخرى: هي آية من القرآن فاصلة بين السور

[منهاج التأسيس والتقديس في كشف شبهات داود بن جرجيس ص: 107]

والشافعي- رحمه الله- يعد «بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم» آية من الحمد، وكثير من قراء مكة والكوفة لا يعدون أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ [الفاتحة: 7] . ومالك- رحمه الله-، وأبو حنيفة، وجمهور الفقهاء، والقراء، لا يعدون البسملة آية.

[تفسير ابن عطية = المحرر الوجيز في تفسير الكتاب العزيز 1/ 61]

ليست البسملة عند مالك آية من الفاتحة ولا من غيرها، إلّا في النمل خاصة، وهي عند الشافعي آية من الفاتحة، وعند ابن عباس آية من أوّل كل سورة

[تفسير ابن جزي = التسهيل لعلوم التنزيل 1/ 48]

وَإِنَّمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِي الْبَسْمَلَةِ: هَلْ هِيَ آيَةٌ مُسْتَقِلَّةٌ مِنْ أَوَّلِهَا كَمَا هُوَ عِنْدَ جُمْهُورِ قُرَّاءِ الْكُوفَةِ وَقَوْلُ الْجَمَاعَةِ مِنَ الصَّحَابَةِ وَالتَّابِعِينَ وَخَلْقٌ مِنَ الْخَلَفِ، أَوْ بَعْضُ آيَةٍ أَوْ لَا تُعَدُّ مِنْ أَوَّلِهَا بِالْكُلِّيَّةِ، كَمَا هُوَ قَوْلُ أَهْلِ الْمَدِينَةِ مِنَ الْقُرَّاءِ وَالْفُقَهَاءِ؟ عَلَى ثَلَاثَةِ أَقْوَالٍ، سَيَأْتِي تَقْرِيرُهُ (14) فِي مَوْضِعِهِ إِنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى، وَبِهِ الثقة.

[تفسير ابن كثير ت سلامة 1/ 101]

6  فمن قرء بحرف نزلت فيه عدها و من قرء بغير ذلك لم يعدها.البرهان في علوم القران.177.دار الحديث.



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