[The Quranic Studies]
Muslims have from earliest times, applied themselves not only to the message from Allah - the Qur'an - but also to its setting and framework, and the preoccupation with these ultimately developed into the 'sciences' of or 'knowledge' about the Qur'an, known as "ulum al-qur'an'. According to a general definition, 'ulum al-qur'an denotes studies concerned with the book of revelations sent down upon the last Prophet Muhammad, -its revelation, its collection, its order and arrangement, its writing down, information about the reasons and occasions of revelation, about what was revealed in Makka and what in Madina, about the abrogating and abrogated verses, about the 'clear' and the 'unclear' verses. The aim of 'ulum al-qur'an - is to help towards a better understanding of the Qur'anic message by providing information on its setting, framework and circumstances. To a great extent it is a descriptive account of the traditional subject of 'ulum al-qur'an. In the following pages we will deal with some branches of the Qur’anic Studies [Uûm-al Qur’ân]
History of the Qur’an:
An important field of the ulûme-Qur’an is the topic of the history of the Qur’an. It deels with the history of preservation and compilation of the Qur’an . It deels with the stages of memorization and oral transmission. Oral transmission of the revelation was based on hifz or memorisation and the Prophet Muhammad himself was the first to commit a revelation to memory after the Angel Gabriel had brought it to him: Suyuti mentions more than twenty well-known persons who memorized the revelation, among them were 'Ali, Ibn Mas'ud, , 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas, 'Abdullah bin 'Amr bin al-'As, Umm Salamaand others. In the later stages it was compiled.
HISTORY OF THE TRANSMISSION OF THE WRITTEN TEXT
It is an important field.This is called the sscience of Jam' al-qura'n or collection of the Qur’an. Muslim scholars have written whole books on this subject from the very early Islamic period. This field also contains enquiry about the Stages of Collection Different scholars have distinguish Different stages: The beginning of the Writing down the Revelation. Whether it was during the Prophet’s period or after that. All these topics are dealt in this discussion Here the topic of Prophets being ummî is aslo sometimes dealt. Did the Prophet himself write? The meanings of his being illiterate or unschooled. Shia point of view is that the Prophet was unschooled not illiterate. Although it is disputed whether the Prophet Muhammad knew how to write, there is unanimous agreement among scholars that Muhammad himself did not write down the revelation. The scholars have also dealt with the topic that why was no Book left by the Prophet? Why the Prophet Muhammad did not present to his Companions the revelation collected and arranged in a single written volume. They have given a number of reasons for this, which can be studied in books like Itqân of Suyûtî.
Then comes the topic of the Qur'an written during the Prophet's Lifetime. Muslim scholars from the earliest times have dealt with the Generally the Muslim scholars hold that the Qur’an was not only transmitted orally by many Muslims who had learned parts or the whole of it, but that it was also written down during the lifetime of the Prophet. It is obvious that the history of the Qur'anic text cannot be compared with that of other Holy Scriptures. While the books of the Old and New Testaments, for example, were written, edited and compiled over long periods, sometimes centuries, the text of the Qur'an, once revelation had ceased, has remained the same to this day However, there were stages in which the Qur’an was written down First there were suhuf or the segments written then Mushaf or the whole book. The scholars have recorded and done a lot of research about the suhuf of the companions of the Prophet.
Study of the manuscripts of the Qur’an is a new science but ancient Muslim scholars like Ibne Nadîm has studied and recorded the manuscripts. Al-Kindi (d. around 236/850) wrote in the early third century that three out of four of the copies prepared for 'Uthman were destroyed in fire and war, while the copy sent to Damascus was still kept at his time at Malatja. Ibn Batuta (779/1377) says he has seen copies or sheets from the copies of the Qur'an prepared under 'Uthman in Granada, Marakesh, Basra and other cities. There are some early manuscripts extant even now There is a copy of the Qur'an in the Egyptian National Library on parchment made from gazelle skin, which has been dated 68 Hijra (688 A.D.), i.e. 58 years after the Prophet's death. A copy of the Qur'an written by Hazrat 'Ali is kept in Najaf, Iraq, in the Dar al-Kutub al-'Alawiya. It is written in Kufi script, and on it is written: "Ali bin Abi Talib wrote it in the year 40 of the Hijra'. Print started in modern period; so the study of this subject is off course a modern addition to the Quranic studies or the ulûm al Qur’an The first extant Qur'an for which movable type was used was printed in Hamburg (Germany) in 1694. The text is fully vocalised. Probably the first Qur'an printed by Muslims is the so-called 'Mulay Usman edition' of 1787, published in St. Petersburg, Russia, followed by others in Kazan (1828), Persia (1833) and Istanbul (1877) The Qur'anic text in printed form now used widely in the Muslim world and developing into a 'standard version', is the so-called 'Egyptian' edition, also known as the King Fu'ad
THE QUR'ANIC SCRIPT
The study of the script of the Qur’an is also an interesting field of study.. During the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad the script of Arabic consisted of very basic symbols, which expressed only the consonantal structure of a word Khatte Kûfî was the first script in which the Qur’an was written. From this very basic system of writing there developed over the ages, various types of script, such as KdfF, Maghribl, Naskh, etc., which spread all over the world Muslims also developed intricate calligraphic designs to write the Qur’an. Here art and religion is interwind. Two important stages that are specially studied by classical scholars are the introduction of These were the introduction of:- Vowelling marks (tashkil) and - Diacritical marks (i'jam)or to provide a letter with a diacritical point or nuqta.The early Arabic script had neither voveleling marks nor nuqta. Peculiarities of the Ancient Writing are sudied in this field.
The order and arrangement (Tartîbe Nuzûl)
This is also an important field of the Ulûm al Qur’an or the Quranic Science. The First Revelation' ; to study the period when revelation ceased for a certain period (called fatra)Chronology of the revelation also comes under this head. The scholars also have dealt about the last revelation. This field also deels with the reasons why the Qur'an was sent down in Stages. We know that The Qur'an was revealed in stages over a period of 23 years,and not as a complete book in one single act of revelation Both the order of the ayat within each sura and the arrangement of the suras are studied by the scholars. It is a fact that the present arrangement of surahs and ayahs is not in accordance with tartîbe Nuzûl or the revelatory order.Some scholars believe that the order was finally determined by the Prophet under guidance from the Angel Gabriel in the year of his death, . But it is also recorded that the order of different companions like ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ûd and Hazrat Ali was different from the present order. So other scholars have believed that though Qur’an is free from any alteration but the order of the Qur’an is not same as the revelatory order. However it is not against the Divine purpose ; otherwise Allah would have no allowed it to prevail as it is said “ We have revealed this Book and We will preserve it”. Then what was the original order and what was the order of different compilations of the companions. All this is a vast field of studies and is thoroughly studied by classical and modern Muslim scholars
Difference in Readings
The Qur’an is the unique scripture which has a a single version from the time of the Prophet. All other scriptures have different version; but there is only one version of the Qur’an. However, there have been some differences in spelling, pronunciations and vowels. The Islamic scholars have studied this topic in detail.. Difference in vowel ling are extensively dealt by Suyûtî and others.
The Qur'an has been revealed for guidance, for all times and situations to come. However, various ayat were revealed at a particular time in history and in particular circumstances. The Arabic word sabab (pl. asbab) means reason, cause and 'marifa asbab al-nuzul' is the knowledge about the reasons of the revelations, i.e. the knowledge about the particular events and circumstances in history that are related to the revelation of particular passages from the Qur'an. This is a very vast field and hundreds of books have been written on this topic. Muslim scholars made painstaking researches to find out the occasion of the revelation of each sura and each âya. Asbâb an-Nuzûl is an important branch of the Quranic studies or ulûm-al-Qur’an.
I’jâzul Qur’an [Miraculous Nature of the Qur’an]
The Qur’an has stated that it is the miracle of Prophet Muhammad. According to Islam all prophets of God are given miracles. The miracle of our Prophet was an intellectual miracle-that is the Qur’an. Muslim scholars from the very early Islamic era to our own times have sudied different aspects of the miraculous nature of the Qur’an, . It includes its prophecies, the stylistic miracle, how the Prophet who was unschooled uttered deep philosophical truths, the inspirational aspect of the Qur’an -how it gave rise to a great civilization and changed a whole nation within an incredible short period. The study of all these aspects of I’jâz-ul-Qur’an have developed into a full descipline which is part of the ‘Ulûm-alQur’an.
AL-NASIKH WA AL-MANSUKH:
In Quran some verses contains rules that have been abrogated by the later verses. The second are called nâshikh [abrogating] and the first mansûkh or abrogated. This is another very popular field of Ulûm-al-Quran and numerous books have been written by important classical scholars about this subject. To study the naskh and mansûkh verses, to find out which is nâsikh which is mansûkh and to enquire about their history.
DIVISIONS OF THE TEXT
This is another important field of the Quranic Studies or ulûm al Qurân. The Qur’an has been divide in ayahs and sûrah. Aya (pl. ayat) actually means 'sign'. In technical language it is the shortest division of the Qur'anic text, i.e. a phrase or sentence. Sura (pl. Suwar) means literally 'row' or 'fence'. In technical language, it is the passage-wise division of the Qur'anic text, Scholars have also grouped the suras into four kinds: 1. al-tiwal (long ones): 2-10. 2. al-mi'un: suras with approximately 100 ayat: 10-35. 3. al-mathani: suras with less than 100 ayat: 36-49. 4. al-mufassal: the last section of the Qur'an beginning with Sura qaf: 50-114. Other Divisions of the Text Juz' (pl. ajza') literally means part, portion. The Qur'an is divided into 30 portions of approximately equal length for easy recitation during the thirty nights of a month, especially of the month of Ramadan. Usually they are indicated by the word and the number of it given alongside, (e.g. juz' 30 beginning with Sura 78). Some copies of the Qur'an have the suras divided into paragraphs called ruku'. This field of the Quranic Studies [Uloome Quran] concerns the study of all such divisions and their history.
MAKKAN AND MADINAN REVELATIONS
An important divisions of the suras is between those revealed in Makkah and those revealed in Madînah or after the Prophets migration to Madînah. Scholars have studied and tries to determine which sûrah or ayah is Meccan and which is Madanî. This field is itself a branch of Quranic studies.
LITERARY FORMS AND STYLE
Another field of the Ulûme Quran is the study of the Qur’an’s literary form and style. Broadly speaking there are two main literary forms: - Prose. - Poetry. The Qur'an is not Poetry but its style is poetic. It employes the device of saj'.The word saj' is usually translated as 'rhymed prose', i.e. a literary form with some emphasis on rhythm and rhyme, but distinct from poetry. Likewise the Qur’an is not like a classic Book, nor it is speech or oratorical style but has its own peculiar style. It is a book of guidance and not mere literature but from the point of view of literary merits it is a masterpiece. The Quranic oaths, Quranic metaphors and similes , Qurall are studied. This field of ulûme-Qur’an studies these aspects of the Qur’an. From the earliest Islamic period exclusive boks have been written on this topic and are still being written. So this itself is a vast field of study. Qisase Qur’an or the Stories Narrated in the Qur’an: The Qur’an is a book of Guidance, but it has refereed to a number of historical events and the real historical stories of the prophets, especially the Israelite prophets in order to elucidate its message and guidance. This is also an important field and hundreds of books are written on this topic
MUHKAMAT AND MUTASHABIHAT
The study of Muhkamat and Mutashâbihât is another important field of enquiry and numerous books have been written on this subject by the classical and modern Muslim scholars. The word muhkamat in technical language refers to all clearly decided verses of the Qur'an, mostly those concerning legal rulings, but also to other clear definitions such as between truth and falsehood etc. This is what is meant by 'general muhkamat'. Mutashabihat (sg. mutashabiha) in technical language refers to those verses of the Qur'an the meanings of which are not clear or not completely agreed upon, but open to two or more interpretations.These are generally metaphorical and symbolic expression which are always open to different interpretations. Generally the Qur'an those ayat dealing with halal and haram, punishments, inheritance, promise and threat, etc. belong to the mu,hkamat, while those concerning the attributes of Allah, the true nature of the resurrection, judgement and life after death etc. belong to the mutashabEhdt.
General and Specific (‘Âm-Khâs )
Some verses of the Qur'an are of a very wide, general application (al-'am), e.g. including all human beings, or all Muslims etc. Other ayat are restricted in their application to certain special circumstances only (al-khas). Muslim scholars have taken painstaking labour to find out which verse is ‘Âm and which is khâs. This is especially important in inferring lules from the Qur’an.
The study of the abbreviations that are used at the beginning of some suras s another important field of study. What is the purpose of these letters, what is their import and meaning and what are their spiritual significance , all these topis have been dealt by the scholars.
There are many more fields that are included in the Quranic Studies or ‘Ulûm-al-Qur’ân. We have not covered all of them. Even a cursory glance at the various branches of knowledge developed by a Muslim classical scholars in the field of Quranic studies shows the vitality and profundity of the Islamic scholarship. It also shows the importance that the Qur’an held for the Muslim scholars throughout the ages However knowledge is a continuous process and much can be developed even now. Such Seminars are necessary to give impetus to the Quranic Studies , now and in future.
1. . Suyuti,Jalaluddin: al-Itqân fil ‘UlYmil Qur’ân
2. . Sabuni, Muhammad 'Ali: al-tibyan fi 'ulum al-qur-an, Beirut, 1970, p. 10.
3. . AHMAD VON DENFFER : Ulum al Quran :An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur'an 4. Ibne Nadîm: Fihrist 5. Attar, D.: Mujaz 'ulum al-qur'an, Beirut 1399/1979, p. 116 6. al-Wahidi al-Nisaburi: Asbab al-nuzul, by. Cairo, 1968, 'ghaib'.