The Companions of the Holy Prophet (sa) The Holy Qur'an

THE PURITY OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – 5

44 The Review of Religions – July 2007 Arrangement of the Verses and Chapters of the Qur’an It has already been shown that the Holy Qur’an was both written and committed to memory in the life-time of the Holy Prophet(saw). But we also know that the Qur’an was revealed piecemeal during a long period extending over twenty-three years. Some of the chapters were revealed complete but the revelation of many others was fragmentary and extended over long periods. It also happened often that while one chapter was still unfinished, a new chapter was revealed, and sometimes verses belonging to more than two unfinished chapters were revealed at one and the same time. Now the arrangement of chapters and verses in the copies of the Holy Qur’an at present in the hands of the Muslims does not follow the order of revelation. The impor- tant question before us, therefore, now is whether the Holy Prophet(saw) himself arranged the verses and chapters in an order different from that of their revelation, and, if so, whether the present arrangement of the verses and chapters is the same as that which prevailed in the life-time of the Holy Prophet(saw). In other words, was the Holy Qur’an left by the Holy Prophet(saw) in the same condition as regards the arrangement of its verses and chapters as that in which we now find it, or is its present condition different from that in which the Holy Prophet(saw) left it? Both intrinsic and extrinsic evidence conclusively show that the present arrangement of the chapters and verses of the Holy Qur’an was effected by the Holy Prophet(saw) under the guidance of Divine revelation. But as the The Purity of the Text of the HOLY QUR’AN PART 5 From the Review of Religions, 1907 45The Review of Religions – July 2007 intrinsic evidence on this point requires a separate treatment, I shall not attempt to give it here. The different verses in different chapters and the chapters themselves are so well arranged that no better arrangement is conceivable. It is only ignorance of the Holy Qur’an and Arabic idiom which has made some critics remark that there is no connection between certain verses or that there are some chasms. A deep reflection over the Holy Book reveals a close connection between verses which are considered by hasty writers to be disconnected. But we leave this point for a separate discussion and would refer here only to the extrinsic evidence which proves that the present arrangement of the verses and chapters of the Holy Qur’an is not the work of Abu Bakr or Zaid, but that of the Holy Prophet(saw) himself who did it under the guidance of Divine revelation. Such evidence is not only met with abundantly in the traditions of the Holy Prophet(saw), but it is also contained in the Holy Qur’an. Thus in Ch.75:Vs.8-19 we read: Surely upon us rests its collection and its recital. so when We recite it, then follow thou its recital. These verses clearly show that the collection of the Qur’an, that is its gathering into one whole with an arrangement of its various parts, was brought about by the guidance of Divine revelation. Arrangement and collection were according to these verses as much the work of Divine revelation as the reading of a verse to the Holy Prophet(saw), i.e., its revelation. The Qur’an itself, therefore, asserts, not only that it is the Word of God, but that its collection and arrangement were also brought about by Divine revelation. It should be borne in mind that the word Jam’a in the above verse (Ch.75:V.18) implies both collection and arrangement, since no collection could be brought about without an arrangement. Now the verse shows that this arrangement was different from the order of the revelation of the verses. It describes arrangement and collection as a process THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 5 46 The Review of Religions – July 2007 different from the revelation of a verse to the Holy Prophet(saw), thus showing that from the first it was meant that the verses and the chapters of the Holy Qur’an should be arranged in an order different from that of their revelation. If the order in collection were to be the same as the order of the reading of the different verses to the Holy Prophet(saw), i.e., the order of their revelation, collection and reading would not have been described in the verse quoted above as two different things. The reader may also consult Lane’s Lexicon which gives ‘arranging’ as a significance of the word Jam’a. It is in authentic traditions, however, that we meet with the clearest proof that the Holy Prophet(saw) left at his death the complete Qur’an with the same arrangement of the verses and the chapters that we have now in every Arabic Qur’an. We will consider the arrangement of verses and that of chapters separately and in each enquiry we shall have to discuss the following points: 1. Was any arrangement followed by the Prophet(saw) himself and by his companions in his life- time? 2. Was that arrangement different from the order in which the verses or the chapters were revealed? 3. Is the present arrangement different from that followed by or in the life-time of the Holy Prophet(saw)? That such a large book treating so many and such varied subjects should have been committed to memory and regularly recited in and outside prayers and taught by one man to another without there being any settled arrangement of its parts is a most preposterous proposition, but there is hardly a Christian critic of Islam who has not advanced it. The grounds for this assertion are the same in every case. Not the least regard is paid to historical evidence, and the supposition that no arrange- ment is discoverable in the verses and chapters at present is the only basis on which the proposition is based. Even Muir who sat down to write his Life of Mahomet on a THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 5 47The Review of Religions – July 2007 strong historical basis has in this respect followed the earlier Christian critics and shut his eyes to the whole historical evidence. The following short paragraph from Muir’s introduction is not only illustrative of the assertions of Christian critics in general, but it also shows how the author himself has evaded the historical evidence. He says: ‘We are not, however, to assume that the entire Qur’an was at this period repeated in any fixed order. The present compilation, indeed, is held by the Moslims to follow the arrangement prescribed by Mahomet; and early tradition might appear to imply some known sequence1 But this cannot be admitted; for had any fixed order been observed or sanctioned by the Prophet, it would unquestionably have been preserved in the sub- sequent collection. Now the Coran as handed down to our time, follows in the disposition of its several parts no intelligible arrangement whatever, either of subject or time; and it is inconceivable that Mahomet should have enjoined its recital invariably in this order. We must even doubt whether the number of Suras, or chapters, was determined by Mahomet as we now have them. The internal sequence at any rate of the contents of the several Suras cannot, in most cases, have been that intended by the Prophet.’ Some of the footnotes given under this paragraph show the struggle in the writer’s mind between historical facts and religious prejudice. Thus while denying the existence of any fixed order in the Qur’an in the life-time of the Holy Prophet(saw), Muir had to admit that ‘we read of certain companions, who could repeat the whole Coran in a given time, which might be held to imply some usual connection of the parts.’ In another footnote it is admitted that there were four or five persons who could repeat ‘with scrupulous accuracy’ the whole of the Qur’an, and ‘several others who could very nearly THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 5 48 The Review of Religions – July 2007 repeat the whole before Mahomet’s death.’ Again while denying that even the number of Suras was determined by the Holy Prophet(saw), for fear of being contradicted he cautiously adds the following footnote: ‘But there is reason to believe that the chief Suras, including all passages in most common use, were fixed and known by name or other distinctive mark. Some are spoken of, in early and well authenticated traditions, as having been so referred to by Mahomet himself. Thus he recalled his fugitive followers at the discomfiture of Honein, by shouting to them as “the men of the Sura Bacr”(i.e., Sura Ch.2). Several persons are stated by tradition to have learnt by heart a certain number of Suras in Mahomet’s life-time. Thus Abdulla bin Masud learned seventy Suras from the Prophet’s own mouth – and Mahomet on his death-bed repeated seventy Suras, ‘among which were the seven long ones.’ These traditions signify a recognised division of at least some part of the revelation into Suras, if not a usual order in repeating the Suras themselves. ‘The liturgical use of the Suras by Mahomet must, no doubt, have in some measure fixed their form, and probably also their sequence.’ In connection with the same subject, it is said in another footnote that ‘the traditions just cited as to the number of Suras which some of the companions could repeat, and which Mahomet himself repeated on his death-bed, also imply the existence of such Suras in a complete and finished form.’ In this manner, almost every remark made in the paragraph quoted above is contradicted in the footnotes on the basis of historical facts met with in authentic traditions. And though the statements in the footnotes are made reservedly, yet the contradictions are too clear to escape unnoticed by any careful reader, and the struggle in the THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 5 49The Review of Religions – July 2007 writer’s mind can be easily discovered. In the text it is asserted that there was no fixed order or arrangement in the verses and chapters of the Holy Qur’an, and historical evidence is produced in the footnote showing that there was a connection. The text makes the allegation that even the Suras were not distinctly marked out by the Holy Prophet(saw) and their number was not determined by him. Yet the footnote brings forward historical testimony to the effect that there was a recognised division and that form of the chapters was, no doubt, fixed. The reservations contained in such expressions as ‘some part’ and ‘some measure’ were only natural considering the allegations in the text. It can be easily seen that if ‘seventy Suras including the seven long ones’ existed ‘in a complete and finished form’ as the footnote admits, and there is no evidence showing that the remaining forty- four short Suras which were, no doubt, generally recited in prayers did not exist in the same form, the presumption will be that all the Suras existed ‘in a complete and finished form.’ This conclusion becomes clearer still when it is borne in mind that the same writer has also admitted that there were several com- panions who could repeat, not only seventy Suras, but the whole Qur’an and that too ‘with scrupulous accuracy.’ As regards the stale assertion that the Qur’an follows no arrange- ment in the disposition of its several parts, it arises only out of an ignorance of the Holy Book. There exist commentaries in the Arabic language which show the connection of the verses and the chapters to each other, but the subject is not suited for a short article in a monthly. I would, however, give one example of the real connection between verses which a superficial reader would think to be totally unconnected. From the 156th verse the second chapter runs thus: ‘With some- what of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and of lives and of fruits, will We surely prove you: but bear good tidings to the patient, [157] who, when a calamity falls upon them, say: THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 5 50 The Review of Religions – July 2007 ‘Verily we are God’s and verily to Him do we return. [158] On such the Lord sends down His blessings and mercy, and these — they are the rightly guided. [158] Verily, Safa and Marwa are among the Signs of God: whoever, therefore, makes a pilgrimage to the House or performs Umrah to go round about them both. And whoever does good in obedience to God, then verily God is Grateful and Knowing.’ Apparently the 158th verse abruptly introduces a subject foreign to the purport of the context. A little reflection, however, makes it clear that this verse has a deep connection with the preceding verses. Safa and Marwa are the two hills which were the scene of Hajar’s suffering when she ran hither and thither in search of water for her infant child. Now the previous verses state that when Almighty God tries His servants by sending down any suffering upon them and they are patient and faithful and trust in God, they are rewarded with great blessings and mercy from the Lord. The verse which speaks of Safa and Marwa is really only an illustration of the principle laid down in these verses. It mentions two hills which were the scene of the sufferings of a faithful servant of God who, because of the faithfulness and patience shown under the heaviest sufferings, was rewarded with the greatest of blessings from heaven, so much so that these very hills became the Signs or sanctuaries of God. Going round these hills was a commemoration of the events which befell Hajar and the patience and faithfulness which she showed in that trial which had been sent upon her by God. Her reward was great, for the descendants of Ishmael were made a great nation and it was from among them that the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw), was raised. These facts reveal the existence of a deep connection between verses which to a superficial reader of the Qur’an would appear as having not the least connection with each other. THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 5 51The Review of Religions – July 2007 The allegation that there is no connection between the verses as at present arranged is, therefore, the result only of the ignorance of the deep significance of the Qur’anic words and expressions. As it is only upon this one supposition that the whole historical evidence concerning the arrangement of the Holy Qur’an is rejected, we may after having shown the error of this supposition proceed to consider the evidence itself. The assertion that no arrangement was followed in the case of single verses revealed at different times is so absurd on its very face that it hardly requires a refutation. How was it possible for any body to commit the Holy Qur’an to memory if there was no settled order in which the verses were read? What order did the different copies follow? Or was it that each copy of the Holy Qur’an current at the time followed a different order? Could every man who knew any portion of the Holy Qur’an, and every one of the companions knew some portion, have followed a different arrangement? Does any tradition support these absurd assertions? What order did the reciters of the Holy Qur’an follow? Or did each reciter follow a different order? What again was the order of the verses followed by those who led the public prayers? It is inconceivable that a book which was so widely committed to memory and which was so frequently recited by thousands of men existed in such an orderless state. If there were no other evidence to show that the verses in the different chapters of the Holy Qur’an followed some arrange- ment, the mere fact that the Holy Book was committed to memory by the companions would be sufficient to establish that con- clusion. There are many chapters containing more than a hundred verses each, and unless these were arranged in a settled order, no one could be said to have committed to memory the whole of any chapter. Take the different permutations of only a hundred THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 5 52 The Review of Religions – July 2007 verses, and no two out of a hundred thousand men could have agreed upon one arrange- ment. In such a case there would have been not one Qur’an which the companions could learn from each other, but everybody would have his own Qur’an, and no one could be certain of the correctness of what his friend recited. Moreover, we learn from authentic traditions that when any person, while reciting a portion of the Holy Qur’an from memory, made a mistake or left out a verse, someone of those who listened to him corrected the mistake or pointed out the particular verse. Now this could not be done unless the same arrangement of verses was followed by all. In fact, it was simply impossible to commit thousands of verses to memory unless there was some arrangement which they followed. Considerations such as the above clearly show that some arrange- ment of verses was necessarily followed. Was it the order of revelation? There is clear historical evidence that the Holy Prophet(saw) arranged the verses not according to their chronological order of receipt but accord-ing to matter. There were no doubt many chapters that were revealed complete, but there were others, particularly the longer ones, that were revealed by portions. Chronologically verses of one chapter were followed by those of another, and hence in the arrangement of verses in chapters the chrono- logical order could not be observed. The practice of the THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 5 …WE LEARN FROM AUTHENTIC TRADITIONS THAT WHEN ANY PERSON, WHILE RECITING A PORTION OF THE HOLY QUR’AN FROM MEMORY, MADE A MISTAKE OR LEFT OUT A VERSE, SOMEONE OF THOSE WHO LISTENED TO HIM CORRECTED THE MISTAKE OR POINTED OUT THE PARTICULARS VERSE. NOW THIS COULD NOT BE DONE UNLESS THE SAME ARRANGEMENT OF VERSES WAS FOLLOWED BY ALL. 53The Review of Religions – July 2007 Holy Prophet(saw) in such cases is clearly stated in authentic traditions. As Othman tells us in a tradition already quoted: ‘it was customary with the Messenger(saw) of God, when portions of different chapters were revealed to him, that when any verse was revealed he called one of the amanuenses [persons who write what another dictates] and said to him “write these verses in the chapter where such and such verses occur.”’ From this it appears that the place and chapter for every verse were pointed out by the Holy Prophet(saw) himself. With such clear and conclusive testimony before him, no sensible person would deny that the work of the arrangement of the verses in every chapter was done by the Holy Prophet(saw) himself and as the Holy Qur’an tells us it was done under the guidance of Divine revelation, and that that arrangement did not follow the chronological order of the revelation of verses. If the arrangement of verses was different from the order of their revelation, the next question that arises is, was that arrangement different from the one upon which the whole Muslim world is now agreed? We must answer this question in the negative. The arrangement of the verses in the Qur’an we have in our hands is not in accordance with the order of revelation, and hence if there is no trace in the history of the Qur’an of any change having been brought about in the arrangement of its verses at any time, the conclusion that the present arrangement is exactly the same as that followed by the Holy Prophet(saw) will be absolutely certain and final. Now it is admitted on all hands, and the truth of the fact has not been questioned by the hostilest critic of Islam, that there has not been the slightest change in any word or letter of the Qur’an or in the arrangement of its verses or chapters since the time of Othman, the third of the Muslim Caliphs. Our copies of the Qur’an are admittedly exact copies, true and authentic in every way, of the collection made by Othman, and THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 5 54 The Review of Religions – July 2007 hence to prove that the arrange- ment of verses and chapters at present is the same as that followed by the Holy Prophet(saw), we have only to show that the collection made by Othman followed the original arrange- ment. It can be easily seen that at the time of his making the collection, Othman had no motive for changing the fixed arrangement which up to that time was followed by the companions of the Holy Prophet(saw) That an arrangement different from the order of revelation was followed by the Holy Prophet(saw) and that the same arrangement was followed by the companions in the learning and teaching of the Holy Qur’an has already been shown. Such an arrangement was changed by Othman is for him to show who makes the assertion. When Othman began to make his collection, or more correctly when he began to make copies of the Qur’an from Abu-Bakr’s(ra) collection, thousands of the companions of the Holy Prophet(saw) were still living, and no change in the arrangement of verses could have remained unnoticed. Moreover, the task of making the required copies was not in the charge of Othman personally, but in that of several of the most well-known com- panions reputed for their knowledge of the Qur’an, and none of these can be shown to have had any motive for altering the arrangement of verses existing at the time. Nor is there the slightest trace in the historical record of the time that the arrangement was altered. No charge has ever been preferred against Othman by any sect of Islam or any individual that he had changed the arrangement of the verses in the chapters of the Holy Qur’an. In fact the only charge against him is that he disallowed certain readings. The nature of this charge we will describe later on when we have occasion to write about the various readings. But there is absolutely no mention whatever in any tradition THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 5 55The Review of Religions – July 2007 authentic or unauthentic of any alteration in the arrangement of verses. Besides the negative proof cited above which conclusively shows that at no time in the history of the Qur’an was the arrangement of its verses altered in the slightest degree, there is positive evidence leading to the same conclusion. This evidence may be gathered from incidental remarks made in certain authentic traditions. Under the heading ‘The excellence of the chapter entitled Al-Baqra’, Bukhari relates the following tradition: ‘The Holy Prophet(saw) said: “Whoever reads the last two verses of the chapter entitled Baqara on any night, they are sufficient for him.”’ This tradition which reports the exact words of the Holy Prophet(saw) shows two things. Firstly, that the Holy Prophet(saw) himself followed an arrangement which he made known to his companions and they all followed the same arrangement, for if such had not been the case, he could not have referred to two verses as the last two verses of a certain chapter. The tradition shows clearly that every verse had a known and fixed place in a chapter and no reciter of the Qur’an could change its place. sIn the second place, this tradition shows that the verses with which the chapter entitled the Baqarah or ‘Cow’ now ends were also the concluding verses of that chapter in the time of the Holy Prophet(saw), and therefore the arrangement in the copies of the Qur’an at present is the same that was followed by the Holy Prophet(saw). In support of this we may cite another tradition which is accepted as authentic by the authorities on tradition. In this tradition these two verses, i.e., the concluding verses of the chapter entitled the ‘Cow’ are identified with the 285th and 286th verses of that chapter as enumerated in Rodwell’s translation or 286 and 287 according to our Review of Religions referencing. (See for THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 5 56 The Review of Religions – July 2007 this tradition the Fath-ul-Bari.) According to another authentic tradition the Holy Prophet(saw) told his followers to recite the ‘first ten verses’ of the chapter entitled the ‘Cave’ at the appearance of the anti-Christ. Had there been no arrangement of verses, the ‘first ten verses’ would have been a meaningless phrase because it would not have indicated any particular ten verses. This tradition occurs in the Sahih Muslim. The first ten verses as in our copies of the Qur’an are plainly the verses meant, as in these verses the doctrine of the sonship of Jesus, a doctrine indentified with the teaching of the anti-Christ by the Holy Qur’an, is refuted in forcible words. This tradition also shows that the arrangement of verses in the time of the Holy Prophet(saw) was the same as it is now. Other traditions to the same effect may, if necessary, be quoted. In no tradition any arrangement of verses other than the one which exists in the current copies of the Holy Qur’an is hinted at. Had the Holy Prophet(saw) left the Qur’an in an unarranged form, different arrangements of verses would no doubt have been followed by different companions and in the great mass of traditions there would have been references to some of these arrangements. But the absence of any such reference shows conclusively that there was only one arrangement of verses which was followed by all the companions and that arrangement was the same as we have now in our copies of the Qur’an, because there is no reference at all to any change having been introduced at any time. There is only one tradition which speaks of Ali having made a collection of the Qur’an in the order of its revelation, but if true this only supports the conclusion we have already arrived at as to the present arrangement being the one in existence at the time of the Holy Prophet(saw). The fact, if true, is mentioned only on account of the peculiarity of the arrange- ment, its distinction from the recognised and accepted arrange- ment. Had there been a third arrangement besides these two, we should also have had a THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 5 57The Review of Religions – July 2007 reference to it. The order of revelation as we have seen was not followed by the Holy Prophet(saw), for his arrangement was according to matter and not chronological. Ali might have thought of preserving the order of revelation for historical purposes. In the time of Othman, when copies of the Qur’an were made for distribution, Ali was one of the companions who super- intended the copying and there is no doubt that if he had not looked upon the present arrangement as the right arrangement, he would have either objected to it or refused to take any part in it. But along with the whole body of the companions, Ali followed an arrangement different from the order of the revelation though he might have preserved the chrono- logical order also. Had he considered the latter arrangement to be the actual arrangement, he would no doubt have given currency to it during his cali- phate. But neither in the time of the first three caliphs nor in his own reign did he ever, privately or publicly, make a statement that the arrangement of verses and chapters in the current copies of the Holy Qur’an was not followed by the Holy Prophet(saw) and that it ought to be superseded by chronological arrangement. These considerations clearly show that the arrangement of verses in the copies made by Othman was recognised by all the companions without a single exception to be the arrangement followed by the Holy Prophet(saw). Had it not been so there would have been many differences among them as to arrangement. But as a matter of fact even Ibn-i- Masud who otherwise expressed his dissatisfaction with the action of Othman in having disallowed certain readings favoured by the former never took any objection to the arrangement of the verses in the copies made by the orders of the latter, nor did he himself ever propose a different arrange- ment. The above considerations prove conclusively that the division of the Holy Qur’an into chapters and the arrangement of verses in each chapter were both per- formed under the directions of the THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 5 58 The Review of Religions – July 2007 Holy Prophet(saw). When a new verse was revealed, a place was assigned to it by the Holy Prophet(saw), and no companion could assign it a place at his own choice. The greater part of the chapter entitled Al-Baqarah, for instance, was revealed during the early days of the Holy Prophet(saw) at Madinah, but some verses belonging to it were revealed only a few days before his death. Such were the verses relating to the prohibition of usury, as trustworthy traditions show. The place assigned to these verses is immediately after the verses which speak of alms. The reason for this arrangement is that both injunctions, viz., the injunction relating to the giving of alms and the injunction relating to the prohibition of usury, were meant for the benefit of the poor and these were two steps in the same direction, that is, the amelioration of the poor. The state of the society whose reform the Holy Qur’an had in view was such that the two injunctions could not be given together. It was necessary that the people to whom the injunction relating to the prohibition of usury was to be given should be first prepared to accept that teaching. Hence the two injunctions were revealed at different periods, but the subjects of which they treated were so closely related to each other that in an arrangement of verses they had to be placed side-by-side. But the division into chapters was marked by the Holy Prophet(saw) himself and we find the names of most of the chapters expressly mentioned in authentic tradi- tions. In fact the division of the Holy Qur’an into chapters and the arrangement of verses in these chapters by the Holy Prophet(saw) are such clear facts that no difference at all can be pointed out to have ever existed on these points among the companions or the later Muslims. No one can be shown to have ever asserted that a certain verse in a certain chapter in the collection in our hands belonged to a different chapter or that a verse occupying a certain position occupied a different position at any time. In many THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 5 59The Review of Religions – July 2007 traditions references to verses are contained in numbers, and this shows clearly that the arrange- ment of verses was complete in the lifetime of the Holy Prophet(saw). To add another example to those already given, there is a tradition which narrates that Ibn-i-Masud recited forty verses of the chapter entitled Al-Anfal in a certain prayer. This is narrated in the Sahih Bukhari. Another traditionist, Abdul Razzaq, has mentioned the same tradition through a different chain of narrators with this difference that instead of mentioning the reciting of forty verses of the chapter, the narrator only says that he recited up to the verse which ends with such and such words. (Fath-ul- Bari, Vol II, page 212). Now if we compute forty verses from the beginning as mentioned by the first narrator, we find them ending with the words mentioned by the second narrator. From this it is clear that the present arrangement of verses was well- known in the lifetime of the Holy Prophet(saw). According to another tradition narrated by Bukhari, the Holy Prophet(saw), when he awoke for his tahajjud prayers, used to recite ‘the last ten verses of the chapter entitled Al-i-Imran’, and in imitation of him the Muslims still recite the same ten verses. This fact also proves that the same arrangement of verses was followed during the life-time of the Holy Prophet(saw) that is followed now and that the division of the Holy Qur’an into chapters was distinctly marked at the time. The next question that we have to consider is the arrangement of chapters In the discussion of this question it may be stated at the very outset that any arrangement in the recital of chapters in or out- side prayers was regarded as unnecessary except when the whole of the Qur’an was to be recited. As we have seen in traditions already quoted there were men among the companions who knew the whole of the Qur’an by heart and to keep it fresh in memory they used to recite the whole within a stated time. Indeed Bukhari has a THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 5 chapter with the heading ‘In how much time should the recital of the Qur’an be finished.’ Under this heading traditions are narrated according to which the Holy Prophet(saw) forbade one of his companions to finish the recital of the Qur’an in less than three days, and forbade another to finish it in less than seven days. These traditions show the practice of the companions of the Holy Prophet(saw). Those among them who knew the whole of the Qur’an by heart used to repeat it constantly and finished the recitation of the whole ordinarily in seven days. Indeed it would not have been possible to retain such a large book in memory except by its constant recital and repetition. The Holy Prophet(saw) himself had told them that they should constantly resort to a recital of the Holy Qur’an and that otherwise it could not be retained in memory. Hence they constantly resorted to its recital. Now to finish the Qur’an within a stated time and to recur to it again and again it was necessary that some arrangement of chapters should have been observed. But it may be asked, does tradition support this conclusion? Ahmad and Abu Daud and others have narrated the following tradition which shows that the arrangement of chapters was also effected by the Holy Prophet(saw): Aus says: ‘I was in the Saqeef embassy at the time of their conversion to Islam ……… The Holy Prophet said to us, “My portion of the Holy Qur’an has come to me unexpectedly, so I intend not to go out until I finish it.’ Thereupon we questioned the companions of the Holy Prophet(saw), as to how they divided the Qur’an into portions. They said: ‘We observe the following division into portions, three chapters and five chapters and seven chapters and nine chapters and eleven chapters and thirteen chapters and all the remaining chapters beginning with Qaf which are termed the Mufassal.’ There is good reason to believe 60 THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 5 The Review of Religions – July 2007 the authenticity of this tradition. It divides the Holy Qur’an into seven portions, each portion to be recited in one day, and the recital of the whole Qur’an is thus finished in seven days. From other trustworthy tradi- tions we learn that the Holy Prophet(saw) had enjoined some of his companions not to finish the Holy Qur’an in less than seven days, and the two traditions reported through entirely different channels corroborating as they do the testimony of each other testify to each other’s truth and authenticity. Moreover they are both accepted by eminent traditionists as authentic tradi- tions. Hence we have no reason to doubt the truth of either. Now the tradition quoted above shows clearly an arrangement of chapters, for the division into portions mentioned in this tradition is observed to this day by the whole Muslim world. The seven portions are called the seven manzils or stages, and they include the same number of chapters as is mentioned in the tradition. The seventh portion begins with the chapter entitled Qaf as stated in the tradition, and the total number of chapters contained in the first six portions is forty-eight as even in the copies of the Qur’an in our hands. It should be borne in mind that in our copies the Qaf is the fiftieth chapter, the difference arising from the fact that in the tradition quoted above the Fatiha or the Opening chapter is not included. This tradition affords the clearest and most conclusive testimony that the arrangement of the chapters of the Holy Qur’an was brought about by the Holy Prophet(saw) himself like the arrangement of its verses, and their present arrangement does not differ in the least from the original arrangement. 61 THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 5 The Review of Religions – July 2007 62 The Review of Religions – July 2007 COMPETITION Khilafat Centenary Article The Review of Religions is running a competition for articles on Khilafat to be published during 2008. The winning entry will receive a copy of The Review of Religions in which the best article is published and it will be personally signed by Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba)! Articles must be unpublished and original and between 4,000 words and 7,000 words on one of the following topics: 1. The blessings of Khilafat in Islam 2. The institution of Khilafat 3. The impact of Khilafat-e-Rashida or Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya 4. The concept of Khilafat in religious thought All entries will be judged by the Editorial Board and the Board’s decision will be final. To qualify for this unique opportunity entries must be fully annotated with cross-references relevant extracts of which should be supplied with the article for verification and submitted in English in MS Word to reach The Review of Religions office in London by 30 November 2007. You must include your full contact details including name, address, telephone number and email address. Late entries will not be entertained. Unless prepaid postage is enclosed, unpublished articles will not be returned. 63The Review of Religions – July 2007 Humanity First is a global charity registered in 23 countries with UNESCO NGO status. We have responded to global disasters such as the Pakistan Earthquake, the Asian Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. We also run a number of long-term projects in Africa and South America to feed the needy, provide safe drinking-water, help restore health and provide training in IT and tailoring. Our aims are to take people out of dependance and restore communities by improving health and providing sustainable careers. We provide help on the basis of need, and irrespective of race, religion or politics. Humanity First is looking for individuals and companies to volunteer help, provide medication, food, clothing and other supplies and to become regular donors. If you can help us to put humanity first, please visit our website to find out more about what we do and how you can help. £10 provides education for a month £25 can restore someone’s eyesight £30 provides training for a month HUMANITY FIRST APPEAL URL: www.humanityfirst.org.uk EMAIL: info@humanityfirst.org.uk UK CHARITY REG.: 1050934 We hope you have enjoyed reading this edition of the magazine. 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