> For Learning the Qur`an and Quranic Sciences

> For Learning the Qur`an and Quranic Sciences

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Quran, Recitation (القرآن)

Now we will turn our attention to the meanings of al-Quran (القرآن) and as-Sunnah (السنة), the revealed scriptures of Islam. The undisputed sources of Islam are the revelations from Allah to His Prophet and Messenger Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, in the Qur`an and in the authenticated, reliably reported Sunnah. These are absolutely truthful for the many internal and external proofs that prove that we can trust the integrity of their truthfulness. Anyone who speaks about Islam and Islamic principles without reference to these two sources is spreading ignorance and misinforming his or her audience about Islam, regardless of the claims of expertise and study.  And yet how prevalent is this phenomenon in our day of electronic media, mass communication, and ideological confrontation.

The word Qur`an (or Quran for expediency in English) means the sacred Book of revelation of Allah the Exalted. The words of each verse (Ayah) and chapter (Surah) are the exact blessed words of Allah the Exalted transmitted by the Archangel Gabriel (Jibreel) to the Prophet and Messenger of Allah to mankind, Muhammad, may the salutations, praises, prayers, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him.   Its explanation and exegesis is a special science called Tafseer. The Quran is a unique book in so many ways – its artistic eloquence, its harmonious sounds, its organization, its information, its prophecies, its inspirations, its legal maxims, its soul touching and heart softening spiritual messages, its healings – that I will not be able to mention them in detail here.  Nevertheless we cannot help but note that it is untranslatable and immutable, and therefore, our attempts at translation are mere superficial efforts that do not do justice to the miraculous words and profound meanings of the original. Any westerner who reads the Quran should remember that it is a book to be recited as formal worship with specific frame of mind and heart, etiquettes and mannerisms and contemplated for its many messages to gain benefit. Therefore one must prepare himself for aspects that may confuse the novice. One of the aspects that confound the uninitiated is that the organization and structure of its sentences, passages and chapters is not like other books with neatly arranged information and subject packages and under self contained chapter titles of common material.  Rather it may jump from one subject to another for the sake of presenting a thread of an argument or is constructed in a manner that produces multiple meanings under the literal, or the deepest emotional feelings, all of which is not readily apparent to the casual reader.


Importance of Reference to the Quran and the Sunnah

The Quran and authentic Sunnah are the first two principles and agreed upon fundamental basis of Islamic law, known as Share’ah. The third basis is Ijma`a, the consensus of the scholars of Islam about a particular issue. Qayas is the fourth basis and indicates logical analogy from a root source to an analytical branch.  The Quran, Sunnah, Ijma`a, and Qayas, are the fundamental sources of Islamic jurisprudence, the science of understanding and deriving the exact interpretation of the laws from these four bases.  The Quran and the Sunnah are the revelation from Allah whereas the Ijma`a and Qayas help us understand the laws derived from the revelation for application in legal rulings and maxims.

A crux Islamic maxim is that if any differences occur in any particular issue about Islam, then this issue must be referred back first to the Quran and Sunnah for an answer and solution, for Allah the Almighty and Majestic said:

﴿﴾يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ أَطِيعُواْ اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُواْ الرَّسُولَ وَأُوْلِي الأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ فَإِن تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلاً﴿﴾

“O you who believe, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you, and if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day.  That is the best way and the best in result.” (4:59) And He said:

﴿﴾وما اختلفتم فيه من شيء فحكمه إلى الله﴿﴾

“And in anything over which you disagree, it’s ruling is (referred) to Allah.”  (42:10)

When we refer this issue back to Allah and His Prophet, there is no doubt that we will find the answer and solution, and we find that Allah commanded us to follow the Prophet specifically and take from him, as He the Most Majestic said:

﴿﴾وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانتَهُوا﴿﴾

“And whatever the Messenger has given you, take it, and whatever he has forbidden you, cease (from taking or doing it).”  (59:7)

In the narration of Zaid ibn Arqam, may Allah be pleased with him, the Messenger, peace and blessing be upon him, said in a sermon:

”أما بعد ألا أيها الناس إنما أنا بشر يوشك أن يأتي رسول ربي فأجيب، وأنا تارك فيكم ثقلين: أولهما كتاب الله، فيه الهدى والنور، [هو حبل الله المتين من اتبعه كان على الهدى، ومن تركه كان على الضلالة]

فخذوا بكتاب الله، واستمسكوا به“

“Proceeding. O people, I am only a human being who may receive a messenger (the angel of death) from my Lord to whom I must respond.  I am leaving among you two monumental things: the first is the Book of Allah, in it there is the right guidance and the light, [It is the strong rope of Allah, whoever holds it receives the guidance and whoever leaves it becomes misguided] hold firmly to the Book of Allah and adhere to it. He then exhorted us about the Book of Allah and encouraged us about remaining fast to it…” [1]

And the Prophet said, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him:

تركت فيكم أمرين لن تضلوا ما تمسكتم بهما كتاب الله وسنة نبيه

“I have left two things among you, which if you adhere to, you will not go astray: the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet.” [2]

In the famous narration some of the companions of the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, asked one of the wives of the Prophet about his deeds in private (i.e. his private worships), and when they heard about it, they considered their own deeds to be insignificant.  One said, ‘I will not marry women,’ and another said, ‘I will not sleep on a bed,’ and a third one said ‘I will fast and not break fast.’ When this was related to the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, he said:

ما بال أقوام قالوا كذا وكذا ؟ لكني أصلي وأنام وأصوم وأفطر وأتزوج النساء فمن رغب عن سنتي فليس مني

“What is the matter with some people who say such and such? Because I make prayer and sleep. I fast and break the fast.  And I marry women.  Whoever is displeased with my Sunnah (way) is not of me.” [3]

It is also reported that Uthman ibn Ma’thun, may Allah be pleased with him, desired to castrate and seclude himself for the purpose of worship, but the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, forbade him and said:

يا عثمان ! إني لم أومر بالرهبانية أرغبت عن سنتي ؟ قال  لا يا رسول الله ! قال إن من سنتي أن اصلي وأنام وأصوم وأطعم وانكح واطلق ؛ فمن رغب عن سنتي  فليس مني . يا عثمان إن لأهلك عليك حقا ولنفسك عليك حقا

“O Uthman I have not been commanded with to be a celibate monk. Are you displeased with my Sunnah?” He said No! He said: “From my Sunnah is to pray and sleep, to fast and eat, to marry and divorce, and whoever is displeased with my Sunnah is not of me. O Uthman, your family has a right over you, and your self has a right over you.” [4]

Since the Sunnah is the detailed explanation of the Quran and its practical application, it is essential to refer to it in any matter to properly understand any particular Islamic principle and law. If a person only relied on the Quran and his personal general understanding of Arabic lingual meanings of the Quran, he would only have a superficial and incomplete understanding and would go astray in many matters of creed and law. For this reason it is incumbent on any seeker of truth to ask the true scholars, for Allah the Exalted said:

﴿﴾وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ إِلاَّ رِجَالاً نُّوحِي إِلَيْهِمْ فَاسْأَلُواْ أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِن كُنتُمْ لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ ﴿﴾

“And We sent not before you (as Our Messengers) except men whom We inspired, (with revelation), So ask those who know if you do not know.” (16:43) Those who know literally means those who remember, meaning those who study and retain the texts of the Scriptures of the Quran and the Sunnah, and consequently know their correct meanings and interpretations and the verdicts of jurisprudence derived from them.

The Almighty and Majestic also said:

﴿﴾ بَلْ هُوَ آيَاتٌ بَيِّنَاتٌ فِي صُدُورِ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ وَمَا يَجْحَدُ بِآيَاتِنَا إِلَّا الظَّالِمُونَ ﴿﴾

“Nay, but it (the Quran) is a clear revelation in the hearts of those who are endowed with knowledge, and none deny Our revelations save the wrongdoers (and unjust).” 29:49

And the Messenger of Allah, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, said:

” إنما العلم بالتعلم، وإنما الحلم بالتحلم، ومن يتحر الخير يعطه، ومن يتوق الشر يوقه.”

“Knowledge is only by learning, and patience in clemency is only by exerting oneself to be patient in clemency, and whoever strives earnestly to find the good, will be given it, and whoever strives earnestly to avoid evil, will be protected from it.” And in another similar narration:

يا أيها الناس إنما العلم بالتعلم والفقه بالتفقه ومن يرد الله به خيرا يفقهه في الدين

وإنما يخشى الله من عباده العلماء”

“O people, verily knowledge is only by learning, and (having) religious understanding is only by learning jurisprudence, and if Allah wants good from a person He will make him gain religious understanding (of jurisprudence), and

﴿﴾إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاء﴿﴾

“Those who have the fear of Allah, from among His slaves, are only those who have knowledge.” [35/28] Or possibly translated as: “Only the knowledgeable fear Allah from among His slaves.”  [5]

Both the Quran and the authenticated Sunnah are revelation from Allah

﴿﴾ مَا ضَلَّ صَاحِبُكُمْ وَمَا غَوَى ﴿﴾ وَمَا يَنْطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَى ﴿﴾ إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَى ﴿﴾ عَلَّمَهُ شَدِيدُ الْقُوَى ﴿﴾

“Your companion (Muhammad) has not strayed, nor has he erred, * Nor does he speak from mere desire. * It is not but a revelation revealed, * Taught to him by one mighty in strength (the arch-angel Gabriel sent by Allah).” (53-2-6)

The Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, explained that his Sunnah is similar to the revelation like the Quran when he said:

“ألا إني أوتيت الكتاب ومثله معه ألا يوشك رجل شبعان على أريكته يقول عليكم بهذا القرآن فما وجدتم فيه من حلال فأحلوه وما وجدتم فيه من حرام فحرموه وإن ما حرم رسول الله كما حرم الله …”

“Verily I have been given the Qur`an and that which is similar to it along with it. Verily it may be that a man will be full and resting on his side and say: This Qur`an is for you what you find in it lawful take as lawful and what you find in it unlawful take as unlawful. What the Messenger makes unlawful is like what Allah makes unlawful…” And then he mentioned some specific prohibitions that are not mentioned in the Quran. [6]

The issue of the Sunnah being the necessary explanation of the Quran, and the fact that if it is neglected, one will most definitely stray from the correct pathway, will be elucidated here further by the oft misunderstood issue of intercession.  The companion Imran ibn al-Husayyin, may Allah be pleased with him, replied when a man said: Oh Aba Najeed (Imran), You relate to us narrations and we do not find its source and origins in the Quran.” At this Imran got angry and said to the man: “Did you read the Quran? He said yes. He said: ‘Do you find that the sunset prayer is three bows (Raka’at), and that the night prayer is four, the dawn prayer is two, and the midday and afternoon prayer are four? He said: No. He said: ‘From where did you get this affair? Didn’t you take this from us? And we took it from the Prophet of Allah, peace and blessing be upon him. And did you find (in the Quran) that for every forty Dinars you should (pay in Zakat) one Dinar? And did you find that for so many sheep and camels you should pay such and such? Did you find that in the Quran?’ The man said:  No. He said: “From where did you get this affair? We took it from the Prophet of Allah, peace and blessing be upon him.  Did you find in the Quran “…And circumambulate the Ancient House (the Ka’ba in Mecca” (Surat-al-Hajj 29], and did you find that you should go around (the Ka’ba) seven times, and then pray two bowings at the station of Abraham? Did you find that in the Quran? And on whom did you take this? Didn’t you take it from us, and we took it from the Prophet of Allah, peace and blessing be upon him? He said: ‘Yes certainly (we did)! ‘….And did you hear that Allah said to people about the Quran;

﴿ عَنِ الْمُجْرِمِينَ () مَا سَلَكَكُمْ فِي سَقَرَ () قَالُوا لَمْ نَكُ مِنَ الْمُصَلِّينَ ()وَلَمْ نَكُ نُطْعِمُ الْمِسْكِينَ () وَكُنَّا نَخُوضُ مَعَ الْخَائِضِينَ ()

وَكُنَّا نُكَذِّبُ بِيَوْمِ الدِّينِ ()حَتَّى أَتَانَا الْيَقِينُ () فَمَا تَنفَعُهُمْ شَفَاعَةُ الشَّافِعِينَ ﴾

((“About the criminal evildoers (it will say to them): ‘What has caused you to enter Hell?’ They will say: ‘We were not of those who used to offer their prayers; nor we used to feed the poor; and we used to talk falsehood with vain talkers; and we used to belie the Day of Recompense. Until there came to us  (the death) that is certain.’ So no intercession of intercessors will be of any use to them.”) [74:42-48] Habeeb said: ‘I heard Imran, may Allah be pleased with him, say: ‘The intercession is beneficial for everything except for what you hear here (in these verses).’” [7] The companion Imran, may Allah be pleased with him, clarifies here that the Quran cannot be understood or its commands practiced correctly without the explanation and example of the Messenger, may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him.  Since only the companions can report the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet, his words and actions, to those who come afterwards, it is essential for us to receive knowledge from them, and so on in the generations of followers afterwards.  The Quran gives general commands but it is the Sunnah that crucially fills in the details and the exact meanings of the commands and shows us how the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, executed them in actual practice.  All the “Fiqh” (proper understanding and jurisprudence) is only the intelligent and correct extraction of laws and principles from the combinations of the scriptures of the Quran and Sunnah, to derive from them the correct rules and regulations of Islamic law and jurisprudence.

[1] Reported by Muslim 4/1873, no.2408. This is a long narration, and the second thing to adhere to is the members of his family household wherein he reminded them of their responsibilities to them.

[2] Reported by Imam Malik, and this is his wording, al-Baihaqi, and al-Hakim, and al-Albani verified it as authentic in Sahih at-Targheeb #40.

[3] Reported by al-Bukhari, Muslim, an-Nasa`e, Ahmad and others.

[4] Reported by ad-Darami, and see Sheikh al-Albani’s Silsalah as-Sahihah # 394.

[5] Reported by al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi and declared good by al-Albani in his Silsalah as-Sahihah # 332 and see also his Sahih at-Targheeb

[6] Reported by Ahmad # 17213 and Abu Da`ud, and verified by al-Arna`ut and al-Albani in his verification of Mishkat # 163.

[7] Reported by Abu Da`ud and al-Marwazi in “Tatheem Qadr-as-Salat” [The Aggrandizement of the Status of Prayer, p.1007 no. 1081 gives another, longer version on Habeeb ibn Abi al Malak. This is also reported by Tabarani, and al-Ajuri in his Saharee’ah, and by the combination of its many pathways, it is a good narration.


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