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Recitations transmitted via Uninterrupted Chain of Transmission


All praises and adorations belong to Allah, the Lord of the universe. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His last messenger, and his household, and his companions, and all those who follow their path till the day of judgement.

The Noble Qur’an is uncreated speech (message) of Allah vocally revealed through Archangel Jibreel (Gabriel) , gradually nearly 23 years 610-632 CE to the Prophet Muhammed(peace be upon him) in the Arabic language, more specifically dialect of Quraysh tribe. It is the primary and central source of the final divine guidance to the mankind.

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ

Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur´an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). (Qur'an 2: 185).

Recitations transmitted via uninterrupted chain of transmission are described by the scholars of Quranic science as any recitation that conforms to the rules of Arabic grammar, matches with one of the mus-hafs of ‘Uthmaan, even if such a match is not an obvious one, and has an authentic chain of narrators back to the Prophet (peace be upon him). Any recitation meets the above mentioned conditions cannot be refuted or denied, but rather must be believed in, and is amongst the seven ahruf(modes/styles/variants) that the Qur’aan was revealed in. And whenever any recitation fails to meet one of the above mentioned three conditions, then it will be labelled  either weak (da’eef), irregular (shaadh), or false (baatil).

There are ten recitations compiled by the scholars of Quranic science that meet the above requirements, and  they have been recognized to have been revealed to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) by all and none can reject this fact except the ignorant. These recitation will be discussed below,

1) Naafi’ al-Madanee: He is Naafi’ ibn ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Abee Na’eem al-Laythee, originally from an Isfahanian family. He was one of the major scholars of qira’aat during his time. He was born around 70 A.H., in Madeenah, and passed away in the same city at the age of 99, in 169 A.H. He learnt the Qur’aan from over seventy Successors, including Aboo Ja’far Yazeed ibn al-Qa’qa’ (d. 130 A.H.), who took his recitation from Aboo Hurayrah, who took his recitation from Ubay ibn Ka’ab, who took his recitation from the Prophet (PBUH). After the era of the Successors, he was taken as the cheif Qaaree of Madeenah. Eventually his qiraa’a was adopted by the people of Madeenah.

2) Ibn Katheer al-Makkee: He is ‘Abd Allaah ibn Katheer ibn ‘Umar al-Makkee, born in Makkah in 45 A.H. and died 120 A.H. He was among the generation of the Successors (he met some Companions, such as Anas ibn Maalik and ‘Abdullaah ibn az-Zubayr), and learnt the Qur’an from the early Successors, such as Abee Saa’ib, Mujaahid ibn Jabr (d. 103 A.H.), and Darbaas, the slave of Ibn ‘Abbaas. Darbaas learnt the Qur’an from Ibn ‘Abbaas, who learnt it from Zayd ibn Thaabit and Ubay ibn Ka’ab, who both learnt it from the Prophet (PBUH).

3) Aboo ‘Amr al-Basree: He is Zabaan ibn al-’Alaa ibn ‘Ammaar al-Basree. He was born in 69 A.H. and passed away in 154 A.H. He was born in Makkah, but grew up in Basrah. He studied the Qur’aan under many of the Successors, among them Aboo Ja’far (d. 130 A.H.), and Aboo al-’Aaliyah (d. 95 A.H.), who learnt from ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab and other Companions, who learnt from the Prophet (PBUH).

4) Ibn ‘Aamir ash-Shaamee: He is ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Aamir al-Yahsabee, born in 21 A.H. He lived his life in Damascus, which was the capital of the Muslim empire in those days. He met some of the Companions, and studied the Qur’aan under the Companion Aboo ad-Dardaa, and al-Mugheerah ibn Abee Shihaab. He was the Imaam of the Ummayad Mosque (the primary mosque in Damascus) during the time of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-’Azeez (d. 103 A.H.), and was well-known for his recitation. Among the seven Qaarees, he has the highest chain or narrators (i.e., least number of people between him and the Prophet (PBUH)), since he studied directly under a Companion. He was also Chief Judge of Damascus. His qiraa’a became accepted by the people of Syria, He died on the day of ‘Aashoora, 447 118 A.H.

5) ‘Aasim al-Koofee: He is ‘Aasim ibn Abee Najood al-Koofee, from among the Successors. He was the most knowledgable person in recitation during his time, and took over the position of Imaam of the Qaarees in Koofah, after the death of Aboo ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan as-Sulamee (d. 75 A.H.). He learnt the Qur’aan from Aboo ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan (who studied under ‘Alee ibn Abee Taalib, and was the teacher of al-Hasan and al-Husayn), and from Zirr ibn Hubaysh (d. 83 A.H.) and Aboo ‘ Amr ash-Shaybaanee (d. 95 A.H.). These learnt the Qur’aan from Ubay ibn Ka’ab, ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan, ‘Alee ibn Abee Taalib, and Zayd ibn Thaabit, who all learnt from the Prophet (PBUH). He passed away 127 A.H.

6) Hamzah al-Koofee: He is Hamzah ibn Habeeb al-Koofee, born 80 A.H. He met some of the Companions, and learnt the Qur’aan from al-Amash (d. 147 A.H.), Ja’far as-Saadiq (d. 148 A.H.) (the great-grandson of Husayn), and others. His qiraa’a goes back to the Prophet (PBUH) through ‘Alee ibn Abee Taalib and ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood. he passed away 156 A.H.

7) Al-Kisaa’ee: He is Alee ibn Hamzah ibn ‘Abdillaah, born around 120 A.H. He was the most knowledgable of his contemporaries in Arabic Grammar, and is considered one of the classical scholars in this field. He authored numerous books, and excelled in the sciences and recitation of the Qur’aan. Students used to flock to him to listen to the entire Qur’aan, and they even used to record where he stopped and started every verse. The Caliph Haroon ar-Rasheed used to hold him in great esteem. He passed away 189 A.H.

These are the seven Qaarees whom Ibn Mujaahid compiled in his book Kitaab al-Qira’aat. Of these, all are from non-Arab backgrounds except Ibn ‘Aamir and Aboo ‘Amr. The following three Qaarees complete the ten authentic qira’aat.

8) Aboo Ja’far al-Madanee: He is Yazeed ibn al-Qa’qa’ al-Makhzoomee, among the Successors. He is one of the teachers of Imaam Naafi’, and learnt the Qur’aan from ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Abbaas, Aboo Hurayrah and others. he passed away in 130 A.H.

9) Ya’qoob al-Basree: He is Ya’qoob ibn Ishaaq al-Hadhramee al-Basree. He became the Imaam of the Qaarees in Basrah after the death of Aboo ‘Amr ibn ‘Alaa. he studied under Aboo al-Mundhir Salaam ibn Sulaymaan. His qiraa’a goes back to the Prophet (PBUH) through Aboo Moosaa al-Ash’aree. He was initially considered among the seven major Qaarees by many of the early scholars, but Ibn Mujaahid gave his position to al-Kisaa’ee instead. He passed away in 205 A.H.

10) Khalaf: This is the same Khalaf that is one of the two students of Hamzah. He adopted a specific qiraa’a of his own, and is usually called Khalaf al-’Aashir (the ‘tenth’ Khalf).

All of these ten qira’aat have authentic, mutawaatir chains of narration back to the Prophet (Peace be upon him). Each qiraa’a is preserved through two students of the Imam of that qiraa’a(recitation). These two students are each called Raawis (narrators), and they occasionally differ from each other. Thus, although other Raawis also narrated each qiraa’a, only the recitation of two main Raawis have been preserved in such detail.

These Raawis learnt the qiraa’a (recitation) from their Imam, and each preserved some of the variations of the recitation of the Qaaree.

In short, the qira’aat are a part of the eloquence of the Qur’an, and form an integral factor in the miraculous nature of the Qur’an. For indeed, what other book in human history can claim the vitality that is displayed in the qira’aat – the subtle variations in letters and words that change and complement the meaning of the verse, not only in story-telling but also in beliefs and commands and prohibitions! To add to this miracle, all of these changes originate from the one script of ‘Uthmaan(may Allah be pleased with him)! Indeed, there can be no doubt the Qur’aan is the ultimate miracle of the Prophet (Peace be upon him).

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