Prayer Time

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In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.


The word qir’aat is the plural of qiraa’a, which comes from the root q-r-a meaning, to read, to recite. Qiraa’a means the recitation of something. In Qur’aanic sciences, it refers to the various ways and manners of reciting the Qur’aan. As Imaam az-Zarkashi stated, the Qur’an is the revelation that was given to Muhammad (Peace be upon him), and the qira’aat are the variations in the words and pronunciations of this revelation. Thus, the qira’aat are the verbalization of the Qur’an.


It should be noted that, the Qur’an was revealed in one style at the beginning, but the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) kept asking Jibreel until he taught him seven styles, all of which were complete. The evidence for that is the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Abbas who narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Jibreel taught me one style and I reviewed it until he taught me more, and I kept asking him for more and he gave me more until finally there were seven styles.”  (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 3047; Muslim, 819) .


The scholars mentioned nearly forty different opinions concerning this matter, and the best of the scholarly opinions concerning what is meant is that there are seven ways of reciting the Qur’an, where the wording may differ but the meaning is the same; if there is a different meaning then it is by way of variations on a theme, not opposition nor contradiction.

These seven styles were revealed with different wordings, as indicated by the hadeeth of ‘Umar, because ‘Umar’s objection was to the style, not the meaning. The differences between these styles are not the matter of contradiction and opposition as thought by the orientalists; rather they are synonymous, as Ibn Mas’ood said: “It is like one of you saying halumma, aqbil or ta’aal (all different ways of saying ‘Come here’).”

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) recited the Qur’an in all of these ahruf, and the Companions memorized it from him accordingly. Some of them memorized only one harf, others more than this.  Thus, the Companions (peace be upon them), in turn, recited and taught these variations to the Successors (Tabi’oon), who taught them to the next generation (atbaa’ at-tabi’oon), and so on. Each generation had in its rank those who were famous for their knowledge of the recitation of the Qur’an.


Around the turn of the first century of the hijrah appeared the scholars of the Qur’an after whom the qira’aat of today are named. At this time, along with many other sciences of Islam, the sciences of the qira’aat were codified. Thus, members of this generation took from the Successors the various recitations that they had learnt from the Companions, and adopted a specific way of reciting the Qur’an, and this is what is called qiraa’a.

Then, the scholars of the qira’aat therefore established rules in order to differentiate the authentic qira’aat from the inauthentic ones. The famous scholar of the Qur’an, Muhammad ibn al-Jazaree (d. 832 A.H.), said: “Every qiraa’a that conforms to the rules of Arabic, even if by one manner, and 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 (PBUH), is an authentic qiraa’a. Such a qiraa’a cannot be refuted or denied, but rather must be believed in, and is amongst the seven ahruf that the Qur’an was revealed in. Therefore, the people must accept it. In addition, whenever any qiraa’a fails to meet one of the above-mentioned three conditions, then it will be labelled (according to which of the conditions are not met) either weak (da’eef), irregular (shaadh), or false (baatil). And this (i.e., these conditions) is the strongest opinion among the scholars of the past and the present.”


However, the scholars of Quranic science had stressed on the third condition, because it is the most important condition, and guarantees that the variations that occur in the qira’aat have all been sent down by Allah as part of the Qur’an, recited by the Prophet (Peace be upon him), and passed down to the Muslim ummah without any addition or deletion. As was quoted from ‘Umar (and this same statement has been made by Zayd ibn Thaabit, and many of the Successors), “The recitation of the Qur’an is a Sunnah; the later generations must take it from the earlier ones. Therefore, recite the Qur'an only as you have been taught.”


Therefore, the differences in the qira’aat are remnants of the differences in the way that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) taught the recitation of the Qur’an to the different Companions  (may Allah be pleased with them), and these differences were among the seven ahruf of the Qur’an which Allah, the Most High revealed to the Prophet (Peace be upon him).


Furthermore, it is appropriate to conclude by quoting various verses that demonstrate some of the differences in the qira’aat of the prophet (peace be upon him, with a discussion of the various meanings. In each verse, it will be seen that, far from contradicting each other, the qira’aat taken together add much deeper meanings and connotations than any one of them individually, not as thought  by orientalists and the enemies of Islam. In fact, the various readings between the qira’aat are considered – in terms of extracting rulings from verses – as two separate verses, both of which must be looked into, and neither of which can abrogate the other as the example below will show.

1 .  Soorah Faatihah, verse 4. The first reading is is maaliki yawm ad-deen.

مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ

This is the recitation that most of the readers are familiar with. The word maalik means ‘master, owner,’ and is one of the Names of Allah.  The verse therefore translates, “The Only Owner of the Day of Judgement.”


The second reading is maliki yawm ad-deed, without the alif.

ملكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ

The word ‘malik’ means, “king, sovereign, monarch,” and is also one of the Names of Allaah. This also has the connotation of the one who has power to judge. A king (Malik) possesses not only wealth and property (like a Maalik), but also the authority to rule, judge and command. The verse therefore translates, “The King (and the Only Ruling Judge) of the Day of Judgement.” Malik, as one of the names of Allaah, is mentioned in the Qur’aan:


2 . Soorah al-Baqarah, verse 259. The first reading of the relevant part of the verse is  “kayfa nunshizuha”. This is in reference to the resurrection of the donkey.

كَيْفَ نُنشِزُهَا

The word nunshizuha means, “to cause to rise.” The verse therefore translates , “Look at the bones (of the Donkey), how We raise them up,” meaning, “…how We cause the bones to join one another and stand up again (from the dust).”


The second reading is “kayfa nunshiruha”.

كَيْفَ نُنشِرهَا

The word nunshiruha means, “to bring to life, to resurrect.” The verse then translates, “…how We resurrect it and bring it back to life.” Both readings give different meanings, but put together these readings help form a more complete picture. The bones of the donkey were ‘raised up’ from the dust and ‘resurrected’ (meaning clothed with flesh) in front of the man. Each reading gives only a part of the picture, but put together, a more graphic picture is given.


This is just a few examples of the recitations of our beloved prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Therefore, whoever wants to know more about them, he can see the books wrote by the scholars of Islam on the science of the Holy Qur'an, such as Kitaab al-Qira’aat written by Aboo Bakr Ahmad ibn Mujaahid (d. 324), Al-Itqan by As-Suyootee, and others.

It can be seen from this section that 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. To add to this miracle, all of these changes originate from the one script of ‘Uthmaan! Indeed, there can be no doubt the Qur’an is the ultimate miracle of the Prophet (Peace be upon him).


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