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WHAT IS THE QUR'AN?

Definition of the Qur’an: The Qur'an is technically defined as 'Allah’s words revealed to Muhammad (PBUH) in the Arabic language, transmitted to us in continuity, written in the mashaf, whose recitation is worship,  commencing with surah al fatihah and ends with surah al nas. It is the Muslims sacred book and first source of their religious teachings and jurisprudence. It emphasizes more on practical deeds than theoretical ideas. It made use of so many different rational approaches akin to scientific enquiry.

 

 The Qur'an is in itself a wonderful miracle. It could be referred to as an intellectual, scientific and linguistic miracle. Deep study reveals to an open and incisive mind that this is not a product of any human. It defies and challenges human intellect. The Qur’an will continue as a standing miracle and challenge down the centuries to the last day. A fact already being attested to by so many non- Muslims and globally recognized scientists of different disciplines.

 

The Qur’an was reveled in bits and pieces, majorly as answers to arising situations as well as purely revelation without attached events needing answers at other times. The great wisdom behind this was to make sure that the first Muslims learned the teachings of the Qur’an in a practical context so that their understanding of the message would be perfect and thus ensure correct transmission to the later generations. This revealed piece-meal was later collected, with its history through the Caliph Uthman's uniformalization of the Qur'an, and thereafter, its transmission till date.

 

SCIENCES OF THE QUR'AN

 

Sciences of Qur’anic can be defined as sciences dealing with general matters relating to the revelation, arrangement, collection, writing, recitation, interpretation, miracles, and abrogation of the Qur’an. Thus a list of the main Qur’anic sciences can be: Interpretation, Circumstances of Revelation or Reasons for revealingmiracles of the Qur’an, abrogating and abrogated verses in the Qur’an, legal rulings in the Qur’an, excellence of the Qur’an, elucidating the complex in the Qur’an, clear and allegorical verses in the Qur’an, history of the writing of the Qur’an, grammar of the Qur’an, and different ways of reading the Qur’an. These sciences are interrelated and share the characteristic of being methodological in approach.

 

BRIEF ON EACH SCIENCE

 

  1. INTERPRETATION (Tafsir): It  was defined by Zarkashi as the science that deals with elucidating the meaning intended by Allah in the Qur’an to the best of human capacity. It is considered the most important of the all the sciences of the Qur'an. The major issue in tafsir is to reconcile the holiness of the text with the humanness of the interpreter (mufassir); who being human has limitations and weaknesses and may make mistakes in the interpretation of the text.
  2. Circumstances of Revelation: This deals with those circumstances upon which verses of the Qur'an where revealed. It has a long way to go in determining the exact meaning of such verses and thus making the scholarly analogy in current matters of like features easy.
  3. Miracles of the Qur'an: this is the science of the Qur'an that concentrates on the miracles of the Qur'an. It tries bringing out the messages actually passed on to us through the different kinds of miracles in the Qur'an. It also tries to explain the true picture of Allah, being a One and Only God worthy of worship, and His powers through the miracles found in the Qur'an. It is worth noting that the greatest miracle of the Qur'an is its everlasting challenge to mankind to produce a single verse of its kind with the permission to seek help from even the Jinn.
  4. The Abrogating and Abrogated Verses in the Qur'an are verses read but their contextual laws are no more in place. They have been abrogated by some other verses that were later revealed. This science anchors on such matters, trying to point out those verses that have been abrogated and those that abrogated them and so on.
  5. Legal Rulings: This is one of the widest category of the sciences of the Qur'an. It deals with rulings derived from the various verses of the Qur'an, the differences in the jurisprudential schools of thought and the causes of such differences as based on the Qur'anic verses and sometimes the related different ways of reading a particular verse.
  6. Excellence of the Qur'an: This can also be called the virtues of the Qur'an. It treats the excellent features and virtues the Qur'an has been granted by Allah. Such matters like the Qur'anic Medicine and other beneficial matters derived from the Qur'an fall under this science.
  7. Elucidating the Complex in the Qur'an: In trying to understand the meanings of the Glorious Qur'an, there are expressions and words that are difficult to understand generally due to the linguistic use and meanings. Certain studies are stipulated just to elucidate such expressions and words in accordance to the linguistic meaning and contextual usage in the Qur'an.
  8. Clear and Allegorical Verses: The tafsir of clear verses is easier and more straightforward than that of allegorical verses.  A clear verse is defined as one whose literal meaning is the same as the actual contextual meaning. It is clear and not possibly abrogated. The allegorical verse is defined as one whose actual contextual meaning cannot be elucidated from its literal meaning and cannot be understood by totally standing on its own without interpretation, and as such must be linked with some other parties (e.g. another verse, circumstance of revelation, abrogation etc) to get its contextual meaning.
  9. History of the writing of the Qur'an: this science treats the history of how the Qur'an was reveled and documented, right from the prophet's time till date. It is generally put to a halt in many books after the tabi'in era. However, what transpired after that till date on the writings of the Qur'an are all part of this science.
  10. Grammar of the Qur'an: This is the science that deals with the linguistic aspect of the Qur'an. It is a wide study too. It includes matters like the syntax of the Qur'an, the Qur'anic Morphology, the Inimitability nature of the language style of the Qur'an, the I'rab of the Qur'an and so on.
  11. Different ways of reciting the Qur'an: This is called "Qira'at". It is also a very crucial science of the Qur'an. It studies the different ways by which the Qur'an is recited and read, the authentic and irregular ways, the impact of the different ways of reciting the Qur'an in understanding its meanings and so on.

 

These are some of the generally recognized categories of the sciences of the Glorious Qur'an. Each and every one makes a great deal of what make up the wholesomeness of the study of the Qur'an. The importance of each one is as important as that of the other. However, they are all sciences that collectively give the required encompassing knowledge about the Qur'an. Imam Az-Zarkashy and Imam As-Suyuty have written invaluable books on the sciences of Qur'an, which are considered indispensable in this field.

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