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All praise is due to Allah, Lord of all the worlds. May peace and blessings be upon the Messenger, his household and Companions. To proceed;

Like all the sciences of Islam, the knowledge of Ulum al-Quran began with the Prophet himself (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) . The Companions used to question the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) about any concept that they did not understand in the Quran. For example, concerning the verse –

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَمْ يَلْبِسُوا إِيمَانَهُم بِظُلْمٍ أُولَئِكَ لَهُمُ الْأَمْنُ وَهُم مُّهْتَدُونَ

“Those who believe and do not mix their belief with injustice, only they will have security, and they are the guided.” (Surah Al-An’am, 6 :82)

They asked, “O Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)! Who amongst us does not do injustice (to his soul)?”

They had understood that the verse was referring to those believers who did not commit any injustice, or sin. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied that the injustice referred to in this verse was shirk, or the association of partners with Allah. Such was the enthusiasm of the Companions in seeking this knowledge that they were able to not only explain any verse in the Quran, but also give its history and the cause of its revelation.

Early scholars did not write on Ulum al-Quran in general, but rather wrote separate tracts on each science of the Quran. This was due to the fact that, during the early stages of Islamic history, the oral transmission of knowledge occupied a more important status than the written transmission. In addition, the general level of knowledge was high, and did not warrant the extensive writing down of knowledge.

The first and most important of the topics to be written on was tafseer. For example, each of the following scholars wrote a tafseer of the Quran, composed of statements from the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) and the Companions: Sufyan al-Thawri (d. 161 A.H.), Sufyan ibn Uyaynah (d. 198 A.H.), Waki ibn al-Jarah (d. 197 A.H.) and Shu'bah ibn al-Hajjaj (d. 160 A.H.).

Following his predecessor’s footsteps, Muhammad ibn Jarir at-Tabari (d. 310 A.H.) wrote the monumental Jami al-Bayan an Tawil aay al-Quran, a tafseer that all later scholars would benefit from.

Other early tafseers were written by Abu Bakr ibn Mundhir an-Naysaburi (d. 318), Ibn Abi Hatim (d. 328), Ibn Hibban (d. 369), al-Hakim (d. 405) and Ibn Mardawayh (d. 410). All of these tafseers were based on reports from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and the Companions and Successors, and included the chains of narration (isnaad) of the reports.

After the books of tafseer followed a plethora of books on the other sciences of the Quran: Ali al-Madeni (d. 234 A.H.), the teacher of Imam al-Bukhari, wrote a book on Asbabun-Nuzul. Abu Ubayd al-Qasim ibn Sallam (d. 224 A.H.) wrote two books, one on the science of the Qirat (which was one of the first of its kind), and one on abrogation in the Quran, Nasikh wa al-Mansukh.

Ibn Qutaybah (d. 276 A.H.) wrote a book on rare words in the Quran, Mushkil al-Quran. Abu Ishaq az-Zajjaj (d. 311) wrote a grammatical analysis of the Quran, Irab al-Quran. Ibn Darstawayh (d. 330) composed a tract on the miraculous nature of the Quran, Ijaaz al-Quran. Abu Bakr as-Sijistani (d. 330 A.I I.) wrote another book on the rare words in the Quran, Gharib al-Quran.

Abu Bakr al-Baqillani (d. 403) wrote his famous treatise, also related to the miraculous nature of the Quran, Ijaaz al-Quran. Imaam an-Nasa’i (d. 303 A.I I.), the author of the Sunan, wrote one on the merits of the Quran, Fada’iI al-Quran.  Abu al-Hasan al-Wahidi (d. 468) wrote his famous book on Asbab an-Nuzul. llm ad-Deen as-Sakhawi (d. 634) wrote one on the various qira’aat, and so on.

However, the scholars of the later generations started compiling all of these sciences into one book, and thus began the era of the classic works on Ulum al-Quran.

The first works of this nature were actually meant to be works of tafseer. One of the first works that is reported in later references (but is not extant) is that of Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Khalaf ibn al-Marzaban (d. 309 A.H.), entitled Al-Hawi fi Ulum al-Quran.

Another work, of which manuscript copies of fifteen of a total of thirty volumes are extant, is that of Ali ibn Ibrahim Sa’id (cl. 330), otherwise known as al-Hufi, which he entitled, ‘Al-Burhanfi ‘Ulum al-Quran . This work is considered to be the first of its kind in its expansive approach to all the related sciences of the Quran.

There appeared after this, books of a similar nature, until finally Badr ad-Deen az-Zarkashi (d. 794 A.H.) appeared with his monumental Al-Burhan fi Ulum al-Quran (the same title as al-Hufi’s work). This is one of the great classics on Ulum al-Quran available in print. A little over a century later, another classic appeared, that of Jalal ad-Deen as-Suyuti (d. 911 A.H.), entitled al-ltqanfi Ulum al-Quran. These two works are considered the standard resource works on Ulum al-Quran, and both have been printed a number of times during the last few decades.

Books on Ulum al-Quran continued to appear throughout the centuries, and these last few decades have been no exception. The better known books of this era have been Manahilal-Irfan fi Ulum al-Quran by Shaykh Muhammad Abd al- Adhim az-Zarqani, al-Madhkhal li Dirasat al-Quran al-Karim by Muhammad Abu Shahmah, and two books, both of which are entitled Mabahith fi Ulum al- Quran, one by Dr. Subhi Salih and the other by Dr. Manna al-Qattan.

 

 

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