Can the Qur’an Be Recited in Different Ways? The Meaning and Wisdom of Qira’at
Published: April 13, 2022 • Updated: March 22, 2023
Author: Sh. Yousef Wahb
If the Qur’an is truly one timeless, unchanged book, how can it be read in multiple ways? What is the meaning behind these multiple readings (qirāʾāt), and how many are there? Did the Prophet ﷺ use all these different readings? Is this beneficial knowledge for non-experts? Will it enrich my Qur’anic experience? This article provides a brief account of the origins and canonization of the qirāʾāt, the nature of their differences, their number and geographical distribution, and an introduction to the concept of multi-formic Qur’anic modes of recitation and their concomitant layers of meaning.
The qirāʾāt are not marginal phenomena irrelevant to resolving practical challenges. Rather, they have historically played an important role in accommodating Arabic dialectal differences, and currently have been drawing academic attention given their importance in accessing under-researched studies of the Qur’an. More significantly, the qirāʾāt continue to expand and enrich readers’ lived experiences with revelation. Indeed, as will become clear, the study of qirāʾāt extends far beyond recital renditions or exegetical traditions to broach such subjects as theological conceptions of the Qur’an, its inimitability, and textual authenticity. The qirāʾāt also critically contribute to our understanding of the Qur’an as the primary source of Islamic law.
This article demonstrates how knowledge of qirāʾāt provides an opportunity for a deeper connection with layers of Qur’anic meanings. Part I defines the concept of the ‘seven aḥruf” and how they relate to qirāʾāt as we know them today. Part II lists the ten canonical qirāʾāt and introduces their imams/reciters (qurrāʾ) and their transmitters (ruwāh). Part III explains how all these readings are considered Qur’an and addresses the question of which reading is most authentic. Part IV documents the spread of qirāʾāt in the Muslim world throughout history until today. Part V highlights the wisdom behind revealing and allowing different modes of reciting the Qur’an, and provides tips for how qirāʾāt may assist with one’s tadabbur of the Qur’an.1
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The hadith of the seven aḥruf and the origins of the qirāʾāt
Any discussion of the Qur’an’s different readings is premised on understanding the term aḥruf (singular: ḥarf), which linguistically means ‘seven-sided.’ In an authentic hadith that reached the distinguished level of mass-transmission (tawātur),2 the Prophet ﷺ said: “Jibrīl recited the Qur’an to me in one ḥarf. Then I requested him [to read it in another ḥarf] and continued asking him to recite in other aḥruf until he ultimately recited it in seven aḥruf.” In another narration, the Prophet ﷺ says, “O Jibrīl! I have been sent to an illiterate nation among whom are the elderly woman, the old man, the boy and the girl, and the man who cannot read a book at all.’ Jibrīl replied: ‘O Muhammad! Indeed the Qur’an was revealed in seven aḥruf [i.e., seven different ways of reciting].”3
The practice of reciting in various aḥruf was also approved by the Prophet ﷺ when ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb and Hishām ibn Ḥakīm disagreed in their recitation of Sūrah al-Furqān. The Prophet ﷺ commented on two different recitations by saying, “It was revealed to be recited in this way.” He added, “This Qur’an has been revealed to be recited in seven different aḥruf, so recite it whichever way is easier for you.”4
So what exactly, are the seven aḥruf ? Our tradition furnishes us with a number of opinions. Three concepts encompass the overwhelming majority of them: that the seven aḥruf are seven dialects, seven modes (awjuh) of reading, or seven types of phrases. Although each concept may not independently explain the totality of the seven aḥruf, together they provide a holistic understanding of the ways in which different pronunciations of Qur’anic text are permitted. Irrespective of which definition of aḥruf is adopted, it is a matter of scholarly consensus that the seven aḥruf result in different, yet equally valid, readings.
In commenting on verse 4:83, “Do they not reflect upon the Qur’an? If it had been from other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction,” al-Jaṣṣāṣ (d. 370/981) said, “Contradictory meanings do not exist in the Qur’an at all. Rather, all [seemingly contradictory] differences are perfectly coherent in meaning, wisdom, and proof-value.”5 Ibn al-Jazarī also stated,
The reality, and the benefit, of the differences among the aḥruf established by the Prophet ﷺ is that they are differences of complementation and harmony, not contradiction or inconsistency. Indeed, [contradiction or inconsistency] cannot possibly exist in the speech of Allah.6
The aḥruf hadiths established that the Qur’an is “inherently a multiform recitation,”7 which unleashed a massive wave of traditional and modern scholarship seeking to tease out the theological and scriptural implications of this linguistic pluralism. The significance of the concept of aḥruf and its surrounding discourses are reflected in four critical topics related to Divine textual authenticity: the revelatory methods of the Qur’an, the compilation of the Qur’an, the orthography of the Qur’anic codex (rasm al-muṣḥaf), and the qirāʾāt.
The Prophet’s plea to ease Qur’anic recitation, as recorded in the aforementioned hadiths, was likely prompted by the particular sociocultural dynamics of Medina, where the growing Muslim population now comprised diverse tribal, dialectical, and ethnic backgrounds, while illiteracy was widespread.8 These dynamics caused the Muslim community to need: 1) Qur’an teachers, since the Prophet ﷺ would not be able to individually teach each new Muslim; and 2) cultural accommodations, since people’s varying linguistic customs and mental capacities posed barriers to mastering the meticulous rules of recitation.
To address the first need, the Prophet ﷺ publicly identified Qur’an teachers such as ʿAbdullah ibn Masʿūd, Sālim ibn Maʿqil, Muʿādh ibn Jabal, and Ubayy ibn Kaʿb.9 ʿUbādah ibn al-Sāmit narrated that, “the Prophet ﷺ would get busy; when an immigrant man came to him [to embrace Islam], the Prophet ﷺ would assign one of us to teach him Qur’an.”10
To address the second need, the Prophet ﷺ asked Allah to ease the recitation of Qur’an for his ummah. Hence, the seven aḥruf were the result of a prophetic request honored by Allah, which indicates that the aḥruf are, in part, a concession (rukhṣah) to ease the reading of Qur’an for all Muslims. This means that reading in any of the seven aḥruf is permitted and that all of them are correct—not as variants of a fixed original text, but rather, as recitations of a singular but multiform text.11 Despite the disagreement over the exact meaning of the aḥruf, there is widespread scholarly agreement that the qirāʾāt were a result of the aḥruf’s rukhṣah. The number seven provides a particular number of identifiable modes of recitation.
Jibrīl’s declaration that “the Qur’an was revealed in seven aḥruf ” signifies that these aḥruf are divinely mandated. It also means that the primary way to learn these aḥruf is through transmission connected to the Prophet’s direct teaching or approval. The Prophet ﷺ taught the companions the Qur’an according to the aḥruf by reading to them (iqrāʾ) or correcting their recitation to him (ʿarḍ)12 and occasionally approving their tribal pronunciation of certain letters or words. Most of the differences between the aḥruf are related to dialectal variations.
There is no doubt that the [different] tribes would visit the Prophet ﷺ and he used to translate to each in their dialect. He would elongate [the lone vowels up to] one, two, and three vowels for those whose dialect was like that. He would also perform emphatic pronunciation (tafkhīm) for those whose dialect was like that, perform softening (tarqīq) for those whose dialect was like that, and inclination imālah for those whose dialect was like that.13
This affirmation is also supported by the event which al-Ṭabarī (d. 310/923) narrated from the successor Abū ʿĀliyah al-Riyāhī that several people representing different tribes recited Qur’an to the Prophet ﷺ and every one of them “differed in the language [in which they recited]. The Prophet ﷺ approved the reading of all of them. Banū Tamīm were the most eloquent (aʿrab al-qawm).”14
The canonization of the qirāʾāt
Qirāʾāt, as we know them today, are reflections of the rukhṣah of the seven aḥruf. They are not synonymous with the aḥruf. Rather, they are systemized recital modes that preserved many aḥruf and accommodated dialectal diversity in line with the Prophet’s Qur’anic teachings and the compiled copies of his companions. However, concerns that the rukhṣah might be fluidly interpreted or haphazardly applied prompted the companions to compile the Qur’an for a third and final time. The companions’ and successors’ early efforts to establish systematic criteria ensured a methodological foundation to the variants.
Given the limited introductory scope of this article, the history of qirāʾāt can be summarized in the following chronological, yet overlapping, stages:
- 1st century: the final compilation of the Qur’an
- 1st-2nd century: ikhtiyār: standardizing the qirāʾāt selection process
- 3rd century: establishing criteria for authentic readings
- 4th century: the standardization of seven readings
- 5th century: the ten qirāʾāt and their transmitters
1st century (622 – 719 CE): The final compilation of the Qur’an
The process of compiling the Qur’an in written form developed across the time of the Prophet ﷺ himself (who had expert-scribes), and the caliphates of his successors Abū Bakr, ʿUmar, and ʿUthmān. The compilation was finalized during the time of ʿUthmān, with the companions unanimously15 approving his decision to destroy, or correct, all other copies of the Qur’an. This final compilation is distinguished from its predecessors by its motivating factor: the concern over the fluidity of the aḥruf. The need to protect the Qur’an from potential distortion triggered ʿUthmān’s decision to standardize the Qur’anic codex16 and to regulate the rukhṣah of seven aḥruf by limiting their vast dialectal scope. Hence, it is possible that some of the seven aḥruf were not included in the ʿUthmānic codex, according to many Qur’anic scholars.17 Through their knowledge of the final review, their proximity to the Prophet’s recitation of the Qur’an, and their attentiveness to his sayings and practices, the companions identified the abrogated aḥruf, the abandoned aḥruf, and the explanatory materials, all of which they intentionally excluded from their compiled ʿUthmānic codex.
The preservation of the Qur’an relied on a combination of oral as well as written transmission. However, the companions did not merely rely on their memorization and personal codices (despite being written with the permission of, and sometimes, under the supervision of, the Prophet ﷺ). In Abū Bakr’s stage of compiling the Qur’an, ‘two witnesses’ were required for each verse to be included in the codex. The two witnesses requirement is understood to mean either two companions or the combination of memorization and written documentation.18 Moreover, the skeletal script of the ʿUthmānic codex (without vowel markings or dotting) accommodated multiple readings in which the companions recited and taught in the presence of, and with the approval of, one another.
1st-2nd century (719 CE – 816 CE): Ikhtiyār (Standardizing the qirāʾāt selection process)
Biographies of the companions and their successors indicate that hundreds of them were Qur’an teachers distributed across the Muslim world.19 Some of the dedicated qurrāʾ from the companions had numerous students and became common links in thousands of chains of Qur’anic transmission: “The transmission authority of those companions solidified the ordering of the variant qirāʾāt and synchronized the structure of the subsequent system-readings (ikhtiyār) attributed to different qurrāʾ.”20 The ikhtiyār phenomenon dates back to the companions’ students (tābiʿūn) and is even attributed to a few companions.21
An ikhtiyār was named after a reciter (qārī) if he systemized a mode of phonetic principles (uṣūl) regarding articulation, inclination, assimilation, lengthening lone vowels, etc., as well as the elocution of certain words in individual passages (farsh). Thus, a reading of so-and-so does not mean that the qārī after whom it is named invented it. Rather, it means that he narrated the Qur’an from many companions or successors, mastered dialectal pronunciations, and, eventually, systemized a mode to adopt and teach. The method of ikhtiyār evolved for the sake of practicality and consistency, since each of the early qurrāʾ learned from several teachers but sought to teach their students in a uniform manner.
3rd century (816 CE – 913 CE): Establishing criteria for authentic readings
As numerous ikhtiyārs emerged towards the end of the 1st century and in the 2nd century, the majority of qurrāʾ upheld the same set of qualifications for any ikhtiyār to be deemed an authentic reading of the Qur’an: “Strong conformity with grammar, conformity with the rasm of ʿUthmān’s codex, and the agreement of the majority of qurrāʾ on it.”22 The first scholar who explicitly stated these conditions and applied them to his collection of qirāʾāt was Abū ʿUbayd al-Qāsim ibn Sallām in the 3rd century.23 Al-Ṭabarī also stated,
everyone who adopted a ḥarf, from the recognized imams who are known for their [commitment to the] sunnah and their following of the past sharia scholars, based his ikhtiyār on [those three criteria]… whoever did not abide by any of the three conditions in his ikhtiyār, it was not accepted nor deliberated on by the people of al-Sunnah wal-Jamāʿah.24
In the ongoing process of standardizing qirāʾāt, Ibn al-Jazarī further systemized these three conditions for any ikhtiyār to be considered Qur’an: 1) authentic chain of transmission (isnād), 2) conformity with the rasm of ʿUthmān’s codex and 3) conformity with the rules of Arabic grammar. An isnād’s lack of credible transmission or conformity with the ʿUthmānic rasm and Arabic grammar would de-canonize a reading, rendering it anomalous (shādhdh).25
4th century (913 CE – 1009 CE): The standardization of seven qirāʾāt
Although only a handful of companions were widely known for their dedication to Qur’anic teaching, the number of ikhtiyārs kept increasing due to the increasing demand for such teaching by the rapidly growing Muslim population. Hence, early qirāʾāt works documented a large number of canonical readings, with one of the earliest by Ibn Sallām including 25 readings. By the 4th century, Qur’anic scholars sought to standardize the various ikhtiyārs based on popularity across ritualistic practices (e.g., prayer) as well as teaching spheres and other avenues of public recitation.
Most ikhtiyārs represented five regional Qur’anic schools: Medina, Mecca, Basra, the Levant, and Kufa. These regional schools represent the most authentic Qur’anic authorities since “they are the regions from which the knowledge of prophethood of Qur’an, tafsīr, hadith, and fiqh pertaining to both inward and outward practices, as well as the rest of religious sciences originated.”26 Out of sincere commitment to Ibn al-Jazarī’s conditions of legitimation, Muslims began to limit the number of readings to the popular ikhtiyārs of the righteous knowledgeable imams.27
Ibn Mujāhid, the leading qirāʾāt authority of his time and “the master of the discipline,”28 was the first to limit the number of canonical readings to seven. In explaining his methodology and motives in standardizing the readings, he said,
the Qur'anic reading adopted by the people of Medina, Mecca, Kufa, Basra, and Shām is the reading which they orally received from their predecessors. One man from each of these regions, who learnt from the successors, was committed to that reading and all of the public and the elite agreed on his reading, followed his mode of recitation, and abided by his methodology.29
Ibn Mujāhid named his book al-Sabʿah [The Seven] which, due to an erroneous association between the seven aḥruf and the number of qirāʾāt, implied that any other reading is not Qur’an. This association may have caused confusion regarding the number of canonical qirāʾāt. However, following Ibn Mujāhid’s methodology, scholars in the late 4th and the 5th century added three more qirāʾāt which originated from the same localities and which generally belong, in their ikhtiyār, to several of the original seven qirāʾāt.
5th century (1009 CE – 1106 CE): The ten qirāʾāt and their transmitters
The standardization of these ten qirāʾāt does not mean their eponymous readers were the only experts of such caliber. In fact, hundreds of other prominent qurrāʾ existed throughout history. However, the systemization process eventually settled on ten qurrāʾ who were the most advanced students of various companions and successors, notable jurists, and pious saints, all of whom devoted most of their lives to the Qur’an.
Below is a list of the ten qurrāʾ known across the Muslim world, listed in the disciplinary order presented to qirāʾāt students today. The list briefly provides their names, backgrounds, Qur’anic learning experiences, accounts of their righteousness, and where their readings were most popular. Notably, only three of the 10 qurrāʾ are descendants of pure Arab lineage, with the rest descending from non-Arabs who belonged to the tribal association institution as clients (mawālī; sing mawlā) of several Arab clans.30 The scholarly communities of various Islamic disciplines have historically been quite diverse, and the field of Qur’anic transmission was no different.31
- Nāfiʿ (Medina – Isfahan Persian descendant: d. 169/785) was a Black public inspector known for his sense of humor. Imam Mālik called him the “Imam of the People” in Qur’anic recitation.32 Nāfiʿ described his method of developing his mode of recitation: “I read the Qur’an to 70 from the tābiʿīn and I scrutinized [them]; what two of them [or more] agreed on, I adopted it, and what was transmitted by only one of them, I abandoned it.”33 While reciting the Qur’an, the smell of musk would reportedly emanate from his mouth. He denied perfuming his mouth and explained that the scent started appearing after a dream in which he saw the Prophet ﷺ reciting into his mouth.34
- Ibn Kathīr (Mecca – Persian descendant: d. 120/737)35 was a tall, brown-skinned apothecary and scholar of hadith and law appointed as a judge in Mecca. According to Ibn Mujāhid (d. 324/936), the people of Mecca agreed on adopting Ibn Kathīr’s reading. Among the Prophet’s companions who Ibn Kathīr met and directly learned from are ʿAbdullāh ibn al-Zubayr, Anas ibn Mālik, and Abū Ayyūb al-Anṣārī. Imam al-Shāfiʿī adopted Ibn Kathīr’s reading and said, “Whoever seeks perfection [in reciting], let them recite by Ibn Kathīr’s reading.”36 Ibn Kathīr’s teaching style was to prepare students by admonishing them, in order for the Qur’an to have the most effect on them.37
- Abū ʿAmr (Basra – native Arab from Banū Ḥanīfa: d. 154/770) was a leading scholar of hadith and Arabic. He was known among the qurrāʾ as the one who traveled the most with the largest number of diverse teachers. Abū ʿAmr read the Qur’an with another three of the ten qurrāʾ: Ibn Kathīr, ʿĀṣim, and Abū Jaʿfar. Sufyān ibn ʿUyaynah related that he saw the Prophet ﷺ in a dream and asked him as in which reading he should recite and the Prophet ﷺ answered, ‘The reading of Abū ʿAmr.38
- Ibn ʿĀmir (Damascus – native Arab and a descendant of Yaḥṣub: d. 118/736) was known in the Levant as ‘The Imam.’ He was born, arguably, a few years after the Hijrah. Although he did not see or meet with the Prophet ﷺ, he obtained the highest Qur’anic isnād among the ten qurrāʾ, with only one link to the Prophet. He learned directly from the companions including al-Mughīrah ibn Shihāb al-Makhzūmī and Abū al-Dardāʾ. Ibn ʿĀmir ranked highly among Abū al-Dardāʾ’s 1600 students and assumed Abū al-Dardāʾ’s teaching position after his death. As a result, Ibn ʿĀmir became the imam and the chief qārī of the Umayyad mosque in Damascus during the time of ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz, who used to pray behind him. Ibn ʿĀmir was also appointed as the judge of the city, then the capital of the Caliphate.
- ʿĀṣim (Kufa – mawlā of the clan of Banū Asad: d. 127/745) was born during the Prophet’s life and had met 24 companions. He was blind and had one of the best voices of recitation. His reading was influenced by the readings of Ibn Masʿūd and ʿAlī, because he would review with a primary student of Ibn Masʿūd, Zirr b. Ḥubaysh, after his session with a primary student of ʿAlī, al-Sulamī.39 ʿĀṣim inherited the teaching position of Abū ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Sulamī, the chief qārī of Kufa for 40 years from the time of ʿUthmān to the governorship of al-Ḥajjāj. According to ʿĀṣim’s student Shuʿbah, who witnessed ʿĀṣim on his deathbed, ʿĀṣim kept repeating the verse, “Then all are restored to Allah, their true protector” while fainting and waking.40 Shuʿbah said, “I knew that the recitation of the Qur’an was just a natural quality of his.”41
- Ḥamzah al-Zayyāt (Kufa – mawlā of the clan of Taym: d. 156/722) was a merchant of oil (hence the title al-Zayyāt) and the leading qārī in Kufa after al-Aʿmash and ʿĀṣim. Sufyān al-Thawrī, praising Hamzah’s reading, attested that “he did not read a single ḥarf without depending on transmission.”42 His reading was reportedly the most common reading in the mosques of Kufa. 43 Imām Abū Ḥanīfa, a contemporary of Ḥamzah, testified that he was superior to him in qirāʾāt and inheritance law.44 Ḥamzah never accepted any compensation for Qur’anic teaching, a principle he said was grounded in his pursuit of the firdaws (highest level in Jannah).45 A student once offered him cold water on an extremely hot day, but Ḥamzah rejected it because he was teaching him Qur’an.46
- Al-Kisāʾī (Kufa – Persian descendant and mawlā of the clan of Banū Asad: d. 189/804) was a leading grammarian appointed as the chief qārī of Kufa after Ḥamzah, who was his teacher and with whom he did ʿarḍ of the Qur’an four times. Countless students would attend Al-Kisāʾī’s classes, where he would sit on his chair and read the entire Qur’an while students corrected their reading and pronunciation according to his recitation.47 Al-Kisāʾī was seen in a dream after his death and was asked, “What did Allah do to you?” He replied, “He forgave me for [the sake of] the Qur’an.” Then, he was asked, “What did He do to Ḥamzah?” He said, “He is in ʿilliyyīn [the most exalted places]. We do not see him except as we see the stars.”48
- Abū Jaʿfar (Medina – mawlā of the clan of Makhzūm: d. 130/747) was one of the earliest qurrāʾ and Nāfiʿ’s teacher. He was known as the Imam and chief qārī of Medina who learned Qur’an from Ibn ʿAbbās and Abū Hurayrah. As a child, he reportedly visited Umm Salamah, the Prophet’s wife, who wiped over his head and made duʿāʾ for him to be blessed by Allah.49 Imām Mālik said, “Abū Jaʿfar, the qārī, was a righteous man who gave iftāʾ to the people of Medina.”50 Nāfiʿ related that when Abū Jaʿfar’s body was washed upon his death, his neck and chest appeared as a page of the muṣḥaf. “No witness [of the incident],” recalled Nāfiʿ, “doubted it was [due to] the light of the Qur’an.”51
- Yaʿqūb (Basra – mawlā of the Ḥadramī clan: d. 205/820) became the chief qārī of Basra after Abū ʿAmr. He was one of the experts on aḥruf and its differences, and he authored books on qirāʾāt.52 Among the many qurrāʾ he learnt and transmitted from were Ḥamzah and al-Kisāʾī. The extent of his focus and khushūʿ in prayer is captured by a report that he did not notice his garment being removed from his shoulder and returned to him while praying.53
- Khalaf (Baghdad – native Arab from Banū Asad: d. 229/843) was a seed merchant (bazzār) but disliked that title and preferred to be referred to as a ‘Qur’an teacher’ (muqriʾ). He is one of the ten canonical qurrāʾ and also one of the two canonical transmitters of Ḥamzah. As a qārī of the ten, he is often called ‘Khalaf the tenth.’ His isnād is connected to Ḥamzah and ʿĀṣim, and his reading closely resembles the other Kufan qārīs. So dedicated was he to seeking knowledge that he once spent 80,000 dirhams to fully comprehend a single grammatical inquiry.54
As introduced above, “the ten canonical readings were systemized via chains of narration, all of which are associated with a group of qurrāʾ from the companions through proper isnād requirements.”55 Among the most famous companions who read the entire Qur’an with the Prophet ﷺ and memorized it are ʿUthmān, ʿAlī, Ubayy, Zayd ibn Thābit, Ibn Masʿūd, Abū Mūsā al-Ashʿarī, and Abū al-Dardāʾ. The chart below illustrates the isnād connection between the ten qurrāʾ and these seven companions.56 The extrapolation of these connections relies on the available historical data and does not necessarily imply that these isnāds are the only ones existing in the chains of qirāʾāt transmission.
The list is ordered according to the number of qurrāʾ who read to the following companions:
- Ubayy → Nāfiʿ, Ibn Kathīr, Abū ʿAmr, ʿĀṣim, Al-Kisāʾī, Abū Jaʿfar, Yaʿqūb, and Khalaf.
- ʿUthmān → Ibn ʿĀmir, ʿĀṣim, Ḥamzah, Al-Kisāʾī, and Yaʿqūb.
- ʿAlī → Ibn Kathīr, ʿĀṣim, Ḥamzah, Abū ʿAmr, and Yaʿqūb.
- Ibn Masʿūd → ʿĀṣim, Ḥamzah, Al-Kisāʾī, Yaʿqūb, and Khalaf.
- Zayd → Ibn Kathīr, Abū ʿAmr, ʿĀṣim, and Yaʿqūb.
- Abū Mūsā al-Ashʿarī → Abū ʿAmr.
- Abū al-Dardāʾ → Ibn ʿĀmir.
Each qārī of the ten is designated, by qirāʾāt scholars, two canonical transmitters (rāwīs) who were the most popular of their students. This explains the difference between a reading (qirāʾah) and a narration (riwāyah). When we read the Qur’an, we usually reference the riwāyah, not the qirāʾah. For example, ʿĀṣim’s two canonical rāwīs are Shuʿbah and Ḥafṣ. Hence, when we assign a mode of reading we say, ‘reciting according to Ḥafṣ from ʿĀṣim’. Riwāyahs of the same qārī may differ in both their uṣūl and farsh; each rāwī adopted a consistent mode from his teacher. Below is a list of the 20 rāwīs assigned to each qārī.
- Nāfiʿ → Qālūn (d. 220/835) & Warsh (d. 197/812)
- Ibn Kathīr → Al-Bazzī (d. 250/864) & Qunbul (d. 291/903)
- Abū ʿAmr → Al-Dūrī (d. 246/861) & Al-Sūsī (d. 261/874)
- Ibn ʿĀmir → Hishām (d. 245/860) Ibn Dhakwān (d. 202/818)
- ʿĀṣim → Shuʿbah (d. 193/809) Ḥafṣ (d. 180/796)
- Ḥamzah → Khalaf (d. 229/843) Khallād (d. 220/835)
- Al-Kisāʾī → Abū l-Ḥārith (d. 240/854) Al-Dūrī (d. 246/861)
- Abū Jaʿfar → Ibn Wardān (d. 160) & Ibn Jammāz (d. 170s)
- Yaʿqūb → Ruways (d. 238) & Rawḥ (d. 254)
- Khalaf → Isḥāq al-Warrāq (d. 286) & Idrīs al-Ḥaddād (d. 292)
Just as the canonical dual rāwī-system was developed for the qurrāʾ, another system for the rāwīs’ students developed and is known as ṭarīq (pl. ṭuruq). Ṭuruq were synthesized as channels to preserve every authentic mode of recitation or nuanced point of articulation. It is beyond the scope of this article to cover the independent sub-disciplines developed by qirāʾāt scholars that investigate and systemize riwāyahs and ṭuruq. Suffice it to say,
every [recital] variation attributed to one of the ten readers qurrāʾ which his students agreed upon is considered a reading (qirāʾah). Every variation attributed to a reader’s transmitter, rāwī, [transmitting it from that reader] is considered a narration; (riwāyah). Every variation attributed to a transmitter’s student, regardless of the length [of the chain of transmitters to the rāwī], is considered a ṭarīq.57
Are they all Qur’an?
Although the number of qirāʾāt attaining the level of tawātur was always known to be seven, late qirāʾāt and uṣūl scholarship agreed on the inclusion of three more qirāʾāt since their differences are, for the most part, already included in the renditions of the aforementioned seven. Qirāʾāt scholars also argued that all conditions of ‘authentic readings’ (the three conditions of sound isnād, and conformity with the ʿUthmānic rasm and Arabic grammar) also apply to the three readings of Abū Jaʿfar, Yaʿqūb, and Khalaf. The discussion remains technical since it relates, mainly, to the definition of tawātur and the boundaries of legal certainty (yaqīn)—what qualifies to be absolutely Qur’an with no chance of doubt. Nonetheless, multiple scholars held that the seven qirāʾāt are the most authentic representation of the Qur’an as canon transmitted through an uninterrupted tawātur. This intricate issue is thoroughly addressed in the books of uṣūl and qirāʾāt.58
The preponderant opinion regarding the tawātur of qirāʾāt differentiates between phonetics that bear no impact on the meaning and the variations that do. With respect to phonetics that bear no impact on the meaning, it is not necessary to trace each unique pronunciation of each of the hundreds of combinations of phonetics back to the Prophet ﷺ to establish an uninterrupted tawātur isnād. For example, the concepts of imālah (inclination), madd (lengthening lone vowels), or takhfīf al-hamzah (a lightened articulation form of the letter hamzah) are established through tawātur to the Prophet ﷺ. However, the technical differences regarding the duration of madd or the degree of imālah may not necessarily be transmitted through tawātur.
It should be noted that our inability to document the isnād past the qurrāʾ and to the Prophet ﷺ does not mean that such isnād do not exist. Indeed, the popularity of the qirāʾāt and their transmitters, irrespective of their degrees of canonicity, and the rigorous documentation of their every difference, strongly evidences their links to the early compilers and systemizers of Qur’anic readings.
Intriguingly, a legal hypothesis was once raised to al-Nawawī regarding a person who forswears by divorce (ḥalafa bil-ṭalāq) that Allah “spoke” the Qur’an in the seven qirāʾāt. Al-Nawawī issued a fatwa that this individual’s oath would not be broken.59 The same applies if a man swears that Allah did not "speak" in the anomalous (shādhdh) readings.60 Al-Ashmūnī cited al-Nawawī’s fatwa (after acknowledging the hyperbolic hypothetical it addressed) and added, that the readings of Abū Jaʿfar, Yaʿqūb, and Khalaf complete the ten canonical readings since they are also mass-transmitted (mutawātir) and can be recited inside and outside the prayer.61
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Are some readings preferred over others?
The fact that traditional scholarship gave preference to some qirāʾāt over others did not stem from a disagreement over the preservation of the Qur’anic text or the authenticity of canonical qirāʾāt. Instead, most of these discussions relate to the dialectics of qirāʾāt—tracing and authenticating historical accounts from the masters of language, and examining phonetic, grammatical, and rhetorical analyses of their variances. For example, Makkī ibn Abī Ṭālib said, “Scholars might prefer what both ‘Āsim and Nāfiʿ agreed on since the readings of these two imams are the most credible, authentic, and eloquent. After these two, in eloquence, rank the readings of Abū ʿAmr and al-Kisāʾī”.62 Al-Sakhāwī after declaring a similar opinion, said “if the variant acquires high standards of eloquence, compatibility with the muṣḥaf, and the approval of the majority of Qur’an readers (al-ʿāmmah) [usually referencing the readers of Medina and Kufa, but occasionally the readers of Mecca and Medina], it will be the chosen reading for most of them.”63
Given qirāʾāt’s critical role in defining and transmitting the Qur’an, they necessarily intersected with the discipline of fiqh. Although no school of law (madhhab) officially adopted a particular reading, the founders of the madhāhib and their succeeding jurists did explicitly favor certain readings over others. For example, Imam Mālik reportedly considered Nāfiʿs reading ‘Sunnah.’ Imam al-Shāfiʿī described Ibn Kathīr’s as “our reading.”64 Imam Abū Ḥanīfa’s adopted reading and isnād resembles the reading of ʿĀṣim, especially his rāwī Ḥafṣ. However, the later widespread reading of Abū ʿAmr led some late Ḥanafīs, such as Ibn ʿĀbdīn, to consider his reading “our reading and the reading of our teachers.”65 Different narrations from Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal show preferences for ʿĀṣim, Ḥafṣ, and Abū ʿAmr.66
ʿUrf (custom) informs jurists’ preference for one reading over another. If the masses are not familiar with a reading, some jurists may render public recitation of that reading reprehensible (makrūh) lest it cause confusion (fitnah) regarding the Book of Allah among Muslims. The Ḥanbalī jurist Ibn Mufliḥ states that, “it is makrūh in the [Ḥanbalī] school to recite in an unfamiliar reading to the ʿurf of the locality.”67 Mosques’ imams “should not drive the masses to what may ruin their religion [by reciting in unfamiliar readings]… even though all qirāʾāt and riwāyahs are authentic and eloquent.”68
Of course, ʿurf is but one legal factor and does not determine the preferred reading in all circumstances. Every letter of the Qur’an is worth 10 good deeds (ḥasanāt), so Ibn Mufliḥ did not deem it makrūh to deliberately choose a reading with more letters for its greater reward.69 For example, Ibn Kathīr, unlike the other nine qurrāʾ, reads with an additional preposition ‘from’ (min), in 9:100, “tajrī min taḥtihā al-anhār,” gardens beneath which rivers flow. Accordingly, a congregation can learn new readings while being educated on their divine nature and historical origination.
In the introduction of his tafsīr, the late exegete Ibn ʿĀshūr (d. 1393/1973) said, “The ten canonical mass-transmitted qirāʾāt may vary in terms of what some of them include in terms of special rhetoric or eloquence, multiplicity of meanings, or popularity; [however], all of these are convergent variations.”70 After citing scholars who upheld the validity of preferring some qirāʾāt over others, he showed how these preferences relate to syntax, dialects, and principles of authentic transmission that do not negate the authenticity of Qur’an nor the canonicity of its ten readings.71 Al-Qasṭalānī also affirmed that such preponderances are “accorded to what is more eloquent, popular or common among the Arabs. Otherwise, Qur’an is inherently one, its uniform and multiform parts, without preferential association.”72
Ibn ʿĀshūr then poses a fundamental question: does the preponderance of some qirāʾāt imply that their counterparts are weaker in establishing the Qur’an’s inimitability (iʿjāz)?73 He answered that the core of iʿjāz is the way the speech of scripture conforms to the context of its addressees. Such contextual conformity is not susceptible to any kind of discrepancy. However, some readings may contain additional rhetorical or eloquent characteristics not present in others. It is also possible that some qirāʾāt were canonized by way of the Prophet ﷺ permitting a qārī to read a synonymous word, so that the original word remains the highest form of rhetoric while the other is a rukhṣah close to that level.74 This issue may be further discussed under two other Qur’anic Studies topics: whether some parts of the Qur’an are superior to others75 and whether iʿjāz is established by every verse of the Qur’an.76
The spread of qirāʾāt in the Muslim world throughout history and today
The spread of qirāʾāt and their geographical distribution across the Muslim world has varied over time. In the 5th/11th century, while Kufa transitioned from the riwāyahs of Ḥafṣ and Shuʿbah to the reading of Ḥamzah, Basra settled for that of Yaʿqūb. Shām, meanwhile, landed on Ibn ʿĀmir’s reading (although the region was later dominated by Abū ʿAmr’s reading).77 Since Warsh (d. 197/812), the canonical rāwī of Nāfiʿ, lived in Egypt and ranked as its chief qāriʾ, his riwāyah prevailed in Egypt until the 5th/11th century.78 Iraq, Ḥijāz, Yemen, Shām, Egypt, Sudan and East Africa were later dominated by the riwāyah of Dūrī, the canonical rāwī of Abū ʿAmr, until the 10th/16th century (in Egypt until the 12th/18th century). Intriguingly, Shuʿbah ibn al-Ḥajjāj (d. 160/777) predicted that Abū ʿAmr’s reading “will be the strongest common isnād among people.”79 In attesting to the accuracy of this prediction, Ibn al-Jazarī affirmed that across Shām, Yemen, Ḥijāz, and Egypt, “You do not find anyone teaching Qur’an except with his [Abū ʿAmr’s] reading.”80
According to Ibn ʿĀshūr, the most common readings in the Muslim world today are Nāfiʿ, in the riwāyah of Qalūn (in Tunisia, some parts of Egypt, and Libya); the riwāyah of Warsh (in some parts of Tunisia, some parts of Egypt, Algeria, all the far West of Africa, and Sudan); and the reading of ʿĀṣim (in all of the East, including most of Egypt, India, Pakistan, Turkey, and Afghanistan).81 Modern qirāʾāt studies have not yet determined why Ḥafṣ, ʿĀṣim’s transmitter, is so prevalent today. Limited are the historical records documenting the massive transition from the readings that had once dominated much of the Muslim world, including its educational institutions, to Ḥafṣ.
A common, yet historically unverified, argument attributes the current dominance of Ḥafṣ to the Ottomans’ appointments of Ḥanafī judges, legal scholars (muftīs), and qurrāʾ. While the Ottomans certainly enforced the Ḥanafī school, their enforcement did not necessarily extend to the field of qirāʾāt. Surveying qirāʾāt works written during the Ottoman era reveals that Abū ʿAmr’s reading declined only in Yemen, Sudan, and a few other African regions. West African countries remained committed to Nāfiʿ as well as to the Mālikī school. It is possible, of course, that they did not transition to Ḥafṣ due to the lack of full Ottoman control in these regions. However, Abū ʿAmr’s reading remained popular in regions not conquered, or fully dominated, by the Ottomans such as Malaysia, Yemen, Indonesia, Iran, India, and Turkestan.
Moreover, there is no evidence of the supposed Ottoman stipulation requiring candidates for religious positions to read in Ḥafṣ. Ibn al-Jazarī, who lived during the Ottoman dynasty, did not relate any particular observations about their alleged policy of imposing Ḥafṣ. Despite sharing legal cultures and political circumstances with the Ottomans, the preceding Seljuk dynasty did not adopt Ḥafṣ. Thus, inheriting the Ḥanafī culture, which prefers ʿĀṣim and Abū ʿAmr, does not adequately explain the dominance of one riwāyah over others.
Qirāʾāt as a discipline (ʿIlm al-Qirāʾāt)
During and after the standardization process, the discipline of qirāʾāt developed in relation to, yet independent from, the rest of the Qur’anic sciences. Muslim scholars developed a framework known as ‘The Ten Essentials’ (al-mabādiʾ al-ʿasharah) to define and introduce any discipline.82 The Ten Essentials help understand “how not only knowledge is constructed within that discipline but its significance, technical terms, key concepts, historical development and pioneers over time,”83 as well as the legal ruling (ḥukm) related to learning and teaching it. This framework empowers students to holistically appreciate the coherency and scope of a discipline as well as its relevance to both inquiry and application. Below is a summary of some of The Ten Essentials of the discipline of qirāʾāt.
Qirāʾāt, as a discipline, is defined as the “knowledge of the exact manner of articulating the words of the Qur’an and their variations as attributed to [each of] their transmitters.”84 This definition excludes the scope of tafsīr, grammar, and other linguistic sciences in their treatment of Qur’anic words. The merit of the qirāʾāt discipline lies in preserving the Qur’an, protecting it from alteration, and deepening our understanding of it.
The subject matter of the discipline of qirāʿāt has been listed as seven means (wasāʾil) in al-Biqāʿī’s al-Ḍawābiṭ wal-ishārāt li-ajzāʿ ʿilm al-qirāʿāt [The Rules and Indications of the Components of the Discipline of Qirāʿāt].85 Al-Qasṭalānī provided a lengthy commentary on these seven topics in his Laṭāʾif al-ishārāt li funūn al-qirāʿāt [The Subtle Allusions to the Disciplines of Qirāʿāt] in the following order:
- Isnād: scrutinizing the credibility of the chain of authorities preserving the Qur’an, including its authenticity, length, and proximity to the Prophet ﷺ as well as the early qurrāʿ, and the authoritative texts of qirāʿāt. This topic also examines the methods of oral transmission.86
- Linguistics: syntax, phonetics and articulation.87
- Pausal and resuming (waqf and ibtidāʿ) modes and their impact on signified meanings.88
- The number of Qur’anic verses that require an examination of orthographical styles of certain letters and the positioning of a verse (āyah) and its end (fāṣilah).89
- Orthography and the examination of the ras of Qur’anic words according to the ʿUthmānic codex.90
- Istiʿādhah; introducing its textual foundation from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, determining its phrase and explaining how it should be recited, the ḥukm of reading it out loud (jahr) or in secret (isrār), and its pausal modes.91
- Al-Takbīr; explaining the Sunnah of takbīr (saying “Allāhu akbar”) after reciting certain chapters of the Qur’an before commencing the next chapter and their pausal and resuming modes, tracing its isnād to the early qurrāʿ and the Prophet ﷺ, stating its exact phrase.92
With respect to the legal ruling (ḥukm) of learning and teaching the discipline of qirāʿāt, it is part of the communal obligation (farḍ kifāyah) of preserving and memorizing the Qur’an.93 This shared responsibility means that “if the obligation is fulfilled—by whatever number of moral agents (mukallafīn) it takes—all community members are free of the religious responsibility of that obligation. If no one fulfills the obligations, then all members of the particular community will be held accountable.”94 To meet this obligation of preserving the Qur’an, including the qirāʿāt, a minimum number of memorizers and reciters qualifying for tawātur must be maintained.95
Additionally, Qur’anic scholars delineated ranks for different levels of scholarship. For example, the muqriʾ is
the scholar of readings who transmits them orally. If he memorizes the book of al-Taysīr [an authoritative qirāʾāt text by al-Dānī], for instance, he is not allowed to teach it except if he learned it directly from the one who taught him continuously [in a uniform transmission], because part of qirāʾāt cannot be mastered except through direct hearing and oral transmission.96
The beginner qārī studies individual readings until they have learned at least three. The advanced qārī is the one who masters most of the qirāʾāt , including the most popular ones.97
The wisdom of qirāʾāt: How can qirāʾāt strengthen my connection with the Qur’an?
According to Imam al-Qasṭalānī, “Scholars never ceased to extract, from every reading of a qārī, meanings not found in other readings.”98 Such is the divine wisdom manifest in the qirāʾāt, which perform a variety of functions that ultimately enrich our experience of the Qur'’an. A few of those functions, as determined by scholars, are the following:
- Easing Qur’anic recitation and memorization for Muslims who come from different tribal and dialectal backgrounds. This easing may also help non-Arabs by allowing them to recite in a manner befitting their learning capabilities.
- Accommodating the dialectal diversity of historic Arabs to soften their hearts towards accepting the message of Islam.
- Honoring the ummah of the Prophet ﷺ by revealing the Qur’an in different aḥruf and allowing Muslims to recite it accordingly. The Qur’an is the only Divine book that was revealed in this manner.
- Demonstrating that, just as Allah promised, the ummah did not fail to preserve the Qur’an in all its precise forms of pronunciation. No other ummah was granted this blessing.
- Increasing opportunities for reward by diversifying our types of engagement with the Qur’an.
- Showcasing how the Qur’an’s brevity is of such eloquence that it somehow generates a universe of kaleidoscopic meanings. These meanings are conveyed through same-verse variations rather than multiple verses.
- Proving the transcendent nature of the text by facilitating different modes of recitation without contradiction. Qirāʾāt variations complement rather than contest one another, working in tandem to represent one essential form.
- Assisting with legal interpretation of verses by clarifying their meanings, and expanding or restricting their applicability.
Examples of qirāʾāt differences and their impact on meaning
Some of the aforementioned wisdoms behind the qirāʾāt variations—especially the sixth, seventh, and eighth points—illustrate the breadth of qirāʾāt’s relevance to tafsīr. The tafsīr tradition is full of discussions on qirāʾāt and how they augment the meaning of the Qur’an. These discussions derive from diverse interdisciplinary scholarship on divergent meanings (tawjīh), syntactic case-endings (iʿrāb), preponderance of dialects and readings (tarjīḥ), and others. Ibn al-Jazarī categorized the differences of qirāʾāt into three:
1) difference in wording without a change of meaning. For example, the word ṣirāṭ (صِرَاطَ - سِرَاطَ = ‘path’) in Sūrah al-Fātiḥah (1:6-7) is pronounced with sīn (س) and ṣāḍ (ص). The difference in this example is purely dialectical.
2) difference in both wording and meaning with the possibility of both meanings being simultaneously applicable. For example, mālik and malik (مَالكِ – مَلِكِ) in Sūrah al-Fātiḥah (1:4); both words (i.e., master and king) indicate Allah.
3) difference in both wording and meaning with only one meaning applying at a time, though they are harmonious in perspective without contradiction.99 For example, in 12:110, “until the Messengers despaired and they assumed they were lied to,” kudhibū (كُذِبُوا), or “they were certain they were rejected,” kudhdhibū (كُذِّبُوا). According to the former reading, without a geminate double-consonant sound (shaddah) on the dhāl (ذ), it is only an assumption and the pronouns reference the people to whom the prophets were sent (they assumed that the prophets had lied to them about their prophethood and what they informed them of Allah’s punishment). According to the second reading, with a shaddah (ذّ), it is a certain belief and the pronouns reference the messengers (they were certain that they had been rejected by their people).100 Both meanings provide a multi-dimensional account of the stories of the prophets.
From a tafsīr lens, the first category of intonational variations which do not change verse meanings is less relevant, while the second two categories of variations that influence verse meanings are more important.101 An exegete (mufassir) is tasked with illustrating the differences of qirāʾāt because one reading may explain its counterpart: “their differences often enrich the meanings of the verse.”102 Instead of conveying meaning through multiple verses, the revelation can concisely provide multiple meanings for the sake of polysemy.103 This Qur’anic phenomenon is the equivalent of various native Arabic rhetorical styles and devices such as incorporation (taḍmīn), dissimulation (tawriyah or tawjīh) in the science of meanings (ʿilm al-maʿānī), and corollaries (mustatbaʿāt al-tarākīb) in the science of embellishment (ʿilm al-badīʿ).104 That said, an exegete (mufassir) “should illustrate the differences of the mass-transmitted qirāʾāt because their differences often enrich the meanings of the verse.”105
The Qur’an may further explicate a verse’s meaning in a different verse. For example, the calf Prophet Ibrāhīm ﷺ offered his guests from the angels was described in 51:26 as fat (سَمِينِ) and described in 11:69 as roasted (حَنِيذِ). Similarly, Prophet Mūsā’s ﷺ miraculous serpent was described in 7:107 and 26:33 as manifest (مُبِينٌ)—meaning big in size—while in 27:10 and 28:31 it was described as jānn (جَانٌّ), a male serpent that rapidly slithers. These verses exemplify how different complementary meanings can be ascertained from the text without relying on qirāʾāt. The following examples, listed in the order of the muṣḥaf, illustrate how the Qur’an may also explicate a verse’s meaning without additional verses through qirāʾāt.
Example #1: An alternation (ibdāl) of two consonants
In Sūrah al-Baqarah (2:219), Allah says, “They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, ‘In them is great sin and benefits for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit.’”
يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ قُلْ فِيهِمَا إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ [كَثِيرٌ] وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَإِثْمُهُمَا أَكْبَرُ مِنْ نَفْعِهِمَا
Eight of the ten qurrāʾ read it kabīrun (كَبِيرٌ) = ‘great.’ However, Ḥamzah and al-Kisāʾī read it, kathīrun (كَثِيرٌ) = ‘much.’ This variant type is an alternation (ibdāl) of two consonants, (b → th). The sin (ithm/ إِثْمٌ) of drinking wine, according to the first reading, is ‘great.’ The second reading adds the meaning that ‘there is much sin in it.’
In discussing the first reading (kabīrun = great), al-Farrāʾ said that the great sin of drinking wine is obvious that it causes animosity and hatred, referencing 5:91, and impairs one’s rational faculty which, in turn, affects their understanding of the rights of Allah.106 In discussing the second reading (kathīrun = much), Abū Ḥayyān said that describing the sin to be ‘much’ can be understood in three ways. First, it might refer to the sinners (i.e., drinking causes sinning among people and every consumer of it is sinful). Second, it might refer to the consequences of drinking (i.e., the deviant actions and sayings of a drunk person). Third, it might refer to all the individuals involved in its manufacturing and distribution (based on the hadith, “Allah has cursed wine, its drinker, its server, its seller, its buyer, its presser, the one for whom it is pressed, the one who conveys it and the one to whom it is conveyed.”)107 The four layers of meaning in this verse, collectively, provide different perspectives without rendering any one reading wrong or inauthentic. Ultimately, “both readings are the speech of Allah so it is not allowed to prefer parts of it over others by our mere judgments; all of that is the speech of Allah.”108
Example #2: Different vowels
In Sūrah al-Kahf (18:55), Allah says, “And nothing has prevented the people from believing when guidance came to them and from seeking their Lord’s forgiveness except that there [must] befall them the [accustomed] precedent of the ancients or that the punishment should come upon them in many types.”
وَمَا مَنَعَ ٱلنَّاسَ أَن يُؤْمِنُوٓاْ إِذْ جَآءَهُمُ ٱلْهُدَىٰ وَيَسْتَغْفِرُواْ رَبَّهُمْ إِلَّآ أَن تَأْتِيَهُمْ سُنَّةُ ٱلْأَوَّلِينَ أَوْ يَأْتِيَهُمُ ٱلْعَذَابُ قُبُلًا [قِبَلَا]
ʿĀṣim, Ḥamzah, al-Kisāʾī, and Abū Jaʿfar read the end of the verse with the diacritic mark ḍammah on the qāf and the bāʾ, qubulan (قُبُلًا) = ‘in many types.’ The rest of the qurrāʾ read the qāf with kasrah and the bāʾ with fatḥa, qibalan (قِبَلًا) = ‘face to face.’ The different vowels allow us to interpret the verse as stating that people do not believe nor ask for forgiveness until they directly face the punishment of former communities, or until they experience diverse forms of punishment.
Example #3: Alternation (ibdāl) of two consonants
In Sūrah al-Takwīr (Q. 81:24), Allah says, “And Muhammad is not a withholder of [knowledge of] the unseen.”
وَمَا هُوَ عَلَى الْغَيْبِ بِضَنِينٍ [بِظَنِين]
Ibn Kathīr, Abū ʿAmr, al-Kisāʾī, and one of two canonical transmitters of Yaʿqūb, Ruays, read bi-ẓanīnin with ẓ (بِظَنِين) = accused. The rest read it bi-ḍanīnin with ḍ (بِضَنِين) = stingy. The alternation (ibdāl) of two consonants, (ḍ → ẓ) in this verse results in distinct but complementary meanings. While the former reading means that the Prophet ﷺ is not accused of withholding the knowledge of the unseen, the latter means that the Prophet ﷺ does not stingily withhold the knowledge of the unseen.109
Examples for qirāʾāt legal applications
The layered meanings generated by the qirāʾāt influence the derivation of legal rulings by confirming an agreed-upon opinion, giving preference to one opinion over another, reconciling between conflicting opinions, offering additional circumstantial rulings, or clarifying an ambiguous meaning intended by the lawgiver. Moreover, the qirāʾāt have triggered theoretical debates pertaining to reducing the legal authority of non-canonical readings by equating them to verdicts of the Prophet’s companions (qawl al-ṣaḥabī) as secondary sources of law and synthesizing textual additions (ziyādah ʿalā al-naṣṣ) of non-canonical readings as signals for abrogated verses (naskh). These debates paralleled evolving discourses of the epistemic principle of ‘true report’ (khabar al-ṣādiq) and the hadith concept of tawātur, denoting boundaries of legal certainty.110
Example #1: Active → passive verb forms
In Sūrah al-Baqarah (2:229), Allah says, “And it is not lawful for you to take anything of what you have given them unless both fear that they may not be able to maintain the limits of Allah.”
وَلَا يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَن تَأْخُذُواْ مِمَّآ ءَاتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ شَيْـًٔا إِلَّآ أَن يَخَافَآ [يُخَافا] أَلَّا يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ ٱللَّه
Ḥamzah, Abū Jaʿfar, and Yaʿqūb read the verb yukhāfā (يُخَافا) in the passive form. The rest read it yakhāfā (يَخافا) in the active form unless they both fear. The verse discusses rulings of a contractual marriage dissolution agreement between the husband and the wife in which the wife fiscally compensates the husband (usually by dropping her right to the deferred mahr) in exchange for her release from the marriage bond (khulʿ). The verse warns the parties involved against pressuring the wife to give up her right to the mahr in order to facilitate the breakup. The verse establishes that this kind of breakup is legitimate if there is a risk of violating the limits of Allah by the husband and the wife.
The variation of passive-active verb forms in the above two readings provides insights on who is entitled to decide that the rights of Allah will be violated if the couple do not break up. The first reading, yukhāfā (يُخَافا), means ‘unless it is feared that they [the husband and the wife] may not maintain the limits of Allah’ which grants the authority to decide on khulʿ to a third party. Since the verse does not explicitly identify the subject of the passive verb, the context of family law implies that it is the judiciary. The second reading, yakhāfā (يَخافا), means ‘unless they both fear that they may not be able to maintain the limits of Allah’ which vests both spouses with the authority to decide on the situation.111 Khulʿ procedures are extensively detailed under Islamic family law.
Example #2: Verb conjugation:
In Sūrah al-Rūm (30:39), Allah says, “And whatever you give in ribā to increase within the wealth of people will not increase with Allah.”
وَمَآ ءَاتَيْتُم [أَتَيْتُمْ] مِّن رِّبًا لِّيَرْبُوَاْ [لِتُرْبُوا] فِىٓ أَمْوَٰلِ ٱلنَّاسِ فَلَا يَرْبُواْ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ
This verse which talks about usurious gain (ribā), lit. ‘increase’, contains two qirāʾāt:
First, Ibn Kathīr reads the verb ataytum (أَتَيْتُمْ) without a long vowel ā after the hamzah = ‘whatever type of ribā you engage with.’ The rest read ātaytum (ءاتَيْتُمْ) with ā after the first hamzah = whatever you give in ribā. The variation in the conjugation of the perfect verb (a → ā) reflects a pronounced change of pattern (wazn) in two verbs sharing the same root. While the latter reading, ātaytum (ءاتَيْتُمْ), unequivocally prohibits the giving of interest, the former expands the explicit prohibition to any type of engagement with ribā, including both giving and taking. Hence, the two readings are ultimately convergent in meaning.112
Second, Nāfiʿ, Abū Jaʿfar, and Yaʿqūb read li-turbū (لِتُرْبُوا) = ‘so that you increase it through people’s money’ as a reference to the addressees of the consumers of ribā. The rest read li-yarbuwa (لِيَرْبُوَا) = ‘so that the money increases within people’s money’ as a reference to the money itself.113 The variation in the prefix conjugation determining the pronouns of the imperfect verb (ya → tu) changes the subject of the verb. In the first reading, the subject is the person dealing in ribā (which associates the prohibition with the intention of accruing interest) while the subject in the second reading is the ribā itself (which generalizes the prohibition irrespective of intention).
This verse, out of four verses revealed regarding the prohibition of ribā, showcases part of the wisdom behind its prohibition. The verse draws an intriguing comparison between seeking the increase of wealth from people’s money through ribā and gift-giving, even with unequal exchange, or zakāh. The rest of the verse reads, “But what you give in zakāh, desiring the countenance of Allah—those are the multipliers.” The comparison explains the rational and spiritual disparity between ribā transferring the wealth from the poor to the rich and zakāh doing exactly the opposite.
In diverse societies teeming with dialects ranging from the common to the obscure, we should not automatically assume that everyone reciting the Qur’an unlike ourselves is reciting it incorrectly. The Prophet ﷺ recited and taught the Qur’an in multiple ways. All readings were authentically systemized by generations of pious predecessors. This grounding in tradition clearly permits our continued use of the qira’at to not only recite the holy text in a dialect that is easier on our tongues, but also to better understand its spectrum of meanings and range of legally coherent interpretations.
Muslims of all stripes, then, can use the qirāʾāt to connect (or reconnect) with the text of our holy book, finding in its every word a bottomless well of inspiration. The qirāʾāt, ultimately, are how the Qur’an fulfills its promise of speaking not just to a particular people in a particular place at a particular time, but to all of humanity, right up until the fateful day when the trumpet is blown.
1 For a detailed treatment of the topic of tadabūur, see Yousef Wahb and Mohammad ElShinawy, “Keys to Tadabbur: How to Reflect Deeply on the Qur’an,” Yaqeen, April 2021, https://yaqeeninstitute.ca/read/paper/keys-to-tadabbur-how-to-reflect-deeply-on-the-Qur’an.
2 Abū al-Khayr ibn al-Jazarī, al-Nashr fī al-qirāʾāt al-ʿashr, ed. ʿAlī Muḥammad al-Ḍabbāʿ, 2 vols. (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 2006), 1:24.
3 Jāmiʿ al-Tirmidhī, no. 2944.
4 Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, no. 5041.
5 Al-Jassās, al-Fusūl fī al-usūl, ed. Jāsim al-Nashamī, 2nd ed, 4 vols. (Kuwait: Wizārat al-Awqāf wal-Shūʾun al-Islāmiyah, 1994), 1:377.
6 Ibn al-Jazarī, al-Nashr, 1:49–50.
7 Ammar Khatib and Nazir Khan, “The Origins of the Variant Readings of the Qur’an,” Yaqeen, August 2019, https://yaqeeninstitute.ca/read/paper/the-origins-of-the-variant-readings-of-the-Qur’an.
8 One narration of the hadith, reported by Ubay b. Kaʿb, reported that the Prophet ﷺ was near the adāt (watering place) of Banū Ghifār, which is a place in Medina. Another narration states that Jibril met the Prophet ﷺ near Aḥjār al-Mīra, which is near Qubā in Madinah. However, this does not mean that only the Medinan Qur’an was permitted to be recited in seven aḥruf. The story of ʿUmar and Hisham’s argument was over Surah al-Furqan, which was revealed in Mecca.
9 Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūṭī, al-Itqān fī ʿulūm al-Qur’an, ed. Aḥmad ibn ʿAlī, 4 vols (Cairo: Dār al-Hadith, 2006), 1:219–26.
10 Musnad Aḥmad, no. 22766.
11 Some scholars noted the inadequacy of the term “variant” in describing the Qur’an or its canonical readings since there is not a singular fixed original but the original itself is multiform. See Yasin Dutton, “Orality, Literacy and the ‘Seven Aḥruf’ Hadith,” Journal of Islamic Studies 23, no. 1 (2012): 1–49; also see Muhammad Mustafa Al-Azami, The History of the Qur’anic Text from Revelation to Compilation (Leicester: UK Islamic Academy, 2003), 154–55.
12 Yousef Wahb, “An Introduction to ʿUlūm al-Qur'an: The Field of Qur’anic Studies,” Yaqeen, April 2022, https://yaqeeninstitute.org/read/paper/an-introduction-to-ulum-al-quran-the-field-of-quranic-studies.
13 Aḥmad ibn ʿAbdulkarīm al-Ashmūnī, Manār al-hudā fī bayān al-waqf wal-ibtidā, 2nd ed. (Cairo: Mustafā al-Bābī al-Halabī, 1973), 7–8.
14 Abū Jaʿfar al-Ṭabarī, Jāmiʿ al-bayān fī tafsir̄ al-Qur'an, ed. ʿAbd Allāh al-Turkī, 26 vols. (Cairo: Dār Hajar, 2001), 1:40. The report is mursal since al-Riyāhī, a tābiʿī who did not meet the Prophet ﷺ, attributed it directly to him.
15 Some companions, mainly Ibn Masʿūd, initially refused to adopt some of the ʿUthmānic muṣḥaf renditions that contradicted their personal copies. Abū Bakr ʿAbdullah ibn Abī Dāwūd, Kitāb al-maṣāḥif, ed. Muhīb al-Dīn Wā’iz, 2 vols. (Beirut: Dār al-Bashāʾir al-Islāmiyah, 1995), 1:179–92. Later, Ibn Masʿūd approved of ʿUthmān’s compiled text upon moving back to Medīna and meeting with ʿUthmān. Ibn Abī Dāwūd, Kitāb al-masāḥif, 1:193–94 (the chapter on Ibn Masʿūd’s approval of ʿUthmān’s compilation of masāḥif). ʿImād al-Dīn ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāyah wan nihāyah, 8 vols. (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 2015), 9:139–140; Abū Bakr ibn Mujāhid, al-Sabʿa fī al-qirāʾāt, ed. Shawqī Ḍayf (Cairo: Dār al-Maʿārif, 1979), 67.
16 See for example, Abū Shāma al-Maqdisī, al-Murshid al-wajīz ilā ʿulūm tataʿallaqu bi-l-kitāb al-ʿazīz, ed. Ibrāhīm Shams al-Dīn (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 2003), 94.
17 Khatib and Khan, “Origins of the Variant Reading.” Also see Waleed al-Meneese, The Fourteen Qur’anic Readings Impact on Theology and Law, trans. Abu Zayd (Bloomington: Islamic University of Minnesota and Qur’an Literacy Press, 2021), 26.
18 Al-Suyūṭī, al-Itqān, 1:188–9.
19 Abū al-Qāsim al-Hudhalī, al-Kāmil fi al-qirāʾāt (Sharjah: Muʾssasat Samā, 2007), 1:128.
20 Wahb, “Ulūm al-Qur'an Primer.”
21 Ghānim Qadūrī al-Ḥamad, Aṣālat al-naṣṣ al-Qur’anī: Waḥyan wa rasman wa lughatan wa qirāʾatan, 1st ed. (Istanbul: Dār al-Ghawthānī lil-Dirāsāt al-Qur'aniyah, 2020), 213.
22 Abū Muḥammad Makkī ibn Abī Ṭālib, al-Ibāna ʿan maʿānī l-qirāʾāt, ed. ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ Ismāʿīl Shalabī (Cairo: Dār Nahḍat Miṣr, 1960), 89.
23 Al-Ḥamad, Aṣālat al-naṣṣ al-Qur’anī, 239.
24 Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Malik al-Manturī, Sharḥ al-Durar al-lawāmiʿ fī aṣl maqraʾ al-Imām Nāfiʿ, ed. al-Siddīqī Fawzy (Casablanca: Matbaʿat al-Najāḥ al-Jadīdah, 2001), 864.
25 Ibn al-Jazarī, al-Nashr, 1:9.
26 Abū al-Abbās Aḥmad ibn Abū Bakr al-Qasṭalāni, Laṭāʾif al-ishārā li funūn al-qirāʾāt, ed. Markaz al-Dirasat al-Qur'aniyah, 10 vols. (Saudi Arabia: Wizārat al-Awqāf wal-Shūʾun al-Islāmiyah, 2012), 1:155.
27 Makkī ibn Abī Ṭālib, al-Ibāna, 86–87.
28 Abū al-Khayr ibn al-Jazarī, Ghāyat al-nihāya fī ṭabaqāt al-qurrāʾ, ed. Gotthelf Bergsträsser, 1st ed, 2 vols. (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 2006), 1:139.
29 Ibn Mujāhid, al-Sabʿa, 45.
30 The term mawālī, despite its common reference to freed slaves or tribal allies, was also used to reference the descendants of non-Arabs. None of the 10 qurrāʾ was a freed slave nor were any of their ancestors.
31 To illustrate how non-Arabs played a critical role in Islamic scholarship, “a random sample of over one thousand scholars who died in or before the year of 400 AH/1010 CE, covering the five main branches of Islamic learning (hadith, tafsīr, qirāʾa, naḥw, and fiqh), found that 51% of scholars were Arabs and 49% were non-Arabs.” Emad Hamdeh, “Mawali: How Freed Slaves and Non-Arabs Contributed to Islamic Scholarship,” Yaqeen, 2021.
32 Shams al-Dīn al-Dhahabī, Maʿrifat al-qurrāʾ al-kibār ʿalā l-ṭabaqāt wa-l-aʿṣār, ed. Bashshār ʿAwwād et al., 1st ed. 2 vols. (Beirut: Muʾssasat al-Risālah, 1988), 1:108.
33 Ibn Mujāhid, al-Sabʿa, 62.
34 Ibn al-Jazarī, al-Nashr, 1:112.
35 Ibn Kathīr, the qārī, is different from Ibn Kathīr, the famous author of tafsīr.
36 Abū Shāma al-Maqdisī, Ibrāz al-maʿānī min Ḥirz al-Amānī fī al-Qirāʾāt al-Sabʿah, ed. Ibrāhīm ʿAwad (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 2002), 6.
37 ʿAlam al-Dīn al-Sakhāwī, Jamāl al-qurrāʾ wa-kamāl al-iqrāʾ, ed. ʿAlī Ḥusayn al-Bawwāb, 1st ed, 2 vols. (Mecca: Maktabat al-Turāth, 1987), 2:448.
38 Abū al-Ḥasan ibn Ghalbūn, al-Tadhkirah fī al-qirāʾāt, ed. Sayyid Zaʿīmah, (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 2001), 18.
39 Both al-Sulamī and Ibn Ḥubaysh read to ‘Alī and Ibn Masʿūd.
40 Al-Dhahabī, Maʿrifat al-qurrāʾ, 93.
41 Al-Dhahabī, Maʿrifat al-qurrāʾ, 93.
42 Ibn Mujāhid, al-Sabʿa, 76.
43 Ibn Mujāhid, al-Sabʿa, 76.
44 Ibn Mujāhid, al-Sabʿa, 1:261.
45 Ibn Mujāhid, al-Sabʿa, 1:261.
46 Abdulfattāh al-Qādī, Tārīkh al-qurrāʾ al-ʿasharah, 1st ed. (Cairo: al-Maktabah al-Azhariyyah lil-Turāth, 2002), 46.
47 Al-Qādī, Tārīkh al-qurrāʾ al-ʿasharah, 51.
48 Al-Qādī, Tārīkh al-qurrāʾ al-ʿasharah, 52.
49 Al-Dhahabī, Maʿrifat al-qurrāʾ al-kibār, 1:73.
50 Ibn al-Jazarī, Ghāyat al-nihāya, 2:382–83.
51 Al-Dhahabī, Maʿrifat al-qurrāʾ al-kibār, 1:75–76.
52 Shams al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn Abī Bakr ibn Khallikān, Wafayāt al-aʿyān wa-anbāʾ abnāʾ al-zamān, ed. Iḥsān ʿAbbās, 8 vols. (Beirut: Dār Sādir, 1968), 6:391.
53 Al-Dhahabī, Maʿrifat al-qurrāʾ al-kibār, 1:158.
54 Al-Dhahabī, Maʿrifat al-qurrāʾ al-kibār, 1:209.
55 Al-Dhahabī, Maʿrifat al-qurrāʾ al-kibār, 1:209.
56 This isnād tree is based on Professor Muḥammad Jabal’s work in Wathāqat naql al-naṣṣ al-Qur’anī min Rasūl Allah ilā ummatih (Tanta: Dār al-Sahābah, 2001), 23–28.
57 ʿAbdul Fattāḥ al-Qāḍī, al-Budūr al-zāhirah fī al-qirāʾāt al-ʿashr min ṭarīqai al-Shātibiyah wal-Durrah (Beirut: Dār al-Kitāb al-ʿArabī, 2010), 9–10.
58 Jalāl al-Dīn al-Maḥallī, al-Badr al-ṭāliʿ fī ḥall jamʿ al-jawāmiʿ, ed. Murtaḍā al-Dāghistānī, 2 vols. (Beirut: Risala Foundation, 2012), 1:172–78.
59 ʿAlā al-Dīn ibn al-ʿAttār, Fatāwā al-Nawawī: al-Masāʾil al-manthūrah, ed. Muḥammad al-Hajjār, 6th ed. (Beirut: Dār al-Bashāʾir al-Islāmiyyah, 1996), 197.
60 Al-ʿAttār, Fatāwā al-Nawawī.
61 Al-Ashmūnī, Manār al-hudā, 7.
62 Makkī b. Abī Ṭālib, al-Ibāna.
63 Al-Sakhāwī, Jamāl al-qurrāʾ, 2:440.
64 Ibn al-Jazarī, Ghāyat al-nihāya, 2:86.
65 Muḥammad ibn ʿUmar ibn ʿĀbidīn, Radd al-muḥtār ʻalá al-durr al-mukhtār sharḥ Tanwīr al-Abṣār, ed. ʿAlī Muʿawwad and ʿĀdil ʿAbd al-Mawjūd, 14 vols. (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 2011), 1:541.
66 There are different narrations regarding Aḥmad’s preference for Nāfiʿ, ʿĀsim through Shuʿbah, Abū ʿAmr, or “the readings of Hijāz.” See Ibn Mufliḥ, al-Furū, ed. Ḥāzim al-Qāḍī and Usāma ʿAbd al-Majīd, 6 vols. (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 1997), 1:370.
67 Ibn Mufliḥ, al-Furū, 1:370.
68 Ibn ʿĀbidīn, Radd al-muḥtār.
69 Ibn Mufliḥ, al-Furū, 1:370–71.
70 Muḥammad al-Tāhir Ibn ʿAshūr, al-Taḥrīr wal-tanwīr, 30 vols. (Tunisia: al-Dār al-Tūnusiyyah lil-Nashr, 1884), 1:61. For an English summary of Ibn ʿAshūr’s qirāʾāt introduction of his tafsīr, see Gibril Haddad, “Tropology and Inimitability: Ibn ʿAshūr’s Theory of tafsīr in the Ten Prolegomena to al-Taḥrīr wal-Tanwīr,” Journal of Qur’anic Studies 21, no. 1 (2019): 69–71.
71 Ibn ʿAshūr, al-Taḥrīr wal-tanwīr, 1:62.
72 Al-Qasṭalāni, Laṭāʾif al-ishārāt, 1:356. Similar opinions were reported from early and later scholars including Abū al-ʿAbbās Aḥmad ibn Yaḥyā Thaʿlab (d. 291/904), Abū Jaʿfar al-Naḥḥās (338/950), Abū Shāmah (d. 665/1266), and al-Kawāshī (d. 680/1194). See al-Suyūṭī, al-Itqān, 1:247.
73 Al-Suyūṭī, al-Itqān, 1:247.
74 Al-Suyūṭī, al-Itqān, 1:63.
75 Al-Suyūṭī, al-Itqān, 4:405–14.
76 Al-Suyūṭī, al-Itqān, 4:315–16.
77 Ibn al-Jazarī, Ghāyat al-nihāya, 1:265.
78 Alī al-Dabbā’, al-Idāʾah fī bayān usūl al-qirāʾah (Cairo: ʻAbd al-Ḥamīd Aḥmad Ḥanafī, 1938), 72.
79 Ibn al-Jazarī, Ghāyat al-nihāya, 1:265.
80 Ibn al-Jazarī, Ghāyat al-nihāya, 1:265.
81 Geographical changes in some of these lands over different modern eras should be noted. Ibn Ashur also said, “I have heard that the reading of Abū ‘Amro is common in parts of Sudan on the border with Egypt.” Ibn ʿAshūr, al-Taḥrīr wal-tanwīr, 1:63.
82 These ten essentials are the following: (1) the definition of the discipline, (2) its subject matter, (3) its results, (4) the merits and virtues of learning it, (5) its relation to other disciplines, (6) the pioneers of the field, (7) the name by which the discipline is identified, (8) the sources that formed it, (9) the legal ruling (ḥukm) of learning and teaching it, and (10) its core topics and issues.
83 Aḥmad ibn Mustafā Taskoruzade, A Treatise on Disputation and Argument: Risālat al-Ādāb Fī ʿIlm al-Baḥth waʾl-Munāẓara, trans. Safaruk Chowdhury, 1st ed. (England: Dar al-Nicosia, 2020), 14.
84 Abū l-Khayr Ibn al-Jazarī, Munjid al-muqriʾīn wa-murshid al-ṭālibīn, ed. ʿAlī b. Muḥammad al-ʿImrān (Mecca: Dār al-Fawāʾid, 1998), 49.
85 This work was originally part of al-Biqāʿī’s history book. Ibrāhīm ibn ʿUmar al-Biqāʿī, Iẓhār al-ʿasr li-asrār ahl al-ʿasr, ed. Muḥammad al-ʿŪfī, 1st ed. (Cairo: Hajar, 1992), 1:271.
86 Al-Qasṭalānī, Laṭāʾif al-ishārāt, 1:360–80.
87 Al-Qasṭalānī, Laṭāʾif al-ishārāt, 2:381–422.
88 Al-Qasṭalānī, Laṭāʾif al-ishārāt, 2:490–519.
89 Al-Qasṭalānī, Laṭāʾif al-ishārāt, 2:520–41.
90 Al-Qasṭalānī, Laṭāʾif al-ishārāt, 2:542–88.
91 Al-Qasṭalānī, Laṭāʾif al-ishārāt, 2: 289–616.
92 Al-Qasṭalānī, Laṭāʾif al-ishārāt, 2:617–38.
93 Al-Qasṭalānī, Laṭāʾif al-ishārāt, 1:357.
94 Yousef Wahb, “Farḍ Kifāyah: The Principle of Communal Responsibility in Islam,” Yaqeen, 2021, https://yaqeeninstitute.ca/yousef-wahb/fard-kifayah-the-principle-of-communal-responsibility-in-islam.
95 Al-Qasṭalānī, Laṭāʾif al-ishārāt, 1:357.
96 Ibn al-Jazarī, Munjid al-muqriʾīn, 49.
97 Ibn al-Jazarī, Munjid al-muqriʾīn, 49.
98 Al-Qasṭallānī, Laṭāʾif al-ishārāt, 1:356.
99 Al-Qasṭallānī, Laṭāʾif al-ishārāt, 1:73.
100 Al-Qasṭallānī, Laṭāʾif al-ishārāt, 1:73. For more details on the meanings resulting from these two different readings, see ʿAbdulḥakīm ʿAbdullatīf, Muʿjam al-qirāʾāt, 1st ed, (Damascus: Dar Saʿd al-Dīn, 2002), 4:355-8.
101 Ibn ʿAshūr, al-Taḥrīr wal-tanwīr, 1:51–6.
102 Ibn ʿAshūr, al-Taḥrīr wal-tanwīr, 1:51–6.
103 Polysemy is the association of one word with multiple meanings.
104 Ibn ʿAshūr, al-Taḥrīr wal-tanwīr, 1:51–6.
105 Ibn ʿAshūr, al-Taḥrīr wal-tanwīr, 1:56.
106 Abū Zakariyyā al-Farrāʾ, Maʿānī l-Qur’an, eds. Muḥammad ʿAlī al-Najjār and Aḥmad Najātī, 3 vols. (Beirut: ʿĀlam al-Kutub, 1983), 1:292.
107 Sunan Abū Dawūd, no. 3674. See Muḥammad ibn Yūsuf Abū Ḥayyān al-Andalusī, Tafsīr al-baḥr al-muḥīṭ, eds. ʿĀdil ʿAbd al-Mawjūd and ʿAlī Muʿawwaḍ, 8 vols. (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 1993), 2:157.
108 Al-Andalusī, Tafsīr al-baḥr al-muḥīṭ, 2:185.
109 Al-Farrāʾ, Maʿānī l-Qur’an, 2:293.
110 Badr al-Dīn Al-Zarkashī, al-Baḥr al-muḥīt, ed. ʿAbdullah al-ʿĀnī, 2nd ed. 6 vols. (Kuwait: Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs, 1992), 1:466–70.
111 Abū ʿAbd Allāh al-Qurṭubī, al-Jāmiʿ li-aḥkām al-Qur'an, ed. ʿAbd Allāh al-Turkī, 24 vols. (Beirut: Muʾassasat al-Risāla, 2006), 4:74–76.
112 Abū Zurʿah ʿAbdulrahmān ibn Zanjalah, Ḥujjat al-qirāʾāt, ed. Saʿeed al-Afghāni, 5th ed. (Beirut: Muʾassasat al-Risāla, 1997), 558–9.
113 Zanjalah, Ḥujjat al-qirāʾāt, 558–9.