the Recitation and different groups of Reciters of the Qur’an

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There were a number of reciters engaged in learning and teaching the Qur’an in Medina. Any one learning from one of them would transmit that individual’s particular style of recitation when he transmitted it to others as a tradition. Various ways of recitation occur. One may attribute this , firstly, to the fact that the script used at the time was the kufic style and had no diacritical points, each word could be read in Various ways.

Secondly, most people were illiterate and, when learning the Qur’an , had no alternative but to commit it to memory and transmit it orally. This method continued to be used for many generations.

Different group of Recites
The first group
The first group of reciters were those companion who were engaged in learning and teaching the Qur’an and during the time of the Prophet. Among them was a group which mastered the whole Qur’an one of this group was a woman by the name of Umm Waraqah bint Abd Allah ibn Harith.

Study was also undertaken by four of the Ansars (or helpers, that is Medinans who became Muslim and welcomed the Muslim from Mecca). They learned the whole Qur’an by heart but were not concerned with the ordering of the verses and chapters, other scholars were responsible for memorisation of the order.

Some traditions say that the position of each verse and chapter was defined at the order of the Prophet himself but this is generally refuted by the rest of the traditions.

According to some later scholars, ( namely al- Suyuti in his book al- Itqan, in the chapter dealing with the qualities of the men responsible for transmission), several of the qurra’ became famous, among them Uthman, Ali Ubayy ibn Ka’b, zayd ibn Thabit, Abd Allah ibn Mas’ud and Abu Musa al- Ash’ ari.

The Second group
The second group of reciters were the students of the first group. They were generally tabi’un ( followers of the companions of the Prophet) and the more famous amongst them had centres of recitation and teaching in Mecca, Medina, Kufa, Barsa and Sham. The Uthmanic volume was in these five places.

In Mecca were Ubayad ibn Amir and Ata ibn Abi Rabah Ta’us, Mujahid, Ikrimah ibn Abi Mulaykah and others. In Medina were Ibn Musayyib, Urwah, Salim, Umar ibn Abd al- Aziz, Sulayman ibn Yasar, Ata ibn Yasar, Mu’adh al- Qari, Abd Allah ibn al- A’raj, Ibn Shihab al- Zuhri, Muslims ibn Jundub and zayd ibn Aslam.

In kufa were Alqamah, al al- Aswad, Masruq, Ubaydah, Amr ibn Shurahbil, Harith ibn al- Qays, Amr ibn Maymun, Abu Abd al- Rahman al- Sulami, Zarr ibn Hubaysh, Ubayd ibn Naflah, Sa’id ibn Jubayr, al- Nakha’I, al- Sha’bi Abu al- Aliyah, Abu al- Reja Nasr ibn al- Asim Yahya ibn Ya’mur, Hasan al- Basri, Ibn Sirin, Qatadah, Mughirah ibn Abi Shihab, Uthman, Khalifah, ibn Sa’d Abd Darda’.

The Third group
The third group lived during the first half of the second century after Hijrah, it included a number of Imams famous for their Qur’anic recitation who received this knowledge from the second group. In Mecca were Abd Allah ibn Kathir ( one of the seven qurra’ ), Humayd ibn Qays al- A’raj and Muhammad ibn Abi Muhaysin. In Medina were Abu Ja’far Yazid ibn al- Qa’qa, Shayabah ibn Nassah, and Nafi ibn Nu’aym ( one of the seven qurr’a).

In Kufa were Yahya ibn Waththab, Asim ibn Abi al- Najjud ( one of the seven qurra’) Sulayman al- A mash, Hamzah ( one of the seven qurra’) and al – Kisa’I ( also one of the seven reciters). In Basra were Abd Allah ibn Ishaq, Isa ibn Umar. Abu Amr ibn al- Ala ( one ( one of the seven reciters) Asim al- Jahdari and Ya’qub al- Hadrmi. In Sham Abd Allah ibn Amir ( one of the seven reciters), Atiyah ibn Oays al- Kalla’I, Isma’il ibn Abd Allah ibn Muhajir, Yahya ibn Harith and Shurayh ibn Yazid al- Hadrami.

The fourth group
The fourth group consisted of the students of the third group, like Ibn Ayyash, Hafa and Khalaf and many of the most famous may be classed in the next section.

The fifth group
The fifth group comprised those concerned with academic research and writing including Abu Ubaya Qasim ibn Salam, Ahmad ibn Jubayr al- kufi and Isma’il ibn Ishaq al-Maliki from the companions of Qalun al- Rawi. Incuded also Are Abu Ja’far ibn al- Tabari and Mujahid. The field of research was widened after them by men like al- Dani- and Shatibi who wrote a great number of book on poety.

The seven Recites
seven members of the third group achieved considerable celebrity, they became a focus of learning for others. Each of the reciters appointed two narrators who each propagated a particular style of recitation. The following is a list of these seven:

First Ibn al- Kathir(Abd Allah ibn Kathir al- Makki (d.120 A.H) received his instruction in the recitation of the Qur’an from Abb Allah ibn al- Sa’ib and Mujahid ) , whose narrators were Qanbal and al- Bazzi, with only one intermediate relator in the chain from Ibn Abbas from the leader of the Faithful, Ali. The second was Nafi (Nafi ibn Abd al- Rahaman ibn Nu’aym al- Isfahani al- Madani ( d. 159 or 169 A.H) received his instruction from Yazid ibn al- Qa’qa Abu Maymunah Mawla Umm Salmah.) and narrators Qalun and Warsh. The third was Asim (Asim ibn Abi al- Najjud al- kufi (d. 127or 129 A. H), a pupil , in the art of Qur’anic recitation , of Sa’d ibn Ayyas al- Shaybani and Zarr ibn Hubaysh) and his narrators were Abu Bakr Shu’bah ibn al- Ayyash and Hafs, the Qur’an recitation which is in common use among Muslims today is according to the reading of Asim by a narrators of Hafs. The fourth was Hamazh (Hamzah ibn Habib al- Zayyat al- Tamimi al- kufi (d. 156 A.H) was a pupil of Asim ,
A’ mash , al- Sadi’I and Mansur ibn al- Mu’tamar. He also studies under the sixth Imam al- Sadiq and was the first to write about the mutashibhat of the Qur’an) and his narrators were Khalaf and Khallad. The fifth was al- kisa’I (Ali ibn Hamzah Abd Allah ibn Fayruz al- Farisi (d. between 179-193 A.H) , grammarian and recitor of the Qur’an , was a teacher of the Caliphs al- Amin and al- Ma’mun. He studied grammar under Yunus al- Nahwi and Khlil ibn Ahmad al – Farahidi and Qur’anic recitation under Hamzah and Shu’ba ibn Ayyash.) and his narrators were al- Dawri and Abu Ali Harith. The Sixth was Abu Amr ibn al- Ala(Abu Amr Zabban ibn al- Ala al- Basri(d. between 154 159 A.H.)), and his narrators al- Dawri and al- Susi with one intermediate narrator. The seventh was Ibn Amir(Abd Allah ibn Amr al- Shafi’I al- Dimashqi (d. 118 A.H) studied under Abu al- Darda and the companions of Uthman) and his narrators were Hisham (There are differences of opinion as to the names of ruwah (transmitters) of Ibn Amir. Those mentioned above are given according to al- Suyuti’s al- Itqan.)and Ibn Dhakawn with one intermediary narrator.

Following the seven famous recitations are the three recitations of Abu Ja’far,(Abu Ja’far Yazid al- Qa’qa al – Madani( d. between 128- 133 A. H). a freed salve of Umm Salmah , received his instruction in Qur’an recition from Abd Allah ibn Ayyash, ibn Abbas and Abu Hurayrah.) , Ya’qub(Ya’qub ibn Ishaq al- Basri al- Hadrmi ( d. 205 A.H) was a scholar and reciter on the authority of Salam ibn Sulayman , Asim al- Sulami and Ali ibn Abi Talib.) and khalaf(Khalaf ibn Hisham al- Bazzaz (d. 229 A.H) was a rawi of Hamzah .He studied under Malik ibn Anas and Hammad ibn Zayd and his pupil was Abu Awanah).

The majority of Scholars recognize the seven types of recitation as mutawatir, that is, as having been related in unbroken chains of transmissions. One group of narrators have equated the tradition that the Qur’an was revealed in seven harf( literally, “word” in Arabic ), with the seven different recitations, this tradition is well known amongst Muslim scholars in general but is not recognised as being trustworthy.

Al- Zarkshi says in his book al- Burhan, “It is true that these seven recitations from seven reciters have come to us via unbroken chain of transmission but their chain of transmission from the Prophet are open to inspection, since the chains of transmission of seven reciters are all of the type of single transmission, that is related by one single man to another single man”.

Al- Makki says in his book, “ Anyone who imagines that the recitation of such men as Nafi and Asim are the same seven harf mentioned in the saying of the Prophet is committing a grave mistake” Moreover, the implication of this saying is that recitations other than these seven, are not correct, this also is a grave mistake since early Islamic Scholars like Abu Ubayd al- Qasim ibn Salam and Abu Hatim al- Sijistani, Abu Ja’far al- Tabari and Ism’il al-Qadi have recorded several other recitations besides these seven.

At the beginning of the second century A.H. the people of Barsa used the recitation of Abu Amr and Ya’qub and in Kufa the recitation of Hamzah and Asim. In Sham they ued that of Ibn Amir and in Mecca that of Ibn Kathir. In medina that of Nafi was used. This situation remained unchanged until the beginning of the third century A.H. When Ibn Mujahid removed the name of Ya’qub put the name of the Kisa’I in his place.

The reasons for general reference to the seven reciters
The reason why scholars paid so much attention to the seven reciters, despite there being many others of equal or better standing, was that the number of recitations had multiplied so quickly that they lost interest in learning and recording all the traditions about recitations. This they decided to choose several of the recitations. which complied with the orthography of the Qur’an and which were easier to learn and record.

Thus for the five copies of the Qur’an which Uthman had sent to the towns Mecca, Medina, Kufa, Basra, and sham, five reciters were chosen from the five areas and their recitations were then used. Ibn Jubayr writes about these five recitations from the five froms. Ibn Mujahid records a tradition which asserts that Uthman sent to two other copies to Yemen and Bahrain, their the number of Uthman copies thus numbers seven and that they chose seven narrators.

Since precise information about this tradition ( which states that copies were sent to Yemen and Bahrain) was not available, they added two of reciters of Kufa to make up the number they had previously chosen, to seven. This number, which corresponds with above-mentioned saying and affirmed that the Qur’an was revealed in seven recitations, was then used by others who had no knowledge of the matter. They mistakenly supposed that was meant by the seven harf which the Prophet spoke of, was the seven recitations. The only trustworthy recitations are those whose text is sound and whose meaning corresponds to what is written in the Qur’an.

Al- Qurab saya in his al- Shafi, We should look for the seven recitations amongst the qurra’ not from among others, This view is neither tradition nor sunnah but rather it originated from some of the later Scholars who collected the seven recitations These seven recitations became so well known that people imagined that other recitations should not be used. This however, has never been claimed.


The quran in islam- pages: 103to107


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