How many verses are there in the Holy Qur’an

Fatwa ID: 01544

Answered by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah

Question:

I wanted to know about the total Quranic verses in the present Quran there are 6236 verses but it is understood that their are 6666 verses. It is also known that the readers of Kufa reckon and followed Hazrat Ali it is 6239 verses which is followed in India, then we have Basra verses which are 6204 verses then sham verses are 6225 then Mecca verses are 6219 medina verses are 6211. I would like to know how many verses are there.
And Is Hadith more important than Quran

Answer:

Bismillah

In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.

Being the verbal noun of the root word qara'a (to read), 'Qur’an' literally means 'reading' or 'recitation'. When the definite article, “al” is prefixed to the Qur’an, it refers to the whole of the Book; but without this prefix, the Qur’an can mean either the whole or a part of the Book. (M.H. Kamali in his book Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, p.22)

The word “Qur’an” is used in the Qur’an in the sense of reading, recital, a collection, a reminder, a healer, the admonition, the light and the rope of God. From this literal meaning, especially the idea of “a collection”, it is clear that the Qur’an in the concrete sense of a scripture does not always use the word Qur’an, as it is commonly understood. It refers to a revealed oral discourse, which unfolded as seemingly a part of God’s response to the requirements of society over a period of twenty- three years. Only towards the end of thi s process is the Qur’an presented as a scripture rather than a recitation or discourse. (Esack Farid, The Qur’an: A user’s guide, p.31)

For Muslims, the Qur’an as the compilation of the “Speech of God” does not refer to a book inspired or influenced by God written under the guidance of His Spirit: rather it is viewed as God’s direct speech. Imam Zarqani reflects the view of the majority of Muslims when he defines the Qur’an as being “miraculously revealed to the Prophet, written in the cannon, narrated uninterruptedly and enthralled by its recitation.”

The Qur’an stands at the heart of Islam and Muslims argue that it is the only valid contemporary revelation because to invoke the Qur’an is to invoke God. The Qur’an is God speaking, not merely to the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in seventh- century Arabia but to all mankind. (Ibid)

Most classical scholars of the Qur’an such as Imam Zarkhasi and Jalal Uddin Suyuti, on the basis of various traditions ascribed to the Prophet, believe that the descent of the Qur’an took place in three stages. First from God to the “preserved tablet”. God says, “A sacred Qur’an in the protected tablet”. This tablet, a term for metaphysical substance, is often regarded as the original copy of the Qur’an and identical to what the Qur’an describes as the “mother of the book”: “God annuls or confirms whatever He wills and with Him is the Mother of the Book.” The second stage of the Qur’an’s descent is from the preserved tablet to the “Abode of Honour” in the lowest heaven. The idea of this second stage is based on traditions ascribed to the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and verses revealed by God that the Qur’an was revealed on the Night of Majesty.

God says: “We have sent it (the Qur’an) down in the Night of Majesty. And do you know what the Night of Majesty is? The Night of Majesty is much better than one thousand months. The angels and the spirit descend in it, with the leave of your Lord, along with every command. Peace is till the rising of dawn.” (Surah Qadr v.1 –v.5)

And finally, the third descent was from the “Abode of Honour” to the Prophet Muhammd ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) over a period of twenty-three years. (Esack Farid, The Qur’an: A user’s guide, p.32)

The Holy Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) by means of wahy (divine revelation) and transmitted to mankind by continuous testimony, or tawatur. It is a proof of the prophecy of Muhammad, the most authoritative guide for Muslims and the first source of the Sharia.

This wahy would come to the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in several forms and modes. In a saying of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) says that Harith Bin Hisham May God be pleased with Him once asked the Prophet Muhammad [ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) as to how did wahy come to him. He replied by saying “there are times when I hear something like the chiming of bells and this mode of wahy is the hardest on me. After that when this chime –sequence ends, that which has been said by sound seems to have been committed to my memory. And there are times when the angel appears before me in the shape of a man.” (Sahih Bukhari p.2 v.1)

A question with regards to the following hadith applies and that is what is meant by the “chiming of the bell”. Some commentators have explained it by saying that the simile is in terms of it being continuous.  The same way the sound of a bell is continuous similarly, the revelation of wahy was also continuous. Some other scholars have said that a correct realisation of this phenomenon is not possible without an auditory experience; however, the Prophet Muhammad to give it a common explanation likened it to the chiming of the bell. (Faidhul Bari p.19 v.1)

From the aforementioned hadith we have derived thus that there were two modes of the ascension of wahy. Another type of wahy used to be that sometimes the Angel Gabriel would appear as he was. However, this only happened three times during the complete revelation of the Quran. (Maariful Qur’an p.5 v.1)

The fourth mode of wahy is distinguished by a direct, non-intermediary, two way conversations with God. This happened during the Prophet Muhammad’s Night journey to Heaven known as the Mi’raj. (Ibid p.6 v.1)

The fifth mode of wahy was that sometimes the Angel Gabriel without appearing physically in any form whatsoever would let some words of the message fall into his heart. (Ibid)

From the aforementioned discussion the conclusion we can come to is that there was in total five ways the words of the Quran was revealed form God to the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

It is universally agreed that the first five verses of the chapter Al-Alaq or Iqra, (ch.96) mark the very beginning of Qur’anic revelation. Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim and other authentic sources and overwhelming consensus of scholars, ancient and modern, all concur on this point.  However, some scholars state that chapter Al-Muddaththir (ch.74) was the first surah to be revealed, yet others say that chapter Fatihah (The Opening) was revealed first.  It is possible to reconcile between these different views as follows: After the revelation of Al-Alaq or Iqra’, there was a temporary break in the revelation, but after some time, the Angel Gabriel appeared to him once again, and he faced the same situation as he faced when the first verses of Iqra’ were revealed to him.  On this occasion, the Angel Gabriel conveyed the opening verses of Al-Muddaththir to him.  From this point of view, it may be said that the first chapter to be revealed after the temporary break was Al-Muddaththir.  Some of the Companions held the view that Surah Al-Fatihah was the first chapter to be revealed but they probably meant to say that this was the first chapter to be revealed in a complete form.  Undoubtedly, some verses of Surah Al-Alaq or Iqra’, or maybe even Al-Muddaththir were revealed earlier but the rest of these chapters were revealed at later dates.  Surah Al Fatihah is the first chapter that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in its entirety.

Aaisha, one of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) says that the first Qur’anic revelation occurred when the Prophet would go in seclusion in the cave of Hira where he used to worship God. He used to take with him on the journey food for the stay and then come back to (his wife) Khadija to take his food like-wise again till suddenly the Truth descended upon him while he was in the cave of Hira. The angel came to him and asked him to read. The Prophet replied, "I do not know how to read. The Prophet added, "The angel caught me (forcefully) and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, 'I do not know how to read.' Thereupon he caught me again and pressed me a second time till I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read but again I replied, 'I do not know how to read (or what shall I read)?' Thereupon he caught me for the third time and pressed me, and then released me and said, 'Read in the name of your Lord, who has created (all that exists) has created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous." (96.1, 96.2, 96.3) Then the Prophet returned with the Inspiration and with his heart beating severely. Then he went to Khadija and said, "Cover me! Cover me!" They covered him till his fear was over and after that he told her everything that had happened and said, "I fear that something may happen to me." Khadija replied, "Never! By God, God will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your Kith and kin, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously and assist the deserving calamity-afflicted ones."

Khadija then accompanied him to her cousin Waraqa bin Naufal, who, during the Pre Islamic Period became a Christian. He would write from the Gospel in Hebrew. He was an old man and had lost his eyesight. Khadija said to Waraqa, "Listen to the story of your nephew, O my cousin!" Waraqa asked, "O my nephew! What have you seen?" The Prophet described whatever he had seen. Waraqa said, "This is the same one who keeps the secrets (angel Gabriel) whom God had sent to Moses. I wish I were young and could live up to the time when your people would turn you out." The Prophet asked, "Will they drive me out?" Waraqa replied in the affirmative and said, "Anyone (man) who came with something similar to what you have brought was treated with hostility; and if I should remain alive till the day when you will be turned out then I would support you strongly." But after a few days Waraqa died and the Divine Inspiration was also paused for a while." (Sahih Bukhari p.3 v.1)

There are 114 chapters of the Holy Qur’an known in Arabic as “surah” and 6,666 verses known as “ayahs” of unequal length in the Qur’an. (Esack Farid, The Qur’an: A user’s guide, p.59)

Imam Suyuti raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) in his Itqaan has mentioned two opinions with regards to the number of verses in the Holy Qur’an. One opinion is 6,666 on the authority of Saaidah Aaisha raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him). The second is 6,236. The reason for the different opinions on the verses is that certain group of people shortened some long verses of the Holy Qur’an into two or three verses. One should not doubt that the words of the Holy Qur’an has been decreased but the words are still the same. Only some long verses have been shortened.   

The shortest of the chapters consist of four verses and the longest 286 verses. Each chapter has a separate title. The longest chapters appear first and the chapters become shorter as the text proceeds. Both the order of the verses within each chapter, and the sequence of the chapters, were re-arranged and finally determined by the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in the year of his demise. (Esack Farid, The Qur’an: A user’s guide, p.59)

Literally, Sunnah means a clear path or a beaten track but it has also been used to imply normative practice, or an established course of conduct. It may be a good example or a bad, and it may be set by an individual, a sect or a community. Technically, Sunnah refers to all that it is narrated from the Prophet, his acts, his sayings and whatever he has tacitly approved. (M.H. Kamali in his book Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, p.58)

The evidence to prove Sunnah to be considered as one of the principles of Sharia Law is derived from the following statement of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) when Muadh Bin Jabal was sent as a judge to Yemen and was asked as to the sources on which he would rely in making decisions. In reply Muadh referred first to the 'Book of God' and then to the   'Sunnah of the Prophet. (Sunan Abu Dawud p.149 v.2)

In the Qur’an God says:

“Obey God and obey the Prophet and those who are in charge of affairs among you.

Should you happen to dispute over something, then refer it to God and to the

Prophet.” (Surah Nisa v.58 – v.59)

The scholars are unanimous on the point that the Sunnah is a principle of Sharia Law and that in terms of declaring something lawful or unlawful, it stands on the same footing as the Qur’an.

God says in the Holy Qur’an:

“And he does not speak out of his own desire. It is not but revelation revealed to Him.” (Surah Najm v.3

Imam Ghazali known as Algazel in English, who was a famous Islamic theologian writes that some of the divine revelation that the Prophet received constitutes the Qur’an, whereas the remainder is called Sunnah. (M.H. Kamali in his book Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, p.63)

The Sunnah is the second source of the Sharia after the Qur’an, and a jurist is required to observe the order in priority between the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Hence, in any search to a particular problem, the jurist must resort to the Sunnah only when he fails to find any guidance in the Qur’an. Should there be a clear text in the Qur’an, it must be followed and be given priority to any ruling of the Sunnah, which may happen to be in conflict of the Qur’an. The priority of the Qur’an over the Sunnah is mainly because Muslims believe the Qur’an to be decisive whereas part of the Sunnah is speculative in terms of its authenticity. (M.H. Kamali in his book Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, p.79)

One issue, which needs to be discussed, is whether Sunnah is an independent source or is merely a supplement to the Qur’an.

Firstly, the Sunnah may consist of rules that merely confirms or reiterates the Qur’an or explains an ambiguous verse of the Qur’an in which case the Sunnah will merely be supplementing the Qur’an and is not considered to be an independent source in its own right.

An example of where the Sunnah is confirming a law of the Qur’an is where the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “it is unlawful to take the property of a Muslim without his express consent” (Imam Baihaqi in his Sunan ul Kubra p.10 v.3 ) merely confirms the verse of the Qur’an where God says, “ O those who believe! Do not devour each others properties unlawfully unless it is through trade by your consent.” (Surah NIsa v.29)

An example where the Sunnah is explaining and making an unclear verse of the Qur’an clear is where God says, “We know what we have prescribed for them in respect of their wives…” (Surah Ahzaab v.50) This verse is referring to the obligation of a dowry at the time of marriage. However, the minimum amount one has to give as a dowry is unclear from the verse. But a saying of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) explains that ten “dirhams” (Daraqutni and Bayhaqi) which is approximately 31 grams of silver is the minimum amount of dowry the husband has to give to his wife. (M.H. Kamali in his book Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, p.82)

However, the Sunnah may sometimes consist of rulings on which the Qur’an is silent in which case the ruling in question originates in the Sunnah itself. For example the prohibition of the flesh for human consumption of certain animals and birds originates from the Sunnah as the Qur’an itself is silent on these matters. It is with regards to this category of Sunnah where there is a difference of opinions as to whether it is an independent source or not. Certain classical scholars such as Al- Shatibi and Al-Shawkani have held the view that this makes it an independent Sunnah whereas other scholars have disagreed. (M.H. Kamali in his book Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, p.84)

Only Allah Knows Best

Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham.

Comments are closed.