Bismillah, alhamdulillah, wa salat wa salam ala Rasulullah
How much Quran would the Sahabas read daily? How many ways can they divide the Quran? All those terms that people use and why do some people make sujud when they recite the Quran?
I am starting this new series to heighten our relationship with the Quran. I have a few posts prepared and this is the first of them.
For any Quran lover and worshiper it is important to understand the divisions of the Quran. This is important especially in light of the Sunnah and the Salaf and how they would recite the Quran, or how much of it they would recite regularly. In our times, there is a pre-occupation among students of knowledge with tajweed, fancy recitation and “mindless” memorization- and less focus on the worship in the recital, reflecting upon the Quran (tadabbur) actually understanding it’s message!
One of the stepping stones towards achieving this goal is to understand how the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam and the Sahabas approached the Quran day-to-day. If we can do that, and do it well, then we fulfill two great virtues: following the Sunnah of the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam in his approach to the Quran, and therefore, able to extract and understand the Book of Allah as it was meant to be understood.
The blessings of this are unique because cannot be found anywhere else. What suffices to understand this are the words of the sociologist Ibn Khaldun says:
“… Then the cities of Islam grew, and illiteracy disappeared from among the Arabs because of their constant occupation with the Qur’an. After that, the development of Fiqh took place. Fiqh was perfected and came to be a craft and a science. The Qur’an readers were no longer called Qur’an readers but Fuqaha’ (jurists) and religious scholars. ” [Ibn Khaldun, al-Muqaddimah]
Divisions of the Quran
1/30ths– most commonly known as Juz, also known as Para or Siparah around the world.
1/7ths (Manzil)-this is the blessed Sunnah, designed for one week’s recital as mentioned in the hadith. It divides it into 7 portions. Aside from the division of the Quran into 114 chapters, this is the only other division mentioned in the Sunnah. The landmarks for this are in the following places, but since the portions are huge, some are off by a few verses, and is meant to be more of an approximate demarcation. One would start from Fatiha on the first day and each day stop and continue from the following locations until the whole Quran is complete over the span of 7 days.
1) Surah Ma’idah (5) v. 1
2) Surah Yunus (10) v. 1
3) Surah Bani Israel or al-Isra (17) v. 1
4) Surah Shu’ara (26) v. 1
5) Surah Saffaat (37) v. 1
6) Surah Qaf (50) v. 1
7) Surah an-Nas (114) v. 6
1/4ths– a lesser known division of the Quran that has more to do with it’s themes and meanings then to be utilized for recitation.
In the book titled Mawaahibur Rahmaan (Vol. 1, pg. 3) Maulana Husain (A.R.) quotes the following from Imam Rabbani (A.R.), who transmits it from Ali radiallahu anhu. He says that the knowledge of the universe and that of the Quran is found in Surah Fatiha. This is so because, with regard to themes, the Quran is divided in to four parts, each of which begins with the words “Alhamdulillah” (All praises are for Allah).
The first part begins with Surah Fatiha and ends with Surah Ma’idah. This part mainly discusses the concept of Allah being the Sole and Only Creator of everything. The second part begins with Surah An’am and extends until the end of Surah Bani Israel. The central theme of this part is that Allah is the Only One Who is responsible for caring and nurturing everything after creating it.
The third part begins with Surah Kahf and continues until the end of Surah Ahzaab. This part revolves around the discussion that Allah has complete power to control and administer the affairs of the universe as He pleases. It emphasises that He is the Supreme Sovereign and none can be partner to Him.
The fourth part begins with Surah Saba and extends until the end of the Quran. This part mainly discusses the fact that Allah shall be the Master and Supreme Judge on the Day of Qiyamah and no intercessor can overrule His decree.
While all these themes have been discussed in great detail in the respective parts of the Quran, they are all summarized in Surah Fatiha.
“Alhamdulillah” makes mention of the first part. It includes Allah’s name, which tells us that He is the Creator of everything. This is so because the mention of Allah’s name compels one to acknowledge this fact. Even the Mushrikeen acknowledge this fact, as Allah says in verse 87 of Surah Zukhruf, “If you have to ask them (the Mushrikeen) who created them, they will definitely say, ‘Allah'”
Allah says in verse 25 of Surah Luqman, “If you ask them who created the heavens and the earth, they will definitely reply, ‘Allah.'”
“Rabbil Alameen” makes mention of the second theme, while “Ar Rahman ar Raheem” indicates the third theme because only The One who has these qualities of forgiveness and mercy can control the universe so perfectly. “Maliki Yawmi Deen” alludes to the theme discussed in the fourth part of the Quran.
Ibn Kathir has written the same thing when he says that Surah Fatiha is the essence of the Quran and this essence lies in the words, “We only worship You and only seek assistance from You.”
-Taken from “Quran Made Easy” by Mufti Afzal Hoosen Elias
Divisions within a Juz
Ruku‘ an inclination of the head or bow. Basically in reciting the Quran in Taraweeh, this is the point where the Imam make ruku for every rakah.
These are sections of about ten verses or less, at which the devout Muslim makes a bow of reverence; they are marked on the margin of the Qur’an with the letter ‘ain, with the number of the ruku over it. Muhammadans generally quote their Qur’an by the Juz’ or Siparah and the Ruku’.
Each Surah is divided into several sections known as Rukus. A Ruku consists of a number of aayats all of which deal with one topic. There are 540 Rukus in The Quran. The Rukus of The Holy Quran were not to be found in the time of Nabi Muhammad sallallahu alaihi wasallam, nor in the time of the Sahaaba radhiyallahu anhum.
Around the 4th century of the Hijri calendar the Ulema of Bukhara, Russia divided the entire Quran into 540 Rukus for Taraaweeh purposes. They reckoned that if one Ruku is recited in each raka’at of the Taraaweeh salaah the Hafiz will finish the Quran exactly on the 27th night of Ramadaan. The equation is as follows:
1 ruku per raka’at x 20 raka’ats = 20 Rukus per night x 27 nights = 540 rukus.
When devising these Rukus the Ulema made sure that Rukus contained aayats of the same topic and theme.
They named it Ruku because the Hafiz goes into ruku after reciting it in one raka’at of Taraaweeh salaah.
NOTE: It is not wajib or necessary to make ruku after reading a ruku in Taraaweeh or any other salaah. One can make ruku at the end of any aayat. These Rukus were formulated simply to ease matters for the hafiz during Taraaweeh.
Taken from: Rukus of the Holy Quran
Rub‘. The quarter of a Juz’, or Siparah. If you take Juz Amma you can find this in the last ayah of Surah al-Infitar (82)
Nisf. The half of a Juz or Siparah. If you take Juz Amma you can find this in the last ayah of Surah al-Ghashiyah (88)
Suls. The three-quarters of a Juz or Siparah. If you take Juz Amma you can find this in the last ayah of Surah al-Qadr (97)
These four divisions are denoted by the Arabic words being written in the margin in the above mentioned locations.
Divisions for Memorization
The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said, ‘The Qur’an was revealed in one fifth part, whoever memorized it in one fifth parts would not forget it. Except for Surah al An’am, which was revealed in it’s entirety, seen off by seventy angels from each heaven until they delivered it to the Prophet. Never has it been recited over a sick person, without Allah granting him a cure’
[Baihaqi & Khatib]
Groupings of the Quran
The 7 Ha Meems
Ibn Masud (radiAllahu anhu) said, ‘The ‘ha-meems’ are the embellishments of the Quran
[Hakim, Dhahabi, Ibn Al Mundhir & Baihaqi]
The messenger of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said, Chapters beginning with Ha-Meem are beautiful, fresh, fragrant, splendid meadows. Whosoever desires to walk around in the meadows of Paradise should recite these surahs’
[Al-Tadhkar Fi Afdal Al-Adhkar by Imam al-Qurtubi]
NB: The ‘ha-meems’ refer to the seven Surahs which have ha-meem at the start are: Surahs Ghafir or Al-Mu’min (40), Fussilat (or Ha-Meem) (41), Shura (42), Zukhruf (43), Dukhan (44), Jathiyah (45), Ahqaf (46)
The Surahs of Glorification
The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) used to recite Surahs of Glorification before returning and he said that there is a verse in them which is better than a thousand verses.
NB: These Surahs are: Al-Hadid, Al-Hashr, As-Saf, Al-Jum’ah and At-Tagabun
The Muffassal Surahs
For the Fajr prayer: Umar wrote to Abu Musa to recite tiwal muassal (from Surah Muhammad 47 to Surah al-Buruj 82). (Tirmidhi)
For the Zuhr and Asr prayer: Umar wrote to Abu Musa to recite awsat mufassal (from Surah al-Buruj 85 to Surah al-Bayyinah 98). (Tirmidhi)
For the Maghrib prayer: Umar wrote to Abu Musa to recite qisar mufassal (from Surah al-Bayyinah 98 to Surah al-Nas 114). (Tirmidhi)
In the Hanafite way:
Tiwal al-Mufassal: Surah Hujurat to Sural al-Buruj
Awsat: from there to Surah al-Bayyinah
Qisar: from there to end.
Also Tabarak Muffassal is from Surah al-Mulk to the end of the Quran.
There are a total of 15 ayahs in the Quran that we are recommended to make sujud (put our head to the ground like in salat) immediately after we recite these verses. Whether we be in salat and recite these verses or just on our own- we are to say Allahu Akbar, make sujud and the usual tasbih and then return back to as we were before we made sujud. There is also a dua for this that one can say. See here for that.
The following ayahs are where one is to make this sujud.
1) Surah al-Araf (7), v. 206
2) Surah al-Ra’d (13) v. 15
3) Surah al-Nahl (16) v. 49-50
4) Surah al-Isra or Bani Israel (17) v. 107-109
5) Surah Maryam (19) v. 58
6) Surah al-Hajj (22) v. 18
7) Surah al-Hajj (22) v. 77
8 ) Surah al-Furqan (25) v. 60
9) Surah al-Naml (27) v. 24-27
10) Surah al-Sajdah (32) v. 15
11) Surah Sad (38) v. 24
12) Surah Fussilat (41) v. 37-38
13) Surah al-Najm (53) v. 62
14) Surah al-Inshiqaq (84) v. 21
15) Surh al-Alaq or Iqra (96) v. 19
Some madhabs differ on some of these and might have additional ones, so it would be good to cross-check with your madhab.
Lastly, I recall a shaykh mentioning the virtue of some of the Surahs in relation the previously revealed Scriptures. Namely, if one wants to read the Taurat (Torah) they should read Surah al-Fatiha. If one wishes to read the Injeel (Gospel of Isa alayhi salam), than they should recite Surah al-Maidah. If one wishes to recite the Zabur (Psalms of Dawud alayhi salam) they should recite the Surahs beginning with Ha Meem. And aside from these, Surahs Qaf to An-Nas are Surahs that were revealed specifically, and especially for Muhammad salallahu alayhi wasalam, and are peculiar and distinguishing of our Ummah over previous Ummahs.
Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.