Posted by: Dawud Israel | March 9, 2009

Uloomul Quran: Divisions and Groupings in the Quran

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.
[Tirmidhi 5/181]
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.

Sajdah Ayahs

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.


Responses

  1. AS

    Thanks for this enlightening contribution to the bank of knowledge treating the sciences of the Qur’an online. One thing that I would like for you to expand on is the structure of organizing the Qur’an in the Musahaf published in the South East Asia as it is much more detailed than the Musahif published in Egypt, Lebanon and Saudia Arabia. The South East Asian print is almost unknown to those who read the Mushahif published in the Arabic speaking countries.

    If you could clarify the differences that would be nice.

  2. I’m still doing some research to that end. Shuyookh will say, “Read the Quran!” but which one is best for tarbiya? for memorization? for dawah? These are actually of great importance and is one reason why Muslims have a bad relationship with the Quran.

    I don’t know much about the South East Asian Mushaf but what I can tell you is the South East Asian Mushaf is more commonly known as the “South African Quran” because I think that is where it was originally written. I think it originated among the Darul Ulooms. It’s so popular, you can even download a copy of it, page by page, scans. The big difference with this Mushaf is the script is easier on the eyes, since it’s MUCH larger then the Arabian Qurans and there is less stylistic calligraphy. This is a big plus for non-Arabic speakers.

    The benefits of this is that it the larger the text, the easier it is to recall to mind– it’s like recalling a portrait vs. a little drawing on someone’s desk– it’s just easier to recall. The other benefit is it’s a very common Quran to get a hold of and so when people talk about sticking to using one Quran for memorization, they don’t necessarily need to stick to their own, personal mushaf–but can find the same organization, the same placement of the verses with the same length and spacing and detail as the mushaf they study anywhere where you find South East Asian Muslims. This really helps with Islamic education and it’s these smaller things that account for why there are so many Indian ulema.

    The other difference you will find is that the “South African Quran” allows for people to get a closer relationship with the Quran since the obstacle of a non-Arab having a hard time reading it is gone. So, for example, you can get a book of only Surah Yasin for a Quran gathering, or what they call “Panj Surah”–which is a collection of certain popular Surahs and some duas (Waqiah, ar-Rahman, Yasin, etc.) Or even the popular 40 Quranic duas.

  3. Assalam alaikum wr wb

    Jazak allahu kheiran, an interesting read

    Im look for a explanation or sharh of the hadith you posted in your article:
    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]

    Have you seen any texts based on this hadith?

    Barak Allahu feek
    wassalams
    Your sister in Islam

  4. * looking

    Im particularly interested in the reference to memorisation in the hadith.. its recommended to memorise quran in 5 parts etc?

  5. would you please let me know what are the exact places of ruku’at in holy quran ?eg the 1st on the 7th ob bagharah etc.
    Best
    Nazila Zarghi

  6. Nazila: You would be better off speaking to a local alim or Quran teacher so they can show you in person. Just ask around since its pretty common knowledge- it just looks like an ‘ayn.

    Mo’tasima:

    This was the narration I found. I haven’t gone deeper into looking for an explanation or elaboration on it. Sorry.

  7. thank u so much for all ur postings, its like ive found everything under one roof, i need to read more over it, ive got a question!! i came across a book where i found names of ALLAH and wazifas and its benifits, i came across AL-RAHMAN, and wazifa is to be done as YA-RAHMANO after each farz prayers,

    the benifits written is he who repeats 100 times after each farz (obligatory prayer will have good memory, a keen awareness and be free of a heavy heart.

    when i came across this i started reciting it after each farz prayers as i was certainly feeling some burden on my heart and soul, but ALHAMDULILLAH after reciting this i was full of cheerness worldly matters dint affect me much!!

    but lately i was reffering a website where a muslim bro said he was reciting some wazifa and it badly damaged his soul!! i couldnt belive on hw it has to be done i was confused, and later i came to know that one should recite wazifas only when they r under the guidance of shaykh or get permission from some1, i have stoped the recitation as i dont have any wasila or permission to recite this wazifa, nw im totally confused on should i proceed with it or not? pls help me, this wazifa helped me be the real me for few days

  8. Nargis: The wazaif of making dhikr with the Names of Allah is an old practice that there are many misconceptions about. Yes, you can do it on your own and those are recommended in many different books, but from what I’ve heard those names have different effects on different people. They don’t always work and there are cases where people have become very sick from misusing them. This is why many people advise caution, in being under the guidance of a shaykh.

    Now, why does this happen is a big question? I’ve been meaning to write about this, but from what I understand, not all medicine works the same on everyone and it may be some medicines have an opposite effect. Its really hard to grasp, but my advice would be if this specific wazifa of ar-Rahman works for you- than its safe for you. The Sunnah is actually after every Fardh prayer to recite the dua which contains 2 Blessed Names: “Allahumma anta Salam, wa minka Salam, tabarakta ya Dhul Jalal wa Ikram.”

    Islamically, this practice with the Names of Allah belongs to the area of tasawwuf (Sufism) and there are ayahs in the Quran that permit this practice. But often-times in those books, some of the mentioned practices cross over into occult and strange practices that are not in Islam, such as calling upon jinns. Places where wazaif dominate are places where there is a great deal of ignorance about Islam and treat Islam like magic- for worldly gain and not for one’s salvation. So you should make endeavors to gain understanding about Islam. And don’t be deceived, because many ulema of the past would have their sicknesses cured, not by wazaifs but by the blessedness of learning about Allah, His Rasul (salallahu alayhi wasalam) and His Deen!

    If you would like to gain some cheerfulness, you can follow the duas that our Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam prescribed for ALL MUSLIMS. These duas are guaranteed to cheer up any Muslim in times of distress: http://duapower.com/prayersofhappiness/index.html

    • Thank u so much again, for guiding me, there is a saying where there is a will, there is a way!!, i came into googling for sujud’s in quran and got a way for my problems as well, though i was merry with the above mentioned dhikr, but i also could feel certain changes in me in my behaviour and attitude, so its nice that i came to know things bfr hand, atleast people can see a normal nargis around them, rather than facing a crazy nargis, lol, May ALLAH Ta’ala bless u for this good works, and show me the right path to lead my life ahead, Iam a learning muslimah, know lots of worldly affairs but its time to pay attention to my deen and aakhira as well,

      and so i have started with a blog for muslims http://www.simple-religion-islam.blogspot.com where i learn myself and along with 2 other frnds post articles which shows our religion in much simpler forms for muslims and non-muslims as well, everything done here is for sake of ALLAH and no personal pleasure,

      May ALLAH guide us all to walk in right path and not to go astray AMEEN

      and for nw if i got any doubts i know whom to aproach!!!! shukriya bhai!!

      ur sis in Islam

      ALLAH HAFIZ

  9. very helpful

  10. when and who was the first person who divided quran in 30 juz

  11. Please do not use word MUHAMMADAN in ruku section, it conveys meaning worshippers of Muhammad p.b.u.h. Instead MUSLIM will be more suitable. Thank you.

  12. i kindly need the information is there any time limit in the day before each manzil of the Quran is finished being recited. is it to be recited aloud. do we read nafil before reciting.


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