Ulum al Qur'an
CONTENTS ONLINE LIBRARY
The Seven Modes
The hadith reports tell us that the Qur'an was actually revealed in seven modes (al-ahruf al-sab'a). This has been narrated by more than ten of the Prophet's Companions, among them Abu Bakr, 'Umar, 'Uthman, Ibn Mas'ud, Ibn 'Abbas and others. [Itqan, I, p. 41.]
The following is the hadith in Bukhari:
'Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas: Allah's apostle said: Gabriel recited the Qur'an to me in one way. Then I requested him (to read it in another way), and continued asking him to recite it in other ways, and he recited it in several ways till he ultimately recited it in seven different ways'. [Bukhari, VI No. 513.]
On another occasion, 'Umar complained to the Prophet that Hisham had recited Sura al-furqan in a way different from what 'Umar had heard from the Prophet, but the Prophet said: '... this Qur'an has been revealed to be recited in seven different ways, so recite of it whichever is easier for you'. [Bukhari, VI No. 514.]
Salman is reported to have said that he read a passage from 5:82 in the presence of the Prophet in the following two versions, the first of which is now in the Qur'anic text, while the second constitutes a variant reading according to 'Ubay b. Ka'b: [Ibn Abi Dawud., p. 129.]
dhalika bi-anna minhum qissisina wa ruhbana.
dhalika bi-anna minhum siddiqina wa ruhbana. [Ibn Abi Dawud., p. 103.]
Muslim scholars have put forward a number of explanations and benefits for the Muslim umma deriving from the revelation of the Qur'anic message in several modes. Among these the following are most important:
To make the reading, pronunciation and memorisation more easy, as many people were illiterate in the Prophet's time.
To unite the new Muslim community on the basis of one common language, the Arabic of the Quraish, with minor variations accepted, according to spoken language.
To show something of the unique nature of the Qur'an, in the realm of language.
To show something of the unique nature of the Qur'an, in the realm of meaning and legal rulings.