Ulum al Qur'an
CONTENTS ONLINE LIBRARY
THE VARIOUS READINGS
Al-qira'a (pl. qiraa'at) is derived from the word qara'a, 'reading, reciting'; from which also the word Qur'an is derived. It is a verbal noun, meaning recitation. In technical language it describes the oral recitation of the Qur'an as well as the punctuation of the written text, which corresponds to the oral recitation.
Mawdudi [Introduction to the Study of the Quran, Delhi, 1971, p.21.] has very convincingly explained the proper understanding of some accepted difference in reading. He wrote that in al-fatiha (1: 3):
||}||both describe one of the attributes of Allah, and there is absolutely no contradiction between 'sovereign' and 'master' of the day of judgement, but 'these two readings make the meaning of the verse all the more clear'.|
Similarly 5:8 arjulakum [Reading of Nafi, Hafs 'an Asim, Kisa'i.] and arjulikum [Reading of Ibn Kathir, Abu Amr, Abu Bakra 'an 'Asim, Hamza.] carry two meanings:
Both are indeed correct, for under normal circumstances a man will wash his feet, while some other person e.g. a traveller may wipe them. Here the text of the Qur'an carries both meanings at the same time. This is indeed a unique feature of the revelation from Allah.