Some of the earlier scholars of the ummah have maintained
that certain shorter sūrahs are equivalent to one-third of the Holy Qur’ān. Some
others they characterized as “the completing ones”. Sufyān bin ‘Uyaynah, for
example, is of the opinion that Sūrah Fātihah completes the the salāh because it
provides complete knowledge. Imām Shāfi‘ī has said that only Sūrah al-‘Asr would
have sufficed for guidance. Those endowed with understanding do not fail to
appreciate this fact regarding at least some of the shorter sūrahs. A full
survey and deep appreciation of the entire Qur’ān would reveal the shorter a
sūrah is in content, the more pregnant with meaning it is. In their small size
they contain such profound treasures of wisdom that if they are unveiled, sheets
and sheets of scrolls would not be enough to record them.
The Holy Qur’ān has adopted this style of putting great
wisdom in smaller sūrahs for the following reasons:
1. First and perhaps the most important factor is that the
overwhelming human need for religious truths and their importance in human life
demands that fundamental principles of religion are always kept alive in the
minds of the people. This in turn demands that such principles are put in such
comprehensive and cogent expressions that they become part of one’s language
like proverbs. They must be easy to express by tongues in direct proportion to
their weight and meaningfulness in mind because such principles if expressed in
lengthy discussions, are prone to be lost upon the audience.
2. Another important factor is that in the beginning of any
preaching mission, people do not find much inclination to what it aims at
teaching. Minds are usually receptive at this stage neither for the minute
details of the directives impressed upon them nor for the elaborated discourse.
This entails that at this early stage they are only taught what can be briefly
expressed in cogent and compact wise sayings. Once these seeds of cogent and
comprehensive expressions sprout up, they are watered by requisite details
because by that time hearts and minds of the audience grow tenacious and ready
to assimilate more knowledge.
3. The Arabs were very fond of rhymed and rhythmical
speech. To them, terseness and brevity were necessary characteristics of a fine
discourse. Therefore, in the earlier phase, the Holy Qur’ān attracted them by
employing their cherished style of expression.
4. The soothsayers of Arabia usually composed their
discourses in terse rhythmical prose. Arabs would give attentive ears to such
speech of the soothsayers. They would thus consider this mastery of expression a
supernatural phenomenon. To them such language really gushed forth from some
metaphysical power. The Qur’ān therefore adopted this style of expression in the
beginning so that they did not consider it strange.
As regards the greatness of the shorter sūrahs in terms of
their being loaded and pregnant discourse ……………..
Farāhī’s Majmū‘ah Tafāsīr by Tariq Mahmood Hashmi)