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A Narrative on the Schematic Arrangement of the Qur’an
Hadith & Sunnah
Dr. Shehzad Saleem

 

I. Introduction

A narrative informs us that the sūrahs of the Qur’ān have been arranged in a certain sequence: First the seven long sūrahs called the sab‘ tiwāl,1 then the mi’īn sūrahs, then the mathānī and the mufassal at the end.

In this article, the authenticity of this narrative shall be assessed.

II. Representative Texts

 حدثنا هشام بن إسماعيل الدمشقي ، عن محمد بن شعيب عن سعيد بن بشير ، عن قتادة ، عن أبي المليح ، عن واثلة بن الأسقع ، عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال : أُعطيتُ السَّبعَ الطُّوَل مكان التوراة ، وأُعطيت المئينَ مكان الإنجيل ، وأُعطيت المثاني مكان الزَّبور ، وفُضلت بالمُفَصَّل

Wāthilah ibn al-Asqa‘ reports from the Prophet (sws): “I have been given the seven tuwal in place of the Torah, the mi’īn in place of the Injīl, the mathānī in place of the Psalms and have been further blessed with the mufassal.”2

In a separate text, ‘Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd (rta) is reported to have said:

 حدثنا معاذ بن هانئ ثنا إبراهيم بن طهمان ثنا عاصم عن المسيب بن رافع قال قال عبد الله   السبع الطول مثل التوراة والمئين مثل الإنجيل والمثاني مثل الزبور وسائر القرآن بعد فضل

The seven tuwal are like the Torah, the mi’īn like the Injīl, the mathānī like the Psalms and all the remaining Qur’ān is furthermore.3

III Criticism on the Narrative

A. Criticism on the Matn

1. No Explanation from the Prophet (sws)

There is no explanation from the Prophet (sws) as to which sūrahs belong to each of the four categories of the sab‘ tiwāl, the mi’īn, the mathānī and the mufassal respectively. Similarly, we have no guidance from him regarding the meaning of the terms mi’īn, mathānī and mufassal. As a result, people have attempted to give their own interpretations in this regard which has mostly resulted in differing opinions.

Sab‘ Tiwāl

According to al-Suyūtī,4 one group believes that the first of these is Sūrah Baqarah and the last is Sūrah Barā’a.5

Another opinion recorded by al-Suyūtī is that a narrative from Ibn ‘Abbās (rta) reported by al-Hākim and al-Nasā’ī says that the sab‘ tiwāl are: Baqarah, Āl-i ‘Imrān, Nisā’, Mā’idah, An‘ām, A‘rāf. The narrator forgot the seventh.6 In a narrative from Sa‘īd Ibn Jubayr7 reported by Ibn Abī Hātim and others and in a narrative from Ibn ‘Abbās (rta),8 the seventh is Sūrah Yūnus, while according to a narrative in the book of al-Hakīm, it is Sūrah Kahaf.9

Mi’īn

In the opinion of al-Bayhaqī, al-Zarkashī and al-Suyūtī,10 it refers to sūrahs whose verses are more than a hundred or near to it.

Mathānī

In the opinion of al-Bayhaqī, they are sūrahs which have less than hundred verses, but more than those of the mufassal sūrahs.11 According to al-Farrā’, they are called mathānī because they are read more than the tuwal and the mi’īn sūrahs.12 Al-Suyūtī has recorded another opinion about the reason for them being called mathānī: they form a pair to the mi’īn sūrahs.13 In the opinion of al-Nikzāwī,14 they are called so because in them anecdotes are repeated for the sake of teaching a lesson and for informing us (وقيل لتثنية الأمثال فيها بالعبر والخبر). In Jamāl al-qurrā’,15 mathānī are sūrahs in which anecdotes are repeated. Still another opinion recorded by al-Suyūtī16 is that mathānī is a name applied to the Qur’ān as a whole and also to Sūrah Fātihah.

Mufassal

According to al-Suyūti,17 they are placed after the mathānī sūrahs being among the shorter sūrahs and are called so since there are a lot of divisions between the sūrahs because of the basmalah. Others say that they are called so because they contain very few abrogated verses and for this very reason they are also called the muhkam, as is specified in a narrative in al-Bukhārī from Sa‘īd ibn Jubayr.18 Al-Suyūtī goes on to say that there is a consensus that the last of these is Sūrah Nās. However, about the first there exist the following twelve opinions:

i. Sūrah Qāf (50) (on the basis of the Hadīth of ‘Aws ibn Hudyafah)

ii. Sūrah Hujurāt (49) (as specified by Nawawī)

iii. Sūrah Muhammad (47) (al-Māwardī has attributed this to the majority)

iv. Sūrah Jāthiyah (45) (attributed to Qādī ‘Iyād)

v. Sūrah Sāffāt (37)

vi. Sūrah Saff (61)

vii. Sūrah Mulk (67) (the above three are narrated by Ibn Abī Sayf in his Nukat al-tanbīh)

viii. Sūrah Fath (48) (narrated by Kamāl al-Dhumārī in his al-Sharh al-tanbīh)

ix. Sūrah Rahmān (55) (narrated by Ibn Sayyid in his notes on al-Mu’atta’)

x. Sūrah Insān (76)

xi. Sūrah Sabbaha (narrated by Ibn al-Firkāh from al-Marzūqī in his Ta‘līq)

xii. Sūrah Duhā (93) (narrated by al-Khattābī)

 

Another opinion about the mufassal as quoted in Imām Rāghib’s Mufradāt is that the last hizb (Sūrah Qāf (50) to Sūrah Nās (112)) of the Qur’ān is the mufassal.

Al-Suyūtī19 goes on to say that within the mufassal sūrahs, there are long (tiwāl), medium (awsāt) and short (qisār) sūrahs. In the opinion of Ibn Ma‘an, the long ones end on Sūrah Nabā’ (78), the medium ones on Sūrah Duhā (93) and the short ones on the last sūrah of the Qur’ān.

2. Scheme of Sūrahs in the Qur’ān

Let us take a look at the table of sūrahs and the number of verses each has:

 

Name 

No of Verses

 

1. Fātihah         

2. Baqarah       

3. Āl-i ‘Imrān   

4. Nisā’           

5. Mā’idah       

6. An‘ām         

7. A‘rāf           

8. Anfāl           

9. Barā’a         

10. Yūnus        

11. Hūd           

12. Yūsuf         

13. Ra‘d          

14. Ibrāhīm      

15. Hijr

16. Nahl           

17. Banī Isrā’īl

18. Kahaf        

19. Maryam     

20. Tāhā          

21. Anbiyā       

22. Hajj

23. Mu’minūn   

24. Nūr

25. Furqān       

26. Shu‘arā’     

27. Naml          

28. Qasas        

29. ‘Ankabūt    

30. Rūm           

31. Luqmān      

32. Sajdah        

33. Ahzāb        

34. Sabā’         

35. Fātir           

36. Yāsīn         

37. Sāffāt         

38. Su‘ād         

39. Zumar        

40. Mu’min      

41. Hamīm-Sajdah        

42. Shūrā         

43. Zukhruf      

44. Dukhān      

45. Jāthiyah     

46. Ahqāf        

47. Muhammad

48. Fath           

49. Hujurāt       

50. Qāf

51. Dhāriyāt     

52. Tūr

53. Najm          

54. Qamar       

55. Rahmān     

56. Wāqi‘ah     

57. Hadīd         

58. Mujādalah  

59. Hashr         

60. Mumtahinah           

61. Saff           

62. Jumu‘ah     

63. Munāfiqūn  

64. Taghābun   

65. Talāq         

66. Tahrīm       

67. Mulk          

68. Qalam        

69. Hāqqah      

70. Ma‘ārij       

71. Nūh           

72. Jinn

73. Muzzammil 

74. Muddaththir

75. Qiyāmah    

76. Dahr          

77. Mursalāt     

78. Nabā’        

79. Nāzi‘āt       

80. ‘Abas         

81. Takwīr       

82. Infitār         

83. Mutaffifīn   

84. Inshiqāq     

85. Burūj          

86. Tāriq          

87. A‘lā           

88. Ghāshiyah  

89. Fajr

90. Balad         

91. Shams        

92. Layl           

93. Duhā          

94. Alam Nashrah        

95. Tīn 

96. ‘Alaq         

97. Qadr          

98. Bayyinah    

99. Zilzāl          

100. ‘Ādiyāt     

101. Qāri‘ah     

102. Takāthur   

103. ‘Asr         

104. Humazah  

105. Fīl

106. Qurasyh   

107. Mā‘ūn      

108. Kawthar   

109. Kāfirūn     

110. Nasr         

111. Lahab       

112. Ikhlās       

113. Falaq        

114. Nās          

 

6

286

200

176

120

166

206

75

129

109

123

111

43

52

99

128

111

110

98

135

112

78

118

64

77

227

93

88

69

60

34

30

73

54

45

83

182

88

75

85

54

53

89

59

37

35

38

29

18

45

60

49

62

55

78

96

29

22

24

13

14

11

11

18

12

12

30

52

52

44

28

28

20

56

40

31

50

40

46

42

29

19

36

25

22

17

19

26

30

20

15

21

11

8

8

19

5

8

8

11

11

8

3

9

5

4

7

3

6

3

5

4

5

6

 

     

A little deliberation on the above table reveals the following facts:

i. We cannot ascertain where the mi’īn sūrahs end, after which the mathānī sūrahs begin. A simple glance at the table above will show that the mi’īn sūrahs are not grouped together. They are rather erratically arranged. One possibility is to regard Sūrah Sāffāt, the thirty-seventh sūrah having 182 verses to be the last of the mi’īn sūrahs because after this there is no sūrah which has more than a hundred verses.

However, two questions arise on this:

a. How can Sūrah Ra‘d which is the thirteenth sūrah and has 43 verses, Sūrah Ibrāhīm which is the fourteenth sūrah and has 52 verses, Sūrah Hajj which is the twenty second sūrah and has 78 verses, Sūrah Nur which is the twenty fourth sūrah and has 64 verses, Sūrah Furqān which is the twenty fifth sūrah and has 77 verses, Sūrah ‘Ankabūt which is the twenty ninth sūrah and has 69 verses, Sūrah Rūm which is the thirtieth sūrah and has 60 verses, Sūrah Luqman which is the thirty first sūrah and has 34 verses, Sūrah Sajdah which is the thirty second sūrah and has 30 verses, Sūrah Ahzāb which is the thirty third sūrah and has 73 verses, Sūrah Sabā’ which is the thirty fourth sūrah and has 54 verses and Sūrah Fatir which is the thirty fifth sūrah and has 45 verses can be classified among the mi’īn sūrahs since each has much less than a 100 verses?

b. How can Sūrah Shu‘arā’ which is the twenty sixth sūrah having 227 and Sūrah Saffāt which is the thirty seventh sūrah having 182 verses be classified among the mi’īn sūrahs since each has much more than a 100 verses?

ii. If the mathānī sūrahs are the ones whose number of verses is less than a hundred but is more than that of the mufassal sūrahs, a simple look at the table will reveal that there are many mufassal sūrahs whose number of verses is more than the mathānī sūrahs.

iii. Should the sūrahs having very close to a hundred verses (eg. Hijr which has 99 verses and Maryam which has 98) be classified among the mi’īn sūrahs or the mathānī?

 

3. Verse Number is not always Proportional to the Length

Since the verses of the Qur’ān are not of the same size and length, the number of verses itself cannot become a standard to judge the length of a sūrah. Thus there are verses which consist of just one word and there are verses which consist of several sentences. Why then would the Prophet (sws) use such a standard?

 

4. Contradiction in the Texts

Whilst some texts20 report that the Prophet (sws) said that he has been given the mi’īn in place of the Injīl and the mathānī in place of the Psalms, others21 report the reverse ie: mi’īn in place of the Psalms and mathānī in place of the Injīl. The narrative reported by Barā’22 gives an entirely new scheme:

وعن البراء بن عازب أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال إن الله أعطاني   السبع الطوال  مكان التوراة وأعطاني المبين مكان الإنجيل وأعطاني الطواسين مكان الزبور وفضلني بالحواميم والمفصل ما قرأهن نبي قبلي

The Almighty has given me sab‘ tuwāl in place of the Torah, the mubīn in place of the Injīl, the tawāsīn in place of the Psalms and has further given me the hawamīm and the mufassal which no prophet before me has read.

 

Similarly, a narrative attributed to Anas ibn Mālik23 also gives another scheme:

 

وأخرخ ابن نصر وابن مردويه عن أنس بن مالك قال سمعت رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم يقول إن الله تعالى أعطاني السبع الطوال مكان التوراة وأعطاني الراءات إلى الطواسين مكان الإنجيل وأعطاني ما بين الطواسين إلى الحواميم مكان الزبور وفضلني بالحواميم والمفصل ما قرأهن نبي قبلي

Anas said that he heard the Messenger of God say: “I have been given the al-sab‘ al-tiwāl in place of the Torah, the [sūrahs from the] al-rā’āt to the tawāsīn in place of the Injīl, the sūrahs between the tawāsīn and the hawāmmīm in place of the Psalms and have been further blessed with the hawāmmīm and the mufassal – none of the prophets before me recited the likes of them.

Moreover, the two narratives reported in al-Tabarānī’s Al-Mu‘jam al-kabīr24 present the scheme in an incomplete manner.

 

B. Criticism on the Isnād

If all variants of the narrative attributed to the Prophet (sws) are studied, it is found that three Companions: Wāthilah ibn al-Asqa‘, Abū Umāmah and Thawbān narrate it from the Prophet (sws).25 Their chains of narration can be summarized as follows:

 

1. Wāthilah ibn al-Asqa‘


 

Wāthilah ibn al-Asqa‘

 

                Abū Malīh
 

   Abū Burdah
 

   Layth ibn Abī Sulaym
 

   Fazārī


   Ibn Himyar
 

   Muhammad ibn Hafs
 

   al-Tabarī
 

   
 

               Qatādah


 

 

Sa‘īd ibn Bashīr


‘Imrān al-Qattān


Sa‘d ibn Qays

 

Following of these narrators are regarded as suspect by authorities:

 


i. Qatādah ibn Di‘āmah

Qatādah is famous for tadlīs26 and all variants of the narrative are his ‘an‘anah.

 

ii. Sa‘īd ibn Bashīr al-Azdī

According to al-Nasā’ī, he is da‘īf;27 Ibn Hibbān28 records that he has a very bad memory and makes a lot of errors and reports from Qatādah narratives which do not have any corroboration. Al-‘Uqaylī29 records that according to Yahyā ibn Ma‘īn, he is laysa bi shay’.

 

iii. ‘Imrān ibn Dāwar al-Qattān

‘Uqaylī30 records that in the opinion of Yahyā ibn Ma‘īn, ‘Imrān ibn Dāwar al-Qattān is da‘īf and Ahmad ibn Hanbal says that he is hopeful that he may be sālih al-hadīth. According to al-Nasā’ī31 also, he is da‘īf. Ibn Hajar32 records that he is sadūq and is forgetful.

Al-Mizzī33 records that ‘Abbās al-Dūrī reports from Yahyā ibn Ma‘īn that he is laysa bi al-qawī and at another place Yahyā says that he is laysa huwa bi shay’ and that Yahyā ibn Sa‘id al-Qattān did not consider him worthy of being narrated from; similarly, at one instance, Abū Dā’ūd al-Sajistānī has calls him da‘īf and at another he says that he has not heard anything bad about him.

 

iv. Layth ibn Abī Sulaym

One group of scholars has regarded him to be suspect. According to Ibn Hibbān34 in his last years, he had a bad memory and would not know what he was narrating, would mix-up the chains of narration and make mursal narratives marfū‘ and wrongly attribute reports to sound narrators; Ibn Hibbān goes on to add that Yahyā ibn Sa‘īd al-Qattān, Yahyā ibn Ma‘īn, ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn Mahdī and Ahmad ibn Hanbal have forsaken him. He also adds that in the opinion of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, he is da‘īf al-hadīth jiddan and makes many mistakes. According to al-Nasā’ī, he is da‘īf.35 Ibn Hajar says that he is sadūq, mixes up a lot, is not able to distinguish between his narratives and has been forsaken.36 Al-Mizzī37 records that Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Ibn Abī Hātim and Abū Zur‘ah regard him to be mudtarib al-hadīth and that Ibn Abī Hātim also regards him to be da‘īf al-hadīth. Ibn Hajar38 records that Yahyā ibn Ma‘īn calls him to be munkar al-hadīth and Ibn Sa‘d and Ya‘qūb ibn Shaybah regard him to be da‘īf al-hadīth

 

v. Sa‘d ibn Qays

He is majhūl. No information is available on him. He could actually be Sa‘īd ibn Bashīr because in the given narratives Qatādah is the teacher of both and Muhammad ibn Shu‘ayb is enlisted as a student of both. After allسعد بن بشير  could easily have become سعيد بن قيس.39

 

vi. Muhammad ibn Himyar

According to Abū Hātim40 he is yukatabu hadīthuhū wa lā yuhtajju bihī. Ibn al-Jawzī41 has recorded in his al-Mawdū‘āt that Ya‘qūb ibn Sufyān says that he is laysa bi al-qawī. Al-Dhahabī42 says about him: lahū gharā’ib wa afrād.

 

vii. Muhammad ibn Hafs al-Wassābī

Al-Dhahabī records that Ibn Abī Hātim abandoned him when he was told that al-Wassābī was not attested to and that according to Ibn Mandah, he is da‘īf.43 Ibn Hibbān44 says: yughribu.

It may also be noted that the al-Tabarī narrative chain is broken because in the opinion of Ibn Abī Hātim, Muhammad ibn Hafs never met Muhammad ibn Himyar.45

It may further be noted that in a narrative recorded by al-Tabarī, one of the narrators below Sa‘īd ibn Bashīr is Dā’ūd ibn al-Jarrāh. This seems to be an example of tashīf because there is no evidence of any Dā’ūd ibn al-Jarrāh reporting from Sa‘īd ibn Bashīr or being the informant of the subsequent narrator: Muhammad ibn Khalf al-‘Asqalānī. It seems that the actual person who reports from Sa‘īd ibn Bashīr is Rawwād ibn al-Jarrāh because authorities specify Sa‘īd ibn Bashīr as his teacher and Muhammad ibn Khalf al-‘Asqalānī as his student.46 In all probability, the word (داود) Dā’ūd could have become (رواد) Rawwād.

 

2. Abū ‘Umāmah


Abū ‘Umāmah

Abū Malīh

Abū Bardah

Layth ibn Abī Sulaym

Fudayl ibn ‘Iyād
 
Ahmad ibn Yūnus
 
Muhammad ibn ‘Uthmān ibn Abī Shaybah
 
al-Tabarānī
 

 

Following of these narrators are  suspect:

 

i. Layth ibn Abī Sulaym

See above.

 

ii. Muhammad ibn ‘Uthmān ibn Abī Shaybah

Although some authorities have regarded him to be trustworthy, here is what al-Dhahabī47 records about him: ‘Abdullāh ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal, ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Usāman al-Kalbī, Ibrāhīm ibn Ishāq al-Sawwāf and Dā’ūd ibn Yahyā say that he is a great liar and Ibn Khirāsh says that he fabricates narratives. Ja‘far ibn Muhammad al-Tayālisī says that not only is he a great liar, he attributes to people narrations which are never reported by those who have actually heard them.

 

3. Thawbān

Thawbān, the mawlā of Muhammad (sws)

 

Abū Asmā’ ‘Amr ibn Marthad al-Rahbī

 

Shaddād ibn ‘Abdullāh

 

Yahyā ibn Abī Kathīr al-Yamāmī

 

Ayyūb ibn ‘Utbah al-Yamāmī


al-Hajjāj ibn Muhammad

 

Hilāl ibn al-‘Alā

 

‘Abdullāh ibn Muhammad ibn Muslim

+

Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Hamdūn

 

Abū Muhammad al-Hasan ibn Ahmad al-Makhladī

 

Abū Ishāq Tha‘labī

 

Abū Sa‘īd Ahmad ibn Ibrāhīm al-Sharīhī

 

al-Baghwī (in his tafsīr)48

 

 

In the above chain, Ayyūb ibn ‘Utbah is suspect.

Al-‘Uqaylī49 records: in the opinion of Yahyā ibn Ma‘īn, he is laysa bi shay’ and his narratives are nothing not even worth a penny and at another place he has called him da‘īf. ‘Abdullāh ibn Ah#mad ibn Hanbal heard his father say that Ayyūb ibn ‘Utbah’s narratives from Yahyā ibn Abī Kathīr have discrepancies while from others he is okay. (In this narrative, he narrates from Yahyā ibn Abī Kathīr)

Ibn Abī Hātim50 records that in the opinion of Abū Zur‘ah, he is da‘īf.

Al-Bukhārī51 says that he is layyin.

Al-Nasā’ī52 says that he is mudtarib al-hadīth.

Ibn Hajar53 says the he is da‘īf.

Al-Mizzī records: ‘Alī ibn al-Madīnī, Ibrāhīm ibn Ya‘qūb al-Juzjānī, ‘Amr ibn ‘Alī, Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Ammār al-Mawsilī and Muslim ibn al-Hajjāj regard him to be da‘īf; al-‘Ijlī remarks about him: yuktabu hadīthuhū wa laysa bi al-qawī; Ya‘qūb ibn Sufyān regards him to be da‘īf; al-Dāraqutnī says: yutrak.54

 

Here are the two mursal narratives:

 

i.

 

Abū Qilābah

 

Khālid ibn Mihrān

 

Ibn ‘Ulayyah                                  Wuhayb

 

Ya‘qūb ibn Ibrāhīm                             ‘Abd al-A‘lā

 

al-Tabarī                                          Ibn Durays

 

 

Abū Qilābah ‘Abdullāh ibn Yazīd died in 104/ 106 or 107 AH.55

Moreover, Khālid ibn Mihrān is a mudallis56 and this narrative is an ‘an‘anah from him.

Though most authorities have regarded him to be a trustworthy narrator, in the opinion of Abū Hātim, he is: yuktabu hadīthuhū wa lā yuhtajju bihī.57

 

ii.

 

Sa‘īd ibn Abī Hilāl

 

Layth ibn Sa‘d

 

 ‘Abdullāh ibn Sālih

 

Abū ‘Ubayd

 

 

Besides inqitā‘ (Sa‘īd ibn Abī Hilāl died in 149 AH58), another flaw in the chain is the existence of ‘Abdullāh ibn Sālih. Al-Dhahabī59 records about ‘Abdullāh ibn Sālih: wa lahū manākīr. Al-‘Uqaylī60 records that ‘Abdullāh ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal asked his father about ‘Abdullāh ibn Sālih who replied that initially he was trustworthy but later he became dubious (kāna awwala amrihī mutamāsikan thumma fasada bi ākharah), and that he is laysa huwa bi shay’, and at another instance ‘Abdullāh ibn Ahmad says that his father mentioned ‘Abdullāh ibn Sālih and censured him and expressed his disgust at him (dhammahū wa karihahū) and said that he narrated a book or narratives from Layth who narrated them from Ibn Abī Dhi‘b. However, Ahmad denied that he (Layth) narrated anything from Ibn Abī Dhi‘b. Ibn Hibbān61 says that he is munkar al-hadīth in the extreme sense (munkar al-hadīth jiddan) and he would narrate things from trustworthy people which would not sound as theirs. While explaining the reason for the existence of manākīr in his narratives, Ibn Hibbān goes on to say that he had a neighbour who was an evil person and that he (Ibn Hibbān) heard Ibn Khuzaymah say that this person would fabricate narratives from ‘Abdullāh ibn Sālih. He would write these narratives in a handwriting which would resemble that of ‘Abdullāh ibn Sālih and would throw the pieces of paper on which it was written in his house among his books. ‘Abdullāh thinking that it was his handwriting would take these pieces and would narrate the narratives written on them. According to al-Nasā’ī,62 he is laysa bi thiqah. Al-Mizzī63 records that when ‘Abd al-Mu’min ibn Khalaf al-Nasafī asked Sālih ibn Muhammad about him, he replied that though Yayhyā ibn Ma‘īn regards him to be trustworthy, to him he lies in hadīth (yakdhibu fī al-hadīth). In the opinion of Ahmad ibn Sālih, he is muttahamūn laysa bi shay’. Al-Dhahabī64 records that ‘Alī ibn al-Madīnī said that he had not narrated anything from ‘Abdullāh ibn Sālih. Ibn Hajar65 records that he is sadūq kathīr al-ghalat and is reliable when he narrates from his book (thabtun fī kitābihī) and is forgetful (kānat fīhi ghaflah). 

Next, the chain of narration of the narrative attributed to ‘Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd (rta) quoted earlier is reproduced below:

 

‘Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd

 

al-Musayyib ibn Rāfi‘

 

‘Āsim ibn Bahdalah

 

Ibrāhīm ibn Tahmān                               ‘Amr ibn Abī Qays

 

Mu‘ādh ibn Hānī                                  Hukkām ibn Salim

 

al-Dārimī                                        Muhammd ibn Humayd

 

 

                                                       al-Tabarī

 

 

In the above chain, following narrators are considered suspect by authorities:

i. al-Musayyib ibn al-Rāfi‘

Al-Alā’ī66 records that Ahmad ibn Hanbal said that al-Musayyib ibn Rāfi‘ has not heard anything from ‘Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd (rta). Al-Mizzī67 records that ‘Abbās al-Dūrī reports from Yahyā ibn Ma‘īn that al-Musayyib ibn al-Rāfi‘ has not heard from any Companion of the Prophet (sws) except Barā’ ibn ‘Āzib and Abū Iyās ‘Āmir ibn ‘Abdah. Ibn Abī Hātim68 says that according to his father, Abū Hātim, his narratives from ‘Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd (rta) are mursal and at another instance he is said to have remarked that al-Musayyib ibn al-Rāfi‘ has neither met Ibn Mas‘ūd (rta) nor ‘Alī (rta).

 

ii. ‘Āsim ibn Bahdalah

Authorities like Abū Hātim, Ibn ‘Ulayyah, Abū Ja‘far al-‘Uqayli and al-Dāraqutnī are of the opinion that he does not have a sound memory.69

 

IV. Conclusion

The questions which arise on its text and the weakness in the chain of narration of the variants of this narrative warrant that it should not be accepted. It is perhaps because of these flaws that none of the authors of the six canonical collections have included this narrative in their collections.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

_____________________

1. In some narratives, the word used is tuwal which is actually the plural of the superlatives: atwal and tūlā. The word tiwāl is actually the plural of tawīl. Thus, in the first case, the reference would be to “the seven longest sūrahs” and in the second to “seven long sūrahs”. If all the variants are studied, it seems that tuwal and tiwāl are used synonymously to connote the seven long sūrahs.

2. Abū ‘Ubayd, Fadā’il al-Qur’ān, 1st ed. (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al-‘ilmiyyah, 1991), 119-120. See also: Abū al-Qāsim Sulaymān ibn Ahmad. al-Tabarānī, Musnad al-Shāmiyyīn, 1st ed., vol. 4 (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-risālah, 1984.), 62-63, (no. 2734); Abū Dā’ūd Sulaymān ibn Dā’ūd al-Tayālisī, Musnad, vol. 1 (Musnad. Beirut: Dār al-ma‘rifah, n.d), 126, (no. 1012); Abū al-Qāsim Sulaymān ibn Ahmad al-Tabarānī, Al-Mu‘jam al-kabīr, 2nd ed., vol. 8 (Mawsil: Maktabah al-zahrā, 1983), 258, (no. 8003); Ibid., vol. 22, 75, (no. 186); Abū Ja‘far Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Salāmah al-Tahāwī, Sharh mushkil al-āthār, 1st ed., vol. 3 (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-risālah, 1987), 409; Jalāl al-Dīn ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn Kamāl al-Dīn Abī Bakr ibn Muhammad ibn Sābiq al-Dīn.al-Suyūtī, Al-Durr al-manthūr, vol. 7 (Beirut: Dār al-fikr, 1993), 586-587; ‘Alī ibn Abī Bakr al-Haythamī, Majma‘ al-zawā’id wa manbā‘ al-fawā’id, vol. 7 (Beirut: Dār al-kitāb al-‘arabī, 1407 AH), 46; Ibid., vol. 7, 158; Abū Bakr Ahmad ibn al-Husayn al-Bayhaqī, Shu‘ab al-īmān, 1st ed., vol. 2 (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al-‘ilmiyyah, 1410 AH), 465-466, (no. 2415); Abū Bakr Ahmad ibn al-Husayn al-Bayhaqī, Dalā’il al-nubuwwah, 2nd ed., vol. 5 (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al-‘ilmiyyah, 2002), 475; Abū Bakr Ahmad ibn al-Husayn al-Bayhaqī, Al-Sunan al-sughrā, 1st ed., vol. 1 (Riyād: Maktabah al-rushd, 2001), 550-551, (no. 1005); Abū Ja‘far Muhammad ibn Jarīr al-Tabarī, Jāmi‘ al-bayān, 1st ed., vol. 1 (Beirut Dār ihyā’ al-turāth al-‘arabī, 2001), 52; Abū Ishāq Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrāhīm al-Tha‘labī, Al-Kashf wa al-bayān, vol. 9 (Beirut: Dār ihyā’ al-turāth al-‘arabī, 2002), 68; Al-Husayn ibn Mas‘ūd al-Baghwī, Tafsīr, vol. 3 (Beirut: Dār al-ma‘rifah, n.d.), 57.

3. Abū Muhammad ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Abd al-Rahmān al-Dārimī, Sunan, 1st ed., vol. 2 (Beirut: Dār al-kitāb al-‘arabī, 1407 AH), 545, (no. 3400). ٍSee also: Al-Tabarī, Jāmi‘ al-bayān, vol. 1, 52.

4. Jalāl al-Dīn ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn Kamāl al-Dīn Abī Bakr ibn Muhammad ibn Sābiq al-Dīn al-Suyūtī, Al-Itqān fī ‘ulūm al-Qur’ān, 1st ed., vol. 1 (Baydār: Manshūrāt al-radī, 1349 AH), 220.

5. Obviously, this group would be treating Sūrah Barā’a and Sūrah Anfāl to be one, otherwise the count would come out to be eight. Thus we do find a reference to this scheme by al-Qurtubī. See: Al-Qurtubī, Jāmi‘ al-ahkām, vol. 10, 55.

6. Al-Tabarī, Jāmi‘ al-bayān, vol. 14, 64.

7. Ibid.

8. Al-Suyutī, Al-Durr al-manthūr, vol. 5, 96.

9. Ibid.

10. Al-Bayhaqī, Shu‘ab al-īmān, vol. 2, 465; Abū ‘Abdullāh Badr al-Dīn Muhammad ibn Bahādur ibn ‘Abdullāh al-Zarkashī, Al-Burhān fī ‘ulūm al-Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Beirut: Dār al-fikr, 1980), 307; Al-Suyūtī, Al-Itqān, vol. 1, 220.

11. Al-Bayhaqī, Shu‘ab al-īmān, vol. 2, 465.

12. Al-Suyūtī, Al-Itqān, vol. 1, 220.

13. Ibid.

14. Ibid.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid.

17. Al-Suyūtī, Al-Itqān, vol. 1, 221. See also: Al-Zarkashī, Al-Burhān, vol. 1, 307-308.

18. Abū ‘Abdullāh Muhammad ibn Ismā‘īl al-Bukhārī, Al-Jāmi‘ al-sahīh, 3rd ed., vol. 4 (Beirut: Dār Ibn Kathīr, 1987), 1922, (no. 4749).

19. Al-Suyūtī, Al-Itqān, vol. 1, 222.

20. Abū ‘Ubayd, Fadā’il al-Qur’ān, 119-120; Al-Dārimī, Sunan, vol. 2, 545, (no. 3400); Al-Tabarānī, Musnad al-Shāmiyyīn, vol. 4, 62-63, (no. 2734); Al-Tabarānī, Al-Mu‘jam al-kabīr, vol. 8, 258, (no. 8003); Ibid., vol. 22, 75, (no. 186); Al-Tabarī, Al-Jāmi‘ al-bayān, vol. 1, 52; Al-Baghwī, Tafsīr, vol. 3, 57; Al-Tha‘alabī, Tafsīr, vol. 9, 68.

21. Musnad al-Shāmiyyīn, vol. 4, 63, (no. 2734); Ahmad ibn Hambal, Musnad, vol. 4, 107, (no. 17023); Al-Tahāwī, Sharh Mushkil al-āthār, vol. 3, 409; Ibn Durays, Fadā’il al-Qur’ān, 1st ed. (Damascus: Dār al-fikr, 1988), 82, 127; Al-Tabarī, Al-Jāmi‘ al-bayān, vol. 1, 52. This is the case of the two marfū‘ narratives. Al-Tayālisī, Musnad, vol. 1, 136, (no. 1012); Al-Tha‘alabī, Tafsīr, vol. 9, 68; Al-Bayhaqī, Shu‘ab al-īmān, vol. 2, 465-466, (no. 2415); Al-Bayhaqī, Dalā’il al-Nubuwwah, vol. 5, 275; Al-Bayhaqī, Al-Sunan al-sughrā, vol. 1, 550-551, (no. 1005).

22. Al-Qurtubī, Jāmi‘ al-ahkām, vol. 13, 87.

23. ‘Abd al-Ra’ūf al-Manāwī, Fayd al-Qadīr sharh jāmi‘ al-saghīr, vol. 2, 213; See also: Abū al-Fadl Shihāb al-Dīn Sayyid Mahmūd al-Alūsī, Rūh al-ma‘ānī fī tafsīr al-Qur’ān al-‘Azīm wa sab‘ al-mathānī, vol. 24 (Beirut: Dār ihyā’ al-turāth al-‘arabī, n.d.), 40.

24. Al-Tabarānī, Al-Mu‘jam al-kabīr, vol. 8, 258, (no. 8003); Ibid., vol. 22, 75, (no. 186). While in the former, there is no mention of the mathānī, there is no mention of the mi’īn in the latter.

25. Two variants of the narrative are also reported by two tābi‘ūn: Abū Qilābah (d. 104 AH) and Sa‘īd ibn Abī Halāl (d. 140/144 AH) respectively. Both are mursal. For the first, see: Al-Tabarī, Jāmi‘ al-Bayān, vol. 1, 52; Abū ‘Abdullāh Muhammad ibn Ayyūb ibn Durays, Fadā’il al-Qur’ān, 1st ed. (Damascus: Dār al-fikr, 1988.), 82; Ibid., 127. For the second, see: Abū ‘Ubayd, Fadā’il al-Qur’ān, 120.

26. See, for example: Abū ‘Abdullāh Shams al-Dīn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn ‘Uthmān ibn Qāyamaz ibn ‘Abdullāh al-Dhahabī, Tadhkirah al-huffāz, 1st ed., vol. 1 (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al-‘ilmiyyah, n.d.), 123; Ibn Hajar, Tabaqāt al-mudallisīn, 1st ed. (Aman: Maktabah al-manār, 1983), 43; Abū Sa‘īd ibn Khalīl al-Alā’ī, Jāmi‘ al-tahsīl fī ahkām al-marāsīl, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Beirut: ‘A%lam al-kutub, 1986), 254.

27. Abū ‘Abd al-Rahmān Ahmad ibn Shu‘ayb al-Nasā’ī, Al-Du‘afā’ wa al-matrūkīn (Halab: Dār al-wa‘y, 1396 AH), 52.

28. Abū Hātim Muhammad ibn Hibbān al-Bustī, Al-Majrūhīn min al-muhaddith#in wa al-du‘afā’ wa al-matrūkīn, 1st ed., vol. 1 (Halab: Dār al-wa‘y, 1396 AH), 319.

29. Abū Ja‘far Muhammad ibn ‘Umar ibn Mūsā al-‘Uqaylī, Al-Du‘afā’ al-kabīr, 1st ed., vol. 2 (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al-‘ilmiyyah, 1984), 100.

30. Ibid., vol. 3, 300.

31. Al-Nasā’ī, Al-Du‘afā’, vol. 1, 85.

32. Ibn Hajar, Taqrīb al-tahdhīb, 1st ed. (Syria: Dār al-rashīd, 1986), 429.

33.. Abū al-Hajjāj Yūsuf ibn al-Zaki al-Mizzī, Tahdhīb al-kamāl, 1st ed., vol. 22 (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-risālah, 1980), 328.

34. Ibn Hibbān, Al-Majrūhīn, vol. 2, 231.

35. Al-Nasā’ī, Al-Du‘afā’, 90.

36. Ibn Hajar, Taqrīb al-tahdhīb, 464.

37. Al-Mizzī, Tahdhīb al-kamāl, vol. 24, 285-286.

38. Ibn Hajar, Tahdhīb al-tahdhīb, 1st ed., vol. 8 (Beirut: Dār al-fikr, 1984), 418.

39. I am indebted to my friend Iftikhar Tabassum for pointing this out.

40. ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn Abī Hātim, Al-Jarh wa al-ta‘dīl, 1st ed., vol. 7 (Beirut: Dār al-ihyā’ al-turāth al-‘arabī, 1952.), 239.

41. Ibn Hajar, Tahdhīb al-tahdhīb, vol. 9. 117.

42. Abū ‘Abdullāh Shams al-Dīn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn ‘Uthmān ibn Qāyamaz ibn ‘Abdullāh al-Dhahabī, Mīzān al-i‘tidāl, 1st ed., vol. 6 (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al-‘ilmiyyah, 1995.), 129.

43. Ibid., vol. 6, 122.

44. Ibn Hibbān, Al-Thiqāt, 1st ed., vol. 9 (np.: Dār al-fikr, 1975), 127.

45. Ibn Abī Hātim, Al-Jarh wa al-ta‘dīl, vol. 7, 237. According to Dr ‘Abdullāh al-Turkī, in the manuscript of al-Tabarī’s Jāmi‘ al-bayān at the Jāmi‘ah al-Qarwīn (Fez, Morocco) the words are: أبو عبيد الوصابي محمد بن حفص . In other words, أبو عبيد الوصابي and محمد بن حفص which in some manuscripts refer to separate persons is, in fact, one and the same person. See: Abū Ja‘far Muhammad ibn Jarīr al-Tabarī, Jāmi‘ al-bayān, ed. Dr ‘Abdullāh al-Turkī, 1st ed., vol. 1 (Riyad: Dār ‘ālim al-kutub, 2003), 97. This fact is corroborated by Ibn Abī Hātim and Ibn Hibbān. See Ibn Abī Hātim, Al-Jarh wa al-ta‘dīl, vol. 7, 237; Ibn Hibbān, Al-Thiqāt, vol. 9, 127.

46. Al-Mizzī, Tahdhīb al-kamāl, vol. 9, 227-228. The possibility of this tashīf was pointed out to me by my friend Iftikhar Tabassum.

47.Abū al-Fadl Ahmad ibn ‘Alī Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalānī, Lisān al-mīzān, vol. 5 (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-a‘lamī li al-matbū‘āt, 1986), 280.

48. It may be noted that in most extant copies of al-Baghwī’s Tafsīr, Yahyā ibn Abī Kathīr is erroneously written as Yahyā ibn Kathīr  and Ayyūb ibn ‘Utbāh is erroneously written as Ayyūb Ibn ‘Ībah. See: Al-Baghwī, Tafsīr, vol. 3, 56. Since this Tafsīr is actually a summarized version of al-Tha‘labī’s Tafsīr, a recourse to the latter Tafsīr clarifies these names. See: Abū Ishāq Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrāhīm al-Tha‘labī, Al-Kashf wa al-bayān, vol. 9 (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-a‘lamī li al-matbū‘āt, n.d.), 67. For pointing out all this, I am indebted to my friend Iftikhar Tabassum.

49. Al-‘Uqaylī, Al-Du‘afā’ al-kabīr, vol. 1, 108.

50. Ibn Abī Hātim, Al-Jarh wa al-ta‘dīl, vol. 2, 253.

51. Abū ‘Abdullāh Muhammad ibn Ismā‘īl al-Bukhārī, Al-Du‘afā’ al-saghīr, 1st ed. (Halab: Dār al-wa‘y, 1396 AH), 18.

52. Al-Nasā’ī, Al-Du‘afā’, 15.

53. Ibn Hajar, Taqrīb al-tahdhīb, 118.

54. Al-Mizzī, Tahdhīb al-kamāl, vol. 3, 485-488

55. Al-Dhahabī, Tadhkirah al-huffāz, vol. 1, 94.

56. Ibn Hajar, Tabaqāt al-mudallisīn, 20.

57. Abū al-Walīd Sulaymān ibn Khalf ibn Sa‘d al-Bājī, Al-Ta‘dīl wa al-tajrīh, 1st ed., vol. 2 (Riyād: Dār al-liwā li al-nashr wa al-tawzī‘, 1986), 552.

58. Abū Hātim Muhammad ibn Hibbān al-Bustī, Mashāhīr ulamā’ al-amsār (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al-‘ilmiyyah, 1959), 190.

59. Al-Dhahabī, Mīzān al-i‘tidāl, vol. 4, 121.

60. Al-‘Uqaylī, Al-Du‘afā’ al-kabīr, vol. 2, 267.

61. Ibn Hibbān, Al-Majrūhīn, vol. 2, 40.

62. Al-Nasā’ī, Al-Du‘afā’, 63.

63. Al-Mizzī, Tahdhīb al-kamāl, vol. 15, 102-103.

64.Al-Dhahabī, Mīzān al-i‘tidāl, vol. 4, 122.

65. Ibn Hajar, Taqrīb al-tahdhīb, 308.

66. Al-Alā’ī, Jāmi‘ al-tahsīl, vol. 1, 280.

67. Al-Mizzī, Tahdhīb al-kamāl, vol. 27, 587.

68. Ibn Hajar, Tahdhīb al-tahdhīb, vol. 10, 139.

69. Ibn Abī Hātim, Al-Jarh wa al-ta‘dīl, vol. 6, 340; Al-Mizzī, Tahdhīb al-kamāl, vol. 13, 477-478.

   
 
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