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Dividing the Qur’ān into parts and ahzāb

 

Question:

Who divided the Qur’ān into 30 parts and why? A few critics write in some of their booklets that dividing the Qur’ān in this way is an affirmation of the verse:

كما انزلنا على المقتسمين الذين جعلوا القرآن عضين.

[We sent down punishment on them] as We sent on the dividers who made the Qur’ān into parts.

They say that dividing the Qur’ān into 30 parts also entails making it into parts. They say that it has been made into so many parts that even where there was a natural stopping station [the end of a sūrah], it was disregarded, and a part was started [after leaving out the first verse of a sūrah]: ربما يود الذين كفروا

Answer:

A clear indication of the Qur’ān being divided into 30 parts is to be found in the Qur’ān itself. A part of a lengthy Hadīth of Bukhārī Sharīf states that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‛alayhi wa sallam advised ‛Abdullāh ibn ‛Amr ibn al-‛Ās radiyallāhu ‛anhu as follows:

إقرأ القرآن في شهر. قال: إني أطيق أكثر. فما زال حتى قال: في ثلاث.

Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‛alayhi wa sallam desired that ‛Abdullāh ibn ‛Amr ibn al-‛Ās radiyallāhu ‛anhu should complete the Qur’ān in one month. If the Qur’ān is divided over 30 days, we will get 30 parts. When a month is mentioned it generally refers to 30 days. If a woman’s husband passes away, her ‛iddah is 130 days; unless she is pregnant, in which case it will end once she gives birth; or he passed away on the first day of the lunar month, in which case it will be four months and ten days. If a woman who is in menopause is divorced, her ‛iddah is 90 days unless she was divorced on the first day of the lunar month; in which case it will be according to the lunar months – whether 29 days or 30 days. When Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‛alayhi wa sallam decided to separate himself from his pure wives for one month, he descended from the upper house after the 29th day. His wives were surprised because they imagined a month to be 30 days. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‛alayhi wa sallam said to them that this month is of 29 days and his decision to keep away from them seems to be made on the first. Reference is made to this incident in Bukhārī Sharīf as follows:

وكان قد قال: ما أنا بداخل عليهن شهرا. من شدة موجدته عليهن حين عاتبه الله. فلما مضت تسع وعشرون دخل على عائشة فبدأ بها، فقالت له عائشة إنك أقسمت أن لا تدخل علينا شهرا، وإنا أصبحنا لتسع وعشرين ليلة، أعدها عدا. فقال النبى صلى الله عليه وسلم: الشهر تسع وعشرون. وكان ذلك الشهر تسع وعشرون.

وعن أنس رضي الله عنه قال: آلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم من نسائه وكانت انفكت رجله في مشربة تسعا وعشرين ليلة ثم نزل فقالوا يا رسول الله آليت شهرا. فقال: إن الشهر يكون تسعة وعشرين.

Now who was the first person to divide it in this manner, it is difficult to say with certainty.
Muftī Taqī Sāhib rahimahullāh writes:

It is difficult to say with certainty who divided the Qur’ān into 30 parts. Some scholars say that when Hadrat ‛Uthmān radiyallāhu ‛anhu was making copies of the Qur’ān, he had them written on 30 different scrolls. I could not find any proof for this from the writings of the past scholars. However, ‛Allāmah Badr ad-Dīn Zarkashī wrote that 30 parts of the Qur’ān have been coming down to us and that this is customary in the Qur’ān copies of the madāris.

Manāhil al-‛Irfān states:

منهم من قسم القرآن ثلاثين قسما وأطلقوا على كل قسم منها اسم الجزء بحيث لا يخطر بالبال عند الإطلاق غيره.

The meaning of the following verse [quoted in the question] is not what some people claim.

كما انزلنا على المقتسمين الذين جعلوا القرآن عضين.

What it means is that We sent the Book to you as We had sent a Book to them. They divided their Book into parts, accepted some parts and disregarded others as per their vain desires. Another meaning of this verse is that We warn you of the descent of a punishment which We had imposed on those people who divided the Qur’ān by claiming that some parts of it entails magic, other parts entail poetry, yet other parts entail astrology, and so on. These people appointed their agents to sit at the various entrances to Makkah and inform those who were entering the city. They would say to some of them that the Qur’ān is a product of magic and that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‛alayhi wa sallam is a magician. To others they would say that the Qur’ān is poetry and that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‛alayhi wa sallam is a poet.

In the light of Hadīth, it does not mean that it is a bid‛ah to divide the Qur’ān into parts. The Sahābah radiyallāhu ‛anhum had divided the Qur’ān into ahzāb for their own ease and renderings. Were the Sahābah wrong in doing this? Certainly not. There is a lengthy narration in Sunan Ibn Mājah. One part of it reads as follows:

قال أوس: فسألت أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم كيف تحزبون القرآن، قالوا: ثلاث، وخمس وسبع وتسع وإحدى عشرة وثلاث عشرة، وحزب المفصل.
وفي إسناده عبد الله بن عبد الرحمن بن يعلى الطائفي وفيه ضعف.

The gist of the above is that the first hizb comprises of Sūrahs al-Baqarah, Āl ‛Imrān and an-Nisā’. The second one comprises of Sūrahs al-Mā’idah, al-An‛ām, al-A‛rāf, al-Anfāl, al-Barā’ah. The third comprises of Yūnus, Hūd, Yūsuf, ar-Ra‛d, Ibrāhīm, al-Hijr, an-Nahl. The fourth comprises of Banī Isrā’īl, al-Kahf, Maryam, Tā Hā, al-Ambiyā’, al-Hajj, al-Mu’minūn, an-Nūr, al-Furqān. The fifth comprises of ash-Shu‛arā’, an-Naml, al-Qasas, al-‛Ankabūt, ar-Rūm, Luqmān, as-Sajdah, al-Ahzāb, as-Saba’, al-Fātir, Yā Sīn. The sixth comprises of as-Sāffāt, as-Sād, az-Zumar, the seven Hā Mīm sūrahs, Muhammad, al-Fath and al-Hujurāt. The seventh comprises Sūrah al-Qāf to the end of the Qur’ān.

Just as these ahzāb are authentic, the parts are not bid‛ah. Bid‛ah in this context will mean that a person believes that there are such and such rewards for reading a certain part, and such and such rewards for reading another part; but no one holds such a view.

As for commencing a part with ربما يود الذين كفروا where the end of a sūrah is just one line before it. The answer to this is that the Qur’ān printed in non-Arab lands is like this. Someone counted the letters or words and considered this to be the beginning of the part. The Arab editions of the Qur’ān have the beginning of the sūrah as the beginning of the part. A difference of a few words on this side and that side was not considered to be a serious matter. I consider this to be the correct approach.

Fatāwā Darul Uloom Zakariyya (Vol. 1, Pg 373-376)

And Almighty Allah Taʿālā knows best

DARUL ULOOM ZAKARIYYA #SOUTHAFRICA

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