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Explanation of the Sab’ah Qirā’āt


I want to know about the 7 styles of reading quraan. How did this come about and what is it? I heard of these Warsj of Nafi’ and Hafs  ‘Asim.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.


The word ‘Qirā’at’ according to the dictionary means ‘to recite’ or ‘to read’. It is used for any type of reading, be it the Qur’ān or any other literature.

According to the terminology of the ‘Ulamā’, the word ‘Qirā’at’ when used in relation to the Qur’ān means ‘a special manner of reciting the Qur’ān according to that which was recited by an Imām[1] of Qirā’at’.[2] Therefore, the manner in which the Qur’ān is recited will be called ‘Qirā’at’ and the recitation itself will be called ‘Tilāwat’.

The cornerstone of the different Qirā’āt (variants) is a Hadīth of Nabī e, “The Qur’ān has been revealed in seven Ahruf (categories of differences).[3]” (Bukhari)

Due to the fact that this Hadīth is the pivot upon which the entire science of Qirā’at revolves, we shall to the best of our ability try and explain the different aspects of Qirā’at in relation to this Hadīth as explicitly and briefly as possible, leaving out the intricate technicalities, except where necessary.

An important point to take note of, which will help the reader with a clear understanding, is that two similar terminologies have been used in this answer, which although are similar in context but are very different in meaning:

  1. ‘Sab’ah Ahruf’ – This refers to the words mentioned in the Hadīth. Further explanation shall follow.
  2. ‘Sab’ah Qirā’āt’ or ‘Seven Modes’ – This refers to the seven types of Qirā’āt (methods of reciting the Qur’ān).


Background And Origin of Qirā’ah

The fact that all the Ambiyā’ ‘Alayhimus Salām before Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam were sent to specific tribes and for a specific period of time while Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam was sent as a universal Nabī till the final day, is well known. It is in accordance to this, that every Nabī came equipped with that which was necessary to help him accomplish his mission.

As Nabī’s Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam mission was gigantic, he was also equipped accordingly. He was sent directly to a nation who spoke the most fluent of languages and that too in a myriad of dialects. And as Islām was spreading like wildfire, it was the need of the hour for such a divine scripture to be revealed which could be read in a multitude of ways without any conflicting differences of meaning, so as to accommodate the different dialects of the tribes. Although the Qur’ān was not revealed according to the different dialects, it was revealed in such a manner which accommodated all the dialects.

This is understood from the Hadīth of Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam, “The Qur’ān has been revealed in Sab‘ah (seven) Ahruf.”  (Bukhārī)


Meaning of The Sab’ah (Seven) Ahruf

As to the exact meaning of this Hadīth and the word ‘Ahruf’, the ‘Ulamā’ have greatly differed. It has remained one of the highly contended topics in their circles for centuries. One of the reasons for this is that no explicit explanation was given by Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam or any of the Sahābah or Tābi‘īn.[4]

After a deep study of the Qur’ān and the different Qirā’āt (variants), some ‘Ulamā’ have explained such a meaning which explains the Hadīth fairly well, leaving little doubt.  This is considered as the most preferred view according to many later scholars.[5]

This view states that the term Sab‘ah (seven) Ahruf refers to seven categories of differences around which the differences of Qirā’at revolve. We cannot ascertain the exact number of Qirā’āt (variants) revealed upon Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam but it is certain that whatever differences these Qirā’āt have revolve around these categories.[6]

For example, one category constitutes the difference of a word (noun) either being singular or plural, or it being either in the masculine or feminine form. One Qirā’at (variants) may use a word (noun) in the singular form whilst the others in the plural form. Similar is the case of the masculine and feminine forms. There are seven such categories of differences.

This does not mean that every word of the Qur’ān can be recited in multiple ways. Only specific words that have been narrated from Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam can be recited in multiple ways. And it also does not mean that such words can be recited in seven different ways. [7] Though some can be, but majority of such words can be recited in only 2 or 3 ways. Thus, the seven Ahruf refers to the basic categories of the differences that can be found in the entire Qur’ān and not the number of ways a certain word can be recited.


Relationship Between Ahruf And Qirā’āt

It is important to understand that the Sab‘ah (Seven) Ahruf and the Sab‘ah (Seven) Qirā’āt are not the same thing nor are they entirely different.[8] Rather, the Qirā’āt are a portion of the Ahruf. 

The word Qirā’at is used in reference to two things:

  1. A manner of recitation of the whole Qur’ān adopted by a Sahābī or an Imām of Qirā’at. It is under this category that the Sab‘ah (Seven) or ‘Asharah (Ten) Qirā’āt fall. We shall in future refer to these as ‘Qirā’āt (modes)’ or ‘Qirā’āt’ or ‘modes’ only. Further explanation on this shall soon be presented.
  2. Each different mode of reciting a particular word which has multiple modes of recitation. We shall in future refer to these as ‘Qirā’āt (variants)’ or ‘variants’ only – also referred to as Wujuhāt in Arabic.[9]



What was revealed upon Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam was the seven Ahruf. These are basic categories of differences whilst the components contained therein are the variants. For instance, in the category which constitutes the difference of a word being singular or plural, an example is:        (وَالَّذِيْنَ هُمْ لِاَمَانتِهِمْ وَ عَهْدِهِمْ رَاعُوْنَ) ) in the plural form and وَالَّذِيْنَ هُمْ لِاَمَانَتِهِمْ وَ عَهْدِهِمْ رَاعُوْنَ) ) in the singular form. These two words are called variants (Wujuhāt). Similarly, every such difference in the Qur’ān is called a Qirā’at (variant), irrespective of which category of differences it falls under. Therefore, the different Qirā’āt (variants) are components that make up the Ahruf.

Thus, we can conclude that the Ahruf and variants were revealed upon Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam. As for the first type of Qirā’āt, they were not exactly revealed as they are recited nowadays. Further explanation on this shall soon be given later on.

Note: At times, the word Qirā’at is used to refer to the subject or science of Qirā’at. This usage will be evident from the context it is used in.


Revelation of Qirā’āt (variants)

The revelation of the different Qirā’āt (variants) began after the emigration to Madīnah. When droves of people from different tribes started embracing Islam and they found it difficult to recite the Qur’ān, Allāh eased this difficulty by revealing the different Ahruf and Qirā’āt.

Till Nabī’s Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam emigration to Madīnah, whatever was revealed could only be recited in one manner. There were no differences or variants in any word.[10]

It should be noted that the different Qirā’āt (variants) are not a variation of narrations but they are a variation of revelation. This means that all the acceptable Qirā’āt (variants) were revealed as they are and the differences are not due to different narrations of the same word.[11]

As for the science of Hadīth, many such narrations of a single Hadīth can be found which differ in their wordings. This is mostly because it was permissible to narrate a Hadīth in one’s own words as long as the meaning was maintained. This caused a variation of narrations. But this was not permissible when narrating the Qur’ān. It was necessary to maintain the original words. Therefore, it is understood that the variants of the Qur’ān were revealed as they are whilst the many variants of the Hadīth are the work of the narrators.[12]


Narration of Qirā’āt (variants)

Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam taught the Sahābah the Qur’ān as it was revealed. In this way many Sahābah learnt much of it directly from Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam. But many of them learnt great portions of it from each other due to Nabī’s Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam engrossment in other responsibilities of prophet hood. These noble Sahābah took great precaution in narrating and teaching whatever they had learnt. They would not tolerate the slightest of alterations in the Qur’ān.

The Sahābah’s knowledge with regards to the Qur’ān differed from each other. There were those who had memorized most of the Qur’ān in Nabī’s Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam era while others had only learnt a portion of it.

After the demise of Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam, the wars and conquests of many surrounding countries began. Due to this, the Sahābah dispersed in different directions and taught the new Muslims what they knew of the Qur’ān according to the different Qirā’āt (variants) they had learnt. Thus, the narration of the Qur’ān with its different Qirā’āt (variants) began.

But the protection, propagation and narration of the Qur’ān were much more complicated than it seemed. Together with the many acceptable and reliable variants, people later narrated such variants that were not proven to be part of the Qur’ān. This was because they were unaware that these variants had either been abrogated or had some other discrepancies. These unacceptable variants were of a few types:

  • Some were abrogated during the lifetime of Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam.
  • Some did not match the script upon which the Sahābah had consensus of only it being the Qur’ān.
  • Some had extra or less words in comparison to the narrations of majority of the narrators.
  • Some had none of the above mentioned discrepancies but were isolated narrations that contradicted what majority of the narrators had.

As Islām spread quickly, these unacceptable variants quickly spread all over the Muslim empire. A mixture of acceptable and unacceptable variants and narrations mushroomed in all the major cities that were the centres of learning.

But Allāh’s promise of safeguarding the Qur’ān was never to fail. He created such men who dedicated their lives to this cause. They collected, researched and taught the acceptable Qirā’āt (modes) and variants. They separated what truly was the Qur’ān from the rest. The work of these great personalities marked the inception of a new chapter in the history of the science of Qirā’at.


Background of The Sab’ah (Seven) Qirā’āt

The differentiation of the reliable Qirā’āt and variants began as early as the first century A.H. And as has always been the system of Islām that its preservation is wholly based on memorisation of knowledge and its transmission from heart to heart, the Qirā’āt and variants too were narrated in this manner. The tradition of compiling and gathering these Qirā’āt in script started much later. Although the earliest book is dated as early as the end of the first century A.H.,[13] most of the famous and authentic books only appeared in the 3rd century and onwards.

The purpose of these books was to serve only as a secondary means of safeguarding the Qirā’āt and variants. Just as the narration of the Qur’ān was based on memorisation and the compilation of its script was mainly to serve as a backup for its safeguarding in case of the loss of Huffāz or some other calamity, the safeguarding of the Qirā’āt and variants was exactly the same. These books would only serve as a backup or reference.

As for the preservation by heart, many ‘Ulama sifted through the thousands of narrations and filtered them to attain the authentic variants. For this, they searched for the most authentic narrators they could find in their eras and areas and only narrated from them. And preservation of Dīn – especially the Qur’ān – being a great responsibility upon the Ummah, they placed the most stringent of measures to serve as a yardstick in accepting and rejecting Qirā’āt (variants).

The conditions that a Qirā’at (variant) would have to meet in order to be considered part of the Qur’ān were three (3):

  1. The variant should coincide with the grammar rules of the Arabic language.[14]
  2. It should match the orthography (script) of one of the copies of the Qur’ān prepared in the era of ‘Uthmān Radiyallāhu ‘Anhu.
  3. It should be narrated through numerous authentic unbroken chains of narrators such that it is not possible to accuse the narrators of fabricating that particular variant (i.e. it should be Mutawātir).[15]

Note: From here onwards, wherever the word ‘acceptable’ is used in relation to Qirā’āt (modes) and variants, it will mean that they conform to these 3 conditions. And where the words ‘reliable’ or ‘authentic’ are used will mean that such Qirā’āt (modes) and variants have authentic chains of narration but not as mentioned in the third condition regardless of whether they meet the other 2 conditions or not.

Whichever Qirā’āt (variants) met all three conditions were considered acceptable. These conditions remained the yardstick throughout the centuries and ‘Ulamā’ based their research on these.[16]

Many ‘Ulamā’ singled out the acceptable variants and rejected the rest and these continued to be narrated from heart to heart. But with the overwhelming presence of so many unacceptable and unauthentic variants, many people were still in the dark with regards to the acceptable ones.

The 3rd century saw the appearance of many compilations of Qirā’āt (modes) and variants. These compilations were of 2 types:

  1. Some ‘Ulamā’ gathered whatever Qirā’āt they had knowledge of and transcribed them, regardless of whether they were authentic or not. This caused a problem of uncertainty with regards to the acceptability of the variants.
  2. Others selected certain Qirā’āt from the many that they had learnt from different teachers. This was done in order to present to the students of Qirā’āt a few acceptable Qirā’āt that they could easily learn rather than learning all of them. Generally such ‘Ulamā’ selected what they considered to be the most famous or most acceptable.[17]

This resulted in different counts of Qirā’āt in each compilation. Some compiled 5, whilst others had 7, 8, 10, 14, and 25. Some had even greater numbers.

From amongst these ‘Ulamā’, the personality of Imām Abū Bakr Ibn Mujāhid[18] Rahimahullāh – who passed away in 324 A.H. – stands out. Many others accomplished this task before and after him but his fame and acceptance in the Muslim empire was so overwhelming that he was considered the highest authority on Qirā’at during his era. Due to this, his book which consisted of the Qirā’āt of seven A’immah gained widespread acceptance and fame all over the Muslim world.

Such great was the fame of Imām Ibn Mujāhid Rahimahullāh that Imām Jazrī Rahimahullāh says, “I have no knowledge of any Imām of Qirā’at whose students were greater in number then those of Ibn Mujāhid. And we have not heard of greater crowds of students around anybody than those around him.”[19]

Therefore, thousands of students studied these Qirā’āt under him and many others learnt them from his students. Thus, a trend of narrating only these seven Qirā’āt began despite the presence of many other acceptable ones some of which were even more accepted by the ‘Ulamā’ then these. Eventually these came to be known as the Sab‘ah (seven) Qirā’āt. These were the Qirā’āt of Imām Nāfi‘ Madanī Rahimahullāh, Imām Ibn Kathīr Makkī Rahimahullāh, Imām Abū ‘Amr Basrī Rahimahullāh, Imām Ibn ‘āmir Shāmī Rahimahullāh, Imām ‘āsim Kūfī Rahimahullāh, Imām Hamzah Kūfī Rahimahullāh and Imām Kisā’ī Kūfī Rahimahullāh.

Imām Ibn Mujāhid Rahimahullāh researched the various prevalent Qirā’āt and variants for years. He did not only suffice at this, but he also analysed and researched the narrations of those narrating from the A’immah. He mastered and taught these seven Qirā’āt for many years, exerting all his time, energies, knowledge and capability. Finally, satisfied with his choice, he compiled them in his famous book called Kitāb-us-Sab‘ah Fil Qirā’āt.[20]

There is a great misconception amongst the people that the term Sab‘ah (seven) Ahruf in the Hadīth refers to the Sab‘ah Qirā’āt. This claim and concept is totally baseless. The Sab‘ah Qirā’āt are a great portion of the seven Ahruf but not the seven Ahruf themselves. It is mere coincidence that both are seven in number.[21] It is evident that Imām Ibn Mujāhid Rahimahullāh only chose the 7 A’immah out of the many acceptable ones in the 4th century whilst the Sab‘ah Ahruf were revealed in the beginning of the 1st century. How can the Hadīth of Sab‘ah (seven) Ahruf then be referring to something that was only done 3 centuries later!

The choice of these A’immah and their Qirā’āt was largely based on the fact that they were widely accepted in their respective cities. It was as though the people approved of these Qirā’āt. This was due to a few reasons:

  1. These A’immah had dedicated their lives to the science of Qirā’at.
  2. Their Qirā’āt (variants) did not contravene the Arabic grammar and the Uthmānī orthography (script).
  3. They were given exceptionally long lives in which the people unanimously accepted their Qirā’āt.
  4. Their chains of narrators linking them to Nabī Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam were exceptionally authentic.
  5. Their knowledge of Qirā’at and the Arabic language placed them a level above the rest in society and more importantly in the circles of the ‘Ulamā’.[22]

Note: It is important to note that there were other A’immah who also had these characteristics in them but were not included in these seven. The acceptability of their Qirā’āt was no less than these. The compilations of many other ‘Ulamā’ other than Imām Ibn Mujāhid Rahimahullāh included these Qirā’āt.

These seven A’immah had many narrators who preserved and narrated the Qirā’at of their respective Imām. At times, the narrators were direct students of the Imām and at times they narrated through the means of the students of the Imām. Many times, they would differ with each other in certain variants. This was due to their Imām having taught some of them certain such variants which he did not teach the others.

‘Ulamā’ then only chose two narrators for each Imām and left out the rest, thus choosing a total of 14 narrations. The reason for choosing two was the same as that of choosing the seven Qirā’āt i.e. abridging the Qirā’āt for learning and narrating purposes. They carefully chose these particular narrators because their narrations encompassed most of what the other narrators had.[23]

These narrators were those who are known today as Imām Warsh who is a narrator of Imām Nāfi’s Qirā’at, Imam Hafs who is a narrator of Imām ‘Āsim’s Qirā’at, etc.

But Imām Ibn Mujāhid’s Rahimahullāh work gained so much fame that many Muslims were led to believe that these were the only acceptable Qirā’āt and narrations. Anything beyond this was deemed unacceptable whereas this contradicts reality.


Background of The ‘Asharah (Ten) Qirā’āt

Despite many people clinging on to the Sab‘ah Qirā’āt, there still were other authentic and acceptable Qirā’āt present. Although they were not as famous as the seven, large numbers of people had accepted them. They were also taught, learnt and narrated. History bears testimony that rather than learning the Sab‘ah Qirā’āt, many people only learnt these Qirā’āt. Therefore, their reliability and acceptability was no less than the Sab‘ah Qirā’āt.

But the acceptability of any Qirā’at largely depends on how many people learn and narrate it in every era. If enough people do not narrate it, then it might still be reliable but not proven to be a part of the Qur’ān if it has any discrepancies from those mentioned previously. So from these other Qirā’āt, 3 continued to be narrated extensively through numerous authentic unbroken chains of narrators, thus meeting the 3 conditions for the acceptance of a Qirā’at that we previously discussed. These were the Qirā’āt of Imām Abū Ja‘far Yazīd Ibn Qa‘qā‘ Rahimahullāh, Imām Ya‘qūb Al-Hadramī Rahimahullāh and Imām Khalaf Ibn Hishām Rahimahullāh.

Imām Khalaf Rahimahullāh, who is a narrator of Imām Hamzah Rahimahullāh of the Sab‘ah Qirā’āt, has his own choice of acceptable variants which are relatively different from his narration from Imām Hamzah Rahimahullāh (in the Sab‘ah Qirā’āt). These variants form a whole separate Qirā’at which is part of these three Qirā’āt.

These three came to be known as the Thalātha (Three) Qirā’āt and these combined with the Sa‘bah (Seven) Qirā’āt came to be known as the ‘Asharah (Ten) Qirā’āt. The term Sa‘bah Qirā’āt was coined in the beginning of the 4th century by Imām Abū Bakr Ibn Mujāhid Rahimahullāh whilst the term ‘Asharah Qirā’āt was coined in the mid 4th century. The first personality who compiled these 10 Qirā’āt was Imām Abū Bakr Ibn Mahrān[24] Rahimahullāh – who passed away in 381 A.H.[25] He maintained the system of choosing Qirā’āt adopted by Imām Ibn Mujāhid Rahimahullāh. His work encompassed all the acceptable Qirā’āt present.

Apart from these 10 Qirā’āt, there still were a few others that were famous and reliable to a large extent. But they did not gain much acceptance in their respective cities and were not learnt and narrated by enough people. Some of their variants also did not match the ‘Uthmānī orthography (script). These Qirā’āt have also been compiled by ‘Ulamā’ but for reasons other than the preservation of the Qur’ān. This is because they are not proven to be part of the Qur’ān. There are 4 such Qirā’āt.[26] These make up the Arba‘-‘Asharah (Fourteen) Qirā’āt.

The compilations on Qirā’at after this were mostly based on the Sa‘bah or ‘Asharah Qirā’āt. ‘Ulamā’ either followed in the footsteps of Imām Ibn Mujāhid Rahimahullāh, gathering a few famous Qirā’āt, and expounded on them, or they gathered the ‘Asharah Qirā’āt in trying to gather and expound on all the acceptable Qirā’āt. And because the compilation and narration of Qirā’āt had other benefits apart from safeguarding the Qur’ān, the unreliability of many other Qirā’āt did not stop the ‘Ulamā’ from compiling them and deriving other benefits. Therefore, till now some ‘Ulamā’ have also been compiling the unacceptable Qirā’āt.

The Sa‘bah Qirā’āt remained more popular then the ‘Asharah Qirā’āt throughout the ages. This may have been due to the fact that ‘Ulamā’ wrote such books on the Sa‘bah Qirā’āt which were easy to understand[27] or memorise[28], facilitating easy learning of these Qirā’āt. Such books on the ‘Asharah Qirā’āt were not easily found or were not found at all. Much later, ‘Ulamā such as Imām Jazrī Rahimahullāh – who passed away in 833 A.H. – compiled such books either separately for the Thalāthah Qirā’āt[29] or comprehensive books for the ‘Asharah Qirā’āt.[30]


And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Nabeel Valli

Student Darul Iftaa
Lusaka, Zambia

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.



Note From Mufti Ebrahim Desai Dāmat Barakātuhu:

Students of Hadīth experience much difficulty in understanding the Hadīth:

أنزل القرآن على سبعة أحرف

Many misunderstand Sab’ah Ahruf as the famous Sab’ah Qirā’āt, Moulānā Nabeel Valli has also studied Qirā’āt and compiled a treatise on the intricacies of the topic. In this brief, Moulānā Nabeel Valli very simply explains the background of Ahruf being the categories/types of differences a Qirā’at and the different recitations of the Qurrā’ will revolve around. While Sab’ah Ahruf itself is a revelation, it is not necessary that the Sab’ah Qirā’āt itself is a revelation. This brief is very useful in understanding some of the intricacies of Qirā’at.

[1]  A highly knowledgeable, authoritative and reliable personality in a particular science of Dīn.

[2]  At-Tibyān Fī ‘Ulūm-il-Qur’ān, Pg 57 / Manāhil-ul-‘Irfān, Vol. 1, Pg 336


[4]  ‘Ulūm-ul­-Qur’ān, Pg 116.

[5]  Manāhil-ul-‘Irfān, Vol. 1, Pg 146

Al-Itqān, Pg 124


[6]  This view is attributed to 4 ‘Ulamā’: ‘Allāmah Ibn Qutaibah, Qādī Ibn Tayyib, Imām Abu-ul-Fadl Rāzī and Imām Jazrī. They have slightly differed in specifying the 7 categories but those outlined by Imām Rāzī þ are the most comprehensive, and include whatever the other 3 ‘Ulamā’ have outlined and even more. His choice of categories are:

a)     Difference of nouns being singular or plural, or being in the masculine or feminine form.

b)    Difference of verbs being in the past, present or imperative tense.

c)     Differences of grammar rules. (Nahw and Sarf rules)

d)    Difference of omission and addition of words in different Qirā’āt (variants).

e)     Difference of a word preceding another in one Qirā’at (variant) and the opposite in another.

f)      Difference of interchanging words or letters for each other.

g)     Difference of dialects in particular words. (Manāhil-ul-‘Irfān, Vol 1, Pg 132 / Al-Itqān, Pg 125)

[7]  Manāhil-ul-‘Irfān, Vol. 1, Pg 131


[8] ‘Ulūm-ul-Qur’ān, Pg 99

[9] At times the words Harf or Ahruf are used for both these types of Qirā’āt. For example, the Harf of Zaid Ibn Thābit t or the Harf of Imām Nāfi‘þ. Although this usage has not been adoted in this book, but can be found in certain Arabic texts.

[10]  One may object that the Makkī verses also have multiple Qirā’āt (variants), then how is it possible that the different Qirā’āt (variants) were revealed in Madīnah and not in Makkah?

The answer to this is that Nabī e would recite whatever had been revealed of the Qur’an to Jibra’īl u each year in Ramadān and he also recited  almost the entire Qur’an twice to Jibra’īl u in Ramadān 10 A.H. in which the Qirā’āt (variants) pertaining to the Makkī verses were revealed and recited.

[11]  Manāhil-ul-‘Irfān, Vol. 1, Pg 128 / Muqaddamah ‘Ilm-ul-Qirā’at, Pg 24

[12]  This is not always the case. Some Ahādīth are such that Nabī e mentioned the same Hadīth on different occasions with different wordings, thus the different variants.

[13]  This was the book of the Tabi‘ī, Yahya Ibn Ya‘mur

[14]  This is not a condition in reality, rather it is the outcome of the other 2 conditions. Whichever variants meet the other 2 conditions will also coincide with the grammar rules of Arabic. This condition has been specifically used to disprove the claims of some ‘Ulamā’ of Nahw and linguistics that many variants contradict the Arabic grammar rules. For this reason they have rejected many acceptable variants which are part of the Qur’ān. These rules have been extracted from the Qur’ān, Hadīth, Arabic poetry and sayings, therefore such rules are extracted by them whilst the Qur’ān which is free from error was revealed by Allāh. This is strange that they reject that which was revealed due to it not conforming to their extracted rules.

The reality is that such ‘Ulamā’ have been deficient in outlining these rules. Evidence for this is that other ‘Ulamā’ have presented examples of such variants from the Hadīth, Arabic poetry and sayings showing that these variants are in accordance to Arabic grammar rules. ‘Allāmah Abū Hayyān þ has proven this in his Tafsīr, Al-Bahr-ul-Muhīt. Therefore, not a single variant can be found in the Qur’ān which opposes any grammar rule, not even in the collection of unreliable variants! This is why this condition is not an independent condition. (Qirā’āt-e-Sahīhah Aur Shādhah Ka Hukm, Pg 130)

[15]  This condition of multiple chains (Tawātur) is according to majority of the ‘Ulamā’ and Imām Jazrī’s þ initial view. Thereafter he resorted to sufficing upon the authenticity of the chains of narration as long as they reach the level of Mashoor or Mustafīd i.e. it has multiple chains but not as many as Mutawātir. This is also the view of Imām Makkī Ibn Abī Tālib þ. Therefore, they accept such variants which are in conformity with their opinion even if they are not part of the ‘Asharah Qirā’āt whilst majority of the ‘Ulamā´ only accept the ‘Asharah. The rest are considered as Shādh Qirā’āt (variants).

Due to this difference in opinions, the definition of Shādh will also differ:

a)      Imām Jazrī þ and Imām Makkī Ibn Abī Tālib: A variant which matches the ‘Uthmānī orthography but does not have authentic chains of narration, or has authentic chains of narration but is not accepted by the Ummah, or does not at all match the ‘Uthmānī orthography despite having authentic chains of narration.

b)     Majority ‘Ulamā’: A variant which does not have numerous authentic unbroken chains of narrators i.e. it is not Mutawātir. (Al-Qirā’āt-us-Shādhah, Pg 10)

Ruling regarding Shādh variants – There are 3 aspects in this regard:

  1. Are Shādh variants part of the Qur’ān?

They are not proven to be part of the Qur’ān but may be used for other purposes such as Tafsīr of other verses, extraction of Shar‘ī rulings and grammar rules, e.t.c. Explicit rejection of these variants will not lead to disbelief but it has been disliked by the ‘Ulamā’.

  1. Is it permissible to recite them outside Salāh?   (Munjid-ul-Muqri’īn, Pg 70)

a)        Reciting them whilst considering part of the Qur’ān is strictly not permissible. Hāfiz Ibn ‘Abd-ul-Barr  has narrated the Ijmā‘(consensus) of the Ummah on this. Such a person may be punished or even imprisoned.

a)        Reciting them for other purposes such as those mentioned above is permissible.

  1. Is it permissible to recite them in Salāh?

‘Ulamā’ and Fuqahā’ have differed a little on this but the general view of majority of the ‘Ulamā’ is impermissibility of it and the invalidity of Salāh. (Ghayth-un-Naf‘, Pg 7)


[16]  The 3 conditions are primarily taken from An-Nashr, Pg 19 / Munjid-ul-Muqri’īn, Pg 18.

[17]  Munjid-ul-Muqri’īn, Pg 20/21

[18]  Imām Ahmad Ibn Mūsā Ibn ‘Abbās Ibn Mujāhid At-Tamīmī Al-Baghdādī

[19]  Ghāyat-un-Nihāyah Fi Tabaqāt-il-Qurrā’, Vol. 1, Pg 142

[20]  Qirā’āt-e-Sahīhah Aur Shādhah Ka Hukm, Pg 134.

[21] ‘Ulūm-ul-Qur’ān, Pg 98/99

[22]  Manāhil-ul-‘Irfān, Vol. 1, Pg 339 / At-Tibyān, Pg 61

[23]  Qirā’āt-e-Sahīhah Aur Shādhah Ka Hukm, Pg 138 / An-Nashr, Pg 39

[24]  Imām Ahmad Ibn Husain Ibn Mahrān Al-Isbahānī An-Nīsābūrī

[25]  Preface of Kitāb-us-Sab‘ah Fil Qirā’āt, Pg  21

[26]  These are the Qirā’āt of Hadrat Hasan Basrī, Imām Yahya Yazīdī, Imām Sulaimān  A‘mash  and Imām Ibn Muhaisin.

[27]  Such as ‘Allāmah Dānī’s  At-Taysīr

[28]  Such as ‘Allāmah Shātbī’s  Hirz-il-Amānī Wa Wajh-ut-Tahānī (famous as Shātbiyyah).

[29]  This is called Ad-Durrat-ul-Mudīyyah

[30]   This is called Tayyibat-un-Nashr

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