Studying Qur’an: Tips and Resources

Scholars have defined the Qur’an as “the words of Allah revealed to Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him), the recitation of which is a form of worship.”  This definition can be applied to no other book or speech.

Reading and recitation of the Qur’an is an important form of worship for which a Muslim can expect reward and benefit in the Hereafter.  There was a definite purpose behind the strong encouragement given by the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) in several authentic hadiths for recitation of the Qur’an.  That purpose is clearly stated in the Qur’an itself:

A blessed Book which We have revealed to you [o Muhammad], that they might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded [Sad 38:29].

Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an or are there locks upon [their] hearts? [Muhammad 47:24]

Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an? If it had been from [any] other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction [Nisa 4:82]

Shaykh al-Islam Ahmad bin Taymiyyah pointed out in his Fatawa that even the ordinary words of men are spoken or written for the purpose of being understood by the listener or reader and that the Qur’an is surely more worthy of being understood than the words of men.  Many scholars have stated that it is the responsibility of all Muslims to learn the Arabic language in order to understand the Qur’an.  Ibn Katheer, author of the well-known Arabic tafseer (explanation/interpretation of the Qur’an), maintained that it is also the duty of Muslim scholars to make its meanings known to the people.

No person can afford to be ignorant of the Qur’an, for it is the constitution revealed by Allah to regulate and govern human life.  It speaks with the perfect knowledge of the Creator about His creation.  It exposes the truth and invites man to the way of truth.  It contains important information about human destiny and that of the individual.  It educates and raises men to the highest moral, intellectual and social level when they strive to comprehend it and apply its teachings to life.

Moreover, it is the actual words of Allah – not created, but revealed by Him through the angel Gabriel to a human messenger, Muhammad bin Abdullah (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him), for the benefit of humanity.  It is an eternal miracle given to the final prophet, Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him), as proof of his prophethood and a challenge to all succeeding generations.  It is of unique and inimitable quality.  Revealed fourteen centuries ago, it remains today completely intact and unaltered in its original Arabic form.

What does one discover when he understands the meanings of the Qur’an?  The answers to this question can be classified in four main categories:

  1. That he can know his Creator as He has described Himself
  2. That he can know the purpose of life on this earth and what is expected of every person during this life
  3. That he becomes aware of the consequences of his attitudes and his behavior
  4. How he should relate to all things – to Allah by worship and obedience, to his fellow man by justice to all or by ihsan (a higher degree), and to the universe in general by putting those things under his control to good use

This divine message was revealed to confirm and renew the relationship between man and his Creator and to reinstate the sincere and correct worship of the one true God, Allah, who Says:

Then let them respond to Me and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided [Al-Baqarah 2:186].

Sahih International The Qur’an, viii-ix

Definition of Uloom al-Qur’an

The knowledge of Uloom al-Qur’an, or ‘The Sciences of the Qur’an’, deals with the knowledge of those sciences that have a direct bearing on the recitation, history, understanding and implementation of the Qur’an.  It is, therefore, a vast field of Islamic scholarship, and one that is of primary importance.

Thus, for example, with regards to recitation, uloom al-Qur’an deals with the science of pronunciation (tajweed), the difference methodologies of reciting the Qur’an (the qira’aat), the blessings of reciting the Qur’an, and the etiquette of its recitation.

With regards to the history of the Qur’an, uloom al-Qur’an deals with the stages of revelation of the Qur’an, the compilation of the Qur’an, the art and history of writing the Qur’anic script (rasm al-masaahif), and the preservation of the Qur’an.

With regards to its understanding and implementation, uloom al-Qur’an covers the causes covers the causes of revelation (asbaab an-nuzool), the knowledge of the makkee and madanee revelations, the knowledge of the various forms (ahruf) it was revealed in, the understanding of its abrogated rulings and verses (naasikh wa al-mansookh), the knowledge of the various classifications of its verses (muhkam and mutashaabih, aam and khaas, mutlaq and muqqayad, etc.), the knowledge of the inimitable style of the Qur’an (I’jaaz al-Qur’an), the knowledge of its interpretation (tafseer), the grammatical analysis of the Qur’an (iraab al-Qur’an) and the knowledge of those words whose usage has become uncommon over time (ghareeb al-Qur’an).

It has been said that the knowledge of uloom al-Qur’an is in reality the knowledge that one is required to know in order to properly interpret the Qur’an.  Therefore, to call this branch of Islamic knowledge ‘The Procedure and Methodology of Interpretation’ (Ilm Usool at-Tafseer) instead of ‘uloom al Qur’aan would not be far from the truth.  However, uloom al-Qur’an also includes topics that have very little or no bearing on tafseer, such as the compilation of the Qur’an, and the development of the script of the Qur’an.  Therefore, the knowledge of  uloom al-Qur’an is more general than Ilm Usool at-Tafseer.

An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an, 18-19

The Compilation of the Qur’an

The compilation of the Qur’an is a unique phenomenon that is peculiar to Islamic history, for no other religious book can claim to be anywhere near as authentic as the Qur’an.  The New Testament was authored over a century after Jesus’s death, and the Old Testament’s authors are shrouded in mystery, as are the authors of the Hindu scriptures.  Only the Qur’an can be claimed to have been preserved in its original form.

And how can it not be preserved, when Allah has taken it upon Himself to guart it and protect it?  For He says,

Verily, We have sent down this Remembrance (The Qur’an), and We are of a surety going to protect it (from tampering) [Al-Hijr 15:9]

And when the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) was fearful of forgetting its verses, Allah revealed,

Do not move your tongue with haste concerning it! For it is for Us to Collect it and give you the ability to recite it [Al-Qiyamah 75:17]

Allah describes the Qur’an as,

An honorable and respected Book.  Falsehood cannot approach it from in front of it or from behind it; it is a revelation from One who is All-Wise, Worthy of Praise [Fussilat 41:41-42]

This is one of the unique blessings that this ummah – and the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) – has been favoured with over other nations.  The Qur’an is the only divinely-revealed Scripture whose preservation has been promised by Allah.  The responsibility of preserving earlier Scriptures had been placed upon its recipients, without any divine aid.  Allah mentions, concerning the earlier Scripture,

And the rabbis and the priests (judged according to their Scriptures), for to them was entrusted the protection of the Book of Allah, and they were witnesses to it [Ma’idah 5:44]

Thus, the earlier nations were given the responsibility of protecting their scriptures, in contrast to the Qur’an, whose protection was the responsibility of the Creator.

An unbiased researcher, whether he believes in the prophethood of Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) or not, must conclude that the Qur’an that is present today is the same Qur’an that the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) taught to his Companions.  It therefore behooves Muslims when making such bold claims to investigate the history of its compilation, and examine the manner in which it was preserved.

There are three distinct stages of the compilation of the Qur’an.  The first is the preservation of the Qur’an during the lifetime of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him); the second, the compilation of the Qur’an by Aboo Bakr; and the third, the compilation of Uthmaan.

An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an, 124-125

Resources on Qur’an and It’s Related Sciences:

Audio/Video

  1. Sciences of the Qur’an  by Yasir Qadhi (video)
  2. Towards Understanding Surah Yusuf by Yasir Qadhi (video)
  3. Miracles of the Qur’an by Nouman Ali Khan (video)
  4. Divine Speech Prologue by Nouman Ali Khan (video)
  5. Various Lectures on Qur’anic Sciences by Various Lecturers (audio)
  6. Tafseer Juz Amma by Nouman Ali Khan (audio)
  7. Learn Tajweed by Yasir Qadhi (video)
  8. Surah Al-Imran (v. 133-135) by Yasir Qadhi (audio)
  9. Surah Al-Ma’idah Reflection by Yasir Qadhi (audio)
  10. Qur’an and Daily Life by Nouman Ali Khan (video)
  11. Miracle of the Qur’an by Yasir Qadhi (video)
  12. Power of Qur’an by Nouman Ali Khan (video)
  13. Asbab An-Nuzul (Reasons for Revelation) of Various Verses of Qur’an by Mufti Ismail Musa Menk (audio)
  14. Ayat ul-Qursi – The Greatest verse in the Qur’an by Yasir Qadhi (video)
  15. Tafsir of Surah Al-Kahf (The Cave) by Yasir Qadhi (video)

Articles

  1. Introduction to Principles of Tafseer by saheefah.org
  2. How to Study Tafsir by islamclass.wordpress.com

Books

  1. An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an by Yasir Qadhi
  2. Ulum al-Qur’an: An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an by Ahmad Von Denffer
  3. Stories of the Qur’an by Ibn Katheer
  4. The Qur’an (English Meaning) by Sahih International
  5. Tafseer Ibn Katheer by Ibn Katheer
  6. Tafseer al-Jalalayn by Jalalu’d-Din al-Mahalli, Jalalu-d-Din as-Suyuti
  7. The Miraculous Qur’an by Jamaal Ad-Deen Zarabozo
  8. A Thematic Commentary on the Qur’an by Muhammad al-Ghazali (the Egyptian one)
  9. Way to the Qur’an: A Manual on How to Approach the Qur’an by Khurram Murad
  10. Pondering over the Qur’an by Amin Ahsan Islahi
  11. 80% of Qur’anic Words (Classified word lists for easy memorization) by Dr. Abdulazeez Abdulraheem
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