Concise Principles in Tafseer and The Science of the Qur’aan (Part 7)

A word on the difference between the ‘Ahruf’ (Qur’anic dialects) and the Qiraa’aat (modes of recitation)

After that which has previously been mentioned concerning the collection of the Qur’aan, and that which took place during the era of Uthmaan, and his abolishing the seven permissible dialects of the Qur’aan because of the blood shed that took place due to differing about them, a question that arises here is what then are the seven popular modes of recitation that we are acquainted with to this very day, that we hear many with mastery in tajweed reciting (Namely ibn ‘Aamir, ibn katheer (not the famous author of the tafseer)  Aasim, Abi ‘Amr, Hamza, Naafi’and Al Kasaa’i).

It should be known that there is a difference between the Ahruf (dialects of the Qur’aan) and the Qiraa’aat (modes of recitation) of the Qur’aan.

The dialects of the Qur’aan that the ahaadeeth speak of were allowed variant Arabic dialects that the Qur’aan was revealed upon to accommodate for the variances in the dialects of the various Arab tribes at the time of the revelation of the Qur’aan.

The different tribes of the region had variant ways they would say certain words or express certain statements and the Qur’aan was revealed in seven of those dialects so as to accommodate for the linguistic variances among those tribe.

Since Allah revealed the Qur’aan in those dialects to facilitate ease for the tribes and not to reveal seven different Qur’aans, when Uthmaan saw what had occurred at the hands of the people due to that which Allah had made Permissible, he abolished them to prevent that which was haram (prohibited), namely the spilling of blood.

This without doubt is from the deep insight of Uthmaan Radhiyallahu ‘anhu and is mentioned as being from among his many virtues.

As far as the Qiraa’aat are concerned, then they revolve around the modes and methods of reciting the one Mushaf that Uthmaan had standardised.

That is, the great Imaams of recitation were united on certain issues and likewise differed upon certain issues related to how certain words or letters within the one Uthmaani Qur’aan should be recited.

This relates to elongations, stoppages, continuations, removing or applying emphasis upon certain letters or letter combinations and etymology.

From among the Taabi’een there were certain Imaams (mentioned earlier) who became famous as being proficient in recitation after having studied with and taking from those who were well known for excelling in the recitation of the Qur’aan among the Sahaaba.

These Imaams then went on to have famous students of their own who transmitted those modes and methods of recitation from their teachers. So we hear reciters reciting in ‘Hafs ‘an Aasim for example, which is a reference to the fact that this mode of recitation is in accordance with the method of recitation Imaam Hafs took from his teacher Aasim ibn Bahdalah who died in the year 127 after hijrah) or we hear of ‘Warsh ‘an Naafi’ referring to the fact that this reciter will be reciting in accordance with the teachings of Imaan Warsh (Who’s name was Uthmaan ibn sa’eed Al Masri his kunya being Abu sa’eed and he was nicknamed ‘Warsh’ which was due to him being very white and light skinned) who took from his teacher Imaam Naafi’ ibn Abdur Rahmaan who died in the year 169 after Hijrah) and so on.

Thus these imams and their most popular students are (in chronological order):

  1. Ibn Aamir (The Imaam of the people of Shaam) Whose full name is Abdullah ibn Aamir ibn yazeed. He was born in the year 21 (some biographers mention 28 after hijra).He met Waathila ibnil Ashqa’ and An-Nu’maan ibn basheer – Radhiyallahu ‘anhumaa. He took his recitation from Al Mugheera ibn Shihaab Al Makhzoomi who took from Uthmaan, while some maintain that he took from Uthmaan directly.

Those who became famous for his recitation.

From those who became famous for taking and spreading his method of recitation and his teachings:

Hishaam (he is Abul Waleed ibn Aamir ibn Nasr Ad Damishqi) who dies in the year245 and Ibn Dhakwaan (Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Basheer) who died in the year died in the year 242. Except these two did not take from the Imaam directly rather by way of his students.


  1. Ibn Katheer (Not the famous Imaam of tafseer and student of Shaikhul Islaam) His name is Abdullah ibn Katheer Ad Daari. He was born in Makka in the year 45 after Hijra. He met from the Sahaaba Abdullah ibn Zubair, Abu Ayoob Al Ansaari and Anas ibn Maalik. He took his recitation from Ubai ibn Ka’b and Umar ibnil Khataab and he died in the year 120 after hijra

His most famous students are:

Abul Hasan Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Abdillah ibn Abi Bazza (Also known as al Bazzi) who died in the year 250

Qunbul: Muhammad ibn Abdur Rahmaan ibn Khaalid who died in the year 250H

  1. Aasim ibn Abi Najood. He took his recitation from Abdullah ibn Masood and Zir ibn Hubaish.

Imaam Ahmad was asked about him and he said: “he is a righteous, good, trustworthy man” then he was asked whose recitation is most beloved to you? So he responded: “the recitation of the people of Madina and if not then the recitation of ‘Aasim” (Al Bahth wal istiqraa’ P40-41)He died in the year 127.

His most famous students are:

Shu’bah ibn Iyaash and Hafs ibn

  1. Abu Amr ibnil Alaa Al Basri 154H. He took from Mujaahid and from sa’eed ibn Jubair. Abu Mu’aawiya al azhari mentioned concerning him: “He was the most knowledgable of the people with the varying modes of recitation, and the (various) wordings of the Arab and the rare aspects of their speech and their eloquent poetry

(Tahdheebut Tahdheeb of Al Haafidh ibn Hajr2/178)

His most famous Students are:

Ad Doori: Hafs ibn Amr 246H and As Soosi Saalih ibn Ziyaad 261H

  1. Hamza Bin Habeeb Bin Ismaa’eel Al Koofi. He took his recitation from Imaam A’mash (Sulaimaan ibn Mihraan). Sufyaan ath Thouri mentioned concerning him: “Hamza has overpowered the people in the Qur’aan and the laws of inheritance” Tabaqaatul Qurraah 1/261)

His recitation became famous by way of two main Imaams who took from his student Abu Eesaa Saleem ibn eesaa Al Koofi and they are:

Khalaf ibn Hishaam al Baghdaadi 229H and Khalaad ibn Khaalid 220H

  1. Naafi bni Abdur Rahmaan Al Madani. He took his recitation from 70 of the taabi’een who had taken from Ibn Abaas, Abu Huraira and Ubai ibn K’ab  he died in the year 169H

His most famous students were:


Qaaloon: Eesaa ibn meenaa ibn wardaan 220H and Warsh Uthmaan ibn Sa’eed Al Masri 197H

  1. Al Kasaa’i: Ali ibn Hamza ibn Abdullah Al Asadi. He took his recitation from Imaam Hamza and his main reliance was upon him. From the Imaams who took from him Imaam Ahmad and Imaam Yahya ibn Ma’een He died in the year 189H

His main students were:

Abul Haarith Al Laith ibn Khaalid Al Marwazi 240H and

Ad Doori: Hafs ibn ‘Amr

These then are the seven popular reciters who the present day modes of recitation have come from. There are yet another three reciter who were as popular as these seven and they are:

  1. 1.       Abu Ja’far Yazeed ibnil Qa’Qaa’ 130H
  2. Ya’qoob ibn Ishaaq Al Hadhrami 205H and
  3. 3.       Khalaf ib Hishaam al Bazaar234H

The recitation of these reciters is considered, acted upon and transmitted because they possess three main characteristics:

  1. They are established through numerous (Mutawaatir) chains of narration going back to the Messenger of Allah – Sallallahu alaihi wa Salam
  2. They are in accordance with the one standardised Mushaf of Uthmaan (which incidently did not have at that time the well-known diacritical markings the mushaf has today (i.e fathah, kasrah, Dhammah and Sukoon))
  3. They do oppose the Arabic Language and that which is known by them

Hence we see they are not the Seven Ahruf or allowed dialects of the qur’aan though it is possible they may coincide with some of what was present within them but this cannot truly be established without having them present to make the comparison.

If this is understood then that should make clear the futile attempts of the orientalists and those like them who attempt to claim that ‘Some of the Qur’aan is missing just like the Bible’. When we know that the only thing abolished were ways of ‘reciting’ the Qur’aan and not the Qur’aan itself, (as opposed to the Bible that had who books removed) the futile nature of their claim becomes clear.

Wa Salllallahu ‘alaa Nabiyinaa Muhammad


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