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AN INTRODUCTION TO THE Sciences of the Qur'an  (Ulum al Qur'an) By: Ahmad von Denffer

The Qur'an contains the revelations of Allah, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, to mankind. It is the message from God to man and therefore of utmost importance to us. To properly grasp a message, one needs first of all to understand its contents exactly, and for this purpose one must study the Qur'an deeply and in detail. In fact, some people do spend their whole lives studying the Qur'an, reading and reflecting upon it and, as they grow and develop, both physically and spiritually, they discover for themselves new meanings and implications.

Secondly, some special knowledge of the circumstances that surround the message is also necessary for fuller understanding of its meaning and implications. Although some part of this special knowledge can be derived from the Qur'an itself, there remain other areas of knowledge that can only be discovered by wider study and research.

Muslims have from earliest times, applied themselves not only to the message from Allah the Qur'an but also to its setting and framework, and the preoccupation with these ultimately developed into the 'sciences' of or 'knowledge' about the Qur'an, known as "ulum al-qur'an'.

The proper approach to the Qur'an, in my humble view, can be described in three stages. You must:

first,receive the message of the Qur'an, by hearing or reading it;

second,understand the message of the Qur'an by reflecting upon it and studying its meanings;

third,apply the message of the Qur'an by ordering your personal life as well as the life of society according to its message.

The branch of knowledge, called 'ulum al-Qur'an may be used as a means for the accomplishment of the second stage, understanding the message of the Qur'an, by understanding its setting and circumstances.

According to a general definition, 'ulum al-qur'an [Sabuni, Muhammad 'Ali: al-tibyan fi 'ulum al-qur-an, Beirut, 1970, p. 10.] denotes studies concerned with the book of revelations sent down upon the last Prophet Muhammad, [The customary blessings on the Prophet (Allah's blessings and peace beupon him) each time his name is mentioned will not be repeated in the text, but the reader is kindly requested to observe this Muslim tradition.] namely:
Its revelation
Its collection
Its order and arrangement
Its writing down
Information about the reasons and occasions of revelation
About what was revealed in Makka and what in Madina
About the abrogating and abrogated verses
About the 'clear' and the 'unclear' verses
The term also covers Qur'an-related studies, such as:

The explanation of verses and passages by the Prophet himself, his Companions, their followers and the later exegetes of the Qur'an
The methods of explanation
The scholars of exegesis and their books
The aim of this book as all 'ulum al-qur'an is to help towards a better understanding of the Qur'anic message by providing information on its setting, framework and circumstances. To a great extent it is a descriptive account of the traditional subject of 'ulum al-qur'an. Some branches of 'ulum al-qur'an, such as the divisions of the text, style, literary form etc., have only been touched upon briefly, while others that seemed more important have been dealt with in more detail. In particular such topics related to the understanding of the text (asbab al-nuzul, al-nasikh wa al-mansukh, etc.) have been treated more extensively while others, such as the 'seven ahruf' or the 'Uthmanic writing, which are of benefit only to readers with a good knowledge of classical Arabic, have been introduced, but not elaborated upon.

I have restricted myself to presenting the generally-accepted views on the issues and, where no consensus exists, have referred to the most important of the divergent opinions. Although I do have my own views on some questions, my basic aim in this 'Introduction' is generally to inform the reader about the subject, and not to guide him overtly or covertly towards my own conclusions.
There are a number of matters related to the study of the Qur'an to which I have drawn special attention since this 'Introduction' to the 'ulum al-qur'an is aimed at a special readership, namely, young educated Muslims with little or no access to the original sources on the subject. I have therefore included several topics, of special relevance for that readership, such as:

Orientalists and the Qur'an
Translations of the Qur'an
Modern interpretation of the Qur'an
Language of the Qur'an
Reading and recitation of the Qur'an
Again, particularly for the benefit of these readers, I have often quoted typical examples to illustrate the various points discussed and make them more easily comprehensible.

Finally, to assist readers not familiar with Arabic, I have supplied references to English translations, where available (such as translation of hadith books, etc.). However, on certain topics (e.g. asbab al-nuzul or al-nasikh wa al-mansukh) there is no literature available as yet in English and references had to be restricted to Arabic sources only.

I have also attempted to note in the bibliography at least one or two books in English for each section, from which more insight may be gained on the topic discussed.

May this volume (to the best of my knowledge, the first of its kind in a European language) fulfil its purpose and assist you to grasp fully the message of the Qur'an and to apply it in your life, and may Allah accept this humble effort and forgive its shortcomings.

Ahmad von Denffer
LeicesterRamadan 1981/1401

 Table of Index

An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur'an


http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/index.htm
Chapter 1 - The Qur'an and Revelation

REVELATION AND SCRIPTURE BEFORE THE QUR'AN
http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch1S1.htm
God's Communication with Man
Man denies God
Empiricism and Realism
Creation is Material Evidence for God

Man's Pride

Guidance for Man

The Messengers
The Names of the Prophets and their Number
The Names of the Scriptures and their Number

The Contents of the Former Scriptures

The Final Revelation

THE QUR'AN, HADITH AND HADITH QUDSI
http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch1S2.htm
The Qur'an

The word Qur'an

Other Names of the Qur'an

The Meaning of hadith

The difference between the Qur'an and Hadith

Hadith Qudsi

Distinctive Features of the Qur'an

REVELATION AND HOW IT CAME TO THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD
http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch1S3.htm

God guides His Creation

Guidance through Revelation

The Meaning of Wahy

Means of Revelation

The Qur'an revealed to Muhammad

The Descent of the Qur'an

BEGINNING OF THE REVELATION
http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch1S4.htm

Bukharis Account

How Revelation came

The First Revelation'

The Pause (fatra)

The Second Revelation

Other Early Revelations

The Last Revelation

Reasons why the Qur'an was sent down in Stages

CHAPTER 2: Transmission of the Qur'anic Revelation

MEMORISATION AND ORAL TRANSMISSION
http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch2.htm

Memorisation by the Prophet

Memorisation by the Companions

The Prophet encourages Memorisation

The Prophet sent Teachers

Qur'an Readers among the Companions

The Qur'an Memorised in the Prophet's Lifetime

TRANSMISSION OF THE WRITTEN TEXT
http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch2S2.htm

What is meant by Jam' al-Qur'an?

How was the Qur'an Collected?

Stages of Collection

Why was no Book left by the Prophet?

Writing down the Revelation

Did the Prophet himself write?

The Qur'an written during the Prophet's Lifetime

The Qur'an Dictated by the Prophet

Written during the Prophet's Lifetime

Collection of Revelation during the Prophet's Lifetime

What did the Prophet leave behind?

Suhuf and Mushaf

How the suhuf were made

THE MASAHIF OF THE COMPANIONS
http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch2S3.htm

The Mushaf of Ibn Mas'ud (d. 33/653)

The Mushaf of Ubay bin Ka'b (d. 29 H/649)

The Mushaf of Ibn 'Abbas (d. 68H/687)

Some other Companions

Variants on Sura Al-lkhlas, (112)

THE MUSHAF OF 'UTHMAN
http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch2S4.htm

Chronology of the Written Text

What the Prophet left to the Muslims

The Difference between Abu Bakr's and 'Uthman's Collection

CHAPTER 3: The Qur'an in Manuscript and Print

The Qur'anic Script
http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch3S1.htm

Tashkil

I'jam

EARLY MANUSCRIPTS
http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch3S2.htm

Writing Material

Script

Some Peculiarities of the Ancient Writing

OLD MANUSCRIPTS OF THE QUR'AN
http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch3S3.htm

What happened to 'Uthman's Copies?

The Damascus Manuscript

The Egyptian Manuscript

The Madina Manuscript

The 'Imam' Manuscript

The Samarkand Manuscript

The 'Ali Manuscript

THE QUR'AN IN PRINT

http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch3S4.htm

The Egyptian Edition

The Sa'd Nursi Copy

CHAPTER 4: Form, Language and Style

DIVISION OF THE TEXT

http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch4S1.htm

Aya and Sura

Order and Arrangement

Other Divisions of the Text

LANGUAGE AND VOCABULARY
http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch4S2.htm

The Qur'an Needed to be Understood

To Understand the Qur'an

Non-Arabic Words in the Qur'an

LITERARY FORMS AND STYLE
http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch4S3.htm

The Qur'an is not Poetry

The Difference between Literature and the Qur'an

STYLE Narrative in the Qur'an
http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch4S4.htm

Similes in the Qur'an

Passages with Qul

Oaths in the Qur’an

MUHKAMAT AND MUTASHABIHAT
http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer- uaq/Ch4S5.htm
The Qur'an on Muhkamat and Mutashabihat

General and Specific

'Free' and 'Bound' Verses

'Literal' and 'Understood' Meanings

Al Muqatta'at

Their Occurrence

Variety of Explanations

CHAPTER 5: Understanding the Text

Makkan and Madinan Revelations
http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch5S1.htm

The Makkan Phase

The Madinan Phase

Makkan and Madinan Suras

Chronology

Summary

ASBAB AL-NUZUL

http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch5S2.htm

Its Importance

How it is Known

Kinds of Reports

Kinds of Reasons

Response to an Event

Response to a Particular Situation

Question to the Prophet

Question by the Prophet

Response to a General Question

Particular Persons

Several Asbab and One Revelation

Several Revelations and One Sabab

Several Views on Sabab al-Nuzul

Specific or General?

What is not Asbab al-Nuzul

Summary

AL-NASIKH WA AL-MANSUKH
http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch5S3.htm
The Qur'an on Naskh

How it came about

Why it is important

How do we know it?

What is abrogated?

Three Kinds of Naskh in the Qur'an

The Abrogated Verses

Abrogation and Specification

Summary

VARIETY OF MODES
http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch5S4.htm

The Language of the Quraish

The Seven Modes

Scholars Differ

Summary

Seven Modes in the Qur'an
THE VARIOUS READINGS
http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch5S5.htm

Readers among the Sababa

Later Development

The Seven Readings

Other Views

Summary

CHAPTER 6 - Interpreting the Text

Tafsir, Its Kinds and Principles


http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch6S1.htm
Tafsir and Ta'wil

Why is it Important?

A Warning

Basic Conditions

Grades of Sources

Kinds of Tafsir

Tafsir bi-l-riwaya

The Qur'an explained by the Qur'an

The Qur'an explained by the Prophet

Tafsir by sahaba

Ibn 'Abbas

Tafsir by Tabi'un

The Makkan Group

The Madinan Group

The Iraq Group

Summary

Tafsir bi'l-ra'y

References

Taken from:
http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/index.htm

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