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 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
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 RevelationREVELATION AND SCRIPTURE BEFORE THE QUR'AN
God's Communication with Man
Man denies God
Empiricism and Realism
Creation is Material Evidence for God
Guidance for Man
The Names of the Prophets and their Number
The Names of the Scriptures and their Number
The Contents of the Former Scriptures
The Final RevelationTHE QUR'AN, HADITH AND HADITH QUDSI
The word Qur'an
Other Names of the Qur'an
The Meaning of hadith
The difference between the Qur'an and Hadith
Distinctive Features of the Qur'anREVELATION AND HOW IT CAME TO THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD
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'anBEGINNING OF THE REVELATION
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 RevelationMEMORISATION AND ORAL TRANSMISSION
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 LifetimeTRANSMISSION OF THE WRITTEN TEXT
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 madeTHE MASAHIF OF THE COMPANIONS
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
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 PrintThe Qur'anic Script
Some Peculiarities of the Ancient WritingOLD MANUSCRIPTS OF THE QUR'AN
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 PRINThttp://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch3S4.htm
The Egyptian Edition
The Sa'd Nursi Copy
CHAPTER 4: Form, Language and StyleDIVISION OF THE TEXThttp://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch4S1.htm
Aya and Sura
Order and Arrangement
Other Divisions of the TextLANGUAGE AND VOCABULARY
The Qur'an Needed to be Understood
To Understand the Qur'an
Non-Arabic Words in the Qur'anLITERARY FORMS AND STYLE
The Qur'an is not Poetry
The Difference between Literature and the Qur'anSTYLE Narrative in the Qur'an
Similes in the Qur'an
Passages with Qul
Oaths in the Qur’anMUHKAMAT AND MUTASHABIHAT
The Qur'an on Muhkamat and Mutashabihat
General and Specific
'Free' and 'Bound' Verses
'Literal' and 'Understood' Meanings
Variety of Explanations
CHAPTER 5: Understanding the TextMakkan and Madinan Revelations
The Makkan Phase
The Madinan Phase
Makkan and Madinan Suras
Summary ASBAB AL-NUZUL http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/Ch5S2.htm
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
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
SummaryAL-NASIKH WA AL-MANSUKH
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
SummaryVARIETY OF MODES
The Language of the Quraish
The Seven Modes
Seven Modes in the Qur'an THE VARIOUS READINGS
Readers among the Sababa
The Seven Readings
CHAPTER 6 - Interpreting the Text
Tafsir, Its Kinds and Principles
Tafsir and Ta'wil
Why is it Important?
Grades of Sources
Kinds of Tafsir
The Qur'an explained by the Qur'an
The Qur'an explained by the Prophet
Tafsir by sahaba
Tafsir by Tabi'un
The Makkan Group
The Madinan Group
The Iraq Group
Taken from: http://www.wponline.org/vil/Books/Denffer_uaq/index.htm