The Sciences of the Quran
The sciences of the Quran refer to the various fields of study that have developed over the centuries to help Muslims better understand the text of the Quran. These fields include:
1. Tafsir: This is the science of interpreting the Quran. Tafsir scholars use a variety of methods to extract meaning from the text, including analyzing the language and grammar, examining the historical context of each verse, reflecting on the meaning from another verse, Hadith, practical Sunna, and considering the opinions of previous scholars. Examples of Tafsir can be found in the works of renowned scholars such as Ibn Kathir and Al-Tabari.
"Indeed, We have sent it down as an Arabic Quran that you might understand." (12:2)
This verse highlights the importance of understanding the language in which the Quran was revealed, as it was sent down in Arabic. Tafsir scholars use their knowledge of Arabic language and grammar to better understand the meaning of the Quran.
The Prophet PBUH said: “Whoever explains the Quran with his opinion or with what he has no knowledge of, then let him take his place in the Fire." (Sunan Ibn Majah 69)
This Hadith emphasizes the importance of relying on scholarly sources for Tafsir, rather than personal opinions or speculation. It serves as a warning against making interpretations without proper knowledge and understanding.
2. Hadith: Hadith is the science of narrations and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Hadith scholars analyze the authenticity of each narration and categorize them based on their strength and weakness. Examples of Hadith can be found in collections such as Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. Hadith scholars use these narrations to gain a better understanding of the teachings and actions of the Prophet.
"And We have sent down to you the message, that you may make clear to the people what was sent down to them and that they might give thought." (16:44)
This verse highlights the importance of clarifying and explaining the message of the Quran to others. Hadith scholars use the narrations of the Prophet to gain a better understanding of the teachings and actions of the Prophet, which can then be used to explain the message of the Quran to others.
The Prophet PBUH said: “The best of you are those who learn the Quran and teach it." (Sahih Al-Bukhari 5027)
This Hadith emphasizes the importance of learning and teaching the Quran. Hadith scholars use the narrations of the Prophet to gain a better understanding of the Quran and then pass on this knowledge to others.
3. Qira'at: This is the science of the different recitations of the Quran. Qira'at scholars study the various ways in which the Quran has been recited throughout history and the differences between the recitations.
There are 10 Qira'at which can be found in the recitation of the following Imams: Nafe’ Almadani, Abdullah Ibn Katheer Almakki, Abu Amr Albasri, Ibn Amer Alshami, Asem Alkufi, Hamza Alzayyat, Alkisa’, Abu Ja’far Almadani, Ya’qoub Alhadrami, Khalaf Albazzar.
Qira'at scholars use their knowledge of the different recitations to better understand the meaning and significance of the Quran.
"And recite the Quran in slow, measured rhythmic tones." (73:4)
This verse emphasizes the importance of reciting the Quran in a clear and beautiful manner. Qira'at scholars study the different recitations of the Quran to better understand the beauty and eloquence of the text.
The “Prophet PBUH said: The Quran was revealed in seven dialects." (Sahih Al-Bukhari 5146)
This Hadith highlights the existence of different dialects in which the Quran has been recited. Qira'at scholars study these different recitations to better understand the nuances and differences in meaning that can arise from variations in recitation.
4. Ilm Al-Balagha: This is the science of Arabic rhetoric and eloquence. Ilm Al-Balagha scholars analyze the linguistic and stylistic features of the Quran to better understand its beauty and eloquence. Examples of Ilm Al-Balagha can be found in works such as The Eloquence of the Quran by Muhammad Abdul Hameed Siddiqui and The Art of Quranic Recitation by Kristina Nelson.
Here are some branches of Ilm Albalgha:
• Simile (tashbih): This is a comparison between two things using "like" or "as" to make a point. An
"The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like a grain [of corn] which grows seven ears, each bearing a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies [His reward] for whom He wills. And Allah is all-encompassing and knowing." (2:261)
"Indeed, the example of Jesus to Allah is like that of Adam. He created Him from dust; then He said to him, "Be," and he was." (3:59)
• Metaphor (isti'ara): This is a comparison between two things without using "like" or "as". An
"Is one who was dead, and We gave him life and made for him light by which to walk among the people like one who is in darkness, never to emerge therefrom?" (6:122)
• Allegory (mathal): This is a story or description that has a deeper meaning beyond its literal interpretation. An example of allegory in the Quran is:
"The example of those who take allies other than Allah is like that of a spider who takes a home. And indeed, the weakest of homes is the home of the spider, if they only knew." (29:41)
"The example of those who spend their wealth for the sake of Allah is like that of a grain which grows seven ears, in each ear a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies [His reward] for whom He wills. And Allah is all-encompassing and knowing." (2:261)
• Repetition (tafwidh): This is the repetition of a word or phrase for emphasis.
"Then We gave Moses the Scripture, making complete [Our favor] upon the one who did good, and as a detailed explanation of all things and as guidance and mercy that perhaps in [the matter of] the meeting with their Lord they would believe." (6:154)
"Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer - We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do." (16:97)
• Irony (isti'jab): This is saying something but meaning the opposite for emphasis or effect.
"They say, 'We have believed in Allah and the Messenger and we obey, then a party of them turns away after that. And those are not believers." (24:47)
"And We did not send before you any messenger or prophet except that when he spoke [or recited], Satan threw into it [some misunderstanding]. But Allah abolishes that which Satan throws in; then Allah makes precise His verses. And Allah is Knowing and Wise." (22:52)
These are just a few examples of the many rhetorical devices used in the Quran. The Quran's eloquence and beauty is a testament to its divine origin and serves as a reminder of the power of language to convey deep truths and inspire the hearts of believers.
5. Ulum Al-Quran: This is the science of the Quran itself, including its structure, language, and historical context. Ulum Al-Quran scholars analyze the various features of the text to better understand its meaning and significance.
"A book whose verses are explained in detail." (41)
Ulum Al-Quran is a wide knowledge that contains:
- Asbab Al-Nuzul: This is the science of the reasons and occasions for the revelation of the verses of the Quran. Understanding the context in which each verse was revealed can help to better understand its meaning and significance.
Example from the Quran:
"And We have not sent down the Book to you, except that you may explain to them that which they differ upon, and as a guidance and a mercy for a people who believe." (16:64)
⁃ I’jaz Al-Quran: This is the science of the miraculous nature of the Quran. It involves studying the linguistic, rhetorical, and other unique features of the Quran that demonstrate its divine origin.
"And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down upon Our Servant [Muhammad], then produce a surah the like thereof and call upon your witnesses other than Allah, if you should be truthful." (2:23)
⁃ Tawil Al-Quran: This is the science of the deeper meanings and interpretations of the Quran. It involves analyzing the various layers of meaning in the text, including literal, metaphorical, and symbolic meanings.
"It is He who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book; in it are verses [that are] precise - they are the foundation of the Book - and others unspecific. As for those in whose hearts is deviation [from truth], they will follow that of it which is unspecific, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation [suitable to them]." (3:7)
⁃ Al-Nasikh Wal-Mansukh: This is the science of abrogation in the Quran, which refers to the idea that some verses of the Quran have been "abrogated" or cancelled out by others.
"Whatever verse We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring forth [one] better than it or similar to it. Do you not know that Allah is over all things competent?" (2:106)
⁃ Al-Muhkam Wal-Mutashabih: This is the science of the clear and ambiguous verses of the Quran. It involves studying the verses that are straightforward and easily understood, as well as those that are more obscure or open to interpretation.
"He it is Who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book; in it are verses [that are] clear, they are the foundation of the Book; and others unspecific. As for those in whose hearts is deviatied [from truth], they will follow that of it which is unspecific, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation [suitable to them]." (3:7)
⁃ Al-Wujuh Wal-Mutashabihat: This is the science of the different styles and modes of expression used in the Quran. It involves analyzing the different ways in which the Quran conveys its message, including through stories, parables, and direct commands.
"Indeed, in their stories is a lesson for those of understanding. It is not a narration which has been invented, but a confirmation of what was before it and a detailed explanation of all things and guidance and mercy for a people who believe." (12:111)
These sciences of the Quran are essential for Muslims to understand and appreciate the meaning and significance of the Quran.