CHAPTER SIX – KINDS OF VERSES IN THE HOLY QURAN

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As per the teachings of the Ahle Bait (a.s.), there are various kinds of verses in the Holy Quran. But prior to that it should be known that the Holy Quran has two aspects: the apparent as well as the concealed.

Apparent and the Concealed

Apparent implies the apparent meaning of the revelation.

Concealed refers to its hidden implications.

Jaaber Ibn Abdillah al-Ansari (r.a.) reports, “I asked Imam Muhammad al-Baqer (a.s.) about something concerning the exegesis of the Quran and he (a.s.) replied me. When I asked him (a.s.) for the second time, he (a.s.) gave me another reply. I pleaded, ‘May I be held your ransom! Just the other day you had answered me differently for the same question!’ He (a.s.) informed me, ‘O Jaaber! Surely for the Quran there is a concealed aspect and for the concealed aspect, there is another concealed aspect and an apparent aspect. Similarly, for the apparent aspect, there is another apparent aspect. O Jaaber! There is nothing further from the intellects of people than the exegesis of the Quran. Surely, a verse, its beginning will be about one thing, its middle will be about another thing and its last part will be about another thing. It is a continuous speech used for different meanings.[1]

The different kinds of verses in the Holy Quran are as follows:

  1. General
  2. Particular
  3. Decisive
  4. Allegorical
  5. Abrogating
  6. Abrogated
  7. Advanced
  8. Postponed

 

 

Wuhaib Ibn Hafs says, “I heard Imam Abu Abdillah Jafar al-Sadeq (a.s.) say, ‘Surely, in the Holy Quran, there are decisive and allegorical verses. As for the decisive verses, they should be believed in and acted upon and the allegorical verses should be believed in but not acted upon. This is the meaning of the word of Allah – Blessed and High be He – then as for those in whose hearts there is perversity they follow the part of it which is allegorical, seeking to mislead and seeking to give it (their own) interpretation. But none knows its interpretation except Allah, and those who are firmly rooted in knowledge’.[2]

Zoraarah states on the authority of Imam Abu Jafar al-Baqer (a.s.), “The Quran was revealed as the abrogating and the abrogated.[3]” Thus, what was established later was the abrogating one and what was in the past was abrogated. Scholars have given numerous such examples from the Holy Quran.

Imam Zain al-Abedeen Ali Ibn al-Husain (a.s.) says, “The Book of Allah – Mighty and Majestic be He – is upon four things: Terms, indications, subtleties and realities. The (apparent) terms are for the masses, the indications are for the special ones (i.e. the learned), the subtleties are for the friends (of Allah) and the realities are for the Prophets (a.s.).[4]

There are numerous other classifications that have come in the traditions of the Ahle Bait (a.s.). Only the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and the infallible Ahle Bait (a.s.) have the knowledge of all these kinds of verses.

 

SEVEN ALPHABETS OR SEVEN TYPES OF RECITATION

According to some Muslims, the Holy Quran was revealed on seven alphabets or that there are seven kinds of recitation and all of them are correct. This is a preposterous claim that is against human intellect. Even the Ahle Bait (a.s.) have condemned those who make such a claim as disbelievers.

Fuzail Ibn Yasaar reports, “I asked Imam Abu Abdillah Jafar al-Sadeq (a.s.) that some people suggest the Quran was revealed on seven alphabets. He (a.s.) replied, ‘The enemies of Allah have lied. Nay, it was revealed on one alphabet from the One Lord.[5]

From the above tradition, it is amply clear that such a belief is against the tenets of the infallible Ahle Bait (a.s.). If at all such a tradition is found which says that the Quran was revealed on seven alphabets, it is in the meaning of seven aspects of interpretation. Thus, when the narrator asked Imam Jafar al-Sadeq (a.s.) about the reason for differences in traditions, he (a.s.) replied, “Surely, the Quran was revealed on seven alphabets. The minimum for an Imam is that he decrees from seven aspects…[6]

Readers who are interested in knowing more about this subject must refer to the traditions of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) in books like Al-Kaafi (The Book of Quran), Behaar al-Anwaar, Anwaar al-Nomaaniyah, etc.

[1] Tafseer al-Ayyaashi, vol. 1, p. 12, H. 8

[2] Surah Aale Imraan (3): Verse 7

[3] Tafseer al-Ayyaashi, vol. 1, p. 11, H. 3

[4] Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 92, p. 20, H. 18

[5] Al-Kaafi, vol. 2, p. 461, H/ 13

[6] Tafseer al-Ayyaashi, vol. 1, p. 12, H. 11