Arrangement of the Qur'an - Javed Ahmad Ghamidi

Arrangement of the Qur'an

The sūrahs of the Qur’ān are not haphazardly compiled as is generally thought. They have been arranged in a specific order by the Almighty, and like the arrangement of the verses within a sūrah, the arrangement of the sūrahs within the Qur’ān is very apt and meaningful with relation to the topic they discuss. In a nutshell, as per this arrangement, the Qur’ān is divided in seven distinct groups and the sūrahs within each group occur in pairs. This pairing of the sūrahs is on the basis of the topics discussed, and each member of a pair has a complimentary relation with one another. Some sūrahs are an exception to this scheme like SūrahFātiḥah, which is like an introduction to the whole Qur’ān. Some other sūrahs have come as a supplement or as a conclusion of a group. This scheme, with its seven sūrah-groups and pairing of the sūrahs, is stated by the Qur’ān in the following words:

وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَاكَ سَبْعًا مِنْ الْمَثَانِي وَالْقُرْآنَ الْعَظِيمَ

And [O Prophet!] We have bestowed upon you seven mathānī[1] which is this great Qur’ān. (15:87)[2]

Each group of the Qur’ān begins with one or more Makkan sūrah and ends with one or more Madīnan sūrah.

Following is a brief description of the seven Qur’ānic groups:

Group I {SūrahFātihah (1) - SūrahMāi’dah (5)}

Makkan: 1

Madīnan: 2-5

Group II {SūrahAn‘ām (6) - SūrahTawbah (9)}

Makkan: 6,7

Madīnan: 8,9

Group III {SūrahYūnus (10) - SūrahNūr (24)}

Makkan: 10-23

Madīnan: 24

Group IV {SūrahFurqān (25) - SūrahAḥzāb (33)}

Makkan: 25-32

Madīnan: 33

Group V {SūrahSabā (34) - SūrahḤujurāt (49)}

Makkan: 34-46

Madīnan: 47-49

Group VI {SūrahQāf (50) - SūrahTaḥrīm (66)}

Makkan: 50-56

Madīnan: 57-66

Group VII {SūrahMulk (67) - SūrahNās (114)}

Makkan: 67-112

Madīnan : 113-14

 

Each group has a theme, and the sūrahs within it are arranged according to this theme.

The theme of the first group is to communicate the truth to the Jews and Christians to the extent that they are left with no excuse to deny it, to institute a new ummah from among the Ishmaelites, its spiritual purification and isolation from the disbelievers and a description of its final covenant with the Almighty.

The theme of the second group is to communicate the truth to the polytheists of Arabia to the extent that they are left with no excuse to deny it, spiritual purification of the believers and their isolation from the disbelievers and a description of the final worldly Judgment of God.

The third, fourth, fifth and sixth groups have the same theme: delivering warning and glad tidings and spiritual purification of the believers and their isolation from the disbelievers.

The theme of the seventh group is to warn the leadership of the Quraysh of the consequences of the Hereafter, to communicate the truth to them to the extent that they are left with no excuse to deny it, and, as a result, to warn them of a severe punishment, and to give glad tidings to Muḥammad (sws) of the dominance of his religion in the Arabian peninsula. Briefly, this can be stated as delivering warning and glad tidings.

If the first group is not taken into consideration, the sequence of the groups is from the end to the beginning (the seventh to the second group). Consequently, the seventh group ends on delivering warning and glad tidings. After that, in the sixth, fifth, fourth and third groups besides the theme of delivering warning and glad tidings, the theme of spiritual purification of the believers and their isolation from the disbelievers is also added. The second group is the culmination of the groups. It is here that the indhār of Muḥammad (sws) reaches its culmination too. Thus besides the themes of delivering warning and glad tidings, and the spiritual purification of the believers and their isolation from the disbelievers, the worldly Judgement of God is also depicted which is actually a miniature Day of Judgement that will take place before the actual Day of Judgement.

The first group specifically addresses the People of the Book instead of the polytheists of Arabia and in this respect differs from the rest. However, it too relates to the worldly judgement pronounced in the second group in SūrahTawbah in the very manner the rest of the groups relate to it. Thus the second group is the culmination of all the groups. The topic of indhār after passing through various phases reaches its peak of worldly judgement in this group from both sides. The only difference are the addressees.

It is evident from this that from the seventh to the second group an ascending order arrangement is present in order to relate it with the first group in this manner.

The first group has been placed the foremost because the recipients of the Qur’ān are its addresses the foremost.

Except for the first group, the Makkan sūrahs of each group discuss delivering of warning and glad tidings and of communicating the truth to the addresses to the extent that they do not have any excuse to deny it, while the Madīnan sūrahs discuss the spiritual purification and isolation of the believers. However, both the Makkan and Madīnan sūrahs are in harmony and consonance with one another in each group and relate to one another in a manner a root and stem are related to the branches.

This then is the arrangement of the Qur’ān. If it is deliberated upon at length the extent of guidance it provides to a student of the Qur’ān in understanding the background of the sūrahs and their time of revelation and the addressees of the Qur’ān as well in determining the topic of a sūrah and its purport cannot be obtained whatsoever from any thing external to the Qur’ān.

(Translated by Mr Shehzad Saleem)

 

[1]Mathānī (مثاني) is the plural of mathnā (مثنى) and it means something which occurs in pairs.

[2]. For an explanation of this verse see: AmīnAḥsanIṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 4 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 377-378.

 

Author: Javed Ahmed Ghamidi

 

Date: 06 Aug 2009
Thanks: Javed Ahmed Ghamidi

 

Author:   Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
Uploaded on : May 30, 2016
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