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phet's sayings preserved in the Traditions handed down by the Companions, their followers, and their followers' followers, who can point out a flaw in the Isnád (i. e. chain of narrators) of a Tradition quoted by an opponent, or maintain, by repeating the long list of names, the authority of the Isnád of the Tradition he quotes himself. A good memory, not critical acumen, is the great desideratum in a Muslim theologian, The chief qualification of a Háfiz, a man who can repeat the whole Qurán by heart, is not that he shall understand its meaning, but that he shall be able to pronounce each word correctly. By men who are not Arabs by birth, this is only to be attained after years of practice from childhood. The Sundís say that no Shía'h can ever become a Háfiz, from which fact they draw the conclusion that the Shía’hs are heretics. In the early days of Islám, the great authorities on the question of the correct pronunciation of the Qurán were the Khalífs Abu Bakr, Omar, Osmán, and 'Alí, and ten of the Companions, who learned from the Prophet himself the exact way in which Gabriel had spoken. The Arabic of heaven was the Arabic of Islám. The effort, however, to preserve one uniform method of repeating the Qurán failed. Men of other lands could not acquire the pure intonation of Mecca, and so no less than seven different ways of reading the sacred book became current. Here was a great difficulty, but it proved surmountable. Abu Ibn Káb, one of the Companions, had become so famous as a reader that the Prophet himself said: "read the Qurán under Abu Ibn Káb." These men membered that Abu Ibn Káb had stated, that one day when scandalized at man after man who entered the mosque repeating the Qurán in different ways, he spoke to Muhammad about it. His Highness said : “O Abu Ibn Káb! intelligence was sent to me to read the Quran in one dialect, and I was attentive to the Court of God, and said: 'make easy the reading of the Qurán to my sects. These instructions were sent to me a second time saying : 'read the


Qurán in two dialects. Then I turned myself to the Court of God saying: 'make easy the reading of the Qurán to my sects.' Then a voice was sent to me the third time saying: 'read the Qurán in seven dialects.'

This removed all difficulty, and the foresight displayed. by the Prophet in thus obtaining a divine sanction for the various ways of reading was looked upon as a proof of his inspiration. Thus arose the “haft qirá,at," or seven readings of the Qurán, now recognised.

In the Qurán compiled by the order of the Khalíf Osmán there were no vowel-points, but when men of other countries embraced Islám they found great difficulty in mastering Arabic. Khalid bin Ahmad, a great grammarian, then invented the short vowels and other diacritical marks. The seven famous “Readers” whose names have been given to the various modes of reading, are Imám Nafi of Madína, Imám Ibn-i-Kasir of Mecca, Imám Abu 'Umr of Basra, Imám Hamza of Kufa, Imám Ibn 'Amir of Syria, Imám 'Asim of Kufa, Imám Kisáe of Kufa.1 These learned men affixed different vowel-points in many places in the Qurán, and thus slight differences of meaning arose. In India the “ qirá,at -reading,—of Imám ’Asim is followed by both Sunnís and Shía’hs. There are three readings of lesser note allowable when reading the Qurán privately, but not when reading any part in a liturgical service. During the month of Ramazán the Qurán is repeated every night in the mosque, it being so arranged that one-thirtieth part shall be recited each night. The Imám of the mosque, or public Reader, (Qárí) who commences according to one of the seven recognised readings (qirá,at), must keep to the same all the month. As he has to recite without a book this involves a great exercise of the memory. A good Hafiz will know the whole seven varieties. The various readings thus introduced, though unimportant in their nature, 1 amount to about five hundred in number. The following are a few illustrations. In the second Súra Abu 'Umr reads : “Nor shall ye be questioned concerning that which they have done;" but Asim reads: “That which ye have done." This is caused by putting two dots above the line instead of below it. Again 'Asim reads: Enter ye the gates of hell” (Súra xxxix. 73), but Nafi reads: “Ye will be made to enter hell," that is, by a slight change the passive is substituted for the active voice. These are fair samples of the rest. No doctrine, so far as I know, is touched, but the way in which Tradition records the Prophet's anticipation of the difficulty is instructive to the student of Islám. At times, too, fierce disputes have arisen between the followers of the seven famous Readers whose names I have given above. In the year 935 A.H., Ibn Shanabud, a resident of Baghdad, ventured to introduce some different readings in his recital of the Qurán. The people of Baghdad, not knowing these, were furious, and the Khalíf was compelled to cast the offender into prison. A Council of divines was called together, before whom the unhappy Ibn Shanabud was produced. For a while he maintained the correctness of his

1. Zawábit-al-Qurán, pp. 110, 111.

readings,” but after being whipped seven times he said : "I renounce my manner of reading, and in future I shall follow no other than that of the manuscript drawn up by the Khalíf Osmán, and that which is generally received.”

Closely connected with this subject is the history of the rise of the science of grammar. As Islám spread, it became necessary to expound the Qurán to persons unacquainted with Arabic. The science of grammar then became an important branch of study, and the collection of Traditions a necessary duty. The Faithful were for a long time in

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1. The opinion of Von Hammer, quoted by Sir W. Muir, in his life of Muhammad (vol. i. page 27) seems to be correct, “ We may hold the Qurán to be as surely Muhammad's words as the Muhammadans hold it to be the Word of God.”

2. Ibn Khallikan's Biographical Dictionary, vol. iii. p. 16.

doubt as to the lawfulness of applying the laws of grammar to so sacred a book. There was no command in the book itself to do so, nor had the Prophet given any directions on this point. It was then neither “farz" nor “sunnat," that is, neither a command based on the Qurán nor one based on any saying or act of the Prophet. The Traditions, however, solve the difficulty.

Al Mamun, the distinguished though heretical Khalíf of Baghdád, was a patron of Al Farra, the chief of grammarians. A distinguished pupil of his, Abu'l 'Abbás Thalub, on his death-bed expressed his belief in the fact that the Quránists, the Traditionists, and others, had gained their heavenly reward, but he had been only a grammarian, and grammar after all was, in connection with the Qurán, a science of doubtful legality. The friend to whom he told his doubts and fears went home and saw a vision. It is recorded that he had a vision in his sleep that very night, in which he saw the blessed Prophet, who said to him : "Give my greeting to Abu'l’Abbás Thalub, and say, 'thou art master of the superior science.'” The Prophet had now spoken, and henceforth grammar became a lawful study in Islám. Muslims now quote the Qurán as a perfect model of style ; it may

be well to remember that the rules have been made for it, and that, therefore, it is but natural that it should be perfect according to the present canons of Arabic grammar. 1

The question of the interpretation of the text speedily became a very important branch of the “ 'Ilm-i-usúl." It is said that the Qurán was brought from Paradise by Gabriel to Muhammad as occasion required. The Prophet was reproached for not having a complete revelation, and

1. "Were we to examine the Qurán by the rules of rhetoric and criticism as they are taught in Muslim schools, we should be obliged to acknow. ledge that it is the perfection of thought and expression ; an inevitable result as the Muslims drew their principles of rhetoric from that very book."-Baron M. de Blane, in the introduction to Ibn Khallikan's Biogra. phical Dictionary.

answered the reproach by the following verse, sent for the purpose.

“The infidels say, 'unless the Qurán be sent down to him all at once-but in this way we establish thy heart in it, in parcels have we parcelled it out to thee(Súra xxv. 34). The revelation thus given is entirely objective ; it came to the ear of the Prophet through the teaching of Gabriel. “Yet it is a glorious Qurán, written on the preserved Table.(Súra lxxxv. 22). Gabriel addresses the Prophet thus : “When we have recited it then follow thou the recital.(Súra lxxv. 18). The external mode in which it came is referred to in the verse : “ We have sent down to thee an Arabic Qurán." (Súra xx. 112). The fragmentary way in which the Qurán was given was not without its difficulties. Some passages contradicted others, some were difficult to understand. To the Prophet alone was the solution known. The knowledge he communicated to his immediate followers, the Companions, as they are called, thus: “To thee have we sent down this book of monitions, that thou mayest make clear to men what hath been sent down to them.” (Súra xvi. 46).

Ibn Khaldoun says: "The Prophet unfolded the meaning, distinguished between abrogated and abrogating verses,

1. There are many Traditions which refer to this fact. Omar Ibn al Khat. táb said: “I accorded with my cherisher (i. e., God) in three things. One is that I said, 'O messenger of God! if we were to say our prayers in Abraham's place it would be better.' Then a revelation came down 'Take the place of Abraham for a place of prayer.' The second is, that I said,

O messenger of God! good and bad people come to your house; and I do not see that it is fitting ; therefore, if you order your women to be shut up it will be better.' Then the revelation for doing so came down, The third is, that his Majesty's wives were all agreed in a story about his drinking honey; and he had vowed never to drink it more. Then I said to his Majesty's wives, 'Should the Prophet divorce you, God will give him better in exchange.' Then a revelation, came down agreeing with what I said.”

Ayesha said :-"I was reflecting on those women who had given themselves to the Prophet, and said . What! does a woman give herself away po Then the revelation descended : “Thou mayest decline for the present whom thou wilt of them, and thou mayest take to thy bed her whom thou wilt, and whomsoever thou shalt long for of those thou shalt have before neglected : and this shall be no crime in thee.' (Súra xxxiii. 51). I said: 'I see nothing in which your God doth not hasten to please you : whatsoever you wish He doeth.'

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