Sura

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Qur'an
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The last three suras of the Qur'an: Al-Ikhlas, al-Falaq, and al-Nas

Sūra (Arabic: سُورَة), in technical usage, means a part of the Holy Qur'an that has a coherent content and has a beginning and an ending. The Qur'an has 114 suras beginning with Sura al-Hamd and ending with Sura al-Nas. Suras of the Qur'an, except for Sura al-Tawba, begin with "bism Allah" (English: "In the name of Allah the All-beneficent the All-merciful") phrase. The word "sura" is used 8 times in singular form and 1 time in plural. There's a disagreement about the order of suras being "tawqifi" (specified by Allah) or "ijtihadi" (by judgment of the companions).

Etymology

"Sura" literally means a level and rank, or a part and chapter of something. In technical usage, sura means a part of the Qur'an that has a coherent content and has a beginning and an ending.

The chapters of the Qur'an are named sura because they are like a "sur" (Arabic: "سور", wall), separates each one of them from other chapters; or because it contains all the verses and words.

The word "sura" is used 8 times in singular form and 1 time in plural form (Arabic: "سُوَر").

Suras of the Qur'an, except for Sura al-Tawba, begin with the phrase "bism Allah" ("In the name of Allah the All-beneficent the All-merciful").

Categorizations

No. Name Verses Order Place
1 Al-Fatiha (the Opening) 7 5 Makki
2 Al-Baqara (the Cow) 286 87 Madani
3 Al 'Imaran (the Family of 'Imran) 200 89 Madani
4 Al-Nisa' (Women) 176 92 Madani
5 Al-Ma'ida (the Table) 120 112 Madani
6 Al-An'am (Cattle) 165 55 Makki
7 Al-A'raf (the Elevations) 206 39 Makki
8 Al-Anfal (the Spoils) 75 88 Madani
9 Al-Tawba (Repentance) 129 113 Madani
10 Yunus (Jonah) 109 51 Makki
11 Hud 123 52 Makki
12 Yusuf (Joseph) 111 53 Makki
13 Al-Ra'd (Thunder) 43 96 Madani
14 Ibrahim (Abraham) 52 72 Makki
15 Al-Hijr 99 54 Makki
16 Al-Nahl (the Bee) 128 70 Makki
17 Al-Isra' (the Night Journey) 111 50 Makki
18 Al-Kahf (the Cave) 110 69 Makki
19 Maryam (Mary) 98 44 Makki
20 TaHa 135 45 Makki
21 Al-Anbiya (the Prophets) 112 73 Makki
22 Al-Hajj (the Pilgrimage) 78 103 Madani
23 Al-Mu'minun (the Faithful) 118 74 Makki
24 Al-Nur (the Light) 64 102 Madani
25 Al-Furqan (the Criterion) 77 42 Makki
26 Al-Shu'ara (the Poets) 227 47 Makki
27 Al-Naml (the Ants) 93 48 Makki
28 Al-Qasas (the Story) 88 49 Makki
29 Al-'Ankabut (the Spider) 69 85 Makki
30 Al-Rum (the Byzantines) 60 84 Makki
31 Luqaman 34 57 Makki
32 Al-Sajda 30 75 Makki
33 Al-Ahzab (the Confederates) 73 90 Madani
34 Saba' (Sheba) 54 58 Makki
35 Fatir (the Originator) 45 43 Makki
36 YaSin 83 41 Makki
37 Al-Saffat (the Ranged Ones) 182 56 Makki
38 Sad 88 38 Makki
39 Al-Zamar (the Throngs) 75 59 Makki
40 Al-Ghafir (the Forgiver) 85 60 Makki
41 Fussilat (Elaborated) 54 61 Makki
42 Al-Shura (Consultation) 53 62 Makki
43 Al-Zukhruf (Ornaments) 89 63 Makki
44 Al-Dukhan (Smoke) 59 64 Makki
45 Al-Jathia (Crowling) 37 65 Makki
46 Al-Ahqaf () 35 66 Makki
47 Muhammad 38 95 Madani
48 Al-Fath (Vicroty) 29 111 Madani
49 Al-Hujurat (Apartments) 18 106 Madani
50 Qaf 45 34 Makki
51 Al-Dhariyat (the Scatterers) 60 67 Makki
52 Al-Tur (the Mount) 49 76 Makki
53 Al-Najm (the Star) 62 23 Makki
54 Al-Qamar (the Moon) 55 37 Makki
55 Al-Rahman (the All-beneficent) 78 97 Madani
56 Al-Waqi'a (Imminent) 96 46 Makki
57 Al-Hadid (Iron) 29 94 Madani
58 Al-Mujadila (the Pleader) 22 105 Madani
59 Al-Hashr (the Banishment) 24 101 Madani
60 Al-Mumtahana (the Tested Woman) 13 91 Madani
61 Al-Saff (Ranks) 14 109 Madani
62 Al-Jumu'a (Friday) 11 110 Madani
63 Al-Munafiqun (the Hypocrites) 11 104 Madani
64 Al-Taghabun (Disposession) 18 108 Madani
65 Al-Talaq (Divorce) 12 99 Madani
66 Al-Tahrim (the Forbidding) 12 107 Madani
67 Al-Mulk (Sovereignty) 30 77 Makki
68 Al-Qalam (the Pen) 52 2 Makki
69 Al-Haqqa (the Inevitable) 52 78 Makki
70 Al-Ma'arij (Lofty Stations) 44 79 Makki
71 Nuh (Noah) 28 71 Makki
72 Al-Jinn (the Jinn) 28 40 Makki
73 Al-Muzzammil (Enwrapped) 20 3 Makki
74 Al-Muddaththir (Shrouded) 56 4 Makki
75 Al-Qiyama (Resurrection) 40 31 Makki
76 Al-Insan (Man) 31 98 Madani
77 Al-Mursalat (the Emissaries) 50 33 Makki
78 Al-Naba' (the Tiding) 40 80 Makki
79 Al-Nazi'at (the Wrestlers) 46 81 Makki
80 'Abasa (He Frowned) 42 24 Makki
81 Al-Takwir (the Winding Up) 29 7 Makki
82 Al-Infitar (the Rending) 19 82 Makki
83 Al-Mutaffifin (the Defrauding) 36 86 Makki
84 Al-Inshiqaq (the Splitting) 25 83 Makki
85 Al-Buruj (the Houses) 22 27 Makki
86 Al-Tariq (the Nightly Visitor) 17 36 Makki
87 Al-A'la (the Most Exalted) 19 8 Makki
88 Al-Ghashiya (the Enveloper) 26 68 Makki
89 Al-Fajr (the Dawn) 30 10 Makki
90 Al-Balad (the City) 20 35 Makki
91 Al-Shams (the Sun) 15 26 Makki
92 Al-Layl (the Night) 21 9 Makki
93 Al-Duha (the Morning Brightness) 11 11 Makki
94 Al-Sharh (Expanding) 8 12 Makki
95 Al-Tin (the Fig) 8 28 Makki
96 Al-'Alaq (Clinging Mass) 19 1 Makki
97 Al-Qadr (the Ordainment) 5 25 Makki
98 Al-Bayyina (the Proof) 8 100 Madani
99 Al-Zalzala (the Quake) 8 93 Madani
100 Al-'Adiyat (the Chargers) 11 14 Makki
101 Al-Qari'a (the Catasrophe) 11 30 Makki
102 Al-Takathur (Rivalry) 8 16 Makki
103 Al-'Asr (Time) 3 13 Makki
104 Al-Humaza (the Scandal-monger) 9 32 Makki
105 Al-Fil (the Elephant) 5 19 Makki
106 Quraysh 4 29 Makki
107 Al-Ma'un (Aid) 7 17 Makki
108 Al-Kawthar (Abundance) 3 15 Makki
109 Al-Kafirun (the Faithless) 6 18 Makki
110 Al-Nasr (the Help) 3 114 Madani
111 Al-Masad (Palm Fibre) 5 6 Makki
112 Al-Ikhlas (Monotheism) 4 22 Makki
113 Al-Falaq (Daybreak) 5 20 Makki
114 Al-Nas (Humans) 6 21 Makki

According to Time of Revelation

Suras of the Qur'an, according to the time of revelation, are divided into two general categories:

  1. Makki: According to the most common definition, suras which are revealed before the emigration of the Prophet (s) to Medina (in which ever place it is revealed), are Makki.
  2. Madani: Suras which were revealed after the emigration are called Madani.

There are two other definitions for Makki and Madani suras:

  • Suras which were revealed in Mecca and its outskirts, even after the emigration, are Makki; and suras which were revealed in Medina and its outskirts, are Madani.
  • The suras in which the people of Mecca are addressed are Makki and in which the people of Medina are addressed are Madani.

According to Length

The suras of the Qur'an are categorized according to the count and length of verses:

Count of Suras

The number of suras in the existing Qur'an is 114. According to some narrations from Ahl al-Bayt (a), Sura al-Duha and Sura al-Sharh are considered as one sura, and also al-Fil and Quraysh, so the count of suras would become 112. There are some historical reports about Mushafs of some of the companions which have more or less suras but the current Qur'an, which is collected in the time of the rule of 'Uthman, has 114 suras and is verified by Imam 'Ali (a) and other Imams.

Naming

Each sura of the Qur'an is named after the beginning words, or after the content and the massage of the sura; so the name of each sura is in accordance to its content, as Sura al-Baqara (the Cow) is named after the mention of the cow which Banu Isra'il had been commanded to slay (2:67), or Sura al-Nisa' (Women) is named because some rulings about women is mentioned in it.

Some suras of the Qur'an have more than one name, for example al-Suyuti has mentioned 25 names for Sura al-Hamd.

There's a disagreement about the names of suras being specified by God (being tawqifi) or is specified by the companions (ijtihadi). Al-Suyuti, al-Zarkashi, and some other Qur'an researchers consider it tawqifi.

Jawadi Amuli doesn't accept the names of suras being tawqifi, and in contrast considers the common names of suras as names given to them by people and then the name became prevalent. He considers the usage of the names in some hadiths of Ahl al-Bayt because of the recognition of the sura with the name. He says: it's unlikely that a sura containing great knowledge, deep wisdom, and a lot of rulings being named after a cow; or a sura which contain 40 proofs for the unity of God being named after the cattle; or a sura with deep knowledge and the stories of many of the Prophets being named after the ants.

Order of Revelation

The Qur'an was gradually revealed to the Prophet (s), in the length of 23 years (gradual revelation). According to the historical records, Imam 'Ali (a) was the first one to collect the Qur'an after the demise of the Prophet (s). The suras in the collected Qur'an (Mushaf of Imam 'Ali (a)) was ordered according to the order of revelation. After the completion of the work, he loaded it on a camel (due to its bulk) and brought it to the companions, but they didn't accept it and said that they didn't need it, so Imam 'Ali (a) hid it and after that no one saw the mushaf. Shi'a believes that other Imams had inherited the mushaf and now it is in the possession of Imam al-Mahdi (aj). According to al-Shaykh al-Mufid, Imam 'Ali (a) had ordered the Qur'an according to the order of revelation and placed Makki suras before Madani suras and al-Mansukh before al-Nasikh.

The existing Qur'an is collected in the time of the rule of 'Uthman b. 'Affan which begins with the Sura al-Fatiha and ends with the Sura al-Nas. This Qur'an is verified by Imam 'Ali and other Imams.

There's a disagreement about the order of suras being tawqifi (specified by Allah) or ijtihadi (by the judgment of the companions); some of the Qur'an researchers, like al-Suyuti, say: the existing order of suras is tawqifi and is specified by Allah and the Prophet (s) commanded to order suras as they are.

Some other considered the order of suras as ijtihadi and being ordered by the judgment of the companions who collected the Qur'an. The third opinion is that the order of suras are a mix of being tawqifi and ijtihadi; meaning that when there was a command from the Prophet (s) about the place of a sura it was obeyed, and when there wasn't, the suras were ordered by the companions who collected the Qur'an.

First Revealed Sura

About the first sura revealed there is three opinions:

  1. The first sura revealed to the Prophet (s) is Sura al-'Alaq, which was revealed in the beginning of Bi'tha.
  2. The first sura was al-Muddaththir, it is narrated from Umm Salama: "I asked Jabir b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansari about the first verse or sura revealed first and he said: 'al-Muddaththir'."
  3. Sura al-Fatiha (the beginning) is the first sura revealed.

Some Qur'an researchers have combined the three opinions: the 3 or 5 first verses of Sura al-'Alaq was revealed in the beginning of Bi'tha, shortly after that, some verses of the beginning of Sura al-Muddaththir was revealed, and the first complete sura revealed to the Prophet (s) was Sura al-Hamd.

Last Sura Revealed

There's a disagreement about the last sura revealed; some considered Sura al-Tawba, Sura al-Nasr, or Sura al-Ma'ida as the last sura.

According to Shi'a hadiths, the last complete sura was Sura al-Nasr. When the sura was revealed, the Prophet (s) recited it to the companions and all became glad except for al-'Abbas, the uncle of the Prophet (s), who became very sad and said: "I think the sura announces the end of your mission", the Prophet (s) said: "you think right"; and the Prophet (s) demised two years later.

As the Sura al-Nasr is revealed after the Conquest of Mecca in 8/629, and Sura al-Tawba is revealed one year later, some combined the two facts as the last complete sura revealed is Sura al-Nasr, and Sura al-Tawba is considered the last sura because its beginning verses are revealed later, although the very last verse revealed is the Ikmal verse (see: First and Last_Verses)

References

  • The material for writing this article is mainly taken from سوره in Farsi WikiShia.