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Verse

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Qur'an
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Āya (Arabic: "آیة", verse) in technical usage is the sentences and phrases of the Qur'an which are separated from each other in a special order and form the suras of the Qur'an.

In the Qur'an the word is used in the technical meaning, and the Qur'an ayas (verses) are described as "al-bayyinat", meaning manifest and clear.

The literal meaning of "aya" is "sign" or "something clear and obvious". The word is also used in the Qur'an in its literal meaning in some places and refers to every creature as a sign of the existence and the attributes of Allah, and to the miracles of the prophets as they are signs of truth of their mission. In this application, the ayas (signs) of God are divided to afaqi (signs in the outer world) and anfusi (the signs in one's self).

Meaning

"Aya" literally means sign,[1] symbol, or something clear and obvious,[2] but in the technical usage in the Qur'an, means, "a part of the Qur'an which is placed in a sura and contains one or more sentences".[3] In other words, aya in technical usage means the words, phrases, and sentences of the Qur'an which forms suras. The connection of the technical and the literal meaning is that each one of the verses of the Qur'an is a sign, like natural signs, referring to God, some of the beliefs, practical rulings, or moral principles.[4]

In the Qur'an

The word "aya" is used 382 times in single and plural forms (Arabic: آیات, ayat).[5] The main meaning is sign and symbol, and is used sometimes as "lesson" (10:92), "miracle" (2:12), "wonder" (23:50), and "reason" (30:20), which all return to the literal meaning.[6]

The separation and count of the Qur'an verses is tawqifi (specified by God)[7] so no one can change it.

First and Last Verses

The most correct and the most prevalent opinion about the first verses reveled to the prophet (s), is that they are the first five verses of Sura al-'Alaq; but about the last verses there is a disagreement.

One opinion is that the last verse revealed is the al-Ikmal Verse[Note 1], which was revealed in the returning of the Prophet (s) from Hajjat al-Wida' in Ghadir Khumm. Sura al-Ma'ida, contains rulings which expresses the end of battles and the establishment of Islam; especially that in the end of the verse it informs of the end of the prophethood, so according to this opinion the last verse of the Qur'an is from the last sura.[8]

Shortest and Longest Verses

Regardless of al-Muqatta'at (separate letters) verses, the shortest verse in the number of words is the verse 64 of sura al-Rahman (Quran 55:64) (Arabic: مُدهامَّتان, transliteration: "mudhammatan")[9] which means, "dark green". This verse contains only one word. And the shortest in the number of the letters is the first verses of Suras al-Fajr (Arabic: والفجر, transliteration: "wa l-fajr") meaning, "by the dawn"; and the first verse of Sura al-'Asr (Arabic: والعصر, transliteration: "wa l-'asr", translation: "by the time") and some others (with six letters and two words).[10]

The longest verse of the Qur'an is the al-Dayn Verse (debt) (Quran 2:282) which nearly fills a page.

Categories

The verses of the Qur'an are categorized according to various aspects. Some of them are as following.

Muhkam and Mutashabih

In the Qur'an, the verses are categorized in muhkam and mutashabih (definitive and metaphorical) verses:

'Allama Tabataba'i says:

Muhkam verses are the verses which meaning is obvious and their true meaning isn't mistaken. These verses are to be believed and be acted according to. Mutashabih verses are the verses which their literal meaning is not meant and their true interpretation is known to no one except God. Of course, in Shi'a view, the interpretation of mutashabih verses is known to the Prophet (s) and Imams (a) by the will of God.[11]

According to 'Allama Tabataba'i, by taking the above verse into consideration, the mutashabih verses are understood referring to the muhkam verses; so there isn't any incomprehensible verse in the Qur'an.[12]

Most of the mutashabih verses are about the attributes and acts of God and, by referring them to the muhkam verses they also become muhkam. The count of mutashabih verses doesn't exceed 200.[13]

Other Categorizations

The scholars of the Qur'anic sciences have mentioned other categorizations for verses like, verses of rulings, nasikh and mnsukh verses, etc.[14]

Famous Verses

Some verses of the Qur'an are famous with special names, the count of these verses are more than 100 verses and there are hadiths about reciting, memorizing, and having some of them.

Some of them are as follows:

Also in hadiths of the Prophet (s) and Ahl al-Bayt (a), some titles and names are mentioned for some verses like: the strongest verse: al-Nahl (16):90[Note 2] or the most frightening verse: al-Zalzala (99):7-8[Note 3].

The Prophet (s) said, the greatest verse is al-Kursi verse[Note 4]. And according to a narration from Imam 'Ali (a), the most promising verse of the Qur'an is the verse 5 of sura al-Duha (93)[Note 5].[15]

Order

There are two opinions about the order of the verses; most of Shi'a and Sunni scholars believe that the place of verses in suras, is tawqifi (specified by God), so the existing order is fixed and it's forbidden to change it.[16]

In the contrary, some think that although maybe the verses are ordered in the lifetime of the Prophet (s), but after him, taste and ijtihad of some of the companions has effected the existing order. According to 'Allama Tabataba'i, the reports of the first collection of the Qur'an in the time of Abu Bakr, confirms that the ijtihad of the companions had role in the order of the verses; and if we agree that all the verses are first ordered by the command of the Prophet (s), it doesn't mean that what the companions have collected is with the order the Prophet (s) had commanded. And the claimed ijma' (consensus) that the existing order is the order of the lifetime of the Prophet (s) is only a "reported ijma'" which is not reliable.[17]

Count

There is disagreement about the count of the verses. One of the reasons of the disagreement is because in time of the revelation, the Prophet (s) was stopping at the end of each verse, so it became known that where the end of each verse is, then he recited the verse connected to the next verse so the connection of the verses became known; but sometimes some people thought that there isn't a stop and considered the two verses as one. So, the disagreement about the end and beginning of the verses caused the difference in counting them, not that there is any difference in the content. These are the different opinions:

  • Kufi school: 6236
  • Madani school: 6000 or 6214
  • Basri school: 6204
  • Shami school: 6225

The Kufi school count has a special importance and is more reliable according to the scholars of Qur'anic sciences, because it is narrated from Imam 'Ali (a). The verses in the existing Qur'an is according to Kufi separation and numbering.

Coherence

The "coherence of a group of the verses in a sura", means either the "unity of the context", which is accepted among the exegetes, or it means the "coherence of all of the verses of a sura". According to the latter meaning, every sura has one or more point/points, and after fulfilling it, the sura ends. The length of a sura is also dependent to the point/points it implies.[18]

The group of scholars who believe in the ordering of the verses by God, emphasize on the importance of discovering these points and connections. Among the exegetes, al-'Allama al-Tabrisi (d. 548/1153), had paid a special attention to the coherence of the verses. In the beginning of each sura, he expresses the coherence of the sura with the previous, and under each verse expresses the coherence of the verse with the next and the previous verses.

Other exegetes who had attended the subject are, al-Zamakhshari in al-Kashshaf, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi in al-Tafsir al-kabir, al-Alusi in Ruh al-ma'ani, Muhammad Rashid Rida in Tafsir al-minar, and al-Shaykh Mahmud Shaltut in Tafsir al-Qur'an al-karim.

Some other exegetes, although believing in the coherence of the verses, say that the Qur'an is not a technical or educational book that have a specific segmentation and compiling order. It's good to understand the coherence of the verses, but only in the parts that have a connection. So there shouldn't be any false connection attributed to the word of God.[19] According to 'Allama Tabataba'i, even sometimes a verse interject two other coherent verses, so there is no need to take the trouble for finding a connection between the verses, except for the verses which are revealed together or the verses which connection is obvious.[20]

Other Meanings

For the word "aya" (Arabic: آیة) there are other general meanings mentioned; divine ayas are things which show the existence of God and His power, wisdom, greatness, and his other attributes; so the word "aya" could be used for all of the creatures, because all of them are signs of their creator. Many times in the Qur'an, after describing the phenomena of the world, it is said, "They (the wonders of the world) are indeed signs (of God and his attributes)".[21]

It also must be noted that in the Qur'an, the word "mu'jiza" (Arabic: معجزة, miracle) isn't used and instead, the word "aya" (sign) and "bayyina" (Arabic: بینة, evidence) is used; the word "mu'jiza" is mainly used by theologians.

The Qur'an verses are miracles, as no one can bring something like it; and in the same time are the sign of the truth of its conveyor, and a lesson, proof and reason for its content, which is the guidance and knowledge for the mankind, and the indication of the knowledge, power, wisdom, and other divine attributes.[22]

The whole of the Qur'an is an aya (miracle) of God because no one can bring something like it. Divine rulings and obligations are also ayas (signs) as they are means of approaching God. Existing creatures are ayas (signs) of God as their existence indicates the existence and greatness of their creator. The prophets are the ayas (signs) of God as they invite people to believing and worshiping God. Wonders and miracles of the prophets are also ayas (signs) because they have a clear indication of the power of God and also are signs of the truth of the mission of the prophets.[23]

Tashri'i and Takwini

The ayas (signs) of God could be divided into the two categories of "tashri'i" (legislation) and "takwini" (creation).[24] Tashri'i signs are mainly the Qur'an and other divine books, which are about the divine rulings, theological knowledge, and ethics which are the means of approaching God.[25] Although some of the Qur'an verses are takwini, which express the wonders of the creation.

Takwini signs are the existing matters which indicate the existence, creation, knowledge, and other divine attributes.[26] These signs also make two subcategories: ordinary and extraordinary. The ordinary signs includes all of the phenomena of the world, and the extraordinary signs includes the miracles of the prophets.[27]

Afaqi and Anfusi

There are two ways to know God:

  • Studying his signs in the soul and the body of human, which are the "anfusi" ayas (signs in one's self).
  • Studying the signs that exist outside of the human, in nature and creatures, which are the "afaqi" ayas (literally: signs in the horizons).[28]

In the Qur'an and hadith studying and thinking about both anfusi and afaqi ayas is emphasized on.

In hadith the importance of the attention to the afaqi and anfusi signs is noted, the Prophet (s) said: "the one who knows himself, had known his God".[29]

Imam 'Ali (a) says about the afaqi signs: "so think about the sun and the moon, and the tree and the plants, and the water and the stone, and the alternation of the day and night, and the flow of the seas, and the large number of the mountains, and the height of the peaks, and the diversity of languages, and the differences of tongues, -which are the clear signs of God- so, woe be to one who does not accept the Designer and rejects the Manager. They thought that they are like the plants and don't have any farmer, and there's no maker for the differences of their shapes. They don't have any reason for their claim, could there be any building without a builder?..."[30]

The afaqi and anfusi signs are also discussed in Islamic philosophy and mysticism.[31]

Notes

  1. Al-Zarkashi, Al-Burhan fi 'ulum al-Qur'an, Vol.1, p.363.
  2. Al-Raghib al-Isfahani, Mu'jam mufradat alfaz al-Qur'an, p.34.
  3. Al-Suyuti, al-Itqan, Vol.1, p.145.
  4. Tabataba'i, al-Mizan, Vol.18, p.159.
  5. 'Abd al-Baqi, al-Mu'jam al-mufahras, pp. 103-108.
  6. Al-Mu'jam al-wasit, Vol.1, p.25; Manahil al-'irfan fi 'ulum al-Qur'an, Vol.1, p.338; al-Burhan fi 'ulum al-Qur'an, Vol.1, p.266
  7. Ghara'ib al-Qur'an wa ragha'ib al-furqan, Vol.1, p.66
  8. Ramyar, Tarikh-i Qur'an, p.46
  9. Al-Tahrir wa al-tanwir, Vol.1, p.77
  10. Al-Suyuti, al-Itqan, Vol.2, p.357
  11. Tabataba'i, al-Mizan, Vol.3, pp.32-43
  12. al-Tabtaba'i, Qur'an dar Islam, p.37
  13. Ma'rifat, al-Tamhid fi 'ulum al-Qur'an, Vol.3, p.14
  14. Al-Suyuti, al-Itqan, Vol.1, p.10
  15. Al-Suyuti, al-Itqan, Vol.2, p.353
  16. Al-Suyuti, al-Itqan, Vol.1, p.132
  17. Tabataba'i, al-Mizan, Vol.12, pp.127-129
  18. Al-Tamhid, Vol.5, p.239
  19. Al-Shaykh 'Izz al-Din citing from Al-Itqan, Vol.2, p.234
  20. Tabataba'i, al-Mizan, Vol.4, p.359
  21. Misbah Yazdi, Qur'an shinasi, Vol.1, p.33
  22. Manahil al-'irfan fi 'ulum al-Qur'an, Vol.1, p.339
  23. Misbah Yazdi, Qur'an shinasi, Vol.1. p.33
  24. Misbah Yazdi, Qur'an shinasi, Vol.1. p.33
  25. Tabataba'i, al-Mizan, Vol.18, p.159
  26. Tabataba'i, al-Mizan, Vol.18, p.158
  27. Misbah Yazdi, Qur'an shinasi, Vol.1. p.34
  28. Makarim Shirazi, Tafsir-i nimuna, Vol.18. p.328
  29. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-anwar, Vol.2, p.32; Ghurar al-hikam, p.232
  30. Al-Sharif al-Radi, Nahj al-balagha, sermon 185
  31. Sadr al-Muta'allihin, Al-Asfar al-arba'a, Vol.7, p.14
  1. {{اليَومَ أَكمَلتُ لَكُم دينَكُم وَأَتمَمتُ عَلَيكُم نِعمَتي وَرَضيتُ لَكُمُ الإِسلامَ دينًا فَمَنِ اضطُرَّ في مَخمَصَةٍ غَيرَ مُتَجانِفٍ لِإِثمٍ ۙ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفورٌ رَحيمٌ}}: Today I have perfected your religion for you, and I have completed My blessing upon you, and I have approved Islam as your religion. (Quran 5:3)
  2. إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأمُرُ بِالعَدلِ وَالإِحسانِ وَإيتاءِ ذِي القُربىٰ وَيَنهىٰ عَنِ الفَحشاءِ وَالمُنكَرِ وَالبَغيِ يَعِظُكُم لَعَلَّكُم تَذَكَّرونَ: Indeed Allah enjoins justice and kindness and generosity towards relatives, and He forbids indecency, wrong, and aggression. He advises you, so that you may take admonition. (Quran 16:90)
  3. فَمَن يَعمَل مِثقالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيرًا يَرَهُ (۷) وَمَن يَعمَل مِثقالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا يَرَهُ (۸): So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it, (7) and whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it. (8) (Quran 99:7-8)
  4. اللَّهُ لا إِلٰهَ إِلّا هُوَ الحَيُّ القَيّومُ لا تَأخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلا نَومٌ لَهُ ما فِي السَّماواتِ وَما فِي الأَرضِ مَن ذَا الَّذي يَشفَعُ عِندَهُ إِلّا بِإِذنِهِ يَعلَمُ ما بَينَ أَيديهِم وَما خَلفَهُم وَلا يُحيطونَ بِشَيءٍ مِن عِلمِهِ إِلّا بِما شاءَ وَسِعَ كُرسِيُّهُ السَّماواتِ وَالأَرضَ وَلا يَئودُهُ حِفظُهُما وَهُوَ العَلِيُّ العَظيمُ (۲۵۵) لا إِكراهَ فِي الدّينِ قَد تَبَيَّنَ الرُّشدُ مِنَ الغَيِّ فَمَن يَكفُر بِالطّاغوتِ وَيُؤمِن بِاللَّهِ فَقَدِ استَمسَكَ بِالعُروَةِ الوُثقىٰ لَا انفِصامَ لَها وَاللَّهُ سَميعٌ عَليمٌ (۲۵۶) اللَّهُ وَلِيُّ الَّذينَ آمَنوا يُخرِجُهُم مِنَ الظُّلُماتِ إِلَى النّورِ وَالَّذينَ كَفَروا أَولِياؤُهُمُ الطّاغوتُ يُخرِجونَهُم مِنَ النّورِ إِلَى الظُّلُماتِ أُولٰئِكَ أَصحابُ النّارِ هُم فيها خالِدونَ (۲۵۷): Allah—there is no god except Him— is the Living One, the All-sustainer. Neither drowsiness befalls Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that may intercede with Him except with His permission? He knows that which is before them and that which is behind them, and they do not comprehend anything of His knowledge except what He wishes. His seat embraces the heavens and the earth, and He is not wearied by their preservation, and He is the All-exalted, the All-supreme. (255) There is no compulsion in religion: rectitude has become distinct from error. So one who disavows the Rebels1 and has faith in Allah has held fast to the firmest handle for which there is no breaking; and Allah is all-hearing, all-knowing. (256) Allah is the Guardian of the faithful: He brings them out of darkness into light. As for the faithless, their patrons are the Rebels, who drive them out of light into darkness. They shall be the inmates of the Fire, and they shall remain in it [forever]. (257) (Quran 2:255-257)
  5. وَلَسَوفَ يُعطيكَ رَبُّكَ فَتَرضىٰ: [Addressing the Prophet (s)] Soon your Lord will give you [that with which] you will be pleased. (Quran 93:5)

References

  • Al-Alusi, Mahmud, Ruh al-ma'ani, Cairo, Idarat al-tiba'at al-muniriyya;
  • Ibn. Durayd, Jamharat al-Lugha, 192/1;
  • Ibn. Fars, Ahmad, Mu'jam maqayis al-lugha;
  • Imru' al-qays, Diwan, Beirut, 1958 AD;
  • Bustani, F, Jawharchi, 'Adnan, "Ra'y fi tahdid 'asr al-Raghib al-Isfahani", Majallat al-Majma' al-lughat al-'Arabiyya, Damascus, 1986 AD, 61 (1), 191-200;
  • Al-Jawhari, Ismai'l, Sihah al-lugha;
  • Haji Khalifa, Kashf al-zunun, Istanbul, 1931 AD;
  • Khalil b. Ahmad, Kitab al-ayn, collected by Mahdi Makhzumi and Ibrahim Samarra'i, Qom, 1405 AH, 441/8;
  • Al-Raghib al-Isfahani, Husayn, Mu'jam mufradat alfaz al-Qur'an;
  • Rida, Muhammad Rashid, Al-Manar, Beirut, Dar al-ma'rifa;
  • Zubaydi, Mortaza, Taj al-'arus;
  • Al-Zarkashi, Muhammad, Al-Burhan fi 'ulum al-Qur'an, collected by Muhammad Ab al-fadl Ibrahim, Beirut, 1972 AD, 35/52-1;
  • Al-Suyuti, Al-Itqan, collected by Muhammad Ab al-fadl Ibrahim, Cairo, 1967 AD, 225/233-1, 369/389-3;
  • Shaykhoo, Luis, Shu'ara' al-nasraniyya qabl al-Islam, Beirut, Dar al-mashriq;
  • Sadr al-Muta'allihin, Asrar al-ayat, edited by Muhammad Khajuwi, Iranian Philosophical Society, Tehran, 1360 SH;
  • Tabataba'i, Muhammad Husayn, Qur'an dar Islam, Bustan-i Kitab, Qom;
  • Tabataba'i, Muhammad Husayn, Al-Mizan, Beirut, 1393 AH;
  • Al-Tabrisi, al-Fadl, Majma' al-bayan, Sayda, 1333 AH;
  • 'Abd al-baqi, Muhammad Fu'ad, Al-Mu'jam al-mufahras, Cairo, 1364 AH;
  • 'Urwat b. al-ward, Diwan, Beirut, 1980 AD;
  • Fakhr al-din al-Razi, Muhammad, Al-Tafsir al-kabir, Beirut, Dar Ihya' al-turath al-'Arabi;
  • Firuzabadi, Muhammad, Al-Qamus al-muhit;
  • Misbah Yazdi, Muhammad Taqi, Qur'an shinasi, Researched by Mahmud Rajabi;
  • Mustafawi, Hasan, Al-Tahqiq fi kalimat al-Qur'an al-majid, Tehran, 1360 SH, 172/174-1;
  • Tafsir al-tahrir wa l-tanwir;
  • Al-Tamhid fi 'ulum al-Qur'an.

See also

External Links

  • The material for writing this article is mainly taken from آیه in Farsi Wikishia.
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