Ruku' (in the Qur'an)

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Ruku' in Qur'an is a grouping unit in the Qur'an referring to a group of verses which are about one topic and message. The famous view is that the reason for this grouping is the rulings of Sunnis suggesting that in the prayer, after the recitation of the Qur'an 1, reciting one complete sura is not obligatory and the praying person or the leader of the congregational prayer can recite a part of one sura which ends with a certain topic. Since, these verses are recited before ruku', they are called as one ruku'. The number of verses in Qur'anic ruku's is different and there is a disagreement about the number of all the ruku's of the Qur'an. The history of the emergence of this grouping unit is not known.


Divisions of verses and suras in the Qur'an are definitive and were determined by the Prophet (s), but Muslims themselves too have made different divisions based on numeral characteristics of the verses and suras, including juz', hizb and ruku'.

Ruku' is a Qur'anic grouping unit which is comprised of verses grouped based on their meanings, not the number of letters and words from the first verse in the Qur'an up to the last verse in the whole Qur'an. Each of these groups of verses which have similar topics and meanings is called one ruku'.

However sometimes, one or some verses or a part of one verse are given a special name based on the meaning of the verse(s); such as Ulu l-Amr verse which is verse 59 of Qur'an 4, al-Kursi verse which is verse 255 of Qur'an 2 (or according to some exegetes verses 255 to 257 of this sura); al-Tathir verse which is verse 33 of Qur'an 33 which is named due to the last part of the verse. Although, in these namings, the meanings of the verses are taken into consideration, they do not cover all the verses of the Qur'an and they are not considered among Qur'anic grouping uints.

Cause of Naming

Cause of this naming is not clearly known, but it is famously said that it is related with Sunni rulings, according to which recitation of one complete sura is not obligatory after recitation of the Qur'an 1 and the praying person or the leader of the congregational prayer can recite a part of one sura ending with a certain topic. Therefore, these grouped verses which are recited before ruku' are called "ruku's". Also, some considered this grouping related with Tarawih prayer in which the praying person recites some verses before going to ruku'.

Number of Qur'anic Ruku's

The number of verses in Qur'anic ruku's is not equal. For example, the Qur'an 1 as well as most short suras of the Qur'an which have similar meanings are considered one ruku'. About the total number of Qur'anic ruku' too different numbers are mentioned, such as 540 ruku's according to the famous view; 556 in copies of the Qur'an published in Indian subcontinent and thousand ruku' according to another view.

The History of this Grouping

The history of ruku' grouping is not clearly known. Some believe that since al-Sakhawi (d. 643/1245) spoke extensively about different Qur'anic groupings in Jamal al-qurra' wa kamal al-iqra', while he did not mention ruku', it supports a strong assumption that it was not common in seventh/thirteenth century in Egypt and Syria (the two regions where al-Sakhawi lived). Among commentaries of the Qur'an, the author of al-Tafsir al-Mazhari who was Sunni and lived in thirteenth/nineteenth century, mentioned the number of ruku's at the beginning of some suras; for example, Qur'an 57 with twenty nine verse and four ruku's.

Also, in Shi'a commentaries of the Qur'an, Mawahib Illiyya written in ninth/fifteenth century in Persian mentions the number of ruku's in some suras; such as Qur'an 21 with 112 verses and seven ruku's. Also, since in no copies of the Qur'an, the issue of ruku' is mentioned as much as it has been mentioned in the copies published in Indian subcontinent, there is an assumption that maybe the origin of this grouping was there.

Marking Ruku'

Marking of ruku' in the Qur'an is made by the letter "ayn" (ع) placed on the last word of the last verse of a ruku'. Ruku' unit is not common in all Islamic countries. The mark of ruku' in the copies of the Qur'an of countries such as Egypt, Iraq, Iran, India and Pakistan can be seen and it is not mentioned in the copies published in north Africa. However, in the copies of the Qur'an published in Indian subcontinent, this grouping is considered more important. There, the marks of ruku' contain three numbers: the top number is the series number of ruku', the middle number is the number of verses in that ruku', and the number below is the series number of ruku' in the juz'.

Although, ruku' is among Qur'anic grouping units and is common among Sunnis, the issue of topics and meanings of verses and their shifts in each sura is also discussed in some Qur'anic works. For example, in her Persian translation of the Qur'an, Tahira Saffarzada showed change in the topic in some verses with an asterisk mark (*). She explained about her method in translating the verses saying, "In related verses, full stop is not used at the end of every verse, even if the sentence is complete; and to show the continuation of a topic, usually semicolon is used; and if the topic or divine address changes in the middle of a speech, this change is marked with an asterisk."