Resources / The Holy Qur'an

Qur’an Talks II*

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In this case, we will learn the Qur’an and teach our children and those under our responsibility to read the Qur’an! We should also learn its meaning, its commands and interpretation so we practice this accordingly! We must abide by whatever Allah (SWT) commands! We must abstain from whatever He has forbidden! We must gain His pleasure so we can gain reward and enter paradise…

So with the will of Allah, the people of the Qur’an (Ahl al-Qur’an) will increase. Our religion will become even stronger and more widespread. When the religion of Allah (SWT) prevails, when the religion of Allah (SWT) dominates the universe, knowledge, wisdom, morals and compassion will prevail. People, in fact the universe and whole of humanity will attain happiness.

Prof. Dr. M. Es’ad Cosan
(May Allah have mercy on him)

The Holy Qur’an is the word of Allah the Almighty (SWT) Who created the earth and heavens, as well as human beings and Jinn. In these terms, this is an extremely important and critical issue.

By His blessing, grace and compassion, Allah (SWT) has never deprived human beings of His spiritual guidance since the creation of mankind. Adam (as), the first human created by Allah (SWT), was also the first Prophet.

Allah the Almighty (SWT) sent many prophets over the centuries to His distinguished, exalted servants to enable humans to find and perceive the true path; perfect their worship and establish sound relationships with one another to make both their lives in this world and the hereafter more prosperous.

We are all descendants of Adam (as), the first of these prophets. The Prophet Abraham (as) is a prophet familiar to us; a prophet mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. Noah (as) is one of our beloved prophets; Moses (as) and Harun (as) are also among the prophets we love dearly, and similarly, Jesus is also one of our beloved prophets.

Islam is a religion of such beauty that it embraces the whole of humanity. Islam informs us of how blessed, how good and kind these sacred people, believed to be prophets by a majority of the people, were, and we love and respect them all dearly. What a great blessing! We love Moses; we love Jesus, and we believe what was revealed to Moses and what was revealed to Jesus. What a great blessing!

The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) is the last in the chain of Prophets; he is the Prophet for eternity; he is our beloved Prophet, our leader and our guide.

Members of other religions are not only in conflict with one another, but they also make the grave mistake of not believing in our Prophet Muhammed (PBUH).  Allah the Almighty (SWT), who created Adam and sent many prophets throughout the centuries, sent the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as the last Prophet for eternity, and sent the angels who came to the previous prophets to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), bringing the commands and prohibitions of  Allah (SWT) with the revelations.

Allah (SWT) revealed the Holy Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) with these revelations via the Angel Gabriel (as) gradually, over a period of 23 years. If we calculate this by the Gregorian calendar we use today, the revelation of the Holy Qur’an continued from 610 until the death of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) in 632.

In this way, it became easier to tolerate the severity of the revelations; for the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) to become stronger, and the commands and topics to be perceived properly; for the memorizing of the verses and implementing this in daily life. As we see, there is great wisdom in the Qur’an being revealed over a period of 23 years.

Here, we should point out that the period between 610 and 632 is 22 years, but because there is a difference between the Gregorian calendar and Hijri calendar (Islamic calendar) – the former 365 days in a year while the latter 354 days- the 11 day difference accumulated over these years generated a one year difference. The Qur’an was revealed over 23 Hijri years; that is, Muhammed (PBUH) was blessed with prophet-hood at the age of 40, and the revelations continued until his death at the age of 63.

As known, the experience of revelation is a drastic, compelling event that others are capable of seeing and sensing. When a revelation came to the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), a sound resembling the buzzing of a bee could be heard. It is important to know this for the people of the present to understand better. The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) experienced different physical changes; he would sweat, and beads of sweat would appear on his forehead. Another example, if he was riding on a camel when the revelation came to him, the camel was unable to bear this and had to kneel down. Imagine the intensity, a strong, sturdy desert animal like a camel had to kneel down on the ground.

Another event regarding this caught my attention. Once, a revelation came when the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) was sitting with his companions. One of the companions, whose knee was touching that of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), suffered immensely; he felt as if his knee was being crushed or split apart.

In other words, the revelation of commands sent by Allah (SWT) to the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) via the Angel Gabriel occurred in a way that could affect, or be visible to others.

As known, the Qur’an is composed of surahs, and the surahs are composed of verses. The independent sections of the Qur’an are called “ayahs” (verses). Most have heard the word ayah. You have probably heard the word “ayahs” of the Holy Qur’an.  These small groups of letters or words were referred to as ayahs or verses by Allah (SWT). For instance, Allah the Almighty (SWT) revealed at the beginning of surah Al-I Imran: 

Huwallazi anzala alayk al-kitab1

“O Prophet! It is He Who has send down to you (the Prophet Muhammad) the book (the Qur’an)”

Minhu ayatun muhkamatun… Wa uharu mutashabihat2

“In it are verses that are clear…others not entirely clear.”

Muhkam verses are those which are entirely clear, explicit and understandable in their meanings, and which provide clear commands.

We understand from this that Allah (SWT) referred to these parts of the revelations as “verses”, as He revealed: minhu ayatun muhkamatun… wa uharu muteshabihat.

These verses of the Holy Qur’an are mainly statements of warning; statements of meaning and wisdom. What we generally understand from the word verse is a sentence complying with the rules of grammar. But sometimes there can also be verses containing a few words whose meanings are implicit, unclear and incomprehensible. For example, we may refer to verses that immediately come to mind such as: Alif, lam, mim. This is the first word at the beginning of the Holy Qur’an on the pages containing surahs Al-Fatiha and Al-Baqarah. What is the first verse of surah Al-Baqarah? Alif, lam, mim; three letters… Then, for example there is: Ha, mim... Ta, ha... Ya, sin... Kaf, ha, ya, ayn, sad... Ayn, sin, kaf… Ta, san, mim...

Each is a group of letters consisting of two or more letters. So what is the essence of these letters? These contain certain mystical perceptions and narrations. But as a result, these are letters and verses.

So a verse can also be a small group of symbolical letters. These are called “huruf-u muqattaa” (disjointed letters). These letters which are related singularly- that is, which are not a word or sentence- can also be a verse. The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) was familiar with their mystical and symbolical meanings. However, everyone is not familiar with these meanings.

Although some companions gave certain explanations regarding the “mutashabih (ambiguous) verses”, many of them still remain a mystery.

Some verses may be a single word. For instance, Ar-Rahman; this is a verse. Allama al-Qur'an, is the second verse of the surah Al-Rahman meaning “It is He (Allah (SWT) Who has taught the Qur’an.” For example, Al-Qari’ah is a word. Wa’d-duha is the first verse, and Wal-layli itha saja the second verse of surah Al-Duhaa; Al-Haqqah” is a word, whereas Thumma nathar, which means “Then he looked” is two words. For instance, Mudhammatan is a single prolonged word in surah Al-Rahman, and finally, Alhamdu lillahi Rabbi al-alameen is a verse, and ar-Rahmani ar-Rahim is a verse in surah Al-Fatiha.

In this regard, there is no rule that a verse has to be a sentence. Sometimes a verse may be a single word, or even a few symbolic letters, while a verse can also be a long group of sentences consisting of many words or sentences. For instance, Ayat al-Kursi is a verse. As known, when it is read this is significantly a long verse.

Ayat al-Kursi is the longest verse of the Qur’an; this is a verse on loan transactions that consists of a long page. It is a verse at the end of surah Al-Baqarah, a page before Aman ar-rasulu. It is a long verse on the judgements of borrowing that clearly reveals how borrowers and lenders should determine this in their transactions. This must be witnessed by two witnesses. If one of the witnesses is a male, then there must be two female witnesses. The witnesses must not be intimidated; they should not be under any compulsion. Long explanations on the topic are given in this single verse.

There are indications and pauses distinguishing the verses from one another. Pause (fasila) derives from the word fasl, which means to separate/part. In the writing and publication of the Holy Qur’an, sometimes the verse’s numbers are written which is beneficial in terms of knowing which verse this is.

Regarding the numbers of verses…Quite naturally, in a topic as important and critical as this, views can differ slightly in the scholar’s opinions concerning the number of verses in such a substantial book as the Qur’an. In our own religious history, from the Middle Asia to the Middle East, from the Indian continent to the Ottoman region and present day Turkey, the numbers of verses in the writings and publications of the Qur’an used by the Ahl-I Sunnah scholars and according to the numbering in the Qur’an that we read today, is 6236 verses.

When I ask some of my friends “how many verses does the Qur’an have?” They immediately list four sixes “6666.” However, this is not true; it does not reflect the truth. The Qur’an has 6236 verses.

As known, the revealed verses were categorized in various ways to make their explanations easier. According to a classification practiced since the time of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), the verses are divided into two, namely Meccan and Medinan verses. There are different interpretations regarding which of the verses are Meccan and which are Medinan. According to the most sound and popular view, verses revealed prior to the Hijrah (immigration) to Medina are known as Meccan verses. Before the Hijrah to Medina, the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) was in Mecca. Makki or Meccan means from Mecca. Similarly, the verses revealed after the Hijrah to Medina are called Medinan verses. It means that these verses were from the Medinan period (Medina al-Munawwarah), yet this does not necessarily mean these verses were revealed in Medina. Verses revealed after the Hijrah were called Medinan verses, even if they were not revealed in Medina, in other words these were known as verses revealed during the period of residing in Medina.

The characteristics of the Makki or Meccan verses is these were short, inspirational verses concerning faith, whereas the verses revealed in Medina are long and convey commands; we know these verses of command and judgements include laws concerning humanity, politics, society, and commerce.

Another important issue is that the verses of the Qur’an were not compiled according to the order in which they were revealed to the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH). The order of the verses was according to divine order and signs; that is, they were not placed in order or dated arbitrarily, the verses were placed in order by divine will.

This means that when a group of verses or a revelation consisting of a few verses was revealed, the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) informed his companions of the order of these verses, after which verse they should be placed, and in which surah they were to be included; this is how the verses were compiled in the Qur’an.

As known, the larger chapters of the Qur’an composed of verses are called surahs. In the past, walls were built around the cities as a form of defense; these walls were called “fortresses.” The word surah is relevant to this. Surah means fortress, a high post or honorable position. That is, because these surahs are honorable, we refer to this as the Noble Qur’an, the noble verses. Noble means elevated and sublime…Surahs were given this name due to the honor of being an independent section of the Qur’an...

Additionally, those who know the Arabic language and studied its history are familiar with this…Many concepts are acquired from life, from tangible things. Later on, they became the name for intangible conceptions. For example, we say outcome (natijah) which also means conclusion. In fact, natijah is the name Arabs give to the calf of a camel. The calf is called natijah, which literally means it was born. Here it was used meaning conclusion. In the Turkish language, the word natijah is also used for the term conclusion or result.  We say: “This is the natijah, the conclusion or result….” Of course we do not mean the camel calf, we mean the outcome.

The word ayah (verse) means a great sign, evidence that is visible.  Large, spectacular buildings, mansions etc. are also called ayah. Similarly, major events that have an impact on the human mind are also called ayah. Considering that the large buildings are called ayah, parts of the Qur’an are called ayah and ayahs or walls symbolize the city, this means the surahs are the cities, and verses are the honorable mansions within the city…Taking these meanings into consideration, the small parts of the Qur’an were called ayahs, and the larger parts or groups of verses were called surahs. These names may have emerged as a result of this assimilation.

The shortest surah in the Qur’an consists of three verses: İnna aatayna kaal-kawthar. This is surah Al-Kawthar (A River in Paradise), and surah Al-Asr (The Time) also comprises of three verses. Surah Al-Ikhlas (The Purity) has four verses. The longest surah in the Qur’an, which comes just after the surah Al-Fatiha (The Opening) is surah Al-Baqarah that begins with Alif, lam, mim. It comprises of 286 verses and has fifty pages. In other words the surahs, their content and volume differ; some are long, some are short. Again, these are all placed in order according to the divine commands and signs.

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was clearly commanded to place the verses revealed to him in a specific order.

For example, the first verse (Iqra: Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created all that exists) revealed to the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) on Mount Hira is the first verse of surah Al-Alaq. It was on Mount Hira where the Prophet experienced the revelation and saw the Angel Gabriel for the first time. The first verses revealed, Iqra, are not the complete surah; these are the first five verses at the beginning of surah Al-Alaq.

Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim. Iqra' bismi Rabbika allathee khalaq. Khalaqa al-insana min alaq. Iqra' wa- Rabbuka al-akram. Allathee aallama bil-qalam. Allama al-insana ma lam ya'laam.3

These verses were revealed, yet this is not the entire surah. This continues; there is a verse of prostration further down the surah. Although these verses were revealed later, the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) ordered his companions to place these after the first five verses, therefore these verses that were revealed at different periods constituted the surah.

These verses bear great importance. In this respect, when interpreting the Qur’an, the groups of verses in terms of meaning are interpreted as verses that constitute collectivity. However, in the continuation of the surah this can go onto another subject; the topic can change as the surah continues. In other words, there is no rule that the surah will be about one topic alone.

The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) and his Companions ascribed names for the surahs to distinguish, and explain these surahs to one another. While this is sometimes a single name, it can also be several names; a surah can have more than one name. For example, we say surah Al-Baqarah and surah Ar-Rahman. These names may be because of an important event found in the surah. For instance, surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow) was given this name because it relates the event in which the Israelis hesitated to sacrifice the cow as commanded by Allah (SWT).

A cow was to be sacrificed, because the tribes in the area worshiped the cow. It was necessary to sacrifice the cow to show people that the cow was the creation of Allah (SWT), that it was created to serve the people, and was not worthy of worshipping. However, the Israelis found it difficult to sacrifice the cow due to their former beliefs…

Allah the Almighty (SWT) ordered its sacrifice, and Moses (as) commanded the sacrifice of the cow. In view of this, the surah containing 286 verses was named Al-Baqarah. That is, Al-Baqarah is the name of the surah that explains the sacrifice of the cow. However, in this surah of the Qur’an containing fifty pages and consisting of two parts, there are also various other subjects…This means that the names of surahs in the Qur’an can be related to the topic of the surah. It can also be connected with the first word at the beginning of the surah.

For example, we say surah Tabaraka because the surah begins with the words Tabaraka allathee bi-yadihi al-mulku. The same surah is also called Al-Mulk. As it explains faith in all purity, sincerity and unadulterated, the surah that begins with Qul huwa Allahu ahad was called surah Al-Ikhlas. The surah that begins with Inna aa’tayna ka’alkawthar and refers to the river in paradise is named surah Al-Kawthar. For example, the three surahs Qul huwa Allahu, Qul a’uuthu birabbil-falaq, Qul a’uuthu birabbil-nas were named Mu’awwithat (the protecting surahs), while the last two surahs are called Mu’awwithatayn (verses of refuge).

In the Qur’an, these are written in a separate framework, under a separate title at the beginning of the surah. These names are not from the Qur’an. That is, it is to become familiarize with this part of the Qur’an. Here the name of the surah, the number of the verses and whether the verses are Meccan or Medinan is written, yet this is simply for information, in other words, not because it is a revelation.

For example, surah Al-Baqarah is Madaniyyah (of Medina), an independent surah that consists of verses from the Medinan period. At the very beginning of the surah there is an explanatory note stating that the surah has 286 verses whose revelations were from the Medinan period. Certainly, there is no obligation that a note as such should be written under every title. There are also versions which only give the titles of the surah. I am relating the situation in terms of the Qur’an we use. These titles are not from the Qur’an.

The verses of the Qur’an were written down immediately, as soon as they were revealed whether on a journey, while living in the city or even at war. When Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) received the revelations, the scribes of the revelations not only wrote these immediately on order of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), but they also memorized the verses. With the intelligence and ability of memorizing on one hand, and their love and enthusiasm on the other, the Arabs immediately memorized the verses that were revealed to the Prophet. Therefore, there were many hafizes (people who memorize the entire Qur’an) during the time of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH).

Ali ibn Abi Ṭalib (600-661), cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), was one of the scribes of the Qur’an. That is, he was the one who put the verses in writing once they were revealed, and was therefore familiar with the Qur’anic scriptures. For example, Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari, whose tomb is situated in Istanbul, was both a scribe and hafiz of the Qur’an. Nevertheless, when the qurra hafizes (qurra means those skilled in the science of reciting the Qur’an) began to become martyrs in the wars, danger began to emerge: in the view that “if there is a decrease in the number of those who memorize the Qur’an, this will pose danger”, a committee of scholars was formed during the period of Abu Bakr Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him), and the Qur’an was compiled into a book (mushaf) by the committee. This was recited to the public, and gained approval.

During the period of the third Caliph Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him), new copies were produced from the original copy of the Qur’an, and these were sent to the expanding Islamic regions and various provincial centers. Some of them still exist, they are preserved in museums. For example, Uthman was martyred while reading the Qur’an. This bloodstained copy of the Qur’an is preserved in a museum. We are honored to have copy of the Qur’an written by the fourth Caliph Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) in the Emanet-i Mukaddes (Sacred Relics) section of the Topkapı Museum Istanbul…

The Holy Qur’an was written without distortion, and has been protected since the time of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), as Allah (SWT) promised to preserve the Qur’an until the Day of Judgment.

Bismillahir-Rahman-ir-Rahim. Inna nahnu nazzalna aththikrawa-inna lahu lahafithoon4 “Verily, it is We Who have sent down the Dhirk (i.e. the Qur’an) and surely, we will guard it (from corruption).”

That is, the Holy Qur’an will be protected and its commands will continue to be known until the Day of Judgement. As affirmed by the hadith of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), when doomsday comes, that is, the degeneration of the world, when the Judgment Day comes closer, “verses of the Qur’an will disappear.” This may become a reality. That is to say, Allah (SWT) is the All-Powerful. The verses of the Qur’an will be seized from the corrupted humans. This could be a sign that nobody will pay attention to the judgements of the Qur’an or listen to the commands of Allah (SWT).

In a word, the Holy Qur’an will be preserved until the Day of Judgment. Allah (SWT) informed us that it will be preserved. The Qur’an was first written by the Companions of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) with the materials that were available: that is, if cloth was available, they used it; if leather was available, they used it to write the verses of the Qur’an; for instance if there was a large, flat animal bone, it was also used as a writing material; the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) used any materials available to write the verses of the Qur’an.

The old scripts in the earliest copies of the Qur’an were the writings we call the angular, Kufic script. The earliest texts were also written in the Hijaz Kufic script or Ma’kılî script. When studying the earlier texts, we see that the letters and vowel marks we see in the texts of today’s Qur’an did not exist. These first scriptures of the Qur’an can only be read by experts. These cannot be read by everyone. For instance, “Ta” has two dots above; “Tha” has three dots; “Jim” has one dot in the middle. They found, invented these vowel marks and used them.

When studying the oldest copies (mushaf) of the Qur’an in history, we see that the size of the pages and the number of lines on each page differs somewhat. Later, we see that this was regulated throughout history.  The writings were put in order. Writings of the past were appealing, yet these writings were later regulated.  And based on experience, the formation was perfected.

The Holy Qur’an was divided into various parts to make its recitation and memorization easier. The Qur’an has been placed in a framework, and these parts have been depicted outside the framework. For instance, the Qur’an has been divided into thirty juz (parts). For example, we say “Juz Amma”. The part beginning with surah An-Nabaa is the thirtieth juz . The first part that begins with surah Al-Fatiha, is the first juz.

So what is the reason for this division? The reason for the Qur’an being divided into thirty juz is that if one juz is read every day, the recital of the Qur’an will be would be complete in thirty days. I will relate some hadith regarding this at the end of the discussion. Occasionally, there is Qur’ans that have seven parts. These seven parts are called “manzil” (destination or halting place). The purpose here is to complete the Qur’an in seven days.

In our practice, each part of these thirty juz is divided into four quarters (ruba). Rubu means a quarter or one fourth. Hence, there are a hundred and twenty quarters in the publication of the Qur’an we use. Moreover, studying the pages, when the verses of recital collectivity and understanding are completed, this is marked by the sign of a month. The word “ruku” may have come from the last letter “ayn “ because “If the imam recites the Qur’an during the prayer, the meaning reaches completion and the prostration can take place”, or it may have derived from the “ayn” in the word we call “hashr.”

As for the Arabs, on return they give the latest publication of the Qur’an to those who perform the Hajj and Umrah. They use the Qur’an that has thirty juz, yet they divide each juz into two groups (hizb). So according to their division, there are 60 groups (hizb), and they divide each group into four parts. Each is as follows: ruba hizb, nusf hizb, thulathaa hizb. In other words, this is the first quarter, half, the second quarter, three quarters and the complete part. So if we multiply sixty by four, it makes two hundred and forty groups. This is another form of division.

Therefore, they found it appropriate to divide the Qur’an into further parts and groups. This is how they read and study the Qur’an. Within the verses, there are indications determining where pausing is more preferable in terms of meaning, when the meaning is disrupted at certain places, where it is permissible and not permissible to pause. For example, while reading the Qur’an, we must pause when we see the letter (م); pausing is permissible at the letter (ط), and it is permissible to pause at the letter (ج), yet we should not pause at the letter (لَا); there is also the letter (ق) and Qif. Various pause signs have been used, and these are called “huruf-u sajawandiya.” These signs are useful in terms of reading the Qur’an properly, and also reciting the meaning in collectivity.

In the Qur’an we use, there are “mad” and “kasr” signs to prevent errors during recital. The syllables written with the same letters are sometimes recited long and sometimes short. Those who know Arabic are familiar with this, whereas these signs are necessary for those who recite the Qur’an without the knowledge of Arabic language.

For instance, there are the letters “alif (), waw (و), laam (ل), hamza (ء), kaf (ك)” in the word ulaika (أُولَئِكَ). Although there is a “waw” after “alif” the alif is shortened in the word ulaika. This is a normal practice. Therefore, the “kasr” sign was put over the letter to shorten its recital. There are other similar words. For example, the word “ulati haml” (أُولَاتِحَمْلٍ) meaning pregnant women. In “ulati haml” (أُولَاتِحَمْلٍ) it is shortened. In some places where the word has been prolonged, the “mad” sign has been used. These are known as the “mad” and “kasr” signs.

Tadqiq al-masahif (inspection) commissions were formed to prevent publication errors, arbitrary publications and commercial publications so the honor and sublimity of the Qur’an would not be damaged. Members of the commission inspected the Qur’an; they worked with great accuracy. Immediately they corrected the smallest of defects in the signs and vowel-marks; they never sent these for publication, they stamped these copies to prevent their publication. This accuracy is due to respect for the Qur’an.

The calligraphy or the fine writing of the Qur’an is equally important. The Ottomans performed and developed this art with great enthusiasm. As for us, the Qur’an we use the most is the one written by Kayışzâde Hafız Osman. We call this the Hafız Osman transcript. Then we prefer the script of Kadırgalı Hasan Rıza. The scripts of these two scholars were greatly admired.

The most desirable publications and copies of the Qur’an including the “mad” and “Kasr” are the copies written by famous Ayah Barkanar calligraphers. What does Ayah Barkanar mean? Ayah Barkanar is one who accurately organizes the pages of the Qur’an; the one who divides the verses with care so this does not go onto the next page, and ends at the bottom of the page. Therefore, the verses do not overflow the page, this means the verses end at the bottom of the page.

I have studied copies of the Qur’an published recently. Among the young calligraphers – may Allah be pleased with them – are some who give me copies of the Qur’an they have written as gifts. There are extremely talented and successful calligraphers; some were even granted international awards. May Allah be pleased with them…

There are also very talented scholars from the Indian continent - Pakistan, East Afghanistan, and India – great scholars who had made great efforts in religious sciences throughout history. I have seen very valuable, nicely written and published copies of the Qur’an that provide supportive information and excellent interpretations. I have some of these in my library. Their publications are very good. But their style of writing is somewhat different from the writings we are familiar with. Our style seems to be more elegant, more distinctive, more appealing.

As the most recent copies of the Qur’an published in Saudi Arabia do not use some of our customary signs, Turkish people may find it difficult to read these. For example, these copies do not have what we call the sign of circumflex: “Mad” as in Thumma laatiyannahum. By using the lengthening symbol “Aaa”, we read it as follows: laatiyannahum. But Saudi Arabians do not use this; they place the “hamza” (ء) over “lamalif” with the intention that the “Alif” (ا) will be prolonged after the “hamza” (ء). Naturally, as there is a “lam” and it is not easy to place the “hamza” (ء) there, difficulty emerges in reading “laatiyannahum.” Saudi Arabians do not use the prolonging mark.

However, Saudi Arabians took greater care in using the letters (Uthman calligraphy) to form words in writing the Qur’an as practiced during the time of the third Caliph Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him). In Turkish publications, some letters were added to the Uthman calligraphy in an attempt of making reading easier.  Uthman calligraphy does not mean the calligraphy of Hafiz Uthman. Saudi Arabians give significance to the care in the conformity of the writings to that of main copies of the Qur’an written during the period of Caliph Uthman. This is more favorable…

In different countries of the world, various publications of the Qur’an are produced. Some people attempt to invent and add new words to publications of the Qur’an to cause confusion; to add their evil ideas in accordance with their corrupted beliefs... Certainly Muslims must be extremely careful regarding the Qur’an! They should use the sealed, charmingly written copies of the Qur’an! They should read copies of the Qur’an recommended by eminent scholars.

The verses were revealed following certain incidents and events. That is, an important event occurred, and following this a verse was revealed regarding that particular event. Knowing these aspects is extremely beneficial. The occasion or circumstances of such a revelation is called “asbab al- nuzul.”  That is, the context in which the verse was revealed…

Scholars collected all the information that would be beneficial in making the Qur’an more understandable. “Asbab al-nuzul” is a part of the history of the Qur’an. Many great works were written on this subject. In these books, interpreters of the Qur’an explained the reason for the revelation of the verses.

Naturally, the fact that a verse was revealed following a particular event does not obstruct the generality of its command. That is, the judgement is universal because the command is universal. But when we say a verse was revealed due to a particular event, then the Qur’an is understood better and this can sometimes prevent its misinterpretation.

In a war in which Abu Ayub al-Ansari (May Allah be pleased with him) participated, one of brave men attacked the enemy, he fought and was martyred. Those who witnessed this said: "Look! He put himself at risk. He became martyr but the Qur’an commands walatulquu bi-aydikum ila attahlukahti.5” This means “do not put yourself into jeopardy with your own hand." Upon which, Abu Ayub al-Ansari (may Allah be pleased with him), a great man who was a scribe of the revelations and hafiz; who served as imam in the Prophet’s mosque and was a former governor of Medina, corrected this immediately and said: “O People! O congregation! We did not infer this meaning from this verse during the time of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH). At the beginning of the verse it states ‘spend your wealth in the way of Allah (SWT).’ Do not abstain from performing kindness and good deeds due to greed! Thus, do not put yourself in jeopardy by not spending your wealth in the way of Allah (SWT)! Because the wealth, which is not spent in the way of Allah (SWT) will be burnt in hell, and placed on their faces, sides and backs; this will be their punishment.”

So having knowledge about the reasons behind a revelation is useful in preventing other meanings or misunderstandings that could emerge. This is so important that scholars of the tafsirs (exegesis) gave the reasons for the revelations.

In the frame around the pages of the Holy Qur’an, there are beautiful, decorative symbols… What do these indicate? They indicate the beginning of the juz or parts of the Holy Qur’an. The beginning of which juz this contains is written there. Or they show the sections and quarters (Rubu) within the juz. In addition, there are marks indicating the verses of prostration (sajda). It writes there is prostration here. The paragraphs that are the reason for prostration are inscribed with lines. We must pay attention to these. The prostration must be performed when the verse of prostration is recited. It is necessary to become familiarized with information related to the script, the configuration of the Qur’an.

The subtlety of the Qur’an should be studied, it should be recited. Reciting the Qur’an is essential. It is a great form of worship for Muslims; a sublime form of dhikir (remembrance). Reciting the Qur’an is a form of remembrance, a deed of great reward.

The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) encouraged Muslims to recite the Qur’an. I would like to relate some of the hadith of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH). Firstly I want to say that there is reward for even looking at the Qur’an. Even if a person cannot read it, he is rewarded for looking at the Qur’an as this is the word of Allah (SWT).

As most people know, Othman (Osman) Gazi was a tribal chief, yet he was illiterate. We call him Othman Gazi (Osman-ı Gazi); in fact, we should refer to him as Gazi Othman due to this attribute.

When he visited the home of Sheikh Edebali, Gazi Othman inquired as to what was hanging on the wall. He was told “this is the Holy Qur’an, the word of Allah (SWT).” Upon this, he did not sleep all night, he stood in worship. As this devotion pleased Allah (SWT), Gazi Othman had a dream. In the dream, he saw a tree growing out of his stomach, its branches reached the sky, it was enormous. When he explained his dream to Sheikh Edebali, Sheikh Edebâlî interpreted the dream saying that a great state would be formed by his descendants, and this state would rule the entire universe.

There are great benefits in respecting the Qur’an. A hijacker noticed a piece of paper in the road that had the name of Allah (SWT) written on it. He picked up the paper, washed it and put it into a hole in a wall so that it would not be trodden on. He had a dream that night, in which he was told by Allah (SWT): “you respected My name, therefore I blessed your body. I granted you faith.” He received such a great compliment in his dream, that he later became a great Muslim saint (Ewliya).

So love and respect for the Qur’an and the name of Allah (SWT) earns a person great rewards. Even looking at the pages of the Qur’an gains reward, a person can acquire reward simply by looking at the pages of the Qur’an.

A person can gain reward by looking at the faces of his father and mother; by looking at the pages of the Qur’an; by looking at the Kabah; by looking at the face of his teacher saying “he teaches me my religion.” A person can gain reward by looking at the ocean contemplating its vastness saying “subhanallah, tabaraqallah’” and considering of the unity of Allah (SWT).

Not only reading, even looking at the Qur’an is rewarding. But there is more reward for reciting the Qur’an. In fact, Allah (SWT) gives 10 rewards for each letter recited from the Qur’an. The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) said: “10 rewards are not given for a word. When Alif lam mim is recited, 10 rewards are given for the letter alif, 10 for lam and 10 for mim..." That is, 10 rewards are obtained for each letter. When Allah (SWT) accepts one good deed of a human being with His favor and grace, this could be the means of entering the paradise.

Therefore, we must give great importance to the recital of the Qur’an. We should recite the Qur’an frequently; we should learn the letters and recite them.

The Qur’an should be recited properly. Reciting the Qur’an properly means in a pleasant, fine manner unique to the Qur’an. This was how the Companions recited the Qur’an; this is how the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) recited the Qur’an. In other words, the Qur’an should not be recited in the form of normal speech, or discourse. It should be recited in a fine tone and pleasant voice.

The Qur’an should be recited in the Arabic language, style and accent with a sense of huzn (sorrow); it should not be read as the Ahl al-Kitab or people of the book recite their books, it should be read more seriously with dignity and in a touching manner, in fact it is recommended to shed tears during the recital.

So let’s read a few hadiths regarding the subject. There are 114 surahs in the Qur’an, and the recital of the whole Qur’an from the first surah Al-Fatiha to the last surah that begins with Qul a’udhu bi-Rabbin-nas is called “Hatm.” “Hatm” means “seal.” It means binding or sealing of something or series on its completion.

There is great reward for memorizing the entire Qur’an. The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) was reported as saying: “Inde kulli hatmatin da'watin mustajabah”, the glad tidings that “The supplications submitted to Allah (SWT) on completion of the hatm are accepted.” Therefore, we hold our hands up in supplication on completion of the Qur’an, and our prayers are accepted.

The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) recommended hatm, or the recital of the entire Qur’an. In this respect, it was recommended that the whole Qur’an should be recited once a month. As there are thirty juz in the Qur’an, this means reading one juz a day. According to the Arabic months, this means reciting a juz every day for 30 days in the months that have thirty days, and two juz on the last day of months that have 29 days, thus, completing the recital in a month. There is also recommendation to complete the recital of the Qur’an in 25 days; there are recommendations to complete the recital in 20 days, in 15 days and even in 10 days.

Completing the recitation of the Qur’an in seven days is also a favorable practice for some hafizes who are capable of reading fast. In this case, the numbers of pages read a day is called “Manzil” (Destination). In Indian and Pakistani publications of the Qur’an, these seven day readings are marked as there are many scholars in these countries that practice this…There is also a the practice of reading of the Qur’an in three days by reading ten juz a day. The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) recommended that the Qur’an should not be read any faster because the meaning becomes understandable.

As we know from the book of Manaqib (virtues), Bayazid al-Bistami (may Allah be pleased with him) wandered in search of the truth for years and recited the entire Qur’an every day…He read so fast that he could recite the whole Qur’an in a day.

Sheikh Omar Ziyaeddin from the Gümüşhânevî dervish lodge used to complete the recital of the entire Qur’an in 6 hours. He completed the Qur’an in 6 hours reading extremely fast. The late Professor Yusuf Ziya Binatlı was his son. May they rest in peace; may their position be exalted… Professor Yusuf Ziya Binatlı gave lessons on law in the Faculty of Open Education. He once said that when he closed his eyes, the pages of the Qur’an appeared before his eyes. His memory was so strong that he could read the Qur’an verse by verse, from bottom to top and even backwards.

If the question “what should we do now? is asked, I recommend that we take the example of these people, feel ashamed and seriously take a look at ourselves! We should read at least one page of the Qur’an a day! When reading this one page, we should understand the meanings of the verses, learn and read their interpretations from the books of tafsir (interpretation). In this way, the whole Qur’an will be completed in a year.

May Allah the Almighty (SWT) endow us with the love and enthusiasm of reading the Qur’an…May He grant us love and respect for the Qur’an…May He grant us the ability of reading the Qur’an beautifully, understanding and complying with its commands.

The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) commanded: Iqra al-Qur'ana fi kulli sharin! Kale: Inni ajidu kuwwatan. Kale: Fakra hu fi ishrina laylatan! Kale: Inni ajidu kuwwatan. Kale: Fakra hu fi ashrin! Kale: Inni ajidu kuwwatan. Kale: Fakra hu fi sab'in wa la tazid ala zalik!

This hadith narrated by Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-As (May Allah be pleased with him) is authentic, it is found in the three famous hadith books of Muslim, Bukhara and Abu Dawud. The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) told the narrator Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him):

Iqra al-Qur'ana fi kulli shahrin: “Read the whole Qur’an every month!” Upon this, Abdullah ibn-i Amr ibn al-As (may Allah be pleased with him) said: Inni ajidu kuwwatan. “O Prophet (PBUH)! I have the strength to do more.”

The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) told him: Fakra hu fi ishrinalaylatan. “Then read it in twenty days.”

He replied: Inni ajidu kuwwah. "Indeed, I have the strength to do more”, so the Prophet said: Fakra hu fi ashrin, “Then read it in 10 days.”  This means 3 juz a day. Then Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-As (may Allah be pleased with him) said: Inni ajidu kuwwah. “I have the strength to do more.”

Upon which the Prophet said:  Fakra hu fi sab'in: “Then read it in seven days!” and added: wa la tazid ala zalika “do not add to this.” In other words, reciting the entire Qur’an in seven days is sufficient.

In another hadith from Abdullah ibn-i Amr (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated by Ahmed ibn-i Hanbal (may Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet said: Iqra al-Qur'ana fi kulli shahrin. “Read the whole Qur’an in a month! Iqra hu fi hamsin wa ishrina. “Complete it in 25 days.” Iqra hu fi hamsa ashrata. “Complete it in 15 days.” Iqra hu fi ashrin. “Complete it in 10 days.” Iqra hu fi sab'in. “ Complete it in seven days.” La yafkahuhu man yaqra’uhu fi akalla min salas. “One who reads faster than 3 days cannot comprehend its meaning and its depth because he reads fast to complete the whole Qur’an in a short time."

So those who read faster than 3 days have done something unfavorable.

Then, the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) commanded:

Iqra al-Qur’ana bil-huzni. Fi innahu nazala bil-huzn: “Recite the Qur’an in a sense of sadness as it was revealed in a sad fashion.”

The Qur’an was revealed upon many sad events, conflicts and oppression of the disbelievers. Companions of the Prophet (PBUH) suffered great pain and torture due to their faith...That is why the Qur’an should be read in a sense of sadness. This is not a song or a simple piece of music. The Qur’an should be recited in a manner that implies its seriousness.

Iqra al-Qur’ana bi al-uhun al-Arab wa aswatiha. Wa iyyaqum wa luhuna ahli al-fisq wa ahl al-kitabayn.

“Recite the Qur’an in the tone of the Arabs and with their dialects and accents, do not read it in the style a singer! It was advocated that the people of the book had their own style of reading, which should be used while reciting the Qur’an.”

Wa sayuju kawmin min ba'di, yurajjin al-Qur'ana tarji al-ghına wa-r-rahbaniyya wa-n-nahw. La yujawizuha najarahum maftunat an-kulubuhum. Wa kulub al-lathina yujibuhum sha'nahum.    

"For verily there will come groups after me that repeat the Qur’an as the repeating of songs, monasticism, and wailing; it does not go beyond their throats, their hearts are spellbound, as well as the hearts of those that like their matter.”

Again, the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) commands:

Iqra al-Qur'ana wab’kû. Fi in lam tabku fatabaqaw. Laysa minna man lam yataghanna bi al-Qur'an.

“Read the Qur’an and weep! If you cannot weep, then try to make yourself weep! He who does not recite the Quran in a pleasant tone is not of us."

The Qur’an should be recited in a pleasant, beautiful voice that is unique to the Qur’an.

The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) commands:

Taallam al-Qur'ana wakqaû hu warqudu, fi inna masala al-Qur'ani liman taallamahu fa karaahu wa kama bi hi qamathali jarabin mahshuwwin miskan, tafuhurihu hu fi kulli makanin wa masalu man taallamahu fi yarkudu wa huwa fî jawfihî, kamathali jarabinukiya ala miskin.

"Learn the Qur'an and recite it. The example of the Qur'an for one who learns it, recites it and stands in Salah with it is like a bag full of musk, its fragrance spreading in every corner. And the example of one who learns it but goes to sleep while it is in his heart is like a bag of musk tied close (at its mouth)." In short, the Qur’an should be recited in a pleasant voice, and we must comply with its commands.

Another hadith narrated by Abdullah ibn-i Mes'ud (may Allah be pleased with him) is as follows:

Taallam al-Qur’ana wa’t luhu. Fi innallaha Jaziqum ala tilawatihi. Bi kulli harfin ashra hasanatin. Ammaan ni la akulu alif, lam, mam harfun.   

"Learn the Qur’an and recite it! As Allah (SWT) will reward you for reading it. He will reward you by giving 10 rewards for each letter. I do not mean that Alif, lam, mim is a letter, but Alif is one letter, lam is one letter and mim is one letter.”

In Arabic, letter means a preposition. It does not mean a letter such as the a, b, c in our language. It was related that there are ten rewards for each letter: "I do not mean that alif, lam, mim’ is a single letter. I mean alif is one letter, lam is one letter, and mim is a letter.”

The Prophet (PBUH) commands:

Taallam al-Qur'ana wa salubihi al-jannata kabla an yataallemahu, kawmun yas'aluna bi hî-d-dunya fi inna al-Qur'ana yataallamuha thalathatu nafarin rajulun yubahibihi wa rajulun yasta'kilubihi wa rajulun yaqrauhulillah.

As narrated by Abu Said al-Khudri (may Allah pleased with him), the Prophet said “Learn (study) the Qur’an, and ask Allah (SWT) to grant you Paradise by it, before there comes people who learn it and ask from it worldly pleasures. Indeed, the Qur’an is learnt by three types of people:  A man who shows off by it, in other words who has an attitude and boasts, which is not acceptable; A man who eats by it (earns a living), who provides his worldly demands, this is also not acceptable; and a man who recites it for the sake of Allah (SWT), a person who recites it as a favor granted to him, a command of Allah (SWT) with sincerity.” The Prophet also said, “Read the Qur’an and act upon it. And do not abandon it, do not exceed its limits, do not eat with it (earn money) and do not seek more by using it.”

Unfortunately, some people use the Qur’an for worldly gains. The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) enjoins: "Read the Qur’an for the sake of Allah alone, and ask for paradise!" Indeed, we must strive to be among those who recite the Qur’an with such sincerity!

The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) said:

Taallam al-Qur’ana ve allimuh an-nas.

“Learn the Qur’an and teach it to others!"

In this case, we will learn the Qur’an and teach our children and those under our responsibility to read the Qur’an! We should also learn its meaning, its commands and interpretation so we practice this accordingly! We must abide by whatever Allah (SWT) commands! We must abstain from whatever He has forbidden! We must gain His pleasure so we can gain reward and enter paradise…

So with the will of Allah, the people of the Qur’an (Ahl al-Qur’an) will increase. Our religion will become even stronger and more widespread. When the religion of Allah (SWT) prevails, when the religion of Allah (SWT) dominates the universe, knowledge, wisdom, morals and compassion will prevail. People, in fact the universe and whole of humanity will attain happiness.

May Allah (SWT) grant us His blessings…May He grant us happiness and prosperity both in this world and the hereafter.


*Talk on Akra FM dated October 6, 1998.

1. Âl-i İmrân, 3/7.

2. Âl-i İmrân, 3/7.

3. Alak, 96/1-5.

4. Hicr, 15/9.

5. Bakara, 2/195.

Article “Qur’an Talks II*” Prof. Dr. M. Es’ad Coşan