Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 2 Rabi' al-Awwal 1439

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How are the long chapters of the Qur`an arranged?

How are the long chapters of the Qur`an arranged?

Answer

The arrangement of the Qur`anic verses is part of the revelation of the Qur`an. Indeed the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) received revelations of different surahs during the same period. None of these were complete yet, as some passages were initially revealed to deal with certain occasions and events.

For example, 60 verses from the third surah comment on the events of the Battle of Uhud while its remaining 140 verses deal with other subjects and were not revealed on the same occasion. Nor was a surah necessarily revealed in its final order. Some later passages were revealed before earlier ones. The final arrangement was determined by God.

When the Angel Gabriel conveyed to the Prophet (peace and blesings be upon him) a passage or a verse, he told him its place in its respective surah. He would tell him, “This goes after such-and such a verse in such-and-such a surah.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) read out each surah as it was at the time. When a surah was complete, he would recite it in its final form and his Companions would learn it in that order.

Each year in Ramadan, Angel Gabriel would come to the Prophet (peace be upon him) at night and both of them would recite the Qur`an together. In the last year of the Prophet’s life, they recited it twice in full in its present order. Thus the arrangement of the surahs is also part of the revelation.

As for the titles, they are taken from each surah and refer to an important issue it discusses. This may be in one verse or in a long passage. An example of the first type is the tenth surah ‘Yunus’ in which Prophet Yunus (peace be upon him) is mentioned in one verse. An example of the second is the second surah where the story of the ‘cow’ is discussed in a long passage. Some surahs have more than one title, but one of them is better known because it is the one mentioned in the printed copies of the Qur`an.
 

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