The word soorah means an enclosure or a fencing, such as the walls around a city. It is also used to denote an elevated plain. When applied to Islamic sciences, it applies to specific group of verses in the Quran, arranged in a specific manner. Arraangement Of The Soorahs The scholars of Islam have agreed to the fact that it is obligatory to follow the arrangement of the soorahs in the writing of the mushaf, and that it is recommended (but not obligatory) to follow this arrangement in the recitation of the Quran, whether this recitation occurs during the prayer oroutside of it.
However they have three opinions concerning the origin of this arrangement. The first opinion states that the arrangement of the soorahs was from the ijtihad of the companions. In other words, when Zayd (RA) compiled the official mushaf, he employed his own ijtihad in the arrangement of the soorahs, and the other Companions agreed to this. This is the opinion of Imaam Maalik (RAH).
The second opinion claims that part of the arrangement was done by the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) and part by the ijtihad of the Companions. The followers of this opinion have however disagreed as to how many soorahs were arranged by the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) and how many by the Companions. The most common opinion amongst this group is that all the soorahs were arranged by the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) except for Soorah at-Tawbah and al-Anfal.
The last opinion states that the soorah order was from the command of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam). In other words, the arrangement of the Soorahs was understood by the Companions since the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) taught them this, and this is why Uthmaan (RA) arranged the soorahs in the present arrangement. This is perhaps the strongest opinion on the matter. This is because the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) used to recite the soorahs to the companions in a specific order, and he mentioned the order of some of them in certain hadeeth. For example, he said, "Recite the two bright ones; al-Baqarah and Aali-Imraan," (Muslim) and he said, "I have been given in place of the Tawrah the seven tiwaal, and I have been given in place of the Psalms the mieen, and I have been given in place of the Gospel, the muthaani, and I was honoured over the others with the mufassal." (Tabaranee) Also when the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) recited the Quran to Jibreel every year, he must have recited it in a particular order, and Zayd was present when he recited.
When Uthman compiled the Quran, Zayd would have used the same order that he had heard from the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam). Another proof is that none of the Companions objected to this order. Therefore, the arrangement of the soorahs must have been known to the Companions, and that is why they agreed to it. (Ijmaa). Perhaps the strongest proof is the narration of Huthayfah ath-Thaqafee in which he said, "I asked the Companions (during the life time of the Prophet) how do you divide the Quran? They replied, We break it into three soorahs, then five, then seven, then rune, then eleven, then thirteen,then the mufassal from Qaaf to the end." (Abu Dawood) in other words, the Companions would recite the Quran in a specific order so that they would finish it every week. This narration shows that the arrangement of the soorahs was known to all the Companions even during the life of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam). Imaam Karmanee said: "The arrangement of the soorahs is from Allaah, and the Quran is written in the Lauh al-Mahfoodh in this arrangement. It was recited to Jibreel by the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) in this order every year, and he recited it twice the year he died."
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited