Arrangement of The Verses of The Quran

Even though there is a difference of opinion over the actual verse numbering, there is no difference over the fact that the arrangement and order of the verses in each surah of the Quran is from the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) himself. The scholars of Islaam have agreed (ijmaa') on this point. Abu Jafar ibn Zubayr said: "The arrangements of the verses in the soorahs is a matter which is from the command of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) and we cannot question it (i.e. exercise ijtihad on it). This is a matter in which there is no difference of opinion among the Muslims." (Qattaan, p. 139). 

The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) used to mention to the scribe writing the verse where to put the verse in the Quran. He did not used to do this by his own judgement, for Jibreel (RA) used to tell him, and Jibreel was inspired by Allaah with this knowledge. Uthman ibn Abee al-Aas (RA) reported that he was once sitting by the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) when he noticed that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) raised his eyes and fixed his gaze to me, and commanded me to put this verse at a certain place in this soorah, "Allaah commands you with justice ..."(Q 16[NahI]:90)

Abdullah ibn Zubayr (RA) was reading the Quran when he came across this verse, "And those of you who die and leave behind their wives should bequeath for them a years maintenance and residence, without turning them out ... " (Q2[Baqarah]:240). He went to Uthman ibn 'Affaan (RA) and asked him, "This verse has been abrogated by the verses after it, so why do you write it?"He answered, "O my nephew, I will not change anything from its place," (Bukhari). In this narration, Uthman signified that he knew the place of the verses, but he was not willing to leave anything out that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) had ordered him to do.

Apart from these proofs, the fact that the prophet used to recite complete soorahs in the prayer and to the Companions individually shows that the arrangement of the verses must have been taught by the prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) to the Companions. In all of the prayers in which the recitation is aloud, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) would have had to recite various soorahs.

There are reports, for example, that he recited Soorah Sajdah in Fajr, and he recited al-Baqarah and Aal-ilmran, Nisaa and Araaf, and many more soorahs in the prayer, and he recited Soorah Qaaf more than once during the Friday sermons. In addition, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) used to recite the entire Quran during the month of Ramadan and this was witnessed by Zayd ibn Thaabit (RA).

Therefore, the Companions must have heard the various verses put together to form the soorah. This is why as-Suyootee said. "The recitation of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) in front of the gathering of the Companions proves that the arrangement of the verses is from him, and the Companions could not change the order of the verses from what the Prophet recited. Therefore, the knowledge of the order of the verses is mutawaatir." (As-Suyootee. vol. I, p. 82). This is reflected in the fact that there is absolutely no known difference of opinion in the arrangement of the verses for each soorah. 


This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited

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