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Name of the Soorah This chapter is most commonly known by the title Soorah al-Ikhlaas (The Chapter on Sincerity) from the phrase akhlasa lillaahi (to be without hypocrisy towards God, to be sincere towards God [Qaamoos of alFayroozabaadee]) or the term ikhlaas properly signifies the assertion of oneself to be clear of believing in any beside God [Taaj al-‘Aroos of Murtadaa az[1]Zabeedee].1

However, it was also sometimes referred to as Soorah at-Tawheed (The Chapter on Monotheism) by early scholars. In many statements of the Prophet (r) and his companions, this chapter was most commonly referred to by the whole first verse Qul huwAllaahu ahad.

However, this variation in the names does not in any way indicate changes or contradictions within the Qur’aan because the majority of chapter titles were chosen by the companions of the Prophet (r) and scholars of later generations for identification purposes.

There are, however, a few chapters which the Prophet (r) referred to by titles. For example, the 18th chapter was commonly called Soorah al-Kahf (The Cave). AbuDardaa related that the Prophet (r) said:

“Anyone who memorizes the first ten verses of Soorah al-Kahf will be protected from Dajjaal.” 2

 It was not until the third century after the hijrah (ninth century C.E.) that people began the practice of writing chapter names in the Qur’aan, numbering the verses and adding symbols in the margin indicating the divisions of the Qur’aan.3

There were also symbols indicating the ends of the verses and places for recitational pauses (such as ط and لا .( Most scholars of that time were initially opposed to these additions fearing that their widespread acceptance might lead to these symbols being considered a part of the Qur’aan in later times.

The Reason for Revelation

 The Qur’aan is a book of guidance for all peoples in all times until the Day of Judgment, showing them the correct path in their relations with their Creator and in their relations with themselves as individuals and as groups. At the same time, the Qur’aan was revealed to one man living in a specific time and place among a specific community. On occasions, certain events would occur about which the Prophet’s followers were unsure, or on other occasions they might actually ask him about some matters which were unclear to them.

In response to these and similar needs, verses were revealed to the Prophet (r). These events represent the context in which revelation came and are referred to as “ asbaab an-nuzool” (reasons for revelation). The Qur’aan, therefore, used particular incidents to give instructions of universal significance. The circumstances for a particular revelation could only be known to the witnesses of the relevant events or someone who was informed by a witness.

Therefore, the only reliable source for this knowledge is the companions of the Prophet (r). Like the hadeeths of the Prophet (r), the reliability of such reports depends upon the reliability of the chain of narrators.

The statement of a student of the companions (taabi‘ee) about the reason for a given revelation is usually considered weak by the scholars of hadeeth, if he did not attribute his opinion to one of the sahaabah. 7 Knowledge of the reasons for revelation is of great importance to understanding the Qur’aan, as well as many of the Islaamic laws contained in it.

The following are some of the benefits which may be gained from knowledge of the reasons for a verse’s revelation: 1. The reasons for revelation often explain the wisdom underlying the legislation of Islaamic laws. Knowledge of the wisdom behind divine laws provides scholars with general principles which enable them to work out laws for new problems which have similar causes or effects.

The reasons for revelation also show the concern of the laws for the general welfare of humanity in their treatment of problems. This, in turn, makes us aware of Allaah’s Mercy, which is a fundamental part of all divine laws. 2. Sometimes the reasons for revelation specify the particular aspect of a verse’s meaning which was intended. This is of particular importance in cases were the obvious meaning of the verse may be general enough to include circumstances not intended by Allaah. 3.

The reason for revelation sometimes clarifies the laws which may be deduced from the verses. The obvious meaning of the verse may imply a particular law, whereas the circumstances under which the verse was revealed indicate another law.

For example, ‘Urwah once said to his aunt ‘Aa’ishah, wife of the Prophet (r), “Do you know the verse, ‘Indeed Safaa and Marwah are among Allaah’s shrines, so there is no sin on anyone who walks between them when making hajj or ‘umrah’?” 8 I don’t feel that there is any sin on one who doesn’t walk between them.” ‘Aa’ishah replied, “My nephew! What a terrible thing you have said!

Indeed, if the (verse) meant as you interpreted it, it would have been, ‘So there is so sin on anyone who doesn’t walk between them.’ It was revealed because the Ansaar,9 before Islaam, used to dedicate their (hajj or ‘umrah) to two idols, Isaaf and Naa’ilah, and they would visit them on the seashore before walking between Safaa and Marwah and shaving their heads.

After they became Muslims they didn’t want to walk between them, because of what they used to do during the Days of Ignorance. Consequently, Allaah revealed the verse, ‘Indeed Safaa and Marwah are among the shrines of Allaah…’ ” 10 Thus, although the obvious meaning of the verse indicated that the walking between Mounts Safaa and Marwah was merely mubaah (allowable), the reason for revelation indicates that it is waajib (compulsory).

Qur’aanic verses may be general or specific in their meanings and the reasons for revelation may either confirm the general implications of the verses or their specific implications, or it may qualify them.

The guiding principle to be followed when interpreting or applying the verses of the Qur’aan is that the lesson lies in the general meaning of the words and not simply in the special circumstances in which they were revealed. However, knowledge of the events surrounding the revelations puts the general meaning of the verses in their proper context and helps to prevent deviant interpretation.

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