Video: The Seven Ahruf – follow up questions

Feb 22, 2022 | Tafsir



I hope you are well.

In Mufti Mangera’s discourse on the seven ahruf, he referenced the famous scholarly viewpoint that the seven qira’at differ from the seven ahruf. When doing so he stated that the scholars of this camp believe that the only harf which remains today is the Quraishy one and that the other six ahruf expired and disappeared.

If six of the seven ahruf expired and disappeared, does this not mean that the Qur’an has not been fully preserved and does this not subsequently signify that Allah did not fully preserve the Qur’an?

How were the scholars who were of the opinion that the seven qira’at differ from the seven ahruf able to reconcile Verse 9 of Surah 15 of the Qur’an in which Allah says “It is certainly We Who have revealed the Reminder, and it is certainly We Who will preserve it” with the notion that six of the seven ahruf expired and disappeared?


The discussion of the seven ahruf is a very complex discussion. There are numerous components to the discussion and when scholars adopt certain positions, they are tasked with reconciling a variety of factors to ensure that the narrative makes sense, is consistent and free from critique.

One of the positions in relation to the seven ahruf and the compilation during the time of ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) is that when Allah the Almighty revealed the Qur’an to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace), certain parts of the Qur’an were revealed in a variety of ways to facilitate ease of recitation. Reciting in these variations was optional and the facility was there for the benefit of the believers. During the time of ‘Uthman, certain disagreements would take place amongst the believers in relation to the various ways of reciting. To protect the Muslim community from such disagreements, ‘Uthman, with the consent of the companions, took on the task of preparing copies of the Qur’an according to one of the ahruf which would then be used as the standard for learning and teaching the Qur’an.

This narrative is one of many opinions in relation to the compilation that took place during the time of ‘Uthman. It has been advanced by the likes of Imam Tabari and has become quite common and well known. However, this opinion is not the strongest opinion according to many scholars. Rather, this opinion raises many questions such as the one which you have raised, which is, how can Muslims, of their own accord, choose to reduce the various ahruf of the Qur’an to one harf. This is a very strong objection to this narrative and one which is difficult to provide a satisfactory response to. The likes of Imam Tabari have tried to explain it in the following light. The Muslim community were tasked with preserving the Qur’an, but at the same time they were given the option to adopt whichever of the ahruf they prefer. Hence, for the purpose of unity they chose to adopt one harf unanimously, and gave up the other variations. However, further objections can be raised on this too.

For a detailed discussion on this you may want to read ‘An Approach To The Qur’anic Sciences’ by Mufti Taqi ‘Usmani page 126 onwards.

The opinion which seems more favourable is that the seven ahruf refer to seven categories of variations and that ‘Uthman did not reduce the various ahruf to only one harf, rather, he wrote a script which would incorporate as many of those ahruf as possible. This to some degree reconciles the verse about the preservation of the Qur’an and also the task carried out by ‘Uthman.

تفسير ابن كثير ت سلامة (4/ 527)
ثُمَّ قَرَّرَ تَعَالَى أَنَّهُ هُوَ الَّذِي أَنْزَلَ الذِّكْرَ، وَهُوَ الْقُرْآنُ، وَهُوَ الْحَافِظُ لَهُ مِنَ التَّغْيِيرِ وَالتَّبْدِيلِ

تفسير الطبري = جامع البيان ت شاكر (17/ 68)
يقول تعالى ذكره: (إِنَّا نَحْنُ نزلْنَا الذِّكْرَ) وهو القرآن (وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ) قال: وإنا للقرآن لحافظون من أن يزاد فيه باطل مَّا ليس منه، أو ينقص منه ما هو منه من أحكامه وحدوده وفرائضه، والهاء في قوله: (لَهُ) من ذكر الذكر

تفسير البغوي – إحياء التراث (3/ 51)
إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ، يَعْنِي الْقُرْآنَ، وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحافِظُونَ، أَيْ: نَحْفَظُ الْقُرْآنَ مِنَ الشَّيَاطِينِ أَنْ يَزِيدُوا فِيهِ أَوْ يَنْقُصُوا مِنْهُ أَوْ يُبَدِّلُوا [2] ، قَالَ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى: لَا يَأْتِيهِ الْباطِلُ مِنْ بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَلا مِنْ خَلْفِهِ [فُصِّلَتْ:
42] وَالْبَاطِلُ: هُوَ إِبْلِيسُ لَا يَقْدِرُ أَنْ يَزِيدَ فِيهِ مَا لَيْسَ مِنْهُ وَلَا أَنْ يَنْقُصَ مِنْهُ مَا هُوَ مِنْهُ

تفسير الطبري = جامع البيان ت شاكر (1/ 58)
فإن قال: فما بال الأحرف الأخَرِ الستة غير موجودة، إن كان الأمر في ذلك على ما وصفتَ، وقد أقرأهن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أصحابه، وأمر بالقراءة بهنّ، وأنزلهن الله من عنده على نبيه صلى الله عليه وسلم؟ أنسخت فرُفعت، فما الدلالة على نسخها ورَفعها؟ أم نسيتهن الأمة، فذلك تضييعُ ما قد أمروا بحفظه؟ أم ما القصةُ في ذلك؟

قيل له: لم تنسخ فترفع، ولا ضيعتها الأمة وهي مأمورة بحفظها. ولكنّ الأمة أمرت بحفظ القرآن، وخُيِّرت في قراءته وحفظه بأي تلك الأحرف السبعة شاءت. كما أمرت، إذا هي حَنثتْ في يمين وهي مُوسرة، أن تكفر بأيِّ الكفارات الثلاث شاءت: إما بعتق، أو إطعام، أو كسوة. فلو أجمعَ جميعها على التكفير بواحدة من الكفارات الثلاث، دون حَظرها التكفيرَ بأي الثلاث شاءَ المكفِّر، كانت مُصيبةً حكمَ الله، مؤديةً في ذلك الواجبَ عليها من حق الله. فكذلك الأمة، أمرت بحفظ القرآن وقراءته، وخُيِّرت في قراءته بأي الأحرف السبعة شاءت: فرأت  لعلة من العلل أوجبتْ عليها الثباتَ على حرف واحد- قراءتَهُ بحرف واحدٍ، ورفْضَ القراءة بالأحرف الستة الباقية، ولم تحْظُرْ قراءته بجميع حروفه على قارئه، بما أذن له في قراءته به

Answered by:
Ifta Research Fellow

Checked & Approved by:
Mufti Abdul Rahman Mangera
Mufti Zubair Patel