Third Module – Division of The Chapters of the Qur’an

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Third Module

Division of The Chapters of the Qur’an

The chapters of the Qur’an are divided into four categories.

  • Al Tuwal
  • Al Mi’in
  • Al Mathani
  • Al Mufassal
  1. Al Tuwal

Referring to the key books of the classical scholars, one finds that the scholars agree on the number of chapters under this category; namely seven.

  • 1) Surah al Baqarah
  • 2) Surah Al ‘Imran
  • 3) Surah al Nisa’
  • 4) Surah al Ma’idah
  • 5) Surah al An’am
  • 6) Surah al A’raf

These six are a given according to the scholars. They however, do have a difference of opinion on the seventh. Some, like Sa’id ibn Jubayr (d. 95.) have leant towards Surah al Yunus as the seventh whilst others have opted for Surah al Anfal and Bara’ah having considered these two chapters as one.[1] The first view is the more correct view in my opinion as it conforms to the number of chapters in the Qur’an; 114. Taking the second view will bring the number of chapters in the Qur’an to 113 which, as we have already established, is against the mainstream view.

Why the name ‘Al Tuwal’?

Tuwal translates as lengthy and these chapters are by themselves the lengthiest of the Qur’an.[2]

  1. Al Mi’in

These chapters come after the seven long ones till the end of Surah al Sajdah. These chapters are named Mi’in as it translates to one hundred and the verses of these chapters are around one hundred.[3]

  1. Al Mathani

These chapters begin at Surah al Ahzab and end at the beginning of either Surah Qaf or Surah al Hujurat.

There is a difference of opinion regarding the reason they are named Al Mathani.

Al Farra (d. 208.) says:

هي السورة التي آيها أقل من مائة لأنها تثنى أكثر مما يثنى الطوال والمئون

These chapters have less than 100 verses and are repeated more than the Tuwal and Mi’in.[4]

Al Suyuti (d. 911.) says:

لانها كانت بعد المئين فهي لها ثوان والمئون لها أوائل

The Mi’in is first relative to it and the Mathani are second relative to the Mi’in.[5]

  1. Al Mufassal

These chapters begin after the Mathani till the end of the Qur’an; Surah al Nas. There remains a difference of opinion regarding the beginning of this division. Some have opined that it begins at Surah Qaf, such as al Zarkashi, whilst others have thought it to begin at Surah al Hujurat, such as al Nawawi (d. 676.).[6]

The scholars have then divided the mufassal into three groups:

1) Al Tiwal: Ending at Surah al ‘Naba’.

2) Al Awsat: Beginning at Surah al Naba’ till Surah al Duha.

3) Al Qisar: Beginning at Surah al Duha to the end of the Noble Qur’an.[7]

This division is called al Mufassal due to the great number of chapters separated by basmalah.

NEXT⇒ Fourth Module – Miscellaneous Divisions of The Qur’an

[1] Al Itqan, vol. 1 pg. 179; Tarikh al Mushaf, pg. 129; Al Burhan, vol. 1 pg. 244.

[2] For further reading see, Bashir al Yusr Sharh Nazimat al Zuhr, Sheikh al Qadi.

[3] Al Burhan, vol. 1 pg. 245.

[4] Al Itqan, vol. 1 pg. 179.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Al Itqan, vol. 1 pg. 180; al Burhan, vol. 1 pg. 245.

[7] Al Itqan, vol. 1 pg. 181; Tarikh al Mushaf, pg. 130.