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Assalamu 'alaikum,

I have some questions regarding the different recitations revealed to Muhammad (SAS), and their preservation:

1) We have ten readings that are 'mutatwaatir' from our prophet, what exactly is meant by this?

2) We have some other readings (at least four from what I gather) that are 'shaadh'. What is meant by this? How many are there? Have they been preserved or lost, and where does this stand when Allaah says He will preserve the Qur’an for us?

3) What exactly did Uthman (RA) preserve in his musshaffs - just the readings we have that we call mutawaatir? I heard it is not permissible to recite shaadh readings , but I don't understand why, if there is a saheeh chain back to the prophet (SAS), one cannot....why is there doubt?

Jazaak Allahu khayran for your efforts


Wa alaikum assalaam wa rahmatu Allahi wa barakatuh.

 1.  Mutawaatir means narrated by groups, meaning chains of transmission from groups to other groups are present throughout the centuries since the time of the Prophet, , to the present time. The number in each  group should so great that they could not have possibly agreed upon a lie. 

2.   Imam Ibn Al-Jazaree in his work “An-Nashr fi-l qira’aat al-3ashr” volume one, in the section  “Arkan al-qira’aah aS-SaHeeH” laid out the rules for what is required for a recitation to be accepted as Saheeh. There are three conditions:

a)   The reading should agree with the Arabic language, if only by one manner.
b)    The reading should agree with the writing of one of the ‘Uthmaani copies of the Qur’an, even if only by probability or approximation.
c) The reading should have a correct sanad (transmission chain).

If all three conditions are met, then the qira’ah is SaHeeH, and from the “seven aHruf” that the Qur’an was revealed in, and rejection of it is not allowed.

If however, one of these conditions is not met, then the qira’ah is then labeled as weak, shaath (irregular or atypical), or false.  Imam Ibn Al-Jazaree stated that all of the salaf agree with this, and that Imam Abu ‘Amr Ad-Daanee declared this, as  well as Imam Aboo Muhammed Makkee bin Abee Taalif, and others.

The ruling then on what can be accepted and read of the Qur’an and what is not accepted and not read, and what is accepted but not read, as explained by Imam Ibn Al-Jazaree in three divisions are as follows:

A)   That which is read today and all three conditions are met (as described above), meaning the recitations that were transmitted from trustworthy Muslims from the Prophet, , and the Arabic grammar is sound, and it agrees with the writing of the Qur’an.  An example of this is the two different ways of reciting the first word of the fifth aayah of surah Al-Faatihah: .  These recitations or qira’aat are read and are sound and it is not allowed to criticize them, since they were transmitting from groups and agree with the writing. 

B)  That which is sound in its transmission in individual chains or less than a group (generally needed to be around 40), correct in Arabic language and violates the writing of the Qur’an.  An example of this is the recitation of aayah three of surah Al-Layl :
, as:  , by Abdullah bin Mas3ood and Abee Ad-Dardaa’.
These recitations are accepted but not read because of two possibilities; one: they were not transmitted by groups, instead were in single chains or less than a group, the other: It violates that what was agreed upon  in writing. 

C)   That which was transmitted from non trustworthy people, or trustworthy Muslims transmitted, but it does not agree with the Arabic language.  An example of this is reading of the phrase:
as : with a .  This is not accepted, even if it agrees with the writing in the copy of the Qur’an. 

There are too many shaath qira’aat to try and add them up and come up with their  number.  Many different books include them, and then describe them as shaath, or later examination determined that they were shaath.  Many have been preserved in the different old books, such as “Al-Kamaal fi-l qira’aat al-khamseen”,  many have been lost, still some are taught on only a learning basis.  There are some qira’aat that were recited and mutawaatir at the time of the Sahaabah, that later became weak in their chains (less than the required large group passing it on to another group).  An example of this are the four qira’aat above the ten (al-arba3 fowq al-3ashr) which includes the recitation made famous by Al-Hasan Al-BaSri. 

Allah promised that He would preserve the Qur’an and made a requirement of the Muslim nation to maintain this preservation.  The preservation demanded by the ‘ummah and incumbent upon them is only one way of recitation, not all the different ways of recitation, al-hamdu lillah.  This is the minimum requirement we have as the Muslim ‘ummah.   You can see then that with all the different scholars who have learned and teach the different qira’aat, that Allah’s promise is certainly fulfilled; the Qur’an is preserved in the hearts of many, many Muslims, in addition to the writing of the copies of the Qur’an.

3.   Part of the answer for number two answers number three.  The ‘Uthmaani copies of the Qur’an contained all of the qira’aat that were Saheeh.  'Uthmaan sent out between four and eight mus-hafs around the Muslim world. All of them were without dots and vowel marks. These mus-hafs had minor variations between them, depending on the qira’ah prevalent in the area the copy was sent to.  The mus-haf then that was sent to the area of the Islamic world where the qira’ah of Ibn Katheer was prevalent, had slight variations, according to the recitation of Ibn Katheer, from the mus-haf sent to the area where the recitation of Ibn ‘Aamer was prevalent, etc.  

Wa iyyaakum wa-l-muslimeen, and may Allah reward you for your patience.  Wa assalaam alaikum wa rahmatu Allah.