This is a continuation of the explanation of Imam al-Shatibi’s famous poem on the 7 Qiraa’aat: حرز الأماني ووجه التهاني في القراءات السبع. In this poem, Imam al-Shatibi, may Allah have mercy upon him, documents the rules of 7 of the 10 authentic Qiraa’aat, i.e. the Qira’ah of Naafi’, Ibn Katheer, Abu ‘Amr, Ibn ‘Aamir, ‘Aasim, al-Kisaa’i, and Hamzah. The explanation of the Introduction, the first 94 lines of this text, was featured here, by Sh. Muhammad Saleem Ghaibie. Please make sure to carefully study this Introduction so that the rest of the text can be understood clearly.
The Chapter on the Basmalah
After the chapter on the Isti’aadhah, Imam al-Shatibi logically follows with the Basmalah, as this is usually recited next after the Isti’aadhah for recitation.
The Basmalah (الْبَسْمَلَة) is the مصدر (verbal noun) of the verb بَسْمَلَ which means to say بِسْمِ اللهِ. It is similar to the verbs:
- هَلَّلَ or هَيْلَلَ which mean to say لَا إِلَه إِلَّا اللهُ,
- حَمْدَلَ to say الْحَمْدُ لِلهِ,
- حَسْبَلَ to say حَسْبِيَ اللهُ,
- حَوْقَلَ or حَوْلَقَ which mean to say لَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِاللهِ,
- حَيْعَلَ to say حَيَّ عَلَى الصَّلاةِ.
This type of verb is not original but rather an abbreviation, so one word is formed in place of two or more, using letters taken from those words.
In general, saying the Basmalah is recommended when one is about to do any permissible or mandatory action, and all scholars agree that it is part of the Qur’an in the story of Sulayman (AH) in Surat an-Naml: 30
إنه من سليمـن وإنه بسم الله الرحمـن الرحيم
Indeed, it is from Solomon, and indeed, it reads: ‘In the name of Allah , the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful,
As for the beginnings of surahs, then the scholars of Qiraa’aat and Fiqh have differed over whether it is an Ayah or not. Of the 114 Surahs in the Qu’ran, 113 have the بسملة written in the beginning of them, and only Surat at-Tawbah which is the 9th Surah of the Qur’an, does not. The chosen opinion, is that the بسملة is an Ayah of the Qur’an in all those places in which it is written in the Mus-haf, so this necessitates reciting it in those places. It also has other rulings in terms of reciting it aloud or quietly in Salah and otherwise.
Reciting the بسملة is related to three situations in the recitation of the Qur’an:
- When starting a Surah, either after وقف or قطع.
- When starting recitation from any other part of the Qur’an other than the beginning of a Surah.
- Between two Surahs when joining in one breath.
[Note: وقف is stopping during recitation to take a new breath, with the intention to continue, whereas قطع is stopping the recitation session itself to go and do something else, i.e. without the intention to continue]
Imam al-Shatibi started with the third situation of بسملة because it has the most differences in it, and so the need for knowing it is more important. The differences between the Qurra’ over what they do between two Surahs only comes in when joining the end of the first Surah to the beginning of the next Surah to be recited, without breaking the breath in between. Otherwise, when starting the Surah with a new breath (i.e. after وقف or قطع) which is situation number one mentioned above, then all the Qurra’ recite the بسملة.
Another point is that, one can only join the end of one Surah to the beginning of another, in one breath, if these Surahs are in order of the Mus-haf even if they are not directly one after the other, for example the end of al-Furqan to the beginning of al-Mulk.
وَبَسْمَلَ بَيْنَ السُّورَتَيْنِ بِـسُنَّةٍ رِجَالٌ نَـمَوْهَا دِرْيَةً وَتَحَمُّلَا
100. They recited Basmalah between two surahs, following a Sunnah, men who transmitted it with knowledge and whilst narrating from others.
So here Imam al-Shatibi is saying regarding the third situation, that some of the Qurra’ recited the بسملة between two Surahs, and in doing so they were holding onto a Sunnah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. Linguistically سنة means a path, and its technical meaning is the speech, actions, tacit approvals or descriptions of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. It being a Sunnah is affirmed by the fact that the Sahabah (RA) wrote it in the Mus-haf, and also other narrations such as those which mention that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم did not know when a Surah was completed until بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم was revealed to him.
The word نَمَوْهَا means that they transmitted it via a chain of narration going back to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, and so it was attributed it to him and his Sahabah (RA). The pronoun in نموها may refer to the word بسملة or سنة. They did this whilst being in a state of دِرْيَة which is from the word دِرَايَة which means knowledge and information, i.e. that they did it with knowledge and information on the matter, and تَحَمُّلَا, meaning they narrated this from the chain of narration; in other words درية وتحملا they joined between الدراية theoretical knowledge on the matter and الرواية having a chain of narration going back for it. This is the apparent meaning of the text.
As for the coded meaning of this line, then it is saying that the Qurra’ that recited بسملة when joining the end of one Surah to the beginning of the next Surah in one breath, were (letters indicated in red): Qaaloon (ب), al-Kisaa’i (ر), ‘Aasim (ن) and Ibn Katheer (د). The و in وتحملا is واو فاصل indicating the end of this rule. This is their only way when joining two Surahs in one breath. And it is understood by subtraction that the rest of the Qurra’ do not have this rule.
وَوَصْلُكَ بَيْنَ السُّورَتَيْنِ فَـصَاحَةٌ وَصِلْ وَاسْكُتَنْ كُـلٌّ جَـلَايَاهُ حَـصًّلَا
101. And your Wasl (joining) between two Surahs is eloquence; and do Wasl or do Sakt, each of them acquired their clear facts.
In this next line, Imam al-Shatibi brings up another rule that is applied between two Surahs, which is doing Wasl, which means to join the end of the first Surah to the beginning of the next directly, without saying the بسملة in between. For example the end of Surah al-Falaq to the beginning of an-Naas would be recited in one breath as follows:
وَمِن شَرِّ حَاسِدٍ إِذَا حَسَدَ قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ النَّاسِ
He says that doing this is فصاحة which means eloquence or purity of language. By saying this he is indicating the wisdom behind doing وصل between two Surahs, which is that when doing this, by necessity the marks of Arabic Declension which are known by the last harakah of words become clear for the ends of the Surahs. Also for the rules of what will take Kasrah and what will be omitted due to two Saakins meeting such as the end of al-Maa’idah and an-Najm; and Hamzat al-Wasl becoming clear such as the end of al-‘Aadiyaat to the beginning of al-Qaari’ah; also Hamzat al-Qat’ such as the beginning of at-Takaathur; and those places which have Sakt according to the madhhab of Khalaf such as the end of ad-Duhaa. In all of these cases, one cannot perfect them except if they know how to join. The Qaari’ who does وصل only, is Hamzah indicated by the red ف of فصاحة.
The و in وَصِلْ is واو فاصل indicating the end of the rule for Hamzah, and the next section being a new rule which is having a choice between both وصل or سكت. This is for the remaining Qurra’ who are Ibn ‘Aamir, Warsh and Abu ‘Amr indicated by the red letters respectively. The و in the word واسكتن means “or” and not “and”, as it is impossible to do both وصل and سكت at the same time, so it means they have a choice between these two options. سكت means to recite the end of the first Surah and then the beginning of the next Surah, but with a breathless stop in between them. This stop or pause is slightly shorter than a regular stop (وقف) and with the intention to continue in the same breath; for example (pause indicated by dash):
وَمِن شَرِّ حَاسِدٍ إِذَا حَسَدْ – قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ النَّاسِ
The ن in the word واسكتن is for emphasis, as if Imam al-Shatibi is saying that سكت is preferred for them over وصل. The word جلاياه is the plural of جلية which means a sure thing, plain fact or the true state of something, and the pronoun in the word جلاياه may refer to the choice between وصل and سكت, i.e. that all the Qurra’ examined this choice and saw that it was correct; or the pronoun may refer to كل i.e. all the Qurra’ obtained the true and clear facts for what they did and approved of it. And Allah knows best.
Note: بسملة is recited for all the Qurra’ between the end of an-Naas and the beginning of al-Faatihah regardless of which way they do between the rest of the Surahs. This is because even though one may be joining an-Naas to al-Faatihah in their words, al-Faatihah is actually the beginning of the Qur’an and there is nothing before it.
وَلَا نَصَّ كَلَّا حُبَّ وَجْهٌ ذَكَرْتُهُ وَفِيهَا خِلَافٌ جِيدُهُ وَاضِحُ الطُّلَى
102. And there is no textual evidence, certainly not! Loved was the way I mentioned; and in it there is difference, the neck of which is most prominent.
In this line Imam al-Shatibi is saying that there is no textual evidence for doing وصل and nor for سكت for the Qurra’ mentioned in the last line (Ibn ‘Aamir, Warsh, Abu ‘Amr), and rather the choice between these two is what the Shyookh chose and recommended, and this is the meaning of his saying حب وجه ذكرته Loved was the way I mentioned. The word كلا is a حرف which is used to prevent and deter from something, as if Imam al-Shatibi is prohibiting one from believing that there is textual evidence for any of them for doing that.
Then he said وفيها and in it i.e. in the بسملة there is a difference of opinion from them, the neck of this difference is most prominent, i.e. that this difference of opinion is famous and well-known amongst the scholars. The word جيد means neck; the word الطلا is the plural of طلاة or طلية which is the side of the neck i.e. the sides of the neck of which are most prominent, now a neck only has two sides yet here it comes in plural (instead of dual) because there is no risk of confusion, similar to the Arabs describing someone with “wide eyebrows” and using the plural word for eyebrows instead of dual because it’s known that a person only has two eyebrows, or for example saying someone has a “long mustache” using the plural word for mustache. It is also said that الطلا means neck itself (instead of side of the neck), so as if saying the neck which is the most prominent (of necks); this coinage is used to refer to something which is high in place and status, such as what is mentioned in the following hadeeth:
المؤذون أطول الناس أعناقا يوم القيامة
The Mu’adhins will have the longest necks of all the people on Yawm al-Qiyaamah.
So what is understood from this line (102) is that there is difference of opinion regarding بسملة narrated from Ibn ‘Aamir, Warsh and Abu ‘Amr, and actually many authors did not mention anything but بسملة for Ibn ‘Aamir; so if we say that they did not do بسملة then the question arises: what do they do? Do they do وصل like Hamzah or do they do سكت? There is no textual evidence for them regarding this, but Shyookh have mentioned both ways for them as a recommendation.
Also, contrary to another opinion, what has been authenticated is that this line does not contain any codified letters in it, because if we followed the other opinion which states that كلا حب are codes for Ibn ‘Aamir and Abu ‘Amr (i.e. that these two do not have textual evidence), this meaning would necessitate that Warsh does have textual evidence for the two choices, but this is not the case, rather warsh has no textual evidence regarding this. And if we said that جيده is a code for Warsh (i.e. regarding the difference of opinion in بسملة), it would mean that there is no difference from Ibn ‘Aamir and Abu ‘Amr, yet this difference has been transmitted, so for this reason the stronger opinion is that there are no codes at all in this line. And Allah knows best.
وَسَكْتُهُمُ الْمُخْتَارُ دُونَ تَنَفُّسٍ وَبَعْضُهُمُ, فِي الْأَرْبَعِ الزُّهْرِ بَسْمَلَا
103. And their Sakt is chosen, without taking a breath; and some of them, in the Four Bright Lights, recited Basmalah.
In this line the word وسكتهم is مبتدأ and المختار is its خبر, so it is saying similar to the word واسكتن in line 101, i.e. that سكت is preferred over وصل, and this is due to it bringing attention to the end of the Surah as opposed to just joining directly as is done in وصل; the pronoun in وسكتهم their is referring to Warsh, Abu ‘Amr and Ibn ‘Aamir, and the next bit explains that this سكت referred to here is without breath, in that you do a short stop at the end of the Surah without taking a new breath. The word المختار could also be a second مبتدأ instead of the خبر of وسكتهم, and in this case the line would mean And their Sakt, what is chosen in it is that it is without taking a breath.
The word بعضهم some of them means that some Shyookh from the teachers of Qur’an who recommended the choice between وصل and سكت, also chose بسملة for these three (Warsh, Abu ‘Amr and Ibn ‘Aamir) in the beginning of four Surahs: al-Qiyaamah, al-Mutaffifeen, al-Balad and al-Humazah. The word الزهر is the plural of زهراء which is the feminine of the word أزهر which means a bright or piercing light, and the four Surahs mentioned above are nicknamed the Four Bright Lights because of their being well-known and famous amongst the people of this science, and so there was no need for Imam al-Shatibi to specify which Surahs they are.
So this line is saying that some Shyookh although doing سكت otherwise between the rest of the Surahs, they chose to separate these particular four Surahs from the Surahs before them with بسملة for the one doing سكت between the rest of the Surahs. And they chose that سكت should be done to separate these four Surahs for the one doing وصل (i.e. for Warsh, Abu ‘Amr, Ibn ‘Aamir and Hamzah) between the rest of the Surahs, which is explained in the next line:
لَهُمْ دُونَ نَصٍّ وَهْوَ فِيهِنَّ سَاكِتٌ لِحَمْزَةَ فَافْهَمْهُ وَلَيْسَ مُخَذَّلَا
104. For them without textual evidence; and he, in them [i.e. the Four Bright Lights] does Sakt for Hamzah, so understand this and it was [or they were] not deserted.
This line tells us that those of this opinion that although one may be reciting with سكت otherwise, but when it comes to الأربع الزهر the Four Bright Lights they should then upgrade to بسملة, these Shyookh do not have textual evidence for this, rather it was something that they preferred and chose to do. وهو is referring to the one reciting the recitation of Hamzah and who is of the opinion that upgrading should be done when it comes to الأربع الزهر; so this person when reciting for Hamzah who does وصل, will upgrade to سكت when he comes to الأربع الزهر, and this is what is meant by فيهن in them ساكت he does سكت. And likewise as we mentioned already above, the one following this opinion of upgrading, when doing وصل for Warsh, Abu ‘Amr and Ibn ‘Aamir, will upgrade to سكت at the الأربع الزهر. The next bit فافهمه so understand this means understand this madhhab of upgrading, and وليس مخذلا it was not deserted, the word خذل means to desert someone in their time of need, to leave someone in the lurch, so it is saying that this madhhab is not weak and deserted by its people rather it is strong and supported; it is also possible to say that وليس مخذلا is referring to the people of this madhhab, that they were not deserted of help for this madhhab. It is also possible to say that وليس مخذلا is referring to doing سكت mentioned in وهو فيهن ساكت.
The reason why these four Surahs are distinguished from the rest of them is because of the way they start: al-Qiyaamah and al-Balad both start with oaths لآ أقسم; and al-Mutaffifeen and al-Humazah both start with the word ويل Woe. That said however, what has been authenticated from the scholars is not to differentiate between these four Surahs and the rest, and this is the correct and chosen opinion which is widely practised.