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The Names of the Chapters

The division of the Qur'an into chapters, like its division into verses, is mentioned in the Qur'an itself In several places God uses the actual words surah and ayat In (XXIV:!) He says "(Here is) a surah which we have revealed," in "Repentance", verse 86, "And when a surah is revealed," in "The Cow" verse 23, "Then produce a surah like it and other similar verses.

The name of the chapter is sometimes derived from a name or form occurring in the chapter or from a subject treated by the chapter; for example "The Cow", "The Family of 'Imran", "The Night Journey" and "The Unity" We may note here that in the old Qur'ans it is usual to observe the following at the beginning of each chapter: "The surah in which the Cow is mentioned" or "the surak in which the family of Imran is mentioned.

" Sometimes the chapter becomes known by its first phrase; take for example, the chapter "Read in the name of your Lord" (or "the Clot") or the chapter, "Truly we revealed it" (The Night of Power) or the chapter "Those who disbelieve" (also called "The Clear Proof").

Sometimes the chapter becomes known by a certain position or quality it possesses; thus the chapter "The Opening of the Book" or "The Mother of the Book" or "The Seven Oft-repeated verses" (all describing the first chapter, or the "al-Fatibah") The chapter "The Unity" is also called by the name 'a1-Ikhl?s" (meaning that it describes the absolute unity of God) or by the name Nisbat aI-Rabb" (meaning the chapter which describes the divine nature of the Lord in relation to the slave).

This method of naming the chapters was also used in the early days of Islam and is attested to by the traditions There are traditions, whose chains of authority reach back to the Prophet, which assert that the name of such chapters as "The Cow", "The Family of 'Imr?n", "Hüd" and "The Event" were used by the Prophet himself.

We may conclude from this that many of these names came into being at the time of Prophet as a result of being in common use Calligraphy, Orthography and Diacritical Marks Used in the Qur'an.

The first and second copies of the Qur'an were written in Kufic script at the time of the Prophet The very basic nature of the script, without diacritical marks, was suitable for the reciters, relators and scholars who had learned the Qur'an by heart, since only they knew the precise pronunciation of the words

Others found great difficulty if they opened the Book and tried to read correctly It was for this reason that at the end of the first century after Hrah Abü al-Aswad al-Du'a11(59), one of the companions of 'All, with the guidance of the latter, wrote out the rules of the Arabic language and on the orders of the Umayyad Caliph 'Abd al-Malik produced a Qura'nic text with diacritical marks.

This, to a certain extent, removed the difficulty of reading the Kufic script Several difficulties remained, however; the diacritical marks for vowels, for example, were for a time only points Instead of a fathah, a point was placed at the beginning of the letter and, instead of kasrah, a point below and, for a dammah, a point above at the end of a letter This led to ambiguity. It was not till Khalil ibn Ahmad al-Far?hidi set about explaining the maddah , i e the lengthening of certain words, the doubling of letters, the diacritical marks of vowelling and the pause, that ,the difficulty of reading the script was finally removed.

Adopted from the book: "Quran per Islam" by: "Allamah sayyid Mohammad Hossein Tabatabai"

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