The Order of the Qur'an's Revelation and the Growth of the Qur'anic Sciences
The Order in which the Verses of the Qur'an were RevealedThat the chapters and verses were not revealed in one place but rather in stages over a period of twenty-three years during the Prophet's mission is authenticated not only by historical evidence but also from evidence from the various verses. In XVII:106 we read: "And it is a Qur'an that we have divided that you may recite it to mankind at intervals and we have revealed it by (successive) revelations. " As further proof there are abrogating and abrogated verses which are directly related to events from different periods and circumstances and which obviously were not revealed at one time. At this point we should note that the chapters and verses were not revealed in the order in which they are set out; that is the first chapter "al-Fatihah" (The Opening) was revealed after "The Cow", "The Family of 'Imran," "Women," and "The Table Spread." This is true also for the order of the verses which do not necessarily follow chronologically. The content of a Qur'anic text may for example show that the content of some chapters and verses concord with the first period of the Prophet's mission - like the chapters "The Clot," and "Nun," but are recorded at the end of the Qur'an. Many chapters and verses which correspond to the time after the migration like "The Cow," "The Family of 'Imran," "Women," "The Spoils" and "Repentance" have been placed at the beginning of the Qur'an. The contents of the chapters and verses are thus directly related to the events, circumstances and different needs of the period of the Prophet's mission: the chapter and verses which only deal with the calling of the polytheists to belief in God's oneness and the struggle against the idol-worshippers correspond to a time before the migration when the Prophet was inviting the people to Islam in Mecca. The verses dealing with battles and those dealing with social laws were revealed after the events and circumstances associated with the establishment and progress of the Islamic society in Medina.
Adapted from: "The Quran in Islam" by: "Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i"
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