The seven recitations of the Holy Quran
Allah sent the Holy Quran in seven recitations to our prophet (ﷺ). And these seven recitations made
Quran easier for the Muslim nation because the prophet (ﷺ) asked and begged Allah Almighty to
make Quran easy for his nation as mentioned in Hadith:
“I have been sent, Gabriel, to a people who are unlettered, among whom are old women and old
men, boys and girls, and men who have never read a book.” He replied, “The Qur’an, Muhammad,
has been sent down in seven modes.”
These seven recitations differ in pronunciation but unite in meaning. Because in the Holy Quran;
there are no contradicting recitations. Therefore, Allah Almighty said: “If it had been from [any]
other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction.” Surah An-Nisa: 82
Let’s consider the seven recitations in the following examples.
Allah’s saying “فتبيّنوا” “Investigate” and “فتثبّتوا” which means “Make sure”, investing something and
making sure of it without hurrying. We can see that both meanings are needed.
The variation in recitations is wanted also in the verse of Wudu Allah says:
“wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to
فَٱغۡسِلُواْ وُجُوهَكُمۡ وَأَيۡدِيَكُمۡ إِلَى ٱلۡمَرَافِقِ وَٱمۡسَحُواْ بِرُءُوسِكُمۡ وَأَرۡجُلَكُمۡ إِلَى ٱلۡكَعۡبَيۡنِۚ
The word “وَأَرۡجُلَكُم” with Fathah and “وَأَرۡجُلكُم” with Kasrah is needed. Scholars explained that the word
with Kasrah means washing the feet, while Fathah means wiping the footwear.
We can learn that Wudu includes both washing and wiping. Hence, a single word has two meanings.
The seven recitations have delicate deep meanings. the miracle of the Holy Quran is countless!
The seven recitations of the Holy Quran
We have in English the color and color of the word, both are correct and have the same meaning.
Arabic as well as different variations depending on where the language is spoken. Since the Holy
Quran has revealed in Arabic it had variations within.
What are the seven recitations (ahrof) of the Quran?
At the time of the revelation of the Holy Quran, there were different variations of the Arabic
language. People used different pronunciations and spelled words differently and sometimes the
grammatical structure of the sentences had variations too.
For this reason, the Holy Quran was not revealed in one variation but in seven
Each of these variations is called “harf”
The Quran was revealed with all seven variations at the same time to the prophet Muhammad (ﷺ),
therefore, these variations are not up to us.
Why there are seven recitations (ahrof) of the Quran?
1- to make Quran easier to read and recite for people with different dialects.
2- to deepen the meaning of a verse. Let’s explain this verse:
“وَٱلَّذِينَ قُتِلُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ فَلَن يُضِلَّ أَعۡمَٰلَهُمۡ”
وَٱلَّذِينَ قَاتَلُواْْ فِي سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ فَلَن يُضِلَّ أَعۡمَٰلَهُمۡ ”
In the first variation of the Ayah the word قُتِلُواْ is translated to “have been killed”, the verse means
that the deeds of those who have been killed in the cause of Allah will not go to waste.
The second variation of the Ayah the word قَاتَلُواْْ is translated to “have fought”, the verse means that
the deeds of those who have fought in the cause of Allah will not go to waste.
We can see the different variations of the Ayah enriching and add to its meaning. Those who have
been killed and those who just have fought in the cause of Allah will not go to waste.
3- to challenge non-believers, in variations and consistency.
Of course, these different variations are without contradictions and without mistakes but different
variations enriching the meaning of the verses.
What kind of changes are there in the seven recitations (ahrof) of the Quran?
1- We mean by changes are the different announced letters for example in one
variation for a word in the plural and another in a singular form.
“وَٱلَّذِينَ هُمۡ لِأَمَٰنَٰتِهِمۡ وَعَهۡدِهِمۡ رَٰعُونَ
In this Ayah we find the word “لِأَمَٰنَٰتِهِمۡ” is plural.
“وَٱلَّذِينَ هُمۡ لِأَمَٰنََٰتِهِمۡ وَعَهۡدِهِمۡ رَٰعُونَ”
And in this Ayah, we find the word “لِأَمَٰنََٰتِهِمۡ” is singular.
2- Grammatical differences, like the difference between the conjugation of verbs
“فَقَالُواْ رَبَّنَا بَٰعِدۡ بَيۡنَ أَسۡفَارِنَا وَظَلَمُوٓاْ أَنفُسَهُمۡ”
“فَقَالُواْ رَبَّنَا بَعِّدۡ بَيۡنَ أَسۡفَارِنَا وَظَلَمُوٓاْ أَنفُسَهُمۡ”
The two verbs “بَٰعِدۡ” and “بَعِّدۡ” mean the same thing but only different people say the same thing.
3- Syntactic differences, like Adding or removing a word
“وَمَن يَتَوَلَّ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ هُوَ ٱلۡغَنِيُّ ٱلۡحَمِيدُ”
“وَمَن يَتَوَلَّ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ ٱلۡغَنِيُّ ٱلۡحَمِيدُ”
We notice here the change is syntactic that it doesn’t affect the meaning of the Ayah but to say the
4- The Tajweed rules differences, like:
“وَهَلۡ أَتَىٰكَ حَدِيثُ مُوسَىٰٓ”
“وَهَلۡ اتَىٰكَ حَدِيثُ مُوسَىٰٓ”
The first Ayah with Hamza “أَتَىٰكَ” and the second without Hamza.
Who are Hafs and Warsh?
There are great scholars who were attribute to spread the Quran according to the different
recitations or (seven ahrof). They have taken it from their scholars to the prophet (ﷺ) himself.
Hafs and Warsh are one of these seven great reciters.
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