Please explain the hadith regarding the Quran being revealed in seven different ways in an easy manner?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

The Prophet salallahu alahi wasallam said,
“This Qur’an has been revealed in seven different ways.”[1] (Sahīh al-Bukhari no.4992)

There are so many interpretations of what seven ways actually mean.  Ibn Hibbān rahimahullah states there are approximately 35 different opinions with regards to the understanding of the seven different ways.[2]

Different scholars have given preference to different opinions.  One view adopted by Ibn Jarīr al-Tabari rahimahullah and the majority of the latter scholars is:

The Qur῾ān was revealed in the dialect of the Quraysh, the tribe to which the Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam belonged to.  In the initial phase of Islam, the majority of the converts were from Makkah, hence they were all familiar with the dialect and pronunciation of the Quraysh.

After migration, many tribes from across the Arabian Peninsula accepted Islam.  These tribes varied in their dialects and pronunciations of Arabic.  It was very difficult for these tribes to pronounce or adopt the dialect of the Quraysh.  Their tongues were moulded to their dialect and in addition, the majority of them were illiterate.  The Qur῾ān had not been recorded in script, making it even more difficult to learn the Qur῾ān in their dialect.  The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam requested if the Qur῾ān can be recited in many modes to make it easy for all the tribes.  He feared that the converts will err in the recitation of the Qur῾ān.  Thus, permission was granted for the tribes to recite in their dialect.

So according to one interpretation, these seven modes refer to the seven different dialects of the tribes of the Arabian Peninsula in the time of the Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam.

The other tribes had six different dialects to adopt in the recitation.  Seven dialects were permitted as only seven dialects were eloquent and well spoken.

The Qur῾ān was not literally revealed in another six ways.  In reality, it was only revealed in the dialect of the Quraysh.  Since permission was granted from Allah to recite in the other six modes, these six modes were regarded as ‘revealed’ figuratively.

The people learnt the other modes from the Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam also.  They did not recite according to their liking.

The companions were aware that the Qur῾ān was actually revealed in the dialect of the Quraysh.  Permission for the other dialects was only a temporary measure.  When the other tribes mixed with the Qurayshi Muslims and reading and writing became common, the seven modes became a source of disagreement and conflict.  Thus, with the consensus of the Sahabah radiallahu anhum, the Qur῾ān was officially declared and launched in the dialect of the Quraysh and all other dialects were banned in the caliphate of Sayyiduna Uthmān radiallahu anhu.[3]

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mufti Faraz Adam

[1] وفي صحيح البخاري

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ:إِنَّ هَذَا القُرْآنَ أُنْزِلَ عَلَى سَبْعَةِ أَحْرُفٍ (رقم الحديث 4992)

[2] وفي فتح الباري

وقداختلف الْعُلَمَاءُ فِي الْمُرَادِ بِالْأَحْرُفِ السَّبْعَةِ عَلَى أَقْوَالٍ كَثِيرَةٍ بَلَّغَهَا أَبُو حَاتِمِ بْنُ حِبَّانَ إِلَى خَمْسَةٍ وَثَلَاثِينَ قَوْلًا (ج 9 ص 26 دار المعرفة)

[3] كذا في إمداد الأحكام ج 1 ص 466-464

وكذا في كشف الباري في باب فضائل القرآن ص 56-54 مكتبة فاروقية