In previous installments of this series, we discussed the importance of transmitting the oral recitation of the Qur’an over that which has been derived from books and logic and then the different ways that this is done.
Today, we begin the discussion of two important issues that come up when we prefer the oral recitation over that which was derived from books and logic:
- What if some part of the recitation was wrong to begin with?
- What if a certain way of reciting was no longer recited today and the only way to “revive” it is by applying the way it was mentioned in a book?
Scenario 1: Some aspect of the recitation itself is clearly invented and incorrect
To begin with, let’s first discuss how such a thing could occur, as has occurred in many instances in our history. In most cases, it is always the result of a complete misunderstanding of either the text in a book or what exactly a teacher was trying to convey. It begins with a strong doubt that a person has, and then they research the issue. From this research, they derive a ruling, and then apply and teach this ruling to their students. If this person is very famous, then likewise the number of his students increases, and then this “ruling” is spread far and wide. It is spread and taught to such an extent that decades pass until people accept it as a valid rule.
Because this person is famous, they are respected for their knowledge and their credibility. Most likely, they hold reputable Ijazahs of their own and so this earns the trust of the people. For this reason, people will not question what this person has taught.
It isn’t until a person of knowledge comes along and recites to many individuals and notices that some of his teachers teach this fabricated rule (and they don’t know it’s fabricated) and others reject it completely. Because there is a clear contradiction between the two ways he is taught, he decides to investigate which of the two is the most correct. When he goes back to the chains of narration, he finds that this “rule” stops at one individual who also has a reliable sanad. However, this rule cannot be traced beyond this person, meaning it does not reach the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. This is proof that this rule is wrong, and must be discarded because it did not even fulfill the most important condition of the three conditions of an acceptable Qiraa’ah: Tawaatur.
“Singular/Aahaad” narrations are not accepted for the Qur’an; rather, the Qur’an recitation must be narrated via Tawaatur.
In another scenario, let’s say that instead of examining the chains, this person goes to the teacher of this individual who made this claim and asks him if he taught this ruling specifically. If the teacher rejects this ruling, then it can be confirmed that this individual simply misunderstood what his teacher was trying to convey or attributed a false claim to his teacher in order to increase the claim’s credibility.
In both scenarios, it has now become clear to this person which of the two ways is most correct, and it is upon him to follow that. This shows that the actual Sanad was not the problem. The Sanad remained in tact! The problem was that an individual inserted into his transmission that which did not belong to it. Therefore:
When it has become clear to the student that his teacher has erred in the transmission, it is upon him to follow that which is correct, and his Ijazah remains valid.
This conclusion can most accurately be achieved when the student has recited to multiple teachers and the error becomes apparent through the process of recitation. Why the process of recitation? Because remember, the recitation of the Qur’an is علم نقلي, it can only be learned from a teacher (not books or logic). Also, Allah سبحانه وتعالى will not allow an error to be accepted by the Ummah as a whole, especially with regard to His book, and that’s why reciting to multiple individuals is beneficial in this case.
إن أمتي لن تجتمع على ضلالة، فإذا رأيتم اختلافا فعليكم بالسواد الأعظم
My Ummah will never gather upon a misguidance, so if you see differences then it is upon you to stick to the great majority.
[Hadeeth Saheeh, as-Suyooti in al-Jaami’ as-Sagheer]
In the next post, we will address Scenario 2.