Order of the Surahs

Q 4: Every Surah of the Holy Qur’an starts with “Bismillah Al-Rahman, Al-Rahim [In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful]” except Surah Al-Tawbah. Why? What is the occasion of the revelation of this Surah?


A: The reason for not writing ‘Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim’ in the beginning of Surah Al-Tawbah, is that the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet) (may Allah be pleased with them) did not write it in the beginning of this Surah in Al-Mus-haf Al-Imam (the Master Copy of the Qur’an), directed in this regard by Amir Al-Mu’minin (The Commander of the Believers) `Uthman ibn `Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) as was narrated by Al-Tirmidhy in Al-Sunan according to his Sanad (chain of narrators) on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them) who said: I asked ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan : “What made you put Al-Anfal which is one of the Mathany (Surahs containing less than one hundred Ayahs), next to Bara’ah (Al-Tawbah), which is one of the Mi’in (Surahs containing one hundred Ayahs), without writing the line ‘Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim’ in between them and you put it with the rest of Al-Sab‘ Al-Tiwal (the long seven Surahs)? (Part No. 4; Page No. 226) What made you do so?” `Uthman replied, “There was a time when the Surahs that have a large number of Ayahs were revealed to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) who used to call his scribes upon their revelation and tell them, ‘Put these Ayahs in the Surah where such-and-such is mentioned.’ And when an Ayah was revealed to him, he (peace be upon him) would also say, ‘Put this Ayah in the Surah where such-and-such is mentioned.’ Al-Anfal was one of the first Surahs that were revealed in Al-Madinah, whereas Bara’ah (Al-Tawbah) was among the last revealed of the Qur’an. Its content was similar to that of Al-Anfal, therefore I thought that it was part of it. Moreover, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) died without clarifying for us whether it was indeed part of it; therefore, I put them next to one another, and I did not write the line ‘Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim’ between them, and I put it (Al-Tawbah) among Al-Sab‘ Al-Tiwal.” The occasion of its revelation was mentioned by Ibn Kathir in his exegesis. He said that the first part of this Surah was revealed to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) when he returned from the Battle of Tabuk in the season of Hajj (Pilgrimage to Makkah). The Mushrikin (those who associate others with Allah in His Divinity or worship) went to perform Hajj, as was their custom, offering Tawaf (circumambulation) around the Ka‘bah naked; thus, he (peace be upon him) hated the idea of mingling with them (while they were in this state). He then sent Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) as a commander over the delegation of Hajj that year to guide and help Muslims to accomplish the Hajj ceremonies, and to inform the Mushrikin that this would be the last year for them to perform Hajj and to proclaim to people (what means), Freedom from (all) obligations (is declared) from Allâh and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) (Part No. 4; Page No. 227) The Surah was also revealed to talk about the hypocrites; exposing them and uncovering their deceit. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.

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