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The Importance Of Reading The Quran In Chronological Order Of Revelation

The zenith of sainthood, Hadhrat Ali (ra), who claimed, “I am the articulation of the Quran” is narrated to have said:

“By Allah, there is not a single verse in the Quran about which I lack the knowledge regarding why it was revealed, where it was revealed and about whom it was revealed (I know when, where and why every single verse in the Quran was revealed)! Indeed my Rabb has blessed me with an intellect, a (rightly guided) heart and the skill of articulation!”

In another narration, Hadhrat Ali (ra) says, “Ask me from the Book of Allah! There is not a single verse in the Quran about which I don’t know whether it was revealed during the day or the night, on land or in the mountains.” (Hadhrat Ali [ra] was like Rasulllah’s (saw) Book of Revelation. Hence it is only natural that he would be the most qualified at knowing the chronological order of the Quran)!

M. Ibn Shirin, the great saint of Tabi’un, underlined the significance of the importance of this arrangement with his words, “If the BOOK [Quran] arranged by Hadhrat Ali [ra] (i.e. by order of revelation) was found, REAL knowledge would be found!”[1]

Since we do not have Hadhrat Ali’s arrangement of the Quran we prepared this chronological order by taking as reference (with some exceptions) the arrangement by Abdullah Ibn Abbas [ra] who was known amongst the companions as the second expert of the Kitabullah (Book of Allah) after Hadhrat Ali. 

Whether by order of revelation or the standard format, the important thing is to read the verses by the transversal method. That is, by taking into consideration all verses that are related or allude to the same concept, as there is no definite order of revelation for all chapters and verses that we know with absolutely certainty.

Surely we seek refuge in Allah from the accursed and rejected (rajim) Satan with the spectacles (insight) of the Basmalah and chapter Al-Ikhlas.

By the one who is denoted by the name Allah (who created my being with His Names in accord with the meaning of the letter ‘B’), the Ahad (One - Allah is the infinite, limitless and indivisible, non-dual ONENESS), the Samad (Absolute Self-Sufficient One beyond any need or defect, free from the concept of multiplicity, and far from conceptualization and limitation) who begets not (no other form of existence has ever originated from Him, thus, there is no other) nor is begotten (there is no other god or form of existence from which He could have originated) the Rahman, the Rahim.

Indeed, the Quran was revealed to man (vicegerent), as a function of dhikr, to remind him of his essential reality!

Here are some examples from the Quran to illustrate the importance of the chronological order of revelation:

1. Verses regarding hamr (intoxicating things that cause insobriety or that hamper the intellect) in chronological order:

an-Nahl 67; al-Baqarah 219; an-Nisa 43; al-Mai’dah 90-91

2. Verses about veiling/covering (hijab) in chronological order:

al-Ahzab 59 (also 33, 53); an-Nur 31 (also 60)

[Note: Regarding all of son of Adam: al-A’raf 26,31]

3. Verses where the incident regarding Adam and Iblees is mentioned in chronological order:

Saad 71-85; al-A’raf 11-26; Ta-Ha 115-123; al-Isra 61-65, al-Hijr 26-44, al-Kahf 50; al-Baqarah 30-39


The Order of Chapters and Verses:

The Quran is a comprehensive holistic book composed of verses arranged as chapters.

The order of the verses within the chapters was designated directly by the Rasul of Allah (saw) and confirmed by his recitals during salat and prayers. 

The order of the chapters by revelation may not always be accurate as not all chapters were revealed from beginning to end all at once. Revelations took place verse by verse or by groups of verses. The first ‘complete chapter’ revealed as a single revelation was al-Fatiha and the last complete chapter revealed as a single revelation was an-Nas. However if we look at chapter al-Ma’idah for example, some of its verses make it seem more suitable to be placed before chapter an-Nisa (the first years of hijrah) while some of its verses make it seem more suitable to be amongst the last chapters.


The first and last verses/chapters:

In respect of the vicegerency quality of the Rasul of Allah (saw) the first verse/chapter is al-Fatiha and the last is an-Nas. However in respect of the society and humanity as a whole, the first revelation is the first 5 verses of chapter al-Alaq and the final revelation is chapter at-Tawbah.

Note: Preceding each chapter name are two numbers separated by a slash. The first is the chapter number according to the chronological order of revelation and the second is the chapter number in the standard format of the Quran. 

The first 86 chapters were revealed during the Mecca period and the rest during Medina. 



Cerrahpasa Mosque’s Imam

Istanbul, Turkey


[1] I. Sa’d Tabeqat’ul Kabir, Vol:2 – P:291-292

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