The Qirâ’ât (of the Qur’an) and their Persian (Sunni) narrators

October 12, 2011 § 1 Comment


A Qirâ’ah (plural: Qirâ’ât) is for the most part a method of pronunciation used in the recitations of the noble Qur’an. These methods are different from the seven forms or modes called Ahruf (for more information about the difference with Qirâ’ât and Ahrûf  check this excellent article here) in which the Qur’an was revealed. The various methods have all been traced back to the Prophet through a number of Sahaabah who were most noted for their Qur’anic recitations. That is, these Sahabah (رضي الله عنهم) recited the Qur’an to the Prophet (صل الله عليه و على آله و سلم) or in his presence and received his approval. Among them were the following: Ubayy b. K’ab, ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib, Zayd Ibn Thabit, ‘Abdullah b. Mas’ud, Abu al-Darda’ and Abu Musa al-Ash’ari. Many of the other Sahabah learned from these masters. For example, Ibn ‘Abbas, the master commentator of the Qur’an among the Sahaabah, learned from both Ubayy and Zayd.

The transmission of the Qur’an is a mutawâtir transmission, that is, there are a large number of narrators on each level of the chain. Dr. Bilal Philips gives a brief account of the history of recitation in his book:

“Among the next generation of Muslims referred to as Tabi’un (students of the Sahabah/companions), there arose many scholars who learned the various methods of recitation from the Sahabah and taught them to others. Centres of Qur’anic recitation developed in Madinah, Makkah, Kufa, Basrah and Syria, leading to the evolution of Qur’anic recitation into an independent science.”

Who were those scholars, particularly the main narrators of the seven forms of recitation?

Here the seven Qirâ’ât and those who narrated them:

 NOTE: for each set of Qirâ’ât i.e. readings there were two slightly different Riwayat i.e. versions



First Rawi

Second Rawi






Ibn Kathîr




Abu cAmr




Ibn Amir


Ibn Dhakwân

5. Kûfa




6. Kûfa




7. Kûfa




Orange marked ones are all Tabi’is of Persian origin:

(The following information is taken from ʿAlawi ibn Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad Bilfaqih’s, Al-Qira’at al-ʿAshr al-Mutawatir, 1994, Dar al-Muhajir)

Nafiʿ al-Madanī (of Medinah): Ibn ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān ibn Abī Naʿim, Abū Ruwaym al-Laytī, his origin is from Isfahan (70-169 AH).

He was of Persian descent, originally from the city of Isfahan (known in Arabic as أصبهان/Asbahan) who settled in Madinah and eventually became the most renowned of all rectiters (Qurraa’) in Madinah. Nafi’ died in i169 H in Madinah. He transmitted the readers of:

Qalun: Abū Mūsa, ʿIsa ibn Mina al-Zarqī, the Mawla (Persian) slave of Banī Zuhrah (120-220 AH).

Warsh: ʿUthmān ibn Saʿīd al-Qutbī, the Egyptian the slave of Quraysh (110-197 AH).

–  Ibn Kathir, the Meccan: ʿAbdullāh, Abū Maʿbad al-ʿAttar al-Dari, the Persian (45-120AH).

Abu Ma‘bad Abdullah al-‘Attar al-Dari, better known as Ibn Kathir al-Makki (45-120AH), was one of the transmitters of the seven canonical Qira’at, or methods of reciting the Qur’an. His reading was generally popular among the people of Mecca. al-Makki was born in Makkah and was one of the Tabi‘un. He met the prophetic companions Anas b. Malik and Abdallah b. al-Zubayr, and he learned his recitation method from a student of the prophetic companion Abdallah b. ‘Abbas who in turn learned from ‘Ubay b. Ka’b and Zayd b. Thabit who both learned directly from the Prophet (صل الله عليه و على آله و سلم). Imam al-Shafi‘i preferred to recite the Qur’an according to al-Makki’s method. He died in the year 737CE. Though associated with the people of Makkah, he was ethnically Persian. The two primary transmitters of his method (al-Buzzi and Qunbul) of recitation were also Persians:

al-Buzzi: Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAbdillāh, Abū al-Ḥasan al-Buzzi, the Persian (170-250 AH).

Qunbul: Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān, the Makhzumi (by loyalty, i.e. a Persian Mawla/client/freedman of an Arab tribe, in this case the Makhzumi one), Abū ʿAmr, the Meccan, known as Qunbul (195-291 AH).

 Ḥamzah, the Kufan: Abū ʿImarah, Ḥamzah ibn Ḥabib al-Zayyat, a Persian Mawla (freedman/client) of the Bani Tamim tribe (80-156 AH).

He transmitted the readers of al-Khallaf and al-Khallad.

 ʿAasim, the Kufan: Abū Bakr, ʿAasim ibn Abi al-Najud al-‘Asadi (by loyalty i.e. a a Persian Mawla/freedman/client of the Bani Asad) (-127 AH). He transmitted the readers of:

Shuʿbah: Abū Bakr, Shuʿbah ibn ʿAyyash ibn Salim al-Kufi (i.e., the Kufan) al-Nahshali (by loyalty) i.e. of Persian origin (95-193 AH).

Ḥafṣ: Abū ʿAmr, Ḥafṣ ibn Sulayman ibn al-Mughirah ibn Abi Dawud al-Asadi al-Kufi (the Kufan). (90-180 AH).

– al-Kisa’i, the Kufan: Abū al-Ḥasan, ʿAli ibn Ḥamzah, the Persian, Asadi by loyalty (119 – 189 AH)

He transmitted the readers of al-Layth and Hafs al-Duri (Duri is the recitation form in Sudan).

There are more narrators such as Abu Ja’far,Ya’qub al-Hadhrami (who had never been to Yemen, Hadhramaut, as he was a Mawla i.e. most likely a Persian freedman/client of Arab Hadhramis in Basrah), Khalaf the 10th. Amongst them (and those who narrated different forms of Riwayat from them) are other transmitters of Persian descent, however the aforementioned shall suffice for now. For those who read Arabic and are interested of a thourough biography, please refer to Imam al-Dhahabi’s معرفة القراء الكبار للذهبي .


All in all it can be said that 5 out of the 7 of the most authentic Qirâ’ât that are recited all over the Muslim world were taught and transmitted by (at least) 9 Tabi’un of Persian descent. Amongst them students of the Sahabah, from amongst the Salaf al-Saleh, may Allah have mercy upon them all.

Islam is a religion for mankind and there is no doubt (that unlike Iranian fashists and extremist nationalists claim) that Persians contributed the most important and essential service to Islam after the Arabs themselves, and this was not due to them having no choice but to dwell into Islamic sciences, rather it was due to their love and passion for the religion of Islam. This has been testified by one of the biggest Islamic historians and thinkers who had ever lived on earth, by Ibn Khaldun who said:

It is a remarkable fact that, with few exceptions, most Muslim scholars both in the religious and in the intellectual sciences have been ‘ajams (Persians). Even if a scholar is of Arab origin, he is ‘ajami (Persian) in language and upbringing and has Persian teachers […] – Muqaddimah

The Qira’at of the Qur’an have been narrated by Sunni Persians so is a huge portion of the Sunnah, yet the Rafidah – whose madhhab is predominant in Iran for less than 6 centuries i.e. 500 years only – have the audacity to claim that the the famous Prophetic Hadith (that can be only traced back with authentic chains in Sunni books, not theirs!) in praise of Persians

“Even if faith were near the Pleiades, a man from amongst these (Salman the Persian’s people) would surely find it.”

… refers to their religion of heresies and their laughing stocks aka Ayatollats of Qom who can’t even recite the first verse of the Fatihah correctly.

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