What Is Meant by the Division of the Quran, and How Was It Done?

Answered by Shaykh Anas Al-Musa


What is meant by the division of the Quran, and how was it done?


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

Understanding Quran Division

The division of the Quran refers to its segmentation and partitioning into sections, allowing the reader to complete the recitation and review of the Book of Allah Most High, both in and outside of prayer, over a period that varies depending on the individual’s desire, time, and circumstances. While it is known that the Quran is divided into chapters (Suwar) and the chapters into verses (Ayat), the diligence of the Righteous Predecessors (Salaf al-Salih) in worship and their efforts in it led them to further divide the Quran into parts and sections. This facilitated its organized reading without waning or interruption. These discretionary divisions sharpen the resolve for worship and maintain its continuity. [Shawkani, Jamal al-Qurra’ wa Kamal al-Iqra’, p. 213; Ibn al-Jawzi, Funun al-Afnan, p. 253]

Some divided the Quran to finish it in a month, adjusting divisions for completion in seven, ten, or thirty days.

Permissibility and Flexibility in Quran Recitation

The permissibility of this division is based on what was narrated by ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr Ibn Al-‘Aas (Allah be pleased with him), who said: “I used to fast all the time and read the Quran every night. It was either mentioned to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), or he sent for me, and I came to him.

He asked me: ‘Was I not informed that you fast continuously and read the Quran every night?’ I said: ‘Yes, O Messenger of Allah, and I only intended goodness by that.’

He said: ‘It is sufficient for you to fast three days every month.’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, I can do more than that.’

He said: ‘Your wife has a right over you, your visitors have a right over you, and your body has a right over you. Fast the fast of Prophet David, peace be upon him, for he was the most devout of men.’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, and what was the fasting of David?’

He said: ‘He used to fast one day and break his fast the next day.’ He said: ‘And read the Quran in one month.’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, I can do more than that.’

He said: ‘Then read it every twenty days.’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, I can do more than that.’

He said: ‘Then read it in every ten days.’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, I can do more than that.’

He said: ‘Then read it every seven days and do not increase upon that, for your wife has a right over you, your visitors have a right over you, and your body has a right over you.’

‘I exerted myself, and it became hard on me. the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to me: ‘You do not know; perhaps you will live long.’ So I adhered to what the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) had said to me, but when I got old, I wished I had accepted the dispensation of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace).’” [Muslim]

This hadith indicates the permissibility for a Muslim to complete the Quran in seven days, ten, twenty, or a month, and according to this division, the amount read will vary.

Companions’ Approach to Quran Division

Aws Al-Thaqafi (Allah be pleased with him) elucidates the method of the Companions in dividing the Quran: ‘We, the delegation of Thaqif, came to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), and the Ahlafiyyun stayed with Al-Mughira bin Shu’ba, and he housed the Malikis in his tent.’

Al-Thaqafi said: ‘The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to come to us and talk to us after the last evening prayer until his feet would swell from standing so long.

He mostly talked to us about the grievances of Quraysh; he said: ‘We were humiliated and oppressed in Mecca. When we arrived in Medina, we defended ourselves against the people. The war was sometimes in our favor and sometimes not.’

He didn’t come one night at the time he usually came to us. Then, when he came to us, we said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, you didn’t come last night at the time you usually come!’ the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: ‘Indeed, a portion of the Quran occurred to me, and I wanted to finish reading it’ – or he said: ‘to complete it.’

Aws Al-Thaqafi said: ‘So when we woke up, we asked the companions of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) about the divisions of the Quran and how you divide it. They said: ‘Three, five, seven, nine, eleven, thirteen, and the division of Al-Mufassal.’’ [Abu Dawud Al-Tayalisi, Musnad, (1204)]

Weekly Division of the Quran by Companions

According to the division reported by the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him), they used to divide the Quran weekly as follows:

  1. Three Suras: Al-Baqara, Al-Imran, and Al-Nisa’.
  2. Five Suras: Al-Ma’ida, Al-An‘am, Al-A‘raf, Al-Anfal, and Al-Tawbah.
  3. Seven Suras: Yunus, Hud, Yusuf, Ar-Ra‘d, Ibrahim, Al-Hijr, and Al-Nahl.
  4. Nine Suras: Al-Isra’, Al-Kahf, Maryam, Taha, Al-Anbiya’, Al-Hajj, Al-Mu’minun, Al-Nur, and Al-Furqan.
  5. Eleven Suras: Al-Shu‘ara’, An-Naml, Al-Qasas, Al-‘Ankabut, Al-Rum, Luqman, Al-Sajda, Al-Ahzab, Saba, Fatir, and YaSin.
  6. Thirteen Suras: Al-Saffat, Sad, Al-Zumar, Ghafir, Fussilat, Al-Shura, Al-Zukhruf, Al-Dukhan, Al-Jathiya, Al-Ahqaf, Muhammad, Al-Fath, and Al-Hujurat.
  7. Al-Mufassal, from Sura Qaf to the end of the Quran.

Notes related to the division of the Mus’haf (Quranic manuscript)

The division of the Mus’hafs printed today in the Hijaz and distributed worldwide does not adhere to dividing by Suras. Nor does it consider the science of pauses and beginnings. Instead, it divides the Mus’haf into parts that may end in the middle or at the end of a Sura. The end of a part may be a complete or incomplete pause. Completing the Quran in a month was a primary goal in their division, as they commonly divided it into thirty parts. [Dr. Musa’id Al-Tayyar, Al-Muhrar fi Ulum al-Quran, p. 249]

Some divisions of the Mus’haf made it into twenty-seven parts to complete it on the twenty-seventh night of Ramadan, as it is customary for people in Ramadan to seek the Night of Decree and complete the Quran on this night.

The number of pages per part in the Medina Mus’haf is twenty pages. If a Muslim divides these twenty pages among the five daily prayers, each prayer will have four pages, which can be read before or immediately after the prayer. This way, one can read and complete a part daily in a month.

The Taj Company Mushaf, which is read in the Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh), is based on a division related to bowing (Ruku’), marked with the letter (ع) placed on the verse number suitable for bowing. This division does not consider the length or brevity of the passage but rather the complete meaning, as it relies on convenient places for pausing and rarely deviates from that. [Dr. Musa’id Al-Tayyar, Al-Muharrar fi ‘Ulum al-Quran, p. 250]

One of the methods of dividing the Quran is dividing each of the thirty parts into two Hizbs (groups), each Hizb into four quarters. Thus, according to this division, a part consists of eight quarters. Hence, they say they have read a quarter of a Hizb or an eighth of a part. Different terms are used to divide the Quran, conveying the same content, including Al-Wird, Al-Juz’, and Al-Hizb.

Some books of Sunna have dedicated specific chapters to the division of the Quran, as Abu Dawud did in his Sunan, where he said: “Chapter on the Division of the Quran,” and likewise in Al-Muwatta’ of Imam Malik: “Chapter on What Has Come Regarding the Division of the Quran.” All this indicates that the subject was widespread.

A Reminder for Us All 

Finally, a Muslim should have a regular portion of the Quran to complete the Book of Allah at least every month. True is the saying: “He who has no litany that he recites, has no spiritual benefit.”

May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon our master, His Messenger Muhammad, his Family, and Companions.

[Shaykh] Anas Al-Musa

Shaykh Anas al-Musa, born in Hama, Syria, in 1974, is an erudite scholar of notable repute. He graduated from the Engineering Institute in Damascus, where he specialized in General Construction, and Al-Azhar University, Faculty of Usul al-Din, where he specialized in Hadith.

He studied under prominent scholars in Damascus, including Shaykh Abdul Rahman al-Shaghouri and Shaykh Adib al-Kallas, among others. Shaykh Anas has memorized the Quran and is proficient in the ten Mutawatir recitations, having studied under Shaykh Bakri al-Tarabishi and Shaykh Mowfaq ‘Ayun. He also graduated from the Iraqi Hadith School.

He has taught numerous Islamic subjects at Shari‘a institutes in Syria and Turkey. Shaykh Anas has served as an Imam and preacher for over 15 years and is a teacher of the Quran in its various readings and narrations.

Currently, he works as a teacher at SeekersGuidance and is responsible for academic guidance there. He has completed his Master’s degree in Hadith and is now pursuing his Ph.D. in the same field. Shaykh Anas al-Musa is married and resides in Istanbul.