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Ibn Mujāhid and the Founding of the Seven Readings
Author: Shady Nasser
In The Second Canonization of the Qurʾān, Nasser studies the transmission and reception of the Qurʾānic text and its variant readings through the work of Ibn Mujāhid (d. 324/936), the founder of the system of the Seven Eponymous Readings of the Qurʾān. The overarching project aims to track and study the scrupulous revisions the Qurʾān underwent, in its recited, oral form, through the 1,400-year journey towards a final, static, and systematized text.
For the very first time, the book offers a complete and detailed documentation of all the variant readings of the Qurʾān as recorded by Ibn Mujāhid. A comprehensive audio recording accompanies the book, with more than 3,500 audio files of Qurʾānic recitations of variant readings.
Author: Shady Nasser
This work is a study of the transmission of the variant readings of the Qurʾān, the canonization of the system Readings, and the emergence of the non-canonical shawādhdh readings. Nasser argues that Ibn Mujāhid and the early Muslim scholars viewed the variant readings as legal rulings aḥkām and that the later generation of Qurrāʾ were responsible for moving the discipline of Qirāʾāt from the domain of fiqh to the domain of Ḥadīth. After studying the theories of tawātur in detail, Nasser shows that the transmission of the system Readings of the Qurʾān failed to meet the conditions of tawātur set by the Uṣūlīs, thus creating a paradox between the transmission of the physical text, the muṣḥaf, and the transmission of its oral recitation, the “Qurʾān”.

Jurists require Muslims to acquire a basic level of literacy in order to recite the Qurʾān during ritual prayers. For the educated elites, scholars, and in particular leaders of congregational prayers (imām), the expectation is the correct articulation of Arabic letters and adherence to grammatical rules. To that end, Ḥanafī jurists have developed some regulations, which attempt to identify the errors one may or may not commit during ritual prayers. These regulations are called Zallat al-qāriʾ, namely, the grammatical blunders of Qurʾān reciters. Zallat al-qāriʾ identifies these errors and distinguishes between those that would invalidate prayer and those that would not. In this article, I discuss whether a solecist (lāḥin/laḥḥān) was considered eligible to become imām and lead congregational prayers. I then discuss the subject of Zallat al-qāriʾ and its theological implications for understanding the nature of the Qurʾān and its composition (naẓm). Finally, I conclude with an edition of a treatise by Abū Ḥafṣ al-Nasafī (d. 537/1142) titled Zallat al-qāriʾ and a summary of its contents.

In: Journal of Abbasid Studies
Author: Shady Nasser


Al-Muhalhil b. Rabī'ah was a Pre-Islamic poet who, according to classical sources, was the first to establish the Qasīdah form and who participated in the forty-year war of al-Basūs, between Bakr and Taghlib, to revenge the assassination of his brother Kulayb. On the other hand, al-Zīr Sālim Abū Laylā al-Muhalhil, is the protagonist of the folkloric sīrah, whose character is substantially different from his “historical” counterpart, nonetheless they do share the same “historical” setting, events, and characters surrounding them. This article will examine the development of al-Muhalhil as a character in both, the “historical” adab sources and the sīrah, while breaking up the narratives into separate motifs. I argue that the narrator(s) of the sīrah was/were well aware of the “historical” sources on al-Muhalhil, and that the changes that the sīrah protagonist underwent were intentional and deliberate.

In: Journal of Arabic Literature

Muslims are required to recite the Qurʾān properly according to the complex rules of Qurʾānic recitation. This is especially the case during liturgical practices such as ritual prayers. The leader (imām) of congregational prayers (ṣalāt al-jamāʿah) is expected to be more learned in the Qurʾān than the individuals he is leading, and a better reciter. The case of the lisper (al-althagh) poses a challenge: An imām who lisps would be reciting the Qurʾān incorrectly and, in many cases, might change the meaning of the verses. In this article I discuss the problem of the lisper and the situations in which he is allowed to serve, or is forbidden from serving, as an imām for a group of individuals. I also discuss and analyse the positions of several jurists from different schools of law after first providing background on lisping, speech disorders and the general requirements of imāmah.

In: Islamic Law and Society