Classification of Ayahs and Surahs into Meccan and Medinan

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ over a period of 23 years. Of these, 13 years were spent by the Prophet ﷺ in Mecca after which he migrated to Medina after facing persecution. The remain 10 years were spent in the Medina.

The compilation of the Quran is not chronological. The verses (called Ayahs) were revealed to the Prophet ﷺ in a different order than what appears in the Quran. This also meant that many chapters (or Surahs), especially the longer ones, would not be revealed as a whole rather with parts being revealed in Mecca and other parts being revealed in Medina resulting in a not-so-straightforward way of determining which Ayah was revealed where.

There are however methods by which we can determine which Ayah was revealed in Mecca as opposed to in Medina based on the who the Ayah was primarily meant for. Lets look at the following rules:

Meccan Ayahs

  1. Whenever the word كَلاّ (never) comes, which is 33 times in 15 Surahs.
  2. Whenever there is an Ayah of Prostration (Sajda) (except Surah Ar-Ra’d & Al-Haj)
  3. Besides Surah Al-Baqarah, all other occasions where the incident of Adam AS and Iblees. Surah Al-Baqarah is considered Medinan.
  4. Any chapter that relates the stories of previous prophets and their people is Meccan, except Surah Al-Baqarah.
  5. Those Ayahs in which Allah SWT says: ياايّهاالناس (“O’ people”). (except Surah Al-Haj)
  6. Ayahs are generally short.
  7. Mention of and focus on the Oneness of Allah (Tauheed), Prophet-hood of Muhammad ﷺ (Nabua), Day of Judgement (Qiyama)
  8. Talks about polytheists (mushriks), does not mention Jews and Christians.
  9. More Majestic, Poetic, Metaphorical and soulful.

Medinan Ayahs

  1. Every Surah in which permission of Jihad is given.
  2. Mention of the Hypocrites (Munafiqeen), Jews and Christians.
  3. Those Ayahs in which Allah SWT says: يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا (“O people of faith”).
  4. Ayahs are longer.
  5. Details on Prayer(Salah), Alms(Zakat), Family law etc.

The reason why it is important to understand which Ayah was revealed in which era is because it provides an accurate historical context and background for the reason of the revelation of a particular Ayah or Surah.

May Allah SWT guide us in proper understanding and implementation of the message of the Noble Qur’an in our lives.

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