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Offline Reader Questions

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Differences in Counting Verse Numbers
« on: March 17, 2013, 02:01:33 PM »
Salam Alaikum,

Please could you tell me why there are differences in counting the verse numbers of the Quran.

Jazakallah Khair

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Differences in Counting Verse Numbers
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2013, 02:32:47 PM »
May peace be with you.

This is simply a case of some translators following the system of different verse numbering traditions.

“For ease of reference, modern copies of the Qur'an also include verse numbers. Unlike the numbering of chapters, which is fixed, there is more than one method for numbering the verses, although the actual text remains the same. Hence, the total number of Qur'anic verses may range from 6,212 to 6,250, depending on the system used. The reasons for such differences are varied. Richard Bell and Montgomery Watt have suggested that the 'varying systems of verse-numbering depend to some extent, though not entirely, upon varying judgement as to where the rhyme was intended to fall in particular cases.'  In other cases, the reasons for differences are more straightforward. For instance, some Indo-Pakistani systems count the basmala phrase (which reads 'In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy', and is found at the beginning of every chapter except chapter 9, al-Tawba, Repentance) as part of the number of verses. Most other numbering systems around the world only include this phrase as part of the first chapter (the Opening or al-Fatiha), while some do not include it at all. Other variations are less predictable, as in one Indian system that divides verse 6:73 into two, while it combines verses 36:34-35 into one.

The Egyptian numbering system, first introduced under King Fu'ad and originally published in 1925, has become the standard used throughout most of the Muslim world today. However, other variations, such as those mentioned above, are still in in circulation. One of the better-known variations in the West was devised by the German Orientalist Gustav Flugel in 1834. Flugel is believed to have created his numbering system based on his reading of the rhyming endings of phrases in the Qur'an. However, it does not correlate exactly with any known Muslim tradition. Despite this, his system has served as the basis for many European translations and other works on the Qur'an."

In the end, it is the integrity of the actual text and narrative which remains key which remains the same [2] and not so much where one inserts verse numberings. Many Quranic narratives actually span two verses without a break in dialogue.

Please see verses 2.183-184; 2.218-219; 3.33-34; 38.18-19; 54.34-35; 3.87-88; 3.166-177; 6.162-163; 4.140-141; 18.23-24 which present a few examples.

This is also why it is imperative to read the full context of the verses.

The Quran is a Divine dialogue revealed for mankind’s guidance. The earliest manuscripts of the Quran did not have verse numbers as we understand them today.

"All old Qur’anic script is completely without any diacritical points or vowel signs as explained above. Also there are no headings or separations between the suras nor any other kind of division, nor even any formal indication of the end of a verse." [3]

In some early manuscripts, "square cartouches containing quatrefoil emblems are used to indicate groups of ten verses" [4]

I hope that helps, God willing.



[1] SAEED. A, The Qur'an: An Introduction, Routledge 2008, 3 The Qur'an as scripture, Evolution of the script of the Qur'an and its presentation, pages 51-52.
[3] DENFFER. A.V, Ulum Al-Quran: Introduction to the Sciences of the Quran, Islamic Foundation; 2nd Revised edition edition (Nov 1994), Chapter 3, The Qur'an in Manuscript and Print, Early Manuscripts, page 46
Bold emphasis mine.
[4] ISLAMIC AWARENESS Available at [online] [accessed] 17th March 2013

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