Quran is made of chapters (surah), each of which is made of verses (ayah). But there are some places that it seems some ayats are in fact one ayah, for example verses 16 and 17 of surah 35. The question is, how do we know this structure? Is this structure revealed to Muhammad by God? I mean, has God revealed that "Muhammd, this sentence I'm sending you is verse X of surah Y"? Or is it something that we just invented to categorize a body of texts that has been sent upon our prophet?

Update: Let's for a moment picture a Quran without verse numbers, and without chapter classifications. Just a continous body of text, like a story. It still has the same meaning and nothing is changed. So, what is the philosophy/why behind splitting Quran into chapters and verses? Is it something that God himself has revealed to Muhammad, or is it that men were assigning numbers to what Muhammad would say whenever he would have said it.

update2: For another example, consider verses 11, 12, and 13 of Chapter 2. Verses 11 and 12 are exactly the same as verse 13 in structure, but they are two different verses, while 13 is one verse.

Verse 11 => Command, rejection
Verse 12 => Fact
Verse 13 => Command, question (rejection in nature), fact

In other words, I would be pretty content with having verse 13 being split into 13 and 14, and mimic the structure of 11 and 12.

  • Perhaps you meant to say some ayaat are one sentence, not one ayah. Ayah does not mean sentence. This is in several places, not just the example you mention. Ayah can be multiple sentences and can be part of sentences.
    – The Z
    Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 4:07
  • No, I simply meant how do we know that ayah is what God has revealed to Muhammad, and it's not man-made? Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 4:22
  • As it has already been shown to you, the Sahaba did not change the Quran or add to it, nor even changing the order of the verses. The Surah were classified by the Prophet himself. Here is another evidence of the Prophet himself referencing a Surah showing that it was a classification from his time: sunnah.com/muslim/6/311. It wasn't invented later. The Prophet himself classified the Quran into Surahs.
    – The Z
    Commented Dec 7, 2019 at 7:58
  • Furthermore, even if there were no marks on the page, it is not possible to take away the distinction between the Surahs because it is so obvious in most cases. For example, take Surah Shams. Taking away the Surah separations around it isn't going to fool anyone. The rhyme scheme is different, the tone is different, the topic is different, and anyone can and will recognize that.
    – The Z
    Commented Dec 7, 2019 at 8:01

1 Answer 1


The qur'an was revealed in pieces to Muhammed () for about 20-21 Years (with interruptions: time periods where Muhammed neither received a revelation nor the angel Jibreel()).

When a verse (or more) was (were) revealed Muhammed () used to dictate it to his scribes and asked them to put it in order so basically the strongest opinion about the Chapters or surahs is that they are done by divine instruction (Due to the ahadith that mentioned the procedure see for example in Musnad Ahmad (Arabic only), in Sahih al-Bukahri, and other used evidences such as in Sunan ibn Majah and Sahih Muslim).
As to their order one may hear different opinions, but the strongest is that they are also ordered by divine instruction (See for example in here Jami' at-Tirmidhi).

When it comes to the verse count the matter is much more relaxed: Basically there are only a few surahs of which an amount of verses is known the most known of these are surat al-Fatihah (7 verses) and surat al-Mulk (30 verses however some verse counters changed these amount in some locations). The verse counters followed the following instruction: a verse ends at the location where the qari' (who follows one of the accepted qira'at) makes a pause. Following the description of Umm Salamah () of the recitation of our prophet ():

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to recite: "In the name of Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds; most Gracious, most Merciful; Master of the Day of Judgment," breaking its recitation into verses, one after another.

Abu Dawud said: I heard Ahmad (b. Hanbal) say: The early reading is: Maliki yawmi'l-din. (Sunan abi Dawod)

Therefore one can safely say that the matter of verse count -in general- is a matter of ijtihad (unless there's a consensus about the amount of verses of a surah) .

Let's for a moment picture a Quran without verse numbers, and without chapter classifications. Just a continuous body of text, like a story.

In my family we actually have such a moshaf!

Some related posts:

For further information refer also to fatwa islamqa #3214

  • so basically the strongest opinion about the Chapters or surahs is that they are done by divine instruction, I mean, how Muhammad knew that the revelation that he's receiving right now is the verse X of chapter Y for example? Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 11:00
  • Simply because Jibreel told him.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 11:01
  • For example, consider two scenarios in in the first revelation. Scenario one: Read by the name of your Lord who has created the human from .... Scenario two: Muhammad, what I'm reading to you belongs to a chapter that God has name as Alhagh. OK, here we go. Now listen to the first verse, which is "Read in the name of your Lord". Got it? Now let's move to the second verse. It goes "Created human from ... ". Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 11:04
  • 1
    How do we know that Jibreel told him? Do we have any historical evidence that Muhammad would pass these metadata (chapter and verse) to his scribes? Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 11:05
  • Well I've already told you that the surahs are divine and if you checked my linked posts you'll find evidences. It seems to me you didn't read the answer as all you ask now is inside.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 11:06

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