I need clarity and context on the following which is said by Ibn Abbas (RA):

“Ibn Abbas recited this verse as ‘أَفَلَمْ يتبين ٱلَّذِينَ’. He was told that it is ‘أَفَلَمْ يَا۟يْـَٔسِ ٱلَّذِينَ’ to which Ibn Abbas replied: “The writer has written يَا۟يْـَٔسِ but I think that he may not have been wakeful at that time of writing this word.”

Al Itqan fi Uloom al Quran, Volume 1 page 238

The same is said elsewhere:

وأخرج ابن جرير وابن الأنباري في المصاحف، عن ابن عباس – رضي الله عنهما – أنه قرأ [أفلم يتبين الذين آمنوا] فقيل له: إنها في المصحف { أفلم ييأس } فقال: أظن الكاتب كتبها وهو ناعس.

Ibn Jarir and Ibn al-Anbari included in the musahif on the authority of Ibn Abbas – may God be pleased with them – that he read {are those who believe clearly aware} and it was said to him: It is in the Qur’an: “do not those who believe despair.” So he said: I think the writer wrote it while he was drowsy

Tafsir Manthur

Ibn Hajar said on it's chain:

وروى الطبري وعبد بن حميد بإسناد صحيح كلهم من رجال البخاري عن ابن عباس أنه كان يقرؤها ‏”‏ أفلم يتبين”‏ ويقول‏:‏ كتبها الكاتب وهو ناعس

And Tabari and Abd bin Hamid narrated with a Sahih chain containing all the narrators from the rijal of Bukhari, from Ibn Abbas that he recited “‏ أفلم يتبين‏” and said that the writer had written it [يَا۟يْـَٔسِ] when he was drowsy.

Fath al Bari, Volume 8 page 373

Was Ibn Abbas simply mistaken here?

1 Answer 1


Imam As-Suyuti in Al-Itqan goes on to give an explanation for the narration:

وقَدْ أجابَ ابْنُ أُشْتَةَ عَنْ هَذِهِ الآثارِ كُلِّها بِأنَّ المُرادَ أخْطَئُوا فِي الِاخْتِيارِ،وما هُوَ الأوْلى لِجَمْعِ النّاسِ عَلَيْهِ مِنَ الأحْرُفِ السَّبْعَةِ. لا أنَّ الَّذِي كُتِبَ خَطَأٌ خارِجٌ عَنِ القُرْآنِ قالَ: فَمَعْنى قَوْلِ عائِشَةَ: حُرِّفَ الهِجاءُ أُلْقِيَ إلى الكاتِبِ هِجاءٌ غَيْرُ ما كانَ الأوْلى أنْ يُلْقى إلَيْهِ مِنَ الأحْرُفِ السَّبْعَةِ. قالَ: وكَذا مَعْنى قَوْلِ ابْنِ عَبّاسٍ: «كَتَبَها وهُوَ ناعِسٌ» يَعْنِي فَلَمْ يَتَدَبَّرِ الوَجْهَ الَّذِي هُوَ أوْلى مِنَ الآخَرِ وكَذا سائِرُها.

Ibn Ushtah responded to all these narrations saying that the meaning is they (the writers) made a mistake in their choice and what would have been best to unite the people upon from the 7 ahruf. And it is not that what they wrote is a mistake taking them outside the Quran. [...] And he said: Likewise is the meaning of Ibn Abbas's statement "[he] wrote it while he was drowsy" i.e. (Ibn Abbas is saying that the writer was sleepy) so he didn't contemplate carefully which would have been the better option (from the seven ahruf), and likewise all of these narrations (are about their choice of harf).

Al Itqan fi Uloom al Quran

Basically, the meaning is that, when he criticizes the writers, he's criticizing their choice of which harf they chose, not that they made up some recitation from nowhere. So, he would be saying that the writers were sleepy so they didn't consider carefully that it would have been better to chose the recitation Ibn Abbas preferred over the one they wrote.

As-Suyuti also mentions that some scholars considered these narrations to be weak and unfounded for contradicting other narrations from Ibn Abbas that prove he considered the normal recitation to be from the seven ahruf. However, As-Suyuti states that he thinks the first explanation is better.

  • According to Lane's Lexicon, the variant we're currently reciting conforms to the dialects of an-Nakha' or according to al-Kalbi or Ibn al-Kalbi, the dialect of Wahbeel, a sub-tribe of an-Nakha' or according to al-Kasim ibn Ma'an the dialect of Hawazin. It's possible that ibn Abbas RA was unaware of its validity by virtue of the fact that he was from Banu Hashim and that the recitation according to the Qurayshi dialect was predominant
    – Afiq
    May 26, 2021 at 14:29
  • @Afiq proof? This sounds interesting.
    – Affan
    May 26, 2021 at 15:59
  • @The Z appreciate the answer but can you make the translation a bit more clear.
    – Affan
    May 26, 2021 at 17:28
  • @Affan That is assuming one believes يَا۟يْـَٔسِ means يتبين or "to know." See Tafsir of Ibn Ashoor. It is reported that Hawazin or another used the word like that. But, it's not necessary to believe that it's the same meaning.
    – The Z
    May 26, 2021 at 17:29
  • 1
    @Affan It's the same or next page after As-Suyuti quoted the narration.
    – The Z
    May 27, 2021 at 21:46

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