In the Quran's Surah Al-Lail verse 3, we read:

وَمَا خَلَقَ ٱلذَّكَرَ وَٱلْأُنثَىٰٓ - [Source]

But in an authentic Hadith of Sahih-Bukhari, we read:

The companions of Abdullah bin Masud came to Abu Darda, he looked for them and found them. Then he asked them,: 'Who among you can recite (Qur'an) as Abdullah recites it?" They replied, "All of us." He asked, "Who among you knows it by heart?" They pointed at 'Alqama. Then he asked Alqama. "How did you hear Abdullah bin Masud reciting Surat Al-Lail (The Night)?" Alqama recited: 'By the male and the female.' (‏وَالذَّكَرِ وَالأُنْثَ). Abu Ad-Darda said, "I testify that I heard me Prophet reciting it likewise, but these people want me to recite it. And by Allah, I will not follow them." [Source]

Can anyone pls explain what is happening here?



A short historical flash back

First of all you need some historical background of the compilation of the mushaf:

  • During the time of the prophet () the qur'an was revealed and memorized and written on what ever was available to write on. Among the sahabah that memorized the whole qur'an during the prophet's life time were 'Abdullah ibn Masu'd (), Zaid ibn Thabit (), Ubayy ibn Ka'ab () and abu a-Dardaa' (). Zaid and Ubayy are also among the known scribes of the qur'an. At this time the prophet () might have taught the sahabah different ahruf depending on their abilities. At least the prophet () confirmed in several ahadith that different readings of different sahabah are revelations of the same verse(s).
  • During the time of abu Bakr (), 70 of the qur'an memorizers died in a battle and 'Umar () came up with the idea to compile the qur'an in a moshaf. Abu Bakr acceppted this and ordered Zaid ibn Thabit to do it and deposed the copy of the moshaf at the house of Hafsa' () the mother of believers. The seven ahruf remained untouched further the sahabah taught the qur'an and tried to find solutions for non Arabs to better pronounce it therefore many of them allowed the usage of synonyms (as many of the differences came from synonyms), some -for the purpose of teaching mostly- even added additional words in order to make the words of the qur'an more clear. At this time or later ibn Masu'd was sent out to Kufa to teach the qur'an and abu a-Dradaa' to a-Shaam (Damascus and surroundings) etc. their influence is still present in the readings of their region.
  • During the reign of 'Uthman () many non-Arabs had huge difficulties and due to the usage of different words and additional words a fitna was close. So 'Uthman decided to chose a commission of several sahabah () was chosen to compile mushafs for each region and kept one at Medina which was called al-Mushaf al-Imam. This time he ordered in case of differences to chose the language of Quraish as a reference. This restriction made an end to different readings. Further 'Uthman ordered the destruction/burning of all existing "non-official" qur'an copies. These orders and choices further were in first instance not accepted by many of the sahabah () who were not involved among them ibn Mas'ud who kept on reciting their reading (qira'a), but not teaching it -as it seems- for a while until he accepted the idea of the Mushaf al-Imam. Some say that a copy of the Mushaf of Ubayy remained hidden in Yemen.

For further information refer to my answer on: Why is the Hafs reading of the Qur'an so prevalent?

By now it should be clear that the choice of al-Mushaf al-Imam for verse (92:3):

وَمَا خَلَقَ ٱلذَّكَرَ وَٱلْأُنثَىٰٓ

So this is let's say the imposed reading after the compilation of al-Mushaf al-Imam, which was declared canonical and agreed upon during the era of the rashidi Caliphs.

Explanation of the hadith from Sahih al-Bukhari

First we should know who the reciter 'Alqama is? He is 'Alqama ibn Qays علقمة بن قيس النخعي a tabi'iy from 'Iraq who learned the recitation of the qur'an from ibn Masu'd and who were born at the time of the prophet() and died about 61/62 a.H., so he lived in the time in which the qur'an was revealed, first compiled in a Mushaf and finalized in al-Mushaf al-Imam then canonized.
So the background of this story is that it happened around the time (or very likely before) when 'Uthman ordered all qira'at which differ to the qira'a let's say imposed by al-Mushaf al-Imam to be stopped (teaching) and the corresponding Moshafs to be destroyed/burned. And it is rather unlikely that abu a-Dardaa' and ibn Masu'd (or his students) were already officially informed about it.

The hadith also appears in Sahih Muslim.

What does this hadith say:
Both abu ad-Dardaa' and ibn Masu'd were taught this qira'a or reading from the prophet () himself -abu a-Dardaa' at least confirmed it in this hadith and 'Alqama confirmed it as the reading of ibn Masu'd-, while the majority of the remaining sahabah were taught that which we know and which is canonized in al-Mushaf al-Imam.
Ibn Hajjar quoted a strange recitation that was reported from al-Hassan al-Basri based on ibn Masu'ds recitation saying he recited (see here in Fath al-Bari):

والذي خلق الذكر والأنثى

This would be conform to the meaning of the verse as we know it.

Now abu a-Dradaa' in this hadith asks a group of students of ibn Masu'd about ibn Masu'ds qira'a of this verse and therefore asked about the person who memorizes the most which was 'Alqama. 'Alqama confirmed abu a-Dradaa's qira'a of this specific verse. And abu a-Dardaa' told this group that the people of a-Shaam want him to recite it otherwise. Ibn Hajar clearly identified them as meant by the statement:

...these people ... .

While he is not willing to refrain from a qira'a that was orally transmitted to him by our prophet (). What does this could mean?

  1. The people of a-Shaam heard of a different qira'a and asked abu a-Dardaa' to teach it instead of what he was taught.
  2. And/or some of them already came in touch with the Mushaf of 'Uthman and wanted the same.

In any case without knowing that this qira'a was abrogated by the Moshaf al-Imam or maybe even earlier it doesn't seem reasonable that abu a-Dardaa' a sahabi, who heard the revelation from the mouth of the prophet () himself would easily accept a reading he didn't know from a person he would regard as not authorized enough to impose such a change.

In worst case one could assume that both abu a-Dradaa' and ibn Mas'ud were not ready to accept leaving a recitation which they heard and memorized and were taught by the prophet () for another one (which in fact was the qira'a of the majority). And they exclaimed here their refusal of accepting what they heard of this qira'a and maybe about the Moshaf al-Imam at the time of this incident. However both accepted it later. Note that nowhere in the books of scholars it was quoted that abu a-Dardaa' refused al-Mushaf al-Imam therefore it seems very likely that this incident toke place before 'Uthman gave his orders.

Both ibn Hajar (in Fath al-Bary) and an-Nawawi (in his commentary on Sahih Muslim) came to the conclusion that this riwaya or qira'a' of abu a-Dradaa' must have been abrogated, but abu a-Dardaa' might not have been aware at the time of the incident. Historical facts show that neither abu a-Dardaa' nor ibn Mas'ud (assuming he used the same qira'a, ibn Hajar exclaimed some doubts here) remained teaching this qira'a as neither the people of Kufa (whom's qira'a was that of ibn Masu'd and his best student 'Alqama) nor those of a-Shaam (who followed the qira'a of abu a-Dardaa') nor the known recitation at these regions show any disagreement with the Moshaf al-Imam in this verse. Here a quote from the commentary of an-Nawawi: In the following I'm translating from Arabic language as these translations are of my own take them carefully.

قَالَ الْقَاضِي قَالَ الْمَازِرِيُّ يَجِبُ أَنْ يُعْتَقَدَ فِي هَذَا الْخَبَرِ وَمَا فِي مَعْنَاهُ أَنَّ ذَلِكَ كَانَ قُرْآنًا ثُمَّ نُسِخَ وَلَمْ يُعْلَمْ مَنْ خَالَفَ النَّسْخَ فَبَقِيَ عَلَى النَّسْخِ. Al-Qadi ('Iyad) said al-Maziri said: Concerning this khabar and what comes in its meaning one should believe that this (recitation) was (part of the) qur'an and was abrogated (later) and those who went on with a reading that was abrogated were not aware of the abrogation.

قَالَ وَلَعَلَّ هَذَا وَقَعَ مِنْ بَعْضِهِمْ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَبْلُغَهُمْ مُصْحَفُ عُثْمَانَ الْمُجْمَعُ عَلَيْهِ الْمَحْذُوفُ مِنْهُ كُلُّ مَنْسُوخٍ وَأَمَّا بَعْدَ ظُهُورِ مُصْحَفِ عُثْمَانَ فَلَا يُظَنُّ بأحد منهم أنه خالف فيه
He (further) said perhaps this happened to some of them before the Mushaf of 'Uthman which was agreed upon and from which the abrogation was removed reached them. But after the appearance of the Mushaf of 'Uthman it is not imaginable that anyone of them violated (or deviated from) it.

وأما بن مَسْعُودٍ فَرُوِيَتْ عَنْهُ رِوَايَاتٌ كَثِيرَةٌ مِنْهَا مَا لَيْسَ بِثَابِتٍ عِنْدَ أَهْلِ النَّقْلِ وَمَا ثَبَتَ مِنْهَا مُخَالِفًا لِمَا قُلْنَاهُ فَهُوَ مَحْمُولٌ عَلَى أَنَّهُ كَانَ يَكْتُبُ فِي مُصْحَفِهِ بَعْضَ الْأَحْكَامِ وَالتَّفَاسِيرِ مِمَّا يَعْتَقِدُ أَنَّهُ لَيْسَ بِقُرْآنٍ وَكَانَ لَا يَعْتَقِدُ تَحْرِيمَ ذَلِكَ وَكَانَ يَرَاهُ كَصَحِيفَةٍ يُثْبِتُ فِيهَا مَا يَشَاءُ وَكَانَ رَأْيُ عُثْمَانَ وَالْجَمَاعَةِ مَنْعَ ذَلِكَ لِئَلَّا يَتَطَاوَلَ الزَّمَانُ وَيَظُنَّ ذَلِكَ قُرْآنًا
As for ibn Masu'd many narration where reported about him, among it are many that are not regarded as authentic by the specific scholars, as for those which are authentic, but in opposition to what we have explained, it is taken as that he used to write in his private Mushaf some rules and tafssirs which he didn't believe being (part of the) qur'an (itself), and he didn't believe what he was doing is haram. Rather he regarded it like a paper on which he recorded what he wanted, while 'Uthman and the majority held the opinion that this should be prohibited before a time comes in which people may regard such records as (parts of the) qur'an.

Let's check the verse in its context:

وَٱلَّيۡلِ إِذَا يَغۡشَىٰ • وَٱلنَّہَارِ إِذَا تَجَلَّىٰ • وَمَا خَلَقَ ٱلذَّكَرَ وَٱلۡأُنثَىٰٓ

The first verse is a a vow of Allah and so is the second and in both verses the verb create خَلَقَ could easily be included without a loss of the meaning. As Allah created the night and day and both male and female.

And therefore also the reading of abu a-Dradaa' and ibn Masu'd would apply:

وَٱلَّيۡلِ إِذَا يَغۡشَىٰ • وَٱلنَّہَارِ إِذَا تَجَلَّىٰ • وَٱلذَّكَرَ وَٱلۡأُنثَىٰٓ

However the addition of the verb makes more sense, as it confirms this meaning.

In the discussed verse:


doesn't express a negation, it rather expresses a confirmation or as al-Qurtubi said in the language of Quraish "مَا"is commonly use instead of "مَن" (who).

  • Ok this is Good... I'd just like you to give me authentic evidence of "Both accepted it later" which will remove all the confusion I have.. Abu Darda accepting what he is rejecting in Bukhari 4944 will remove all the confusion...
    – user45050
    Jun 8 '21 at 9:40

The Quran was revealed in seven ahruf (different ways of reciting it).

That was the recitation Abdullah ibn Masud and Abu Darda (RA) used to recite. This is the recitation we recite which was written with the agreement of the Sahabah in the mushaf.

There are many questions and answers on the site regarding the ahruf and the recitations. You can read them for more information.

  • Two further points... One, why did Abu Darda not know the Quran was revealed in seven Ahrufs when he said "he will never follow these people" ?? Two, the meaning of the verse is completely changed i.e "By the one who created Male and Female" vs "By the Male and Female" so it can't be Ahrufs as Ahrufs complement each other in meaning i.e Quran 57:24...
    – user45050
    Jun 8 '21 at 7:49
  • @Ghz... No reason to think Abu Darda is saying the normal recitation is false. He simply refuses to recite it because he learned the other way from the Prophet himself. So, why would he leave his recitation for the recitation of others? As for the second, the meaning is changed in the different ahruf not uncommonly (See 1:4, Malik vs. Maalik). They are not contradictory. They complement each other.
    – The Z
    Jun 8 '21 at 18:48
  • How is "By the male and Female" vs "By the one who created Male and Female" complimentary? In the first case, the swear is taking place on "Male and Female" and in the other, the swear is taking place on "God"..
    – user45050
    Jun 8 '21 at 19:25
  • 1
    @Ghz... Yes... It is complementary. As you can see, they're not factual statements that can contradict each other. Just two different things to swear on. There's no contradiction. If Allah swore by one, the Surah would remain true. If he swore by the other, the Surah would remain true. If he swore by them in different places, it would still be fine.
    – The Z
    Jun 8 '21 at 21:39

As Ibn Hajar explains:

This recitation was not transmitted except through those mentioned here and everybody else recited "By the creation of male and female" and this is the established recitation despite the authentic chain of transmitters of the other recitation up to Abul Darda' and those mentioned with him. This is probably from among what was abrogated and its abrogation was not acknowledged by Abul Darda' and those mentioned with him. It is strange that the huffaz of Kufa transmitted this recitation on the authority of Ibn Masud and 'Alqamah up to whom the authority of recitation in Kufa ends, then none of them recited it. People of Sham as well transmitted the recitation on the authority of Abul Darda' and none of them recited this. This enforces the fact that this recitation was abrogated.

Fath Al-Bari Chapter 442, Number 3996

  • Ibn Hajar came atleast 800 years after the event... So, Yes, this is sufficient if we accept whatever Ibn Hajar said but it is not satisfactory...
    – user45050
    Jun 8 '21 at 16:01

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