What is the difference between Makki and Madani?

The Details of the Question

What is the difference between Makki and Madani?

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Dear Brother / Sister,

There are some different views as to whether some chapters were sent down in Makkah or Madinah. The most important reason for the different views is the fact that no definite information was reported from Hazrat Prophet regarding the issue. That is, Hazrat Prophet did not give information saying this verse and this chapter is Madani or that verse and that chapter is Makki. There is only some information from the Companions that witnessed the revelation; but that information is insufficient.

Despite those different views, it is agreed that 20 verses of the Quran were revealed in Madinah and that 82 chapters were revealed in Makkah. There are different views as to whether the remaining 12 chapters were revealed in Makkah or Madinah. The definitions of Makki and Madani also affected the different views. As Suyuti points out in al-Itqan there are three views about the issuee:

1. The chapters or verses that were sent down before the Hijra are Makki and that were sent down after the Hijra are Madani. The criterion for that classification is the time. The place of revelation is not taken into consideration. For instance, the chapters and verses that were sent down in the Farewell Hajj after hijrah or the chapters and verses that were sent down in Makkah or during traveling are regarded as Makki.    

2. Those that were revealed in and around Makkah (like Arafat, Mina, Muzdalifa, Taif) are Makki and those sent down in and around Madinah are Madani (like Badr, Uhud ).

3. Those that address the people of Makkah are Makki and those that address the people of Madinah are Madani. However, the third view is not favored much.

We should also state that since the chapters that were sent down in separate pieces are more than the chapters that were sent down as a whole, there are Madani verses in a Makki chapter and there are Makki chapters in a Madani chapter. In a Mushaf (Quran) that was printed in Egypt in 1342 H, that issue is mentioned at the beginning of each chapter and if a chapter is Madani and if there are Makki verses in it, or vice versa, it is stated and those verses are shown.

There are some properties that distinguish between Makki and Madani verses; they are as follows:

Makki chapters

a) The chapters that contain the word, "kalla" (The word kalla is used 33 times in 15 chapters).

b) The chapters that contain prostration (sajdah at-tilawah) verses.

c) The chapters that have huruf al-muqatta’a (single letters or groups of single letters) except the chapters of al-Baqara and Aal-i Imran.

d) The chapters in which the stories of the prophets, previous nations, the stories of Hazrat Adam and Iblis (the devil) are narrated except the chapter al-Baqara.

e) The chapters with some exceptions that contain the phrase (ya ayyuhannasu).

Madani chapters usually;

a) contain the issues like Sharia punishments, civil code.

b) Jihad and decrees about jihad are explained in those chapters.  

c) The chapters that give information about munafiqs (hypocrites) except the chapter al-Ankabut  were sent down in Madinah because munafiqs emerged in Madinah.

Apart from the properties mentioned above, in Makki chapters, there are definite attitudes against polytheism, unbelief and idolatry; and the issues regarding creed and the principles of belief regarding the hereafter like the existence and oneness of Allah are explained in Makki chapters. Those chapters are usually short and the verses of those chapters are also short and easy to memorize.   

It is very useful to know about Makki-Madani chapters. First of all, it will help those who want to interpret the Quran a lot. Although the meaning of the verses are explained in general and the place of asbab an-nuzul (occasions/circumstances of revelation) does not limit the meaning, it will help a lot to know where, about whom and about what the verse(s) were revealed.

On the other hand, the fact that the style of addressing of the Quran and the style of proclaiming it are different in Makkah and Madinah will help and lead those who will teach the Quran to the new generations. It will be understood better what kind of a style conveying the message of Islam should have in which phases, how to address polytheists, unbelievers, People of the Book and believers through knowing Makki and Madani verses. 

Knowing Makki and Madani verses will also be very helpful in determining the nasikh (abrogating) and mansukh (abrogated) verses in the Quran. When two verses that seem to be opposite of each other are seen, it can easily be understood that the one that was revealed before (for instance Makki verse) is nasikh and the other one is mansukh. (see Manna' al-Kattan, Mabahith Fi Ulumil-Qur'an, p 51-55)

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