Divisions of the Qur-ān

The reading of the Qur-ān is considered a pious duty by every Muslim and is actually performed in practice by every literate person, man, woman, and child. For the convenience of those who wish to complete the whole reading in a given time, the whole Text is divided into thirty equal parts, or seven equal parts. The thirtieth Part is called juz-un in Arabic, and Sīpāra or simply Pāra in Persian and Urdu. If you read a Sīpāra every day, you complete the whole reading in a month of thirty days. The seventh part is called a Manzil. If one is read every day, the whole is completed in a week. Usually the arithmetical quarters of a Sīpāra (one-fourth, one-half, three quarters) are also marked in the Arabic copies as Ar-rub‘, An-nisf and Aththalātha.

According to subject-matter, the division is different. The whole of the Qur-ān is arranged in 114 Sūras of very unequal size. The Sūras are numbered and the consecutive number is shown just before the title of the Sūra, both in Arabic and English. In Arabic, the figure just after the title shows the chronological order as usually accepted by Muslim writers. Each Sūra consists of a number of Āyats. Sūra I contains 7 Āyats and Sūra II contains 286. For the meaning of Sūra and Āyat is see C. 42 nn. 15-17 (not available in the online version). The most convenient form of quotation is to name the Sūra and the Āyat: thus ii. 120 means the 120th Āyat of the second Sūra. A Sūra is usually spoken of as a Chapter in English, but that translation is hardly satisfactory. If you examine the order you will find that each Sūra is a step in a gradation. I have left the word untranslated, as a technical term in our religious literature. The Āyat or verse division is usually determined by the rhythm and cadence in the Arabic Text. Sometimes an Āyat contains many sentences. Sometimes a sentence is divided by a break in an Āyat. But usually there is a pause in meaning at the end of an Āyat.

A division of the Sūra into Sections is shown in all Arabic Texts. These are logical divisions according to meaning. The word translated “Section” is in Arabic Rukū‘, a “bowing of the head”. The end of a Rukū‘ is shown in Arabic by ء. Usually three figures are written with ع. The top figure shows the number of Rukū‘s completed in that Sūra. The middle figure shows the number of Āyats in the Rukū‘ just completed. The bottom figure shows the number of Rukū‘s completed in the Sīpāra, irrespective of Sūras. For example, the first ع in Sīpāra II which continues Sūra II from Sīpāra I is usually marked . It means that at that point 17 Rukū‘s of Sūra II have been completed, that the Rukū‘ of which it marks the close contains 6 Āyats, and that it is the first Rukū‘ that falls in Sīpāra II. I have further marked the sub-division of Rukū’s into shorter paragraphs where necessary, by using in the English text a bold flowery Initial : e.g., see the initial A in ii. 6 or the initial W in ii. 35. (The online version uses BOLD letters instead of the bold flowery initials.)