I would like to start by saying “Jazakum ALLAH Khairun” for this site and for all the efforts you have put into it. ‘Ma sha ALLAH’.
I have some questions that I hope ALLAH will help you answer me.
How was the Qur’an revealed? Was each Surah revealed separately and wholly, or were parts of Surahs revealed with breaks in between and then the rest of the Surah was revealed (and no other Surah would start until the previous one ended), or did we have ayahs come down at miscellaneous times, while other Surahs were also being revealed, and in no necessary order?
What about the Surahs, were they put together as Surahs by sayedna Muhammad (saw), or was it also by Gabriel (as)?
Also, who named the Surahs?
And finally, but most importantly, how were the Surahs arranged chronologically as they are found today? Did Gabriel (as) do that for sayedna Muhammad (saw) or was this done after the prophet’s (saw) death?
Again, Jazakum ALLAH khairun and may Allah accept all our deeds and make them only seeking his pleasure…AMEEN
Answers to your questions follow respectively:
Some Surahs were revealed in parts, while others were revealed at one time. Sometimes, some of the verses of a particular Surah would be revealed at a much later date (such has been the case especially in matters relating to abrogation of a temporary directive). The order and the time at which the Surahs and/or their verses were revealed was determined by the need of the hour. Directives were given as and when they were required, keeping in view the general individual and collective condition of the Muslims as well as the circumstances prevalent in the environment.
The set of verses constituting a Surah was determined and taught by the Almighty Himself, through the angel Gabriel.
The Surahs were generally referred to by the Prophet (pbuh) and his companions (ra) through any suitable title that would distinguish that particular Surah from the others. This title could refer to an event, topic or reference contained in that Surah. For instance, the second Surah was generally referred to by the title ‘Surah of the cow’ (Surah Al-Baqarah) because of one of its references to an incident in the history of the Israelites, which contained a reference to the response of the Israelites, when they were directed to sacrifice a cow. ‘Aal-Imraan‘ was the title with which the third Surah was referred to because of the reference it contained to the family of Imraan. The same was the case with the other Surahs of the Qur’an. Later on, these reference titles were accepted as the names of these Surahs (primarily due to the general acceptability that these titles had gained over time). However, the important thing to remember is that these titles of the Surahs were generally not given by God.
According to the Qur’an itself, the final arrangement of the Qur’an, as we have it in our hands today, was also given by God, through the angel Gabriel (please refer Al-Qiyamah 75: 16 – 18).
I hope this helps.
29th January 2000