Shan-e-Nuzool of Al-Qur’an

Chapter No.: 

Shan-e-Nuzool means the particular circumstances, context or events in which or in response to which, particular verses of Al-Qur’an were revealed to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). This is also a very essential science needed for understanding Al-Qur’an. There are two types of verses in Al-Qur’an, one includes those which Allah sent down Himself and were not in response to any particular event or question posed towards Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). The second type includes those verses which were sent down in response to a particular event or question. It is for understanding of the second type of verses one needs to know the Shan-e-Nuzool. Some people believe that it is not important to know the Shan-e-Nuzool, but this are not correct, as it is very difficult to understand the correct meaning of these verses without having in mind the background for which or in response to which these verses were revealed.

Al-Whadi Says:

“It is not possible to understand the meaning of a verse of Al-Qur’an unless one refers to its Shan-e-Nuzool” (Al -Itiqan)

Ibne Daqeeq says:

“The Shan-e-Nuzool helps strongly in understanding Al-Qur’an” (al-itiqan)

Ibne Taymiyah says:

“To Know Shan-e-Nuzool, helps in understanding of a verse of Al-Qur’an (Al Itiqan)


1. Al-Qur’an contains the verse:

تَبَّتْ يَدَا أَبِي لَهَبٍ وَتَبَّ

“Perish the two hands of Abu Lahab and perish he!” (111:1)

If one does not know its Shan-e-Nuzool one would wonder as to why Allah Ta’ala called a particular person by name and then cursed him with such words. After knowing its Shan-e-Nuzool, it is very easy to understand it. Once it so happened that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) called Quraish tribe to a mountain namely Safa soon after he was bestowed upon with prophet-hood, he invited them to believe in one Allah and His Messenger. On hearing it, one of his uncles namely Abu Lahab said:

تباً لك الهذا دعوتنا

“May you perish, is this what you invited us for”

It was in response to these words of Abu Lahab that Allah Ta’ala revealed the above quoted verses of Surah Lahab to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)

2. Another verse reads:

وَمَا رَمَيْتَ إِذْ رَمَيْتَ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ رَمَى

“And you (Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)) threw not when you did throw, but Allah threw” (8:17)

It is again very difficult to understand these words of Allah unless one knows the Shan-e-Nuzool. These were revealed in the battle of Badr, when Rasullullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was trapped by the unbelievers (Kufaar) and he threw a handful of sand towards them and then succeeded in coming out of that trap as the non-believers were unable see him after he threw sand towards them.

3- Again another verse reads;

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَقْرَبُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَأَنْتُمْ سُكَارَى

“O you who believe! Approach not As-Salat when you are in drunken state”. (4:43)

If one does not know the Shan-e-Nuzool of this verse, he can say if wine is totally prohibited in Islam then what is the meaning of this verse of the Qur’an? The Shaan-e-Nuzool of this Ayat is quoted on the authority of Hadhrat Ali (RA). He says that Abdul Rehman bin Auf (RA) once invited some Sahabah to meals, it was before the wine was prohibited in Islam. After taking their meals they also drank wine and one of the Sahabah led the congregation of Salah in that drunken state. He committed some mistakes while reciting the Qur’an. This Ayat was revealed after this incident. After coming to know the Shan-e-Nuzool of this Ayat, one can easily understand its meaning. Here, we should know that wine was forbidden in Islam in stepwise fashion, not all at once. The complete prohibition of the consumption of wine was later on decreed in another Ayat.