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Wednesday, September 02, 2015
Q. 17:1 is not an aya
Gustav Weil in Historisch-kritische Einleitung in den Koran, 74-6 (as of the second edition; 65 in the first) thought that the first verse of sura 17 was interposed. He reasoned that it does not share the rhyme of the rest of sura 17; which is the -an rhyme, shared with sura 25. Theodor Nöldeke in Geschichte 1.136 disagreed; and 2.85 he attempts to explain his disagreement.
Between Weil and Nöldeke I do note that Q. 17:1 shares a rhyme - it shares it with Q. 27:30; that is, with bi-smi'llahi 'l-rahmani 'l-rahim.
This form of "basmala" became canonical under Abd al-Malik and al-Hajjaj; to form the line-break between suras except, some say, suras 8 and 9 - see, Hamdan, "The Second Masahif Project" (2010). In the Maliki jurisprudence (that is, Madinese and 'Umarites), the basmala was not considered a verse in its own right (excepting in sura 27 of course) and so must not be performed in the public recital (the literal qur'ân). Abu Hanifa disputed that: it may be prayed - but only in the Fatiha.
Awzai agreed with Malik, and Thawri with Abu Hanifa. Since these were Marwanite holdouts, something like this must have been the consensus under the Umayyads as well. The imam could pray basmala - and he should, if the sura as a whole was his sermon's text. The imam was free to paraphrase what he willed. But God's qari mustn't pray it, not ever.
I suspect that "Q. 17:1" was "part of the Book" in the Thawrite way; "part of the Book" like Ibn Mas'ud considered the Fatiha. It is a mere prayer, an extension of sura 17's basmala. It is not part of sura 17 as sura. It was written Furqân but not revealed Qur'ân. Qudsi, at best.
Now, as to why this extended-basmala was attached to this sura - ah, that is another question. Zaotar thinks it was done as a nod to Peter the Iberian. I have a notion as to who did the attaching and when.
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