How these ten Qirats evolved?
The evolution of the ten Qirat is rooted in the early history of Islam and the revelation of the Quran. At the time of the Quran's revelation, the Angel Gabriel (Jibreel) recited the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in one dialect. The Prophet then recited it back in the same dialect. He subsequently asked the angel to allow for more dialects, and this continued until they reached a total of seven ahruf (dialects). These variations in pronunciation and dialect did not alter the Quran's meaning. Here are three Hadiths that provide insight into this process:
Here are the 3 Hadith on this:
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1) Ibn ‘Abbaas reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Jibreel recited the Qur’aan to me in one harf, and I recited it back to him, but I requested him to increase (the number of harf) and he continued to increase it for me until we stopped at seven ahruf.” Ibn Shihaab az-Zuhree (d. 124 A.H.), one of the narrators of the hadeeth, said, “It has reached me that these seven ahruf are essentially one (in meaning), they do not differ about what is permitted or forbidden.” 383
2) ‘Ubay ibn Ka’ab reported that the Prophet (PBUH) was once on the outskirts of Madeenah (near the tribe of Banoo Ghifaar) when Jibreel came to him and said, “Allaah has commanded that you recite the Qur’an to your people in one harf.” The Prophet (PBUH) replied, “I ask Allaah’s pardon and forgiveness! My people are not capable of doing this!” Jibreel then came again and said, “Allaah has commanded you to recite the Qur’an to your people in two ahruf.”
The Prophet (PBUH) again replied, “I ask Allaah’s pardon and forgiveness! My people are not capable of doing this!” Jibreel then came a third time and said, “Allaah has commanded you to recite the Qur’aan to your people in three ahruf.” The Prophet (PBUH) replied for a third time, “I ask Allaah’s pardon and forgiveness! My people are not capable of doing this!” At last, Jibreel came for the fourth time, and said, “Allaah has commanded you to recite the Qur’an to your people in seven ahruf, and in whichever harf they recite, they would be right. 384”
3) ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab narrated, “I was sitting in the masjid when I heard Hishaam ibn Hakeem recite Soorah al-Furqaan. I was almost about the jump on him in his prayer, but I waited until he finished, and then grabbed him by his garment and asked him, ‘Who taught you to recite in such a manner?’” He replied, ‘It was the Prophet (PBUH) himself!’ I responded, ‘You are mistaken, for indeed I learned this soorah from the Prophet (PBUH) and it was different from your recitation!’
Therefore, I dragged him to the Prophet (PBUH) and complained to him that Hishaam had recited Soorah al-Furqaan in a manner different from what he (PBUH) had taught me. At this, the Prophet (PBUH) told me to let go of Hishaam, and asked him to recite Soorah al-Furqaan. Hishaam recited the Soorah in the same way I had heard him before. When he finished, the Prophet (PBUH) said, ‘It was revealed this way.’ He then asked me to recite the same soorah. When I had finished, he (PBUH) said, ‘It was (also) revealed this way. Indeed, the Qur’aan has been revealed in seven different ahruf, so recite whichever one is easy for you.’” 385.
In summary, the Quran was initially revealed in seven different dialects, reflecting the linguistic diversity of the Arabian Peninsula at the time. After the Prophet's death, his companions understood and transmitted these dialects to others. As Islam spread and diverse groups came into contact, the differences in recitation became apparent. To unify the Muslim Ummah, Caliph Uthman ibn Affan (RA) chose the Quraishi dialect for the entire community. This standardization led to the preservation of the Quran in a single Mushaf (the written text), while the other dialects were retained for recitation. The seven recitations have persisted in society, influencing the oral recitation but not the written form of the Quran