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The division of Quran into ‘Meccan surahs’ and ‘Medinan surahs

Meccan surah

Surahs of the Quran supposed to have been revealed in Mecca, before the Hijra.

Holy Kaaba

The Meccan surahs are, according to the timing and contextual background of supposed revelation  the chronologically earlier chapters of the Qur’an that were revealed anytime before the migration of the Islamic prophet Muhammed and his followers from Mecca to Medina (Hijra). The Medinan surahs are those supposed revelations that occurred after the move to the city of that name.

Meccan surahs are typically shorter than Medinan surahs, with relatively short verses, and mostly come near the end of the Qur’an. (As a general rule, the chapters of the Qur’an are ordered from longest to shortest.) Most of the chapters containing Muqatta’at are Meccan.

The division of chapters into ‘Meccan’ and ‘Medinan’ is primarily a consequence of stylistic and thematic considerations. Classification of the chapters into these periods is based upon factors such as the length of the verse and the presence or absence of certain key concepts or words.

Medinan surah

Surahs of the Quran supposed to have been revealed in Medina (as opposed to Mecca), after the Hijra.

The Madni Surahs or Madani chapters of the Quran are the latest 24 Surahs that, according to Islamic tradition, were revealed at Medina after Muhammad’s hijra from Mecca. The community was larger and more developed, as opposed to their minority position in Mecca.

The Medinan Surahs occur mostly at the beginning and in the middle of the Qur’an (but are said to be the last revealed suras chronologically), and typically have more and longer verses. Due to the new circumstances of the early Muslim community in Medina, these surahs more often deal with details of moral principles, legislation, warfare, and principles for constituting and ordering the community. They also refer more often to the community with “O people!” and at times directly address Muhammad or speak of him as “an agent acting in combination with the divine persona.

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