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Assalamu alaykum

Certain suras have different regional appellations. Besides, professional reciters I listen to do not include the suras in their recitation. From the end of one sura, they go to the basmala of the next sura. This sometimes creates misunderstandings, considering that in virtually all copies, the suras' titles are written, even decorated. Could you please help us understand this situation:

(a) Are the titles (ex: “al-fatiha,” “al-baqara” and so forth) parts of the Qur’an or not?

(b) If they are not part of it, when where they included in Qur’an copies? Specifically, were they included in the Uthmaan copies?

(c) Is there any standard for using one rather than the other name: Ex: Sura “Lahab” or Sura “Masad”?

(d) To solve these misunderstandings, some people always use the number of the suras. Is this solution dependable; in other words, do all copies use the same numbering?

Any other related information will be highly appreciated. May Allah reward you.



Wa alaikum assalaam wa rahmatu Allahi wa barakatuh.

It is allowed to join one surah with another, with the requirement in the recitation of Hafs and some of the other qira'aat that there be a basmalah between the two surahs at the beginning of the new surah. The basmalah is what indicates a new surah.  It is not part of recitation to name the surah you are going to recite. 

a.  The surah names are not part of the revelation and there are sometimes more than one or two acceptable names for the same surah, but the accepted different names are all from either the Prophet, , or the companions, may Allah be please with them all.  Some of the surah names were called by the name we know them as by the Prophet,  , as indicated in different ahaadeeth.  For example, we know the Prophet,  , referred to surah Al-Baqarah by that name in more than one hadeeth.  One such hadeeth is that related in Saheeh Muslim 1757: "Read surah al-Baqarah, for verily taking it is a blessing, and leaving it is a cause of regret, and the magician is unable to confront it."  

Even surah Al-Faatihah has many names, such as "Umm al-Qur'an" "Umm al-Kitab" , "As-Saba' al-Mathaanee" (seven oft repeated aayaat),  and "Al-Hamd", to name some of them.

Some of the surahs that have more than one name that are prominently used are:

Surah 9 at-Tawbah also named Al-Baraa'ah

Surah 17 Al-Israa' also named Bani Israa'eel

Surah 35 FaaTir also named Al-Malaa'ikah

Surah 41 FuSSilat also named Ha Meem As-Sajdah

Surah 76 Al-Insaan also named Ad-Dahr

 b.  The surah names were added to the copies of the mus-haf  during or after the third century hijarah at the same time they added markers for the end of aayaat as well as the aayaat numbers, so they were not in the 'Uthmanee copy of the mus-haf  (see mabaaHith fee 3uloom al-Qur'an by Al-Ustaath Mannaa3 al-QaTTaan p. 152).   If you would like to know all the different names that are accepted of the surahs, a good reference is Imam As-Sakhaawee's book: Jamal Al-Quraa' wa Kamaal al-'Iqraa' (). 

c.  The standard is that set by those in the early centuries.  If one is copying the Qur'an the same naming system for the suwar (the Arabic plural for surah) as that which is used in the mus-haf one is copying from is transferred to the new copy.   

 d.   There is no difference in the present copies of the Qur'an as to the numbers of the suwar, so this is dependable.  We suggest using both systems, the name and number to make things easier.  Those that have the Qur'an memorized or a good portion memorized will be able to identify an aayah quickly when the name of a surah is given, most will have more difficulty when only numbers are used.  Those who have less memorized or are not familiar with the Qur'an (new Muslims, for example) will rely on the numbers more to look up the aayah.

And Allah knows best.

Wa assalaam alaikum wa rahmatu Allah.  May Allah reward you for this very useful and interesting question; we have certainly learned a lot researching the answer.