Remembering The Similar Verses [Mutashābihāt] – Part 2

In part 1, I briefly mentioned the different ways you can remember similar verses in the Qur’ān. I shared reversal patterns and incremental patterns in sūrah yasīn. There are more than 22 different patterns or techniques that can be used to remember any similar verse.

If you need tips for the Mutashābihāt, in this article, I’ll share other important patterns (or rules) you can make use of to help you remember any similar verse.

The alphabetical order pattern

This pattern is when you find two verses that are similar and on closer look, you’ll find a letter difference between two words that match the order of the Arabic alphabet.

For example:

Example 1 – RĀ’ followed by ‘AYN
2:18 صُمٌّۢ بُكْمٌ عُمْىٌۭ فَهُمْ لَا يَرْجِعُونَ
They are ˹wilfully˺ deaf, dumb, and blind, so they will never return ˹to the Right Path˺.
2:171 صُمٌّۢ بُكْمٌ عُمْىٌۭ فَهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ
˹They are wilfully˺ deaf, dumb and blind so they have no understanding.
You’ll see the first point of difference between the highlighted words is the letter attached to the YĀ’. The first one is RĀ’ and the second is an ‘AYN. This is in alphabetical order.

Example 2 – ‘AYN followed by QĀF
2:125 وَعَهِدْنَآ إِلَىٰٓ إِبْرَٰهِـۧمَ وَإِسْمَـٰعِيلَ أَن طَهِّرَا بَيْتِىَ لِلطَّآئِفِينَ وَٱلْعَـٰكِفِينَ وَٱلرُّكَّعِ ٱلسُّجُودِ
And We entrusted Abraham and Ishmael to purify My House for those who circle it, who meditate in it, and who bow and prostrate themselves ˹in prayer˺.
22:26 وَإِذْ بَوَّأْنَا لِإِبْرَٰهِيمَ مَكَانَ ٱلْبَيْتِ أَن لَّا تُشْرِكْ بِى شَيْـًۭٔا وَطَهِّرْ بَيْتِىَ لِلطَّآئِفِينَ وَٱلْقَآئِمِينَ وَٱلرُّكَّعِ ٱلسُّجُودِ
And ˹remember˺ when We assigned to Abraham the site of the House, ˹saying,˺ “Do not associate anything with Me ˹in worship˺ and purify My House for those who circle ˹the Ka’bah˺, stand ˹in prayer˺, and bow and prostrate themselves.
You’ll see the first point of difference between the highlighted words is the first letter. The first one is ‘AYN and the second is QĀF. This is in alphabetical order.

Example 3 – FĀ’ followed by LĀM
3:167 يَقُولُونَ بِأَفْوَٰهِهِم مَّا لَيْسَ فِى قُلُوبِهِمْ
[…] saying with their mouths what was not in their hearts
48:11 يَقُولُونَ بِأَلْسِنَتِهِم مَّا لَيْسَ فِى قُلُوبِهِمْ
They say with their tongues what is not in their hearts
You’ll see the first point of difference between the highlighted words is the letter attached to the Hamza. The first one is FĀ’ and the second is LĀM. This is in alphabetical order.

Example 4 – SHEEN followed by SAAD
15:73 فَأَخَذَتْهُمُ ٱلصَّيْحَةُ مُشْرِقِينَ
So the ˹mighty˺ blast overtook them at sunrise.
15:83 فَأَخَذَتْهُمُ ٱلصَّيْحَةُ مُصْبِحِينَ
But the ˹mighty˺ blast overtook them in the morning
You’ll see the first point of difference between the highlighted words is the letter attached to the MEEM. The first one is SHEEN and the second is SAAD. This is in alphabetical order.

To see further examples of this pattern see:

  • Surah al-Kahf, verse 71 and 73. The difference between IMRA and NUKRA.
  • Surah Hajj, verse 28 and 36. The difference between ALBĀ’ISA and AL-QĀNI’A.
  • Surah Yūnus, verse 2 and Surah Zukhruf, verse 3. The difference between ANZALNĀHU and JA’ALNĀHU.
  • Surah Fussilat, verse 52 and Surah al-Ahqāf, verse 10. The difference between THUMMA KAFARTUM and WA KAFARTUM.
  • Surah al-Mujādilah, verse 4 and 5. The difference between ALEEM and MUHEEN.
  • Surah at-Takwīr, verse 6 and Surah al-Infitār, verse 3. The difference between SUJJIRAT and FUJJIRAT.
  • Surah at-Takwīr, verse 14 and Surah al-Infitār, verse 5. The difference between AHDARAT and QADDAMAT WA AKH-KHARAT.

The odd one out pattern

This is when a collection of verses that use the same words appear throughout the Qur’ān but there’s always one that stands alone with a difference. There are around 20 examples of these.

Let’s take at examples:

In Surah al-Mā’idah, we see an example where Allāh says…

وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ أَقَامُوا۟ ٱلتَّوْرَىٰةَ وَٱلْإِنجِيلَ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيْهِم مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ لَأَكَلُوا۟ مِن فَوْقِهِمْ وَمِن تَحْتِ أَرْجُلِهِم ۚ مِّنْهُمْ أُمَّةٌۭ مُّقْتَصِدَةٌۭ ۖ وَكَثِيرٌۭ مِّنْهُمْ سَآءَ مَا يَعْمَلُونَ
And had they observed the Torah, the Gospel, and what has been revealed to them from their Lord, they would have been overwhelmed with provisions from above and below. Some among them are upright, yet many do nothing but evil. (5:66)

The highlighted words in this āyah differ from the words that are used in Surah at-Tawbah (v9), al-Mujādilah (v15), and al-Munāfiqoon (v2). They use the word KAANOO between MA and YA’MALOON.

In Surat al-Baqarah, we see another example in…

2:129 رَبَّنَا وَٱبْعَثْ فِيهِمْ رَسُولًۭا مِّنْهُمْ يَتْلُوا۟ عَلَيْهِمْ ءَايَـٰتِكَ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ وَٱلْحِكْمَةَ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ ٱلْعَزِيزُ ٱلْحَكِيمُ
Our Lord! Raise from among them a messenger who will recite to them Your revelations, teach them the Book and wisdom, and purify them. Indeed, You ˹alone˺ are the Almighty, All-Wise.”

This verse stands alone in the order of the words because this is the only verse where the highlighted word (wa yuzak-keehim) is at the end. Everywhere else it is before the words “teach them the Book” (Surah Āle ‘Imrān (v163) and al-Jumu’ah (v2)).

In Surah al-An’ām, verse 90, we see another example…

6:90 أُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ ٱلَّذِينَ هَدَى ٱللَّهُ ۖ فَبِهُدَىٰهُمُ ٱقْتَدِهْ ۗ قُل لَّآ أَسْـَٔلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا ۖ إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا ذِكْرَىٰ لِلْعَـٰلَمِينَ
These ˹prophets˺ were ˹rightly˺ guided by Allah, so follow their guidance. Say, “I ask no reward of you for this ˹Quran˺—it is a reminder to the whole world.”

This stands alone when elsewhere in the Qur’ān, its similar verses in Yūsuf (v104), Saad (v87), and at-Takwīr (v27) use: “In huwa illa zikrun” and in al-Qalam (v52) “wa ma huwa illa zikrun”.

Other examples include:

  • “MA NAZZALALLAHU” in Surah al-A’rāf (v71) vs “MA ANZALA” like it is in Yūsuf and an-Najm.
  • “LI-YAFTADOO” in al-Mā’idah (v36) vs “LAFTADOO” in ar-Ra’d (v18) and az-Zumar (v47).
  • “WALADUN” in Āle-‘Imrān (v47) vs “GHULĀMUN” in Āle-‘Imrān (v40), and Surah Maryam (v8, 20).
  • “ĀYĀTUNĀ” in Surah al-Anfāl (v31) vs without the word “BAYYINĀTIN” as it is in the rest of the Qur’ān (Yūnus (v15), Maryam (v73), al-Hajj (v72), Saba (v43), al-Jāthiyah (v25), al-Ahqāf (v7)). There’s a slight difference in one verse aside this but on a different word (Luqmān, v7).
  • “DHĀLIKUM” in al-An’ām, verse 99, vs “DHĀLIKA” in other verses (al-Ankabūt, v24, ar-Rūm, v37, az-Zumar, v52).
  • “SALAWĀTIHIM” in al-Mu’minoon, verse 9, vs “SALĀTIHIM” elsewhere (al-An’ām, v92, al-Ma’ārij, v23 and 34).

The WOW (و) before FĀ’ (ف) and BĀ’ (ب) before MEEM (م) patterns

There are many of us that memorise and struggle with verses that begin with a WOW/و or FĀ’/ف. We can get confused as to which verse is next and can easily mix them up. Like و نعم أجر العالمين (wa ni’ma ajrul ‘ālameen)vs فنعم أجر العالمين (fa ni’ma ajrul ‘ālameen).

For this, there’s a pattern to help you remember the verses and that is that the verse that begins with the WOW (و) will always be before the similar verse that starts with the FĀ’ (ف). There are 20+ examples of these. Likewise, there are similar verses that start with a BĀ’ (ب) that will come before a similar verse that starts with a MEEM (م). There are about 4 examples of these.

WOW (و) before FĀ’ (ف) examples

Here are some examples:

Example 1
52:48 وَٱصْبِرْ لِحُكْمِ رَبِّكَ فَإِنَّكَ بِأَعْيُنِنَا ۖ وَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ حِينَ تَقُومُ
So be patient with your Lord’s decree, for you are truly under Our ˹watchful˺ Eyes. And glorify the praises of your Lord when you rise.
68:48 فَٱصْبِرْ لِحُكْمِ رَبِّكَ وَلَا تَكُن كَصَاحِبِ ٱلْحُوتِ إِذْ نَادَىٰ وَهُوَ مَكْظُومٌۭ
So be patient with your Lord’s decree, and do not be like ˹Jonah,˺ the Man of the Whale, who cried out ˹to Allah˺, in total distress.
You’ll see that in Surah at-Tūr (28) the verse starts with a WOW and then it’s similar verse that arrives later in the Qur’ān in Surah al-Qalam (68) starts with a FĀ’.

Example 2
28:60 وَمَآ أُوتِيتُم مِّن شَىْءٍۢ فَمَتَـٰعُ ٱلْحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا وَزِينَتُهَا
Whatever ˹pleasure˺ you have been given is no more than ˹a fleeting˺ enjoyment and adornment of this worldly life.
42:36 فَمَآ أُوتِيتُم مِّن شَىْءٍۢ فَمَتَـٰعُ ٱلْحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا
Whatever ˹pleasure˺ you have been given is ˹no more than a fleeting˺ enjoyment of this worldly life.
You’ll see that in Surah al-Qasas (28) the verse starts with a WOW and then it’s similar verse that arrives later in the Qur’ān in Surah ash-Shurā (42) starts with a FĀ’.

Example 3
5:88 وَكُلُوا۟ مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ ٱللَّهُ حَلَـٰلًۭا طَيِّبًۭا
Eat of the good, lawful things provided to you by Allah.
16:114 فَكُلُوا۟ مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ ٱللَّهُ حَلَـٰلًۭا طَيِّبًۭا
So eat from the good, lawful things which Allah has provided for you
You’ll see that in Surah al-Mā’idah (5) the verse starts with a WOW and then it’s similar verse that arrives later in the Qur’ān in Surah an-Nahl (16) starts with a FĀ’.

BĀ’ (ب) before MEEM (م) examples

There fewer examples of these but they include:

Example 1
2:120 وَلَئِنِ ٱتَّبَعْتَ أَهْوَآءَهُم بَعْدَ ٱلَّذِى جَآءَكَ مِنَ ٱلْعِلْمِ ۙ مَا لَكَ مِنَ ٱللَّهِ مِن وَلِىٍّۢ وَلَا نَصِيرٍ
And if you were to follow their desires after ˹all˺ the knowledge that has come to you, there would be none to protect or help you against Allah.
2:145 وَلَئِنِ ٱتَّبَعْتَ أَهْوَآءَهُم مِّنۢ بَعْدِ مَا جَآءَكَ مِنَ ٱلْعِلْمِ ۙ إِنَّكَ إِذًۭا لَّمِنَ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ
And if you were to follow their desires after ˹all˺ the knowledge that has come to you, then you would certainly be one of the wrongdoers.
You’ll see that in Surah al-Baqarah (verse 120) the highlighted words starts with a BĀ’ and then it’s similar verse that arrives later in the same Surah (verse 145), the highlighted words start with a MEEM. Both of them are after the same set of words that begin the verses.

Example 2
2:234 فَإِذَا بَلَغْنَ أَجَلَهُنَّ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِيمَا فَعَلْنَ فِىٓ أَنفُسِهِنَّ بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌۭ
When they have reached the end of this period, then you are not accountable for what they decide for themselves in a reasonable manner. And Allah is All-Aware of what you do.
2:240 فَإِنْ خَرَجْنَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِى مَا فَعَلْنَ فِىٓ أَنفُسِهِنَّ مِن مَّعْرُوفٍۢ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌۭ
But if they choose to leave, you are not accountable for what they reasonably decide for themselves. And Allah is Almighty, All-Wise.
You’ll see that in Surah al-Baqarah (verse 234) the highlighted words starts with a BĀ’ and then it’s similar verse that arrives later in the same Surah (verse 140), the highlighted words start with a MEEM. Both of them are after the same set of words just before it.

A link between the place of the similar verse and the name of the Surah

This is a pattern that has been of great benefit to many people, known to make dealing with similarities easy, and is one of the easiest to remember. It is where the placement of the similar verse has a direct link to the Surah name. This can be by a letter-link, apparent meanings, or other things.

There are around 26 examples of these. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Example 1
2:80 وَقَالُوا۟ لَن تَمَسَّنَا ٱلنَّارُ إِلَّآ أَيَّامًۭا مَّعْدُودَةًۭ
˹Some of˺ the Jews claim, “The Fire will not touch us except for a number of days.”
3:24 ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَالُوا۟ لَن تَمَسَّنَا ٱلنَّارُ إِلَّآ أَيَّامًۭا مَّعْدُودَٰتٍۢ
This is because they say, “The Fire will not touch us except for a few days.”
In the first verse from Surah al-Baqarah the word مَّعْدُودَةًۭ ends with a round tā’ which is also at the end of the Surah name al-Baqarah. The word مَّعْدُودَةًۭ is also singular (mufrad) and the Surah name is also singular. However, its similar verse in Surah Āle-‘Imrān uses the word مَّعْدُودَٰتٍۢ which is a feminine plural just like the Surah name.

Example 2
21:16 وَمَا خَلَقْنَا ٱلسَّمَآءَ وَٱلْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا لَـٰعِبِينَ
We did not create the heavens and the earth and everything in between for sport.
44:38 وَمَا خَلَقْنَا ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا لَـٰعِبِينَ
We did not create the heavens and the earth and everything in between for sport.
In the first verse from Surah al-Anbiyā’ the word ٱلسَّمَآءَ ends with an alif and hamzah and the surah name ends with an alif and hamzah. Its similar verse in Surah ad-Dukhān uses the word ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ which is a feminine plural. In Surah al-Anbiyā’, the word ٱلسَّمَآءَ (sky/heaven) is singular like the individuals Prophets (al-Anbiyā’) and their collective is like the ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ skies/heavens (word used in Surah ad-Dukhān).

Example 3
10:33 كَذَٰلِكَ حَقَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ فَسَقُوٓا۟ أَنَّهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ
And so your Lord’s decree has been proven true against the rebellious—that they will never believe.
40:6 وَكَذَٰلِكَ حَقَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوٓا۟ أَنَّهُمْ أَصْحَـٰبُ ٱلنَّارِ
And so your Lord’s decree has been proven true against the disbelievers—that they will be the inmates of the Fire.
In the first verse from Surah Yūnus the word فَسَقُوٓا۟ contains a SEEN and the Surah name contains a SEEN at the end. The similar verse in Surah Ghāfir has the word كَفَرُوٓا۟ which contains a RĀ’ just like the Surah name. Again, another example of a link between the similar verse and the surah name.

Example 4
6:102 ذَٰلِكُمُ ٱللَّهُ رَبُّكُمْ ۖ لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ خَـٰلِقُ كُلِّ شَىْءٍۢ فَٱعْبُدُوهُ ۚ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىْءٍۢ وَكِيلٌۭ
That is Allah—your Lord! There is no god ˹worthy of worship˺ except Him. ˹He is˺ the Creator of all things, so worship Him ˹alone˺. And He is the Maintainer of everything.
40:62 ذَٰلِكُمُ ٱللَّهُ رَبُّكُمْ خَـٰلِقُ كُلِّ شَىْءٍۢ لَّآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ فَأَنَّىٰ تُؤْفَكُونَ
That is Allah, your Lord, the Creator of all things. There is no god ˹worthy of worship˺ except Him. How can you then be deluded ˹from the truth˺?
In the first verse from Surah al-An’ām the words لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ (there is no God expect Him) and we see that this Surah speaks about Tawheed (Divine Oneness) and its evidence. The similar verse in Surah Ghāfir has the word خَـٰلِقُ which is a word using the same word pattern and form as the Surah name: Ghāfir/Khāliq.

Example 5
26:200 كَذَٰلِكَ سَلَكْنَـٰهُ فِى قُلُوبِ ٱلْمُجْرِمِينَ
This is how We allow denial ˹to steep˺ into the hearts of the wicked.
15:12 كَذَٰلِكَ نَسْلُكُهُۥ فِى قُلُوبِ ٱلْمُجْرِمِينَ
This is how We allow disbelief ˹to steep˺ into the hearts of the wicked.
In the first verse from Surah ash-Shu’arā’ the words سَلَكْنَـٰهُ can be linked to the SHEEN in the Surah name (because it’s the sister of SEEN).

I hope this is of benefit!

May Allāh grant blessing!

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