Is there a ḥadīth that states that Sūrah al-Kāfirūn is equivalent to one quarter of the Qurʾān, and if so is it authentic and what does it mean?
بسم الله الرحمن الرحیمAnswer
Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ is equivalent to one third of the Qurʾān as mentioned in ṣaḥīḥ (sound) ḥadīths (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 5013-5; 6643; 7374; Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, 811). Some ḥadīths further suggest that Sūrah al-Kāfirūn is equivalent to one quarter of the Qurʾān (Sunan al-Tirmidhī, 2893-5). However, all the narrations in this regard are defective and weak, as outlined in my Arabic treatise Muʿādalat Sūrat al-Kāfirūn bi Rubʿ al-Qurʾān al-Maymūn. Nevertheless, weak narrations are acceptable in matters of virtue according to the majority of scholars, particularly when they are transmitted via multiple chains. It is for this reason that scholars such as Imam Tirmidhī (d. 279/892) and Ḥāfiẓ Ibn al-Qayyim (d. 751/1350) regard this narration as acceptable.
Further, scholars have outlined several meanings of the Sūrāh being equivalent to one quarter of the Qurʾān and the rationale. A commonly cited meaning is that the Sūrah is equivalent to one quarter of the Qurʾān’s message. This because the Qurʾān comprises of four themes: Tawḥīd (oneness of Allah), Prophethood, rules pertaining to living and the affairs of the hereafter. As this Sūrāh negates all forms of disbelief and affirms Tawḥīd, this is why the Sūrāh is equivalent to one quarter of the Qurʾān. Another commonly cited interpretation is that the equivalence is in relation to reward. Thus, a person who recites this Sūrah will attain the reward of reciting one quarter of the Qurʾān. Other scholars suggest that the the precise meaning and rationale is only known to Allah and his Messenger ﷺ. This appears to be the preferred view, as detailed in the aforementioned treatise.
Allah knows best
12 Jumādā al-Thāniyah 1438 / 11 March 2017
Approved by: Mufti Shabbir Ahmad Sahib