Quran Preservation & Compilation -1 (Prophet’s lifetime)

Quran Preservation & Compilation -1 (Prophet’s lifetime)


Mohamad Mostafa Nassar

Twitter:@NassarMohamadMR

ICRAA

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم الحمد لله وحده و الصلاة و السلام على من لا نبي بعده و على آله و أصحابه أجمعين

A concise and comprehensive response to the lies and misgivings about Qur’an preservation and compilation during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet- may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

1. Introduction
Many Orientalists and Christian missionaries have spoken against Qur’an in their bid to create confusions about its impeccable preservation. In this series we shall study in brief the whole process of Qur’an preservation and compilation. Naturally, first to discuss is phase that covers the life of the Holy Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

2. Memorization: The Primary Means of Qur’an Preservation

One thing that ought to be kept in mind regarding the preservation of the Qur’an is that it was done more through memory than through writing. There was and is great wisdom in this. We see that in the case of earlier Prophets whose teachings were not committed to memory were lost.

Sometimes the invaders destroyed the manuscripts and sometimes the scribes intentionally or intentionally made mistakes. So to avoid the same to happen to the Qur’an more emphasis was laid on its memorization though it was put into writing as well.


Therefore we read in Sahih Muslim that Allah Almighty said to the Holy Prophet:
وأنزلت عليك كتابا لا يغسله الماء


“And I sent the Book to you which cannot be washed away by water.” (1)

This meant that Qur’an will not be preserved only on scrolls but through some other medium as well. So Muslims right from the beginning gave special attention to memorizing the Qur’an so not only the Holy Prophet -may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- himself but scores of his companions learnt the complete Qur’an by heart.

They include Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, ‘Ali, ‘Abdullah bin Masud, Talha, Sa’d, Huzaifa, Ubayy bin Ka’b, Abdullah bin Abbas, Abdullah bin Zubar, ‘Abdullah bin Sai’b, Zaid bin Thabit, Abu Hurairah, Abu Darda, Ma’az bin Jabal, Anas bin Malik, Abu Musa Al-‘Ashari, Mu’awiyyah, Sayyidah ‘Aisha, Sayyidah Umm Salmah, Sayyidah Hafsa and many more. (2)


3- Preservation in writing during the life of the Holy Prophet

But nevertheless Qur’an was also written down and this was done right during the life time of the Holy Prophet -may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. And all the later masahif were based on what was dictated by the Holy Prophet himself. We shall see the details shortly.

Holy Prophet -may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- had more than 40 companions who usually worked as scribes. The names of these companions have been mentioned in various authentic works. (3)

Holy Prophet -may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- made special arrangements for the Qur’an to be written. How the Qur’an was written and how it was was checked by the Prophet -may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- is evident from the following example:


عن زيد بن ثابت قال: كنت أكتب الوحي لرسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، وكان «إذا نزل عليه أخذته برحاء شديدة، وعرق عرقا شديدا مثل الجمان، ثم سري عنه» ، فكنت أدخل عليه بقطعة الكتف أو كسرة، فأكتب وهو يملي علي، فما أفرغ حتى تكاد رجلي تنكسر من ثقل القرآن، وحتى أقول: لا أمشي على رجلي أبدا، فإذا فرغت قال: «اقرأه» ، فأقرؤه، فإن كان فيه سقط أقامه، ثم أخرج به إلى الناس


Zaid bin Thabit, one of the chief scribes relates: “I used to write down the revelation for the Holy Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. When the revelation came to him he felt intense heat and drops of perspiration used to roll down his body like pearls. When this state was over I used to fetch a shoulder bone or a piece of something else. He used to go on dictating and I used to write it down.

When I finished writing the sheer weight of transcription gave me the feeling that my leg would break and I would not be able to walk anymore. Anyhow when I finished writing, he would say, ‘Read!’ and I would read it back to him. If there was an omission or error he used to correct it and then let it be brought before the people.”(4)


This is a categorical proof that Companions used to write Qur’an in the supervision of the Holy Prophet -may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- and got it checked from him before making it public.

Also there are proofs that during the life time of the Holy Prophet -may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- the written manuscripts of Qur’an were there. In fact writing of the Qur’an was in practice from the early days of Islam as evident from the incident leading to conversion of one of the closest companions, ‘Umar bin al-Khattab, when he found his sister and brother-in-law with a parchment on which the verses of Surah Taha (chapter 20) were written. (5)


There are some other traditions which indicate that Companions had written copies of complete or incomplete Quran. For example;

عن عبد الله بن عمر رضي الله عنهما: أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم نهى أن يسافر بالقرآن إلى أرض العدو
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar: “Allah’s Messenger forbade the people to travel to a hostile country carrying (copies of) the Quran.” (6)


Obviously these traditions are categorical evidence that the Companions used to have written copies of the Qur’an even during the life time of the Holy Prophet- may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- and that it was not something unusual.

Likewise, there is evidence for the manuscripts of the Qur’an in the instruction of the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- to Hakim bin Hizam when he sent him to Yemen as a governor. He said:
لا تمس القرآن إلا وأنت طاهر
“Do not touch the Qur’an except when you are in the state of purity.”(7)


4- Prophet’s encouragement for writing the Qur’an

The Holy Prophet –may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- only arranged for getting every revelation written in front of him he also encouraged the people to write the Qur’an for themselves and leave it after them for their children besides giving them instructions about the manuscripts. Mark the following narration;


عن أبي هريرة، قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «إن مما يلحق المؤمن من عمله وحسناته بعد موته علما علمه ونشره، وولدا صالحا تركه، ومصحفا ورثه، أو مسجدا بناه، أو بيتا لابن السبيل بناه، أو نهرا أجراه، أو صدقة أخرجها من ماله في صحته وحياته، يلحقه من بعد موته»
It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: 

“The Messenger of Allah said: ‘The rewards of the good deeds that will reach a believer after his death are: Knowledge which he taught and spread; a righteous son whom he leaves behind; a copy of the Qur’an that he leaves as a legacy; a mosque that he built; a house that he built for wayfarers; a canal that he dug; or charity that he gave during his lifetime when he was in good health. These deeds will reach him after his death.’”(8)


It is thus clear that Holy Prophet –may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- had the clear motive of not only having the complete Qur’an written but also to get the people make and acquire Qur’anic manuscripts and leave it behind them as heir-looms. Such an arrangement had to be made to see what is now achieved. The following needs to be considered in this backdrop;


Once a number of companions were with the Holy Prophet –may the peace and blessings of Allah. One of them reports;
قلنا: يا رسول الله هل من أحد أعظم منا أجرا، آمنا بك واتبعناك، قال: «وما يمنعكم من ذلك ورسول الله بين أظهركم، يأتيكم بالوحي من السماء؟ بل قوم يأتون من بعدكم يأتيهم كتاب بين لوحين فيؤمنون به ويعملون بما فيه أولئك أعظم منكم أجرا»


We said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Is there anyone greater than us in earning reward, we believed you and followed you.’ He said: “And what is there that to stops you from it while the Messenger of Allah is amongst you and comes to you with the revelation from the heavens? In fact, there will come a people after you, whom the book will reach [only] in two bindings. They will believe in it and follow whatever is in; they are greater in reward than you.”(9)


5- Claim that Qur’an was not written completely during the Prophet’s time

Orientalists claim that Qur’an was not written in full during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet -may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. This is false and the fact is that whole of the Qur’an was indeed written in the supervision of the Holy Prophet but it was not compiled into one collection. This is testified by the statement of Zaid bin Thabit, one of the chief scribes. He said:
قبض النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ولم يكن القرآن جمع في شيء


“The Prophet passed way while the Qur’an was yet not gathered in anything.”(10)
Clearly the word used here is jumia’ which means ‘gathered’ and not ‘written’. And the wisdom behind the fact that Qur’an was completely written but not compiled at one place during the life of the holy Prophet -may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- is explained by Al-Khattabi. He said;


إنما لم يجمع القرآن في المصحف لما كان يترقبه من ورود ناسخ لبعض أحكامه أو تلاوته فلما انقضى نزوله بوفاته ألهم الله الخلفاء الراشدين ذلك وفاء بوعده الصادق بضمان حفظه على هذه الأمة فكان ابتداء ذلك على يد الصديق بمشورة عمر
“The Messenger of Allah –may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- did not gather the Qur’an in a mushaf because he had to wait if there was some abrogation of some commands or recitation but when he died and the revelation ceased (and thus abrogation as well); Allah, to fulfill his True Commitment of preservation (of Qur’an) for this Ummah, put this thought into the hearts of the Righteous Caliphs. Then this great task was undertaken by Abu Bakr on the advice of Umar.”
(11)

Truly, there is not even an iota of truth in the rant of the missionaries about Qur’an preservation and compilation during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet- on him be the peace and blessings of Almighty Allah.

— by Waqar Akbar Cheema

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Quran Preservation & Compilation -3 (under Abu Bakr)

Quran Preservation & Compilation -4 (under ‘Uthman)

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Atheism


 (1) Sahih Muslim, Book 40, Hadith 6853

 (2) Names of these and other companions who had rendered complete Qur’an to their memory can be found in An-Nashr fil Qira’at al-‘Ashr of Al-Jazri and Al-Ittiqan fi ‘Uloom al-Qur’an of Jalaluddin Al-Suyuti

(3) Muhammad Mustafa Al-A’zmi’s book, Kuttaab al-Nabi is comprehensive work on the subject. In it he has given good deal of information about 48 scribes of the Holy Prophet -May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all.

(4) Mu’jam Al-Tabarani Al-Awst, Hadith 1913. Dar al-Haramain, Cairo, 1415 AH
Authenticated by Al-Haithmi in Majma’ Al-Zawaid 8/257, Hadith 13938

(5) Sunan al-Darqutni, Hadith 441, Al-Resalah Publications, Beirut, 2004Al-Zayl’i said it is a good (jayyid) narration. See Nasab al-Raya (vol.1 p.199 Muhammad ‘Awwama ed.)

 (6) Sahih Bukhari, Book 52, Hadith 233

(7) Mustadrak al-Hakim, Hadith 6051, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyya, Beirut, 1990Al-Hakim classified it as Sahih. Al-Dhahabi agreed with him.

(8) Sunan Ibn Majah, Book 1, Chapter 20, Hadith 242. Classified as Hasan by Albani

(9) Al-Bukhari, Khalaq Af’al al-‘Ibad, Dar al-M’arif al-Saudia, Riyadh, 1398 AH vol.1 p.88Classified as Sahih by Albani in Silsala Sahiha No. 3310

(10) Fath al-Bari, Dar al-Ma’rifah, Beirut 1379 AH vol.9 p.12

(11)  Al-Itiqan fil Uloom al-Quran, Haeya al-Masriya al-‘Aamah lil-Kitab, Egypt 1974 vol.1 p.202