How the Quran was written down


Question

There were many versions of the Qur’an all of which were burnt by Uthman (R.A.) except for one. Therefore is it not true that the present Qur’an is the one compiled by Uthman (R.A.) and not the original revelation of God?
quran-old

Answer

One of the most common myths about the Qur’an, is that Hazrath Uthman (R.A.), the third Caliph of Islam authenticated and compiled one Qur’an, from a large set of mutually contradicting copies. The Qur’an, revered as the Word of Allah (swt) by Muslims the world over, is the same Qur’an as the one revealed to Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). It was authenticated and written under his personal supervision. We will examine the roots of the myth, which says that Uthman (R.A.) had the Qur’an authenticated.

1. Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) himself supervised and authenticated the written texts of the Qur’an

Whenever the Prophet received a revelation, he would first memorise it himself and later declare the revelation and instruct his Companions who would also memorise it. The Prophet would immediately ask the scribes to write down the revelation he had received, and he would reconfirm and re-check it himself. Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) was an Ummi who could not read and write. Therefore, after receiving each revelation, he would repeat it to his Companions. They would write down the revelation, and he would re-check by asking them to read what they had written. If there was any mistake, the Prophet would immediately point it out and have it corrected and re-checked. Similarly he would even re-check and authenticate the portions of the Qur’an memorised by the Companions. In this way, the complete Qur’an was written down under the personal supervision of the prophet (Pbuh).

2. Order and sequence of Qur’an divinely inspired

The complete Qur’an was revealed over a period of 23 years portion by portion, as and when it was required. The Qur’an was not compiled by the Prophet (Pbuh) in the chronological order of revelation. The order and sequence of the Qur’an too was Divinely inspired and was instructed to the Prophet (Pbuh) by Allah (swt) through Archangel Gabriel. Whenever a revelation was conveyed to his companions, the Prophet (Pbuh) would also mention in which Surah (chapter) and after which ayat (verse) this new revelation should fit.

Every Ramadan, all the portions of the Qur’an that had been revealed, including the order of the verses, were revised and reconfirmed by the Prophet (Pbuh) with Archangel Gabriel. During the last Ramadan, before the demise of the Prophet (Pbuh), the Qur’an was re-checked and reconfirmed twice.

It is therefore clearly evident that the Qur’an was compiled and authenticated by the Prophet (Pbuh) himself during his lifetime, both in the written form as well as in the memory of several of his Companions.

3. Qur’an copied on one common material

The complete Qur’an, along with the correct sequence of the verses, was present during the time of the Prophet (Pbuh). The verses however, were written on separate pieces, scrapes of leather, thin flat stones, leaflets, palm branches, shoulder blades, etc. After the demise of the Prophet (Pbuh), Abu Bakr (R.A.), the first caliph of Islam ordered that the Qur’an be copied from the various different materials on to a common material and place, which was in the shape of sheets. These were tied with strings so that nothing of the compilation was lost.

4. Uthman (R.A.) made copies of the Qur’an from the original manuscript

Many Companions of the Prophet (Pbuh) used to write down the revelation of the Qur’an on their own whenever they heard it from the lips of the Prophet (Pbuh). All the verses revealed to the Prophet (pbuh) may not have been heard personally by all the Companions. There were high possibilities of different portions of the Qur’an being missed by different Companions. This gave rise to disputes among Muslims regarding the different contents of the Qur’an during the period of the third Caliph Uthman (R.A.).

Uthman (R.A.) borrowed the original manuscript of the Qur’an, which was authorised by the beloved Prophet (Pbuh), from Hafsah (may Allah be pleased with her), the Prophet’s (Pbuh) wife. Uthman (R.A.) ordered four Companions who were among the scribes who wrote the Qur’an when the Prophet (Pbuh) dictated it, led by Zaid bin Thabit (R.A.) to rewrite the script in several perfect copies. These were sent by Uthman (R.A.) to the main centres of Muslims.

There were other personal collections of the portions of the Qur’an that people had with them. These might have been incomplete and with mistakes. Uthman (R.A.) only appealed to the people to destroy all these copies, which did not match the original manuscript of the Qur’an in order to preserve the original text of the Qur’an. Two such copies of the copied text of the original Qur’an authenticated by the Prophet are present to this day, one at the museum in Tashkent in erstwhile Soviet Union and the other at the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul, Turkey.

5. Diacritical marks were added for non-Arabs

The original manuscript of the Qur’an does not have the signs indicating the vowels in Arabic script. These vowels are known as tashkil, zabar, zair, paish in Urdu and as fatah, damma and qasra in Arabic. The Arabs did not require the vowel signs and diacritical marks for correct pronunciation of the Qur’an since it was their mother tongue. For Muslims of non-Arab origin, however, it was difficult to recite the Qur’an correctly without the vowels. These marks were introduced into the Qur’anic script during the time of the fifth ‘Umayyad’ Caliph, Malik-ar-Marwan (66-86 Hijri/685-705 C.E.) and during the governorship of Al-Hajaj in Iraq.

Some people argue that the present copy of the Qur’an that we have along with the vowels and the diacritical marks is not the same original Qur’an that was present at the Prophet’s time. But they fail to realise that the word ‘Qur’an’ means a recitation. Therefore, the preservation of the recitation of the Qur’an is important, irrespective of whether the script is different or whether it contains vowels. If the pronunciation and the Arabic is the same, naturally, the meaning remains the same too.

6. Allah Himself has promised to guard the Qur’an

Allah has promised in the Qur’an: “We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly Guard it (from corruption).” The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 15, Verse 9

Dr. Zakir Naik

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16 Responses to How the Quran was written down

  1. dg says:

    This is among the various explanation, write. Is this explanation their in quran or a hadith authenticating the same.

    Any way, i wonder if the book is complete, nowhere in the book it says anything about the ending. Maybe if he lived a day more or a month more, god would have revealed more.

    maybe the answer lies in deen & iman only.

  2. مقالات says:

    مقالات…

    جميل جدا…

  3. Irfan says:

    We need to think logically. Allah swt used Muhammad pbuh as his messenger. If Allah wanted to give more then Allah would have kept him alive after all, Allah is in charge of life and death

  4. Irfan says:

    Of course the book is complete Allah wouldn’t send an incomplete book Allah said it is guarded

  5. Allah is kind. Quran is a very very good book. My favoruite book Quran

  6. KAJA SHERIFF says:

    Quran says how to live from birth to death. allah is watching everithing.

  7. Haruna Muhammad says:

    The book (Quran)is perfect and complete and it remains as it is as promised by ALLAH.

  8. abuthahir says:

    ALLAH IS GREAT QURAN IS BEST

  9. Masseeh Yakuuby says:

    Where is the quran that Prohpet Muhammad wrote? pbuh

  10. the Prophet pbuh use to have a number of scribes to write things down for him, including Ubayy ibn Ka’b, Ali, Uthmaan, Hansalah Al Asadi, Mu’aawiyah and others. Zayd ib Thaabit used to write to the kings on his behalf as well as writing down the Revelation. And Abdullah ibn Al Arqam was the Prophet’s regular scribe in charge of writing and responding to letters. He was the one who wrote down all the revelation and whom the Prophet commanded to learn how to write Syriac- so he learned it in 18 days.

    Here we see who were the scribes who helped to write down the Quran in its final form. As I know there are four remaining editions that were re written and distributed to different areas of the world as Dawa. There were other personal collections of the portions of the Qur’an that people had with them. These might have been incomplete and with mistakes. Uthman (R.A.) only appealed to the people to destroy all these copies, which did not match the original manuscript of the Qur’an in order to preserve the original text of the Qur’an. Two such copies of the copied text of the original Qur’an authenticated by the Prophet are present to this day, one at the museum in Tashkent in erstwhile Soviet Union and the other at the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul, Turkey.

    The Prophet being illiterate, did not write it himself but dictated it to his scribes then had them read it back to him to verify its accuracy.
    To this day the Quran follows the four original copies made. and Allah knows best.

  11. james aondofa says:

    stop deceiving urselves an illiterate cannot authenticate misleading script now called the quran bcos he cANNOT READ ORWRITE,PLS.FACE THE REALITY

  12. Zainab says:

    Asalamu Alaykum
    I was wondering if you can please tell me the names of the four men who wrote down the Quran in the prophet’s house.
    Thank You.

  13. Thank you for the question. I think the article was pretty clear however you can check these two additional sites. Hope it helps
    as alot of them wrote it down ,

    http://www.themodernreligion.com/basic/quran/quran_who_wrote.htm

    http://www.islamhouse.com/d/files/en/ih_books/single/en_Who_Wrote_The_Quran.pdf

  14. The point that the Quran is a miracle in and of itself as no people in the past 1400+ years have been able to fulfill the challenge of creating similar to it. secondly all of the miracles that are found within the Quran are proof enough that it is the Word of God and authentic. You cannot explain how an illiterate in the 1400’s was able to write about the balwarks under mountains, nor the non-mixing of the salty and sweet waters within the deltas, nor the three layers which a French doctor “found out” about in his research which describes the womb, however it is written in the Quran. There are many many scientific miracles, explanations for shooting stars etc which are mentioned in the Quran. So even if we doubt the authenticity of the writers, study it, read it comprehend its meaning and you will understand. But keep in mind one point, any translation is not considered pure Quran because the minute you translate it, it has been altered in its meaning. so I challenge you, for your own peace of mind and understanding, take Arabic classes, travel to Arabic lands to refine your study, then take a pure Arabic Quran and read it.

  15. Winny says:

    Should I understand from this that Qur’an is for the Arabs? isn’t it the same one God who created all these people with all these different languages? if so, then why consider the word of God unpure if translated to a language that God made known?

  16. you have a nice point, no it is not for only Arabs, it is for all man kind but what I mean to explain is that as soon as it is translated we cannot claim that it is without defects because there can never be 100% perfection in translations. I hope that this helps clear it.

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