Transmission of the Qur'anic Revelation (Part 1)
Memorization and Oral Transmission of The Qur'an

• By Ahmad Von Denffer

The revelation contained in the Qur'an has been transmitted to us by numerous persons in two ways: orally and in written form. 

Oral transmission of the revelation was based on hifz or memorization. Prophet Muhammad himself was the first to commit a revelation to memory after the Angel Gabriel had brought it to him:

{Move not thy tongue concerning the (Qur'an) to make haste therewith. It is for Us to collect it and promulgate it; but when We have promulgated it, follow thou its recital}
(Al-Qiyamah 75: 16-19)

{... a Messenger from God, reciting scriptures, kept pure and holy} (Al-Bayinah 98: 2)

Memorization by the Companions

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) then declared the revelation and instructed his Companions to memorize it. The case of Ibn Mas`ud, who was the first man to publicly recite the Qur'an in Makkah, shows that even in the very early phase of the Islamic ummah, recital of the revelation from memory was practiced by the Companions:

The first man to speak the Qur'an loudly in Makkah after the Prophet was `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud.

The Prophet's Companions came together and mentioned that the Quraish had never heard the Qur'an distinctly read to them ...
When (Ibn Mas`ud) arrived at the maqam, he read "In the name of God the Compassionate the Merciful", raising his voice as he did so.
(he continued,) {The Com- passionate who taught the Qur'an ...} (Ar-Rahman 55:1-2)
They got up and began to hit him in the face; but he continued to read so far as God willed that he should read. (Ibn Hisham, Sirat An-nabi, Cairo, n.d., 1, p.206.)

It is also reported that Abu Bakr used to recite the Qur'an publicly in front of his house in Makkah. (Ibn Hisham)

The Prophet encourages memorization

There are numerous ahadith, giving account of various efforts made and measures taken by the Prophet to ensure that the revelation was preserved in the memory of his Companions. The following is perhaps the most clear:

Narrated `Uthman ibn `Affan: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "The most superior among you (Muslims) are those who learn the Qur'an and teach it." (Bukhari)

It is also well known that the recital of the Qur'an during the daily prayers is required and hence many Companions heard repeatedly passages from the revelation, memorized them and used them in prayer.

The Prophet also listened to the recitation of the Qur'an by the Companions:
Narrated `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud: Allah's Messenger said to me: "Recite (of the Qur'an) for me".
I said: "Shall I recite it to you although it had been revealed to you?!"
He said: "I like to hear (the Qur'an) from others".
So I recited Surat An-Nisa' till I reached: {How (will it be) then when We bring from each nation a witness and We bring you (O Muhammad) as a witness against these people?} (An-Nisa’ 4: 41). Then he said: "Stop!" I saw his eyes were shedding tears then. (Bukhari)

As-Suyuti in his Al-Itqan mentions more than twenty well-known persons who memorized the revelation.

The Prophet sent teachers to communities in other places so that they might receive instruction in Islam and the Qur'an. The case of Mus`ab bin `Umair illustrates that this was so even before the hijrah:

When these men (of the first pledge of `Aqaba) left (for Madinah) the apostle sent with them Mus`ab ibn `Umair... and instructed him to read the Qur'an to them and to teach them Islam and to give them instruction about religion. In Madinah, Mus`ab was called ‘the reader’.
(Ibn Hisham, p. 199.)

Another well-known case concerns Mu`adh ibn Jabal who was sent to Yemen to instruct the people there.

Qur'an readers among the Companions

As-Suyuti in his Al-Itqan mentions more than twenty well-known persons who memorized the revelation, among them were Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman, `Ali, Ibn Mas`ud, Abu Hurairah, `Abdullah ibn `Abbas, `Abdullah ibn `Amr ibn Al-`As, `A'ishah, Hafsah, and Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with the all).

From among these, the Prophet himself recommended especially the following:

Narrated Masruq: `Abdullah ibn `Amr mentioned `Abdullah bin Mas`ud and said: I shall ever love that man for I heard the Prophet saying: Take (learn) the Qur'an from four: `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, Salim, Mu`adh and Ubay ibn Ka`b.(Bukhari)

Another hadith informs us about those Companions who had memorized the Qur'an in its entirety and gone over it with the Prophet before his death:

Narrated Qatada: I asked Anas ibn Malik: Who collected the Qur'an at the time of the Prophet? He replied, Four, all of whom were from the Ansar: Ubay ibn Ka`b, Mu`adh ibn Jabal, Zaid ibn Thabit and Abu Zaid. (Bukhari)

The fact that some of the earliest historical reports make special mention in the accounts of the battles that were fought, of Muslims killed who knew (something of) the Qur'an by heart, gives a clear indication that memorization of the revelation was considered important and widely practiced from the earliest times.

It is therefore certain that the Qur'an had been memorized by the Companions of the Prophet during his lifetime. This tradition continued among the Companions after the Prophet's death and, later, among the tabi`un (the Companions' successors) and all generations of Muslims that have followed, until today.

Transmission of the Qur'anic Revelation (Part 2)
Transmission of the Qur'an Written Text

• By Ahmad Von Denffer

Part one shows the care given by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to the memorization of the Qur'an and oral transmission of it. This part is about the other form of transmitting the Qur'an, that is, transmission of the written text.

The general meaning of jam` al-Qur'an is to 'bring together the Qur'an.' This was done and has to be understood in two ways:

1. Bringing together the Qur'an orally, or in one's mind (hifz).
2. Bringing together the Qur'an in written form, or on sheets, or in a book.
Therefore, Jam` al-Qur'an in the classical literature has various meanings:

• To learn the Qur'an by heart.
• To write down every revelation.
• To bring together those materials upon which the Qur'an has been written.
• To bring together the reports of people who have memorized the Qur'an.
• To bring together all such sources, both oral and written.

In As-Suyuti’s Al-Itqan, it is said that the Qur'an had been written down in its entirety in the time of the Prophet but had not been brought together in one single place, and therefore these written records or documents had not been arranged in order. (As-Suyuti, Al-Itqan, I, p. 41)
However, this statement does not preclude that the ordering of the Qur'an and the arrangement of thesurahs was fixed by the Prophet himself and safeguarded through oral transmission.

Stages of Collection

As far as the written text is concerned, one may distinguish three stages:

1. In the time of the Prophet:
a. In the hearts of men (memorization).
b. On writing materials.

2. In the time of Abu Bakr.

3. In the time of `Uthman.

Why was no Book left by the Prophet?

The Prophet Muhammad did not present to his Companions the revelation collected and arranged in a single written volume. There are a number of good reasons for this:

• Because the revelation did not come down in one piece, but at intervals and was received continuously until the end of the Prophet's life.

• Because some verses were abrogated in the course of revelation, and therefore flexibility needed to be maintained.

• The ayat and surahs were not always revealed in their final order, but were arranged later.

• The Prophet lived only nine days after the last revelation and was severely ill.

• There was no dispute or friction about the Qur'an during the time of the Prophet, as developed afterwards when he, as the final authority, was no longer available.

Writing down the Revelation

While writing was not widespread among the people in Arabia at the time of the Prophet, there were people who reportedly did write. It is said for example of Waraqah, Khadijah's cousin, that he had been converted to Christianity in the pre-Islamic period "and used to write Arabic and write of the Gospel in Arabic as much as Allah wished him to write." (Bukhari)

The Prophet himself did much to encourage the Muslims to learn to write. It is related that some of the Quraish, who were taken prisoners at the battle of Badr, regained their freedom after they had taught some of the Muslims the art of writing. (Tabaqat Ibn Sa`d, II, p. 19)

Did the Prophet himself write?

Although it is not clear whether the Prophet Muhammad knew how to write, there is unanimous agreement among scholars that Muhammad himself did not write down the revelation. The Qur'an clearly states:

{And thou (O Muhammad) wast not a reader of any scripture before it, nor didst thou write it with thy right hand, for then might those have doubted who follow falsehood} (Al-`Ankbut 29:48)

The well-known report about `Umar's conversion shows that large passages of the revelation had already been written down even at a very early time, in Makkah, long before the hijrah.

The Qur'an also refers to Muhammad on several occasions as the 'unlettered prophet' which some scholars have interpreted in the sense that he did not read or write:

{Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet ...} (Al-A`raf 7: 157)
His community too has been described as 'unlettered':

{It is he who has sent amongst the unlettered a messenger from among themselves ...} (Al-Jum`ah 62:2)

The Qur'an was written during the Prophet's lifetime
There is no doubt that the Qur'an was not only transmitted orally by many Muslims who had learned parts or the whole of it, but that it was also written down during the lifetime of the Prophet.

The well-known report about `Umar's conversion shows that large passages of the revelation had already been written down even at a very early time, in Makkah, long before the hijrah, when the Prophet was still in the house of Al-Arqam. `Umar had set out to kill the Prophet Muhammad, when somebody informed him that Islam had already spread into his own family and pointed out to him that his brother-in-law, his nephew and his sister had all become Muslims. `Umar went to the house of his sister and found her together with her husband and another Muslim. A dispute arose and `Umar violently attacked both his brother-in-law and his own sister:

M. A`zami in his bookKuttab An-Nabi mentions 48 scribes who used to write for the Prophet.
When he did that they said to him, "Yes, we are Muslims and we believe in God and His Messenger and you can do what you like". When `Umar saw the blood on his sister, he was sorry for what he had done and turned back and said to his sister, 'Give me this sheet which I heard you reading just now so that I may see just what it is which Muhammad has brought', for `Umar could write. When he said that, his sister replied that she was afraid to trust him with it. 'Do not be afraid', he said and he swore by his gods that he would return it when he had read it. When he said that, she had hopes that he would become a Muslim and said to him, 'My brother, you are unclean in your polytheism and only the clean may touch it'. So `Umar rose and washed himself and she gave him the page in which was Surat Taha and when he had read the beginning he said 'How fine and noble is this speech ..." (Ibn Hisham, pp. 156-7.)

The Qur'an was dictated by the Prophet

The Qur'an was not only written down by those Companions who did so on their own initiative. Indeed, the Prophet, when a revelation came, called for the scribe and dictated to him. The Prophet while in Madinah had several such scribes, among whom Zaid bin Thabit was very prominent. (M. M. A`zami, in his book Kuttab An-Nabi (Beirut, 1393/1974) mentions 48 scribes who used to write for the Prophet.) Narrated Al-Bara':

There was revealed {Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah} (An-Nisaa' 4: 95). The Prophet said: "Call Zaid for me and let him bring the board, the ink pot and the scapula bone (or the scapula bone and the ink pot)." Then he said:"Write: Not equal are those believers..." (Bukhari)

It is also reported that material upon which the revelation had been written down was kept in the house of the Prophet. (As-Suyuti, Al-Itqan, I, p. 58.)

Another report informs us that when people came to Madinah to learn about Islam, they were provided with 'copies of the chapters of the Qur'an, to read and learn them by heart'.
(Hamidullah, Sahifa Hammam ibn Munabbih, Paris, 1979, p. 64.)

Further evidence for the existence of the Qur'an as a written document during the lifetime of the Prophet comes from the following account:

`Abdullah ibn Abu Bakr ibn Hazm reported: The book written by the Messenger of Allah for `Amr ibn Hazm contained that no one should touch the Qur'an without being in the state of purity (tahir) (Malik, Muwatta')

Malik said, "And no one should carry the mushaf by its strap, nor on a pillow, unless he is clean… in honor to the Qur'an and respect to it." (Muwatta', Arabic, p. 204.)

The commentary to the Muwatta' explains that the book referred to as written by the Prophet (which means of course written upon his instruction) was sent with some Muslims for instruction in Islam of the people of Yemen.

In fact the Qur'anic verse Al-Waqi`ah 56: 79, read in context, clearly explains that the Qur'an is available to those who receive instruction by revelation, in the form of a book or a piece of writing:
{... this is indeed a Qur'an most honorable, in a book (kitab) well guarded, which none shall touch but those who are clean: a revelation from the Lord of the worlds} (Al-Waqi`ah 56: 77-80).
The same fact, i.e. that the Qur'an did exist as a written document in the lifetime of the Prophet is proved by the following hadith:

Ibn `Umar narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Do not take the Qur'an on a journey with you lest it should fall into the hands of the enemy".
(Bukhari and Muslim)

The correctness of the assumption that the reference is to a written document is supported by one of the transmitters: Ayub (i.e. one of the narrators in the chain of transmission of this report) said: The enemy may seize it and may quarrel with you over it. (Muslim)

Furthermore, the chapter-heading used by Bukhari for the section, (which usually contains additional information,) explains:

Ibn `Umar said: No doubt the Prophet and his Companions travelled in the land of the enemy and they knew the Qur'an then, i.e. they knew that the Quran was carried - as a scripture - by the Muslims. (Bukhari)

Transmission of the Qur'anic Revelation (Part 3)
Collection of the Revelation

•By Ahmad Von Denffer

During his last hajj (pilgrimage), at the sermon which he gave to the large gathering of Muslims, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
I have left with you something which if you will hold fast to it you will never fall into error- a plain indication, the book of Allah and the practice of his Prophet. (Ibn Hisham, p. 651.)

This advice from the Prophet to the Muslims implies that the revelation was available as a kitab (writing) before his death, for otherwise he would have referred to it in some other term.
From other reports also, we can conclude that the Prophet himself took care of the actual arrangement of the revelation, when it was written down. Zaid is reported to have said: "We used to compile the Qur'an from small scraps in the presence of the Messenger."
(As-Suyuti, I, p. 99; Salih, p.69)

`Uthman said that in later days, the Prophet used to, when something was revealed to him, call someone from among those who used to write for him and said: "Place these 'ayat in the surah, in which this and this is mentioned." And when (only) one 'ayah was revealed to him, he said: "Place this 'ayah in thesurah in which this and this is mentioned." (Jeffery, A.: Materials for the history of the text of the Qura'n, (incl. Kitab al-masahif by Ibn Abi Dawud
(abbr. as Ibn Abi Dawud, Masahif) Leiden, 1937, p. 31.)

This indicates that not only was the revelation written down during the lifetime of the Prophet, but that he himself gave instructions for the arrangement of the material. According to some other reports, it is also clear that this proper arrangement and order of the 'ayat was well known to the Companions of the Prophet, and they were not prepared to tamper with it. Narrated Ibn Az-Zubair:

I said to `Uthman: "This verse in surat al-Baqarah: {Those of you who die and leave wives behind ... without turning them out} (Al-Baqarah 2: 240) has been abrogated by another verse. Why then do you write it in the Qur'an?" `Uthman said: Leave it (where it is) O son of my brother, for I will not shift anything of it (i.e. the Qur'an) from its original position. (Bukhari)

Similarly, quite a number of reports mention the various surahs by their names or beginnings. Two examples may suffice to make this point:

Narrated Abu Hurayrah: The Prophet used to recite the following in the Fajr prayer of Friday: Alif Lam Mim Tanzil (i.e. surat As-Sajdah 32) and Hal-ata 'ala-l-insani
(i.e., surat Ad-Dahr 76). (Bukhari)

Abu Hurayrah said: Allah's Messenger recited in the two (nafilah/supererogatory) rak`ahs of dawn: {Say O unbelievers…} (i.e., suratAl-Kfirun 99) and {Say, He is God, one God} (i.e., surat Al-Ikhlas 112).' (Robson, J. (transl.): Mishkat al Masabih, Lahore, 1963, I, pp. 172-3 - Tabrizi: Mishkatal-masabih, Beirut, 1961, I, No. 842.)

Revelation used to be written down even in the very early days of the Prophet's call.
The order and arrangement was of course well known to the Muslims due to the daily recitation of the Qur'an in the prayers at the Mosque of the Prophet and at other places.

Finally, there are three ahadith in Sahih Al-Bukhariinforming us that the Angel Gabriel used to recite the Qur'an with the Prophet once a year, but he recited it twice with him in the year he died. The Prophet used to stay in i`tikaffor ten days every year (in the month of Ramadan), but in the year of his death, he stayed in i`tikaf for twenty days.

We can therefore distinguish the following measures which ensured the collection of the revelation in writing during the lifetime of the Prophet:

• Revelation used to be written down even in the very early days of the Prophet's call.
• In Madinah, the Prophet had several persons who wrote down revelation when it was revealed.
• The Prophet himself instructed his scribes as to where the different revealed verses should be placed, and thus determined the order and arrangement.
• This order and arrangement was well known to the Muslims and strictly observed by them.
• The Angel Gabriel went through all the revelation with the Prophet each year in Ramadan, and went through it twice in the year the Prophet died.
• There are numerous reports about the existence of the written Qur'an –in the form of a book or piece of writing (kitab) during the lifetime of the Prophet.

Transmission of the Qur'anic Revelation (Part 4)
The Qur'an Compilation After the Prophet

• By Ahmad Von Denffer

The way the material of revelation was left by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) at his death was the most suitable for the Companions in that:

• All parts of the revelation were available both in written form and memorised by the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them).

• All pieces were available on loose writing material, making it easy to arrange them in the proper order.

• The order already fixed of the ayah within the surat, in the written form, as well as in the memory of the Companions, and of the surahs in the memory of the Companions.

What arrangement could have been better than to have everything to hand in written form, as well as memorised by the Muslims, and to have the order and arrangement already determined, partially in the written form and completely in the memories of the people?

It is for these reasons that a later scholar, al-Harith al-Muhasibi in his book kitab fahm as-Sunan, summarized the first phase of the written collection of the Qur'anic material in the following words:

Writing of the Qur'an was no novelty, for the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to order that it be written down, but it was in separate pieces, on scraps of leather, shoulder blades and palm rips, and when Abu Bakr As-Siddiq ordered that it be copied from the various places to a common place, which was in the shape of sheets, these materials were found in the house of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in which the Qur'an was spread out, and he gathered it all together and tied it with a string so that nothing of it was lost.
(Suyuti, Itqan, I, p. 58)

It is obvious that the history of the Qur'anic text (Text geschichte) cannot be compared with that of other Holy Scriptures. While the books of the Old and New Testaments, for example, were written, edited and compiled over long periods, sometimes centuries, the text of the Qur'an, once revelation had ceased, has remained the same till this day.

Suhuf and Mushaf

Both words are derived from the same root Sahafa 'to write'. The word suhuf also occurs in the Qur'an (Al-A`la 87:19) meaning scripture or written sheets.

• Suhuf (sg. sahifa) means loose pieces of writing material, such as paper, skin, papyrus, etc.

• Mushaf (pl. masahif) means the collected suhuf, brought together into a fixed order, such as between two covers, into a volume.

In the history of the written text of the Qur'an, suhuf stands for the sheets on which the Qur'an was collected in the time of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq. In these suhufthe order of the ayah within each surah was fixed, but the sheets with the surahson them were still in a loose arrangement, i.e. not bound into a volume.

Mushaf in the present context means the sheets on which the Qur'an was collected in the time of `Uthman ibn `Affan (may Allah be pleased with him).

Tradition informs us that at the Battle of Yamama (11/633), in the time of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him),a number of Muslims, who had memorized the Qur'an were killed.

Here both the order of the ayah within each surah as well as the order of the sheets were fixed.

Today we also call any copy of the Qur'an, which has both order of ayah and surahs fixed, a mushaf.

How the suhuf were made

Tradition informs us that at the Battle of Yamama (11/633), in the time of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him),a number of Muslims, who had memorized the Qur'an were killed. Hence it was feared that unless a written copy of the Qur'an were prepared, a large part of the revelation might be lost.

The following is the account in the Sahih of al-Bukhari:
Narrated Zayd ibn Thabit Al-Ansari (may Allah be pleased with him), one of the scribes of the Revelation: 'Abu Bakr sent for me after the casualties among the warriors (of the battle) of Yamama (where a great number of Qurra’ were killed).`Umar was present with Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: `Umar has come to me and said, the People have suffered heavy casualties on the day of (the battle of) Yamama, and I am afraid that there will be some casualties among the Qurra’ (those who memorized the Qur'an by heart) at other places, whereby a large part of the Qur'an may be lost, unless you collect it. And I am of the opinion that you should collect the Qur'an. Abu Bakr added, 'I said to `Umar , "How can I do something which Allah's Apostle has not done?" `Umar said (to me) "By Allah, it is (really) a good thing". So `Umar kept on pressing trying to persuade me to accept his proposal, till Allah opened my bosom for it and I had the same opinion as `Umar '. (Zayd ibn Thabit added:)`Umar was sitting with him (Abu Bakr) and was not speaking. Abu Bakr said (to me), 'You are a wise young man and we do not suspect you (of telling lies or of forgetfulness); and you used to write the Divine Inspiration for Allah's Apostle. Therefore, look for the Qur'an and collect it (in one manuscript)'. By Allah, if he (Abu Bakr) had ordered me to shift one of the mountains (from its place) it would not have been harder for me than what he had ordered me concerning the collection of the Qur'an. I said to both of them, 'How dare you do a thing which the Prophet has not done?' Abu Bakr said, 'By Allah, it is (really) a good thing. So I kept on arguing with him about it till Allah opened my bosom for that which He had opened the bosoms of Abu Bakr and `Umar . So I started locating the Qur’anic material and collecting it from parchments, scapula, leafstalks of date palms and from the memories of men (who knew it by heart). I found with Khuzaima two verses of Surah At-Tawbah which I had not found with anybody else (and they were):

{Verily there has come to you an Apostle (Muhammad) from among yourselves. It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. He (Muhammad) is ardently anxious over you (to be rightly guided)}(At-Tawbah 9:128).

Zayd ibn Thabit was instructed by Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him)to collect the Qur'an.

The manuscript on which the Qur'an was collected, remained with Abu Bakr till Allah took him unto Him, and then with `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) till Allah took him unto Him,and finally it remained with Hafsah,`Umar 's daughter. (al-Bukhari, VI, No. 201.)

Here we can distinguish the following steps, which led to the preparation of the suhuf:

• Zayd ibn Thabit was instructed by Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) to collect the Qur'an.

• Zayd ibn Thabit collected it from various written materials and the memories of people.

• The sheets thus prepared were kept with Abu Bakr, then`Umar ibn Al-Khattab,then Hafsah bint `Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with them all).

Transmission of the Qur'anic Revelation (Part 5)
The Qur'an Copy of `Uthman
By Ahmad Von Denffer

During the time of `Uthman ibn `Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) differences in reading the Qur'an became obvious, and after consultation with the Companions, `Uthman had a standard copy prepared from the suhuf of Abu Bakr that were kept with Hafsah at that time.
The following is the report transmitted in the Sahih of Al-Bukhari:

Narrated Anas bin Malik:
Hudhaifah ibn Al-Yaman came to `Uthman at the time when the people of Sham and the people of Iraq were waging war to conquer Arminya and Adharbijan. Hudhaifah was afraid of their (the people of Sham and Iraq) differences in the recitation of the Qur'an, so he said to `Uthman, 'O Commander of the Faithful! Save this nation before they differ about the Book (Qur'an), as Jews and the Christians did before'.

So, `Uthman sent a message to Hafsah saying, 'Send us the manuscripts of the Qur'an so that we may compile the Qur'anic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you'. Hafsah sent it to `Uthman.

`Uthman then ordered Zayd ibn Thabit, `Abdullah ibn Az-Zubair, Sa`id ibn Al-`Ass and `Abdur Rahman ibn Harith ibn Hisham to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies. `Uthman said to the three Quraishi men, 'In case you disagree with Zayd ibn Thabit on any point in the Qur'an, then write it in the dialect of Quraish as the Qur'an was revealed in their tongue'. They did so, and when they had written many copies, `Uthman ibn `Affan returned the original manuscripts to Hafsah.

`Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur'anic materials whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt.

Zayd ibn Thabit added, 'A verse from Surat Al-Ahzab was missed by me when we copied the Qur'an and I used to hear Allah's Apostle reciting it. So we searched for it and found it with Khuzaimah ibn Thabit Al-Ansari'. (That verse was):

{Among the Believers are men who have been true in their covenant with Allah} (Al-Ahzab 33: 23). (Al-Bukhari)

So, the making of the Mushaf of `Uthman went through the following steps:

• Disputes had arisen among the Muslims about the correct manner of reciting the Qur'an.

• `Uthman borrowed the suhuf, which were kept with Hafsah.

• `Uthman ordered four Companions, among them Zayd ibn Thabit, to rewrite the script in perfect copies.

• `Uthman sent these copies to the main centers of the Muslims to replace other materials that were in circulation.

Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) collected these loose materials and had their contents written onto sheets (suhuf).

What the Prophet left to the Muslims

The revelation, as left by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), was available both orally and written on various materials. Its internal order was known to the Muslims and strictly observed by them.

Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) collected these loose materials and had their contents written on to sheets (suhuf).

The Difference between Abu Bakr's and `Uthman 's Collection

Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) had made one single copy from the various verbal and written materials. This copy was later kept by `Umar ibn Al-Khattab and then by his daughter Hafsah (may Allah be pleased with both of them).

'Mushaf `Uthman' in fact constitutes the ijma`(consensus) of the sahaba, all of whom agreed that it contained what Prophet Muhammad had brought as revelation from Allah.

`Uthman ibn `Affan had many copies prepared from this copy and sent them to various places in the Muslim world, while the original suhuf were returned to Hafsah and remained with her until her death. Later, Marwan ibn Al-Hakam (d. 65/684), according to a report from Ibn abi Dawud, collected it from her heirs and had it destroyed, presumably fearing it might become the cause for new disputes.

`Uthman ibn `Affan also kept one of the copies for himself. This version of the text, also known as 'Mushaf `Uthman' in fact constitutes the ijma` (consensus) of the sahaba, all of whom agreed that it contained what Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had brought as revelation from Allah.

The wide distribution of this text and its undisputed authority can also be deduced from the reports on the battle of Siffin (A.H. 37) 27 years after the death of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and five years after `Uthman 's copies were distributed, Mu`awiyah's troops fixed sheets from the Qur'an on their spears to interrupt the battle.
(See Suyuti, History of the Caliphs. transl. H. S. Jarrett. Baptist Mission Press, Calcutta. 1881, p. 177.) However nobody accused anyone else of using a 'partisan' version of the text, which would have made a splendid accusation against the enemy.

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