TRANSMISSION OF THE WRITTEN TEXT
(As I said before, these are excerpts of the book. The
author has provided many more proofs to substantiate
his case about the preservation of the Quran.)
(To read the last part please visit or contact me
The Written Text at the Time of the Prophet Muhammad
What is meant by Jam' al-Qur'an?
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:
o Bringing together the Qur'an orally, or in one's
o Bringing together the Qur'an in written form, or on
sheets, or in a book.
Jam' al-qura'n therefore, in the classical literature,
has various meanings:
o To learn the Qur'an by heart.
o To write down every revelation.
o To bring together those materials upon which the
Qur'an has been written.
o To bring together the reports of people who have
memorized the Qur'an.
o To bring together all such sources, both oral and
How was the Qur'an Collected?
In Suyuti�s 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 that therefore these written records
or documents had not been arranged in order.' [Itqan,
I, p. 41]
However, this statement does not preclude that the
ordering of the Qur'an and the arrangement of the
suras, 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:
o In the time of the Prophet:
o in the hearts of men (memorization).
o on writing materials
o In the time of Abu Bakr.
o 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
o 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.
o The ayat and suras were not always revealed in their
final order, but were arranged later.
o The Prophet lived only nine days after the last
revelation and was severely ill.
Writing down the Revelation
While writing was not widespread among the people in
Arabia at the time of the Prophet there were persons
of whom it is reported that they did write. It is said
for example of Waraqa, Khadija'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. VI. No. 478.]
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(2), 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' (29:48)
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 apostle, the unlettered prophet
...' (8: 157)
His community too has been described as 'unlettered':
'It is he who has sent amongst the unlettered an
apostle from among themselves ...' (62:2)
(Meaning, these people didn�t receive revelation
before like the Jews and Christians. Maqsud)
The Qur'an 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 Makka, long
before the hijra, when the Prophet was still in the
house of 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. 'When he
did that they said to him "Yes, we are Muslims and we
believe in God and His apostle 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 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 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
Madina had several such scribes, [M. M. A'zami, in his
book Kuttab al-Nabi (Beirut, 1393/1974) mentions 48
persons who used to write for the Prophet.] among whom
Zaid bin Thabit was very prominent.
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' (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, VI, No. 512; also VI,
It is also reported that material upon which the
revelation had been written down was kept in the house
of the Prophet. [Suyuti, Itqan, I, p. 58.]
Written during the Prophet's Lifetime
Another report informs us that when people came to
Madina to learn about Islam, they were provided with
'copies of the chapters of the Qur'an, to read and
learn them by heart'. [Hamidullah, M.: 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:
'Abd Allah b. Abu Bakr b. Hazm reported: The book
written by the apostle of Allah for 'Amr b. Hazm
contained also this that no man should touch the
Qur'an without ablution.' [Muwatta', No. 462.]
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. [Muwatta', Arabic, p. 204.]
In fact the Qur'anic verse 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 honourable, in a
book (kitab) well guarded, which none shall touch but
those who are clean: a revelation from the Lord of the
worlds' (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 ahadith:
From Ibn 'Umar: ... 'The messenger of Allah (may peace
be upon him) said: "Do not take the Qur'an on a
journey with you, for I am afraid lest it should fall
into the hands of the enemy". [Muslim, III, No. 4609,
also 4607, 4608; Bukhari, IV, No. 233.]
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