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Nature of Compilation Efforts of Abu Bakr and U'thman رضی اللہ عنہما

 

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Dear Sir,

Assalamu Alikum Sir.

In Bukhari and Muslim, it is reported that the Quran was compiled during the reign of Caliph Abu Bakr and U’thman رضی اللہ عنہما. Was it not compiled by the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم?

Raies Ahmad

Sri Nagar, Kashmir

April 2012

Dear Brother

Wa alaikum us salam wa Rahmatullah

It was the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم who compiled the Quran and he had large number of people who used to write the Quran on instructions of the Prophet. They prepared a master copy of the Quran and whenever some verses were revealed, the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم asked them to write these verses before and after specific verses. Then the scribe used to recite the verses and the Prophet corrected any scribal mistake.1  In every Ramadan, the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم reviewed this master copy with Archangel Gabriel علیہ الصلوۃ والسلام and in the last Ramadan of his life, he did this twice. This is called the recitation of “Last Review” or A’radah Akhirah.2

In addition to this master copy, many people wrote their personal copies (mostly partial) of the Quran. There were chances that they may contain erroneous material e.g. abrogated verses, personal explanatory notes, misspelled words, scribing mistakes etc. Such errors were not a risk for the companions as many of them were memorizers of the Quran but there was a slight risk that after 3-4 centuries, such items might have been included in the Quran and people may dispute. So the Caliph Abu Bakar رضی اللہ عنہ instructed to compile an authenticated codex of the Quran. The reason might be as the original copy of the Quran compiled by the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم was written on different materials and there were chances that the sequence of such materials might have been misplaced.

Personal copies were kept by people after that. At the time of Caliph U’thman رضی اللہ عنہ, a campaign was launched to reconcile such personal copies with the standard version. Any copies containing errors were burnt in order to avoid any risk of disputes in future generations. Present-day orientalists are trying their best to find a copy of the Quran other than the Othmanic codices to prove that the Quran is not completely transmitted but they failed to do so. Imagine, if the personal copies were left, there would have been a lot of disputes among the Muslims on the content of the Quran. Now, there are no disputes on the content and the only disagreements are on understanding of its meaning. Even these disagreements are very minor and there is no serious creedal or juristic dispute based on the Quran. So we should appreciate the effort of such companions.

Wassalam

Mubashir

1. Tirmidhi. Kitaab ut Tafseer. Hadith No. 3086

2. Bukhari. Kitaab Fadail ul Quran. Hadith No. 4712. Kitaab ul Adab, Hadith No. 5928

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