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Authenticity and Preservation of The Magnificent Qur’ân

Quran Gray

Do they not ponder over the Qur’ân?
If it had been from other than Allâh,
surely they would have found in it many discrepancies/differences

Al-‘Imrân (4): 82

The Preservation of the Holy Qur’ân is probably one of its greatest miracles, for 1400 years this book managed to not only preserve itself in written form, but The Very Word of Allâhﷻ has also been carried etched in the hearts of its recitors and memorizers in a chain that goes back all the way to the Messengerﷺ, the vessel who Allâhﷻ chose to teach the Qur’ân to humankind.

Quran in Gold

The Holy Qur’ân which was revealed in piece-meal was first memorized by the Beloved Messenger, then taught to the scribes whom would write it down on different types of items and also memorize it, in which the memorization continued in every generation until today (9-30 million Muslims know the whole Qur’ân by memory today). The writing of it was complete and checked the Prophet so as the accuracy of many memorizers, thus the Qur’ân was protected via multiple methods and many sources who soon after the passing of the Prophet were able to compile it.

Quran Blue Open

The Qur’ân was also recorded in writing by scribes, who faithfully transcribed each element of revelation at the time it was revealed, making the Holy Qur’an the only book of scripture recorded at the time of revelation and preserved unchanged to the present day. Writing material was scarce, so the Holy Qur’an was originally recorded on palm leaves, sheets of leather, shoulder blades of large animals, and whatever else was immediately available. This bulky and inconvenient record was copied and compiled into an official mushaf (book) at the commission of Abu Bakr (the first Caliph), roughly two years after Muhammad’s death.

This project was overseen by Zaid Ibn Thabit, one of Muhammad’s faithful scribes. Between four and eight copies were subsequently completed during the caliphate of Uthman, and each copy was dedicated to one of the territories of the Islamic world. Two of these books still exist — one in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, the other in Istanbul, Turkey. These ‘originals’ continue to serve as templates. Any Qur’ân, anywhere in the world, can be authenticated against these ‘originals’ to demonstrate the integrity and preservation of the sacred book of Islam. It is this very preservation which many consider a miraculous proof of the sanctity of the Holy Qur’ân.

Dr. Laura Vaglieri adds this element to her list of evidences with the comment, “We have still another proof of the divine origin of the Quran in the fact that its text has remained pure and unaltered through the centuries from the day of its delivery until today…”

Quran Cover Light

Professor Arthur J. Arberry, Professor of Arabic at Cambridge University 1947-1969, contributes:
“Apart from certain orthographical modifications of the originally somewhat primitive method of writing, intended to render unambiguous and easy the task of reading the recitation, the Koran as printed in the twentieth century is identical with the Koran as authorized by Uthman more than 1300 years ago.”

Respected voices from the past, such as that of Sir William Muir, state the following:
“The recension of Othman has been handed down to us unaltered….There is probably in the world no other work which has remained twelve centuries with so pure a text.”

Quran Manuscript

Whereas a more contemporary opinion can be found in the research of Adrian Brockett,
“The transmission of the Qur’an after the death of Muhammad was essentially static, rather than organic. There was a single text, and nothing significant, not even allegedly abrogated material, could be taken out nor could anything be put in. This applied even to the early caliphs….The transmission of the Qur’an has always been oral, just as it has always been written.”

Tens of thousands of sahâba (Muslims who lived and interacted with the prophet Muhammad) unanimously approved the written record of the Holy Qur’an. All of these sahâba had memorized portions of the Qur’an and many were hafidh, having memorized the Qur’an in entirety. When the Qur’an was compiled into a book, many sahâba possessed personal copies of their own recording. Many of these copies were incomplete and others (such as those of Abdullah Ibn Masud, Ubay Ibn Kab and Ibn Abbas), while correct in one reading, did not leave room for the multiple readings which constitute one of the miracles of the Qur’ân. Consequently, these partial records were not acknowledged, even by their possessors, as having been either complete or authoritative.

Quran Calligraphy

The only written record of the Qur’an to be accepted by unanimous approval was the officially adopted mushaf compiled by Zaid Ibn Thabit under the commission of Abu Bakr. To prevent confusion and the possibility of division in future generations, all other personal copies were voluntarily turned in and, along with the remnants of the bones, animal skins and papyrus, destroyed. Had this not been done, future generations may have fallen prey to ignorance or pride, preferring one of the incomplete works passed down in a family or tribe to the true and complete revelation. Tribal solidarity and fractionation of the religion almost certainly would have resulted. The pious sahâba appear to have recognized and eliminated this risk by preserving only the total and complete revelation, discarding the bits and pieces which, at the very least, could have become sources of confusion.

Muslims are fond of pointing out that not a single one of Muhammad’s contemporaries disagreed with the text of the official mushaf. Not a single sahâba claimed a passage was left out or a non-Qur’anic passage inserted. Most importantly, the texts which were gathered and destroyed were incomplete records and not differing records. The possessors voluntarily relinquished their copies, because the mushaf compiled by Zaid Ibn Thabit was comprehensive. There simply were no accurate records which were not represented therein. Furthermore, as stated above, the Qur’an has primarily been preserved not in writing, but in the memories of the faithful. Memorizers cross-checked and confirmed the official mushaf, and validated its completeness and accuracy. Not a single hafidh dissented. And they numbered in the thousands.[1]

We have sent down the Book, and We will assuredly preserve it
Al-Ĥijr (15):9

The New Catholic Encyclopedia, under the heading Qur’ân, mentions that over the centuries there has been many theories as to where this book came from. Their conclusion: today, no sensible person believes any of these theories. This leaves the Christians in some difficulty.[2]

Quran Manuscript


1 God’ed by Laurance Brown
2 Quoted from:’an

Next Section: About Religious Plurality vs. Social Plurality

Heart to Heart Part 14 – Religious Plurality vs. Social Plurality


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