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Collection of the Qur'aan

The Mushaf we have now is different to what they had in the time of the prophet and it is from the essential knowledge of a muslim to know how the Qur’aan came to us as:

It gives us the ability to defend the Qur’aan from slander against it.

“Indeed we have sent down the dhikr and indeed we are its protectors” [15:9]

It was guarded through the abilities and actions of man, not through some miraculous means:

means of guarding includes memorisation, writing, collecting, passing on, with continuous chain and great numbers.

Collection took place in four stages

1. In the life of the prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam:

3 aspects/ways:

a) In the heart of the prophet with the order of Allah:

“on your heart so that you may be a warner” [26:194],

“Do not move your tongue in haste, indeed it is on us that we gather it for you, when we will gather it, you will follow its recitation and it is on us that we explain it” [75:16-19]

b) Memorisation of the companions whilst Qur’aan was being revealed and taught,

al faatihah was memorised for salaah (hadith al mus’ee),
much encouragement in the hadith:

hadith about the “best of you are those who learn the Qur’aan and teach it”,

Abu Hurayrah’s hadith reported by Bukhari: “No jealousy except for 2, a man who Allah has given the Qur’aan and he recites day and night..., a man who Allah has given him wealth and he spends day and night...”,

ibn Abbaas reported the hadith recorded by at tirmidhi and others: “a person within whose heart there is no Qur’aan is like a broken house”,

Abu Sa’eed al Khudri reported: “The knower of the Qur’aan will be told on the day of judgement, recited and rise and he will recite and rise until he will recite the last thing he knows...”

A huge number of companions were huffaadh, 4 distinct: Hadith ibn Mas’ud: “Take the Qur’aan from 4, Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, Saalim (freed slave of Hudhayfah and Imam of Masjid Quba who great companions would pray behind evidence of how Islam honoured the slaves), Mu’adh ibn Jabal (ibn Mas’ud said he was like Ibrahim, an ummah in himself) and Ubayy ibn K’ab (radiyAllahu ‘anhum).”

c) Written down

as is reported by Ibn Abbaas and recorded by Ahmad Abu Dawud, at Tirmidhi and others: “’Uthmaan said that there was a time when surahs were revealed with large number of ayaat and the messenger of Allah would tell one of his scribes to place these ayaat in such and such surah” (proof that placement of ayaat was also revealed)

It was written as early as in Makkah as proven in the story of the conversion of ‘Umar radiyAllah ‘anh.
Number of companions used to write including the 4 khulafaa ar-Raashideen and Ubayy, Mu’aadh, Zayd ibn Thaabit and Abud Dardaa

Anas ibn Maalik reported (recorded by Bukhari)   “Qur’aan was collected by 4 in the time of the prophet, all of them from the Ansaar, Ubayy, Mu’adh, Abu Zayd al Ansaari and Zayd” (meant that these were the ones who used to frequently write with Zayd having done the most),

In another hadith recorded by Bukhari from Anas, Ubayy was replaced with Abud-Dardaa.
Qur’aan was written on a variety of materials: Report of Zayd, he gathered the Qur’aan that was written on date-palm leaves, shoulder blade of the camel, heart of men, paper/leather and thin white stones.

2. In the time of Abu Bakr

During battle of yamaamah, many huffaadh were martyred. Umar came to Abu Bakr and suggested that the Qur’aan be collected to which Abu Bakr refused as the prophet had not done this. Umar kept insisting until Abu Bakr said his heart was opened and he called Zayd ibn Thaabit.

Zayd reported a long hadith recorded by Bukhaari and others where he was called and told he was young, wise, not blamed for anything in behaviour, character, memory, honesty, etc and he used to write down the Qur’aan for the prophet.

These were the characteristics that were required and were only all present in Zayd.
He was told to chase and gather it to which he replied “If I was able to move a mountain from the mountains, it would not have been heavier for me”
He initially refused and Abu Bakr kept insisting until Allah opened his heart to it
Note that there was nothing to prohibit this and it had already been started in the time of the prophet by his ordering of the placement of the ayaat.

The resulting collection of pages (suhuf) was left with Abu Bakr, then ‘Umar and then Hafsah.

3. In the time of 'Uthmaan

Anas ibn Maalik reported, recorded by Bukhaari, Hudhayfah came to ‘Uthmaan and asked him to save this ummah before they dispute about the book like the Jews and Christians did.

Uthmaan called Zayd and requested the suhuf from Hafsah, and gathered 3 Qurayshi: Abdullah ibn Zubayr, Sa’eed ibn ul Aas and AbdurRahmaan  ibn Harith ibn Hishaam. He said, if you dispute with Zayd in linguistics, then write it in the tongue of Quraysh as this is what it was revealed on.

The resulting copy was in a book form which was copied and sent to all major areas (of the Islamic nation) and all other copies/portions should be burned and only this one used.

Al Qaadhi said: The aim in both cases was different, Abu Bakr prevented it from being lost due to a loss of huffaadh whilst ‘Uthmaan prevented it from being distorted due to non-arabs entering Islam and their unfamiliarity with the script.

The sequence of the aayaat is tawqeefi (revealed), the majority of the scholars considered the order of the surahs as the ijtihaad of the companions as is suggested by the placement of at Tawbah (this suggests that some were placed by the messenger).

Az Zarkashi: The recitation of the companions, muhaajirun and ansaar, was one and the same as that of the prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam revised twice in Ramadhaan of the year he passed away.

After 'Uthmaan

The fourth stage was not a collection but rather it was minor additions in terms of signs and dots to ease and safeguard the correct recitation.

A taabi’, Abul aswad ad dawli, was the first to put the dots on the letters. He lived and died in basrah in 69 AH.

Once, ‘Ali radiyAllahu anhu went for fajr and heard someone reciting an ayah in a way that changed the meaning completely. He became worried, called abul aswad and asked him to build the Arabic grammar.
Dots, harakaat, hamzah and other minor additions were placed by abul aswad ad dawli to prevent such mistakes. These signs were originally coloured dots.
These were further modified later on by ad dawli.
These dots were turned into the marks we have now by the famous grammarian, Khaleel ibn Ahmad ibn khaleel ibn Ahmad, much later on.
All of this was done just to preserve the recitation.

Additional points

The Qur’aan has 4 components based on the hadith of Waailah ibn ul asqa recorded by Ahmad:

“I have been given in place of the tawrah, 7 (al baqarah to end of at tawbah), and I have been given in place of zabur, al ma’een (those surahs with around 100 aayaat), and in place of injeel, al mathaani (those with about 50 aayaat) and I have been given privilege with al mufassal (from Qaaf to an Naas)”

Mufassal divided into tuwaal (qaaf to al mursalaat), awsaat (an naba to adh dhuha) and qasaar. This is a division by the scholars.

Generally, smaller surahs were revealed in Makkah and longer surahs in Madeenah.