Reinforcement of Certainty

The miracle of saving the Holy Qur’an

In its text, oral transmission and miraculousness

Allah created this universe including sky, earth and mountains. He wanted to make upon the earth a successor of human kind, so he created Adam and from him he created Eve. Then the number of human beings increased more and more.
They all had worshiped no god but Allah -the almighty- as the only God without any partner until they differed when polytheism came to them and spoiled their religion and faith. So, Allah sent his messengers as warners and bringers of good tidings in order to remind people of their instinct of monotheism and rejection of polytheism, and supported them with miracles as a sign of their sincerity in what they report.

Indeed, Allah willed this Qur’an to be the greatest miracle given to the Master of the Prophets and Messengers [Muhammed PBUH]. It is an immortal miracle throughout the ages; a well spring, a river from which every seeker of guidance and rationality can draw to remain forever a witness of the inability of human beings to promote in Arabic rhetoric to that miraculous level of the Qur’an so that they would produce speech that is like it or even like some of its verses.

So, This Qur’an had to remain protected forever from distortion, alteration, increasing, decreasing, or any other form of change. Allah has ensured this great task, so He -the Almighty- said: (Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed We will be its guardian) [Al-Hijr: 9], and this is represented by several images:

  • The first image

Allah’s guarantee of saving and compiling the Qur’an in the heart of the Prophet PBUH:

Angel Gabriel [PBUH] was the custodian of revelation, so he used to come down to the Prophet PBUH to tell him what was revealed of the Noble Qur’an, and the Prophet -when Gabriel was reciting the Qur’an to him and before ending it- used to repeat the words of the Qur’an that he heard from Gabriel; For fear that he would forget something of it, to avoid that Gabriel would ascend to heaven while the prophet forgot the first thing that Gabriel had said, so Allah took care of this burden and ensured for him that he would collect [memorize] the Qur’an in his heart, and that he only have to listen to the recitation of Gabriel until it is ended. He said: (Move not your tongue with it, [O Muhammad], to hasten with recitation of the Qur’an. Indeed, upon Us is its collection [in your heart] and [to make possible] its recitation. So when We have recited it [through Gabriel], then follow its recitation. Then upon Us is its clarification [to you].) [Al-Qiyamah, verse 16:19].

Gabriel PBUH used to meet with the Prophet PBUH in the month of Ramadan every year to study the Qur’an, and the Prophet used to show his memorization of the Qur’an to him which made the Qur’an more established in the Prophet’s heart.

  • The second image

Sending the Noble Qur’an down in stages:

It is the wisdom of Allah -the almighty- that required that the Qur’an wasn’t revealed in one single act of revelation but revealed in stages throughout a period of 23 years to make application and memorization of the revelation easier for the companions (that you might recite it to the people over a prolonged period) [Israa:106] and to strengthen the heart of the prophet by addressing him during calling people to Islam [Da’wa] (that We may strengthen thy heart thereby) and also to enable the believers to read it perfectly (and We have rehearsed it to thee in slow, well-arranged stages, gradually) [Furkan:32].
It is also to be an evidence of the godhead of its source and that it is truly the word of Allah. Although it was sent down over 23 years by one or two verses, you can still find in it from beginning to end a powerful style, deep thoughts, eloquent phrases contrary to speech of humans which is to be disintegrated and different in the power of phrases if composed over separate times[1](If it had been from [any] other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction) [An-Nisa: 82].

  • -The third image

making its memorization easy and facilitated:

The Qur’an is characterized by ease of memorization so that you can see one who reached extreme old age, besides the child who is not more than ten years can memorize it perfectly, and even Non-Arabic speakers may outperform native Arabic speakers in that. You may also find one who fails to memorize some of academic pages but succeeds in memorizing hundreds of the Qur’anic pages. Allah -the Almighty- said: (And We have certainly made the Qur’an easy for remembrance, so is there any who will remember?) [Qamar: 17].

  • Forth image

Qur’an was revealed in seven dialects:

Prophets before Muhammed PBUH were sent to their people only while our prophet Muhammed was sent to all people; black and white, Arabs and non-Arabs, mankind and jinn. Arabs whose language the Qur’an revealed in, had different tongues[2] [styles of talk] and it was difficult for them to change their way of speaking to another one[3].

It was mercy of Allah that He intends for this nation [Ummah] ease and does not intend for them hardship, then the task of reading and memorizing the Qur’an became easier to them so that they didn’t bear the burden of pronouncing what they couldn’t. Narrated by Ubai bin Ka’b that the Prophet PBUH said to Gabriel: “I was sent to a nation which include old men, old women and young boys”, Gabriel said: “Then command them to recite the Qur’an in seven dialects”[4].

  • -Fifth image

saving the Qur’anic text through writing:

It took place in three stages:

First stage: writing the Qur’an in the Prophet’s lifetime:

While the revelation was coming down to the Prophet piecemeal in separate times, the Companions received it from the mouth of the Prophet PBUH exactly as he heard it from Gabriel. There were among them (revelation writers); the Prophet was dictating to them and they were writing. At that time, they had no paper so they used to write on palm fronds [Osob], thin white stones [lekhaf] and leathers [reqa’]. The Prophet PBUH was very keen to write the text of the Qur’an as soon as it was revealed for fear of its being lost. the number of the revelation writers at that time was more than forty[5].

This process was so strange at that time. As the writing was not widespread in the Arabs at that time[6], and it did not take this official trait, which indicates that Muslims did not hesitate to inscribe and write the Qur’anic verses. Omar bin Al-khattab turned to Islam due to verses from the beginning of Surat Taha which he found written with his sister[7].

Second stage: collecting the Qur’an in the lifetime of Abu-Bakr Al-siddiq:

The prophet PBUH passed away while the Qur’an hadn’t been collected in one volume [Mushaf] yet. That was because sometimes Gabriel might come to him with a verse which may replace another, or cancel one which revealed before[8]. So the text of Qur’an wasn’t invariable in the beginning of revelation, Allah said: (We do not abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten except that We bring forth [one] better than it or similar to it) [Al-Baqarah: 106]. Then, when the revelation of the Qur’an ended with the Prophet’s death, Allah inspired the Rightly Guided Caliphs to collect it in one volume [mushaf][9].

After Al-Yamamah battle, Omar bin Al-Khattab saw that many of Muslims who had memorized the Qur’an were killed. Hence he was afraid of that unless a written copy of the Qur’an were prepared, some parts of the revelation might be lost, so he suggested to Abu Bakr to collect the Qur’an. Hence Abu Bakr commanded the Companion Zaid bin Thabit to carry out this task. He was intelligent, pious, and strong, and he was one of the writers of the revelation. He attended the final presentation of the Qur’an on which its final form settled[10].

In addition to all these guarantees, a rule of work has been established and applied carefully, which stipulates that any manuscript should not be considered a certified one until two men testify that it is written by the dictation of the Prophet PBUH not just depending on the memorization only. During his collecting the Qur’an, Zaid found the last verses of Surat Bara’ah [Al-Tawba] only with no one except Khuzaima bin Thabit Al-Ansari. He did not write it although he memorized it and heard it from the Prophet as he proceeded to apply the rule: memorization, writing, and testimony. It was the maximum of caution. Only because the Prophet PBUH had made the testimony of Thabit equal to the testimony of two men, he accepted it.

If one said: How were these men -who wrote on leathers and knew the Qur’an by heart- trusted?

The answer is to be: It is because that the Qur’an has a miraculous composition, and a well-known system[11]. They had heard its recitation from the Prophet for twenty years, so the fear wasn’t of falsifying it, but of that something of it would go away[12].

After collecting the Qur’an with all these precautions, the Qur’an was placed with Abu Bakr until his death, then with the second caliph; Omar, then with Hafsa bent Omar because allegiance [Bay’ah] to Othman -the third caliph- had not been occurred yet.

The third stage: transcription of the Qur’an in the caliphate of Othman:

 The Qur’an was collected during the caliphate of Abu Bakr and was not distributed across the countries. There was no need for that at that time as people were close to the Prophet lifetime, and the Qur’an was preserved in their hearts. The opportunity to publish the Qur’an was only available in the caliphate of Othman after the battles (Armenia and Adherbaijan). It was when the armies of Muslims coming from Syria and Iraq gathered together, and some differences in the readings were noticed; As the Syrians followed the reading of “Ubai”, and the Iraqis followed the reading of “Ibn Mas’oud,” then some of them said to one another: “Our reading is better than yours”, so Hudhaifa ibn al-Yaman went to Othman in a hurry, and asked him to put an end to this disagreement which might lead to what Jews and Christians had fallen into regarding their books. Othman then formed a committee of four members including: Zaid bin Thabit himself, and three of the companions. He also sent to Hafsa asking for sheets [Suhuf] to copy them in the Mushafs[13]. She fulfilled the request. So he copied them in the Mushafs as they were in Abu Bakr’s Suhuf, but without dots [tashkil] or I’jam[14] so that the drawing could accommodate most of the authenticated narrated aspects from the Prophet PBUH, then he returned the Suhuf back to Hafsa and sent several copies of the Mushaf to the countries to certify in their reading. Thus, Allah protected the nation from difference and division.

  • -The sixth image

Oral transmission of the Holy Qur’an:

Just as Allah preserved His words from distortion and alteration in its text, He also preserved it from mistakes in pronunciation during recitation. So it could not be read in a way that the Prophet did not hear from Gabriel. The right oral transmission can be represented in some terms, including:

First: Continuing the Sunnah of reciting the Holy Qur’an and taking it from the mouths of the masters in ancient and modern times:

The Prophet PBUH carried many concerns and various burdens in his da’wah, from performing prayers, distribution of alms, and adjudicate disputes, to the interviews of delegations, the correspondence of kings and rulers, the leadership of military battles, and the establishment of the state.  Furthermore, there was receiving the Qur’an, and then reading it to his companions and teaching them him. He praised mastery of recitation of some of them, he said: “Whoever would like to recite the Qur’an as fresh as when it was revealed, let him recite it like Ibn Umm Abd (Ibn Mas’ud).”[15] And their delightfulness of voice, so he said to Abu Musa Al-ash’ary: “O Abu Musa! You have been given one of the musical wind instruments of the family of David”[16]. Thus whoever wanted to learn the Qur’an would go to one of the companions who were known for the quality of recitation and good performance, such as “Abdullah bin Mas’ud, Ubai bin Ka’b, and Salem, the freed slave of Abu Hudhaifah” and others, may Allah be pleased with them all. This way continued after the prophet lifetime until today, so the Qur’an is being taken from the mouths of the pious and the masters. this is really one of the greatest blessings that Allah has given this Ummah.

Second: Establishing the knowledge of recitation [Tajwaad] by the Imams of the readings:

When the circle of this religion expanded so that the young and old, the Arabs and the non-Arabs entered it, the mistakes in pronunciation [lahn] began to appear in reading the Qur’an. The scholars noticed that, so they set the rules of pronouncing the letters by establishing the science of Tajweed in order to make reader able to recite the Qur’an as it was revealed to the prophet PBUH, and make it possible for anyone to learn the rules of tajweed and recite the Qur’an in a correct manner regardless of his mother tongue.

Third (recently): Recording the recitation of the Holy Qur’an with the voice of the best reciters in the Islamic world on tapes, videos, and on the Internet:

Tools have been developed as a result of the development of science, recording and video devices appeared. Muslims hastened to benefit from these techniques and the masters of readers recorded recitations of the whole Qur’an as they heard from their sheikhs, as they heard their sheikhs up to the Prophet PBUH. Thus the correct recitation of the Holy Qur’an became available to all people on the Internet, with various voices and readings, and we became often see many people have memorized the Qur’an through the tapes and so on. Muslimshad a great benefit from these recordings beside the Internet where many of the Quran sessions, and even explanations for of readings books and Quranic knowledge has been recorded.

  • -The seventh image:

Establishing the knowledge of grammar [Nahw] and preserving the rules of Arabic language from distortion:

Grammar [Nahw] was established in Arabic language so that anyone who wants to learn Arabic can do that. By the emergence of this knowledge, realizing the miraclousness of the Qur’an, and sensing its greatness became clearer. So, the door of challenge is always open to everyone who begs himself to enter into a challenge in which the people of this faculty and the owners of that rhetoric were defeated, challenge of producing speech like Qur’an, so he could learn the rules of Arabic language, and become proficient in it “When he has done this, we assure him that every step he takes in this pursuit will increase his appreciation of his own ability and remove more of his doubts about the Qur’an. What he will realize is that the more he knows of literary refinements, and the more adept he is at producing fine speech and excellent style, the readier he is to admit his own weakness and to submit to the superb excellence of the Qur’an. This may sound odd. How is it possible that an increase in knowledge and a fine polishing of acknowledged talent leads to an increased conviction of personal weakness and incompetence?  There is, however, nothing peculiar about this. It applies to everything of God’s making. The more you know about what God has created, and the deeper you go in understanding their superb nature, the more ready you are to acknowledge their incomparability and the inability of man to produce anything similar”[17]. Thus the beholder will soon be surprised by the result of this comparison between the Qur’an and human normal speech or even poetry and poems. The ceiling of human rhetoric is extremely low, and far from the sky of Qur’anic rhetoric.

Conclusion

 After we have enumerated the images of saving the word of the Lord of the Worlds, and how He took special care of it in an impressive and unparalleled way, we should return to ask here a central question: Was it possible for another speech (other than the Qur’an) that was said at that time -when writing was not widespread- to reach us, over a long time of fourteen centuries without any change at all?

-Absolutely no!

It is neither added nor subtracted, and one copy does not differ from another in one word! It is exactly as Allah -the almighty- said: (And indeed, it is a mighty Book. Falsehood cannot approach it from before it or from behind it; [it is] a revelation from a [Lord who is] Wise and Praiseworthy) [Fussilat: 41-42].


[1] Ibn Ashur, Muhammad Tahir, Tahrir wa-al-Tanwir (20/19)

[2] They all speak Arabic, but with different slangs between the tribes.

[3] al-Nashr fi al-Qira’at al-Ashr p. 67

[4] Musnad al-Imam Ahmed (21204).

[5] History of Qur’an p. 97

[6] See: Tafsir Al-Qur’an Al-Adhim (1/34), Dalalatul-Alfadh p. 198.

[7] See: Introduction to the Holy Qur’an, p. 34.

[8] That is about legislations, not beliefs or facts.

[9] Itqan fi Ulum al-Qur’an, p. 171.

[10] The last revision of the Qur’an between the Prophet PBUH and Gabriel.

[11] It was very easy to distinguish the Qur’an from other speeches because of the significant difference between them.

[12] See: Itqan, p. 175.

[13] The Qur’an collected in one volume.

[14] I’jam is a way to distinguish between similar letters in Arabic writing to prevent confusion as: ب، ت، ث، ن.

[15] Musnad of Imam Ahmed (35).

[16] Sahih Al-Bukhari (5048).

[17] Muḥammad Abdullāh Drāz, Naba Al-Azim, translated and Edited by Adil Salahi, p. 87.

Written by: Yasser Matlub

Translated by: Zeinab Salah

Designed by: Maani fahad

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