Why, When and how was the Qur’an compiled?

بســـم اللــه الرحــمــن الـرحـــيــم

▪️Why, When and how was the Qur’an compiled?▪️

Our Shaykh, Muhammad ibn Hizaam -may Allaah preserve him- was asked the following question:

📩 Question:

The questioner says: we want you to give us a brief insight into the various modes of recitation.

📝 Answer:

Bukhari narrated in his Saheeh from the Hadeeth of Zayd ibn Thaabit (may Allah be pleased with him), who said:

‘Abu Bakr As-Siddiq sent for me when the people of Yamaamah had been killed (i.e. a number of the Prophet’s Companions who fought against Musaylima Al-kadhaab). (I went to him) and found Umar ibn Al-Khattab sitting with him. Abu Bakr then said (to me), “Umar has come to me and said: “Casualties were heavy among the Qurraa’ (i.e. those who had memorised the Qur’an by heart) on the day of the Battle of Yamaamah, and I am afraid that more heavy casualties may take place among the Qurraa’ on other battlefields, whereby a large part of the Qur’an may be lost. Therefore I suggest, you (Abu Bakr) order that the Qur’an be collected.” I said to Umar, “How can you do something which Allah’s Apostle did not do?” Umar said, “By Allah, that is a good project.” Umar kept on urging me to accept his proposal till Allah opened my chest for it and I began to realize the good in the idea which Umar had realized.” Then Abu Bakr said (to me). ‘You are a wise young man and we do not have any suspicion about you, and you used to write the Divine Inspiration for Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ). So you should search for (the fragmentary scripts of) the Qur’an and collect it in one book.” By Allah If they had ordered me to shift one of the mountains, it would not have been heavier for me than this ordering me to collect the Qur’an. Then I said to Abu Bakr, “How will you do something which Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) did not do?” Abu Bakr replied, “By Allah, it is a good project.” Abu Bakr kept on urging me to accept his idea until Allah opened my chest for what He had opened the chests of Abu Bakr and Umar. So I started looking for the Qur’an and collecting it from (what was written on) palme stalks, thin white stones and also from the men who knew it by heart, till I found the last Verse of Surat at-Tauba (Repentance) with Abi Khuzaima Al-Ansari, and I did not find it with anybody other than him. The Verse is: ‘Verily there has come unto you an Apostle (Muhammad) from amongst yourselves. It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty..(till the end of Surat-Baraa’ (at-Tauba) (9.128-129). Then the complete manuscripts (copy) of the Qur’an remained with Abu Bakr till he died, then with Umar till the end of his life, and then with Hafsa, the daughter of Umar.’
Likewise, Bukhari narrated from the Hadeeth of Anas ibn Maalik that:

‘Hudhaifa ibn Al-Yaman came to Uthman at the time when the people of Sham and the people of Iraq were Waging war to conquer Arminya and Adharbijan. Hudhaifa was afraid of their (the people of Sham and Iraq) differences in the recitation of the Qur’an, so he said to Uthman, “O chief of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Book (Qur’an) as the Jews and the Christians did before.” So Uthman sent a message to Hafsa saying, “Send us the manuscripts of the Qur’an so that we may compile the Qur’anic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you.” Hafsa sent it to Uthman. Uthman then ordered Zaid ibn Thaabit, Abdullah ibn Az-Zubayr, Sa’eed ibn Al-Aas and Abdurrahman ibn Harith ibn Hisham to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect. Uthman said to the three Quraishi men, “In case you disagree with Zaid Ibn Thaabit on any point in the Qur’an, then write it in the dialect of Quraish, the Qur’an was revealed in their tongue.” They did so, and when they had written many copies, Uthman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsa. Uthman then sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur’anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt.’

In these two Hadeeths is an explanation of how the Mus-haf was pieced together and compiled.

In the first hadeeth we are given the reason why the Qur’an was compiled; and this was due to fear that parts of the Qur’an would become lost as a result of the heavy casualties amongst the Qurraa’. So in essence, they began compiling the Qur’an in order to preserve it and protect it from being lost. And during this stage, the Qur’an was collected and written down in manuscripts.

And in the second Hadeeth, we learn that during the leadership of Uthman, differences began to arise in the way people recited and articulated the Qur’an; some of them recited in a certain harf (dialect/mode) and some of them in another. This caused friction between them, till eventually they began making Takfeer on one another, as Abu Dawood narrated under the chapter of Masaahif, that the dispute reached a point where they would make Takfeer on one another. This occurred from some of the Tabi’een who took part in the conquest of Arminya and Adharbijan.

Hudhaifa became shocked when he saw this differing; each one calling the other a Kaafir, or declaring them to be misguided.

When Hudhayfah returned, he reported this to Uthman and advised him to’ save this nation before they differ about the Book (Qur’an) as the Jews and Christians did before.’ So Uthman – may Allah be pleased with him – took all the manuscripts and compiled them into one, and this is the copy which we have today. He compiled this copy by combining all the different ‘Ahruf’ into one.

For indeed, the Qur’an was revealed in seven ‘Ahruf’ (dialects / modes of recitation), as proven by the Hadeeth of Umar ibn Al-Khattab, that the Prophet ﷺ said:
((إِنَّ الْقُرْآنَ أُنْزِلَ عَلَى سَبْعَةِ أَحْرُفٍ فَاقْرَءُوا مِنْهُ مَا تَيَسَّرَ))
‘The Qur’an has been revealed in seven ‘Ahruf’ (dialects/ modes of recitation), so recite it in the way that is easier for you.’

Translated by:
Abu Ishaq Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ba Alawi

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