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Quranic Sciences

The Traditions about the Compilation of the Qur’an - Part 1

Report n. 1

1. Zaid b. Thabit says:

"Abu Bakr sent for me after the battle of Yamamah, and I found Umar also present. Abu Bakr said: `Umar has come to tell me that the day of Yamamah has been hard for the reciters of the Qur'an, and he fears that other such occasions may be harder still, resulting in the loss of greater part of the Qur'an. He says I must give orders for compilation of the Qur'an. I told Umar that how could he do a thing which the Messenger of Allah did not do? Umar said: "But this, by God, is desirable". And Umar has been referring this matter to me persistently, till at last Allah opened up my chest for that undertaking, and I began to hold the same view as Umar's.

Zaid says:

"Abu Bakr said: `You are a young intelligent man, and we find no fault in you. You were also a scribe, writing down the revelations for the Messenger of Allah. So attend to the Qur'an, and compile it'. By God, if they had entrusted me with removing a mountain from among the mountains, the task would not have been heavier for me than that of collecting and compiling the Qur'an. I asked: `Why do you undertake someth­ing the Prophet himself never did?' He answered: `By God, this is desirable'. And then Abu Bakr never left me without re­minders, till Allah opened up my chest, the way He did for Abu Bakr and Umar, and I attended to the work, compiling the Qur'an from palm‑branches, pieces of cloth, and from the memory of the people, till I found the last part of Surah al‑Tawbah with Abu Khuzaimah Al Ansari, which no one else had.

لقد جاءكم رسول من انفسكم عزيز عليه ما عنتم حريص عليكم بالمؤمنين رؤوف رحيم. فان تولوا فقل حسبي الله لا اله الا هو علية توكلت وهو رب العرش العظيم

till the end of Bara’ah. These compiled pages were with Abu Bakr till he died, then with Umar in his lifetime, and then with Hafsa, daughter of Umar".1

Report n. 2

2. Ibn Shihab reports from Anas b. Malik:

“When Huzaifah b. al‑Yaman, with the Iraqis, was fighting the people of Syria, in the conquest of Armenia and Azerb­aijan, he once came to Uthman and expressed his fears about variations in the recitations of Qur'an. Huzaifa told Uthman: `O master of the faithfuls! Come to the rescue of this ummah, before it is entangled into disagreements about the Book, the same way as Christians and Jews have been.

`Uthman sent a message to Hafsa asking her to submit the notes of Qur'an she held so that they could be copied into books, promising that they would be returned to her care and trust. Hafsa submitted the notes to Uthman who ordered Zaid b. Thabit, Abdullah b. az‑Zubair, Saeed b. al‑Aas, Abdur­ Rahman b. al‑Harth b. Hisham, to transcribe. And Uthman told the group of three Qureishites: `If you differ with Zaid b. Thabit on any parts of the Qur'an, write down according to the dialect of Qureish, because it has come down in their dialect'.

`So they did the work, and when they had transcribed the notes into the books, Uthman returned the notes to Hafsa. Then he sent a copy to every place, ordering that all other versions of the Qur'an, found in pages or books must be set on fire'.

Ibn Shihab says:

"Kharijah b. Zaid b. Thabit informed me that he heard Zaid b. Thabit report the following: `When we were copying the notes, I found that an ayah from the Surah Al‑Ahzab was missing. It was an ayah I had been hearing the Messenger of Allah himself recite. So we went in search of it, and found it with Khuzaimah b. Thabit al‑Ansari:

من المؤمنين رجال صدقوا ماعاهدوا الله عليه...

and we added it to its Surah in the book.2

Report n. 3

3. Ibn Abi Shaybah, on his own chain , of authorities, reports from Ali:

"Abu Bakr deserves the best reward for the copies of Qur'an, for he was the first one to compile what exists between the two covers".

Report n. 4

4. Ibn Shihab reports from Salim b. Abdillah and Kharijah:

"Abu Bakr had compiled the Qur'an in some papers, and then asked Zaid b. Thabit to go through them. Zaid refused, till Abu Bakr asked Umar to intervene. So Zaid agreed. These books were with Abu Bakr till he died, then with Umar till he died, and thereafter with Hafsa, the Prophet's wife. When Uthman sent for them, she refused to part with them, till he pledged that they would be returned to her. Then she gave them. Uthman transcribed them into the books, and returned the original to Hafsa with whom they remained.”

Report n. 5

5. Hisham b. Urwah reports from his father, who said:

"When the participants of Yamamah were killed, Abu Bakr ordered Umar b. al‑Khattab and Zaid b. Thabit: `Sit at the door of the Mosque, and when anyone brings something from the Qur'an which you suspect, write it down if it is witnessed by two men'. This is because those companions of the Prophet (‘s) who had compiled the Qur'an had been killed at Yamamah".

  • 1. Sahih, Bukhari, bab jamul Qur’an, v6, p.98
  • 2. Sahih, Bukhari, bab jamul Qur’an, v6, p.99, note, these two reports, and the following ones till No. 11 are mentioned in Muntakhab of Kanz al Ummal, on the margin of Ahmad Hanbal's Musnad, v2, p. 43‑52.

Adapted from: "The Collection and Preservation of the Qur'an" by: "Ayatullah al-Khui"