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Quranic Sciences

The Traditions about the Compilation of the Qur’an - Part 3


Report n. 14

14. And Abu Qalabah said:

"In the days of Uthman's caliphate, a tutor would teach recitation according to a particular person, while another would teach recitation according to another person; so when the boys (students) met, they disagreed about each other's recitations. This finally came to the attention of the tutors who labelled each other's recitations as profane.

When Uthman learnt about this, he stood up to address the people and said:

"If you who are near me have so much of disagreements and confusion, then those who are farther away must have worse differences and errors. So, O Companions of Muhammad, join hands to write down a master copy of the Qur'an".

Abu Qalabah says:

Malik b. Anas told me: (According to Abu Bakr b. abi Dawud this Malik b. Anas is the grandfather of the known Malik b. Anas) "I was among those to whom the copy was dictated. So whenever there was any disagreement about an ayah, they would try to remember somebody who had heard it from the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny). And if he was away, or lived in the deserts, they would write the preceding and the following words, leaving the disputed part till the person they wanted to refer to appeared, or was sent for. When the copy was finally ready, Uthman wrote to all the towns saying: "I have done this way, and have struck off what I had, so you strike off what you have"

Report n. 15

15. Masa'b b. Sa'ad reported:

"Uthman stood to address the people and said: 'O people, you are only thirteen years away from the era of the Prophet (‘s) and have already begun to dispute about the Qur'an. Some of you talk of the recitation by Ubayy, while others quote the recitation by Abdullah. And one tells the other that his recitation has no value. So I command everyone who has any part of the Qur'an with him to come up with it'. Then people started coming with the Qur'an written on pieces of papers and patches of skin, till most of it was compiled. Then Uthman called them individually, imploring each of them to confirm that he had heard the Prophet (‘s) recite for him, and each confirmed. When it was over, Uthman said: "Who is the best scribe?" They said: "The scribe of the Prophet (‘s), Zaid b. Thabit". He said: "Who is most proficient in Arabic?" They said; "Saeed b. al‑Aas". Uthman said: "Then Saeed should dictate and Zaid should write". So Zaid started writing and made out several copies which were distributed among men. Then I heard a companion of Muhammad say: "He has done well".

Report n. 16

16. Abul Malih says:

"When Uthman decided to have the Qur'an copied, he said: "People of Huzail would dictate and people of Thaqif would write".

Report n. 17

17. Abdul A'la b. Abdillah b. Abdillah b. Amir al Qarshi says:

"When he had completed the work of compilation, Uthman came up with it, and looking in it said: `I see some minor errors which Arabs will mend on their tongues"'.

Report n. 18

18. Ikramah said:

"When the transcribed Qur'an was brought before Uthman, he saw some minor error. So he said: "Had it been dictated by someone from Huzail and written by one from Thaqif, this error would not have occurred.

Report n. 19

19. Ata says:

"When Uthman compiled the Qur'an, he sent for Ubayy b. Ka'ab who dictated it to Zaid b. Thabit, Saeed b. al‑Aas gave grammatical inflections. So this copy is according to the recitation by Ubayy and Zaid".

Report n. 20

20. Mujahid reported:

Uthman ordered Ubayy b. Ka'ab to dictate, Zaid b. Thabit to write down and Saeed b. al‑Aas and Abdur‑Rahman b. al‑Harth to give grammatical inflections".

Report n. 21

21. Zaid b. Thabit said:

"When we transcribed the Qur'an, I found that an ayah which I had been hearing from the Prophet (‘s) was mis­sing, I found it with Khuzaima b. Thabit

من المؤمنين رجال صدقوا

up to


And two witnesses. Khuzaima was known as one equal to Prophet (‘s) had accepted his testimony as equal to two".

Report n. 22

22. Laith b. Sa'd said:

"The first person who collected Qur'an was Abu Bakr, and Zaid wrote it down. And people came to Zaid b. Thabit, but he would not write down any ayah except when supported by two witnesses. The ending part of Bara’ah was not found except with Abu Khuzaimah b. Thabit. He said: "Write it down, because the Messenger of Allah (‘s) had accepted his witness as equal to two witnesses". So it was written. And when Umar came up with the ayah of Rajm (i.e. stoning the adult­erer or adulteress to death) it was not recorded because he was alone".4

These are the important traditions reported on the subject of compilation of the Qur'an. Apart from being isolated reports which give no benefit of certitude, they have various def­iciencies.

  • 4. al Itqan, v1, p.101

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