Did the Collection of the Qur'an Cast any Doubt on the Authenticity of its Text?
Prof. Dr. Mahmoud Hamdy Zaqzouq
Dr. Kamal Boraiqa Abdelsalam Hassan
Al-Azhar Magazine (Shawwal, 1441 A.H. June, 2020.)
- The Prophet chose scribes from among his companions, who wrote down everything that had been inspired to him by Divine Revelation immediately after its revelation. They wrote on whatever was available such as parchment, wood, pieces of leather, stones, or flat bones. According to authentic Islamic sources there were twenty-nine scribes, the most renowned among whom were the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, Abu Bakr, 'Omar, 'Othman, Ali in addition to Mu'awiya, Al-Zubayr lbn Al-'Awwam, Sa'eed Ibn AI-'Aas, 'Amr Ibn AI-'Aas, Ubay Ibn Ka'ab and Zayd lbn Thabit.
- In addition to the scribes who wrote down the verses of the Qur'an revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, there were the Companions of the Prophet who learnt what was revealed by heart. This fine tradition has continued throughout the centuries and exists to this very day. There were hundreds of Muslims who learnt the Qur'an by heart and specialized in reciting it during the Prophet's lifetime. The Prophet declared that he always revised the recital of the Qur'an once a year during month of Ramadan in the presence of the Angel Gabriel, and he revised its recital twice during the last Ramadan of his life. The Qur'an was arranged in its final form according to the Prophet's instructions and every single verse was placed exactly as he had commanded.
- One year after the Prophet's death, seventy of the learned men who had learnt the Qur'an by heart were killed in the Battle of Al Yamama against Musaylima the liar, and 'Omar Ibn AIKhattab advised the Caliph Abu Bakr to charge Zayd Ibn Thabit, one of the scribes, with collecting the various documents upon which the Qur'an was written and to have them written in a complete copy that would be easy to refer to. Following this a rule was enforced by which manuscripts were considered authentic and accepted or rejected as not being authentic. The authentic manuscripts were those that had been dictated by the Prophet Muhammad as witnessed by two persons. Naturally, the Companions of the Prophet who had learnt the Qur'an by heart played an important role in this matter. When Zayd Ibn Thabit completed his mission of recording in writing the whole Qur'an, he presented it to Abu Bakr, who presented it before his death to 'Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, who gave it to his daughter Hafsa before his death.
- During the Caliphate of 'Othman Ibn 'Affan, a committee of four scribes including Zayd Ibn Thabit was formed. These scribes wrote five copies of the original manuscript preserved by Hafsa, Mother of the Believers. One copy was sent to Makkah, another copy to Al-Madina, and the third copy was sent to Al-Basra. The fourth and fifth copies were sent to Kufa and to Damascus. These four diligent and precise scribes had copied the original authentic manuscript and had also checked it with what the learned men who had lived during the Prophet's lifetime had committed to memory. This is the Mushaf, namely the Glorious Book of the Qur'an, which has been in circulation in the Muslim world ever since.
No one has ever disputed the authenticity of the Qur’an since it was first recorded in writing more than fourteen centuries ago up to this very day. This point has been confirmed by a number of Orientalists among whom are Loblois, Muir, and the contemporary German Orientalist Rudi Paret who stated in the introduction of his translation of the Qur'an: "There is no reason to doubt that any verse the Qur'an could be ascribed to any person other than Muhammad." He meant that after the death of Muhammad no one had altered anything in the Qur'an either by adding a single word to it or removing a single word from it.
No proof has ever been presented to dispute or deny the authenticity of the manuscript compiled during the Caliphate of 'Othman Ibn 'Affan. If any of the companions of the Prophet had had any other manuscripts in their possession, they would have produced them and disputed the authorized copy. Such an allegation has never been made in the history of Islam and even the sects that have been looked upon as dissenters, such as the contemporary Ahmadites, sanction the same certified copy the Qur'an.