The History of the Protection of the Quran

22nd June 2008

Allah (swt) says: Verily, it is we who have sent down the Dhikr (Quran) and surely, we will guard it (from corruption) (15:9)

The revelation of Quran was from Allah swt and until the day of Qiyamah Allah (swt) has vowed to safeguard the Quran from any sort of corruption. For this very reason, 14 centuries have passed and the beauty of the words and the orders of the Quran have remained the same. In the past, many rulers and kings have passed who tried with all their efforts to alter the order and words of the Quran, yet not a single verse has been changed despite all this.
A European research has stated: ‘We have firm belief that the Quran (its text) are the very words spoken by Muhammed (saw), just as the Muslims have a firm belief that it is ‘Word of God’.

In every era, the scholars who specialise in the Quran and its knowledge have always been large in number. And millions of memorisers of the Quran all over the world do not differ in their recitation of this Holy Book. Allah swt has made the memorising of the Quran so easy that a young boy of 10 years old who cannot memorise 3-4 pages of his mother tongue, today, is able to memorise 30 chapters of the Quran. Allah swt has not vowed to safeguard the revelation of any of the other Holy scriptures. Therefore we see that not only a sentence, but the very language in which they were revealed has been altered. The truth of the above stated verse of the Quran is apparent throughout the World to see. (Tafsirul Uthmaani)

Allah swt says: … ‘if Mankind and Jinn were together to produce the like of this Quran, they could not produce the like thereof, even if helped by one another.’ (17:88)

Allah swt revealed the Quran to Muhammed (saw) through the angel Jibrail (as). At that time the collection and safeguarding of the Quran was placed on the memorisation of Nabi Karim (saw) from what was revealed to him. In the beginning when revelation would be received, Nabi Karim (saw) would repeat the words quickly revealed to him. Allah swt revealed the verses:

… ‘Move not your tongue concerning the Quran, O Muhammed (saw)! To make haste therein. It is for Us (Allah) to collect it and give you the ability to recite it’. (75:16-17)

On one side revelation was received and on the other side the Quran was placed into the mind and heart of Muhammed (saw). Apart from Nabi (saw) there were many companions (ra) who were also memorisers of Quran and as revelation would be received. Nabi (saw) would call for the scribes of Quran and get that portion written down. There was not even the smallest amount of fault by Muhammed (saw) in its recitation, even so, every year in the blessed month of Ramadan, Muhammed (saw) would recite the portion of Quran revealed to him to Jibrail (as). In the year Nabi Karim (saw) passed away he had recited the memorised Quran to Jibrail (as) twice instead of the regular one recitation during Ramadan (Fathul Bari, Vol 9, p36).

Other than that, many of the companions (ra) would have a great zeal to learn and memorise the Quran that each one would want to excel the other in this task. Some women also took the memorisation of the Quran as dowry instead of the usual gold and silver. And in the Mosque of the Prophet (saw) the voices of those teaching and memorising Quran became so loud that Nabi Karim (saw) had to order that they lower their voices. (Manhilul Irfan, vol 1, p234)

The Quran being the word of God, had such an effect on the people that even the non-Muslim arabs were also affected by its eloquence and inimitability. This can be deduced from the following narration:

Amar bin Salma (ra) was a young companion in the time of Nabi (saw). His house used to be situated near a spring and this would mean that many travellers would pass by this place. He states that he would ask the Muslim travellers who passed by if they had heard any of the Quran that was revealed to Muhammed (saw). When they would recite the newly revealed verses, he would memorise them and states that he, in this manner, memorised a large portion of the Quran even before becoming a Muslim. (Bukhari)

The king of Ethiopia was a devout Christian, when a few verses of Surah Maryam were recited before him, he could not find comfort until he accepted Islam and brought Iman. In the same way, when Umar ibn Khattab (ra) set out with the mission of assassinating the Prophet (saw), when a few verses of Surah Ta Ha were recited in front of him. Instead of wanting to kill the Prophet (saw) he was ready to accept Islam and sacrifice his life in the service of Muhammed (saw).

In the time of Abu Bakr Siddique (ra) a large number of those companions that had memorised the Quran were martyred. At this incident Umar Farooq (ra) gave the advice that the Quran should be compiled from those that have memorised it and those that had written it down, in one text as a book. This is due to the fact that the Quran was written by many different companions and each portion was kept with the scribe. Abu Bakr Siddique through this advice ordered Zaid bin Thabit (ra) who were himself a great scribe of Quran, together with Umar Farooq (ra) to compile the Quran with the assistance of the other companions.

In the Quran, Allah (swt) challenges many times to the people to try and bring a verse like thereof. It has been proven that the Quran is such a book that over 23 years it was revealed to Nabi Karim (saw) and over the years has changed tribes, nations and countries and the like of it will not be seen until the Qiyamah.

May Allah guide to respect, revere and act upon the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet (saw) as the Sahaba, Tabi’en and Pious predecessors did, for this is itself a means of safeguarding the teachings of the Quran. Ameen!

Mufti Yusuf Danka