COMPILATION OF THE QURAN
Under the first Khalifa, Hazrat Abu Bakr
At the time of the Prophet’s PBUH death, no official copy of the Quran existed and perhaps no one possessed the complete written text. However, an incident. Occurred, after which the companions felt the necessity to collect and compile the text of the Quran.
During the Khilafat of Hazrat Abu Bakr, some people in the country declared themselves to be prophets. Among them was Musailma. Hazrat Abu Bakr waged a war against him and many companions who had committed the Holy Quran to memory were martyred in that battle, known as the battle of Yamamah.
Hazrat Umar realized that those who had memorized the Quran would gradually depart from the world either owing to natural death or martyrdom in future battles. It was, therefore, necessary for the government to devise a system to preserve the Quran for future generations, or else it would meet the same fate as the previous scriptures and the Muslims would be deprived of a great part of the Quran.
Hazrat Umar suggested to Hazrat Abu Bakr that the Quran should be compiled. Hazrat Abu Bakr, however, hesitated and said that he would not do the job left unfinished by the Holy Prophet PBUH, Hazrat Umar argued that under the circumstances, the compilation of the Quran had become an absolute necessity. According to Hazrat Abu Bakr, “Umar went on persuading me to accept his suggestion till I was convinced that he was right so I accepted his suggestion.”
Hazrat Abu Bakr directed Zaid bin Sabit, one of the scribes of Divine Revelation to collect the Quranic verses from every part of the Islamic empire and compile them in book form. Zaid bin Sabit is reported to have said that when Hazrat Abu Bakr asked him to start the work, he felt it would be far easier to carry a mountain on his head than to shoulder such a great responsibility. Hazrat Abu Bakr persuaded him every now and then until his opinion also became identified with his opinion.
A commission was appointed headed by Zaid bin Sabit and its members were Comprised of a number of companions. At least twenty or twenty-five Companions who had committed the Quran to memory were alive at that time.
Zaid bin Sabit traced out and collected the chapters of the Quran from every person who had it in their possession. He collected it from palm leaves, stones, pieces of wood, and people who had committed it to memory.
Zaid bin Sabit was not content just finding a written piece of the Quran. He also verified it from those people who had heard it from the Holy Prophet PBUH Though he himself was a Hafiz of the Quran, he always tried to find a verse in writing before including it in his manuscript, so that the version of the Quran he recorded was the one heard from and written under the supervision of the Holy Prophet PBUH The script prepared by Zaid bin Sabit remained with the first Khalifa and after his death was transferred to the custody of Hazrat Umar, the second Khalifa.
After his death, the script was transferred to Hazrat Hafsa, a widow of the Holy Prophet PBUH. This copy of the Quran came to be known as Mashaf al -Hafsa 1.e., Hafsa’s copy of the Holy Book.
Under the third Khalifa, Hazrat Usman
The Khilafat of Hazrat Umar saw a phase of quick conquests. Imam Bukhari after the conquest of Syria has narrated on the authority of Anas bin Malik and Iraq, new converts of these countries recited the Quran in different. This disturbed Hazrat Anas who went to Hazrat Usman, the successor of Hazrat Umar, and requested him to take immediate action for the removal of these differences, otherwise it might create a rift among the Muslims.
Accordingly, Hazrat Usman acquired a copy of the Quran prepared by Zaid bin Sabit from Hazrat Hafsa. He appointed Zaid bin Sabit along with three other knowledgeable Muslims who assisted to make copies of the Quran from the original text. They were told to follow the dialect of the Quraish in case of differences in the language, as the Quran had been revealed in that dialect.
The Quran was read out loudly from the beginning to the end in the Prophet’s PBUH mosque from these copies of the Quran so that not a shadow of doubt remained in the mind of anyone that changes had been introduced in the Quran. These copies were then despatched to the capital city of every province of the Muslim States with instructions that in the future copies should be made only from the official authentic text. Hazrat Usman also ordered that if anyone had a copy with a different text, it was to be destroyed by fire.
Hazrat Usman is known as Jami-al-Quran. This means that he brought the Muslims around in uniform, reading the Quran. The Quran that is being read today is the same as in the time of Hazrat Abu Bakr. Nothing has been added or deleted from it. The arrangement of the chapters and verses are in the same order as proclaimed by the Holy Prophet PBUH, in accordance with Divine instructions.