by Ibn Affandi
“Surely We have revealed the Reminder and We will most surely be its guardian” (Qur’an 15: 9)
Also in some other verses in the Quran Allah has put on emphasis that not a single sura can be altered by the hand of men, not even a single ayat. For more than 1400 years after its last revelation, the authenticity of the Quran still remains till today.
The Christian Bible came in book-form long after the days of their Prophets. This was because the followers of Jesus and Moses made no efforts to preserve these Revelations during the life time of their Prophets. Rather they were written long after their disappearance, and was written by unknown author but with the accounts of several key figures in Christianity. Thus, what we now have is in the form of the Bible which comprises translations of individuals account of the original revelations with additions and deletions made the later followers of the said Prophets. One of the proofs that can be argued is the Bible come in more than one version with few of these versions condeming the others’ originality.
In contrast, the last revealed Book, the Quran is extant in its originality.
Methods of preservation of the Quran
1. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself supervised and authenticated the written texts of the Qur’an
Prophet Muhammad was an Ummi, he couldn’t read nor write, every time he receives a revelation form the archangel Jibril he will memorize to himself and then later recite them to his companions and repeated it for a several times, later he will ask among them to write down the revelation he had. He himself will recheck what the scribes had written by asking them to recite them back to him. Muhammad (pbuh) will then point out any mistakes and had it corrected immediately if there are any. Apart from that, he will also check the recitations of those who had learnt the revelation by heart. In this way, the complete Qur’an was written down under the personal supervision of the prophet (pbuh).
Nowadays we also use the same method in our daily life. Whether you realized it or not every time you go online on the internet and requesting some information from a website, the connecting computers will do what we call as a ‘handshaking’ or a feedback. The user’s computer that had the information given by the provider will send back the same information to the provider to have it checked. If there are errors, the provider will resend the same information, until the information sent back doesn’t have any error.
2. Order and sequence of Qur’an divinely inspired
The complete Qur’an was revealed over a period of 22½ years portion by portion, as and when it was required. The Qur’an was not compiled by the Prophet in the chronological order of revelation. The order and sequence of the Qur’an too was divinely inspired and was instructed to the Prophet by Allah (swt) through archangel Jibraeel. Whenever a revelation was conveyed to his companions, the Prophet would also mention in which sura (chapter) and after which ayat (verse) this new revelation should fit.
Every Ramadan all the portions of the Qur’an that had been revealed up to date, including the order of the verses, were revised and reconfirmed by the Prophet with archangel Jibraeel. During the last Ramadan, before the demise of the Prophet, the Qur’an was rechecked and reconfirmed twice.
It is therefore clearly evident that the Qur’an was compiled and authenticated by the Prophet himself during his lifetime, both in the written form as well as in the memory of several of his Companions.
3. Qur’an copied on one common material
The complete Qur’an, along with the correct sequence of the verses, was present during the time of the Prophet (pbuh). The verses however, were written on separate pieces, scrapes of leather, thin flat stones, leaflets, palm branches, shoulder blades, etc. After the demise of the prophet, Abu Bakr (r.a.), the first caliph of Islam ordered that the Qur’an be copied from the various different materials on to a common material and place, which was in the shape of sheets. These were tied with strings so that nothing of the compilation was lost.
In the last century, an Institute of Munich University in Germany collected 42000 copies of the Holy Qur’an including manuscripts and printed texts produced in each period in the various parts of the Islamic World. Research work was carried out on these texts for half a century, at the end of which the researchers concluded that apart from copying mistakes, there was no discrepancy in the text of these forty-two thousand copies, even though they belonged to the period between the 1st Century Hijra to 14th Century Hijra and had been procured from all parts of the world. This Institute, alas, perished in the bombing attacks on Germany during World War II, but the findings of its research project survived.
4. Usman (r.a.) made copies of the Qur’an from the original manuscript
Many Companions of the Prophet used to write down the revelation of the Qur’an on their own whenever they heard it from the lips of the Prophet. However what they wrote was not personally verified by the Prophet and thus could contain mistakes. All the verses revealed to the Prophet may not have been heard personally by all the Companions. There were high possibilities of different portions of the Qur’an being missed by different Companions. This gave rise to disputes among Muslims regarding the different contents of the Qur’an during the period of the third Caliph Usman (r.a.).
Usman (r.a.) borrowed the original manuscript of the Qur’an, which was authorized by the beloved Prophet (pbuh), from Hafsha (may Allah be pleased with her), the Prophet’s wife. Usman (r.a.) ordered four Companions who were among the scribes who wrote the Qur’an when the Prophet dictated it, led by Zaid bin Thabit (r.a.) to rewrite the script in several perfect copies. These were sent by Usman (r.a.) to the main centres of Muslims.
There were other personal collections of the portions of the Qur’an that people had with them. These might have been incomplete and with mistakes. Usman (r.a.) only appealed to the people to destroy all these copies which did not match the original manuscript of the Qur’an in order to preserve the original text of the Qur’an. Two such copies of the copied text of the original Qur’an authenticated by the Prophet are present to this day, one at the museum in Tashkent in erstwhile Soviet Union and the other at the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul, Turkey.
5. Diacritical marks were added for non-Arabs
The original manuscript of the Qur’an does not have the signs indicating the vowels in Arabic script. These vowels are known as tashkil, zabar, zair, paish in Urdu and as fatah, damma and qasra in Arabic. The Arabs did not require the vowel signs and diacritical marks for correct pronunciation of the Qur’an since it was their mother tongue. For Muslims of non-Arab origin, however, it was difficult to recite the Qur’an correctly without the vowels. These marks were introduced into the Quranic script during the time of the fifth ‘Umayyad’ Caliph, Malik-ar-Marwan (66-86 Hijri/685-705 C.E.) and during the governorship of Al-Hajaj in Iraq.
Some people argue that the present copy of the Qur’an that we have along with the vowels and the diacritical marks is not the same original Qur’an that was present at the Prophet’s time. But they fail to realize that the word ‘Qur’an’ means a recitation. Therefore, the preservation of the recitation of the Qur’an is important, irrespective of whether the script is different or whether it contains vowels. If the pronunciation and the Arabic is the same, naturally, the meaning remains the same too.
Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`As (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Prophet (sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said,
“The one who was devoted to the Qur’an will be told on the Day of Resurrection: `Recite and ascend (in ranks) as you used to recite when you were in the world. Your rank will be at the last Ayah you recite.” [Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi].
It is considered as one of the greatest deeds to memorize the Quran. This group of people that learnt Quran by heart are called the Haffiz. Even so, majority of the Muslims will have some suras or verses that we memorized, for the simple reason that it was obligatory for us to recite it during worship. There are several others hadith which say about the reward of dedicating one life memorizing the Quran.
And how can one expect any discrepancy, when there have existed several million Hafiz in every generation since the time of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and in our own time? Who come from different places and races. Should anyone alter a syllable of the original text of the Qur’an, these Hafiz would at once expose the mistake.
7. Recitation during the Solat
When doing the congressional solat, especially Subuh, Maghrib, and Isya’ the imam will randomly recite any sura in the Quran, and the makmum behind will listen to the recitation carefully. If the imam were to make a mistake while reciting the sura,-may it be forgetting the next verses, missed a word or two, not observing the tajweed or confuse a verse from other sura- the makmums behind will take the responsibility to correct the faults.
8. A living language
Another point that must be kept in view is that the word in which the Qur’an was revealed is a living language in our own time. It is still current as the mother tongue of about a hundred million people from Iraq to Morocco. In the non-Arab world too, hundreds of thousands of people study and teach this language. It is estimated that there are 186 to 422 million native speakers.
9. Reciting Quran as a good deed
Islam teaches us to read and recite the Quran regularly, it is considered as a good deed and it will be rewarded by Allah. As the prophet said:
“Whoever recites the Qur’an well and clearly is equal in rank to the Angels who record creation’s deeds. These Angels are gracious, honourable and of lofty rank. He who finds difficulty in reciting the Qur’an will obtain a double reward.” [Sahih al-Bukhari, Muslim]
“A person, who recites one letter of the Qur’an, obtains one virtue; each virtue multiplies to ten virtues. I am not saying that (ALM) is one letter. But, Alif is one letter; Laam is one letter and Meem is one letter.” [At-Tirmidhi, Darimi]
We are encouraged to recite the Quran more often during the month of Ramadan, and the famous activity during this month is Tadarus, where a group of people take turn to recite while others listen. This has been practiced since the Prophet was still alive up until today. Voices of people reciting the Quran echoed throughout the globe daily.
If someone wants to alter a verse in the Quran then he should change it simultaneously across the world for there are millions of copies of Quran, and it will keep on be read every day.
10. Modern Technology
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) commanded people to recite in a beautiful voice and in a pleasant melodious tone. He said:
“Beautify the Qur’an with your voices [for a fine voice increases the Qur’an in beauty]” [Bukhari]
and he also said:
“He who does not recite the Qur’an in a pleasant tone is not of us.”[Abu Dawud]
We love to hear the beautiful recitation of the Quran and it helps us to understand it with as much feeling as we can, the Prophet (SAW) said:
“Truly the one who has one of the finest voices among the people for reciting the Qur’an is the one whom you think fears Allah when you hear him recite.”[Daarimi, Tabaraani]
With the help of current technologies, we recorded the beautiful recitation of the Quran in digital form like mp3 and etc. We then play it for various purposes and it also helps the Hafiz to hasten up their progress in memorizing the Quran completely. Hence, nowadays the Quran is not just preserved on written pages but also in audible forms.
I call upon all my brothers and sisters to take up the responsibility to preserve our main guidance. Many have tried to deny the originality of the Quran, and many tried to malform it. So far they have failed, but I am most afraid if Allah decides to take His Words away from us. Devout yourself to the Quran as well as the sunnah, for verily we will not stray from the right path as long as we hang onto them.
“This is a book about which there is no doubt, guidance for those conscious of Allah” (Qur’an 2: 1).
“And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down upon Our servant, then produce a sura the like thereof and call upon your witness other than Allah. But if you do not – and you will never be able to – then fear the fire, whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers.” (Qur’an 2: 23-24).
Brother Shah Kirit, 2006, Interfaith Dialogue at UKM.
What They Say About Quran , Dar Eshbelia, Saudi Arabia.
 – Dr. Zakir Naik, Islam101, Preservation and Authenticity of the Quran viewed and copied on 20th September 2008, http://www.islam101.com/quran/preservedQ.html
 – Wikipedia on Quran, viewed on 20th September 2008, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quran#_note-17>
- Islam101, Preservation of The Quran, viewed and copied on 20th of September 2008, http://www.islam101.com/quran/source_quran.html