Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The preservation of the Quran


While reading the Holy Quran, we repeatedly come across the mention of the protection of this word of God. For instance, Allah says:
Surely upon Us rests its collection and recital. (Al Qiyamah verse 18)
Among the names that have been given to this Quran, are (الكتاب) ‘Alkitab’ meaning the Book and (القرآن) ‘the Quran’ meaning the most read of the books. Both these names clearly suggested that the book was going to be well preserved both verbally and as a manuscript. These names hold within them the prophecy regarding the protection and preservation of the Holy Quran.
Allah says:
Wherein are lasting commandments (Al Bayyanah verse 4)
Then He said;
“In a well guarded tablet (Al- Buruj verse 23).
Besides this, God Himself took the responsibility for its protection and commanded the Holy Prophet not to worry and depress himself by thinking excessively about its protection and preservation.
The Holy Quran has been sent down as an unbroken series of revelations and is categorical; even the dots and letters of it are truly revealed by God. And God has revealed it under intense protection and rigorous watching of the angels. Then the Holy Prophet dispensed not with any means to vigilantly arrange for every sort of care regarding its preservation. He took it as a permanent practice to dictate immediately to the scribes each and every verse of the revelations before his very eyes until he had collected the whole of the Quran and also arranged the verses. And he did that, conscientiously, all by himself.
It was his permanent practice that he would recite its verses during the prayers and also on occasions other than that. He continued this practice of his till his death when he left this world to be with the ever best friend of his and reached his Beloved, the Lord of the worlds.
Then after him Allah made Hadrat Abu Bakr the first successor to the Holy Prophet. He further consolidated the sequence of the chapters according to the sequence that he had learnt from the Holy Prophet. Then after Hadrat Abu Bakr Allah helped Hadrat Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him), the third successor of the Holy Prophet. He put it together according to a single recension i.e., of the Quraish [as there were a number of dialects of Arabic in use at the time of the Holy Prophet] and arranged for its copies in all countries.
Beside these arrangements another care that was taken in this regard was that all the sahabas [companions of the Holy Prophet] recited the Holy Quran having memorized it by heart and a large portion of he Quran was safe and secured in the bosoms of the believers and they used to recite that in and out of the prayers. Moreover, some of them had memorized the whole of the Quran and used to recite that at different times during day and night very regularly.
In a nutshell, about the arrangements that God made for the protection and preservation of the Quran, it is clear that the Holy Prophet would immediately get the revealed verses written down by calling on the companions who could scribe and all this used to materialize before the very eyes of the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] and he was very scrupulous in this regard. He would also listen to the revealed portion after it had been written down. He would not only dictate that in person but would also order the sequence of the verses as per divine understanding. A detailed account of this is found in some authentic books of Ahadith in which he has spoken of those special blessings of Allah, rewards and excellences of those who memorize the Quran.

"Hadrat Ibne Abbas who was a son of an uncle of the Hoy Prophet relates that Hadrat Uthman, the third successor of the Holy Prophet (who had been a scribe of the Holy Quran during the life of the Holy Prophet) used to say that when a few verses were revealed to the Holy Prophet collectively, he would call one of his companions to scribe and would tell him to insert those verses in a specific chapter at a specific point. And if only one verse was revealed, even then, he would dictate that in the same way by calling some scribe companion telling him of the particular point where it was supposed to be added.” (Tirmadhi kitabul tafseer Hadith no. 399)
The blessed names and life history of those companions who diligently discharged their duty for the accomplishment of this greatly important and sacred duty are given in the books of history. The great method which was deployed by God for the preservation of the Quran was that Muslims started memorizing it right after it started to reveal. On one hand, God inspired the hearts of hundreds of thousands of Muslims to memorize this book, and on the other the phraseology of the book had been made so beautifully organized, simple, lying somewhere between poetry and prose that it became very easy to memorize. Every Muslim felt duty bound to memorize a portion of the Quran to recite in prayers. Because it was obligatory to recite a few verses of the Quran after reciting Surah Fatiha [Al- Fatiha] in every 'rakat'. It was for this reason that so many people became 'huffaz" (those who memorize the Holy Quran in full) during the life time of the Holy Prophet considering it a virtuous deed. The companions of the prophet and other Muslims always recited it in and out of the obligatory prayers. Among the things which would urge one to memorize the Quran are also a few sayings of the Holy Prophet in which he has spoken of the rewards and excellences of those who take up to do so.
Then another thing was that the Prophet, in the very life time of his, appointed teachers whose job was to help those who memorized with the correct memorization and recitation. He would also supervise the outcome of these teachers' efforts. Due to all these efforts, the number of those who memorized the Quran swelled over to thousands. A simple estimate regarding their number can be made from those who were martyred in the incident of Bair Maoona [the well of Maoona]. They were seventy in total. And then right after the demise of the Hoy Prophet, in the time of the caliphate of Abu Bakr was fought a battle against 'Muselma' under the command of Khalid Bin Valeed (may Allah be pleased with him). Among those who fought were three thousand companions of the Holy Prophet who had memorized the Quran by heart. Out of them five hundred were bestowed by God with the blessed rank of martyrdom. And from then on, with the passage of time there were born hundreds of thousands of those who kept memorizing it. The period over which the Holy Quran was revealed extends to twenty- three years; according to which the total number of the days of the prophethood of the Holy Prophet were more or less 7, 970 and the number of the verses of the Quran is 6, 236 and the words of the Quran are 77.934 and the number of the letters of the Holy Quran according to the statement of Hadrat Ibne Abbas quoted by Allama Syooti in 'Al- Itqaan fi Uloomil Quran' is 3, 23 671. If number of verses is counted in contrast to the number of days over which the Holy Quran was revealed, it gets down to only nine words per day. At times were revealed lengthy chapters and at times there were some intervals in revelations. The number of the revealed verses was small in the beginning of the prophethood and in the last days chapters were revealed one after the other. Anyway, the crux of our argument is that it was not very taxing to memorize such a small portion of the revelation right after it was revealed especially when the incidents being referred to those verses were concomitant and were being observed simultaneously by the people.
And then thousands of commentaries of the Holy Quran spread throughout the Islamic world along with the teachers to help people with the correct recitation. Another notable thing is the loud recitation of it during the prayers in the mosques throughout the Islamic world. The recitation of the Quran in and out of the prayers, especially, at 'fajr' time is a constant practice with Muslims and the Holy Quran, itself, has urged Muslims to do that and a great reward has been promised to those who do so.
In what a great way Muslims have fully taken into their hands the holy and perfect book in which we believe. Generally, all Muslims have a handsome portion of the Holy Quran memorized which they recite in the mosques during five times prayers. A child gets no older than five that the Holy Quran is placed before him. You will find hundreds of thousands of such people who have memorized the whole of the Holy Quran. Ask about a letter only and they will read to you all the previous and coming verses from that point. This was not the case with men alone! Thousands of women also have memorized the whole of Quran. It can be observed in the mosques and seminaries of some city where hundreds of boys and girls are found having the Holy Quran placed before them are reading the translation or are memorizing it.
The number of the copies of the Quran which spread throughout the world is certainly in millions. The most read book in the world, too, is the Quran. Today, in the time of the modern press, millions of its copies are being printed and in printing them is taken every minute care to avoid every kind of mistake and flaw by spending large sums of money and sweating of brows and there are full- fledged departments in the Muslim countries which painstakingly discharge their duty in this regard. Moreover, we can also imagine as to how much attention Muslims used to pay to it by just looking at those hand written manuscripts which adorn the libraries today around the world and it was so common among Muslims to write it that not only the grass roots but also the kings used to write the manuscripts with great love and diligence.
One more thing which stands witness to the excellent protection and preservation of the Quran is its message which, in a very short time, spread to a large area of the world outside the Arabian Peninsula. Other opposing nations also got acquainted with its teachings. Those to whom reached its teachings were millions in number and exercised influence over a large area.
The veracity of the Quran could not be challenged in any way. It is a notable fact that the publication of the Quran had caused its teachings to reach the infidels. Jews, Christians and fire worshippers alike. And their beliefs had been thoroughly discussed in it. They would have bred great uproar had anything been mentioned against fact. For example, the objections of the infidels of Mecca and their confession have both been recorded in the Quran.
It has been clearly stated in the Holy Quran that the moon split into two and when infidels saw this sign, they said that it was magic as God says:
The hour has drawn nigh, and the moon is rent asunder. And if they see a Sign, they turn away and say, ‘An oft- repeated sorcery.’
[Al- Qamar verse 2, 3]
Had the infidels believed the Quranic statement to be false, they must have gone to the Holy Prophet’s house and asked the Holy Prophet as to when and at what time he split the moon into two and when ever did they see it. But the way the opponents remained silent after this verse had been published and got well-known and none were able to provoke an outcry, it is clear that they had surely seen the moon splitting. And then no one was able to protest. It is quite evident then that they had surely seen the moon splitting into two. It was for this reason that they had no room for any grumble or dispute. Hence, this argument is quite clear and is greatly gainful for a truthful researcher that the Holy Prophet could never have written of any false miracle with reference to his opponents. And had he done so, how could his contemporary opponents and people of the town at that time have let it go unbridled? Besides this, this should also be given due consideration that the Muslims to whom this verse was read out and it was certainly used to be read out, were thousands in number. And every one quite firmly knows at heart that if there comes to be known an incident of fabrication and sheer falsehood by some spiritual guide or mentor, all credence of the belief is readily lost. And the person starts looking bad to the eyes of every one. In such a situation, it is clearly evident that if this miracle had not come to pass and was only a glaring fabrication, it was then imperative for the thousands of Muslims who had believed the Holy Prophet to have turned apostates instantly after having seen this blatant falsehood.
Moreover, this Quranic statement was lying before the kith and kin of the prophet, too. Only thirty years after the death of the Holy Prophet, two different schools of thought got formed in Islam who were greatly opposing and contending each other. Now if any of them had added something to the Quran, the other without any delay, could have driven a rain of objections on the former. But we don’t find even a single incident of this kind in such a long period of history.
It is well known among the scholars that from the manner adopted and the great care with which the Holy Quran has got published, and the intensity with which the opponents and those who favored have kept and eye on each and every verse of its and the speed and swiftness with which the propagation of every article of its has reached millions of people and the very brief period of time which is less than thirty years after the life time of the prophet it has become famous in the most parts of the world, is such a way and secured method which does not brook any false miracle or false foretelling to be added to the Holy Quran by way of fabrication or imputation or something of which Christians , Jews, Arabs or fire worshipper would not have come to know.
The Arabic language also is a great sign in regard to the protection of the Holy Quran. Allah has protected the language of the Holy Quran too. God has not only kept preserved its language but helped it prosper and progress instead and expanded the area and number of people who spoke it. Another thing worth mentioning is that the process of change in the literary Arabic language halted after the Holy Quran had been fully revealed. In English, to understand Chaucer and Shakespeare one needs a lot of annotation and explanation even three or four hundred years of passing away of their writers but to comprehend the language of the Quran one does not need the books of old diction and lexicon. Instead, one who reads literary Arabic today can easily grasp the language employed by the Holy Quran.
The sincere perusal of just one part of the promise, the arrangements which God has made for the physical protection of the Holy Quran brings one at his wits’ end. Neither the Arabic language had been coded nor the grammar had been compiled, nor was there any dictionary nor was the idiom brought in some precinct before the Quran was revealed. But after the Quran had been revealed, Allah caused different people to compile and code all these fields of knowledge by way of inspiring them. And it was only for the sake of the protection of the Holy Quran that the knowledge of accidence and syntax, simile and rhetoric, knowledge of metaphor, rules of recitation of the Holy Quran, the knowledge of lexicography, the knowledge of idiom, history and the knowledge of syntax and the knowledge of jurisprudence were all founded. And these fields of knowledge made as much progress as was required for the service of the Holy Quran. So, apparently, the knowledge of the syntax and grammar and diction has got most to do with the protection and preservation of the Holy Quran. These fields of knowledge have made so great a progress that the people of Europe, till today, consider the grammar of Arabic to have been compiled in the best possible way.
Mr. Devonport has acclaimed and praised the Holy Quran in the following laudatory words. The original wording of his is given below which is:
‘Muslims revere the Holy Quran ……………. The Holy Quran contains not only the religious commandments and instruction in manners but also as Mr. Gibbon says from the Atlantic to the Ganges the Quran is considered to be the law code. Found in the Quran are civil and criminal laws and also the laws of civility. And it comprehends all problems related to the salvation of soul, fundamental human rights, rights of the individual and laws regarding the beneficent treatment of one’s fellow beings. Besides all the excellences and virtues of the Quran in which the followers of Islam rightly take pride is its beautiful style of narration which contains the mention of God, the most High and by hearing of which a kind of effect is felt on heart and one feels bowed to its majesty. Secondly, the Quran is free from all such notions which could be thought to be uncivilizing. And all its principles are such that none of which defy wisdom…………. Islam is a religion that all concur to its principles. And there is nothing which is foisted upon one and which is irrational’.
Mr. Carlyle has also written something to the same effect in volume six of his book at page number 214.
He writes:
"It is clearly evident from the study of the Quran that it is the word of a truthful and is full of truth. Now see that such great scholars of Europe in whose house has taken birth the physical sciences and the knowledge of astronomy and who possess greater knowledge and understanding about the nature of the sun and the moon. How much they acknowledge and eulogize the rational teaching of the Quran and how because of their good nature they openly admit that the teaching of the Quran is not against the scientific knowledge and there is not in it any article of faith which is foisted upon someone. Hence, when those who are thought to be greatly skilled in philosophy openly testify to the sagacious modus operandi of the Quran, what harm can be inflicted on the Quran if you dear Master sahib, or some other brother of yours whose eyes have to some extent opened due to the very people mentioned above and these very people are your teachers, and pedagogues keep denying the excellences of the Quran? And the truth is that there could have been incurred no damage at all even if all the opponents of Asia and Europe had denied the Quranic excellences. The sun is the sun whether someone admits to its light or not. But the learned and the knowledgeable people of Europe are so appreciable and praiseworthy that by compiling hundreds of books they have given the true testimony in the favor of the Quran. And save those priests who have but a smattering knowledge and are paid for having enmity against Islam the love of Islam is growing day by day in the hearts of all the rest who happen to be truly wise and shrewd philosophers. But what shall we say about you people and what shall we write and what shall we bring into writing that you only criticize unjustly giving room to enmity and miserliness."
Sir William Muir writes in his book Life of Muhammad:
“………since what we now have, though possibly corrected and modified by himself, is still his own.”
Then he writes:
“We may upon the strongest presumption affirm that every verse in the Coran is genuine and unaltered composition of Mahomet himself.”
[Life of Mohamet page 562]
And then he writes:
“…and conclude with at least a close approximation to the verdict of Von Hammer: That we hold the Coran to be as surely Mahomet’s words, as the Mohametans hold it to be the word of God.”
[Page 562- 563]
Again he says:
“…….and that there is otherwise every security internal and external, that we possess a text the same as that Mahomet himself gave forth and use.”
[Page 561]
Then he goes on to say:
“Slight clerical errors there may have been, but the Quran of Othman contains none but genuine elements, though sometime in very strong order. Efforts of European scholars to prove the existence of later interpolation in the Quran have failed.”
[Encyclopedia Britannica volume 15]
And then he says:
“To compare (as the Moslems are fond of doing) their pure text with the various readings of our Scriptures, is to compare things between which there is no analogy.”
[William Muir page 558]
So all these quotations clearly prove that the Quran is preserved in its original form and this happens to be a common denominator among the orientalists. (By Mr. T. Hayat)

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