The Companions of the Holy Prophet (sa) The Holy Qur'an

The Purity of the Text of the Holy Qur’an (part 3)

48 The Review of Religions – Janaury 2007 The Purity of the Text of the HOLY QUR’AN PART 3 The circumstances attending the collection of the Holy Qur’an in the time of Abu Bakr(ra) also show that every verse of the Revelation had been written down in the presence of the Holy Prophet(saw). Thus we read of two verses which in spite of Zaid’s knowledge that they formed part of the Holy Qur’an were not written until a written copy of them was found with one of the companions. This is clear from the words of Zaid as recorded in the Bukhari: ‘So I searched the Qur’an…until I found the last portion of the chapter entitled ‘Repentance’ with Abu Khazima, one of the Ansar” (see Bukhari, chapter on the ‘Collection of the Qur’an’). In explaining the tradition, part of which has been quoted here, the famous commentator of Bukhari, the author of the Fath-ul-Bari, says: ‘Abu Bakr did not order the writing of anything (i.e., any verse) which was not already written, (i.e., in the life-time of the Holy Prophet(saw)), and it was for this reason that Zaid hesitated to write the concluding portion of the chapter Baraat (Repentance) until he found it written, though it was known to him and to those who are mentioned with him.’ And a little further on: ‘And the whole Qur’an was written in manuscripts, but the manuscripts were dispersed and Abu Bakr collected them in one volume.’(1) Another report by Ibn-i-Abi- Daood is also mentioned From The Review of Religions, 1907 49The Review of Religions – January 2007 THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 3 according to which: ‘Omar publicly announced (when the collection of the Qur’an was taken in hand by Abu Bakr) that whoever possessed any portion of the Qur’an which he had directly received from the Messenger of God(saw) should bring it, and they used to write these on paper and tablets and leafless palm branches. Nothing was accepted from anybody until two witnesses bore witness.’ The author of the Fath-ul-Bari adds: ‘And this shows that Zaid did not deem it sufficient that a verse was written until somebody bore witness who had heard it directly from the Holy Prophet(saw)’s mouth though Zaid himself remem- bered it. This he did for greater precaution.’(2) There is another tradition mention by Zohri which says: ‘The Messenger of God(saw) was taken (i.e., he died) when the Qur’an was written only upon leafless palm branches and skins.’(3) After mentioning some of these reports the commentator adds: ‘And their object was that nothing should be copied except from what had been written in the presence of the Prophet, not from memory only.’(4) All these reports point to the certain conclusion that every verse and chapter of the Holy Qur’an had been written by the direction of the Holy Prophet(saw) in his own presence. Against this mighty evidence, not a single tradition can be pointed out which might show that any part of the Holy Qur’an was not written. The author of the Tawil-ul-Qur’an who writes in a spirit of bitter animosity has made some very wild statements to throw discredit upon the writing of the Holy Qur’an in the lifetime of the Holy Prophet(saw). He says: 50 The Review of Religions – Janaury 2007 THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 3 ‘Those who could read or write among the companions were so rare that we may say there was practically none who could read or write.’ Again: ‘Zaid was a mere boy who did not know how to handle the pen. Whatever work of writing had to be done for the Prophet was done by the Jews. Now tell us who wrote the revelations of the Quran fourteen or fifteen years before this?’ Then he names Abdulla bin Abi Sarh who afterwards became an apostate and adds: ‘Such being the paucity of scribes among the faithful, and so great being the failure to have the Qur’an written, it was deemed advisable that it should not be written at all and should be preserved only in the hearts of the faithful.’ I have not come across any decent writing containing so many false statements in a single paragraph. These allegations imply that among the companions of the Holy Prophet(saw) there was none who could write, with the exception of Zaid whose knowledge of writing was so defective that he did not know how to use the pen, and Abdulla who became an apostate, and that since scribes could not be found, therefore the writing of the Holy Qur’an was entirely dispensed with. The absurdity of these allegations is evident to any body who has the slightest acquain- tance with the history of Islam, while the reader who has read the evidence produced above needs no other argument to condemn them as daring falsehoods. So strong and so convincing is the evidence as to the Quran having been written in the life-time of the Holy Prophet(saw) that no sane author who has written on Islam has ever denied the fact. I have already given the names of several scribes. There were so many men among the com- 51The Review of Religions – January 2007 THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 3 panions who could write that as many as forty-two of these are related to have acted as scribes for the Holy Prophet(saw). We have seen that copies of the different chapters of the Holy Qur’an were in common use among the faithful, a fact clearly borne out by the report of Omar’s conversion. This shows that there was no paucity of scribes. Besides the Holy Qur’an, many other things were written. Some of the companions used to write the words uttered by the Holy Prophet(saw) which were generally reported only orally.(5) Letters were written by order of the Holy Prophet(saw) to several potentates. The truce at Hudaibiyya was written by Ali. Correspondence was also kept up with the Jews in Hebrew.(6) Not only could men read and write but even women were taught the art. Among the wives of the Holy Prophet(saw), at least Ayesha and Hafsa could read and write, as many reliable traditions show. It is difficult to say whether the allegation that no one could read or write among the companions is due to sheer ignorance or intentional perver- sion of facts, but the latter seems the more probable conclusion. The author of the Tawil-ul- Qur’an has, it appears, inten- tionally omitted to mention all those historical facts which show absurdity of his allegations and has based his theory upon a single tradition whose meaning he has intentionally perverted. The following tradition is cited by the author of the Tawil-ul- Qur’an in support of the assertion that ‘Zaid was a mere boy and did not know how to handle the pen’’: ‘Zaid bin Sabit reported as follows: “The Messenger of God(saw) commanded me so I learnt for his sake the Hebrew writing, and he said, ‘In truth I cannot trust the Jews in writing for me.’ So I learnt it, and only half a month had passed when I became skilled in it. So I wrote for him when he had to write letters and read out to him when a letter was written to him.”’ This plain statement made by 52 The Review of Religions – Janaury 2007 THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 3 Zaid as to his learning Hebrew, as is admitted even by Sir William Muir in a footnote in his introduction to the Life of Mahomet (see page xiv,) is distorted by the clever author of the Tawil-ul-Qur’an into an admission by Zaid as to his inability to write Arabic. The words ‘Kitab Yahood’ meaning ‘Hebrew writing,’ he purposely mistranslates as meaning the ‘writing from the Jews of the Hebrew people,’ and thus the passage which really means: ‘I learnt for his sake Hebrew writing’ is rendered as meaning ‘I learnt for his sake writing from the Jews.’ Now any one who has any pretension to a knowledge of the Arabic language will see that ‘Kitab Yahood’ does not and cannot mean ‘writing from the Jews’ It only means ‘the Jewish or Hebrew writing.’ Moreover, the context itself shows that Zaid was not speaking of the writing of the Qur’an, because the writing of the Qur’an was never trusted to the Jews by the Holy Prophet(saw). A great part of the Holy Qur’an had been revealed at Makkah where there were no Jews and we know it for certain that written copies of the chapters of the Holy Qur’an existed and were in common use among the Muslims long before the Holy Prophet(saw) Flight to Madinah. Now the question is, who wrote all these copies, for Zaid had not yet become a Muslim and the Jews did not live in Makkah? In thus misinter- preting the plain words of the tradition, the author of the Tawil- ul-Qur’an has made a most hopeless attempt to discredit upon incontrovertible fact of the Qur’an having been written by the direction of the Holy Prophet(saw) in his lifetime. The tradition under discussion only speaks of the Prophet’s(saw) letters written to and received from the Jews and not of the writing of the revelation, as even the con- cluding words: ‘I wrote for him when he had to write a letter and read out to him when a letter was written to him’ clearly show. No honest writer could distort plain words in the manner in which the anonymous author of the Tawil- ul-Qur’an has done it. Perhaps it was on account of his daring 53The Review of Religions – January 2007 THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 3 misrepresentations that he concealed his name. Zaid’s becoming skilled in writing Hebrew within such a short time is not at all surprising because Hebrew and Arabic are so closely related to each other that a knowledge of the one makes a knowledge of the other very easy of access. The misinterpretation of this one tradition is sufficient to reveal the character of the Tawil-ul-Qur’an and the spirit in which its author has written the book. It is a fact that the book has been written to assist the missionary propaganda by means of false statements concerning the Holy religion of Islam and it reveals a deplorable state of the missionary ideas of honesty and veracity and a deplorable attitude of the missionary minds towards other religions. The above tradition is the only one which has been produced by the author of the Tawil-ul-Qur’an as evidence against the writing of the Holy Qur’an in the life-time of the Holy Prophet(saw), and from this the reader can easily see how futile are the attempts of the Christian missionaries to dis- credit the unparalleled purity of the text of the Holy Qur’an. Another objection of the same author is that the writing material which was used for writing the Qur’an was of such a nature that it could not be preserved for a long time. This writing material consisted of paper, stone-tablets, skins, palm branches and bones as various traditions tell us. It is admitted that the writing on paprus reed on paper, skin and stone tablets was safe, but it is added that the writing on these three things was very scarce because these things were rare and that the greater part of the Holy Qur’an was written on bones and palm-branches which could not be safely preserved, and that therefore the greater part of the Holy Qur’an was lost. So after all even the author of the Tawil-ul-Qur’an has to admit that the Holy Qur’an was written, but his ingenious brain at once assists him with the theory that the greater part was written on bones because skins, paper and stone-tablets were rare! What his 54 The Review of Religions – Janaury 2007 THE PURITY OF THE TEXT OF THE HOLY QUR’AN – PART 3 sources of information for this statement are, the learned author is too discreet to mention. Bones and branches are not less durable than paper, and though they are mentioned among the writing materials, yet it is easy to see that long chapters could not be written on such material. The copy of the twentieth Sura for instance used in Omar’s sister’s family was not written upon bones or branches, otherwise it could not be so readily concealed. Thus all consid- erations point out that the entire Qur’an existed in a written form in the life-time of the Holy Prophet(saw). References 1. See Fath-ul-Bari, Volume IX, page 10 2. Fath-ul-Bari, Volume IX, page 12. 3. See Nihaya by Ibn-ul-Asir under the root ‘Asb’ (Arabic). 4. Fath-ul-Bari, Volume IX, page 12. 5. Bukhari tells us in the Kitab- ul-Ilm that Abdulla son of Amru used to write traditions in the lifetime of the Holy Prophet(saw). Some other cases are also mentioned in the same chapter in which traditions were reduced to writing. 6. (This is mentioned in a tradition narrated by Abu Daoud under the heading ‘Reports from Ahl i Kitab,’ not ‘Kitab ul Ilm,’ as the author of the Tawil-ul-Qur’an thinks. This is the tradition referred to in the next paragraph.