The Uniqueness of Preserving the Phenomenal Quran
Praise be to God the Lord of the worlds. May peace and blessings be upon our master, the last of the Prophets, his family, companions and those who follow him in righteousness until the Day of Judgment The Quran which is the Holy scripture of Muslims, is the verbatim word of God. It was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad over a span of 23 years through the Archangel Gabriel. Islamic theology holds the Quran the last and final revelation to the last and final Prophet and Messenger. Unlike previous divine scriptures, the Quran does not specifically address a particular people and time but instead includes all of humanity and is a source of mercy and guidance for all times and to all of mankind. The Holy Quran consists of teachings that guide humanity to treat each other and the whole universe (whether it be the animals that inhabit it or the trees themselves) in a gentle and civilized manner. The Quran also calls for the perpetual pursuit of knowledge, and for rejecting violence and terrorism. All of these various components speak to the universal message of the Quran. The Exalted is He, God, protected the Quran from any distortion or misinterpretation. Muslims believe in the preservation of the Quran since when it was first revealed to the Holy Prophet. Its figures, vocabulary, pronunciation and the arrangement of its verses and chapters are all part of its divine nature. God the Almighty says: “We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it” (Quran 15: 9). God the Almighty promised to guard the Quran, therefore it is kept safe from any distortion or corruption. One of the methods of its preservation is through the hearts. Since the dawn of Islam, Muslims have memorized the Quran by heart and documented it. When `Uthman Ibn `Affan (God be pleased with him) compiled the Mushaf (a copy of the Quran) he would not dare to add or remove a single letter as some Orientalists claim. Furthermore, he was also assisted in this process by two upright companions who were also specialists of the Quran. This etiquette has been followed rigorously one generation after the other and up until the Day of Resurrection. The Exalted is He says: “Nay, here are Signs self-evident in the hearts of those endowed with knowledge: and none but the unjust reject Our Signs” (Quran 29: 49). Al-Hassan stated: "This community (Muslims) was gifted the ability to memorize and those who came before them were only able to read their books (if they were in front of them) and if they closed them, they would not remember a single word save the Prophets among them." At the battle of Yamama (633 CE), six months after the death of the Prophet, a number of Muslims who had memorized the Quran were killed. From this time, it was feared that unless a written official copy of the Quran was prepared, a large part of revelation might be lost. Zaid bin Thabit al-Ansari who was one of the scribes narrated: “Abu Bakr sent for me after the casualties among the warriors (of the battle) of Yamama (where a great number of memorizers of the Quran were killed). Umar was present with Abu Bakr who said: ‘Umar has come to me and said, ‘The people have suffered heavy casualties on the day of (the battle) of Yamama and I am afraid that there will be some casualties among the Muslims at other places, a matter that may result in losing a large part of the Quran unless you collect it (in one manuscript or book).’ On this point, Abu Bakr said to me (Zaid bin Thabit): ‘You are a wise young man and we do not suspect you (of telling lies or of forgetfulness) and you used to write the Divine Inspiration for God's Apostle. Therefore, look for the Quran and collect it (in one manuscript).’” This moment of history with Zaid bin Thabit was the focal point of the preservation of the Quran. The success of Muslims in preserving the Holy Quran throughout history is considered an incontrovertible fact. Muslims regarded the Quran as the basis for civilization, developed various sciences as means to better understand its meanings, and perfected their writing of it with the most elegance and skill. The preservation of the Holy Quran is a miracle given by God the Almighty and one can see the manifestation of this miracle when one finds children memorizing the Quran by heart. How did they accomplish this beautiful feat? An even greater miracle is that across the Muslim world, you will find millions of people, young and old that spend their lives memorizing the word of God. Throughout the centuries of the Islamic Era there have arisen thousands of schools devoted specifically to the teaching of the Quran to children for the purpose of memorization. These are called in Arabic katatib (singular: kuttab, old-fashioned school). It is said that the Caliph Umar was the first to order the construction of these schools in the age of the great expansion. God the Almighty promised to preserve the Quran and this promise was fulfilled and continues to be fulfilled through those that submit to Him. A person who travels the Muslim world will see that this miracle is continually fulfilled through the young and old that memorize it, the scholars that speak on it and the Muslims that read it every day in their prayers. The Holy Quran has always been the subject of unsuccessful attempts to distort it. Some have tried to issue distorted versions of Quran but due to the plethora of scholars and Muslims that have memorized the Quran it remains preposterous to alter it while so many of it’s protectors live. These attempts prove the inimitability of the holy Quran throughout time, and elevate its status more and more. The Quran has spread in a peaceful manner since its essence touches the heart and mind. Therefore, we must aim to be strong in our faith and knowledgeable of our doctrine and endeavor to deliver God's message and observe the etiquette of His Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). God the Almighty says: “Their intention is to extinguish God’s Light (by blowing) with their mouths: But God will complete (the revelation of) His Light, even though the Unbelievers may detest (it)” (Quran 61: 8).