THE COLLECTION OF THE QUR'AN - from the hadiths



From the hadiths collected by Muslims, there amassed a huge amount of material relating to the collection of the Qur'an. The hadiths gives us a picture of how the collection was supposed to be done, and more importantly, about the contents of the Qur'an. Burton says:

Indeed, the Muslims believe that the Qur'an had been collected on three separate occasions. The first was supposed to have occurred in the lifetime and in the presence of the Muhammad.
`We organized the Qur'an,' reports Zaid, 'in the presence of the Prophet.' (p. 214, Jalal al Din `Abdul Rahman b. abi Bakr al Suyuti, "al Itqan fi `ulum al Qur'an", Halabi, Cairo, 1935/1354, pt 1, p. 57)

Muslims also believed that after the death of Muhammad, the first Caliph Abu Bakr, on the urging of `Umar, collected the Qur'an fragments together. The collection of sheets (suhuf) was then completed either during `Umar's reign or passed to him, and on his death passed to his daughter, Hafsa.

The codex of Hafsa became the link once again when reading differences came to be observed at various regional Islamic centres and in far away places. The Caliph `Uthman then set about appointing scribes to take the codex of Hafsa and continue to search for various scraps of the Qur'an and put them together into what is now known as the `Uthmanic mushaf, which is the textus receptus. `Uthman then sent copies of this codex to various Islamic centres and ordered that all other fragments or copies be burnt. All current existing manuscripts of the Qur'an show the `Uthmanic MSS.

The hadith reports, however, gave a much more colorful picture of the whole process. It is the purpose of this article to document as many of these hadiths as possible.