Traditions On the Collection of the Holy Qur'an

We now examine a few references given by the traditionalists which have somehow found their way into the books of traditions of both the Sunni and the Shia Schools.

Regarding the first attempt of the ruling party to make a collection of their own, Bokhari quotes Zaid bin Thabit that, after the battle of Yamama, the First Caliph sent for Zaid and told him, in the presence of Omar, that he (Omar) had told him that many reciters of the Qur'an had been killed in the battle and that he was afraid that others would be killed and that a great portion of the Qur'an would be lost. Omar had said, "I believe that you should order the collection of the Qur'an",

and the First Caliph had replied, "How could I do what the Holy Prophet did not do?", to which Omar had replied, UBY God I swear, it is good that this be done". Said the Caliph to Zaid' "Omar continued demanding this of me until God opened my heart to it", claiming a sort of inspiration. Zaid said that the First Caliph had told him, "You are an intelligent young man whom we do not suspect, and you used to write the revelations for the Holy Prophet. You search for the Qur'an and collect it."

Zaid Says, "I swear on my God, if they had ordered me to carry out the task of shifting a mountain from its place, I would not have felt it so heavy a task as the one which they asked me to undertake." To the First Caliph he said, "How dare you do something which the Holy Prophet did not do?" and the First Caliph replied,

"By God I swear, it is good that this he done." He says, "Thereafter the First Caliph continued to ask me to undertake the task until God opened my heart as he had opened the heart of the First Caliph and of Omar. Thereafter I carried out a search for the Qur'an, collecting it from the pieces of wood, bones, and from the memories of the people, until I found the last verse or the Sura-e-Tauba with Abi Khozaima-e4nsari and with none other.11 The collection remained with the First Caliph until his death and then passed to Omar and then to his daughter Hafsa.

Boldiari tells us that Hozaifatibnil-Yaman, on his return from the expedition to Armenia and Azarbaijan, expressed his anxiety about the variation among the members of the expedition in the recitation of the Qur'an, and asked the Third Caliph to take the necessary steps to unite the Muslims to avoid controversy over the Book of God such as existed about the Holy Scriptures of the Jews and the Christians; even today there are different versions of the Old and New Testaments, some parts being regarded as apocryphal by some and not by others.

The Third Caliph asked Omar's daughter Hafsa to hand over the collection left with her so that copies could be made. He ordered Zaid, Abdullah ibne Zobair, Sayeed ibnul As and Abdur-Rahman ibne Harith ibne Hisham to make copies of it. The Third Caliph told the three Khoraishites that wherever they differed from Zaid in the recitation of the Qur'an and its pronunciation, it should be written in the dialect of the Qoreish since it was revealed in their dialect.

They did as they were bidden and prepared copies of the collection, and returned the original to Hafsa and sent the copies to all corners of the empire. The Third Caliph ordered the Qur'an in all other forms or collections to be burnt and destroyed.

Bokhari relates that the son of Zaid claimed that he had heard his father say, "when we were copying the collection, we missed a verse from Sura-e-Ahzab which I used to hear the Holy Prophet reciting; we searched for i4 we found it with Khozaimat ibne Thabith Ansari and we put it in the same Sura in the collection."

These two traditions of Bokhari regarding the collection of the reign of the First Caliph and the copying of it during the reign of the Third Caliph contain a slight contradiction regarding the missing verse.

Now, besides these two, there are twenty more traditions regarding the collection of the Qur'an, each contradicting the other in some way. Eleven of them are mentioned in the Muntakhab-e-Kanzul Ummal and the rest have been taken from Itqan of Suyooti and others. The following is a brief account of these traditions.

In one tradition ibne Abi Shaiba relates that Ali said that Abu Bakr was the greatest one in the collection of the Qur'an, being the first person to collect the Qur'an. Another tradition says that Abu Bakr collected the Qur'an on paper and asked Zaid ibne Thabit to review it; when Zaid refused, he sought the help of Omar to persuade Zaid, which he succeeded in doing, and the reviewed copy remained with Abu Bakr, being passed to Omar and then to Hafsa.

A third tradition from Hisam ibne Orwa claims that after the battle of Yamama, when some of the companions of the Holy Prophet who had collected the Qur'an were killed, Abu Bakr ordered Omar and Zaid ibne Thabit to sit at the gate of the Mosque and collect the Qur'an from the people.

Another tradition, from Muhammad ibne Seereen, relates that Omar was killed before the Qur'an was collected.

A fifth tradition says that, when Omar asked for one verse of the Holy Qur'an, he was told that it was with some one who was killed in the battle of Yamama. He became very worried and ordered the Qur'an to be collected, and was the first person to collect it in book form.

A sixth tradition tells us that Omar decided to collect the Qur'an and ordered that "whosoever has received from the Holy Prophet any portion of the Holy Qur'an should bring it to US". The people had the Qur'an on pieces of wood, stones, skin, leaves of trees and bones. Omar would not accept anything from any one unless it was certified by two witnesses. But he (Omar) was killed while the collection was still going on. Osman succeeded him and continued the task, also demanding two witnesses before he accepted anything.

Then Khozaimatibne Thabit carne with the last two verses of the Sura-Bar'at, saying, "I have received it from the Holy Prophet and you have not got it in your Qur'an", to which Osman replied, "Yes, I also give evidence that these verses are from God, but tell me where we should place them. Abu Khozaimat said, "Place these two verses at the end of the last revealed portion of the Qur'an." Accordingly, they were placed at the end of the Sura-Bar'at.

The seventh tradition asserts that it was Omar who accepted these last verses of the Sura-Bar'at from a man of the Ansars without any witnesses, with his own confirmation of it.

The eighth tradition says that, after the battle of Yamama in which four hundred or seven hundred reciters of the Qur'an were killed, Zaid ibne Thabit approached Omar and said, 91 The Qur'an is the only unifying factor of our religion; if it is lost, our religion is also lost. I have decided to collect it in book form.",

to which Omar replied, "Wait until I ask Abu Bakr". Both went to Abu Bakr and informed him of their conversation. Abu Bakr replied, "Wait until I consult the Muslims." He then began to talk to the people, and all approved of the plan. Then they collected the Qur'an, and Abu Bakr ordered a crier to announce that whoever had a part of the Qur'an should bring it A ninth tradition tells that Khozaimatibne Thabit said that he brought the last verses of the Sura-Tauba to Omar and Zaid ibne Thabit Then Zaid asked Khozaimat who would give evidence in his support, to which Khozaimat replied that he did not know any one. Then Omar said that he was there to witness it.

The tenth tradition says that, when Omar had collected the Qur'an, he asked, "Who is the best in pronunciation?" The people said, "Syeed ibnul As", and then Omar asked, "Who is the best calligrapher?" The people named Zaid ibne Thabit. Then Omar said, "Let Syeed dictate and Zaid write." They made four copies, of which one was sent to Kufa, one to Basra, one to Damascus and one to Hidjas.

The eleventh tradition reports that, when Omar wanted to write the Leading Qur'an, he made a few of his companions undertake the task, saying, "wherever you differ in the wording, write it down in the dialect of Mozar, for the Qur'an was revealed to a man of Mozar."

The twelfth tradition gives the report of Abu Qullaba that, during the reign of Osman, the teachers of the Qur'an started teaching their pupils different recitations and the students used to meet and differ from each other. This was brought to the notice of the teachers and each condemned the other's recitation. News reached Osman, who said, "You people differ in the recitation and you recite in my presence. what about those who are far away in distant cities? Their recitation would differ even more.

Then he spoke to the companions of the Holy Prophet, ordering them to write a Leading Qur'an for the people. Abu Qullaba says that Malik ibne Anas claimed that he was among those who used to dictate the Qur'an; they used to dictate the Qur'an, mentioning the name of the person who had received that verse from the Holy Prophet. If that person was not present, they would write down the preceding and succeeding verses, leaving a space for the verse under consideration until the person concerned was available. And Osman completed the collection and wrote to the people in the big cities that he had destroyed what he had and that they should do the same.

The thirteenth tradition tells that Osman addressed the people in one of his talks, saying, "Only thirteen years have passed between you and your Prophet and you doubt the Qur'an, s~ying the recitation of Obai or of ibne Mas'ood, and one telling the other that his recitation is not the right one." Then he urged them all by an oath that whoever had a portion of the Qur'an should bring it. People brought pieces of paper, bits of wood, skin, etc.,

with the Qur'an on them until a great number were collected. Then Osman went inside (his house) and called one after another and made each one swear that he had heard it from the Holy Prophet, and that the Holy Prophet had dictated it to him. After finishing this, he asked who was the beet in pronunciation; the people said, "Syeed ibnul As." Then he ordered Syeed to dictate and Zaid ibne Thabit to write. Several copies were made and were distributed among the people and the one who tells of the events (Mas'ab ibne Sa'b) says that he heard some of the companions of the Holy Prophet approving this act of Osman.

The fourteenth tradition tells us about the persons who were ordered by Osman to make the collection. The one who dictated was from the tribe of Hozail and the scribe from the tribe of Thaqeef A fifteenth tradition relates that, after the collection was completed, it was brought to Osman who looked at it and said, "You have done well, the best. Yet I see some mistakes which the Arab would correct by his own tongue."

The sixteenth tradition relates that, when the collection was shown to Osman and he found some mistakes in it, he sai4, "Had the dictator been from the Hozails and the scribe from the Thaqeefs, these mistakes would not have occurred" A seventeenth tradition reports that, when Osman wanted to make copies of the Qur'an, he sent for Obai ibne Kaab, who dictated to Zaid ibne Thabit, and Zaid wrote it down and Syeed ibnul As was there to correct the pronunciation. Thus the Qur'an of Osman was the recitation of Obai and Zaid.

The eighteenth tradition reports the seventeenth one, bnt adds a person named Abdur-Rahman ibnul Harith to assist Syeed ibnul As in correcting the pronunciation.

In the nineteenth tradition, Zaid ibne Thabit says that, while they were making the copies of the Qur'an, he found the passage 33:23 of Sura-e-Ahzab was missing and he found it with Khozaimatibne Thabit only, whose sole evidence was accepted by the Holy Prophet as the evidence of two.

The twentieth tradition tells us that the first person who collected the Qur'an was Abu Bakr. Zaid ibne Thabit was the scribe, and people would come to Zaid with passages and he would not accept any passage unless it was supported by at least two pious men, except in the case of the last passage of the Sura- e-Bar'at which was found by Abu Khozaimatibne Thabit, whose lone evidence was taken as two by the Holy Prophet; that Omar brought the passage concerning the stoning of adulterers, but it was not accepted as there was no other witness.

There are the reports of the attempts by the ruling party to make a collection of the Qur'an during the reigns of the first thee Caliphs. But none of these has any authenticity and they are subject to criticism in various ways.

Let us now examine the first two traditions on the authority of Bokhari:

1Assurriing that the Qur'an was not collected and arranged in book form during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, what right would any one have to do it according to his own preference or fancy? What does Sharhe Sadr (the opening of the heart) mean? Does it mean the kind of inspiration or revelation which Christians claim for the authors of the Gospels?

Can it be taken an authorised source like Kitaab and Sunna (the Book and the Tradition) of Islamic Jurisprudence giving the Halal (the permitted) and the Haram (prohibited)? Or was it an exclusive privilege granted to these three only (Abu Bakr, Omar and Zaid ibne Thabit)? And what about the other companions of the Holy Prophet who had also made collections as unanimously acknowledged by the Muslim world?

2 Why did then Osman destroy the other collections without the sanction of the Holy Prophet? Zaid's collection, as well as the collection of others were,

according to this statement, based on their ijtehad. Then why should one ijtehad be preferred above another?

3 Why was Zaid's inspired collection not immediately published and placed within the reach of the people without providing time for other versions of the Qur'an to gain currency through the Muslim empire for twenty years before Osman destroyed them?

4 What is the implication of the words of Abu Bakr to Zaid, "You are an intelligent young man whom we do not suspec4 and you used to write the revelations for the Holy Prophet."?

What were the qualifications of Zaid which made him preferred above the other scribes who were writing the revelations when Zaid was still a child? What was actually needed was ripe age. And what do the words "whom we do not suspect" mean? Ignore Ali ibne Abi Taleb, who was declared by the Holy Prophet to be the one who would always be with the Holy Book and with whom the Holy Book would always be? Ali, about whom there were numerous declarations from God and the Holy Prophet,

identified with the Holy Prophet in the words, "Aliyyun Minni wa ana min Ali" (Ali is of me and I am of Ali); who was named as the Nafs, the soul of the Holy Prophet on the occasion of the historic Mubahila, and about whom the Holy Prophet declared, "Ana wa Ali min Noorin Wahid" ('and Ali are of one and the same Light); who was next only to the Holy Prophet as meant by the verse of Tatheer; who was declared by the Holy Prophet to be always with the truth, and the truth always with him;

who was foremost of the Itrat, ie. the Ahlul-Bait along with the Kitaaballah, the Book of God, the Holy Qur'an, the two being left among the Ummat (the Muslims) as the Two Inseparable entities of the highest value for the guidance of the Ummate Muslima (the Muslim nation as a whole); who was regarded by the Holy Prophet in the same relationship as Aaron was to Moses (with the exception of Nubuwaat (Apostleship); who was declared by the Holy Prophet to be "The Gate of the City of Knowledge and Wisdom" and "The Best Judge and the Witness of Truth". And if; as is said by Bokhari and Muslim, through Malik ibne As binul Hassan, the riling party believed that Ah had no good opinion of them and was not, at the time,

on good terms with them, what about Abdullah ibne Mas'ood, Obai ibne Kaab, Ma'aaz ibne Jabal and Saalim Maula Abi Hozaifa, whose authority according to Bokhari was declared by the Holy Prophet who had ordered the people to receive the Qur'an from the above four persons. This is related by Abdullah ibne Omar. of course, Saalim was killed in the battle of Yamama, but the other three were alive and available at the time that Osman issued the official version, but no reference was ever made to any of these persons. Why?

During the reign of Osman, the assistance of certain Omayyid youths such as Syeed ibnul As and Abdur-Rahinan ibnul Haris ibnul Hisham was sought while persons such as Abdullah ibne Mas'ood and Obai ibne Kaab were ignored. Was it because they suspected them, and if so, of what?

Was it:

(a) a lack of knowledge of the Qur'an, (b) a lack of truthfulness and reliability, or (c) a lack of political loyalty to the ruling party?

Considering the declaration of the Holy Prophet, the first two possibilities must be discarded. Only the third possibility remains. It is a historic fact that the above were not loyal to the ruling party. But Zaid ibne Thabit was loyal to that party and, as Ibne Abdul-Bir (the author of Istee'aab) tells us, Zaid remained pro-Osman and pro-Omayyid and never joined hands with the opposition. For this act of loyalty on his part, he was rewarded with wealth and comfort, while persons like Abdullah ibne Mas'ood and Obai ibne Kaab suffered disfavour and, particularly the former, persecution by the ruling party. if these were the reasons for ignoring these people, the bonafide of the attempt itself to collect the Qur9an becomes subject to suspicion.

5 These two traditions of Bokhari contain contradictory statements regarding the missing verse of the Qur'an.

In one tradition, the verse is not found by any one but Abi Khozaima-Ansari, and in the other tradition it was found by Khozaimatibne Thabit-Ansari. In the first tradition it is said that the passage became the last verses of the Sura- Bar'at, and in the second it is said to be verse 33:23.

of the twenty traditions mentioned above, the first and second tell us that Abu Bakr was the first person to collect the Qur'an; according to the second, Zaid ibne Thabit was asked only to review Abu Bakr's collection, contradicting the previous tradition which says that it was Zaid who collected ft at the order of Abu Bakr.

The third tradition says that Omar and Zaid were given the joint task of making the collection, and that some companions of the Holy Prophet who had already collected the Qur'an were killed in the battle of Yamama. History is silent about these collections and why they were not sought by the ruling party which was so seriously interested in the collection of the Qur'an. And this contradicts the two previous traditions and the two before them, as it asserts that others had already collected the Qur'an.

The fourth tradition contradicts all the other traditions that Omar was killed before the Qur'an was collected. The fifth tradition is entirely different, stating that Omar was the first to order the Qur'an to be collected in book form after he had asked about some passage of the Qur'an and was told that the person who had it had been killed in the battle of Yamama. This would mean that the collection of the Qur'an took place during the reign of Omar and after the end of the battle of Yamama.

The sixth gives an entirely different picture, saying that it was Omar who decided to collect the Qur'an from bones, leaves, bits of wood, paper, etc., with witnesses, but that he was killed before the work was completed, that Osman continued the work and that he, not Omar, was the one who supported the statement of Khozaimatibne Thabit But the seventh tradition says that this happened in the reign of Omar and that he accepted the verses from a person who brought them without asking for any witnesses.

The eighth tradition gives the credit for the initiative and the decision to collect the Qur'an to Zaid ibne Thabit during the reign of Abu Bakr, saying that Abu Bakr would not approve the proposal of Zaid (which was supported by Omar) until he had consulted a crowd of Muslims and gained their approval, after which he ordered the collection.

The ninth makes Osman and Zaid ibne Thabit the joint champions of the collection of the Qur'an, and says that Omar accepted the statement of Khozaimatibne Thabit without further evidence, offering himself as a witness to it.

The tenth asserts that Omar was the initiator of the collection, employing Syeed ibnul As the dictator and Zaid ibne Thabit as the calligrapher, and produced four copies which were despatched to the big cities mentioned in the tradition. This contradicts the first two traditions of Bokhari which date the initiative to make the collection in the reign of Abu Bakr and the despatch of the prepared copies to the big cities during the reign of Osman. And it contradicts the traditions which give credit for the initiative to Omar and the completion to Osman.

The eleventh tradition wants to confer the honour of the authorship of the Leading Qur'an on Omar.

The twelfth gives the credit for the initiative in the collection and completion and preparation of copies to Osman, and introduces Anas ibne Malik as one of the dictators while it was being copied. It also asserts that Osman advised the people in the big cities of what he had done with the Qur'an and ordered them to follow his footsteps, without sending any copies to them, which clearly indicates that Osman was sure that the people already had copies of the Qur'an. It shows that, of the various recitations, the most currently used was that of Abdullah ibne Mas'ood and Obai ibne Kaab.

The thirteenth tradition asserts that Syeed ibnul As was the dictator and Zaid ibne Thabit the calligrapher who produced the copies which were distributed to the people.

The fourteenth tradition claims that the talk of dictation and writing down the Qur'an was given by Osman to Hozails and Thaqeefs, and not to Syeed ibnul As and Zaid ibne Thabit, the first of whom was an Omavi and the second an Ansari, while the sixteenth says that, if the dictator and calligrapher had been Hozails and Thaqeefs, mistakes found by Osman in the prepared copies would not have occurred, clearly indicating that Hozails and Thaqeefs were never employed to copy the Qur'an.

The fifteenth and sixteenth traditions state that the prepared copy was not free from mistakes, that they were left to the tongue of the Arabs, and no corrections were made.

In the sixteenth and eighteenth traditions, the name of Obai ibne Kaab is mentioned as the dictator and Zaid ibne Thabit as the calligrapher, contradicting the traditions which give Zaid ibne Thabit as the only responsible person to undertake the work.

The nineteenth and twentieth traditions contradict each other about the missing passage found by Khozaimatibne Thabit. The first says that it was verse 33:23 and the other says that it was the last verse of the Sura-e-Bar'at.

All these contradictory and inconsistent statements, if they are not the creation of later periods, show that, in order to counter the special authority given by the Holy Prophet to Ali and the other members of the Ahlul-Bait, as well as to Abdullah ibne Mas'ood, Obai ibne Kaab, Ma'aaz ibne Jabal and Saalim as the highest authorities on the Qur'an, an attempt was made by the ruling party to produce their own collection, brush aside all these other authorities and gain accreditation for themselves. But they differed even among themselves as to who should get the credit. So there were parties within parties, each trying to claim credit for its own group and its own hero. The only thing that can be said is that, whoever it was,

he was neither competent nor authorised for the task. And although they collected scattered fragments from here and there, they dared not publish it for more than twenty years, during which time the Qur'an in perfect book form gained tremendous currency throughout the Muslim empire, and was taught,

learnt, memorised and acted upon in the daily lives of the people, and justice was meted Out according to it When Osman and the ruling party of his time recognised the failure of their attempt to gain credit for their venture, they procured a copy of the current version, gave official assent to it and called it the official version. The absence of the so-called collection of Abu Bakr (which was passed to Omar and then to his daughter, Hafsa), of the so-called collection of Omar and the so-called collection of Osman, and the absence of any other collection, together with the absence of any objection to the official version, is the greatest, irrefutable testimony to the fact that this received version had continued to be the same since the departure of the Holy Prophet, about which the Holy Prophet declared, "I leave among you the Book of God and my Ahlul- Bait."

So, whatever has been said in contradiction of this is mere fabrication or wishful thinking without validity. It only throws light on the fact that there were people who attempted to discredit the received version by spreading rumours and mischievous propaganda. In support of this fact, we quote some of the statements attributed to some prominent members of the ruling party about omissions from the present version:

First and foremost, the majority of the Sunni school hold that there are some passages where the wording is not in the Qur'an, but the content of the instructions remain valid. An example is the reference to the stoning of adulterers, the wording for which is provided in three different forms, as Boldiari and Muslim report on the authority of Ibne Abbas from Omar.

And Muslim tells us that Ayesha said that there were two revealed passages dealing with the number of feedings which will prohibit a foster mother, or quality her, to be considered the mother of the baby. Ayesha said that, in the first passage the number was ten different feedings, this being replaced by another passage which reduced the number to five, and that both passages were read as part of the Qur'an until the departure of the Holy Prophet. This is given as an example of the abrogation of passages, the wording and the instruction implied.

However, a careful examination shows that the word "abrogation" was merely a sugar-coated word to avoid using the word "omission" since only the Holy Prophet had the right to omit anything from the Qur'an, either in wording or in meaning. It is obvious that the abrogation was not the work of the Holy Prophet, as the first statement says that Omar brought the passage dealing with the stoning of adulterers when they were collecting the Qur'an, but it was not accepted, not because it was abrogated,

but because there was no other witness to support Omar's statement. In the second case, Ayesha expressly states that the passages dealing with the fostering mother were a part of the Qur'an until the departure of the Holy Prophet. Therefore, if these statement are true, itmeans only that there was an intentional omission of certain passages of the Qur'an by unauthorised people.

Suyuti, in his Itqan in continuation of the narrative of Bokhari and Muslim regarding this matter, relates from Omar that there is another passage which is said to be missing from the received version of the Qur'an. But a proper examination of the said missing passages which Omar and Ayesha present, companions them with the style of the Qur'an proves beyond any doubt that they can never have been a part of the Qur'an and are nothing but personal fancies.

This is nothing new, for the companions of the Prophet used to accuse each other of such mistakes regarding the mourning for a departed, and Ayesha accused Omar of misunderstanding the statement of the Holy Prophet. It is impossible that a part of the Qur'an should be unknown to all the companions of the Holy Prophet except for Ayesha and Omar, both of whom were accused of forgetfulness and a lack of knowledge of the Qur'an.

The Itqan, on the authority of Tibrani, states that Omar said that the Qur'an contained ten lakhs twenty-seven thousand letters, whereas the Qur'an available at the time would not reach even one-third of the quantity, which means that more than two- thirds of the Qur'an has been omitted A question arises, if, according to Omar and the ruling party, the Qur'an was still being collected up to the end of his life. how is it that the letters of the whole book were counted? Especially considering that he was intimately acquainted with the existing one-third and a multitude of Muslims had even memorised it.

Moreover, considering that his evidence for just one verse which he so well remembered was not accepted by his own party, while Khozaima's statement was accepted without the testimony of others, how can his solitary statement about the missing two- thirds of the Qur'an be accepted of which he could not remember one single verse?

The Itqan tells us that Abdullah ibne Omar said that some one may say that he has received the whole Qur'an, but what does he know about the whole? One can only say that he received of the Qur'an only that which has been known in evidence. Again Itqan says that Ayesha claimed that the Sura-Ahzab at the time of the Holy Prophet contained 200 verses and that in Osman's collection we find much less. Similarly, the Muntakhabet Khanzul Ummal quotes Obai ibne kaab as saying that the Sura-e- Ahzab, which now contains seventy-three verses, was originally equal to, or even longer than, the Sura-Baqara.

Omar is the one whom Obai ibne kaab discredited in the matter of the Qur'an as a person who was busy in his transactions in the marketplace while Obai and 6thers were busy studying the Qur'an under the Holy Prophet And in another dispute about the status of the Ansar being equal to the Mohajir or subordinate to them, Omar quoted verse 100 of Chapter 9, omitting the conjunctive letter between Ansar and the relative pronoun (those who follow them), making the following adjectival clause qualify the Ansar, which would mean that the Ansars should follow the Mohajirs.

Obai ibne Kaab refuted Omar's misreading by inserting the conjunctive letter between the Ansar and the relative pronoun, which makes the Ansar's status equal to the Mohajirs, the relative pronoun referring to those who follow the Mohajirs and then the Ansars. This was a matter of great political importance as it dismisses the claim of the Khoraish to be superior to the Ansar. Obai's authority was accepted and Omar withdrew his misquotation.

Ayesha's evidence for the missing 127 verses of the Sura- Ahzab, without quoting even a single verse of it, should be discredited as she did not remember even the first words of verse 33 of the same Sura, which concern herself as well as the other wives of the Holy Prophet. Also, the statement attributed to Obai ibne Kaab is also to be dismissed because of the omission of so large a portion of one particular Sura, without it being remembered by such an acknowledged authority on the Qur'an - and none other than he remembering such a large amount of material - is unbelievable; and such a claim could never have come from some one of the stature of Obai ibne Kaab.

Another tradition of the Itqan asserts that Ayesha had a collection of her own, quoting her father as saying that in the Sura-e-Ahzab, alter "Tasleema" in verse 56 of Salawat, there was a conjunctive clause, "wa alallazina yasiloona sofooful awwal", and that was before Osman made changes in the collection.

First of all, the internal evidence against this is the style of the alleged missing clause: it is contrary to the common usage of Muslims, since Muslims in their Salawat on the Holy Prophet either stop with the Holy Prophet or add his family, or go further and add the companions in general, or the wives and issue of the Holy Prophet There is no trace of evidence in support of this suffix. Further, no one else has ever said that Ayesha's Mus'haf (her own collection) was destroyed by any one. So what happened to that collection?

Another tradition of Sahih Muslim says that Abu Musa-e- Ash'ari called the reciters of the Qur'an in Basra, and people who had studied the Qur'an came to him:

He addressed them, saying: "You are the chosen ones of the people of Basra and reciters of the Qur'an. You continue to recite the Qur'an regularly and do not neglect it for long lest your hearts become hardened like the hearts of the people of old times." He said, "We used to read a Sura in the Qur'an which was equal in length and rigidity to the Sura-e-Bar'at, but I have forgotten it except for one verse.

and there was another Sura which resembled the Musabbihat, but that also I have forgotten except for one verse of it which runs as follows...

The style of both the quotations of Abu Musa is quite inferior to that of the Qur'an and the wording of the first passage itself makes it quite obvious that it belongs to the category of Ahadees- e-Qudsi, a definition of which has already been given Regarding the second quotation, it might be taken as a parenthetical sentence, a commentary added to verse 61:2 before the third verse (Kabora ma maqtan indallah) of the same chapter.

Abu Musa, having heard it, might have taken it to be a different Sura because he is known to have been credulous and weak in memory and literary taste; and since he himself confesses to have forgotten both the suras and no one else had any knowledge of it, this statement must automatically be dismissed. Further, if the statement is true, it may have been made after the start of the tension between Osman and himself which led to his removal from the governorship, in which case it would have been intended to discredit Osman by accusing him of the omission.

Suyuti, in his Itqan, tells us that once Omar told Abdur- Rahman ibne Auf, "Didn't you find this passage among what was revealed to us?" ("In jahado kama jahadtum awwala marratin". "Surely we do not find it now!") To this Abdur-Rahman replied that it was one of the passages of the Qur'an which was omitted.

First of all, this is a conditional clause, part of the larger one. The following sentence is not mentioned, and neither Omar nor Abdur-Rahman ibne Auf mentions of which part of which verse of which Sura it was, thereby showing the failure of this man. In the second place, who prevented Omar from re-inserting this and the other omitted passages into their respective places in the Qur'an, he being a powerful leader of the ruling party? Or, rather, is it that these and many other passages fancied by Omar and Abdur-Rahman to be parts of the Qur'an were rejected by the Muslims through lack of internal and external supporting evidence?

Similar to this is the statement of Suyuti, claiming that a prominent companion of the Holy Prophet, Muslimatibne Mukhallad Ansari, once asked the people (among whom was also Sa'aad ibne Malik Ansari), "Will you tell me about the two passages of the Qur'an which were not included in the collection?" But no one replied, except his son (probably Muhammad ibne Muslima) who recited the passage.

A proper examination of this passage will reveal beyond all doubt that the reciter had confused passages from different suras, adding his own fancies, which throws light on the miraculous style of the Qur'an which exposes any one who tries to imitate it.

Secondly, one can infer that having a knowledge of the Qur'an at that time brought merit, credit and honour. So that those who lacked it tried to pose as students of it, but were betrayed, on the one hand by the miraculous nature of the style of the Qur'an, and on the other hand by the lack of supporting witnesses, just as we, today, have among us incompetent and unqualified people who pose as great scholars of science and politics. To this tradition may be added what is said about the two suras found in the collection of Ibne Abbas and Obai ibne Kaab,

which reveal a style which is different from that of the Qur'an and must be classed as supplications (Adyiya, prayers) worded by the Holy Prophet or some member of his family. In the opinion of some, these two are inferior in language and style even to the supplications of the Imams of the Holy House of the Holy Prophet, the authentic collections of which are in our Possession.

There are some more traditions like the above which are not worth considering. What is given here is only "Mushti az Kharwar", a handful from a heap. Sufficient to say that the Qur'an has its own internal evidence, an inimitable style peculiar to itself, together with innumerable external witnesses. All the verses and suras, since their revelation, have been placed within the reach of those who longed to hear, write, learn, understand, memorise and act accordingly. Not a single word or sentence can be accepted as part of the Qur'an without such internal and external evidence.

Therefore, it is easy for a student of the Qur'an to discard such traditions, irrespective of the qualifications of the companions of the Holy Prophet to report them and the number of people who subsequently repeated them. We must assume that those responsible for the traditions were' either trying to discredit each other, or to discredit the received version of the Qur'an which stood between themselves and their political aspirations; some of the members of the ruling party were inclined to spread such disruptive rumours.

On the other hand, those of the Ahiul- Bait, the people attached to them and other companions who were not close to the ruling party, during this period never attacked or criticised the received version or even raised any voice of dissent against it. On the contrary, they, following the command of the Holy Prophet, insisted upon the authenticity and validity of the received version as the standard and criterion prescribed by the Holy Prophet by which false traditions, both pre-Qur'anic and post-Qur'anic, were to be judged. The Holy Ahlul-Bait recorded the saying of the Holy Prophet:

Certainly, the liars around me have increased abundantly. Beware! For every truth there is a proof and for every Right there is the Light Thus, to whatsoever agrees with the Book of God hold fast, and whatsoever is opposed to the Book of God, reject it.

The Holy Ahlul-Bait maintained this; Ali said the same, Hasan said the same, Husain said the same, and each of the nine succeeding Imams after Husain followed the same principle, as did their adherents (see Kaafi and all the subsequent authorities on tradition). No tradition dealing either with the theory or practice of Islam has been, or ever will be, acceptable to the Imams of the Holy House of the Holy Prophet or to members of their school of thought if it does not agree with the Book of God. As Allama Majlisi has put it:

Of the innumerable miracles of the Holy Prophet, the first and foremost is the Holy Qur'an, which is the most genuine and authentic one (narrated and recorded ever since its revelation by innumerable persons generation after generation down to us) and will last as such till the day of Resurrection. (Haqul-Yaqeen)

Before concluding this section, it is desirable to refer to some more traditions of the Sunni school about the nature of Ali's collection of the Qur'an, the date of the collection, its authenticity and Ali's knowledge of the inner and outer aspects of the Qur'an in its parts and its whole.

Suyuti, in his Tarikhul Khulafa, tells us that Ali is one of the godly scholars, the celebrated Warrior, the famous Ascetic and the well-known Orator, one of those who collected the Qur'an and presented it to the Holy Prophet for his review. And in the Itqan, Suyuti, on the authority of Abu Na'yeem, quotes the statement of Ali himself, "Of every verse of the Qur'an which was revealed I know about what, and when, it was." And the same Abu Na'yeem quotes Abdullah ibne Mas'ood as saying that the Qur'an was revealed on seven sides (Ahrof) or aspects, each of which has an inner and an outer significance, and that Ali ibne Abi Taleb had with him all the inner and outer aspects with all the inner and outer aspects with all the significance of each aspect.

The author of Waseelatun Najaat, Mullah Muhammad Mubeen Luckhnavi, on the authority of Ibne Seereen, assets that Ali arranged the Qur'an according to the dates of the revelation.

Again, Suyuti in his Itqan, says that Ali was one of those who arranged the Qur'an according to the dates of revelation. And Abu Shukoor, the author of Tamheed, says that the companions of the Holy Prophet were not unanimous in accepting Ali's collection. The Itqan of Suyuti says that Ali's collection began with Sura Iqra, and then Almuddasir, then Muzzammil and then Tabbat, and then Takweer, and so on. Ali the Meccan suras, then the Madinite suras. And Abdullah ibne Mas'ood's collection began with Baqara, then Nisa, then Aale Imran, with many differences therein. And the same was the case with the collection of Obai ibne Kaab.

These accounts and others of the same kind, if we accept their authenticity, will only go to confirm that Ali is the foremost one next only to the Holy Prophet in the thorough knowledge of the inner and the outer significance of every word, sentence, passage, part or chapter of the Qur'an in its revealed and pre-revealed form. The Qur'an itself hears testimony to this if it is properly and impartially read without prejudice:

verses 56:77-79 as the major premises and verse 33:33 as the minor premise, and verse 3:60 as the conclusion defining the personnel of the Ahlul-Bait, added to which is the unanimous verdict of the Muslim world as to the names of the persons to whom the above verses applied. These verses, supported by many other verses of the Qur'an, declare that the descendants of Abraham (Aale Ibrahim), those who were divinely made to inherit the' Book (Kitaab), Wisdom (Hikmat), the Great Kingdom (Mulke Azeem) and the Office of Imamat (Ohda-e-Imamat), they are foremost in total obedience and service of the Absolute, purified from all ungodly desires.

The foremost of the Ishmaelite branch is the Holy Prophet Himself, and next to him the members of his holy family (the Ahlul-Bait) headed by Ali as Imam and succeeded by the eleven holy Imams. The inclusion of the Holy Lady Fatema in the Ahlul-Bait is not only because of her personal purity but also by virtue of her three-sided position, being the daughter of the Holy Prophet, the wife of the first Holy Imam, and the "mother" of the eleven 'mains, thus establishing her link between Prophethood (Risalat) and divine guidance (Imamat), a status achieved not only by being a wife of a prophet, but by having a role in establishing the divinely chosen line of Abraham's descendants.

This clear evidence of the Qur'an is supported by the authentic declarations of the Holy Prophet:

Ali is of me and l am of Ali Ali is with the Qur'an and the Qur'an will be with Ali Ali is with the Right and the Right will be with Ali The Qur'an and the Ahlul-Bait are the Two Inseparable Entities, each perfect in itself reflecting the others. (These Inseparable Ones were left among the people by the Holy Prophet for their guidance and to protect them from going astray.

Regarding Ali's collection and those of others, it has already been said that the particular arrangements of others must be for commentary purposes or for the personal information and guidance of the collectors themselves, or for other academic purposes. There is abundant evidence that Ali's collection and those of the other authorised companions of the Holy Prophet (namely, Abdullah ibne Mas'ood and Obai ibne Kaab), contained explanatory notes which were meant to be placed alongside the text,

and that these people never attempted to give any publicity to their notes against the received version of the Qur'an which is meant for all men for all times and as an everlasting miracle of the Holy Prophet The point to be noted here is that the statement of Suyuti to the effect that Ali collected the Qur'an and presented it to the Holy Prophet for his review contradicts all the statement which assert that Ali collected the Qur'an after the departure of the Holy Prophet. Furthermore, we support the fact that the collection of the Qur'an in the lifetime of the Holy Prophet was made, not only by Ali, whose authenticity is unquestioned and by other authorised companions of the Holy Prophet, but there were many others who collected the Qur'an during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, including not only men, but also women.

It is amusing to note that, in some traditions, Zaid ibne Thabit, the hero of the official venture by the ruling party to collect the Qur'an, is also included among those who collected the Qur'an during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet. This discredits all the stories of his collecting fragments of the Qur'an from pieces of paper, bits of wood, bones, leaves, skins, etc. by the order of the First, Second and Third Caliphs, jointly or severally.

Tabarani and Ibne Asakir quote Sho'abi as saying that the Qur'an was collected during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet by six persons of the Ansars: Obai ibne Kaab, Zaid ibne Thabit, Abu Darda, Ma'aaz ibne Jabal, Sa'ad ibne Abaid and Abu Zaid. There was a seventh one, Majama' ibne Jariah, who also collected the Qur'an, but with the exception of two or three suras.

Bokhari tells us that Arias ibne Maalik said that four persons, all from the Ansars, collected the Qur'an during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, namely Obai ibne Kaab, Zaid ibne Thabit, Ma'aaz ibne Jabal and Abu Zaid.

Nasaee asserts that Abdullah ibne Omar said:

I collected the Qur'an and used to complete its recitation (as a whole) every night, which news reached the Holy Prophet, and he called me and told me not to hurriedly complete the recitation of the whole Qur'an in one night (ie. not to recite it mechanically as recitation for recitation's sake), but to recite it (intelligently), to ponder over its contents to understand them by completing the recitation in one month.

Ibne Sa'ad asserts in Tabaqat on the authority of Fadhl ibne Dakeen, from Valeed ibne Abdullah ibne Jameel, who reports from his grandmother Umme Waraqa, that the Holy Prophet used to visit her and call her "Shaheedah" (witness) and she was one of those who had collected the Qur'an.

There is a report from ibne Abbas related by Ahmed ibne Hambal, Ibne Abi Shaiba, Tirmizi, Nasaee, Ibne Habban, Haakim, Baihaqi arid Zia-e-Maghdasi, that ibne Abbas once asked Osman why "Bismillah" was not written at the beginning of the Sura-Bara'at, and why they had joined this Sura with the other and put the two suras in the seven big suras. Osman replied as follows: sometimes suras would be revealed to the Holy Prophet, but not complete, and later some verses of the Sura would be revealed,

at which time the Holy Prophet would call the scribes arid tell them to place those verses in certain positions in the suras, arid so the verse subsequently revealed would be placed in position as directed by the Holy Prophet. The Sura-Anfaal was revealed in Madina early after the Hijrat, arid the Sura- Bara'at was the last of the Madinite Suras, but the contents were very similar arid the Holy Prophet did not say whether it is a separate Sura or a continuation of the previous Sura. Therefore, said, Osman, I joined these two together without using "Bismillah" arid put in the long suras.

This statement of Osman, if true, is an attempt on his part to gain credit for the arrangement of some of the Qur'an, namely Bara'at and Anfaal, but it asserts the fact that the Qiir'an used to be written under the supervision and instruction of the Holy Prophet, and that arrangement of the verses (Aayats) in the suras, and the arrangement of the suras one after another, was done according to the instruction of the Holy Prophet (ie. Anfaal and Bara'at). But there are authentic traditions by both the schools (the Sunni as well as the Shia) that the revelation of the Sura~- Bara'at began in the ninth year of the Thjrat with the twenty verses which Ali was eutnisted to recite at Mecca during the Haj season, and "Bismillah" was not revealed in the staat of it.

Thus there is no question of Osman joining these two suuas or arranging them together as one. The Sura~-Bara'at was revealed without '~Bismillah" and, on account of the similarity of the contents, was put after Anfaal at the corninand of the Holy Prophet, and not as part of Anfaal, but as a separate sura. Probably Osman had no knowledge of this, and he followed what was current among the Muslims. It is not possible to imagine that, when the Sura~-Bara'at was revealed (its first part being revealed in the beginning of Zilkaffah of the 9th Hijri),

its actual position among the other suras would not have been made clear by the Holy Prophet until a year before his deparrure from this world, when he used to himseff direct the scribes about the arrangement of the suaas and even the arrangement of the verses in them. In any case, this statement discredits Osman's claiin that he collected fragruents of the Qur1an from people and copied them with the support of witnesses, and supports all the evidence to show that the Qur'an was collected during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet.

According to the unanimous statement of the AhIul-Bait, Bismillah is a part of the Quran revealed to the Holy Prophet at the beginning of every sura except the Sura-e-Bara'at which was revealed without Bismillah. The last portion of Osman 5 statement cannot be his, and may be a fabrication of a later period by those schools of thought which do not consider Bismillah as a part of the Qur'an except for the Bismillah used in the middle of the Sura-e-Naml.