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Some Hadiths About the Compilation of the Quran And Sequencing Of The Surahs in Response To Muhammad Yunus’ Article

By S. Arshad, New Age Islam

2 June 2021

Issue Of Compilation Of The Quran And The Controversy About The Inclusion Or Exclusion Of Some Verses In The Final Copy After The Prophet Pbuh And During The Caliphate Of Hadhrat Abu Bakr R.A., Hadhrat Umar R.A. And Hadhrat Usman R.A.

Main Points:

1.    Issue of compilation of the Quran and the controversy about the inclusion or exclusion of some verses.

2.    Despite Zaid bin Sabit being a hafiz, he had to collect written specimens of the verses of the Quran.

3.    Hadhrat Ubay bin Kaab continued to recite even those verses which were excluded from the final copy of the Quran.

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This article is in response to the article, Removing The Quranic Verses That On Face Value Promote Violence Or Otherwise Vitiate The Message Of Islam (?),  of Muhammad Yunus published in New Age Islam yesterday. The purpose is not to refute what he has written but to add some facts so that the issue of compilation of the Quran and the controversy about the inclusion or exclusion of some verses in the final copy after the prophet pbuh and during the caliphate of Hadhrat Abu Bakr r.a., Hadhrat Umar r.a. and Hadhrat Usman r.a. should be brought to light to understand the issue more clearly.

I am reproducing some hadiths on compilation of the Quran and exclusion of some verses from Sahih Bukhari. The hadiths are from Kitabut Tafseer.

Chapter 924 No 2088

(1) Hadhrat Zaid bin Sabit narrated that after the battle of Yamama against Musailma Kazzab in which many Muslims were martyred, Hadhrat Abu Bakr r.a called him and told him to collect the Quran and compile it in book form. According to Hadhrat Abu Bakr r.a. the idea of compiling the Quran in a book form had occurred to Hadhrat Umar r.a. because in the battle of Yamama many Hafiz-e-Quran had been killed so Hadhrat Umar r.a. thought that if Huffaz are killed this way most of the Quran will be lost. On Hadhrat Abu Bakr's instruction, Hadhrat Zaid bin Sabit started collecting verses of the Quran. In the words of Hadhrat Zaid bin Sabit:

"I started collecting the verses of the Quran. I found verses written on the sticks of date trees and on thin stone slabs. I found the last verse of Surah Tauba in written form only with Abu Khuzaima though many knew it by heart. (The verse was: Laqad Ja'akum Rasulum Min Anfusikum.... ) Then this Mushaf remained with Hadhrat Abu Bakr till his death. After that it was with Hadhrat Umar r.a.. After his demise, it was with Ummul Mumineen Hadhrat Hafsa r.a.

The above quoted hadith points to the fact that despite Zaid bin Sabit being a hafiz, he had to collect written specimens of the verses of the Quran. According to hadiths, four sahabas knew the Quran by heart. Still they had to corroborate what they knew by heart with the written specimens of verses and Surahs. Otherwise it would have been easy for the four Huffaz to sit together and write down the entire Quran.

Another hadith in Sahih Bukhari

(2) Hadhrat Anas bin Malik narrated that Huzaifa bin Yaman came to Hadhrat Usman r.a. He was fighting together with the Muslims of Syria and Iraq to conquer Armenia and Azerbaijan. Huzaifa became very worried because they differed in the way the Quran was recited. He said to Hadhrat Usman, “For God's sake, O Amiral Munmineen! Take care of the Ummah before Muslims start differing with regard to the Quran like the Jews and Christians did." Hearing this, Hadhrat Usman r.a. sent message to Hadhrat Hafsa to send the Mushaf to him with the promise that after preparing its copies the Mushaf would be returned to her. She sent him the Mushaf. Hadhrat Usman told Hadhrat Zaid bin Sabit, Hadhrat Abdullah bin Zubair, Hadhrat Sayeed bin Aas and Hadhrat Abdur Rahman bin Haris bin Hisham to prepare its copies. Hadhrat Usman r.a. told the three persons belonging to Quraish ( Hadhrat Abdullah, Hadhrat Sayeed and Hadhrat Abdur Rahman) that if they differed with Zaid bin Sabit ( who belonged to Madina) over the recitation of a verse, they should write the verse according to the dialect of the Quraish because the Quran was revealed according to the dialect of Quraish. They did so. When the copies were ready, Hadhrat Usman r.a. returned the Mushaf to Ummul Mumineen Hadhrat Hafsa r.a. and sent a copy to each country. After that, he ordered all the pages on which verses were written to be burnt. Ibn Shihab said that he heard it from Kharija bin Zaid bin Sabit who heard it from Zaid bin Sabit r.a. that Hadhrat Zaid bin Sabit said, "During the time we were compiling the Mushaf, we did not find a verse of surah Ahzab. ( the verse was not even in the Mushaf of Hadhrat Hafsa r.a.) though I had heard the holy prophet pbuh recite it many times. We searched for it. Finally we found that in written form with Abu Khuzaima bin Sabit Ansari.(Rijalun Sadaqu Ma Aahadullaha Alaih. Verse 23) We added it to surah Ahzab."

The verse No.23 of Surah Ahzab was not even in the Mushaf of Hadhrat Hafsa. It was in written form only with Abu Khuzaima Ansari.

Chapter 927 No.94

About the sequence of Surahs

(3) "Yusuf bin Mahakam narrated that he was sitting with Hadhrat Ayesha r.a. A man from Iraq and asked, "How should be the burial cloth (Kafan)? She replied, “Alas! Whichever cloth it may be. It should not make any difference to you". Then he said to her, "Ummul Mumineen! Please show me your Mushaf". She asked, “Why?" He said, "I should confirm the sequence of Surahs from it. Many people read the Surahs in different sequences." Hadhrat Aysha r.a. replied, “What’s the problem? You can read this surah first or that surah later. If you want to see the sequence of revelation then the surah from Mufassal (Iqra Bism-E-Ra Bukallazi Khalaq) in which the heaven and hell are mentioned. When people's faith in Islam became strong, then the injunctions about halal and haram were revealed. If the verse about the prohibition of wine had been revealed in the beginning, people would have said, "We shall not give up drinking wine". If the injunction about the prohibition of Zina had been revealed in the beginning, people would have said, " We shall never give up Zina". I was a small sportive girl when this verse was revealed to the holy prophet pbuh in Makkah. (Balis sa'ato mau'idahum.......surah Qamar). And surah Baqarah and surah An Nisa were revealed when I was with the holy prophet pbuh ( in Madina). After that Hadhrat Ayesha r.a. brought out her Mushaf and dictated to him the numbers of Surahs."

This hadith tells us that a Mushaf was also with Hadhrat Ayesha r.a. but her Mushaf was not used for compiling the Quran or for reference or for making copies. The scholars of the Quran can explain this. She also says that sequence of surah was not important. This is for those like Waseem Rizvi who think the Quran should be arranged in the sequence of surahs as they were revealed. God says in the Quran that Quran is a book. And a book is different from a diary. Just because Quran was revealed in parts, it cannot be considered a diary of events and so we can not insist that its Surahs should be arranged according to the sequence they were revealed in.

Chapter 929 No. 2100

(4) Masruq narrated that Abdullah bin Amro bin Aas spoke about Abdullah bin Masood and said , "I keep him in high esteem from the day I heard holy prophet pbuh say, "Learn the Quran from the four persons: Abdullah bin Masood, Saalim, Ma'az bin Jabal and Ubay bin Kaab." 2106

(5) Hadhrat Ibn Abbas r.a. narrated that Hadhrat Umar r.a. would say that Hadhrat Ubay bin Kaab is the most senior Qari among us but when Ubay makes a mistake we ignore it ( He recites even some abrogated verses). He ( Ubay bin Kaab) argues that he has heard the prophet pbuh recite the verse and so he will not give up reciting it at someone's instruction. And Allah also says, "Ma Nansakh Min Aayatin Au Nunsiha Naate Bekhairim Minha Au Misleha."

From the above quoted hadiths it is learnt that Hadhrat Ubay bin Kaab was an authority on Quran and a senior Sahabi like Hadhrat Umar r.a. admits this. It becomes evident from this hadith that Hadhrat Ubay bin Kaab continued to recite even those verses which were excluded from the final copy of the Quran because he had heard the holy prophet pbuh recite the verses. And Hadhrat Umar r.a. could not stop or prohibit him from reciting the abrogated verses. This shows that there were deep differences among Sahaba and Huffaz on the issue of abrogation or exclusion of some verses from the final copy and that some verses were indeed excluded from the final copy and some Sahaba and Huffaz opposed their exclusion or abrogation on the basis that they had heard the holy prophet pbuh recite those verses.

Even hafiz-e-Quran Hadhrat Abdullah bin Masood r.a. was not happy with the exclusion of some verses from the final Mushaf and he also continued to recite the abrogated verses.

However, the controversy about the excluded or abrogated verses died down naturally with the death of those Sahaba who opposed the exclusion of the verses. And the Quran in present form has been accepted as the undisputed book revealed by God to prophet Mohammad pbuh.

However, there are no hadiths to support Waseem Rizvi's contention that some verses (particularly those speaking of war with infidels) were inserted by the three caliphates. Some Sahaba opposed the exclusion of some verses not the insertion of verses. And perhaps only those verses that were not found in written form with any Sahabi were excluded. We have learnt from the hadith of Zaid bin Sabit in which he says that he searched for a verse of surah Ahzab in written form though many Sahaba knew it by heart. Only after it was found in written form with Abu Khuzaima Ansari, the verse was inserted in surah Ahzab. After receiving every revelation the holy prophet pbuh would call a Katib-e-Wahi ( Zaid bin Sabit or Ameer Muawiya) to record it. Therefore, while compiling the Quran, it was perhaps decided that only those verses that were available in written form will be included. This was the reason some verses were left out though some senior Sahiba said they knew those verses by heart and also heard the prophet pbuh recite them. Wallaho Aalam Bissawab.

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Sohail Arshad is a columnist with NewAgeIslam.com.

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