- Allah has said in the Quran that He alone will protect His book, and indeed He has kept His promise.
- The Quran was transmitted to us in an unprecedented and unique manner according to rigorous rules of transmission. The chain of teaching and learning through direct contact continued systematically, methodically, and meticulously until the present age.
- The Quran that we read today contains the same exact words that were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) over 1400 years ago.
- This is quite a miracle, especially when you consider that no other group of people can say that their book has not been subject to change by the time it reached the present generation.
Salam Dear Yasmin,
Thank you for your challenging question and for contacting Ask About Islam.
In fact, there are different ways to prove that the Quran is the word of God, which has always been true and has never been subjected to change or distortion.
The Method of Quran Transmission
Unlike the Bible, the Quran was transmitted to us in an unprecedented and unique manner according to rigorous rules of transmission.
The Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) via the angel Gabriel, and the Prophet subsequently memorized the whole scripture.
Thousands of the Companions of the Prophet learned the Quran directly from the Prophet (peace be upon him) during a time and in a society wherein memorization was a profession.
They memorized it and were known in Islamic history as huffaadh (the memorizers and preservers of the Quran).
Companions Efforts in Preserving the Quran
Moreover, a number of Companions wrote it down during the lifetime of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and it was compiled in its entirety immediately after his death.
The following generation of Muslims learned the Quran directly from the Companions.
Thus the chain of teaching and learning through direct contact continued systematically, methodically, and meticulously until the present age.
Similarly, the chain of huffaadh was never broken, and thus the Quran today has reached us in two forms: the memorized version transmitted through the scholarly chain, and the written version based upon the Companions’ initial recording.
The companion ‘Uthman reported that whenever a new verse was revealed, the Prophet would immediately call a scribe to record it. He would instruct the person to put the specific verse or verses in a particular chapter.
Furthermore, every year during the month of Ramadan, the Prophet would recite the whole Quran from beginning to end in its present-day arrangement, and everyday people could hear it from his own lips in the mosque. Its sequence is no mystery.
Many of the Companions not only memorized it completely, they also wrote it down and even added commentary (tafseer) on their own personal copies.
When the Prophet passed away, the whole Quran was already written down, but it was not yet compiled in book form.
The Initial Compilation of the Quran
During the rule of the first Caliph Abu Bakr, there was a rebellion among some distant Arab tribes that resulted in a series of fierce battles.
In one particular battle, a number of Companions who had memorized the Quran were killed.
The Companion Omar worried that the knowledge of the Quran was in danger, thus he convinced Abu Bakr that the Quran should be compiled into book form as a means of preserving it once and for all.
Zayd bin Thabit was entrusted with this important task. Zayd followed strict methods in his compilation and had dozens of other huffaadh recheck his work to ensure its accuracy.
Abu Bakr, who had also committed the entire Quran to memory, approved of the final product.
After Abu Bakr passed away, the copy was passed to the Caliph ‘Omar, and then ‘Uthman.
Expansion To The World
However as the Muslim world expanded into lands where the people spoke Arabic as a second language, the new Muslims had a difficult time learning the correct pronunciation of the text.
The Caliph ‘Uthman consulted other Companions, and they agreed that official copies of the Quran should be inscribed using only the pronunciation of the Quraysh tribe, the Arabic dialect that the Prophet spoke.
Zayd bin Thabit was again given this assignment, and three other huffaadh were assigned to help him in the task.
Together, the four scribes borrowed the original, complete copy of the Quran, duplicated it manually many times over, and then distributed them to all of the major Muslim cities within the empire.
If the Quran had been changed, there would be huge discrepancies between these two today, as the Quran has reached isolated (and sometimes illiterate) communities through the memorized form of transmission without the written form to correct it.
No such discrepancies have ever been recorded or reported.
In other words, isolated village A in African Mali and isolated village B in Afghanistan will both produce contemporary huffaadh reciting the same words of the Quran, though they did not learn from a similar printing of the scripture, nor has there ever been a concerted international effort to rectify would-be discrepancies.
Allah has said in the Quran that He alone will protect His book, and indeed He has kept His promise.
The Quran that we read today contains the same exact words that were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) over 1400 years ago.
This is quite a miracle, especially when you consider that no other group of people can say that their book has not been subject to change by the time it reached the present generation.
Furthermore, from the prolific arts that have accompanied Quranic learning and transmission, we can learn of the auspiciousness and honor with which the Muslims have traditionally held the Quran.
From all dimensions, the Quran will never cease to be a miracle until the last day. We hope our brief analysis of its transmission and compilation has been satisfactory.
Thank you for your question, and please keep in touch.
(From AboutIslam’s archives)