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Quran and Tradition Compiled After Prophet’s Death

22 August, 2016
Q In Islam, the Quran was not compiled together and was so after the death of the prophet. Even then, Uthman had to destroy all copies to ensure there are no variations. In addition to this, prophetic tradition was only written more than a century after the death of the prophet. If that is alright and they are no problem in Islam's natural development, then why are your arguments against Christianity seem unfairly bigoted?


Salam (Peace) Dear Brother,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

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To begin with, religion is a personal choice and everyone is allowed to believe in whatever he or she wishes to believe in; in Islam there is no compulsion in religion.  However, when incorrect statements or misunderstandings are presented, it is our right to clarify them.

Religion can be proven logically by quoting text from its own religious books or its own history.  If one is not convinced then there is no harm; we just hope that people broaden their understanding and learn other religions to at least expand chains of communication and eliminate misconceptions.

The Quran is a revelation from God, the creator of the worlds, so He is the original author; that’s why you don’t see an author anywhere in the Quran’s cover page.  There is only one Quran which is in Arabic and many translations of the Quran in several languages.  There could be multiple translations by different authors in the same language such as English.

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The Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through the archangel Gabriel who used to make the Prophet memorize the Quran and made him revise it every year in the month of Ramadan, the fasting month.  Muhammad in his turn made his followers memorize it.

They also wrote it on palm leaves to make their children memorize it.  This is a tradition until today since there are millions of Muslims who have memorized the Quran cover to cover by heart.

Even if all copies of the Quran are burnt or destroyed, Muslims can reproduce it in no time by simply forming groups of memorizers to duplicate the original.

Today we have what is known as the Uthmani print of the Quran since at the time of the third caliph, Uthman Ibn Affan, he ordered that one single copy of the Quran to be circulated which was upgraded to contain dots and vowels to make it easier for non-Arabs to read.

Such standardization was important and remains as such so new Muslims, especially non-Arabic speakers, are able to read it properly without making any grammatical errors.  The same copy is in circulation today, if you ask any mosque, they will supply you with a copy.

So the same Quran that was revealed to Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the same one that all Muslims use today; not even a single letter is modified.

The prophetic tradition known as hadith was authenticated by using what is known nowadays as the theory of probability in statistics.  For example, there is fifty percent equal probability that a child is born either a male or a female.

As a pioneer, one of the prominent Muslim scholars of hadith, Imam Al-Bukhari, authenticated each tradition twenty seven times. Let me explain; he put stringent rules which are summarized below:

  1. At least three companions must have heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) express a certain statement, at least three from the next generation must have individually heard the same from the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) so this brings the total to nine and three must have heard from the nine individually making the grand total twenty seven during Al-Bukhari’s generation. The people that narrated traditions for Imam Al-Bukhari are known as rawees, meaning narrators or reporters of hadith.
  1. No two narrators should live in the same place nor have ever met each other. So the twenty seven narrators who are going to narrate a single prophetic tradition to Imam Al-Bukhari must have never seen or talked to each other.
  1. The narrator must be trustworthy and known for his piety.
  1. The chain of narrators must be complete all the way up to the Prophet (peace be upon him).  Meaning the narrator at the time of Imam Al-Bukhari will mention who did he hear it from and who was the companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him) who narrated it from the prophet himself.  With rule number one in mind, this will produce many chains of narrators for a single tradition.

So Imam Al-Bukhari spent many years of his life traveling the Muslim world to collect prophetic traditions according to the above mentioned rules. He collected over two thousand hadiths by asking twenty seven narrators for each single hadith.

If I ask any statistician today: What is the probability of the hadith being false, his answer is going to be zero percent because logically it is impossible that twenty seven people say exactly the same words and refer to different narrators for the same hadith.

Other scholars followed the footsteps of Imam Al-Bukhari, such as Imam Muslim and many others. However, they were less stringent than Imam Al-Bukhari since the probability of a hadith becoming false is still zero if the final narrators have been narrowed down from twenty seven to only ten for example.

These hadiths are referred to as Sahih (most authentic).  That’s why the books of those scholars are called Sahih Muslim and Sahih Al-Bukhari.  If the chain of narrators is broken then the hadith is classified as weak (Dhaeef).  There are many other categories and sub-categories of hadith classification.

There is even a category for false hadith (Mawdhoa); this helps to exclude a so called hadith that someone quotes since some people have fabricated statements and attributed it to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Therefore, Muslim scholars deduce their rulings from the Quran and the authentic prophetic tradition (sahih) leaving the Muslims with the most authentic religion ever.

I hope this helps answer your questions.

Salam and please stay in touch.