The Most Miraculous Process Ever in the Preservation of a Book

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THE EFFORT AND ENDEAVOUR OF THE UMMAH IN THE PRESERVATION OF THE ORIGINALITY OF THE QUR’AAN ARE MANIFESTATIONS OF THE DIVINE WILL TO SAFEGUARD THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE QUR’AAN SHAREEF

Inspite of his desperate and abortive endeavors to show that the Qur’aan–e–Hakeem is not authentic and that the Qur’aan Shareef has suffered the same fate as the Bible in regard to distortion, interpolation and deletion, John Gilchrist has been constrained to make the following admission:

“This booklet contains a brief historical survey of the collection of the Qur’aan text from the time of Muhammad’s death until the caliphate of Uthmaan when the text was finally standardized into the form in which it appears today.” (Page i – Gilchrist’s brochure on the Qur’aan)

In fact Gilchrist’s contentions are all supposedly based on the developments during the period stated in the aforementioned paragraph of Gilchrist’s booklet, hence he says on the cover of his brochure:

“A study of the textual history of the Qur’aan from the death of Muhammad to the Caliphate of Uthmaan,”

From this statement and the abovementioned admission made by Gilchrist, the following facts are of great significance:

The supposed changes (supposed by Gilchrist) which occurred in the Qur’aan Shareef were wrought in the period from the death of Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) until Uthmaan’s Khilaafat. Since the time of the Khilaafat of Hadhrat Uthmaan (Radiallahu anhu) to this day there exists the “standardized form” of the Qur’aan Shareef. In other words, Gilchrist concedes at least this much that the Qur’aan which the World of Islam possesses and reads today is the same Standard Form which was “finally standardized” by Hadhrat Uthmaan (Radiallahu anhu).

The demise of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) occurred in the year 632 of the Christian Era and the demise of Hadhrat Uthmaan (Radiallahu anhu) happened in 656 of the Christian Era (C.E.). Thus, the period from the demise of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) to the demise of Hadhrat Uthmaan (Radiallahu anhu) was a duration of a mere 24 years. But for the purpose of our discussion this period shrinks to a mere 14 years since the event of the standardization of the Qur’aan Shareef by Hadhrat Uthmaan (Radiallahu anhu) took place in about 26 Hijri (646 C.E.) after the Conquest of Armenia by the forces of Islam.

These facts lead to the conclusion that the contended change and interpolation (supposed by Gilchrist) occurred during these 14 years. At the end of this brief period, the process of interpolation was effectively halted by Hadhrat Uthmaan (Radiallahu anhu) who arranged the Standardized Copy of the Qur’aan Shareef – the very same version we possess to this day, a fact which Gilchrist himself concedes in his statement:

“…until the caliphate of Uthmaan when the text was finally standardized into the form in which it appears today.”

Insha’Allah, it shall be shown later that the ‘Standardized Form” in our possession is the very Qur’aan which existed during the time of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) – the Qur’aan which Nabi – e – Kareem (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and all the Sahaabah recited. There is absolutely no difference in the Version which the Ummah recites today and in the Version which Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) recited.

However, before proceeding to negate and neutralize the baseless claims and assertions of Gilchrist pertaining to the supposed change which occurred in the brief span of 14 years, it is necessary to draw attention to the admission of Gilchrist – an admission which knocks out the very bottom of his contention that the Qur’aan is not authentic. It is Gilchrist’s claim that the Qur’aan Shareef has been altered and the Qur’aan in our possession today is not the whole of the Qur’aan which existed during the time of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam).

But, his claim contains an absurd contradiction in that he concedes the authenticity of the Version standardized by Hadhrat Uthmaan (Radiallahu anhu) while denying the irrefutable fact that the “Uthmaan” version is none other than the very Version which existed in the time of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam). In conceding that the Qur’aan which we have today in our possession is the “text” which was “standardized into the form in which it appears today” by Hadhrat Uthmaan (Radiallahu anhu) more than 1400 hundred years ago, Gilchrist is guilty by implication of the ludicrous claim that while the Qur’aan Shareef withstood the ravages and vicissitudes of fourteen hundred years (from the time of Uthmaan –Radiallahu anhu – to the present) and retained the authenticity bestowed by Uthmaan (Radiallahu anhu), it (the Qur’aan) failed to maintain its originality during the short period of 14 years (from the demise of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) – to the time when it was standardized by Hadhrat Uthmaan – Radiallahu anhu).

This conclusion is absurd to the extreme. No unbiased and intelligent person can be prepared to accept that the Qur’aan, inspite of withstanding the ravages of 14 centuries in maintaining its form (as standardized by Uthmaan), lacked the ability to perform this same feat of maintaining its authenticity in the short period of 14 years.

How is it possible for the Qur’aan to have been so well preserved for 14 centuries and on the admission of Gilchrist himself the very form standardized by Uthmaan (Radiallahu anhu) “appears today”, but could not be preserved in the form handed down by Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) for only 14 years?

If the process of interpolation and deletion had set in after the demise of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam), how was this supposed process arrested and eliminated to give rise to a Qur’aanic version which held its originality and authenticity for fourteen centuries – from the time of Uthmaan (Radiallahu anhu) to this day? The following facts should not escape the seeker of the truth:

i) After the demise of Hadhrat Uthmaan (Radiallahu anhu) the process of the initiation of deviated sects set in. Groups inimical to the Sahaabah and the true teachings of Islam reared their heads.

ii) A great number of Sahaabah had already departed from this world.

iii) In contrast, the number of the Sahaabah living during the fourteen years from the demise of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) to the occasion of the “standardization” of the Qur’aan Shareef was greater.

Keeping in mind these facts, it can never be accepted that inspite of the Qur’aan retaining its originality (the “form standardized” by Uthmaan) for 14 long centuries when all the Sahaabah, the first students, scribes and teachers of the Qur’aan, had departed and deviated sects sprang up, it (the Qur’aan Shareef) lost its authenticity in the very first fourteen years after the demise of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam), a period in which all the Sahaabah existed. If the first Scribes – those who memorized the whole Qur’aan under the supervision of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) – and the first Students of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had failed to preserve the originality and the authenticity of the Qur’aan Shareef in the first 14 years, then how was it possible for the Ummah of Islam to have retained the authenticity of the Uthmaani Version for such a long period of 14 centuries when so many forces inimical to Islam were arraigned against the Qur’aan and Islam? If this feat could have been accomplished by those not directly connected with the Qur’aan (i.e. non-Sahaabah), what is the difficulty which precluded those directly connected to the Qur’aan (viz., the Sahaabah) to have retained the authenticity of Muhammad’s Version for a mere 14 years? Intelligence will not accept Gilchrist’s claim to be rational.

Gilchrist has named his brochure: “Evidences for the Collection of the Qur’aan”. On the basis of these “evidences” he seeks to refute the authenticity of the Qur’aan Shareef. But all such “evidences” are confined to the initial fourteen-year period when all the Sahaabah and authorities of the Qur’aan were alive and propagating the Qur’aan, its teachings and recital, exactly as they had obtained it from Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam). In the attempt to negate the authenticity of the Qur’aan Shareef, Gilchrist has been compelled to ignore fourteen centuries which have passed over the Qur’aan-e-Hakeem – fourteen hundred years which saw no change overcoming the Qur’aan according to even Gilchrist who has been constrained by the miraculous nature of the Qur’aan to proclaim the authenticity of this Divine Book in the following words, albeit inadvertently:

“…the collection of the Qur’aan text from the time of Muhammad’s death until the caliphate of Uthmaan when the text was finally standardized into the form in which it appears today (fourteen hundred years after the event).” (NB: Words in brackets are ours).

If the Qur’aan has undergone change as the Bible has according to Gilchrist, then why has he overlooked fourteen centuries of the Qur’aan’s history? If the process of interpolation and deletion supposedly wrought in the Qur’aan was initiated after the demise of Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam), why did this process not continue after the 14 years when it was “finally standardized into the form in which it appears today”? What hidden and mysterious power preserved the authenticity and originality of the “standardized” version for a full fourteen hundred years?

Insha’Allah, it shall be shown that the form standardized during the time of Hadhrat Uthmaan (Radiallahu anhu) was the very same form which existed during the time of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam). It now devolves on us to produce the proof to establish this claim. Once it has been substantiated that the Version recited by Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is the very same Version adopted during the Khilaafat of Hadhrat Uthmaan (Radiallahu anhu), then Gilchrist will have no rational option other than conceding the authenticity of the Qur’aan since he has already admitted that the form of the Qur’aan standardized by Hadhrat Uthmaan (Radiallahu anhu) is the very same form which is in our possession today.

Gilchrist says on page 1 of his brochure:

“It is universally believed throughout the Muslim world that the Qur’aan in circulation today is precisely that which Allah revealed to Muhammad, that nothing whatsoever has been changed, that no passage has been omitted from the text, that no man added to it, and that, down to the last letter, it has been preserved intact by the power of God.”

This is precisely what Muslims claim. The Qur’aan is the Divine and Eternal Truth. The Qur’aan in our possession is the very Qur’aan- down to the last letter – which was revealed to Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Over fourteen centuries of time attests to the authenticity and the unchanged form of the Qur’aan. Friend and foe alike bear testimony to the Eternal and Unaltered Truth of the Qur’aan. Gilchrist’s laments and baseless comparison with the Bible will never alter the irrefutable authenticity of the Qur’aan. We contend without the slightest fear of contradiction that nothing whatever has been added to or deleted from the Qur’aan. Whatever “proof” and “evidence” Gilchrist has adduced in his brochure to refute the claim of Islam will, Insha’Allah, be demolished.

Confronted by the indisputable fact that no book on earth enjoys originality and authenticity as the Qur’aan, Gilchrist attempts to argue the insignificance of this fact. He thus says on page 2 of his brochure:

“No amount of human effort, no matter how remarkably punctilious or scrupulous it may be, can be adduced as proof of a divine miracle.”

In relation to the preservation of the authenticity of the Qur’aan the super-human effort and endeavours of the Ummah of Islam are indeed the reflections of the Divine Miracle to maintain the authenticity of the Qur’aan-e-Hakeem. The seeker of the truth will naturally ask: Why does no book (other than the Qur’aan) enjoy the same high degree of total authenticity and exactness as the Qur’aan? Why is it possible that the Qur’aan enjoys the unique and miraculous capacity of it being memorized by millions of people throughout its history – memorized in exactly the same form as it was revealed, and not with only “seventeen consonants” and not without vowel sounds as the arguments of Gilchrist convey to an unwary person? Why has it not been possible to memorize any other book – Divine or otherwise, word-for-word, letter for letter, in entirety? Why could the Jews not safeguard the authenticity of their Scripture and why could the Christians not protect the authenticity of their Bible? Why has this unique feat been accomplished by only the followers of Islam?

This all indicates the workings of Divine Power. Inspite of the ravages of time, the passing of fourteen hundred years, the spiritual and mundane decline of Muslims, the subjugation of the Muslim people and their lands by foreigners inimical to Islam, the initiation of organized conspiracies on governmental basis by the foes of Islam to print false copies of the Qur’aan and distribute among the illiterate masses of Muslims, the lack of technological methods of printing, etc, we find that the Qur’aan has maintained its authenticity. If the prejudiced Mr. Gilchrist intransigently wishes to maintain his baseless charge against the Qur’aan Shareef which according to him was altered in the first 14 years after the demise of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam), then at least he has conceded, albeit inadvertently, that the present Qur’aan in circulation today is the very same Qur’aan which was “standardized” by Uthmaan (Radiallahu anhu).

Here is a Book which on the admission of Gilchrist himself has withstood the ravages and vicissitudes of fourteen centuries. Here is a book which millions of Muslims recite in exactly the same form as handed down to them according to Gilchrist some fourteen hundred years ago, from the time of Uthmaan’s Khilaafat which was only a decade or so after the demise of Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam). What is that power which has kept intact the authenticity of this Book which even Gilchrist acknowledges dates back to the time of Uthmaan some fourteen centuries ago? Intelligence will answer that it is only Divine Power – a Divine Miracle which transmitted this Book so safely and so intact down the passage of fourteen hundred years. Indeed, Gilchrist will curse himself for letting the cat out of the bag, for he has admitted that the Qur’aan in circulation today is:

“…. The Qur’aan text from the time of Muhammad’s death until the caliphate of Uthmaan when the text was finally standardized into the form in which it appears today.”

From Uthmaan (Radiallahu anhu) to the present..fourteen centuries… and the same “standardized” text remains intact and authentic in its original form!!! What greater evidence does Mr. Gilchrist need as testimony for the Divine Miracle guarding the Qur’aan Shareef?

THE WRITTEN QUR’AAN DURING THE LIFETIME OF RASULULLAH (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam)

Gilchrist alleges that the first copy of the Qur’aan Shareef compiled by the command of Hadhrat Abu Bakr Siddique (Radiallahu anhu) was not the full and complete Revelation in entirety. Pressing this claim, Gilchrist says:

“Zaid clearly knew the Qur’aan well but the suggestion that he knew it perfectly, and in its entirety, is contradicted by this statement attributed to him: So I started looking for the Qur’aan and collecting it from (what was written on) palm-leaf stalks, thin white stones and also from the men who knew it by heart, till I found the last Verse of the Surat at-Tauba (repentance) with Abi Khuzaima Al-Ansari, and I did not find it with anybody other than him.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 6, p.478)

Retention of the Qur’aan Shareef in entirety in the memory of man is indeed an act of Allah Ta’ala. Inspite of the great difficulty and marvel of the task, it is common knowledge that millions of Muslims, from the childhood, accomplish this wonderful feat. Innumerable Huffaaz to this day exist, who can recite the Qur’aan Shareef in entirety from memory.

When ordinary Muslims, even kids in the Ummah, possess the divinely bestowed ability to absorb the Qur’aan in entirety into their memories, what was the impossibility which could have precluded such a great Sahaabi as Zaid Bin Thaabit (Radiallahu anhu) from having memorized the Qur’aan in entirety? Zaid Bin Thaabit (Radiallahu anhu) was among the foremost of the Scribes who wrote down the Wahi (Qur’aanic Revelation) under the direct supervision of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Furthermore, Hadhrat Zaid has the distinction of being the only Sahaabi who listened to Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) recite the entire Qur’aan Majeed in the presence of Jibraeel (alayhis salaam) on the last occasion prior to Nabi-e-Kareem’s (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) demise. There is not the slightest vestige of doubt in regard to Zaid’s mastery of the Qur’aan. That he was a Haafiz of outstanding ability is a unanimous fact of the Ummah.

The contrary has been posited by only Gilchrist and the enemies of Islam. Gilchrist has not furnished an iota of evidence to back up his claim. Besides wishful thinking and his personal opinion there is absolutely no evidence for the suggestion that Hadhrat Zaid Bin Thaabit (Radiallahu anhu) was not a full and perfect Haafiz of the Qur’aan. All the facts of the Ahadith which Gilchrist has taken to base his claims on, uphold the Ummah’s view that Hadhrat Zaid (Radiallahu anhu) was among the best of Huffaaz. He knew the Qur’aan in entirety from memory.

Gilchrist presents the aforementioned Hadith of Bukhaari to bolster his suggestion regarding Hadhrat Zaid (Radiallahu anhu), and he claims that the said narration contradicts the view that Zaid (Radiallahu anhu) knew the Qur’aan perfectly and in its entirety. But, the Hadith in question in no way contradicts this claim. The Hadith does not even remotely suggest that Hadhrat Zaid (Radiallahu anhu) was an imperfect Haafiz. Hadhrat Zaid’s search for the verses of the Qur’aan from various people and from written materials does not indicate that he did not know the Qur’aan perfectly and in its entirety. The “search” for the Qur’aanic Aayat was not the consequence of Hadhrat Zaid (Radiallahu anhu) not knowing the Qur’aan perfectly and in its entirety as Gilchrist has understood from Hadith. The task of compiling the Qur’aan Shareef in book form was indeed a momentous undertaking. So great was this task that Hadhrat Zaid commented:

“I take oath by Allah that if these two elders had imposed on me the task of washing some mountain, it would not have been as difficult as the task of compiling the Qur’aan Majeed.”

The most stringent measures were instituted to safeguard the originality and the authenticity of the Qur’aan Shareef. The Sahaabah never relied solely on the memory of any particular person nor on only memory for accomplishing this glorious and most difficult task. Inspite of the existence of numerous perfect Huffaaz who knew the Qur’aan perfectly and in its entirety, other strict measures were adopted to corroborate the Qur’aan which was stored in the memories of the Sahaabah-e-Kiraam.

Hadhrat Zaid Bin Thaabit (Radiallahu anhu) being a perfect Haafiz could have written the Qur’aan from his own memory. Besides Zaid (Radiallahu anhu), hundreds of other Huffaaz were present. It was, therefore, relatively simple to have established an organization of Huffaaz for the purpose of writing the Qur’aan Majeed. Moreoever, Hadhrat Zaid could have copied the Qur’aan from the various manuscripts which were written during the time of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam). However, he exercised great caution in this holy task. As a precautionary measure he did not content himself with any one particular method for compiling the Qur’aan Shareef. A number of measures were employed simultaneously to preserve the authenticity of the Qur’aanic text. The measures adopted were:

1. Firstly, Hadhrat Zaid (Radiallahu anhu) would verify a manuscript or a written recording of the Qur’aan by means of his own memory.

2. Hadhrat Umar (Radiallahu anhu) who also was a Haafiz, was appointed jointly with Hadhrat Zaid (Radiallahu anhu) to accomplish this task. Hence, whenever some written verses of the Qur’aan were presented, both would verify and accept these jointly.

3. Two uprighteous and reliable witnesses had to bear testimony as to the authenticity of the verses. Only after the obtainal of such testimony under oath would the verses be accepted. This testimony applied to verses written under the direct supervision of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam). The witness had to testify that the verses were written in the presence of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam).

4. The verse thus accepted and recorded, would then be compared with the written records of various Sahaabah.

It will be clear from the aforegoing explanation that the search conducted by Hadhrat Zaid (Radiallahu anhu) was just one of the measures which were adopted in the task of compiling the Qur’aan Shareef in book form. The search was one of the precautionary measures instituted and cannot be interpreted to mean that Hadhrat Zaid did not know the Qur’aan perfectly and in its entirety.

In the Hadith of Bukhaari cited by Gilchrist, the following statement of Hadhrat Zaid (Radiallahu anhu) appears:

“.. till I found the last Verse of Surat at-Tauba (repentance) with Abi Khuzaima al-Ansari, and I did not find it with anybody other than him.”

Gilchrist draws the following baseless conclusion from this statement:

“It was quite obviously a widespread search that Zaid conducted and the statement that one passage (Surah 9. 128-129) was found with only one man shows that no one knew the whole book by heart. He could not find another supposed hafiz who knew it.”

Gilchrist draws heavily from the works of other non-Muslims to support his arguments which are in fact the argument of those inimical towards Islam. Although Gilchrist claims that his case is based on “evidences” from the Hadith, the conclusion which he has formed in regard to the aforementioned Hadith in Bukhaari Shareef is quite peculiar since he demonstrates colossal ignorance of the actual meaning of the statement of Hadhrat Zaid Bin Thaabit (Radiallahu anhu). Only a man totally ignorant of the Ahadith and the history of the Qur’aanic compilation will aver that since “the last verse of Surah Taubah was found with Abu Khuzaimah”, Zaid and the other Huffaaz were not perfect Huffaaz and did not know the Qur’aan perfectly. A study of the Hadith in question and its correct meaning show that the conclusion arrived at by Gilchrist is highly erroneous.

Keeping in mind the method of compiling the Qur’aan Majeed, viz., several methods were utilized simultaneously – confidence was not reposed in any one method – Zaid’s statement regarding the last two verses of Surah Taubah becomes quite clear:

“I found the last two verses of Surah Baraa-ah only by Abu Khuzaimah and by none other.”

This statement does not mean that no one besides Abu Khuzaimah knew about these verses or that no one apart from Abu Khuzaimah had a written record of these verses. There were a number of Kaatibeen-e-Wahi (Scribes of Revelation) who wrote the Qur’aanic Revelation immediately after it was revealed and under the direct supervision of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Khuzaimah (Radiallahu anhu) was one such Scribe who wrote the Qur’aanic Aayaat under the direct supervision of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam). The meaning of the above statement of Hadhrat Zaid should now be very clear that among those who had written the verses under the direct command and supervision of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam), Khuzaimah was the only person from whom he (Zaid) found the last two verses of Surah Baraa-ah written.

It was known beyond the slightest shadow of doubt that these two verses were part of the Qur’aan. Hundreds of Sahaabah knew the verses from memory. Furthermore, those Sahaabah who had in their possession the complete recording of the Qur’aan writing also had these particular verses in their written records. But, as far as having written them under the direct supervision of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was concerned, only Abu Khuzaimah (Radiallahu anhu) had these verses.

The fact that Zaid (Radiallahu anhu) says that “I found the last verse … and did not find it with anybody other than him”, clearly indicates that Zaid had knowledge of these verses. If he did not have any such knowledge, he would have been surprised at having located the verses by Abu Khuzaimah and by no one else. Zaid’s methods of compiling the Qur’aan were strict and they were pursued vigorously in setting the Qur’aanic verses to paper in a classified and arranged order. The statement of Hadhrat Zaid Bin Thaabit (Radiallahu anhu) only conveys that among the several measures adopted for acceptance of verses – to prove the authenticity of the verses beyond the slightest vestige of doubt – the application of one measure in relation to the last two verses of Surah Baraah was fulfilled by the written record of only Hadhrat Abu Khuzaimah (Radiallahu anhu). The statement of Zaid means nothing else apart from this. There is, therefore, no basis for the wishful thinking and baseless assumptions of Gilchrist in the Hadith cited by him.

THE HISTORY OF THE QUR’AANS PRESERVATION

It is a well-known fact that the Qur’aan Majeed was not revealed all at once, but the revelation was in piecemeal over a period of years. The Qur’aan is the Revelation of Allah Ta’ala, which was sent to Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). We are not concerned of the opinions and beliefs of the kuffaar in this matter. Thus, no matter what the enemies of Islam believe in this regard, Muslims firmly believe that the FIRST, HIGHEST and MOST GUARDED treasury in which the Qur’aan Majeed was stored and protected here on earth was the gracious heart of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). The kuffaar will allege that this is blind and irrational faith. So be it. We are not concerned with their claims and conclusions stemming from their kufr and malice for Islam. We are the slaves of Islam and the slaves of Allah. We are the believers in the Truth of Allah, hence we are not bothered by the accusations and slanders of the enemies of Allah and the enemies of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).

A necessary corollary of Imaan is that Muslims believe that the first and most guarded treasury of the Qur’aan was the blessed heart and mind of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). The Revelation of the Qur’aan was firmly, accurately and permanently impressed in the mind of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). This was the Treasury – the initial Treasury – into which the possibility of the slightest error, modification and change did not and could not enter. Allah declares in the Surah Qiyaamah:

“Most assuredly its (the Qur’aan’s) compilation and its (correct) recitation are Our responsibility”

Besides Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) reciting the Qur’aan daily in abundance, annually he would recite the entire Qur’aan during the month of Ramadhaan to Jibraeel (alayhis salaam) who would listen to the recitation. During the year of Rasulullah’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) demise, he recited the whole Qur’aan twice to Jibraeel (alayhis salaam).

In view of the presence of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) among the Sahaabah, there was absolutely no possibility of any part of the Qur’aan being lost during his lifetime. It is unreasonable and illogical to assert that any part of the Qur’aan could have been lost while Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was alive. Yes, a kaafir may claim so since he does not at all believe in even the fact that Muhammad was the Rasool of Allah. There is, therefore, no surprise in a kaafir’s rejection of the Qur’aan’s authenticity. When a person does not believe in the Nubuwwat (Prophethood) of Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), then it is entirely too much and silly to expect him to believe in the Qur’aan being the divine book of Allah Ta’ala.

But, anyone who initiates a discussion on the premiss that Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was the Rasool of Allah cannot logically claim that any part of the Qur’aan was lost during the lifetime of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). If after having accepted the Nubuwwat of Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) any follower of Islam doubts the total preservation of the Qur’aan, it follows that his doubt is the consequence of him doubting in the very Nubuwwat of Nabi-e-Kareem (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). A logical and necessary corollary of accepting a man’s Nubuwwat is the belief that Allah Ta’ala has chosen him and will be guarding His Word which is being revealed to the Nabi. It should be therefore quite simple to understand that during the lifetime of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) there existed not the slightest possibility of any part of the Qur’aan becoming lost or changed.

In writing his pamphlet to disprove the authenticity of the Qur’aan, Gilchrist has embarked on an exercise in futility and redundancy since he served absolutely no purpose thereby. If his motive in writing the pamphlet was to mislead Muslims, then he will fail miserably since a Muslim’s Imaan is based on blind faith of the truth of Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). One who believes Muhammad to be the Rasool of Allah will dismiss Gilchrist’s contentions as absurd and nonsense. If Gilchrist’s motive is to convince Christians who may have inclined towards the opinion of the Qur’aan’s authenticity, then his task would have been simpler if he merely pointed out to Christians that “Muhammad is not the Messenger of God” – Christians in fact do not accept his Prophethood – and that the “proclamations” of one who is not a “Prophet of God” cannot be Divine Revelation. There would then not have been any need for Gilchrist to have embarked on his futile exercise.

THE DIVINELY INSTITUTED AND MIRACULOUS INSTITUTION OF HIFZ (MEMORIZATION OF THE QUR’AN)

Let us revert to the facts of the preservation of the Qur’aan during the age of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). The Sahaabah themselves were repositories of the preservation of the Qur’aan Majeed. Under the guidance, instruction and supervision of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) innumerable Sahaabah memorized the Qur’aan Shareef. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) did not impart only the meanings of the Qur’aan to the Sahaabah. Great emphasis was accorded to correct recitation.

In fact, correct meanings depend on correct recitation – on a text correctly preserved. In their eagerness to learn and memorize the Qur’aan, the noble Sahaabah vied with one another. Their fervour for the Qur’aan was so high and their enthusiasm was so great that some Sahaabiah (Female disciples of Rasulullah – (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) even compromised their mahr (marriage dowry) in lieu of their husbands teaching them the Qur’aan Majeed. Hundreds of Sahaabah devoted their whole lives to this purpose and pursuit. Not only did they memorize the Qur’aan, but at night they recited it in Salaat. This was no occasional practice among them. This was the practice daily.

Within a short while a large group of Sahaabah had committed the Qur’aan Majeed to memory. In this group, besides the four Khulafa-e-Raashideen, were such prominent Sahaabah as Talha, Sa’d, Ibn Mas’ud, Huzaifah Bin Yamaan, Saalim, Abu Hurairah, Abdullah Bin Umar, Abdullah Ibn Abbaas, Amr Bin al-‘As, Abdullah Ibn Amr, Muaawiyah, Abdullah Ibn Zubair, Abdullah Ibn As-Saaib, Aishah, Hafsah, Umme Salmah and many others (Ridhwaanullaah alayhim). In the face of conclusive historical evidence indicating a very large body of Huffaaz among the Sahaabah, the following observation made by Gilchrist is fallacious:

“He (i.e. Hadhrat Zaid) could not find another supposed hafiz who knew it.”

Only a blind bigot and an enemy of Islam will hold the view that the institution of Hifz in Islam is a “supposed” entity. The open bias displayed by Gilchrist should be sufficiently convincing that he is in no position to discuss the subject impartially. Even kuffaar concede the real existence of the institution of Hifz among Muslims to this day. When thousands, nay millions, of Huffaaz exist in the world even after fourteen centuries of Islamic history, how unjust and absurd is it for Gilchrist to attempt a denigration of this institution! How can one claim that the Huffaaz in Rasulullah’s time were “supposed” Huffaaz when the world of Islam even today can boast of innumerable perfect Huffaaz? Gilchrist’s contention that there were no true and perfect Huffaaz among the Sahaabah is unsupported by historical facts and has to be dismissed as the wishful thinking of one who has no understanding of Islam and its institutions.

In the initial period of Islam, great emphasis was accorded to memorizing the Qur’aan since this was the most reliable method of preserving the Qur’aan. It was the most dependable and most efficacious way of guarding the Qur’aan in an age in which there was a dearth of writers and writing materials. If reliance had to be placed on writing for the guarding of the Holy Revelation, dissemination of the Qur’aan Majeed would not have been effected so extensively and intensively neither would the process of preserving the Qur’aan have been so reliable.

It is a well-known fact that the memorizing method is exclusive with the Qur’aan Majeed. All other previous scriptures did not enjoy the institution of Hifz, hence all were lost, interpolated and mutilated by their very followers. On the contrary, the Qur’aan, enjoying Divine Protection, was conferred with the blessing of this institution of Hifz which acted as the mundane agency for the preservation of the text in its original form and purity.

Thus, the measure of Hifz is no ordinary method engineered by human mind. The role it played and plays in the preservation of the Qur’aan is so important and miraculous that it cannot be likened to non-Muslim kids swotting a few lines of poetry for school lessons. The efficiency and wonder of the agency of Hifz is of such staggering import that to this day, no enemy of Islam has succeeded in forging a text which could be accepted by the most ignorant, illiterate and backward tribes of Muslims inhabiting even the most isolated places of the world. In fact, kuffaar governments have attempted to eliminate the true Qur’aan from their illiterate Muslim subjects, but never were they able to succeed. The Huffaaz – the true Huffaaz and Ulama – were always present to wreck and thwart the conspiracies engineered by the inimical forces of the kuffaar.

The faculty of memory which was divinely bestowed to the Arabs, was so profound that they were able to memorize thousands of verses of poetry with relative ease. Thorough use was thus made of the faculty of memory in the preservation of the Qur’aan. This legacy inherited by the Ummah of Islam may be tested even today. Take away all the copies of the Qur’aan from any given group or community of Muslims. Within a short while the Qur’aan will surface in written form from the hearts and memories of the Huffaaz. This is no wishful thinking. It is an irrefutable and an indisputable fact which even the enemies of Islam concede. Gilchrist has no alternative, but to accept this reality. If this then is the case of memory after fourteen centuries of the Qur’aan history, then what precluded this phenomenon or this institution from exercising its effect during the very age of Wahi – during the very time of Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam)? Even Gilchrist is constrained to admit:

“… the caliphate of Uthman when the text was finally standardized into the form in which it appears today.”

Mr Gilchrist, “today” is fourteen hundred years after the event of the “standardization”, but even according to you, today’s Qur’aan appears in that “standardized” form which was prepared fourteen centuries ago. Does this not ring any bell in your mind? The bell of truth! That what has been preserved intact for fourteen centuries by lesser beings could also have been preserved for a decade by greater beings – in fact could have been preserved intact to a greater degree of authenticity.

It was through this divine agency of Hifz (memorizing the Qur’aan) that the Qur’aan Majeed reached the remotest corners of the world and was preserved intact in all parts of the world to the envy and chagrin of all the enemies of Islam. But, no matter how they may blow their pipes of envy and malice, the enemies of the Qur’aan will never achieve their heart’s desire of seeing the distortion and effacement of the Qur’aanic text since Allah Ta’ala Himself declares:

“Verily, We have revealed the thikr (Qur’aan), and most assuredly, We are its Protectors.”

Elsewhere, in the Qur’aan, Allah Ta’ala declares:

“They (the enemies) desire to extinguish the Noor of Allah, but Allah will complete His Noor even though the kaafiroon detest it.”

COMMITTING THE QUR’AAN TO WRITING

Although the institution of Hifz was and is the best, most reliable and of decisive importance in the preservation of the Qur’aan, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) did not restrict the means of protecting the Qur’aan to only memory. Besides the committal of the Qur’aan to memory, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) instituted elaborate measures for having the Qur’aan recorded in writing during his very lifetime. Furthermore, writing the Qur’aan was not delayed until the whole of the Qur’aan Majeed was revealed. The Qur’aanic Wahi was recorded in writing immediately after the verses were revealed. The Qur’aan Majeed was recorded in writing on whatever writing materials were available at the time. In addition, the writing took place under the direct supervision of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). The Hadith evidences are very explicit on this fact, but Gilchrist will obviously choose to cast a blind eye to these evidences if in fact he does know thereof.

Hadhrat Zaid Bin Thaabit (Radiallahu anhu) was not the only Kaatib-e-Wahi (Scribe of the Wahi). Besides him, there were many other Sahaabah who acted as scribe and executed the obligation of recording the Qur’aan Majeed in the written form. The Khulafa-e-Raashideen, Ubay Bin Ka’b, Zubair Bin Awwaam, Muaawiyah, Mughirah Bin Shu’bah, Khalid Bin Waleed, Thaabit Bin Qais, Abaan Bin Saeed were among the more prominent scribes. Hadhrat Uthmaan (Radiallahu anhu) speaking on the committal of the Qur’aan to writing, said:

“It was the practice of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) after a part of the Qur’aan was revealed, to instruct the scribes of the precise position of the revealed portion, i.e. in which Surah it should be inserted and after which Aayat it should be placed.” (Fathul Baari)

On account of the dearth of paper at the time, the greater part of the Qur’aan was written on stone tablets, leather, date-palm branches, bamboo, leaves and bones. Thus, in the very lifetime of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) the whole Qur’aan Majeed was committed to writing under the direct supervision of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). The Qur’aan not having been compiled in a conventional book form under Rasulullah’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) supervision in no way detracts from the authenticity of the Qur’aan, nor from the fact that the whole Qur’aan in the form of a book was written under the direct supervision of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). This written Qur’aan – written under Rasulullah’s supervision – was found by many of the scribes. Only the last verse of Surah Taubah written under Rasulullah’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) supervision was found with only Khuzaimah (Radiallahu anhu) although many other Sahaabah also had it in the written form and all knew it from memory.

Besides the Qur’aan having been reduced to the written form under Rasulullah’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) supervision many other Sahaabah had written the Qur’aan from their own memories. The following statement made by Gilchrist should be weighed on the scale of the elaborate measures for preserving the Qur’aan in the very lifetime of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) – measures which have been explained thus far:

“Let it be said, in passing, that the sources relied on by Zaid – date palms, white stones, etc. – were hardly conducive to the compilation of a perfect text from which nothing was lacking. What evidence is there that he did, in fact, remarkably compose a perfect copy from such brittle resources?” (Page 6 of Gilchrist’s pamphlet)

What makes these obsolete writing materials “hardly conducive to the compilation of a perfect text?” These old materials, viz. Stone, bones, leather, etc, are more durable than paper. What is the evidence for claiming that Zaid’s resources were “brittle?” These claims by Gilchrist are his personal fancies for which he has failed to advance any proof. The explanation given by us illustrates amply that Zaid’s resources were not “brittle” nor scanty as Gilchrist wishes people to believe. On the contrary, the resources on which Zaid Bin Thaabit and the Sahaabah relied in the compilation of the Qur’aan were solid and beyond reproach. We shall briefly enumerate these resources:

1. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), himself being the best Haafiz whose Hifz excluded the slightest possibility of error on account of Divine Protection. He was the Master.

2. The Qur’aan being written down during the very lifetime of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) under the direct supervision of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).

3. Numerous official scribes operated under the supervision of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) recording the Aayaat of the Qur’aan as they were being revealed.

4. Besides the written records prepared under the supervision of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), a number of Sahaabah had written down the Qur’aan from their own memories.

5. The wonderful and miraculous institution of Hifz which permeated the entire community of Sahaabah.

6. The chief compiler of the Qur’aan in written form, Zaid Bin Thaabit (Radiallahu anhu) was a perfect and a master Haafiz.

7. Numerous other Sahaabah were perfect Haafizes (Huffaaz).

8. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) recited the whole of the Qur’aan each Ramadhaan to Jibraeel (alayhis salaam), the medium through whom the Qur’aan was revealed. During the year of Rasulullah’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) demise he recited the Qur’aan Majeed twice to Jibraeel (alayhis salaam). At this session Zaid was present.

9. When Zaid (Radiallahu anhu) commenced the task of compiling the Qur’aan Majeed in book form, it (the Qur’aan) was no obscure and forgotten book. It was a Book which was being daily recited by thousands and thousands of Sahaabah and other Muslims. It was the common practice for ordinary people to complete one recitation in every ten days. Once in every three days was also a popular form of recital while reciting the whole Qur’aan once a day was also the practice with some Sahaabah.

These facts are sufficient to negate the baseless observation and claims of Gilchrist. It will be seen from these facts that Hadhrat Zaid (Radiallahu anhu) had a great and powerful treasury to work from. His resources, far from being brittle as contended by Gilchrist, were solid, fresh and most reliable. There was nothing left to chance. If the Qur’aan Majeed can be reproduced even today – fourteen centuries after the event – from the memories of the Huffaaz, then there is no logical reason why it could not have been achieved in the age which was in very close proximity to the age of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and by the very persons who acquired the Qur’aan from the Master.

While in this belated century, the Huffaaz will only have memory to fall back onto, in that age – the age of the Sahaabah – Hadhrat Zaid (Radiallahu anhu) possessed many original writings and manuscripts and materials on which the Qur’aan was written in entirety under the direct supervision of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). In this age while we have no other way other than Huffaaz, in that age, Hadhrat Zaid (Radiallahu anhu) enjoyed the aid of all the official scribes who wrote the Qur’aan under Rasulullah’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) direct command and supervision. In short, Hadhrat Zaid Bin Thaabit (Radiallahu anhu) possessed the strongest possible resources to compile a perfect and an exact replica of the Qur’aanic Revelation just as it was revealed and recited by Muhammadur Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).

The compilations of the Qur’aan Majeed in book form was not a light task involving a single individual who presented his own version or who relied on his own memory or own record. Far from such an assumption, the Qur’aan Majeed being compiled in book form was the accomplishment of the whole Ummah of Sahaabah at the time, using the best and most authentic sources and the most solid resources. These facts are attested to by even unbiased non-Muslims who have made a study of the glorious Qur’aan’s history.

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