IN THE PERIOD OF ABOO BAKR  (radhiyallahu anhu)

However, it was the characteristic of all copies of the Noble Qur'aan made during the days of the Prophet  (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) that they were either written on different available writing surfaces, for instance, a verse would appear on parchment, another on tree leaf and yet another on a bone; or they were not complete copies. One Companion would have only a single Soorah in his record while someone else would have five or ten soorahs and some others will have only few verses. Then there were Companions having in their possession explanatory sentences as well along with the text of the verses.

On these grounds, Aboo Bakr  (radhiyallahu anhu), during his tenure of Khilaafah, thought it necessary to bring together all these scattered units of the Qur'aan and thus have them preserved. The motives and the methods behind this great achievement of his have been explained in detail by Zayd Ibne Thaabit  (radhiyallahu anhu); he says:
"One day, soon after the Battle of Yamaamah, Aboo Bakr  (radhiyallahu anhu) sent a message calling me. When I reached him, 'Umar  (radhiyallahu anhu) was present there. Aboo Bakr  (radhiyallahu anhu) said to me, 'Umar has just come now and he tells me that a large group of Huffaaz (those who had committed the Qur'aan to memory) have been martyred in the Battle of Yamaamah. If the Huffaaz of the Noble Qur'aan continue to meet their martyrdom in this manner, I am afraid a large portion of the Qur'aan may just go extinct. So, in my view, you should begin the task of having the Qur'aan collected together under your order.' I said to "Umar  (radhiyallahu anhu), 'How can we do what the noble
Prophet  (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) himself did not do?' 'Umar  (radhiyallahu anhu) replied, 'By Allah, this is for nothing but good.' After that, this is what "Umar  (radhiyallahu anhu) continued telling me, until I too started seeing the truth, and now, my view was the same as 'Umar's. After that Aboo Bakr  (radhiyallahu anhu) said to me, 'You are young, and intelligent. We have no doubts about you. You have been working as a scribe of wahee as well under the supervision of the Messenger of Allah  (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), so you search and collect the verses of the noble Qur'aan."

Zayd Ibne Thaabit  (radhiyallahu anhu) says, "By Allah, had these blessed people commanded me to haul some mountain, that would have been much less weightier than this duty of collecting the Qur'aan. I said to them, 'How are you doing something that the noble  Prophet  (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) did not do?' Aboo Bakr  (radhiyallahu anhu) said, 'By Allah this is good, nothing but good.’ After that this is what Aboo Bakr radhiyallahu anhu kept saying to me again and again until Allah almighty put my heart at rest for the same view that was the view of Aboo Bakr and 'Umar  (radhiyallahu anhu). Consequently, I started searching for the verses of the Qur'aan and it was from the branches of date palms, slabs of stones and hearts of people that I finally collected the noble Qur'aan." (Bukhaari)

At this point, while we are dealing with the process of the collection of the Qur'aan, you should have a clear perception of the method used by Zayd Ibne Thaabit  (radhiyallahu anhu). As mentioned earlier, he was himself a Haafiz of the Qur'aan, therefore, he could have written down the whole Qur'aan from his memory. In addition to that, there were hundreds of Huffaaz present at that time; the noble Qur'aan could still have been written down by entrusting the duty to a selected group from out of them.

Also, the copies of the noble Qur'aan committed to writing during the times of the noble Prophet  (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) could have been used by Zayd  (radhiyallahu anhu) to make his copy of the Qur'aan. But he, guided by his caution and concern, did not limit himself to anyone of the many methods available. On the contrary, by using all these methods simultaneously, he did not allow any verse to be included in his master copy of the Qur'aan unless he received written and verbal testimonies proving its uninterrupted succession. In addition to that, the verses that the noble Prophet  (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had arranged to be written under his supervision, were still preserved by the Companions. Zayd  (radhiyallahu anhu) collected them together so that the new copy be made from them. Consequently, a public proclamation was made to the effect that anyone possessing any number of written verses of the noble Qur'aan should bring them over to Zayd  (radhiyallahu anhu). When a written verse was brought to him by someone, he used to verify its authenticity by the following methods:

  1. To begin with, he tested its reliability against his own memory.
  2. Then, 'Umar  (radhiyallahu anhu) too was a Haafiz of the Qur'aan, and as proved by reliable reports, Aboo Bakr  (radhiyallahu anhu) had assigned him too, to work with Zayd  (radhiyallahu anhu) on this project. When someone came with some verse Zayd and 'Umar  (radhiyallahu anhumaa) used to receive it jointly.
  3. (Fat'hul Baari with reference to Ibne Abi Daawood)

  4. No written verse was accepted until such time that two trustworthy witnesses had testified to the fact that the particular verse was written in the presence of the noble Prophet  (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).(Al Itqaan)
  5. After that, these verses in writing were collated with collections that different Companions had prepared for themselves.
  6. (AI Burhaan fi Uloomil Qur'aan)

If this functional methodology behind the collection of the Qur'aan during the period of Aboo Bakr  (radhiyallahu anhu) is kept in mind, it would become perfectly simple to understand what Zayd Ibne Thaabit  (radhiyallahu anhu) meant when he said, "I found the last verses of Soorah Al Baraa'ah - Laqad jaa'akum rasoolum min anfusikum - with Aboo Khuzaymah  (radhiyallahu anhu) only. They were not found with anyone else except him."

This never means that no person other than Aboo Khuzaymah  (radhiyallahu anhu) remembered these verses, or somebody else did not have ties in written form, or anyone other than him did not know of their being part of the Qur'aan. On the contrary, it means that these verses were not found with anyone from among those who were coming along with different verses written as dictated by the noble Prophet  (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Otherwise, as far as the fact of these verses being part of the Qur'aan is concerned, everyone knew it in an uninterrupted succession. There were hundreds of Companions who remembered it as well. Moreover, these were available in writing with Companions who possessed complete collections of the Qur'aanic verses. But, among those written separately under the supervision of the noble Prophet  (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) this verse was found only with Aboo Khuzaymah  (radhiyallahu anhu) and not with anyone else.

(AI Burhaan)

So in every way possible, it was with great caution and concern that Zayd Ibne Thaabit  (radhiyallahu anhu), by collecting the Qur'aanic verses, wrote them out in an organized form on pages of paper.

(Al Itqaan)

But each Soorah was written in separate folios. In the terminology of the Qur'aanic studies, this copy is called "Umm" (literally, 'the mother', meaning 'the original') and it had the following features:

  1. In this copy, the Qur'aanic verses were indeed arranged in accordance with the order identified by the noble Prophet  (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), but the soorahs were not so arranged, rather they were written separately. (Ibid.)

  2. Incorporated in this copy were all seven Huroof (versions of recitation) of the Qur'aan.
  3. Collected here were all verses the recitation of which has not been abrogated.
  4. The purpose of having this copy made in writing was to prepare an organized document with the collective endorsement of the whole Ummah, so that, reference can be made to it when needed.

These folios committed to writing on the orders of Aboo Bakr  (radhiyallahu anhu) remained with him during his lifetime. Then they remained with 'Umar  (radhiyallahu anhu). After the martyrdom of 'Umar  (radhiyallahu anhu), they were transferred to the custody of Ummul Mu'mineen Hafsah  (radhiyallahu anhaa). After the death of Hafsah  (radhiyallahu anhaa), Marwaan Ibne Hakam had these burnt since the copies of the Qur'aan ordered by Uthmaan  (radhiyallahu anhu) were ready at that time, and a consensus of the Ummah had already been reached to the effect that following these copies of the Qur'aan, in script and arrangement of soorahs, was obligatory. Marwaan Ibne Hakam thought it inadvisable to let any copy which was contrary to this script and arrangement remain in existence.

(Fat’hul Baari)

IN THE PERIOD OF UTHMAAN   (radhiyallahu anhu)