IN THE PERIOD OF UTHMAAN  (radhiyallahu anhu)

When Uthmaan  (radhiyallahu anhu) became Khaleefah, Islaam had grown out of Arabia reaching into the far-flung areas of Byzantium and Iran. As people from new areas embraced Islaam, they would learn the Noble Qur'aan from the Mujaahideen of Islaam or from the traders because of whom they had found the blessing of Islaam. On the other side, you have already read that the Noble Qur'aan was revealed incorporating seven versions with various reading, and different Companions had learnt it from the Prophet  (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). In accordance with different readings, therefore, every Companion taught Qur'aan to his disciples in accordance with that particular reading which they had themselves learnt from the Prophet  (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). In this manner, this difference in readings reached far out countries. Until such time that people knew that the Noble Qur'aan has been revealed incorporating seven Huroof (readings) no harm was done by this difference. However, when this difference reached those far out countries, and the fact that the Noble Qur'aan has been revealed incorporating different readings was not fully publicized there, disputes among people started. Some people began to insist on their reading as correct and that of others as incorrect. On the one hand, these disputes posed the danger that people would fall into the grave error of declaring the reading of the Noble Qur'aan which have followed in uninterrupted succession as incorrect. On the other hand, there was no such standard copy available through out the Islaamic world which could become the rallying authority for the entire Ummah, except, of course, the copy committed to writing by Zayd Ibne Thaabit  (radhiyallahu anhu) which was there in Madeenah. Since other copies were written individually, and in them, there was no provision to incorporate all the readings, therefore, the only reliable method to resolve these disputes was that copies which incorporate all valid readings be spread out all over the Islaamic world, and then, by seeing them it could be decided as to which reading is correct and which is incorrect. Uthmaan  (radhiyallahu anhu) accomplished this very remarkable feat during the period of his Khilaafah.

Details of this feat is given in Hadeeth narration’s as follows: Huzayfah Ibne Yamaan  (radhiyallahu anhu) was engaged in jihaad on the Armenian-Azerbaijaan front. There he noticed that differences were rising among people about readings of the Noble Qur'aan. So, on his return to Madeenah, he went straight to Uthmaan  (radhiyallahu anhu) and once there, he pleaded, 'O Ameer-ul Mu'mineen! Before this Ummah falls prey to differences in the Book of Allah like the Jews and Christians, you should do something about it.’ Uthmaan  (radhiyallahu anhu) asked, 'What is the matter?' In reply, Huzayfah   (radhiyallahu anhu) said, 'I was on a jihaad mission fighting on the Armenian front. There I saw people of Syria following the reading of Ubayi Ibne Ka'b which would not be familiar to the people of Iraq, and the people of Iran following the reading of Abdullah Ibne Mas'ood  (radhiyallahu anhu) which would not be familiar to the people of Syria. As a result of this, they are charging each other of being kaafirs.’

In fact, Uthmaan (radhiyallahu anhu) had himself sensed a danger much earlier. He was told that there were cases right there in Madeenah itself where a teacher of the Noble Qur'aan would teach the text to his disciples in accordance with one reading, and another teacher would do so in accordance with another reading. In this way, when the disciples of different teachers come together, differences would crop up between them, and there were occasions when this difference would extend to teachers, and they too, would declare each other's reading to be incorrect. When Huzayfah Ibne Yamaan  (radhiyallahu anhu) too invited his attention to his danger, Uthmaan  (radhiyallahu anhu) convened a meeting of some highly-regarded Companions and sought their advise. He said, 'I have been informed that there are people who say to each other things like, "My reading is better than yours" - and this could touch the extreme limits of Kufr. So, what is your opinion in this connection?' The Companions themselves asked Uthmaan  (radhiyallahu anhu) what his thoughts were on this subject? Uthmaan (radhiyallahu anhu) said, 'I believe we should unite everyone on one book so that we face no difference or division.’ The Companions, approving this opinion, supported Uthmaan  (radhiyallahu anhu).

Consequently, Uthmaan  (radhiyallahu anhu) gathered people together and delivered a sermon and in it he said, "You who live so close to me in Madeenah, if you can falsify each other and differ with each other in respect of the readings of the Noble Qur'aan, it is quite obvious that those who are far away from me will be indulging in falsification and disputation on a much larger scale. Therefore, let everyone get together and come up with a copy of the Noble Qur'aan following which becomes obligatory for all."

With this in view, Uthmaan  (radhiyallahu anhu) sent a message to Hafsah  (radhiyallahu anhaa) requesting her to let them have the blessed folios of the Qur'aanic text (prepared under the orders of Aboo Bakr (radhiyallahu anhu) which she had in her custody). He promised that these will be returned to her after copies have been made. Hafsah  (radhiyallahu anhaa) sent these pages of the Qur'aan to Uthmaan  (radhiyallahu anhu). He then formed a group of four Companions which was composed of Zayd Ibne Thaabit  (radhiyallahu anhu), Abdullah Ibne Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhu), Sa'eed Ibne Aas (radhiyallahu anhu) and Abdul Rahmaan Ibne Haarith Ibne Hishaam  (radhiyallahu anhu). This group was entrusted with the duty of making several copies from the original copy of Aboo Bakr's  (radhiyallahu anhu) Qur'aanic folios and making sure that the Soorahs too are arranged in order. Out of these four Companions, Zayd  (radhiyallahu anhu) was an Ansaari, while the rest of the three were from Quraysh. Therefore, Uthmaan  (radhiyallahu anhu) said to them, 'When you and Zayd differ in respect of any portion of the Qur'aan (that is, differ as to how a certain letter should be written) you write it in the language of the Quraysh because the Noble Qur'aan has been revealed in their very language.

Basically, this duty was entrusted to only four distinguished persons named above, but later on, other Companions were also attached to help them out.

(Fat’hul Baari)

The functions performed in connection with the writings of the Qur'aan