History of the holy Quran

The compilation of the Quran in its current form, including the arrangement of its verses and chapters, its dotting, vocalization, and division into parts and sections, was not the result of a single factor, nor was it completed during the first period of revelation. It underwent various stages, beginning with the prophetic era and ending with the period of standardizing the copies of the Quran during the time of Uthman, followed by the work of Al-Khalil ibn Ahmad al-Farahidi who completed its vocalization and dotting.

This study is akin to an historical analysis, detailing the conditions and circumstances that affected this divine book. Our current task is to focus on studying the Quran from the perspective of its compilation into a Mushaf (codex) and the period in which this compilation took place, as well as the factors that played a significant role in this process. We will then detail the state of the Quran during its initial period, which did not exceed half a century, and briefly discuss its subsequent phases. The present study is completed in three fundamental stages:

First: The arrangement of the words of the Quran into sentences and linguistic structures within the verses.

Second: The compilation of these verses into chapters, whether short or long.

Third: The ordering of these chapters within the two covers of the Mushaf.

In summary: The arrangement of words, sentences, and expressions was entirely a divine act. There was no change, addition, reduction, or modification in any form..

[لَّا يَأْتِيهِ ٱلْبَـٰطِلُ مِنۢ بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَلَا مِنْ خَلْفِهِۦ ۖ تَنزِيلٌۭ مِّنْ حَكِيمٍ حَمِيدٍۢ]

Falsehood cannot approach it from before it or from behind it; [it is] a revelation from a [Lord who is] Wise and Praiseworthy.[1]

Similarly, the ordering of verses within chapters, and their completion in varying numbers of verses, was established during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by his specific command and was never altered..

[إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا ٱلذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُۥ لَحَـٰفِظُونَ]

It is certainly We Who have revealed the Reminder, and it is certainly We Who will preserve it.[2]

Yes, the ordering of the chapters was deferred until after the Prophet’s death (peace be upon him), when revelation ceased and no further chapters or verses were expected. Here are the details:

Arrangement of the Words

The arrangement of the words of the Quran into beautiful sentences and linguistic structures was undoubtedly a miraculous divine revelation, with no human intervention whatsoever. Throughout the ages, there has been no change or distortion in this divine arrangement]. This arrangement is the essence of the Quran’s eternal miracle, which continues to challenge all. For further clarification, consider the following:

First: The attribution of speech to a specific speaker necessitates that the speaker is the sole architect of its wording and unique expressive style. If one person selects individual words and another arranges them in a specific linguistic style, the speech is attributed to the latter, not the former. Thus, the Noble Quran, being the word of the Almighty God, is undoubtedly a divine revelation in its arrangement of words and linguistic structures. The words themselves, without considering their composition, were used by the Arabs day and night, but their miraculous arrangement came from divine revelation.

Second: The greatest part of the Quran’s miracle lies in this exquisite arrangement and its amazing expressive style, with its harmonious rhythmic balance and poetic coherence. The Quran challenged the eloquent Arabs and rhetoricians to produce something similar, which they could not do, even with mutual assistance. Assuming, impossibly, that human intervention in the Quran’s arrangement was possible, would negate this profound challenge. Therefore, what is attributed to Ibn Mas’ud about changing words in a verse or Abu Bakr’s reading [reference] is either fabricated or a personal interpretation not reflective of the Quran.

Third: The unanimous agreement of the Muslim community throughout history is that the existing arrangement and style of the verses are the work of divine revelation alone. This consensus is held by all Islamic sects, despite their different perspectives on other matters. Thus, no scholar of literature or rhetoric hesitates to regard a Quranic verse that contradicts their established rules as definitive proof against those rules, interpreting them to align with the verse. They acknowledge that the existing arrangement in the verse is infallible divine revelation, and any error lies in their understanding and in the rules they have derived.

For example, the verse [ وَمَآ أَرْسَلْنَـٰكَ إِلَّا كَآفَّةًۭ لِّلنَّاسِ َ] [And We have not sent you except comprehensively to mankind] contradicted their rule that a state cannot precede its associated noun. This led to extensive debate and discussion about the validity of that rule, resulting in Ibn Malik eventually discarding the rule because it contradicted the verse, stating:

And a state preceded by a preposition, they refused and did not enjoy it, but it has been mentioned.

Source: ‘Al-Tamhid fi ‘Ulum al-Quran’ by Sheikh Muhammad Hadi Ma’rifat.


[1] 41:42

[2] 15:09

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