How has the Qur’an remained free from distortion?

The Qur’an, the last holy scripture of Allah and His Divine address to all the humankind, was revealed verse by verse and chapter by chapter in 23 years. The Prophet would recite the verses and the chapters that were revealed to him to his companions, and they would memorize them and some would write them down. Apart from that, the Prophet had scribes of revelation. They were especially responsible for writing the revealed verses and the chapters.

The Prophet was informed via the Archangel Gabriel about where the revealed verse and the chapter are to be placed, how they are to be ordered in the Qur’an, and The Prophet would then describe it to the scribes of revelation and get what is necessary done. The entire Qur’an was written in the lifetime of the Prophet and it was established what would be placed where. Moreover, Gabriel would come every Ramadan and would recite to the Prophet the verses and the chapters revealed up to that time from the beginning. In the last Ramadan before the Prophet passed away, Gabriel came again, and this time they recited the Qur’an twice. The first time, Gabriel recited, and the Prophet listened; and the next time, the Prophet recited and Gabriel listened. Thus, the Qur’an took its final form.

However, during the lifetime of the Prophet the Qur’an had not been arranged as a single volume yet. It was scattered among the companions as pages and was memorized by many companions. However, it was clearly and absolutely known what would be placed where.

Finally, out of necessity, at the time of Caliph Abu Bakr, a commission was set from scribes of revelation and vigorous memorizers headed by Zayd bin Thabit. This commission was appointed for the job of gathering the Qur’an as a single volume. Everybody from the companions came and handed in the pages of the Qur’an they had. As a result of the shared work of the memorizers and the scribes of revelation, the pages, chapters and the verses were ordered as described by the Prophet. Thus, the Qur’an was arranged as a single book called Mushaf.

As a result, the Qur’an has been free from being forgotten, lost, distorted or altered, since it was written down exactly as it was revealed to the Prophet.

Upon necessity, at the time of Caliph Uthman ibn Affan more copies were made from this book and were sent to various places. The copies of the Qur’an at the present time come from this Qur’an.

As result of the soundness in its determination, unlike the other Holy Scriptures, the Qur’an was established in its revealed form without any distortion or alteration, and it has come to us by preserving its authenticity for 1400 years. It is obvious that the rhetoric and eloquent style of the Qur’an, its conciseness, the ease of memorizing it, its resemblance to no human discourse, people’s inability to imitate it and to attain its level of eloquence, and the maximum care taken in its preservation played a great role in its authenticity. However, the real reason is that Allah took the Qur’an in His protection and that He promised to maintain it as a miracle until the Doomsday in form and meaning. As a matter of fact the following is stated in the Qur’an:

“Indeed it is We, We Who send down the Reminder in parts, and it is indeed We Who are its Guardian.” (the Qur’an, Al-Hijr, 15:9)

Today, all of the copies of the Qur’an in the world are the same. There is no difference or alteration. Besides, it is in the memory of millions of memorizers and is recited at each instant by millions of people. This quality is not possessed by any other book than the Qur’an, nor even by any of the other Divine scriptures. It is absolutely necessary that the Qur’an, which is Allah’s final scripture, the validity of which extends to the end of time, should possess this unprecedented status.

(Mehmed Dikmen, Islam Ilmihali, Cihan Yayinlari, Istanbul, 1991, pp. 94-97.)

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