How was the order of the chapters in the Quran arranged? Did the Prophet himself make this arrangement?

Details of the Question

The places and order of the chapters of the Quran in the translations of the Quran that I read are given differently. How was this arrangement of the order of the chapters in the Quran made? Did the Prophet himself make this arrangement?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The Quran, which is the last holy book of Allah and which is His divine order to all humanity, was sent down in twenty-three years verse by verse and chapter by chapter.

When verses and chapters were revealed to the Prophet (pbuh), he would recite them to the Companions near him; they would memorize them and some of them would write them. In addition, the Prophet (pbuh) had revelation scribes. Their duty was to write down the verses and chapters that were sent down. 

The places of the verses and chapters in the Quran were informed to the Prophet (pbuh) himself by Hz. Jibril (Gabriel). He informed the revelations of scribe about it. Thus, the whole Quran was written when the Prophet (pbuh) was alive and the places of the verses and chapters were determined. In addition, Jibril came to the Prophet (pbuh) in every Ramadan and read the verses and chapters of the Quran that had been sent down up to that time to the Prophet (pbuh).

In the last Ramadan before the death of the Prophet, Hz. Jibril came again and this time they read the whole Quran twice. First, Jibril read it and the Prophet (pbuh) listened. Then, the Prophet (pbuh) read it and Jibril listened. Thus, the whole Quran was settled.

After the death of the Prophet (pbuh), it became necessary for the text of the Quran, the divine guide, to be compiled and arranged in such a way that even one word of it would not be doubted and it would not be opposed up to the Day of Judgment by being accepted by the ummah unanimously.   

Zayd Ibn Thabit narrates:

“Abu Bakr sent for me after some Companions had been killed in the Battle of Yamama. I went to him and found Umar sitting with him. Abu Bakr said to me, "Umar has come to me and said: “Casualties were heavy among the hafizes of the Quran on the day of the Battle of Yamama. I fear that more heavy casualties may take place among the hafizes on other battlefields, whereby a large part of the Quran may be lost. Therefore, you should order that the Quran be collected." I said to Umar, "How can you do something which the Messenger of Allah did not do?" Umar said, "By Allah, this is a good project." Umar kept on urging me to accept his proposal till Allah opened my chest for it and I began to realize the good in the idea which Umar had realized.”

Zayd then said, “Abu Bakr turned to me and said, You are a wise young man and nobody can have any suspicion about you. Besides, you used to write the Divine Inspiration for the Messenger of Allah. Collect the text of the Quran in one book.” By Allah, if they had ordered me to shift one of the mountains, it would not have been heavier for me than this ordering me to collect the Quran.” So, I started to collect the verses and chapters of the Quran from palm stalks, flat stones and the memories of people.” (Bukhari).

According to what is reported from the resources unanimously, Hz. Abu Bakr told  Zayd not to rely on his memory ever and to demand two witnesses with written copies for each verse as evidence.

Zayd laid it as a condition the help of Umar for this duty and Umar helped him seriously.

Zayd himself was a good hafiz but he did not regard it enough and he did not rely on other hafizes, either; he used a very meticulous and scientific method by demanding two witnesses with written copies for each verse. However, he could not find two witnesses with written copies for the last two verses of the chapter of at-Tawba despite his search and he had to rely on the written copy that Abu Khuzayma had.  

The pages of the Quran that were brought together during the caliphate of Hz. Abu Bakr like that were called “al-Mushaf”.

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