Since the prophet was illiterate, how did He check the revelation scribes?

The Details of the Question

-  Will you also mention the precautions taken by the Prophet to protect the Quran?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The Prophet (pbuh) had the revelations and chapters that were sent down written by the revelation scribes and checked whether they wrote the verses in the right place. He did not check the writing or the writing style or the writing itself.

In fact, there were auxiliary factors such as recitation (tilawah) and memorization (hifz) inside and outside the prayer so that the revelations would not be lost. However, it was necessary for revelation to be recorded and written down because the revealed verses were increasing day by day; it was getting harder and harder to preserve them only in memories without being mixed up.

The most logical thing to do for it was to record the verses that were revealed. Since the Prophet (pbuh) was illiterate, it was out of question for him to write the revealed verses himself.

Therefore, the Companions who could write served as revelation scribes and recorded in writing every verse or chapter that was revealed.

The Prophet (pbuh) may have made the decision of having the revelation written on his own or by Allah’s assurance that He would protect the Quran (1) as a result of revelation he received from Allah.(2)

As a result of that decision, the Prophet (pbuh) ordered the revelations / verses to be written on various writing materials. Thus, verses were written on pieces of paper, leaf, stone, bone, leather, etc. Finally, when the Prophet (pbuh) died, the whole Quran had been written.(3)

Thus, the Prophet (pbuh) memorized every verse that was revealed, recited them to the Companions, had the scribes dictate it, and some of the Companions also memorized them.

In addition, once in every Ramadan, and twice in the Ramadan of the last year the Prophet died, the Prophet (pbuh) checked all verses revealed up to that time with Gabriel (Jibril); that mutual recitation was called arda.

A similar mutual recitation of arda that took place between Jibril and the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) took place between the Companions and the Prophet (pbuh). There are also narrations that the Companions presented the material of revelation they had to the Prophet (pbuh) both by reciting by heart and showing him the written materials they had.(4)

The Prophet (pbuh) could correct the verses that the Companions recited by heart but it was not possible for him to correct the texts brought in written form; therefore, they must have been checked by the authorized revelation scribes. Anyway, those written texts had been written based on their knowledge in the first place; and they did not try to write them according to their own knowledge.

To sum up, the words of revelation were protected by the Prophet (pbuh) through several wonderful methods such us memorization and continuous reading, and by many revelation scribes through recording in writing.

Footnotes:

1) see al-Hijr, 15/9.
2) Muhsin Demirci states that Allah ordered, though implicitly, the triple confirmation of the revelation of the Quran in the form of memorization, recording in writing and annual mutual recitation, supporting that view. See Vahiy Gerçeği, p. 197.
3) see Suyuti, Abul-Fadl Jalaluddin Abdurrahman b. Abi Bakr, al-Itqan fi Ulumil-Quran, I, 181, I-II, Beirut 1414/1993; Muhammad Abu Shahba, al-Madhal li Dirasatil-Quranil-Karim, p. 338, Riyad 1407/1987.
4) see Mannaul-Qattan, Mabahith fi Ulumil-Quran, p. 119, Cairo 2000.

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