Archive for the ‘The Holy Qur’an’ Category

Ali (AS), possessed a special transcript of the text of Quran which he had collected himself, and he was THE FIRST who compiled Quran. There are a great number of traditions from Sunni and Shia which states that after the death of the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HF), Imam Ali sat down in his house and said that he had sworn an oath that he would not put on his outdoor clothes or leave his house until he collects together the Quran.

Sunni references:
– Fat’hul Bari fi Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, v10,
– al-fihrist, by (Ibn) an-Nadim, p30
– al-Itqan, by al-Suyuti, v1, p165
– al-Masahif, by Ibn Abi Dawud, p10
– Hilyatul awliya’, by Abu Nu’aym, v1, p67
– al-Sahibi, by Ibn Faris, p79
– ‘Umdatul Qari, by al-Ayni, v20, p16
– Kanzul Ummal, by al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, v15, pp 112-113
– al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, Ch. 9, Section 4, p197
– Ma’rifat al-Qurra’ al-kibar, by al-Dhahabi, v1, p31

There are also traditions from the Imams of Ahlul Bayt which tell us that
this was done by Imam Ali by order of the Holy Prophet (See al-Bihar, v92,
pp 40-41,48,51-52).

This transcript of Quran which compiled by Imam Ali (AS) had the following
unique specifications:

a) It was collected according to its revelation, i.e., in the order in
which it had been sent down. This is the reason that Muhammad Ibn Sireen
(33/653 – 110/729), the famous scholar and Tabi’i (disciples of the
companions of the Holy Prophet), regretted that this transcript had not
passed into the hands of the Muslims, and said: “If that transcript were in
our hands, we would found a great knowledge in it.”

Sunni References:
– at-Tabaqat, by Ibn Sa’d, v2, part 2, p101
– Ansab al-ashraf, by al-Baladhuri, v1, p587
– al-Istiab, by Ibn Abd al-Barr, v3, pp 973-974
– Sharh Ibn Abi al-Hadid, v6, pp 40-41
– al-Tas’hil, by Ibn Juzzi al-Kalbi, v1, p4
– al-Itqan, by al-Suyuti, v1, p166
– al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, Ch. 9, Section 4, p197
– Ma’rifat al-Qurra’ al-kibar, by al-Dhahabi, v1, p32

It is according to this transcript that Sunni scholars relate that the
first Chapter of Quran which was sent down to the Prophet (PBUH&HF) was
Chapter al-Iqra (al-Alaq, Ch. 96).

Sunni References:
– al-Burhan, by al-Zarkashi, v1, p259
– al-Itqan, by al-Suyuti, v1, p202
– Fathul Bari, by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, v10, p417
– Irshad al-sari, by al-Qastalani, v7, p454

As you know the Chapter al-Alaq is not at the beginning of the present
Quran. Also Muslims agree that the verse (5:3) was among one of the
last revealed verses of Quran (but not the very last one), yet it is not
toward the end of the present Quran. This clearly proves that although
the Quran that we have available is complete, it is not in the order
that has been revealed. These few misplacements were done by some
companions on purpose at worst, or out of ignorance at least.

It was for this reason that the Commander of Believers, Ali (AS) frequently
stated in his sermons: “Ask me before you lose me. By Allah, if you ask me
about anything that could happen up to the Day of Judgment, I will tell you
about it. Ask me, for, by Allah, you will not be able to ask me a question
about anything without my informing you. Ask me about the Book of Allah,
for by Allah, there is no verse about which I do not know whether it was
sent down at night or during the day, or whether it was revealed on a plain
or in a mountain.”

Sunni References:
– al-Riyadh al-Nadhirah, by al-Muhib al-Tabari, v2, p198
– at-Tabaqat, by Ibn Sa’d, v2, part 2, p101
– al-Isabah, by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, v4, p568
– Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, v7, pp 337-338
– Fathul Bari, by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, v8, p485
– al-Istiab, by Ibn Abd al-Barr, v3, p1107
– Tarikh al-Khulafa, by al-Suyuti, p124
– al-Itqan, by al-Suyuti, v2, p319

b) This transcript contained commentary and hermeneutic interpretation
(Tafsir and Ta’wil) from the Holy Prophet some of which had been sent down
as revelation but NOT as a part of the text of Quran. A small amount of
such texts can be found in some traditions in Usul al-Kafi. These pieces of
information were the Divine commentary of the text of Quran which were
revealed along with Quranic verses. Thus the commentary verses and Quranic
verses could sum up to 17000 verses. As Sunnis know, Hadith al-Qudsi (the
Hadith in which the speaker is Allah) is also direct revelation, but they
are not a part of Quran. In fact Quran testifies that anything that Prophet
said was (either direct or indirect) revelation (See Quran 53:3-4). The
direct revelation includes the interpretation/commentary of the Quran.

In addition, this unique transcript contained the information from the Holy
Prophet about which verse was abrogated and which was abrogating, which
verse was clear (Muhkam) and which was ambiguous (Mutashabih), which verse
was general and which was specific.

c) This unique transcript also contained references to the persons, places
etc., about which the verses were revealed, what is called “Asbab al-
Nuzul”. Since the Commander of Believers was aware of these facts, he
frequently said: “By Allah, no verse has been sent down without my knowing
about whom or what it was revealed and where it was revealed. My Lord has
gifted me with a mind which has a quick and retaining understanding, and a
tongue which speaks eloquently.”

Sunni References:
– Hilyatul Awliyaa, by Abu Nu’aym, v1, pp 67-68
– at-Tabaqat, by Ibn Sa’d, v2, part 2, p101
– Kanzul Ummal, by al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, v15, p113
– al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, Ch. 9, Section 4, p197

After he compiled this transcript, Imam Ali (AS) took it and presented it
to the rulers who came after the Holy Prophet, and said: “Here is the book
of Allah, your Lord, in the order that was revealed to your Prophet.”
but they did not accept it and replied: “We have no need of this. We have
with us what you possess.” Thereupon, Imam Ali (AS) took the transcript
back and informed them that they will never see it again. It is reported
that Imam Ali recited the latter part of the following verse of Quran:

     “And when Allah took a Covenant from the People of the Book to
     clarify it to mankind and not to hide its (clarification); but
     they threw it away behind their backs and purchased with it some
     miserable gain! and what an evil was the bargain they made!”
     (Quran 3:187)

By “its clarification”, Imam Ali meant the unique divine commentaries.
The Commander of Believers then concealed that transcript, and after him it
was passed to the Imams who also kept it concealed. It remained concealed
with the Imams, one after the other to this day, because they wished to be
only one sequence of Quran among the Muslims. Because otherwise if people
have had two different sequences, it might later result to some alteration
in Quran by some sick-minded people. They wished people have strictly one
sequence of Quran. The Quran and its commentary which were collected by
Imam Ali (AS) is not available for any Shia in the world except to the Imam
Mahdi (AS). If the transcript of the Commander of Believers had been
accepted, that would have been the Quran with unique commentary in the hand
of people, but it turned out to be otherwise.

This gives the meaning of the traditions in Usul al-Kafi which say that no
one but the Commander of Believers and the later Imams had the Quran in the
order it was revealed, and that the Quran which they had contains “what can
be understood of the heaven, etc.” and “the Knowledge of the Book, all of
it,” because they were the commentaries and interpretations noted in the
transcript of Imam Ali directly from the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HF).  Allah, to
whom belong Might and Majesty, said:

     “And We have sent down on you a Book in which is the clarification of
     ALL the things.” (Quran 16:89)

Sometimes the word “tahrif” is used in some traditions, and it must be made
clear that the meaning of this word is changing of something from its
proper place to another place, like changing the right position of
sentence, or giving it a meaning other than its true or intended meaning.
Therefore, it has absolutely nothing to do with addition or subtraction
from the text. It is thus with this meaning that the Quran states:

     “Some of the Jews distort (yuharrifuna) words from their meaning”
     (Quran 4:46).

This meaning of “tahrif”, i.e., changing of meaning or changing the
context, as it appears in the Quran, has not only been applied in the
Muslim community to the verses of the Quran but also to the ahadith of the
Holy Prophet, even by rulers who have been prepared to use Islam to their
own personal advantage. It is this “tahrif”, with this meaning, that the
Imams of Ahlul-Bayt have constantly sought to oppose. As one example, Imam
al-Baqir (AS) complained about the situation of the Muslims and their
corrupt rulers, and said:

     “One of the manifestations of their rejecting the Book (of Allah
     behind their backs) (see Quran 2:101) is that they have fixed its
     words. but they have altered the limits (of its command) (harrafu
     hududah). They have (correctly) narrated it, but they do not observe
     (what) it (says). Ignorant people delight in their preservation of its
     narration, but the knowledgeable people deplore their ignoring to
     observe (what) it (says).”

Shi’i references:
– al-Kafi, v8, p53
– al-Wafi, v5, p274 and v14, p214

Personal commentary

There are hadiths that state that the Qur’an was compiled 25 years after the death of the Prophet and as the above argument makes it known, there are hadiths that state that the Qur’an has been compiled during the time of the Prophet.  Which hadiths are more credible?  Yeah, that’s the question to ask, at all times.  I’ll deviate from hadiths for the time being and focus on which scenerio makes most sense.  As Muhammed was responsible for informing people of Islam, a friend of reason would conclude that Muhammed would make sure that before his passing, a firm compilation of God’s words are tangibly established for the following reasons:

1)  As prophet, his sole responsibility was to make sure people had access to God’s words, exact words.  He’d then logically make sure a written and compiled Qur’an was available before his death, in order for him to make sure what’s written in the Qur’an are the exact words of God and no one else’s, be it accidental slips, replacement of phrases, etc. during verbal recital.  Memorizing 600+ pages of words is an ordeal quite difficult after all.

2)  Upon a compilation of the Qur’an, that’s been approved by Muhammed himself, people would be less skeptical of whether they’re been recited words revealed to Muhammed or not.  Without harboring doubt, God’s words are quicker to accept. 

There wouldn’t be developed doubts about the authenticity of the Qur’an, as we’re hearing and reading now from both Muslims and non-Muslims who find it ridiculous that the Prophet who recieved the revelations would die, without making sure a compiled Qur’an existed, and reading through it, to confirm its message.

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