Koran in Hadith
Traditions about the Collection of the Qur'an: These
are the most significant traditions that have been related about the
manner in which the Qur'an was collected. Quite aside from being
reported by single narrations, and therefore inspiring no
confidence, they also are defective in other aspects.
- This tradition has been narrated by Zayd b.
Tha:bit. He said: Abu Bakr sent for me when the Muslims were
slain in the battle of Yamama. [When I entered, I found] 'Umar
b. al-Khaattab with him. Abu Bakr said, "'Umar came to me and
said, 'Casualties were heavy among Qur'an reciters during the
battle of Yamama, and I am afraid that heavier casualties might
take place among the reciters in other battles, whereby much of
the Qur'an would be lost. I am of the opinion that you should
order the collection of the Qur'an [in book form]."' I asked 'Umar,
"How dare I do something the Messenger of God did not do?" 'Umar
replied, "This, by God, is a good thing [to do]." 'Umar kept
urging me until God opened my chest for that and I came to view
the matter as he did. Zayd said that Abu Bakr said [to him]:
"You are a wise young man and we trust you. You used to record
the revelation for the Messenger of God. So go and find [all the
fragments of] the Qur'an and put them together."
had they required me [Zayd] to move a mountain, it could not
have been heavier for me than their order to collect the Qur'an.
So I said, "How dare I do something that the Messenger of God
did not do?" Abu Bakr persisted in repeating his demand until
God opened my chest for that, as He had done for Abu Bakr and 'Umar.
Thereupon, I traced the Qur'an, collecting it from palm
branches, flat stones, and the breasts of the people [who had
memorized it], until I found the last part of "Surat al-Tawba"
in the possession of Abu Khuzayma al-Ansari, having found it
with no one else-"There has come to you a messenger, [one] of
yourselves, to whom aught that you are overburdened is grievous,
full of concern for you; for the believers, full of pity,
merciful. Now, if they turn away [0 Muhammad], say, "God
suffices me. There is no God save Him. In Him have I put my
trust and He is Lord of the Tremendous Throne" (Q. 9: 128-129) -
till the end of the sura. The scrolls (suhuf) remained with Abu
Bakr until he died, then with 'Umar till the end of his life,
and then with Hafsa, 'Umar's daughter.'
Ibn Shiha:b [al-ZuhrI] relates that Anas b. Malik told him:
Hudhayfa b. al- Yaman went before 'Uthman. He had recently
led the people of Syria and Iraq in the conquest of Armenia
and Azerbaijan. Hudhayfa was alarmed by the dispute between
them over the reading [of the Qur'an]. Thus, Hudhayfa said
to 'Uthman, "0 Commander of the Faithful, save this
community before it falls in dispute over the Book, as the
Jews and the Christians [before them] have done." So 'Uthman
sent [a message] to Hafsa: "Send us the scrolls [which were
in her possession], so that they can be copied into codices
(masahif) and then returned to you." Hafsa sent them to 'Uthman,
who ordered Zayd b. Thabit, 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr, Sa'id
b. al-'As, and, Abd al-Rahman b. al-Harith b. Hisham to copy
them into codices. [Then] 'Uthmiin told the three Qurayshi
men, "Whenever you disagree with Zayd b.Thabit on any point
of the Qur'an, write it in the dialect of the Quraysh, for
it was revealed in their tongue."
They followed [these guidelines]. When they had finished
copying the sheets into codices, 'Uthman returned the sheets
to Hafsa, and sent to each province one of the codices they
had copied, and ordered the burning of all other Qur'anic
material, whether in fragmentary manuscripts or full
Ibn Shihab went on to say:
Kharija b. Zayd b.Thabit informed me that
he heard [his father] Zayd say: "I missed a verse from the [Surat]
al-Ahzab when we copied the Qur'an, and I used to hear the
Messenger of God (peace be upon him and his progeny)
reciting it. We looked for it and found it with Khuzayma
b.Thabit al-Ansari. [This was the following verse]: 'Among
the believers are those persons who are truthful when they
promise God about something' (Q. 33:23). Thus, we inserted
it in the proper place in the sura." 
- A tradition has been related by Abi Shayba,
with a chain of transmission going back to' Ali b. Abi Talib. He
said, "The greatest credit for collecting the Qur'anic text goes
to Abu Bakr, for he was the first to collect that which is
between the two covers."
A tradition was related by Ibn Shihab on the authority of
Salim b. 'Abd Allah and Kharija:
Abu Bakr al-5iddiq collected the Qur'an
in sheets (qaratis). He asked Zayd b. Thabit to scrutinize
them. But Zayd refused to do so until Abu Bakr sought 'Umar's
help in persuading him, and Zayd agreed. The books (kutub)
remained in Abu Bakr's keeping until he died. Thereafter,
they were kept with Hafsa, the Prophet's wife. 'Uthman sent
her [a message to hand them over to him]. But she refused to
do so until he promised her that he would return them to
her. So she sent them to him. 'Uthman copied these sheets
into codices and returned [the originals] to her. They
continued to be in her keeping.
Hisham b. 'Urwa related a tradition on the authority of his
father. He said:
When the Muslims were slain in Yamama,
Abu Bakr ordered 'Umar b. al-Khattab and Zayd b. Thabit to
sit at the entrance of the mosque. He said: "Anyone who
comes to you with anything from the Qur'an that you do not
recognize, but is witnessed by two men--accept it. This was
because a large number of the Companions of the Prophet who
had memorized the Qur'an had been killed in Yamama."
- Muhammad b. Sirin reported that the Qur'an was not yet
collected in one volume when 'Umar was assassinated.
'Umar b. al-Khattab inquired about a
verse of the Book of God. He was informed that it was in the
possession of a person who was slain in the battle of Yamama.
On hearing this, he recited the verse expressing loss--"We
belong to God"--and ordered the collection of the Qur'an,
and thus was the first to collect it in a codex (mushaf).
Yahya b. 'Abd al-Rahman b. Hatib related the following
'Umar decided to collect the Qur'an. So
he stood before the people [in the mosque] and said,
"Whoever received any part of the Qur'an [directly] from the
Messenger of God, he is to bring it to us." They had written
these [parts] on sheets, tablets, and palm branches. He
would not accept anything from anyone until two witnesses
testified [to its authenticity ]. He was assassinated while
still engaged in his collection. Then 'Uthman got up [for
the sermon in the mosque] and said, "Whoever has any part of
the Book of God is to bring it here to us." 'Uthman would
not accept anything from anyone until two witnesses
testified. Khuzayma b.Thabit came to them and said, "I see
that you have left out two verses, having not written them."
They asked what they were, and he said, "I received these
direct from the Prophet: 'There has come to you a messenger,
[one] of yourselves. ..' [Q. 9: 128]" to the end of the sura.
'Uthman said, "And I bear witness that these verses come
from God." He asked Khuzayma: "Where do you think we should
place them?" He replied, "Put them at the end of the last
revelation of the Qur'an." Thus, "Siirat al-Bara'a"
was closed with these.
A tradition was reported by 'Ubayd b. 'Umayr:
'Umar would not include a verse in the
codex except if two men had testified [to its being part of
the Qur'an]. A man from the Helpers (ansar) came to him with
these two verses: "There has come to you a messenger, [one]
of yourselves ..." to the end of the sura. 'Umar forthwith
said, "I shall not ask you for evidence at all, for the
Prophet was indeed like that."
A tradition was related by Sulayman b.Arqam on the authority
of al-Hasan and Ibn Sirin, and by Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri. They
When the death toll among the reciters
rose in the battle of Yamama--four hundred of them fell on
that day--Zayd b.Thabit met with 'Umar b. al-Khattab and
said to him: "This Qur' an is what unites our religion; if
the Qur' an goes, so does our religion. Hence, I have
resolved to collect the Qur'an in a book." 'Umar said to
him, "Wait until I ask Abu Bakr." Thus, they both went to
see Abu Bakr and informed him about the situation. He said,
"Do not be in haste until I consult the Muslims." Then he
delivered an oration to the Muslims, informing them about
the grave situation [caused by the Yamama slaughter]. They
said, "You are right." So they collected the Qur'an. Abu
Bakr ordered a crier to call out among the people and ask
them to bring forward any part of the Qur' an that might
Khuzayma b. Thabit related the following incident:
I brought the verse "There has come to
you a messenger, [one] of yourselves. .." to 'Umar b. al-Khattab
and Zayd b.Thabit. Zayd asked, "Who will testify with you
[to its authenticity]?" I said, "By God, I do not know."
Thereupon, 'Umar said: "I bear witness with him on [its
being from the Qur'an]."
Abu Ishaq related the following on the authority of some of
When 'Umar collected the text, he asked,
"Who is the greatest master of Arabic among the people?' He
was told that it was Sa'id b. al-' As. He went on to
inquire, "Who is the best scribe among the people?' He was
told that it was Zayd b.Thabit. So he said, "Let Sa'id
dictate and Zayd write it down." Thus, they made four copies
of the text, and dispatched a copy each to Kufa, Basra,
al-Sham (Syria), and Hijaz.
The following tradition was reported by' Abd Allah b.
When 'Umar decided to collect the first
complete version (al-imam) of the Qur'an, he appointed some
of his associates to represent him, and said, "Whenever you
disagree on a point of language, write in the dialect of the
Mudar, because the Qur'an was revealed to a man of Mudar."
Abu Qullaba related the following:
During the caliphate of 'Uthman,
different teachers were teaching different readings [of the
Qur'an] to their students. Thus, it used to happen that the
students would meet and disagree. The matter reached a point
that they would take their dispute to the teachers, who
would then condemn each other's [variant] readings. This
situation reached 'Uthman's ears. He delivered an oration
saying: "You are here by me, yet you disagree on the reading
and pronunciation of the Qur' an. Therefore, those who are
far away from me in the provinces must be in a greater
dispute, making greater grammatical errors. 0 Companions of
Muhammad, come together and write a complete version (imam)
[of the Qur'an] for the Muslims."
Abu Qullaba added:
Malik b. Anas (who, according to Abu Bakr
b. Abr Dawud, was the grandfather of [Imam] Malik b.Anas)
reported to me: "I was among those to whom the Qur'an was
dictated. Sometimes they would disagree on a verse. Then
they would remember a person who had received it from the
Messenger of God, and who would happen to be absent or out
in the valleys. In such a situation, they would write the
verses that come before and after it, and would leave a
place for it, until that person had returned or was
summoned. When the text was completed [in this way], 'Uthman
wrote to the people in the provinces that 'I have done such
and such a thing [in copying the text] and I have destroyed
the other material that I have, and you should destroy the
other material you have."
A tradition has been related by Mus'ab b. Sa'd:
'Uthman stood up to make the sermon to the people. He
said: "0 people, it is now thirteen years since our Prophet
left you, and you are still wrangling about the Qur'an. You
refer to the reading of Ubayy and that of' Abd Allah, and
some of you [go as far as to] say, 'By God, your ['Uthman's]
reading is not in order!' I therefore summon every one of
you to bring forward any part of the Book of God that you
have in your possession." Thus, people would come with
parchments and scraps of leather with [parts of] the Qur'an
on them, until there accumulated a large number of them.
After this was done, 'Uthman came in and called them one by
one, and implored each to say whether he heard [a part of
the Qur'an] from the Messenger of God or whether it was
dictated to him by the Messenger. They would answer in the
affirmative. When this was done, 'Uthman said, "Who is the
best scribe among you?" They said, "The scribe of the
Prophet, Zayd b. Thabit." Then he asked, "Who is the
greatest master of Arabic?" They said, "Sa'id b. al-' As." 'Uthman
said, "In that case, let Sa'id dictate and Zayd write."
Hence, Zayd wrote down [the text], and ['Uthman] prepared
the codices and distributed them among the people.
heard one of the Companions of the Prophet say, "He ['Uthman]
did well [by undertaking the task]."
- Abu al-Malih has reported that "when 'Uthman
b. 'Affan decided to write down the text of the Qur'an, he said,
'Let [a man from] the Hudhayl dictate and [a man from] the
'Abd al-A'la b. 'Abd Allah b. ' Amir al-Qarashi related:
When the codex was completed, it was
brought to 'Uthman. He examined it and said, "You have done
well and you have acted decently. I see minor grammatical
mistakes the Arabs would correct with their tongues [i.e.,
through proper recitation]."
When 'Uthman was brought the [completed]
codex, he noticed minor grammatical errors in it. So he
said, .'Had the one dictating been from the [tribe of]
Hudhayl and the scribe from the [tribe of] Thaqif, such an
error would not have crept into the text."
- 'Ata' related:
When 'Uthman b. 'Affan decided to copy
the Qur'an into codices, he sent them to Ubayy b. Ka'b.
Ubayy used to dictate to Zayd b. Thabit, who used to write,
and with them was Sa'id b. al-' As, who used to vocalize the
text [in accordance with the rules of Arabic grammar]. This
text was according to the reading of Ubayy and Zayd.
- Mujahid reported, "'Uthman ordered Ubayy b.
Ka'b to dictate, Zayd b. Thabit to write, [and) Sa'id b. al-' As
and' Abd al-Rahman b. al-Harith to vocalize [the Qur'an) in
accordance with the rules of Arabic."
Zayd b. Thabit reported:
When we copied the codices, a verse was
missing which I used to hear from the Messenger of God. I
found it in possession of Khuzayma b. Thabit. [This was]:
"Among the believers are persons who are truthful in what
they promise to God. .." [Q. 33:23]. Khuzayma was nicknamed
"He of the Two Testimonies" because the Messenger permitted
his testimony to be equal to that of two persons.
Ibn Ashatta reported the following tradition on the
authority of al-Layth b. Sa'd:
The first to collect the Qur'an was Abu
Bakr, and it was written by Zayd. The people used to bring
what they had [of the Qur'an] to Zayd b. Thabit, who would
not write a verse without two righteous persons testifying
[to its authenticity] .The last part of "Surat al-Bara'a" [sura
9] was not found except in the keeping of Khuzayma b. Thabit.
[Abu Bakr ] said: "Write it down. The Messenger of God made
Khuzayma' s testimony equal to that of two witnesses. Thus,
Zayd wrote it down. However, 'Umar brought the stoning
verse, but we did not write it down because he was alone [in
reporting it]." 
Inconsistency of the Traditions Regarding the
Collection of the Qur'an: The traditions contradict each other
and, therefore, it is not possible to trust anything in them. It is
worth mentioning a number of these contradictions by raising certain
questions and answering them.
- When was the Qur'an collected into a
single codex? The apparent sense of tradition 2, [cited
above], suggests that the collection was undertaken during the
time of 'Uthman (644-656). The clear statement of traditions 1,
3, and 4, and the apparent sense of a few others, indicate is
that it was undertaken during Abu Bakr's time. The clear
statement of traditions 7 and 12 indicates that it was during 'Umar's
- Who undertook the task of collecting the
Qur'an during Abu Bakr's time? According to traditions 1 and
22, the person who undertook this task was Zayd b. Thabit,
whereas, according to tradition 4, it was Abu Bakr himself, and
he asked Zayd only to examine what he had collected from the
sheets (kutub). On the other hand, tradition 5, as well as the
apparent sense of some other reports, suggest that it was both 'Umar
and Zayd who undertook the task.
- Was Zayd delegated to choose which verses
would be included in the Qur'an? It appears from tradition
1, or, in fact, it is clear, that Abu Bakr delegated the task to
him. What 'Umar said to Zayd is clear in this regard: "You are a
wise young man and we trust you. You used to record the
revelation for the Messenger of God. So go and find [all the
fragments of] the Qur'an and put them together." Tradition 5 and
a few others mention that the material was included in the text
only on the testimony of [at least] two witnesses, to the extent
that when 'Umar came forward with the verse regarding the
stoning, it was not accepted from him because he was the only
one reporting it.
- Did any verse remain unrecorded until the
time of 'Uthman?
The apparent sense of many traditions-in fact, their explicit
statement-suggests that there was nothing left out until that
time. However, tradition 2 clearly states that some verses had
been left out and were not recorded until the time of 'Uthman.
- Did 'Uthman strike out anything that was
recorded before him?
The apparent sense of many traditions, or, rather, their
explicit statement, suggests that 'Uthman did not strike out
anything from the text recorded before him. But tradition 14
explicIitly states that he did strike out something that was
recorded before him, and that he ordered the Muslims to do the
- From what source did 'Uthman collect the
codex? Traditions 2 and 4 state explicitly that in
collecting the Qur'an he depended on the scrolls (suhuf)
collected by Abu Bakr. In contrast, traditions 8, 14, and 15
explicitly state that 'Uthman collected it on the [basis of the]
testimony of two witnesses, and from the reports of those who
had heard the verse from the Messenger of God (peace be upon him
and his progeny).
- Who asked Abu Bakr to collect the Qur'an?
Tradition 1 says that it was 'Umar who asked him, and Abu Bakr
agreed with him after initially refusing to do [the collection].
He then sent for Zayd and asked him to undertake the task. Zayd
also agreed with him after initially refusing to do it.
Tradition 10 mentions that both Zayd and 'Umar asked Abu Bakr to
do it, and that he agreed with them after consulting the
- Who collected the first complete version
(imam) of the Qur'an and sent copies of it to the different
centers of the empire? Tradition 2 states clearly that it
was 'Uthman, whereas tradition 12 also states clearly that it
- When were the two last verses of "Surat
al-Bara'a" appended? Traditions 1, 11, and 22 state
clearly that they were appended during Abu Bakr's time. In
contrast, the clear statement of tradition 8 and the apparent
sense of other traditions suggest that this was done during 'Umar's
- Who came forward with these two verses?
Traditions 1 and 22 state clearly that it was Abu Khuzayma.
However, traditions 8 and 11 also state clearly that it was
Khuzayma b. Thabit. As mentioned by Ibn ' Abd al-Barr, there is
no relationship whatsoever between these two men. 
- How was it established that these two verses
were from the Qur'an? From the apparent sense of the first
tradition, and from the clear statement of traditions 9 and 21,
it was established on the testimony of a single person.
According to the clear statement of number 8, 'Uthman testified
[as a second witness] with him; and according to the clear
statement of number 11, 'Umar was the one who testified [as a
second witness] with him.
- Whom did 'Uthman appoint to write the
Qur'an and to dictate it?
Tradition 2 states explicitly that 'Uthman appointed Zayd, Ibn
al-Zubayr, Sa'id, and' Abd al-Rahman for writing, whereas number
15 states explicitly that he appointed Zayd for writing and
Sa'id for dictating. Tradition 16, however, asserts that he
appointed a person from the tribe of Thaqif to write, and
another from the tribe of Hudhayl to dictate. But tradition 18
states clearly that the writer was not from the Thaqif, and that
the one who dictated was not from the Hudhayl. Tradition 19
states explicitly that the person who dictated was Ubayy b. Ka'b,
and that Sa'id b. al-'As vocalized what Zayd wrote, in
accordance with the rules of Arabic grammar. This is asserted
also by tradition 20, with the addition of' Abd al-Rahman b. al-Harith
to oversee the vocalization with Sa'id
1. Bukhari, Sahih, vol. 6, pp.
478-80. These two traditions, and the nineteen that follow, are
quoted in Ibn 'Abd al-Muttaqi, Muntakhab Kanz al- 'Ummal in the
margin of Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 2, pp. 43-52.
2. Suyuti, al-Itqan, sec. 18, vol. I, pp. 167-68.
3. Qurtubi, Tafsir, vol. I, p. 56.