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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Quran Was Written Down

Hi folks. This one is a rerun with some update and modifications. This one is for the Muslim readers. Non Muslims can read as well. There is no houcs pocus here. I study the text out of interest, just to see what adventures await. Todate it has been a refreshing adventure.

It is an old argument held by the religious folks that the Quran - for which Muslims all over the world are willing to wage jihad - was NOT written down during the life time of the Prophet. 

I know a friend who is trying to research when or where the very first copy of the complete Quran would have been available, would have been kept, would have been produced etc. 

He has some really interesting thoughts on the subject which of course I absolutely cannot reproduce here. As you know religious discussion is "restricted". If you say anything outside the comfort of the pacifier zone, the alarms will go off. 

The religious people say that during the Prophet's time the Quran was NOT written down in a complete book form. They also say that the Prophet was illiterate. 

Among their beliefs is that the Quran was first written down on pieces of parchment, pieces of leather, pieces of dry bones and left around here and there. They say that the Quran was finally compiled on paper and into one volume much later.  This is their belief. This is what they say.

Proviso : Again bear in mind, let us undertake a literal reading of the Quran. This means reading the Quran exactly how it is written, without any references to the many interpretations by people. 

Does the Quran, the object and the subject matter of this line of thought, have any views on this by itself? Are there any verses inside the Quran itself which say anything about the "writing down" of the Quran? Can we check what the Quran itself says about how it was written or recorded?  Lets see what the Quran has to say about this.

80:11 Indeed, this is a reminder - Kalla innaha tazkiratun
80:12 Whoever wills shall take heed  - Faman sha'a zakkarahu
80:13 In honorable books  - Fee suhufin mukarramatin
80:14 Exalted and pure - marfoo'atin mutahharatin
80:15 (Written) by the hands of emmisaries - bi-aydee safaratin
80:16 Who are honorable and righteous - kiramin bararatin

The Quran is clearly saying that it was written down in suhuf (pages or books). 

In honorable books  - 'Fee suhufin mukarramatin'. 

Suhuf is plural, mushaf is singular.  The word mushaf is also used to refer to the written form of the Quran, the book form that we have today.  At one time there was a project to rewrite the entire volume of the Quran in Malaysia. This was called the 'Mushaf Malaysia' project.  

I doubt that 114 chapters of an earth shaking Book were written down only on "pieces of parchment, pieces of leather, pieces of dry bones".   There would have been a huge pile of parchment, pieces of dry bones and pieces of leather lying around to be pieced together.

Here are more verses from the Quran about the Quran itself :

98:1 Those who disbelieved among the people of the scripture, as well as the idol worshipers, insist on their ways, despite the proof given to them  -  Lam yakuni allazeena kafaroo min ahli-lkitabi wal-mushrikeena munfakkeena hatta ta'tiyahumu albayyinaatu

98:2 A messenger from Allah is reciting purified book / pages - Rasoolun minallahi yatloo suhufan mutahharatan

98:3 In them there are written valuable teachings - Feeha kutubun qayyimatun

Surah 98:2 above says that the Rasool was reciting (yatloo) from suhufan mutahharatan or purified book / pages.  

And inside these bboks / pages (feeha) were written (kutubun) valuable teachings (qayyimatun). The word kutubun means 'written'. Again this means the Quran was already 'kutubun' or written. 

Here is more about the Quran :

52:2 And by the Book inscribed - Wakitaabin mastoorin
52:3 In a Scroll unfolded -  Fee raqqin manshoorin

The Quran was already a book written down (kitaabin mastoorin) in a scroll that was unfolded (fee raqin manshoorin).

Can there be scrolls (raqqin) made of bones or dried palm fronds etc? Here is a picture of an ancient Greek scroll :



And finally the Quran also talks about kertas or paper. In arabic it is qirtas.  Kertas or paper was already known from the time of Moses down to the Prophet. 

6:7 "Even if we sent down to them a physical book, written on paper (qirtas), and they touched it with their hands, those who disbelieved would have said, "This is no more than clever sorcery"  - Walaw nazzalna alayka kitaban fee qirtasin fala masoohu bi-aydeehim laqaala allazeena kafaroo in hatha illa sihrun mubeenun

This verse is not about qirtas. It is about the people who will refuse to believe in the Quran even if it dropped from the sky onto them.  They would say it was a magical book of sorcery.

The point is, the idea of a "kitaaban fee qirtasin" or a book written on qirtas (paper) was already mentioned in the Quran.  

Finally here is a very interesting verse :

25:5  "They also said, "Tales from the past that he wrote down; they were dictated to him day and night"   -  Waqaloo asateeru al-awwaleena iktatabaha fahiya tumla alayhi bukratan wa'aseelan"

Here the disbelievers are saying that the Quran was nothing more than 'tales of the past' (asateeru al awwaleena) that were dictated to the Prophet day and night and which the Prophet had written down (iktatabaha).  This confirms again that the Quran was already written down during the Prophet's lifetime. 

From the literal reading of these verses above, it comes across that the Quran was already written down in a suhuf or book or pages (suhufin mukarramatin). 

It also mentions the Quran being in a written Book form (kitaabin mastoorin).

It also mentions a scroll form (raqqin manshoorin)

The Prophet himself was reciting from it (yatloo suhufan).

The Prophet had the Quran written down (iktatabaha).

This is what the Quran says. Muslims should believe what the Quran says. If Muslims do not believe what the Quran says then they may be in a difficult position.

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