A Brief History of the Preservation of the Qur’an: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Muhsin al-‘Abbaad

In the introduction to a short work on memorizing the Qur’an sheikh ‘Abd al-Muhsin al-‘Abbaad, one of the senior scholars of al-Madinah, wrote the following brief overview of the Qur’an’s preservation and transmission:

الحمد لله الذي أنزل على عبده الكتاب ولم يجعل له عوجا، وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمدا عبده ورسوله الذي أكرمه الله فجعل القرآن له خلقا صلى الله وسلم وبارك عليه وعلى آله الطيّبين الشرفاء، وأصحابه أولي الفضائل والنهى ومن سلك سبيلهم واهتدى بهديهم إلى يوم الدين. ـ

All praise is due to Allah who sent down the Scripture upon His slave and did not place any crookedness in it. I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah alone with no partners, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and messenger, whom Allah ennobled and therefore made the Qur’an his very character – may Allah’s peace, blessings, and salutations be upon him, his good and noble family, his excellent and virtuous companions, and whoever follows along his path and is guided by his guidance until the Day of Judgement.

أما بعد: فإن أهم المهمّات وأولى ما تُعمر به الأوقات، الاشتغال والعناية بكتاب الله حفظاً وتلاوة وتدبّراً وتعلّماً وتعليماً وتأليفاً. ـ

To proceed: Certainly, the most important matter and the thing most deserving of our time is giving care and attention to the Book of Allah – memorizing it, reciting it, contemplating over it, studying it, teaching it, and gathering it together [i.e. in one’s heart, or in written form].

وكتاب الله خير الكلام وأحسن الحديث وأصدق القول، وقد وصفه الله بكونه عظيماً وحكيماً ومجيداً وكريماً وعزيزاً ومبيناً ونوراً وهدى ومباركاً، وغير ذلك من الأوصاف. ـ

The Book of Allah is the best speech, the most excellent discourse, and the most truthful of words. Allah has described it to us as magnificent, completely consistent, glorious, noble, mighty, clear, a light, a guidance, blessed, as well as other such descriptions.

وقد تكفّل الله بحفظ كتابه الكريم فقال {إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ} [الحجر:9] ، وتحقّق هذا الحفظ لرسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلّم فكان صلى الله عليه وسلّم عندما يُلقي عليه جبريل القرآن يحرّك لسانه به ليعجل في حفظه، فأمره الله عزّ وجلّ أن يصغيَ عند سماعه، ووعدَه بأن يتحقّق له حفظه فلا يفوته منه شيء، قال الله عزّ وجلّ {لا تُحَرِّكْ بِهِ لِسَانَكَ لِتَعْجَلَ بِهِ نَّ عَلَيْنَا جَمْعَهُ وَقُرْآنَهُ فَإِذَا قَرَأْنَاهُ فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْآنَهُ ثُمَّ إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا بَيَانَهُ} . ـ

Allah has charged Himself with the task of preserving His noble Book, for He said:

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ

Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian. [15:9]

And He established this preservation for His messenger (ﷺ), for it used to be that when he (ﷺ) would receive the Qur’an from Jibreel he would move his tongue along with it in order to memorize it quickly. But then Allah ordered him to focus on listening to it and promised him that He would perfect his memorization of it and that he would not miss out on any part of it. Allah said:

لَا تُحَرِّكْ بِهِ لِسَانَكَ لِتَعْجَلَ بِهِ * إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا جَمْعَهُ وَقُرْآنَهُ * فَإِذَا قَرَأْنَاهُ فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْآنَهُ * ثُمَّ إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا بَيَانَهُ

Move not your tongue with it, [O Muhammad], to hasten with recitation of the Qur’an. * Indeed, upon Us is its collection [in your heart] and [your] recitation. * So when We have recited it [through Jibreel], then follow its recitation. * Then upon Us is its clarification. [75:16-19]

وأيضاً فقد كان جبريل يدارس الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم القرآن في كل شهر رمضان مرة، وفي العام الذي قبض فيه دارسه القرآن مرتين. ـ

And also, the Messenger (ﷺ) used to review the Qur’an with Jibreel once every year during Ramadan, and then in the year in which he died he reviewed the Qur’an twice.

وتحقق حفظ القرآن لأصحاب الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم بتلقّيهم القرآن عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم شيئاً فشيئاً خلال مدّة ثلاث وعشرين سنة، وهي مدّة البعثة كما قال الله عزّ وجلّ {وَقُرْآناً فَرَقْنَاهُ لِتَقْرَأَهُ عَلَى النَّاسِ عَلَى مُكْثٍ وَنَزَّلْنَاهُ تَنْزِيلاً} [الإسراء:106] ، فتمكّنوا من حفظه وتدبّره والتفقّه فيه. ـ

And Allah established the preservation of the Qur’an for the Companions of the Messenger (ﷺ) by having them receive the Qur’an from the Messenger (ﷺ) bit by bit over the course of twenty-three years, which was the length of time of the Prophet’s mission. This is as Allah said:

وَقُرْآنًا فَرَقْنَاهُ لِتَقْرَأَهُ عَلَى النَّاسِ عَلَىٰ مُكْثٍ وَنَزَّلْنَاهُ تَنزِيلًا

A Qur’an which we have divided into parts in order that you could recite it to the people over a prolonged period, and We have sent it down progressively [17:106]

so the Companions were able to memorize it, contemplate over it and understand it.

وتحقّق حفظ القرآن لخلفائه الراشدين، فقد قام خليفة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلّم أبو بكر رضي الله عنه بجمعه في صُحُفٍ، ثم قام الخليفة الراشد عثمان بن عفان رضي الله عنه بجمعه في مصحف توارثه المسلمون على مختلف العصو، وتلقّاه بعضهم عن بعض. ـ

And He established the preservation of the Qur’an for the Rightly-guided Khulafaa’. The successor to Allah’s messenger (ﷺ), Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), undertook the collection of the Qur’an in written form, and later the rightly-guided khaleefah ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affaan (may Allah be pleased with him) commissioned its collection into the official written form which the Muslims have passed down from generation to generation across the years, each generation receiving it directly from the previous one.

وتحقّق حفظ القرآن للمسلمين على مختلف عصورهم وأزمانهم بتوفيق الله الألوف المؤلّفة منهم للقيام بحفظه في صدورهم، فلو زاد أحد في القرآن حرفاً أو نقص حرفا لتنبّه لذلك الألوف من الحفّاظ، فبيّنوه وأظهروا خِزيَ من فعله. وأذكر أن الجامعة الإسلامية بالمدينة بعثت قبل ربع قرن من الآن (1423هـ) بعض طلبتها الحافظين لكتاب الله إلى بعض البلاد الأوروبية في شهر رمضان ليصلوا صلاة التراويح ببعض الجمعيات هناك، ومن بينهم طالب وصل إلى مطار إحدى المدن ولم تكن معه الورقة الصحية، فأبقوه في محجر مدّة ثلاثة أيام، فوجد فيه مصحفاً حصل فيه تحريف، وكان حافظا لكتاب الله فقرأ المصحف وصحّح ما فيه من تحريف وتركه في مكانه. ـ

And Allah established the preservation of the Qur’an for the Muslims throughout the various generations and eras by granting thousands Muslims the ability and accord to accurately memorize it by heart. For if a single letter were to be added or omitted from the Qur’an, then the thousands of people who have memorized the Qur’an would notice that and would make that clear as well as make the mistake of the one who did that known.

I remember that about a quarter century ago the Islamic University of al-Madinah sent some of its students who had memorized the Book of Allah to some European countries for the month of Ramadan so that they could lead the Tarawih prayers in some of the mosques there. So one of these students arrived at the airport of one of these countries without the proper documents and so they held him in detention for three days. While he was there, he found a mushaf which had some mistakes and changes in it. Since he had memorized the Book of Allah, he wrote in the mushaf and fixed the mistakes in it and then left it there where he had found it.

وتحقّق حفظ القرآن بعد ظهور آلات الطباعة، بطباعة القرآن الكريم بأحجام مختلفة وبملايين النسخ، مما حصل به وصول القرآن لكل من أراده في كلّ مكان بسهولة ويسر. ـ

And Allah established the preservation of the Qur’an prior to the advent of modern publishing and printing tools by having it be printed and reproduced in numerous different formats and millions of manuscripts, and this allowed for the Qur’an to make its way with ease to any one who wanted it in any land.

وفي العصر الحاضر وفّق الله حكومة المملكة العربية السعودية لإنشاء مجمّع الملك فهد لطباعة المصحف الشريف في مدينة الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم، فطُبع فيه ملايين النسخ من القرآن كاملاً وأجزاء منه، بأحجام مختلفة تمَّ توزيعها ووصولها إلى أماكن كثيرة من العالم. ـ

And in modern era, Allah enabled the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to establish the King Fahd Glorious Qur’an Printing Complex in the city of the Messenger (ﷺ). So millions of copies of the Qur’an – both complete copies and individual sections of it – have been published in a number of different formats, and have since been distributed and sent to numerous places across the globe.

ومن المعلوم أن حفظ المسلم كتاب الله في صدره من أعظم النعم وأجلّ الغنائم، لأنه يتيسّر لحافظه تلاوته في أحواله المختلفة، مصلياً وقائماً وماشياً وجالساً ومضطجعاً. ـ

And it is well-known that having the Book of Allah memorized in one’s heart is one of the greatest blessings and most wonderful treasures for the Muslim, for this makes it easy for such a person to recite it in all sorts of situations, whether while praying, standing, walking, sitting or laying down.

[Ayaat Mutashaabihaat al-Alfaath pg. 3-5]

See also: The Preservation of the Qur’an and the Preservation of the Tawrah: Imam al-Shinqitee

See also: “The best of you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it”: ibn Kathir

See also: Naseehah to the Qur’an: Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan

See also: Preservation of the Wordings and Meanings of the Qur’an among the Salaf: Tafsir ibn Kathir

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3 thoughts on “A Brief History of the Preservation of the Qur’an: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Muhsin al-‘Abbaad

  1. Pingback: The Preservation of the Qur’an and the Preservation of the Tawrah: Imam al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: “Indeed, We will be its Guardian”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Preservation of the Wordings and Meanings of the Qur’an among the Salaf: Tafsir ibn Kathir | Tulayhah

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