English-31

31) When and under what circumstance was the Qur’an compiled as
a complete book bound between two cover pages?

It was during the reign of the first caliph, Abu Bakr, that the
Qur’an was first compiled as a complete book bound between its covers.
Although the Qur’an was transcribed on leather sheets and othersuch materials during the life time of Muhammed () himself, they
were never the main source for the study of the Qur’an on which the
society depended. It was, in fact, the services of those who had learnt
the whole Qur’an by heart on which the people counted. After the
death of the Prophet, Abu Bakr (r) assumed the leadership of the
Islamic state. When Musaylama the false prophet arraigned his
powerful tribe – the Banu Haneef – against Abu Bakr (r), fighting
broke out. The Muslims emerged victorious in the war. The greatest
loss suffered by the Muslims, however, was the martyrdom of seventy
of those who had memorized the whole of the Qur’an.
It was this incident which led Umar (r), one of the most
important figures among the companions of the Prophet, to
contemplate over the protection of the Qur’an. He discussed the
measures that were to be taken for the purpose with the Caliph Abu
Bakr (r). The Caliph was, thereby, convinced of the necessity of the
compilation of the Qur’an as a complete book. He, thus, entrusted the
task of compiling the Qur’an into a single book to Zaid bin Thabit, the
official scribe of the Prophet and the most important of those who
wrote down the Qur’an. Zaid bin Thabit himself had memorized the
whole Qur’an. However, in the compilation of the Qur’an it was not
just his memory on which he depended. He examined the Qur’anic
scrolls which were in the possession of several persons. Further, he
accepted the versions of only those who could produce at least two
eye witnesses who had seen the scrolls being written in the presence
of the Prophet himself. Whenever those with the scrolls came to him,
he compared their version with his own as also with his memory – in
such strict fashion did he continue with his task. Thus, Zaid bin Thabit
compiled the whole Qur’an into a single book bound together by its
covers. Such a compilation, bound as it was between two covers,
came to be known as Mushaf. In short, therefore, it was Zaid bin
Thabit, who, during the reign of Abu Bakr (r), compiled the first Mushaf
which included, between its covers, the entire Qur’an.

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