33) Does the copy of the Qur’an which was compiled during the reign
of Abu Bakr (r) exist today? If not, why?
No. The Mushaf compilation of Zayd bin Thabit was in the
possession of the Caliph Abu Bakr (r). After his death, it passed on
into the possession of Umar (r), the second Caliph. After the time of
Umar (r), the Mushaf came into the custody of Hafsa (r), his daughter
and wife of Muhammed (). Even though this copy did have the status
of the official version of the Qur’an, other people too, had with them
the inscribed scrolls of the same. These were the scrolls which had
been composed during the time of the Prophet and which, subsequently,
came to be copied thereafter. But these were not the versions to which
the people, in general, referred for the purpose of their own study and
recitation. More often than not, it was on those amongst themselves
who had memorized the Qur’an and the inscribed scrolls of the Qur’an
which were in their own possession that they depended.
At the time of the reign of Usman (r), the third Caliph, by the
twenty third year of the Hijra, Islam had spread considerably and
new territories had come within the jurisdiction of the Islamic empire.
Thousands of Arabs and non-Arabs came into the fold of Islam.
Usman (r) was, thereby, alerted to the problems that now accompanied
the conversion of those who were not Arabs. It was Hudaifa (r), the
companion of the Prophet, who was among the first to bring the
attention of the Caliph to the issue, when during the course of the
wars fought in Armenia and Azerbaijan he noted that the local populace
who had gathered together were making alarming deviations in the
order and pronunciation of the recitation of the Qur’an. The companions
of the Prophet, who were men of foresight and vision, warned that if
things were to go in such a manner, there would soon ensue much
schism amongst the Muslims over the Qur’an. They demanded
emergency measures of the Caliph.
Usman (r), forthwith, commanded that the official version of
the Qur’an which was in the possession of Hafsa (r) be brought forward.
He ordered a four-man team headed by Zaid bin Thabit to prepare,
out of its copies, a version which faithfully emulated the pronunciation
and dialect of the Quraysh. The other members of this group were
Abdullah bin Zubair, Zaid bin Aasi and Abdul Rehman bin Hisham.
The responsibility of this group was to prepare out of the official
version of the Qur’an, which was with Hafsa (r), a version which would
be in accordance with the pronunciation of the Quraysh. As was to be
seen, therefore, they successfully fulfilled this responsibility.
Furthermore, it may be assumed that as it was Zaid bin Thabit (r)
himself, the first compiler of the official version which was with Hafsa
(r), who led this effort, there was no possibility of error and that the
work was handled with the utmost care indeed. The version that was
thus prepared were sent to Egypt, Basra, Kufa, Mecca, Syria, Yemen,
and Bahrain. Soon thereafter, the Caliph ordered that all other copies
in individual possession be burnt. He also commanded that all further
recitation of the Qur’an were to be made only according to this
authoritative version. It is the reproduction of the Mushaf which
themselves were the copies of those given out by Usman (r), which
are being published all over the world today. The originals of these
copies are still extant to this day.