Prophet's own superintendence.1 If this is so, it is difficult to
say why recensions were necessary under Abu Bakr and 'Uthman and what Zaid's
work really was; nor is it easy to conceive that so capable a person as Muhammad
would have left his book in so unintelligible a form. It seems more correct to
say that the Qur'an in its present form is a genuine reproduction of Abu Bakr's
recension. 'Uthman, after issuing his revised edition, 'caused all the remaining
editions to be destroyed.' 2 This was unnecessary, if Muhammad
compiled and left a correct copy. The Arab and Persian commentators have
arranged the Suras in some definite order, and Muir and Noldeke have also
attempted to place them in chronological sequence. There are differences of
opinion as to the exact date of some Suras, and of portions of others which are
certainly composite; but for all practical purposes we can now arrange them in
some sort of consecutive order.
In the following pages, I try to show how the Suras when thus placed in their
true chronological order cast much light on the policy, the teaching, and the
actions of the great Arabian Prophet.
The first words revealed are those which the Prophet heard in the cave of Mt.
Hira, situated about three miles from Mecca, and now recorded in the Suratu'l-'Alaq
(xcvi) 1-2 3 :