Click to View


shall last for ever; if thou then die, shall they live for ever? Every soul shall taste of death.'1 'Every soul shall taste of death: then to us shall ye return.'2 Abu Bakr must, therefore, be pronounced innocent of the fraud charged upon him, for it is unreasonable to suppose that he interpolated them all.

Weil also considers that verse fourteen of Sura al-Ahqaf (xlvi) is an interpolation: 'We have commanded man to show kindness to his parents, his mother beareth him and bringeth him forth with pain, and his bearing and his weaning is thirty months; until when he attaineth strength and the age of forty years, he saith, "0 Lord give me inspiration, that I may be grateful for Thy favour wherewith thou hast favoured me and my parents."' According to the commentator Husain, Abu Bakr embraced Islam in his thirty-eighth year. His parents were also converted, and in his fortieth year he said: '0 Lord give me inspiration that I may be grateful.' Thus this verse has been supposed to refer to him, but this by no means proves that he interpolated it, for had he wished to introduce a verse about himself he surely would have invented one far less obscure. This charge then may be dismissed as having no basis in fact.

Although the recension thus made under the direction of Abu Bakr was of the nature of a private undertaking, and too much importance ought not to be attached to it, yet it was of great value as forming the basis for the authoritative recension of the Khalifa 'Uthman. Some authorities consider it uncertain whether Zaid completed his work before the death of Abu Bakr or not, and the fact that the work when finished was handed over to Hafasa, the daughter of 'Umar, would imply that Abu Bakr was now dead. In any case the private nature of the undertaking is evident.

With the great mass of the people there was no critical study of the Qur'an, for they were far too busy with the

وَمَا جَعَلْنَا لِبَشَرٍ مِّن قَبْلِكَ الْخُلْدَ أَفَإِن مِّتَّ فَهُمُ الْخَالِدُونَ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ
Sura al-Anbiya' (xxi) 35-6[34-5].
The phrase
مِن قَبْلِكَ —'before thee'—is ambiguous and it might seem to imply that Muhammad was different to those gone before and would not die, but the Commentators do not so interpret it and deduce from the whole passage the universality of death.
كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ ثُمَّ إِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ —Sura al-'Ankabut (xxix) 51[57].

ceaseless fighting that went on, and in the accumulation of booty. The result was that they went on reciting the Qur'an as they had been accustomed to do and paid little attention to Zaid's arrangement, and many knew very little about it. After the battle of Qadisiya (A.D. 636), 'Umar ordered the leader of the victorious army to divide the booty amongst the warriors who were best acquainted with the Qur'an. One was called up and he replied that he had been so engaged in fighting that he did not know anything by heart. Another said that he only knew the 'Bismillah'— 'In the name of God most merciful and compassionate.' As time went on, even amongst professed scholars, discrepancies arose, and those who, in their several districts, were looked upon as authorities maintained the superiority of the readings they favoured and quarrels commenced on the subject. The inhabitants of Hims stood by the readings of al-Miqdad bin al-Aswad; the Kufites by those of ibn Mas'ud;1 the Basrites by those of Abu Musa, and so on.2 The consequences threatened to be very serious, for men wondered how there could be different texts, as the Qur'an sent down by God was one, and so the Khalifa 'Uthman determined to bring out a new and authoritative recension. He appointed Zaid, who was a native of Madina, and some learned men amongst the Quraish 3 to do the work. They took Abu Bakr's compilation as the basis of the new book, and collected all the copies they could get. When they had finished the work, 'Uthman destroyed all the books of the old edition he could get, except the copy which belonged to Hafasa. This, however, was destroyed soon after by Manoan, the Governor of Madina. The edition now authorized was sent forth into all the provinces as the only recognized book.

In the case of any difference of opinion Zaid had to give way, and the final decision lay with the Quraish members of the revision committee, or with the Khalifa himself. Thus

1 One of the Prophet's sayings is thus recorded: 'Whosoever wishes to recite the Qur'an correctly and with elegance let him follow the reading of ibn Mas'ud.' Ibn Mas'ud refused at first to give up his copy to the revision committee. The Khalifa ordered him to be beaten, from the effects of which he died.—Journal Asiatique, Decembre 1843, p. 385.
 Mirza Alexander Kazem Beg, Observations sur le Chapitre inconnu du Coran, publie et traduit par M. Garcin de Tassy, Journal Asiatique, quatrieme serie, tome II, Imprimerie Royale, Paris,1843,  pp. 373-446, [Remarks on the Unknown Chapter of the Qu'ran, published and translated by Mr. Garcin de Tassy]
Shi'ite literature confirms that 'Uthman had Ibn Mas'ud beaten causing his ribs to be broken. The Unknown Chapter of the Qur'an refers to the Sura an-Nurain, or 'Two Lights.' See page 19.
2 Noldeke gives an excellent account of the way in which these differences arose.—Geschichtes des Qorans, pp. 280-5.
3 This was the Meccan tribe or family to which the Prophet belonged.

Click to View