Harry Gaylord Dorman, in Towards Understanding Islam wrote, “It (that is the Quran) is a literal revelation of God, dictated to Muhammad by Gabriel, perfect in every letter. It is an ever-present miracle witnessing to itself and to Muhammad, the Prophet of God. Its miraculous quality resides partly in its style, so perfect and so lofty that neither men nor jinn could produce a single chapter to compare with its briefest chapter, and partly in its content of teachings, prophecies of the future, and amazingly accurate information such as the illiterate Muhammad could never have gathered of his own accord.”
Preservation And Authenticity Of The Final Testament
Muhammad was the last messenger of Allah to mankind, and he brought the final revelation from God to man. This final revelation which is also the Final Testament is named the Quran. Quran is an Arabic word derived from the root word qara’a which means ‘to read and to recite.’ Quran is a verbal noun and hence means ‘reading’ or ‘recitation.’ By definition, the Quran is the words of Allah, sent down upon the last Prophet Muhammad, through the Angel Gabriel in its precise wording and meaning. It was transmitted to us both verbally and in writing by numerous persons starting from the time of the prophet and his companions. It is inimitable, infallible and unique and is protected by God from corruption.
Besides the Quran, all Muslims are also obliged to believe that all the former scriptures, in their original forms, are words of God, be it the Torah, Psalms or the Bible. Allah mentioned in the Quran, “Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered.””(Chapter Baqarah 2:136)
The text of the Quran had been preserved in four different ways during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet:
The Holy Prophet had the whole text of the Divine message from the beginning to the end committed to writing by the scribes of revelations.
Many of the Companions learned and memorised the whole text of the Quran, every syllable of it, by heart. Besides that, they recited the Quran everyday which strengthened their memorisation.
All the illustrious Companions, without exception, had memorised at least some portions of the Quran, for the simple reason that it was obligatory for them to recite part of it during their prayers.
A considerable number of the literate Companions kept a private record of the text of the Quran for their private readings.
After the demise of the Holy Prophet, the first Caliph, Saidina Abu Bakar, with the help of the Companions who had memorised the Quran, collected all the written records of the Quran, and collated them in book form. This copy was later kept by the second Caliph, Saidina Omar, and later by his daughter, Hafsah. In the time of the fourth Caliph, Saidina Uthman, many copies were prepared from this single copy and distributed to the major Islamic cities. These copies became the standard manuscripts of the Quran. The Standard Manuscripts also known as Mushaf Uthmani in fact constitutes the ijma (consensus) of the Companions of the Prophet, all of whom agreed that it contained what Prophet Muhammad had received in the form of revelation from Allah. Since then, these manuscripts became the basis of production of all the Quranic books, word by word, until modern times. One of these manuscripts was removed from Madinah by the Turkish authorities and was sent to Berlin but after the Treaty of Versailles which concluded the first world war, it was returned and kept in Istanbul until the present moment. Another manuscript which was believed to be originally kept by Caliph Uthman, was found in Andalusia before reaching Samarkand in 1485 CE and remained there till 1869. This manuscript is now kept in Tashkent . In other words, two of the manuscripts of the Quran which were originally prepared in the time of Caliph Uthman, are still available to us today. If anyone cares to compare their text and arrangement with any other copies of the Quran, be it in print or handwriting, from any place or period of time, they will be found identical.
The learned Professor Laura Veccia Vaglieri mentioned in her An Interpretation of Islam, “We have still another proof of the divine origin of the Quran in the fact that its text remained pure and unaltered through the centuries from the day of its delivery till to this day and will remain so, God willing as long as the universe continues.”
The Quran clearly is the only Holy Scripture that is infallible, inimitable, inerrant and unaltered through the centuries, from the day of its delivery until today. Adrian Brockett in his article, The Value of Hafs and Warsh Transmission for the Textual History of the Quran, said, “The transmission of the Quran after the death of Muhammad was essentially static rather than organic. There was a single text, and nothing significant, not even allegedly abrogated material, could be taken out nor anything be put in.”
Dr. Gary Miller (a former Christian theologian, now Abdul Ahad Omar) in his The Amazing Quran said, “Calling the Quran amazing is not something done only by Muslims, who have an appreciation for the book and who are pleased with it. It has been labelled amazing by non-Muslims as well. In fact, even people who hate Islam very much have still called it amazing. One thing which surprises Non-Muslims who are examining the book very closely is that the Quran does not appear to them to be what they expected. What they assume is that they have an old book which came fourteen centuries ago from the Arabian desert and they expect that the book should look something like that – an old book from the desert. And then they find out that it does not resemble what they expected at all. Additionally, one of the first things that some people assume is that because it is an old book which comes from the desert, it should talk about the desert. Well the Quran does talk about the desert, but it also talks about the sea – what it’s like to be in a storm on the sea….”