Compilation of the Koran

Muslim tradition provides a number of varying accounts regarding the compilation of the revelations, and there has been considerable disagreement during the history of Islam, as to the truth. The general consensus is, that there was no single manuscript of the Koran during the lifetime of the Prophet (although there are some traditions that describe Muhammad dictating portions of the Koran to his secretaries). Instead, the verses of the Koran were recorded on "pieces of papyrus, flat stones, palm leaves, shoulder blades and ribs of animals, pieces of leather and wooden boards and in the hearts of men".

Traditions recount that during the caliphate of 'Umar there was concern to collect the revelations, to safeguard against parts being lost forever, following the battle of Yamamah in 633, in which a great number of those who knew the Koran by heart had been killed. It is generally accepted that the Koran as we know it today, was compiled during the caliphate of Uthman, the third Caliph, c.650AD. The story goes that due to concern over divergences in Koranic recitation, Uthman was asked to prepare an official text. Once completed, this definitive version was sent to the major Arab settlements of the day at Kufa, Basra, Damascus, and perhaps Mecca and the Yemen also. All other versions were ordered to be destroyed. There remains an element of controversy within Islam as to the validity of the varying traditions. Shi'ite Muslims argue that the credit for the first codex should be given to their founder 'Ali, the fourth Caliph, but that the truth has been masked by the ascendancy of the Sunni Muslims in the early years following the conquest. At the same time, others argue another theories that the Koran was compiled under 'Umar or Abu Bakr are invented by the enemies of Uthman, a very unpopular Caliph, and by the adversaries of his descendants, the Umayyad Caliphs, who ruled for much of the seventh and eighth centuries. The arguments are cyclical and, quite possibly, reflect more the political realities of the Caliphate of the late seventh, eighth and ninth centuries, than the events of the mid-seventh century within Arabia.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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