Gathering the Quran in One Book

Muslims believe that the Quran is literally the word of God.   Over a period of 23 years the Quran was revealed in portions to Prophet Muhammed.  Prophet Muhammed appointed scribes to guarantee that everything that he received was documented and protected in writing, even though at the time  people in Arabia were known for holding knowledge in their memory and not for their written recordings. The Prophet also encouraged others in the community to memorize the revelations. They began to make it an unspoken competition, the more they memorized the better standing or title they had in the community.   This practice led to the title of Hafiz (a person that has memorized all that has been revealed up to that present time). Muslims continue to carry this title today, and it is given to anyone who can recite the entire Quran from memory.

The compilation of the Quran into a single book did not exist in the lifetime of Prophet Muhammed; as they continued to anticipate more revelations during his lifetime.  His death marked the completion of the revelations and the need to gather all the revelations in one book. The first leader after his death was named Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr was encouraged by a close advisor named Omar to gather the Quran in one book due to the Hafizs'  actively participating in a war and the fear that the verses would be lost. Abu Bakr formed a committee to gather the Quran in one book. Due to the sensitivity and importance of this job, they adopted a strenuous method that included a rule not to allow any verse unless it was learned directly from the Prophet Muhammed, that it must match the written document, also, they were strict that the written document must have come directly from one of the scribes of Prophet Muhammed.  In both cases, the scribe and the reciter must come with two witnesses that could testify that this person received the text directly from the Prophet Muhammed. Each verse gathered in this book received a unified consent. This process is now referred to as the first gathering of the Quran.

Abu Bakr kept this book under his care until it was turned over to his predecessor Omar ibn Al-Khattab who handed it to his daughter, Hafsa, who was the widow of Prophet Muhammed. During the time of Othman, Omar’s predecessor, the Muslim empire increased significantly in size and the native Arabic speakers were moving in the direction of being the minority.  For fear of the text becoming colluded with changes, comments and translations, Othman, called for the destruction of any personal writings and requested the original book in Hafsa’s care to be copied and shared by different states. This process is now referred to as the second and final gathering of the Quran. One can say that Abu Bakr gathered the Quran in one book and Othman gathered Muslims around the Quran.