The First Evidence – The Book

 

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem

The First Evidence – The Book

Al-Kitab, i.e. the Book, is the Qur’an revealed to our master Mohammed (saw) and it is what has been transmitted to us between the two covers of al-Mus’haf, i.e. the volume, in the seven Ahruf, i.e. forms, in a mutawatir (successive) manner. The Prophet (saw) was commissioned with the task of conveying what had been revealed to him from the Qur’an to a group of persons whose testimony would constitute a conclusive and decisive proof. It is inconceivable for those whose testimony establishes a conclusive proof to concoct a lie or to collude in adding to what they had heard from the Messenger of Allah (saw), or to collude on abstaining from conveying what they had heard from him (saw).

The Qur’an is in Arabic; it has come according to the Arabs’ styles of speech and it is easy to comprehend. It includes what Allah (swt) has commanded and what He has prohibited. Allah (swt) says:” And we have indeed made the Qur'an easy to understand and remember: then is there any that will receive admonition?” [54-40] T.M.Q

“Verily, we have made this (Qur'an) easy, in your own tongue, in order that they may take heed.” [44 – 58] T.M.Q.

“A Book, whereof the verses are explained in detail; a Qur'an in Arabic, for people who understand.” [41–3] T.M.Q.

“A Book which we have sent down unto you, full of blessings, that they may mediate on its Signs, and that men of understanding may receive admonition.” [38-29] T.M.Q.

Hence, this denotes that achieving contemplation and comprehension is possible; and although the Qur’an is miraculous, its miracle does not impact on the fact that it is easy to perceive.

What is Deemed Evidence from the Qur’an

Only what has been transmitted to us as Qur’an in a Mutawatir manner and what we have ascertained that it is Qur’an can be considered as evidence. What has been transmitted to us by way of Ahad, i.e. single report, such as the Mus’haf of Ibnu Masud and the like, cannot be considered as evidence. This is because the Messenger of Allah (saw) was commissioned to read what had been revealed to him in terms of Qur’an to a band of people whose testimony constituted a decisive proof. It is inconceivable for those whose testimony amounts to a decisive proof to agree upon not transmitting what they had heard. If there was anything from the Qur’an that was not transmitted by those whose testimony is an established authority, but rather through Ahad reports, it would not then be taken into consideration because it would have come contrary to what the Messenger of Allah (saw) had been commissioned with, namely the transmitting being via a single chain, and contrary to the manner in which the Qur’an used to be read out by the Messenger of Allah (saw) to a number of Muslims whose testimony is deemed as a decisive proof and who would then memorise it; the Messenger of Allah (saw) would also order them to write it. Consequently, single narrators, or even a group whose testimony does not constitute a decisive proof, could not have been qualified to transmit anything from the Qur’an; hence, what has been transmitted by way of Ahad as Qur’an could absolutely not be deemed as evidence.

It may be claimed that the memorisers of the Qur’an during the time of the Messenger of Allah (saw) did not reach a Mutawatir number as they were only few, and that its collection was through the process of receiving the single Ayat from single conveyors, thus the diversity in the Masahif (books) of the Sahaba. Had the Messenger of Allah (saw) read it out to a group of people whose testimony amounted to a decisive proof, this would not have been the case. The answer to this claim comes via several aspects:

First: reciting the Qur’an to a number of Muslims whose testimony constitutes decisive evidence was never a disputed issue among anyone of the Sahaba, not even among any of the Muslims. Besides, the Qur’an is the miracle that proves conclusively the integrity of the Messenger of Allah (saw). Hence, had it not reached the level of tawatur as far as those who did not see him are concerned, it would not have been a decisive evidence for them, and thus it would not have been a proof in believing the Messenger of Allah (saw).

Second: What is established is that whenever the Messenger of Allah (saw) received the ayah or the ayat, he used to summon the writers of the Revelation to write them and he used to recite them to a number of Muslims whose testimony constituted a decisive proof; he used to also recite it to the Muslims who would come to him or pray behind him. Hence, the reality of reciting the Qur’an is that it was not recited to one single person, but rather to a group of Muslims; thus those who used to hear it reached the number of tawatur. In other words, the reality of its reciting was that it used to be recited to those whose testimony amounted to an irrefutable proof.

Third: the point at issue is not the memorising of the whole Qur’an, but rather the transmission of the single ayat. If we assumed that the number of the memorisers of the whole Qur’an did not reach the level of tawatur, this does not necessarily mean that the transmission of single ayat did not reach the level of tawatur. Hence, the fact that the number of the memorisers of the Qur’an as a whole did not reach the level of tawatur during the time of the Messenger of Allah (saw) has no affect on the number of those who memorised the single ayat from reaching the level of tawatur. The number of the memorisers of every single ayah reached the level of tawatur, in addition to their writing. Every single ayah of the Qur’an was conveyed on behalf of the Messenger of Allah (saw) in a Mutawatir manner. Hence, the number of those who memorised the Qur’an during his time (saw) failing the reach the number of tawatur is immaterial.

Fourth: The compilation of the Qur’an is different to its transmission from the Messenger of Allah (saw) because transmitting the Qur’an means hearing it aurally and this is the point at issue. As for the compiling of the ayat of the Qur’an in one Mus’haf, the debated issue was not whether they were part of the Qur’an or not but rather about their order, i.e. their forwarding and deferment in respect of each other, and about their length and shortness. Besides, the compilation of the Qur’an was not a compilation of what the Sahaba had transmitted in terms of Qur’an because the Qur’an had already been compiled and kept by the Messenger of Allah (saw) in the home of Aysha (ra). What the Sahaba did was bind the pages with a thread and match them with what the memorisers had in terms of Qur’an. Hence, the issue of compiling the Qur’an is other than the issue of transmitting it, and the point at issue is about the transmission of the Qur’an. Hence, the issue of compiling the Qur’an is irrelevant in this context. As for the disparity of the Masahif (volumes), what was transmitted via Ahad reports is not part of the Qur’an and cannot be deemed as evidence; and what was transmitted via mutawatir reports is part of the Qur’an and is deemed as evidence. Hence, the issue is not related to the Mus’haf but rather to the ayat that the Mus’haf contains; thus, if the ayah was transmitted from the Messenger of Allah (saw) in a mutawatir manner, i.e. if it was received from the Messenger of Allah (saw) by a number that reached the level of tawatur, which makes their testimony a decisive proof, then it would be deemed as Qur’an and it would be deemed as evidence, and what fails to meet this criteria cannot be deemed as Qur’an. Therefore, the Mus’haf of Uthman as a whole is Qur’an because all the ayat it contains have been transmitted in a mutawatir manner by those whose testimony constitutes a decisive proof. However, the Mus’haf of Ibnu Mas’ud is subject to scrutiny and what it contains in terms of ayat that have been transmitted in a mutawatir manner is deemed as Qur’an and what it contains in terms of “ayat” that have been transmitted via Ahad reports, such as “Then three successive days should be fasted”, is not deemed as Qur’an and cannot act as evidence.

Therefore, the reservations expressed against the memorisers of the Qur’an and the Masahif of the Sahaba are rejected. What is factual is that the Qur’an is what has been transmitted in a mutawatir manner, and what has been transmitted via Ahad reports is not Qur’an.

It is worth mentioning in this context that the Qur’an has been transmitted by way of visual contact with the Messenger of Allah (saw) as it descended via al-Wahi (revelation), and then it was recorded in writing in addition to its memorisation. Hence, the Sahaba (ra) did not relate the Qur’an by way of reporting on the authority of the Messenger of Allah (saw), but they rather transmitted it directly. In other words, they transmitted the very Qur’an that Al-Wahi delivered to him and what the Messenger (saw) ordered to be written. This is contrary to the Hadith which was conveyed by way of narration; it was not written as soon as he (saw) uttered it or as soon as it was reported; it was rather compiled and recorded in the times of al-Tabi’een. As for the Qur’an, it was written and recorded as it was revealed and the Sahaba transmitted the very Qur’an the revelation had brought. This is why it is said that “the Sahaba have relayed the Qur’an to us by way of transmission.”

Source: Islamic Personality Volume 3