- Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Is it true that the Quran did not come in book form during the life of Prophet Muhammad?
T he Quran, according to Muslim belief, is a book revealed by God. Today, it exists in the form of a book, but all of its 114 chapters were not revealed at once. They were sent part by part, according to circumstances, over a period of 23 years. The present order of arrangement of the chapters of the Quran is not the same as the order of their revelation.
In ancient times information used to be preserved in human memory. Oral traditions in those days functioned as libraries do today. This system made it possible for the revelations of the Quran to be preserved in the memory of a large number of Muslim companions of the Prophet. And to this day, and in spite of the invention of the press, the institution of memorizing the Quran is still alive all over the Muslim world.
But the message of the Quran was not transmitted purely by oral tradition even during the lifetime of the Prophet. Among his companions were a select group of about half a dozen katib-e-wahy, or transcribers of the revelations. A few of these scribes were always present with the Prophet and whenever any passage of the Quran was revealed, the Prophet would recite it to them. Thereupon, at the exact moment of revelation, they would not only commit it to memory, but would also write it down on any available material, such as paper, bones, leather or skin. In former times, when the accepted way of disseminating the subject matter of a book was to memorize it and then recite it, it was quite exceptional that the Quran should have been both memorized and preserved in writing
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