What Is the History of the Quran?


Quick Answer

The Quran consists of revelations relayed by the prophet Muhammad, which Muslims consider the word of God, starting with a vision Muhammad received in 611 and ending with Muhammad's death in 635. The third caliph, Uthman, created a committee to compile a canonical version of the Quran in 651 and 652.

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Full Answer

Originally intended as a recited text, neither Muhammad nor his followers compiled the Quran into a single canonical text during Muhammad's lifetime. Muhammad mostly relied on memorization by his disciples, though some secretaries did transcribe sections of the Quran during Muhammad's life. One of Muhammad's main secretaries, Zayd ibn Thabit, collected many of these transcriptions after Muhammad's death but did not establish an official canon.

As Islam spread, variant readings and manuscripts of the Quran also spread, sparking worry among prominent Muslims. To stem this problem, Uthman ordered the creation of the canonical Quran that exists today and ordered the destruction of all other versions. Differences remain in the Quran's reading, as seven dialects reveal the text in varying ways. Eventually, Muslim scholars came to accept 10 different readings of the Quran.

Despite splits within the Islamic world, Muslims generally accept the Uthman Quran. None of the other early Muslim groups, such as the Shi?ite, attempted to created their own text. Instead, they relied on differing interpretations of the same source material.

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