The Holy Quran.
The Holy Quran was revealed to the Holy Prophet in parts from time spread over a period of twenty-three years. Whenever the Holy Prophet received the revelation, he would dictate it to some person who would record it on some piece of leather, date skin or even bones and stones.
The principal scribe of the Holy Prophet was Zaid bin Thabit. Many companions committed the entire Quran to memory, and these “Huffaz” could recite the entire Quran from memory. The Holy Prophet kept all the piece of leather, date stones and other materials on which the verses of the Holy Quran were recorded in his custody.
The need for the compilation of the Holy Quran.
During the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, revelation was a constant process, and there was no occasion for giving the various verses the form of a book. After the death of the Holy Prophet, the process of revelation came to close, and now the need for some sort of compilation was felt.
In the battle of Yamamah, most of the “Huffaz” were martyred. It struck Umar that if the “Huffaz” died, there was the danger that at one stage there would be no body who could be depended upon as the custodian of the Holy Quran.
The project compilation of the Holy Quran.
Umar suggested to Abu Bakr that all the revelations of the Holy Quran should be collected, and compiled in the form of a book. Abu Bakr was in the first instance reluctant to undertake the project for the reason that as the Holy Prophet had not felt the necessity of such compilation; it did not behoove him, as the successor to the Holy Prophet, to take any initiative in the matter.
Umar, however, continued to press his proposal. He argued that as during the life-time of the Holy Prophet, the process of revelation was continuous, there was no occasion for stringing the various verses in the form of a compilation, but after the death of the Holy Prophet, and the cessation of the process of revelation, the position had changed, and it devolved on the successor of the Holy Prophet to suitably conserve the Holy Quran lest it might be lost or corrupted in the course of time. The argument appealed to Abu Bakr, and on further consideration, he agreed to undertake the project.
Zaid bin Thabit.
Zaid bin Thabit was summoned by Abu Bakr and entrusted with the task of collecting all the verses, and compiling them in a book form.
Zaid’s immediate reaction to proposal was that if he had been asked to remove a mountain from its original site, and place it elsewhere, he would have considered it easier than the task of compiling the Holy Quran. Abu Bakr appreciated the difficulties of Zaid bin Thabit, but observed that the word of God had to be preserved for the guidance of the coming generations, and the task had to be undertaken, whatever the odds.
Zaid accepted the commission, and after hard labor and in consultation with the various companions of the Holy Prophet produced a compilation. Abu Bakr was himself a Hafiz. He, therefore, checked the compilation of Zaid very minutely, and after making whatever changes were necessary, he kept the finally approved copy in his personal custody. He gave the sacred compilation the name of “Mushaf”.