Facts about the writing of the Mus-haf
Fatwa No: 259588

Question

Bismillah. Assalaamu Alaykum. I have read around the issue of ‘Ahruf and Qira’aah, and for the most part I understand it alhamdulilah. However, what I do not understand is the relation of the Mushaf and the Lawh al-Mahfuz. The Mushaf is the Qur’an, which is what is inscribed on the Lawh al-Mahfuz as per Surah Buruj 85:21-22 [Tafsir Jalalayn, Ibn Kathir]. Now, in Qadhi’s Sciences of the Qur’an, he mentioned that the mushaf’s of Uthman did not match each other letter for letter, rather they differed in a few letters in order to accommodate the recitations of certain verses (which he mentions as ahruf) (p. 147-148). Likewise, he goes on to state that not all recitations could be accommodated in one mushaf, thus one recitation was written in one mushaf and another recitation in another. He gives examples of Surah 91:15, one recitation being ‘wa laa yakhaafu’ and another ‘fa laa yakhaafu’, indicating the letters had to be different in order to read both these readings. He furthermore gives the example of 3:184, with one reading being read with two extra ba’s. This Mushaf sent to Syria with Ibn Aamir had two extra ba’s while the others did not. ‘In this example, an actual word is added in one of the mushafs’ (Qadhi, Sciences of the Qur’an, page. 148). Thus, my question relates to the relationship between the Mushaf and the Lawh al-Mahfuz. Our belief is I am not mistaken is that the Mushaf is the Qur’an which is inscribed on the Lawh al-Mahfuz. So, for example, if we take a Mushaf, say Hafs an Aasim wherein 3:184 does not have the two extra ba’s and say that this is what is inscribed on the Lawh al-Mahfuz, then how do we reconcile this with say Ibn Aamir and the Syrian Mushaf with two extra ba’s, isn’t this also what is inscribed on the Lawh al-Mahfuz? Please reply and answer this question, removing any confusion I may have inshaa’Allah. Hope to hear from you soon. Jazakalllah khayr. Wasalaamu Alaykum.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and messenger.

The Mus-haf is not the Preserved Tablet; rather, what is meant by it is the copy of the Quran which the Companions and those who came after them wrote on papers and collected between two covers. Ibn Manthoor said in Lisaan Al-‘Arab: “The Mus-haf is a collection of all the scrolls included between two covers … . Al-Azhari, said: The Mus-haf was called as such because it is containing suhuf (i.e. written papers) which are written between two covers.” [End of quote]

These Mus-hafs that were written by the Companions  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them lacked diacritical marks to make it mean more than one way of recitation. The additions (of some letters or marks) that some copies had were in correspondence to the recitation of some reciters while those which lacked such additions corresponded to other reciters; such as the case of the extra baa’s which you mentioned in the Mus-haf of Syria. For instance Ibn ‘Aamir Ash-Shaami, and Ibn Katheer recited with an addition of ‘من’, along with putting a Kasrah ( pronouncing the letter as i in tin) under the ت in "تحتها" in Chapter 9, verse: 100, and so is the case in the Makkan Mus-hafs, while according to the rest of Qiraa'aat (manners of recitation) the word ‘من’ is deleted and a Fat'hah (a sound like 'a' in apple) is placed on the ت of تحتها and it is written as such in their Mus-hafs. They all agreed on keeping the same phrase 'من تحتها' as Min Tahtiha (i.e. having the word 'min' and a Kasrah on the Taa' of تحتها) in the entire Quran, as is stated in Kitaab Al-Masaahif by Ibn Abu Daawood and An-Nashr by Ibn Al-Jazari.

Shaykh Dr. Abu Taahir As-Sindi, said in his book: The collection of the Quran in the Era of the Rightly Guided Caliphs: "The Committee wrote multiple copies of the Quran according to the following method:

* All the copies were written without dots and without putting any diacritical marks from beginning to end.

* They united its scribal conventions as follows:

A – Writing the words that can be read in one way only, like {إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ} [Quran 1:5] {It is You we worship and You we ask for help }

B - Writing the words that can be read in more than one way in the same scribal manner that explicitly and fully corresponds to their different manners of recitation. Writing such words without dots and diacritical marks makes this easy, like (يكذبون) with or without Shaddah (germination mark), and words like (فتبينوا) ، (فتثبتوا) And (وننشرها) with a dotted ز or with ر (which is without a dot).

C – Writing the words which are recited in more than one manner in a scribal manner that corresponds to its reading (pronunciation) in different ways, by way of estimation and probability, like: (ملك) either by deleting the ا or keeping it. This is because the letter ا may be deleted from many words as a way of abbreviation as it is repeated many times, and it is only read in one way like in words such as (الله) ، (الرحمن) ، (العلمين) .

In such words and examples mentioned above, it is only written in one manner without a difference.

As regards the words that are only written in one manner but may be recited in different manners (following different manners of recitation) , then they used to write them down in some Mus-hafs in a writing that indicates only one manner of recitation, and in some other Mus-hafs, it is written in another manner that indicates another recitation, such as the word (وَصَّى Wassa) with a doubled (germinate) ص and without Hamza (أ) and writing it (أوصى Awsa). Also, reading {تَجْرِي تَحْتَهَا الْأَنْهَارُ} [Quran 9:100] by deleting the word: (من) before (تَحْتَهَا), or by adding it.

The outstanding scholar Az-Zarqaani  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: "What led the Companions to pursue this methodology in writing the Mus-hafs is that they had received the Quran from the the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) in all the different ways and manners of recitations in which it was revealed. So this methodology was the best to comprehend the Quran in all its different manners of recitations, so that it will not be said: “They dropped one of the manners of its recitation, or that they prevented someone from reciting it in any manner [dialect] he wished, given that all these different ways of recitation were consistently reported from the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention )."

For more benefit, please refer to Fataawa  82191 - 182113.

Allaah Knows best.

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