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Who wrote the Qur’an? You may think the answer to this is obvious: Muhammad wrote the Qur’an. And the crucial difference between Muslims and non-Muslims is whether they believe he was inspired by God to do it. But if you did give that answer, you’d be completely wrong.
For one thing, not even Muslims think that Muhammad wrote the Qur’an. They believe that God wrote it and then revealed it to Muhammad. A technicality you might think. But actually, they don’t even believe that Muhammad, once it had been revealed to him, wrote it down either. He spoke it, preached it, recited it (qur’an literally translates as ‘recitation’). And those around him, his followers, then memorized it, and some noted it down on anything to hand, like palm leaves and stones. So how did it become a book? According to Islamic tradition, not until after Muhammad had died (in AD 632), under the first caliph Abu Bakr, were these parts all gathered together and arranged into a book. The scribe Zaid was charged with the job of locating all the parts and compiling them into one volume. And around 20 years later, under the third caliph Uthman, the same scribe was charged with gathering all the variant versions that still existed, determining the correct one and burning the rest. You might think this haphazard process is not one that would have inspired confidence that the final product contained the authentic words, and only the authentic words, of Muhammad. But this is the official story, and Muslims seem happy enough with it.
Scholars - Story - Sorts - Issues - Islamic
What do modern scholars think of this story? Not very much, as it happens. There are all sorts of potential issues with the traditional Islamic account, which is derived from sources only compiled centuries after Muhammad. Perhaps the most significant, and...
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