Safadi’s The Qur'an 1976, pp. 11-17).
 DEARTH OF MANUSCRIPTS:
Why can we find nothing from before 800 AD? Could it be a shortage of writingmaterial in the earlier period, the great prestige of oral tradition amongst the Arabs, or thedestruction of these materials?
a) Objection 1: Arabs were an Oral culture:
One could maintain that the late dates of the primary sources can be attributed tothe fact that writing was simply not used in such an isolated area at that time, as the Arabpeople in the
(the central part of Arabia where Muhammad supposedly lived anddied) were a nomadic people, and as such had no literary tradition. This assumptionwould be unfounded, however, as writing on paper in that part of the world began longbefore the seventh century. Writing paper was invented in the fourth century, and usedextensively throughout the civilised world thereafter. The Umayyad dynasty washeadquartered in the former Byzantine area of Syria (and not Arabia). Thus it was asophisticated society and used secretaries in the Caliphal courts, proving that manuscriptwriting was well developed there.Furthermore, we are told that Arabia in the seventh century and earlier was anarea of trade with caravans plying routes north-south, and possibly east and west. Whilethe evidence shows that the trade was primarily local (as we will discuss later), caravanswere in use. How did the caravaneers keep their records? They certainly didn'tmemorise the figures.And finally, we must ask how we came by the Qur'an if there was no-one capableof putting-pen-to-paper before that time? This is not just another ordinary piece of literature, but acclaimed to be the greatest of all revelations, second to none. Certainlycopies would have been retained of something so important. Muslims claim the existenceof a number of codices of the Qur'an shortly after the death of Muhammad, such as thoseof Abdullah ibn Mas'ud, Abu Musa, and Ubayy b. Ka'b (Pearson 1986:406). What werethese codices if they were not written documents? The Uthmanic text itself had to havebeen written, otherwise it would not be a text! Writing was available, but for somereason, no record was kept of those supposed earlier documents prior to 750 AD
b) Objection 2: The documents became aged and disintegrated:
Could it be that the absence of early documentation be the result of old age? Didthe materials upon which the primary sources were written either disintegrate over time,leaving us with few examples today, or did they wear out from heavy handling, and sowere destroyed?This argument would also be difficult to accept. In the British Library we have anumber of documents written by individuals in communities which were not too distantfrom Arabia, yet they predate these manuscripts by hundreds of years. On display areNew Testament manuscripts such as the Codex Syniaticus and the Codex Alexandrinus,both of which were written in the fourth century, three to four hundred years before theperiod in question! Why have they not disintegrated with age?The argument of age and disintegration would have particular difficulty whenapplied it to the Qur'an itself. The “Uthmanic text” of the Qur’an (the final canonsupposedly compiled by Zaid ibn Thabit, under the direction of the third caliph Uthman)is considered by all Muslims to be the most important piece of literature ever written. Aswe noted earlier, according to Sura 43:24, it comes from the “mother of books.” Its