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 Ibn Ḥajar draws special attention to Zaid’s statement, “I found the last two verses

of Sūra at-Barāʾa with Abū Khuzaima al-Anṣārī,” as demonstrating that Zaid’s own
writings and memorisation were not deemed sufficient. Everything required
verification.20 Ibn Ḥajar further comments,

‫ ول ذلك توق ف ع ن كتاب ة الية م ن آخر سورة ب راءة حت وجدها‬،‫» فل م ي أمر أبو بك ر إل بكتاب ة م ا ك ان موج ودا‬
‫مكتوبة مع أنه كان يستحضرها هو ومن معهم ه‬

Abū Bakr had not authorised him to record except what was already available [on
parchment]. That is why Zaid refrained from including the final āyah of Sūra
Barāʾa until he came upon it in written form, even though he and his fellow
Companions could recall it perfectly well from memory.

vi. Authentication of the Qurʾān: The Case of

the Last Two Verses from Sūra Barāʾa

Tawātur (‫ )تواتر‬is a common word in the Islamic lexicon; for example, that the Qurʾān
has been transmitted by tawātur or that a certain text has become established
through tawātur. It refers to gathering information from multiple channels and
comparing them, so that if the overwhelming majority agrees on one reading than
that gives us assurance and the reading itself acquires authenticity. While no
scholarly consensus exists on the number of channels or individuals needed to attain
tawātur, the gist is to achieve absolute certainty and the prerequisites for this may
differ based on time,
Ibn Ḥajar, Fatḥul Bārī, ix:13.
ibid, ix:13.


place, and the circumstances at hand. Scholars generally insist on at least half a dozen
channels while preferring that this figure be much higher, since greater numbers
make falsification less likely and more difficult.
 So we return to Sūra Barāʾa, where the two concluding verses were verified and
entered into the Ṣuḥuf based solely on Abū Khuzaima’s parchment (and the
obligatory witnesses), backed by the memories of Zaid and some other ḥuffāẓ. But in
a matter as weighty as the Qurʾān how can we accept one scrap of parchment and a
few Companions’ memories as sufficient grounds for tawātur? Suppose that in a
small class of two or three students a professor recites a short, memorable poem and
we, directly after the lecture, individually quiz every student about it; if they all recite
the same thing then we have our absolute certainty that this is what the professor
taught. The same can be extended to the written word or any combination of
written and oral sources, provided of course that no collusion has occurred between
the players, and this is a concept that I myself have demonstrated in classrooms
empirically. Such was the case with Sūra Barāʾa in that the unanimity of the sources
on hand, relatively meagre though they were, provided enough grounds for
certainty. And to counter any fears of collusion there is a logical argument: these two
verses do not hold anything new theologically, do not speak praise of a particular
tribe or family, do not provide information that is not available elsewhere within the
Qurʾān. A conspiracy to invent such verses is irrational because no conceivable
benefit could have arisen from fabricating them. 22 Under these circumstances and
given that Allah personally vouches for the Companions’ honesty in His Book, we
can infer that there was indeed sufficient tawātur to sanction these verses.
See pp. 290–1 for an instance of fabrication where the passage has tremendous theological

Muhammad Mustafa al-Azami, ‘The Written Compilation of the Qurʾān’, The History of the
Qurʾānic Text from Revelation to Compilation: A Comparative Study with the Old and New
Testaments (Leicester: UK Islamic Academy, [n.d.]), 83–4.
 Gathering these narratives together gives us the following: ʿUthmān prepared an
independent copy relying entirely on primary sources, which included the
Companions’ parchments along with additional material held by ʿĀʾisha.27
This can also be concluded from the following ḥadīths in Ṣaḥīḥ of al-Bukhārī:
‫ حت وجدت آخر سورة التوبة مع‬،‫ أجعه من العسب واللخاف وصدور الرجال‬،‫ »فتتبعت القرآن‬:‫• قال زيد بن ثابت‬
‫ فكانت‬،‫ ﴿لقد جاءكم رسول من أنفسكم مممر حت خادة ب راءة‬،‫أب خزية النصاري ل أجدها مع أحد غيه‬
‫ ث عند حفصة بنت عمر رضي ال عنهه‬،‫ه‬،‫ ث عند عمر حيات‬،‫الصحف عند أب بكر حت توفاه ال‬
Zaid bin Thābit reports that when he was compiling the Qurʾān during the reign
of Abū Bakr, he could not locate two āyahs from the end of Sūra Barāʾa till he
found them with Abū Khuzaima al-Anṣārī, with no one else possessing a first-hand
copy. The completed Ṣuḥuf were kept in Abū Bakr’s custody till he passed away ...
[al-Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ, ḥadīth no. 4986]. – cont.

– cont.
‫ قد كنت أبع رسول ال ﷺ يق رأ‬،‫ فقدت آية من الحزا حد نسخنا ا صحف‬:‫ قال‬،‫ممم خارجة بن زيد بن ثابت بع زيد بن ثابت‬ •

‫ ﴿م ن ا ؤمند رج ال ص دقوا م ا عاه دوا ال علي هر فالقناه ا ف س ورتا ف‬،‫ب ا فالتمس ناها فوج دناها م ع خزي ة ب ن ث ابت النص اري‬
‫ا صحفم‬
Khārija bin Zaid bin Thābit transmitted from his father, Zaid bin Thābit, “While
we were copying the Muṣḥaf I missed an āyah (No. 23 from Sūra al-Aḥzāb) which
I used to hear the Prophet reciting. We sought it until it was found with Khuzaima
bin Thābit al-Anṣārī, and then inserted it into its proper sūra within the Muṣḥaf.”
[al-Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ, ḥadīth no. 4988].
 These two ḥadīths have caused confusion among some scholars, mainly due to the
proximity of the two names. Note that the two are distinct: Khuzaima and Abū
Khuzaima. Now if we read the ḥadīths carefully we see that Zaid used the word Ṣuḥuf for
the collection during Abū Bakr’s reign, and the word Muṣḥaf or Maṣāḥif (pl. of Muṣḥaf)
for the work he did under ʿUthmān’s supervision. Thus we may safely conclude that these
are two different instances of compilation. (Note that in the Ṣaḥīḥ, ḥadīth no. 4986 falls
into the section concerning the Qurʾān’s collection during Abū Bakr’s time, and no. 4988
during ʿUthmān’s.) If we consider the second compilation to be Zaid’s work on an
independent copy of the Muṣḥaf, then everything becomes clear. On the other hand, if we
assume that Zaid was simply making a duplicate copy for ʿUthmān based on Abū Bakr’s
Ṣuḥuf, not an autonomous copy, then we must confront the awkward question of why
Zaid was unable to locate verse No. 23 from Sūra al-Aḥzāb – since all the verses should
have been right in front of him. Of interest also is that Zaid uses the first person singular
pronoun in the first narration and the plural ‘we’, indicating group activity, in the second.
All of this strongly bolsters the view that the second compilation was indeed an
independent endeavour.
Muhammad Mustafa al-Azami, ‘ʿUthmān’s Muṣḥaf’, The History of the Qurʾānic Text from
Revelation to Compilation: A Comparative Study with the Old and New Testaments (Leicester:
UK Islamic Academy, [n.d.]), 91–2.
Till very recently, it had been the tendency of Shiite theologians to cast doubt on the
Qurʾān, for the simple reason that the Qurʾān was first collected by Abū Bakr, then
copied and distributed by ʿUthmān and not ʿAlī. The strange thing is that ʿAlī
himself stuck to the same Muṣḥaf, i.e. Muṣḥaf of ʿUthmān and never brought forth
a new edition. Recently, however, a new and healthier trend has been emerging. A
few years ago in a conference in Tehran, Iran, Shiite authorities announced that they
did not have any Muṣḥaf besides that of ʿUthmān, and that it is pure and free of any
corruption. As a matter of fact, one does not find a Muṣḥaf printed in Iran or
manuscripts of the Qurʾān in Najaf, Qum, Mashhad ... etc. which differ from the
common Muṣḥaf found in any other part of the world.

Muhammad Mustafa al-Azami, ‘The So-called Muṣḥaf of Ibn Masʿūd and Alleged Variances
Therein’, The History of the Qurʾānic Text from Revelation to Compilation: A Comparative
Study with the Old and New Testaments (Leicester: UK Islamic Academy, [n.d.]), 198 n. 11.