Brief history of the Quran

By June 12, 2014Quran

The compilation of the written Qur’an (as opposed to the recited Qur’an) spanned several decades and forms an important part of early Islamic history.

Muslim accounts say it began in the year 610 when Gabriel (Arabic: جبريل, Jibrīl or جبرائيل, Jibrāʾīl) appeared to Muhammad in the cave Hira near Mecca, reciting to him the first verses of the Sura Iqra (al-`Alaq), thus beginning the revelation of the Qur’an.

Throughout his life, Prophet Muhammad continued to have revelations until before his death in 632.


Muslim and non-Muslim scholars alike disagree on whether Prophet Muhammad compiled the Qur’an during his lifetime or if this task began with the first caliph Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (632-634). Once the Qur’an was compiled, due to the unanimity of the sources, Muslims agree that the Qur’an we see today was canonized by Uthman ibn Affan (653-656). Upon the canonization of the Qur’an, Uthman ordered the burning of all personal copies of the Qur’an.

The copy of quran kept with wife of Prophet Mohammad named Hafsa was accepted for public. Until then, several copies of Quran were available in different regions of Arabia with some grammatical errors, so Uthman’s order allowed only one version of Quran to exist to prevent any misinterpretation of quranic text or word of God (Allah).

Even though Uthman canonized the written Qur’an during his reign in 653-656, small diacritical variations still remained in the written Qur’an, which can be seen in the early manuscripts of the Umayyad and Abbasid Dynasties.


Due to varying historical documents, controversy is seen amongst some scholars as to whether the Uthmanic codex we have before us today is authentic and complete. Most Muslim scholars believe the Uthmanic Qur’an is what was revealed to Muhammad in its entirety, while some non- Muslim scholars believe verses were removed and other codices of the Qur’an are more absolute. Nevertheless, even according to secular scholars what was done to the Qur’an in the process seems to have been extremely conservative and the content was formed in a mechanical fashion as to avoid redactional bias.