The Quran is the Holiest Book for the Muslims. It is a Divine Book, revealed upon the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in parts, over around 23 years. The revelation started in 610 CE, with the first five verses of Surah Al-Alaq. The revelation continued coming down till the last days of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, just before he departed from this world in the year 632 CE. The majority of Islamic Scholars believe that the last verse of the Quran, which was revealed upon the Prophet, is the 281st Verse of Surah Al-Baqarah. However, there are differences of opinion among some scholars. They think that the 176th Verse of Surah An-Nisa is the last verse of the Quran, which was revealed to the Prophet.

The compilation of the Quran in its current form was initiated in the very earlier days of Islam, immediately after the death of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

Important Facts and Figures About the Quran

  • Total number of Surahs in the Quran – 114
  • Total number of Mekki Surahs – 86
  • Total number of Madni Surahs – 28
  • Total number of Paras (Juzz) in the Quran – 30
  • Total number of verses (including BismiAllah) – 6348
  • Total number of verses without BismiAllah – 6236
  • Total number of words in the Quran – 77,797
  • Total number of Unique words in the Quran – 14,870
  • Total number of letters in the Quran – 330,709
  • 282nd verse of Surah Al-Baqarah is the longest verse in the Quran, comprising 129 words

History of Writing and Memorizing the Quranic Verses

The Quranic Verses were revealed upon the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ through the Angel Gabriel on different occasions during the entire revelation period of around 23 years. It is also believed that the Quran was revealed in its entirety in the “Night of Ordainment” (Laila Tul Qadr).

After the revelation of any verses or Surahs of the Quran, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ used to recite and teach them to his companions. Those of his companions who possessed the skill of writing used to write it down on any available material, such as thin sheets of stone, in practice in those days. Those who did not have the writing skills used to memorize it.

Memorizing was a wonderful skill in those days, the Arabs being masters of that. It was a part of their culture to memorize important things, such as the poems of various poets of their time. So, the main source of preservation of the verses of the Quran, as these were revealed, was memorizing them and writing them by some of the companions of the Prophet. It is believed that the fourth Rashidun Caliph, Hazrat Ali رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ, used to write the revealed verses. Other main scribes of the Quranic verses include Hadrat Zayd Bin Thabit رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ and Hadrat Ubay Bin Ka’b رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ. Apart from them, there were several other scribes among the companions of the Prophet. Additionally, several other companions memorized these verses as the Prophet recited them.

Post Prophet Era

The practice of memorizing and writing the Quranic Verses continued throughout the period of revelation, spread over about 23 years. Until then, the Quran was not compiled in the form of a Book, as we have it today.

Per the tradition from Hazrat Ibn Abbas رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ, who was also a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, it was the Prophet’s routine to recite the entire Quran in the month of Ramadan before the Angel Gabriel. He further narrates that in the last month of his life, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ recited the entire Quran before the Angel Gabriel twice. This was the authentication mode of the original version of the Quran, which was passed on to his companions.

However, it was not compiled as a book until then. After the death of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, the Quran remained in that state for a few years during the Caliphate of the first Rashidun Caliph, Hadrat Abu Bakr رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ.

Compilation of the Quran

The written script of the Quran was preserved by the scribes, individually, till the Caliphate of Hadrat Abu Bakr رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ. Additionally, it was also preserved in the hearts of those who memorized it. But after a while, a big problem arose.

Many renowned scribes and memorizers of the Quran embraced Shahadah (martyrdom) in the Battle of Yamamah in 633 CE. Some 70 such notable companions of the Prophet were killed in this battle, including Hadrat Salim Mawla Abi Hudhayfa رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ, who was one of the persons deputed by the Prophet to teach the Quran to others. So, the need for a compilation of the Quran in the shape of one consolidated book arose. After a thoughtful consultation, the Caliph Abu Bakr رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ decided to initiate this very sensitive task.  The task was entrusted to the main scribe, Hadrat Zayd Bin Thabit رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ.

Hadith number 4989 of Sahih Al-Bukhari narrates this as follows:

Translation

Narrated Zaid bin Thabit: Abu Bakr sent for me and said, “You used to write the Divine Revelations for Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ): So you should search for (the Qur’an and collect) it.” I started searching for the Qur’an till I found the last two Verses of Surat at-Tauba with Abi Khuza`ima Al-Ansari and I could not find these Verses with anybody other than him. (They were): ‘Verily there has come unto you an Apostle (Muhammad) from amongst yourselves. It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty…’ (9.128-129)

The Caliph Abu Bakr رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ kept this compilation with him. It was then given by him before his death to the next Caliph Hadrat Umar رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ. While at his deathbed, Caliph Umar رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهَا handed over this compilation of Quran to his daughter Hadart Hafsa رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهَا.

Quran Compilation by Caliph Hadrat Uthman رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ

While the authenticated version of the Quran, was kept preserved with the first two Rashidun Caliphs, several people had their personal collections of various parts of the Quran, which they used to recite and share with fellow Muslims.

During the Caliphate of Hazrat Uthman رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ, the Islamic state expanded up to Egypt, Syrian and Iran. That resulted in difficulty in reading the Quran in its exact dialect by the new converts. Hence, writing down and compiling the Quran in a unified text was felt necessary.

So, the Caliph Uthman رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ, in the year 650 CE, retrieved the preserved text of the Quran from Hadrat Hafsa رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهَا. The script was handed over to a three-member committee comprising Hadrat Zayd Bin Thabit رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ and two other prominent scribes. They were assigned the duty of making several copies of the Quran in the Arabic Dialect of the Meccan tribe Quraysh. So, this was the first compilation of the Quran in the form of a consolidated Book, which we read and memorize till today.

These authenticated copies of the Quran were sent to Kufa, Damascus, and Basra with the instructions to destroy all the individual possessions of the Quranic verses so that the actual and original script of the Quran should remain with everyone in a unified dialect. That’s why the Caliph Uthman رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ is also referred to as “Jami-al Quran” (Compiler of the Quran). It was he, who gathered the entire Islamic world of his time to agree upon the original and unified dialect of the script of the Quran.

The Quran compiled with its original script, is preserved to date without any errors, omissions, or additions. In fact, Allah has taken the responsibility of preserving it forever, as mentioned in the 9th verse of Surah Al-Hijr.

اِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَاِنَّا لَہٗ لَحٰفِظُوْنَ

Translation

As for the Admonition, indeed it is We Who have revealed it and it is indeed We Who are its guardians.

Why in Arabic?

44th verse of Surah Fussilat speaks about why the Quran was revealed in Arabic.

وَلَوْ جَعَلْنٰہُ قُرْاٰنًا اَعْجَمِيًّا لَّـقَالُوْا لَوْلَا فُصِّلَتْ اٰيٰتُہٗ ۝۰ۭؔ ءَ اَعْجَمِيٌّ وَّعَرَبِيٌّ۝۰ۭ قُلْ ہُوَ لِلَّذِيْنَ اٰمَنُوْا ہُدًى وَّشِفَاۗءٌ۝۰ۭ وَالَّذِيْنَ لَا يُؤْمِنُوْنَ فِيْۗ اٰذَانِہِمْ وَقْرٌ وَّہُوَعَلَيْہِمْ عَمًى۝۰ۭ اُولٰۗىِٕكَ يُنَادَوْنَ مِنْ مَّكَانٍؚبَعِيْدٍ

Translation

Had We revealed this as a non-Arabic Qur’an, they would have said: “Why were its verses not expounded? How strange, a non-Arabic scripture and an Arab audience!” Tell them: “It is a guidance and a healing to the believers. But to those who do not believe, it serves as a plug in their ears and a covering over their eyes. It is as if they are being called from a place far away.

The main reason the Quran is in Arabic is that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was Arabic-speaking, and so were his people. Hence, the Quran was revealed in their native language so that they could understand it. Moreover, the Arabic language is quite eloquent. The message of the Quran has to be clear and well-expressed so that the readers can explicitly grasp the actual message.