Sayyidina `Uthman’s Preservation of Qur’an
Notes by Dr. G.F. Haddad
Imam al-Bukhari narrates in his Sahih (6:183-184) from Anas ibn Malik (RA) that Hudhayfa ibn al-Yaman came to `Uthman at the time the people of Sham were battling for the conquest of Armenia and Azerbaijan [~year 25H] with the people of Iraq. Their divergences in Qur'anic reading had alarmed Hudhayfa, so he said to `Uthman: "O Commander of the Believers! Rescue (adrik) this Umma before they differ over the Book the way the Jews and Christians differed." Whereupon `Uthman wrote to Hafsah: "Send us the folios (suhuf) so that we copy them then we shall return them to you." Hafsa then sent them to `Uthman who ordered Zayd ibn Thabit, `Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr, Sa`id ibn al-`As, and `Abd Allah ibn al-Harith ibn Hisham who copied those folios into the volumes (masahif). `Uthman said to the group - the three Qurayshis: "If you find yourselves differing, [the three of] you and Zayd ibn Thabit in anything of the Qur'an, write it in the tongue of the Quraysh. For it was not revealed but in their tongue." They did [as instructed] and when they finished copying the folios into the volumes, `Uthman returned the folios to Hafsa, sent one mushaf to each region from those they had copied, then ordered that all other [copies] of the Qur'an in each and every folio or volume be burnt.
In his commentary on the above hadith in Fath al-Bari, at the line "when they finished copying the folios into the volumes, `Uthman returned the folios to Hafsa," Ibn Hajar says:
"Abu `Ubayd [a tashif for Abu `Ubayda al-Qasim ibn Sallam as proven below] and Ibn Abi Dawud [in Kitab al-Masahif] added: with a chain from Shu`ayb, from Ibn Shihab who said: Salim ibn `Abd Allah ibn `Umar told me:
"'Marwan used to send courier to Hafsa - meaning, when he was governor of al-Madina on behalf of Mu`awiya - asking her for the folios from which the Qur'an had been copied [kutiba minha] but she would refuse to give them to him.' Salim continued: 'When Hafsa died and we returned from her burial, Marwan sent an imperative request to `Abd Allah ibn `Umar for those folios to be sent to him, whereupon `Abd Allah ibn `Umar sent them to him. Then Marwan gave an order so they were ripped up (fashuqqiqat). He said: 'I only did this because I feared that after the passing of time, some doubter might foster doubt with regard to those folios.'
"The wording in Abu `Ubayda's narration has: 'so they were torn up' (famuzziqat). Abu `Ubayd [sic] said: 'It is unheard of that Marwan tore up the folios except in this narration.' I say: Ibn Abi Dawud narrated it with a chain from Yunus ibn Yazid, from Ibn Shihab, in a similar wording which has:
"'When Marwan was governor of Madina he sent courier to Hafsa asking her for the folios but she refused him access to them.' He [Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri] said: 'Salim ibn `Abd Allah [ibn `Umar] narrated to me saying: "When Hafsa died..."' and he narrated it [as above] and said in it: 'So he had them ripped up and burnt' (fashaqqaqaha wa harraqaha).
"And this addition also came up in the narration of `Umara ibn Ghuzayya, also an abridged one, but he, also made it part of the narration of Zayd ibn Thabit who said in it: 'So he had it washed out thoroughly (faghassalaha ghaslan)'.... And all this can be reconciled by saying that this was done with all the folios - renting, them washing out, then burning - and it is possible that the word [harraqaha] be read 'kharraqaha' (he had them rent) so that he has them first torn up then washed out, and Allah knows best."
These Suhuf were the Mushaf of Abu Bakr (RA) kept by `Umar, then kept by his daughter Hafsa the Mother of the Believers, wAllahu a`lam.