Click to View


Sura ix.
Abu Bekr, forty days (some say six months) after the Prophet's death. As he was swearing allegiance to him as Caliph, Abu Bekr asked him, 'O Father of Hasan, what hath delayed thee so long?' He answered, 'I was busy collecting the Book of the Lord, for that the Prophet committed to my care.' Reflect, my Friend, what could have been the meaning of his being busy in 'collecting the Book of God'? Thou knowest how the tyrant Hajjāj 'collected' the leaves of the Coran, and left out much thereof. Ah, deceived one! the Book of God is not 'collected,' nor can any part thereof be lost. Thou, and those of thy persuasion, know and acknowledge whatsoever I have said, for it is altogether taken from traditions of your own in which all of you agree. According to some authorities the first copy of the Coran was left in the hands of the Coreish; and Aly, when he came to power, ordered it to be taken possession of lest it should be tampered with by being added to, or taken from; and this was the copy which was in accord with the Gospel as delivered to Mahomet by Sergius.1 Now when Aly spake to Abu Bekr, as related above, those about him represented that there were scraps and pieces of the Coran with them as well as with Aly; and then it was agreed to collect the whole from every quarter together. So they collected various parts from the memory of individuals (as Sura Barāt, which they wrote out at the dictation of a certain Arab from the

1  Our Author tells us here that this Sergius was also called by the Companions "Gabriel," and at other times "The faithful Spirit,"—epithets, namely, of the Angel that descended with the Coran to Mahomet.


desert), and other portions from different people, and from the embassies and deputations which had a visited the Prophet; besides that which was copied out from tablets of stone, and palm-leaves, and shoulder-bones, and such like. It was not at first collected in a volume, but remained in separate leaves,—entries being made after the method of the Jews,—a cunning device of theirs.

"Then the people fell to variance in their reading. Some read according to the version of Aly (and they follow the same to the present day); some read according to the collection of which we have made mention. Others read according to the reading of the Arab from the desert, who in his ignorance made changes and additions. A party read according to the text of Ibn Masūd, following the saying of thy Master,—'Whosoever would read the Coran in its pristine purity and freshness, let him read after Ibn Omm Mabad'; and he used to repeat it over to him (Mahomet) once every year, and in the year he died, twice. And, yet again, some read after Obey ibn Kab, following thy Master's word,—'The best reader amongst you all is Obey.' Now the readings of Obey and Ibn Masūd are closely alike one to the other.

"Thus when Othmān came to power, and people everywhere differed in their readings, Aly sought grounds of accusation against him, compassing his

Click to View