Muslims believe that Allah sent many revelations to humanity throughout history, and over time they underwent changes from their original form. However, God chose to preserve His message to humanity in His final revelation, the Quran. Yet, one might wonder, which evidence supports the claim that the Quran has never been modified?
The Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad over a period of 23 years. The unique rhythmic style of the Quran made it easy to memorize, which has been the main source of its preservation. Moreover, since Prophet Muhammad could not read or write, he appointed scribes to record the Quran as it was being revealed to him. Thus, the complete Quran was not only memorized by Prophet Muhammad and many of his companions, but it also existed in its entirety in written form during his lifetime.
Within a year after Prophet Muhammad’s death, a manuscript of the entire Quran was assembled by a committee led by his chief scribe, who followed stringent criteria to safeguard against any errors. This copy was approved unanimously by Prophet Muhammad’s companions, including hundreds that had memorized the entire Quran. Eventually, several copies of the Quran were compiled in book form and distributed to the major Muslim cities. One such copy is currently at the museum in Tashkent and a facsimile of it, produced in 1905, is available in the Columbia University Library.
The process of memorization began during Prophet Muhammad’s life and is still emphasized by Muslims to this day. In his book, An Introduction to Hadith, John Burton explains that oral transmission through the generations aids preservation by diminishing reliance solely on written records. Manuscripts which are not protected through memorization can be altered, edited or lost overtime. However, a book that is committed to memory by millions of people across the world over centuries cannot be changed due to the amount of people who know it word-for-word.
God promises in the Quran, “We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly Guard it (from corruption)” (15:9).