Why didn’t God turn Muhammad into a scholar overnight and provide him with good stationery to record the Quran instead of relying on Muhammad’s supporters’ memory, many of whom got killed in the Battle of Yamana [Riddah i.e. Apostasy] in AD October 632 and forcing them to write the Quran on palm leaves, stones and other such places? One basic question that will be asked is this- “Why did Allah choose Muhammad as a vehicle or medium to record the Quran when Allah knew that Muhammad was illiterate? Or at least, why did Allah not turn Muhammad into a great scholar overnight and provide him with good stationery to record the Quran?”
The Quran is what Muhammad dictated. In the translation of the Quran by Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall (Pickthall’s translation is considered as very authentic), the following things are mentioned in the “Introduction” before the Quran’s first chapter:
“All the surahs of the Koran had been recorded in writing before the Prophet’s death, and many Muslims had committed the whole Koran to memory. But the written surahs were dispersed among the people; and when, in a battle which took place during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr- that is to say, within two years of the Prophet’s death-a large number of those who knew the whole Koran by heart were killed, a collection of the whole Koran was made and put in writing. In the Caliphate of Othman, all existing copies of surahs were called in, and an authoritative version, based on Abu Bakr’s collection and the testimony of those who had the whole Koran by heart, was compiled exactly in the present form and order, which is regarded as traditional and as the arrangement of the Prophet himself, the Caliph Othman and his helpers being Comrades of the Prophet and the most devout students of the Revelation. The Koran has thus been very carefully preserved.” (Page xxviii of Pickthall’s translation of Quran, Madhur Sandesh Sangam, New Delhi, India, 1995)
Sadly for them, the information given in this translation by British Muslim Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall clearly proves exactly the opposite. Carefully read the sentences written in bold by us. “But written Surahs were dispersed among the people”. What is the guarantee that all Surahs were compiled and none were lost? Or that no extra Surahs were added which were not there? Arabic is a language where the whole meaning of the sentence can change with the slightest change in shape of the alphabet. In this translation of the Quran, Pickthall also admits “Within 2 years of the Prophet’s death a large number of people who knew the whole Koran by heart were killed”. Here he is talking of the Battle of Yamana [Riddah i.e. Apostasy] in Arabia in late 632- early 633 AD when Arabia rose in revolt against Islam and gallantly fought Muslims.
In this battle, the Muslims would have surely lost and Arabia freed from Islam (and perhaps the whole world) had it not been for treachery from Muslims when the woman leading the Apostates (Salma) was killed treacherously, and seeing her dead the soldiers lost courage. Islam’s victories in India and in many other places were also largely due to treachery (Example, Muhammad Ghori defeated Prithviraj Chauhan in AD 1192 through treachery, after losing for the first time, in 1190-91 he was pardoned and allowed to go with the promise that he would not attack again, which he predictably violated, and attacked Prithviraj at night and this is how Islam began its rule in India). But though the non-Muslims lost, a large number of Muslims were killed in this battle in late 632 AD, many of whom had learnt the Quran by heart, which has been admitted by Pickthall.
“In the Caliphate of Othman, all existing copies of surahs were called in, and an authoritative version, based on Abu Bakr’s collection and the testimony of those who had the whole Koran by heart, was compiled…” This shows that there were many different versions of the Quran in use by that time, during Othman’s rule (644-656 AD). Othman ordered all other versions to be destroyed. Now the very fact that within so few as 20 years of Muhammad’s death there were different versions of the Quran and there was no one to check or guarantee that Othman’s version was exactly as Muhammad said! That is, Othman had to do the job of compiling the Quran which should have ideally been done properly by Muhammad.
If God sent Muhammad down to the people with His Message and his book if guidance viz the Quran would he have made it so difficult for the humans? He would have first made Muhammad a scholar capable of reading and writing overnight, being the Almighty and then provided Muhammad and all Muslims good stationery to record the Quran instead of relying on Muhammad’s companions to write on palm leaves, on shoulder-blade bones of camels and on stones and memorize it, and then have a large number of those who had memorized it killed in the Battle of Yamana.
There was no single copy of the Quran existing during Muhammad’s own lifetime in a written form! Muhammad was asked many times by Meccans to perform any miracles to prove that He was a Messenger of God, such as making his God flow rivers of milk, and Muhammad used to say “I cannot perform any miracles, I am only a mortal messenger. My only miracle is the Quran.” (Muhammad need not have had to perform any miracles, couldn’t GOD have flown rivers of milk to prove Muhammad’s Prophethood to the people?) But this ‘only miracle’ of Muhammad also was not present in his own life-time in a proper book form!
There is conclusive evidence that parts of the Quran are lost. Authentic Hadith reports Aisha, the favourite wife of Muhammad, as well as others like Umar, revealing that there was once a ‘Verse of stoning’ (Rajm) which prescribed stoning to death for adultery. This is no longer found in the accepted texts of the Quran and the penalty for adultery is only 100 lashes. But Islamic law still prescribes this penalty.
As a matter of fact, even this tradition, that Othman ended everything and finalized the Quran before AD 656 and that nothing has changed in the Quran ever since, may also be wrong. Wansbrough (“Quranic Studies” Wansbrough, J. Oxford, 1977) showed that far from being fixed in the seventh century, the definitive text of Koran had still not been achieved even as late as the later part of the ninth century. Thus, a statement of Muslim creed, Fiqh Akbar I, dated to the middle of eighth century, does not refer to the Koran at all, which is quite surprising. The ninth century also saw the first collections of the ancient Arab poetry seeing the light of day, in which too there are instances of manipulation, as alleged by some scholars. In fact, there is a strong opinion among many scholars that the Quran was actually finalized in AD 933.