The established tradition of how the Qurʾan was collected is riddled with inconsistencies and there is no agreement in the Islamic sources as to whether or not the whole of the Qurʾan was written down before the Prophet Muḥammad’s death or if it was transmitted by memory. Some Companions of the Prophet had their own codices of the Qurʾan that did not agree with one another. Under ʿUthmān, a committee was established to produce a unified version of the Qurʾanic text. The hadith literature tells us that certain verses of the Qurʾan never made it into the ʿUthmānic canon, therefore rendering it incomplete. Following the completion of the ʿUthmānic canon, the alternative sources of the text were destroyed. This paper will examine the evidence that a Master Copy of the Qurʾan was collected during the Prophet’s lifetime, and whose reading, final arrangement and sequencing was transmitted to its custodian, ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib. It is argued that this copy was also used by the committee set up by ʿUthmān. Deviating traditions in the Islamic sources will also be identified to link the reading of Ḥafṣ ibn Sulaymān from his teacher ʿĀsim ibn Abī al-Nujūd to the transmission of the Master Copy and its reading by the Prophet’s family. The case will be made that the reading of Ḥafṣ from his teacher ʿĀsim is the de facto reading of ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib from the Master Copy which he inherited from the Prophet Muḥammad.


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pp. 409-448
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