This was revealed to Muhammad (sws), the last prophet of God. It is regarded as the mizan (scale that tells good from evil) and the furqan (distinguisher between good and evil) by the Almighty in the Qur’an itself (42:17; 25:1) and amuhaymin on the previous scriptures. The word muhaymin is an adjective formed from the words هَيْمَنَ فُلاَنٌ عَلَى كَذَا which means “a guardian” and “a protector”. It means that the Qur’an is the real authentic and trustworthy version of the Book of God. Thus, in matters of religion, everything accepted or rejected shall be decided under the guidance of the light provided by it.
وَأَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَمُهَيْمِنًا عَلَيْهِ فَاحْكُم بَيْنَهُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللهُ وَلاَ تَتَّبِعْ أَهْوَاءهُمْ عَمَّا جَاءكَ مِنَ الْحَقِّ
And [O Prophet!] We have revealed to you the Book with the truth in confirmation of the Book before it, and standing as a guardian over it. Therefore, give judgement among men according to the guidance revealed by God and do not yield to their whims by swerving from the truth revealed to you. (5:48)
It consists of 114 surahs, most of which form pairs with regard to their contents. They are composed in seven sections in accordance with the sequence of the preaching endeavour of the Prophet (sws). Its language is Arabic and it has been revealed to the heart of the Prophet (sws) with the directive of God. The Prophet (sws) presented it to his people and from them it was transferred through the consensus and through the verbal and written perpetuation of the Muslims. Consequently, in divine literature, this is the only Book about which it can be said with full certainty that it is present with us in its original form, shape, language and arrangement without the slightest bit of change. The way it has been transmitted through tawatur (perpetuation) is a miracle in itself because this is the only Book in this world which even at this time can be read out verbatim from its beginning to the end by thousands who have memorized it. History tell us that in the last fourteen hundred years this mode of transmission has not ceased for a single day. It is evident from this that it is the Almighty Who has made arrangements to protect the Qur’an. He says:
إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ
It was We that revealed the Reminder, and shall Ourself preserve it. (15:9)
A similar verse reads:
وَإِنَّهُ لَكِتَابٌ عَزِيزٌ لَا يَأْتِيهِ الْبَاطِلُ مِن بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَلَا مِنْ خَلْفِهِ تَنزِيلٌ مِّنْ حَكِيمٍ حَمِيدٍ
And there is no doubt that it is a mighty scripture. Falsehood cannot reach it neither from in front of it nor from behind it. It is a revelation from a wise and glorious God. (41:41-42)
The various aspects of protection of the Qur’an towards which this verse alludes to are explained thus by Imam Amin AhsanIslahi:
First, during the time of revelation of the Qur’an the Almighty made arrangements that the devils are unable to interfere in the process of divine revelation in any way. Although there is a permanent arrangement to prevent the devils from eavesdropping and listening to divine matters but … during the time of the revelation of the Qur’an, special arrangements were made in preventing devils from meddling in revelations in any way so that nothing is able to enter the Qur’an from in front of it (مِن بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ).
Second, the angel which the Almighty selected to reveal the Qur’an has been called by the Qur’an (81:20-21) as “the one endued with power, held in honour before the Lord of the Throne, obeyed in Heavens, moreover trustworthy.” In other words, the angel is so powerful that evil spirits cannot overpower him; he is the head of all angels and he cannot forget anything. Whatever is entrusted to him by the Almighty, he fully protects. There is not a semblance of a chance that the slightest of change can take place in the revelation entrusted to him. He has a very high rank before the Almighty which shows that he is ahead of all other creatures as far as abilities are concerned – It is obvious that all this elaborate arrangement has been made to close the doors to any evil entering the Qur’an from its very origin.
Third, the very person who was entrusted with the Qur’an was firstly, the best of human beings in all respects and secondly, the responsibility of memorizing, arranging and safeguarding the Qur’an was taken up by the Almighty: لَا تُحَرِّكْ بِهِ لِسَانَكَ لِتَعْجَلَ بِهِ إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا جَمْعَهُ وَقُرْآنَهُ فَإِذَا قَرَأْنَاهُ فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْآنَه ثُمَّ إِنَّ ُعَلَيْنَا بَيَانَه (To acquire this Qur’an swiftly [O Prophet!] do not move your tongue hastily over it. Indeed, upon Us is its collection and recital. So when We have recited it, follow this recital [of Ours]. Then upon Us is to explain it [wherever need be], (75:16-19))
It is evident from various narratives that whatever text of the Qur’an would be revealed the Prophet (sws), his close Companions (rta) would memorize it. In every Ramadan, the Prophet (sws) would read it out to Gabriel or listen from him so that no possibility of any error or omission should remain and this reading out or listening to would be according to the sequence the Almighty had arranged it. Also evident from certain narratives is that in the last Ramadan of his life, this mutual presentation of the Qur’an took place twice. Then in this very arrangement and recital the whole of the Qur’an was written down and later the rightly guided caliphs sent its copies to various cities. This elaborate treatment was not received by any of the previous scriptures and about the Torah no one knows that when its constituent scriptures were assembled and who was responsible for this task.
Fourth, the Qur’an is a miracle with regard to its eloquent selection of words and the meanings they convey. And so distinct is it in this aspect to other discourses that they cannot match it. So much so, the words of the Prophet (sws) himself – who was the recipient of the Qur’an and as the most eloquent among everyone – could not rival it. Thus there is no possibility that any extraneous addition be made into it. Consequently, works of people who have dared to answer the challenge of the Qur’an to bring something similar to it are preserved in history and literature. If a person compares them with the Qur’an, he will notice the same difference between them as between a pearl and a pebble. In this manner, it is as if the doors to any adulteration from the rear too (مِنْ خَلْفِهِ) have been closed.
Fifth, together with the promise of protecting the Qur’an, the Almighty has also promised to protect and safeguard its language till the Day of Judgement. Because of the fact that the languages of some divine scriptures became extinct a lot of changes and interpolations were introduced by way of translations and we have no clue about them now. However, the real language of the Qur’an is safe and sound and will remain so till the Day of Judgement. Hence there is no possibility of any evil creeping into it by way of translations and commentaries. If anyone would try to introduce some evil in it, men of learning can easily sift it out by testing it against the original text.
.Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 7, 113.
With thanks to Monthly Renaissance
Translated by Dr. Shehzad Saleem