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Critical Evaluation of Ustuwanah al-mushaf Narratives
Hadith & Sunnah
Dr. Shehzad Saleem

I Introduction

Certain narratives report that the Prophet (sws) would seek out a particular pillar in his mosque where he would offer optional prayers. The pillar was called ustuwānah al-mushaf (the pillar of the mushaf) signifying the fact that a mushaf of the Qur’ān was placed near it. Opinions differ as to which mushaf of the Qur’ān does this refer to?

In this article, an attempt shall be made to ascertain this.


II Representative Text

حدثنا المكي بن إبراهيم قال حدثنا يزيد بن أبي عبيد قال كنت آتي مع سلمة بن الأكوع فيصلي عند الأسطوانة التي عند المصحف فقلت يا أبا مسلم أراك تتحرى الصلاة عند هذه الأسطوانة قال فإني رأيت النبي يتحرى الصلاة عندها 

Yazīd ibn Abī ‘Ubayd says: “I came over with Salamah ibn al-Akwa‘ [to the Masjid-i Nabawī] and he prayed near the pillar near which the mushaf of the Qur’ān was placed. I asked: ‘O Abū Muslim, I see you seeking to pray near this pillar.’ He replied: ‘I saw the Prophet seeking to pray near it.’”1


III. Existing Interpretations

In the opinion of al-‘Ayni (d. 855 AH), al-Qastalānī (d. 923 AH) and al-Kashmīrī (d. 1352 AH) the mushaf referred to is one that was found in the times of ‘Uthmān (rta) in the masjid al-nabawī and which existed at the time when Yazīd ibn ‘Ubayd (d. 146 AH) visited the mosque with Salamah ibn al-Akwa‘, as referred to by the narrative.2

‘Imādī (d. 1392 AH),3 on the other hand, is of the opinion that it refers to the Qur’ānic leaves (suhuf) collected in the times of the Prophet Muhammad (sws) and placed in a box4 in the Prophet’s mosque soon after the Prophet’s migration to Madīnah. This box was placed near a pillar of the mosque which came to be known by the name ustuwānah al-mushaf (the mushaf’s pillar). He contends that once the Makkan sūrahs had been copied by the Ansār, these suhuf were taken away from their place in the mosque because the purpose of placing them there was fulfilled as then both the Muhājirīn and the Ansār were at par with one another as far as writing the Qur’ān was concerned. They were safely lodged with Hafsah (rta) because she was the most literate wife of the Prophet (sws). Whenever some portion of the Qur’ān was revealed, these suhuf would be brought over from Hafsah’s abode and the new verses would be recorded in them. Both the Muhājirīn and the Ansār would also update their own copies of the Qur’ān after that. It was at the place where the suhuf box was placed and from where withdrawn that the Prophet (sws) would endeavour to offer the prayer regarding it to be a blessed place.

After Hafsah’s death, Marwān ibn Hakam obtained the suhuf and had them destroyed because they had served their purpose as thousands of copies of the suhuf had been prepared. He also feared that keeping them intact might give the Hypocrites an opportunity to tamper with them.

‘Imādī also criticizes the scholars who think that the mushaf referred to is the mushaf of ‘Uthmān (rta) because he thinks that they have merely conjectured in this matter that since ‘Uthmān (rta) sent copies to various territories, he must have kept one at the Prophet’s mosque.

In order to substantiate his conclusion, ‘Imādī’s basic premise is that while the narrative of the collection in the time of Abū Bakr is false (and so is the one which depicts a collection in the time of ‘Uthmān (rta)), the existence of suhuf with Hafsah (rta) is an established historical fact. This narrative was concocted to undermine the status of suhuf (called “al-imām or al-umm”) that were kept in the custody of Hafsah (rta) which were actually the same suhuf which had been collected in the time of the Prophet (sws).

He presents the following arguments to substantiate his afore-mentioned view.

1. Only the suhuf of the Prophet (sws) could be called “al-imām” or “umm”. That Hafsah’s suhuf were called umm is evident from a narrative found in the Fadā’il al-Qur’ān of Muhammad ibn ‘Uthmān ibn Abī Shaybah:


حدثنى ابي عن مطلب بن زياد عن السدى عن انس بن مالك قال كان الصحف التى جمعها ابوبكر تسمى اما. فهي كانت عنده الى ان توفاه الله ثم عند عمر حتى توفاه الله ثم عند حفصة زوج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم. فلما اختلف الناس في القرآن علي عهد عثمان حتى اقتتل الغلمان والمعلمون ، فبلغ ذلك عثمان ، فقال هؤلاء عندنا يلحنون في كتاب الله فمن ناى عنا يكون اكثر لحنا ويكذب بعضهم بعضا. فيا اصحاب رسول الله اجتمعوا فاكتبوا لكل مصراما ماً يقتدون به ويصححون به مصاحمهم ، ثم ارسل الي حفصة ان ارسلى الينا الام ننسحها فى المصاحف ثم نردها اليك واخبرها بما دعاء الى ذلك فاستحسنت وارسلت اليه الام فاستنسخ خمسة مصاحف ثم ارسل الى كل افق مصحفاً وسماه اماماً لذلك الافق وامسك منها مصحفاً عنده ليكون اماما لا هل المدينة

Anas ibn Mālik reported: “The suhuf collected by Abū Bakr were called umm. They remained with him until his death and then with ‘Umar until his death; after this, they came in the custody of Hafsah, the Prophet’s wife. When people started to differ about the Qur’ān in the times of ‘Uthmān – so much so that boys and teachers of the Qur’ān began to quarrel with one another – this news reached ‘Uthmān. So he remarked: ‘These people are making mistakes while reading the Qur’ān before us; so those who are far away from us would be making more mistakes and would also be rejecting one another. So O Companions of the Prophet! Gather together and write an imām (primary mushaf) for each city which people would follow and through it correct their own masāhif.’ He then sent a message to Hafsah to send to him the umm saying: ‘we will copy this into masāhif and return it to you.’ He informed her of the reasons which induced him to undertake this task; she expressed her liking for this undertaking and sent him the umm. ‘Uthmān made five copies of this and sent to each part of his territory one copy and named it the imām of that territory and kept one copy for himself so that it could become the imām of the people of Madīnah.” 5


2. If the narratives of collection under Abū Bakr (rta) and ‘Uthmān (rta) are fabrications, then the only logical explanation for Hafsah’s suhuf is that they were the suhuf collected and compiled by the Prophet (sws).

3. If someone asks: Though the existence of Hafsah’s suhuf is an established fact, they could still be her personal collection; so why should they be attributed to the Prophet (sws)? The answer to this question is that in the fabricated narrative of collection under ‘Uthmān (rta), it is mentioned that ‘Uthmān (rta) called for the suhuf which were in the custody of Hafsah (rta). This could only be because Hafsah (rta) had the original suhuf collected in the Prophet’s times because each wife of the Prophet (sws) had  suhuf of her own and it was only Hafsah’s suhuf that were obtained by ‘Uthmān (rta). Leaving aside the other suhuf which were in the custody of other wives and just concentrating on the suhuf of Hafsah (rta) clearly shows that they had the special status of being the suhuf which the Prophet (sws) had had collected in his time.

4. The fact that the suhuf had been withdrawn from the mosque at one time in the lifetime of the Prophet (sws) is evident from the following narrative:

حدثنا عبد الله حدثني أبي ثنا حماد بن مسعدة عن يزيد عن سلمة انه كان يتحرى موضع المصحف وذكر ان رسول الله يتحرى ذلك المكان وكان بين المنبر والقبلة ممر شاة

Yazīd [ibn Abī ‘Ubayd] narrates from Salamah [ibn al-Akwa‘] that he [Salamah] would try to locate the place where the mushaf had been placed, and mentioned that the Prophet (sws) too would try to locate that place; and it was between the pulpit and the qiblah being as big as a place through which a goat could pass.6

The words “the Prophet (sws) too would try to locate that place” themselves show that the box in which these suhuf were kept was no longer placed in the mosque since it was only then possible for the Prophet (sws) to search for the spot at which the box was placed and then pray over it.7

While providing details about the pillar near which the suhuf box was placed, he refers to Ibn Hajar:

قوله التي عند المصحف هذا دال على أنه كان للمصحف موضع خاص به ووقع عند مسلم بلفظ يصلي وراء الصندوق وكأنه كان للمصحف صندوق يوضع فيه والاسطوانة المذكورة حقق لنا بعض مشايخنا أنها المتوسطة في الروضة المكرمة وأنها تعرف باسطوانة المهاجرين قال وروى عن عائشة أنها كانت تقول لو عرفها الناس لاضطربوا عليها بالسهام وإنها أسرتها إلى بن الزبير فكان يكثر الصلاة عندها

The words “[the pillar] near the mushaf” of the narrative show that there was a specific place at which the mushaf was placed and in the Sahīh of Muslim8 the words are “he prayed behind the box” implying that the mushaf was placed in the box. Some of our teachers have corroborated this opinion for us that the pillar referred to was the middle one in the Prophet’s tomb. And that it was known as the pillar of the muhājirūn. It is narrated from ‘Ā’ishah that had people been aware of it they would have cast lots to come near it and that she had just secretly told Ibn Zubayr about it. He would pray near it a lot.9


‘Imādī is of the opinion that the words الأسطوانة التي عند المصحف (the pillar near the mushaf) found in al-Jāmi‘ al-sahīh of Imām Bukhārī10 can be a cause of confusion (as has been the case with Badr al-Dīn ‘Aynī, a famous commentator of al-Bukhārī’s al-Jāmi‘ al-sahīh) that these suhuf were the ones which constituted one of the copies of the Qur’ān prepared by ‘Uthmān (rta) in his time which he placed in the Prophet’s mosque and which continued to be there till Yazīd ibn Abī ‘Ubayd saw them when he came to pray there with Salamah ibn al-Akwa‘. ‘Imādī says that actually the words الأسطوانة التي عند المصحف (the pillar near the mushaf) mean الأسطوانة التي عند موضع المصحف (the pillar near place of the mushaf). This is evident from the words موضع المصحف quoted in Musnad Ahmad11 (and which also occur in Muslim’s al-Jāmi‘ al-sahīh12).

‘Imādī also says that in one of the versions of ‘Aynī’s commentary on al-Bukhārī, the words are:


قوله ( التي عند المصحف) هذا يدل على أنه كان في مسجد رسول الله موضع خاص للمصحف الذي كان في عهد عثمان

The expression: [the pillar] near the mushaf] signifies that in the mosque of the messenger of God, there was a special place for the mushaf in the times of ‘Uthmān. 13


 ‘Imādī states that if ‘Aynī’s statements are interpreted to mean that the box containing the suhuf existed in the times of ‘Uthmān (rta) before his martyrdom and it was later either lifted from there or was destroyed and that Yazīd ibn ‘Ubayd saw this mushaf before ‘Uthmān’s martyrdom, then this is historically not possible: it is known that Yazīd ibn ‘Ubayd died in 147 AH14 and ‘Uthmān (rta) was assassinated in 36 AH.15 So if it is supposed that Yazīd was ten or twelve years old at that time, this would mean that Yazīd would actually have to be about 125 or years old or perhaps even older to come see this mushaf – something that is highly improbable. This is because narrators whose ages exceed 100 are often indicated among the mu‘ammarūn by the authorities of rijāl.

‘Imādī also contends that just as it is not possible for this incident to have taken place before the martyrdom of ‘Uthmān (rta) for reasons just stated, it is equally improbable for the box to have been left there intact after his martyrdom.


III. Critical Analysis

It can be seen from the foregoing section that there are two distinct opinions about the mushaf which was placed near a specific pillar of the Prophet’s mosque where Salamah ibn al-Akwa‘ (d. 74 AH) and Yazīd ibn Abī ‘Ubayd (d. 147 AH) would come and the latter would observe the former seeking out that pillar.

Scholars like al-‘Ayni (d. 855 AH),16 al-Qastalānī (d. 923 AH) and al-Kashmīrī (d. 1352 AH) are of the opinion that this was one of the masahif prepared by ‘Uthmān (rta) and was kept by him in the Prophet’s mosque. It continued to be there after ‘Uthmān’s martyrdom right up to the period when Yazīd ibn Abī ‘Ubayd saw Salamah ibn al-Akwa‘ seeking out that place to pray there since Salamah had observed the Prophet (sws) seeking out this place for the prayer 

‘Imādī, on the other hand, is of the opinion that this was the mushaf which was prepared at the behest of the Prophet (sws) and placed at his mosque right after migration. It was however later withdrawn to Hafsah’s house and subsequently destroyed by Marwān ibn Hakam. However, the pillar near which it was placed in a box was a sought after place by the Prophet (sws) to pray. The prophet thinking it to be a blessed place would go and pray at this place after it had been withdrawn. Later, this practice of seeking out this place was adhered to by Salamah ibn al-Akwa‘ and perhaps some other companions. Yazīd ibn Abī ‘Ubayd who was a freed slave of Salamah observed his former master seeking out this place to pray.

As far as the first of these opinions is concerned, it obviously can only imply that a mushaf was placed in ‘Uthmānic times near the pillar where the Prophet (sws) prayed. Salamah ibn al-Akwa‘ would seek out that place to pray not because the mushaf was placed there but because the Prophet (sws) had reserved this place for offering the prayer.17

The basic question which arises on this view is that there is perhaps not a single corroboration of this found in early Muslim history. If one of the masāhif made by ‘Uthmān (rta) was placed in the mosque of the Prophet (sws) and remained there for almost four to five decades till the time Yazī ibn Abī ‘Ubayd witnessed it, it should have been big news for historians to report. It can be supposed that Yazīd was referring to the pillar near which an ‘Uthmānic mushaf was once found but in his own time it was not there and that he just referred to it by saying that this was the pillar near which an ‘Uthmānic mushaf was once placed. Again this supposition requires corroboration from history. No source of history mentions that an ‘Uthmānic mushaf once placed near a pillar of the Prophet’s mosque was later withdrawn from that place.

As far as the second of these opinions is concerned, the following questions arise on it:

i. There is no corroboratory source which says that the leaves of the Qur’ān were placed at one time in the mosque of the Prophet (sws) after the latter’s migration to Madīnah and later withdrawn to Hafsah’s house for reasons stated by ‘Imādī.

ii. It is concluded by ‘Imādī that every time a portion of the Qur’ān was revealed, these leaves would be recalled from Hafsah’s custody, the newly revealed verses inserted in them, companions would copy the newly revealed verses in their own codices and then they were returned back to Hafsah’s care. Now the leaves moving back and forth from Hafsah’s custody at the instance of a new revelation and the companions copying the new revelation from these leaves is a very prominent event. This activity should have been reported by many people. On the contrary, we do not have a single report on it.

iii. Sources do say that after Abū Bakr’s death, the suhuf collected by him remained in the custody of ‘Umar (rta) and after his death they came into the custody of Hafsah (rta) (which is almost twelve years) after the Prophet’s death. But there is not a single report or source which says that Hafsah (rta) possessed the leaves of the Prophet’s Qur’ān in his lifetime. Even the narrative cited by ‘Imādī with reference to Muhammad ibn ‘Uthmān ibn Abī Shaybah’s Fadā’il al-Qur’ān shows that Hafsah (rta) never had these leaves in the lifetime of the Prophet (sws) and only came to possess these leaves after ‘Umar’s death.

iv. On the one hand, ‘Imādī regards the narratives of the collections of the Qur’ān under Abū Bakr (rta) and ‘Uthmān (rta) as fabrications and on the other, the narrative he cites to establish his view relates almost the same sequence of events as these fabricated narratives. This is evident, in particular, in his mention of the fact that Hafsah’s suhuf were summoned by ‘Uthmān (rta) in his time.

v. The narrative cited by ‘Imādī is itself not soundly established for the following reasons.

a. There is no other source which calls these leaves umm.

b. The narrative contains the following suspect narrators:

-- Ismā‘īl ibn ‘Abd al-Rahmān al-Suddī al-Kabīr. About him Al-Mizzī records: Yahyā ibn Ma‘īn and ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn Mahdī regard him to be da‘īf; al-Sa‘dī says that he is a great liar and abuses [the companions]; Abū Zur‘ah says he is layyin; Abū Hātim says: yuktabu hadīthuhū wa lā yuhtajju bihī.18

-- Muhammad ibn ‘Uthmān ibn Abī Shaybah is suspect in the eyes of some authorities. Although some authorities have regarded him to be trustworthy, here is what Ibn Hajar19 records about him: ‘Abdullāh ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal, ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Usāmah al-Kalbī, Ibrāhīm ibn Ishāq al-Sawwāf and Dā’ūd ibn Yahyā say that he is a great liar and Ibn Khirāsh says that he fabricates narratives. Ja‘far ibn Muhammad al-Tayālisī says that not only is he a great liar, he attributes to people narrations which are never reported by those who have actually heard them.

-- ‘Uthmān ibn Muhammad ibn Abī Shaybah (who is the father of the aforementioned narrator) has been mentioned by al-‘Uqaylī in his al-Du‘afā’20

and Ibn Hajar’s opinion about him is lahū awhām.21

These details about the narrators of the report challenge its sound ascription to Anas ibn Mālik (rta) to whom it is attributed.

vi. The linguistic argument presented by ‘Imādī to prove his point that these leaves were withdrawn is not decisive. Even if his interpretation of a suppression of the word موضع (place) before المصحف is accepted, there is no essential difference between the expressions: الأسطوانة التي عند المصحف (the pillar near the mushaf) and الأسطوانة التي عند موضع المصحف (the pillar near the place of the mushaf). The latter does not necessarily mean that the mushaf had been withdrawn and that the place at which it was placed was empty and that it was this vacated place where the Prophet (sws) prayed. Linguistically, these words can also mean that the Prophet (sws) prayed at the place beside the pillar near which the mushaf was placed. It is not necessary to assume that the mushaf was not present there – for he was not praying exactly at the place of the mushaf; he was praying at a place near the pillar beside which the mushaf was placed.


V Further Discussion

Which then is the mushaf referred to in the narratives under discussion if it is neither an ‘Uthmānic Qur’ān as opined ‘Aynī, Qastalānī and Kashmīirī nor that of the Prophet (sws) that was placed near a pillar of his mosque and later withdrawn as opined by ‘Imādī?

A study of history shows that al-Hajjāj ibn Yūsuf (d. 95 AH) introduced the practice of having the Qur’an read collectively by people in the mosques at specific times from its written copies placed in the mosques. Thus, various authorities report the following opinion of Imām Mālik in this regard:

Al-Shātibī (d. 790 AH) records:

قال مالك أول من جعل مصحفا الحجاج بن يوسف يريد انه اول من رتب القراءة في المصحف اثر صلاة الصبح في المسجد

Mālik said: “The first person to introduce the practice of reading from the mushaf after the morning prayer was al-Hajjāj ibn Yūsuf.”22


Ibn Rajab (d. 795 AH) records:

وقال ابن وهب سمعت مالكا يقول لم تكن القراءة في المسجد من أمر الناس القديم و أول من أحدث في المسجد الحجاج بن يوسف قال مالك وأنا أكره ذلك الذي يقرأ في المسجد في المصحف وقد روى هذا كله أبو بكر النيسابوري في كتاب مناقب مالك رحمه الله

Ibn Wahb said that he heard Mālik say: “Reading out [the Qur’ān] in the mosque was not a practice of the people in the earliest times. The first person to introduce it in the mosque was al-Hajjāj ibn Yūsuf. I do not approve of what is read in the mosque from the mushaf.” And all this narrated by Abū Bakr al-Nīsāburī in Kitāb Manāqib-i Mālik.23


History recounts that al-Hajjāj ibn Yūsuf sent copies to various mosques so that the practice of reading out from them could be initiated. Al-Qalqashandī specifies that this sending of the masāhif by al-Hajjāj took place in 76 AH.24

The anecdote of two of them has survived: a copy to the Prophet’s mosque at Madīnah and another one sent to Egypt to the mosque of ‘Amr ibn al-‘Ās in the city of Fustāt.25 The copy sent to the Prophet’s mosque at Madīnah was placed on the right side of the pillar which was a sign of the place where the Prophet (sws) stood in prayer. Ibn Zabālah (d. 199 AH) records:

قال ابن زبالة : حدثني مالك بن أنس قال : أرسل الحجاج بن يوسف إلى أمهات القرى بمصاحف ، فأرسل إلى المدينة بمصحف منها كبير ، وهو أول من أرسل بالمصاحف إلى القرى ، وكان هذا المصحف في صندوق عن يمين الأسطوانة التي عملت علما لمقام النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ، وكان يفتح في يوم الجمعة والخميس ، ويقرأ فيه إذا صليت الصبح ، فبعث المهدي بمصاحف لها أثمان فجعلت في صندوق و نحي منها مصحف الحجاج ، فوضعت عن يسار السارية ، ووضعت منابر لها كانت تقرأ عليها ، وحمل مصحف الحجاج في صندوقه فجعل عند الأسطونة التي عن يمين المنبر

Ibn Zabālah reports from Mālik ibn Anas: “Al-Hajjāj ibn Yūsuf sent masāhif to all major cities. Amongst these, he sent a large mushaf to Madīnah and he was the first one to send the masāhif to the cities. This mushaf was in a box that was placed to the right of the pillar which was a sign of the place where the Prophet stood [in prayer]. It would be opened on every Thursday and Friday and would be read after the morning prayer. Al-Mahdī then sent masāhif which were very expensive and they were put in a box which was placed near the left of this pillar and pulpits were constructed on which it was read. At the same time, the mushaf of al-Hajjāj was displaced from its place and carried and placed near the pillar which was to right of the [main] pulpit.”26


Furthermore, ‘Umar ibn Shabbah (d. 262 AH) records:

قال وأخبرني عبد العزيز بن عمران عن محرز بن ثابت مولى مسلمة بن عبد الملك عن أبيه قال كنت في حرس الحجاج بن يوسف فكتب الحجاج المصاحف ثم بعث بها إلى الأمصار وبعث بمصحف إلى المدينة فكره ذلك آل عثمان فقيل لهم أخرجوا مصحف عثمان يقرأ فقالوا أصيب المصحف بوم قتل عثمان رضى الله عنه قال محرز بلغني أن مصحف عثمان بن عفان صار إلى خالد بن عمرو بن عثمان قال فلما استخلف المهدي بعث بمصحف إلى المدينة فهو الذي يقرأ فيه اليوم وعزل مصحف الحجاج فهو في الصندوق الذي دون المنبر

Muhriz ibn Thābit reports from his father: “I was among the guards of al-Hajjāj ibn Yūsuf. He wrote the masāhif and then sent them to various cities and sent a mushaf to Madīnah. The family of ‘Uthmān (rta) did not like this. They were asked: ‘Hand over the mushaf of ‘Uthmān so that it can be read.’ They replied: ‘It was destroyed the day ‘Uthmān was assassinated.’” Muhriz said: “The report has reached me that the mushaf came into the possession of Khālid ibn ‘Amr ibn ‘Uthmān. When al-Mahdī became the caliph, he sent a mushaf to Madīnah. This is the one which is being read these days. He displaced the mushaf of Hajjāj which was in a box behind the pulpit.” 27


VI Conclusion

On the basis of the foregoing details, it can be concluded with reasonable certainty that the mushaf referred to in the narrative under discussion was the one which al-Hajjāj ibn Yūsuf sent to the Prophet’s mosque in Madīnah and which was placed besides the pillars where the Prophet Muhammad (sws) would offer his optional prayers. It can neither be the Prophet’s mushaf nor one of the copies prepared by ‘Uthmān. (rta).









1. Abū ‘Abdullāh Muhammad ibn Ismā‘īl al-Bukhārī, Al-Jāmi‘ al-sahīh, 3rd ed., vol. 1 (Beirut: Dār Ibn Kathīr, 1987), 189, (no. 480). See also: Abū al-Husayn Muslim ibn al-Hajjāj al-Qushayrī, Al-Jāmi‘ al-sahīh, vol. 1 (Beirut: Dār ihyā’ al-turāth al-‘arabī, n.d.), 364, (no. 509); Abū ‘Abdullāh Muhammad ibn Sa‘d al-Zuhrī. Al-Tabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 4 (Beirut: Dār Sādir, n.d.), 307; Abū Nu‘aym Ahmad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Ishāq ibn Mūsā ibn Mihrān al-Asbahānī., Al-Musnad al-mustakhraj ‘alā Sahīh Muslim, 1st ed., vol. 2 (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al-‘ilmiyyah, 1996), 116, (no. 1124); Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 4 (Egypt: Mu’assasah al-Qurtubah, n.d.), 48, (no. 16564); Ibid., vol. 4, 54, (16590); Abū Bakr Ahmad ibn al-Husayn al-Bayhaqī, Al-Sunan al-kubrā, vol. 2 (Makkah: Maktabah Dār al-Bāz, 1994), 271, (no. 3284); Ibid., vol. 5, 247, (no. 10063); Abū al-Qāsim Sulaymān ibn Ahmad al-Tabarānī, Al-Mu‘jam al-kabīr, 2nd ed., vol. 7, (Mawsil: Maktabah al-zahrā’, 1983), 34, (no. 6299), Abū Hātim Muhammad ibn Hibbān al-Bustī, Sahīh, 2nd ed., vol. 5 (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-risālah, 1993) 59, (no. 1763); Ibid., vol. 5, 526, (no. 2152); Abū ‘Abdullāh Muhammad ibn Yazīd al-Qazwīnī ibn Mājah, Sunan, vol. 1 (Beirut: Dār al-fikr, n.d.), 459, (no. 1430); Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Hārūn al-Ru’yānī, Musnad, 1st ed., vol. 2 (Cairo: Mu’assasah Qurtubah, 1416 AH) , 249, (no. 1142); Abū Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Barzālī, Mashyakhah Abī Bakr ibn Ahmad ibn ‘Abd al-Dā’im al-Maqdisī, 1st ed., vol. 1 (Damascus, Dā al-Bashā’ir, 1997), 46, (no. 18); Muhammad ibn Zabālah, Akhbār al-Madīnah, 1st ed. (Madīnah: Markaz buhūth wa dirasāt al-Madīnah al-Munawwarah, 1424 AH), 124.

2. See, respectivelyBadr al-Dīn Mahmūd ibn Ahmad ibn Mūsā ibn Ahmad al-‘Aynī, ‘Umdah al-qarī sharh Sahīh al-Bukhārī, vol 4 (Beirut: Dār ihyā al-turāth al-‘arabī, n.d.), 283; Abū al-‘Abbās Shihāb al-Dīn Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Qastalānī, Irshād al-sārī li sharhi Sahīh al-Bukhārī, vol. 1 (Cairo: Al-Matba ‘ al-kubrā al-amīriyyah, 1323 AH), 467; Muhammad Anwar Shāh al-Kashmīrī, Fayd al-Bārī ‘alā Sahīh al-Bukhārī, vol. 2 (Quetta: Al-Maktabah al-rashīdiyyah, n.d.), 81.

3. Tamanna ‘Imādī, Jam‘ al-Qur’ān, 2nd ed. (Karachi: al-Rahmān Publishing Trust, 1994), 398-424.

4. Literally: al-sandūq. This word does not occur in any of the extant versions of Hadīth anthologies. However, the text of Sahīh Muslim before Ibn Hajar mentions that this mushaf was placed in a box (sandūq) and placed near a pillar of the mosque. See: Abū al-Fadl Ahmad ibn ‘Alī ibn Hajar, al-‘Asqalānī, Fath al-Bārī, 4th ed. (Beirut: Dār ihyā’ al-turāth al-‘arabī, 1988), 457.

5. ‘Imādī has referred to a hand written manuscript of this book found in personal collection of a Qādī Radā Husayn of Patna and cited page 32 of the manuscript.

6. Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 4, 54, (no. 16590).

7. Praying at this spot is mentioned in the narrative of al-Bukhārī.

8. The extant versions of Muslim’s Al-Jāmi‘ al-sahīh do not have these words. ‘Imādī also refers to this fact. The words they have are:

9. Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bārī, vol. 1, 457.

10. Al-Bukhārī, Al-Jāmi‘ al-sahīh, vol. 1, 189, (no. 480).

11. Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 4, 54, (16590).

12. Muslim, Al-Jāmi‘ al-sahīh, vol. 1, 364 (no. 509).

13. ‘Imādī gives no reference as to which version of ‘Aynī had these words. It may be pointed out that in the extant version, the words are :

( التي عند المصحف) هذا يدل على أنه كان في مسجد رسول الله موضع خاص للمصحف الذي كان ثمة من عهد عثمان

The expression: [the pillar] near the mushaf] signifies that in the mosque of the messenger of God, there was a special place for the mushaf which was there since the times of ‘Uthmān. (Al-‘Aynī, ‘Umdah al-qārī, vol. 4, 283)

14. Abū al-Hajjāj Yūsuf ibn al-Zakī al-Mizzī, Tahdhīb al-kamāl fī asmā’ al-rijāl, 1st ed., vol 32 (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-risālah, 1980), 206.

15. To be exact, his death actually occurred in the last month of 35 AH. See: Al-Mizzī, Tahdhīb al-kamāl, vol. 19, 454; Abū al-Fadl Ahmad ibn ‘Alī ibn Hajar, al-‘

Asqalānī, Taqrīb al-tahdhīb, 1st ed. (Syria: Dār al-rashīd, 1986), 385.

16. This is assuming that the words in ‘Aynī’s commentary were the ones found in the extant version of his commentary; ie. كان في مسجد رسول الله موضع خاص للمصحف الذي كان ثمة من عهد عثمان (in the mosque of the messenger of God, there was a special place for the mushaf which was there since the times of ‘Uthmān.) See: Al-‘Aynī, ‘Umdah al-qārī, vol. 4, 283.

17. Otherwise it would lead to the absurd scenario of a mushaf of ‘Uthmān (rta) being present in the Prophet’s mosque and the Prophet (sws) seeking out the place where it was placed so that he could pray there.

18. Al-Mizzī,Tahdhīb al-kamāl, vol. 3, 135-137.

19. Abū al-Fadl Ahmad ibn ‘Alī ibn Hajar, al-‘Asqalānī, Lisān al-mīzān, vol. 5 (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-a‘lamī li al-matbū‘āt, 1986), 280.

20. Abū Ja‘far Muhammad ibn ‘Umar ibn Mūsā al-‘Uqaylī, Al-Du‘afā’ al-kabīr, 1st ed., vol 3 (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al-‘ilmiyyah, 1984), 222.

21. Ibn Hajar, Taqrīb al-tahdhīb, 386.

22. Abū Ishāq Ibrāhīm ibn Mūsā ibn Muhammad al-Shātibī, Al-I‘tisām, vol. 1 (Egypt: Al-Maktabah al-tujāriyyah al-kubrā, n.d.), 172.

23. Abū al-Farj Zayn al-Dīn ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn Shihāb al-Dīn ibn Rajab al-Baghdādī, Jāmi‘ al-‘ulūm wa al-hikam fī sharh khamsīn hadīthan min jawāmi‘ al-kalim, 7th ed. (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-risālah, 1417 AH), 345. Al-Samhūdī (d. 911 AH) records Imām Mālik’s aversion to this practice by citing the fact that Mālik would like people be made to disperse from the mosques where they would gather to read out the Qur’ān jointly. See: Nūr al-Dīn ‘Alī ibn Ahmad al-Samhūdī, Wafā’ al-wafā bi akhbār dār al-mustafā, vol. 2 (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al-‘ilmiyyah, n.d.), 198. While explaining this intensity on the part of Imām Mālik, Ibn Rushd says that this relates to persistently reading out the Qur’ān jointly after a specific prayer so that this practice comes to be regarded as a sunnah – in the way it is being observed (in his times) after the morning prayer at the mosque of Cordova. See: Al-Shātibī, Al-I‘tisām, vol. 2, 30; Abū Ishāq Ibrāhīm ibn Mūsā ibn Muhammad al-Shātibī, Al-Muwāfaqāt fī usūl al-fiqh, vol. 2 (Beirut: Dār al-ma‘rifah, n.d.), 213.

24. Ahmad ibn ‘Alī. Subh al a‘shā fī sina‘ah al-inshā al-Qalqashandī, vol. 3 (Damascus: Wizārah al-thaqāfah, 1981), 383.

25. It may be of interest to note that the copy sent by al-Hajjāj to Egypt was met with resentment by ‘Abd al-‘Azīz ibn Marwān (d. 86 AH), the then governor of Egypt and brother of the reigning caliph ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwān. He refused to accept this copy from a less ranking officer (ie al-Hajjāj) of the empire. This incident induced him to prepare a copy for his region; the copy was prepared and housed in his own residence. It would be taken to the mosque every Friday and read out and then transported back. It came to be known as the mushaf of Asmā’ (d. 118 AH) (a grand daughter of ‘Abd al-‘Azīz ibn Marwān). Those who have recorded this incident with various details include, Ibn ‘Abd al-Hakam (d. 247 AH), Ibn Duqmāq (d. 809 AH) (on the authority of ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn Ahmad ibn Yūnus al-Misrī (d. 347 AH)) and al-Maqrīzī (d. 845 AH) (on the authority of Abū ‘Abdullāh Muhammad ibn Salāmah ibn Ja‘far al-Qudā‘ī (d. 454 AH)). For details, see respectively: Abū al-Qāsim ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Abdullāh ‘Abd al-Hakam ibn A‘yun al-Qarshī al-Misrī, Futūh-i Misr wa akhbāruhā, 1st ed. (Beirut: Dār al-fikr, 1416 AH), 217; Ibrāhīm ibn Muhammad ibn Duqmāq, Kitāb al-intisār li wāsitah ‘iqd al-amsār, vol, 4 (Būlāq: Al-Matba‘ah al-kubrā amīriyah, 1309 AH), 72; Taqī al-Dīn Ahmad ibn ‘Alī ibn ‘Abd al-Qādir ibn Muhammad al-Maqrīzī, Al-Mawā‘iz wa al-i‘tibār bi al-dhikr al-khitat wa al-āthār, vol. 3 (Cairo: Maktabah madbūlā, 1998), 164. Among modern historians, see: al-Barrī, Qur’ān wa ‘ulūmuhū fī Misr, 62-73.

26. Muhammad ibn Zabālah, Akhbār al-Madīnah, 124. It may be of interest to note that Ibn al-Najjār (d. 643 AH) quotes almost exactly the same text as above (with some additions at the end) but ascribes it directly to Imām Mālik and does not mention Ibn Zabālah as an intermediate narrator. See: Abū ‘Abdullāh Muhammad ibn Mahmūd ibn al-Najjār al-Baghdādī, Al-Durrah al-thamīnah fī akhbār al-madīnah (Beirut: Shirkah dār al-arqam ibn abī al-arqam, n.d. ), 118-119.

27. ‘Umar ibn Shabbah, Tārīkh al-Madīnah (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al-‘ilmiyyah, 1996), vol. 1, 9.

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