Foundation of Knowledge:The First Printed Quran

With the advent of the printing press, the mus-haf changed accordingly. The first Our'an that is known to have been printed with the movable type techniques was done in 1694CE in Hamburg, Germany. It was edited by a Jew, Abraham Hinkellmann, and contained many errors. AI-Hammad criticizes it as follows: "There are major errors (in this print), and on almost every page the reader will find manifest examples of these ... which only proves the poor level of knowledge the editor had of the Arabic language and its rules." (AI-Hamad).

In 1841, Gustav Fluegel released another printed mus-haf in which the verse numbering differed from the traditional mus-hafs. This mus-haf was actually a reproduction of a famous Turkish mus-haf written by Haafidh Uthman (d.1110 AH). This was published in Leipzig, and became a standard version for orientalists for the next two centuries.

The first mus-haf done by Muslims in this style is reputed to be the one done in St. Petersburg Russia, in 1787 CE. These were followed by mus-haf printed in Kazan (in 1828 CE), Persia (in 1833 CE), Istanbul (in 1877 CE) and Cairo (in 1890 CE). A more common one, which took on the role of a standard printed version is one that was ordered by King Fuaad of Egypt in 1925. It was written by a committee of scholars from al-Azhar University, under the supervision of Sheikh Muhammad Alee Khalaf a-Husaynee. Since then, literally hundreds of other printed mus-hafs have followed. One of the more beautiful ones is the Madeenah mus-haf recently printed in Saudi Arabia, in the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Our'an in Madeenah. All of these have been in the qiraa'ah of Hafs 'an Aasim.

There are also printed copies of the Quraan in the qiraa'ah of Warsh 'an Nafi (printed in Algeria and Morocco, and very recently also by the King Fahd Complex), and in the qiraa'ah of Qaaloon 'an Nafi' (printed in Libya). In the present age, almost all mus-hafs follow one of the two scripts; either Naskhee (most of the Arab countries) or Farsee (the Indian sub-continent). The mus-hafs printed in the qiraa'ah of Warsh, however are typically written In Maghribee script, which is very unique and confusing for the unaccustomed eye. For example, the letter 'qaaf' is represented with one dot above a circle (vs. two dots as in the more accustomed scripts), and the letter 'faa' with one dot below it (vs. one above it as in the more accustomed scripts)!

It is very relevant to quote the hadeeth of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) in which he said, "When you decorate your mosques, and beautify your mushafs, then destruction will be upon you!" (Ibn Abi Shaybah). This hadeeth can be, taken as a factual statement, or as a warning. In other words, if taken factually, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) is informing his ummah that when mosques and mushafs are decorated and beautified, this will be a time of destruction for the Muslims. However, the stronger opinion is that this hadeeth is a warning to the Muslims, in which case any unnecessary and excessive decoration of the mus-haf is to be discouraged. This is one of the indications of the austerity and simplicity of Islaam, such that even its places of worship and its Sacred Book must be absent from all types of embellishments, which typically is an indication of arrogance, and a love for this world. Rather, such religious symbols should be examples of modesty and humility.

This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited

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