و في أخبار أهل البيت ع أنه آلى أن لا يضع رداءه على عاتقه إلا للصلاة حتى يؤلف القرآن و يجمعه فانقطع عنهم مدة إلى أن جمعه ثم خرج إليهم به في إزار يحمله و هم مجتمعون في المسجد فأنكروا مصيره بعد انقطاع مع الألبة فقالوا الأمر ما جاء به أبو الحسن فلما توسطهم وضع الكتاب بينهم ثم قال إن رسول الله قال إني مخلف فيكم ما إن تمسكتم به لن تضلوا كتاب الله و عترتي أهل بيتي و هذا الكتاب و أنا العترة فقام إليه الثاني فقال له إن يكن عندك قرآن فعندنا مثله فلا حاجة لنا فيكما فحمل ع الكتاب و عاد به بعد أن ألزمهم الحجة
It is mentioned in the narratives of the Ahl-i Bayt that 'Alī swore that he would not wear his cloak on his shoulder except for the prayer until he had arranged and collected the Qur'ān. He remained isolated from others for sometime until he had collected it. He then came to them with the Qur'ān in a cloth and they were gathered in the mosque and they did not like his staying away with his close associates. They said: "Abū al-Hasan had come with a purpose." When he came to them he placed the book between them and then said: "The Prophet had said: 'I am leaving behind that which if you hold steadfast to, you will never go astray: the Book of God and my descendants which is my family.' So this is the Book of God and I am his descendant." The second ['Umar] stood up and replied: "If you have the Qur'ān, we also have it; we do not require you or your Book of God." So 'Alī took away the Book after he had left them with no excuse to deny it.
مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عَلِيِّ بْنِ مَعْمَرٍ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عَلِيِّ بْنِ عُكَايَةَ التَّمِيمِيِّ عَنِ الْحُسَيْنِ بْنِ النَّضْرِ الْفِهْرِيِّ عَنْ أَبِي عَمْرٍو الْأَوْزَاعِيِّ عَنْ عَمْرِو بْنِ شِمْرٍ عَنْ جَابِرِ بْنِ يَزِيدَ قَالَ دَخَلْتُ عَلَى أَبِي جَعْفَرٍ ع فَقُلْتُ …يَا جَابِرُ ...إِنَّ أَمِيرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ع خَطَبَ النَّاسَ بِالْمَدِينَةِ بَعْدَ سَبْعَةِ أَيَّامٍ مِنْ وَفَاةِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ص وَ ذَلِكَ حِينَ فَرَغَ مِنْ جَمْعِ الْقُرْآنِ وَ تَأْلِيفِهِ
Jābir ibn Yazīd said: "I came to Abū Ja'far and said …" He replied: "O Jābir! …Amīr al-Mu'minīn gave a sermon in Madinah to the people seven days after the death of the Prophet and this was when he had completed collecting and arranging the Qur'ān."
VI. Existing Interpretations
The Shiite authorities are divided into two groups regarding the contents of the Qur'ān collected by 'Alī(rta).
Al-Majlisī (d. 1110 AH) has summarized these two views in his Mir'āt al-'uqūl while explaining a narrative:
واختلف أصحابنا في ذلك ، فذهب الصدوق ابن بابويه و جماعة إلى أن القرآنلميتغير عما أنزل ولم ينقص منه شىء ، وذهب الكلينى ، والشيخ المفيد قدس الله روحهما و جماعة إلى أنّ جميع القرآن عند الائمة عليه السلام ، وما في المصاحف بعضه ، وجمع أمير المؤمنين صلوات الله عليه كما أنزل بعد الرسول وأخرج إلى الصحابة المنافقين فلم يقبلوا منه ، وهم قصدوا لجمعه في زمن عمر و عثمان كما سياتى تفصيله في كتاب القرآن.
قال شيخنا السديد المفيد روح الله روحه في جواب المسائل الّسروية أن الذي بين الدفتين من القرآن جميعه كلام الله و تنـزيله ، وليس فيه شىء من كلام البشر و هو جمهور المنزل ، والباقى مما أنزله الله تعالى قرآنا عند المستحفظ للشريعة المستودع للاحكام لم يضع منه شىء ، وإن كان الذى جمع ما بين الدفتين الآن لم يـجعله في جملة ما جمع ، الأسباب دعته إلى ذلك ، منها قصوره عن معرفة بعضه ، ومنها ماشك فيه ، ومنها ما عمد بنفيه ، ومنها ما تعمد إخراجه عنه ،
وقد جمع أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام ، القرآن المنـزل من أوله إلى آخره وألفه بجسب ما وجب من تأليفه ، فقدم المكى على المدني و المنسوخ على الناسخ ووضع كل شىء منه فى موضعه ، فلذلك قال جعفر بن محمد صادق عليه السلام : أما والله لو قرىء القرآن كما أنزل لألفيتمونا فيه مسمين كما سمى من كان قبلنا ، وساق الكام إلى أن قال : غير أن الخبر قدصح عن أئمتنا عليه السلام أنهم أمروا بقراءة مابين الدفتين وان لانعتداه إلى زيادة فيه ولا نقصان منه حتى يقوم القائم عليه السلام ، فيقرء الناس القرآن على ما أنزل الله وجمعه أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام ، وإنما نهونا عن قراءة ماوردت به الأخبار من أحرف تزيد على الثابت فى المصحف ، لأنها لم تأت على التواتر ، وإنما جائت بها الآحاد ، والواحد قديغلط فيما ينقله ، ولأنه متى قرء الانسان بما يخالف ما بين – الدفتين غرر بنفسه من أهل الخلاف وأغرى به الجبارين وعرض نفسه للهلاك فمنعونا عليهم السلام عن قراءة القرآن بخلاف ما ثبت بين الدفتين لما ذكرناه ، انتهى
In this matter, there is a difference of opinion between our authorities. al-Sadūq ibn Bābawayh [d. 381 AH] and a group of scholars are of the opinion that the Qur'ān revealed to the Prophet has not been changed and nothing has been taken away from it. Al-Kulaynī [d. 329 AH] and Shaykh Mufīd [d. 413 AH] and another group of scholars are of the opinion that the whole of the Qur'ān lies with the imāms and the masāhif only contain a part of it. After the Prophet, 'Alī collected it in the way it was revealed and took it to the Companions who were Hypocrites. But they did not accept it. They resolved to collect the Qur'ān in the time of 'Umar and 'Uthmān, the details of which are forthcoming in the chapter Kitāb al-Qur'ān.
Our bona fide Shaykh al-Mufīd has said in Jawāb al-masā'il al-sarawiyyah that all of what we have in the Qur'ān is from God; all of it is His discourse and revealed by Him and it does not contain anything from human beings. It contains most of what was revealed by Him and what remains of what was revealed by Him lies with the person who has been entrusted with the sharī'ah and who is the repository of injunctions; nothing has been lost from it. And he who had collected the current Qur'ān did not place the remaining revelations within what he had collected. There are various reasons for this: among them is his unawareness of some of it; another reason for it is his doubts about part of it and still another reason is his leaving out parts which he thought were not the Qur'ān and yet another reason is that he deliberately left out a part of it.
And Amīr al-Mu'minīn 'Alī collected the whole of the revealed Qur'ān from the beginning to its end and arranged it the way it should have been arranged. He placed the Makkan verses before the Madīnan ones and the abrogated verses before the abrogating ones and put each of its parts at its right place. For this reason, Ja'far ibn Muhammad al-Sādiq has said: "By God! If the Qur'ān was read in the way it was revealed, you would have found our names written in it the way the names of those prior to us are written in it," and after mentioning other details he said: "Except that the report from our authorities is correct that they commanded us to read what was between the two covers and that we should neither add to it nor take any thing away from it until the al-Qā'im appears. He will then teach people the Qur'ān in the way it was revealed and collected thereof by 'Alī. And indeed we have been prohibited to read it on readings which are reported in narratives which exceed the ones found in the mushaf because they are not reported through tawātur; they are reported through single or few reporters and a single reporter or a few reporters can err in what they narrate and because when a person would read something which is not in the existing Qur'ān, he would give the wrong impression to others that he is among their enemies, and he would incite cruel people against himself and present himself to destruction. So our authorities have forbidden us to read the Qur'ān on a reading which is not found in our Qur'ān for reasons we have stated."
Al-Khū'ī, while presenting his view on the mushaf of 'Alī (rta) writes that it did not contain anything over and above the Qur'ān we have today except that its sūrahs were arranged in a different sequence. Whatever additions it had were not part of it. These additions were of explanatory and elucidatory nature.
Al-'Āmilī says that it is evident from all the narratives that 'Alī (rta) actually had two Qur'āns. One which he had collected in the time of the Prophet (sws) and it was in the chronological sequence; the other one was collected after the demise of the Prophet (sws) and was in the same order as the Qur'ān we have today. He further comments that it seems that narrators have at times mixed-up the two.
VII Analysis of Existing Interpretations and Narratives
A. Analysis of the Matn
As far as the existing interpretations are concerned, some narratives cited earlier do suggest that the contents of the Qur'ān collected by 'Alī (rta) were over and above the one found today with the ummah, as is the opinion of al-Kulaynī and Shaykh Mufīd.
As far as the narratives themselves are concerned, there are some questions which arise on them.
Firstly, the second narrative, which records events that ensued in the time of 'Umar (rta) and 'Uthmān (rta), clearly says that the Qur'ān which the Muslim community had was incomplete: Talhah (rta) in his conversation with 'Alī (rta) while referring to this incompleteness has quoted some examples and 'Alī (rta) tacitly acknowledged all of them. They are:
i. 'Umar (rta) had remarked that with the death of some people in the battle of Yamāmah, parts of the Qur'ān had been lost because none other knew the parts they had memorized.
ii. A goat had eaten a sheet on which parts of the Qur'ān were written.
iii. 'Umar (rta) remarked that some of the collected sūrahs were not of the same length they originally were.
iv. 'Uthmān (rta) had destroyed the codices of Ubayy (rta) and Ibn Mas'ūd (rta).
Some other examples of this incompleteness can be seen in other narratives as well.
A narrative (quoted at no. iii) shows that the Qur'ān compiled by 'Alī (rta) mentioned the misdeeds and condemnation of the Muhājirūn and the Ansār.
A narrative (quoted at no. iv) says that while a large part of the Qur'ān compiled by 'Umar (rta) had been lost, the Qur'ān which was found with "its worthy recipients" was complete and secure from these losses.
Another narrative (quoted at no. xii) shows that seventy names of the Quraysh and their fore-fathers had been deleted from the Qur'ān found with the Muhājirūn and the Ansār.
It is hard to believe that a Companion of the stature of 'Alī (rta) would withhold the complete Qur'ān from the ummah, and not warn the Muslim community that they had an incomplete version of the Qur'ān. The significance the Book has for the Muslim community and the responsibility the Companions (rta) had in disseminating it entail that he should have warned them again and again of its incompleteness. Instead his opinion which is expressed in the narrative is that since whatever remains of the Qur'ān still contains his rights and is enough to grant salvation, hence there is no need for him to bring forth the complete Qur'ān which is in his custody.
Here one can argue that as some narratives depict 'Alī (rta) had gone over to the leaders of the Muslim community and presented his Qur'ān to them which they subsequently rejected. The question arises that the importance of the matter demanded that he should have shown persistence in this matter instead of getting angry. Moreover, if the leaders had rejected his Qur'ān, he could have called upon the common Muslims and informed them of the truth. Why should he have deprived them of the complete Qur'ān if their leaders had rejected it. Furthermore, why did 'Alī (rta) not implement the complete Qur'ān he had when he himself became the caliph. If someone answers all these objections by saying that 'Alī (rta) adopted this attitude in order to save the whole ummah from turmoil and chaos, the counter-question which arises is that was not the status of the Book of God such that it be presented disregarding any such fear. Also, if the al-qā'im would ultimately implement the Qur'ān of 'Alī (rta), would not the ummah be faced with turmoil and chaos at that time?
Secondly, the second and fourth narratives clearly say that every verse of the Qur'ān and its interpretation were already written by 'Alī (rta) through dictation by the Prophet (sws). The question arises that if 'Alī (rta) already had the Qur'ān written with him in the lifetime of the Prophet (sws), what was the urgency and need of writing it out again? Also why did the Prophet (sws) express his apprehension about the Qur'ān getting lost and what was the need for handing over to 'Alī (rta) verses of the Qur'ān written on various fragments.
Thirdly, the first narrative speaks of the insincerity and treachery of the Companions which 'Alī (rta) observed; similarly, the third narrative says that the Companions had altered the Qur'ān in the version collected by them by deleting the misdeeds of the Muhājirūnand the Ansārwhich were written in the Qur'ān collected by 'Alī(rta). Moreover, they are called Hypocrites and alleged to have plotted to kill 'Alī (rta) so that the Qur'ān he had could be destroyed. In the thirteenth narrative, 'Alī is reported to have said that the Companions (rta) had forsaken and disregarded the Book of God. These aspects of the narratives clearly show malicious intent towards the Companions (rta) which is typical of some Shiite works and renders them as questionable.
Fourthly, as is the case with most Shiite works, some of these narratives speak of superiority of 'Alī (rta) over other Companions (rta). For example, the second and fourth narratives say that 'Alī (rta) had every verse and its interpretation as well as knowledge needed by the ummah till the Day of Judgement written with him through dictation by the Prophet (sws) himself. Similarly, the fifth narrative says that the Prophet (sws) handed over the Qur'ān written on various fragments to 'Alī (rta) so that he could collect and compile it. None of the other Companions (rta) was involved in this task.
Fifthly, if all the narratives are analyzed regarding the chronological nature of the collection, we cannot escape noting the following:
First, nothing is attributed to 'Alī (rta) himself regarding the chronological nature of his collection. It is only the comments of certain people about the nature of this collection which have been reported.
Second, it is generally narratives which report words such as kamāanazalahullāh from which a chronological arrangement is construed. Thus for example, a narrative reads:
و في أخبار أبي رافع أن النبي قال في مرضه الذي توفي فيه لعلي يا علي هذا كتاب الله خذه إليك فجمعه علي في ثوب فمضى إلى منزله فلما قبض النبي ع جلس علي فألفه كما أنزله الله و كان به عالما
In the reports of Abū Rāfi', it is found that the Prophet in his last illness told 'Alī: "O 'Alī! This is the book of God. Get hold of it." So 'Alī collected it in a cloth and went to his house. When the Prophet died, 'Alī sat down to arrange it in the sequence it was revealed and he was aware of this sequence.
It may, however, be noted that the words of the narrative fa allafahū kamā anzalahū Allāhcan also be translated as: "He compiled the Qur'ān in the way it was revealed," (instead of: "he compiled the Qur'ān in the sequence it was revealed and he was aware of this sequence,") signifying he did not make any additions or deletions and wrote it out exactly as it was revealed by the Almighty. In fact, some of the other narratives stress this very fact. Thus, it is recorded:
هَذَا كِتَابُ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ كَمَا أَنْزَلَهُ اللَّهُ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ ص وَ قَدْ جَمَعْتُهُ مِنَ اللَّوْحَيْنِ
"This is the Book of God the way God revealed it to Muhammad and I have collected it between two tablets."
مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ يَحْيَى عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ عَنِ ابْنِ مَحْبُوبٍ عَنْ عَمْرِو بْنِ أَبِي الْمِقْدَامِ عَنْ جَابِرٍ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَبَا جَعْفَرٍ ع يَقُولُ مَا ادَّعَى أَحَدٌ مِنَ النَّاسِ أَنَّهُ جَمَعَ الْقُرْآنَ كُلَّهُ كَمَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَّا كَذَّابٌ وَ مَا جَمَعَهُ وَ حَفِظَهُ كَمَا نَزَّلَهُ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى إِلَّا عَلِيُّ بْنُ أَبِي طَالِبٍ ع وَ الْأَئِمَّةُ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ ع
Jābir said that he heard Abū Ja'far say: "Only a liar can say that he has collected the whole of the Qur'ān in the way it was revealed. No one collected or memorized it in the way it was revealed except 'Alī ibn Abī Tālib and the imāms after him."
The following narrative is even more explicit. It says that the current Qur'ān in the hands of the ummah is not kamāunzila(in the way it was revealed). Some deletions have been made from it: it does not contain seventy names of the Quraysh and their forefathers:
حدثنا أبو سليمان أحمد بن هوذة قال حدثنا إبراهيم بن إسحاق النهاوندي قال حدثنا عبد الله بن حماد الأنصاري عن صباح المزني عن الحارث بن حصيرة عن الأصبغ بن نباتة قال سمعت عليا ع يقول كأني بالعجم فساطيطهم في مسجد الكوفة يعلمون الناس القرآن كما أنزل قلت يا أمير المؤمنين أ و ليس هو كما أنزل فقال لا محي منه سبعون من قريش بأسمائهم و أسماء آبائهم و ما ترك أبو لهب إلا إزراء على رسول الله ص لأنه عمه
Asbagh ibn Nubātah said: 'I heard 'Alī say: "I envision the 'Ajam with their tents in the mosque of Kūfah teaching people the Qur'ān in the order it was revealed." I asked him: "O Commander of the faithful! Is it not in the form it was revealed." He replied: "No. The names of seventy people of the Quryash and their forefathers have been deleted from it. Only the name of Abū Lahab remains in order to hurt the Prophet because he was his uncle."'
This fact is also corroborated by Imām Ja'far al-Sādiq's words recorded by al-Majlisī in his Mir'āt al-'uqūl and referred to earlier: Ja'far ibn Muhammad ibn al-Sādiq has said: "By God! If the Qur'ān was read in the way it was revealed, you would have found our names written in it the way the names of those prior to us are written in it." The sixth narrative above which is attributed to Imām Ja'far al-Sādiq further corroborates this view.
Thus, if the given narrative is interpreted in the light of these narratives, it would mean that there was no issue of any chronological sequence of the Qur'ān collected by 'Alī (rta); it was more of 'Alī (rta) compiling the total corpus of the Qur'ān in the exact way it was revealed having no deletions or spurious material.
Sixthly, the narratives contain the following contradictions:
a. According to the first narrative, when 'Alī (rta) came up with his Qur'ān right after the death of the Prophet (sws), 'Umar (rta) replied that the Muhājirūnalready had the Qur'ān with them and that they did not need the Qur'ān collected by him. In this regard, the sixth narrative says that a section of the Muhājirūnhad remarked that the Qur'ān was with them in the form of a mushaf. However, the second and fourth narratives say that it was only in the caliphate of 'Umar (rta) after 'Alī (rta) had refused to hand over his Qur'ān to 'Umar (rta) that the latter had embarked upon collecting the Qur'ān with the help of two witnesses. Besides this mutual contradiction, these narratives also contradict narratives found in Sunnī sources as per which the Qur'ān was compiled in the form of a book by Abū Bakr (rta).
b. In the second narrative, 'Alī (rta) says that no one will be able to see his collected Qur'ān until the last of his descendants meets the Prophet (sws) on the Day of Judgement at the fountain of Kawthar. The third, sixth and twelfth narratives however say that the Qur'ān collected by 'Alī (rta) would be revealed by the al-Qā'im when he comes to this world.
c. The ninth narrative says that it took 'Alī (rta) six months to compile the Qur'ān while the narrative recorded by Ibn Nadīm says that this was done in three days. The sixteenth narrative says that it took him seven days.
B. Analysis of the Isnād
i. The first and second narratives are from Kitāb Sulaym ibn Qays.
We find the following information about this book in the Shiite sources:
Ibn al-Ghadā'irī (d. before 450 AH) writes:
و الكتاب موضوع لا مرية فيه و على ذلك علامات فيه تدل على ما ذكرناه، منها ما ذكر أن محمد بن أبي بكر وعظ أباه عند الموت و منها أن الأئمة ثلاثة عشر و غير ذلك و أسانيد هذا الكتاب تختلف تارة برواية عمر بن أذينة عن إبراهيم عمر الصنعائي عن أبان بن أبي عياش عن سليم و تارة يروي عن عمر عن أبان بلا واسطة.
And the book is a fabrication; there is no doubt about it and there are clues which testify to this. Among them is that Muhammad ibn Abī Bakr counselled his father at his death and that the imāms are thirteen etc. The chains of this book are different: sometimes 'Umar ibn Udhaynah reports from Ibrāhīm ibn 'Umar al-San'ānī who reports from Abān ibn Abī 'Ayyāsh who reports from Sulaym and sometimes it is narrated by 'Umar ibn Udhaynah who directly narrates from Abān.
Ibn Dā'ūd (d. 8th century AH), while writing about Sulaym ibn Qays (d. 76 AH), says:
ينسب إليه الكتاب المشهور و هو موضوع بدليل أنه قال إن محمد بن أبي بكر وعظ أباه عند موته. و قال فيه أن الأئمة ثلاثة عشر مع زيد. و أسانيده مختلفة [غض] لم يرو عنه إلا أبان بن أبي عياش و في الكتاب مناكير مشتهرة، و ما أظنه إلا موضوعا
To him is attributed a famous book. This book is a fabrication because in it is said Muhammad ibn Abī Bakr counselled his father at his death and that the imāms are thirteen together with Zayd and the book has different chains of narration. The only person to have narrated it from Sulyam is Abān ibn Abī 'Ayyāsh and in the book are found strange things which have become famous and [thus] I regard it to be a fabrication.
Shaykh al-Mufīd writes:
هذا الكتاب غير موثوق به و لا يجوز العمل على أكثره و قد حصل فيه تخليط و تدليس فينبغي للمتدين أن يجتنب العمل بكل ما فيه و لا يعول على جملته و التقليد لرواته و ليفزع إلى العلماء فيما تضمنه من الأحاديث ليوقفوه على الصحيح منها و الفاسد
This book is not reliable and it is not permissible to act on what most of it says. There are many discrepancies and falsehoods in it. A religious person should refrain from acting on everything it says and he should not depend on its content and not blindly follow its narrators. He should seek refuge with the scholars regarding the narratives it contains so that they can inform him about the right among them from the wrong.
'Alā al-Dīn al-Mūsawī, while writing the preface to Kitab Sulaym ibn Qays published from Tehran in 1407 AH, has tried to respond to these criticisms.
He first summarizes these criticisms:
a. The counsel of Muhammad ibn Abī Bakr (d. 38 AH) to his father at his death even though he was about a little over two years of age at that time.
b. The imāms are thirteen.
c. The book has different chains of narrations.
He answers the first criticism by saying that in the version of the book which Istarābādī refers to in his book on rijāl, it is mentioned that it was 'Abdullāh ibn 'Umar (rta) who counselled his father at his father's death and it is known that 'Abdullāh (rta) was a grown up man at that time. Another answer he gives while summarizing the response of I'jāz Husayn al-Kantūrī from his Kashf al-hujub is that if the report is believed that Muhammad ibn Abī Bakr was actually four years at the time of his father's death, then such a counsel cannot be far-fetched as at even at this tender age, sometimes such an incident can occur.
He answers the second criticism by again quoting Istarābādī who has said that in the version of Kitāb Sulaym ibn Qays which has reached him, it is written that the imāms were thirteen and this included the Prophet (sws). A similar answer is given by al-Fādil Tafrīshī.
He answers the third criticism by saying that if a book has different chains of narration in the manner referred to by Ibn Ghazā'irī, then this is no defect at all because it was a general practice of previous scholars to report books from different chains. Examples of such books are al-Kāfī and al-Khisāl.
After answering these three criticisms, al-Mūsawī says that there are some other criticisms also on the Kitāb Sulaym ibn Qays which have come to his notice. He refers to al-Bahbūdī's Ma'rifah al-hadīth and then summarizes these criticisms.
In my opinion, if these criticism are analyzed, then perhaps the most weighty of these is the one which hinges on the personality of Abān ibn Abī 'Ayyāsh (62-138 AH). According to al-Bahbūdī, all the chains of narration of the book end on Abān ibn Abī 'Ayyāsh. Only Abān reports it from Sulaym; only 'Umar ibn Udhaynah reports it from Abān and Abān has been classified as matrūk.
Here is what Shiite works say about him:
ضعيف، قيل إنه وضع كتاب سليم بن قيس
Abān ibn Abī 'Ayyāsh is da'īf. It is said that he fabricated the book of Sulaym ibn Qays.
[He is] da'īf.
ضعيف لا يلتفت إليه، و ينسب أصحابنا وضع كتاب سليم بن قيس إليه
He is da'īf and should not be paid attention to and our scholars have attributed to him the fabrication of the book of Sulaym ibn Qays.
While responding to this criticism, al-Mūsawī says that the book has also been reported from another chain of narration, as mentioned by al-Najāshī(d. 450 AH):
له، كتاب يكنى أبا صادق أخبرني علي بن أحمد القمي قال حدثنا محمد بن الحسن بن الوليد قال حدثنا محمد بن أبي القاسم ماجيلويه، عن محمد بن علي الصيرفي، عن حماد بن عيسى و عثمان بن عيسى، قال حماد بن عيسى و حدثنا إبراهيم بن عمر اليماني عن سليم بن قيس بالكتاب
In other words, since this book is reported through Ibrāhīm ibn 'Umar al-Yamānī also, al-Mūsawī dismisses this objection.
It is submitted that Muhammad Baqir al-Ansārī in his preface to Kitāb Sulaym ibn Qays has enumerated the twenty chains from which this book has been narrated from Sulaym as recorded by various authorities. In all except one of these chains, Abān reports from Sulaym. The exception is the chain quoted above by al-Najāshī. It is obvious that Abān is not present in this chain. However, as pointed out by al-Khū'ī, what makes this chain un-reliable is the presence of Abū Sumaynah Muhammad ibn 'Alī al-Sayrafī. He says that he is da'īfun kadhdhāb.
It may further be noted that al-Najāshī's opinionabout him is: da'īfunjiddan, has heretical beliefs (fāsid al-i'tiqād) and cannot be trusted in any matter (lā yu'tamadu fī shay'). Al-Hillī (d. 726 AH) also expresses a similar opinion.Al-Kashshī (d. 340 AH) records that al-Fadl ibn Shādhān (d. 260 AH) has mentioned famous liars in some of his books. The most famous among them are Abū al-Khattāb, Yūnus ibn Zabyān, Yazīd al-Sā'igh, Muhammad ibn Sinān and Abū Sumaynah.
In other words, none of the chains through which this book is transmitted is reliable.
ii. Narratives three and four do not have any chain of narration. It needs to be noted that according to al-Majlisī most narratives in al-Ihtijāj are mursal.
iii. Narrative five is sound as per Shiite authorities because it is reported through a sound chain of narration which ends on one of their imāms: Ja'far Sādiq; however according to principles of historical criticism, it is weak because Imām Ja'far Sādiq (80 – 148 AH) never met 'Alī (d. 40 AH).
iv. According to al-Majlisī, narrative six is da'īf.
v. Narratives seven, eight and nine do not have any chain of narration.
vi. Narrative ten has Jābir ibn Yazīd al-Ju'fī in it. According to al-Najāshī he is mukhtalit. Moreover the narrative is reported through a chain of narration that ends on one of their imāms Bāqir: however according to principles of historical criticism, it is weak because Imām Bāqir (57 – 117 AH) never met 'Alī (d. 40 AH).
It may also be noted that while some authorities in Sunnī rijāl books regard him to be reliable, others have done jarh on him. Here is some of the jarh recorded about him by al-Mizzī: In the opinion of Yahyā ibn Ma'īn, as reported by 'Abbās al-Dūrī, Jābir is a great liar (kadhdhāb). Imām Abū Hanīfah says that he has not met anyone who is a bigger liar than Jābir. Abū Hātim reports from Ahmad ibn Hanbal that Yahyā and 'Abd al-Rahmān al-Mahdī had abandoned him (tarakahu). According to al-Nasā'ī, he is matrūk al-hadīth; at another place, he says that he is laysa bi thiqah wa lā yuktabu hadīthuhū. Al-Hakim calls him dhāhib al-hadīth. According to Ibn Hajar, he is da'īf and rāfidī.
The chain also contains 'Amr ibn Abī al-Miqdām (who is actually 'Amr ibn Thābit ibn Hurmuz). Although Shiite rijāl authorities regard him to be reliable, here is what some of the Sunnī rijāl authorities say about him, as recorded by al-Mizzī: Al-Hasan ibn 'Īsā reports that Ibn Mubārak had abandoned his narratives. Muhammad ibn al-Muthannā says that he never heard 'Abd al-Rahmān ibn al-Mahdī narrate from him. In the opinion of Yahyā ibn Ma'īn, as reported by 'Abbās al-Dūrī, he is laysa bi thiqah wa lā ma'mūn wa lā yuktabu hadīthuhū. Abū Zur'ah al-Rāzī says that he is da'īf al-hadīth. Abū Hātim says that he is da'īf al-hadīth yuktabu hadīthuhū, kana radī al-rā'y shadīd al-tashayyu'. According to al-Bukhārī he is laysa bi al-qawī 'indahum. According to al-Nasā'ī, he is laysa bi thiqah wa lā ma'mūn. Ibn Hibbān says that he narrates fabricated narratives from reliable narrators.
vii. Narrative eleven is suspect because al-Munakhkhal and Muhammad ibn Sinān are weak.
About al-Munakhkhal, authorities record:
كان كوفيا ضعيفا و في مذهبه غلو و ارتفاع قال محمد بن مسعود سألت علي بن الحسن عن المنخل بن جميل فقال هو لا شيء متهم
Al-Munakhkhal ibn Jamīl belongs to Kūfah and is da'īf. We find extremism and exaltation of personalities in his beliefs. Muhammad ibn Mas'ūd asked about him from 'Alī ibn al-Hasan, he replied: "He is lā shay' muttahamun."
ضعيف، فاسد الرواية
[He is] da'īf and fāsid al-riwāyah.
It is said that from Jābir ibn Yazīd al-Ju'fī a group of people would narrate whom authorities condemn and regard as weak. Al-Munakhkal is included in this group.
About Muhammad ibn Sinān, authorities record:
ضعيف غال يضع لا يلتفت إليه
[He is] da'īf, an extremist, fabricates narratives and should not be paid attention to.
In the opinion of Abū al-'Abbās al-'Uqdah, he is da'īfunjiddan, cannot be relied upon and should not be trusted in what is narrated only by him. Al-Fadl ibn Shādhān forbids people to narrate from him.
و قد اختلف علماؤنا في شأنه فالشيخ المفيد ره قال إنه ثقة و أما الشيخ الطوسي رحمه الله فإنه ضعفه و كذا قال النجاشي و ابن الغضائري قال إنه ضعيف غال لا يلتفت إليه و روى الكشي فيه قدحا عظيما و أثنى عليه أيضا و الوجه عندي التوقف فيما يرويه
There is a difference of opinion about him amongst our scholars; Whilst Shaykh al-Mufīd regards him to be trustworthy, Shaykh al-Tūsī [d. 460 AH] and al-Najāshī regard him to be da'īf. Ibn al-Ghadā'irī says that he is da'īf, an extremist and should not be paid attention to. Al-Kashshī has narrated great blemishes in him and has also praised him. As far as I am concerned, I would not reject what he narrates but abstain from drawing any conlcusion from them.
The opinion of al-Fadl ibn Shādhān about Muhammad ibn Sinān that he is a notorious liar has already been referred to earlier.
viii. Narrative twelve is suspect because of Ibrāhīm ibn Ishāq al-Nahāwandī.
ix. The thirteenth and fourteenth narratives are from al-Tabrasī's al-Ihtijāj and have incomplete chains of narration.
x. The fifteenth narrative does not have a chain of narration.
xi. The sixteenth narrative has Jābir ibn Yazīd al-Ju'fī. The jarh on him has been cited earlier. It also has 'Amr ibn Shamr. He is regarded as da'īfun jiddān by al-Najāshī and al-Hillī, while Ibn al-Ghadā'īrī says that he is da'īf.
VIII. Overall Analysis and Conclusion
In this article, Sunnī and Shiite sources regarding the collection of the Qur'ān by 'Alī (rta) have been analyzed separately. While each of the narratives cited seem to have unsound chains of narration, one can also see that both accounts are significantly different.
According to the Sunnī account, a chronological compilation of the Qur'ān was made by 'Alī (rta) right after the death of the Prophet (sws). Upon being asked by Abū Bakr (rta) regarding the delay in pledging allegiance to him, 'Alī (rta) replied that additions were being made in the Qur'ān and that its arrangement was being tampered with. So he gave preference to this task. Abū Bakr (rta) is reported to have expressed his satisfaction at 'Alī's endeavour. The Sunnī sources are silent after this. As such, the overall picture which emerges is very fragmentary and seemingly incomplete, as indicated earlier. Neither do we find any report of Abū Bakr (rta) asking 'Alī (rta) to bring over the collected Qur'ān nor do we find 'Alī (rta) bringing it over to him at his own initiative. After this, one wonders, what was the need of the whole exercise? Was it forgotten or was it ignored?
The Shiite account on the other hand presents a complete picture. It says that the collected Qur'ān was brought over by 'Alī (rta) to the Muhājirūnand the Ansār. However, their leaders rejected it by saying that that they already had it with them. At this, 'Alī (rta) angrily went away declaring that they would never see it again. Some accounts say that the Muhājirūnand the Ansārinitially did not have a copy of the Qur'ān. When 'Umar (rta) became the caliph, he demanded the Qur'ān from 'Alī (rta) who refused to hand it over to him and said that it would be revealed when the al-Qā'im arrives. Frustrated at this, 'Umar (rta) embarked upon collecting the Qur'ān with the help of two witnesses.
Some narratives recorded in Shiite books give a clear message that the Qur'ān found with the Muslims is incomplete and the complete version is only found with the descendants of 'Alī (rta).
However, as shown in the preceding sections, both the Sunnī and the Shiite accounts suffer from flaws which marr their matns as well as isnāds. In the presence of these flaws, none of these accounts can be regarded as reliable and nothing can be deduced on their basis. Finally, as is shown earlier, the assertion that 'Alī (rta) collected the Qur'ān in its chronological order itself stands on slippery ground both with regard to the Sunnī and Shiite sources.