Zayd ibn Thabit

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Zayd ibn Thabit
Scribe, Theologian, Disciple of Muhammad
Born c. 610 C.E.
Mecca (?)
Died c. 660 C.E.
Honored in All Islam
Influences Prophets of Islam

Zayd ibn Thabit (زيد بن ثابت ) was the personal scribe of Muhammad and was from the ansar (helpers).

When Zayd was 6 years old his father died in the Battle of Bu'ath. Zayd was 13 years old when he asked permission to participate in the Battle of Badr. Since he was younger than 15 years old, Muhammad did not allow him to do so, and sent him back. He then decided to try to win favor with Muhammad by learning the Qur'an. He was later appointed to write letters to non-Muslims and to collect and keep record of the Qur'anic verses. Zayd was among those chosen by Muhammad to write down the verses of the Qur'an. He used to spend most of his time reciting the Qur'an, and continued to learn the Quranic verses as they were recited by Muhammad. Zayd later volunteered to fight when he was 19 years old. This time he was accepted in the ranks of the Muslim army. Zayd's time to fight had come nine years after the establishment of the Muslim community in Medina.

Zayd had the role of writing down the Quranic verses that were sent to Muhammad from Allah through the Angel Gabriel.

After Muhammad's death, Zayd, who by this time had become an expert in the Qur'an, was assigned the role of authenticating and collecting the oral and textual Quranic revelation into a single bounded volume. This initiative was high on the Caliph Abu Bakr's agenda, especially after the Riddah Wars,and the Battle of Yamamah in particular, in which a large number of Quran memorizers perished. Umar convinced Abu Bakr that the Quran should be collected in one manuscript. During Abu Bakr's reign as caliph, he was given the task of collecting the Quranic verses from all over the muslim communities. Zayd finally accepted the task and, according to him,started locating the Quranic material and collecting it from parchments, scapula, leafstalks of date palms and from the memories of men.When Zayd had completed his task, he left the prepared sheets with Abu Bakr. Before he died, Abu Bakr left the sheets with Umar who in turn left it with his daughter Hafsah. Hafsah, Umm Salamah, and Aishah were wives of Muhammad who memorized the Qur'an.

Zayd ibn Thabit thus became one of the foremost authorities on the Quran. Umar ibn al-Khattab once addressed the Muslims and said: "O people, whoever wants to ask about the Quran, let him go to Zayd ibn Thabit."

Muhammad's era: 610–632

Zayd had the role of writing down the Quranic verses that were sent to Muhammad from Allah through the Angel Gabriel.

Abu Bakr's era: 632–634

After Muhammad's death ,Zayd who became a Quran expert, was assigned the role of authenticating and collecting the oral and textual Quranic revelation into a single bounded volume. This initiative was high on the Caliph Abu Bakr's agenda, especially after the Riddah Wars (wars of apostasy), and the Battle of Yamamah in particular, in which a large number of Quran memorizers (around 700) perished. Umar convinced Abu Bakr that the Quran should be collected in one manuscript.

During Abu Bakr's reign as caliph, he was given the task of collecting the Quranic verses from all over Arabia. Zayd finally accepted the task and, according to him, "started locating the Quranic material and collecting it from parchments, scapula, leafstalks of date palms and from the memories of men (who knew it by heart)".

When Zayd had completed his task, he left the prepared suhuf (sheets) with Abu Bakr. Before he died, Abu Bakr left the suhuf with Umar who in turn left it with his daughter Hafsah. Hafsah, Umm Salamah, and Aishah were wives of Muhammad who memorized the Qur'an.

Umar's era: 634–644

Zayd ibn Thabit thus became one of the foremost authorities on the Quran. Umar ibn al-Khattab once addressed the Muslims and said: "O people, whoever wants to ask about the Quran, let him go to Zayd ibn Thabit."

Uthman's era: 644–656

During the time of Uthman, by which time Islam had spread far and wide, differences in reading the Quran in different dialects of Arabic language became obvious. A group of companions, headed by Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman, who was then stationed in Iraq, came to Uthman and urged him to "save the Muslim ummah before they differ about the Quran".

Uthman obtained the manuscript of the Quran from Hafsah and again summoned the leading authority, Zayd ibn Thabit, and some other companions to make copies of it.1 Zayd was put in charge of the task. The style of Arabic dialect used was that of the Quraish tribe. Hence this style was emphasized over all others.

Zaid and other Companions prepared between five and seven copies. One of these was sent to every Muslim province with the order that all other Quranic materials, whether fragmentary or complete copies, be burnt. When standard copies were made and were widely available to the Muslim community everywhere then all other material was burnt voluntarily by Muslim community themselves. This was important in order to eliminate variations or differences in the dialect from the standard text of the Quran. The Caliph Uthman kept a copy for himself and returned the original manuscript to Hafsah.

There are several extant copies of the Qur'an that are purported to be from the time of Uthman, but none of them has been proven to actually be one of the original copies. 2

Death

Said Ibn Al-Musayyib stated: "I attended the funeral of Zaid bin Thabit. After he had been buried, ibn Abbas said, 'O you people! Whoever wishes to know how knowledge leaves us should know that it is like this that knowledge leaves. I swear by Allah that a great deal of knowledge has just left us today." (from Tabraani)

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