external corruptions. This is, in fact, a very brief discussion, and anyone with further interest in this topic is advised to refer to my forthcoming book, Islamic Studies: JiVhat Methodology? Inevitably there are other readers who will find this chapter dry and esoteric, and may indeed choose to skip to this chapter's conclusion, as it will not hinder their understanding of subsequent chapters (though it may hinder their full appreciation of them). 2 Qur'an 15:9.
166 THE HISTORY OF THE QUR' ANIC TEXT author's name. How can such mischievous doings be prevented? In seeking an answer Muslims devised a working solution long ago, developing a watertight systemwhich they employed faithfullyfor eight or nine centuries; only with the weakening of Islam's political arena was this procedure dis- continued and neglected. Examining this system entails entering the very heart of how Islamic knowledge was taught and learned. 1. The Hunger for Information Before the advent of Islam, sources do not record the existence of any Arabic books in the Peninsula. The first book in Arabic was in fact the Qjir'an, its first revealed word being iqra' (\~!: read). With these syllables the pursuit of knowledge became an obligation: to memorise at least a few suras by heart, regardless of whether one was Arab or otherwise, so that the daily prayers could be performed. Upon reaching Madinah the Prophet hastened to accommodate this need, arranging for schools" and ordering that anyone with even a minimal amount of knowledge (Js.I.,.-L .... T )J) should pass it on to others. The sixty scribes who worked for him are a tribute to this burgeoning literacy" During the time of the Caliphs, and especially the first three till 35 A.H., Madinah served as the religious,military,economic and administrative centre of the Islamicnation, castingitsinfluencefrom Afghanistan to Tunisia, and from southern Turkey to Yemen,Muscat, and Egypt. Extensive archives dealing with these facets of government were established, categorised and stored during 'Uthman's reign in a Bayt al-Qgriifis (~I.;JI y: archive house).' Administrative lessons, religious rulings, political and military strategies, and all of the Prophet's traditions, were passed on to subsequent generations through a unique system," 3 For details see M.M. al-A'zami, Studies in Early Hadith Literature, pp.183-199; al- A'zami, Studies in Hadith Methodology and Literature, American Trust Publication, Indianapolis, 1977, pp. 9-31 4 See M.M. al-A'zami, Kuttab an-Nabi, 3rd edition, Riyad, 1401 (1981). This is a detailed study of the scribes of the Prophet Muhammad. 5 Al-Baladhun, Ansib al-Ashriif, i:22. It appears to have been next to Caliph 'Uthman's house, where Marwan hid himself when the Caliph was assassinated. 6 See for example, Letters of the Second Caliph 'Umar, 'Abdur-Razzaq a~- San'anl, Musanncf, for example: vol 1, pp. 206-291, 295-6, 535, 537; vol 7, pp. 94, 151,175,178,187,210, ... etc. For further detail see al-A'zami, "Nash'at al-Kitaba al-Fiqhiyya", Dirasat, ii/2:13-24.
THE MUSLIM EDUCATIONAL METHODOLOGY 2. Personal Contact: An Essential Element fir Learning 167 Time is an essential reference for all events: past, present and future.
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