Early Preservation & Transmission Of The Qur’an

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The following shows the text of the first Sura’ of the Qur’an inscribed on the shoulder blade of a camel, preserved in the Princeton University Library.1

Early Preservation & Transmission Of The Qur'an

Early Preservation & Transmission Of The Qur'an

We know that the first steps for the preservation of the Qur’an were taken in the lifetime of the Prophet. Tradition records that the Qur’an — in addition to being memorized – was also written down on such shoulder-blades, ribs of animals, flat stones, palm-leaves, pieces of leather and wooden boards.

However, in addition to the use of all this material, there is no reason why papyrus should not have been in normal use in the business & private correspondence in Mecca, and hence for the recording of the Qur’anic revelations. In 6:91, the Qur’an refers to the Torah (with the Arabian Jews) to be recorded on “Qartas”. This word refers to a leaf or sheet of papyrus made in rectangular sheets, pasted together or folded to form a book.

In 6:92, the Qur’an speaks of itself in exactly the same sense (i.e., written on “Qartas”), as it referred to the Torah in the previous verse.

Dr. M. M. Azami2 mentions 48 persons who used to write for the Prophet, among whom Zayd bin Thabit was very prominent.


  1. Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an, Vol. II (Leiden: Brill, 2002) []
  2. Dr. M. M. Azmi, Kuttab al-Nabi (Beirut, 1974) []


  1. Not quite as amazing as the Shroud or Turin, though perhaps as authentic (i.e. highly questionable).

    Apparently this is the rough equivalent to the divination of where antelope can be found using antelope bones heated over fire.

    Habakkuk 3:17-19; Song of Songs 2:7; Revelation 22:17

    BTW: Is it actually life-giving to read books written on bones?

    I prefer to read the New Testament on paper & then to listen to Jesus.

  2. Thanks for showing this, very interesting. A literal translation of the text wd be helpful for people like me who are weak in Arabic, and an analysis of any differences from what one wd fine in Yusuf Ali’s Arabic text seems essential.

  3. Brother, do you have links to more picture such as the one in this article? Jazak Allah Khair.

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