The Composition and Writing of the Qurʾān: Old Explanations and New Evidence


Raymond K. Farrin


This article challenges the view, common among Western academics since early last century, that the Qurʾān was left incomplete as a book and did not take final shape until well after the Prophet’s death. Against this, it highlights an example of structural continuity: that of center-periphery connection between adjacent sūras. This type of connection is identified throughout the phases of revelation, from the early Meccan period to the late Medinan one. The structural consistency illuminated here indicates that one author or authority likely arranged the Qurʾān, a finding in accordance with recent stylometric analysis of the text carried out at Princeton University. It also accords with an examination of the theme of jihād in the Qurʾān, the conclusions of which were presented at the 2017 International Qur’anic Studies Association conference in Boston. Far from suggesting a multiplicity of voices, the doctrine of jihād is characterized by overall consistency and adherence to core principles, pointing to a likely single origin. Next, before the conclusion of the article, an updated hypothesis for the early writing and transmission of the Qurʾān is presented, taking into account the existence of minor variations in the old codices, the reports about an ʿUthmānic commission issuing a standard text, and the fact that no prototype manuscript has been discovered.



Qurʾānic composition
Center-periphery connection
Codex Parisino-petropolitanus
Ṣanʿāʾ palimpsest
ʿUthmānic commission

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