Fragile: Handle with Care
Is the book that Muslims are holding in their hands today nothing but a replica of the master copy, which Allah has preserved in his sacred library? All Muslims of the world would unanimously vote for "Yes". Their assessment is not based on facts but on a Quranic verse that says, "This is a Glorious Quran, (inscribed) in a tablet preserved!" (Q85:21). So, did Allah use his gigantic copier machine, creating thunder and storm, to make copies of his Quran?
In today's world, people would reject any attempt of initiating a new religion. If someone did try, he would immediately be put in a straightjacket and sent to a psychiatric hospital. The same rule applies to Muhammad; his claim of receiving commands from Allah is an outright lie. However, for the sake of this article, let's pretend that Allah revealed the Quran.
Whenever a verse was revealed to Muhammad, it was memorized by his associates and sometimes written on pieces of wood, deerskin, palm leaves, bones, etc.
Why were those verses written on wood, deerskin, bones and palm leaves?
Historical records show that Ts'ai Lun, a Chinese official, reported the invention of paper to the Chinese Emperor in 105 AD, 500 years before the era of Muhammad. Recent archeological investigations, however, claim the actual invention may have been around 140-86 BC in Gansu province of China. Although the word "paper" came from "papyrus", there is a significant difference between these two. Papyrus was a type of plant found in Egypt along the Nile River. Approximately 5000 years ago, Egyptians made flat and uniform sheets from these trees for writing purposes.
Maybe China was a little too far from Arabia and Allah was not able to help Muhammad with paper. How about using papyrus, which was available in Egypt? In another archeological discovery, a roll of papyrus more than 2000 years old was found in Egypt. This papyrus contains 112 short poems of a Greek poet and they are in good condition. Allah could have easily commanded, "O prophet! Get a bundle of papyrus and write down what's sent to thee!" But it did not happen.
People used to make false a Quran when Muhammad was alive. We read in verse 2:79,
"And woe unto those who write the scripture with their own hands and then say, 'This is from God,' that they may in this way obtain a small gain. Woe unto them for what their hands have written and woe unto them for what they gain thereby!"
Despite the possibility of creating a false Quran, Allah or Muhammad never thought about the importance of compiling the Quran and putting the verses in the form of a book. Apparently, the foremost method of preserving the Quran was memorization. Some verses were written on stones, bones and leaves, without realizing the fact that goats love to eat leaves. Yes, a darned animal with four legs known as a goat ate a piece of the all-powerful Allah's Quran. "Narrated by Hazrat Ā'ishah that ayat-e-Rajm and ayat Raza'at were revealed, they were written on something. I kept them under the cart, meanwhile the holy prophet died and we became busy and one GOAT came and ATE those ayyat" (Ibn-e-Maja).
A'ishah had a problem with domestic animals before. In another instance, in order to resolve a scandal, a slave girl, Barirah, testified (al-Tabari, p.1523), "The only fault I ever found in 'Ā'ishah is that, when I was kneading my dough and ordered her to watch it, she fell asleep over it, and the pet sheep (or a goat) came and ate it." It's very normal for a little child; however, a goat eating the Quran is a noteworthy phenomenon that will have an enduring effect on believers of Islam.