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Muṣḥaf (Arabic: مصحف, plural: مصاحف, maṣāḥif) means collected writings in a volume; book; or divine book. Mushaf is also one of the names of the Qur'an.

The Qur'an which was collected by the order of 'Uthman b. 'Affan is known as Mushaf Imam (the head mushaf).


The term "mushaf" became prevalent when the Qur'an was collected as a book. In other words, after the demise of the Prophet (s) when the Qur'an was collected and written in one volume, it has been called mushaf. So only the complete form of the Qur'an is called mushaf, not a part of it.

From the beginning of the mission of the Prophet (s), as the Qur'an revealed gradually to the heart of the Prophet (s), he recitied it to his companions and they wrote, memorized, and taught it to each other. Some of the companions wrote the Qur'an with the supervision of the Prophet (s) on whatever available for writing (like leather, wood, stones, flat bones); so Qur'an was written in the lifetime of the Prophet (s) but wasn't together in a volume as it is today.

Mahmud Ramyar mentions some mushafs in the lifetime of the Prophet (s), like Hamza, uncle of the Prophet (s), who had collected a mushaf before his martyrdom, and Ubay b. Ka'b, Abu l-Darda', Mu'adh b. Jabal, Zayd b. Thabit, Abu Zayd, 'Ubadat b. Samit, and Abu Ayyub al-Ansari. Ibn al-Nadim, al-Suyuti, and other scholars have mentioned a ,ushaf on which there is no doubt: the Mushaf of Imam 'Ali (a). After the demise of the Prophet (s), 23 of the companions of the Prophet (s) had personal mushafs, but all of these was before the collection of the Qur'an by the command of 'Uthman which later named the mushaf of 'Uthman.[1]


In the lifetime of the Prophet (s) and after it, there was many mushafs belonging to the companions of the Prophet (s), some were containing all of the Qur'an and others contained only parts of it. There are books studying these mushafs. Ibn 'Amir (d. 118/736) introduced the mushafs according to regions. Al-Kasa'i (d. 189/804) studied their differences in his book Ikhtilaf masahif ahl al-Madina wa ahl al-Kufa wa ahl al-Basra. Some introduced the mushafs like Muhammad b. 'Isa al-Isfahani (d. 253/867) in al-Masahif wa l-hija', Abu Bakr b. Abi Dawud al-Sajistani (d. 316/928) in al-Masahif, Ibn al-Anbari (d. 327/938) in al-Masahif, Ibn Ashtah al-Isfahani (d. 360/970) in al-Masahif and others.[2]

United Mushaf

The differences of mushafs caused discord between people, as people of different regions had accepted different mushafs. 'Uthman, the third caliph, in order to prevent the discord of people and the differences of mushafs, commanded that everyone who had a mushaf, sura, or even a verse, to bring it. Then commanded to write a master mushaf from all of them, and where there is a difference in the dialect, to write according to the dialect of Quraysh (as the Qur'an revealed according to it). After the master mushaf was written, some copies of it were sent to other regions of the Islamic world. In order to prevent future discords he commanded to burn other manuscripts of the Qur'an. So in around 28/648 Qur'an was collected in its final form which is now in our hands. This mushaf is called "Mushaf Imam" (Arabic: مصحف امام, the head mushaf) or "Mushaf 'Uthman".[3]

The current Qur'an is mutawatir according to the consensus of Muslims. And all of Muslims believe in the Qur'an and acknowledge it as a divine miracle and the reason of the prophethood of the Prophet Muhammad (s), and accept it as clean from every alteration (tahrif).[4]

See Also


  1. Ramyar, Tarikh-i Qur'an, pp.334-335
  2. Ayazi, Mushaf-i Imam 'Ali (a), pp.180-181
  3. Khurramshahi, Danishnama-yi Qur'an wa Qur'an-pajhoohi, vol.2, pp.2065-2066
  4. Khurramshahi, Danishnama-yi Qur'an wa Qur'an-pajhoohi, vol.2, p.2066


  • Khurramshāhī, Bahāʾ al-Dīn. Dānishnāma-yi Qurʾān wa Qurʾān-pajūhī. Tehran: Dustan-Nahid, 1377 Sh.
  • Ayāzī, Sayyid Muḥammad ʿAlī. Muṣḥaf-i Imām ʿAlī (a). Published in Dānishnāma-yi Imām ʿAlī (a), vol.12, Under the supervision of 'ʿAlī Akbar Rashād. Tehran: Markaz-i Nashr-i Āthār-i Pazhūhishgāh-i Farhang wa Andīsha-yi Islāmī, 1422/2001.
  • Rāmyār, Maḥmūd. Tārīkh-i Qur Qurʾān an. Tehran: Amīr Kabīr, 1411/1990.