Definition of Mushaf: Form, and Differences in Writing Systems

Meaning of Mushaf – Have you ever heard of the word pocket Mushaf or Al-Qur’an Mushaf? So, what is a Mushaf and how is it different from the Al-Qur’an? For Muslims, the word mushaf may already be familiar because it is often spoken in carrying out daily worship. The Mushaf is often equated with the Al-Qur’an which is a book and a guide for Muslims to carry out their daily lives. Though, both are different. Mushaf is a part of Al-Qur’an.

Meaning of Mushaf

Many Muslims are still confused about the meaning between the Mushaf and the Al-Qur’an, even to the point that there is an assumption that the Mushaf is the Al-Qur’an. Quoted from the book A Brief History of Al-Quran Mushaf Writing written by Cece Abdulwaly (2021: 18) the word mushaf is formed from the word shahifah which is the plural form is shaha’if or shuhuf .

Furthermore, in Jamharah al Lughah , Ibn Duraid al Azdi explained that shahifah is a whitish skin or thin sheet or plate on which writing is usually written. Meanwhile, according to Abu Nasr al-Jauhari in ash-Shihhah , shahifah is a book. The mention of this mushaf is because in it a number of sheets are collected which are flanked by two volumes.

So, the mushaf has the meaning of ma ushifa , meaning something that is collected in it with sheets filled with writing sandwiched between two volumes. While in terms, the Mushaf is the designation for books that are collected between two volumes from beginning to end with successive surahs and verses as collected during the time of Uthman ibn Affan Ra.

For Muslims mushaf itself can be interpreted as part of the book of the Qur’an. The appearance of the mushaf was a concern for the companions of the prophet after the death of the Prophet Muhammad and the occurrence of the Yamamah war which claimed many hafidz.

At the time of the caliph, Abu Bakr ash Shiddiq then invited Zaid bin Thabit to become a leader in order to collect the verses of the Al-Qur’an into one unit. However, Thabit refused because this was never taught by the Prophet Muhammad.

Abu Bakr gave Thabit an understanding and he also agreed to the idea, but this was not an easy matter. Zaid bin Thabit even posits that it is easier to move mountains than to collect verses of the Qur’an in one piece.

After the death of Abu Bakar ash Shiddiq, this mission continued until the caliph Uthman bin Affan. However, there were disputes from various regions regarding the compilation of the Qur’an. As explained in a hadith, Hudzaifah ibn al-Yaman came to Uthman ibn Affan. He led the people of Syria and Iraq in the conquest of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Hudzaifah was worried about their (his troops) dispute over qira’ah .

He advised Uthman: “O leader of the Muslims, save this people before they disagree about the book, as happened to the Jews and Christians”. Uthman then sent a messenger to Hafshah with the message: “Send us shuhuf (sheets). We will copy it into the mushafs and later we will return it to you.”

Next, Hafshah sent shuhuf to ‘Uthman, who then ordered Zaid ibn Thabit radhiyallahu anhu, Abdullah ibn al-Zubair radhiyallahu anhu, Sa’id ibn al-‘Ash and ‘Abdurrahman ibn al-Harith ibn Hisham radhiyallahu anhu to copy it in several Mushaf. Uthman told the three Quraysh in the group: “If you disagree with Zaid regarding the Qur’an, then write it in the Quraysh dialect, because the Qur’an was revealed in their language.”

They then copied the temperature in the manuscripts, Uthman returned the manuscript to Hafshah. After that, Uthman sent the manuscripts that they had copied to each area, and he ordered that apart from the Al-Qur’an, all sheets or manuscripts be burned (HR. Bukhari no. 4987).


The Form of Jurisprudence Mushaf from Time to Time

Indeed, the physical form of the Al-Qur’an mushaf has always been different over time. However, all are still called Mushaf and the law is the same.

1. The Prophet’s Period: Mushafs are just sheets with verses written on them

At the time of Rasulullah SAW, the form was only in the form of writing on animal skin, or on the fronds of dates, sometimes on bones, stones and so on. If we pay attention, the physical ablution of mushafs at the time of the Prophet SAW never appeared in the complete edition which consisted of more than 6000 verses, 114 letters and 30 chapters. Everything is more than sheets and the contents of the verses are only fragments. However, it is still called a mushaf that is holy and venerable, and the law on the mushaf still applies.

The question is, why at that time did the Mushaf not take the form of a book containing all the verses of the Al-Qur’an as a whole?

There are several answers and reasons, including:

First, because all the verses of the Qur’an have not been revealed. The verses were revealed piecemeal, not all at once. Even in one letter, the verses are still cut into several parts, and the revelation is rather random. Sometimes the front verses came down later, while the back verses went down first.

Second, the mushaf of the Qur’an had not been written in a book made of paper at that time, it did not mean that there was no paper yet, but because paper was not the only medium available, it was not too easy to obtain and the price was not as cheap as it is today.

Third, in the past, the Prophet Muhammad almost never ordered the writing of mushafs in one book bundle. Not even hinting at it. So that at first when the idea of ​​writing a mushaf in a bundle of books was voiced by Umar bin Al-Khattab radhiyallahuanhu, Abu Bakar Ash-Shiddiq who was then caliph refused flatly.

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2. Manuscripts at the Time of the Caliphs

However, when Allah SWT expanded Abu Bakr’s chest when he heard Umar’s reasons for compiling the Al-Qur’an in one book bundle, the Mushaf which was only in the form of fragments or sheets with verses from the Al-Qur’an became a complete book.

Even so, the manuscript version of the sheets which contain only fragments of Al-Quran verses are still kept by each Companion personally.

Then the manuscripts of the sheets of each private collection were destroyed during the time of Caliph Uthman bin Al-Affan radhiyallahunahu. Because at that time Uthman wanted to make the manuscript writing sense uniform with a rasam known as the Utsamni rasam.

3. Manuscripts in the Digital Age

In the current digital era, mushafs also appear in a unique form, namely on screens, whether monitors, LCDs, or even cellphones and tablets. Electronic devices such as cell phones nowadays are very sophisticated and can be installed into the Al-Qur’an program or software.

However, there is a difference between HP and Al-Qur’an Mushaf which we know everyday in terms of activation. If it is activated, then the HP will display the verses of the Qur’an. Conversely, if it is turned off, of course the writing is no longer there.

So in this case, when we want to enter a public toilet and are forced to bring our cell phones because we are afraid that someone will lose them or take them, we have to turn off the cell phones. At least the Al-Qur’an program that has been installed must be turned off or deactivated temporarily.

Then what about the memory stored in it? Aren’t there verses of the Qur’an in the form of digital data?

The answer is simple. The cellphone that we have works very similar to our brain. Please know that the contents of our brains may contain Al-Qur’an data, either in the form of written or sound memories. A person who memorizes the Qur’an, for example, has thousands of verses of the Qur’an in his head.

Is it forbidden for a person who memorizes the Al-Qur’an to enter the toilet, on the grounds that he has digital data on the Al-Qur’an in his head? Then do you have to take off your head first to enter the toilet? Or could he simply switch off his memory from the Qur’an for a while?

What seems most plausible is that he did not temporarily activate his memorization of the Qur’an, either in voice or in writing. When the Al-Qur’an data memory in the brain is temporarily deactivated, basically there is no prohibition against entering the toilet.

Likewise with our HP. Even though there is 30 juz of digital data memory, both text and sound, maybe even video, as long as it’s not activated, of course, it won’t be a problem. What is unlawful is while hanging out in the toilet, we plug in our cell phones with the sound of reciting the Qur’an. Obviously it is haram and should be avoided.


Differences in Mushaf Writing Systems

In the Al-Qur’an Mushaf Writing system (Rasm al-Qur’an) there are two writing systems that are commonly used. First, the writing system with Rasm Qiyasi or Rasm Imla’i; is the writing of words according to their pronunciation or reading. Pronunciations written using Rasm Qiyasi are words that do not have a well-known and standard script. As for the words whose writing is already well-known and the standard of writing remains as well-known writing, so it is no different from the Manuscripts written by Rasm Usmani.

Some words whose writing is well-known include: Ar-Rahmaan (after the mim without alif), As-Salaah, az-Zakaah (alif written with wawu), ar-Ribaa (after ba’ in the form of wawu and alif), zaalika (after dzal without alif), and haa’ulaa’i (after ha’ nida’ without alif).

That is, there is not a single Koran written entirely with rasm qiyasi or rasm imla’i. For example, verses 2 and 3 of Surah Al-Baqarah. In these two verses, what is written with rasm qiyasi is al-kitaabu (after ta’ uses the alif) and razaqnaahum (after nun uses the alif). While zaalika and As-Salaah are still written in the same famous script as rasm usmani.

Mushafs written with Rasm Qiyasi or Imla’i include: Turkish Mushaf, Menara Kudus Mushaf (Turkish Mushaf), and Indonesian Mushaf of the Bahriyyah type.

Second, the Writing System with Rasm Usmani, namely the Koran writing system as it was written during the time of the third Caliph, Usman bin Affan, by a team led by Zaid bin Sabit. His name Rasm Usmani was attributed to the caliph Usman bin Affan as the caliph who ordered the rewriting of the Koran at that time for the unification of qiraat.

In Rasm Usmani there are two main narrations that are followed:

  • History of Abu ‘Amr Ad-Dani, better known as Ad-Dani (d. 444 H) in the book Al-Muqni’ fi Ma’rifati Marsum Masahif Ahl al-Amsar.
  • History of Abu Dawud Sulaiman bin Najah, known as Abu Dawud (d. 496 H.), in Mukhtasar at-Tabyin li Hija’ at-Tanzil.

In general, currently printed manuscripts circulating around the world are written using Rasm Usmani by selecting one of the two traditions, Ad-Dani or Abu Dawud. Indonesian Mushaf, Libyan Mushaf, Bombay Mushaf, and Iranian Mushaf follow Ad-Dani’s history. While the Mushaf of Medina, the Mushaf of Egypt, and the Mushafs of other countries which refer to both.

1. Coverage of Rasm Usmani

Many people misunderstand Rasm Usmani. Among them there are those who understand that Rasm Usmani is only one version. In fact, as explained above, in Rasm Usmani there are two main narrations, the narrations of ad-Dani and the narrations of Abu Dawud, who are known as ash-Syaikhani fi ‘ilm ar-Rasm ‘Usmani (Two credible scholars in Rasm-Usmani).

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Many also misunderstand the scope of Rasm Usmani. They thought that Rasm Usmani included verses complete with vowels and punctuation, as written in the Medina Mushaf. As a result, they considered that apart from the Medina manuscripts, including the Indonesian manuscripts, they did not use Rasm Usmani.

Then, what is the scope of Rasm Usmani? The scope of Rasm Usmani is only found in the body of the verse, without letter dots, vowels or any punctuation.

Let’s look at the example on page 3 in a 15-line format printed mushaf, which contains QS. Al-Baqarah 6-16. The differences in Rasm Usmani contained in it are only in 4 words, Absaarihim, gisyaawatun verse 7, thugyaanihim verse 15, and tijaaratuhum verse 16. Those who follow Ad-Dani’s rawayat write these four words using alif for long readings, while those who choose the history of Abu Dawud write them down without alif.

So, from the perspective of Rasm Usmani the difference between the Indonesian manuscripts which chose Ad-Dani’s narration, and the Medina Manuscripts which chose the narration of Abu Dawud, was relatively small. The biggest difference is in the vowel system and the punctuation system used.

2. Differences in Harakat and Punctuation Systems

The second and third differences are the differences in the vowel and punctuation systems. We discuss both together, because they are interrelated. Harakat includes fathah, dammah, kasrah, fathatain, dammatain, and kasratain. While the punctuation marks include, mad marks, tajwid reading marks, head of the hamzah.

To simplify the explanation, we will compare the two manuscripts, namely the Indonesian manuscripts and the Medina manuscripts. There are differences in almost every line between these two manuscripts.

The vowel system in the Medina Mushaf does not recognize long vowels, so for words that contain long readings which are written in rasm usmani by removing the mad letter, a small alif is written after fathah, a small ya’ after kasrah, and a small wawu after dammah. Meanwhile, in the Indonesian Mushaf, only one sign is enough, with standing fathah, standing kasrah, and inverted dammah.

The punctuation system for the qata’ hamzah, in the Medina Mushaf is given the head of the hamza. Hamzah wasal, given a sign shaped like a sad. As for the Indonesian Mushaf, neither the qata’ hamzah nor the wasal hamzah is marked.

For long readings on the alif, the Medina Mushaf adds the head of the hamzah which is given a fathah before the alif, while the Indonesian Mushaf only gives a fathah standing above the alif which is a hamza. Here there is a difference, in the Medina Mushaf, the alif is indeed an alif, while in the Indonesian Mushaf, the alif is actually a hamza which is written in the form of an alif.

Therefore, it is not correct to judge that the vowel and punctuation systems of certain manuscripts are more correct than others. Each has a vowel and punctuation system that is followed. As long as it leads to the correct reading of the Qur’an, then everything is permissible and justified.


3. Differences in Signs of Waqf

Among us must have found several Korans with waqf signs that are different from one another. Or surely we have been asked by people regarding the different waqf signs between the Medinan Koran and the Indonesian Koran.

The Medina Mushaf has 4,273 waqf marks. They are all in the middle of the verse. Because the Medina Mushaf follows the opinion that stopping at the end of a verse is included in the hasan waqf, even though at the end of a verse that has a close relationship with the next verse.

The Indonesian Mushaf has a total of 7,221 waqf marks, 5,074 in the middle of the verse, and 2,147 at the end of the verse.

The Libyan Mushaf has 9,947 waqf marks, 4,914 in the middle of the verses, and 5,033 at the end of the verses.

Both Indonesian and Libyan Mushafs still put the waqf mark at the end of the verse. The difference is that the Indonesian Mushaf affixes a waqf mark at the end of the verse that has a relationship with the next verse. While the Libyan Mushaf actually affixes the waqf mark at the end of a verse in a verse that has no connection with the next verse. So that the number of waqf signs at the end of the verse is double compared to the Indonesian Mushaf.

QS example. Al-Baqarah 34: wa idz qulnaa lil malaa’ikatis juduu li aadama fasajaduu illaa ibliisa abaa was takbara wa kaana minal kaafiriin.

Manuscripts of Medina without waqf marks until the end of the verse. Mushaf turkish waqf on the word devil. Mushaf Libya waqf on the word fasajaduu. Mushaf Indonesia, endowments to the devil, and wastakbara. In this example, the difference in waqf does not cause a difference in the meaning of the verse.

Examples that result in slight changes to the meaning of verses, among others, are found in QS. Ali ‘Imran 7: huwal ladzii anzala ‘alaikal kitaaba minhu aayaatum muhkamaatun hunna ummul kitaabi wa ukharu mutasyabihaat.

Manuscripts in general, including Indonesian manuscripts, waqaf in the word mutasyabihaat. While the Mushaf of Libya and Morocco, the waqf is in the word minhu, and the word mutasyaabihaat.

If the waqaf is in the word mutasyaabihaat, then the meaning of the verse: It is He who sent down the Book (the Koran) to you. Among them are muhkamat verses, which are the main points of the Book and others are mutasyabihat. Damir on the word minhu returns to the word al-Kitab.

But if the waqaf is in the word minhu, then the damir returns to Allah, so the meaning of the verse becomes: He is the one who sent down the Book (Qur’an) to you from His side. (In it) there are muhkamat verses, those are the main points of the Book and others are mutasyabihat.

Which one to follow? All of them may be followed, because they are based on references from credible waqaf-ibtida’ books and commentary books. And all of them are justifiable.