Caliph Othman’s five (5) copies of Quran were designed to compile the 7+3 recitations in a genius fashion. To have an idea of how it was achieved, the differences among recitations shall be explained at the first place. Differences among recitations – are only in the pronunciation(s) and never in the meaning – are categorized as follows:
A) Words of Quran that has only one single recitation:
Majority of Quranic words fall under such category. The majority of Quran’s words are recited/pronounced in a single fashion. These words were typically written at all of the Othman’s five (5) copies.
B) Words of Quran that has more than one recite:
This divides into two sub-categories:
1) Quran words that have different recites but when they (the recites) are written in DOT-LESS state the writing will appear the same … Then they will be written DOT-LESS in all of the Othman’s five (5) copies:
Quran (49:6) “if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate”
(إن جاءكم فاسق بنبأ فتبينوا)
The word (فتبينوا = Fatabayyano = Investigate) has another recite as (فتثبتوا = Fatathabbato = Ascertain).
The two Arabic words “Fatabayyano” or “Fatathabbato” would look similar if written DOT-LESS, (فىىىىوا), So all Othman’s five copies showed the word in a DOT-LESS state to give the freedom to the reader to recite it either “Fatabayyano” or “Fatathabbato”. Notice that both recitations wouldn’t change the meaning of the verse.
Writing the word in its DOT-LESS form typically in all of the five books, achieved the following goals:
a) The DOT-LESS state signals to the reader that “this word” has multiple recites.
b) To give all different recites equal weight of authenticity. No recite is “preferred” above the other.
c) To give the reader the freedom to read the DOT-LESS word using any one of the “known official recites” he likes/chooses.
2) Quran words that have different recites and when they (the recites) are written they will appear different, even at their DOT-LESS state … Then each different recite is written in a different book of the five (5).
Such cases appear when:
a) One recitation incorporates an additional (or less) letter than other recite(s).
b) One recitation incorporates an additional (or less) word than other recite(s).
Example of an additional (or less) letter:
Quran (2:132) “And Abraham instructed his sons …”
“ووصى بها إبراهيم …” … The First word is (ووصى = Wa-Wassa) has another recite as (وأوصى = Wa-Awsa).
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Notice the additional letter (أ) between the two different recites (ووصى) and (وأوصى) … “Wa-Wassa” and “Wa-Awsa”, which even if written DOT-LESS they would still look different. So, the first recite (ووصى = Wa-Wassa) was shown in one of the Othman’s five (5) books … and the other recite (وأوصى = Wa-Awsa) with the additional letter (أ) was shown in another book. Notice that both recites mean the same (instructed), thus the meaning of the verse is the same using any of the recites.
Example of an additional (or less) word:
Quran (9:100) ” … gardens beneath which rivers flow” can be recited ” … gardens from beneath which rivers flow”. Notice the additional word “from” in the latter recite.
In Arabic: ” جنات تجري تحتها الأنهار” can be recited with additional word “من = from” as:
“جنات تجري من تحتها الأنهار”
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The additional word “من” makes the two recitations differ in writing even DOT-LESS. So, the first recite (without “from”) was shown in four of the Othman’s five (5) books .. and the other recite (with the additional word “من = from”) was shown in the fifth book (specifically; the copy that was sent to Mecca). Notice that both recites (gardens beneath) and (gardens from beneath) still mean the same even an extra word existed in one of the recites.
Writing different recites that whether written dotted or dot less they would still look different in completely different books, achieved the following goals:
a) If different recites were written consecutive to each other, at the same line, at the same book, then they might look as if they were divinely inspired in a repeated form which needs to be read in a “repeated manner” every time a Muslim reads such verse! In other words, to avoid reading with recite (A) AND recite (B) every time a Muslim reads the verse.
b) If one of the recites was written in the body of the page and the other recite was written in the foot/side note, at the same page, at the same book, this might give the false impression that:
> The foot/side note was a “correction” to what’s written in the body!
> Or, The body recite was more preferable than the foot/side noted recite!
c) Writing different recites in different books makes it clear that a Muslim can read with recite (A) OR recite (B) at equal weight of authenticity with no preference of a recite above another.
It worth to mention that the Quran writing committee was made of four famous Sahabah (disciples) of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), (1) Zaid bin Thabit (one of the Quran writers from the Prophet’s days), (2) Abdullah Bin Al-Zubair, (3) Sa’eed Bin Al-As. (4) Abdul Rahman Bin Al-Harith Bin Hisham.
May Allah bless them all with his mercy along with Khaliff Othman who ordered such genius work to be achieved in the way of preservation of Allah’s Revelations, the Quran, the Final Testament to mankind.
Quran 15:9 “Indeed, it is We [Allah] who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian.”
For all different Quran recitations, verse by verse, with audible recites, pls. visit: http://www.nquran.com/index.php?group=jame3
(*) Translated by this article author from the book: “مناهل العرفان في علوم القرآن” “Manahil Al-Irfan Fi Oloum Al-Quran” (Fountains of Knowledge on Quran Sciences) – Authored by: Mohammed Abdul Azeem Al-Zarqani – Approved by Al-Azhar Al-Shareef University – Cairo – To download the original book: http://www.almeshkat.net/books/open.php?cat=7&book=1562