While the Quran was being revealed in the Prophet’s (sa) lifetime, the companions used to write down his commentaries and explanations for better understanding. Muhammad Iqbal Kailani explains in his book, “Following the Prophet’s Path,” that once the Prophet (sa) asked his companions regarding what they were writing. The companions replied: “The same that we hear from you.” The Prophet (sa) said: “Along with the Book of Allah, is there any other book being written down? Separate the Book of Allah and keep it absolute.”
This statement of the Prophet (sa) clarifies that the companions used to write the Quranic verses and its commentary (Sunnah) in one place. Allah’s Messenger (sa) forbade them to write the same in one place out of fear of any discrepancy. However, he never forbade them from documenting them altogether. And once the Quran was preserved in the heart of many companions and could be recited fluently and correctly, the fear of Sunnah and Quran being intermingled was ruled out.
The following is the evidence of some of the compilation of prophetic traditions up to 11 Hijrah during the Prophet’s (sa) life and up to 110 Hijra, which was in the lifetime of his companions:
1. Book of Poor-due (charity)
Narrated by Abdullah Ibn Umar (rta): “The Messenger (sa) during the last days of his life ordered to have the book of charity written and forwarded to all government officials for compliance. The precepts regarding the poor-due of animals were mentioned in it.” (At-Tirmidhi)
2. Chronicle of Amr Ibn Hazm (rta)
The Prophet (sa) had a chronicle written and sent to Amr Ibn Hazm (rta), governer of Yemen at that time. It contained specifications regarding the Quran, prayer, poor-due, divorce, freeing of slaves, capital punishment and blood money. Furthermore, it also explained the Sunnah and major sins. (Ahmed, Abu Dawood, An-Nasai and Darimi)
3. Chronicle of Ali (rta)
Allah’s Messenger (sa) had a chronicle written and gave it to Ali (rta). Ali (rta) commented about this chronicle: “By Allah, we do not have any book to read or write except the Holy Quran and this chronicle.” (Ahmed)
4. Chronicle of Wail Ibn Hajr (rta)
When Wail Ibn Hajr (rta) was ready to return to his native country Hadramaut, Allah’s Prophet (sa) had a chronicle written and gave it to him. This chronicle contained details relating to prayer, fasting, poor-due, marriage contract, usury, intoxicants, etc. (At-Tirmidhi)
5. Chronicle of Sad Ibn Ubadah (rta)
After listening to the Prophet’s (sa) Sunnah, Sad Ibn Ubadah (rta) prepared this chronicle personally for himself. (At-Tirmidhi)
6. Chronicle of Samurah Ibn Jundub (rta)
During the life of the Messenger (saw), Samurah Ibn Jundub (rta) prepared this chronicle for himself. Afterwards, it was forwarded to Samurah’s (rta) son, Salman (rta).
7. Chronicle of Jabir Ibn Abdullah (rta)
Jabir Ibn Abdullah (rta) prepared a chronicle regarding the Sunnah dealing with the Hajj rites. (Muslim)
8. Chronicle of Anas Ibn Malik (rta)
Anas Ibn Malik (rta) was the Messenger’s (saw) private servant. When he used to hear the Prophet (sa), he used to write the Sunnah down. Later, Anas (rta) would read it to the Messenger (sa) for verification. (Hakim)
9. Chronicle of Abdullah Ibn Abbas (rta)
Abdullah Ibn Abbas (rta) possessed several books containing the Messenger’s (saw) Sunnah. (At-Tirmidhi) At the time of Abdullah’s (rta) death, he had such a vast collection of the Sunnah that his books could be carried by a camel. (Ibn Sad)
10. Chronicle of Truth
Abdullah Ibn Amr Ibn As (rta) had a Sunnah collection, of which Syed Abu Bakr Ghaznavi states that it had more than 5374 prophetic traditions recorded. Amr Ibn As (rta) also referred to it: “Book of truth is that book which I have written after listening to the Sunnah directly from the Messenger of Allah (sa).” (Darmi)
11. Chronicle of Umar Ibn Khattab (rta)
This chronicle had documented commands in relation to charity and poor-due. Imam Malik states regarding the chronicle: “I had read this book of Umar (rta)” (Imam Malik)
12. Chronicle of Usman (rta)
This chronicle contained precepts dealing with poor-due. (Bukhari)
13. Chronicle of Abdullah Ibn Masood (rta)
Abdullah Ibn Masood’s (rta) son Abdul Rahman (rta) took an oath stating that his father used to write this chronicle with his own hands. (Aeena Parveziyat)
14. Musnad Abu Hurairah (rta)
Copies of this book were written during the companions’ period. A copy of this book was also with Abdul Aziz Ibn Marwan, Governor of Egypt, who passed away in 86 Hijra. He was Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz’s father. (Preface to Intikhab Hadith)
15. Sermon on the Conquest of Makkah
A citizen of Yemen named Abu Shah requested the Prophet (sa) to order the documentation of his sermon on the conquest of Makkah. (Bukhari)
16. Transmissions of Aisha (rta)
The transmissions of Aisha (rta) were documented by one of her students named Urva Ibn Zubair. (Preface to Intikhab Hadith)
17. Authentic Chronicle
This document was compiled by Abu Hurairah (rta) and was dictated to his student Hamam Ibn Munabba; thus, it is also known as ‘Chronicle of Hamam Ibn Munabba.’ This chronicle contained 138 traditions mainly regarding mannerisms. The chronicle has also been published in Pakistan and India. Abu Hurairah (rta) passed away in 59 Hijra, and even today a replica of his chronicle is in existence.
A renowned verifier Dr. Mohammad Hameedullah, who used to reside in Paris, confirmed that a copy of this chronicle was written in 6 Hijra, which was confirmed from Maktab Zairia in Damascus.
The second copy of this chronicle was written in 12 Hijra, which was verified in the Berlin Library by Dr. Hameedullah. Both copies are identical in content.
The Ahadeeth transmitted by Abu Hurairah (rta) are found to be identical in the Sahah Sittah (six authentic books of Hadeeth).
Some other constitutional agreements
After his migration from Makkah to Madinah, the Prophet (sa) established in Madinah a new Islamic state. For effective governance, the Messenger (sa) had a constitution promulgated, consisting of fifty-three articles that were mainly about the duties and rights of Muslims and non-Muslims. (Ibn Hisham)
After the treaty of Hudaibiyah, the Prophet (sa) had the opportunity to invite to Islam leaders of various countries and clans of that time. He had letters written to them, inviting them to embrace Islam. Among them were Kaiser and Kisra, Macucus, Najashi, the rulers of Bahrain, Amman Damascus, Yamama, Najd Domtal Jandal and the Hameer tribe. (Bukhari)
When an army was sent to war by Allah’s Messenger (saw), he gave a letter to the commander of that army, instructing him to reach a certain destination and then open it and read his commands. (Bukhari)
These are just a few of the authentic documents which are available even today that were drafted in the lifetime of the Holy Prophet (sa) upon his instructions. This information has travelled through time by means of a very cautiously and intricately prepared process, which is no less than a science in its own right.