The first manuscript of the Qur'ān compiled by
the Prophet (sws) was copied and recopied by thousands of his companions in
his time and this process is going on ever since with millions and millions of
copies coming into existence. Once a large number of its copies had been made
and circulated among the Muslims, the original Qur'ān compiled by the
Prophet(sws) was wisely destroyed by Marwān Ibn Hakam the Umayyid Caliph lest
it should become a source of trial and commotion for the Ummah. He had ordered
Abdullāh Ibn `Umar (rta) to recover it from Hafsah (rta) the Prophet's wife
with whom it remained after the Prophet's death. It was brought to his court,
where it was torn apart by him since it was not needed any more.
The countless copies of the original Qur'ān which today
lie with the Ummah are the copies of the original Qur'ān as is testified by
the consensus of the Ummah in every subsequent period of time. Nothing can be
said with certainty about the oldest surviving copy of the Qur'ān -- and in
the light of the above mentioned facts, perhaps discussion on this topic would
only be an academic exercise.