As the Prophet received the revelations, he would usually recite them aloud. They were meant to be heard and recited. Not only would the Prophet recite what had been made known to him in the revelation experiences, he also urged the recitation of the revelations upon others as an expression of piety, associating the recitation with prayer. Recitation, therefore, was a means of preserving the revelations and a way of educating the community to their significance. The role played by recitation of the revelations in the community’s early life has continued through the centuries as a fundamental element of religious expression amongst Muslims.
While the recording of the text took place during the time of the Prophet, its codification into the Mushaf (the text of the Qur’an) occurred, according to historical accounts, in the time of the third Caliph ‘Uthman b ‘Affan (644-656 CE). Imam ‘Ali b. Abi Talib had an instrumental role in facilitating this codification, as he is also believed to have been the compiler of the first recension (text). The Mushaf begins with ‘Sura Fatiha’ (the Opening) with the rest of the suras (chapters) arranged according to their length in an approximate descending order.