The Gathering of the Qur'an into One Volume (Before the Death of the Prophet)
The influence of the Qur'an, which was revealed in separate chapters and verses, increased day by day. Its eloquence and miraculous clarity transfixed the Arabs who attached great importance to fine language; they came from far and wide to hear and learn a few verses from the Prophet. However, the notables of Mecca and the leaders of Quraysh, who were idolators and bitter enemies of the Prophet and of Islam, tried to prevent the people from getting close to the Prophet; they tried to frighten off the Arabs by telling them the Qur'an was magic.
Despite this people came, unknown to friends, family and servants, in the dark of night to a place near the Prophet's house and listened to the Prophet reading the Qur'an.
The efforts of the early Muslims in listening to, memorizing and recording the Qur'an were stimulated by another motive: they valued the Qur'an as a sacred document, being the word of God; they were also obliged to read the chapter "al- Fatihah" and a portion of another part of the Qur'an during their prayers. It was also the Qur'an through which the Prophet had been commanded to instruct people in the laws of Islam.
This study and devotion to the Qur'an became more ordered and comprehensive after the Prophet emigrated to Medina and formed an independent Muslim community. He ordered a considerable number of the companions to recite the Qur'an and to learn and teach the laws which were being revealed daily. So important was this activity that, according to special permission granted by God in chapter "Repentance", verse 122, these scholars were relieved of their obligation to fight jihad (so called Holy War).
Since most of the Prophet's companions, (in particular those who had emigrated from Mecca to Medina), were unable to read or write, the Prophet ordered them to learn from the Jewish prisoners-of-war the simple writing of the time. Thus a group of the companions gradually became literate.
Those of this group who engaged in the recitation of the Qur'an, learning by heart the chapters and verses were called qurra'; it was from amongst this group that forty (some report seventy) died as martyrs in an accident called Bi'r Ma'unah.
The Qur'an was recorded, as it was revealed, on tablets, bones and the wide flat end of the date palm fronds. There is no doubt that most chapters were in use amongst early Muslims since they are mentioned in numerous sayings by both Sunni and Shiiah sources, relating the Prophet's use of the Qur'an as a call to Islam, the making of prayer and the manner of recitation.
Similarly, one comes across names of chapters in traditions which describe the time when the Prophet was still alive, namely the very long chapters and "al-Fatihah".