THE QUR’AN IN PRINT
From the sixteenth century, when the printing press with movable type was first used in Europe and later in all parts of the world, the pattern of writing and of printing the Qur’an was further standardised.
There were already printed copies of the Qur’an before this, in the so-called block-print form, and some specimens from as early as the tenth century.
The first mushaf was printed in Venice in 1530, but it was not distributed because the church authorities had it destroyed immediately.(al-Salih, Mabahith fi ulum al-Qur’an, 99)
The next printed mushaf appeared in 1649 in Hamburg. The text is fully vocalised.
Probably the first Qur’an printed by Muslims is the so-called ‘Mulay Usman edition’ of 1787, published in St. Petersburg, Russia, followed by others in Kazan (1828), Persia (1833) and Istanbul (1877)
In 1858, the German orientalist Fluegel produced the so-called ‘Fluegel edition’ of the Qur’an, printed in Arabic, which has since been used by generations of orientalists. This ‘Fluegel edition’ has however a very basic defect: its system of verse numbering is not in accordance with general usage in the Muslim world.
THE EGYPTIAN EDITION
The Qur’anic text in printed form now used widely in the Muslim world and developing into a ‘standard version’, is the so-called ‘Egyptian edition’, also known as the King Fu’ad edition, since it was introduced in Egypt under supervision of Mashyakhat al-Azhar and the committee appointed by King Fu’ad, and its first edition appeared in 1918.
It has been reedited and republished several times since then. This edition is unanimously considered the best edition of the mushaf.(al-Salih, Mabahith fi ulum al-Qur’an, 100)
VARIANT READING OF THE QUR’AN
However, all above-mentioned editions were according to the reading of Hafs from ‘Asim, which is the common reading throughout the Muslim world.
The edition of the mushaf according to the reading of Warsy from Nafi’ appeared for the first time in 1930 in Egypt.(Ma’al masahif,103). This reading is second in common use after Hafs, and it is the common reading in North and West Africa and in some parts of Sudan and Egypt.
The third most common reading in some parts of North Africa is the reading of Qalun from Nafi’. The first printed mushaf according to this reading appeared in Tunisia in 1981 and then in Libya.
Finally, the mushaf was printed for the first time according to the reading of al-Duri from Abu ‘Amr in Sudan and it is used in some parts of Egypt and Chad.
These four masahif represent the common readings for public purposes in the Islamic world today. (please refer to thakhasusiyyah : Mushaf)
However, the remaining canonical readings are known to many readers who have graduated from the institutes of qira’at of al-Azhar and Sudan and many others.
At the present time, new means of recording have been introduced for Qur’an studies, and all canonical reading of the Qur’an have been recorded orally by famous leading Qurra’ in Egypt.(for more information go to Islamweb.net)