Sunday, June 6, 2010

Publishing the Qur'an: From the perspective of modern publishing practice (Part 4)


Management and coordination
Management activities are an integral part of the publishing process. The actual management activities may not always reside with the Project Manager or Managing Editor because occasionally the task of managing a specific task may be delegated to another person assigned to coordinate an outsourced work. For example: managing freelancers contracted to do copy-editing and likewise managing typesetters, designers or printers. Still, a publisher is responsible for the entire production process from the point a manuscript is received and approved, up to and including binding.

We have seen in this article how Sayyidina Abu Bakar and Sayyidina Uthman had managed the Qur'an publication. Throughout the process, both caliphs made informed decisions; knew their objectives well and stuck to the publication's critical path until fruition. When Sayyidina Uthman first made the decision to commission a standard Qur'an codex, he did it in a consultative manner. When a member of his team, Hudhaifa bin Yaman, highlighted to him the need to prevent disputes caused by variant readings of the Qur'an, Sayyidina Uthman assembled the public to ask for their opinion. After listening to them, he gave his own suggestion: "I see that we bring the people on a single Mushaf (with a single dialect) so that there is neither division nor discord." The people welcomed his idea and accepted it as as excellent proposal.

Moving on from there, Sayyidina Uthman appointed a committee. He chose the best talents to do the job. As expected, Zaid bin Thabit was one of the four names nominated. Sayyidina Uthman could have just elected Zaid and asked him to make copies from the Suhuf prepared during Sayyidina Abu Bakar's time. Instead, displaying great wisdom, he employed another three qualified men from the Quraish tribe to work with Zaid. This was a thoughtful decision on his part because the Qur'an was revealed in the Quraishi dialect. Zaid who was from the Ansar tribe, despite his experience in writing the Suhuf could benefit from input from the other three committee members. As what is expected from a modern-day manager, clear directives were given to them. They were asked to adhere to the Quraishi dialect should they encounter any disagreement when working with Zaid. Sayyidina Uthman himself closely monitored and guided the taskforce. He instructed them to work with authentic sources and cross-check against the Suhuf kept by Hafsah and another copy belonging to Saidatina Aishah.

As a final step in preparing the Mushaf, Sayyidina Uthman made the committee read it aloud in front of him and the companions. As such, we can imagine Sayyidina Uthman and a few companions who were mostly huffaz, collectively proofread the Mushaf. Later, addressing the public, he urged them to make copies from the newly completed Mushaf Uthmani and further commisisioned a number of certified copies be made for distribution to selected major cities. As mentioned before, Sayyidina Uthman had orderd the other manuscripts to be burned. Sayyidina Uthman as an examplary caliph stood firm in all his decisions involving the publication of the Qur'an.

To summarize, Sayyidina Uthman had displayed these attributes of an effective publishing management:
- be open to suggestions
- use consultative approach
- make informed decisions
- employ the best talents
- provide clear directives to team members
- oversee entire process
- check and cross-check work
- stand firm on key decisions made
- emphasize on marketing and distribution

Wallahu a'lam.
To be continued

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