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Obviously the Qur'an is printed on paper; and bound into books. It does not refer to the physically wrapping.

Also, Allah has no human attribute; when we say Allah is merciful; it is a faint reflection of the reality of Allah's mercy.

So, it cannot refer to the fact of the Qur'an speech - which is in Arabic. Allah does not speak Arabic. Speech, again is something that humans do. And human speech is creative.

So, what does it mean to be Uncreated Speech. (All, I can think of is that it's a direct manifestation of Allah, as only Allah is 'Uncreated'. Everything else is created by Him, or through Him. That is every level of reality).

Finally, is there a verse in the Qur'an that directly refers to this? Hadith, or commentary would be also appreciated, or an indication in which tradition where this seen to be a cornerstone of Islamic Metaphysics.

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We do not refer to the Qur'an in terms of 'makhluq'. We say that it is 'muHdath' (temporal/originated). If we were to call the Qur'an as 'makhluq', then there's an implication that it could be a lie or a fabrication (as Allah mentions about creation in the Qur'an). In order to understand how this debate came to be, we should look at the historical background. I have copied the below post (in quotes) from another discussion forum where this issue was raised (I am not sure if the person who posted the response was citing a scholar):

  • The issue of the creation of the Qur'an was not discussed during the initiate era of Islam. Rather, it was brought up in the era of the Umayyad dynasty via the Christians who enjoyed quite a lavish lifestyle under their rule. Sargon (I hope I translated it correctly) was a Christian who was appointed by Mu'awiya as a high official in the government. Sargon had a son, named "John al-Dimashqi" who assumed the position of his father after his demise until his resignation in the year 113 Hijri, where he devoted himself to writing against Islam until his death in the year 160 Hijri. One of the misconceptions that this person raised was the following:

    Is (the Word of Allah) without a beginning (i'll use the word eternal for this) or not?

    If the Muslims answered:

    Yes, it is without a beginning. He would reply that the Christians belief is indeed correct, (i.e. Jesus (as) is eternal). However, if they, on the contrary, answer no, he would say: then you claim that the speech of Allah is created.

    Now, what does John mean by this?

    The answer is that when a person says that the Qur'an is created, it implies that it is a lie and fabricated since it clearly contradicts with the following verse:

    The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. [4:171]

    The verse clearly describes Jesus (as) as "His word", so if God's word is eternal, then Jesus is eternal, and if not, then the Qur'an is created, meaning that it is subject to fabrication and contains lies.

We conclude that the first people to raise this issue were the Christians, and then it spread to the Muslims and they began debating whether the word/speech of Allah (swt) is created or not. The peak of this debate was reached during the Abbasid era, where al-Ma'mun adopted the view that the Qur'an was indeed created. The Mu'tazila followed al-Ma'mun with this view, while the people of hadith rejected it. Al-Ma'mun however, didn't find it sufficient to believe in this theory and allow others to adopt the contrary. In fact, he forced others to believe in it in the year 218 Hijri, whereby he gathered the Muslims scholars and demanded that they all state that the Qur'an was created. This was, of course, for many political reasons which I don't see any need to discuss at this moment. Furthermore, history records incidents of bloodshed and killings as a result of debates on this issue. One party would issue verdicts against the other, sometimes accusing the other sects as becoming apostates if they adopt an opposite view regarding the creation of the Qur'an. For example, Ahmad bin Hanbal accuses whoever believes that the Qur'an is created is an apostate, and whoever doesn't believe that these people are kuffar is a kafer like them.

For this reason, Ahlul-Bayt (as) asked the Shi'a to stay away from the political dispute that this issue created, and described it as a fitnah to cause division and lead to bloodshed between the Muslims.

The ma`Sumeen (as) (Twelver shi3ah) have maintained the emphasis on not calling the Qur'an by any name other than has been appointed for it, and they were clear in that the Qur'an is neither to be called Khaliq nor makhluq, but that it is the 'Kalam' of Allah:

4 - حدثنا أبي رحمه الله، قال: حدثنا سعد بن عبد الله، قال: حدثنا محمد بن عيسى بن عبيد اليقطيني، قال: كتب علي بن محمد بن علي بن موسى الرضا عليهم السلام إلى بعض شيعته ببغداد: بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم عصمنا الله وإياك من الفتنة فإن يفعل فقد أعظم بها نعمة (1) وإن لا يفعل فهي الهلكة، نحن نرى أن الجدال في القرآن بدعة، اشترك فيها السائل والمجيب، فيتعاطى السائل ما ليس له، ويتكلف المجيب ما ليس عليه، وليس الخالق إلا الله عز وجل، وما سواه مخلوق، والقرآن كلام الله، لا تجعل له اسما من عندك فتكون من الضالين، جعلنا الله وإياك من الذين يخشون ربهم بالغيب وهم من الساعة مشفقون.

Translation of the matn: 3Ali b. MuHammad b. 3Ali b. Musa al-RiDa (as) wrote to one of his shi`ah from Baghdad:

By the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. May Allah protect us and you from the fitnah, for if he does so, it is a great blessing and if he doesn't, it is destruction. We consider the argument about the Qur'an to be a bid3ah, in which the one who questions and the one who answers are partners, for the questioner is given what is not for him and the answerer is burdened with that which is not upon him [to answer regarding]. There is no Creator except Allah, `Azza wa Jall. And whatever is besides Him is created. But the Qur'an is the Speech of Allah. Do not appoint a name for it from yourself, lest you be of those gone astray. May Allah make us and you from those who fear their Lord in secret, and they are apprehensive of the Hour.

This is the view of Shaykh al-Saduq from whose book al-TawHid the above Hadith is taken:

قال مصنف هذا الكتاب: قد جاء في الكتاب أن القرآن كلام الله ووحي الله وقول الله وكتاب الله، ولم يجئ فيه أنه مخلوق، وإنما امتنعنا من إطلاق المخلوق عليه (٢) لأن المخلوق في اللغة قد يكون مكذوبا، ويقال: كلام مخلوق أي مكذوب، قال الله تبارك وتعالى: ﴿إنما تعبدون من دون الله أوثانا وتخلقون إفكا﴾ (٣) أي كذبا، وقال تعالى حكاية عن منكري التوحيد: ﴿ما سمعنا بهذا في الملة الآخرة إن هذا إلا اختلاق﴾ (4) أي افتعال وكذب، فمن زعم أن القرآن مخلوق بمعنى أنه مكذوب فقد كفر، ومن قال: إنه غير مخلوق بمعنى أنه غير مكذوب فقد صدق وقال الحق والصواب، ومن زعم أنه غير مخلوق بمعنى أنه غير محدث وغير منزل وغير محفوظ فقد أخطأ وقال غير الحق والصواب، ،

Al-Saduq said: "It has been mentioned in the Book (the Qur'an) that the Qur'an is the speech of Allah, the revelation of Allah, the saying of Allah, and the book of Allah. However, it did not contain [in it] that it is created. The reason that we refrained from describing it as 'created' is because 'the created' linguistically could mean 'fabricated/false'. It is said [linguistically], 'created/invented speech' (kalaam makhluq), meaning false/invented/lie/etc. Allah, the Blessed and Exalted says, "You only worship idols besides Allah and you create/invent falsehood"[29:17], i.e., a lie. Allah, the Exalted says: " We did not hear of this in the latter-day creed. This is nothing but a fabrication." [38:7] ('Ikhtilaaq' meaning invention and lying). Whoever claims that the Qur'an is makhluq, in the sense that it is false/a lie/invented has done kufr. Whoever claims that it [the Qur'an] is not makhluq in the sense that it is not false/invented then he has uttered the truth and said that which is Haqq and correct. Whoever claims that it [the Qur'an] is not created in the sense that it is not temporal, not revealed and not preserved, is mistaken and uttered what negates the truth and correctness."

Also, the Shaykh says:

"ومعنى ما فيه أنه غير مخلوق أي غير مكذوب ، ولا يعني به أنه غير محدث ، لانه قد قال : محدث غير مخلوق ، وغير أزلي مع الله تعالى ذكره."

The meaning of it "not being created," is that it is not false and he [the Imam] does not mean by it that it is not temporal [another way of saying created], because he (as) said: "temporal but not created, and not eternal with God, Exalted is His mention" .

If you understand Arabic, I would suggest you read the aHadith from Kitab al-TawHid, p. 223-29 under the Chapter (#30) 'The Qur'an, What is it?'.

http://shiaonlinelibrary.com/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%83%D8%AA%D8%A8/1136_%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%AD%D9%8A%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D9%8A%D8%AE-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%82/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D9%81%D8%AD%D8%A9_217#top

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Ok, if I understand you correctly it is because of the linguistic ambiguity of makhluq (created), it could mean invented/fabrication. So we say 'muHdath' meaning originated in time, and this word is often translated into english as 'uncreated'? –  Mozibur Ullah Dec 10 '12 at 20:22
    
Thanks brother for the info. Does Makhluq still means such or the time for that Fitnah has passed, I mean if it is still wrong to call Quran as a Makhluq then I shoud delete my answer accordingly ;) However, I saw Imam Haadi --peace be upon him-- has stated that "And whatever is besides Him is created." Maybe if we first define what we mean by created can clarify the situation, or it doesn't anyway? –  owari Dec 10 '12 at 20:53
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Ah, I see where the confusion is stemming from. I apologise for not having been clear. @MoziburUllah technically, makhluq should mean the same as muHdath, IFF we are defining all creation in terms of time, i.e. having a beginning. But the issue is regarding matters related to Allah, which emanate from His Being/Essence. Allah became Forgiving, Merciful, Loving, Speaking and so on, after creation came into being. So these qualities of His originated while in His knowledge (which is His Essence) He always knew He would be so at some time. –  phoenix Dec 13 '12 at 18:05
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Now, we know that by the very act of creation, Allah's Mercy was exhibited; it was not a quality that was 'created', but it had an origin. The attributes of Allah will not be destroyed in a similar fashion as creation will be destroyed; they will simply return unto Him when time ends. Perhaps if we say everything is muHdath, but not everything is makhluq, it may help us understand better. –  phoenix Dec 13 '12 at 18:05
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@owari I agree that our limited understanding makes us perceive parallels between Allah's creation and that of man, although as you say, there cannot be any comparison between the acts of the Creator and the created. Personally, I see al-Saduq's perspective to be narrowly restricted to the fitnah that spread amid the Muslims in their haste to respond to the Christian attack while their understanding of TawHid was lacking the clarity supplied by the Ahl al-Bayt (as). Hence the limited classification of either Khaliq or makhluq, and their need to categorise Allah's attributes in one of the two. –  phoenix Dec 13 '12 at 18:20
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Obviously the Qur'an is printed on paper; and bound into books. It does not refer to the physically wrapping.

This is not historically very true. At those times paper was not either invented or very popular, Quran was written on bones and etc., even not bounded in form of a book until some times after the great prophet --peace be upon him and his family-- passed a way.

Also, Allah has no human attribute; when we say Allah is merciful; it is a faint reflection of the reality of Allah's mercy.

very true! That's why Allah is the Merciful with capital "M", not merciful! Even such attributes are not intrinsic to Him as they find a meaning only after Allah has created something while Allah exists in His complete fashion even if He does not create anything, He needs not His own creation to mean God, but He is God on His own! This is the true Unitarianism according to Imam Ali --peace be upon him--!

So, it cannot refer to the fact of the Qur'an speech - which is in Arabic. Allah does not speak Arabic. Speech, again is something that humans do. And human speech is creative.

again completely true! If Allah speaks (like He spoke with Moses --peace be upon him--, or like He spoke with the great prophet --peace be upon him and his household-- in Mi'raaj while he was in heavens) He will create the sound for the ears to hear it. Yet the sound is created! But on the other hand that's the sound of Allah and not anyone's else! That is, you can find no other cause alongside the direct creation of Allah that can be a source for that sound. Any other sound is lso created by Allah but indirectly through the means He has previously created, like our mouths and etc. The same is true about Quran. No one can write a book unless he has been given the ability by Allah. But Quran has no other writer but Allah, neither the angels, nor the holy prophet, and nor any other one,

So, what does it mean to be uncreated speech. (All, I can think of is that it's a direct manifestation of Allah, as only Allah is 'uncreated'. Everything else is created by Him, or through Him. That is every level of reality).

I don't know about the phrase "un-created" as any being that is not Allah is certainly a created being, a creature that Allah owns. Even any direct manifestation of Allah is still created by Allah, and as you said every level of reality is also created by Allah. You can only discuss about things being directly created or indirectly. Directly here means without the common causes in our everyday life, examples for this is Jesus --peace be upon him-- who was born without having a father and this is called a miracle thus (also called a word of Allah in ); the Camel of Saaleh --peace be upon him-- who was born from a rock as mature and this is called miracle as well; the snake of Moses --peace be upon him-- born from his rod and this is called miracle as well. Similarly Quran is the speech of Allah recorded by His prophet and is called a miracle. But anyway, Quran is of course a creation of Allah, and we are told in Hadeeth that Quran will be among the witnesses in the Day. [EDIT. see the answer given by @phoenix and the comments following it for better clarification!]

To complete my answer let me quote the followings from here:

The Quran, like almost all other beings created by Allah, is layered in the sense of truth. It has one face and many layers of truth hidden inside. Behind the face, each layer of truth is covered by an upper layer of truth. The gradual simplification of The Quran from its utmost real being to its face available and understandable to many believers and non-believers is called the revelation of The Quran (تنزیل القرآن). The truth itself is in no language; it is basically a light of knowledge, but its revelation is in Arabic, as it is the most precise and natural language, and therefore the best choice to clarify, albeit in an encrypted manner, the truth in alphabets and within a rather small number of pages.

Each verse in The Quran is called a sign (Ayah: آیة) and acts as a door to the deeper layers of truth that Allah has meant to show us. The way to open this door is through the heart and by being clean and purified. The cleaner and more purified one is, the more deeply one can travel inside the verse and the more one can touch its truth meant by Allah:

إِنَّهُ لَقُرْآنٌ كَرِيمٌ \ فِي كِتَابٍ مَّكْنُونٍ \ لَّا يَمَسُّهُ إِلَّا الْمُطَهَّرُونَ \ تَنزِيلٌ مِّن رَّبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ \ أَفَبِهَـٰذَا الْحَدِيثِ أَنتُم مُّدْهِنُونَ \ وَتَجْعَلُونَ رِزْقَكُمْ أَنَّكُمْ تُكَذِّبُونَ

That this is indeed a qur'an Most Generous [that is, open handed], / In Book well-guarded [that is, highly encrypted], / Which none shall touch but those who are clean [touching its face allowed only by having Vozu', and touching its deeper truth only by having clener hearths] / A Revelation from the Lord of the Worlds. / Is it such a Message that ye would hold in light esteem? / And have ye made only this your livelihood that ye should declare it false? [while you could exploit its messages many times more by accepting them!] [56:77-82]

See here for a probable explanation of the layered structure of the universe Allah has created.

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+1: Nice answer. I do know that it wasn't fully written down & collected until maybe a generation later. Do we have historical evidence as to how during the lifetime of the Prophet the Qu'ran was collected? Did for example, those closest to the Prophet first memorise the verses. Or did they write them down as an aide-memoire until they could? –  Mozibur Ullah Dec 9 '12 at 11:29
    
people were both writing and memorizing the verses when the holy prophet recited what had been revealed to him by Allah. Those closest to the holy prophet were also among them and not only they wrote and memorized the verses, but also have recorded the verse number, the Surah that the verses belonged to, and time and situation that the verses were revealed for and also the extra explanations of the holy prophet about the verses. Some of such data are available now through the authentic Ahadeeth for example. Godspeed ;) –  owari Dec 9 '12 at 11:34
    
@MoziburUllah Quran has passed though three stages of compilation under different Caliph viz: Memorisation and preservation (During the Era of the Messenger (Sallallahu ‘alaihi was salam), Collection and compilation (During the Era of Abu Bakr As Sideeq – Radhiyallahu ‘Anhu) and Standardisation (During the Era of Uthmaan – Radhiyallahu ‘Anhu). –  user426 Dec 10 '12 at 4:27
    
It is not clearly known from which source finally the Quran was compiled whether from earlier fragmented writings preserved on Animal skins, bone, Date palm wood and animal shoulder or whether from people’s memory. I have seen some answers here which claims that sources are from both. –  user426 Dec 10 '12 at 4:28
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