A novel product or service created should have some form of protection mechanism, whether it be patents for intellectual property, trademarks for signs or copyrights for the control of copying of works. The objective of such protection is not to restrict the sharing of value, but to protect the value itself from any possible distortion.
The more valuable the product is, the all more robust the protection should be. And what can be more valuable of a product to be protected, than the holy Quran. And what can be a more powerful form of protection than from Allah SWT Himself:
“Verily it is We Who have revealed the Remembrance, and assuredly We will preserve it.” (Surah Al-Hijr: 9)
“Say: ‘Verily, should mankind and jinn come together to produce the like of this Quran, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed one another’.” (Surah Al-Isra’: 17:88)
The arguments sometimes raised against protectionism is that the knowledge ultimately in itself does not belong to him, and that it is something that he was given insight to by Allah SWT, and the responsibility is on him now to share that knowledge. The flaw in such arguments is that we are confusing distribution with protectionism. Product protection is the quality control before the distribution process. It is your duty to assure the customer that your product is what it is, and says what it does, before it reaches the customer. It is related to distribution when your business grows spreads, and with finite resources, you need a system to ensure all is in order. This is why for example franchisors have thick manuals for every aspect of the business, given to the franchisees so that there is consistency. This concept again is not alien to Islam at all:
- In given the task to compile the Quran, Zaid ibn Thabit collected the portions scattered with different people, verified the texts and put them in the order assigned by the Prophet Muhammad himself before his passing. Although he himself knew the whole Quran by heart, he followed a very meticulous procedure in its compilation.
- Everyone who knew a portion of the Quran came and reported it to be written by the committee. However, the report was not accepted unless it was heard by the reporting companion directly from the mouth of the Prophet himself.
- In order to ensure authenticity, no text was accepted unless the person who reported it to the committee brought two witnesses who saw him hear the verses directly from the blessed Prophet’s mouth.
- During the rule of the Caliph Uthman, the Quran was copied and sent to Mecca, Syria, Basrah and Kuffah, with the original copy kept in Madinah. All other versions were burnt.
And because of such robust product protection exemplified by our tradition, the Quran and Islam is preserved almost 14 centuries later.