Malise Ruthven writes:
In the early ‘Abbasid period there arose a controversy among the scholars as to whether or not the Quran had been ‘created’. For a period, victory in the dispute went to the Mu’tzailis or ‘rationalists’, who believed in the ‘created’ Quran, until, following a populist reaction led by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the opposite doctrine became the orthodoxy, remaining so among Sunni Muslims until the present century.
The advocates of predestination argued that the Quran was the ‘uncreated’ speech of God because it refers to certain specific events which God in His omnipotence and omniscience must have willed and known about. The advocates of free will replied that the Quran clearly insists on human responsibility, as implied in the doctrine of the Day of Judgment; the Quran is thus God’s speech, ‘created’ under certain circumstances – a view which implied that God could have created a different Quran should the circumstances have been different.
The advocates of the ‘created’ Quran emphasized the references to an ‘Arabic’ Quran which occur in the divine text; they accused their opponents of a form of shirk or bi-theism in allowing that an eternal being – the Quran – coexisted with God. The controversy ranged around the interpretation of the Quran as well as its status An ‘uncreated’ Quran, being, as it were, an aspect of the Godhead, was absolutely unchangeable. The decrees of a ‘created’ Quran, on the other hand, were evidently subject to time and place, and might possibly be overruled by a divinely inspired Imam or caliph.