Part 1 of 3:
There exists within the Islamic community a major deception which has been circulating among st the public in regard to the Muslim Scripture, AL-Qur’an.
The deception relates to the supposed textual preservation of the Qur’anic text, and the notion that the Qur’an remains virtually intact, without additions or deletions, without any variant readings which would call into question the integrity of the Muslim text.
There are quite a lot of issues with the Present Islamic Holy Book. I plan to address it in a series of Blogs as a single Blog would not do justice to each point. Moreover, in case of a discussion, we need not digress.
Let’s examine the REAL TRUTH of the transmission of the QUR’AN
The majority of our references will be taken directly from Islamic scholars and writings, in order to avoid the Muslim accusations of non-Islamic scholarly bias. Such accusations are often promoted in an attempt to sidetrack the obvious implications on Muslim claims. And even when we do quote non-Muslim authorities the citations from such authors either cite or include references to Islamic scholars and works.
1. Is your current QUR’AN the same as was revealed to Muhammad ?
The first issue that needs to be addressed is the claim that a complete Qur’anic Codex existed during the time of Muhammad. Answer is NO. This claim finds no support, since the first complete text was compiled during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr, after Muhammad’s death:
Let us understand the story which initiated the compilation of Qur’an
Version of Zaid bin Thabit Al-Ansari
who was one of those who used to write the Divine Revelation: Abu Bakr sent for me after the (heavy) casualties among the warriors (of the battle) of Yamama (where a great number of Qurra’ were killed). ‘Umar was present with Abu Bakr who said, ‘Umar has come to me and said, The people have suffered heavy casualties on the day of (the battle of) Yamama, and I am afraid that there will be more casualties among the Qurra’ (those who know the Qur’an by heart) at other battle-fields, whereby a large part of the Qur’an MAY BE LOST, unless you collect it. And I am of the opinion that you should collect the Qur’an.” Abu Bakr added, “I said to ‘Umar, ‘How can I do something WHICH ALLAH’S APOSTLE HAS NOT DONE?’‘Umar said (to me), ‘By Allah, it is (really) a good thing.’ So ‘Umar kept on pressing, trying to persuade me to accept his proposal, till Allah opened my bosom for it and I had the same opinion as ‘Umar.” (Zaid bin Thabit added:) Umar was sitting with him (Abu Bakr) and was not speaking me. “You are a wise young man and we do not suspect you (of telling lies or of forgetfulness): and you used to write the Divine Inspiration for Allah’s Apostle. Therefore, look for the Qur’an and collect it (in one manuscript).” By Allah, if he (Abu Bakr) had ordered me to shift one of the mountains (from its place) it would not have been harder for me than what he had ordered me concerning the collection of the Qur’an. I said to both of them, “How dare you do a thing WHICH THE PROPHET HAS NOT DONE?” Abu Bakr said, “By Allah, it is (really) a good thing. So I kept on arguing with him about it till Allah opened my bosom for that which He had opened the bosoms of Abu Bakr and Umar. So I started locating Qur’anic material and collecting it from parchments, scapula, leaf-stalks of date palms and from the memories of men (who knew it by heart). I found with Khuzaima two Verses of Surat-at-Tauba WHICH I HAD NOT FOUND WITH ANYONE ELSE, (and they were):–
“Verily there has come to you an Apostle (Muhammad) from amongst yourselves. It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty He (Muhammad) is ardently anxious over you (to be rightly guided)” (9.128)
The manuscript on which the Qur’an was collected, remained with Abu Bakr till Allah took him unto Him, and then with ‘Umar till Allah took him unto Him, and finally it remained with Hafsa, Umar’s daughter. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 201)
The number of memorizes that died was 450:
“During the battle of Yamama, 450 reciters of the Qur’an were killed.” (The True Guidance – An Introduction To Qur’anic Studies, published by Light of Life, P.O. BOX 13, A-9503 Villach, Austria, part 4, p. 47– citing Ibn Kathir’sAl-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya, chapter on Battle of Yamama)
According to another source, when these men died they took with them portions of the Qur’an that they alone had memorized:
Zuhri reports, ‘We have heard that many Qur’an passages were revealed but that those who had memorised them fell in the Yemama fighting. Those passages had not been written down, and following the deaths of those who knew them, were no longer known; nor had Abu Bakr, nor `Umar nor `Uthman as yet collected the texts of the Qur’an. (Burton: The published text ought here to be amended: for “fa lamma jama`a Abu Bakr”, I propose to read: “wa lamma yajma` Abu Bakr”, to follow: “lam yuktab”.)Those lost passages were not to be found with anyone after the deaths of those who had memorised them. This, I understand, was one of the considerations which impelled them to pursue the Qur’an during the reign of Abu Bakr, committing it to sheets for fear that there should perish in further theatres of war men who bore much of the Qur’an which they would take to the grave with them on their fall, and which, with their passing, would not be found with any other. (John Burton, The Collection of the Qur’an, pp. 126-127, Abu Bakr `Abdullah b. abi Da’ud, Kitab al-Masahif’, ed. A. Jeffery, Cairo, 1936/1355, p. 23; bold emphasis ours)
From these sources we realize that:
1. No text had been compiled during Muhammad’s time. This is further solidified by the following traditions:
[Zaid b. Thabit said:] “The Prophet died and the Qur’an had not been assembled into a single place.” (Ahmad b. Ali b. Muhammad al ’Asqalani, ibn Hajar, Fath al Bari [13 vol., Cairo 1939], vol. 9, p. 9; italic emphasis ours)
It is reported… from Ali who said: “May the mercy of Allah be upon Abu Bakr, the foremost of men to be rewarded with the collection of the manuscripts, for he was THE FIRST to collect (the text) between (two) covers”. (John Gilchrist, Jam’ Al-Qur’an – The Codification of the Qur’an Text A Comprehensive Study of the Original Collection of the Qur’an Text and the Early Surviving Qur’an Manuscripts, [MERCSA, P.O. Box 342 Mondeor, 2110 Republic of South Africa, 1989], Chapter 1. The Initial Collection of the Qur’an Text, p. 27 – citing Ibn Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Masahif, p. 5; bold emphasis ours)
2. A great majority of the Qur’anic reciters had been killed at al-Yamama, forever taking with them portions of the Qur’an that only they knew.
3. Zaid Bin Thabit collected the Qur’an from palm leaves, stones and from the memories of men.
Masruq, Anas and Ibn Masud’s Version of the Story
Zaid was not the only person who had compiled the Qur’an in book form. Others such as Ubayy Bin Kab and Abdallah ibn Masud also compiled Qur’ans of their very own. In fact, both Ubayy and Ibn Masud had been singled out by Muhammad himself as two of the top four Qur’anic reciters:
Masruq reported: We used to go to Abdullah Bin Amr and talk to him. Ibn Numair said: One day we made a mention of Abdullah Bin Masud, whereupon he said: you have made mention of a person whom I love more than anything else. I heard Allah’s Messenger as saying: Learn Qur’an from four persons: Ibn Umm Abd (i.e., Abdullah Bin Masud – he started from him – then Muadh bin Jabal and Ubayy bin Kab, then Salim the ally of Ali Hudhaifa. (Sahih Muslim, Book 031, Number 6024)
Another tradition confirms that besides Ibn Masud, Ubayy and Zaid ibn Thabit, there were at least two others who had also collected the Qur’an:
Anas is reported to have said: Four persons collected the Qur’an during the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger and all of them were Ansar: Muadh Bin Jabal, Ubayy Bin Kab, Zaid Bin Thabit, Abu Zaid. Qatada said: Anas, who was Abu Zaid? He said: He was one of my uncles. (Sahih Muslim, Book 031, Number 6029)
Despite the fact that this tradition contradicts Zaid’s own testimony that no Qur’anic text had been compiled in Muhammad’s time it does confirm, however, that other Qur’ans were in circulation at the time of Zaid’s codex. Owing to this fact, controversy evolved among the Muslims as they began accusing each other of tampering with the Book of Allah, which eventually led to the third Caliph Uthman taking drastic measures.
Drastic Measures by Uthman
‘Hudaifa b. al Yeman came to `Uthman direct from the Aderbaijan and Armenian frontier where, uniting the forces from Iraq and those from Syria, he had had an opportunity to observe regional differences over the Qur’an. “Commander of the faithful,” he advised, “take this umma in hand before they differ about the Book like Christians and Jews.” `Uthman sent asking Hafsa to lend him the sheets [inherited by her father, `Umar, from Abu Bakr, and now in her possession] “so that we can copy them into other volumes and then return them.” She sent her suhuf to `Uthman who summon Zaid, Sa`id b. al `As, `Abdul Rahman b. al Harith b. Hisham and `Abdullah b. al Zubair and commanded them to copy the sheets into several volumes. Addressing the group from Quraish, he added, “Wherever you differ from Zaid, write the word in the dialect of Quraish for it was revealed in that tongue.”
When they had copied the sheets, `Uthman sent a copy to each of the main centers of the empire with the command that all other Qur’an materials, whether in single sheet form, or in whole volumes, WERE TO BE BURNED…’ (Burton, pp. 141-142- citing Ahmad b. `Ali b. Muhammad al `Asqalani, ibn Hajar, “Fath al Bari”, 13 vols, Cairo, 1939/1348, vol. 9, p. 18; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Hudaifa said, ‘The Kufans say, “the text of `Abdullah”; the Basrans say, “the text of Abu Musa”. By God! if I reach the Commander of the faithful, I WILL RECOMMEND THAT HE DROWN THESE READINGS.” (var. Masahif) `Abdullah said, ‘Do and God will drown you, but not in water!’ (Burton, pp. 146-147- citing Abu Bakr `Abdullah b. abi Da’ud, “K. al Masahif”, ed. A. Jeffery, Cairo, 1936/1355, p. 13; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Hudhaifa figures in a second Hadith series which reports textual differences, not only between the Muslims in Iraq and Syria, but also between rival groups of Iraqi Muslims.
We were sitting in the mosque and `Abdullah was reciting the Qur’an when Hudaifa came in and said, ‘The reading of ibn Umm `Abd! [ie. `Abdullah] The reading of Abu Musa! By God! if I am spared to reach the Commander of the Faithful, I will recommend THAT HE IMPOSE A SINGLE QUR’AN READING!’
‘Abdullah became very angry and spoke sharply to Hudaifa who fell silent. (Burton, p. 142, Abu Bakr `Abdullah b. abi Da’ud, “K. al Masahif”, ed. A. Jeffery, Cairo, 1936/1355, p. 13; bold and capital emphasis ours)
‘Yazid b. Ma`awiya was in the mosque in the time of al Walid b. `Uqba, sitting in a group among them was Hudaifa. An official called out, ‘Those who follow the reading of Abu Musa, go to the corner nearest the Kinda door. Those who follow `Abdullah’s reading, go the corner nearest `Abdullah’s house.’ Their reading of Q 2.196 did not agree. One group read, ‘Perform the pilgrimage TO GOD’ The others read it ‘Perform the pilgrimage TO THE KA’BAH.’ Hudaifa became very angry, his eyes reddened and he rose, parting his qamis at the waits, although in the mosque. This was during the reign of `Uthman. Hudaifa exclaimed, ‘Will someone go the Command of the Faithful, or shall I go myself? This is what happened in the previous dispensations.’ He came over and sat down, saying, ‘God sent Muhammad who, with those who went forward, fought those who went back until God gave victory to His religion. God took Muhammad and Islam made strides. To succeed him, God chose Abu Bakr who reigned as long as God chose. God then took him and Islam made rapid strides. God appointed `Umar who sat in the midst of Islam. God then took him also. Islam spread rapidly. God next chose `Uthman. God’s oath! Islam is on the point of such expansion that soon you will replace all other religions.’ (Burton, p. 143, Abu Bakr `Abdullah b. abi Da’ud, “K. al Masahif”, ed. A. Jeffery, Cairo, 1936/1355, p. 11; bold and capital emphasis ours)
It becomes obvious from these traditions that, contrary to popular Islamic teaching, contradictions and variant readings existed between the different codices. It is interesting to note that these variances gave rise to charges of corruption and textual perversion among-st the Muslim Umma, causing Uthman to burn texts written by eye and ear witnesses of Muhammad.
Uthman then proceeded to make Zaid’s codex the official text, forcing others to accept his decision. This decision wasn’t based on the wisdom of God but on one man’s choice. The question that begs to be asked is who gave Uthman the right to burn Qur’ans, standardizing Zaid’s text, when there were others who had more authority for receiving official standardization of their respective texts, such as Ibn Masud and Ubayy?