By. Johnny Bravo
This is my response to Sam Shamoun’s article to be found here: http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Osama/biblecorruption.htm
I may not have responded to the above article had it not been for the fact that the Christian missionary Sam Shamoun took the honour of mentioning me within it, together with responding to some of my arguments. While at it, I thought it would be a good idea to also respond to his vicious attacks upon the Quran in order to expose his deceptive tactics and appeal to shoddy “scholars”. I will not be responding to the missionarys arguments concerning the OT verses as I wish to focus upon the topic of the corruption of the previous scriptures and the claims made by the bigoted and bias Christian “scholar” Mingana. So lets proceed.
Since we will be dealing with two separate topics, we have divided this paper into two sections:
Part 1. Reply to Minganas misinformation.
- Mingana and Sam Shamouns gross misuse of surah 15:90-91
- Recitation of the Quran and “Variant” readings.
- The lie concering Uthman ® and the burning of “competing” codices.
- Oral Transmission of the Quran.
- Why was Zaid chosen?
- More on the role of Uthman ® and the issue of “variants”.
- Nabia Abbott and Harald Motzki refuting Mingana’s false claims.
Mingana and Sam Shamouns gross misuse surah 15:90-91
Sam starts off by quoting to us from the polemical writings of Alphonse Mingana. Appeal to such polemicists sheds light upon the desperation of these Christian missionaries. They are so desperate that they have no other alternative but to cite from such third class and worthless sources as no serious scholar would adhere to their views. In this section I will attempt to analyse the comments made by Mingana and then quote other non-Muslim scholars who have thoroughly and completely refuted and outright rejected his wild hypothesis.
Sam Shamoun and Mingana have managed to make an amazing discovery that no reader of the Quran has been able to make in 1400 years. After so many years of “honest” study and “research” of the Quran, they seem to have located a verse within it that allegedly refers to the “corruption” of the Quran. Sam writes:
Amazingly, it is the Quran that admits to its very own corruption:
“Like as We sent down on the dividers Those who made the Quran INTO SHREDS.” S. 15:90-91
The missionary then cites Mingana and says:
Scholar in Islamic studies Alphonse Mingana comments on this passage:
“Finally, if we understand correctly the following verse of Suratul-Hijr (xv. 90-91): ‘As we sent down upon (punished) the dividers (of the Scripture?) who broke up the Koran into parts,’
Lets study the above verse in some detail as that will expose how this missionary and his spiritual brother in deception, Mingana, have distorted and misread such a plain and simple passage. The context of the verse:
And indeed, We have bestowed upon you seven of Al-Mathâni (the seven repeatedly recited Verses), (i.e. Sûrat Al-Fâtiha) and the Grand Qur’ân.
Look not with your eyes ambitiously at what We have bestowed on certain classes of them (the disbelievers), nor grieve over them. And lower your wings for the believers (be courteous to the fellow-believers).
And say: “I am indeed a plain warner.”
As We have sent down on the dividers, (Quraish pagans or Jews and Christians).
Who have made the Qur’ân into parts. (i.e. believed in a part and disbelieved in the other).
So, by your Lord (O Muhammad SAW), We shall certainly call all of them to account.
For all that they used to do.
Therefore proclaim openly (Allâh’s Message Islâmic Monotheism) that which you are commanded, and turn away from Al-Mushrikûn (polytheists, idolaters, and disbelievers, etc. – see V.2:105).
Thus we can see that the verse in question is certainly not referring to the “corruption of the Quran” as these missionaries, quite foolishly, have led themselves to imagine. The verse in question is referring to the attitude, behaviour and the twisted mentality of the pagans with regards to the Quran, i.e., believing in parts of it, rejecting the others, accepting some of it and rejecting the rest and using this to abuse and slander the Prophet (P). That is all the verse states. The verse does not state that the Quran has been “corrupted”, as it has simply nothing at all to say concerning the issue of preservation and corruption of scriptures. The translation “made the Quran into shreds”, refers not to the corruption of the Quran, but to the strategy of the pagans, or the People of the Book. This strategy consisted of “dividing it”, or making it (the Quran) “into pieces”, meaning believeing in certain parts of it for their selfish interests, misusing it, whilst rejecting the remainder in order to insult the Prophet (P). This is how they “divide” or “tore” the Quran among themselves, meaning accepted some of it and rejected the rest. Hence the pagans, or the people of the book, were the “dividers” of the Quran. Allah then says that He will surely bring such people to account.
Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani states in his “Tafseer-E-Usmani”, states commenting on the above verse:
This verse is interpreted variously. Some have said the Dividers are Jews and Christians of the Prophetic days, who had divided and resolved the Quran i.e., ‘Accept what is according to your wishes and changes, and reject what is against your wishes and changes.’
Some have said they are Associators who divided the Quran by way of jesting. They said to one another, ‘I will take Baqara (Cow) or Maeda, and give Ankaboot to you.’
They were also divided about the Quran. Some said it was poetry, some said it was but soothsaying, some said it was incantation, some said it was fanatic talk, some said it was the myhtology of the past peoples.
However, the Holy Prophet was Warner for all of them. Ibne Kathir has said that muktasimeen are those people who had said on oath that they would surely oppose the Messengers and they took oath on false things and they had broken the Heavenly Books into fragments. This warner warns you of the Chastiment which was sent down on the past people.
[Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani “Tafseer-E-Usmani.” English translation by Mohammad Ashfaq Ahmad M.A.M.Sc. Vol. 2. pg. 1197. Idara Isha’at-E-Diniyat (P) LTD. 1st Edition 1992. New Delhi.]
We see that there is simply no mention of “corruption” of the text of the Quran in the tafsir. The verse itself is straightforward as its reading would not lead anyone to believe that the passage is referring to the “corruption” of the text of the Quran. Therefore the gross misreading of such a simple verse itself is enough to indicate how “learned” these two Christian individuals really are. Whether one believes that the “dividers” were the pagans or that of the People of the Book, the fact remains that the verse has absolutely nothing to do and say regarding the topic of the “corruption” and preservation of the Quran. It has simply nothing to say concerning this topic.
Yusuf Ali in his footnote comments:
The Makkan Pagans, in the early days of Islam, in order to dishonour and ridicule the Qur’an, divided what was so far revealed, into bits, and apportioned them to people coming on pilgrimage to Makkah by different routes, slandering and abusing the Prophet of Allah
Those who ridicule the Scripture in any form will all be called to account for their insolence, for they are all alike.
[Maulana Abdullah Yusuf Ali. The Meanings Of The Holy Qur’an. Kutub Khana Ishayatul Islam, Delhi (India). pg. 634-635.]
Ibn Kathir commenting on this verse states:
Explanation of “Al-Muqtasimin”
<the Muqtasimin> refers to those who made a pact to oppose, deny, and insult the Prophets . . .
<We have made the Qur’an into parts.>
meaning, they have split up the Books that were revealed to them, believing in parts of them and rejecting parts of them. Al-Bukhari reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said,
<Who have made the Qur’an into parts>
“They are the People of the Book, who divided the Book into parts, believing in some of it, and rejecting some of it.” Some have said that the Al-Mutaqasimin refers to the Quraysh, that the Qur’an means this Qur’an [as opposed to the Scriptures of the People of the Book], and that “made it into parts” referred to what ‘Ata’ said that some of them said that he (The Prophet (PBUH)) was a sorcerer, some said he was crazy, or a soothsayer. These various allegations were the parts. This opinion was also reported from Ad-Dahhak and others.
Muhammad bin Ishaq reported from Ibn ‘Abbas that Al-Walid bin Al-Mughirah – holding a noble position among the people – rallied a group of Quraysh behind him when Al-Mawsim (the time for pilgrims to meet in Makkah for Hajj) had come. He said to them, “O people of Quraysh! The time of Al-Mawsim has come, and delegations of Arabs will come to you during this time. They will have heard some things about this companion of yours (meaning the Prophet (PBUH)), so agree on one opinion, let there be no contradicting or denials of each other’s sayings”. They said, “And you, O Abu ‘Shams, give us an opinion and we will say that.” He said, “No, you make the suggestions and I will listen.” They said, “We say he is a soothsayer.” He said, “He is not crazy.” They said, “We say he is a poet.” He said, “He is not a poet.” They said, We say he is a sorcerer.” He said, “He is not a sorcerer.” They said, “So what should we say?” He said, “By Allah, what he says is as palatable [to the average person] as something sweet, so you cannot say anything against it without it being obviously false. Therefore the most appropriate thing you can say is that he is a sorcerer.” So they left having agreed upon that, and Allah revealed concerning them:
<Wo have made the Qur’an into parts.> meaning, of different types, and
<So, by your Lord, We shall certainly call all of them to account. For all that they used to do>
Those were the groups who said about the Messenger of Allah (P)” 
[Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 5. pg. 418-420. Darussalam Publishers and Distributors.]
It is clear that the verse in question is not referring to the state of the text of the Quran by any stretch of imagination, unless of course its Sam Shamoun and Minganas wild imagination. These individuals are guilty of grossly distorting a plain and simple verse of the Quran. For more examples of hadiths and Quranic verses distorted by Sam Shamoun please read rebuttal 4. Sam’s credibility has been down the drains for a considerable amount of time, and so has his so-called“scholar”, Mingana’s.
Even though there is not a single verse in the Quran where Allah says that the Quran is or will be distorted, Allah does, however, categorically state that He will safeguard it:
Indeed, We sent down the message and We will guard it (15:9)
Nevertheless our dim-witted missionary, Sam Shamoun, again manages to impress us with his deception skills and the utter dimsal level of absurdity of his wild imagination. In one of his articles, he insists that the above verse is actually referring to his Bible! He writes:
Finally, the Quran itself states that God would make sure that the Bible would be protected from corruption:
“We have, without doubt sent down THE MESSAGE (Zhikra); And We will assuredly guard it (from corruption).” [S. 15:9 – Y. Ali]
Where on earth did he get this absurd idea? Even the most ignorant Muslim on this planet is expected to be aware of the fact that the above verse is referring to the Quran and *not* the “Bible”! In verse 15:9, Allah says that He will gurard “it”, meaning the QURAN, from corruption and Muslims proudly quote this verse whenever they are discussing the authenticity of the Quran in their books, papers, lectures, discussions and debates etc. This is just so well known. Of course, the missionary makes the most desperate and laughably pathetic attempt in order to tie the above verse to his “Bible”:
That this includes the Holy Bible is made clear in the following citations:
“And before thee We sent none but men, to whom We granted inspiration: If ye realise this not, ask of those who possess THE MESSAGE (Zhikri).” [S. 16:43 – Y. Ali]
“Before thee, also, the messengers We sent were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: if ye know this not, ask of those who possess THE MESSAGE (Zhikri).” [S. 21:7 – Y. Ali]
“In the past We granted to Moses and Aaron the Criterion (al-Furqana) (for judgment), And a Light and a Message (Zikra) for those who would do right.” [S. 21:48]
“Before this, We wrote in the Psalms, after THE REMINDER (Zhikri): `My servants, the righteous, shall inherit the earth.'” [S. 21:105]
We did aforetime
I have added emphasis to the above verses. We can see that in each and every verse case, Allah is clearly and categorically referring to the PREVIOUS REVELATIONS revealed to the Prophets, in other words they are talking about thePREVIOUS zhikirs. However in verse 15:9, the Zhikir is not identified as being a previous zhikir. Rather it is referring to the PRESENT ZHIKIR, which is the QURAN, as is so obvious from the passages context. Here is the complete context of the verse:
This is Alif Lam Ra. These are the verses of the Book – a clear Qur’an. (1)
Those who disbelieve will wish, time and again that they had but submitted (to God). Leave them in their eating and their merriment and let their false hopes keep them blinded [to the truth]; soon shall they know [the gravity of their rejection]. Whenever We destroyed a people [in the past], they were always assigned a term [and so is one appointed for these rejecters]. No nation is allowed to accelerate its punishment before the appointed term or to delay it. Yet, they say: “O you, upon whom this Admonition is being revealed, You are, indeed, out of your mind.” “If you are truthful, then why do you not bring to us angels [to evidence your claim]?” We send not Our angels for anything less than [the implementation of] justice. And no respite is then granted [to the rejecters]. It is, indeed, We, Who have sent down this Admonition; and it is We, Who will guard it. (2 – 9)
As is quite clear that the word “Al-Zikr” in the above context implies only to that which was being revealed at the time – that is the Quran. Another translation:
1. Alif-Lâm-Râ. [These letters are one of the miracles of the Qur’ân, and none but Allâh (Alone) knows their meanings]. These are the Verses of the Book, and a plain Qur’ân.
2. Perhaps (often) will those who disbelieve wish that they were Muslims [those who have submitted themselves to Allâh’s Will in Islâm Islâmic Monotheism, this will be on the Day of Resurrection when they will see the disbelievers going to Hell and the Muslims going to Paradise].
3. Leave them to eat and enjoy, and let them be preoccupied with (false) hope. They will come to know!
4. And never did We destroy a township but there was a known decree for it.
5. No nation can anticipate its term, nor delay it.
6. And they say: “O you (Muhammad SAW ) to whom the Dhikr (the Qur’ân) has been sent down! Verily, you are a madman.
7. “Why do you not bring angels to us if you are of the truthful ones?”
8. We send not the angels down except with the truth (i.e. for torment, etc.), and in that case, they (the disbelievers) would have no respite!
9. Verily We: It is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Qur’ân) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption).
The missionary proceeds:
These passages establish that the revelation given to Moses, David and the Book which Jews and Christians possessed at the time of Muhammad is also part of that Reminder which God sent down and promised to preserve. Hence, for Muslims to state that the Bible is corrupt basically means that God failed to guard his message from corruption, breaking his promise of insuring its preservation.
The passages cited, and Sam’s subsequent “interpretation” of them establish that he has a rather major comprehension problem. It establishes that he really cannot understand nor comprehend what simple passages have to convey thereby making a mockery of himself time and time again. If only he would make a concentrated effort to read carefully would he save himself from so much embarassement. The verses cited are clearly talking about the previous Zhikir’s, they havenothing to say regarding their preservation. Furthermore, none of the verses in question have anything to say concerning the state of preservation of the actual literature in the hands of the Jews and Christians during the time of the Prophet (P), let alone a “promise” to preserve them. Sam has not quoted to us a single verse above where we read God saying that the previous Zhikir’s will be preserved as no such “promise” has been made within them. Therefore Sam quite conviniently concocted this false claim and then assigned it to the Quran! Verse 15:9, however, is referring to the present zhikirs preservation, which is the Quran, as is so obvious from its context. It does not “promise” that the previous zhikirs will be preserved, but only that the present zhikir (Quran) will be preserved. Sams colossal ignorance and distortion of these simple straightforward verses is another example of his deceptive strategy of spreading lies and misinformation.
Ibn Taimiyah states:
As for the Quran, Allah said, what translated means:
>>Verily, it is We who have sent down the Thikr (Quran), and surely, We will guard it (from corruption).<< [15:9]
[“Al-Jawab As-Sahih Liman Baddala Deen Al-Maseeh.” “The Bibles Testimony that Jesus is the Slave-Servant and Messenger of Allah” by Sheikh Abdurrahman Abdul-Khaaliq pg. 9-13. The Daar of Islamic Heritage 1994]
Scholar Harun Yahya states:
Allah has guarded the Qur’an from undergoing even a single change and has not permitted it to be corrupted. According to the following judgment of the Qur’an “We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption)” (Surat al-Hijr: 9) the Qur’an is under the special protection of Allah.
[Harun Yahya. “PERISHED NATIONS” http://www.hyahya.org/pernat11.php%5D
Shaikh Muhammad as-Saleh Al-‘Uthaimin explains:
The Qur’an Is Protected from Change:
The Qur’an is “confirming the scripture that was before it and stands as a guardian over it.” Thus, by means of the Qur’an, Allah abrogated all the previous revealed books. Allah has also guaranteed its protection from any play or mischievous distortion: “Indeed, We sent down the message and We will guard it” (15:9), for the Qur’an is a proof against mankind till the Day of Judgment.
[“The Muslim’s Belief” Shaikh Muhammad as-Saleh Al-‘Uthaimin Translated by Dr. Maneh Al-Johani — complete book available online in pdf format: http://al-sunnah.com/pdf/MBE.pdf%5D
Sheikh Munajid of the Islam Q&A (www.islam-qa.com):
Allaah revealed the Qur’aan to His Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and guaranteed that He Himself would preserve it, as He says (interpretation of the meaning): “Verily We: it is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e., the Qur’aan) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption).” [al-Hijr 15:9]
Ibn Kathir says:
<Verily, We, it is We Who revealed the Dhikr (i.e. the Qur’an) and surely We will guard it (from corruption).> . . .
<O you (Muhammad) to whom the Dhikr (the Qur’an) has been revealed!> i.e., the one who claims to recieve it.
[Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 5. pg. 381. Darussalam Publishers and Distributors.]
The Dhikr is the Quran. Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani writes:
Your derision and taunt and your imputation of madness to the Bringer of the Quran can not exercise any effect on the Quran. Remember! The sender of this Quran are We and it is We who have taken the responsibility of its all sorts of protection. The state with which it has come down will not undergo any change i.e. no change can be brought about by any enemy of Islam in the original state of the Quran. Its letters, words, construction, etc. shall remain in all ages they were at the time of revelation.
[Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani “Tafseer-E-Usmani.” English translation by Mohammad Ashfaq Ahmad M.A.M.Sc. Vol. 2. pg. 1170. Idara Isha’at-E-Diniyat (P) LTD. 1st Edition 1992. New Delhi.]
Dr. Muhammad Abdullah Draz explains:
The Qur’an stayed safely guarded in fulfillment of God’s promise Who carried the task of preserving it for He says “We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and we will assuredly guard it.” (Holy Qur’an 15:9). It was not affected by what affected previous books like corruption, alteration and interruption of isnad for Allah did not preserve them, but assigned people with this, He says “the rabbis and the doctors of law: for to them was entrusted the protection of God’s book” (Holy Qur’an 5:44) i.e., they were assigned with its preservation. The point in this discrimination is that other heavenly Books were temporary, not permanent. The Qur’an was revealed confirming the Scriptures before it and dominant over them. So, it included the firm truths they included in addition to what Allah willed to add. And it substitutes them, but none of them would substitute it.
[Dr. Muhammad Abdullah Draz, “An-Naba’ Al-‘Azim”, pp. 7]
In tafsir Qurtubi we read:
“We have, without doubt, sent down the Message” i.e., the Qur’an “and we will assuredly guard it” from increasing or decreasing it. Qatada and Thabit Al-Bunani said: Allah guarded it from the devils to add falsehood or remove truth, He (glory be to Him) carried the task of guarding it, so it is still preserved and said about others “to them was entrusted the protection of God’s book” (Holy Qur’an 5:44) He assigned them with preserving it, so they changed (ghayyaru) and altered (baddalu).
[Tasfir-ul-Qurtubi, Volume 10, pp. 5].
concerning the Torah and the Injil “to them was entrusted the protection of God’s book” (Holy Qur’an 5:44)
[ibid, pp. 6]
It is therefore abundantly clear that verse 15:9 is only referring to the Quran and *not* the Bible. The verse that he cites is just so well known by everyone to be referring to the Quran. A completely ignorant individual is expected to be aware of atleast this fact. Therefore Sams statement that,“Hence, for Muslims to state that the Bible is corrupt basically means that God failed to guard his message from corruption, breaking his promise of insuring its preservation” is nothing short of a blatant lie because we have seen that none of the verses in question make a “promise” to preserve the “Bible” or any previous scripture.
As far as the corruption of the Bible goes, then if we say that the scriptures revealed to Moses (P) and Jesus (P) were tampered over a passage of time, after the time of these Prophets, then we will not be contradicting the Quran as it does not state that these scriptures remained prestine. We will have more to say concerning this topic in part 2 of our rebuttal to further expose the distortions of the missionary.
The corruption and alteration of the text of the Bible is something that is readily accepted and admitted today by almost everyone, even most believing and practising Christians, apart from a handful of extremist right wing fundamentalist Christian propagandists and Television evangelists. Hence it is an issue hardly in dispute. There is simply so much evidence available to us today, categorically and clearly pointing towards the alteration and evolution of the Biblical text, that it becomes rather amusing to come across someone insisting otherwise and acting like an obsinate donkey. Today no individual, in his/her serious mind, believes that the text of the Bible has remained unchanged over the ages and is inerrant. That is because this is a stance that can hardly be defended without the use of the most ingeneious mental gymnastics ever devised by mankind that defy all commonsense and reason.
Who says that the Bible is corrupt? It is the scholars of the Bible who admit today that the Bible contains numerous additions, deletions and interpolations within its text. It is the scholars of the Bible who say that the Bible evolved over a long passage of time. Therefore the missionary is advised to make an effort to convince his own scholars of his impossible beliefs instead of demanding Muslims accept them blindly. It is certainly not the fault of God if Christians failed to preserve the revelation revealed to Jesus (P). It is about time Christians, including Sam, accept responsibility instead of blaming God for all their mistakes and errors.
Recitation of the Quran and “Variant” readings.
Sam’s Mingana continues to make more embarrasingly silly comments, as cited by Sam from his favourite athiest book:
we are tempted to state that even when the Prophet was alive, some changes were noticed in the recital of certain verses of his sacred book.
Mingana is unaware of the ahruf and qiraat of the Quran.
[Note: qiraat are methods of reciting the Quran and memorising it, all revealed by Allah. More information here: http://www.bismikaallahuma.org/Quran/Q_Studies/qiraat.htm
ahruf: the Quran was revealed by Allah in 7 ahruf in order to make it easy for the Arabs to recite and memorise the Quran since they spoke in various dialects. more information here: http://www.bismikaallahuma.org/Quran/Q_Studies/ahruf.htm%5D
When the Prophet (P) was alive, he allowed the Muslims to recite the Quran in a number of ways, the Quran was revealed in seven ahruf by Allah because the Arabs during the time of Prophet Muhammed (P) used to speak Arabic in a number of dialects. Therefore to make the recitation and memorisation of the Quran easy, Allah revealed the Quran in seven ahruf. The ahruf are the ways that the verses of the Quran are read. Hence when the Prophet (P) was alive, he used to teach the Muslims himself how to recite the Quran in these ways, as revealed by Allah.
The reason the Prophet (P) requested the number of ahruf to be increased was to make the memorisation and recitation of the Qur’aan easier for his Ummah. The Prophet (P) prayed to increase the ahruf because in his ummah were “…old and young men and women, and those who have never read any writing.”Therefore, the limitations of the Qur’aan being in only one harf have been removed by Allaah as a blessing for this Ummah.
Chapter 10: The Ahruf of The Qur’aan, by Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’aan, pp. 172-183B (1999)
Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi mentions the wisdom behind the ahruf:
1) To facilitate the memorisation of the Qur’aan. This is the only benefit that is explicitly narrated in the hadeeth. The Arabs did not all speak Arabic in the same way; each tribe and locations had slight variations and peculiarities unique to it. If the Qur’aan had only been revealed in one harf, it would have been difficult for the many different Arab tribes to memorise the Qur’aan properly. However, since the Qur’aan was revealed in seven ahruf, this greatly eased its memorisation. This was of primary importance in its preservation and propagation.
2) To prove the miraculous nature of the Qur’aan. For despite all of these differences, the meanings of the ahruf did not contradict one another, but rather were complementary.
3) To prove the truthfulness of the Prophet Muhammad (P), for despite the fact that he was illiterate, the revelation of the Qur’aan occurred in different tribal dialects and different words, all of which consisted of the most fluent and eloquent speech of his time.
4) To honour the ummah of the Prophet Muhammad (P), and show its superiority over all other nations. No other nations had been given its book in such a manner, in varying ahruf, to ease the process of preservation. Thus, the revelation of the Qur’aan showed the unique status that the Prophet (PBUH), and his ummah, occupied over other nations. In one hadeeth, the Prophet (PBUH) remarked, “The earlier books would be revealed from one door (of heaven), in one harf, but the Qur’aan was revealed from seven doors (of Heaven), in seven ahruf.” 414
For more details: Chapter 10: The Ahruf of The Qur’aan, by Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’aan, pp. 172-183 (1999)
We are therefore not at all “shocked” nor “surprised” to learn that the Sahabis (Companions of the Prophet p) recited the Quran in more than one manner during the time of the Prophet (P) because the differences in recitation are themselvesrevealed by Allah and taught by the Prophet (P). When the Sahabis recited the Quran in these recitations, they were all taught to recite the Quran in these manners by the Prophet (P) himself and this is what they themselves stated. We will present the relevant citations in this regard shortly within this paper.
Mingana goes on to say:
There is nothing very surprising in this fact, since Muhammad could not read or write, and was at the mercy of friends for the writing of his revelations, or, more frequently, of some mercenary amanuenses.”
Yes, there is nothing suprising knowing the fact that the Muslims during the time of the Prophet (P) recited the Quran in a number of recitations that is because, as we explained above, the Prophet (P) himself had allowed and taught them to do so. It has nothing to do with the Prophet (P) being “at the mercy of friends”. It is true that Prophet Muhammed (P) could not read and write, but what has that got to do with the recitation of the Quran? Allah revealed all the ahruf and the differences between them were all revealed by Him and taught by the Prophet (P). Prophet Muhammed (P) had many scribes working under his supervision and they used to write the verses down infront of him and recite it back to him.
Another point to keep in mind is the memorisation of the Quran. The Quran is and always has been a memorised book. It was and is recited daily five times a day and this has been a continous process from the very time of its revelation. How come the scribes, and there were many, didn’t dispute amongst themselves if as Mingana implies they were changing the revelation as they wrote it down, which, according to Mingana, “explains” the differences in recitation? Didnt anyone notice they were allegedly creating recitations with their scribal activities and report it to the Prophet (P) or were everyone into the game? How could the Prophet (P), or anyone, miss noticing the differences in recitation if they were due to scribal activity and made no mention of it? What benefits did the scribes gain by allegedly creating recitations with their scribal activities and how could such an activity go un-noticed and undetected in the community? As usual the missionaries have no evidence to offer apart from another highly imaginative James Bond conspiracy theory of Biblical proportions which, uptill now, has been a very well guarded secret that no one has managed discover apart from some missionaries here and there. There is absolutely no proof and evidence for this charge in any source, not even a hint along these lines is mentioned in any source. In other words it is another example of Minganas convinient concoction. The fact is that the sahabis were taught the recitations of Quran by the Prophet (P) and they used to ask him (P) questions regarding the manner of its recitation:
‘Umar ibn al-Khattab narrated, “I was sitting in the masjid when I heard Hishaam ibn Hakeem recite Soorah al-Furqaan. I was almost about the jump on him in his prayer, but I waited until he finished, and then grabbed him by his garment and asked him, ‘Who taught you to recite in such a manner?'” He replied, ‘It was the Prophet (P) himself!’ I responded, ‘You are mistaken, for indeed I learnt this soorah from the Prophet (PBUH) and it was different from your recitation!’ Therefore, I dragged him to the Prophet (P) and complained to him that Hishaam had recited Soorah al-Furqaan in a manner different from what he (PBUH) had taught me. At this, the Prophet (P) told me to let go of Hishaam, and asked him to recite Soorah al-Furqaan. Hishaam recited the Soorah in the same way I had heard him before. When he finished, the Prophet (P) said, ‘It was revealed this way.’ He then asked me to recite the same soorah. When I had finished, he (P) said, ‘It was (also) revealed this way. Indeed, the Qur’aan has been revealed in seven different ahruf, so recite whichever one is easy for you.’“385
In a story similar to ‘Umar’s, ‘Ubay ibn Ka’ab also heard two people reciting the Qur’aan in a manner different from what he had learnt. After some discussion, both parties went to the Prophet (P) and recited the same portion to him. He (P) approved of both parties’ recitations. At this point, Ubay narrates, “…there occurred in my mind a sort of denial and doubt that did not exist even in the time of Jaahilliyah (before Islaam)! When the Messenger (P) saw how I was affected, he struck my chest, whereupon I started sweating, and felt as though I were looking at Allaah in fear! Then the Prophet (P) said, ‘O Ubay! A message was sent to me to recite the Qur’aan in one harf, but I requested (Allaah) to make things easy on my nation. A second message came that I should recite the Qur’aan in two ahruf, but I again made the same request. I was then ordered to recite the Qur’aan in seven ahruf.’“386
For more details: Chapter 10: The Ahruf of The Qur’aan, by Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’aan, pp. 172-183 (1999)
So the recitation of the Quran and the variations within them are not due to the scribal activity, they are due to Allah because that is how He revealed the Quran to Prophet Muhammed (P) in order to facilitate its memorisation and recitation. We also read that the sahabis state quite clearly that it was the Prophet (P) who taught them how to recite the Quran in a particular recitation and the Prophet (P) himself mentioned this when any sahabi approached him.
The islamic-awareness.org team raises an interesting point that refutes Minganas theory of “explaining” the reason for the differences in recitation of the Quran:
Further evidence against the view in question may be drawn from the Qirâ’ât themselves. It is certainly germane to the issue at hand to note that in many instances where the unmarked cUthmânic canon is capable of being read in diverse ways, we find the Qurra (i.e., the Readers) agreeing on a single reading. Such agreement can most reasonably be accounted for on the basis of a firmly established oral tradition of recitation. Take for example the verbal prefixes ta and ya (or tu or yu), which in the unmarked text would be represented by the same symbol. Taking the form turjacûna and yurjacûna as a case point we note that all the Qirâ’ât use the first of these forms in 2:245; 10:56; 28:88; 36:22, 83; 39:44; 41:21 and 43:85; while all use the second in 6:36 and 19:40.
There are also many words in the Qur’an which could be given different form than the one given in the readings, but in fact are not. For example, the word mukht in 17:106 is so read by all the readers, although there is no reason why it could not be read as mikth or makth. The verb khatifa-yakhtafu, which appears in 2:20; 22:31 and 37:10 could be correctly read as khatafa-yakhtifu, but all the Qirâ’ât keep the former form. A few other examples can be shown by refering to the books on Qirâ’ât.
So, if the Qurra invented the Qirâ’ât just because the earliest manuscripts were undotted, why then we see that they had converged to one single reading many times? The Christian missionary’s last resort will be to invoke two conspiracies on a massive scale from Spain to India; first, to achieve uanimity on one reading from vastly divergent readings and second, to fabricate the ijma’ on the Qur’an itself after that!
The emphasis is that Muslims just do not dump any readings as they all go back to the famous Companions of the Prophet(P) such as Ubayy, Ibn Mascud, Zaid Ibn Thâbit and cUthmân(R).
[Reply To Samuel Green’s “The Seven Readings Of The Qur’an” http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/Qiraat/green.html ]
Prof. Ahmad presents a number of examples that further elaborate upon the above point:
We would also like to make mention of a number of early manuscripts of the Quran written in a particular qiraat (recitation) clearly indicating the strong oral and written tradition:
The different ahruf are all directly from Allaah, and not from the Companions. In all the narrations where the Companions differed from each other, it was clear that each one had been taught directly from the Prophet (P), who was inspired by Allaah. This is why the Prophet (P) said to each one of the ahruf recited by ‘Umar and Hishaam, “It was revealed this way.
Chapter 10: The Ahruf of The Qur’aan, by Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’aan, pp. 172-183B (1999)
Quranic scholar, Prof Ahmad concludes:
In conclusion, we may say that variations in readings have existed since the Prophets lifetime and that all who differed in reading referred to the fact that they had been taught by the Prophet in this way.
[Ahmad Ali al Imam, Variant Readings Of The Quran: A Critical Study of their Historical and Linguistic Origins. The International Institute Of Islamic Thought. 1998 pp. 137.]
To sum it all up: The Prophet (P) taught the Muslims how to recite the Quran in a number of recitations, which are all revealed by Allah. The sahabis clearly stated that they were taught to recite the Quran in a particular recitation and the Prophet (P) confirmed this when any sahabi approached him (P) to ask questions. This itself refutes the hyothesis that the differences in recitation are due to scribal activity as no such evidence and hint is given in any traditions in this regard and when the Prophet (P) himself states categorically that the Quran was revealed this way. If free scribal activity, at any point in time, produced the recitations, then one would have expected to come across a significant amount of variations within the text of the Quran as we find in the text of the New Testament. However, that is not the case with the Quran, as the level of variations between the recitations are well within acceptable limits raising no doubts concerning its unity and integrity. Lastly, the convergence to a single reading many times, even though it can be read in other ways, is enough to refute the “explanation” of Mingana, as it clearly points towards a firmly established oral tradition of recitation as well as a firmly established written tradition.
Let us now take the example of the New Testament in order to see what is the outcome when free scribal activity, at any point in time and for any amount of duration, is unleashed upon a text. Biblical scholars and textual critics state that there are more differences in the New Testament textual tradition than there are words within it. The differences and variations are said to have arisen due to free unadulterated scribal activity in the earliest period and then the propagation of these variations as the manuscripts were copied and recopied. The result is that there is hardly any uniformity in the manuscript tradition. There is no single manuscript and no group of manuscript that can be followed mechanically in order to restore the text of the New Testament:
By way of conclusion, let it be emphasized again that
[Bruce M. Metzger. “The Text Of The New Testament. Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration.” Third Enlarged Edition. 1992. Oxford University Press. pp. 246.]
Not only were unintentional alterations introduced into the text of the New Testament, which is of course quite understandable as everyone makes spelling mistakes etc., but serious intentional changes were also introduced into the text in order to make it correspond to the theology and understanding of a community.
The burden of the present study is that they did, that theological disputes, specifically disputes over Christology, prompted Christian scribes to alter the words of Scripture in order to make them more serviceable for the polemical task. Scribes modified their manuscripts to make them more patently ‘orthodox’ and less susceptible to ‘abuse’ by the opponents of orthodoxy.
[The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, Bart Ehrman, pp. 3-4]
Over the passage of time these scribal alterations propagated during the process of copying the manuscripts, and new alterations were introduced into the text, both intentional as well as unintentional, so much so that today textual critics are striving hard to restore the earliest versions of the text. This version will of course not correspond to the so-called “original text” as the originals are long lost and hence cannot be used to compare with the restored version. Furthermore, the manuscripts that we have available today are the copies of the copies of the copies of the long lost “originals”, all imperfect copies. This is the mess one creates when reliance is put mostly upon the manuscript tradition because any change introduced in one copy will obviously propagate on and on as more copies are produced and as more changes are introduced in the copying process.
After presenting a typically bias orientalist view of the Quran, the Encyclopedia Brittanica admits in its conclusion, comparing the textual tradition of the Quran with that of the New Testament:
it can safely be said that the textual tradition of the Qur’an is much firmer and more uniform than that of the New Testament.
[Online Encyclopedea Brittanica. Under heading: Qur’an Views of those outside Islam]
We will have more to say concerning the integrity of the New Testament writings in the second section of our paper.
The lie concering Uthman ® and the burning of “competing” codices.
Now we move on to discuss one of the frequent pieces of polemic often raised by some ignorant Christian missionaries. Sam proceeds to throw his usual ignorant comments:
Mingana records the Muslim reaction to Uthman b. Affan’s burning and wholesale destruction of primary, competing Quranic codices
As we have mentioned before in our first rebuttal, there has never been any such thing as “primary, competing Quranic codices” in existent in any point in time. There is no mention of any “competing” codices, or even an idea of one, in the historical sources used by the orientalist Arthur Jeffery. In other words it is a concoction by Sam Shamoun (rather Jeffery as he is the one who first concocted this term) to deliberately give the misleading false impression to the readers. In his present paper, the missionary does not quote to us the “Muslim reaction”, what he quotes to us is merely Mingana’s reaction to the action of Uthman, which has, of course, nothing to do with the “Muslim reaction”. More details shortly.
Returning to the lie of “competing codics”, this lie, as we mentioned above, was first concocted by Arthur Jeffery. Kitab al Masahif, a source that he heavily relied upon, together with all other sources he used to base his work, do not mention the term “competing codics”, nor do they contain anything even vaguely implying or hinting towards an idea of “competing codics”. As a result of lack of evidence, Jeffery had no other alternative but to admit that the alleged “competing codics”were in reality not competing afterall:
Bergstrasser in his preliminary collection of the uncanonical readings of Ibn Masud and Ubai made an attempt to estimate the value of these two texts as compared with the Uthmânic text. With the increase of material one feels less inclined to venture on such a judgement of value.
[Arthur Jeffery, Materials For The History Of The Text Of The Qur’ân: The Old Codices, 1937, Leiden, E J Brill, p. 16.]
Jeffery concedes the lack of textual differences in the alleged “rival” Codices attributed to Ibn Masud and Ubay Ibn Ka’b when compared to the Uthmânic ‘text’ which basically means that the assumption of the so-called “rival Codices” itself waswrong to start with.
Jeffery’s shoddy “scholarship” is exposed at:
Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi’s book: http://www.bismikaallahuma.org/Quran/Q_Studies/jeffery.htm
More criticism of Jeffery’s shoddy “scholarship” are to be found here: http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/Gilchrist/
The above are sufficient to refute his theories.
Again, we need to study the Christian writings in order to gain some understanding of the idea and concept of “competing rival” books. It is the Christians who are guilty of actively taking part in the burning and wholesale destruction of primary, competing gospel books that were all once upon a time regarded as “scripture”. Renowned New Testament scholar and authoritative textual critic, Prof. Bart Ehrman, explains:
The Roman empire was a pagan empire, however, it was the dominant “superpower” of the time. Anyone who could enlist its aid would have an unconquerable ally at their side and would themselves be undefeatable. On the Roman side, Emperor Constantine was greatly troubled by the swelling ranks of his Christian subjects and the great division among their ranks which did not bode well for the continued stability of his empire.
Most of these fringe sects now began to fade into insignificance and the matter was now left between those who believed in the Unity of God and those who believed in a “Trinity.” The Roman empire’s support fluctuated between these two groups for a long time until the Trinitarian’s finally gained the upper hand and all but wiped the Unitarians off the face of the earth. Over the next centuries they slowly selected and collected the “truly inspired” gospels into one volume which later became the “New Testament.” They burned all other gospels. Many sweeping campaigns of “Inquisition” were launched. Everyone found possessing any of these “false” Gospels was put to death and his Gospel burned.
[Bart Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, p. 7]
The author of the gospel according to Luke himself considered all other gospel books as rival and competing gospels. This is obvious by reading the “preface” in his gospel. The author of Luke wrote:
As a number of attempts have been made to put together in order an account of those events which took place among us,
As they were handed down to us by those who saw them from the first and were preachers of the word,
It seemed good to me, having made observation, with great care, of the direction of events in their order, to put the facts in writing for you, most noble Theophilus;
[The Bible in Basic English Luke, Chapter 1 http://bible.christiansunite.com/bibles.cgi?b=Lu&v=bbe&c=1&verse=1&go.x=12&go.y=11%5D
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,
Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
[Authorized Version Luke, Chapter 1 http://bible.christiansunite.com/bibles.cgi?b=Lu&v=kjv&c=1&verse=1&go.x=8&go.y=12 ]
Note the author does not mention that he was “inspired” to write his gospel. Neither does he state that the other gospel writings were “scripture”. He indicates that he has had several predecessors in writing a narrative of the life of Jesus (P). He also concedes that his gospel is based upon oral traditions in circulation as the stories have been passed down by “eyewittnesses and ministers of the word.” He also made use of written sources. His reason for writing was because he deemed the attempts of his predeccessors of writing an orderly narrative to be inadequate and insufficient and believed he could do a better job at writing one. Therefore he wanted to write something that was more orderly, in contrast to his predecessors. This logically implies he considered the other gospel versions to be uninspired and non-scripture, that he considered them to be rival competing versions of the story of Jesus (P) and believed he could produce a better quality and more orderly literature compared to them. Hence he took part in the competition in the hope that his book would outshine the others. The author in other words states: “if others can do it then I can do it better.”
The impression one gets from the preface is that writing gospel narratives was pretty much a hobby of the people during those times. That they indulged in writing gospel narratives attempting to compose a narrative as orderly as possible, better than their rivals. Luke states that many have written gospel narratives before him. Hence the gospel according to Mark was not the only pre-Lucan gospel, there were many other gospels as well that are now lost for posperity.
Since the author of Luke made use of oral and written sources, he made a number of changes to them in order to shape them to his theology. Luke made use of Mark, one of his predecessor, and when we compare the two gospels, we notice that the author of Luke made numerous changes and alterations to the gospel according to Mark, ranging from stylistic to theological changes. Lukes treatment of the gospel according to Mark itself is a strong indication that he did not consider it to be authoritative but simply considered it another rival competing gospel narrative that needed a face lift and a number of improvements. Similarly, Matthew also made numerous changes and alterations to the Marcan narrative.
. . . neither evangelist liked Marks’s redundancies , awkward Greek expressions, uncomplimentary presentation of the disciples and Mary, and embarrassing statements about Jesus. When using Mark, both expanded the Marcan accounts in the light of postresurrectional faith.
[Raymond E. Brown, S.S. “An Introduction To The New Testament.” The Anchor Bible Reference Library. 1997 Doubleday. ISBN: 0-385-24767-2 pp. 115]
We will now present some examples of how the authors of Luke and Matthew altered passages in the gospel according to Mark, stylistically as well as theologically in their endeavour to produce a better quality product lacking the many shortcomings of Marcan narrative. We begin with Matthew, Christian scholar, Raymond E. Brown, presents a number of examples of how Matthew corrected and altered Mark:
- Matt writes Greek with more polish than Mark by eliminating difficult phraseology and double expressions and by smoothing out patterns, e.g., Matt 15:39 changes the unrecognizable place-name of Mark 8:10, “Dalmanutha”; 26:34 drops the first time indicator in Mark 14:30, “today, this very night”; 26:45 drops the untranslatable Greek word apechei of Mark 14:41; 26:42 supplies words for Jesus’ second Gethsemane prayer, contrasted to Mark 14:29.
- Matt omits or changes passages in Mark unfavorable to those whose subsequent career make them worthy of respect, e.g., the omission of Mark 3:21 where Jesus’ family thinks he is beside himself, of Mark 8:17 where Jesus asks whether the disciples’ hearts are hardened, of Mark 8:22-26 which dramatizes the slowness of the disciples to see, and of Mark 9:10,32 where the disciples do not understand the concept of resurrection from the dead; also the change of the ambitious questioner from the sons of Zebedee in Mark 10:35 to their mother in Matt 20:20.
- Reflecting christological sensibilities, Matt is more reverential about Jesus and avoids what might limit him or make him appear naive or superstitious, e.g., Matt 8:25-26 changes the chiding question posed by the disciples to Jesus in Mark 4:38 and eliminates Jesus’ speaking to the wind and sea in the next Marcan verse; 9:22 eliminates the implication in Mark 5:30-31 that Jesus did not know who touched him and that the disciples thought he had asked a foolish question; 13:55 changes to “carpenter’s son” the description in Mark 6:3 of Jesus as a carpenter; 15:30-31 omits Mark’s account (7:32-36) of the spittle healing of the deaf mute; 19:16-17 changes Mark 10:17 18 to avoid the implication that Jesus cannot be called good, for God alone is good; 21:12-13 omits Mark 11:16 and the picture of Jesus blockading the Temple.
- Matt heightens the miraculous element found in Mark, e.g., Matt 14:21 increases Mark’s 5,000 in the multiplication of the loaves by adding women and children; 14:24 increases the distance of the boat of the disciples from the shore in the walking-on-the-water scene; 14:35 insists that Jesus healed all who were sick; 15:28 has the woman’s daughter healed instantly.
[Raymond E. Brown, S.S. “An Introduction To The New Testament.” The Anchor Bible Reference Library. 1997 Doubleday. ISBN: 0-385-24767-2 pp. 204-205]
Clearly Matthew did not regard Mark to be “scripture”. Hence here we see how one author made extensive use of the material of a rival competing gospel, in this case Mark, and altered it to meet his needs.
Raymond Brown also presents a number of examples of how Luke used and corrected Mark. Since Luke considered the narratives of his predecessors unorderly, he was particularly critical of the sequence order within Mark. Carefully note how he reorders the Marcan narrative. Raymond Brown explains:
- Luke improves on Mark’s Greek, bettering the grammar, syntax, and vacabulary, e.g., in 4:1, 31, 38 and passim by omitting Mark’s overused “immediately”; in 20:22 by changing a Latinism like kensos (=census) from Mark 12:14; in 20:23 by substituting the more exact “craftiness, treachery” for the “hypocrisy” of Mark 12:15.
- Luke states at the beginning his intention to write carefully and in an orderly manner (1:3); accordingly he rearranges Marcan sequence to accomplish that goal, e.g., Jesus’ rejection at Nazareth is put at the opening of the Galilean ministry rather than after some time had elapsed (Luke 4:16-30 vs. Mark 6:1-6) in order to explain why his Galilean ministry was centered at Capernaum; the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law is placed before the call of Simon and companions (4:38-5:11 vs. Mark 1:16-31) in order to make more logical Simon’s willingness to follow Jesus; Peter’s denials of Jesus are put before the Sanhedrin trial in preference to Mark’s complicated interweaving of the two. At times Luke’s orderliness is reflected in avoiding Marcan doublets (Luke does not report the second multiplication of loaves) whereas Matt likes to double features and persons. Yet Luke has a double sending out of the apostles/disciples (9:1-2; 10:1).
- Because of changes made in material received from Mark, Luke occasionally creates inconsistencies, e.g., although in Luke 5:30 the partners in the conversation are “the Pharisees and their scribes,” 5:33 speaks of “the disciples of the Pharisees,” as if the Pharisees were not present; although in 18:32-33 Luke takes over from Mark the prediction that Jesus will be mocked, scourged, and spit on by the Gentiles, Luke (unlike Mark 15:16-20) never fulfills that prediction; Luke has changed the Marcan order of the denials of Peter and the Jewish mockery of Jesus but forgotten to insert the proper name of Jesus in the new sequence, so that at first blush Luke 22:63, in having “him” mocked and beaten, seems to refer to Peter, not Jesus. See also n. 67 above.
- Luke, even more than Matt, eliminates or changes passages in Mark unfavorable to those whose subsequent career makes them worthy of respect, e.g., Luke omits Mark 3:21,33,34 and (in 4:24) changes Mark 6:4 in order to avoid references detrimental to Jesus’ family; Luke omits Mark 8:22-26 which dramatizes the slowness of the disciples to see, and Mark 8:33 where Jesus calls Peter “Satan”; in the passion Luke omits the predicted failure of the disciples, Jesus’ finding them asleep three times, and their flight as reported in Mark 14:27,40-41,51-52.
- Reflecting christological sensibilities, Luke is more reverential about Jesus and avoids passages that might make him seem emotional, harsh, or weak, e.g., Luke eliminates: Mark 1:41,43 where Jesus is moved with pity or is stern; Mark 4:39 where Jesus speaks directly to the sea; Mark 10:14a where Jesus is indignant; Mark 11:15b where Jesus overturns the tables of the money changers; Mark 11:20-25 where Jesus curses a fig tree; Mark 13:32 where Jesus says that the Son does not know the day or the hour; Mark 14:33-34 where Jesus is troubled and his soul is sorrowful unto death; Mark 15:34 where Jesus speaks of God forsaking him.
- Luke stresses detachment from possessions,77 not only in his special material (L), as we shall see below, but also in changes he makes in Mark, e.g., followers of the Lucan Jesus leave everything (5:11,28), and the Twelve are forbidden to take even a staff (9:3).
- Luke eliminates Mark’s transcribed Aramaic names and words (even some that Matt includes) presumably because they were not meaningful to the intended audience, e.g., omission of Boanerges, Gethsemane, Golgotha, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani. 78
- Luke may make Marcan information more precise, presumably for better storyflow, greater effect, or clarity, e.g., Luke 6:6 specifies that the next scene (Mark 3:1: “again”) took place “on another Sabbath”; Luke 6:6 specifies “the right hand” and 22:50 “the right ear”; Luke 21:20 clarifies or substitutes for Mark’s “abomination of desolation:’
[Raymond E. Brown, S.S. “An Introduction To The New Testament.” The Anchor Bible Reference Library. 1997 Doubleday. ISBN: 0-385-24767-2 pp. 263-265.]
Hence we see that the author of Luke altered Mark in order to arrive at a better, more orderly, refined and an improved product compared to the rival competing gospels. Mark was another rival competing gospel to him and nothing more than this.
The well-known New Testament scholar, R.M. Grant, states:
It is obvious that neither Matthew nor Luke regarded the gospel as fully satisfactory, for while they incorporated most of it in their own writings they did not hesitate to improve its style, its arrangement and its theological ideas.
[Robert M. Grant, A Historical Introduction to the New Testament. Part Two: New Testament Literature http://www.religion-online.org/cgi-bin/relsearchd.dll/showchapter?chapter_id=1228]
Therefore by studying and comparing the Gospels, it becomes clear that these are competing gospels as their authors were in competition with their rivals who were also producing gospel narratives. The differences and similarities between the synoptics also clearly indicates how their authors improved the stories and refined them in order to promote their particular theological views and opinions.
The problem does not cease here. If we study the gory details of the history of the canonization of the New Testament documents, we see that in the past the Christians followed a much larger collection of books than they do today. Hence from a pile of competing books, a few were chosen and inserted into the canon based upon a number of questionable criterias while the rest were rejected. There were many more competing Christian sects in the past who had with them their own rival competing books in competition with the books of their rivals, that were outright rejected by other competing Christian sects. The winner of the conflict usually destroyed the others rival competing books or discouraged its public reading and following.
Over the passage of time, based upon a number of highly problamatic and questionable criterias, some books were selected from a large collection of competing books and labelled “scripture”. However, despite all the efforts to get rid of the competing books of their rivals, the Christians were never able to unite upon a single accepted collection of books. The situation today is that every Christian sect has its own Bible, or its own collection of books. Some of the books accepted by the Catholics are considered “apocrypha” by the Protestants, whereas other sects, such as Ethopiacs, have a much larger Bible. So we see that there were many competing Christian sects in the past who followed a host of competing books, many of which have long disapeared and some of which are accepted as “scripture” by one sect and labelled “apocrypha” by another.
Hence the missionary polemic of “competing Quran codics” is nothing more than their psycological projection towards the Muslims. Because the Christians had many competing books in their past and present, they therefore have this desperate wish and desire within them that the Muslims should also have been in the same mess with regards to their scripture. However, since they realize we never faced any such problems and issues with regards to our scripture, they as a result conviniently proceed to concoct terms such as “competing Quranic codics”, together with some false claims, merely to give themselves mental satisfaction by way of delusions. It is the missionary belief and mentality that because we, Muslims, did not face the same problems as they did with regards to their scriptures, hence it is acceptable to concoct a scenario and then to drag the Muslims into it even though such an occurance and situation never took place in the Muslim history. They feel that making such concoctions would alter reality, however, unfortunately for them it does not work that way.
Now we proceed to analyse Mingana’a reaction, and not the “Muslim reaction”, to the action undertaken by the third Caliph Uthman:
“The book, drawn up by this method, continued to be authoritative and the standard text till 29-30 A.H. under the caliphate of ‘Uthman. At this time the wonderful faithfulness of Arab memory was defective, and according to a general weakness of human nature, the Believers have been heard reciting the verses of the Koran in a different way.
Mingana is seriously guilty of grossly distorting the facts and resorting to telling cheap lies in order to forward his polemics against the Quran. There is no source that states that the Arab “memory” was “defective” during the time of Uthman and hence the decision to produce and distribute the mushafs. Where did Mingana pull this one from? Furthermore, the fact that the Muslims recited (and still do) the Quran in different ways of recitations was not due to their alleged “defective memory”. The different recitations, as we explained in detail above, were taught by the Prophet (P) himself, as Allah revealed the Quran in all those recitations, and the sahabis themselves stated quite clearly that they had been taught to recite the Quran in those manner by the Prophet (P). Therefore to say that the difference in recitation was due to their alleged “defective memories” is nothing short of a huge lie and an example complete ignorance of the topic at hand. The action taken during the time of Uthman ® will be explained shortly.
Earlier he stated that the differences in recitation were noticed during the time of the Prophet (P) and this Mingana explained away as being due to the activity of the scribes. Hence his theory was that scribal activity gave rise of different recitations. Now he says that because the “Arab memory” was “defective” during the time of the Caliphate of Uthman ®, the Muslims were reciting the Quran differently. This is the inconsistency we see in the writings of polemicists as they are not interested in telling the truth but are only interested in propagating their baseless propaganda.
According to the mentality of Mingana and his likes (missionaries), one does not need to bring forth proof and evidence against the Quran, the rule is simple, you invent an allegation and accusation and then hurl it towards your opponent (Muslims). Mingana and his likes are so much into themselves that they believe they are above the need to produce their proof and evidence in support of their allegations, they expect everyone to take their word for granted as gospel truth. Hence, because Mingana says the Arab memory was “defective”, so we are to blindly accept it as the Gospel truth simply because Mingana said it. Never mind he brought no proof and evidence in support of his allegation. Since he makes an allegation against the Quran and Muslims so it must be true by default. This is the mentality of the missionaries and their long dead spiritual godfather in deception, Mingana.
The fact of the matter is that there is no source which states that the Arab memory was “defective” during the time of Uthman (R) that resulted in different recitations. All the references and sources that mention the action undertaken by Uthman (R) have absolutely nothing to say concerning the alleged“defective memory” of the Arabs. They merely mention the differences in recitation of the Quran amongst the non-Arabs and certain ignorant Arabs in the far-flung provinces of the Muslim lands that lead to the decision to produce mushafs of the Quran in order to distribute them to the provinces. Obviously the Muslim memory was operating quite well as they detected the inauthentic recitations and produced mushafs containing the authentic recitations of the Quran taught by the Prophet (P).
We would also like to state here that Uthman (R) did not take any unilateral action with regards to the Quran. He was in no position to do so and had no power to undertake such a major task on his own in order to impose his will upon the Muslims. That is because by his time Islam (and with it the Quran) had already spread far and wide well beyond the confines Arabia. The Quran was not Uthman’s (R) personal property but was in the possession of the general people of all the Muslim lands. In other words the Quran by the time of Uthman (R), in fact from the moment of its revelation, was public property i.e., in the hands of the people at large, spread over a wide geographical region, preserved in their memories. Hence it was logically and humanly impossible for the third caliph to destroy all that he personally disliked and force upon the people that which he personally preferred even if he wanted to do so.
During his time, Muslims started differring amongst themselves with regards to the RECITATION of the Quran in the far flunged provinces like Azerbaijan. Prophet Muhammed (P), as we explained above, had allowed the Muslims to recite the Quran in a number of recitations in order to make it easy for them to recite and memorise it. There were, however, ignorant individuals who used to boast and say their way of recitation was superior to the others in some of these far-flung provinces. These Muslims were not the companions of the Prophet (P) and were not trained in the proper manner and etiquette of the recitation of the Quran. When one of the Companions present amongst them, Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamaan, advised them to leave this argumentation, and realised that some action must be taken to prevent this occurance on a larger scale. He reported this to the third Caliph Uthman (R).
It was therefore decided, not by one individual but by everyone through consultations and discussions, to unite the Muslims upon the proper recitations of the Quran. The other mushafs were eradicated (which contained non-Quranic material such as tafsir, hadith and duas etc. These were personal notebooks of the sahabis and nothing more than this.)
[suhuf means loose pieces of writing materials such as paper, etc. whereas Mushaf (plural=masahif) means the collected suhuf as in the form of a book, between two covers.]
The action of Uthman (R) was agreed upon by ALL the companions and they praised him for his action:
Uthman burnt only the masahif that varied from the final revelation and preserved that which was agreed upon, 31 that he did nothing without the consultation and consent of all the Companions, and, furthermore, that if he were in Uthman’s position he would have done the same thing.32
[Ahmad ‘Ali al Imam “Variant Readings Of The Qur’an: A Critical Study Of Their Historical And Linguistic Origins.” pg. 27. ]
Concerning the burning of the mushafs, I swear by Allaah, he only did this after he had called all of us.
[Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi. “Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’aan” pg. 136]
Zaid is reported to have said: I saw the companions of Muhammad (going about) saying, “By Allah, Uthman has done well! By Allah, Uthman has done well!” [Nisaburi]
Ibn Abi Dawud records Musab ibn Sad ibn Abi Waqqas to have testified:
“I saw the people assemble in large number at Uthman’s burning of the proscribed copies; not a one spoke out against him.” Ali commented, “If I were in command in place of Uthman, I would have done the same.”[Zarkashi]
The mushaf that Abu Bakr (R) ordered to be collected was not meant to be an official copy that the whole ummah had to follow. It was meant to preserve the Quran in its entirety, and ensure that none of its verses were lost. This mushaf was made two years after the death of Prophet Muhammed (P), and was made because many memorizers of the Quran were martyred during the battle of Yamamah. Uthman (R) simply reproduced this mashaf faithfully and he was supported by the Companions for this action and people praised him for his good work.
Zaid was again asked to put an end to these variations which had begun to scandalize the votaries of the Prophet. That indefatigable compiler, assisted by three men from the tribe of Quraish, started to do what he had already done more than fifteen years before. The previous copies made from the first one written under Abu Bakr were all destroyed by special order of the caliph
Zaid was not asked to put an end to the variations, he was asked to reproduce the mushaf of Abu Bakr ®, mushafs that would contain the authentic recitations (qiraat or variant recitations) of the Quran in a number of copies that would be subsequently distributed to the provinces. The mushaf that Abu Bakr ordered to be collected was not meant to be an official copy that the whole ummah had to follow. Rather, it was meant to preserve the Quran in its entirety, and ensure that none of its verses were lost. The primary purpose of this compilation was to serve as a basis for the Uthmanic compilation. Zaid’s job was to simply reproduce the copy kept with Hafsa (R) and he was not alone in this task as many others were working with him. Once the copies had been made, the mushaf was returned to Hafsa. What were destroyed were simply the personal notebooks of the sahabis, and this decision was made only after the Muslims reached a concensus by discussing this issue thoroughly and openly. Hence it was not something that Uthman ® imposed upon the people with their utter disaproval. The reason for burning the personal note books, scraps and bones was that in the future a situation would not arise whereby ignorant individuals would use them to create any sort of fitna and disputes amongst the Muslims with regards to the recitation of the Quran. Even then, we have evidence that not all-personal notebooks were destroyed. However their variations were not significant enough so as to caste doubts over the integrity of the Quran. We have also already read that the Companions of the Prophet (P) were quite happy regarding the action undertaken during the time of Uthman ® of burning these personal notebooks and scraps because it was done with their concensus and full approval. It was humanly impossible for Uthman to have taken a unilateral action with regards to any aspect of the Quran when we know that by his time Islam had already spread well beyond Arabia. We will have more to say concerning this issue shortly with a number of points to support our arguments and expose the ignorance of these missionary polemicists.
Oral Transmission of the Quran.
Mingana continues to make his usual absurd and factually erroneous comments:
The critic remarks that the only guarantee of the authenticity of the Koran is the testimony of Zaid; and for this reason, a scholar who doubts whether a given word has been really used by Muhammad, or whether it has been only employed by Zaid on his own authority, or on the meagre testimony of some Arab reciters, does not transgress the strict laws of high criticism.
No, it is not the sole testimony of Zaid that is the only guarantee to the authenticity of the Quran. Mingana is ignorant regarding the level of the oral transmission of the Quran and how it has come down to us. Muslims, from the lifetime of Prophet Muhammed (P) have completely memorised the Quran cover to cover. The memorisation of the Quran has been a continous process, with no interruption in its transmission at any point in time. It is a revelation that was *always*recited from the very beginning not once, not twice, but five times a day publicly and openly, and was memorised by many Sahabis (Companions) and many had it written down in their own personal notebooks.
The Quran is a very easy book to memorise, thus we have kids as young as five and eight who have completely memorised the Quran, and its oral transmission is mutawatir, as such their can be no doubt about its authenticity. Today there are millions upon millions of individuals around the world who have completely memorised the Quran. Millions more who have memorised large portions of the Quran, and millions more who have memorised medium portions and millions upon millions upon millions more who have memorised atleast minor sections of the Quran. This process of memorisation and recitation (open public recitation) has been a continous process going back to the time of Prophet Muhammed (P) without any interruption in the transmission process. As such there can be no doubt at all regarding the authenticity of the Quran because what we have here (oral transmission) is far more reliable than a bunch of manuscripts.
The Quran has not been passed from one individual to another, instead, it has been passed from one generation to the next. It is a book that has always been in the hands of the people at large. It has been narrated by so many people at each and every generation and stage, over such a wide geographical area that there can be no doubt at all regarding its authenticity. Indeed, it would be downright ridiculous to question the authenticity of such a mass narrated, recited, memorised book. Muslims are united today upon one Quran, with the level of variations well within the acceptable limits. This could not have been possible had there been massive differences, or even minor disputes, regarding the Quran from the beginning years of Islam, or had there been any interuption in its transmission process. The Oral transmission of the Quran was widespread (and still is) and done on a daily basis due to the Muslim recitations in congregations and in prayers since the very begining of Islam.
Therefore the oral transmission of the Quran, as described above, is the undisputed and unchallengable guarantee to its authenticity.
Furthermore, Zaid was not working alone while producing mushafs in the authentic recitations. He was assisted in his task by many Companions of the Prophet, who had, like him, completely memorised the Quran. Even though anuone of these memorisers, such as Zaid for example, could have written the entire Quran solely from their memory with relative ease, they still worked meticulously, employing extremely strict criterias to ensure the authenticity of the compilation. For example, it was made sure that there were atleast two other memorisers of the verse, and a written copy of the verse, written under the direct supervision of the Prophet (P).
Zaid, being a complete memoriser of the Quran like many other Companions, could have avoided this hassle and written the entire Quran very easily since he had memorised it completely. However, he did not chose the easy option, he still followed these criterias even though the work could have been accomplished without adhering to them.
The committee consulted all the Companions concerning even such minor details as the spellings of certain words. And if there was a difference of opinion, then they called that particular scribe who had written the verse for the Prophet (P) so that they could know how he spelt the word! This demonstrates the concerns that the early Muslims had for the text of the Quran and how meticulously and hard they worked to preserve it.
Compare this to the Christian attitude towards their scripture, the earliest Christians did not even look upon the New Testament books as “scripture”. That is why these books were freely altered and changed based upon the whims and fancies of the Christians in the earliest period. Further, this evolution of the Christian texts continued for a very long time, so that now the textual critics of the New Testament need to make guesses as to which may be the “best” reading, let alone the “original”, in their humble opinion. Well-known and authoritative New Testament textual critic, Prof. Bart Ehrman states:
. . . most of the New Testament manuscripts actually date from the fourth century and beyond. With such sparse evidence from the early period, it is not always possible to locate a particular variant reading in a manuscript of the time. The problem is more apparent than real, however, as most scholars are convinced that this scant attestation is purely a result of the haphazard and fragmentary character of the surviving witnesses. The majority of textual variants that are preserved in the surviving documents, even the documents produced in a later age, originated during the first three Christian centuries.112
This conviction is not based on idle speculation. In contrast to the relative stability of the New Testament text in later times, our oldest witnesses display a remarkable degree of variation. The evidence suggests that during the earliest period of its transmission the New Testament text was in a state of flux , that it came to be more or less standardized in some regions by the fourth century, and subject to fairly rigid control (by comparison) only in the Byzantine period. 113 As a result, the period of relative creativity was early, that of strict reproduction late. Variants found in later witnesses are thus less likely to have been generated then than to have been reproduced from earlier exemplars. Additional evidence for this view derives from the fact that although our earliest witnesses are widely divergent both among themselves and in relation to the later types of text, they scarcely ever attest individual textual variants that do not also appear in one or another later source.114 Thanks to the discovery of early papyri during the present century, readings that may have appeared unusual when we had only later witnesses are now known to have occurred early. What, then, does this indicate about unusual readings of later sources that do not happen to be attested in the fragmentary remains of the ante-Nicene age? Although the merits of the claim need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis – as will happen in the course of this study – most scholars agree that even such “late” readings are by and large best understood as deriving from documents of the first three centuries, documents that simply have not chanced to survive the ravages of time. 115
[Bart D. Ehrman. “The Orthodox Corruption of Scriptures”, pp. 28-29]
Christian scholar, Sir Frederic Kenyon, observed a very long time ago that:
In the earliest days
[Sir Frederic Kenyon. “THE STORY OF THE BIBLE” A Popular Account Of How It Came To Us. New edition with a Supplementary Chapter by Bernard M. G. Reardon. First published 1936. Eighth impression 1955. Second edition 1964 pg. 105-106 ]
Therefore as far as the laws of “higher criticism” are concerned, the New Testament certainly does not transgress its minor laws let alone the “strict” laws. When we come to the oral transmission of the New Testament writings, they certainly are no match to the Qurans transmission by any standard. The Christians do not have a chain of transmission, or isnad, for their scriptures. Hence we can never be sure if Jesus (P), or any other individual, said and did the things attributed to them within the New Testament. When we come to manuscript evidence, then we jump into the pool of biblical confusions as far as the New Testament is concerned.
The problems of the Bible do not cease on the topic of textual integrity. The Christians have always been engaged in hot disputes among themselves regarding the acceptance of many books within their Bible. Some books accepted by the Catholics as part of the Bible are rejected by the Protestants as “apocrypha”, whereas the Ethopian Christians have a much larger canon of the Bible. Books that are today accepted within the canon of the Bible, such as Revelations and 2 Peter, had an extremely dubious history, as many Christians rejected them for a very long time. Martin Luther referred to the Epistle of James as the Epistle of straw! And yet these missionaries have the audacity to attack us when they know very well that our scripture is far better grounded compared to their own, which are in a mess of Biblical proportions.
Returning to the oral transmission of the Quran, Dr. Mohar states:
The practice of memorization continues still today in spite of the tremendous progress in the art of printing and in photo-mechanical and electronic reproduction and retrieval systems. Indeed the act of memorizing the Qur’an and of “learning” it and teaching it has been assigned a great religious merit by the Prophet so that even today Muslims can count among their ranks millions of huffaz of the entire Qur’an, whereas it is hard to find among the votaries of other religious systems even a single individual who can recite from memory a full chapter from his sacred text. Also, since the Prophet’s time it has been the continual practice of Muslims of all climes to complete the recitation of the whole Qur’an through the month-long special nightly tarawih prayer during Ramadan. No other people on earth have shown so much avidity and taken so meticulous a care to preserve the purity of their sacred texts as the Muslims have done.
[Dr. Muhammad Mohar. “The Qur’an and the Latest Orientalist Assumptions”. Chapter 4. MUHAMMAD IN THE CAVE (1999)]
[Note: huffaz is the plural of hafiz, and means memorizers of the Quran]
Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi explains:
The primary method of transmission of the Qur’aan has always been and always will be oral. Each generation of Muslims learns the Qur’aan from the generation before it, and this chain continues backwards until the time of the Companions, who learnt it from the Prophet (PBUH) himself. As ‘Umar ibn al-Khaattaab stated, “The recitation of the Qur’aan is a Sunnah; the latter generations must take it from the earlier ones. Thereofre, recite the Qur’aan only as you have been taught.” 415 This is the fundamental principal in the preservation of the Qur’aan.
[Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, “An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’aan”, pp. 184 (1999) , Al-Hidaayah Publishing and Distribution]
The transmission of the Quran is mutawattir. Br. Nadir Aqueel Ansari explains:
The Holy Qur’an has reached us through the process of tawatur – historical continuity and perpetuation achieved through transfer from generation to generation. When we say that the Qur’an has reached us through tawatur, we mean to say that so many people in every generation conveyed it to the next and so on that there can be no doubt about its authenticity. It would be incorrect to believe that a few persons in one generation transmitted it to a few persons in the next. It was handed over by the entire generations to the successive generations. The Generation of the Companions of the Holy Prophet witnessed the revelation and compilation of the Holy Qur’an during the life of the Holy Prophet and then handed it over to the next generation and so on.
The authenticity of the Holy Qur’an has far exceeded the need for any debate. In the presence of established history, we would not accept any individual reports and rumors that assail the Mutawatir Foundation. Since it has achieved the status of Tawatur, no odd Individuals’ Report would affect its credibility. When generations and generations of people without interruption hold the Qur’an as the one and only version of the divine guidance received from the Holy Prophet, such dissenting individual reports would not infringe upon its authenticity. The overwhelming evidence of millions of people would simply override the evidence of a few individuals.
[Nadir Aqueel Ansari. “The Holy Qur’an – Its Historical Authenticity” http://www.understanding-islam.com/related/text.asp?type=rarticle&raid=91%5D
Adrian Brockett after studying the Hafs and Warsh Qira’a says:
The transmission of the Qur’an after the death of Muhammad was essentially static, rather than organic. There was a single text, and nothing significant, not even allegedly abrogated material, could be taken out nor could anything be put in.
[Andrew Rippin (Editor), Approaches of The History of Interpretation of The Qur’an, 1988, Clarendon Press, Oxford, pp.44.]
Hence the argument that Zaid is the only wittness to the text of the Quran, or that the authenticity of the Quran rests solely upon his testimony, is obviously a false one. That is because we know that the Quran has come down to us in an unbroken chain of transmission from the lifetime of the Prophet (P). Thus the entire community has been responsible for passing the Quran down to generation after generation from the earliest period. As such the Quran has come down to us in a mutawattir chain of transmission that consists of the names of many sahabis and countless other individuals and not just Zaid alone. Furthermore, we know that Zaid did not work in isolation and that many others were working with him to produce the copies of the mushafs who had also completely memorised the Quran as he had. In other words the process of the production of the mushafs was an open project, there was nothing “hidden” or “secretive” concerning it. The general public knew about it very well and everyone was fully involved in its workings. Therefore there is no reason to speculate if a certain word or passage within the Quran has only been employed by Zaid, as Mingana speculates. Why would Zaid ever want to add words to the Quran? Was there any theological belief that he wished to propagte? What was it and what did he add and how did it personally benefit him?
If Zaid was inputting words and passages within the mushafs solely upon his authority, as Mingana speculates, which were alien and unknown to the rest within the community, then why didnt anyone object to Zaids alleged activity and raise the issue? Surely such an incident could not have gone down unrecorded by any source worth the name as it would have been impossible to surpress the news of the occurance of such an event. Zaid, even if he wanted to, could not have inserted any words or passages within the Quran solely upon his own authority as the Quran was not his personal property, it was the public property and as such the community, the general public, were very familiar with it and would have therefore immediately recognized and detected any additions to the text if any had been made. Hence it was not possible for Zaid to accomplish this task, and had he even attempted to undertake such a task, surely this activity would have been immediately detected by others and would have undoutedly been reported in the historical sources. Unless, of course, everyone in the community took part in this massive James Bond Conspiracy theory and miraculously managed to blot out their massive acitivites from the pages of history and the minds of all within the community. These are the types of unbelievably logically absurd and transparently stupid conspiracy theories the missionaries have to invoke in order to save their faces when they cannot respond to the questions. The simple fact is that there is nothing mentioned in any source that would substantiate Minganas speculation concerning the role of Zaid. Not even a vague hint along these lines is provided or implied by any historical source worth the name. Zaids role is clearly mentioned in the sources, we know he was an extremely honest and sincere individual, furthermore, even if he was not, it was impossible for him to accomplish the task that Mingana would have liked him to accomplish. Hence Mingana is merely raising baseless doubts by making baseless speculations that lack proof and evidence.
Why was Zaid chosen?
We would also like to know why Zaid was chosen for the task. Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi explains the reasons for selecting him to lead the task:
They chose Zayd because he was the person best suited for the job, for the following reasons:
1) He was the primary scribe of the Prophet (P), and it was because of this that Aboo Bakr said, “You used to write the revelation for the Prophet (P).” This is also shown by the above mentioned-narration in al-Bukhaaree in which the Prophet (P) ordered for Zayd to be called. Once, after the Prophet’s (P) death, some people entered in upon Zayd and asked him, “Narrate to us something from the Prophet (P).” He responded, “And what can I narrate to you? (or, “And what should I narrate to you?”) I used to be a neighbour of the Prophet (P), so whenever any inspiration came to him, he would call me to write it…” 246 Zayd, therefore, was the one whom the Prophet (P) had entrusted with the writing of the Qur’aan.
2) He had memorised the entire Qur’aan during the lifetime of the Prophet (P). Anas ibn Maalik said, “Only four people memorised the Qur’aan before the Prophet’s (P) death: Ubay ibn Ka’ab, Mu’aadh ibn Jabal, Zayd Ibn Thaabit and Aboo Zayd.” 247
[Note: The meaning of the above hadith is that these four were the foremost in the memorisation of the Quran, in other words, these companions were the most famous in their knowledge, not that only four individuals had memorised the Quran].
3) He was relatively younger than the other Companions, and thus his memory was sharper. He narrates concerning hismelf that when he was eleven years old, and the Prophet (P) had just arrived in Madeenah, “I was brought to the Prophet (P), and the people said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah (P)! This is one of the boys of (the tribe of) Banee an-Najjaar, and he has memorised seventeen soorahs.’ So I recited to the Prophet (P), and he was well pleased with that.” 248
4) He was present at the time of the Prophet’s (P) last recitation to Jibreel in the Ramadaan before he (P) died. The famous successor, Aboo ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan as-Sulamee (d. 70 A.H.), said, “Zayd witnessed the last recitation (of the Prophet (P) to Jibreel), and because of this, Aboo Bakr relied upon him in its compilation, and ‘Uthmaan put him in charge of writing it (during the second compilation).”
5) He was one of the most knowledgable Companions with regards to his recitation of the Qur’aan. Sulayman ibn Yasir (d. 100 A.H.) said, “Neither ‘Umar not ‘Uthmaan preferred anyone over Zayd ibn Thaabit when it came to the laws of inheritance…and the recitation of the Qur’aan.” ‘Aamir ibn Sharahlee ash-Sha’bee…said, “Zayd ibn Thaabit overwhelmed and conquered the people with his knowledge of the recitation (of the Qur’aan), and his knowledge of the laws of inheritance.” Such was his stature among the Companions ‘Umar, ‘Uthmaan and ‘Alee all appointed Zayd to be one of the main judges and reciters of Madeenah, and he remained in this post until he passed away in 45 A.H. The day he died, Ibn ‘Umar said, “May Allaah have mercy on him! He was a scholar amongst the people… ‘Umar sent out scholars to take over the judicial posts all over the Muslim lands, but he kept Zayd in Madeenah so that he could give verdicts amongst its inhabitants!”250
Thus, it is of little surprise that Aboo Bakr and ‘Umar both thought of Zayd as the person who should be given this monumental task, for he had in him all the qualities that were needed for this undertaking.
[Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, “An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’aan”, pp. 132-133. (1999) , Al-Hidaayah Publishing and Distribution.]
More on the role of Uthman ® and the issue of “variants”.
Mingana proceed to making more arguments from the silence:
If the memory of the followers of the Prophet has been found defective from the year 15 to 30 A.H. when Islam was proclaimed over all Arabia, why may it not have been defective from 612 to 632 C.E. when the Prophet was often obliged to defend his own life against terrible aggressors?
As mentioned earlier, we have not seen any evidence from Mingana, nor his prodigy, Sam Shamoun, in order to support their baseless theory and lie that the memory of the Companions of Prophet Muhammed (P) was “defective” from the year 15 to 30 A.H. This is a lie they have concocted upon which their baseless theories firmly rest. There is no source that states that the memory of the followers of the Prophet (P) was “defective” from the years 15 to 30 A.H. So what are they ranting about? If they have any evidence, then why are they keeping it a secret all to themselves? That is because they have no evidence to begin with as there is no source which states that the memory of the Companions of the Prophet (P) was “defective”. The reasons for the action undertaken during the time of the third caliph Uthman has been explained above in some detail, they being the differences of recitation among the new comers to Islam, primarily non-Arabs, and certain ignorant Arabs in the far flung provinces of the Muslims. This is clearly stated in the historical sources and references. Thus there is absolutely no talk concerning the allegedly“defective” memory of the Companions of Prophet Muhammed (P). Where has Mingana “found” that the memories of the followers of the Prophet (P) were “defective”? Just one place: his wild wild imagination. Thats all. No wonder why Mingana appeals to certain missionaries! The level of the oral transmission of the Quran has already been explained above which is sufficient to expose the ignorance of Sam’s“scholar” Mingana.
Next Mingana asks us a question:
And if the first recension of Zaid contained always the actual words of Muhammad, why was this compiler not content with re-establishing it in its entirety, and why was the want of a new recension felt by ‘Uthman?
Mingana is obviously abundantly ignorant regarding the reasons leading up to the compilation in the time of Abu Bakr and that of Uthman and the different situations prevalent in their respective times. This fundamental piece of information he could have obtained from any elementary foundational book dealing with the topic of ulum al Quran. But why would Mingana bother to do that research since doing so would make it impossible for him to attack the Quran? In anycase, let us educate him regarding this elementary issue, well, atleast we can educate a few missionaries in the process.
Abu Bakr’s compilation of the mushaf differed from Uthman’s in the following ways:
1) The reason that each of them compiled the Quran was different. To begin with, the Quran was already in the hands of the Muslims during the very lifetime of Prophet Muhammed (P) and it was also written down in his (P) lifetime. However, the Quran was not put together in the form of a mushaf meaning binded between two covers – because revelations were being revealed to the Prophet (P) even near the very end of his life. Thus the Quran was preserved not only in people’s memory, but also in written form in various personal notebooks of the Sahabis, pieces of bones, leaves, skins etc., however not in the form of mushaf, or a book form between two covers containing the proper surah order.
Abu Bakr compiled the Quran in response to the large number of deaths of those who had memorised the Quran. Even though there were still many alive who had memorised the complete Quran, it was nevertheless decided to collect all the material on which the Quran was written during the life of the Prophet (P) in his presence, to tie it together with a string just to be on the safe side. Hence loose papers, known as suhuf, were collected from the house of the Prophet (P) and tied together. Furthermore, the mushaf that Abu Bakr ordered to be collected was not meant to be an official copy that the whole ummah had to follow. It simply contained the Quran in its entirety, and since the people already knew the Quran by heart as it was preserved in their memories, there was no pressing need to make its copies and distribute it to the people as they already knew it and had it. This indicates that there was no major danger of the Quran being lost. Rather, it was meant to preserve the Quran in its entirety, and ensure that none of its verses were lost even though many still had it completely memorised.
On the other hand, copies of the Quran were made from Abu Bakr’s mushaf during the time of Uthman due to theinauthentic recitations that the newcomers to Islam, primarily non-Arabs, and ignorant Arabs, in far flunged provinces, were reciting. In order to eliminate this dispute in its initial stage, it was decided to make copies of the Quran in the proper recitations and distribute them to the various Muslim provinces. This was done for the benefit of the non-Arabs as well as certainignorant Arabs who were not trained in the proper recitations of the Quran and had not studied under the Prophet’s (P) guidance. Thus, the Muslims were united upon the proper recitations of the Quran in the time of Uthman. Furthermore, the action taken by Uthman was supported by all the Companions who praised him for his good work as we have discussed above.
2) During the time of Abu Bakr, only one mushaf was made that was not meant to be an official copy. On the other hand during the time of Uthman numerous copies were made that were then distributed to the various Muslim provinces, accompanied with many Companions who had completely memorised the Quran and knew how to recite it as taught by the Prophet (P). Uthman therefore merely ordered the rewriting, or recopying, of Abu Bakr’s mushaf.
Thus the issue has absolutely nothing to do with the allegedly “defective” memory of the Arabs as Mingana has quite foolishly brought himself to imagine. There is no mention of the alleged “defective” memory of the Arabs during the time of Abu Bakr. The facts that the suhuf produced during his time were not meant as an official copy and were neither distributed to the Muslims obviously implies there was no concern amongst the people of the Quran getting lost. Hence the argument of “defective memory” is a false one. Again there is no mention of the allegedly “defective” memory of the Arabs when we come to the time of Uthman. The only issue here is that during his time many non-Arabs had come into the fold of Islam. Hence there was a need to distribute copies of the Quran to the provinces containing the recitations taught by the Prophet (P) for the benefit of these newcomers as well as certain ignorant Arabs who were unaware of the proper etequites and manners of reciting the Quran.
Now what seems to be confusing Mr. Mingana and his prodigy Sam? During the time of Abu Bakr, one copy was made, rather loose papers were tied together, which was an unofficial copy, whereas during the time of Uthman, this copy was re-coppied and sent to various provinces.
How can it be that in the short space of fifteen years such wonderful variants could have crept into the few copies preceding the reign of the third caliph that he found himself bound to destroy all those he could find?
What Uthman destroyed, with the concensus of the Companions, were the personal copies or note books of the Companions. These contained the Quran and material besides the Quran such as hadith of the Prophet (P), Dua’s, tafsir and the aborgated material, which the Companions had written down for their own personal use, as we do even today. Of course, the Companions knew very well that these were not a part of the Quran. However, by the time of Uthman, many non-Arabs were coming into the fold of Islam. Thus there was a danger that may be some time in the future, these newcomers, together with some ignorant Arabs, may use these notebooks and scraps to generate conflicts between Muslims due to their lack of knowledge regarding the proper recitation of the Quran and their general ignorance of the matter. As such, it was decided to eliminate all other copies, and this action was praised by the Companions of Prophet Muhammed (P) because it was taken with their consent and approval.
Therefore, if Uthman was destroying the so called alleged “rival codics” which the missionaries see in their dreams day and night, then why were the people praising him? To explain again, by the time of Uthman, Islam had spread far and wide well beyond the confines of Arabia, by his time the population of the Muslims was well past hundreds and thousands, maybe million, and Islam was firmly established over a wide geographical region. Furthermore, there were already differences emerging among Muslims regarding various other issues (issues extremely minor and insignificant compared to any aspect of the Quran) which eventually lead to the martyrdom of Uthman and deep divisions among Muslims. Uthman was an old and weak man who could not enforce his personal choices upon a people scattered over such a wide geographical region. In fact even a strong leader such as Omar could not have imposed his views and likes upon a people scattered over such a wide area, especially on a matter that was so dear and close to the hearts of everyone and was preserved in their minds and chests.
People disobeyed Uthman and openly refused to follow his orders regarding various minor matters and even plotted against him and finally martyred him. Then how is it that these people, who always took an issue with Uthman over themost minor of matters and issues, suddenly gave him no trouble and strong opposition when it came to the issue of the Quran, which all believed to be Gods very word? How is it possible that Uthman faced no major opposition or even a credable minor opposition worth the name when it came to the matter most dear to the general public, that being the matter of the Quran, when we know that people strongly and openly opposed him in virtually all-insignificant matters and gave him severe opposition?
Thus Uthman (R) could not have done what he did had it not been for the support of the people he recieved. Therefore the missionary allegation that Uthman “destroyed” the “rival codics” in order to make his personal codic reign supream simply makes no sense and belies common sense and logic as it was a humanly impossible task for him or any other leader to accomplish.
There is no evidence in the books of history that Uthman (R) ever faced sever opposition from the people or faced a well-organised minor opposition in this matter. It is well known that Uthman was an extremely gentle and meek old man, and his gentleness proved to be his major weakness in the end. Uthman was praised and supported by the people and all the actions that he undertook were taken with the concensus of the Companions. That is why no serious scholar adheres to the absurd and highly illogical and senseless views of the likes of Mingana and his stoogies since they are so downright ridiculous to begin with. The majority of non-Muslim scholars have therefore come to the following conclusion:
If any great changes by way of addition, suppression or alteration had been made, controversy would almost certainly have arisen; but of that there is little trace. ‘Uthman offended the more religious among Muslims, and ultimately became very unpopular. Yet among the charges laid against him, that of having mutilated and altered the Qur’an is not generally included, and was never made a main point. The Shi’a, it is true, has always held that the Qur’an was mutilated by the suppression of much which referred to ‘Ali and the Prophet’s family. This charge, however, is not specially directed against ‘Uthman, but just as much against the first two caliphs, under whose auspices the first collection is assumed to have been made. It is also founded on dogmatic assumptions which hardly appeal to modern criticism. On general grounds then, it may be concluded that the ‘Uthmanic revision was honestly carried out, and reproduced, as closely as was possible to the men in charge of it, what Muhammad had delivered.
Modern study of the Qur’an has not in fact raised any serious questions of its authenticity. The style varies, but is almost unmistakable. So clearly that the whole bear the stamp of uniformity that doubts of its genuineness hardly arise.
[W M Watt & R Bell, Introduction To The Qur’an, 1994, Edinburgh at University Press, p. 51.]
Many fundamentalist Christian missionaries have also come to the above conclusion after studying the matter in some detail despite their outright vehement hostility towards Islam and Muslims. For example, the following polemical missionary book now advertised on answering-islam has the following statement to make:
But notwithstanding the number of enemies ‘Uthman had, his Qur’an held its ground, and as any valid cause of opposition would have found eager partisans, we must assume from the general acceptance given to it, that it was looked upon as genuine. By far the most serious objection to it is that made by the Shi’ahs,though there is no good historical evidence that ‘Ali or his followers in the earliest period ever rejected ‘Uthman’s book. The charges made against him are of much later date, and though their historical value may not be great, they cannot be entirely overlooked.
[Rev. Canon Sell The Recensions of the Qur’an Christian Literature Society, Madras, 1909] http://answering-islam.org/Books/Sell/Recensions/p14.htm
Then the Rev. goes on to talk about the so called “surahs”, Sûrah al-Walayah & al-Nurayn, refutation to which is to be found here: Sûrah al-Walayah & Sûrah al-Nurayn: Their Authenticity & Literary Style http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/forgery.html
On the whole, the weight of evidence seems to be against the Shi’ah claim. ‘Ali and his followers were a powerful body during the Khalifate of ‘Uthman; they must have known very well whatever the Prophet had said about ‘Ali; and it is not easy to believe that, powerful as they were, they would have allowed ‘Uthman to suppress all such passages. Then when ‘Ali became Khalifa he could, if he had so willed, have produced his copy of the Qur’an. The passions raised by civil war were already so strong, that it is not likely that such an action as that would have so increased them as to lead to still further danger to the Khalifate. The fact is that the cult of ‘Ali, a most curious and interesting phase of religious thought, is of very much later growth;and when it developed it needed all the support that these supposed revelations could give it.
[Rev. Canon Sell The Recensions of the Qur’an Christian Literature Society, Madras, 1909]
Mahmoud Ayoub, explaining the Shia stance, says:
Hence Muslims. and especially Shi’i Muslims, have insisted that God revealed to Muhammad both the Qur’an and its exegesis. The sacred text of the Qur’an, or what is contained ‘between the two covers’, is what Muhammad taught the generality of faithful.
[M. Ayoub, “The Speaking Qur’an and The Silent Qur’an: A Study of The Principles and Development of Imami Shi’i Tafsir”, in Approaches to the History of the Interpretation of the Qur’an, Andrew Rippin (Ed.), 1988, Clarendon Press, Oxford, p. 178.] – emphasis added.
Further, Professor Ahmad ‘Ali al Imam has this to say regarding the Shia’s:
Most Shi’as also reject the theory of alteration on the grounds of the nonauthenticity and fabrication of the reports, 295 of the stylistic differences and linguistic errors, 296 … Some reports are said to be authentic, although they indicate that the mushaf has been altered. However, they are interpreted as referring to interpretation added to the text as Tafsir only and not as part of the Qur’an. 298 Indeed, the masahif that exist today among all Muslims are the same. The masahif printed in Egypt were accepted and copied in Iran and other places, without any alterations, additions, or omissions.
They agree in the recitation and orthography, though they may differ concerning the meanings and tafsir.
[Professor Ahmad ‘Ali al Imam. Variant Readings Of The Qur’an: A Critical Study Of Their Historical And Linguistic Origins. pg. 57. 1998.] – emphasis added.
For more details: http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/forgery.html
A detailed reply to the missionary polemics concerning the shia view of the Qurans integrity is to be found here: http://www.geocities.com/noorullahwebsite/shiites.html
Ahmad Von Denffer makes an interesting observation:
The wide distribution of this text and its undisputed authority can also be deduced from the reports on the battle of Siffin (A.H. 37) 27 years after the death of the Prophet, and five years after ‘Uthman’s copies were distributed, Mu`awiya’s troops fixed sheets from the Qur’an on their spears to interrupt the battle. However nobody accused anyone else of using a partisan version of the text, which would have made a splendid accusation against the enemy.
[Ahmad Von Denffer, Ulum Al-Quran, p. 56]
This level of unanimity amongst the Muslims on the matter of the Quran, especially between staunch rival groups engaged in a bitter and bloody civil war, would not have been possible had a situation existed in the past, for any duration, where different groups proclaimed and carried “different Qurans”. Therefore the unanimity of the Muslims over the matter of the Quran, hardly 30 years after the death of the Prophet (P), is indicative of a prior acceptance of one and the same Quran lacking significant differences in opinion on the matter. Hence all the evidence categorically indicates that Uthman carried out the task honestly and sincerely, that he did no wrong and that he sincerely produced mushafs and had them distributed to the provinces. Similarly, he did no wrong in burning the personal notebooks, pieces of scraps and bones, as he was encouraged by the general public to do so. Obviously this would not have been the case were these notebooks, scraps and bones considered “different” Qurans by the public at large. Were these looked upon as “different” Quran by even a minority of the people, we would have expected Uthman to face a very sever opposition from the public. But that simply never happened.
Finally, what does “variant reading” mean? It is nothing more than the QIRAAT of the Quran. There is absolutely no comparasion between the qiraat readings of the Quran and the variant readings of the Christian Bible, because when we come to the Christian Bible, we are indeed faced with variant readings.
The qiraat, or variant readings, of the Quran have been taught by the Prophet (P) and revealed by Allah. They are therefore not considered “different” Quran. As such one can purchase copies of the Quran in the qiraat readings and even listen to their recitation on the radio, on tapes and on the internet.
The Christian variant readings on the other hand emerged due to scribal activity upon the text of the New Testament. Since Christians primarily rely upon the manuscript tradition, the scribal errors, changes and alterations simply propagated each time any manuscript was copied. Furthermore, in the recopying process more errors and changes were introduced into the text. These changes were mostly unintentional changes, such as spelling mistakes etc., however, the scribes also eagerly made intentional changes and alterations to the text such as grammatical alterations and the addition and deletion of passages in accordance to their theological views, doctrines and opinions. The result of this process has been that today the textual critics state that there are more differences in our manuscript tradition than there are words within the New Testament. With the excetion of the smallest of fragment, there is no uniformity in the manuscript tradition down to a single sentence.
Textual critics study the variants within the widely divergent New Testament manuscripts and then they try to ascertain thebest possible reading, which has of course nothing to do with the “original” reading. Thus today, the scholars of the New Testament are working hard uncover and restore what they deem to be the “best” reading, in order to reconstruct the text of the New Testament.
On the other hand when we come to the Quran, we see that the Quran has been orally transmitted and that its transmission is in fact mutawattir. We also see that the Prophet Muhammed (P) himself had allowed the Muslims to recite the Quran in various ways in order to make it easy for them to recite and memorise it.
All the differences within the recitations have been revealed by Allah. Qiraat is merely a method of pronunciation of the recitation of the Quran. Hence there is absolutely no comparasion between the qiraat readings of the Quran and thevariant readings of the New Testament.
On the other hand one can walk into an Islamic bookstore or an Islamic center and get hold of audiocassettes of theqiraats readings (or “variant” readings) of the Quran. Or you can listen to them on the radio! Muslims are proud of their tradition of recitation and memorisation of the Quran in these ways all taught by the Prophet (PBUH) himself. Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) allowed the Muslims to recite the Quran in these manners and their chain of transmission goes back to his (PBUH) mouth. More information on the qiraat is to be found here:
The Qira’aat of the Qur’an http://www.bismikaallahuma.org/Quran/Q_Studies/qiraat.htm
Versions Of The Qur’an? http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/Qiraat/hafs.html
You can also listen to the qiraat recitation (or variant readings/recitation) of the Qur’an online in the following website: Rectitation Of The Qur’an In Various Qirâ’ât & Related Issues
Going back to Minganas claims, he ends his tiresome travesty of history with another baseless comment:
If ‘Uthman was certainly inspired only by religious purposes, why did his enemies call him ‘THE TEARER OF THE BOOKS’ and why did they fasten on him the following stigma: ‘He found the Korans many and left one; HE TORE UP THE BOOK’? …”
Sadly he does not provide any proof and evidence or reference, why? Because he has none, Mingana is following his policy of I-make-it-up-as-I-go-along. Furthermore, the above sounds more like baseless ramblings and polemic coming from the mouths of certain angry individuals opposed to Uthman ®. With regards to the citation allegedly taken from Tabari, then the missionary has not provided us the proper reference. How are we to search for it when we are not even given the reference? But surely, the Companions of the Prophet (P) would have said something in response to Uthman’s action? Lets see what they actually said:
Uthman burnt only the masahif that varied from the final revelation and preserved that which was agreed upon, 31 that he did nothing without the consultation and consent of all the Companions, and, furthermore, that if he were in Uthman’s position he would have done the same thing.32
[Ahmad ‘Ali al Imam “Variant Readings Of The Qur’an: A Critical Study Of Their Historical And Linguistic Origins.” pg. 27.]
According to Ali ® himself, the allegation made against Uthman ® by some angry people, assuming they are authentically reported, were nothing more than baseless lies which everyone knew to be false. Hence even if these reports are acurate, they do not take away anything from our argument that the general public supported Uthman during the time and that they were pleased by his action as it was taken with full consultation with the people. These baseless charges did not impress anyone, and Ali ® himself condemned them as he knew, like others, that they were false. These lies seem to have been uttered by the enemies of Uthman ® near the time of his martyrdom. Hence they do not represent mainstream view even if they are to be accepted as authentic. Furthermore, we also know that during the battle between Ali and Muawiyah, as Von Dennifer stated above, the army of Muawiyah appealed to the soldiers of Ali to stop the fight by bringing up the Quran. The result was the fighting stopped, there were no accusations launched against one another of having a different, false or changed Quran. This fact itself is enough to refute the polemics of the missionaries and a few handful of unknown individuals who may have made accusations against Uthman. Furthermore we do not read that these unknown people pursued with their allegations any futher, which itself indicates they were themselves aware they were making false accusations against him. Further, no one took this allegation seriously, as the public at large knew it to be a baseless charge.
Quoting Ali (R):
I swear by Allaah, he only did this after he had called all of us.
[Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi. “Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’aan” pg. 136]
Zaid is reported to have said, “I saw the companions of Muhammad (going about) saying, “By Allah, Uthman has done well! By Allah, Uthman has done well!” [Nisaburi]
Ibn Abi Dawud records Musab ibn Sad ibn Abi Waqqas to have testified: “I saw the people assemble in large number at Uthman’s burning of the proscribed copies; not a one spoke out against him.” Ali commented, “If I were in command in place of Uthman, I would have done the same.” [Zarkashi]
Let us now have a look at another one of Sam/Mingana’s claim:
Mingana, in his article The Transmission of the Koran, cites Muslim historian al-Tabari:
“… ‘Ali b. Abi Talib, and ‘Uthman b. Affan wrote the Revelation to the Prophet; but in their absence it was Ubai b. Ka’b and Zaid b. Thabit who wrote it.’ He informs us, too, that the people said to ‘Uthman: ‘The Koran was in many books, and thou discreditedst them all but one’; and after the Prophet’s death, ‘People gave him as successor Abu Bakr, who in turn was succeeded by ‘Umar; and both of them acted according to the Book and the Sunnah of the Apostle of God- and praise be to God the Lord of the worlds; then people elected ‘Uthman b. ‘Affan WHO … TORE UP THE BOOK.'” (Ibn Warraq, p. 102; bold and capital emphasis ours)
One of the major problem one encounters when having discussions with the missionaries is lack of proper references. Where did Tabari make the above statement? The missionary does not provide the precise reference to the above alleged statement taken from Tabari. I requested some individuals to look up tafsir Tabari to see if it has somewhere within it something that is even remotely similar to the above, but none were able to locate it. Therefore unless and until the missionary is willing to provide us with the precise reference, which is not “Ibn Warraq”, his argument carries no weight and credibility. Further, Tabari himself believed the Quran to be authentic and the word of God. He did not believe that Uthman ® “changed” the Quran or anything along these lines. We will wait for the missionry to present us the proper reference. We have already cited statements from the Companions of the Prophet (P) who all praised Uthman (R) for his action. A vague unreferenced citation certainly does not take away the least from the arguments we have made here. Furthermore, the above-unreferenced citation confirms and supports our argument as the author admits and Abu Bakr and Umar acted according to the “Book of Allah”, meaning the Quran. Hence the author admits that the Quran in the time of Abu Bakr and Umar was the same Quran that was left by the Prophet (P). Since we know that Uthman did nothing more than to reproduce copies based upon the mushaf collected during the time of Abu Bakr kept with his daughter Hafsa, that logically implies that the mushafs produced and distributed during his time were the same as the Quran revealed to the Prophet (P).
Let us now take another look at the Muslim reaction:
Suwaid Ibn Ghaflah narrated on the authority of ‘Ali Ibn Abi Taleb that ‘Uthman said: ” What is your opinion concerning the Masahef (i.e. copies of the Qur’an)? People differed in reading that one says my reading is better than yours and my reading is better than yours and this is like Kufr(i.e. disbelief).”
We said: “What is your opinion, Commander of Believers?”
He said: “My opinion is that people should agree on a single reading; if you dispute today, those who will come after you will dispute much more”.
We said: “The best opinion is yours, Commander of Believers”.
So, ‘Uthman wrote to Hafsah: “Send us the Suhuf (i.e. manuscripts of the Qur’an compiled by Abu Bakr), so we copy them in Masahef(i.e. copies of the Qur’an) and return them back”.
She sent them to him and he assigned Zaid Ibn Thabet, Abdullah Ibn Al-Zubair, Sa’eed Ibn Al-‘Asi and Abdul-Rahman Ibn Al-Hareth Ibn Hesham to copy them in the Masahef (i.e. copies of the Qur’an).
‘Uthman said to these of Quraish tribe: “If you dispute with Zaid in anything, write it in the dialect of Quraish because it was revealed in their dialect”.
So they did and when they copied the Suhuf(i.e. the manuscripts of first compilation)in the Masahef (i.e. copies of the second compilation), ‘Uthman returned the Suhuf (i.e. of first compilation) to Hafsah, sent to every horizon a copy and ordered any other fragment of the Qur’an to be burnt. This attitude of ‘Uthman (may God be pleased at him) was after he gathered Al-Muhajereen (i.e. those who migrated with the Prophet from Mecca), Al-Ansar(i.e. those who hosted the Prophet and his Meccan followers in Madinah)and all Muslim eminences and consulted them in this issue, they all agreed on compiling it according to authentic Qira’at (i.e. readings)narrated by the Prophet (peace be upon him) and rejection of whatever else. They agreed on his opinion and it was very right decision, may God bestow His Mercy upon him and them all.
Abu Bakr Al-Anbari wrote in his book “Al-Radd” (i.e. The Reply) on authority of Suwaid Ibn Ghaflah that he said:
“I heard ‘Ali Ibn Abi Taleb (may God be pleased at him) saying:
‘O People! Fear God . . . I swear by God he did not burn them except in front of all of us, Companions of Muhammed (peace be upon him).’
On authority of ‘Amr Ibn Sa’eed he said: ‘Ali Ibn Abi Taleb said:
‘If I were the Commander during the era of ‘Uthman, I would do with the Masahef (i.e. copies of the Qur’an) the exact of what he did.'”
[Tafseer Al-Qurtubi known as Al-Game’ Le-Ahkam Al-Qur’an, volume one, pages 44-47]
From the above we learn the following regarding the Muslim reaction:
1) The fourth Caliph Ali (R) and others asked Uthman (R) for his opinion. Meaning Uthman (R) did not out of the blue force his views upon the people.
2) The people agreed with Uthman’s (R) position, which was taken after full consultation with them.
3) Copies were made from the suhuf of Abu Bakr (R) kept with Hafsa (R) and distributed to the provinces.
4) The decision to burn the fragments was only taken after Uthman (R) had consulted with the Muslims, thus there was a consensus on the matter. The people praised Uthman (R) for his good work as all what he did was done with their full approval and consent. Meaning he did not take a unilateral decision. In reality, the wishes of the sahabis (Companions) and the people at large were followed by Uthman ®.
We will nevertheless wait for the missionary to provide us with the proper precise reference from Tabari so that we can locate the alleged citation of his and provide a reply, however the above material itself is sufficient to refute the false missionary claims.
Nabia Abbott and Harald Motzki refuting Minganas false claims.
Since the arguments of Mingana have been sufficiently trashed the left right and the center, we would now like to see what other orientalist scholars have to say about this character.
Commenting upon the“rudimentary”state of the Arabic language during the time of the Prophet (P), Mingana wrote:
If all the signs do not mislead us, very few oracular sentences, if any, were written in the time of the Prophet. The kind of life he led, and the rudimentary character of reading and writing in that part of the world in which he appeared, are sufficient witnesses in favour of this view. Our ignorance of the Arabic language in that early period of its evolution is such that we can not even know with certainity whether it had any writings of its own in Maccah or Madinah. If any writing existed in these two localities, it must have been something very similar to the Estrangelo or the Hebraic characters.
[Alphonse Mingana, “The Transmission Of The Qur’ân”, 1916, Journal of The Manchester Egyptian and Oriental Society, p. 45.]
Nabia Abbott answers the above allegations of Mingana in her book and says:
The condition of Arabic writing in Muhammad’s time is indicated by perf no. 558 (our plates iv-v), an Arabic papyrus of the reign of Umar dated AH 22 and written in a fairly well developed manuscript hand in the distant province of Egypt, where Greek and Coptic were the written languages in general use. If written Arabic was so primitive and rare in its own homeland at the time of Muhammad’s death, how do we account for its practical use in Egypt only a short dozen years after that event? Again to grant the incomplete development of orthography would give us reason to suspect only the orthographic accuracy of early Kur’ânic editions but not the possibility of their existence. In this connection it is interesting to note that nowhere in the traditions of the earliest transmission of the Kur’ân is there any hint of serious orthographic or vowel difficulties; rather it is the differences in the Arabic tribal dialects and differences arising out of foreigner’s use of Arabic that seem to demand attention. The foregoing considerations lead one to believe that, if we allow for such common mistakes as writers and copyists are liable to make, the Arabic writers of Muhammad’s time and of the time of early Caliphs were able scribes capable of producing an acceptable edition of a written Kur’ân despite the lack of all the improvements of modern written Arabic.
[Nabia Abbott, The Rise of The North Arabic Script & Its Kur’ânic Development, 1939, Nabia Abbott, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, p. 48.]
Another one of Mingana’s polemics includes the blind use of the Christian polemicists to prove the existence of the Quran. In view of the alleged “historical unreliability””suitable” for historical purposes because they are earlier than the Muslim ones. Mingana argues that in the Christian sources of the 1st/7th century there is no hint of any sacred Islamic Book when they describe or mention the Muslims and their faith, hence the Quran did not officially exist, he concludes. Mingana for example writes:
It is only towards the end of the first quarter of this [the 2nd/8th H.M.] century that the Qur’an became the theme of conversation in Nestorian, Jacobite, and Melchite ecclesiastical circles.
[Alphonse Mingana, “The Transmission Of The Qur’ân”, 1916, Journal of The Manchester Egyptian and Oriental Society, p. 39.]
Once again Nabia Abbott responds to these extremely weak points:
The negative argument – that if there had been a written Kur’an the contemporary Christian writers would have mentioned it – seems to lead neither here nor there. Why should we expect writers whom their own testimony proves to have been so incapable of keeping up with the march of events all around them that they even failed to realize that a new religious idea, monotheism, was taking hold of their Arab neighbours and masters – why should we expect such men to be so wide awake and so well informed as positively to know of a Muslim book of which, at the best, but a few copies were in existence and those few carefully guarded from “Unbelievers”? Even if we suppose that some of them did know what was going on, their interests were largely limited to their congregations and to Christian heresy that the chances are as good, particularly in early Islamic times, for their not mentioning the Kur’ân as for their mentioning it; therefore their failure to mention the Kur’ân in their writings must be in general viewed as inconclusive, circumstantial evidence.
[Nabia Abbott, The Rise of The North Arabic Script & Its Kur’ânic Development, 1939, Nabia Abbott, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, p. 48]
Harald Motzki on the other hand, writing recently in Der Islam, observes that Mingana makes heavy use of argumenta e silentio in his polemics against the Quran, further that Mingana’s dating of the Muslim traditions is erroneous. Motzki not only comments upon Mingana’s reliance upon the distorted Christian accounts of the Quran, he also summarises the polemics raised by Mingana:
Nevertheless, his [Mingana’s] approach proceeds from several axiomatic assumptions, which can be questioned: 1) The hadith reports are historically unreliable because they were transmitted only orally; 2) The date of a report can be determined by the date of the compilation in which it first emerges. Thus, reports found in AL-BUKHARI’s Jami but not in IBN SA’D’s Tabaqat are younger than those already appearing in the latter; 3) The material contained in later sources is as a rule less reliable than that of earlier ones and can be ignored; 4) Christian sources are more reliable than Muslim sources because they are earlier and written. Further weak points in Mingana’s article are: a) He makes heavy use of argumenta e silentio, e.g. when he concludes from the fact that the Qur’an is not mentioned in the few early Christian sources reporting on the Muslims, that there was no officially recognized Qur’an during the first Islamic century; b) A comparasion of the account which the Christian AL-KINDI gave of the history of the Qur’an with the Muslim traditions is lacking. Such a comparasion would have revealed that the Christian account is a distorted summary of several Muslim traditions and that MINGANA’S dating of the Muslim traditions is erroneous.
[H. Motzki, “The Collection Of The Qur’an: A Reconsideration Of The Western Views In Light Of Recent Methodological Developments.” p.14. Der Islam, 2001, Vol. 78.]
Regarding Mingana’s blind use and reliance upon al-Kindi’s polemic and his erroneous dating of the Muslim traditions, Motzki again writes:
MINGANA’S claim that the account of the Christian AL-KINDI is earlier and therefore preferable to AL-BUKHARI’S is erroneous. Even if AL-KINDI’S letter actually originates from the time of the caliph al-Ma’mun, 50) its account of the history of the Qur’an is clearly a distorted summary of the reports which we know from contemporary or earlier Muslim sources.
[H. Motzki, “The Collection Of The Qur’an: A Reconsideration Of The Western Views In Light Of Recent Methodological Developments.” p. 20. Der Islam, 2001, Vol. 78.]
Mingana went as far as to claim that the first official written compilation of the Quran was done in the caliphate of Abdal Malik through the agency of Al-Hajjaj at the end of the first Islamic century! Again Mingana relies chiefly upon the anti-Islamic polemics of the Christian polemicist al-Kindi concerning the “state” of Quran. He thus throws overboard the entire body of Muslim traditions concerning the Abu Bakr and Uthman collection. He then proceeds to show reasons – chiefly political – for the collection of this first written official Quran. Again, Nabia Abbott refutes Mingana’s radical views and writes:
Finally, to suppose that the main reasons for a written Kur’an were political and that they became apparent as late as the reign of ‘Abd al-Malik is to overlook Muslim Arab history up to that time and to fail to understand its motive power. There may be reason to credit the first four caliphs with an eschatological outlook and to use that as a motive for inaction; but no one who has paid careful attention to the long reign of Mu’awiyah (40-60/660-80) could pronounce him anything but a shrewd, capable, and far-sighted statesman very much concerned with this world., both for his own reign and for that of his son and successor, and agree that he is rightly to be considered as the founder of the Arab Kingdom. Had there been no written Kur’an in his day, he certainly would have ordered one compiled, for the very same reason that ‘Abd al-Malik and Hajjaj are supposed to have done so – namely for the politico-religious power it would give, not only in the home center but as a sanction for an aggressive imperial policy.
Thus if the reigns of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar are too early, that of ‘Abd al-Malik is too late for the most likely date of an official and written Kur’an. We are thrown back, then, with Noldeke and Schwally, on the ‘Uthmanic edition.
[Nabia Abbott, The Rise of The North Arabic Script & Its Kur’ânic Development, 1939, Nabia Abbott, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, p. 48-49]
Abbott goes on to briefly mention the views of the orientalists regarding the “mysterious letters” in the Quran and after summarising the position held by orientalists such as Noldeke, Sprenger, Loth, Hirschfeld and Hans Bauer, she states:
For our purpose here these letters, whether we consider them as scribes’ notes, monograms of owners, significant catchwords, or earlier titles of surahs, point to two facts bearing on the transmission of the Kur’an:first, that considerable portions of the Kur’an were actually in written form before ‘Uthman’s edition; second, that Zaid and his committee sought scrupulously to preserve these.
[Nabia Abbott, The Rise of The North Arabic Script & Its Kur’ânic Development, 1939, Nabia Abbott, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, p. 50]
Refutation to al-Kindi’s polemics and the role of Hajjaj bin Yusuf is to be found here:
Did al-Hajjâj Change The Qur’ân? A Reply To Christian Polemic http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/Hajjaj/hajjaj.html
al-Hajjâj, Kitâb al-Masâhif & Missionaries http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/Hajjaj/masahif.html
Harald Motzki on the other hand using the isnad-matn analysis came to the conclusion that the traditional Islamic accounts are closer to source than any other accounts and this further reveals the weaknesses in Mingana’s arguments. Motzki for example writes, commenting upon his provisional results:
Thus, our investigation has shown so far that by carefully studying the variants of the traditions in question,the latter can be dated earlier than usually supposed even on the basis of the limited sources which Western studies written up to 1977 had at their disposal. Additionally, new sources which have become available since not only corroborate this conclusion but also allows us to fix a date ante quem by only taking into consideration the date when the compilers of the sources in question had died: The traditions of the history of the mushaf must have been in circulation before the end of the 2nd century AH at the latest.
This provisional result, which can be further improved by isnad analysis, as we shall soon see, reveals theweaknesses of some of MINGANA’S arguments and of the theories put forward by WANSBROUGH and BURTON concerning these traditions.
[H. Motzki, “The Collection Of The Qur’an: A Reconsideration Of The Western Views In Light Of Recent Methodological Developments.” p. 20. Der Islam, 2001, Vol. 78.]
Motzki conservatively dates the availability of the hadith of collection of the Quran to the last decades of 1st century of hijra by using the date of death of the Companion Anas b. Malik (d. between 91/709 and 93/711).
…there seem to be no grounds for assuming that he [al-Zuhri] cannot have recieved the information on the first collection from the little-known Successor ‘Ubayd b. al-Sabbaq (date of death unknown) and that what he reports on the official edition of the Qur’an comes from the well-known Companion Anas b. Malik (d. between 91/709 and 93/711). This conclusion is corroborated by other traditions of al-Zuhri concerning the collection of the Qur’an which are additions or variant traditions to his main versions and are said to derive from other informants of him, such as Kharija b. Zayd, ‘Ubayd Allah b. ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Utba and Salim b. ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Umar. Thus, something can be said for the idea that al-Zuhri’s accounts are based on information recieved from elder generation. If we take Anas’s date of death as a chronological clue, this information must go back to the last decades of the 1st century AH.
[H. Motzki, “The Collection Of The Qur’an: A Reconsideration Of The Western Views In Light Of Recent Methodological Developments.” p. 30 – 31. Der Islam, 2001, Vol. 78.]
He goes on to say:
…it does seem safe to conclude that reports on a collection of the Qur’an on Abu Bakr’s behalf and on an official edition made by order of ‘Uthman were already in circulation towards the end of the 1st Islamic century and that al-Zuhri possibly recieved some of them from the persons he indicated in his isnads.
[H. Motzki, “The Collection Of The Qur’an: A Reconsideration Of The Western Views In Light Of Recent Methodological Developments.” p. 31. Der Islam, 2001, Vol. 78.]
Mingana rejected the hadith as historically reliable sources due to the long interval of roughly 200 years between the event and the recording of the corresponding reports in a written source. Thus Mingana rejected al-Jami al-Sahih of al-Bukhari. Motzki responds again to his erroneous dating of the Muslim sources:
However, even on the basis of the sources available until 1977 it can be shown that the assumption that AL-BUKHARI is the earliest source for the reports in question is erroneous, and the sources which became available since then corroborate this.
Let us first examine the situation of the early Muslim sources in which a collection made on Abu Bakr’s behalf is mentioned. I start with AL-BUKHARI, the most frequently cited source. If in AL-BUKHARI’S Jami’ one report on Abu Bakr’s collection were to be found, the conclusion that al-Bukhari himself might have invented the story or may have taken it from someone else who had fabricated it would be difficult to disprove. We find, however, not one, but four different accounts in his Jami’, 39) a fact already noticed by NOLDEKE in 1860. 40) The impact of this peculiarity on the dating of the reports has so far been overlooked. A careful analysis of the matns of the four versions (three detailed and one shortened one) shows that the differences between them are many and varied. How can we explain them? Is it plausible to assume that AL-BUKHARI purposely created the different versions? For what reason? Could it be that he received a single version from one person, be it the fabricator or not, but later could not remember exactly what he had heard and therefore retold it in three different ways? Against the latter assumption we note that AL-BUKHARI ascribes the four versions to different informants and that he makes explicit note of cases in which he is not sure what the precise wording of his informant had been and gives an alternative. This seems to reflect a careful transmission of the texts he had recieved. Thus it seems more plausible to conclude from the different versions that AL-BUKHARI recieved them from different persons who may be termed his teachers or informants and would most likely have belonged to the preceding generation. Because their reports are only slightly different versions of the same account, we must suppose a common source. If we leave the isnadsaside for the moment, this common source could be one of AL-BUKHARI’S teachers or another contemporary from whom AL-BUKHARI’S informants heard the tradition. We will see, however, that the common source ismuch earlier.
[H. Motzki, “The Collection Of The Qur’an: A Reconsideration Of The Western Views In Light Of Recent Methodological Developments.” p. 17. Der Islam, 2001, Vol. 78.]
…Muslims account are much earlier and thus much nearer to the time of the events than hitherto assumed in Western scholarship. Admittedly, these accounts contain some details which seem to be implausible or, to put it more cautiously, await explanation, but the Western views which claim to replace them by more plausible and historically more reliable accounts are obviously far away from what they make themselves out to be.
[H. Motzki, “The Collection Of The Qur’an: A Reconsideration Of The Western Views In Light Of Recent Methodological Developments” p. 31. Der Islam, 2001, Vol. 78.]
In other words, the methodology of Wansbrough, Burton and Mingana used to study the codification of the Quran appeared to have been finally laid to rest. The focus is now back on the Islamic sources.
This concludes our response to Sam’s “scholar” Mingana. We have analysed his comments point by point and have exposed his gross distortion of the truth and travesty of history, further we have read that other scholars do not think of Mingana highly and do not take his baseless hypothesis seriously. No wonder why Sam felt the urge to use him!
The missionary ends polemic against the Quran with a blooper:
We therefore see that it is the Quran that has been corrupted, a fact admitted by both Muslim and non-Muslim sources alike.
As far as the Muslim sources are concerned, then we have seen how the missionary and his spiritual teacher in deception, Mingana, have distorted and twisted a clear and plain verse of the Quran in the hope of using it to “support” the alleged“corruption” of the Quran. Furthermore Minagana and the missionary have not bothered to provide the precise reference of the statement they are allegedly pulling out of Tabari, none of which, in anycase, “admit” to the allaged “corruption” of the Quran. Therefore the missionary has misrebly failed to prove his point as far as the Islamic sources are concerned.
As for the non-Muslim “sources”, the missionary has not cited non-Muslim “sources”, he has simply cited to us from onesource. The missionary has simply quoted to us Mingana. We have seen that Mingana makes arguments from the silence, as is also mentioned by professor Harald Motzki, and that he is certainly not ashamed when it comes to telling outright lies and distorting the facts. Furthermore, we have seen that Mingana’s wild theories have already been laid to rest and refuted a long time ago by other non-Muslim scholars such as Nabia Abbott and more recently by Harald Motzki and that they are not taken seriously by any serious scholar worth the name. Hence the missionary have miserably failed to“prove” his point when it comes to the non-Muslims sources as well. The fact that the missionary does not wish to admit is that non-Muslim sources themselves have refuted the theories of Mingana a very long time ago! Thus the missionary is not only guilty of deception, as he is hiding crucial information concerning the refutation of Minganas theories by non-Muslim sources, he is also relying upon an outdated and thoroughly refuted source.
Mingana was a polemicist and an extremely bias writer, whose writings against Islam are colored more with anti-Islamic emotions than objectivity and facts. It is his preconcieved notions, bias and typical missionary hostility that shaped his writings more than anything else. He was certainly not an objective and balanced writer. His writings against the Quran are a good example of typical missionary polemics and narrow mindedness, antagonism and open hostility towards Islam.
As far as the Christian sources used by Mingana are concerned, sources such as the polemics of al-Kindi etc., then no scholar worth the name takes them seriously as they are recognized to be deceptive and grossly distorted accounts of the Quran prepared by the “spirit filled” (whose spirit? Devils?) Christians. Or to put it in the words of a contemporary missionary: “Would we go to Serbian generals to ascertain the facts of the Bosnian conflict?”
Therefore Sam Shamoun has not proven anything against the Quran, he has however amply demonstrated to us that he and his quoted bias hostile Christian sources are capable of going to any length and extremes when it comes todistortions and using deception in order to forward their baseless polemics against the Quran.