Sunday, 17 May 2009

The Compilation of the Qur'an Part I

The historical background


There exists within the Islamic community a
major deception which has been circulating amongst the public in regards to the Muslim Scripture, al-Qur'an. The deception relates to the supposed textual preservation of the Qur'anic text, and the notion that the Qur'an remains virtually intact, without additions or deletions, without any variant readings which would call into question the integrity of the Muslim text.

This fallacious argument, unfortunately, has
convinced many lay people to believe that whereas the Bible has suffered textual corruption, the Qur'an is free from such tampering. It is thus claimed that based on this fact the Qur'an is rendered superior and is a more reliable document than the Holy Bible.

However, a close examination of the historical references regarding the compilation of the Qur'an, demonstrates that the
weight of the evidence does NOT support the Muslim claims. On the contrary, the evidence tends to support the fact that the Qur'an has suffered much in the way of transmission.

Let's examine the REAL TRUTH of the transmission of the QUR'AN

The majority of our
references will be taken directly from Islamic scholars and writings, in order to avoid the Muslim accusations of Western scholarly bias. Such accusations are often promoted in an attempt to sidetrack the obvious implications on Muslim claims. And even when we do quote non-Muslim authorities the citations from such authors either cite or include references to Islamic scholars and works.

first issue that needs to be addressed is the claim that a complete Qur'anic Codex existed during the time of Muhammad. This claim finds no support, since the first complete text was compiled during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr, after Muhammad’s death:

Narrated Zaid bin Thabit Al-Ansari:

who was one of those who used to write the Divine Revelation: Abu Bakr sent for me after the (heavy) casualties among the warriors (of the battle) of Yamama (where a great number of Qurra' were killed). 'Umar was present with Abu Bakr who said, 'Umar has come to me and said, The people have suffered heavy casualties on the day of (the battle of) Yamama, and I am afraid that there will be more casualties among the Qurra' (those who know the Qur'an by heart) at other battle-fields, whereby a large part of the Qur'an MAY BE LOST, unless you collect it. And I am of the opinion that you should collect the Qur'an." Abu Bakr added, "I said to 'Umar, 'How can I do something WHICH ALLAH’S APOSTLE HAS NOT DONE?' 'Umar said (to me), 'By Allah, it is (really) a good thing.' So 'Umar kept on pressing, trying to persuade me to accept his proposal, till Allah opened my bosom for it and I had the same opinion as 'Umar." (Zaid bin Thabit added:) Umar was sitting with him (Abu Bakr) and was not speaking me. "You are a wise young man and we do not suspect you (of telling lies or of forgetfulness): and you used to write the Divine Inspiration for Allah's Apostle. Therefore, look for the Qur'an and collect it (in one manuscript)." By Allah, if he (Abu Bakr) had ordered me to shift one of the mountains (from its place) it would not have been harder for me than what he had ordered me concerning the collection of the Qur'an. I said to both of them, "How dare you do a thing WHICH THE PROPHET HAS NOT DONE?" Abu Bakr said, "By Allah, it is (really) a good thing. So I kept on arguing with him about it till Allah opened my bosom for that which He had opened the bosoms of Abu Bakr and Umar. So I started locating Qur'anic material and collecting it from parchments, scapula, leaf-stalks of date palms and from the memories of men (who knew it by heart). I found with Khuzaima two Verses of Surat-at-Tauba WHICH I HAD NOT FOUND WITH ANYONE ELSE, (and they were):--

Verily there has come to you an Apostle (Muhammad) from amongst yourselves. It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty He (Muhammad) is ardently anxious over you (to be rightly guided)" (9.128)

The manuscript on which the Qur'an was collected, remained with Abu Bakr till Allah took him unto Him, and then with 'Umar till Allah took him unto Him, and finally it remained with Hafsa, Umar's daughter. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 201)

The number of memorizers that died was 450:

During the battle of Yamama, 450 reciters of the Qur'an were killed.” (The True Guidance - An Introduction To Qur'anic Studies, published by Light of Life, P.O. BOX 13, A-9503 Villach, Austria, part 4, p. 47– citing Ibn Kathir’s Al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya, chapter on Battle of Yamama)

According to another source, when these men died they took with them portions of the Qur'an that they alone had memorized:

Zuhri reports, 'We have heard that many Qur'an passages were revealed but that those who had memorised them fell in the Yemama fighting. Those passages had not been written down, and following the deaths of those who knew them, were no longer known; nor had Abu Bakr, nor `Umar nor `Uthman as yet collected the texts of the Qur'an. (Burton: The published text ought here to be amended: for "fa lamma jama`a Abu Bakr", I propose to read: "wa lamma yajma` Abu Bakr", to follow: "lam yuktab".) Those lost passages were not to be found with anyone after the deaths of those who had memorised them. This, I understand, was one of the considerations which impelled them to pursue the Qur'an during the reign of Abu Bakr, committing it to sheets for fear that there should perish in further theatres of war men who bore much of the Qur'an which they would take to the grave with them on their fall, and which, with their passing, would not be found with any other. (John Burton, The Collection of the Qur'an, pp. 126-127, Abu Bakr `Abdullah b. abi Da'ud, Kitab al-Masahif’, ed. A. Jeffery, Cairo, 1936/1355, p. 23; bold emphasis ours)

From these sources we realize that:

1. No text had been compiled during Muhammad’s time. This is further solidified by the following traditions:
[Zaid b. Thabit said:] “The Prophet died and the Qur’an had not been assembled into a single place.” (Ahmad b. Ali b. Muhammad al ’Asqalani, ibn Hajar, Fath al Bari [13 vol., Cairo 1939], vol. 9, p. 9)

It is reported… from Ali who said: “May the mercy of Allah be upon Abu Bakr, the foremost of men to be rewarded with the collection of the manuscripts, for he was THE FIRST to collect (the text) between (two) covers”. (John Gilchrist, Jam' Al-Qur'an - The Codification of the Qur'an Text A Comprehensive Study of the Original Collection of the Qur'an Text and the Early Surviving Qur'an Manuscripts, [MERCSA, P.O. Box 342 Mondeor, 2110 Republic of South Africa, 1989], Chapter 1. The Initial Collection of the Qur'an Text, p. 27 – citing Ibn Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Masahif, p. 5)

However, there are
other narrations which contradict this since they claim that Abu Bakr wasn’t the first to collect the Qur'an:

It is reported… from Ibn Buraidah who said: "The first of those to collect the Qur'an into a mushaf (codex) was Salim, the freed slave of Abu Hudhaifah". (Ibid., citing as-Suyuti, Al-Itqan fii Ulum al-Qur'an, p. 135; bold emphasis ours)

Interestingly, Salim is one of the four men that Muhammad recommended learning the Qur'an from:

Narrated Masriq: Abdullah bin ‘Amr mentioned ‘Abdullah bin Masud and said, “I shall ever love that man, for I heard the Prophet saying, ‘Take (learn) the Qur'an from four: 'Abdullah bin Masud, Salim, Mu'adh and Ubai bin Ka'b.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 61, Number 521)

He also happened to be one of the
Qurra (reciters) killed at the Battle of Yamama. It is evident that Salim’s compilation precedes that of Abu Bakr’s since the latter only collected the Qur'an after the death of the Qurra at Yamama.

2. A great majority of the Qur'anic reciters had been killed at al-Yamama, forever taking with them portions of the Qur'an that only they knew.

3. Zaid Bin Thabit collected the Qur'an from palm leaves, stones and from the memories of men.

Zaid was not the only person who had compiled the Qur'an in book form. Others such as
Ubayy Bin Kab and Abdallah ibn Masud also compiled Qur'ans of their very own. In fact, both Ubayy and Ibn Masud had been singled out by Muhammad himself as two of the top four Qur'anic reciters:

Masruq reported: We used to go to Abdullah Bin Amr and talk to him. Ibn Numair said: One day we made a mention of Abdullah Bin Masud, whereupon he said: you have made mention of a person whom I love more than anything else. I heard Allah’s Messenger as saying: Learn Qur'an from four persons: Ibn Umm Abd (i.e., Abdullah Bin Masud - he started from him - then Muadh bin Jabal and Ubayy bin Kab, then Salim the ally of Ali Hudhaifa. (Sahih Muslim, Book 031, Number 6024)

Another tradition confirms that besides Ibn Masud, Ubayy and Zaid ibn Thabit,
there were at least two others who had also collected the Qur'an:

Anas is reported to have said: Four persons collected the Qur'an during the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger and all of them were Ansar: Muadh Bin Jabal, Ubayy Bin Kab, Zaid Bin Thabit, Abu Zaid. Qatada said: Anas, who was Abu Zaid? He said: He was one of my uncles. (Sahih Muslim, Book 031, Number 6029)

Despite the fact
that this tradition contradicts Zaid’s own testimony that no Qur'anic text had been compiled in Muhammad’s time it does confirm, however, that other Qur'ans were in circulation at the time of Zaid’s codex. Owing to this fact, controversy evolved among the Muslims as they began accusing each other of tampering with the Book of Allah, which eventually led to the third Caliph Uthman taking drastic measures.

'Hudaifa b. al Yeman came to `Uthman direct from the Aderbaijan and Armenian frontier where, uniting the forces from Iraq and those from Syria, he had had an opportunity to observe regional differences over the Qur'an. "Commander of the faithful," he advised, "take this umma in hand before they differ about the Book like Christians and Jews." `Uthman sent asking Hafsa to lend him the sheets [inherited by her father, `Umar, from Abu Bakr, and now in her possession] "so that we can copy them into other volumes and then return them." She sent her suhuf to `Uthman who summon Zaid, Sa`id b. al `As, `Abdul Rahman b. al Harith b. Hisham and `Abdullah b. al Zubair and commanded them to copy the sheets into several volumes. Addressing the group from Quraish, he added, "Wherever you differ from Zaid, write the word in the dialect of Quraish for it was revealed in that tongue."

When they had copied the sheets, `Uthman sent a copy to each of the main centers of the empire with the command that all other Qur'an materials, whether in single sheet form, or in whole volumes, WERE TO BE BURNED' (Burton, pp. 141-142- citing Ahmad b. `Ali b. Muhammad al `Asqalani, ibn Hajar, "Fath al Bari", 13 vols, Cairo, 1939/1348, vol. 9, p. 18)


Hudaifa said, 'The Kufans say, "the text of `Abdullah"; the Basrans say, "the text of Abu Musa". By God! if I reach the Commander of the faithful, I WILL RECOMMEND THAT HE DROWN THESE READINGS." (var. Masahif) `Abdullah said, 'Do and God will drown you, but not in water!' (Burton, pp. 146-147- citing Abu Bakr `Abdullah b. abi Da'ud, "K. al Masahif", ed. A. Jeffery, Cairo, 1936/1355, p. 13)

Hudhaifa figures in a second Hadith series which reports
textual differences, not only between the Muslims in Iraq and Syria, but also between rival groups of Iraqi Muslims.

We were sitting in the mosque and `Abdullah was reciting the Qur'an when Hudaifa came in and said, 'The reading of ibn Umm `Abd! [ie. `Abdullah] The reading of Abu Musa! By God! if I am spared to reach the Commander of the Faithful, I will recommend THAT HE IMPOSE A SINGLE QUR’AN READING!' ‘Abdullah became very angry and spoke sharply to Hudaifa who fell silent. (Burton, p. 142, Abu Bakr `Abdullah b. abi Da'ud, "K. al Masahif", ed. A. Jeffery, Cairo, 1936/1355, p. 13)

'Yazid b. Ma`awiya was in the mosque in the time of al Walid b. `Uqba, sitting in a group among them was Hudaifa. An official called out, 'Those who follow the reading of Abu Musa, go to the corner nearest the Kinda door. Those who follow `Abdullah's reading, go the corner nearest `Abdullah's house.' Their reading of Q 2.196 did not agree. One group read, 'Perform the pilgrimage TO GOD' The others read it 'Perform the pilgrimage TO THE KA’BAH.' Hudaifa became very angry, his eyes reddened and he rose, parting his qamis at the waits, although in the mosque. This was during the reign of `Uthman. Hudaifa exclaimed, 'Will someone go the Command of the Faithful, or shall I go myself? This is what happened in the previous dispensations.' He came over and sat down, saying, 'God sent Muhammad who, with those who went forward, fought those who went back until God gave victory to His religion. God took Muhammad and Islam made strides. To succeed him, God chose Abu Bakr who reigned as long as God chose. God then took him and Islam made rapid strides. God appointed `Umar who sat in the midst of Islam. God then took him also. Islam spread rapidly. God next chose `Uthman. God's oath! Islam is on the point of such expansion that soon you will replace all other religions.' (Burton, p. 143, Abu Bakr `Abdullah b. abi Da'ud, "K. al Masahif", ed. A. Jeffery, Cairo, 1936/1355, p. 11;)

It becomes obvious from these traditions that, contrary to popular Islamic teaching,
contradictions and variant readings existed between the different codices. It is interesting to note that these variances gave rise to charges of corruption and textual perversion amongst the Muslim Umma, causing Uthman to burn texts written by eye and ear witnesses of Muhammad.

Uthman then proceeded to make Zaid’s codex the official text, forcing others to accept his decision. This decision wasn’t based on the wisdom of God but on one man’s choice. The question that begs to be asked is who gave Uthman the right to burn Qur'ans, standardizing Zaid’s text, when there were others who had more authority for receiving official standardization of their respective texts, such as Ibn Masud and Ubayy?

Both Ubayy and Ibn Masud were respected for their ability to memorize, with
Ubayy being referred to as “the Master of the Qur'anic Reciters” and Masud reciting 70 surahs without error:

Abdullah (bin Masud) reported that (he said to his companions to conceal their copies of the Qur'an) and further said: He who conceals anything shall have to bring that which he had concealed on the Day of Judgment, and they said: After whose mode of recitation do you command me to recite? I in fact recited before Allah’s Messenger more than seventy chapters of the Qur'an and the companions of Allah’s Messenger know that I have better understanding of the Book of Allah (than they do), and if I were to know that someone had better understanding than I, I would have gone to him. Shaqiq said: I sat in the company of the companions of Muhammad but I did not hear anyone having rejected that (that is, his recitation) or finding fault with it. (Sahih Muslim, Book 031, Number 6022)

Other traditions confirm
Ibn Masud’s surpassing knowledge of the Qur’an and that Muhammad had even personally taught him the recitation as he had received it from Gabriel for the final time:

Hashim Ibn al-Qasim informed us; (he said): al-Mas'udi informed us on the authority of Qasim, i.e., 'Abd al-Rahman; he said: Gabriel used to descend before the Apostle of Allah and he recited the Qur'an before him once every year [P. 4] in Ramadan, till the year when the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, died; when Gabriel made him recite the Qur'an twice. ‘Abd Allah said: I recited the Qur'an as I have it from the mouth of the Apostle of Allah that year. If I had known any one more well versed... in the Book of Allah than me and camels had borne me to him, surely I would have gone to him; but by Allah! I DO NOT KNOW ANY SUCH PERSON. (Ibn Sa’d’s Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, English translation by S. Moinul Haq, M.A., PH.D assisted by H.K. Ghazanfar M.A. [Kitab Bhavan Exporters & Importers, 1784 Kalan Mahal, Daryaganj, New Delhi- 110 002 India], Volume 2, p. 244)

Yahya Ibn Khulayf Ibn ‘Uqbah al-Basri informed us; (second chain) ‘Abd al-Wahhab Ibn ‘Ata informed us; he said: Ibn ‘Awn informed us on the authority of Muhammad ibn Sirin; he said: Gabriel used to recite the Qur'an before our Prophet, may Allah bless him, once every year in Ramadan. In the year in which he breathed his last he recited it twice before him. Muhammad said: I hope our style of reading ... conforms to the last recitation by Gabriel. (Ibid., p. 243)

Abu Mu’awiyah al-Darir informed us; (he said): al-A’mash informed us on the authority of Abu Zabyan, he on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas, he asked: Which of the two readings (of the Qur'an) do you prefer? He (Abu Zabyan) said: We replied: The reading of ‘Abd Allah. Thereupon he said: Verily the Qur'an was recited (by Gabriel) before the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, once in every Ramadan, except the year in which he breathed his last, when it was recited twice. Then ‘Abd Allah Ibn Mas’ud came to him (Prophet) and he learnt what was abrogated or altered.

Yahya Ibn ‘isaal-Ramli informed us on authority of Sufyan, he on the authority of al-A’mash, he on the authority of Abu al-Duha, he on the authority of Masruq; he said: ‘Abd Allah said:
No surah was revealed but I know about what it was revealed. If I had known any one knowing more of the Book of Allah than me, and if the camels or other riding beasts had carried me there, I must have gone to him ...

Wahb Ibn Jarir Ibn Hazm informed us: (he said): Shu’bah informed us on the authority of Ibrahim Ibn Muhajir, he on the authority of Ibrahim, he on the authority of ‘Abd Allah; (second chain) Abu Nua’ym al-Fadl Ibn Dukayn informed us; (he said): Abu al-Ahwas informed us on the authority of Sa’id Ibn Masruq, he on the authority of Abu al-Duha, he on the authority of ‘Abd Allah; he said: The Apostle of Allah said to me: Recite (the
Qur'an) before me. Thereupon I said: How can I repeat before you and it has been revealed on you. He said: I like it. Wahb said in his version: I desire to hear it from others. He (‘Abd Allah) said: I recited the surah of al-Nisa before him, till I reached the verse: But how (will it be with them) when We bring of every people and We bring thee (O Muhammad) a witness against them. Abu Nua’ym said in his version: Thereupon he said: It is enough. Both of them said: Then I saw him that the eyes of the Prophet were filled tears, and he said: Whoever seeks pleasure in reciting the Qur'an according to its fresh reading he should recite after the reading of Ibn Umm 'Abd.
(Ibid., pp. 441-442)

Waki ‘Ibn al-al-Jarrah informed us on the authority of Isma’il Ibn Khalid, he on the authority of Abu ‘Amr al-Shaybani; he said: Abu Musa al-Ash’ari said: Do not put questions to me as long as this learned man,
that is Ibn Mas’ud, is among you.
(Ibid., p. 443; bold emphasis ours)

Ma’an Ibn ‘Isa informed us; (he said): Mu’awiyah Ibn Salih informed us on the authority of Asad Ibn Wada'ah: Verily ‘Umar mentioned Ibn Mas’ud and said:
(He is) a box full of knowledge for which I honoured the people of al-Qadisiyah.
(Ibid., p. 444; bold emphasis ours)

When informed that Zaid’s text was to receive official status, Ibn Masud reacted indifferently:

Abdullah Ibn Masud said, “I recited from the Messenger of Allah (saw) seventy surahs which I had perfected before Zaid Ibn Thabit had embraced Islam.”
(Gilchrist, Chapter 3. The Codices of Ibn Mas'ud and Ubayy Ibn Ka'b, p. 66 – citing Ibn Abi Dawud’s Kitab al-Masahif, p. 17)

“I acquired directly from the Messenger of Allah (saw) seventy surahs when Zaid was still a childish youth - must I now forsake what I acquired directly from the Messenger of Allah?” (Ibid., p. 15)

Ibn Masud during a religious sermon (
khutba) declared:

“'Affan Ibn Muslim informed us; (he said): 'Abd al-Wahid Ibn Ziyad informed us; (he said): Sulayman al-A'mash informed us on the authority of Shaqiq Ibn Salamah; he said: 'Abd Allah Ibn Mas'ud delivered a sermon to us when the order concerning uniform reading of the
Qur'an was issued, as it was indeed. He (Shaqiq) said: He mentioned ABOUT DECEIT and said: Who so deceived, will bring his deceit on the Day of Resurrection. The people have been guilty OF DECEIT IN THE READING OF THE Qur'an. I like it to read according to the recitation of him (Prophet) whom I love more than that of Zayd Ibn Thabit. By Him besides whom there is no god! I learnt more than seventy surahs from the lips of the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, while Zayd Ibn Thabit was a youth, having two locks and playing with the youth. Then he said: By Him besides Whom there is no other god! If I know any one to be more conversant with the Book of Allah than me, and if the camels could carry me to him, I shall surely go to him. Then ‘Abd Allah went away. Shaqiq said: Subsequently I sat in the circles of the Companions of the Apostle of Allah and others BUT NONE contradicted his statement.”
(Ibn Sa’d’s Kitab al-Tabaqat, Volume 2, p. 444; bold)

Here Ibn Masud accuses Muslims of introducing deceit or deception into the reading of the Qur’an! Ibn Masud even warned his followers against copying and reciting Zaid’s version of the Qur’an:

(19). 3104.Az-Zuhri narrated from Anas who said: “Hudhaifah bin Al-Yaman came to ‘Uthman, at the time when the people of Ash-Sham and the people of Al-‘Iraq were waging war to conquer Arminiyah and Adharbijan. Hudhaifah saw their (the people of Ash-Sham and Al-‘Iraq) different forms of recitation of the Qur’an. So he said to ‘Uthman: ‘O Commander of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Book as the Jews and Christians did before them.’ So he (‘Uthman) sent a message to Hafsah (saying): ‘Send us the manuscripts so that we may copy them in the Musahif then we shall return it to you.’ So Hafsah sent the manuscripts to ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan. ‘Uthman then sent order for Zaid bin Thabit, Sa‘eed bin Al-‘As, ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Al-Harith bin Hisham, and ‘Abdullah bin Az-Zubair to copy the manuscripts in the Musahif. ‘Uthman said to the three Quraish men: In case you disagree with Zaid bin Thabit on any point in the (recitation dialect of the) Qur’an, then write it in the dialect of Quraish for it was revealed in their tongue.’ So when they had copied the manuscripts in the Musahif, ‘Uthman sent one Mushaf from those Musahif that they had copied to every province.”

Az-Zuhri said: “
Kharijah bin Zaid [bin Thabit] narrated to me that Zaid bin Thabit said: ‘I missed an Ayah of Surat Al-Ahzab that I heard the Messenger of Allah reciting: Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah, of them, some have fulfilled their obligations, and some of them are still waiting. – so I searched for it and found it with Khuzaimah bin Thabit, or Abu Khuzaimah, so I put it in its Surah.

Az-Zuhri said: “They differed then with
At-Tabut and At-Tabuh. The Quraish said: At-Tabut while Zaid said: At-Tabuh. Their disagreement was brought to ‘Uthman, so he said: ‘Write it as At-Tabut, for it was revealed in the tongue of the Quraish.

Az-Zuhri said: “Ubaidullah bin Abdullah bin Utbah informed me
that Abdullah bin Mas'ud disliked Zaid bin Thabit copying the Musahif, and he said: 'O you Muslim people! Avoid copying the Mushaf and recitation of this man. By Allah! When I accepted Islam he was but in the loins of a disbelieving man'--meaning Zaid bin Thabit--and it was regarding this that Abdullah bin Mas'ud said: 'O people of Al-Iraq! Keep the Musahif that are with you, and conceal them. For indeed Allah said: And whoever conceals something, he shall come with what he concealed on the Day of Judgement. So meet Allah with the Musahif.’” (Sahih)
(English Translation of Jami‘ At-Tirmidhi: Compiled by Imam Hafiz Abu ‘Eisa Mohammad Ibn ‘Eisa At-Tirmidhi, translated by Abu Khaliyl (USA), ahadith edited & referenced by Hafiz Abu Tahir Zubair ‘Ali Za’i, final review by Islamic Research Section Darussalam [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, First Edition: November 2007], Volume 5, From Hadith No. 2606 to 3290, 44. The Chapters On The Tafsir Of The Qur’an From The Messenger of Allah, Chapter 9., pp. 412-414)

Interestingly, the Muslim community at Iraq refused to receive Uthman’s text, preferring Ibn Masud’s instead. This led to a confrontation between Hudhaifah and Ibn Masud:

`Abdullah, Hudaifa and Abu Musa were on the roof of Abu Musa's house. `Abdullah said, 'I hear you say such-and-such.' Hudaifa said, 'Yes, I deplore folk talking about this one's reading and that one's reading. They are differing like non-Muslims.' Hudaifa continued, '`Abdullah b. Qais, you were sent to the Basrans as governor and teacher. THEY HAVE ADOPTED YOUR ADAB, YOUR DIALECT AND YOUR TEXT.'

To b. Mas`ud he said, 'You were sent to the Kufans as their teacher

'In that case,' retorted b. Mas`ud, 'I have not misled them. There is no verse in the Book of God but that I know where and in what connection it was revealed. Did I know of anyone more learned than myself on the subject I should go to him
.' (Burton, p. 147, Abu Bakr `Abdullah b. abi Da'ud, "K. al Masahif", ed. A. Jeffery, Cairo, 1936/1355, p. 14)

The matter becomes worse when we realize that Uthman’s text omitted chapters and verses that the other texts included:

According to Ibn Umar and Aisha, Muhammad’s wife, one chapter, Surah al-Ahzab [33] had 200 verses in Muhammad’s time. Yet, once Uthman was finished only 73 verses remained, eliminating nearly 140 verses. This tradition is also confirmed by Ubay b. Kabb. (True Guidance, p. 61– citing Al-Suyuti’s al-Itqan fii ulum al-Qur'an on nasikh wa mansukh and Darwaza’s al-Qur'an Al-Majid)

A verse on the stoning of men and women had been expunged from the Uthmanic text. It reads as follows:
As for old men and women, stone them for the pleasure they have indulged in.” Umar al-Khattab stated, “But for people who may say that Umar adds to the Book of Allah, I would have written the verse on stoning.” (Ibid., p. 61)

Aisha mentioned an additional clause in her reading of the Qur’an which is not part of the Muslim scripture we now possess:
(29) 2982. Abu Yunus, the freed slave of Aishah, said: “Aisha ordered me to write a Mushaf for her, and she said: ‘When you get to this Ayah then tell me: Guard strictly (the five obligatory) prayers, and the middle Salat [1].’ So when I reached it, I told her and she dictated to me: ‘Guard strictly (the five obligatory) prayers, and the middle Salat, and Salat Al-Asr. And stand before Allah with obedience.’ She said: ‘I heard that from the Messenger of Allah.’” (Sahih) [1] Al-Baqarah 2:238. (Jami‘ At-Tirmidhi, Volume 5, Chapter 2. Regarding Surat Al-Baqarah, pp. 302-303)

A tradition in Sahih Muslim indicates that there are at least two surahs which are missing:

Abu Harb b. Abu al-Aswad reported on the authority of his father that Abu Musa al-Ashan sent for the reciters of
Basra. They came to him and they were three hundred in number. They recited the Qur'an and he said: You are the best among the inhabitants of Basra, for you are the reciters among them. So continue to recite it. (But bear in mind) that your reciting for a long time may not harden your hearts as were hardened the hearts of those before you. We used to recite a surah, which resembled in length and severity to (surah) Bara`at. I have, however, forgotten it with the exception of this which I remember out of it: ‘If there were two valleys full of riches, for the son of Adam, he would long for a third valley and nothing would fill the stomach of the son of Adam but dust.’ And we used to recite a surah which resembled one of the surahs of Musabbihat, and I have forgotten it, but remember (this much) out of it: ‘O people who believe, why do you say that which you do not practice’ and ‘that is recorded in your necks as a witness (against you) and you would be asked about it on the Day of Resurrection.
’ (Book 005, Number 2286)

Confirmation of the legitimacy of the verse on the son of Adam comes from Anas b. Malik:

Anas reported Allah’s messenger as saying: If the son of Adam were to possess two valleys of riches, he would long for the third one, and the stomach of the son of Adam is not filled but with dust. And Allah returns to him to repent
. (Sahih Muslim, Book 005, Number 2282)

Anas goes on to say, “I heard the messenger of Allah as saying this, but I do not know whether this thing was revealed to him or not, but he said so
.”(Sahih Muslim, Book 005, Number 2283; cf. 2284, 2285)

Yet according to al-Aswad it was revealed as part of a surah which no longer exists.

According to Hamida bint Abi Yunus:
“When my father was eighty years of age, he recited the following verse from the codex of Aisha: ‘Verily, Allah and His angels pray for the Prophet. O ye who believe, pray for him and earnestly desire peace for him and for those who pray in the front rows.’”

She adds:
“This verse had been there before the codices underwent change at the hands of Uthman.” (True Guidance, pp. 61-62 – citing al-Suyut’s al-Itqan on nasikh wa mansukh [abrogating and the abrogated])

According to Hudhaifa, Muslims read “only a quarter of Sura al-Tawba (9) i.e., meaning a great number of its verses are missing (Ibid., p. 64; citing al-Mustadrak).

Ubayy b. Kab included two extra surahs, al-Hafd (the Haste) and al-Khal (the Separation) that were not included in the Uthmanic text. These surahs were also included in the texts of Ibn Abbas and Abu Musa (Gilchrist, Chapter 3. The Codices of Ibn Mas'ud and Ubayy Ibn Ka'b, pp. 74-75; citing al-Suyuti’s al-Itqan, pp. 152-153).

Ibn Masud refused to include surahs 1, 113 and 114, stating that these chapters were revealed as prayers and incantations to ward off evil. This fact is confirmed by al-Razi, al-Tabari and Ibn Hajar (True Guidance, p. 58 – citing Ibn Hajar, al-Tabari, al-Suyuti’s Itqan, chapter on compilation). As Gilchrist notes:
“Imam Fakhruddin said that the reports in some of the ancient books
that Ibn Mas’ud denied that Suratul-Fatiha and the Mu'awwithatayni [surahs 113-114] are part of the Qur’an are embarrassing in their implications... But the Qadi Abu Bakr said ‘It is not soundly reported from him that they are not part of the Qur’an and there is no record of such a statement from him. He omitted them from his manuscript as he did not approve of their being written. This does not mean he denied they were part of the Qur’an. In his view the Sunnah was that nothing should be inscribed in the text (mushaf) unless so commanded by the Prophet (saw)... and he had not heard that it had been so commanded’.
(As-Suyuti, Al-Itqan fii Ulum al-Qur'an, p.186).

“... Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani however, in his commentary on the Sahih of al-Bukhari (his famous Fath al-Baari), accepted these reports as sound, quoting authorities who stated that Ibn Mas’ud would not include the two ‘charm’ surahs in his manuscript as Muhammad had, to his knowledge, only commanded that they be used as incantations against evil forces. He regarded the isnad (the chain of transmitters) for this record as totally sound and attempted to harmonise the conflicting records instead, suggesting that Ibn Mas’ud accepted the Fatiha and ‘charm’ surahs as genuinely revealed but was reluctant to inscribe them in his written text.” (Gilchrist, Chapter 3. The Codices of Ibn Mas’ud and Ubayy ibn Ka’b, p. 68)

According to al-Hajjaj, “a sura as long as al-Tawba was revealed,
and then it was lifted up,” i.e., lost
. (Ibid., pp. 62-63 - citing Bukhari, Riqaq 10; Zuhd 27; al-Tirmidi, al-Darimi Riqaq 62; and Ahmad Bin Hanbal, 111, 122, 176; iv. 368; v. 117; vi. 55)

Aisha relates that, “Ten verses were revealed concerning a foster relationship. These were annulled and replaced by another five verses.” Yet both the abrogated and abrogating verses are nowhere to be found. She also stated: “The verses of stoning and fostering were revealed, and the sheet of paper on which they were written was under my pillow. But then the Prophet died. Overwhelmed with grief, a beast came in and
ate the sheet of paper
.” (Ibid., p. 112- citing Muslim Hudud 15 and also No.3421; Ibn Maja Hudud 9)

This process of burning eyewitness writings on the part of Uthman did not go well with Muslims in general as they declared that he had “obliterated the Book of Allah” because “The Qur'an was in many books, and you have now discredited them all but one.” (Gilchrist, Chapter 2. The Uthmanic Recension of the Qur’an, pp. 51, 58 – citing Abi Dawud Kitab al-Masahif, p.36, and al-Tabari, Bk.1, chpt. 6, 2952)

The late great Egyptian Professor Dr. Taha Hussein summarizes the atrocity of Uthman’s actions:

The Prophet Muhammad said: “The Koran was revealed in seven dialects, all of them are right and perfect.” When Uthman banned whichever he banned from the Koran, and burned whichever he burned,
he banned passages Allah has revealed and burned parts of the Koran which were given to the Muslims by the Messenger of Allah. He appointed a small group of Sahaba (close friends of Muhammad) to rewrite the Koran and left out those who heard the Prophet and memorized what he said. This is why Ibn Massoud was angry, because he was one of the best men who memorized the Koran. He said that he took from the mouth of the Prophet seventy suras of the Koran while Zaid Ibn Sabit was yet a young lad. When Ibn Massoud objected to the burning of the other codices of the Koran, Uthman took him out of the mosque with violence, and struck him to the ground, and broke one of his ribs
. (Hussein, A-Fitnato Al-Kobra [The Great Sedition], pp. 160-161, 181-182)

As does Islamic scholar Alphonse Mingana:
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,' 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. 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." (Mingana, “Three Ancient Korans”, The Origins of the Koran - Classic Essays on Islam's Holy Book, ed. by Ibn Warraq [Prometheus Books, Amherst NY, 1998], p. 84)

Mingana records the Muslim reaction to Uthman b. Affan's burning and wholesale destruction of primary, competing Qur’anic codices:

"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. This fact was due specially, it is said, to the hundreds of dialects used in Arabia. 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: the revelation sent down from heaven was one, and the book containing this revelation must be one. 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. 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? 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? 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? 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’?…”
(Ibn Warraq, p. 85)

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)

Continues on Part II


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