Corruption of the Qur'an
- 1 Introduction
- 2 The Evidence from Within
- 3 Could the Qur'an have Been Preserved through Memorization?
- 4 Disagreements on the Qur'an and its Burning
- 5 Abdullah bin Mas'ud- Authority of the Qur'an and Best Qur'anic Teacher
- 6 Ibn Mas'ud's Disagreement with Uthman
- 7 What did Ibn Mas'ud have in his Qur'an that Uthman did not?
- 8 Ubay bin Ka'b
- 9 What is Missing from the Qur'an
- 10 Alhajjaj changes the Uthmanic Qur'an
- 11 Differences in the Hafs and Warsh Texts
- 12 Diacritical Marks and Grammatical Mistakes
- 13 Corruption of Previous Scriptures
- 14 Conclusion
- 15 See Also
- 16 External Links
- 17 References
At no time during Muhammad's life did he ever order these alleged revelations to be compiled into a single book. If Muhammad was, as he claimed, a messenger to all mankind, it is perplexing as to why he never gave thought to the preservation of his message.
His followers must solely take the credit of the Qur'an's existence today and its spreading to people beyond those which Muhammad had initially subjugated. Muslims however would argue that the Qur'an was preserved by Allah as he had promised.
The Evidence from Within
We can find evidence that suggests the Qur'an was corrupted through many sources, but what is most striking is the evidence from the Qur'an itself. The Qur'an tells us "There were some among the Jews who pervert words from their proper places..."
The word "pervert" in Arabic is Yuharifoon, which means "corrupt". Therefore, according to the Qur'an, al-Tahreef (corruption) is achieved through changing words from their proper places.
Has the Qur'an been subjected to such changes? Beyond a shadow of doubt, it has. If we read surah 5:3, it says "This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion."
This was quoted from chapter 5, and the Qur'an contains 114 chapters in total. How can the religion of Islam be completed by chapter 5, when there are 109 chapters yet to come? If it was completed in chapter 5, then there is no need for the 109 chapters ahead.
Some Muslims argue that this verse was the last verse revealed. If that is so, was the revelation imperfect until this verse was revealed? Also, why then is it not placed at the conclusion? This proves that Muslims have changed the words from their right places, and according to the Qur'an, that is Tahreef (Corruption).
The first surah to be revealed was al-Alak, yet it is surah al-Fatiha which we find at the beginning of the Qur'an. Instead, Muslims have placed the first chapter to be revealed (al-Alaq), as chapter 96, towards the end of the Qur'an.
How is this not the changing of words from their right places? This is indeed 'Tahreef'. Muslims have not arranged the surahs chronologically. They took it upon themselves to organize the revelations instead of Allah completing this task himself.
Could the Qur'an have Been Preserved through Memorization?
We would say no, as Muhammad himself had forgotten portions of the Qur'an and needed his followers to remind him. This led to him having a "just in time" revelation claiming that some verses were to be forgotten.
What about the great memorizers of Islam from among the Salaf, maybe they had successfully memorized it? Well, that would not work as an argument. The best, and most, of the Qurra' (“reciters”) had died before its compilation. Abu Bakr even knew that the Qur'an would be hard to collect and that Muhammad had never ordered such an action to be taken.
The Qur'an in fact was not memorized in full by the companions, and for proof of this we need only look to the words of Zaid bin Thabit, the companion who was charged with its collection.
He had stated "I started looking for the Qur'an and collecting it from (what was written on) palm-leaf stalks, thin white stones, and also from the men who knew it by heart, till I found the last verse of Surat at-Tauba (repentance) with Abi Khuzaima al-Ansari, and I did not find it with anybody other than him."
Had the companions fully memorized it, why then would they look for verses in leafs and stones? Surah al-Taubah was found with one person only.
Disagreements on the Qur'an and its Burning
Upon hearing this, Uthman hurriedly ordered the burning of both fragmentary manuscripts and whole copies of the Qur'an and sent a message to Hafsa (one of Muhammad's wives) requesting the manuscripts she had in her possession. Making a codex from what Zayd bin thabit had originally compiled, he gave it to the people.
Even after the final recension of the Qur'an during Uthman's reign, disputes still came to the fore in respect to the authenticity of the text. A very good example concerns a variant reading of Surah 2.238.
The Qur'an as it stands today, reads "Maintain your prayers, particularly the middle prayer (as-salaatil wustaa), and stand before Allah in devoutness".
Abdullah bin Mas'ud- Authority of the Qur'an and Best Qur'anic Teacher
Muhammad ordered Muslims to learn the Qur'an from four individuals and the first of them was Abdullah bin Mas'ud. So, according to Muhammad, Ibn Mas'ud was an authority on the Qur'an.
Ibn Mas'ud swore that he knew all the surahs of the Qur'an, saying "By Allah other than Whom none has the right to be worshipped! There is no Sura revealed in Allah's Book but I know at what place it was revealed; and there is no verse revealed in Allah's Book but I know about whom it was revealed. And if I know that there is somebody who knows Allah's Book better than I, and he is at a place that camels can reach, I would go to him".
That is quite a grandiose statement by Ibn Mas'ud, which we cannot disagree with. After all, according to Muhammad's words, he was one of the chosen teachers whom Muslims were to go to when they desired to learn the Qur'an.
After Muhammad's choice of Abdullah bin Mas'ud, he was followed by Salim, the freed slave of Abu Hudhaifa, Mu'adh bin Jabal and Ubai bin Ka'b. What is odd is that we do not find any mention of Zayd Bin Thabit who was ultimately entrusted by Uthman with the task of collecting the Qur'an from scraps.
Ibn Mas'ud's Disagreement with Uthman
The Qur'an that Ibn Mas'ud had was known and agreed upon by many Muslims. When Uthman ordered that all codices must be destroyed and that only Zayd's codex is to be preserved, The reaction of Abdallah ibn Masud was great.
"I have not led them [the people of Kufa] astray. There is no verse in the Book of Allah that I do not know where it was revealed and why it was revealed, and if I knew anyone more learned in the Book of Allah and I could be conveyed there, I would set out to him".
Referring to the authority given to Zaid bin thabit, Abdullah ibn Mas'ud said, "I recited from the messenger of Allah (saw) seventy surahs which I had perfected before Zaid ibn Thabit had embraced Islam".
When Uthman ordered the destruction of Ibn Mas'ud's codex, Ibn Mas'ud gave a sermon in Kufa and said "The people have been guilty of deceit in the reading of the Qur'an. I like it better 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".
Zaid bin thabit was in no place to be a rival to the great scholar and teacher Ibn Mas'ud, and such sermons by him are devastating to the history of Islam and to the authenticity of the Qur'an.
What did Ibn Mas'ud have in his Qur'an that Uthman did not?
Ibn Mas'ud's Qur'anic text omitted surah al-Fatiha and the mu'awwithatayni (surahs 113 and 114).
When we come to the rest of the Qur'an, we find that there were numerous differences of reading between the texts of Zaid and Ibn Mas'ud. The records in Ibn Abu Dawud's Kitab al-Masahif fill up no less than nineteen pages and, from all the sources available, one can trace no less than 101 variants in the Suratul-Baqarah alone.
We will provide you with the mention of just a few of the differences here in illustration of the nature of the variations between the texts:
Surah 2:275 begins with the words Allathiina yaakuluunar-ribaa laa yaquumuuna, meaning "those who devour usury will not stand". Ibn Mas'ud's text had the same introduction but after the last word there was added the expression yawmal qiyaamati, that is, they would not be able to stand on the "Day of Resurrection".
The variant is mentioned in Abu Ubaid's Kitab Fadhail al-Qur'an. The variant was also recorded in the codex of Talha ibn Musarrif, a secondary codex dependent on Ibn Mas'ud's text, Taiha likewise being based at Kufa in Iraq where Ibn Mas'ud was based as governor and where his codex was widely followed.
Surah 5:91, in the standard text, contains the exhortation fasiyaamu thalaathati ayyaamin, meaning "fast for three days". Ibn Mas'ud's text had, after the last word, the adjective mutataabi'aatin, meaning three "successive" days.
The variant derives from at-Tabari and was also mentioned by Abu Ubaid. This variant reading was, significantly, found in Ubayy ibn Ka'b's text as well and in the texts of Ibn Abbas and Ibn Mas'ud's pupil Ar-Rabi ibn Khuthaim.
The Qur'an we have today was rejected by Ibn Masud, whom the prophet of Islam himself approved of. This tells us that the Qur'an we have is not the word of Allah.
Ubay bin Ka'b
Ubay ibn Ka'b, one of the four which were singled-out by Muhammad, was considered the best reciter of the Qur'an. He was known as Sayidul Qura' (The Master of Reciters). Umar the Caliph also agreed that Ubay was the best reciter.
Ubay agreed with Ibn Mas'ud and disagreed with Zayd on the following:
1. For the standard reading wa yush-hidullaaha in Surah 2:204 he read wa yastash-hidullaaha.
2. He omitted the words in khiftum from Surah 4:101.
3. He read mutathab-thibiina for muthabthabiina in Surah 4:143.
There are a number of cases where whole clauses differed in his text. In Surah 5:48, where the standard text reads wa katabnaa 'alayhim fiiha, meaning "and We inscribed therein for them (the Jews)", the reading of Ubayy ibn Ka'b was wa anzalallaahu alaa banii Isra'iila fiiha, meaning "and Allah sent down therein to the Children of Israel."
From Abu Ubaid we find that, whereas Surah 17:16 in the standard text reads amarnaa mutrafiihaa fafasaquu, Ubay read this clause ba'athnaa akaabira mujri-miihaa fdmakaruu.
What is Missing from the Qur'an
Surah at-Tawba was originally equal to the length of al-Baqara, losing about 157 verses.
Abu Musa al-Ash'ari, one of the early authorities on the Qur'an text and a companion of Muhammad, claimed a surah which resembled at-Tawba in length and severity was forgotten and lost.
According to Abu Waqid al-Laithii, Muhammad recited to him the verse on "the greed of man" which read, "We sent down wealth to maintain prayer and deeds of charity, and if the son of Adam had a valley he would leave it in search for another like it and, if he got another like it, he would press on for a third, and nothing would satisfy the stomach of the son of Adam but dust, yet Allah is relenting towards those who relent." This verse is not found in today's Qur'an.
The lost verse of Rajm (stoning) which read "The fornicators among the married men (ash-shaikh) and married women (ash-shaikhah), stone them as an exemplary punishment from Allah, and Allah is Mighty and Wise," was originally found in Surah al-Ahzab.
This verse, along with verses regarding adult suckling, were written on a piece of paper and were lost when a goat ate them. The loss of the stoning verse is confirmed by Caliph Umar in sahih hadith.
Alhajjaj changes the Uthmanic Qur'an
The text we have today is not even Uthman's Revised Version of the Qur'an, but it incorporates changes by Al-Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf Al-Thakafi.
Al-Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf Al-Thakafi, who lived in the years AD 660-714, was a teacher of the Arabic language in the city of Taif. Then he joined the military and became the most powerful person during the reign of Caliph Abd al-Malik Ibn Marawan and after him his son al-Waleed Ibn Abd al-Malik. Because Al-Hajjaj taught Arabic, he gave himself the liberty to change several words of Caliph Uthman's Qur'an, which is an indication that he did not believe that the Qur'an was verbally inspired or was inscribed in a "tablet preserved."
For brevity's sake we will only mention a few of these changes:
1. In Surah Yunus 10:22, he changed the word yanshorokom, which means "spread you," to yousayerokom, which means "makes you to go on."
2. In Surah Ash-Shuara 26:116, he changed the word Al-Mukhrageen, which means "the cast out," to Al-Margoomeen, which means "those who are to be stoned [to death]."
3. In Surah Ash-Shuara 26:167, he changed the word Min Al-Margoomeen, which means "those who are to be stoned to death," to Al-Mukhrageen, which means "those who will assuredly be cast out."
4. In Surah Muhammad 47:15, he changed the word yasen, which is poor Arabic to Asen, which means "unpolluted."
5. In Surah al-Hadid 57:7, he changed the word wataqu, which means "feared Allah," to Wa-anfaqu, which means "spend in charity."
If you read Qur'anic Tafsirs such as al-Jalalayn and others on these verses, you will notice that they will say that there are other readings of these words, proving that there was corruption.
Visit this site to see the differences between Samarqand Codex and Uthmans Codex.
Differences in the Hafs and Warsh Texts
Apart from other earlier variant text, there are two different texts of the Qur'an currently in print, named after their respective 2nd-century transmitters Hafs (from Kufa) and Warsh (from Medina).
The Hafs text is the more common and used in most areas of the Islamic world. Warsh is used mainly in West and North-West Africa as well as by the Zaydiya in Yemen. Here are some of the differences:
|2:132||wawassa||wa'awsa||Al-Dani mentions Abu `Ubayd saw wa'awsa
in the imam, the mushaf `Uthman
|5:54||yartadda||yartadid||Al-Dani quotes Abu `Ubayd saw yartadid in the imam|
Diacritical Marks and Grammatical Mistakes
The Qur'an was written without diacritical marks. At the time of Muhammad, Arabic orthography was yet to develop into what we have known for centuries.
For the early interpretors who added diacritical marks, to read the Qur'an as it was originally written, would lead the reader to interpret and choose for themselves from the many possible meanings available.
The following are just a few examples from among many grammatical mistakes which show that the Qur'an is not flawless.
1. Sabi'een or Sabi'oon, one must be wrong (5:69, 22:17)
2. Butunihi is a mistake in 16:66. It must be Butuniha, because it is referring to the plural (cattle).
3. Kon fayakoon, meaning "be and it is", must be kon fakana, meaning "be and he was" in 3:59, because it refers to the past not present.
Corruption of Previous Scriptures
Many Muslims erroneously believe that the Qur'an claims the corruption of previous scriptures. However with this erroneous belief comes a new set of problems.
The Qur'an says in 15:9, "We have revealed the dhikr (reminder) and we surely will preserve it," but which "reminder" is Allah referring to, and who decided it only applied to Qur'anic text?
Allah said he will preserve the dhikr, either he preserves all the dhikr (Taurat, Injil, and Qur'an) or None.
What have we learnt here? We have learnt that some verses are missing, some readings are different, and the very best scholars and reciters of Islam, whom Muhammad himself had approved of, rejected the Qur'an of Uthman.
What are we left with? We are left with a very human text, as prone to corruption as any other medieval text, and Muslims who deny this are left holding an untenable position.
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- 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
- "...Therefore I suggest, you (Abu Bakr) order that the Qur'an be collected." I said to 'Umar, "How can you do something which Allah's Apostle did not do?" 'Umar said, "By Allah, that is a good project..." - Sahih Bukhari 6:61:509
- "We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption)." - Qur'an 15:9
- Qur'an Text/Transliteration 4:46
- Qur'an 5:3
- "Allah's Apostle heard a man reciting the Qur'an at night, and said, "May Allah bestow His Mercy on him, as he has reminded me of such-and-such Verses of such-and-such Suras, which I was caused to forget."" - Sahih Bukhari 6:61:558
- "Whatever communications We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or like it..." - Qur'an 2:106
- "...Umar has come to me and said: "Casualties were heavy among the Qurra' of the! Qur'an (i.e. those who knew the Quran by heart) on the day of the Battle of Yalmama, and I am afraid that more heavy casualties may take place among the Qurra' on other battlefields, whereby a large part of the Qur'an may be lost..." - Sahih Bukhari 6:61:509
- "...Then Abu Bakr said (to me). 'You are a wise young man and we do not have any suspicion about you, and you used to write the Divine Inspiration for Allah's Apostle. So you should search for (the fragmentary scripts of) the Qur'an and collect it in one book)." By Allah If they had ordered me to shift one of the mountains, it would not have been heavier for me than this ordering me to collect the Qur'an..." - Sahih Bukhari 6:61:509
- "...I started looking for the Qur'an and collecting it from (what was written on) palm-leaf stalks, thin white stones..."Sahih Bukhari 6:61:509
- "...Hudhaifa was afraid of their (the people of Sham and Iraq) differences in the recitation of the Qur'an, so he said to 'Uthman, "O chief of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Book (Quran) as Jews and the Christians did before..." - Sahih Bukhari 6:61:510
- "...'Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur'anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt..." - Sahih Bukhari 6:61:510
- "...Uthman sent a message to Hafsa saying, "Send us the manuscripts of the Qur'an so that we may compile the Qur'anic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you." Hafsa sent it to 'Uthman...." - Sahih Bukhari 6:61:510
- Qur'an Text/Transliteration 2:238
- "Abu Yunus, freedman of Aishah, Mother of Believers, reported: Aishah ordered me to transcribe the Holy Qur'an and asked me to let her know when I should arrive at the verse Hafidhuu alaas-salaati waas-salaatiil-wustaa wa quumuu lillaahi qaanitiin (2.238). When I arrived at the verse I informed her and she ordered: Write it in this way, Hafidhuu alaas-salaati waas-salaatiil-wustaa wa salaatiil 'asri wa quumuu lillaahi qaanitiin. She added that she had heard it so from the Apostle of Allah." - Muwatta Imam Malik, p.64
- "It is reported by Abdullah on the authority of Muhammad ibn Abdul Malik who reported from Yazid (etc.) ... It is written in the codex of Hafsah, the widow of the Prophet (saw): "Observe your prayers, especially the middle prayer and the afternoon prayer"" - Ibn Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Masahif, p.87
- "Narrated Masruq: Abdullah bin Mas'ud was mentioned before Abdullah bin Amr who said, "That is a man I still love, as I heard the Prophet (saw) saying, 'Learn the recitation of the Qur'an from four: from Abdullah bin Mas'ud - he started with him - Salim, the freed slave of Abu Hudhaifa, Mu'adh bin Jabal and Ubai bin Ka'b"." - Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 5, p.96
- Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 6, p.488
- "Hudhaifah went on to say, "0 Abdullah ibn Qais, you were sent to the people of Basra as their governor (amir) and teacher and they have submitted to your rules, your idioms and your reading". He continued, "0 Abdullah ibn Mas'ud, you were sent to the people of Kufa as their teacher who have also submitted to your rules, idioms and reading". Abdullah said to him, "In that case I have not led them astray. There is no verse in the Book of Allah that I do not know where it was revealed and why it was revealed, and if I knew anyone more learned in the Book of Allah and I could be conveyed there, I would set out to him"." - Ibn Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Masahif, p.14
- Ibn Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Masahif, p.17
- Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, Vol. 2, p.444
- "Imam Fakhruddin said that the reports in some of the ancient books that Ibn Mas'ud denied that Suratul-Fatiha and the Mu'awwithatayni 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
- Kitab al-Masahif, pp. 54-73
- cf. Nِldeke, Geschichte, 3.63; Jeffery, Materials, p.31
- Jeffery, p.343
- 7.19.11 - cf. Nِldeke, 3.66; Jeffery, p.40
- Jeffery, p.129
- Jeffery, p.199
- Jeffery, p.289
- "Affan ibn Muslim informed us ... on the authority of Anas ibn Malik, he on the authority of the Prophet, may Allah bless him; he said: The best reader (of the Qur'an) among my people is Ubayyi ibn Ka'b." - Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, Vol. 2, p.441
- Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 6, p.489
- cf. Nِldeke 3.83; Jeffery, p.120
- cf. Nِldeke 3.85; Jeffery, p.127
- cf. Jeffery, p.127
- cf. Nِldeke 3.85; Jeffery, p.128
- cf. Nِldeke 3.88; Jeffery, p.140
- "You (alone) we worship, and to You (alone) we pray and lie prostrate, and to You (alone) we proceed and have descendants. We fear Your torture and hope for Your mercy. Truly Your torture will overtake the infidels." - al-Hafd (the Haste)
- "O Allah, You (alone) we ask for help and forgiveness. We speak appreciatingly of Your goodness. Never do we disbelieve You. We repudiate and disbelieve anyone who follows immorality." - al-Khal' (the Separation)
- as-Suyuti, Al-Itqan, p.152-153
- "Malik says that several verses from chapter 9 (Sura of Repentance) have been dropped from the beginning. Among them is, ‘In the name of God the compassionate, the Merciful’ because it was proven that the length of Sura of Repentance was equal to the length of the Sura of the Cow." - "The Itqan" by Suyuti Part 3, Page 184
- "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." - Sahih Muslim, Vol. 2, p.501
- "Abu Waqid al-Laithii said, "When the messenger of Allah (saw) received the revelation we would come to him and he would teach us what had been revealed. (I came) to him and he said 'It was suddenly communicated to me one day: Verily Allah says, ..." - As-Suyuti, Al-Itqan fii Ulum al-Qur'an, p.525
- As-Suyuti, Al-Itqan fii Ulum al-Qur'an, p.524
- "Umar said to me ‘How many verses are contained in the chapter of al-Ahzab?’ I said, ‘72 or 73 verses.’ He said it was almost as long as the chapter of the Cow, which contains 287 verses, and in it there was the verse of stoning." - Al-Muttaqi ‘Ali bin Husam al-Din in his book “Mukhtasar Kanz al-’Ummal” printed on the margin of Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Volume 2, page 2, in his hadith about chapter 33
- Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal. vol. 6. page 269; Sunan Ibn Majah, page 626; Ibn Qutbah, Tawil Mukhtalafi 'l-Hadith (Cairo: Maktaba al-Kulliyat al-Azhariyya. 1966) page 310; As-Suyuti, ad-Durru 'l-Manthur, vol. 2. page 13
- "...Umar b. Khattab sat on the pulpit of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: Verily Allah sent Muhammad (may peace be upon him) with truth and He sent down the Book upon him, and the verse of stoning was included in what was sent down to him. We recited it, retained it in our memory and understood it. Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) awarded the punishment of stoning to death (to the married adulterer and adulteress) and, after him, we also awarded the punishment of stoning, I am afraid that with the lapse of time, the people (may forget it) and may say: We do not find the punishment of stoning in the Book of Allah, and thus go astray by abandoning this duty prescribed by Allah. stoning is a duty laid down in Allah's Book for married men and women who commit adultery when proof is established, or it there is pregnancy, or a confession...." - Sahih Muslim 17:4194
- "The companions (Muhammad’s friends or “Sahaba”) did not vocalize or provide diacritical points for the letters of the Qur’anic copies which they wrote, but later during the last part of the companions’ era, when reading errors came into being, they began to provide diacritical points for the copies of the Qur’an and to vocalize them. This was admissible by the authority of the majority of the scholars, though some of them disliked it. The truth is, it should not be disliked because the situation necessitated it, and the diacritical points distinguish the letters from each other while vocalization explains the grammatical inflection." - Ibn Taymiyyah, "Sheik of the Muslims" vol. XII, pp. 576 and 586
- As-Suyuti, Al-Itqan fii Ulum al-Qur'an, p.226