Critical Analysis: Imperfect Text
15:9 and 85:22 are often used to demonstrate that the Qur'an is perfectly preserved.
In a guarded tablet.
- It begs the question of what does "Qur'an" or "Reminder" mean. Perhaps, the traditional interpretation that the Quran and Reminder are identical to the current Qur'an is wrong. Much of the Qur'an is mistranslated or misinterpreted so how do we know that the above verses weren’t misinterpreted?
- How do we know that the Qur'an was correct? Not everything written in a book is true. So the Qur'anic proof that the text was fully preserved is weak.
The Hijazi Korans show differences in the system of counting of verses from the two dozen or so schools of counting; even the sequence of suras is often at variance not only with the Standard Egyptian edition but with the sequence of suras as recorded for the Korans of Ibn Masud and Ubayy b. Kab.
Ibn Warraq, Prometheus Books, 2002, p65
This famous companion asked one of the Muslims, "How many verses in the chapter of the Parties?" He said, "Seventy-three verses." He (Uba) told him, "It used to be almost equal to the chapter of the Cow (about 286 verses) and included the verse of the stoning". The man asked, "What is the verse of the stoning?" He (Uba) said, "If an old man or woman committed adultery, stone them to death." …The problems posed by the scripta defectiva inevitably led to the growth of different centers with their own variant traditions of how the texts should be pointed or vowelized. Despite ‘Uthman’s order to destroy all texts other than his own, it is evident that the older codices survived. As Charles Adams says, "It must be emphasized that far from there being a single text passed down inviolate from the time of ‘Uthman’s commission, literally thousands of variant readings of particular verses were known in the first three (Muslim) centuries. These variants affected even the ‘Uthmanic codex, making it difficult to know what its true form may have been."
Ibn Warraq, Prometheus Books, 1998
Note: one can scan the word “five” or “ten” in the Qur'an and notice that the breastfeeding verse is no longer in the Qur'an.
Rashad Khalifa has written a Qur'an both online and in a book in which he removed verses 9:128-9:129 (see below for his rationalization).
Due to their extraordinary importance, the details are given in Appendices 24 and 29.One immediate observation is that the number of occurrences of the word "God" at the end of Sura 9 is 1273 (19x67). If the two false verses 128 & 129 are included, this phenomenon--and many more--will vanish.
As we do not have the copies burnt by the Caliphs, one is free to speculate on the reasons for the burnings. Perhaps, discrepancies, contradictions, or other anomalies in the text undermined the ruling class’s authority, so they had to remove those “problems”. Perhaps the then-current text did not support their agenda, so they had to modify the text. Perhaps, the variations between the texts were so enormous, that it was an embarrassment to elaborate on them. So a self-proclaimed group of experts burned the evidence. How can the Caliphs even know whether they burnt all the false copies?
But even assuming that they were sincere, the perfect-text argument is not credible. Allah spoke to Gabriel who spoke to Muhammad. Presumably, no tape recording of these speeches ever took place. There might not have even been words spoken, perhaps Muhammad had silent visions, which were then written down. As the tape recordings and the original Quran do not exist, how can one claim that they are 100% certain that the current version of the Holy Quran is the same as the original words that Allah spoke to Gabriel?
There was only one witness (Muhammad). The apparent character of Muhammad also raises questions. Some people thought he was crazy. He seems to often act in unsavory ways, killing people, marrying many women, engaging in selfish behavior, and so on, and he seems paranoid. In many ways, he is just not a credible source.
Another observation: A student or scholar might be the only one who took notes at a particular lecture, with these notes perfectly preserved. Their survival does not mean that the student perfectly reflected what the lecturer said or that what the lecturer said was even correct.
A discussion of Qur'anic grammar (see chapter 4) also makes clear that the text is corrupt.
F. E. Peters, State University of New York Press, Appendix, 1994
Islam supposedly began with Muhammad. Before Muhammad received his revelations, he was not a Muslim. Islam tends to mistrust non-Muslims and considers them non-credible. How can we trust such a messenger?
Verses 2:106 and 10:15 suggest that the Qur'an has been edited:
According to the Qur'an (10:15), Muhammad changed the Qur'an. Muhammad's excuse was that he was just following orders. But such changes indicate that the Qur'an was incapable of withstanding the test of time.
Then why did Muhammad's revelations sometimes differ with the stone tablet?
Bernard Lewis, editor and translator, Walker and Company, USA, 1974 (hardcover), pg. xviii
Alexander Stille, New York Times, March 2, 2002
Since most Qur'anic verses cannot rationally be proven, one must depend on the authority of its author. I don’t see how one can prove that Muhammad wrote each and every verse of the current Qur'an. Books generally are edited by others and authors borrow ideas from other people or sources, and it is hard to prove that the Qur'an was not different in that respect.
If in fact, the Caliph’s wrote or edited some of the Qur'an, it is very hard to theologically defend, as they were not prophets.
- 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. ….."