- If any errors crept into a manuscript being copied in, for example, Asia Minor, a manuscript from Rome would not contain those errors. Comparing the two (along with other manuscripts) would rectify the mistakes.
- Since no one person controlled all the manuscripts, it would be impossible to uniformly corrupt all the manuscripts.
- Since there was no uniform revision of the all the manuscripts, surviving manuscripts can help us piece together the original text, not a revised version of that text.
- There was no universal destruction of all the texts. Though many attempted this, such as Diocletian, surviving manuscripts and historical accounts are proof that these attempts were unsuccessful.
- It was controlled by one person, the khalifa (as evidenced by Uthman’s ability to recall all the manuscripts).
- It was uniformly revised by Uthman.
- During this time, if any error crept into the manuscript which would serve as the official text, this error would only be detectable by comparing it to previous manuscripts.
- Unfortunately, all the previous manuscripts were put to the flames.
- It is virtually impossible for the New Testament to have been uniformly corrupted in a textually undetectable manner.
- It is extremely easy for the Quran to have been uniformly corrupted in a textually undetectable manner.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Friday, January 9, 2009
I asked my friend this question last weekend, and his first response was that there have never been any changes in the text of the Qur’an. From an earlier post, we know that this claim is not verifiable: the earliest Quranic manuscripts were all systematically destroyed by Uthman. Beyond that, we know that this claim misses the point: there was plenty of controversy amongst the earliest Quranic scholars over what should even be considered “Quran”. The Quran was not even a solid enough concept to be changable!
But there’s more. When I pointed out to my friend that, in fact, there were differences in the manuscripts that Uthman sent out to the provinces and that there were variations in word usage, my reference was made to the hadith in which Muhammad says that there were seven ahruf.
Narrated by Umar bin Al Khattab: I heard Hisham bin Hakim bin Hizam reciting Surat-al-Furqan in a way different to that of mine. Allah’s Apostle had taught it to me (in a different way). So, I was about to quarrel with him (during the prayer) but I waited till he finished, then I tied his garment round his neck and seized him by it and brought him to Allah’s Apostle and said, “I have heard him reciting Surat-al-Furqan in a way different to the way you taught it to me.” The Prophet ordered me to release him and asked Hisham to recite it. When he recited it, Allah’s Apostle said, “It was revealed in this way.” He then asked me to recite it. When I recited it, he said, “It was revealed in this way. The Qur’an has been revealed in seven ahruf, so recite it in the way that is easier for you.”
Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith #3.601
Letting aside Umar’s temperament, we see that he is shocked to find out that the Qur’an has been revealed in more ways than one. Indeed, the great Quran teacher Ubay b. Kaab had a similar response to this news, momentarily even doubting the Truth of Islam! (Until Muhammad punched him, that is):
Ubay: “…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 (PBUH) 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 (PBUH) 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.’”
Narrated by Muslim.
But what exactly is meant by the term “ahruf“? Let’s turn to Muhammad for an answer:
…unfortunately, Muhammad does not elaborate on what the ahruf exactly are. So let’s turn to his companions for more details:
…it seems none of his companions shares details on this concept of ahruf, either. If we are to gain any valid, non-speculative information about the ahruf, we should turn to the first three generations of Muslims, known as the salaf:
…as it turns out, no one in the salaf era actually expounded upon the concept of ahruf. Muslim scholars have wrestled with the concept of the seven ahruf for centuries, often concluding that no one knows exactly what they are except Allah!
We must conclude, then, Muhammad essentially said the following: there are seven ways in which the Quran was revealed, and there’s no explicit limit to these differences. I posit that this ahruf clause allows so much elasticity for Muslims that they would use it to justify 7 entirely different Qurans if they were to exist! Indeed, we do see Muslims trying to explain the variants in the earliest Quranic manuscripts with this concept.
To summarize some of the past 2 weeks’ blogs on the Quran:
- There really is no actual difference between the “perfectly preserved” Quran and an un-preserved book from antiquity. Both have been through sifting, sorting, variations, missing passages, editions, etc.
- The Quranic text can never be shown to be “perfectly preserved” because the crucial evidence was systematically destroyed by Uthman.
- The scholars Muhammad chose to teach the Quran disagreed on the contents of the Quran, including which words, verses, and even chapters to include.
- The earliest manuscripts in our posession do not indicate “perfect preservation”; they have variants in each one of them.
- Some of the variants match the opinion of Quran teachers who stood against Zaid as he compiled the predecessor of today’s Quran.
- Even if it can be proven that there were up to seven different readings of the Quran, Muhammad’s concept of the seven ahruf will provide an escape clause for Muslims.
O Muslim friends! Do ye say “perfect preservation?” Then explain this claim if ye be of those who pursue truth! And if ye cannot do it, and ye will never be able to do it, then desist from your baseless assumptions. And Jesus is most forgiving, ever-merciful.
Monday, October 31, 2011
WINNING DEBATES FOR DUMMIES: A Guide for Muslims to Win Debates with Ten Easy Tricks
1. Always keep your CAPS Lock on. This way your post will be difficult to read and no one will be able to answer.
2. Whenever someone comes up with a verse from the Quran that you are unable to defend, say that it is taken out of CONTEXT.
3. Whenever someone comes up with a Hadith that you are unable to answer, say that Hadiths are not reliable.
4. When someone comes to you with both the Quran and the Hadith, say that the Quran and the Hadith can only be understood in Arabic.
5. When someone comes to you with the Quran and the Hadith and also proves that he/she understands Arabic, say that these verses are for a specific time period and could not be applied today.
6. When you cannot answer any questions, say that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world and soon the entire world will believe.
7. When someone comes up with proofs that Islam is not the fastest growing religion, say that these figures are biased and compiled by Christians.
8. Paste some YouTube videos about the Quran’s scientific miracles. When someone proves that these videos are stupid, shout that they are biased.
9. Keep on pasting random verses from the Quran to divert attention.
10. Finally, when you are totally on the run, curse and threaten people with Hell fire and say that they are not worthy of Islam.