Sunday, 23 April 2017

Evidence for alteration of the Quran - The Sana'a Manuscript

Muslims from all over the world claim that the Quran has been perfectly preserved and is still in the original form as it was recited by Muhammad. Many of them go as far as saying "not a word of it has been changed or removed". The hadiths tell us that Caliph Uthman made 4-7 standard copies of the Quran in the written form and distributed to various provinces like Medina, Kufa, Basra, Syria and according to some later reports - to Mecca, Egypt and Bahrain as well. What is interesting is that none of these 4-7 copies exist today. Uthman died in 656 AD and this is attested by a very early source outside hadith as well. The writings in the earliest manuscript collections of the Quran that exist today are all dated to 670 - 750 AD.

Many people will jump in and say that the Birmigham Manuscript of the Quran (which is part of the Mingana collection) is dated to 568 - 645 AD. What they miss is that the mentioned date range shows only the dating of the animal skin, not the writings. The animal from which the skin was taken, supposedly died between 568 AD and 645 AD. The writings could have come much later, and infact the features used in the writings show a date later than 630 AD and could be as late as 690 AD. The Birmigham manuscript is also extremely fragmentary in nature. It contains Quran verses 18:17 - 18:31, 19:91 - 19:98 and 20:13 - 20:40 and the writings are also somewhat continuous, with chapter separators. So, let us go to the earliest known large manuscript collection of the Quran - The Sana'a Manuscript: http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/Mss/soth.html

The Sana'a manuscript is a palimpsest, ie, it has a lower text which was erased and in its place the content was rewritten - which is called the upper text. The upper text contains about 75% of the content of the Quran, whereas the lower text contains a little lesser. The traces of lower text have been highlighted and reconstructed using ultra-violet photography. The texts are inscribed on a parchment (animal skin) which has been carbon-dated to the period from 632 AD - 671 AD. That means, the lower text was certainly written after 632 AD. The literary features of the lower text indicate a somewhat early dating - somewhere around the 640s and 650s. The upper text, on the other hand is dated to late seventh century or early eighth century (670 - 715 AD).

Gerd R Puin, an expert on Arabic calligraphy and orthography, dated the upper text to 705 - 715 AD. The evidence is the illustrous drawings of mosques found on fragments along with the collection, which corresponds to the reign of Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid who reigned during the above mentioned period. Here is a video of Puin's testimony (watch from 1:30 - 2:15): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zsh1ZyXnMT4

Some of the findings of Puin have been removed from multiple websites (Wikipedia, Islamic Awareness), as such a later dating of the upper text would be destructive to the Muslim belief that the Quran was standardized during Uthman's period.

The upper text does not have too much variations from the Quran that we read today. However, the lower text has more than 100 variations from today's Quran. Words are totally omitted in many places, whereas they are replaced with new words in other places.

Here is a full comparison of the lower text with the upper text (you can even find the original Arabic text here), published by Muslim research scholars Behnam Sadeghi and Mohsen Goudarzi who studied the manuscript collection in detail: https://pl.scribd.com/mobile/doc/110978941/Sanaa-1-and-the-Origins-of-the-Qur-an

Here are a few examples of verses that have been changed. Follow carefully, the parts that are put in bold:

Quran 2:87 - For the word by word translation of the standard text: http://corpus.quran.com/wordbyword.jsp?chapter=2&verse=87#(2:87:1)

a) Lower Text: "Wa-laqad aataynaa moosaa al-kitaaba wa-qaffaynaa 'alaa aathaarihi bi-alrrusuli wa-aataynaa 'eesaa ibna maryama al-bayyinaati ..."

Translation: "And certainly, we gave Moses the scripture and we followed up on his footsteps with messengers and we gave Eesa (Jesus), the son of Maryam, clear signs ..."

b) Standard Text: "Wa-laqad aataynaa moosaa al-kitaaba wa-qaffaynaa min ba'dihi bi-alrrusuli wa-aataynaa 'eesaa ibna maryama al-bayyinaati ..."

Translation: "And certainly, we gave Moses the scripture and we followed up after him with messengers and we gave Eesa (Jesus), the son of Maryam, clear signs ..."

Quran 2:196 - For the word by word translation of the standard text: http://corpus.quran.com/wordbyword.jsp?chapter=2&verse=196

a) Lower Text: "... wa-laa tahlikoo hattaa yabhlugha al-haydu mahillahu fa-in kaana ahadun minkum mareedan aw bihi adhan min rasihi fa-fidyatun min siyaamin aw nusukin ..."

Translation: "... and not shave until the offering reaches its destination, then if anyone among you is sick or has an ailment of his head, then a ransom of fasting or sacrifice ..."

b) Standard Text: "... wa-laa tahlikoo ruoosakum hattaa yabhlugha al-haydu mahillahu fa-man kaana minkum mareedan aw bihi adhan min rasihi fa-fidyatun min siyaamin aw sadaqatin aw nusukin ..."

Translation: "... and not shave your heads until the offering reaches its destination, then whoever among you is sick or has an ailment of his head, then a ransom of fasting or charity or sacrifice ..."

Quran 9:74 - For the word by word translation of the standard text: http://corpus.quran.com/wordbyword.jsp?chapter=9&verse=74#(9:74:1)

a) Lower Text: "... wa-in yatawallaw yu'adhibhumu allahu fee al-dunyaa wa-maa lahum fee al-ardi min waliyyin wa-la naseerin"

Translation: "... and if they turn away, allah will punish them in this world and there will not be for them on the earth, any protector or helper"

b) Standard Text: "wa-in yatawallaw yu'adhibhumu allahu 'adhaaban aleeman fee al-dunyaa wa-al-aakhirati wa-maa lahum fee al-ardi min waliyyin wa-laa naseerin"

Translation: "... and if they turn away, allah will punish them with a painful punishment in this world and in the hereafter and there will not be for them on earth, any protector or helper"

Quran 63:7 - For the word by word translation of the standard text: http://corpus.quran.com/wordbyword.jsp?chapter=63&verse=7

a) Lower Text: "humu alladheena yaqooloona laa tunfiqoo 'alaa man AAinda rasooli allahi hattaa yanfaddoo min hawlihi wa-lillaahi khazaainu al-samaawaati wa-al-ardi ..."

Translation: "They are those who say - donot spend on those who are with messenger of allah until they disband from around him and for allah are treasures of the heavens and the earth ..."

b) Standard Text: "humu alladheena yaqooloona laa tunfiqoo 'alaa man AAinda rasooli allahi hattaa yanfaddoo wa-lillaahi khazaainu al-samaawaati wa-al-ardi ..."

Translation: "They are those who say - donot spend on those who are with messenger of allah until they disband and for allah are treasures of the heavens and the earth ..."

So what do we have here? Many verses with words that have been inserted, deleted or replaced with new ones. If anyone is to argue that the lower text was an old corrupted quran, let me remind you that there is no reason to believe that the upper text which was written later on, is any more "original" than the lower text. As Sadeghi and Goudarzi pointed out, many of the variants in the lower text correspond to those reported in the recitation of Ibn Masud. The "Standard Quran" was supposedly compiled by Zayd bin Thabit under Caliph Uthman. Ibn Masud was reportedly one of the highest authorities of Quran as narrated by Muhammad.

Sahih al-Bukhari 6:61:521

https://sunnah.com/bukhari/66/21
Narrated Masriq:
`Abdullah bin `Amr mentioned `Abdullah bin Masud and said, "I shall ever love that man, for I heard the Prophet (ﷺ) saying, 'Take (learn) the Qur'an from four: `Abdullah bin Masud, Salim, Mu`adh and Ubai bin Ka`b.' "

So where is Zayd bin Thabit here? Nowhere... He had basically no authority on the Quran.

To continue the story, Uthman had ordered all the copies that disagreed with his version, to be burned. And Ibn Masud clearly dismissed Zayd as a rookie.

Jami at-Tirmidhi 5:44:3104

https://sunnah.com/urn/641130
Narrated Az-Zuhri:
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 the 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 (plural of Mushaf: a written copy of the Qur'an) 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 in their tongue.' So when they had copied the manuscripts, '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 (ﷺ) 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 (33:23) - 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 Muslims people! Avoid copying the Mushaf and the 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 (3:161). So meet Allah with the Musahif.'" Az-Zuhri said: "It was conveyed to me that some men amongst the most virtuous of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) disliked that view of Ibn Mas'ud."

There goes the myth of "perfect preservation of the Quran, down to each word".

2 comments:

  1. IF YOU CAN FIND & READ 'AL~QURAN,THE ULTIMATE MIRACLE',YOU 'LL REALIZE THE INADEQUACY OF YOUR POSTULA5ION!!

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