Qur’an is perfectly preserved


In the name of Allāh,
the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Peace and Blessings of Allāh on Mohammad.
Allāh–the Glorious and the High,
Lord of the worlds
Mohammad–who brought the world
to our feet and eternity to our arms.

                              QUR’AN  IS PERFECTLY PRESERVED
Part 1:  Christian critics

Part 2:  Sana’a manuscript of the Qur’an, Author, Taha
Part 3:  Writing a chapter like that of the Qur’an

One Christian critic notes verses of different copies of the Qur’an where certain words differ and claim that the Qur’an is not perfectly preserved.
He notes:
-Qur’an 2:58 nagh firu vs. yugh firu (shall forgive vs. shall be forgiven)
-Qur’an 2:140 taquuluuna vs, yaquluuna (You say vs. They say)
-Qur’an 2:219 kabirun vs. katheerun  (a great sin vs. plenty sin)
-Qur’an 2:271 yukafferu vs, nukafferu (He will remove/expiate vs. We will remove). (Notably, only Allah can expiate/remove sin. Allah also refers to Himself in the plurality of Majesty “We”).

As observed, these differences in the above-noted verses do not change/alter the meaning/significance of the verse/text.
What needs to be borne in mind. Whereas dots and vowel points were inserted after the Prophet’s reign for the benefit of people whose language was not Arabic, the recitation of the Qur’an by the Prophet was present (and which several Muslims knew by heart) and which recitation determined the placing of dots and vowels.  Thus, the text and recitation of the Qur’an were compatible.

For example, if one was to attempt to read the written text  “Mry hd lttl lmb” this would indeed prove difficult, since various vowels can be added to produce a reasonable statement, for instance: “Mary hid (the) little lamb” or “Mary had a little limb”, or “Moray had a little lamb”. But if that person is instructed by one who has memorized the correct or original statement then the meaning can only be one:  “Mary had (a) little lamb.”
The Qur’an was handed down in both, text and recitation.

(In his Preliminary notes to his translation of the Qur’an (p. xlvi-xlviii under chapter 6 “DIFFERENCES OF READING”; Muhammad Ali has dealt with this subject in detail. His exposition on the Qur’an is a King Solomon’s mine of knowledge/information. And he has explained Arabic words/terms and given a background to which verses were revealed –many of which critics quote like parrots to vilify Islam. MA’s translation of the Qur’an can be viewed/downloaded at www.muslim.orgMA has also dealt with this in his comprehensive work The Religion Of Islam as well as in his The Early Caliphate also obtainable from www.muslim.org). 

Because of difference in dialect of certain tribes that entered Islam, it was allowed for the Qur’an to be recited in “SEVEN MODES” -(Bokhari Vol. 4, #442; Vol. 6, #513). These “seven modes” does not mean that the entire Qur’an is read seven different ways; only that certain words were allowed to be read/pronounced differently: “There were differences in the utterance of certain words, but there was no difference at all to the significance conveyed,” Muhammad Ali explains.
(It is yet to be shown that difference in “word” among these “seven modes” have altered the meaning/significance of the verse).

Muhammad Ali notes in his The Religion of Islam that when people of different tribes began to accept Islam in large numbers “it was found that they could not pronounce certain words in the idiom of the Quraish, being habituated from childhood to their own idiom, and it was then that the Prophet allowed them to pronounce a word according to their own peculiar idiom.” For example –“Hatta (meaning until) was pronounced ‘atta by the Hudhail; ta’lamun (meaning you know) was pronounced ti’lamun by the Asad; the Tamim read hamzah one of the letters, whereas the Quraish did not”–(pp. 34-35).

However, “varieties of pronunciation found their way into writing.”  It was to stem this tide of variations that ‘Uthman had copies of the Qur’an made “from the standard volume prepared in Abu Bakr’s time,” and which was in the possession of Hafsah, the Prophet’s wife. Such copies were sent to other Islamic centers. It would have been “a half measure” to leave the “unauthentic versions” of the Qur’an with their “discrepancies” in circulation. They had to be “absolutely obliterated.” These were put into the fire. (Muhammad Ali, The Early Caliphate, pp. 145, 146. Muslims burn inauthentic copies of the Qur’an so followers will not be mislead, Christians alter their Bible to mislead future generations –See Bible corrupt & obsolete).

It is possible, however,  that a stray copy or two may not have been collected, and may have found its way into the archives of today.
Muslims have only one Qur’an. There are no different versions of the Qur’an.

While this difference in words was allowed only for recitation and not to be a part of the written text, seemingly, certain communities, for whatever reason (perhaps for their people’s ease of remembrance), have decided to use these differences instead of the dialect of the Quraysh which the Prophet recited and handed down to us and which is to be the standard used throughout the Muslim world.

The communities/publishers that deviated from the Quraysh dialect are to return to the standard recited by, and handed down to us, by the Prophet. And, if need be, insert their “dialect/word” above the word(s) of the Quraysh dialect. Islamic authorities are to look into this.

However, as the Qur’an was revealed in “seven modes”, then, in whichever of these “seven modes” the Qur’an is recited/written, the Qur’an is perfectly preserved. In fact, the Qur’an is perfectly preserved in each and all of its “seven modes.”
As Allah revealed: 
“Surely, We have revealed the Reminder (Qur’an), and surely We are its Guardian” -(Qur’an 15:9; 56:77-80).
Whereas man can alter physical books -like the FAKE AMERICAN QUR’AN produced by the haters of truth and dumped in Kuwait and parading online as The True Furqan- the Qur’an is perfectly preserved in the Divine system/scheme :
“Nay, It is a glorious Qur’an, in a guarded tablet” -(Qur’an 85:21-22).
As no language can give the full meaning of the Arabic, a non-Arabic Qur’an is not perfectly preserved. Only the Arabic with its “seven modes” is perfectly preserved. Perhaps, it is because of this discrepancy in non-Arabic translations that some scholars are of the view that the Qur’an should not be translated into other languages.  Translations must include the Arabic text.

There are writings of the Qur’an that date back between 568 AD-645 AD (Prophet Mohammad was born in 570 AD and died in 632 AD.  These writings fall within his ministry). For the 7 oldest Qur’ans in the world see https://www.oldest. org/religion/qurans/

Regarding the Sana’a manuscripts the following is taken from https://ponderingislam.com/2015/02/05/understanding-the-sanaa-manuscript-find/ Author: Taha).

“The Sana’a Manuscripts

In 1972 an assorted collection of old parchment pieces were found hidden between the ceiling of the Grand Mosque of San’a’ and the roof, of these are several Qur’anic manuscripts. Very intriguingly, one group of such Qur’anic manuscripts contain two Qur’ans: The original text which was erased and written over with another Qur’anic text. Scholars can read both the erased and the apparent text (called the “lower” and the “upper” text respectively) due to modern lighting methods.

In this article we shall look at both the upper and lower texts individually.

The upper text

The upper text has been found to be the standard Uthmanic Qur’an we have today[4]. The main differences between the Uthmanic Qur’an and the upper Sana’a’ text are mostly due to how words are spelled[5].

Of more interest is the dating of the text itself. The upper text exhibits the type of writing style that you would typically see in the first century: some time between the death of the Prophet (632AD) to the start of the 7th century (700AD) is quite feasible. Sadeghi states that there isn’t enough information on early writing styles to narrow the dating further[6] but a guess could be taken. Since the lower text is non-Uthmanic, and the upper text is Uthmanic, and because the upper text was written over the lower one, what possibly could have taken place is that scribes were simply seeking to replace the lower text with the upper one as soon as they received the Uthmanic version with the order to adopt it. This means that the upper text could date from around ~650AD, two decades from the death of the Prophet (or when the Uthmanic compilation took place). However this is all just guesswork: all we know for certain is that it is from the first century of Islam.

Before we move on to the lower writing here’s a picture of the manuscript (upper text visible) as it is:

I am not sure whether the faded writing is the lower text that has become apparent or simply the writing on the other side of the page showing through. It is probably the former:

In Ṣan‘ā’ 1, as with some other palimpsests, over time the residue of the ink of the erased writing underwent chemical reactions, causing a color change and hence the re-emergence of the lower writing in a pale brown or pale gray color. Sana’a’ 1 (page 6)

The lower text

The lower text of the sana’a’ manuscripts are of enormous interest because they are considered to non-Uthmanic. Historical reports tell us that as the Qur’an was promulgated by the Prophet Muhammad (ص), there arose differences in the text of the Qur’an in terms of dialectal variation (refer to start of article). As Islam started to spread to further lands, new converts started to dispute over which of the dialects of the Qur’an was “better” or “proper”[7], Uthman (ر) made the decision to resort to one text that would put an end to the disagreements. He went about doing this by taking the existent manuscripts and recitations (from people’s memories) and writing down the most popular reading for each of the verses, as long as the manuscript or the person’s memory had taking directly from the Prophet (ص) himself. The source manuscripts were then burned and the new, Uthmanic Qur’an was sent to the regional centres of the Islamic world.

I recall this familiar account so that we have a clear understand of what the variants present in the lower text of the San’a’ manuscripts actually are.

Dating the lower text

Just like the upper text, the lower text is written in a very early writing style. Unlike the upper text, however, it is possible to use radio carbon dating to find an approximate age for the it. As we know, there was very little literary activity in the Arabian peninsula before the Qur’an. Simply put, there was nothing else to write. This manuscript is made of vellum, which requires the use of animal skin: its size is also large enough to indicate that a whole flock of animals was needed to create this copy of the Qur’an[9]. Since writing had only just started gaining importance in the Hijaz during the early years of Islam, it is very unlikely that people simply had a whole stack of vellum simply lying around: it would have had to be created and then written on shortly afterwards.

Knowing this, it is possible to find the date of the lower text (the first thing written on the parchment) by carbon-dating the parchment itself, since they would be similar. The results are quite exciting.

Results of radio-carbon dating Sana’a’ parchment[10]

To highlight the significance of the results, I have created a table with the age of the parchment relative to the traditional death date of the Prophet (ص):

What is significant about the dating is that there is a very good chance that this was written while the companions were still alive. This is very important in learning about the text of the Qur’an in its very early stages.

The Text of the Lower Sana’a’ Manuscripts and its non-Uthmanic nature

The type of Qur’an the lower writing represents is non-Uthmanic. This is obvious because it has a lot of variants not found in the Uthmanic version. If the person writing down this Qur’an was copying from the Uthmanic version, then we would expect it to be very similar to the Uthmanic version. It is not. Though the variants are quite minor, there are a lot of them, and there are some major variants such as those found in the following table which cannot be explained by scribal error alone.

Sadeghi, Goudarzi and Bergmann have named the Sana’a’ manuscript as a “Companion Codex”. Islamic literary sources, as we have already seen, tell us that the Qur’an was revealed in different dialects, and sometimes the Prophet taught one companion a surah differently to another (with differences in wording). It was only after Uthman standardized one codex did the other ‘companion codices’ fall out of use. The variants in this manuscript are the same types of variants the Islamic sources tell us. Here are the biggest variants:

The differences between this codex and the Uthmanic one can be summarized as follows[11]:

  1. Variants which arose due to the Prophet teaching the Qur’an differently. The variants in this category are as equally authoritative as Uthmanic readings.
  2. Scribal errors such as accidental word omission, assimilation of parallels, et cetera.

As the text is non-Uthmanic, and is very old, it probably represents some sort of companion reading of the Qur’an that is different from the Uthmanic one. In a sense, this is probably the type of manuscript that Uthman would have taken to write his codex and then would have had burned.

On a final note, I hope I have made clear that the fact that this Qur’an differs from the Uthmanic one does not mean that the Qur’an is somehow “changed”. If I were to do a google search for “Sana’a’ manuscripts” I am taken to a list of Christian apologetics websites that misrepresent the Muslim understanding of the Qur’an. We already have the original, as the Uthmanic copy along with its readings is ensured to be a perfect representation of the ‘Prophetic prototype’, this manuscript is simply an extra version that represents some other reading. As long as one of the divinely authorized readings reach us, we have the whole Qur’an [12][13]. On the other hand, this new discovery is an enormous find since it goes a very long way to strengthening the Muslim position. (Color NGBA).

What the Sana’a’ manuscripts can tell us about the Qur’an.

  1. Uthman did not change the Qur’an.

This contention is quite a common one, even though it could be dispelled by simply reading any historical account of the Uthmanic compilation, it has been repeated very often among apologetics circles, even through the mouths of scholars[14].

If historical reports from the Islamic sources constitute good evidence to prove otherwise, that Uthman did not change anything from the Qur’an, this manuscript is even stronger evidence for this, since it is flesh-and-blood proof. There is nothing in the manuscript so far that suggests any meaningful difference from the standard Qur’an. There is no proof that Uthman somehow added any theological or legal idea into the Qur’an. The biggest differences are words being used in place of their synonyms. This manuscript, for the first time ever, gives us hard physical evidence for something Muslims have already known: Uthman was sincere in his efforts to compile the Qur’an.

  1. The Qur’an really did exist during the time Muslims say it did.

This will probably come as a surprise to some of you: some revisionist scholars have held that the Qur’an is some sort of composite text originating later than the traditional dating. The easiest way to disprove that something does not exist is to show that object existing! Since we actually do have a Qur’an dating from during this time, we can safely put to rest any fanciful ideas on the origins of the Qur’an. (Color NGBA).

The manuscript also confirms a part of the Islamic Hadith tradition. Though these sources are written much later they are remarkably accurate in telling us that there were early manuscripts owned by the companions of the Prophet that had variants. They also relate to us what types of variants are found in these manuscripts, and at times the variants mentioned in the Islamic literature is word for word the same as those that are found in this particular manuscript.” (Color NGBA).
(https://ponderingislam.com/2015/02/05/understanding-the-sanaa -manuscript-find/  Author: Taha).

As we have shown, these differences do not alter the meaning/ significance  of the text/verses of the Qur’an. See also  Dr. Shabir Ally on:

The Qur’an was written between 610-632 AC (After Christ). It contains 114 chapters with each chapter (except the ninth) having a title and begins with the benediction “In the Name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful.” 
In Qur’an 2:23 (also 10:38; 11:13) Allah invites the doubters of the Qur’an: “And if you are in doubt as to that (Qur’an) which We have revealed to Our servant (Mohammad), then produce a chapter LIKE IT (like that of the Qur’an) and call on your helpers besides Allah if you are truthful.”
One who wants to meet this invitation/challenge is to choose one of these 114 chapters of the Qur’an and write an original chapter “LIKE IT”  (in Qur’anic Arabic, diction and style)  giving their chapter a title and benediction.

The atheists and Christians attempt to discredit the authenticity of the Qur’an is useless. If atheists and Christians can prove that Mohammad made prophecies and statements on science of his own accord 1400 years ago and wrote Qur’an; they would have debunked the Qur’an as Divine revelation. Prove it! (See Qur’an-science).

Christians follow the Bible which is corrupt & obsolete, they put God into the belly of a woman and pull God out through her menstrual passage/vagina (making Adam and Eve cleaner than God (Job 4:17; 25:4),  circumcised God and pin Him in diapers (not even Hinduism has cut the foreskin of any of its millions of Gods) and have God eat butter and honey so He would be able to choose good and refuse evil (Isaiah 7:14-15), have God commit the injustice of putting Adam’s sin onto helpless, blameless and morally and mentally non-competent babies and have God commit more injustice and complicit in the murder of Jesus to forgive Adam’s sin (which blaming and killing of the innocent for the guilty are expected of tyrants; and such a God is not worthy of adoration); and they try to find non-existent fault(s) with the Qur’an to have Muslims apostatize and ape them in their enormity against God.
Any man and woman of honest reflection would agree that such ascriptions to God are not only gruesome monstrosities and blasphemy, but are repugnant to reason and do not befit Twentieth Century intelligence.

Even if the Qur’an was not perfectly preserved Christianity would yet be a fake religion (see Christianity dupes people).
And atheism an insult to intellect (see Apostate Prophet-Qur’an poor science).