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Regarding the Quranic script

By: admin

I have two questions and I hope you will elaborate on them, in detail.

First one is: a Christian wrote:

Abu Musa al-Ash’ari, one of the early authorities on the Qur’an text and a companion of Muhammad, is reported to have said to the reciters of Basra:

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).

The one verse he said he could recall is one of the well-known texts said to be missing from the Qur’an and we shall give separate attention to it shortly. Abu Musa went on to say:

We used to recite a Surah similar to one of the Musabbihaat, and I no longer remember it, but this much I have indeed preserved: ‘O you who truly believe, why do you preach that which you do not practise?’ (and) ‘that is inscribed on your necks as a witness and you will be examined about it on the Day of Resurrection’. (as-Suyuti, Al-Itqan fii Ulum al-Qur’an, p.526).

The tradition as here quoted follows the record of it in the Sahih Muslim where it is recorded after the statement about the surah resembling the ninth surah and containing the verse about the son of Adam (Vol. 2, p.501). The Musabbihaat are those surahs of the Qur’an (numbers 57, 59, 61, 62 and 64) which begin with the words Sabbaha (or yusabbihu) lillaahi maa fiis-samaawati wal-ardth – “Let everything praise Allah that is in the heavens and the earth” (cf. Noldeke, 1.245).

The words of the first verse mentioned by Abu Musa are exactly the same as those found in Surah 61.2 while the second text is very similar to Surah 17: 13 (“We have fastened every man’s fate on his neck and on the Day of Resurrection We shall bring out an inscription which he will see spread out”), which would explain why he particularly recalled these two verses.

Those Muslims who claim that the Qur’an is exactly the same today as it was when first delivered by Muhammad, nothing varied, added or omitted, have to reckon with such evidences that much is indeed missing from the standardised text. Some take the convenient and easy way out and simply declare such records to be fabricated, but others, more inclined to take them seriously, have another answer to the problem. They say such passages have been abrogated and that such abrogation was decreed by Allah himself during Muhammad’s own lifetime while the Qur’an was still being completed. Let us give some attention to this claim.

Second one is:

Some claim that there were discoveries of some manuscripts of the sublime Qur’an ~ one of them is called samurkand manuscript ~ which is different from what we have now!!!!! how truthful is that claim????

Please comment.

Reply

Let us, first of all take a look at narratives cited by the author.

The first narrative is reported by the following chain of narrators:

Muslim says that Suwaid ibn Sa`eed told me that `ali ibn Mus’hir told them that Dawood said that Abu Harb ibn abu al-aswad said that his father said that Abu Musa’ Al-ash`ari

In the above chain of narrators, Suwaid ibn Sa`eed has generally been criticized for his lack of reliability by a number of scholars of the science of Hadith. The following sayings have been reported about him by Al-Zahabi in his “Tazkirah al-Huffaaz” (CD edition):

Abu Hatim has been quoted as saying: Although he was truthful, he used to ascribe narratives to people from whom he had not heard those narratives or would hide their names (Tadlees). Abu Zur`ah has been quoted as having said: His compilations (of narratives) are acceptable but when he narrates orally, he is not acceptable. Bukhari is quoted to have said: He lost his sight and then would narrate traditions, which were (actually) not his. His reliability is questionable. Nassai is quoted to have said: He is not reliable.

Suwaid has been included in the list of unreliable narrators in the book “Al-Kaamil fil-dhuafaa” (CD edition). In this book, Ibn Hammad is quoted to have said: He is weak (unacceptable as a narrator). The author himself has given his own opinion about Suwaid in the words: “He is closer to unreliability”.

Al-Zahabi, in his “Meezaan al-ai`tedaal” has quoted Bukhari as saying that he (Suwaid) is extremely unreliable and that his narratives are strange and abominable (munkar). Ibn Mu`een has been quoted as saying that he (Suwaid) was a liar. According to Ibn Al-Jozi, Ahmad ibn Hanbal said that his (Suwaid’s) narratives are not accepted. According to Abu Dawood, Yahya said that he (Suwaid) may be killed. Yahya is also reported to have said that if I had a horse and a spear, I would have fought against Suwaid.


The author of “Al-Dhua’faa wal-Matruki’n” (CD edition) writes about Suwaid: “He is not reliable”.

The second narrator of this chain is Ali ibn Mus’hir.

Ibn Hajar, in his book “Taqreeb al-Tehzi’b” (CD edition) writes that He (Ali ibn Mus’hir) is reliable but he narrated strange traditions after he lost his sight.

`uqaili has included the name of Ali ibn Mus’hir in his compilation of unreliable narrators “Dhuafaa al-`uqaili” (CD edition).

The third narrator of this tradition is Dawood. The full name of Dawood was: Dawood ibn abi Hind. Ibn Hajar in his book “Tehzi’b al-tehzi’b” (CD edition) has quoted Ahmad ibn Hanbal as saying that Dawood’s narratives are confusing (Idhtira’b) and contradictory (khilaaf). Ibn Hibba’n is quoted to have said that Dawood was prone to errors while narrating from his memory.

In the light of the comments given above, the accuracy of the cited narrative is obviously quite doubtful. As far as the second narrative is concerned, it has been quoted from a secondary source. Therefore as long as the chain of narrators of this narrative is not know, it is very difficult to comment on its reliability or otherwise. Thus, till such time as we are provided with the chain of narrators of the second tradition, it cannot be brought under discussion.

As should be clear from the above explanation, the narrative of Muslim is not reliable enough to attract attention. But on the other hand, it must be remembered that the Qur’an itself says that when the revelation is completed, Allah shall compile the complete Qur’an and the Prophet (pbuh) and his followers shall be required to follow the final compilation (Al-Qiyaamah 75: 17 – 19). The Qur’an has also mentioned that it is possible that in the final compilation some or a few parts may be left out (Al-a`laa 87: 6 -7). In the light of these facts, we may say that it is quite possible that in the final reading (compilation) of the Qur’an some parts were left out by God.

The important thing that must be noted and kept in mind is that the Muslim belief is not that the Qur’an, as we have it today, is exactly as it was revealed. But that the Qur’an as we have it today is exactly as the Prophet (pbuh) left it, after its final reading (compilation) in Allah’s guidance. Therefore if there are narratives that say that such and such portion was initially a part of the Qur’an and was later left out, it does not effect the Muslim belief. What does effect the Muslim belief will be if some one, on the basis of hard facts, proves that there have been changes in the Qur’an which was left by the Prophet (pbuh) after its final reading (compilation).

As far as your second question is concerned, it should be noted in this respect that the Qur’an that we have today is a verbal narrative of what the Prophet (pbuh) categorized as the Qur’an. It has come to us through the unanimous narrative of all of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh). There is absolutely no difference in the Qur’an, found at any place in the world which was conquered by the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) themselves and where they themselves introduced the Qur’an. This is a reality. In the face of this reality, nobody can claim that there have been alterations in the Qur’an, on the basis of unreliable narratives, that are absolutely worthless in their narration, when compared to the Qur’an.

Under these circumstances, if any one wants to prove that there is a difference in the Qur’anic scripts, he can prove it only by proving that two or more different and varying manuscripts of the Qur’an were distributed by the companions of the Prophet (pbuh). I have yet to come across such an argument.

Hope it helps

UIUK team

 

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