"The Origin of Quran. Its transmission, compilation, corruption/preservation and current status". 


The debate will be hosted jointly by Exploring Faiths Organization (THIS BLOG) and the group "Religion, philosophy, let us talk about it" (http://www.facebook.com/groups/181024738596591/) and Islamic Perimeter (www.islamicperimeter.com). The debate will be published onhttp://www.exploringfo.blogspot.com and in the group mentioned above and also on the website http;//www.islamicperimeter.com

Mr. Mushafiq Sultan: A very distinguished personality. He is the founder and lead administrator of the very famous "Islam and Hinduism Initiative" which deals with comparative religion, mainly in Hindu-Muslim polemics. He is a columnist. One of his important works is on "Textual Criticism of Vedas". Mr. Mushafiq is a Kashmiri Muslim who has done his bachelors in Humanities.


In the name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful
I am here to deal with the three papers written by Mr. Dave Mark Rownlands, Mr. Kurein Verghese and Mr. Ninad Gaikwad. To be frank enough no strong argument has been made against the Quran. In contrast the Muslim side has made the case clear. If anyone still argues against Quran after reading the papers we should ignore his arguments and pay serious attention towards his mental health.
Among the three opening statements from the non-Muslim side, I found Mr. Kurien’s the most amusing, full of mutual inconsistencies and baseless claims. The references are not properly quoted or he presented his own faulty understanding as quotes from Islamic sources or mostly claims are made without providing any examples. So there is not much that is worth responding to. Still I will grace it with a response.
Let me remind our readers that the Qurán was completely compiled and arranged under the supervision of Prophet Muhammad (Qurán 75:16-19), memorized in the sequence we find it today by a large number of his Companions. Thus to imagine that ’few’ people were doing the job of assembling the Qurán and insinuate that the rest were sitting ducks while the Qurán was being ‘allegedly changed’ by few people makes no sense at all. Whatever step was being taken to preserve the Qurán was taken with the full confidence of all the companions who were present. So there was no chance of anyone altering anything in the Qurán. Besides, the Qurán was being recited five times a day in the daily congregational prayers of the Muslims, just like it is today.
Abu Bakr, the first Caliph, collected the same manuscripts of the Quran, written under the Prophet’s supervision. The whole Qur’an was written in manuscripts, but the manuscriptswere dispersed, and Abu Bakr collected them in one volume, between two covers.

Regarding Marwan’s burning of the Hafsa’s copy, it was nothing but the implementation of the order of Usman to burning all the remaining codices after the standardized codex was formulated by the unanimous consensus of the companions. When the final copy is made, the personal copies are of no use and can be easily eliminated. The people were still reciting the same Qurán day in and day out.

With regard to Usman, it is assumed that he was the one who collected the Qurán. This gives a false impression that the Muslims didn’t have an agreement over the text of Quran. Usman’s did make an independent compilation but the Quran had earlier been compiled during Abu Bakr’s caliphate. The compilation under Uthman was again done using the primary sources and this work was compared to the Suhuf lying with Hafsah. The two were exactly the same. Thus we see that his compilation was a copy of what was compiled earlier and his only major work was that he made copies of the Qur'an and sent them to various settlements. The Caliph Usman was told by one of his generals that there were variations in themodes of reading the Qur’ån in such distant parts of the kingdom as Syria and Armenia. No such differences are pointed out to have existed at Madinah or Makkah, or anywhere within Arabia. It was only in newly converted countries,where Arabic was not spoken, that these differences were noticed. As to the natureof these differences, it is stated in clear words that they were only differences inqiaat, or modes of reading. But it was feared that, if nothing was done to put a stop to the slight differences existing at that time, they might, after the lapse of a few generations, develop into serious ones.

The claim of Mr.Kurien that “Othman found that there are 07 different qurans, & people are fighting because of that multitude of qurans, so he burned six of the seven qurans& preserved only one” is absolutely baseless and without any proof. Again Mr.Kurien’s claim that “as Othman found that Muslims are fighting with each other because of the discrepancies of the 07 recitations of the quran so he commanded to reassemble the quran on year 25 A.H” is baseless. The different narratives only say that the NEWLY CONVERTED Muslims were reciting the Quran is a manner different to those is Arabia were reciting. This has nothing to do with the 7 dialects, which was a concession to certain arab tribes who could not pronounce a particular Arabic word properly. Neither were the Muslims fighting over the 7 dialects in Armenia and Azerbaijan. Kurien has provided no evidence to substantiate this claim.

Kurien has claimed that vowels were inserted in the ‘Amawian’ epoch. What’s Amawian? May be he means Umayyad Epoc. Anyways, the narrative in Kitab al Masahif, which mentions Hajjaj bin Yusuf as altering Usman’sMushaf at 11 places does not pass the test of ISNAD, analysis of the chain of narrators and is weak, thus rejected and not worthy of any attention. The isnad of this report is Awf bin AbiJamila`AbbadIbnSuhaybAbu BakrFather of Abu Bakr. Study of reliability of narrators in this isnad shows that `AbbadIbnSuhayb is the one who had been declared weak and his hadith is rejected.The bottomline here is that `AbbadIbnSuhayb has been abandoned and his reports are rejected. The terms used to describe `AbbadIbnSuhayb are the most severe possible [matruk al-hadith]. It is not correct to describe his narrations as 'weak', which is an understatement. Rather, his narrations are fabricated, pure and simple. He has reached the lowest levels of Jarh in the sciences dealing with al-Jarhwa 'l-Ta`dil ("The disparaging and declaring trustworthy") of the narrators.

When dealing with the Islamic sources, the opponents like Kurien forget to apply the rules which are to be applied to every narrative in these sources and only after a through scrutiny can they be trusted. (If you use Islamic sources, you should know how to use them).

Even if we take these claims seriously we see that the alleged changes which he made were related to Qiraa’t i.e. recitation. This can be confirmed from the thesis of Dr. `Umar Ibn Ibrahim Radwan who did research on the issue of alleged changes that al-Hajjaj made for his Ph.D at the University of Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud. His thesis was published as a book from Riyadh in two volumes. The book is called Aara' al-Mustashriqin Hawl al-Qur'an al-Karim wa Tafsir: Dirasah Wa Naqd ("The Views Of The Orientalists About The Holy Qur'an & Its Interpretation: Study and Criticism").

Dr. Radwan went on to say:

These readings as I have just highlighted are among the correct (Sahih), Mutawatir and well established that we can read in any form it has been drawn into and among them are ones I could not verify which make us doubt about their being attributed to al-Hajjaj, especially because he was not isolated from the Ummah. Much more, in his time, no Muslim would let him change or replace anything traced back to the Prophet (saw) whether it concerned Qur'an or hadith.

All these arguments rebut the claims of the Orientalists. And the following points confirm the validity of my opinion:

Al-Hajjaj being loyal to `Uthman [or from his court] and since he wouldn't forgive those who let `Uthman down on the day of al-Dar [or the house], how could he question `Uthman and his codex and make changes in it.
The codex of `Uthman was spread everywhere and its copies in the time of `Uthman were countless. How about their number in the Umayyads time? Undoubtedly, their number has increased. Moreover, al-Hajjaj was the mere governor of one county of the huge Islamic land. Supposing that he was able to change the copies of his county how could he reach the ones in the other districts while there were thousands of copies! Much more, history did not mention contradictions between the Codices of Iraq and the other Codices. It is well known that the Great Book is saved in the chests of Muslims as much as it is saved in written form. If al-Hajjaj managed to change the lines how could he reach what is inside the chests of thousands of Muslims?
It is known as well that the Abbassid dynasty was established on the ruins of the Umayyads and that they changed many of the policies of Bani Umayyah in the administration of the lands. They didn't spare any effort in showing the negative aspects of Bani Umayyah and in getting close to the people by spreading justice and defending it. If the Abbassids had found any changes in the Holy Book, it would have been the greatest opportunity for them to show how misleading Bani Umayyah were and, thus, give their own rule some additional legitimacy.

These observations speak of themselves. Even if we assume that this incident is authentic, the question that arises is: so what? Al-Hajjaj supposedly made changes in 11 places, and even these places are documented to the last detail. Orientalists and missionaries, as usual, take some trivial piece of information (forgetting the fact that it is fabricated!) and make, not just a mountain, but an entire planet, out of an anthole.

Kurein argues that Uthman found there were 7 readings of Quran and he made them into one to hide it from masses. I ask, if he hid it, where did Kurien find it from or where did he come to know it from. Kureins never cites a source for what he claims. The truth is that it was known that certain tribes were given concessions to use different words in place of words which they could not pronounce and this was done in presence of Muhammad (saw) under the divine guidance of God passed on to Muhammad (saw) through angel Gabriel. These readings were thus authentic and if they existed today we Muslims would have accepted them as authentic. But as the Ummah was getting more mature there was no need for such concessions and for the new non-Arab converts it was better that they learnt Quran in its proper Arabic instead of a dialect. Moreover some ignorant people had also started fighting over the beauty of a particular dialect. Thus it was better to make the Ummah agree to one dialect and that dialect was Quraish because this was the actual dialect in which the Quran was revealed.

Next Kurein quotes Al-Sajistany claiming that there were 28 different copies of Quran, but he did not realize that we Muslims have no problems with that. Everyone can have his own copy I have three copies of Quran, two more in my office, the college library has 10 more and people out thre have billions. What matters is the text, the text is same everywhere. During ancient days the text was written by hand and personal copies would thus contain scribal errors (1700 according to Kurein) but because Quran was supported by memorization these changes never made their way into the recitation of Quran. This is the reason that the Mushaf’s we have today are exactly the same.

Kurien, without citing the source, talks about the verses eaten by Goat. The source of the narration is Ibn Majah and the Hadith is narrated by Aisha. The narration is not authentic.

Again without citing the source Kurein talks about Muhammad (saw) forgetting verses of Quran. Taking the claim authentic we see that it doesn’t caste any doubts on authenticity of Quranic text. It in fact proves that Quran was not Muhammad’s word but God’s. Thanks Kurein for proving our case. So what about these forgotten verses? God could have simply revealed them again. Gabriel would visit Muhammad again and again and I don’t think he would feel any hesitation to repeat these forgotten verses. Moreover ever year Muhammad (saw) recite Quran (as was revealed) to Gabriel and in the last year it was done in entirety, twice and that two in front of Ibn Masud.

Kurein talks about DEATH OF ALL PEOPLE WHO MEMORISED QURAN. Where the hell did we get the Quran from? Who narrated this if all of them had died? What catastrophe was it that killed all of the Muslims?

The bogus claims of Kurien are without any proper citations, misquoted, twisted and thus needed not be addressed. What remains there is nothing but red herrings and insulting remarks which he can reserve for the accounts in the Old Testament, which he holds as the inspired word of God. For barbaric nature, he can turn to Number 31:15-17, Deuteronomy 13:13-19.

A few comments on Dave’s opening statement.

Dave talks about spiritual corruption and remember that it is an Atheist speaking. Anyways spiritual corruption of text is as contradictory a statement as is “a married bachelor” or “a four sided triangle”. Quran is a recitation and to preserve a recitation means to preserve the wordings and that’s what has actually happened. Where does spiritual corruption fit in? Anyways if we again take a skeptical hostile approach we will again come with astonishing results. Quran’s message has indeed been preserved in Hadith. The development of Hadith literature and the kind of methodology developed by Muslims is unique to Islam and this really hints towards divine guidance. The text of Quran is preserved in the Mushaf’s and in the hearts of millions and the teachings are preserved in the mammoth hadith literature. Follow Quran and Hadith and you will see that we reach the same place, no sects at all. God has kept the teachings preserved; it is we who have to decide what to follow and what not to. Don’t blame God for that.

Dave says that he’ll be using Hadith and Sana’ Manuscripts to build his case and for that Saaib Ahmed has already laid down the conditions in the opening statements.
The work of collecting the written manuscripts of the Qur’an was thus carried out by Abu Bakr after the death of the Holy Prophet, and Usman did nothing but order the necessary number of copies to be made. Heacted after consultation with the Companions, securing the services of the most eminent men, noted for their knowledge of the Qurán, to carry out and superintend the work of the transcription. The copies made by his orders wererecognized as true copies by the whole Muslim world. The bitterest foes of Usman, who cut off his head while he was reading the Quran and who had thewhole power in their hands, never charged him with having tampered with theQuran. Even during the reign of Ali, no one pointed out a word which had been omitted by Usman, and Ali is himself stated to have transcribed copies of the Quran from the official copies circulated by Usman. The purity of the text of the Quran is thus conclusively demonstrated. The collection of Abu Bakr was a faithful reproduction of the revelation as reduced to writing in the presence of the Holy Prophet, and agreed every whit in text as well as in arrangement, with the Holy Qur’an as preserved in the memories of theCompanions; the copies circulated by Usman were true and faithful copies of Abu Bakr’s collection, and these copies have admittedly remained unaltered through the 15 centuries that have since elapsed. The Qurán is a preserved book and there is and has been only one Qurán in the world which Muslims have recited and continue to recite unlike the Bible which is changed day in and day out.

Dave Mark argues that “in the beginning of the Quran's "revelation", the numbers (of memorizers) were much lower.” There for the memorization could not have helped the preservation.
I would like to know, How much is less? What number will you call a low number in terms of memorization?
Anyways almost each and every Muslim had memorized the Quran (not necessarily in its entirety). We can be sure about the number of companions WHO HAD MEMORISED THE COMPLETE QURAN. The number of Companions who had memorized the Qur’an rises to over a hundred when we go through the six “authentic” collections of Hadith. And be sure these are the Sahabas whose status of memorizing reached us through unbroken chain of narration (isnad). This number excludes the numerous Companions — whether named or unnamed — whose status of memorizing did not reach us through isnad, as well as the women of both the Muhajirin and the Ansar. All of this memorizing was mass-transmitted. The numbers of the next generations, of course, keep rising exponentially in identical fashion of transmission.
The prophet Muhammad (Saw) lived in Arabia in a time when not many people were literate. The Arabs preserved their histories, genealogies, and poetry by memory alone. When Muhammad proclaimed the verses later collected as the Qur'an, his followers naturally preserved the words by memorizing them. To say the best way in which preservation of a text can be done is not best is an absurd, illogical statement.
Moreover Muhammad (SAW) used to make the Sahabas write the revelation. Note that there were not less than 42 scribes and remember that Quran used to be recited not less than 6 times a day in the Mosque (in Namaz). Every year Quran was and is being repeated in public in the month of Ramadhan in Taraweeh. This was (is) done in front of hundreds (millions today).
Moreover we have already proven beyond any doubt that the entire Quran existed in WRITTEN FORM BEFORE THE PROPHET’S (SAW) DEATH.

I restrict this first response to these points only because of the dearth of any credible and evidence based questions raised on the origin and preservation of the Qurán.
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