"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. Ninad Gaikwad: is a 19 year old student of computer science. He is an atheist. He possesses profound knowledge on Quraan and Sunnah. As an atheist he is strictly pro science, and anti dogma. He was the participator of the first debate in the Forum "Religion, Philosophy, Let's talk about it" with Shah Saaib Ahmed Rabbani on the topic "What is better for the society, Shariah or the current social order?". We are honored to invite him again for the second debate.


History is written by the victors. I think this quote is applicable here. I would also like to add that it is interpreted by the biased. We must be extremely careful in studying historical “documents” from biased sources. They should only be accepted if they do not contradict logic or evidence. This is where my friend Saaib Ahmed’s arguments fail. I will start with him as I think he has made the most difficult points to address (not because of their validity but because of the tactic used).

“We have enough arguments to reach a conclusion on when was it written or who wrote it. We can safely decide on what were the sources of Quran.”
The key word here is “arguments”. We have numerous contradictory traditions (just like contradictory Quran verse and hadiths) making it easy for you to simply pick and choose the account you are most comfortable with.

Almost without exceptions Muslims consider that the Quran we now possess goes back in its text and in the number and order of the chapters to the work of the commission that ‘Uthman appointed. Muslim orthodoxy holds further that ‘Uthman’s Quran contains all of the revelation delivered to the community faithfully preserved without change or variation of any kind and that the acceptance of the ‘Uthmanic Quran was all but universal from the day of its distribution .The orthodox position is motivated by dogmatic factors; it cannot be supported by the historical evidence.

While modern Muslims may be committed to an impossibly conservative position, Muslim scholars of the early years of Islam were far more flexible, realizing that parts of the Quran were lost, perverted, and that there were many thousand variants which made it impossible to talk of the Quran. For example, As-Suyuti , one of the most famous and revered of the commentators of the Quran, quotes Ibn ‘Umar al Khattab as saying: "Let no one of you say that he has acquired the entire Quran, for how does he know that it is all? Much of the Quran has been lost, thus let him say, ‘I have acquired of it what is available’" (As-Suyuti, Itqan, part 3, page 72). A’isha, the favorite wife of the Prophet, says, also according to a tradition recounted by as-Suynti, "During the time of the Prophet, the chapter of the Parties used to be two hundred verses when read. When ‘Uthman edited the copies of the Quran, only the current (verses) were recorded" (73).
As-Suyuti also tells this story about Uba ibn Ka’b, one of the great companions of Muhammad: This famous companion asked one of the Muslims, "How many verses in the chapter of the Parties?" He said, "Seventy-three verses." He (Uba) told him, "It used to be almost equal to the chapter of the Cow (about 286 verses) and included the verse of the stoning". The man asked, "What is the verse of the stoning?" He (Uba) said, "If an old man or woman committed adultery, stone them to death." As noted earlier, since there was no single document collecting all the revelations, after Muhammad’s death in 632 C.E., many of his followers tried to gather all the known revelations and write them down in codex form. Soon we had the codices of several scholars such as Ibn Masud, Uba ibn Ka’b, ‘Ali, Abu Bakr, al-Aswad, and others (Jeffery, chapter 6, has listed fifteen primary codices, and a large number of secondary ones). As Islam spread, we eventually had what became known as the metropolitan codices in the centers of Mecca, Medina, Damascus, Kufa, and Basra. As we saw earlier, ‘Uthman tried to bring order to this chaotic situation by canonizing the Medinan Codex, copies of which were sent to all the metropolitan centers, with orders to destroy all the other codices.

More evidences from islamic scripture that shows why the quran is not an original:

Bukhuri: vol. 4, hadith 682, book 56: Narrated Ibn Mas'ud:

I heard a person reciting a (Quranic) Verse in a certain way, and I had heard the Prophet reciting the same Verse in a different way. So I took him to the Prophet and informed him of that but I noticed the sign of disapproval on his face, and then he said, "Both of you are correct, so don't differ, for the nations before you differed, so they were destroyed."

The above hadiths clearly shows that Muhammad allowed some variation regarding the reciting of the Qur'an. This breaks down Saaib’s argument that since there were multiple followers who had learnt these revelations by heart what they dictated was the same as what Muhammad had told them. It also indicates that Muhammad revealed verses differently to different audiences, making it sound like Muhammad was making stuff up as he went along and also explains why he told the two believers not to argue the point since they were “both right”.

Bukhari: vol. 6, hadith 509, p. 477; book 61: Narrated Zaid-bin-Thabit:

Abu Bakr As-Siddiq sent for me when the people of Yama-ma had been killed (i.e. a number of the prophets companions who fought against Musailama). (I went to him) and found Umar bin Al-Khattab sitting with him. Abu Bakr then said to me, "Umar has come to me and said: `Casualties were heavy among the Qurra of the Qur'an (ie those who knew the Qur'an by heart) on the day of the battle of Yama-ma, and I am afraid that more heavy casualties may take place among the Qurra on other battle fields, whereby a large part of the Qur'an may be lost. Therefore I suggest that you (Abu Bakr) order that the Qur'an be collected'." I said to Umar, "How can you do something Allah's Apostle did not do?" Umar said, "By Allah, that is a good project". Umar kept on urging me to accept his proposal till Allah opened my chest (persuaded me) for it and I began to realise the good idea which Umar had realised.

This hadith clearly shows that Muhammad never made a final collection of the Qur'an before his death, for when Abu Bakr was asked to collect the Qur'an into one volume he said: How can you do something Allah's Apostle did not do? Muhammad did not make a final collection of the Qur'an because there were many of his companions whom he trusted to teach the Qur'an and these made their own collections:

“…gradual development of Quran after the death of Muhammad (saw) they will have to explain the origins of faith in Quran. They will have to tell us how much Muslim were the earliest Muslims without a Quran. They will have to explain to us how Quran becomes the best available Arabic literature if it is the work of several hands living decades apart.”

Origins of faith need not be explained. I can easily give examples of recently formed religions like Mormonism and Scientology to demonstrate how easily this “faith” can be manipulated. The modern Muslims have always believed that THEIR Quran is the true Quran which matches word to word with what Muhammad had revealed. The earlier Muslims were not under the same delusions but this isn’t needed for blind faith to raise its ugly head. Faith does not require rationality and logic and hence their faith in the Quran hardly requires an explanation. The earliest Muslims relied on the prophet and his teachings (the various versions of them) and a written Quran was never required. If it had been required then you are implying that all the early Muslims were educated and could read Arabic.
And then there is the old claim of the Quran being the best piece of Arabic literature ever. I have to admit that I’m glad you at least added “Arabic” here, because I’ve read Shakespeare. I would like to see an Arabic author dare to claim his work is better than the Quran. Can you tell me what would happen? At best he would be mocked and ridiculed and told that the Quran can NEVER be surpassed, all this without reading his actual works. At worst (and most likely) he would be missing a head for blasphemy. Therefore you are disqualified from making such claims about the Quran.

Now I’ll move on to Shakoor Safir.
I will start by replying to the 6 points by Dr. Jamal Badawi that Shakoor has quoted. I will not repeat the points to preserve my limited word resource.

1. I see no reason to find any “mysterious teacher” in Muhammad’s life to explain away his very basic and often inaccurate knowledge of the earlier texts. He was a trader, and a human being capable of communication with other human beings. It is you who would have to demonstrate that it was impossible for him to communicate with any Jew or Christian or anyone else with knowledge of these religions since you are claiming he didn’t have such knowledge.

2. How is it possible to prove that revelation is fabricated? I can use the same argument to justify Joseph Smith’s “revelations”. You are acting as if the people in Muhammad’s time and region had no knowledge of the Abrahmic religions. You will have to demonstrate this too for me to grant it. And I am not going to defend the superstitions of the adversaries of Muhammad. He was cunning, but he didn’t possess dark magic powers.

3. You seem to be assuming that our argument is that Muhammad was actively being tutored on theology by some mysterious teacher. No our point is that he was aware of basic theology and myths. And his wife Aisha was suspicious (or rather curious). She followed him once at night when he used to have revelations and got hit in the chest for it, showing Muhammad’s insecurity.

4. Already answered in the previous point.

5. The same reason why many Christians converted to Mormonism even when they know Smith was copying from their scripture.

6. Already answered in the previous point(3).

All Muslims revere the Koran with a reverence that borders on bibliolatry and superstition. "It is," as Guillaume remarked, "the holy of holies. It must never rest beneath other books, but always on top of them, one must never drink or smoke when it is being read aloud, and it must be listened to in silence. It is a talisman against disease and disaster."
In some Westerners it engenders other emotions. For Gibbon it was an "incoherent rhapsody of fable," for Carlyle an "insupportable stupidity," while here is what the German scholar Salomon Reinach thought: "From the literary point of view, the Koran has little merit. Declamation, repetition, puerility, a lack of logic and coherence strike the unprepared reader at every turn. It is humiliating to the human intellect to think that this mediocre literature has been the subject of innumerable commentaries, and that millions of men are still wasting time absorbing it."

Therefore I request you to not appeal to the subjective superiority of the Quran. It is irrelevant.
The arguments you make remind me of the ones made for Jesus called the Lewis's Trilemma. It suffers the same weakness of being a false dilemma. You cannot simply label someone as a “prophet of god speaking only the truth”. Just because the opposition cannot prove he wasn’t or that he was a liar or suffered from delusions. Remember, “History is written by the victors”. All accounts of Muhammad are written exclusively by Muslims. And no Muslim would ever dare to write anything bad about Muhammad regardless of whether it was true.
But I can present very compelling arguments for demonstrating how Muhammad was indeed a liar. The satanic verses. These were specifically “revealed” to get the pagans on his side. Then there are various other well timed verses which I will list in my next paper. Believe me, there are plenty of them.

“Muhammad, for all his greatness, was still an Arab like his brethren. It is also a matter of fact that the Prophet Muhammad was never accused of authoring the Qur’an by his contemporaries, even those who sought his death and ruin. Furthermore the hadith(recorded narrations attributed to the Prophet) are in a totally different style to the Qur'an. How can any man speak with two distinct styles over a 23 year period?
The only rational answer left is the Creator.”

Once again you are asserting that the Quran is something which cannot be created by a normal (or indeed any) human being. You most probably base this assertion on the Quran challenge to produce verses like the Quran. That is a silly challenge as the only people who will judge this are Muslims and no Muslim will ever judge any text to be better than the Quran. It is like Beethoven fans challenging someone else to make better music. Except Beethoven’s music is too far superior to the Quran and I highly doubt Beethoven fans will kill people who accept the challenge.

It is very easy to speak in two different styles. I am doing it right now. I don’t ever speak in this fashion in real life. Then only rational answer left is the creator? My friend your definition of rational is way off. That is possibly one of the most irrational answers you can possibly come up with.

Finally I will move on to Mushafiq Sultan.
He too starts with the common Muslim argument as to what motivated Muhammad to undergo hardships if he really wasn’t being commanded (or truly believed he was being commanded) by a god. I don’t really understand this argument. Do you not understand that Muhammad didn’t come up with all the absurd claims on the very first revelation? It was a gradual process. If we observe the Quran according to chronological order we will observe that all the sugar coated happy stuff was revealed before he gained power. He gained a following by making such revelations, even using sneaky tactics (read the Satanic Verses) to get people on his side. I cannot imagine he would have succeeded as a prophet had he opened with invisible fire men or taking 1/5th of all war booty. Whatever hardships you claim he experienced occurred when he already had a following. Backing out would have been more disastrous than actually pushing forward and taking a chance. That much is pretty obvious.
Your second point is more damaging to you than us. You claim that Muhammad wasn’t crazy because he didn’t attribute eclipses to life or death, but he still attributed it to a supernatural being and asked his followers to pray till they end. I don’t know what purpose that would serve even if you did believe a god existed. We can predict eclipses and know for a fact that they are completely natural. There isn’t even a mystery behind their occurrence to give you an excuse to invoke god.

Your third point mentions Muhammad couldn’t read or write. That is irrelevant either ways. One does not need to be able to read or write in order to author something.

You mention surah 80 as your fourth point. Stating that the Quran rebukes Muhammad for mistakes he made. Sure, that was a cunning move. Since Muhammad wanted people to believe that someone much greater than himself was revealing something to him, it was clever to pretend to be scolded by this being. Always getting praised would be a bad move.

Your fifth point is a good example of confirmation bias. It is a play on semantics claiming it to be a “miracle”.

Your sixth point appeals to prophecy. I would expect god to make very specific and detailed prophecies. Not something having only two outcomes. Like a war victory. You also try to pass off the Muslim victories as a miracle. There are plenty of examples where lesser armies have defeated the greater ones, so I will not accept this as a miracle.

Your seventh point made me laugh. Just because you ignore all the contradictions does not mean they do not exist. There are entire websites dedicated to the sole purpose of pointing out such mistakes just as there are websites which make suras like the Quran (in response to the Quran challenge), both of which you happily ignore.

Your eighth point can be applied to religions like Mormonism. They lean on the older religions too. They too claim the older religions are true but that their prophet is the last one.

Your ninth point is baseless. You claim Muhammad didn’t get power and money after he became a prophet. You are either ignorant of your own religion’s history, too naïve or shamelessly lying. Before prophethood, Muhammad had a single wife and decent amount of money. After becoming a prophet he had more than a dozen wives, sex slaves and received 1/5th of all the war booty from the numerous tribes he attacked.

I would like to conclude this paper with a quote from one my favorite authors.

Islam in its origins is just as shady and approximate as those from which it took its borrowings. It makes immense claims for itself, invokes prostrate submission or "surrender" as a maxim to its adherents, and demands deference and respect from nonbelievers into the bargain. There is nothing—absolutely nothing—in its teachings that can even begin to justify such arrogance and presumption.
Christopher Hitchens.
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