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

A COMPREHENSIVE WRTITTEN DEBATE BETWEEN THREE ATHEISTS, A CHRISTIAN AND THREE MUSLIMS.

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 on http://www.exploringfo.blogspot.com and in the group mentioned above and also on the website http://www.islamicperimeter.com

Mr. Saaib Ahmed: is a 20 year old medical student. An experienced debater, debating in diverse fields, he has debated many Christian apologists and critiques of Islam. Saaib Ahmed is the founder of Exploring Faiths Organization. Writer of several articles on Islam and Comparative religion and known to his audience for his criticism of Christianity, "Textual Criticism of Quran" is his favorite topic.
Mr. Saaib's Rebuttal.

The debate has reached the interesting round of rebuttals. We have three critical papers from the non-Muslim side to deal with. After reading the papers I realized that the three have not done justice with the topic, they have only been arguing on compilation while the topic was “ORIGINS OF QURAN – ITS TRANSMISSION, COMPILATION, CORRUPTION/PRESERVATION AND CURRENT STATUS.”

The clauses of the topic are actually related, i.e. one leads to another. The first thing to be decided is where did the text come from, was it Muhammad’s (saw) creation, was it a work of different hands living together at one time or was it a work which came into the current form through many revisions and human altering and editing or is it finally the word of God. If it is God’s Word or Muhammad’s (saw) creation then only does the question of transmission make sense or else it won’t because if the book is not yet finalized how can one transmit it. Now if we take a stance on transmission then only can we talk about compilation because for compilation we have to have that something to compile, if that something is not there what are we going to compile? Once compiled did the text remain static or was it fluid. Did it suffer corruption or was it perfectly preserved. Finally what is the status of the Mushaf we have in our hands today, is it same as what was left by Muhammad (saw) or is it same as what came after a series of editing or is it altered form of what Muhammad (saw) left and finally Is it altered form of what came after series of editing and all? When we read the opening statements keeping in mind what we are searching for we realize that our answers are not answered by the non-Muslim side. But the answers are definitely in the papers of the Muslim side.

Our first question of the authorship is answered in the papers of Mr. Shakoor and Mr. Mushafiq. The two papers rule out the possibility of anyone being the source of Quran except God. Once reached a conclusion on this we talked about transmission and my paper showed that the transmission was static and the Quran was written during the lifetime of Muhammad (saw) transmitted orally and through writing as well. We see that the transmission was static because of the mutual support of memory and writing. We saw how the text was compiled: we saw that the Qur’anic text was completely static up to the compilation. We realized that the text remained static even after that. Thus we can conclude that what we have currently is the Mushaf of Muhammad (saw). This is also John Burton's startling conclusion at the end of his book that says: “What we have today in our hands is the Mushaf of Muhammad.” [3]

Let us talk about the non-Muslim arguments. Start with the haphazard medley composed by Kurein Verghese. I couldn’t even make up what his argument was. One thing I did get was that the paper was a typical Christian writing with the name of love on top (“SAVIOUR”) and full of hate inside.

“Any religion which teaches hate, Does /Encourage violence, Commits crime, Kills anybody who leaves it or use force & fear to keep its followers in it, can’t be from the Holy God yes from DEVIL only” says Kurein Verghese.

I don’t know what was he referring to, was he talking about the religion which his “god” followed i.e. Judaism or the one which he never followed i.e Christianity. The Christians who call Qur’an “barbaric, out dated & book of Hate” should remember that their Bibles have an Old Testament too and their Bibles are older than Qur’an. The truth is that the Old Testament violence is more than what you can find in any book and those Palestinians are there to be killed. Smashing Babies is his favorite. Killing entire towns is his second favorite. The Bible presents us with a Horrible God.

"....the LORD commanded. "Fill its courtyards with the bodies of those you kill! Go!"......" [4].

Here is what Jesus had ordered in Old Testament.

" Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods …….. If you find it is true ……. you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. …….. "The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him."" [5]

Do you know that Donkeys are special? Jesus’ personal drive! But not so special when we read 1 Samuel 15:3,

“Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”

Forget about the cattle, forget the sheep, forget the camels too but I want to know what the poor donkey has done.

It is a very poor idea to throw stones on our concrete homes when you yourself live in glasshouse. And such people shouldn’t even come out in public to debate because it is not good for the people living in glasshouses to change clothes during day time.

Why do you see the speck that is in my eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of my eye.

Dave Mark argues that “in the beginning of the Quran's "revelation", the numbers (of memorizers) were much lower.” Therefore the memorization could not have helped the preservation.

Response: 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 isnaad, 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).

THUS THE ARGUMENT HAS JUST BEEN KILLED.

Anyways if we refer to my opening statement there was a response to this argument. I have proven beyond any doubt that the entire Quran existed in WRITTEN FORM BEFORE THE PROPHET’S (SAW) DEATH.

Dave also makes fun of scholarship saying that it wasn’t God but the sincere followers who preserved the Quran (if only). May be he made this argument because he thinks God is some kind of "huka nama jumbo jata" who comes to your home and places an AK-47 on your head saying, “Dare you erase or add anything to my word”. What God does is devising a plan and yes this is exactly what he did? He made Quran “easy to remember” and see the results. “They planned, and Allah too planned. Allah is the best of planners”. Let us take a hostile approach again and reject what I just said; “No, no I want a direct intervention from God”. Cool down, cool down, here we go, this is exactly what happened. So here is a narration from Zaid, “….Abu Bakr added, "I said to 'Umar, 'How can I do something which Allah's Messenger has not done?' 'Umar said (to me), 'By Allah, it is (really) a good thing.' So 'Umar kept on pressing, trying to persuade me to accept his proposal, TILL ALLAH OPENED MY BOSOM FOR IT and I had the same opinion as 'Umar." [1]

Coming to Ninad Gaikwad’s opening statement: He dedicated a few sentences to “borrowing”. To this Shakoor has already replied in his opening statement. The six counter questions which he asked are a reply to this religion borrowing theory. I don’t think I need to repeat them here. Please refer to Shakoor’s Opening Statement. Commenting upon the compilation of Quran after the death of Muhammad (saw) Ninad argues that the opinion is divided that who took the task and that the majority of Sunni’s think it was Uthman. What Ninad should have done is telling us what actually happened then, if what we said is wrong. Anyways, one question needs to be asked, does divided opinion prove that no opinion is correct? It doesn’t mean that. Anyways I again take the hostile approach on whose opinion was it to assemble the Quran. Let me tell you that all of the opinions are correct because all of the Caliphs lived together in one time, so whosoever gave the idea does not matter, what matters is that the work was done during the caliphate of Abu Bakr. This, in Ninad’s own words, would date the Koran to a time fairly close to Muhammad's own life. (In my opening statement I have already shown that the Quran was compiled during the lifetime of The Prophet).

I don’t know what was Ninad doing when he said “the majority sunnis” believe that Quran was “finalized” by Uthman, was he lying to deceive the audience or is his knowledge about history of Islam limited to the Book from where he copied his Opening Statement. NO SUNNI BELIEVES UTHMAN FINALISED THE QURAN. What we actually believe is written in detail in my OS.

A couple of paragraphs later, Ninad comments on Uthman’s efforts. He says Uthman’s efforts were vain because there were no vowels and some alphabets look similar. This may now give the impression that such a system must have given rise to great confusion in reading. This was not actually the case because the morphological patterns of words in Arabic enable readers to read even very unfamiliar material without the short vowels being marked. (Note that the people we are talking about were already living with this orthography) More important, however, as far as the Qur'ân is concerned, is the fact that learning and reading relied above all on oral transmission. (Note that in my opening statement I have mentioned that Uthman sent reciters with every copy of Quran he sent to different cities) In the Islamic tradition, writing remained a secondary aid; nevertheless, to ensure correct reading of the written texts of the Qur'an, particularly for those coming after the first generation of Muslims, steps were taken gradually to improve the orthography. This started with the introducing dots to indicate different vowels and these were put in different colored ink from that of the text. There were also dots to distinguish between consonants of similar shape. Minor variations that might have happened at times didn’t find their way into the Quran and the proof for this is the unity of Muslim Ummah over the text of Quran. The unity among Muslim ummah on the text of Quran is, in fact, a proof of Uthman’s unparalleled success.

Ninad’s comment on the Quranic inscription on the Dome of Rock being different from today’s text doesn’t prove anything because both read the same. Let me make this clear, suppose after 50 years from now letter “A” will be written as "Ʉ", the spelling for "Apple" will be “Ʉpple” and this would not mean corruption of the text. In fact when some 1000 years later people see this change they will be able to see how English Orthography actually developed. The Dome of Rock is, therefore, an excellent example to show how Arabic orthography actually developed. For example, the inscriptions of the Dome of Rock show how the Arabic script progressed in the writing of the letter qâf. The letter qâf is marked by one stroke below it five times on the Dome of the Rock, whereas today, qâf is written with two dots on top. (Thanks for reminding me of this example Ninad)

Ninad lost his way making a comment on Satanic Verses. He showed how biased he is towards studying the History of Quran (and Islam as a whole). He would apply each and every type of criticism on Quran to show that it is corrupted and the Muslim version of the story is fabricated, and at the same time they will accept anything which is against it without any critical examination of the source. Claiming that the issue of so-called 'Satanic verses' incident is true just because al-Tabari or Ibn Sa'd mentioned them amounts to a deliberate distortion of the facts. This is the lowest level to which a person can drop. The lie of Satanic Verses has universally been thrown out of the scholarship on Islam. The claim is not authentic, it is a fabrication and this has been universally accepted. Michael Fischer and Mehdi Abedi, writing on the issue of Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses as well as the Islamic account of the so-called 'Satanic' verses, say (and notice their curious argument):

“The story that Muhammad could have used the Satanic suggestion is rejected by almost all exegetes, but the fact that the story persists as a subject of exegetes' discussions is testimony to the reality of the temptation both for Muhammad and for later Muslims in their own struggles with such "Babylons" as London, New York, Paris, or Hamburg.” [2]

A few paragraphs later Ninad proved that he can go down to any levels if something is anti-Islamic. This he did by relying upon Luxenberg. Copying Luxenberg is a shame, citing from him is a crime and relying on him is suicide. Let me show you how, I will cite the same example which Ninad chose. Luxenberg argued that Quran has syro-armaic origins and it can be better understood if these origins are understood, for this the most celebrated example is the reward for martyrs in heaven. Luxenberg’s re-interpretation of the word for “hur”, meaning ‘chaste beautiful girls’ in Arabic exposes his fundamentally flawed approach in studying the Qur’an. In Syro-Aramaic “hur” means ‘white’ or ‘white grapes’ however Quranic commentators say that “hur” is the plural of the Arabic word “houri”’ meaning ‘chaste and beautiful girl’.The word “hur” occurs in the Quran four times at 44:54, 52:20, 55:72 and 56:22. At each of these places the word “hur” is mentioned the context of marriage and paradise. For example in 44:54,“…and We shall marry them with hur, having attractively wide eyes” And at 55:72,“They are hur, guarded in pavilions” Accepting Luxemberg’s theory Ninad wanted to say that Muslims will marry white grapes in heaven. (That will be fun Ninad, I am excited about it)

There are many more examples that demonstrate Luxenberg’s insistence that the Qur’an must be a manipulated text whose origins are a variety of Syro-Aramaic Christian sources. This persistence has blinded Luxemberg’s academic judgment as the Syro-Aramaic texts he accuses the Qur’an of ‘borrowing’ from are in fact post Quranic (dated after the written text of the Qur’an!). Because of such mistakes Luxenberg’s argument that the Qur’an has Syro-Aramaic origins has been widely discredited by the academic community. His attempts to identify an underlying Syro-Aramaic reading of the Qur’an have been viewed with great suspicion by other scholars. His methodology has been described by Angelika Neuwirth as “presupposing its very results”. D.J. Stewart describes Luxenberg’s attempts to reconstruct the Qur’an from an Aramaic reading as being “implausible and often demonstrably wrong”. Even Scholars, such as Gerald Hawting, who have questioned Orthodox Muslim understanding has described Luxemberg’s work as “arbitrary”.

I would have loved to reply to Kurin’s desperate attempts but word limit won’t allow me to do that. Anyways if you read my the last paragraph of my opening statement you will see Kurein’s paper falls on its face.

I finish this paper suggesting Ninad and Dave Mark to debate each other instead of debating us because they contradict each other. Dave says in his OS that he will use San’a Manuscripts to show development of text and this he can do only if San’a Manuscripts predate the other manuscripts and this will show that Arabic was much developed very early and thus leaving no space for Luxenberg’s hypothesis of Syro-Armaic origins of Quran upon which Ninad Gaikwad rests his theory. We are waiting for an exciting exchange of words between the two. (The Britishers taught us “Divide and Rule.”)

References:
[1] Sahih Bukhari, Kitabul Tafir, Hadith 4603
[2] M. M. J. Fischer & M. Abedi, "Bombay Talkies, The Word And The World: Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses", Cultural Anthropology, 1990, Washington, Volume 5, No. 2, p. 127.
[3] The Collection Of The Qur'an, 1977, Cambridge University Press, pp. 239-240.
[4] Ezekiel 9:5-7 NLT
[5] Deuteronomy 13:13-19.
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