Has the Qur’an Been Perfectly Preserved?

Opened_Qur'an

 

Acts17 Apologetics has written a fantastic article concerning Muslim’s claim that the Qur’an has been perfectly preserved. As you can see from the article below, not only is the claim false, it disqualifies the Qur’an as being the Word of God.

“Surah 15:9 of the Qur’an proclaims:

We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption).

Muslim scholars interpret this ayah (verse) as a divine promise that the text of the Qur’an would be preserved perfectly, down to the smallest detail. The Qur’an therefore offers us a way to test its divine origin, based on whether Allah’s promise in Surah 15:9 was fulfilled. In this pamphlet, we will review the history of the Qur’an according to Muslim sources, allowing us to see if this book has Allah’s stamp of approval.

I. A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE QUR’AN

The first Qur’anic revelation came to Muhammad around the year 610. Muhammad delivered many more verses to his scribes and companions for memorization and recording over the next two decades. These verses were written on stalks of palm leaves, bones of dead animals, flat stones, and other materials. There was no complete manuscript of the Qur’an during this time.

Qur’anic revelation ceased when Muhammad died. Shortly after Muhammad’s death, Caliph Abu Bakr needed to suppress a rebellion, and he sent many huffaz (people who had memorized portions of the Qur’an) to fight at the Battle of Yamama. Many of these huffaz died, and Muslim sources tell us that portions of the Qur’an were lost:

Ibn Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Masahif—Many (of the passages) of the Qur’an that were sent down were known by those who died on the day of Yamama . . . but they were not known (by those who) survived them, nor were they written down, nor had Abu Bakr, Umar or Uthman (by that time) collected the Qur’an, nor were they found with even one (person) after them.

Abu Bakr decided that it was time to gather what remained of the Qur’an in order to prevent more from being lost, and he appointed Zaid ibn Thabit to this task. After Zaid completed his codex around 634 AD, it remained in Abu Bakr’s possession until his death, when it was passed on to Caliph Umar. When Umar died, it was given to Hafsa, a widow of Muhammad. (For a fuller account see Sahih al-Bukhari 4986.)

During Caliph Uthman’s reign, approximately 19 years after the death of Muhammad, disputes arose concerning the correct recitation of the Qur’an. Uthman ordered that Hafsa’s copy of the Qur’an, along with all known textual materials, should be gathered together so that an official version might be compiled. Zaid ibn Thabit, Abdullah bin Az-Zubair, Sa’id bin Al-As, and Abdur-Rahman bin Harith worked diligently to construct a revised text of the Qur’an. When it was finished, “Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur’anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt” (Sahih al-Bukhari 4987). The Qur’an we have today is descended from the Uthmanic codex.

II. DISPUTES AMONG MUHAMMAD’S SCHOLARS

Not all Muslims approved of the new Qur’an. Indeed, some of Muhammad’s top teachers rejected Zaid’s version.

Muhammad once told his followers to “Learn the recitation of the Qur’an from four: from Abdullah bin Masud—he started with him—Salim, the freed slave of Abu Hudhaifa, Mu’adh bin Jabal and Ubai bin Ka’b” (Sahih al-Bukhari 3808). Interestingly, Ibn Masud (first on Muhammad’s list) held that the Qur’an should only have 111 chapters (today’s version has 114 chapters), and that chapters 1, 113, and 114 shouldn’t have been included in the Qur’an.

Because of this (along with hundreds of other textual differences), Ibn Masud went so far as to call the final edition of the Qur’an a deception! He said, “The people have been guilty of deceit in the reading of the Qur’an. I like it better to read according to the recitation of him [i.e. Muhammad] whom I love more than that of Zayd Ibn Thabit” (Ibn Sa’d, Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, Vol. 2, p. 444).

Should Muslims submit to this “deceit”? Not surprisingly, Ibn Masud advised Muslims to reject Zaid’s Qur’an and to keep their own versions—even to hide them so that they wouldn’t be confiscated by the government! He said:

Jami at-Tirmidhi 3104—“O you Muslim people! Avoid copying the Mushaf and recitation of this man. By Allah! When I accepted Islam he was but in the loins of a disbelieving man”—meaning Zaid bin Thabit—and it was regarding this that Abdullah bin Mas’ud said: “O people of Al-Iraq! Keep the Musahif that are with you, and conceal them.”

But Ibn Masud wasn’t the only one of Muhammad’s trusted teachers who disagreed with Zaid’s Qur’an. Ubayy ibn Ka’b was Muhammad’s best reciter and one of the only Muslims to collect the materials of the Qur’an during Muhammad’s lifetime. Yet Ibn Ka’b believed that Zaid’s Qur’an was missing two chapters! Later Muslims were therefore forced to reject some of Ibn Ka’b’s recitation:

Sahih al-Bukhari 5005—Umar said, “Ubayy was the best of us in the recitation (of the Qur’an), yet we leave some of what he recites.” Ubayy says, “I have taken it from the mouth of Allah’s Messenger and will not leave it for anything whatever.”

Due to these disputes among Muhammad’s hand-picked reciters, Muslims are faced with a dilemma. If Muslims say that the Qur’an we have today has been perfectly preserved, they must say that Muhammad was horrible at choosing scholars, since he selected men who disagreed with today’s text. If, on the other hand, Muslims say that their prophet would know whom to pick regarding Islam’s holiest book, they must conclude that the Qur’an we have today is flawed!

III. MISSING CHAPTERS

Simply knowing the facts about such disputes is enough to dismiss the claim that the Qur’an has been perfectly preserved. Nevertheless, we may go further by briefly considering certain other problems.

When Ibn Umar—son of the second Muslim caliph—heard people declaring that they knew the entire Qur’an, he said to them: “Let none of you say, ‘I have learned the whole of the Koran,’ for how does he know what the whole of it is, when much of it has disappeared? Let him rather say, ‘I have learned what is extant thereof’” (Abu Ubaid, Kitab Fada’il-al-Qur’an).

One of Muhammad’s companions, Abu Musa, supported this claim when he said that the early Muslims forgot two surahs (chapters) due to laziness:

Sahih Muslim 2286—Abu Musa al-Ash’ari sent for the reciters of Basra. They came to him and they were three hundred in number. They recited the Qur’an and he said: You are the best among the inhabitants of Basra, for you are the reciters among them. So continue to recite it. (But bear in mind) that your reciting for a long time may not harden your hearts as were hardened the hearts of those before you. 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.” And we used to recite a surah which resembled one of the surahs of Musabbihat, and I have forgotten it . . .

This shows that entire chapters of the Qur’an were forgotten.

IV. MISSING PASSAGES

We know further that large sections of certain chapters came up missing. For instance, Muhammad’s wife Aisha said that roughly two-thirds of Surah 33 was lost:

Abu Ubaid, Kitab Fada’il-al-Qur’an—A’isha . . . said, “Surat al-Ahzab (xxxiii) used to be recited in the time of the Prophet with two hundred verses, but when Uthman wrote out the codices he was unable to procure more of it than there is in it today [i.e. 73 verses].”

According to Aisha, the collectors simply couldn’t find all of Surah 33. Why not? As we’ve seen, many huffaz were killed at the Battle of Yamama. Apparently, no one who knew the entire chapter survived.

V. MISSING VERSES

Aisha also tells us that individual verses of the Qur’an disappeared, sometimes in very interesting ways:

Sunan ibn Majah 1944—It was narrated that Aishah said: “The Verse of stoning and of breastfeeding an adult ten times was revealed, and the paper was with me under my pillow. When the Messenger of Allah died, we were preoccupied with his death, and a tame sheep came in and ate it.”

The verses on stoning and breastfeeding an adult ten times are not in the Qur’an today. Why? Aisha’s sheep ate them.

VI. MISSING PHRASES

Since entire chapters, large portions of chapters, and individual verses of the Qur’an were lost, it should come as no surprise that short phrases were forgotten as well. Let’s consider two examples.

First, Surah 33:6 declares that “The Prophet is closer to the Believers than their own selves, and his wives are their mothers.” Ubayy ibn Ka’b and other early Muslims held that a phrase (“and he is a father of them”) is missing from this verse. Even the great translator Yusuf Ali admits this in his commentary. Ali writes: “In some Qira’ahs, like that of Ubayy ibn Ka’ab, occur also the words ‘and he is a father of them,’ which imply his spiritual relationship and connection with the words ‘and his wives are their mothers’” (Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an, Note 3674). It seems that Muslims have been left with an incomplete verse.

Second, if we open a modern edition of the Qur’an, we find that Surah 2:238 commands Muslims to “Guard strictly your (habit) of prayers, especially the Middle Prayer; and stand before Allah in a devout (frame of mind).” According to Aisha, Muhammad recited this verse as follows: “Guard strictly (the five obligatory) prayers, and the middle Salat, and Salat Al-Asr. And stand before Allah with obedience” (Jami at-Tirmidhi 2982). Hence, the phrase “and Salat Al-Asr” is missing from modern editions.

VII. ASSESSMENT

Obviously, the Qur’an has changed significantly over the years. The evidence shows that entire chapters were lost, that large sections of chapters came up missing, that individual verses were forgotten, and that phrases have been left out. Muhammad’s best teachers and reciters couldn’t even agree on which chapters were supposed to be in the Qur’an.

This raises an obvious question. What’s the difference between a book that’s been perfectly preserved, and one that hasn’t been perfectly preserved? If Muslims are right, there’s no difference at all. The typical characteristics of a book that hasn’t been perfectly preserved are (1) missing phrases, (2) missing passages, (3) missing chapters, (4) disagreements about what goes back to the original, etc. But the Qur’an has all of these characteristics. Thus, Muslims who are aware of the evidence but who also want to maintain the perfect perseveration of the Qur’an must say something like this: “Yes, the Qur’an has all the characteristics of a book that hasn’t been perfectly preserved, but it’s been perfectly preserved anyway.” Can anyone make sense of such a claim?

We must also take note of the obvious. Anyone who has read the Muslim sources (e.g. Hadith, Tafsir, etc.) knows that the Qur’an has not been perfectly preserved. Muslim scholars are well aware of the fact that the Qur’an has been changed, and yet they tell less-educated Muslims that the Qur’an has always been exactly the same. Why are Muslim scholars and leaders deceptive about the history of their book? Moreover, if they are willing to deceive their fellow Muslims about the history of the Qur’an, what else are they being deceptive about?

Friends, whenever a book is passed on and copied by human beings, mistakes are going to be made (e.g. spelling errors, inadvertent omissions, intentional changes, and so on). This is true of all books, including the Qur’an and the Bible. The difference between the Qur’an and other books is that the Qur’an promises that no changes in its text will ever occur. As we have seen in this study, the Qur’an has not been perfectly preserved, which means that the promise of Surah 15:9 was not kept. The Qur’an cannot therefore be the Word of God.”

Resource: The Qur’an Dilemma

Any Muslim on the planet can click on the site in complete privacy and examine the Qur’an, word by word, line by line, sura by sura. Every scientific error is noted. Every historical error. Every grammatical error. Every geographical error. Every contradiction. The site also includes scholarly articles and analyses.

For years, thequran.com project has been painstakingly developed by scores of former Muslims and passionate Islamic scholars representing a variety of Arabic and Middle-Eastern cultural backgrounds, as well as educational specialties in the field of Islamic studies. They include Islamic researchers, academic teachers, scholars, writers, editors, and translators and span several continents.

This project is not a bunch of Western Christians dissing Islam’s holy book. It’s former Muslims, just like me, who have the courage to challenge the system. Who said, okay, if our Qur’an is the word of God, it should easily stand up to scrutiny. If God said it, there will be no mistakes in it. So they examined it, and they discovered the truth.” – Mosab Hassan Yousef

“The Quran Testifies to it’s own Textual Corruption” by Sam Shamoun

Apologist Sam Shamoun of Answering Islam has written an article detailing how the Quran testifies to it’s own textual corruption.

The Quran Testifies To Its Own Textual Corruption

Sam Shamoun

“Muslims may not be aware of the fact that their very own scripture admits that even during the time of Muhammad there were people tampering with the text of the Quran:

Like as We sent down on the dividers, Those who made the Quran INTO SHREDS. So, by your Lord, We would most certainly question them all, As to what they did. S. 15:90-93 Shakir

Here are some of the various ways that Q. 15:91 has been translated:

(So also on such) as have made Qur’an into shreds (as they please). Y. Ali

Those who break the Qur’an into parts. Pickthall

who dismember the Qur’an. Palmer

who have broken the Koran into fragments. Arberry

Who splintered the Quran into diverse parts. Tarif Khalidi

Those who divided the Qur’an into parts. Maulana Muhammad Ali

Those who break the Quran into separate parts. Hamid S. Aziz

Those who have broken the Qur’an into fragments (as they please). Ali Unal

and also divided the Quran believing in some parts and rejecting others. Muhammad Sarwar

and who have broken the Scripture into fragments— Wahiduddin Khan

And severed their Scripture into fragments. Muhammad Ahmed-Samira

It is thus clear from this verse that the words of the Quran were being changed. As the late Islamic Scholar Alphonse Mingana explained:

“Finally, if we understand correctly the following verse of Suratul-Hijr (xv. 90-91): ‘As we sent down upon (punished) the dividers (of the Scripture?) who broke up the Koran into parts,’ we are tempted to state that even when the Prophet was alive, some changes were noticed in the recital of certain verses of his sacred book. There is nothing very surprising in this fact, since Muhammad could not read or write, and was at the mercy of friends for the writing of his revelations, or, more frequently, of some mercenary amanuenses.” (Mingana, “Three Ancient Korans”, The Origins of the Koran – Classic Essays on Islam’s Holy Book, edited by Ibn Warraq [Prometheus Books, Amherst NY, 1998], p. 84; bold emphasis ours)

The evidence also shows that such corruptions to the text continued long after Muhammad’s death. For instance, Mingana records the Muslim reaction to Uthman b. Affan’s burning and wholesale destruction of primary, competing Quranic codices:”

Click here to continue reading

All I Have is Christ: An Animation by Chris Powers


And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.” Hebrews 13:12-14

Who is Abdullah ibn Sa’d ibn Abi Sarh?

According to Islam’s earliest sources, Abdullah ibn Sa’d ibn Abi Sarh was a convert to Islam and served as one of Muhammad’s scribes. However Abi Sahr soon discovered that Muhammad would let him change the Quran and add his own words. Abi Sahr rightfully came to the conclusion that Muhammad was not a prophet and was making the Quran up as he went along. After all, would a true prophet allow anyone to change the words of Allah himself?

Does Islam Teach Love and Humility Towards Others Who Don’t Believe?

Does Islam teach humility? Was Muhammad, who is supposed to be the ultimate example for Muslims, humble? Is it humble to claim you don’t know whether or not you are in right standing with Allah? Let’s take a look at what Islam has to say about these issues.

Does Islam teach humility for the believer?

Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors.” Sura 3:110

Indeed, the worst of living creatures in the sight of Allah are those who have disbelieved, and they will not [ever] believe” Surah 8:55

Indeed, they who disbelieved among the People of the Scripture and the polytheists will be in the fire of Hell, abiding eternally therein. Those are the worst of creatures. Indeed, they who have believed and done righteous deeds – those are the best of creatures.” Sura 98:6

These suras make it clear that the Muslim is to believe he is better than and superior to unbelievers. Additionally, sura 8:55 claims those who don’t believe in Allah are the worst of living creatures, simply for their unbelief!

Should the Muslim befriend unbelievers?

The bible commands Christians to love their enemy and to pray for those who persecute them (Matthew 5:43-48), and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31), but how does Islam command Muslims to treat unbelievers?

For the Unbelievers are unto you open enemies” Sura 4:101

O ye who believe! Take not for friends unbelievers rather than believers: Do ye wish to offer Allah an open proof against yourselves?” Sura 4:144

O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust.” Sura 5:51

Thou wilt not find any people who believe in Allah and the Last Day, loving those who resist Allah and His Messenger, even though they were their fathers or their sons, or their brothers, or their kindred.”  Sura 58:22

So if you are a Muslim, according to the teaching of the Quran you are commanded to treat unbelievers as your enemy, told not to love them even if they are your own family, or befriend someone simply because they don’t believe the same thing you do. Furthermore, you can actually be accused of unbelief yourself for merely having someone of another faith as your friend.

Is Allah loving and humble?

That He may reward those who believe and work righteous deeds, out of his Bounty. For He loves not those who reject Faith.” Sura 30:45

Say: “Obey Allah and His Messenger”: But if they turn back, Allah loveth not those who reject Faith.” Sura 3:32

 “And they (the disbelievers) schemed, and Allah schemed (against them): and Allah is the best of schemers.” Sura 3:54

Are they then secure from Allah’s scheme? None deemeth himself secure from Allah’s scheme save folk that perish.” Sura 7:99

We know that the God of the bible promises eternal life to his children because he is not a liar or deceiver (John 10:28), but how did Muhammad feel about his standing with a God who doesn’t love those who don’t believe, and claims to be the best of schemers?

I am no bringer of new fangled doctrine among the messengers, nor do I know what will be done with me or with you.” Sura 46:9

When Muhammad told Abu Bakr, his closest friend and successor, that he was guaranteed paradise, this is what he had to say in light of Muhammad’s declaration that Allah was “the best of schemers”:

By Allah! I would not feel safe from the deception of Allah, even if I had one foot in paradise.” (Khalid Muhammad Khalid, Successors of the Messenger, Muhammad Mahdi al-Sharif)

If Muhammad himself and his successor Abu Bakr were unsure of the schemes and deception of Allah, then how much more so for the everyday Muslim?

How are Muslims commanded to treat those who don’t believe the same thing they do?

So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them” Sura 47:4

And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.” Sura 2:191

And as for those who disbelieved, I will punish them with a severe punishment in this world and the Hereafter, and they will have no helpers.” Sura 3:56

And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way.” Sura 9:5

O Prophet, fight against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh upon them. And their refuge is Hell, and wretched is the destination.” Sura 9:73

O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you, and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty (unto Him).” Sura 9:123

O Prophet, strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh upon them. And their refuge is Hell, and wretched is the destination.” Sura 66:9

So Muslims are commanded to behead, slaughter, subdue, and kill others simply because they do not believe in Allah. This doesn’t sound very humble or loving.

So to recap, Allah doesn’t love those who are non believers, commands Muslims not to love or take unbelievers as friends (even if they are family), says Muslims are superior to those who don’t believe the same things they do, calls unbelievers the worst of creatures, Allah describes himself as a schemer so much so that even Muhammad himself was scared of his deception, and commands Muslims to fight and kill those who don’t believe the same thing they do. The answer is clear. Islam is neither loving, nor humble according to it’s own texts.

This is not to say we don’t know Muslim men and women who aren’t loving and humble. We all have friends and family who are Muslim, and they are really nice people. However, as a Muslim, you can only be loving and humble towards those who aren’t believers insofar as you are genuinely ignorant of what Islam actually teaches, or you chose to blatantly disobey the commands of the Quran.