Thursday, March 29, 2012

Qur'anic Variants

From Unchanging Word:
There is a mistaken idea perpetuated in some circles that the Topkapi and Samarqand manuscripts in Turkey and Uzbekistan are "original" copies. However, experts agree that these are not Uthmān's copies, as they are written in the Kufic Arabic script which only appeared in the late eighth century. Furthermore, even the Uthmānic copies themselves were not originals, for they were compiled many years after Muhammad's (pbuh) death to standardize the variety among Qur'ānic texts.
Here are two charts that show some of the minor differences in some of the oldest copies of the Qur'an that we have.  The important thing is this - the minor differences (in red) do not necessarily change the overall meaning of a given passage, but they do prove that traditional Islamic teaching that the Qur'an descended from Heaven and is perfectly preserved in every way until the present is simply not true. (click to enlarge)

Not included in these charts are the variants found in the Sana'a Manuscripts, the contents of which are still being processed by scholars. Yemeni authorities, however, seem to be blocking scholars access to them because of their potentially devastating blow to traditional Islamic teaching on the incorruptibility of the Qur'anic text, so we may have to wait a while for more details.  In any event, the Sana'a Manuscripts, written in the Hijazi script and dating from the 8th C. AD / 2nd C. AH, appear to be the oldest copies of the Qur'an ever found.  They too contain numerous variants, including layered revisions of the text which are clearly visible. (shown here) 

For more on the topic of Qur'anic variants, click here

p.s. For our Muslim friends who read this blog
Dear brothers and sisters, please do not think that this post is an attempt to shame or humiliate Muslims, Islam, or the Qur'an.  Rather, it is simply meant to display the actual facts about this issue. You must decide for yourself what these facts mean about Islam and the Qur'an.


AT said...

Interesting. I'd also be interested in hearing commentary from a historian on verse 15:91 of the Qur'an where the text is mentioned as being "splintered" in one translation.

Indian Muslim said...

The issue of script variance in Quran has been quite extensively dealt with by Sheikh Dr.Md.Mustafa al-Azami in his master-piece "History of the Quranic text:From revelation to compilation - A comparative study with Old & New Testaments"