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Tanzil.net writes:

The Medina Mushaf ... publishes the holy quran according to three famous narration, i.e., Hafs, Warsh, and Ad-Duriyy.
The Quran text provided by Tanzil is based on the Medina Mushaf, narration of Hafs.

From there I came to know tht currently there are 3 there different versions of Quran. Digging up a little more, I found that there used to be several 'authentic' versions of Quran:

Even though the Hadith spoke of 7 versions, Al-Tabari concluded that 8 of the existing versions of the Quran were ‘authentic’ (later scholars increased this to 10) [source]

Also, according to aforementioned source, Verse counts for Hafs are 6236, while Warsh records 6214.

That source also lists some differences in these two Quran, and even more can be found in this pdf.

So, contrary to our firm believe that there has been no alteration in Quran, there are different versions of Quran.

So which Quran should we follow and why? And why should there be different Qurans to begin with ?


Update

After reading various suggestions, I came across this hadith:

Abû Qilaba narrated:

It has reached me that the Prophet(P) said: "The Qur'an was sent down according to seven ahruf: command and prohibition, encouragement of good and discouragement of evil, dialectic, narrative, and parable."

However, the article went to explain it like this: [use CTRL+F to jump into exact place]

The forms matched the dialects of following seven tribes: Quraysh, Hudhayl, Thaqîf, Hawâzin, Kinânah, Tamîm and Yemen. The revelation of the Qur'an in seven different ahruf made its recitation and memorization much easier for the various tribes.

Again reading reading further, we can find that :

Following the distribution of the official copies, all the other ahruf were dropped and the Qur'an began to be read in only one harf. Thus, the Qur'an which is available through out the world today is written and recited only according to the harf of Quraysh

Why do we still have many ahruf then? It would be even more helpful if you could explain how the ahruf map to various dialect.

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Well the major point is the definition of ahruf... there are many interpretations and no real consensus: if I remember well Imam as-Suyuti in his itqaan الإتقان في علوم القرآن mentioned a long list of interpretation explaining each POV I guess -because I read this part of his book long ago so I don't remember well and don't call this book my own- he ended up with more the 40 interpretations!

Some scholars say we still have 7 ahruf now.
Why? Because if we assume that ahruf means language of the tribes then even if the major parts of the Quran is written in the language of Quraish you'll find words from hudail, taqiif etc. in it.

Others say that these ahruf are shown through the different qiraat, as if the different grammar schools represent a harf in case of difference. The major grammar schools are al-Kufa and al-Basra.

Many of the interpretations of ahruf are related to the way of recitation (tajweed) so some count as ahruf imala, madd etc. or different recitation of the same word or expression like (I write here how it's recited or pronounced in the recitation) (this is the "fasih" origin according the hanbali linguist al 'Okbari it's the reading of ibn Kathir al Makki!) الصراط, السراط , and الزراط or ننشرها and ننشزها etc.!

Those who believe that the 7 ahruf don't exist my count what I may call recitation using synonyms (a reference with examples will be linked later) as an evidence. As this was no more allowed after 'Othman sent out the copies of Quran to the major cities of Islam!

In the book about the Quran sciences of Sheikh al-Buti (May Allah be merciful to him) you may find a hadith, where it's shown that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) could understand -apparently- all Arabic slangs as he answered a Question while all the sahaba (May Allah be pleased with them) around him didn't even understand what the Inquirer was saying because in his slang at-Tumtomanya الطُمْطمانية he was replacing letters with others so he answered the question in the same language:

لَيْسَ مِنْ ‏امْبِرِّ ‏امْصِيَامُ فِي ‏امْسَفَرِ (Musnad Ahmad 5/434 on the authorithy of Ka'ab ibn 'Asim al-Asha'ry (May Allah be pleased with him))

instead of

ليس من البرِّ الصيامُ في السَّفر

so one interpretation is that the 7 languages you mentioned are the 7 major ahruf because they refer to a fasih language, while any other languages have never been part of the Quran. Here's a list of other old Arabic Slangs/Languages (in Arabic)

Now AFAIK the Qiraat which were accepted and considered as the most sahih all have a narrator chain were the first transmitter after our Messenger (peace be upon him) is one of these sahaba:

  • Othman ibn 'Affan (from Quraish)
  • Ali ibn abi Talib (from Quraish)
  • Ubay ibn Ka'ab (from Hudhail?)
  • Abdullah ibn Masu'd (from Hudhail)
  • Zayd ibn Thabit (from Hudhail?)
  • Abu Musa al-Ash'ary (from Yemen)
  • Abu a-Darda' (from Hudhail?)

while there have been other hafiz between the sahaba we don't know their quira'a like Mu'ad ibn Jabal, Abu Zayd and Salim mawla abu Hudaifah, Abdullah ibn 'Amr, 'Uqbah ibn 'Amir, some added 'Omar ibn al Khattab as some asaneed of the 10 qiraat refer to him! (reference in Arabic)

All of them used to teach Quran even before the collection of 'Othman or earlier the collection of abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with them). The major difference between those both collections is that 'Othman ordered a committee, where the scribe was Zaid ibn Thabit (one of the scribes of our Messenger (Peace be upon him)) and the one who dictated was Said ibn al-'Aass who had a similar slang/language/pronunciation as the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and he also ordered in case of a difference of spelling reading etc. between the members of the committee to refer to the language of Quraish, therefore if there have been words in the Quran kept which are not original in the language of Quraish this is because people at the time have already accepted or confirmed the other Version to be more expressive (or something like that). And also because some tribes had single words or expressions to express some Issue's, where others needed many words or sentences to express the same meaning. As before that the Sahaba tried to teach the Quran as easy as possible, so using synonyms was allowed (see my examples in the Answer of the Question about Qiraat).

In his book as-Suytuti made a list about words which are not explicitly from the language of Quraish!


Here some examples from an other source:

  • In (2:90) the expression "بئسما اشتروا" is from hudhail and means: "How wretched is that which they sold" while it's literally meaning is "How wretched is that for which they bought"
  • In (2:227) the expression "عزموا الطلاق" means literally "If they decided or want to get divorced" while it must be understood in hudhali "if they realized talaq"!

Note that the influence of hudhali in riwayat hafs is very prevalent as it is one of the qiraat which has an abuse of "hamzah" in the words "ء, ؤ, ئ,أ,".

Article series of this source shows expressions from kinaanah, himyar, qays 'aylan, tay', a-nabat, the tribe of anmar, tamym, tribe of yemen, tribe of madhaj ...


Now one major point which makes lot of confusion is 7 ahruf vs. 7 qiraat, at least we know that their are 10 well accepted qiraat so this should be a first mismatch. And one should know that even one of these qiraat may include many ahruf if we assume that ahruf means language of the tribes.

One example of differences which i think is well explained my Answer for this Post.

Scholars say that the difference of qira'at is an enrichment, because there could be a very slight difference in meaning which maybe helpful to extract a more exact ruling for fiqh for example. Or a different qiraa'a just gives a different sight angle of a story: for example passive/active form... So it was the Quran which lead to a development of the Arabic grammar.

Some modern scholars chose an interpretation of ahruf so according to that they could give the required map, but as you may understand this wouldn't be possible or at least is difficult according to show according the circumstances.

Maybe a simple answer for the existence of many ahruf even after the "unification" due to 'Othman's Quran collection, is that the rasm of al-Mushaf (= scripture of the Quranic text) allowed many -legal- interpretations, but one must be aware that these interpretations should go ahead at least with one of the oral transmissions with a sane narrator chain and of course with a clear and allowed (therefore correct or legal) Arabic meaning!

I'd like also to point at my answer on this question, which includes a historical "dispersion" of the qiraat in the Muslim world.

Finally about your Verse counting Issue please consider reading my answer on this question.

I hope I could help!

And Allah knows best!

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These "versions" are all the same text, but the difference is how you read the pronunciations of the words. No matter what you see from blogs, they are all the same, but some pronounce words in a different way than the other. It's like having an accent for a language. The words mean the same but the way you say them differs.

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