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As we know from Sanaa manuscript, Quran is modified, at least in the level of words.

To me, this means that even if the general meaning of Quran is not altered, we can't analyze it word by word anymore.

For example, in this post, the author claims that Quran knows the sex of child is determined by father. However, منه could be منها and this changes the entire conclusion invalid.

Or in this video it's claimed that using اذا instead of ان is the key point in understanding what Allah wanted to tell us. This is also dependent on a word-based analysis and we can't be sure that this word is truly اذا. Maybe it was ان and then it was changed/altered to اذا.

The question is, while we have evidence through old manuscripts that Quran is definitely altered, at least in the level of some words, how can Islamic scholars still analyze verses using words as their pivot points?

update

this is an example of changes in Sanaa manuscript, according to the Wikipedia page:

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  • The Quran has been passed down to us in recitation through mutawatir narrations. One or two manuscripts do not affect its authenticity. – The Z Nov 22 '20 at 8:45
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    The qur'an is the orally transmitted revelation what is written between two bookshelves is a Moshaf a written copy of this text. In order to avoid differences in this text and codex 'Othman ordered to burn all private copies and initiated a standard version. So anything that is not in complete accordance of the orally transmitted revelation that was accepted as a mutwatir "narration" is no more regarded as qu'ran nor even moshaf. The Sanaa manuscript seems to me a private copy of a Sahabi or somebody who wrote the text down adding his own tafsir additions. This is often answered on the site. – Medi1Saif Nov 22 '20 at 9:31
  • Beside the link shared by @TheZ please take a look at What are the readings (qira'at) of the qur'an, Different versions of arabic qur'an and The Birmingham quran versus the present day quran etc. – Medi1Saif Nov 23 '20 at 11:36
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    And even if there was a change this has no impact because the qur'an is ever since orally transmitted from teacher to student starting with the revelation that Muhammad has transmitted to the Sahabh and which they have transmitted to the Tabi'yn, as Allah says "Rather, the Qur'an is distinct verses [preserved] within the breasts of those who have been given knowledge. And none reject Our verses except the wrongdoers" (29:4) it is certainly not a book! It is wrong to even think that you hold a qur'an in hands while reading in a Moshaf! – Medi1Saif Nov 25 '20 at 10:50
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Sana'a manuscripts do not "prove" that Qur'an is corrupted. In fact, it actually proves that the Hadith about seven different Ahrufs and Qir'at is authentic.

The claims of Non-Muslims regarding Sana'a manuscripts have been thoroughly debunked here in this video:-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pcenpnMVVE

I have seen some examples of alleged "differences" in the Sana'a manuscripts and the standard Uthmanic text of the Glorious Qur'an and the "differences" are not that major. If we read the hadith scriptures, we shall realize that these kind of differences were common in early Islam and there is nothing so "shocking" about the discovery of Sana'a manuscripts.

In Bukhari, we can read:-

Narrated Ibn Mas`ud:

I heard a person reciting a (Qur'anic) Verse in a certain way, and I had heard the Prophet (ﷺ) reciting the same Verse in a different way. So I took him to the Prophet (ﷺ) 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. (Sahih al-Bukhari 3476)

One of the principles of seven Ahrufs is that there might be some differences in the text and even different meaning. However, the difference is in the context of theme, not opposing or contradicting as Islamqa.info notes:-

"Secondly, what is meant by styles (ahruf, sing. harf)?

The best of the scholarly opinions concerning what is meant is that there are seven ways of reciting the Qur’aan, where the wording may differ but the meaning is the same; if there is a different meaning then it is by way of variations on a theme, not opposing and contradiction." (Source:- https://islamqa.info/en/answers/5142/the-revelation-of-the-quraan-in-seven-styles-ahruf-sing-harf)

We can interpret the findings of the Sana'a manuscripts in the light of seven Ahrufs, as it is possible to do so. This is because many of the variants fall under the category of seven ahrufs.

I will be using the following source in order to assess the variants in the Sana'a manuscripts:-

https://www.letmeturnthetables.com/2012/05/seven-ahruf-2-best-explanation-taqi.html

Here is a chart of some of the alleged "major differences" between the standard Uthmanic text and the Sana'a palimpsests:-

enter image description here

Here we can see that the so-called "major differences" are not even major differences at all and they all fall within the categories of seven ahrufs. They do not cause a major difference in the message of the Qur'an and all of them are within the categories of seven Qir'at and Ahrufs. This was already recorded in the hadith collection long before the Sana'a manuscripts were even discovered.

The differences fall under two categories:-

  1. Variants that fall under the category of seven Ahrufs.

  2. Differences that occurred due to scribal errors.

It should be noted that the Glorious Qur'an was transmitted by a mass number of people, so these scribal errors should only be treated as scribal errors only. As I mentioned earlier, the so-called "differences" are not major differences at all that cause a major difference in the message of the Glorious Qur'an.

You wrote:-

For example, in this post, the author claims that Quran knows the sex of child is determined by father. However, منه could be منها and this changes the entire conclusion invalid.

This does not matter at all. The context of the verse clearly shows that it is semen that is responsible for producing children. The Glorious Qur'an does not explicitly say X or Y chromosome; however, it still gives us a hint (i.e. it talks about semen).

منه refers to "from him" منها means "from it"

The context of the Sura 75:39 suggests that it is talking about the process of development of fetus. It wouldn't matter if any of the words (منه or منها) were refering to fetus.

You wrote:-

Or in this video it's claimed that using اذا instead of ان is the key point in understanding what Allah wanted to tell us. This is also dependent on a word-based analysis and we can't be sure that this word is truly اذا. Maybe it was ان and then it was changed/altered to اذا.

I checked the video, the interpretation of the person in the video here is based on English translation.

اذا means "when" ان means "If"

This is not how Quran should be understood. You cannot interpret the glorious Qur'an in the light of English translation!

Here is an example of "If" being used instead of "when" in Surah 9:12:-

وَإِن نَّكَثُوا أَيْمَانَهُم مِّن بَعْدِ عَهْدِهِمْ وَطَعَنُوا فِي دِينِكُمْ فَقَاتِلُوا أَئِمَّةَ الْكُفْرِ إِنَّهُمْ لَا أَيْمَانَ لَهُمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَنتَهُون

This translates to:-

"And if they break their oaths from after their treaty...."

Both would work here.

The following examples would help understand what I am saying:-

"If a student breaks rules, he will be suspended."

"When a student breaks rules, he gets suspended."

Both would work.

I do not know why Islamophobes and haters of Islam pick such small differences and make such claims. I really do not know why Islamophobes and critics of Islam are raising such issues here when the fact of the matter is that there is no issue here at all!

It should be noted that Birmingham manuscripts prove that the Glorious Qur'an has been perfectly preserved and Birmingham manuscript is as old as Sana'a manuscripts.

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  • The most interesting thing about the Sanaa manuscript is that it actually confirms all what scholars have written about the history of the "compilation" of the Moshaf al Imam and even narrations that were declared as ahaad readings of the Sahaba. It shows that some Sahaba or literat among the tabi'yn had own copies of the qur'an, it shows that Sahaba were teaching qur'an by use of synonyms if the students were not able to use the most correct recitation and it also confirms the explanative recitations of some Sahaba. – Medi1Saif Nov 27 '20 at 7:18
  • And it also confirms that the idea of a standard version became necessary and that it was rather wise of Othman to order the burning of privat copies of the mushaf as else the confusion would get worse. – Medi1Saif Nov 27 '20 at 7:20
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The existence of some differences in the Sanaa manuscript to the Uthmanic script makes no difference to us. There are several possible sources of that difference including scribal mistakes and the manuscript recording a qira'a of the Quran that no longer exists today.

As for the Quran we have and its recitations, they were passed down from teacher to student in mutawatir (so many that mistakes aren't possible) narrations. That is why we can be sure that every word is the word of God.

The Uthmanic script of the Quran has also been passed down to us completely in written form. Any script not conforming to the one that the Sahabah agreed upon in the time of Uthman (RA) is no longer considered Quran. The San'aa manuscript may or may not have recorded another qira'a of the Quran. Even if it did, it wouldn't be possible to use it as Quran today since it does not completely conform to the Uthmanic script.

It is one of the basic creeds of being a Muslim to believe that every word of the Quran is the word of God.

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  • Please check my answer. – Ren Nov 22 '20 at 19:27
  • well, that creed has to have a logical basis of course. Otherwise each religion becomes 100% valid, as we can assume that their words are words of a deity. – Saeed Neamati Nov 25 '20 at 20:24
  • Also, the standardization process in itself shows divergence, just within one generation after Muhammad. Why do you standardize things that are already consistent? – Saeed Neamati Nov 25 '20 at 20:26
  • @SaeedNeamati "Why do you standardize things that are already consistent?" It doesn't seem like you understand the Ahruf and Qiraat. And also you're not understanding that some of the Sahabah used to add tafsir to their mushafs. Perhaps go through some of the links Medi1Saif sent already. Main point is that the Quran is preserved in recitation, not just the books – The Z Nov 25 '20 at 22:33
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Brother asked a very Good Question,

First of all there is a a three hundred page book written by Farid, Ijaz and Manzur providing the complete refutation of the alleged non-preservation of the Quran using manuscripts.

https://callingchristians.com/2020/11/02/the-insignificance-of-corrections-in-early-quran-manuscripts-a-response-to-daniel-alan-brubaker/

Secondly, please don't take my answers for granted as I am still a student, please try to refer also to the other answers.

Coming to your arguments.

"As we know from Sanaa manuscript, Quran is modified, at least in the level of words."

Well no, these are the words,

Ibrhim next to Ibrhm Quran next to Qrn Simahum next to Simhum

'Well, which one is the correct spelling that God wanted?' you may ask. The Quran was not revealed in the WRITTEN form it was revealed ORALLY, Prophet SAW didn't get papers from God, he recieved messages Orally, thus, God did not prescribe any specific spelling for any word.

"To me, this means that even if the general meaning of Quran is not altered, we can't analyze it word by word anymore."

Well that's your opinion, for me and all the other Muslims these:

brhim next to Ibrhm Quran next to Qrn Simahum next to Simhum

Doesn't make the message of the Quran different, I don't see how thay works, tbh.

"For example, in this post, the author claims that Quran knows the sex of child is determined by father. However, منه could be منها and this changes the entire conclusion invalid"

If that was the case then it would provide the conclusion that Semen comes from Women, and that's absolutely ridiculous, thus we could conclude that it is not منها but منه.

Well, Again, if any of the manuscripts made this mistake you could refer to the book I previously mentioned, to understand how irrelevant that would be to prove that the Quran is not preserved.

"Or in this video it's claimed that using اذ instead of ان is the key point in understanding what Allah wanted to tell us. This is also dependent on a word-based analysis and we can't be sure that this word is truly اذ. Maybe it was ان and then it was changed/altered to اذ."

and Again, if any of the manuscripts made this mistake you could refer to the book I previously mentioned, to understand how irrelevant that would be to prove that the Quran is not preserved.

"The question is, while we have evidence through old manuscripts that Quran is definitely altered, at least in the level of some words."

Well, you haven't established that the old manuscript mistakes supposedly proves the Quran wrong, if any one manuscript contains any such mistakes there are thousand others to correct it. Refer the Book.

"how can Islamic scholars still analyze verses using words as their pivot points?"

I don't think this question is necessary since you haven't established your premise.

The Book,

https://callingchristians.com/2020/11/02/the-insignificance-of-corrections-in-early-quran-manuscripts-a-response-to-daniel-alan-brubaker/

Hope you have a great day, and don't forget to ask more questions.

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  • When you deny that there are word-level differences in Sanaa manuscript and existing Quran's Mushaf, what can I say? I do not have access to Sanaa manuscript. 7 even if I do, I don't have resources to analyze it. I just use internet with some fact-checking techniques that tells me we have word-level differences. – Saeed Neamati Nov 22 '20 at 10:59
  • Your examples are different spellings of the same words. I talk about different words. See that Wikipedia article and you will understand. – Saeed Neamati Nov 22 '20 at 11:01
  • That fact-checking technique is broken, BTW. You might need to feed that with some knowledge. Anyways, since you have provided ONLY wikipedia as an evidence that too generally, I would also be proving my premise generally from the same source, According to Wikipedia, – Muhammed Zafar Nov 22 '20 at 12:04
  • The suras of the lower text do not follow the canonical order and have many additional words and phrases, nevertheless, with only two exceptions, within each sura, the surviving lower text presents the same verses as the standard Qur'an and in exactly the same order – the exceptions being in sura 20, where Sadeghi and Goudarzi find that verses 31 and 32 are transposed, and in sura 9, where Sadeghi and Goudarzi find that the whole of verse 85 is absent, which he explains as "parablepsis, a form of scribal error in which the eye skips from one text to a similar text". – Muhammed Zafar Nov 22 '20 at 12:05
  • And also I haven't said, there aren't mistakes in Sanaa Manuscripts it is just that it is completely irrelevant for proving the non-preservation, that is the sole reason that I gave you a book to read (Which seems to me like you didn't even bother to do), if I believed that Sana Manuscript was even close to perfect I need not give you a book explaining why these "Mistakes" are completely irrelevant, Thus, again, faulty Understanding. – Muhammed Zafar Nov 22 '20 at 12:10

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