Monday, December 28, 2015

The Seven Ahruf, Ten Qira'at, and Isnads of the Qur’an

Some Muslims claim that the Qur’an is a single document which is correct and traceable to the lips of the prophet, and thus is the inerrant word of the deity.

This is not the case.

The following is a condensation of the relevant information at this source:
1. During his life, Muhammad allowed the existence of seven different “aspects” of the Qur’an, called Ahrufs. It is not known what the Ahrufs were or said.

2. Uthman destroyed - not all - but most of the Ahrufs, keeping his own version which he had copied and distributed to Islamic cities.

3. After several centuries there were “Readers” who interpreted the Uthmanic Qur’an, developing ten different interpretations (Qira’ats) which became accepted by committees of authorities.

4. Of these Readers, some claim just two are accepted today by Islamic authorities. So there are at least two “interpretations”, Hafs and Warsh, which are commonly used. However, other sources point to the use of at least seven different versions, which are from the Readers but are through separate “transmitter” chains.

5. These interpretations are reinterpreted by local imams; there is a central committee which approves interpretations, but there are many sects who interpret for themselves. There are chains of historical interpretations, called Isnads. An Isnad should trace back to Muhammad for moral authority, but they are impeded by the Readers and the Uthmanic destruction of all of the Ahrufs, leaving no direct contact with either the prophet or the deity.

6. Due to the primitive nature of the written language, vowels were not included in the texts. This led to differing interpretations, a problem addressed within Islamic scholarship.

7. Attempts to add vowels to the text resulted in texts which included alternate meanings which were written in the margins.

8. There exist Islamic books written in the attempt to resolve differences in textual meanings.

Here is a fairly lengthy excerpt from the source:
”These different Qur'ans were a subject of study for early Islamic scholars. The Arabic librarian, Ibn Abi Ya'qub al-Nadim, made a famous catalogue of all the books in Arabic in the year 375 A.H./987 A.D. He records seven books which dealt with this topic.

Books Composed about Discrepancies of the [Qur'anic] Manuscripts
1. "The Discrepancies between the Manuscripts of the People of al-Madinah, al-Kufah, and al-Basrah" according to al-Kisa'i.
2. Book of Khalaf, "Discrepancies of the Manuscripts".
3. "Discrepancies of the People of al-Kufah, al-Basrah, and Syria concerning the Manuscripts", by al-Farra.
4. "Discrepancies between the Manuscripts" by Abu Da'ud al-Sijistani.
5. Book of al-Mada'ini about the discrepancies between the manuscripts and the compiling of the Qur'an.
6. "Discrepancies between the Manuscripts of Syria, al-Hijaz, and al-Iraq", by Ibn `Amir al-Yahsubi.
7. Book of Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Rahman al-Isbahani about discrepancies of the manuscripts.
(Al-Nadim, The Fihrist of al-Nadim - A Tenth Century survey of Muslim Culture, p. 79)
These synoptic Qur'ans had the following differences:
• Different numbers of surahs.
• Surahs were arranged differently.
• Different words for the same verse.

(C)oncerning the arrangement of the Qur'an in the manuscript of Abd Allah ibn Mas'ud, Al-Fadl ibn Shadhan said, "I found in a manuscript of `Abd Allah ibn Mas'ud the surahs of the Qur'an in accordance with the following (different) sequence ... These are one hundred and ten surahs." (Al-Nadim, p. 53)

One of our reliable friends has informed us, saying that the composition of the surahs according to the reading of Ubayy ibn Ka'b is in a village called Qariyat al-Ansar, two parasangs from al-Basrah, where in his home Muhammad ibn Abd al-Malik al-Ansari showed us a Qur'anic manuscript, saying, "This is the copy of Ubayy which we have, handed down from our fathers." I looked into it and ascertained the headings of the surahs, the endings of the revelations, and the numbers of verses. ... one hundred and sixteen surahs. (Al-Nadim, pp. 58-61)

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud’s version of the Qur’an did not have surahs 1, 113 or 114, that is, there were no du’a prayers. Ubayy ibn Ka’b’s Qur’an is reported to have these two extra surahs.

Surah 115 al-Khal: O Allah, we seek your help and ask your forgiveness, and we praise you and we don't disbelieve in you. We separate from and leave who sins against you.

Surah 116 al-Hafd: O Allah we worship you and to you we pray and prostrate and to you we run and hasten to serve you. We hope for your mercy and fear your punishment. Your punishment will surely reach the disbelievers. (Ahmed von Denffer, `Ulum al Qur'an, Leicester: The Islamic Foundation, 1985, p. 48)

Some remnants of these different early Qur’ans have recently been discovered.

The San'ani specimens are, however, not only proofs of their existence, but allow for the hypothesis that even more arrangements were in use which differed from the official sequence as well as from those reported to go back to Ibn Mas'ud and Ubayy. In one case, the end of Surah 26 is followed by the beginning of Surah 37 (on the same page, of course!), which corresponds exactly with the leap reported about Ibn Mas'ud's arrangement. (Gerd-R Puin, “Observations on the Early Qur'an Manuscripts in San`a'”, in The Qur'an as Text, ed. Stefan Wild, Leiden: Brill, 1996, p. 111)

The main significance of the San'a 1 (Standford 07) manuscript is that its lower text does not belong to this Utmanic textual tradition. In this sense, it is “non-Utmanic.” It belongs to some other textual tradition which is designated here as C-1. (Behnam Sadeghi and Uwe Bergmann, "The Codex of a Companion of the Prophet and the Qur'an of the Prophet", Arabica 57, 2010, p. 344)

Chapter 6: What happened to all of these early different Qur’ans?
These early synoptic Qur’ans were not preserved because the differences between them led to arguments within the early Muslim community.

"The Syrians," we are told, "contended with the `Iraqis, the former following the reading of Ubayy ibn Ka`b, the latter that of `Abd Allah ibn Mas'ud, each accusing the other of unbelief" (Labib as-Said, The Recited Koran: A History of the First Recorded Version, tr. B. Weis, et al., Princeton, New Jersey: The Darwin Press, 1975, p. 23)

The third caliph, Uthman solved this political problem by choosing one of these collections to be the standard version for the entire Muslim community. He had the other collections destroyed.

Narrated Anas bin Malik: Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman came to Uthman at the time when the people (Muslims) of Syria and the people of Iraq were waging war to conquer Armenia and Azarbaijan. Hudhaifa was afraid of their (the people of Syria and Iraq) differences in the recitation of the Qur'an, so he said to 'Uthman, "O chief of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Book (Quran) as Jews and the Christians did before." So 'Uthman sent a message to Hafsa saying, "Send us the manuscripts of the Qur'an so that we may compile the Qur'anic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you." Hafsa sent it to 'Uthman. 'Uthman then ordered Zaid bin Thabit, 'Abdullah bin Az-Zubair, Said bin Al-As and 'AbdurRahman bin Harith bin Hisham to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies.

'Uthman said to the three Quraishi men, "In case you disagree with Zaid bin Thabit on any point in the Qur'an, then write it in the dialect of Quraish, the Qur'an was revealed in their tongue." They did so, and when they had written many copies, 'Uthman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsa. '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: vol. 6, bk. 61, no. 510)

This is how there came to be one Qur’an; the other versions made by the companions of Muhammad were destroyed. A simple comparison would be if the early Christians destroyed the Gospel according to Mark, Luke, and John, and just kept Matthew. This may have made things simpler, but Christianity is richer for having preserved all these different testimonies; and Islam is poorer for having destroyed these other testimonies to the Qur’an. The result is that today we have only one testimony to what Muhammad recited. The testimony of these other collections has almost totally been destroyed.

Chapter 7: Did all of the companions of the Muhammad agree with Uthman’s actions?
Again no, in particular Abdullah ibn Mas’ud objected to Uthman’s actions. Abdullah ibn Mas’ud was one of the greatest reciters of the Qur’an and Muhammad said to learn the Qur'an from him.

Narrated Masruq: ... I heard the Prophet saying, "Take (learn) the Qur'an from four (men): `Abdullah bin Masud, Salim, Mu'adh and Ubai bin Ka'b." (Sahih al-Bukhari: vol. 6, bk. 61, no. 521)

He even recited the Qur’an to Muhammad.

Narrated Abdullah bin Masud: The Prophet said to me, "Recite (the) Quran to me." I said to him. "Shall I recite (it) to you while it has been revealed to you?" He said, "I like to hear it from another person." (Sahih al-Bukhari: vol. 6, bk. 61, no. 576)

However, Uthman did not consult Abdullah ibn Mas’ud when he made his version of the Qur’an, and Abdullah was angry about this, and also angry that Uthman wanted him to hand over his collection of the Qur’an to be destroyed. Abdullah maintained that his collection was just as valid, if not more so, that any other collection. As a result Abdullah told his students to hide their Qur’ans from Uthman.

'Abdullah (b. Mas'ud) reported that he said to his companions to conceal their copies of the Qur'an and further said: He who conceals anything he shall have to bring that which he had concealed on the Day of Judgment, and then said: After whose mode of recitation do you command me to recite? I in fact recited before Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) more than seventy chapters of the Qur'an and the Companions of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) know it that I have better understanding of the Book of Allah (than they do), and if I were to know that someone had better understanding than I, I would have gone to him. Shaqiq said: I sat in the company of the Companions of Muhammad (may peace be upon him) but I did not hear anyone having rejected that (that is, his recitation) or finding fault with it. (Sahih Muslim: bk. 31, no. 6022; also Sahih al-Bukhari: vol. 6, bk. 61, no. 522)

Az-Zuhri also narrated that Abdullah Ibn Mas’oud became upset because he was not chosen to copy the Qur’an. He said, “Oh you Muslims, how can I not be chosen ..." Ibn Mas’oud also said, “Oh people of Iraq! Hide your Qurans in your homes (from Uthman).” (Sunan Al-Tirmithi, Dar Al-Kotob Al-ilmiyah, 2008, vol. 4, no. 3105, p. 134; also Ibn Sa'd, Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, vol. 2 p. 444)

Therefore not all the companions of Muhammad agreed with Uthman’s actions but Uthman was able to enforce his decision and eventually all the companions had to accept this. The result though, was that all the other early collections of the Qur’an made by the companions of Muhammad were destroyed. Today we only have the Uthmanic Qur’an.

Chapter 8: Is the Uthmanic Qur’an complete?
Again the answer is no. There is ample evidence throughout the Hadith of authentic Qur’anic material not included in Uthman’s Qur’an.

... We used to recite a surah which resembled in length and severity to (Surah) Bara’at (surah 9). 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” ... (Sahih Muslim: bk. 5, no. 2286)

... Allah sent Muhammad (saw) with the Truth and revealed the Holy Book to him, and among what Allah revealed, was the verse of the Rajam (the stoning of married persons, male and female, who commit adultery) and we did recite this verse and understood and memorized it. Allah’s Apostle (saw) did carry out the punishment of stoning and so did we after him. I am afraid that after a long time has passed, somebody will say, "By Allah, we do not find the verse of the Rajam in Allah’s Book", and thus they will go astray by leaving an obligation which Allah has revealed. (Sahih al-Bukhari: vol. 8, bk. 82, no. 817)

This surah about the son of Adam, and the verse about stoning for adultery, are not in the Uthmanic Qur’an, which is the modern Qur’an.

Chapter 9: Are all the ancient Uthmanic Qur’an manuscripts identical to the modern Qur’an?
No. See for a comprehensive comparison between the the Samarkand manuscript and the modern Qur’an, and for a comparison with the San’a manuscripts.

Chapter 10: Are all Arabic Qur’ans used in the world today identical?
Again no. When Uthman made his Qur’an the Arabic script did not include the vowel markings or the dots used to distinguish between certain letters. This ambiguity allowed words to be formed (vocalised or read) in different ways, and today there are different versions of the Uthmanic Qur’an which have the words formed differently.

There are ten such different Qur’ans accepted today. The two main versions (qira’at) are the Qur’an according to Imam Hafs (the most common) and the Qur’an according to Imam Warsh (North Africa).”

1. This source is anonymous, specifically to avoid Islamic violent reaction. Anonymity can lead to false claims, with no recourse to the source. However, I checked out a few of the claims, and they appear to be accurate. Much if not all of the claims are annotated to Islamic sources, which I have not personally verified. There is an interesting second page at this source, located HERE.

No comments: