Preservation of the Quran

From WikiAhmadiyya, the free encyclopedia on Islam and Ahmadiyyat

Muslims believe the Quran as we have it to day is the authentic and complete revelation from God to the prophet of Islam, Muhammadsa

Critics contest the claim of complete authenticity and preservation of the Quran.

Quranic prophecy on its preservation


We Ourself have sent down this Exhortation, and most surely We will be its Guardian

- Quran 15:10

This statement of the Quran is in itself evidence of the preservation of the Quran. Had parts of the Quran been lost or changed, the early Muslims would have considered this prophecy unfulfilled and left Islam. Not only did the Muslims not leave Islam, they accepted this prophecy and from the earliest era throughout the history of Islam Muslim scholars have interpreted this prophecy to mean the preservation of the Quran - this unanimous interpretation itself shows that in every era the scholars among the Muslims were convinced the Quran remained unchanged. 

View of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

The truth of this prophecy has been demonstrated over 1300 years. So far, no pagan teaching has found its way into the holy Quran, as it had into previous revealed Books. Nor can reason imagine any such contingency. Millions of Muslims have learned the holy Quran by heart, and thousands of commentaries safeguard its meaning. Its verses are recited in prayer services five times a day, and it is read every day. It is being published in all countries in millions of copies, and its teaching being known to every people are factors on the basis of which reason decides that in future any change or perversion in the text of the holy Quran is beyond the range of possibility.

- Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Baraheen-e-Ahmadiyya

By means of those who have committed the holy Quran to memory, its text and sequence were safeguarded. In each century there have been hundreds of thousands of people who had committed this holy word to memory and thus safeguarded it in such a way that if they were asked about one word they could recite its context. In this way, the holy Quran was safeguarded against verbal perversion in every age.

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Ayyamus Sulah

View of western academics

Even some notable critics of Islam and orientalists such as Sir William Muir have admitted the preservation of the Quran.

There is probably in the world no work which has remained twelve centuries with so pure a text.

- Sir William Muir, Life of Mahomet 3rd Edition

There is good reason for believing that many fragmentary copies, embracing amongst them the whole Coran, or nearly the whole, were during his life-time made by the Prophet's followers. Writing was without doubt generally known at Mecca...

Sir William Muir, Life of Mahomet 3rd Edition

Passionately fond of poetry but without the ready means for committing to writing the effusions of their bards, the Arabs had long been used to imprint these as well as the traditions of genealogical and tribal events to the living tablets of the heart. The recollective faculty was thus cultivated to the highest pitch and it was applied with all the ardour of an awakened spirit to the Coran

Sir William Muir, Life of Mahomet 3rd Edition

Assuming then that we possess unchanged the text of Othman recension, it remains to inquire whether that text was an honest production of Zaid's, with the simple reconcilement of unimportant variations. There is the fullest grounds for believing that it was so. No early or trustworthy tradition throws suspicions upon Othman for tampering with the Coran in order to support his own claims.

Sir William Muir, Life of Mahomet 3rd Edition

The efforts of European scholars to prove the existence of later interpolations in the Quran have failed. 

- Encyclopedia Brittanica 9th Edition

History of the Quran

Revelation begins: 610 CE

The revelation of the Quran with a passage from Al Alaq, chapter 96:

Aisha, the wife of the Messenger of Allahsa, reported: The first (form) with which was started the revelation to the Messenger of Allah was the true vision in sleep. And he did not see any vision but it came like the bright gleam of dawn. Thenceforth solitude became dear to him and he used to seclude himself in the cave of Hira, where he would engage in worship for a number of nights before returning to his family and getting provisions again for this purpose. He would then return to Khadija and take provisions for a like period, till Truth came upon him while he was in the cave of Hira. 

There came to him the angel and said: Recite, to which he replied: I am not lettered. He took hold of me [the Apostle said] and pressed me, till I was hard pressed; thereafter he let me off and said: Recite. I said: I am not lettered. He then again took hold of me and pressed me for the second time till I was hard pressed and then let me off and said: Recite, to which I replied: I am not lettered. He took hold of me and pressed me for the third time, till I was hard pressed and then let me go and said: "Recite in the name of your Lord Who created, created man from a clot of blood. Recite. And your most bountiful Lord is He Who taught the use of pen, taught man what he knew not". 

Then the Prophet returned therewith, his heart was trembling, and he went to Khadija and said: Wrap me up, wrap me up! So they wrapped him till the fear had left him. He then said to Khadija: O Khadija! what has happened to me? and he informed her of the happening, saying: I fear for myself. She replied: It can't be. Be happy. I swear by Allah that He shall never humiliate you. By Allah, you join ties of relationship, you speak the truth, you bear people's burden, you help the destitute, you entertain guests, and you help against the vicissitudes which affect people. 

Khadija then took him to Waraqa bin Naufal bin Asad bin Abdal-Uzza, and he was the son of Khadija's uncle and he was the man who had embraced Christianity in the days of ignorance and he used to write books in Arabic and, therefore, wrote the gospel in Arabic as God willed that he should write. He was very old and had become blind. Khadija said to him: O uncle! listen to the son of your brother. Waraqa bin Naufal said: O my nephew! what did you see? The Messenger of Allahsa, then, informed him what he had seen, and Waraqa said to him: It is that God sent down to Moses. Would that I were then a young man. Would that I might be alive when your people would expel you! The Messenger of Allahsa said: Will they drive me out? Waraqa said: Yes. Never came a man with a like of what you have brought but met hostilities. If I see your day I shall help you wholeheartedly.

- Muslim

Writing & recording of the Quran: 610-632 CE

The Quran itself notes it was recorded in book form from the very time it began to be revealed:

Surely it is a Reminder - So let him who desires pay heed to it - On honoured sheets. Exalted, purified, In the hands of writers

- Quran 80:12-16

That this is indeed a noble Quran, In a well-preserved Book, Which none shall touch except those who are purified.

- Quran 56:78-80

The above verses show the Quran, during the time of its revelation, was already being written on 'honoured sheets' by the 'hands of writers', recorded in a 'well-preserved Book'. Moreover, the commandment not to touch the book except for 'those who are purified' could not have been revealed unless the Quran was already a physical object, which could be touched. In fact, the prophet had an organised system arranged with specially appointed scribes to record the revelation of the Quran:

Narrated Al-Bara: When the Verse: "Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home)," (4.95) was revealed, the Prophet said, "Call so-and-so." That person came to him with an ink-pot and a wooden board or a shoulder scapula bone. The Prophetsa said (to him), "Write: 'Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and those who strive and fight in the Cause of Allah'."

- Bukhari

Narrated Qatada: I asked Anas bin Malik: "Who collected the Quran at the time of the Prophetsa?" He replied, "Four, all of whom were from the Ansar: Ubayy bin Kab, Muadh bin Jabal, Zaid bin Thabit and Abu Zaid."

- Bukhari

Historians have recorded that manuscripts of the Quran were being distributed in Mecca in the very earliest years of Muhammad'ssa career. For instance, Umar was one of the early converts and he accepted Islam after finding a page of the Quran at his sister's house:

Umar turned to his sister and brother-in-law. Meanwhile Khabbab was with them reciting the manuscript of Surah Taha (chapter 20 of the Quran). When they heard Umar's footsteps, Khabbab departed to a closet and Fatimah took the page and hid it under her thigh...

- Ibn Hisham

Arranging the order of the Quran: 610-632 CE

The Quran claims its chapters and verses have been arranged in an order according to divine instruction:

Those who disbelieve say, ‘Why was not the Qur’an revealed to him all at once?’ We have revealed it thus that We may strengthen thy heart therewith. And We have arranged it in the best form.

- Quran 25:33

Muhammadsa not only arranged for the Quran to be written, he instructed his scribes to place each chapter and verse in a specific order:

Usman said: 'A long time might pass upon the Messenger of Allahsa without anything being revealed to him, and then sometimes a chapter with numerous (verses) might be revealed. So when something was revealed, he would call for someone who could write, and say: "Put these verses in the chapter which mentions this and that in it."

- Tirmidhi

The order of the Quran was so well known within Muhammad'ssa own lifetime, that he would often refer to them by their verse number and chapter when speaking to his companions:

It was narrated from Abu Masud that the Messenger of Allahsa said: “Whoever recites the last two verses of Surat Al-Baqarah (chapter 2 of the Quran) at night, that will be sufficient for him.”

- Ibn Majah

Abu Darda reported Allah's Apostlesa as saying: "If anyone learns by heart the first ten verses of the Surah al-Kahf (chapter 18 of the Quran), he will be protected from the anti-Christ."

- Muslim

Teaching the Quran to the first Muslims: 610-632 CE

Muhammadsa would regularly hold classes in which he taught the early Muslims the Quran:

It was narrated that Abdullah bin Amr said: "The Messenger of Allah came out of one of his apartments one day and entered the mosque, where he saw two circles, one reciting Quran and supplicating to Allah, and the other learning and teaching. The Prophet said: 'Both of them are good. These people are reciting the Quran and supplicating to Allah, and if He wills He will give them, and if He wills He will withhold from them. And these people are learning and teaching. Verily I have been sent as a teacher.' Then he sat down with them."

- Ibn Majah

Muhammadsa would encourage learned Muslims to teach others the Quran and formally endorsed several people as teachers:companions:

Musab bin Sad narrated that his father said: "The Messenger of Allah said: 'The best of you is the one who learns the Quran and teaches it.' "

- Ibn Majah

Masruq reported: They made a mention of Ibn Masud before Abdullah bin Amr, whereupon he said: He is a person whose love is always fresh in my heart after I heard Allah's Messengersa as saying: Learn the recitation of the Quran from four persons: from Ibn Masud, Salim, the ally of Abu Hudhaifa, Ubayy bin Kab, Muadh bin Jabal.

- Muslim

The companions would go to great lengths to learn as much of the Quran as possible from Muhammadsa as it was being revealed. Umar is reported to have said:

I had a companion from the Ansar and we used to remain in the company of the Messengersa turn by turn. He remained there for a day while I remained there on the other day, and he brought me the news about the revelation and other (matter), and I brought him (the news) like this. 

- Muslim

First Muslims memorised the Quran: 610-632 CE

Hundreds or perhaps even thousands of Muhammad'ssa closest companions learnt the Quran from heart under his guidance:

Narrated Aisha: The Prophetsa said, "Such a person as recites the Quran and masters it by heart, will be with the noble righteous scribes (in Heaven). And such a person exerts himself to learn the Quran by heart, and recites it with great difficulty, will have a double reward."

- Bukhari

Even those who would learn a small portion of the Quran would be honoured in the early Muslim society:

Narrated Sahl bin Sa`d: A lady came to the Prophetsa and declared that she had decided to offer herself to Allah and His Apostle. The Prophetsa said, "I am not in need of women." A man said (to the Prophet) "Please marry her to me." The Prophetsa said (to him), "Give her a garment." The man said, "I cannot afford it." The Prophet said, "Give her anything, even if it were an iron ring." The man apologized again. The Prophet then asked him, "What do you know by heart of the Quran?" He replied, "I know such-andsuch portion of the Quran (by heart)." The Prophetsa said, "Then I marry her to you for that much of the Quran which you know by heart."

- Bukhari

Even children as young as 7-10 years old memorised large sections of the Quran during the lifetime of Muhammadsa:

Ibn Abbas said "Allah's Apostle died when I was a boy of ten years, and I had learnt the Muhkam (of the Quran)."

- Bukhari

Amr bin Salamah said: We lived at a place where the people would pass by us when they came to the prophetsa. When they returned they would again pass by us. And they used to inform us that the Messenger of Allahsa said so-and-so. I was a boy with a good memory. From the (process) I memorised a large portion of the Quran. Then my father went to the Messenger of Allahsa along with a group of his clan. He (the Prophet) taught them prayer. And he said: The one of you who knows most of the Quran should act as your imam. I knew the Quran better than most of them because I had memorised it. They, therefore, put me in front of them, and I would lead them in prayer. I wore a small yellow mantle which, when I prostrated myself, went up on me, and a woman of the clan said: Cover the back side of your leader from us. So they bought an Ammani shirt for me, and I have never been so pleased about anything after embracing Islam as I was about that (shirt). I used to lead them in prayer and I was only seven or eight year old.

- Abu Dawud

Muhammadsa checks the Muslims memorising the Quran correctly: 610-632 CE

Muhammadsa would often listen to the Muslims as they recited the Quran - sometimes in secret - to ensure they were reading it correctly:

Narrated Abdullah that the Prophetsa said to him, "Recite the Quran to me." `Abdullah said: "Shall I recite (the Quran) to you while it has been revealed to you?" He said, "I like to hear it from others."

- Bukhari

Abu Burda narrated on the authority of Abu Musa that the Messenger of Allahsa had said to Abu Musa: If you were to see me, as I was listening to your recitation (of the Quran) yesternight (you would have felt delighted).

- Muslim

Those early Muslims who had memorised the Quran in its entirety would revise the whole of it from a manuscript each week during the days while reciting it from memory during the nights:

It is said that Abdullah used to recite one-seventh of the Quran during the day-time to some of his family members, for he used to check his memorisation of what he would recite at night during the daytime so that it would be easier for him to read at night.

- Bukhari

Collection of the Quran: 633 CE

A few months after Muhammad'ssa death, a large number of Muslims who had memorised the entire Quran were killed in the battle of Yamama. On this, Umar suggested to Abu Bakr, the Caliph, that a complete manuscript of the Quran should be prepared from the copies taken by the scribes of Muhammadsa. One of the most prominent scribes, Zaid bin Thabit, was appointed to lead the task and when it was successfully completed the manuscript came into the possession of Umar's daughter Hafsa: 

Narrated Zaid bin Thabit Al-Ansari, who was one of those who used to write the Divine Revelation, Abu Bakr sent for me after the (heavy) casualties among the warriors (of the battle) of Yamama (where a great number of of the reciters of the Quran were killed). Umar was present with Abu Bakr who said, Umar has come to me and said, The people have suffered heavy casualties on the day of (the battle of) Yamama, and I am afraid that there will be more casualties among the those who know the Quran by heart at other battle-fields, whereby a large part of the Quran may be lost, unless you collect it. And I am of the opinion that you should collect the Quran." Abu Bakr added, "I said to Umar, 'How can I do something which Allah's Apostle has not done?' Umar said (to me), 'By Allah, it is (really) a good thing.' So Umar kept on pressing, trying to persuade me to accept his proposal, till Allah opened my bosom for it and I had the same opinion as Umar." 

(Zaid bin Thabit added:) `Umar was sitting with him (Abu Bakr) and was not speaking. me). "You are a wise young man and we do not suspect you (of telling lies or of forgetfulness): and you used to write the Divine Inspiration for Allah's Messengersa. Therefore, look for the Quran and collect it (in one manuscript)." 

By Allah, if he (Abu Bakr) had ordered me to shift one of the mountains (from its place) it would not have been harder for me than what he had ordered me concerning the collection of the Quran. I said to both of them, "How dare you do a thing which the Prophet has not done?" Abu Bakr said, "By Allah, it is (really) a good thing. So I kept on arguing with him about it till Allah opened my bosom for that which He had opened the bosoms of Abu Bakr and Umar. 

So I started locating Quranic material and collecting it from parchments, scapula, leaf-stalks of date palms and from the memories of men (who knew it by heart). I found with Khuzaima two verses of Surat-at-Tauba which I had not found with anybody else, (and they were): "Verily there has come to you an Apostle (Muhammad) from amongst yourselves. It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty He (Muhammad) is ardently anxious over you (to be rightly guided)" (9.128) The manuscript on which the Quran was collected, remained with Abu Bakr till Allah took him unto Him, and then with Umar till Allah took him unto Him, and finally it remained with Hafsa, Umar's daughter.

- Bukhari

Standardised copies of the Quran sent to every Muslim province: 644-656 CE

As new Muslims from distant lands entered Islam in the decades after Muhammad'ssa death, some of them began to learn the Quran in their own dialects. To alleviate this problem Usman, now the Caliph, ordered for standard copies to be prepared in the Quraishi dialect. This was the Arabic dialect of Muhammad'ssa tribe and the dialect in which the Quran had first been revealed. These copies were made from the manuscript prepared shortly after Muhammad'ssa death by Zaid bin Thabit under the guidance of Abu Bakr and Umar. This manuscript was now in the possession of Hafsa and Zaid and other learned companions of Muhammadsa oversaw the creation of copies, which were then sent to every region of the Muslim world:

Narrated Anas bin Malik: Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman came to Usman at the time when the people of Sham and the people of Iraq were waging war to conquer Arminya and Adharbijan. Hudhaifa was afraid of their (the people of Sham and Iraq) differences in the recitation of the Quran, so he said to Usman, "O chief of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Book (Quran) as Jews and the Christians did before." 

So Usman sent a message to Hafsa saying, "Send us the manuscripts of the Quran so that we may compile the Quranic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you." 

Hafsa sent it to UsmanUsman then ordered Zaid bin Thabit, Abdullah bin AzZubair, Said bin Al-As and Abdur Rahman bin Harith bin Hisham to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies. Usman said to the three Quraishi men, "In case you disagree with Zaid bin Thabit on any point in the Quran, then write it in the dialect of Quraish, the Quran was revealed in their tongue." 

They did so, and when they had written many copies, Usman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsa. Usman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Quranic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt.

- Bukhari

Copies of the Quran widely circulated, in common use: 657 CE

By the Battle of Siffin in 657, copies of the Quran were in such wide use that an entire army's soldiers were able to place the book on the head of their lances:

When Amr bin al-As saw that the position of the Iraqis had strengthened and was afraid that it would lead to destruction, he said to Muawiya: "What if I put something to you that can only increase our unity and their division?" 

"All right," said Mauwiyah. 

Amr said: "We will raise the [copies of the Quran] and say 'their contents are are authoritative in our dispute'. Even if some of them refuse to accept it, you will find that some of them will say, "Indeed, yes we must accept," and there will be a division between them. If on the other hand they say, "Yes indeed we accept what is in it," then we will have disburdened ourselves of this fighting and this warfare until an appointed time or a later occasion." So they raised the [copies] on lances and said: "This is the Book of God between us and you."

Tarikh al-Tabari

Preservation of the Quran through later Islamic history

A modest estimate is that between one hundred and two hundred thousand Muslims have learnt the Quran by heart during all periods of Muslim history and sometimes the number of such persons was very much in excess of this estimate...

It must be remembered, however, that it is one of the outstanding characteristics of the Quran that its language is very rhythmic and that it lends itself very easily to memorisation. The eldest son of the writer, Mirza Nasir Ahmad, who is a B.A. (Hons.) of the Punjab University and M.A. of Oxford University, had under his direction committed the whole of the Quran to memory before he started on the course of his secular studies. In a small place like Qadian two doctors and several graduates know the Quran by heart. One of these two doctors committed the whole of the Quran to memory within the space of four or five months. The father of Sir Zafrulla Khan, Judge of the Federal Court of India, committed the Quran to memory within the space of a few months after he had attained the age of fifty years. Hafiz Ghulam Muhammad, who was at one time the Missionary of our Movement in Mauritius, committed the Quran to memory in the space of three months. When the writer was on pilgrimage to Mecca, he met the grandson of Munshi Muhammad Jamaluddin Khan (who had for a number of years been Minister in Bhopal State) and he told the writer that he had succeeded in committing the Quran to memory within one month. These instances show that the text of the Quran is couched in language which lends itself easily to memorisation. 

It has been related to the writer by very aged persons that Mirza Gul Muhammad, great grandfather of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, who lived in the time of the Mughal Emperor, Alamgir II, used to maintain five hundred people at his court who knew the whole of the Quran by heart. Mirza Gul Muhammad was a chieftain who exercised authority over only two hundred and fifty square miles of territory. 

In some parts of India, which is a country where the Arabic language is not widely understood, it has been the practice of a majority of Muslims through the centuries to commit the Quran to memory.One of the devices adopted by Muslims for safe-guarding the purity of the text of the Quran and one which has been acted upon for centuries is that children who are born blind or who lose their sight during infancy are encouraged to commit the Quran to memory. This is done out of a feeling that as a blind person is not competent to adopt a normal occupation he can turn his handicap to account by becoming a guardian of the text of the Quran. This practice is so common that in India a blind Muslim is indiscriminately given the courtesy title of Hafiz [one who had memorised the entire Quran] meaning a person who has become the guardian of the text of the Quran by committing it to memory.

During the month of Ramadan the whole of the Quran is recited aloud in the course of congregational prayers in all the principal mosques throughout the world. The Imam recites the Quran and another Hafiz stands immediately behind him and keeps watch over the accuracy of the recitation, prompting the Imam when necessary. In this manner the whole of the Quran is recited from memory during the month of Ramadan in hundreds and thousands of mosques all over the world. 

- Hazrat Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad, Introduction to the Study of the Holy Quran

Discovery of the oldest Quranic manuscript

In 2015, the University of Birmingham in the UK discovered it was in possession of the world's oldest Quran. Radiocarbon evidence placed parchment as almost certainly having been made between 568 and 645 CE, or in other words during the life of Muhammadsa. The fact the parchment existed at this early date and matches the Quranic text as we have it today confirms both the Quran's preservation and the Islamic historical sources stating it was written and recorded within Muhammad'ssa lifetime:

"They could well take us back to within a few years of the actual founding of Islam...According to Muslim tradition, the prophet Muhammad received the revelations that form the Quran, the scripture of Islam, between the years 610 and 632, the year of his death...The person who actually wrote it could well have known the prophet Muhammad. He would have seen him probably, he would maybe have heard him preach. He may have known him personally - and that really is quite a thought to conjure with...the parts of the Quran that are written on this parchment can, with a degree of confidence, be dated to less than two decades after Muhammad's death...These portions must have been in a form that is very close to the form of the Quran read today, supporting the view that the text has undergone little or no alteration and that it can be dated to a point very close to the time it was believed to be revealed."

- Professor David Thomas, Department of Christianity & Islam, University of Birmingham, as quoted by the BBC News website  on 22 July 2015


Meaning of the word zikr

We Ourself have sent down this Exhortation, and most surely We will be its Guardian

- Quran 15:10

Critics of the verse above state the word zikr (translated as 'Exhortation') can also refer to other religious scriptures such as the Bible. While it is correct that the word zikr can be used to refer to scriptures in a more general sense, the context of the verses preceding it make it absolutely certain that the prophecy is referring specifically to the Quran as revealed to Muhammadsa:

These are verses of the Book and of the illuminating Quran...they said, ‘O thou to whom this Exhortation has been sent down, thou art surely a madman. ‘Why dost thou not bring angels to us, if thou art of the truthful?’ We do not send down angels but by due right, and then they are granted no respite. Verily, We Ourself have sent down this Exhortation, and most surely We will be its Guardian.

- Quran 15:2-10

Ibn Masud codex

The early Muslim scholar, ibn Masud, is said to have recited the Quran from a codex which was not the same as the canonical Usmanic codex in use today. The main alleged difference being that ibn Masud changed the order in which the Quran's chapters appeared and did not include three of the shorter chapters at all. Otherwise, ibn Masud's Quran was largely the same as the canonical Quran in use today. Ibn Masud's views were uniquely unorthodox and were in fact outright rejected as contrary to the teachings of Muhammadsa by the vast majority of his contemporaries, who unanimously accepted Uthman's codex: 

Az-Zuhri said: "It was conveyed to me that some men amongst the most virtuous of the companions of the Messenger of Allahsa disliked that view of ibn Masud.

- Tirmidhi

I asked Ubay ibn Kab, "O Abu Al Mundhir! Your brother, ibn Masud said so-and-so (i.e. the two final chapters do not belong to the Quran)." Ubay said: "I asked Allah's Messengersa about them, and he said: 'They have been revealed to me, and I have recited them (as a part of the Quran)." So Ubay added: "So we say as Allah's Messengersa has said." 

- Bukhari

Ibn Masud was also reported to have criticised Zaid bin Thabit's appointment as head of the team that collected the Quran, as he felt he was too young for the role. This criticism was without justification as Zaid was appointed by Muhammadsa himself as a scribe to record the Quran and was known for his truthful character and good-memory. Moreover, Muhammadsa praised Zaid's knowledge on matters of religious law:

Narrated Anas bin Malik that the Messenger of Allahsa said: "The most merciful of my nation to my nation is Abu Bakr, and the most severe of them concerning the order of Allah is Umar, and the most truly modest of them is Usman bin Affan. The most knowledgeable of them concerning the lawful and unlawful is Muadh Bin Jabal, the most knowledgeable of them concerning (the laws of) inheritance is Zaid bin Thabit 

- Quran 15:2-10

Sanaa manuscript

In 1972, construction workers renovating the Great Mosque of Sanaa in Yemen came across large quantities of old manuscripts. The preserved fragments included Quranic material. The original text on one manuscript had been erased and replaced with Quranic text. Modern scholars were able to read the older, erased text and discovered it had some differences with the Quran. On this basis, critics use the original writing on the Sanaa manuscript to allege the Quran has been altered.

However, radiocarbon dating shows that with over 90% certainty that the manuscript - and therefore the original text - dates to the era of Usman. Moreover, the newer text is in a style seen pre-700 CE - ie during the first century of Islamic history. Therefore, far from showing the Quran has been altered, the Sanaa manuscript fully supports Islamic historical tradition as narrated above - that Usman ordered altered versions of the Quran to be replaced with verified copies he sent to every province and so the mistakes on the Sanaa manuscript were erased by early Muslims and replaced with a copy of the Quran as distributed by Uthman. 

Even so, the main differences between the Quran and the Sanaa manuscript were few and minor in nature. They had little to no effect on meaning and were mostly differences in spelling or the conjunction wa (and) being missed between sentences. 

Criticism based on Al Suyuti's work

Many allegations are raised using comments on the Quran by the Islamic scholar Al Suyuti. These include claims Ubay ibn Kab possessed an alternative codex and that there are verses of the Quran which have not been preserved. As Al Suyuti lived 900 years after Muhammadsa, his views on this issue hold little to no weight, especially when they contradict authentic histories compiled more carefully in the decades immediately following Muhammadsa, as demonstrated earlier in this article. Therefore claims based on Al Suyuti's work can be dismissed. 

See also