Saturday, January 3, 2009

More Lost Surahs of the Perfectly Preserved Qur'an

We've seen that early Qur'anic codices contained a different number of chapters from the Qur'an we have today, and that there were numerous other differences among these early Qur'ans, including spelling differences, different words, different phrases, etc. We've seen that, according to both Aisha (the Mother of the Faithful) and Ubayy ibn Ka'b (Muhammad's greatest reciter), approximately two-thirds of Surah 33 went missing. Aisha even notes that the Verse of Suckling was eaten by a goat. Ibn Umar declares that Muslims shouldn't claim that they know the Qur'an, since much of it has been lost. And yet Muslims maintain, in spite of the evidence, that the Qur'an has been perfectly preserved.

But there are other problems. In Sahih Muslim we read about entire Surahs being forgotten. One of these Surahs was about as long as Surah 9, which contains more than a hundred verses. And yet Muslims remembered practically nothing from it.

Sahih Muslim 2286: Abu Harb b. Abu al-Aswad reported on the authority of his father that Abu Musa al-Ash'ari sent for the reciters of Basra. They came to him and they were three hundred in number. They recited the Qur'an and he said: You are the best among the inhabitants of Basra, for you are the reciters among them. So continue to recite it. (But bear in mind) that your reciting for a long time may not harden your hearts as were hardened the hearts of those before you. We used to recite a surah which resembled in length and severity to (Surah) Bara'at. 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." And we used to recite a surah which resembled one of the surahs of Musabbihat, and I have forgotten it, but remember (this much) out of it: "O people who believe, why do you say that which you do not practise" (lxi. 2) and "that is recorded in your necks as a witness (against you) and you would be asked about it on the Day of Resurrection" (xvii. 13).

This Hadith raises some important questions. Why were entire chapters of a perfect book abrogated? Since Allah promises that he will only abrogate a verse if he gives something better in its place (2:106), what did he offer in place of these perfect Surahs? Further, Muslims typically claim that abrogation only refers to changes in practice, yet we can see that there were verses in these Surahs that had nothing to do with practice. Why were these passages abrogated?

The compilation of the Qur'an was clearly a very human process involving trial and error, educated guesses, faulty memories, fallible opinions, disagreements, mistakes, ignorance, and bad decisions. And we can't forget, of course, the pile of manuscripts reduced to ashes by Uthman in his desperate attempt to destroy all evidence that the Qur'an hadn't been perfectly preserved. The early Muslim community left modern Muslims with a huge mess to clean up if they want to cling to the false belief that the Qur'an was perfectly preserved. Perhaps dedicated Muslims should follow the example of Uthman and burn all of their ahadith, commentaries, and other writings which prove, conclusively, that Allah failed to protect his revelation (as he promised he would do in Surah 15:9).

21 comments:

Ibn said...

I get the feeling that David is creating such threads so that by knowing in advance how Muslims respond to these issues, he can formulate arguments accordingly and use them against his opponents during public debates.

El-Cid said...

David,

Great post. This topic is the topic that interests me most right now >Textual history of the Qur'an.

I eagerly await more posts of this nature. You are doing a great service by allowing the average lay-person who studies Islam to have access to valuable information.

Hogan Elijah Hagbard said...

Reading Sanders, Burton L. Mack and a number of other Bible critics on the earliest formation of Christian information, I am amazed about the speculative approach to the Gospels. In fact I do not fall for such claims unless any contemporary sources explicitly verify it.

But when I compare this field of study with the Qur'an, there are contemporary sources that verify that the fabrication of the information so often (in theory) ascribed to early Christianity can by history be ascribed to the formation of the Qur'an.

Anonymous said...

Why in the world would people make up the satanic verses or missing Surahs?

Alforreca said...

The methods applied to make a solid study in order to validate the authenticity of ancient texts by the scientific community are always refused my muslims scholars when dealing with the Quran and the haddiths… its like “those rules are OK for all other documents, but they can’t be used in our texts ‘cause they’re special”

Nakdimon said...

David,

I was wondering if you could give us the quote of Ibn Umar where he repudiates the perfect preservation of the Qur'an.

Would really appreciate that.

thanks,
Nakdimon

Nabeel Qureshi said...

Nakdimon:

It is reported from Ismail ibn Ibrahim from Ayyub from Naafi from Ibn Umar who said: "Let none of you say 'I have acquired the whole of the Qur'an'. How does he know what all of it is when much of the Qur'an has disappeared? Rather let him say 'I have acquired what has survived.'" (as-Suyuti, Al-Itqan fii Ulum al-Qur'an, p.524).

Also: "Much of the Quran that was sent down was known by those who died on the day of Yamama... but they were not known (by those who) survived them, nor were they written down, nor had Abu Bakr, Umar, or Uthman collected the Qur'an, nor were they found with even one person after them." (Ibn Abi Daud, Kitab al-Masahif, p. 23).

Pretty explicit, don't you think?

Nabeel Qureshi said...

Ibn: I get the feeling that David is creating such threads so that by knowing in advance how Muslims respond to these issues, he can formulate arguments accordingly and use them against his opponents during public debates.

Actually, Ibn, David probably wont be publically debating these topics in the near future. I will be, however, probably in April.

The real reason we're posting these is the same reason we post anything: to attempt to arrive at and disseminate the truth. If anything we say is mistaken, we'd like to hear our Muslim friends argue against it and correct us. If what we say is true, we want others to know so that they can be armed against falsehood.

Beyond this, I'm just curious how Muslims resolve these issues with any level of honesty and integrity. If you can do this, please show us so we may understand your faith better.

David Wood said...

Ibn said: "I get the feeling that David is creating such threads so that by knowing in advance how Muslims respond to these issues, he can formulate arguments accordingly and use them against his opponents during public debates."

Notice that Ibn couldn't give the slightest response to the Hadith I presented. He chose instead to respond to my motives!

Fernando said...

David Wood said: «Notice that Ibn couldn't give the slightest response to the Hadith I presented. He chose instead to respond to my motives!... Houtche... thate even hurt mee... but that's the thruthe... he is a greate (lets not saie the #1... he might became sensiblle about thate...) spin doctore... yes he is... the perfect example of the muslim argumentation stile... Happie New Year in Jesus Christ to you all!!!

Nakdimon said...

Man, Nabeel!

This is a deathblow to the Muslim claim that their texts have been perfectly preserved.

For example. Muslims like Bassam Zawadi always claim that they know that the Qur'anic text is preserved perfectly because everyone memorized it. And if the Qur'anic texts would all be burned today, the Muslim community would be able to reconstruct the Qur'an from their memory.

Obviously that wasn't the case with the first generations of Muslims. Because the only plausible explanation for verses such as the Suckling Verse NOT to be in the Qur'an anymore is that

1) either someone tampered with the Qur'an (thinking about Uthman) and intentionally left those verses out OR

2) it isn't in the Qur'an anymore, because the goat ate it and they didn't know what the verse exactly said which means that the memory of the first generations of Muslims was found lacking.

Either way, Muslims lose, since the result is the same: the Qur'an was NOT preserved as Muhammad entrusted it to his companions. So the miracle has miraculous disapeared!

Nakdimon

Papa said...

Thanks for this David and Nabeel,
This information on Islam is very much appreciated. Particularly by those of us who live in Indonesia. Muslims here try their best to dodge questions related to the issues you brought up here about problems with Islam doctrines.

Discussions with Muslims here in Indonesia is worse than what you have there. Logical fallacies after another keeps piling up. Yet, victory is claimed without a slightest feeling of shame. Typical street Muslims like Nadir Ahmed and ilk.

Greetings from Indonesia

Paijo

Bassam said...

It is reported from Ismail ibn Ibrahim from Ayyub from Naafi from Ibn Umar who said: "Let none of you say 'I have acquired the whole of the Qur'an'. How does he know what all of it is when much of the Qur'an has disappeared? Rather let him say 'I have acquired what has survived.'" (as-Suyuti, Al-Itqan fii Ulum al-Qur'an, p.524).

As GF Haddad clarifies:

This reference to the Itqan is untraceable as no edition of it is in less than two volumes to my knowledge. The above refers to a famous saying of Ibn `Umar, once again deceptively/ignorantly mistranslated so as to mislead readers to think it means other than its actual meaning. The words used by Ibn `Umar for the terms given as "acquired," "disappeared," and "what has survived" above were -- I am quoting from memory -- respectively "ahattu" (I have encompassed), "faatahu" (escapes him), and "ma tayassara minhu" (whatever amount of it has been facilitated). The actual meaning of Ibn `Umar's words is: "Let no one say: I have encompassed the whole of the Qur'an [= its meanings]. How does he know what all of it is when much of the Qur'an escapes him? Rather, let him say: I have encompassed whatever amount of it has been facilitated [for me to know]." Ibn `Umar was famous for his strictness in refraining from interpreting the Qur'an, even criticizing Ibn `Abbas's interpretive zeal in the beginning, then accepting its authority. He was not referring to the collection of the Qur'an! But only to the ethics of the exegete, in the same line as Ibn `Abbas's saying narrated by al-Tabari and cited by al-Suyuti and al-Zarkashi: "There are ambiguous verses in the Qur'an which no one knows besides Allah. Whoever claims that he knows them, is a liar." Also Ibn `Abbas's and `Abd al-Rahman ibn `Awf's saying: "The Qur'an has an outward meaning, [literally 'a back'] (zahr) and an inward meaning [literally 'an inside'] (batn)." Source

Bassam said...

Nakdimon said:

Obviously that wasn't the case with the first generations of Muslims. Because the only plausible explanation for verses such as the Suckling Verse NOT to be in the Qur'an anymore is that



Nakdimon why do you keep ignoring the Muslim response regarding the concept of abrogation?

As for the verse on suckling, stoning and others read about them here

wot said...

Bukhari 8:297 (#446):
Narrated Sahl bin Sa'd: I heard Ibn Az-Zubair who was on the pulpit at Mecca, delivering a sermon, saying, "O men! The Prophet used to say, "If the son of Adam were given a valley full of gold, he would love to have a second one; and if he were given the second one, he would love to have a third, for nothing fills the belly of Adam's son except dust. And Allah forgives he who repents to Him." Ubai said, "We considered this as a saying from the Qur'an till the Sura (beginning with) 'The mutual rivalry for piling up of worldly things diverts you..' (102.1) was revealed." [Bukhari]

Apparently, Ubai changed his mind, didn't he?

faction53 said...

Firstly, you have imposed a claim to the audience that because certain parts of a surah were forgotten by certain people, that those surahs are now abrogated. The two don't interlink. Many people memorised parts of the Quran so all in all there were still others who had parts of the Quran known that you said were missing. If you can refute this then I am open to your reply. And let's keep this civil without throwing comments such as ' notice how person x is avoiding this and going after that ' etc. If I have said anything incorrect or my claims are faulty please advise in a civil way. Thankyou

David Wood said...

Abu Musa didn't say that he forgot some parts of a Surah. He said that he and others hardened their hearts and forgot two entire Surahs. The Surahs can be identified by the verses he quotes. But no Surahs contain the verse about Adam. Hence, the Surah was really forgotten.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JonG said...

You should try reading carefully Wood. The verse about Adam does exist in the Quran, the Hadith itself mention the relevant ayas in relation to Abu Musa's saying: "And we used so recite a surah which resembled one of the surahs of Musabbihat, and I have forgotten it, but remember (this much) out of it:” Oh people who believe, why do you say that which you do not practise” (lxi 2.) and” that is recorded in your necks as a witness (against you) and you would be asked about it on the Day of Resurrection” (xvii 13.)"

It's talking about Surah 61:2 and Surah 17:13 - "O you who have believed, why do you say what you do not do?" and "And [for] every person We have imposed his fate upon his neck, and We will produce for him on the Day of Resurrection a record which he will encounter spread open."

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