The Textual Purity of the Qur'an is Disputed

Continuing the thought from the previous article, there is a contrast between two methods of testing. In the Qur’an, the primary means of authenticity is in the majestic quality of the Surahs. In other words, the objector will be sustained in his objection if he can produce a Surah of the same quality. If this is does, then the Qur’an can be shown to be no higher than the quality of man’s work – nothing divine about it necessarily. Another means of authenticity is in connection to the lives changes by the Qur’anic teachings. This is contrasted with the Bible (Scriptures) approach to authenticity. There are a number of methods applied. They are the accuracy of textual transmission, archaeology, and prophetic language. It is the accuracy of textual transmission that is the focus in this article.

Apologists for the Qur’an’s textual credibility argue that the Qur’an “is the only revealed Book whose text stands pure and uncorrupted today” (Yusuf, footnote 2289). Yet, there is evidence that brings into question the credibility of this sentiment. Evidently, within the first twenty years after the death of Mohammad there was some significant dispute concerning the textual integrity of the Qur’an. “The Quran cannot allow us to come any closer to the original text than the Uthmanic Revised Standard Version 20 years removed from Muhammad” (

The reason for this dispute is associated with four people who were directly commissioned by Muhammad to be credible people in the “reciting” of the Qur’an” ( after his death. Of those four, one died in battle, so that left three. Of those three, there was some variation between the versions they produced. This, naturally, produced some confusion. At the request of one person, the leader of the Islamic community (the Caliph Uthman) set about to produce a uniform copy of the Qur’an. “Uthman then ordered four men to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies…and ordered that all other Qur’anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt” (

From this we learn there was an “original Qur’an” (634 CE), but this was destroyed in A.D. 667 by Muslim leaders. It’s clear “the original Qur’an was not accepted” (ibid). The obvious question to ask in this regard is why? Was it because there existed drastic differences from the earlier versions compared with the newest one? Was it because there were but small variations between the copies? “Why were the other copies and fragments ordered to be burnt?” The answer is found in the original statement: ‘Hudhaifa was afraid of the different recitations of the Qur’an’” (

Thus, the “pure” Qur’anic text assertion is not so much the case. From one source, the oldest Qur’anic text dates to around A.D. 790, well over 150 years after the time of Muhammad’s death ( Of course, this is disputed by Islamic scholars. Without much comment, Yusuf Estes says there is one Arabic version (though he admits varied translations), but he addresses nothing of the historical remarks above.

#muslims, #quran, #textual-purity