By Keith Thompson
The Islamic View of the Koran
Almost all Muslims believe after Muhammad died and his alleged revelations ceased, the Koranic surahs were then compiled by the first Caliph Abu Bakr and then standardized and distributed by Caliph Uthman. They believe the Koran they read today, based on the Arabic 1924 Cairo edition, which is the standard around the world, is exactly the same as the one Caliph Uthman allegedly standardized and distributed in the mid seventh century.
Islamic writer Ejaz Naqvi gives the popular Muslim view,
“Uthman appointed twelve members, headed by Zaid bin Thabit (the same scribe used by Abu Bakr), to write the Quran in the mode of the tribe of Quraish, the one used by the Prophet in his recitation. The intent was to preserve the Quran exactly as it was revealed and organized at the time of Prophet Muhammad. Uthman relied on two sources: the written text that had been previously ordered by Abu Bakr, and the various oral traditions of Muslims who memorized it during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad. In Islamic history, there is no variation between these two sources, so the Uthmanic ‘rescension’ is largely a codifying of a single version of a text. This version, the Uthmanic rescension, is the version of the Quran that has remained unchanged and is the one currently in use” (Ejaz Naqvi, The Quran: With Or Against the Bible?, [iUniverse, 2012], p. 16).
However, this common Muslim view has now been called into question by the evidence. We will refute it and prove the Koran Muslims read today is not the one Uthman allegedly standardized and distributed. We will prove we have no codices of Uthman, even though Muslims claim we do. We will prove the earliest Koranic manuscripts we do possess all have significant variants and errors contradicting each other and the 1924 Arabic standard Cairo edition of the Koran Muslims use today. We will examine intentional changes which have been found in the earliest Koran manuscripts which calls into question the idea it was complete and uniform at Uthman’s time. This will also disprove the idea the earliest Koranic manuscripts come from a complete, perfect Uthmanic Koran. And finally, we will prove from early Islamic sources that much of the original Koran of Muhammad had been lost and forgotten shortly after his death. Such findings will cumulatively prove the Koran Muslims use today does not go back to Uthman or Muhammad, that it is not from God, and that it is not eternal as Muslims falsely claim.
Dating the “Uthmanic” Manuscripts
Muslims believe they possess various Koran’s Caliph Uthman had created in the mid seventh century when he allegedly standardized and distributed the Koran after Muhammad died. To them this proves the Koran of Uthman has been perfectly preserved reaching us today.
As Islamic writer Murad Hofmann claims,
“Uthman’s copy is on display at the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul, the second one is preserved in Tashkent” (Murad Hofmann, Islam and Qurʼan: An Introduction, [Amana Publications, 2007], p. 27).
However, world authorities of early Koranic manuscripts are now admitting, after their studies of such manuscripts, that Muslims do not actually possess any of Uthman’s Korans.
For example, world-class Muslim Koranic manuscript scholar Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu wrote,
“One of the most important questions of Qur’anic history is the whereabouts of the Mushafs attributed to Caliph Uthman and whether any of them reached the present day. Unfortunately, we do not have a positive answer to this question” (Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Al-Mushaf al-Sharif Attributed to Uthman bin Affan, p. 35).
Now, one of the early Koranic manuscripts Muslims falsely claim comes from Uthman is the Topkapi manuscript. However, Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu notes,
“Judging from its illumination, the Topkapi Mushaf dates neither from the period when the Mushafs of the Caliph Uthman were written nor from the time when copies based on those Mushafs were written” (Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Al-Mushaf al-Sharif Attributed to Uthman bin Affan, The Copy at the Topkapi Palace Museum, [IRCICA, 2007], p. 10).
Confirming this is Tayyar Altıkulaç, another high-level Koranic manuscript scholar, who says,
“Even though we would like to publish this sacred text as the Mushaf of Caliph Uthman, our research indicated that it was neither the private Mushaf of Caliph Uthman, nor one of the Mushafs he sent to various centers” (Tayyar Altıkulaç, Al-Mushaf al-Sharif Attributed to Uthman bin Affan, p. 23).
Another Koranic manuscript Muslims falsely claim comes from Uthman is the Sammarqand manuscript housed in Uzbekistan. However, Altıkulaç notes this one is not Uthmanic either,
“Muslims generally believed that this manuscript was one of the four Uthman sent out, and widespread opinion is that ‘he was reading this copy when he was martyred’ [due to blood stains on it] . . . But [due to] its spelling . . . it is neither one of Caliph Uthman’s copies nor his private Mushaf” (Tayyar Altıkulaç, Al-Mushaf al-Sharif Attributed to Uthman bin Affan, p. 65 parenthesis mine).
“[There are] six reasons why it could not be so, including almost no discipline of spelling, different ways of writing the same word, scribal mistakes, copyists’ mistakes, written by a scribe who had no writing experience, and later added signs after verses. In conclusion, we can say that the Tashkent [Sammarqand] Mushaf was neither the Mushaf which Caliph Uthman was reading when he was martyred, nor any one of the Mushafs that he sent to various centers . . . nor the copy that was kept in Medina for the benefit of the people” (Tayyar Altıkulaç, Al-Mushaf al-Sharif Attributed to Uthman bin Affan, pp. 71-72 parenthesis mine).
François Déroche dates it to the eighth century (François Déroche, "Note Sur Les Fragments Coraniques Anciens De Katta Langar (Ouzbékistan)", Cahiers D'Asie Centrale, 1999, Volume 7, p. 65).
The Muslim writers at www.Islamic-Awareness.org also admit concerning this manuscript, “The dates generated by this radiometric technique and palaeographic studies suggest an 8th century (2nd century hijra) date.”
In regards to the Istanbul Mushaf (also known as “TIEM Mushaf”), which is attributed to Uthman by Muslims, this codex does not belong to Uthman either. Altıkulaç notes the dotting and vowelling of it shows the manuscript was written after the time of Uthman in the second half of the first century AH and first half of the second century AH (Al-Mushaf al-Sharif Attributed to Uthman bin Affan, The Copy at Al-Mashadal-Husayni in Cairo, p. 113).
Islamic Awareness likewise admits it is dated to the “Beginning of 2nd century AH / 8th century CE.”
Regarding the Al Husayni Cairo manuscript housed in Egypt, Altıkulaç notes,
“It was stated that the Cairo copy . . . might have been written on the order of ‘Abd al-‘Aziz b. Marwan (d.704), the governor of Egypt. However, the reason for reaching this conclusion has not been explained. We share the view that this copy is not one of the Mushafs attributed to Caliph Uthman” (Tayyar Altıkulaç, Al-Mushaf al-Sharif Attributed to Uthman bin Affan, p. 36 n. 14a).
“. . .it belongs to the end of the 2nd (8th) century and the beginning of the 3rd (9th) century” (Tayyar Altıkulaç, Al-Mushaf al-Sharif Attributed to Uthman bin Affan, The Copy at Al-Mashadal-Husayni in Cairo, 124-125).
Another Koranic manuscript claimed by Muslims to come from Uthman is the Paris Petropolitanus manuscript (also called BnF Arabe 328). However, this manuscript is dated to the late seventh century or early eighth century (François Déroche, The Abbasid Tradition, [Nour Foundation, 1992], p. 38; Tayyar Altıkulaç, Al-Mushaf al-Sharif Attributed to Uthman bin Affan, The Copy at al-Mashhad al-Husayni in Cairo, p. 131). Thus, it does not come from Uthman who, again, reigned in the mid 600’s.
Muslims also claim the Saint Petersburg Hijazi manuscript is Uthmanic. However, according to the Russian manuscript expert Efim A. Rezvan, this codex was produced in the late eighth century (Efim A. Rezvan, The Qur’an of Uthman, p. 12; Daniel Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, p. 47).
In regards to the Saana Mushaf Sharif manuscript which Muslims claim come from Caliph Ali, Altıkulaç notes it actually comes from the end of the first century AH, or the first half of the second century AH, and is neither Uthmanic nor written by Ali (Tayyar Altıkulaç, Al-Mushaf al-Sharif Attributed to Uthman bin Affan, The Copy at Al-Mashadal-Husayni in Cairo, p. 149; cf. Daniel Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, p. 50).
As we can see, we do not have Koran’s from Uthman. Thus, the common Muslim claim we do is a total falsehood.
Textual Variants of the Koran
The work of the Semitic languages scholar Arthur Jeffery demonstrated based on early Islamic traditions there were various Koranic codices possessed by Muhammad’s companions. Some were incomplete missing entire surahs, or they contained extra surahs. And in them were thousands of meaningful variants or differences among themselves and with the modern edition of the Koran Muslims read today. Jeffery observed,
“Tradition knows the names of several of these, e.g. Salim b. Mu'qib, who was killed at the battle of Yemamah, and who, tradition says was the first to make such an attempt at setting all his material down in Codex form; 'Ali b. Abi Talib, who is said to have endeavoured to arrange the revelations in their chronological order; Anas b. Malik, whose Codex may have been based on that of his uncle Abu Zaid, who was well known as one of the early collectors of revelation; Abu Musa al-Ash'ari whose Codex was a large one, and was familiarly given the name of Lubab al-Qulub; and various others, including the two famous Codices of Ubai b. Ka'b and of 'Abdallah b. Mas'ud from both of which a great body of variant readings has survived.. . . we know that the Codex of Ibn Mas'ud omitted Suras I, CXIII and CXIV, and that both the Codices of Ubai and Abu Musa included two short Suras, which are not in our present text, while a considerable body of variant readings from these Codices is to be gathered from the grammatical, lexical, exegetical and masoretic literature of latter generations which still remembered and discussed them. There were once, indeed, a number of special works, under the name of Kitab al-Masahif, which specially discussed this stage of the Old Codices, and it was a fortunate accident which enabled the present writer to discover and publish the text of the sole surviving example of these, the Codex Book of Ibn Abi Dawud. . . . the mass of variant readings that has survived to us from the Codices of Ubai and Ibn Mas'ud, shows that they were real textual variants and not mere dialectal peculiarities” (Arthur Jeffery, The Qur’an as Scripture, [Books for Libraries, 1980], pp. 94, 95, 97).
Jeffery provided a list of the thousands of variants from these early Korans in his work Materials For The History Of The Text Of The Qur'an.
For example, Surah 2:275 says Allathiina yaakuluunar-ribaa laa yaquumuuna (“those who devour usury will not stand”). Ibn Mas'ud's Koran, however, read the same but also added the following remark after: yawmal qiyaamati, (i.e., they would not be able to stand on the “Day of Resurrection”).
Surah 6:153 says Wa anna haathaa siraatii – (“Verily this is my path”). Ibn Mas'ud's Koran, however, read Wa haathaa siraatu rabbakum (“This is the path of Your Lord”).
Surah 33:6 says the following about Muhammad’s wives and believers: wa azwaajuhuu ummahaatuhuu (“and his wives are their mothers”). Ibn-Mas'ud's Koran had the extra words wa huwa abuu laahum (“and he is their father”).
The number of variants in all these early Korans is so large they fill up around three hundred and fifty pages of Arthur Jeffery’s book Materials For The History Of The Text Of The Qur'an (show picture).
In regards to copyist mistakes in the 8th century Korans Muslims falsely claim are Uthmanic, as well as other fragments and partial codices from the same period, these count as textual variants. Regarding the Topkapi manuscript, Altıkulaç notes: “There are deviations from grammatical rules . . . and spelling mistakes in the Mushafs attributed to Caliph Uthman” (Tayyar Altıkulaç, Al-Mushaf al-Sharif Attributed to Uthman bin Affan, p. 41).
Regarding the Sammarqand manuscript Muslims also falsely claim is Uthmanic, Altıkulaç says there are “scribal mistakes [and] copyists’ mistakes” (Tayyar Altıkulaç, Al-Mushaf al-Sharif Attributed to Uthman bin Affan, pp. 71-72).
Muslim apologist Adnan Rashid claimed the only variants in these early Koranic manuscripts are minor spelling mistakes or scribal errors, but that there are no major word or phrase variants – and this is what allegedly makes the Koran superior to the Bible (Unbelievable Radio, March 6th, 2010, Adnan Rashid vs. James White, Which is more trustworthy - The Qur'an or the Bible?, 32:12). However, this is a complete lie.
Regarding variant words or phrases which affect the meaning of the text in early Korans, in the lower or earlier text of the Sana’a palimpsest manuscripts (or “Sana’a 1” as it is sometimes called), which is an incomplete codex comprising about half of the Koran, dated possibly to the late seventh century (Behnam Sadeghi, Mohsen Goudarzi, Sana'aa and the Origins of the Qur'an, [Der Islam, 2012], p. 1), there are many variants differentiating it from the standard 1924 Cairo edition of the Koran Muslims use today.
For example Behnam Sadeghi (Behnam Sadeghi; Uwe Bergmann, “The Codex of a Companion of the Prophet and the Qur’ān of the Prophet,” Arabica, Volume 57, Number 4, 2010, p. 21) notes the lower text of this early Koran disagrees with the modern edition of the Koran in Surah 2:196. Here the Sana’a palimpsest says “Do not shave until the offering reaches its destination,” while the modern edition says “Do not shave your heads until the offering reaches its destination.” In the same verse the Sana’a palimpsest says “fasting, or alms, or an offering,” while the modern edition says “fasting or an offering.” In Koran 2:201 the Sana’a palimpsest says, “Our Lord, give us in this world and the next,” while the modern edition says, “Our Lord, give us good in this world and good in the next.” Sadeghi and Goudarzi list many more variants in the lower text of this manuscript which affect the meaning of the text (Behnam Sadeghi, Mohsen Goudarzi, Sana'aa and the Origins of the Qur'an, [Der Islam, 2012], pp. 116-122).
Such variants show this Koran does not come from Uthman. Such variants should not exist in this text if the Koran was complete, perfect and standardized in the time of Uthman. In fact, these scholars note the Sana’a palimpsest represents a textual tradition different than the Uthmanic textual tradition, which refutes the Muslim claim that there were no different textual traditions prior to the Koranic standardization of Uthman, but that the Koran was perfect from the time of Muhammad, to Abu Bakr, to Uthman (Ejaz Naqvi, The Quran: With Or Against the Bible?, [iUniverse, 2012], p. 16). Yet, Sadeghi and Goudarzi say otherwise noting there were different Koranic traditions: “. . . the textual tradition to which it [the Sana’a palimpsest] belonged and the ‘Uthmānic tradition must have diverged some-time before the spread of the ‘Uthmānic tradition in the mid-seventh century AD” (Behnam Sadeghi, Mohsen Goudarzi, Sana'aa and the Origins of the Qur'an, [Der Islam, 2012], p. 8). This is groundbreaking.Which one is the word of God?
One of the variants among the supposed Uthmanic manuscripts listed in Altıkulaç`s Al-Mushaf al-Sharif Attributed to Uthman bin Affan, The Copy at the Topkapi Palace Museum, pp. 87-89 is that while Koran 3:158 in the modern edition reads, “If you should die or be slain, before Him you shall undoubtedly be gathered,” the great Paris manuscript reads, “If you should die or be slain, you shall not be gathered” due to an extra Arabic letter changing the entire meaning of the text.
In regards to other word or phrase variants in the earliest Koran manuscripts changing the meaning of the text, Koran textual critic Keith Small notes,
“Migana notes one instance of an omitted word in a palimpsest. Fedeli notes three omissions in palimpsests, two of which are phrases, and an omission of a word in a normal manuscript. E. Puin notes additional and missing passages in the inferior script of another palimpsest. These larger omissions in the palimpsests, though, were probably not accidental. Instead they probably represent a different form of the text, possibly from before the basic standardization of the consonantal text” (Keith Small, Textual Criticism and the Qur’an Manuscripts, [Lexington Books, 2012], p. 67).
He lists the following sources for these findings (Alphonse Mingana and Agnes Smith Lewis, Leaves from Three Ancient Qur’ans, [Cambridge University Press, 1914], xl, item C; Alba Fedeli, Early Evidence of Variant Readings in Qur’anic Manuscripts, in Karl-Ohlig and Gerd-R. Puin, ed., Die dunklen anfange, [Hans Schiler, 2005], pp. 293-316, 300, 309-310, 312-313; Elisabeth Puin, Ein fruher Koranpalimpsest aus San’a (DAM 01-27.1), in Karkus Grob and Karl Heinz-Ohlig, eds., Schlaglichter, [Hans Schiler, 2008], pp. 461-493, 463).
Moreover, with regards to diacritical marks changing the meaning of a sentence, in the Topkapi manuscript in Koran 14:38 it says “You know what we conceal and what he revealed,” while the modern edition reads, “You know what we conceal and what we reveal” (Keith Small, Textual Criticism and the Qur’an Manuscripts, [Lexington Books, 2012], p. 74).
In the Petropolitanus manuscript (or BnF arabi 328a), in Koran 14:37 it says, “Our Lord, I have settled some of my descendants in an uncultivated valley near Your sacred House, our Lord, that they may establish prayer, and make hearts among the people incline toward them.” However, in the standard edition of today it says, “Our Lord, I have settled some of my descendants in an uncultivated valley near Your sacred House, our Lord, that they may establish prayer. So make hearts among the people incline toward them” (Keith Small, Textual Criticism and the Qur’an Manuscripts, [Lexington Books, 2012], p. 80). This changes the meaning of the text so that the repentance of the people is no longer a result of Abraham’s settling people near God’s sacred house (as in the Petropolitanus manuscript), but instead their repentance is something Abraham is requesting of God (as in the standard edition of today).
Thus, the idea all you find in the earliest Koran manuscripts are minor spelling errors or copyists mistakes and not word or phrase variants that affect the meaning of the text is false.
Commenting on weather not we can trace the Koran back to Muhammad in light of textual variants, corrections, and Islamic history, Small notes,
“How much the meaning of the text of the Qur’an was changed by this editing is impossible to quantify one way or the other. The idea of one precise version of the Qur’an going back to Muhammad cannot be substantiated in this situation” (Keith Small, Textual Criticism and the Qur’an Manuscripts, [Lexington Books, 2012], p. 179).
Intentional Changes in the Earliest Koranic Manuscripts
Dan Brubaker’s 2014 PhD thesis which is called Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts sheds new and groundbreaking light on how the earliest Koran’s, including the ones falsely claimed by Muslims to come from Uthman, have many intentional changes so that in many cases what was originally written is either censored, lost, or changed by later editors. Such intentional changes in the earliest Koranic manuscripts refute the idea the earliest Koranic codices we have represent a uniform, complete, perfect Uthmanic Koran. The changes, and the material we already discussed, proves none of the supposed Uthmanic Koran’s are the same.
The changes Brubaker discusses include: insertions (which are post-production additions to the text between letters, above lines or in margins), erasures (which are intentional removals of texts from a page), erasures overwritten (which is writing covering an erasure), overwriting without apparent erasure (which is the altering of a text without an erasure), covering (which are horizontal strips covering a text), and covering overwritten (which is writing over top of horizontal strip covering).
In light of the presence of these changes and variants in the earliest Korans, Brubaker notes the manuscripts
“show few signs of meticulous conformity to a standard, an odd fact indeed considering the care that Muslim historical accounts attribute to the standardization campaign of the caliph Uthman prior to 36 AH/ 656 AD.” (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, p. 4).
This is severely damaging to the Muslim claim that these earliest Korans are reflective of what Uthman had written. They can’t be since they do not meticulously conform to such a standard. Brubaker has found “many hundreds” of changes in the these earliest Koran's and included lots of them in his thesis (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, p. 38). Many of the changes bring the ancient manuscripts into conformity with the standard 1924 Cairo edition of the Koran, and others bring it out of conformity with it (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, p. 300). We will cover a few of the ones that show variants affecting the meaning of the text, weather viable or not, and then quote Brubaker on some of his overall conclusions.
In regards to insertions, in a late 7th century or 8th century (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts p. 37) partial codex called BnF arabe 327, there are variants. In Koran 23:86 it originally lacked the word al-sab’a (which means “the seven”), a word which is in this verse in the modern addition of the Koran. This early Koran was later changed by a scribe to then include the word bringing into conformity with the modern addition. So originally this manuscript did not read as the modern edition reads (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, pp. 60-61). Moreover, in the eighth century Saana Mushaf Sharif manuscript, in Koran 49:15, it originally had the word mu minu which means “they believe.” But then a later scribe added the letter nun changing the word to mu minun “believers.” The manuscript made no sense originally (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, p. 99). In the Topkapi Mushaf of the eighth century the word “Allah” is added by a later scribe in Koran 66:8. So, originally the text did not read “O ye who believe! Turn unto Allah in sincere repentance!” Instead it read “O ye who believe! Repent until you give by it sincerely” (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, p. 106).
In regards to erasures, in the eighth century Saint Petersburg Hijazi manuscript two words were erased after the word “what” and before the words “do you worship” in Koran 26:70 (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, p. 141). Only after this erasure is the verse the same as the 1924 Cairo edition of the Koran Muslims use today. In the eighth century Saana Mushaf Sharif manuscript letters are erased between the words “you all” and “of whom” in Koran 7:158 (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, p. 155). The modern reading does not contain what was erased here. In the Topkapi Mushaf manuscript of the eighth century something is erased between the words “two third” and “the night” in Koran 73:20 (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, p. 163). Whatever was erased is not in the edition of the Koran currently use. Regarding the eighth or ninth century Al Husayni Cairo manuscript, something is erased after the word fasaqa in Koran 49:6 (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, p. 166), and whatever it was is not in the 1924 Cairo edition of the Koran Muslims use today. Moreover, while for this verse the word fasaqa is used in this manuscript, conversely the word fasiq is instead used in the 1924 Cairo edition of the Koran Muslims use today, proving there is a variant.
In regards to erasures overwritten, in the Paris Petropolitanus manuscript (or BnF arabe 328), in Koran 3:171 there is an erasure overwritten where the word “favor” is added later by a different scribe when it was not originally there (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, pp. 173-174). Moreover, in the eighth century Saint Petersburg Hijazi manuscript there is an entire line erased and then overwritten in Koran 7:189 (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, p. 234). The resultant writing matches with the 1924 Cairo edition of the Koran Muslims use today which means whatever was originally under the newer text is not in the Koran in use today. In the same manuscript part of the word “he listens” was erased and then written over to then read “they listen,” which is how the 1924 Cairo edition of the Koran in use today reads (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, p. 235). What is interesting is “he listens” in this manuscript is probably accurate, and the “they listen” of the modern Koran is probably not. This is because the preceding word “he who” ordinarily suggests a singular object as in this manuscript, not a plural object as in the modern Koran.
In regards to overwriting without erasures, in the eighth century Saana Mushaf Sharif manuscript, in Koran, 3:104, there is a combination of letters that do not make sense written over some text, which, in the modern 1924 Cairo edition of the Koran, reads “the commanding” (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, p. 283). In the Topkapi Mushaf of the eighth century, in Koran 70:32 the first instance of “they” in the text is written over-top replacing something which is not discernable (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, p. 284). Because of the change it now agrees with the Koran in use by Muslims today.
Regarding covering, the eighth or ninth century Al Husayni Cairo manuscript, in Koran 2:187, covers something between the words “so eat” and “until” (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, p. 288). The edition of the Koran Muslims use today reads “eat and drink, until the white thread of dawn appear. . .” What was originally covered in the area which now reads “and drink,” we will never know. But whatever it was, it is not in the edition of the Koran Muslims read today. In the same manuscript, on one page there are numerous phrases covered in Koran 2:191-193. According to the modern edition of the Koran, the phrases covered are “drive them out from where,” “and if they fight you,” “then you kill them,” “and if they desist,” “forgiving,” “merciful,” “the religion belongs to Allah,” “enmity” and “in the mouth” (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, pp. 288-289). What was originally covered, we will never know. Why was this portion of text censored? That is a very interesting question. In the same manuscript in Koran 3:161, what in the modern edition Muslims use reads “he brings” and “judgement” is covered – censored. Why? (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, p. 289).
In regards to covering overwritten, the eighth or ninth century Al Husayni Cairo manuscript, in Koran 11:7, has a covering with the word “clear” written over it (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, p. 293). The new writing agrees with the modern edition of the Koran Muslims use, but what was covered can not be discerned.
These are but a small handful of the many hundreds of intentional changes Brubaker has uncovered in the earliest Koran manuscripts. Such intentional changes refute the idea these earliest Koranic manuscripts come from a uniform, complete, perfect Uthmanic Koran. The following are some of Brubaker’s conclusions. He notes the evidence shows
“a process over time of movement toward a standard that was not entirely complete during the period represented by the manuscripts I have considered. . . . the theory of a single written standard by 656 AD/ 35-36 AH seems inconsistent with what is seen in the manuscripts” (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, pp. 297, 298-299).
Yet Muslims tell us the Koran was perfect, complete, and standardized at the time of Uthman. He also notes
“There can now be no doubt that manuscripts of the Qur’an have undergone some alteration, and that simple standardization of orthography of the ‘technology’ of written Arabic is insufficient to explain every instance of this alteration. Neither do the early Muslim historical, exegetical and qiraat literature seem to fully account for the range” (Dan Brubaker, Intentional Changes in Qur’an Manuscripts, pp. 311-312).
Lost and forgotten Parts of the Koran
Despite the traditional Islamic narrative that the Koran of Uthman was complete, perfect and standardized, being based on a uniform Koranic tradition, according to numerous early, authoritative Islamic sources, there are reports of numerous missing Koranic verses.
For example, in Sahih Muslim we learn that a verse in the Koran about adult breastfeeding was actually lost:
“A'isha reported that it had been revealed in the Holy Qur'an that ten clear sucklings make the marriage unlawful, then it was abrogated (and substituted) by five sucklings and Allah's Apostle died and it was before that time (found) in the Holy Qur'an (and recited by the Muslims)” (Sahih Muslim, Book 8, Hadith 3421).
Thus, a verse about five breastfeeding’s which is supposed to be in the Koran today actually got lost when Muhammad died. This proves the Koran is corrupted. Were Muslims too ashamed to keep it as part of the Koran? Or did they simply forget it?
Moreover, in Sahih Bukhari we have an account from one of Muhammad’s companions that there used to be a verse in the Koran about stoning. The problem is there is no verse about stoning in the Koran today. This means it is now missing and the Koran is now corrupted:
“Narrated Ibn Abbas. . . . Allah sent Muhammad 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 person (male & female) who commits illegal sexual intercourse, and we did recite this Verse and understood and memorized it. Allah's Messenger 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 Bukhari, Vol. 8, Book 82, Hadith 817).
Also, in Sahih Muslim we read that the best reciters of the Koran in Basra used to recite a surah of the Koran which they forgot, except for one verse they report. Yet, the verse they report is not in the Koran today:
“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’” (Sahih Muslim, Book 5, Hadith 2286).
Other ahadith also affirm Muhammad used to recite this forgotten verse (Sahih Muslim, Number 2284, 2285). This verse is now lost and not in the Koran proving the Koran is corrupted.
Moreover, we know part of Koran 33:6 is missing since the modern the edition of the Koran Muslims read today there is no mention of Muhammad’s fatherhood over all believers in this verse, like there was in Ubayy b. Ka‘b’s codex. As Islamic scholar Yusuf Ali admits, “In some Qiraats, like that of Ubai Ibn Ka’b, occur also the words ‘and he is a father to them,’ which imply his spiritual relationship” (Yusuf Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an, [Amana Publications, 2009], 1057 n. 3674).
Now, according to a multiply attested set of ahadith in Imam Malik’s Muwatta, the modern edition of the Koran has part of Koran 2:238 missing regarding the asr prayer. The modern edition Muslims read today says, “Be guardians of your prayers, and of the midmost prayer, and stand up with devotion to Allah,” but Malik’s ahadith indicate this verse used to include mention of the asr prayer as well, reading: “Guard the prayers carefully and the middle prayer and the asr prayer and stand obedient to Allah” (Malik's Muwatta, Book 8, Number 8.8.26, 27). This proves the Koran is corrupted.
The fact is many verses of the Koran were lost. Therefore, the Koran of today which Muslims claim comes from Uthman is incomplete and corrupted, contrary to their claims.