The Causes of Doubt

There is no doubt that the irresistible fascinating force and
challenging power of the Holy Qur'an were the main means of
conversion ever since the start of the Holy Prophet's mission.
Opponents did everything they could to prevent the Holy Prophet
and his disciples from reciting the Qur'an to the public, and to
obstruct people, the young in particular, from listening to it.
There is abundant historical evidence for this. Opponents also
tried to overcome the force and effect of the recital of the Holy
Qur'an by trying to disturb its recital by interjections:

And those who disbelieve say: "Listen ye not to this
Qur'an and make noise therein." (41:26)
One of the consequences of this is the story that, when the Holy
Prophet while reciting Sura 53 (Wan-Najm - The Star) reached
verse 20, one of the infidels among the audience uttered this
passage of his own in continuation of the verse, thus adulterating
the lines and disturbing the sequence of the succeeding verses.
Whereupon the infidels prostrated themselves as a sign of their
approval and satisfaction. This shows that they had a pre-
arranged plan to disturb the recital of the Qur'an by the Holy
Prophet, which is condemned by the Qur'an as a satanic ploy
need against all preceding prophets when they used to deliver
God's message:

And We sent not before thee any apostle or prophet but
when he recited (Our message), reading of the devil
made his (interrupting) desire in (between) the recital;
but God annulleth that which the devil casteth; then God
doth establish His signs and God is All-Knowing, All-
Wise. (22:52)

So that He may make what the devil casteth a trial for
those in whose hearts is disease and those whose hearts
are hard, and verily the unjust are in a great opposition.
(22:53)

And that those who have been given the knowledge may
know that it is the truth from thy Lord, so they may
believe in it and their hearts may be lowly before it; and
verily God is the Guide, of those who believe, towards
the right path. (22:54)

It is surprising that some critics and some ignorant commentators
of the Holy Qur'an attribute the satanic addition to the Holy
Prophet himself, but the internal evidence of Sura 53 itself (ie.
the verses preceding and succeeding verse 20) make the utterance
by the Holy Prophet himself impossible. The opponents, during
the lifetime of the Holy Prophet and afterwards, did not hesitate
to use every means to divert the attention of Muslims from the
Qur'an and weaken its influence upon the minds of the people.
An unauthorised attempt was made by the immediate ruling
Party to make their own collection of the Qur'an, separate from
the collection already prepared under the supervision and
instruction of the Holy Prophet by the scribes who were put in
charge of recording the Qur'an in writing as it was revealed,
together with a commentary by the Holy Prophet. The First
Caliph, on the advice of the Second, entrusted Zaid ibne Sabit
with the task, a youth of no experience or standing when
compared with the official scribes appointed by the Holy Prophet,
namely Abdullah ibne Mas'ood and Obai ibne Kaab, besides Ali
ibne Taleb who was foremost in the knowledge of every letter and
of the significance and implications of the Holy Qur'an
The incompetency of Zaid ibne Sabit concerning the Qur'an is
evident from the remarks of Obai ibne Kaab when a dispute arose
between the two about the recital of a certain passage of the
Qur'an:

Thou teacheth me Qur'an? while I was reading the
Qur'an with the Holy Prophet while thou wert yet a child
playing in the streets.

A similar remark was passed by the same Obai ibne Kaab against
the Second Caliph in a dispute about another point. Obai told the
Second Caliph:

I used to read Qur'an with the Holy Prophet while you
were yet busy in your transactions in the Bazaar.

Neither Zaid nor Omar dared to refute the claim of Obai. Zaid
ibne Sabit had to refer to the ordinary people who possessed some
scattered portions of the Qur'an, either in writing or in memory,
rather than the acknowledged authorities mentioned above.
Unfortunately, neither the First nor the Second Caliph was an
authority on the Qur'an and there are authentic evidences of their
ignorance of it in matters of State adminstration
Not only did Zaid lack academic qualifications to compile the
Qur'an, but the dispute between himself and the Second Caliph
during his reign are proof of the lack of regard both had for the
revelation In this dispute, the Second Caliph wanted something
from Zaid, who declined to comply The Second Caliph said:

Look! It is my command and not the revelation with
which you could play.

This shows that playing with the revelation meant nothing to
either of them as long as their desires were served.
However, as history shows, they attempted the collection of
the Qur'an in this manner and something was collected; but it
was not published and remained under the bees of Ayesha or
Hafsa. The Muslims had no access to it, and it is also said that a
goat devoured a portion of the collection. This anecdote is
further testimony to the lack of regard for their collection. The
reign of the first two Caliphs passed away and the collection
remained where it has been left years ago. But the Qur'an was
being written, taught, learnt, memorised, recited, discussed and
applied in the daily lives of Muslims throughout the fast-
expanding Muslim Empire. The Second Caliph is said to have
claimed that even the ladies had a greater knowledge of the
Qur'an than had those at the helm of the administration. No one
complained of lack of access to the collection by Zaid, and no one
asked the State to publish it The teachers of the Qur'an
continued to perform their duties directly and through their
disciples throughout the Muslim world quite independently of the
collection in the possession of the State.

The first half of the reign of the Third Caliph had also passed
when a variation in the recital of the Qur'an was noticed among
Muslim soldiers who were fighting the infidels on the remote
borders of the Empire. This worried Hozaifa-Yamani, one of
the most trusted confidants and a prominent disciple of the Holy
Prophet. He advised the Third Caliph as a precaution to unify
Muslims and prevent diversity in recitals. The Third Caliph
again entrusted the work to Zaid. Zaid did what Hozaifa had
suggested and it was adopted as the official version to which the
Third Caliph gave his assent. Several copies of that official
version were made and despatched to various parts of the Empire
so that people could revise their versions accordingly. There was
no complaint of any omissions, additions or alterations to the
Caliph or his party. Even the opponent parry who were making
charge after charge against the Caliph about deviation from the
right path made no complaint The Third Caliph was blamed for
ordering that other variations from the official version be burnt
or destroyed. But no one charged him with adulteration of the
text of the Qur'an. However, in spite of the utmost care taken by
the ruling party over the publication of the official version and
the destruction of other versions, they did not succeed; all the
other current recitations have come down to us in the form of the
seven or ten recitations. The Omayyid rulers could not stop the
publication of the other recitations.

The presence of the seven or the ten variations of the
recitation, and the absence of any copy or record of a different
version of the Holy Qur'an after the publication of the received
version, is the best proof of the genuineness of the received
version. However, unwarranted remarks attributed to members
of the ruling party, before official assent was given to the
received version, provided an opportunity for Muslims and others
who could not otherwise disturb the miraculous force of the
Qur'an, to spread rumours about the incompleteness and
incorrect arrangement of the received version. These rumours
gained currency alongside other religious and political
diversifies. And, in spite of the efforts of the Holy lmams of
the
House of the Holy Prophet, these rumours found their way into
the books of traditions, first among the Sunni School and even
Shia books of traditions were not untouched by them. As a
result, some of the scholars of both schools who failed to make a
proper examination of the external and internal evidence
concerning the traditions accepted these rumours in the face of
the indisputable genuineness of the Holy Qur'an.
Another reason for the rise of doubts was the traditions which
assert that the collection of the Qur'an by Ali was in one form
and those by Abdullah ibne Mas'ood and Obai ibne Kaab were in
different forms. There are traditions about the collection of Ali:
whether he refused to place his collection at the disposal of the
ruling party and the public, or whether the ruling party refused
to accept it when it was offered, and whether this happened in the
reign of the First Caliph (as Majlisi maintains) or of the Second
Caliph. The collection remained with Ali and his successors in
the office of Imamat out of the reach of the public, and no one
has claimed to have seen it or copied it, except for a few
traditionalists who maintained that the Sixth Holy Imam, Jafar
ibne Muhammad, showed the collection to them and allowed
them to glimpse it, and that in one small Sura they found the
names of seventy Munafiqa. This is, however, contrary to Ali's
declaration that no one must see the collection before the Last
Imam appears. According t6 the tradition, the Sixth 'main gave
the collection to the traditionalist and ordered him not to look
at it, but he disobeyed him. The story seems absurd. Why would
the Imam entrust the collection to some one who would disobey
him? In spite of all these contradictory traditions, there is no
doubt that the collection in question was a fully detailed
commentary on the Qur'an containing the revelations with their
interpretations alongside. This was not the only miraculous text
presented to mankind. The collections of Abdullah ibne Mas'ood
and Obai ibne kaab and other acknowledged early students of the
Qur'an surely had notes and interpretations for their own
guidance, and may have had a different arrangement of the
verses and chapters for commentary purposes (chronologically
and subjectwise). These collections would be different from the
current received version within the reach of people today.

The commentary nature of the collection of the close
companions of the Holy Prophet is obvious from such traditions
as the following: Abdullah ibne Mas'ood would recite with the
verse of Muta (temporary marriage) the phrase ila ajalin (until a
term) after 8 Famastamta tumbihi minhunna (when you commit
Muta with them). It is obvious that this phrase was used by him
as an explanatory note of guidance and of protest when the Muta
was prohibited by the Second Caliph. Then there is the account
that ibne Abaas used to recite Fi Aliyin (about Ali) after
Maonzila ilaik (that which has already been sent unto thee) in
verse 5:67 as a reference to the significance of the revelation
when the people were neglecting it Or, in the verse
Innallahastafa Aadama wa Noohan, there is a tradition that .ibne
Abbas added Aala Muhammad (the descendants of Muhammad)
After Aala Imran, or replaced Aala Imran by Aala Muhammad. if
this tradition is true, Abdullah ibne Abbas might have said that
Aala Muhammad was meant, but not in the words of the Qur'an;
if the words of the Qur'an were Zorriyatun Ba-zahu min Ba'z, Ali
could not be included in Aale Muhammad and if Zorriyatun
Ba'zuhu is omitted, people other than the House of the Holy
Prophet would be included in the Aal (descendants) in the same
way as all the followers of Pharaoh are included in AaIe Firaun.

In short, the existence of the different collections of the
Qur'an by different companions of the Holy Prophet, which were
never published and which never gained currency among the
Muslims (in part or in whole), can have value only as a
commentary to the text. And this is why no student of the Holy
Book ever raised objection to the received version, even though
they voiced other complaints and grievances of religious
importance against the ruling party, and did complain against
the Third Caliph for committing an act of desecration by
burning some copies of the Qur'an.


In summary, causes of doubts were:

1 The unwarranted, unauthorised and unnecessary
attempt of the First Caliph and his party to make their
own collections of the Qur'an

2 The unwarranted and irresponsible utterances of some
members of the ruling party about the incompleteness
their own collection
3 The Claimed existence of a special collection of the
Qur'an by Ali, complete in all aspects and respects

4 The unsuccessful attempt of the Third Caliph to stop
the other seven or ten recitations of the Qur'an except
for the official version by burning and destroying some
copies of the Qur'an with the other recitations

5 The system of dotting and the introduction of the vowel
signs and the other pronunciation marks by Hajjaj bin
Yousuf about the end of the first century A.H., the
purpose of which was to guard the recitation of the
Qur'an from mispronunciation by non-Arabs

6 The above gave opportunities to the enemies of Islam,
external and internal, to criticise the authenticity of the
Qur'an, to resist its miraculous force by adulterating
the text by making insertions, and to make false claims
about the omission and alteration of certain verses of
the Qur'an

 

 

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