Khalid Zaheer
“I am convinced about the veracity of my opinions, but I do consider it likely that they may turn out to be incorrect. Likewise, I am convinced about the incorrectness of the views different from mine, but I do concede the possibility that they may turn out to be correct.” — Imam Shafa’i

Is the Qur'anic Text Original?

A conversation with a colleague who is a classicist brought up some unlikely, perhaps silly, questions:

1. What the historical evidence that dates a complete Quranic text before the death of Usman? Is there extant evidence?

2. What surviving evidence is there that Kufic script, in which the first Quran must have been written existed in a sophisticated and a standardised version?

3. That the geographical location of Mecca was indeed in its present location and that the Abrahamic site for the Kaaba was located in Palestine or that it was a political construct. The basis for this view seems to be the views of Dr. Amari and his book "In Light of History" where he cites absence of archaeological evidences.

It's most certainly not faith but overwhelming evidence even if not historical that inclines one to be convinced that the Qur'an is the text that originates from Muhammad, Allah's mercy be on him.

The question raised by the scholar is similar to the following one which a mathematician who knows little else might raise: What is the mathematical evidence that there is a God? You need to first prove that God's existence needs a mathematical evidence as indeed you need to show that to prove the originality of the Qur'anic text you need historical evidence of the kind he is demanding.

Let's begin with an agreed upon premise: It is a historical fact that the prophet of Islam existed. Living some fourteen hundred plus years later we have a claim with us that he brought a book along which he claimed to be from God. Word of mouth, which got documented too, makes us believe that the book was documented in the form of a written script a couple of decades after his death.

The man who is credited with the task of arranging for writing the Qur'an and claiming it was given by the prophet was not uncontroversial. He got killed by his fellow-Muslim enemies. The same person, so goes the theory, created the Qur'an and claimed it to have been revealed on the prophet. And yet the entire Muslim Ummah accepted his 'concocted' text as the word of God.

Kindly tell the scholar that his/her theory will not go well with Muslims not necessarily because they are emotionally attached to their religion. They can see as a part of their daily experience that Qur'an has come down to them as a completely authentic text from the time it was left by their prophet until now. They see that there are hundreds and thousands of people who have memorised the Qur'an from cover to cover. This practice of memorising and reciting it has come from generation to generation. There are two chances: Working the chain of it backwards, it would either stop at Usman or the prophet. The chances that the backward chain would stop at Usman are zero because had that been the case, one will have to assume that although the Muslim Ummah believed in Muhammad, Allah's mercy be on him, as their prophet, they accepted unanimously Usman's 'concocted' book with an understanding that it had originated from the prophet. Not even Usman's killers accused him of having committed that crime. Had they done it, the Ummah would have been fiercely divided on the issue and we would have had at least two memorised versions of the Qur'an if not several.

As for the question on the written Kufic text , if you know Arabic, or for that matter any language (I am thinking hard to look for any exceptions) you would know that if you have a text memorised in your mind, it doesn't matter if it is written in one script or another. The word in mind takes care of the ambiguities and errors of the word on paper.

To demand archaeological evidence for Ka'aba's links with Abraham is also like demanding the scientific proofs of the existence of the sun even when you are seeing it with your eyes. Hundreds and thousands of people do Hajj every year in Makkah, attributing the rituals to Abraham. If it was something made up at some later stage, there must be a story in the legends of the locality when this mass-scale deception was cleverly and successfully transformed into a ritual that was to be followed diligently by a large number of devotees every year without even traces of a parallel story in currency.

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