Free, under persecution NT textual history vs. Government controlled and enforced textual History of the Qur’an

Discussion at a Muslim’s blog, Paul Williams, about the textual history of the Qur’an vs. the textual history of the New Testament.

“a growing and sophisticated Muslim apologetics that builds its case from the fact the New Testament was not preserved as accurately as the Qur’an has been”  

(A quote from Craig Blomberg, who seemed to be saying that from the Islamic perspective.)

Paul Williams wrote:

“He (Craig Blomberg) is explicitly motivated in his work as a conservative Evangelical to defend the inerrancy of the Bible. No need for scholarship really. Just read off the pages of the Bible.

My Response to that:

Same for Muslim believing scholars who truly believe in Islam and the Qur’an.

The Muslim scholars are explicitly motivated in their work as Muslims to defend the inerrancy of the Qur’an. No need for scholarship really. Just read off the pages of the Qur’an; and if they did do real scholarship and write about doubts about the Qur’an, they would loose their jobs, be put in prison, or killed, in the Muslim world.

The western, even believing scholars, are more open and honest about the history of our text and textual variants.

Williams quoting Blomberg, “. . . a growing and sophisticated Muslim apologetics that builds its case from the fact the New Testament was not preserved as accurately as the Qur’an has been”  

After Uthman burned all (or most all) the earlier evidence. !!!

Narrated Zaid bin Thabit:
Abu Bakr As-Siddiq sent for me when the people of Yamama had been killed (i.e., a number of the Prophet’s Companions who fought against Musailima). (I went to him) and found `Umar bin Al- Khattab sitting with him. Abu Bakr then said (to me), “`Umar has come to me and said:

“Casualties were heavy among the Qurra’ of the Qur’an (i.e. those who knew the Qur’an by heart) on the day of the Battle of Yamama, and I am afraid that more heavy casualties may take place among the Qurra’ on other battlefields, whereby a large part of the Qur’an may be lost. Therefore I suggest, you (Abu Bakr) order that the Qur’an be collected.” I said to `Umar, “How can you do something which Allah’s Apostle did not do?” `Umar said, “By Allah, that is a good project.” `Umar kept on urging me to accept his proposal till Allah opened my chest for it and I began to realize the good in the idea which `Umar had realized.” Then Abu Bakr said (to me). ‘You are a wise young man and we do not have any suspicion about you, and you used to write the Divine Inspiration for Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ). So you should search for (the fragmentary scripts of) the Qur’an and collect it in one book.” By Allah If they had ordered me to shift one of the mountains, it would not have been heavier for me than this ordering me to collect the Qur’an. Then I said to Abu Bakr, “How will you do something which Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) did not do?” Abu Bakr replied, “By Allah, it is a good project.” Abu Bakr kept on urging me to accept his idea until Allah opened my chest for what He had opened the chests of Abu Bakr and `Umar. So I started looking for the Qur’an and collecting it from (what was written on) palme stalks, thin white stones and also from the men who knew it by heart, till I found the last Verse of Surat at-Tauba (Repentance) with Abi Khuzaima Al-Ansari, and I did not find it with anybody other than him. The Verse is: ‘Verily there has come unto you an Apostle (Muhammad) from amongst yourselves. It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty..(till the end of Surat-Baraa’ (at-Tauba) (9.128-129). Then the complete manuscripts (copy) of the Qur’an remained with Abu Bakr till he died, then with `Umar till the end of his life, and then with Hafsa, the daughter of `Umar.

حَدَّثَنَا مُوسَى بْنُ إِسْمَاعِيلَ، عَنْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ بْنِ سَعْدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ شِهَابٍ، عَنْ عُبَيْدِ بْنِ السَّبَّاقِ، أَنَّ زَيْدَ بْنَ ثَابِتٍ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ أَرْسَلَ إِلَىَّ أَبُو بَكْرٍ مَقْتَلَ أَهْلِ الْيَمَامَةِ فَإِذَا عُمَرُ بْنُ الْخَطَّابِ عِنْدَهُ قَالَ أَبُو بَكْرٍ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ إِنَّ عُمَرَ أَتَانِي فَقَالَ إِنَّ الْقَتْلَ قَدِ اسْتَحَرَّ يَوْمَ الْيَمَامَةِ بِقُرَّاءِ الْقُرْآنِ وَإِنِّي أَخْشَى أَنْ يَسْتَحِرَّ الْقَتْلُ بِالْقُرَّاءِ بِالْمَوَاطِنِ، فَيَذْهَبَ كَثِيرٌ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ وَإِنِّي أَرَى أَنْ تَأْمُرَ بِجَمْعِ الْقُرْآنِ‏.‏ قُلْتُ لِعُمَرَ كَيْفَ تَفْعَلُ شَيْئًا لَمْ يَفْعَلْهُ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ عُمَرُ هَذَا وَاللَّهِ خَيْرٌ‏.‏ فَلَمْ يَزَلْ عُمَرُ يُرَاجِعُنِي حَتَّى شَرَحَ اللَّهُ صَدْرِي لِذَلِكَ، وَرَأَيْتُ فِي ذَلِكَ الَّذِي رَأَى عُمَرُ‏.‏ قَالَ زَيْدٌ قَالَ أَبُو بَكْرٍ إِنَّكَ رَجُلٌ شَابٌّ عَاقِلٌ لاَ نَتَّهِمُكَ، وَقَدْ كُنْتَ تَكْتُبُ الْوَحْىَ لِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَتَتَبَّعِ الْقُرْآنَ فَاجْمَعْهُ فَوَاللَّهِ لَوْ كَلَّفُونِي نَقْلَ جَبَلٍ مِنَ الْجِبَالِ مَا كَانَ أَثْقَلَ عَلَىَّ مِمَّا أَمَرَنِي مِنْ جَمْعِ الْقُرْآنِ قُلْتُ كَيْفَ تَفْعَلُونَ شَيْئًا لَمْ يَفْعَلْهُ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ هُوَ وَاللَّهِ خَيْرٌ فَلَمْ يَزَلْ أَبُو بَكْرٍ يُرَاجِعُنِي حَتَّى شَرَحَ اللَّهُ صَدْرِي لِلَّذِي شَرَحَ لَهُ صَدْرَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ وَعُمَرَ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ فَتَتَبَّعْتُ الْقُرْآنَ أَجْمَعُهُ مِنَ الْعُسُبِ وَاللِّخَافِ وَصُدُورِ الرِّجَالِ حَتَّى وَجَدْتُ آخِرَ سُورَةِ التَّوْبَةِ مَعَ أَبِي خُزَيْمَةَ الأَنْصَارِيِّ لَمْ أَجِدْهَا مَعَ أَحَدٍ غَيْرَهُ ‏{‏لَقَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولٌ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ عَزِيزٌ عَلَيْهِ مَا عَنِتُّمْ‏}‏ حَتَّى خَاتِمَةِ بَرَاءَةَ، فَكَانَتِ الصُّحُفُ عِنْدَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ حَتَّى تَوَفَّاهُ اللَّهُ ثُمَّ عِنْدَ عُمَرَ حَيَاتَهُ ثُمَّ عِنْدَ حَفْصَةَ بِنْتِ عُمَرَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ‏.‏

Reference : Sahih al-Bukhari 4986
In-book reference : Book 66, Hadith 8
USC-MSA web (English) reference : Vol. 6, Book 61, Hadith 509

Narrated Anas bin Malik:
Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman came to `Uthman at the time when the people of Sham and the people of Iraq were Waging war to conquer Arminya and Adharbijan. Hudhaifa was afraid of their (the people of Sham and Iraq) differences in the recitation of the Qur’an, so he said to `Uthman, “O chief of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Book (Qur’an) as Jews and the Christians did before.” So `Uthman sent a message to Hafsa saying, “Send us the manuscripts of the Qur’an so that we may compile the Qur’anic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you.” Hafsa sent it to `Uthman. `Uthman then ordered Zaid bin Thabit, `Abdullah bin AzZubair, Sa`id bin Al-As and `AbdurRahman bin Harith bin Hisham to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies. `Uthman said to the three Quraishi men, “In case you disagree with Zaid bin Thabit on any point in the Qur’an, then write it in the dialect of Quraish, the Qur’an was revealed in their tongue.” They did so, and when they had written many copies, `Uthman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsa. `Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur’anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt.

حَدَّثَنَا مُوسَى، حَدَّثَنَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ، حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ شِهَابٍ، أَنَّ أَنَسَ بْنَ مَالِكٍ، حَدَّثَهُ أَنَّ حُذَيْفَةَ بْنَ الْيَمَانِ قَدِمَ عَلَى عُثْمَانَ وَكَانَ يُغَازِي أَهْلَ الشَّأْمِ فِي فَتْحِ إِرْمِينِيَةَ وَأَذْرَبِيجَانَ مَعَ أَهْلِ الْعِرَاقِ فَأَفْزَعَ حُذَيْفَةَ اخْتِلاَفُهُمْ فِي الْقِرَاءَةِ فَقَالَ حُذَيْفَةُ لِعُثْمَانَ يَا أَمِيرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَدْرِكْ هَذِهِ الأُمَّةَ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَخْتَلِفُوا فِي الْكِتَابِ اخْتِلاَفَ الْيَهُودِ وَالنَّصَارَى فَأَرْسَلَ عُثْمَانُ إِلَى حَفْصَةَ أَنْ أَرْسِلِي إِلَيْنَا بِالصُّحُفِ نَنْسَخُهَا فِي الْمَصَاحِفِ ثُمَّ نَرُدُّهَا إِلَيْكِ فَأَرْسَلَتْ بِهَا حَفْصَةُ إِلَى عُثْمَانَ فَأَمَرَ زَيْدَ بْنَ ثَابِتٍ وَعَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ الزُّبَيْرِ وَسَعِيدَ بْنَ الْعَاصِ وَعَبْدَ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنَ الْحَارِثِ بْنِ هِشَامٍ فَنَسَخُوهَا فِي الْمَصَاحِفِ وَقَالَ عُثْمَانُ لِلرَّهْطِ الْقُرَشِيِّينَ الثَّلاَثَةِ إِذَا اخْتَلَفْتُمْ أَنْتُمْ وَزَيْدُ بْنُ ثَابِتٍ فِي شَىْءٍ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ فَاكْتُبُوهُ بِلِسَانِ قُرَيْشٍ فَإِنَّمَا نَزَلَ بِلِسَانِهِمْ فَفَعَلُوا حَتَّى إِذَا نَسَخُوا الصُّحُفَ فِي الْمَصَاحِفِ رَدَّ عُثْمَانُ الصُّحُفَ إِلَى حَفْصَةَ وَأَرْسَلَ إِلَى كُلِّ أُفُقٍ بِمُصْحَفٍ مِمَّا نَسَخُوا وَأَمَرَ بِمَا سِوَاهُ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ فِي كُلِّ صَحِيفَةٍ أَوْ مُصْحَفٍ أَنْ يُحْرَقَ‏.‏

Reference : Sahih al-Bukhari 4987
In-book reference : Book 66, Hadith 9
USC-MSA web (English) reference : Vol. 6, Book 61, Hadith 510

(bolding my emphasis)  See the Hadith at

An earlier article I wrote:

See here also, for an earlier article on the Uthmanic Revision.

See lots more interaction in the comboxes at William’s blog; and how we get into substitutionary sacrifice.

One of the Muslims in the combox called me, “insane” ( !! ??) 

He also asked me why I quoted the Arabic of the Hadiths.

That was very strange, because usually Muslims require the Arabic original!

My response:

The main point about quoting those 2 Hadith passages is the massive difference between the history of the text of the NT – which was free, uncontrolled, under persecution; Romans burned many manuscripts; and there was no government power of the sword or force to enforce the text or canon; and yet it (the 27 books of the NT) survived those 312 years of persecution. Also they were written by about 9 different human authors in places all over the Roman Empire.

The great difference is that when Uthman ordered one text to be made from the efforts and collection, and burnt everything else, and enforced the text by the power of Caliphate government; it raises many questions and doubts about the earlier and more authentic materials.

Especially since, according to Hadith literature, there were differences between Ibn Masood and Zayd Ibn Thabit, and Ubai Ibn Kaab.

Also, the fact that in the search, first Zayd Ibn Thabit found the last 2 verses of Surah 9 (Surah 9:128-129) was with only one person (Abi Khuzaima Al-Ansari) !

How do we know others were not found that was with only one person?

How do we know that other original verses of the Qur’an were not burnt when Uthman ordered all other Qur’anic materials to be burnt?

Hadith literature and Tafsirs, etc. indicate that other Qur’anic verses existed that are not in the Uthmanic Qur’an.

Also, 18 years later, after Zayd’s initial collection; they found another verse that was with only one person – Surah 33:23

Then there is the textual variant in Surah 33:6 that Yusuf Ali mentions in his translation of the Qur’an.

And also, there is the verse that was eaten by a goat that Aisha reported in Hadith, Sunan Ibn Majah, 1944, and is “hasan” (good).

[Summary of information gathered from Dr. James White’s book, in chapter 11, pages 249-281; What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Qur’an.  Excellent book – order here:   ]

A sane person looks at all this evidence and asks theses questions that are raised, and a thinking person would see the problems and doubts that arise.

Why Quote the Arabic?

The reason I have the Arabic also is because in order to get the reference at the end when I copied it from is because the Arabic is in the middle, and I see nothing wrong, in fact, everything right with including the Arabic original.

I can read and understand SOME words; the ones we have in Farsi, and a few others I have learned.

This was a strange statement indeed by that Muslim, because usually a Muslim requires the original Arabic in conversations and debate!!

About Ken Temple

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a sinner who has been saved by the grace of God alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), through faith alone (Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:28; 4:1-16), in Christ alone (John 14:6). But a true faith does not stay alone, it should result in change, fruit, good works, and deeper levels of repentance and hatred of my own sins of selfishness and pride. I am not better than you! I still make mistakes and sin, but the Lord is working on me, conforming me to His character. (Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18) When I do sin, I hate the sin as it is an affront to God, and seek His forgiveness in repentance. (Mark 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:7-10; Colossians 3:5-16 ) Praise God for His love for sinners (Romans 5:8), shown by the voluntary coming of Christ and His freely laying down His life for us (John 10:18), becoming flesh/human (John 1:1-5; 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8), dying for sins of people from all nations, tribes, and cultures (Revelation 5:9), on the cross, in history, rising from the dead (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 28, Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24; John 20-21; 1 Corinthians chapter 15). His resurrection from the dead proved that Jesus is the Messiah, the eternal Son of God, the word of God from eternity past; and that He was all the gospels say He was and that He is truth and the life and the way to salvation. (John 14:6)
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