Got A Bad Desire
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: قلوب المؤمنين
Originally Posted by SaintessHeart
Actually what you have said reflects the general Muslim mentality, it is often said that the Quran is the most complete and pure. I wouldn't say that the Bible is the most unpure, it is excessively bowdlerised to remove the violent parts (have anyone wondered why all the wars mentioned are so generalised without the details of blood and gore?).
Though a number of times I asked about the Quran between Shia and Sunni Islam, many Muslims got stumped by the question. There is this old man who told me that Shia Islam is "flavoured" with "additional content", and in the case of Iran and terrorist groups, "politically motivated". It is said that these people will go to hell because they "used God's name is vain" (10 Commandments).
All three factions have alot to learn from each other. The orientation of the books are in such a way that, Judaism preaches the invincibility of that guy, Islam preaches his omnipotence, Christianity preaches omniscience (he's everywhere with everyone; he loves his creations so he stalks them all simultaneously
). No matter how complete any of the books are, it is still incomplete to base one's abrahamic belief on just one book without reading from the other 2.
I'll let him/her/it judge us; according to that entity I have no right to judge anyone based on religion and neither does anyone else.
Hmm. Lapsed muslim here, and back then I had an interesting correspondence with a Middle eastern professor regarding the affairs of Qur'an :
Me : It's a bit sudden, but there is something that I've been intending to ask you about. It's about Islamic Qur'an.
As we already know, compared to Christian Bible which the christians have silently acknowledged to be no more authentic and has been modified for countless of times, Muslims' Qur'an has always been seriously believed by the muslims to be still authentic up to this day since the death of Muhammad. It's not that there never was nor there is no heterodox Qur'an existing, but it is firmly believed by the muslims that its original version as was revealed to Muhammad still exists in the form of Musshaf Usmani, that is the mainstream Qur'an up to this day.
Now, between Mohammad's death and the commissioning of Musshaf Usmani there was a period of 19 years, in which everything could've happened. I'm not going to ask whether every word within it was authentic from Muhammad himself. I am however, curious about the authenticity of the Musshaf Usmani widely in usage today. Does the mainstream Qur'an of present day share more then half the content of the standard Qur'an completed by Caliph Uthman during his reign ? If it doesn't, where and when did the current version of mainstream Qur'an originate ? Is it the Topkapi's version ?
Prof. Haberl : This is an incredibly complex question that unfortunately hasn't received the attention that it deserves.
I guess it depends upon what you mean by "content." The Uthmanid recension only standardized the bare rudiments of the Qur'an, without any distinction between similar consonants (like baa / taa / thaa and so forth), indication of any vowels, or punctuations. Consequently, unless you were a qari or a hafiz, you couldn't actually read the Uthmanid recension, it being used primarily as an aide memoire for those who actually had committed the Qur'an to memory.
Over the next two centuries, ten different "readings" (qira'at) of the Qur'an that included these things emerged and became authoritative. Not all of them are still known to scholarship; you only really encounter the reading of Hafs in the West, due to the fact that it was preferred by the Ottomans, although I understand that Warsh is still somewhat popular in parts of Northern Africa. From what I've seen (and what I understand), these readings do not differ from one another substantially, although I've heard tell of some pretty strange things about the others (one apparently doesn't include case vowels!). I wish I could say more!
Me : So does it mean there is a reasonable chance that Qur'an has never been really modified ?
Of course, I know it's pretty much impossible to actually confirm anything but, it still seems to me that muslims have way better position to argue about the authenticity of their Holy Book compared to Christians and maybe most other millenia-old religions with theirs...
Prof. Haberl : I'm sorry I didn't get back to you on this earlier!
I guess it depends on how you answer the question. The Qur'an was "modified" in a very basic sense: it was arranged primarily according to the length of the suwar (rather than the order in which they were revealed), and sometime in the 9th century dots and vowels were added to aid the reader to recall one of the basic qira'at. That's probably not what you mean by "modified," though, right? You probably mean something along the lines of blocks of text added or removed, or completely different versions existing side by side.
For my part, I just can't imagine studying the Bible without taking a text-critical position (that is, the belief that it is composed of separate "texts" or documents that were composed/revealed over the course of a 1000 years or so, maybe more). The Hebrew Bible achieved its present form sometime in the 1st c. and the Christian Bible achieved its present forms not too long after that. Of course, the Hebrew Bible then had to wait several hundred years before the vowels were added; the Greek translations already had vowels.
Any modifications AFTER it became canon were relatively minor, on the same level as the debates of the ulema over different qira'at. The problem lies in the status of the text BEFORE it was canonized. As you know, the present form of the Qu'ran (at least the consonantal text, without dots or vowels, in its present order) achieved canonical status within a remarkably short period of time. In the case of the Bible, we have a much larger period span of time to consider, during which different versions circulated, some of which were rejected and some of which made the final cut. Jews and Christians who are aware of this process and acknowledge it (some reject it, but the evidence doesn't support this position) often claim that the process of canonization was itself guided by Providence.
Obviously this process did NOT happen with the Qur'an; if there was a period during which different texts (beyond the qira'at) circulated, it was very short, and there's not much evidence for these texts anyway. So there's no reason to believe that the text was "modified" in any way, beyond organizing the suwar according to the principle of decreasing length and adding the dots and vowels to indicate different qira'at.
I hope that this answers your question!
There are difficult terminologies being thrown in there. But basically, the point is that muslim position is quite ahead of other Abrahamic religions to claim the authenticity of their Holy Book. The thing with Arabic letters is that it is consisted of many nearly identically-shaped letters with only dots to differentiate between them, and it is by default devoid of vowels. The consequences of such nature of Arabic letters is that it's actually perfectly unnecessary to change the skeletal body of Qur'anic letters, and all you have to do is simply to swap the dots and (if required by the condition) vowel signs here and there. Easier said then done of course, but it provides a perfect loophole to change the content without ejecting a single letter. The mentioned fact above about how remarkably short a period it went through to canonize immensely helped in setting the unchallenged primacy of a single version and its status as the unadulrated one. However, all that still doesn't touch the "complete" part of the muslim claim about the Qur'an, which confirmation would have to go through an entirely different route of verification, if doable at all, that is...