The text of the Glorious Qur'an has been perfectly preserved from the time of Muhammad to the present. The Qur'an is completely free from error. Nothing has been added and nothing has been taken away." So countless Muslims have claimed and continue to claim. Is their claim based on a serious study of the textual history of the Qur'an? Or is it possible that their claim rests more on blind faith and even wishful thinking? Consider just one chapter (cccxci) from the Canonical Traditions of Muslim, a collection of Traditions highly respected by most Muslims:
(2282) Anas reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: If the son of Adam were to possess two valleys of riches, he would long for the third one. And the stomach of the son of Adam is not filled but with dust. And Allah returns to him who repents.
(2283) Anas b. Malik reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) as saying this, but I do not know whether this thing was revealed to him or not, but he said so.
(2284) Anas b. Malik reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: If there were two valleys of gold for the son of Adam, he would long for another one, and his mouth will not be filled but with dust, and Allah returns to him who repents.
(2285) Ibn'Abbas reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: If there were for the son of Adam a valley full of riches, he would long to possess another one like it, and Ibn Adam does not feel satiated but with dust. And Allah returns to him who returns (to Him). Ibn 'Abbas said: I do not know whether it is from the Qur'an or not; and in the narration transmitted by Zuhair it was said: I do not know whether it is from the Qur'an, and he made no mention of Ibn 'Abbas.
(2286) Abu Harb b. Abu al-Aswad reported on the authority of his father that Abu Musa al-Ash'ari sent for the reciters of Basra. They came to him and they were three hundred in number. They recited the Qur'an and he said: You are the best among the inhabitants of Basra, for you are the reciters among them. So continue to recite it. (But bear in mind) that your reciting for a long time may not harden your hearts as were hardened the hearts of those before you. We used to recite a Sura which resembled in length and severity tO (Sura) 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." And we used to so recite a Sura which resembled one of the suras of Musabbihat, and I have forgotten it, but remember (this much) out of it: "O people who believe, why do you say that which you do not practice" (lxi 2.) and "that is recorded in your necks as a witness (against you) and you would be asked about in on the Day of Resurrection" (xvii. 13)." (Sahih Muslim, translated by A. H. Siddiqi, Ashraf, Lahore, pp. 500, 501)
The translator adds the following note with regard to the Sura once recited "which resembled in length and severity to (Sura) Bara'at" (i.e., Sura Tawba or Sura 9, which contains 129 verses!):
The words of this Sura have been abrogated in the Our'an; its meanings have, however, been preserved in other verses of the Our'an, e.g. in Sura xvii, verse 100: "If you possess the treasures of the mercy of my Lord, you would then withhold (them) from fear of spending (it away). And man in ever niggardly."
This is the case of the abrogation of words, but the preservation of meaning both in the Qur'an and the Sunnah.
The Musabbihat ("The Praisers" of God) suras are suras 17, 57, 59, 61, 62, 64, and 77.
Overview: Textual Variants of the Qur'an
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