A Critique of Johnny Bravo's

Response to Sam Shamoun's "Rebuttal to Johnny Bravo's Article:
Christian Scholars Refuting the Status of the NT as An Inspired Scripture"
Part 4

[A], [B & C], [Addendum]

The Chaotic Structure and Textual Corruption of the Quran Revisited

Muslims are fond of spreading the false claim that the present text of the Quran is actually identical to that which was originally passed down from Muhammad to his Companions. Muslims claim that memorization has insured the accurate transmission of the text generation after generation. When Christians challenge such assertions based on the Muslims' own sources, often times the replies made by Muslims are no more than smokescreens and evasion tactics. One such example is Johnny Bravo's attempted response (*, *) to my exposition of the corrupt nature of the Quran.

A thorough refutation and exposition of Bravo's fallacies is shortly forthcoming, Lord Jesus willing. For now, we reproduce the following material taken from a tenth century Muslim work which exposes the Muslim lie that the arrangement of the Quran was something revealed and organized by Muhammad.

The following citations are taken from Abu'l-Faraj Muhammad ibn Ishaq Al-Nadim's work titled The Fihrist - A 10th Century AD Survey of Islamic Culture, edited and translated by Bayard Dodge (Great Books of the Islamic World, Inc., Columbia University Press, 1970). All bold and capital emphasis is ours:

Subdivision concerning the Arrangement of the Qur'an in the Manuscript of ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas'ud

Al-Fadl ibn Shadhan said, "I found in a manuscript of ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas'ud the compilation of the surahs of the Qur'an in accordance with the following sequence:

Al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2
Al-Nisa (The Women) 4
Al ‘Imran (The Family of Imran) 3
Alif(A) Lam(L) Mim(M) Sad(S) 7
Al-An'am (The Cattle) 6
Al-Ma'idah (The Dining Table) 5
Yunus (Jonah) 10
Al-Nahl (The Bee) 16
Hud 11
Yusuf (Joseph) 12
Bani Isra'il (Children of Israel) 17
Al-Anbiya (The Prophets) 21
Al-Mu'minun (The Believers) 23
Al-Shu'ara (The Poets) 26
Al-Saffat (Those Who Rank Themselves) 37
Al-Ahzab (The Confederates) 33
Al-Qasas (The Story) 28
Al-Nur (The Light) 24
Al-Anfal (The Spoils) 8
Maryam (Mary) 19
Al-‘Ankabut (The Spider) 29
Al-Rum (The Byzantines) 30
Ya(Y) Sin(S) 36
Al-Furqan (The Test of Truth) 25
Al-Hajj (The Pilgrimage) 22
Al-Ra‘d 13
Saba 34
Al-Mala'ikah (The Angels) 35
Ibrahim (Abraham) 14
Sad(S) 38
Those who disbelieve 47
Al-Qamar (The Moon) 31
Al-Zumar (The Troops) 39
The Praise-Giving Ha(H) Mim(M) Surahs:
Ha(H)Mim(M): Al-Mu'min (The Believer) 40
Ha(H) Mim(M): Al-Zukhruf (The Ornaments) 43
Ha(H) Mim(M): Al-Sajdah (The Worship) 41
Ha(H) Mim(M): Al-Ahqaf (The Sandhills) 46
Ha(H) Mim(M): Al-Jathiyah (The Kneeling) 45
Ha(H) Mim(M): Al-Dukhan (The Smoke) 44
Lo, We have given thee a victory 48
Al-Hadid (The Iron) 57
Sabbah: Al-Hashr (Praise: The Assembling) 59
Tanzil: Al-Sajdah (Revelation: Worship) 32
Qaf(Q) 50
Al-Talaq (The Divorce) 65
Al-Hujurat (The Private Apartments) 49
Blessed is he in whose hand is the sovereignty 67
Al-Taghabun (Disillusion) 64
Al-Munafiqun (The Hypocrites) 63
Al-Jumu'ah (The Congregation) 62
Al-Hawariyun (The Disciples) 61
Say: It has been revealed to me 72
Lo, We sent Nuh (Noah) 71
Al-Mujadilah (She Who Pleads) 58
Al-Mumtahanah (She Who Is Examined) 60
Oh, Prophet, wherefore dost forbid 66
Al-Rahman (The Compassionate) 55
Al-Najm (The Star) 53
Al-Dhariyat (Those Scattering) 51
Al-Tur (The Mountain) 52
The hour draw nigh 54
Al-Haqqah (The Infallible) 69
When there happens 56
Nun(N) and the Pen 68
Al-Nazi‘at (Those Who Drag Forth) 79
A questioner questioned 70
Al-Muddaththir (The Cloaked) 74
Al-Muzzammil (The Wrapped-Up) 73
Al-Mutiffifin (Giver of Short Measure) 83
He frowned 80
Has there come upon man? 76
Al-Qiyamah (The Resurrection) 75
Al-Mursalat (Those Sent Forth) 77
Wherefore do they question? 78
When the sun is covered 81
When the heavens are cleft 82
Has there not come to you an account of the overwhelming? 88
Glorify the name of your Lord the Most High 87
And the night when it enshrouds 92
Al-Fajr (The Dawn) 89
Al-Buruj (The Stars of the Zodiac) 85
Al-Inshiqaq (Rent Asunder) 84
Recite in the name of your Lord 96
Verily, I swear by this city 90
Wa-al Duha (And the Morning Light) 93
Have We not expanded for you 94
And the heavens and the night comer 86
Al-‘Adiyat (The Runners) 100
Have you seen someone? 107
Al-Qari‘ah (The Calamity) 101
Those of the People of the Book who were unbelievers were not 98
The sun and morning light 91
And the fig 95
Woe to every slanderer 104
Al-Fil (The Elephant) 105
For uniting the Quraysh 106
Al-Takathur (Rivalry for Wealth) 102
Verily, We revealed it And the afternoon.
We have created man for loss [of God's favor]
in which he will remain until the end of time, except for those who believe,
enjoining one another to piety and committing each other to endurance.26
When the help of Allah cometh 110
Verily, We have given you 108
Say: Oh, you who disbelieved, I do not worship what you worship 109
The hands of Abu Lahab have perished and he as perished.
His wealth will not be enough for him, nor his gains.
His wife, moreover, is the bearer of wood.27
Allah is one, eternal 112


The translator's notes 26 and 27 are quite interesting:

26. The author has evidently quoted these sentences to show how different they are from the authorized version of the Qur'an. Cf. Surah 103 of the authorized version. (Ibid., p. 57)

27. Here are again the verses are quoted, as they are a variation. The authorized version makes it clear that the wife of Abu Lahab is carrying fuel to feed the flames with which her husband is being burned in Hell. For the surah which follows, the authorized version has, "Say, Allah is one, Allah the Eternal." (Ibid.)

Continuing further:

According to another tradition, "Al-Tur" [Surah 52] comes before "Al-Dhariyat" [Surah 51].

Ibn Shadhan stated that Ibn Sirin said ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud did not transcribe into his manuscript either "Al-Mu'awwidhatan [Sam- Surahs 113-114]" or the opening of the Book. Moreover, al-Fadl [Ibn Shadhan] quoted in sequence from al-A'mash, saying that in the reading of 'Abd Allah [ibn Mas'ud] there was Ha(H) Mim(M) Sin(S) Qaf(Q) [Sam- This refers to Surah 42 and it reads, Ha(H) Mim(M) ‘Ayn(‘) Sin(S) Qaf(Q)]."

Thus saith Muhammad ibn Ishaq [al-Nadim]: I have seen a number of Quranic manuscripts, which the transcribers recorded as manuscripts from Ibn Mas‘ud. NO TWO QUR'ANIC COPIES WERE IN AGREEMENT and most of them were on badly effaced parchment. I also saw a Qur'anic manuscript transcribed about two hundred years ago which included the opening of the Book. As al-Fadl ibn Shadhan was one of the leading authorities on the Qur'an and the Hadith, I have mentioned what he said, in addition to what we ourselves have witnessed.

Subdivision concerning the Arrangement of the Qur'an in the Manuscript of Ubayy ibn Ka'b

Al-Fadl ibn Shadhan said:

One of OUR RELIABLE FRIENDS has informed us, saying that the composition of the surahs according to the reading of Ubayy ibn Ka'b is in a village called Qariyat al-Ansar, two passages parasangs from al-Basrah, where in his home Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Malik al-Ansari showed us a Qur'anic manuscript, saying, "This is the copy of Ubayy which we have, handed down from our fathers." I looked into it and ascertained the headings of the surahs, the endings of the revelations, and the number of verses.

Fatihat al-Kitab (Opening of the Book) - was the first 1
Al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2
Al-Nisa (The Women) 4
Al-Imran (The Family of 'Imran) 3
Al-An'am (The Cattle) 6
Al-A'raf (The Heights) 7
Al-Ma'idah (The Table) 5
Alif(A) Lam(L) Dhal(Dh) Ya(Y)
- about which I was confused, but it is "Yunus" (Jonah).36
Al-Anfal (The Spoils) 8
Al-Tawbah (Repentence) 9
Hud 11
Maryam (Mary) 19
Al-Shu'ara (The Poets) 26
Al-Hajj (The Pilgrimage) 22
Yusuf (Joseph) 12
Al-Kahf (The Cave) 18
Al-Nahl (The Bee) 16
Al-Ahzab (The Confederates) 33
Bani Isra'il (The Children of Israel) 17
Al-Zumar (The Troops) 39
Ha(H) Mim(M): Tanzil (Revelation) 45
Ta(T) Ha(H) 20
Al-Anbiya (The Prophets) 21
Al-Nur (The Light) 24
Al-Mu'minun (The Believers) 23
Ha(H) Mim(M): Al-Mu'min (The Believer) 40
Al-Ra'd (The Thunder) 13
Ta(T) Sin(S) Mim(M): Al-Qasa (The Story) 28
Ta(T) Sin(S): Sulayman (Solomon) 27
Al-Saffat (Those Who Rank Themselves) 37
Da'ud: Surah Sad(S) (David) 38
Ya(Y) Sin(S) 36
Ashab al-Hijr (The Inhabitants of the Rocky Land) 15
Ha(H) Mim(M) 'Ayn(A) Sin(S) Qaff(Q) 42
Al-Rum (The Byzantines) 30
Al-Zukhruf (The Ornaments) 43
Ha(H) Mim(M): Al-Sajdah (The Worship) 41
Surah of Ibrahim (Abraham) 14
Al-Mala'ikah (The Angels) 35
Al-Fath (The Victory) 48
Muhammad, may Allah bless him and give him peace 47
Al-Hadid (The Iron) 57
Al-Tur (The Mountain) 52
Tabarak: Al-Furqan (Blessed: The Test of Truth) 25
Alif(A) Lam(L) Mim(M): Tanzil (Revelation) 32
Nuh (Noah) 71
Al-Ahqaf (The Sandhills) 46
Qaf(Q) 50
Al-Rahman (The Compassionate) 55
Al-Waqi'ah (The Event) 56
Al-Jinn 72
Al-Najm (The Star) 53
Nun(N) 68
Al-Haqqah (The Infallible) 69
Al-Hashr (The Assembling) 59
Al-Mumtahanah (She Who Is Examined) 60
Al-Mursalat (Those Sent Forth) 77
Whereof do they question? 78
Al-Insan (The Man) 76
Verily I swear 75
Covered 81
Al-Nazi'at (Those Who Drag Forth) 79
'Abas[a] (He Frowned) 80
Al-Mutiffifin (Those Who Give Short Measure) 83
When the heavens are split 84
Al-Tin (The Fig) 95
Recite in the name of your Lord 96
Al-Hujurat (The Private Apartments) 49
Al-Munafiqun (The Hypocrites) 63
Al-Jumu'ah (The Congregation) 62
Al-Nabi, for whom be peace 66
Al-Fajr (The Dawn) 89
Al-Mulk (The Sovereignty) 67
The night when it enshrouds 92
When the heavens are cleft 82
And the sun with its morning light 91
And the heavens with the stars 85
Al-Tariq (The Night Comer) 86
Glorify the name of your Lord the Most High 87
Al-Ghashiyah (The Overshadowing) 88
'Abas[a] (He Frowned)42 74?
He was not the first those who disbelieved 98?
Al-Saff (The Ranks) 61
Al-Duha (The Morning Light) 93
Have we not expanded your 94
Al-Qari'ah (The Calamity) 101
Al-Takathur (Rivalry for Wealth) 102
Al-Khal' (Divorce), three verses44 65?
Al-Jid (The Neck), six verses45
Oh, Allah, Thee do we worship-the last of which is-with the unbelievers.
It is appended to "Al-Lumazah."46
When it quakes 99
Al-Adiyat (The Runners) 100
Ashab al-Fil (Owners of the Elephant) 105
Al-Tin (The Fig)47 ?
Al-Kawthar (Abundance) 108
Al-Qadr (The Power) 97
Al-Kafirun (The Unbelievers) 109
Al-Nasr (Help) 110
Abi Lahab 111
Quraysh 106
Al-Samad (The Eternal) 112
Al-Falaq (The Dawn) 113
Al-Nas (Mankind) 114


Here are the translator's comments in the footnotes that appear in the above which further highlight the differences that existed in Ubayy's codex with the present Quranic text:

36. In the authorized version the letters are "Alif(A) Lam(L) Ra(R)." (Ibid., 58)

42. 'Abas[a] has already been mentioned as Surah 80. As the word appears in Surah 74, V. 22, this may refer to that surah, which is not mentioned elsewhere in this list. (p. 61)

44. This surah is probably meant as Surah 65, which deals with the subject of divorce. On the other hand, Surah 65 has many verses, so that "Al-Khal" may be a garbled title for Surah 103, which has three verses. (Ibid.)

45. Al-jid ("neck") is mentioned at the end of Surah 111, but this surah is included as "Abi Lahab." Perhaps the word is meant to be al-hamd, the opening word of Surah 34, not mentioned elsewhere in this list. (Ibid.)

46. "Al-Lumazah" almost certainly refers to Surah 104, but the words appended are not in the authorized version. (Ibid.)

47. This is a mistake, as the surah has already been mentioned and the name does not resemble titles of surahs not elsewhere mentioned. (Ibid.)

I had mentioned in my initial response to Bravo that Mas'ud and Kabb were singled out by Muhammad as being two of the four men that Muslims were to learn the Quran from. How does Bravo respond? Here it is:

No Muslim is denying the credentials and high status of Ibn Mas'ûd as a reciter of the Qur'ân. As we will see, it is the missionaries who distort the issues at hand. Sam then cites numerous references which talk about the high status of Ibn Mas'ûd, since no Muslim denies the status and credentials of Ibn Mas'ûd, there is no need to respond to those citations since we accept them and are proud of Ibn Mas'ûd.

Narrated Masriq: 'Abdullah bin 'Amr mentioned 'Abdullah bin Masud and said, "I shall ever love that man, for I heard the Prophet saying, 'Take (learn) the Qur'ân from four: 'Abdullah bin Masud, Salim, Mu'adh and Ubai bin Ka'b.'" (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 61, Number 521)

Dr. Haddad responded to the above:

The Prophetic hadith narrated by `Abd Allâh ibn `Amr ibn al-`As: "Learn the Qur'ân from these four: `Abd Allâh ibn Mas`ud, Salim, Mu`adh, and Ubay ibn Ka`b" [Bukhari] means: because they have the time and leisure to teach it in addition to their knowledge and competence, and Allâh knows best.

So obviously the hadeeth does not mean that the four named above are the only ones from whom the Qur'ân can be learned.


Bravo's obfuscation is evident for all to see. First, I never claimed that the four individuals were the only ones from whom a person was to learn the Quran, so this is a strawman. Second, how does Dr. Haddad know what the hadith means? Was he there when Bukhari compiled it? No, which exposes Haddad's explanation as nothing more than a smokescreen. Third, even under the generous assumption that Haddad is correct this only compounds the problem for Bravo. If these men had the time and the leisure to teach the Quran, this means that they also had the time to study and know it more in depth than the others who didn't have the time or the leisure. In fact, the following traditions which are taken from Ibn Sa'd's Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir state that there were roughly only four to six men who had completely collected the Quran during Muhammad's lifetime:

... The Qur'an was fully collected by Zayd Ibn Thabit, Abu Al-Darda, Abu Zayd and S'ad Ibn Ubayd. He ('Amir) said: Al-Mujammi' had to learn one or two surahs when the Prophet, may Allah bless him, breathed his last.

... Four persons- Ubayyi Ibn Ka'b, Zayd Ibn Thabit, 'Uthman Ibn 'Affan and Tamim Al-Dari had collected the Qur'an in entirety during the lifetime of the Prophet, may Allah bless him.

... I heard Qatadah saying: Ubayyi Ibn Ka'b, Mu'adh Ibn Jabal, Zayd Ibn Thabit and Abu Zayd recited the Qur'an in the lifetime of the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him. He (Qurrah) said: Who was Abu Zayd? He replied: One of the uncles of Anas.

... When the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, breathed his last, NOT MORE THAN FOUR PERSONS HAD THE QUR'AN IN ITS ENTIRETY. All of them were of the Ansars and there is a difference about the fifth one. The persons of the Ansars who had collected it in its entirety were Zayd Ibn Thabit, Abu Zayd, Mu'adh Ibn Jabal and Ubayyi Ibn Ka'b, and the person about whom there is a difference was Tamim al-Dari.

... I asked Anas as to who had collected the Qur'an in entirety in the lifetime of the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him? He replied: There were four persons, all of whom were Ansars - Ubayyi Ibn Ka'b, Mu'adh Ibn Jabal and Zayd Ibn Thabit and another person from the Ansar who was called Abu Zayd.

... Five persons among the Ansars collected the Qur'an in its entirety, during the lifetime of the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him. They were Mu'adh Ibn Jabal, 'Ubadah Ibn al-Samit, Ubayyi Ibn Ka'b, Abu Ayyub and Abu Al-Darda. (Ibn Sa'd, Al-Tabaqat, Volume II, parts I & II, English translation by S. Moinul Haq, M.A., PH.D assisted by H.K. Ghazanfar M.A. [Kitab Bhavan Exporters & Importers, 1784 Kalan Mahal, Daryaganj, New Delhi - 110 002 India], pp. 457-458; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Hence, Bravo ends up actually confirming my point, namely THAT THESE MEN WERE FAR MORE QUALIFIED than the rest BECAUSE THEY HAD MORE TIME TO STUDY, UNDERSTAND AND ACCURATELY TRANSMIT THE QURAN. Yet, as we have seen, IT IS THESE VERY MEN WHO WROTE DOWN CONFLICTING NUMBER AND ORDER OF SURAHS, WITH NONE OF THEIR MSS BEING IN 100% AGREEMENT! It is rather unfortunate that Bravo doesn't actually think through the implication of his own citations, since if he did he would have saved us and our readers from wasting a lot of time.

Before returning to our subject, another lie needs to be addressed. Muslims such as Bravo claim that the Qurans of Ubayy and Ibn Masud were simply personal copies and were not intended for the masses. The following citation was actually provided by M.S.M. Saifullah in our online debate and highlights Masud's attitude toward his Quran:

"We have already refuted most of the stuff surrounding Ibn Mas'ud above. As far as Ibn Mas'ud position is concerned at-Tabari deals with it in his book Jami' al-Bayan 'an ta'wil ay al-Qur'an:

"Narrated 'Alqama al-Nakha'i: When 'Abd Allah b. Mas'ud left Kufa his companions gathered around him. He took leave of them, and said: 'Do not dispute about the Qur'an. It will not vary, nor will it dwindle or change because it is often repeated. The revealed law of Islam, its legal punishments, its religious obligations, exist in it in a single form. If something in one of the ahruf forbade something which another commanded, that would be a variation, but it combines all that; there are no variations in it regarding the legal punishments or the religious obligations, nor in anything else in the laws of Islam. I remember when we disputed about the Qur'an before the Messenger of God; he ordered us to recite before him, and told each of us we recited properly. If I were to come to know that someone knew more than I did about what God had sent down to His Messenger, I would seek him out in order to add his knowledge to mine. I learnt seventy suras from the tongue of the Messenger of God himself, and I knew that the Qur'an was read by him (by those companions chose to learn it by heart and recite to him so that he would check the recitation) every month of Ramadan, until the year his life was taken away, when it was recited twice. When that was finished, I recited myself before him, and he told me I had recited properly. HE WHO RECITES LIKE I RECITE MUST NOT ABANDON THAT RECITATION FOR ANOTHER, AND HE WHO RECITES ACCORDING TO ANOTHER HARF MUST NOT ABANDON THAT FOR ANOTHER, for he who rejects any verse rejects them all."

"Narrated Ibn Mas'ud: "He who recites the Qur'an according to one harf MUST NOT CHANGE FROM IT TO ANOTHER."

Commenting on the above hadith at-Tabari says:

"It is quite clear that 'Abd Allah b. Mas'ud did not mean by what he said: He who recites any command or prohibition in the Qur'an must not change from it to the recitation of any threat or promise in it, and he who recites any threat or promise in it must not change from it to the recitation of any narration or parable in it. What he meant, may God have mercy on him, was: He who recites with his harf must not change it to another just because he dislikes it - and his harf is his recitation, just as the Arabs call someone's recitation his harf.... - AND HE WHO RECITES WITH UBAIY'S OR ZAID'S HARF, OR WITH THE HARF OF ANY OF THE COMPANIONS OF THE MESSENGER OF GOD WHO RECITED WITH ONE OF THE SEVEN AHRUF, must not change from it to another because he dislikes it. For unbelief in part of the Qur'an is unbelief in all of it, and unbelief in one of these ahruf is unbelief in all of it, meaning by harf the recitation of anyone who recited with one of the seven ahruf as we have described." Abu Ja'far Muhammad bin Jarir al-Tabari (Translated & Abridged by J Cooper, W F Madelung and A Jones), Jami' al-Bayan 'an ta'wil ay al-Qur'an, 1987, Volume 1, Oxford University Press & Hakim Investment Holdings (M.E.) Limited, p.16, 29. (http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&selm=7hi27i%24kl7%241%40waltz.rahul.net&rnum=3)

Muslims are also fond of claiming that the Quran was revealed in 7 modes or ahrufs, and this accounts for the differences. First, the differences aren't simply relegated to modes of expression but to the omission of whole chapters and verses from the competing Quranic codices. Second, many Muslims claim that of the seven modes which were allegedly "revealed", only one mode remains. The other six were destroyed:

For example, anyone who has read Von Denffer in his Ulum, may well recall that under the heading Seven Modes of the Qur'an he states (p. 117):

"While some scholars hold*** that the written Qur'an now includes only one of the 'seven modes', and the others are transmitted orally to us..."

In his footnote 51 (which was just denoted by 3 asterisks ***) he writes:

"e.g. Tabari, Jami' al-bayan 'an ta'wil ayat al-qur'an, Cairo, 1968. See introduction to this tafsir. Zarkashi, Vol. 1, p. 213 says most scholars are of the first view, and that the last double reading of the Qur'an by Muhammad in the presence of the Angel Gabriel served, among others, the purpose of eliminating the other six modes." (Source)

Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi realizes the problem the above statements have in trying to account for the variant readings that exist today. In his book An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qura'aan (al-Hadaayah Publishing, 1999, ISBN - 1 898649 32 4), Qadhi lists four points for explaining these variant readings, the last of which is:

"4) The different mus-hafs that 'Uthman ordered to be written were not identical to each other, for in a number of places, the addition or deletion of a word or letter occurred in some of the mus-hafs. This change is reflected in the various qira'aat in existence today, for within the ten qira'aat, there exist word changes and word additions that could not have originated from the same mus-haf. It seems apparent this was done with a goal in mind, and the strongest conclusion seems to be that, by these differences in the mus-hafs, 'Uthman had intended to preserve the differences in the ahruf.

These same four arguments, however, cannot be used for the second opinion (that all of the ahruf were actually preserved), because of the fact that certain variations that the Companions used to recite as part of the Qur'aan are now no longer a part of the Qur'aan (as will be explained in the chapter on naskh and qira'aat). These variant readings can be explained as having been part of the seven ahruf before the final reading of the Qur'aan by the Prophet (pbuh) to Jibreel. This reading which took place before Zayd ibn Thaabit, cancelled the ahruf that 'Uthman did not preserve. Imaam al-Qistillaanee (d. 923 A.H.) said, "In this (last) recitation of the Prophet (pbuh) to Jibreel, there were two benefits: First, to strengthen and preserve the Prophet's memorisation of the Qur'aan, and, second, to affirm those verses that were not abrogated and to indicate which verses were." (p. 182) (Source)

Qadhi also acknowledges that each Muslim taught their particular recitation to the people he had been sent until Uthman commanded that his recitation be followed:

"When the Prophet (pbuh) died, many of the Companions went to the newly-conquered territories of the Muslims, and this was during the time of Aboo Bakr and 'Umar. They taught them the recitation of the Qur'aan and the fundamentals of the religion. Each Companion taught his particular area the recitation that he had learnt from the Prophet (pbuh) (i.e. the various ahruf). Therefore the recitations of these territories differed based on the differences of the Companions.

Now, when 'Uthmaan ordered the writing of the mus-hafs, and sent them to the new provinces, and ordered them to follow it and discard all other readings, each of the territories continued to recite the Qur'aan the same way that they had done so before the mus-haf had reached them, as long as it conformed to the mus-haf. If their recitation differed with the mus-haf, they left that recitation.

This new recitation was passed on from the earlier generations to the later ones, until it reached these seven Imaams (Qaarees) in the same form, and they differed with each others based upon the differences of the people of the territories - none of whom differed with the mus-haf that 'Uthmaan had sent to them. This, therefore, is the reason that the Qaarees have differed with each others...***" (p. 201f) (Source)

What the author failed to mention, and as we have already noted, is that Masud refused to give up his recitation and suffered as a result of it:

"Ibn Mas'ud's copy omitted Sura al-Fatiha (i) Sura al-Falaq (cxiii) and Sura an-Nas (cxiv). 'Ali's copy of the Qur'an is said to have been arranged chronologically, Sura al-'Alaq (xcvi) being put first; but as the copy is not extant, it is impossible to say whether this account is correct or not. The copy possessed by 'Ayesha is said to have been arranged in a different order from the one made by Zaid. Other copies joined together Suras xciii. and xciv. but they have all disappeared.

The most serious opponent of 'Uthman's text was ibn Mas'ud, a companion of the Prophet and a great theologian. Ibn Mas'ud refused to give up his copy of the Qur'an to the President of the Revision Committee and thus incurred the anger of the Khalifa, by whom he was publicly chastised. He died a few days after from the effects of the beating he had received ..." (Source)

The fact of the matter is, no satisfactory answer has been given in explaining the alleged seven modes of recitation and the different readings of the Quran. Qadhi frankly admits:

"As for what is meant by these seven ahruf, THERE IS A GREAT DEAL OF DIFFERENCE ON THIS ISSUE. Ibn Qutaybah (d. 276 A.H.) RECORDED THIRTY-FIVE OPINIONS ON THIS ISSUE, and as-Suyootee listed OVER FORTY. Ibn Sa'adan (d. 231 A.H.), a famous grammarian and reciter of the Qur'aan, even declared that the true meaning of the ahruf WAS KNOWN ONLY TO ALLAH, and thus to attempt to investigate into this issue WAS FUTILE! On the other hand, Imaam Muhammad ibn al-Jazaree (d. 832 A.H.), perhaps the greatest scholar of the qira'aat after the era of the salaf, said "I have sought to discover the meanings of these hadeeth (about the ahruf), and have pondered over them, and contemplated this topic for over thirty years, until Allaah opened my mind to that which is the correct answer in this matter. Inshaa Allaah!"

The reason that such great difference of opinion exists concerning the exact meaning of the ahruf is due to the fact THAT THERE DOES NOT EXIST ANY EXPLICIT NARRATIONS FROM THE PROPHET (pbuh), OR THE SALAF, CONCERNING THE EXACT NATURE OF THE AHRUF; these various opinions ARE MERELY THE CONCLUSIONS OF LATER SCHOLARS, based upon their examination of the evidences and their personal reasoning (ijtihaad).

Therefore, it should be understood from the outset that to arrive at one specific conclusion, and claim with certainty that it alone is correct and all else is wrong, is pure folly." (p. 175 f) (Source)

The following Muslim site, addressing this very subject, writes:

Secondly, what is meant by styles (ahruf, sing. harf)?

The BEST of the scholarly OPINIONS concerning what is meant is that there are seven ways of reciting the Qur’aan, where the wording may differ but the meaning is the same; if there is a different meaning then it is by way of variations on a theme, not opposing and contradiction.

Thirdly ...

It is known that Hishaam was Asadi Qurashi (i.e., from the clan of Bani Asad in Quraysh) and ‘Umar was ‘Adawi Qurashi (i.e., from the clan of Bani ‘Adiyy in Quraysh). Both of them were from Quraysh and Quraysh had only one dialect. If the difference in ahruf (styles) had been a difference in dialects, why would two men of Quraysh have been different?

The scholars mentioned NEARLY FORTY DIFFERENT OPINIONS concerning this matter! Perhaps the most correct is that which we have mentioned above. And Allaah knows best.


It seems that the seven styles were revealed with different wordings, as indicated by the hadeeth of ‘Umar, because ‘Umar’s objection was to the style, not the meaning. The differences between these styles are not the matter of contradiction and opposition, rather they are synonymous, as Ibn Mas’ood said: “It is like one of you saying halumma, aqbil or ta’aal (all different ways of saying ‘Come here’).”


With regard to the seven recitations (al-qiraa’aat al-saba’), this number is not based on the Qur’aan and Sunnah, rather it is the ijtihaad of Ibn Mujaahid (may Allaah have mercy on him). People thought that al-ahruf al-saba’ (the seven styles) were al-qiraa’aat al-saba’ (the seven recitations) because they happened to be the same number. But this number may have come about coincidentally, or it may have been done deliberately by Ibn Mujaahid to match what was narrated about the number of styles (ahruf) being seven. Some people thought that the styles (ahruf) were the recitations, but this is a mistake. No such comment is known among the scholars. The seven recitations are one of the seven styles, and this is the style that ‘Uthmaan chose for all the Muslims.


When ‘Uthmaan made copies of the Qur’aan, he did so according to one style (harf), but he omitted the dots and vowel points so that some other styles could also be accommodated. So the Mus-haf that was copied in his time could be read according to other styles, and whatever styles were accommodated by the Mus-haf of ‘Uthmaan remained in use, and the styles that could not be accommodated fell into disuse. The people had started to criticize one another for reciting differently, so ‘Uthmaan united them by giving them one style of the Qur’aan.


Your saying that Mujaahid’s different recitations meant the seven styles (ahruf) is not correct, as was said by Shaykh al-Islam ibn Taymiyyah. (Majmoo’ah al-Fatawa, vol. 13, p. 210) ...

Islam Q&A (www.islam-qa.com)

(Question #5142: The revelation of the Qur’aan in seven styles (ahruf, sing. harf); bold and capital emphasis ours)

Renowned Sunni scholar and commentator al-Qurtubi stated that:

Scholars disagree about what is meant by the seven modes, and there are thirty-five things mentioned by al-Busti. We will mention five of them here:

-This is the position of most of the people of knowledge, such as Sufyan ibn 'Uyayna, 'Abdullah ibn Wahb, at-Tabari, at-Tahawi and others. What is meant are the seven manners of synonyms with different expressions, like aqbala, ta'ala and halluma (all of which mean "come here"). At-Tahawi said, "The clearest elucidation of that is what is mentioned in the hadith of Abu Bakra, 'Jibril came to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, "Recite in one mode." Mika'il said, "Increase it." He said, "Recite it in two modes." Mika'il said, "Increase it," until it was seven modes. He said, "Recite it. Each is adequate unless you confuse an ayat of mercy for an ayat of punishment or an ayat of punishment with an ayat of mercy."' That is like halluma, ta'ala, aqbala, adhhaba, asra'a and 'ajjala. It is related from Ibn 'Abbas that Ubayy ibn Ka'b used to recite "wait for us" (57:13) "undhuruna" as "umhuluna", "akhkhiruna", and "arqubuna". With the same isnad, it is reported that Ubayy recited in 2:19 "marru" instead of "mashaw" and "sa'aw" (they walk). In al-Bukhari, az-Zuhri said, "These modes are about the same matter. They do not differ in respect of the halal and haram."

At-Tahawi said, "There was scope for people in the letters since they were unable to take the Qur'an in other than their dialects because they were illiterate and only a few of them could write. It was hard for someone with a dialect to change to another. If he wanted to do that, it would have entailed great hardship and so they were given scope regarding different expressions as long as the meaning was the same. They remained like that until many of them could write and the dialects reverted to that of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Then they were able to memorise those words and they no longer had the allowance to recite differently." Ibn 'Abdu'l-Barr said, "It is clear that scope for the seven modes was at a particular time out of necessity. When that necessity was removed, the ruling of the seven was removed, and the Qur'an was recited IN ONE MODE."

- Some people say that the seven dialects in the Qur'an are the seven dialects of all the Arabs, both Yamani and Nizar, because the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was not ignorant of any of them. He was "given all the words". It does not mean that the one mode has seven aspects, but these seven dialects are in different parts of the Qur'an. Some of it is in the dialect of Quraysh, some in that of Hudhayl, some in Hawazin, and some in Yamani. Al-Khattabi said, "That is how the Qur'an is recited in seven ways." This is the meaning of the Qur'an being revealed in seven modes. Al-Qasim ibn Sallam believed that and Ibn 'Atiyya preferred it. Some tribes used writing more than others. Anas mentioned that when 'Uthman told them copy out the Qur'an, he said, "When you and Zayd differ, then write in the dialect of Quraysh. It was revealed in their dialect." (al-Bukhari)

Qadi Ibn at-Tayyib [al-Baqillani] said, "The meaning of 'Uthman's words that it was revealed in the dialect of Quraysh, means most of it. It is not a definitive proof that it is all in the dialect of Quraysh since there are words and letters which differ from the dialect of Quraysh. This indicates that it was revealed in all the language of the Arabs, and no one can say that it was just Quraysh or one part of the Arabs rather than others. Ibn 'Abdu'l-Barr said that this meant that most of it was revealed in the dialect of Quraysh because other than the dialect of Quraysh exists in sound readings with the use of the hamzas and the like. Quraysh did not use the hamza. Ibn 'Atiyya said that the meaning of the "seven modes" is that the expressions of the seven tribes are in it.

- These seven dialects are all from the tribes of Mudar. Some people said that. They used as evidence what 'Uthman said, "The Qur'an was revealed in the language of Mudar." They said, "It is possible that part of it is that of Quraysh, part Kinana, part Asad, part Hudhayl, part Taym, part Daba, and part Qays. They said these tribes of Mudar contain the seven dialects in these ranks. Ibn Mas'ud used to like those who copied out the Qur'ans to be from Mudar. Others objected to the idea that it was all from Mudar and said that there are rare usages in Mudar with which it is not permitted to write the Qur'an.

- What is related from some scholars is exemplified by Qadi Ibn at-Tayyib who said, "I have reflected on the aspects of the differences in recitation and have found them to be seven. Some involve changes of voweling while the meaning and form remain, like atharu and athara in 11:78; some do not change their form but change their meaning through inflection, as in 36:19, reading ba'id or ba'ida; some retain their form and change their meaning with different letters; some change the form while the meaning remains as in 101:5 where both 'ahn and suf mean wool; some change their form and meaning; some entail a change of order; and some consist of addition or reduction.

- What is meant by the seven modes are meanings in the Book of Allah: command and prohibition, promise and threat, stories, arguments and parables. Ibn 'Atiyya says that this is weak because that is not called ahruf. Furthermore there is consensus that it does not occur in making the lawful lawful or changing any of the meanings. Qadi Ibn at-Tayyib mentioned a hadith along these lines from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and then said, "This is not part of what it is allowed for them to recite." Harf in this means 'manner' as Allah says, 'one who worships Allah on an edge.' (22:11). That is the meaning of the hadith about the seven means of allowing and forbidding and the like.

It is also said that what is meant by the seven ahruf are the seven readings that we have because all of that is sound as the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, stated. This, however, is not correct, as we will now explain. (Aisha Bewley, Selections from the Introduction of Tafsir al-Qurtubi; online source; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

Ahmad Von Denffer concurs:

"Scholars Differ
 There is a difference of opinion among classical Muslim scholars on the subject of the ‘seven modes’, to the extent that one of them was able to say: ‘the degree of difference of opinion (iktilaf) among the scholars is to the extent of 35 sayings’. {footnote 46}
 Some of these different opinions are that the ‘seven modes’ are:
- Different languages (dialects) current among the Arabs at the time of revelation, such as e.g. Qura’sh, Hudhayl, Tamin, etc., who had different ways of pronunciation, which could even affect the spelling, e.g.

- It may also be the usage of words from the different languages in the Qur’an (this is considered one of the most sound views).
- Usage of synonyms in the Qur’an, i.e. that a variety of expressions describe one and the same concept. A well known example is Sura 101:5, which reads as   , but on another version both meaning ‘like carded wool’. The word read in place of (Sura 1:6), etc. {footnote 48}
- Different aspects of the revelation, such as e.g. order, prohibitions, promise, narrations, etc.
- Seven differences, such as possible ways of reading words and structures in the Qur’an, e.g. the word ‘trusts’ in 23:8 which can be read both ‘trust’ (sg.) or ‘trusts’ (pl.) according to the plain text without vowels; or .
- Slightly different wording of a particular passage, such as e.g. in 9:100: ‘Gardens under which rivers flow’ which some read as ‘Gardens from under which rivers flow’ adding the word ‘from’ (min) to the text.
- Different ways of pronunciation as they have been explained in great detail by the scholars of qira’a (recitation) such as e.g. , etc. {footnote 49}". (Ulum, p. 115f; emphasis added)

Muslimah Aisha Bewley adds:

There are slight differences in these readings, for example, where one stops, as in Surat al-Baqara (1): "Dhalika'l-Kitabu la rayb" or "Dhalika'l-Kitabu la rayba fih" as well as some voweling differences ("suddan" or "saddan"), and sometimes a difference in the letters due to different diacritical marks, as ya' or ta' (turja'una or yurja'una). Sometimes a word will have a shadda or not have a shadda. In this context, we should mentioned that the Prophet himself said that the Qur'an was revealed in seven dialects (ahruf, sing harf). Harf here means dialect, idiom, or mode of expression. Now, during the khalifate of 'Uthman, this had given rise to squabbling. For instance, the Syrians followed Ubayy ibn Ka'b, the Kufans followed 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud, the people of Hims followed al-Miqdad, and the people of Basra followed Abu Musa. To put an end to these squabbles over which was best, 'Uthman decided to unite the community behind one text ... 'Uthman used it to make his copy which was then distributed to all parts of the Muslim umma, but it is reported that 'Uthman "made the copies of the Qur'an" or "united the Muslims on a single copy." The impetus to do this was provided by Hudhayfa ibn al-Yaman when he returned to Madina after observing regional differences. He said to him, "Take this umma in hand before they differ about the Book like the Christians and Jews." So he sent for the copy made by Abu Bakr which was in the possession of 'Umar's daughter, Hafsa. (Source)

Another Muslim concludes:

As far as the narrative regarding the seven different ways of reading the Qur'an are concerned, I am in agreement with the opinion expressed by Tamanna `emaadi. The content of this narrative does not allow to take it in the meaning of differences in accent only. Moreover, there are a number of flaws in the content of the narrative, due to which it is not possible to satisfactorily hold it to be an accurate account of the actual events.

Let us first take a brief look at the narrative in question. According to the reporting of Imaam Maalik ibn Anas, in his "Mu'atta", Umar ibn al-Khattaab (ra) says:

"I heard Hishaam ibn Hakeem ibn Hezaam reciting Surah Al-Furqaan [while leading prayers] in a manner different from the way I recited it, and the way the Prophet (pbuh) himself had taught me to recite it. I was about to grab him immediately, and then I decided to give him some time to complete his prayers. At that time I grabbed him by his stole/shawl and pulled him to the Prophet (pbuh). I said to the Prophet (pbuh): O Prophet I heard him recite Surah Al-Furqaan in a different manner than the one that you taught me. The Prophet (pbuh) directed me to let go of him, and then directed Hishaam to recite the Surah. Hishaam recited it in the same way he was reciting it during his prayers. The Prophet (pbuh) [, at the end of his recital,] said: This is how it was revealed. Then the Prophet (pbuh) directed me to recite the Surah. Then I recited the Surah [as I knew it]. The Prophet (pbuh) [, at the end of my recital,] said: This is how it was revealed. Then added: The Qur'an was revealed in 'sab`ah ahruf' you can read it according to the one which is suitable for you."

The above narrative has indeed been reported by the most accepted compilations of narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh), however the fact remains THAT ITS EXACT IMPLICATION HAS ALWAYS BEEN A MYSTERY FOR THE MUSLIM SCHOLARS. Imaam Suyuti, in his "Al-Ittiqaan fi `uloom al-Qur'an" has narrated more or less FORTY DIFFERENT SAYINGS TRYING TO EXPLAIN THE IMPLICATION OF THIS NARRATIVE but has finally conceded in his commentary of the Mu'atta "Tanvir al-Hawaalik" that none of these (forty) explanations is completely acceptable and therefore the correct opinion seems to be of those who hold that the narrative is quite inexplicable and should therefore be considered a 'Mutashaabeh'.

An acceptable explanation might have been that the different recitations of Surah Al-Furqaan mentioned in the narrative actually refer to the different dialects of the various tribes of the Arabs. However, this explanation also becomes redundant in view of the fact that the two persons involved in this incident (Umar and Hishaam) are from the same tribe of Qureish, and no inter-tribe variation of dialect could have existed between these two persons. Moreover, the Qur'an has clearly stated that it was revealed in the dialect of the Qureish. Thus, even if the two persons had belonged to different tribes, the words "the Qur'an was revealed in 'sab`ah ahruf' would have remained in contradiction to the Qur'an.

Furthermore, it is well known that Hishaam ibn Hakeem ibn Hezaam accepted Islam after the conquest of Mekkah. Thus, accepting this narrative to be true would imply accepting that even till the time of the conquest of Mekkah, important companions of the Prophet (pbuh) - people like Umar ibn al-Khattaab (ra) - remained unaware of the fact that the Prophet (pbuh) was secretly teaching the Qur'an in a number of different ways than the one in which these companions were being taught.

Finally, a number of historical narratives tell us that the Prophet (pbuh) not only used to dictate the verses that were revealed to him to quite a few of his companions as a step toward the preservation of these revelations, but also used to explain the placement of the new revelations with reference to the written or memorized record that already existed. Nevertheless, there is not a single narrative that tells us that while informing about and dictating the new revelations, the Prophet (pbuh) told his scribes about the variation in the words of the new revelation. (Source)

These Muslims weren't the only ones confused since even the Master of the Quranic reciters himself, Ubayy b. Kabb, was perplexed over this issue:

Ubayy bin Ka'b (Allah be pleased with him) reported: Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) taught me a Surah. One day I was sitting in the mosque when a man entered and recited the same Surah in a different style. I said: Who taught you this Surah? He replied, "Allah's Messenger taught it to me." I asked him to stay till we meet Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Then we went to Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and I said to him: Allah's Messenger, this man recited a Surah in a style different from the one which you had taught me to recite it. Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: Recite, O Ubayy! I recited. He said: Your recitation is good. Then he (the Holy Prophet) asked the other person to recite. He recited in a style different from the one in which I had recited. Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) expressed approval of this mode of recitation and said: O Ubayy! The Qur'an has been revealed in seven modes; in whichever mode it is recited, that will be correct and sufficient. (Sunan Nasa'i: English translation with Arabic Text, compiled by Imam Abu Abd-ur-Rahman Ahmad Nasa'i, rendered into English by Muhammad Iqbal Siddiqui [Kazi Publication, 121-Zulqarnain Chambers, Gampat Road, Lahore, Pakistan], Volume 2, Number 943, pp. 34-35)

Ubayy bin Ka'b (Allah be pleased with him) reported: There occurred in my mind a matter which did not occur since I embraced Islam that I recited a verse in one mode while the other recited it in a different style. I said: Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has taught it to me. He said: Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has taught it to me. I went to Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and I said to him: Allah's Messenger, you have taught me to recite this verse in this style. He (the Holy Prophet) said: Yes. The other person said: You have taught me to recite this verse in this style. He (the Holy Prophet) said: Yes. Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said that Garbiel and Michael came to him, and when Gabriel had sat down at his right and Michael at his left, Gabriel told him to recite the Qur'an in mode, and Michael told him to ask more, till he reached seven modes, each mode being sufficient and correct. (Ibid., number 944, pp. 35-36; bold emphasis ours)


Ubayy b. Ka'b said : When I was in the mosque as a man entered and prayed and recited in a manner to which I objected. Afterwards a man entered and recited in a manner different from the other. When we had finished the prayer we all went to visit God's messenger, and I said, "This man recited in a manner different from his." The Prophet then commanded them to recite, and when they had done so he expressed approval of both of them. This made me inclined to tell him HE WAS WRONG, even to the extent I had never reached in the pre-Islamic period; and when God's messenger noticed how I was affected he gave me a pat on the chest, whereupon I broke into a sweat and was filled with fear as though I were looking at God. He then said to me, "A message was sent to me, Ubayy, to recite the Qur'an in one mode, but when I replied that I wished matters to be made easy for my people, a second message instructed me to recite it in two modes. Again I replied that I wished matters to be made easy for my people, and a third message instructed me to recite it in seven modes. I being told at the same time that I might ask something for each reply I had received. I therefore said, 'O God, forgive my people. O God, forgive my people;' and I have delayed the third request till the day of intercession." Muslim transmitted it. (Miskhat al-Masabih, English Translation with Explanatory Notes by Dr. James Robson [SH. Muhammad Ashraf Publishers, Booksellers & Exporters, Lahore PK, reprinted 1990], Book VIII.-The Excellent Qualities of the Qur'an, Chapter III, pp. 466-467; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Even Ibn Masud was taken aback:

Ibn Mas'ud said : I heard a man who recited, and as I had heard the Prophet reciting differently I took him to the Prophet and told him and noticed that he gave me a disapproving look. He then said, "Both of you are doing it well, so do not disagree, for your predecessors disagreed and perished." Bukhari transmitted. (Ibid., p. 466)

Interestingly, even though Muhammad allegedly said it was okay to recite in any of the seven modes, Muslims decided to omit six of the seven in clear contradiction with Muhammad's orders.

And as far as the seven qiraat are concerned, there were actually more than that. These seven versions of the text were chosen by a specific Muslim scholar in the fourth century Hijrah, long after Muhammad's death, without everyone agreeing with his decision:

During the first two centuries, there were approximately 25 different Qiraats, but they were not compiled. It was only in the third century that Imaam Abu Ubayd Qaasim ibn Salaam compiled the first book on Qiraat, 'Kitaab al-Qiraat'. Thereafter, in the fourth century, Imaam Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn Moosa ibn Abbaas ibn Mujaahid compiled a Kitaab, namely 'Kitaab as-Sab'ah' in which he gathered seven Qiraat which were common in his era and commonly known as Qiraat as-Sab'ah.

Imaam Abu Muhammad Makki (RA) states that there were approximately 70 other Qiraats. However, he chose, only seven Qiraats and since he was a popular personality, his Kitaab also became very famous. That led to people concentrating only on the seven types of Qiraat.

Many great Aimmah disagreed with Imaam ibn Mujaahid of confining the Qiraats to seven and leaving out the other Qiraats. Therefore, they wrote Kitaabs consisting of the other Qiraats. Thus, we find that Qiraat al-Thalaathah (3 additional Qiraats) which we call Asharah.

(Islamic Question Online with Mufti Ebrahim Desai, Question 14508 from Australia: Why does there exist different riwayat of the quran e.g. warsh, hafs? isn't the quran preserved in it's original form?; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

In light of the preceding citations, it can be safely said that no other book has as much controversy and uncertainty surrounding its transmission as the Quran. In fact, it can be also said that no other religious text has suffered as much textual corruption as the Quran. The transmission of the Holy Bible is vastly superior to that of the Quran with all its corruptions. The true miracle of the Quran is not to be found in its contents or its preservation, but rather in its ability to convince Muslims like Bravo that it has actually been perfectly preserved despite all the evidence to the contrary!

Returning back to the Fihrist, we are told:

He [Al-Fadl ibn Shadhan] said:

So far I have followed the Qur'anic copy of Ubayy ibn Ka ‘b. According to the statement of Ubayy ibn Ka‘b the total number of the verses of the Quran IS SIX THOUSAND, TWO HUNDRED AND TEN. The total number of the surahs of the Qur'an according to the statement of ‘Ata ibn Yasar is one hundred and fourteen, ITS VERSES ARE SIX THOUSAND, AND ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY, ITS WORDS SEVENTY-SEVEN THOUSAND, FOUR HUNDRED AND THIRTY-NINE, AND ITS LETTER THREE HUNDRED AND TWENTY THREE THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN.

According to the statement of ‘Asim al-Jahdari, THERE ARE ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN SURAHS. The total number of verses of the Qur'an as stated by Yahya ibn al-Harith al-Dhamari IS SIX THOUSAND, TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY-SIX, WHILE ITS LETTERS ARE THREE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-ONE THOUSAND, FIVE HUNDRED AND THIRTY. (Ibid., p. 62)

Ibn Kathir compounds the problem:

The Number of the Qur'anic Ayat

As for the count of the Ayat of the Glorious Qur'an, these are at least SIX THOUSAND. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION OVER THIS COUNT; some said the number is SIX THOUSAND, while some added TWO HUNDRED AND FOUR Ayat and some added FOURTEEN. Also, some added TWO HUNDRED AND NINETEEN, while some others added TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FIVE OR TWENTY-SIX. Furthermore, others added TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY-SIX, as Abu ‘Amr Ad-Dani said in his book, Al-Bayan.

The Number of Words and the Letters of the Qur'an

As for the number of the words and the letters of the Glorious Qur'an, Al-Fadl bin Shadhan said that ‘Ata bin Yasar said they are, "Seventy-seven thousand, four hundred and thirty-nine words."

As for the number of letters of the Qur'an, ‘Abdullah bin Kathir said that Mujahid said, "This is our count of the letters in the Qur'an: THREE HUNDRED TWENTY-ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY LETTERS." Further, Al-Fadl said that ‘Ata bin Yasar said that the Qur'an has, "THREE HUNDRED TWENTY-THREE THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN LETTERS." In addition, Salam Abu Muhammad Al-Hamani said, "Al-Hajjaj gathered the readers [of the Qur'an], THOSE WHO MEMORIZED IT, AND THE SCRIBES, and he asked them, ‘Tell me about the entire Qur'an, how many letters does it consist of?’ They said, ‘We counted THREE HUNDRED FORTY THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED AND FORTY LETTERS.’" (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Volume 1, Parts 1 and 2 (Surat Al-Fatihah to Verse 252 of Surat Al-Baqarah), abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore; Januaury 2000], pp. 35-36; bold and capital emphasis ours)

In light of these traditions, the following questions need to be answered:

  1. Does the Quran have 110, 113, 114, or 116 suras?
  2. Are there 6,236 or 6,226 or 6,225 or 6,219 or 6,214 or 6,210 or 6,204 or 6,200 or 6,170 or 6,000 verses?
  3. Are there 340,740 or 323,015 or 321,530 or 321,180 letters?
  4. Which order of the Qur'an does one follow: Masud's, Kabb's or Uthman's?
  5. What are the exact names of the Surahs?
  6. Most importantly, how do you know any of the above for certain?

Al-Qurtubi adds to this mass confusion:


As for the number of its letters and juz's, Sallam al-Himani said, "Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf gathered the reciters, huffaz and scribes and said, 'Tell me how many letters are in the entire Qur'an.' I was one of that group. We calculated and agreed that the Qur'an had three hundred and forty thousand, seven hundred and forty (340,740) letters. Then he said, 'Tell me which letter ends half of the Qur'an.' It was in al-Kahf, on the fa' of wa layatalattaf [18:19, "he should go about with caution."] He said, 'Tell me the thirds.' The first third was found to be at the beginning of 9:100 and at the second at the beginning of 26:100 or 101. The last third was the rest of the Qur'an. He said, 'Tell me the sevenths of the letters.' We did so."

Sallam, Abu Muhammad, stated, "We did that over four months. Every night al-Hajjaj would read a fourth. The end of the first fourth was at the end of al-An'am, the second in al-Kahf, the third at the end of az-Zumar and the fourth consisted of the rest. This is contrary to what is mentioned by ad-Dani in Kitab al-Bayan.


As for the number of the ayats of the Qur'an in the first Madinan copy, Muhammad ibn 'Isa said, "The number of the ayats of the Qur'an in the first Madinan copy was six thousand." Abu 'Amr said, "It is the number related by the people of Kufa from the people of Madina, and they did not name anyone specifically on whom they relied in that."

As for the final Madinan copy, according to Isma'il ibn Ja'far, it has six thousand two hundred and fourteen (6214) ayats. Al-Fadl said, "The number of the ayats of the Qur'an according to the Makkans was six thousand two hundred and nineteen (6219). That is the number related by Salim and al-Kisa'i from Hamza. Al-Kisa'i attributed it to 'Ali. Muhammad said, "The number of the ayats of the Qur'an according to the Basrans was six thousand two hundred and four (6204), which is the number which their Salaf passed down. As for the number of the people of Syria, Yahya ibn al-Harith adh-Dhamari said it was six thousand two hundred and twenty-six (6226). One transmission has six thousand two hundred and twenty-five (6225)." Ibn Dhakwan said, "I think that Yahya did not count the basmala."

As for the number of its words, al-Fadl ibn Shadhan said, "The total number of the words of the Qur'an according to 'Ata' ibn Yasar is seventy-seven thousand four hundred and thirty-nine (77,439) and its letters are three hundred and twenty-three thousand, and fifteen (323,015)." This differs from what al-Himani said. Ibn Kathir reported that Mujahid said, "This is what we counted of the Qur'an: it has three hundred and twenty-one thousand, one hundred and eighty (321,180) letters. This also differs from what al-Himani mentioned. (Bewley, Selections from the Introduction of Tafsir al-Qurtubi; online source)

It gets worse. The Fihrist mentions one specific Muslim who held to a different reading of the Quran, but later submitted to Uthman's reading:

Ibn Shanabudh

His name was Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Ayyub ibn Shanabudh. He was hostile to Abu Bakr [Ibn Mujahid], not consorting with him. He was religious, nonaggressive, but foolish. Shaykh Abi Muhammad Yusuf ibn al-Hasan al-Sirafi told me that Allah strengthened him with his father's skill in modulation, though he had little science. He quoted many readings and wrote various books about them.

He died in the year three hundred and twenty-eight [AD. 939] in his prison at the sultan's palace. Abu 'Ali [Muhammad ibn Ali] ibn Muqlah flogged him with lashes and when he prayed [to Allah] that his [Ibn Muqlah's] hand should be cut off, [Allah] granted that the hand [Ibn Muqlah] should be amputated; a rare answer to prayer.

Mention of Some of The Readings

"When the call to prayer is made on the day of congregation, pass on to the remembrance of Allah." [Qur'an 62:9, gives hasten instead of pass on.]

He also read, "And there was in front of them a king, taking every good ship by force." [Qur'an 18:79, gives, "And there was behind them a king, taking every ship by force."]

He read, "Like al-suf al-manfush (carded wool)." [Qur'an 101:5, has, "Like al-'ihn al-manfush."]

He read, "The hands of Abu Lahab will perish and they have perished. There shall not profit..." [Qur'an 111:1, 2, give, "The hands of Abu Lahab will perish and he will perish. There shall not profit..."]

He read, "Today we deliver you by making you strong, that you may be a sign to whoever comes after you." [Qur'an 10:92, gives, "And today we deliver you with your body that you may be a sign to whoever comes after you."]

He reads, "And when it fell, the people (al-ins) perceived that the jinn, if they had known the unseen, would not have remained in a state (hawl) of painful (alim) torment." [Qur'an 34:14, gives, "And when it fell the jinn perceived that if they had known the unseen, they would not have remained in abject (mahin) torment."]

He read, "By the night when it enshrouds and the day when it is bright, and the male and the female." [Qur'an 92:1, gives, "By the night when it enshrouds and the day when it is bright, and what created the male and the female."]

He read, "The unbelievers have lied and there will be punishment." [Qur'an 25:77, gives, "You have lied and there will be punishment."]

He read, "Unless you do so, there will be confusion and widespread ('arid) corruption." [Qur'an 8:73, gives great (kabir) instead of widespread.]

He read, "And let there be a people among you who invite what is good, commanding what is right, refraining (nahun) from what is wrong, and who seek the aid of Allah in what befalls them, for these are they who are fortunate." [Qur'an 3:104, gives a different form of the same verb for refraining and omits and who seek the aid of Allah in what befalls them.]

It is said that he [Ibn Shanabudh] confessed all of this [variation]. Then he was moved to repentance and used his handwriting in contrition, so that he wrote:

Thus saith Muhammad Ibn Ahmad ibn Ayyub [Ibn Shanabudh]: I used to read the expressions differing from the version of Uthman ibn 'Affan, which was confirmed by the consensus, its recital being agreed upon by the Companions of the Apostle of Allah. Then it became clear to me that this was wrong, so that I am contrite because of it and from it torn away. Now before Allah, may His name be glorified for from Him is acquittal, behold the version of 'Uthman is the correct one, with which it is not proper to differ and other than which there is no way of reading. (Ibid., pp. 70-72)

Even though Shanabudh accepted the Uthmanic reading, one must still acount for the former's variant readings. Where did they come from? Did Shanabudh deliberately tamper with the text of the Quran? If so, then in light of the variant readings and conflicting codices that circulated amongst the Muslims, a Muslim can never know for certain how many of these variant readings were a result of deliberate corruption to the text of the Quran. After all, if one Muslim could do it then surely others could as well.

Interestingly, Bravo is fond of quoting the Interpreter's Bible regarding the fact that no two NT MSS are alike but fails to mention the fact THAT NO TWO QURANIC MSS ARE ALIKE. Here again are Ibn Ishaq's comments:

Thus saith Muhammad ibn Ishaq [al-Nadim]: I have seen a number of Quranic manuscripts, which the transcribers recorded as manuscripts from Ibn Mas‘ud. NO TWO QUR'ANIC COPIES WERE IN AGREEMENT and most of them were on badly effaced parchment. (Ibid., p. 57)

It wasn't just the MSS of Masud's Quran which were not uniform according to al-Nadim:

Books Composed About Discrepancies of the [Qur'anic] Manuscripts The Discrepancies between the Manuscripts of the people of al-Madina, al-Kufa, and al-Basrah, according to al-Kisai; book of Khalaf, Discrepancies of the manuscripts; Discrepancies of the People of al-Kufa, al-Basrah and Syria concerning the Manuscripts, by al-Farra'; Discrepancies between the Manuscripts, Abu Da'ud al-Sijistani; book of al-Mada'ini about the discrepancies between the manuscripts and the compiling of the Qur'an; Discrepancies between the Manuscripts of Syria, al-Hijaz, and al-Iraq, by Ibn Amir al-Yahsubi; book of Muhammad ibn 'Abd Al-Rahman al-Isbahani about discrepancies of the manuscripts. (Ibid., p. 79; bold emphasis ours)

Bravo may try to use an evasion tactic and claim that the Quran was preserved by memorization. Yet, we have just shown that the very memorizers of the Quran couldn't even agree amongst themselves as to how many verses and surahs were in the Quran, demonstrating that the Muslim assertion regarding memorization preserving the Quran is simply a bold-faced lie. We will have a lot more to say regarding this issue in our upcoming refutation of Bravo's obfuscation and alleged response to my exposition of the unreliable transmission and corruption of the Quranic text, Lord Jesus willing.

This concludes this paper for now. In the service of the great God and eternal Savior Jesus Christ, our risen and glorious Lord forever. Amen.

Sam Shamoun

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