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Part 2: The True State Of The Qur'an

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Did "Allah" Say 'No' Or 'Yes'? - Scholars Differ - So Do The Texts

Perhaps the most demoralising yet openly admitted of all of the Qur'an's problems is what the scholars confess are cases where the text sometimes translates 'NO' when it should say 'YES'. The knowledge of this evoked the terse statement "That's ridiculous!" from a follower of Islam. In Islamic theology it is far worse than that!

Hamidullah even claims that the reverse can also be found:

"Lastly I must bring into relief the case of the word la (Click to View ), which in four or five cases is only l (Click to View ) without the final alif. The word la means no, and the word l means certainly.It is horrible to think when it is meant "the believers certainly shall assemble unto God" and "the unbelievers certainly shall assemble in the hell", and the unfortunate ignorant reader unintentionally says "not" instead of "certainly". We will point out these passages in our second list" (Orthographical Peculiarities In The Text Of The Qur'an, M. Hamidullah, Islamic Order (Karachi), Vol. 3, no. 4, 1981, p.78; article received from Islamic Foundation UK; article noted in Ulum, Von Denffer, p.60; emphasis added). [See pages opposite]

Although we will note later Hamidullah's 'outwitting' in this statement, it is indeed the "horrible" state of the Qur'an. While it is traditional for Islam to defend itself with simply the statement "this does not represent the 'ijm (consensus)", it will be apparent to anyone who examines Islam's own evidence, that Islamic scholars have long admitted these matters. As we will also see, they are not rebels but realists. 

M. Ali in defining the problem, gave a list of its occurrences in his Introduction. [The text of this can be seen on the previous opposite.]

First, we note that in the first paragraph he declares his willingness to admit to "some peculiarities in the writing", but he is unwilling to admit they are 'mistakes of Muhammad's scribes' as others have. He, as Von Denffer and others, advocates that "the transcription of the Holy Qur'an as it was written by the scribes in the Prophet's time has in fact been preserved intact". However, his list of problem texts is largely the same as that among the other scholars and Q27:21 is the example which ibn Khaldun declared was 'Proof' that Muhammad's scribes were deficient in writing. 

Second, we note that whereas he declares the problem is one for "novices", ibn Khaldun admitted that it was one for the scholars! As we have seen, he stated: 

"No attention should be paid in this connection with those incompetent (scholars) that (the men around Muhammad) knew well the art of writing

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and that the alleged discrepancies between their writing and the principles of orthography are not discrepancies, as has been alleged, but have a reason. For instance, they explain the addition of the alif in  la 'adhbahannahU "I shall indeed slaughter him" as indication that the slaughtering did not take place ( lA 'adhbahannahU ). The addition of the ya in bi-ayydin "with hands (power)," they explain as an indication that the divine power is perfect. There are similar things based on nothing but purely arbitrary assumptions. The only reason that caused them to (assume such things) is their belief that (their explanations) would free the men around Muhammad from the suspicion of deficiency, in the sense that they were not able to write well. They think that good writing is perfection. Thus, they do not admit the fact that the men around Muhammad were deficient in writing." (Muqqadimah, ibn Khaldun, vol. 2, p.383f).

The avoidance of such matters by the knowledgeable is well illustrated by Ibrahim Surty of Central Mosque, Birmingham, UK, in that although he also lists some of our problem texts, he only comments: 

"(iii) The consonant Click to View(Alif) is written in examples nos. 16-23." (p. 76; 
emphasis added)

It becomes obvious that this is a way to avoid saying "they shouldn't have been written but they were", for the following are the examples which he presents with this text: 

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We note that Surty's example #20 (see encircled text above) is ibn Khaldun's (and M. Ali's) example of one too many alifs in the graphic form in Q27:21 which is something which ibn Khaldun admitted divided the scholars of Islam. [His #21 is Q3:158, #22 is Q37:68 and #23 is Q3:166.] 

As he said, certain Islamic scholars [obviously they believed the text of the Qur'an 'as it existed' constituted Islam's 'eternal revelation' (strangely they are called 'incompetent'!), a perfect copy of a 'Heavenly Tablet'] wanted to translate "I shall NOT slaughter him" (lA 'adhbahnnahU) which meant they concluded the presence of the single alif meant that two words were present, as we recall M. Ali noted when he wrote: 

"An extra alif is sometimes written where lam as indicating certainty is fol

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lowed by an alif which is part of the next word." 

Thus he, as they, asserts that two words are present in the graphic form, the first being Click to View (la = NO) and the second being Click to View

If the graphic form had been written with the intended meaning of "I will certainly slaughter him" (or, "Yes I will slaughter him"), then the text would not contain the extra alif, for there would be only the one word la'adhbahnnahU. This is what the Iranians have in their text Click to Viewwhich shows that some are not averse to correcting the mistakes in the Qur'an and so it is "made to appear" to be 'perfect'. 

Yet they are not alone, for this means that all scholars who declared the uncorrected text should say "I shall indeed slaughter him" in fact need to 'doctor' the text to make it say something that it obviously shouldn't. Indeed, what exists in most modern printed texts (Click to View ) this is from the 1924 Egyptian Edition), is then a manipulation of the text to say 'certainly'. The single unwanted alif is 'silenced' [note the 'otiose' "sign of silence" above the unwanted alif in the 1924 Egyptian 

Edition Click to View], and the two words are "made to appear" as one! 

In this one act they acknowledged the inadequacy of Muhammad's scribes, the impurity of the 'Uthmanic texts, and the lack of 'Divine Perfection' of the Qur'an! Either that or the lack of 'Divine Protection'. 

But, let us consider something else. We cannot conceive that the early scholars sat down with one of those "best transmitted and most reliable" readings and came to such differences in their evaluation of the 'intended' meaning for Q27:21! This means that there was no 'set meaning' transmitted in the 'Oral Tradition' for this text, and that later the ulema (theologians) decided that the text should say 'YES' and not 'NO'! 

Hamidullah1 provides four examples which fit this type. Scans of his original text's in his List B are as follows: 

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We note that after the first of the four examples in Hamidullah's LIST B, he wrote "this should ordinarily write..." - AND OF COURSE HE HAS REMOVED THE OFFENDING ALIF!! In another case, having taken the same course of action, he writes, "normal spelling being..."; in 

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another, "normal spelling is...alif being superfluous"; and finally "alif is superfluous, the normal spelling is..."

Of course, if he is correct and these say 'No' instead of 'YES', then it is not a matter of "normal spelling" [i.e. a 'spelling mistake'] at all!! It is obviously far worse than "not normal" to have "NO" when you should have "YES" (or ANY spelling mistake!!) in a 'Divinely Guarded' text! 

It seems that Surty and Hamidullah have thus also listed some of the many 'Proofs' against the 'perfection' of the Qur'an which M. Ali included in his list. We match them together as: 

Hamidullah Q3:158 (Surty #21); 
Hamidullah Q9:47
Hamidullah Q27:21 (Surty #20); 
Hamidullah Q37:68 (Surty #22); 
M. Ali, as we have seen, also lists other instances of the same problem: 
Q3:158 (Q3:159 in our other texts) 
Q3:166 (Q3:167 in our other texts) (Surty #23) 

However, what steals our attention immediately is the contrast between what M. Ali presented in more than 50 pages of Introduction - a goodly amount of which was purporting that the Qur'ans were all the same world-wide - and the truth of the matter on these alifs! 

For, amazingly, when we search for these alifs in the various Qur'an printings, we find the texts do not agree! Most of the alifs seem to have 'disappeared', except in texts like the Pakistani and Indian texts! 

For example, the 1924 Egyptian has Q3:158Click to View, Q9:47 Click to View, Q37:68Click to View, while extra alifs remain in the Pakistani Taj #23 which has Q3:158Click to View, Q9:47Click to View, Q37:68

Click to ViewClick to View. The excess alif is easily noted in these latter cases. 

In Taj Text #119A, Q3:158 has been altered to Click to View- the extra alif has been removed. The same can be seen in Q37:68 where we find 

Click to ViewClick to View

Our conclusion from the positioning of these is that Hamidullah must have been referring to the number of such errors in the Pakistani Taj #23 text since that is the only one we noted with only his specific examples. But which 'version' of the Arabic text is Surty using? 

Concerning the inconsistency in manipulating the extra alifs in various texts of the Qur'an, M. Ali noted: 

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Elsewhere, in the Indian text, we find in Q3:158 that one alif is 'silenced' Click to ViewClick to View; in Q9:47 one alif is 'silenced' Click to View; in Q27:21Click to View; and in Q37:68Click to Viewagain with one alif 'silenced'. 

But, what of the extra examples which M. Ali provided? Are they also in all the texts? No. Only the Arabic text with the Swahili and that with one printing of M. Pickthall are as M. Ali's. 

We find that the Saudis [who are used to removing errors from 'original' texts - we refer you to the false 'Mushaf al-Madinah'], when asked by one of the Saudi publishers about the "extra alif" in Q59:13 in the Hafs text they were about to print declared openly that it is 'just another' place that needs tampering, and admit that ibn Khaldun was correct about the 'original content of the Qur'an - and even cite his examples: 

"A later impression of the later Taj text purchasable in London is also of interest... The interesting feature is that it has a certificate from the Saudi Deputy Mufti Ibrahim ibn M. Al al-Sayx, dated 19/11/1389 (28/1/1970). The reason for the certificate was that a formal question had been addressed from the head of Al-Mahkama al-Kubra in Jedda to Dar al-Ifta concerning the copy's spelling la'aontum (59:13) for the usual la'antum. The certificate is in the form of a reply - "We hereby inform you that although this [Taj] impression appears to be the only one with this extra alif, this does not bar it from being allowed to be distributed. This is because the extra alif is to be taken as one of those present in the graphic form but not to be pronounced. Similar instances are found, for instance, in lao'awdau and awlao'adbahannahu, which are written [according to a report from Malik cited from al-Dani] in the original way." (Studies..., Ph.D., Brockett, p. 22) 
[NOTE: The 'ao' as seen a number of times in the Arabic transliterations in the above paragraph is a reference to an alif existing in the graphic form, but which is 'silenced', the small 'o' being "the sign of silence".]

Though the Saudis declare ibn Khaldun's two examples (Q27:21; and 9:47 which was noted in a quotation in Chapter 3) as "written in the original way" - the extra graphic alif in Q9:47 is not in the Qur'ans they normally publish! But the unwary must be careful not to misinterpret their words concerning spelling 'in the original way' as implying 'spelling which changed over time'. NO! In fact, they are admitting these are 'original mistakes' which have been corrected. 

However, concerning Q59:13, the Taj #23 has Click to Viewwith an obvious space where the Saudis admitted 'originally' an alif existed, as did M. Ali in his version of the Taj text Click to View

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Returning to M. Ali's list, we look among the other texts for his examples of Q3:159 (3:158 in other texts) and Q3:166. The Indian text with transliteration which we are using contains alif in only Q3:166. However, in Taj #23 a notable space exists in Q3:166Click to Viewwhere alif used to be, as in Click to View

Strangely the Iranian Embassy does not hand out an Iranian text!!2 They too seem content with many 'versions' of the Arabic text. 

Truly 'NO's Are Changed Into 'YES's! - Changes In Meaning

We have seen that M. Ali has, in his Introduction, addressed the all-important issue of the vast difference in meaning which this brings to the passages in question. 

This, of course, is ultimately the reason purported by the followers of Islam for the need for 'Protection' of the Qur'an, to 'Preserved' the meaning. To highlight this we have chosen four of the aforementioned texts 

Assessing both ibn Khaldun's and M. Ali's statements as well as that of the translations in the existing printed texts, we see: 

- Q3:158 "not unto Allah" has been altered into "certainly unto Allah". 

- Q3:166 "we would not have followed you" has been altered to say "we would certainly have followed you". 

- Q27:21 "I [Allah] would not slay" has been altered into "I [Allah] will certainly slay". 

- Q37:68 "their return is not unto Hell" has been altered into "their return is certainly unto Hell" 

[NOTE: Hamidullah even gave this meaning difference in his article]. 

THIS is the consequence of ignoring these alifs in terms of the meaning of the Qur'an. 

All this means that, despite all its declarations to outsiders that "they will all be found to be identical" because of 'Divine Protection', Islam continues to accept and publish these further graphic differences as its 'best' remaining heritage. Thus, inside Islam 'perfection', uniformity, even tampering do not seem to matter. We also see why some (like IPCI) cry "It's only the sound that matters!", since Islam simply juggles the errors [as the Saudis admit - the 'original' content!] to obtain the 'desired' sound - and words!! 

[NOTE: One observer has noted that the alifs found in Q3:159, Q9:47, and Q59:13 are alifs which do not create 'no' instead of 'yes'. However, they are alifs which are out of place, and are scribal errors.] 

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And What Of The 'Original' Samarqand Manuscript?

The Samarqand MSS content will also be of interest to some. 

The upper text shows Page #137, lines 7-12. The uppermost pair of circled texts is from Q3:158 which clearly is a 'NO' since it contains the alif. The second pair of texts circled is Q3:159 which omits the alif

The lower text is Page #648, lines 10-12, with Q37:68 written without alif (see circled text) and so giving 'YES'. 

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In Conclusion

We have read M. Ali's declaration, one of the diverse but 'accepted' positions of Islam, namely that the Qur'an has been faithfully copied until today - 'exactly as Muhammad certified it':

"The transcription of the Holy Qur'an as it was written by the scribes in the Prophet's time has in fact been preserved intact..." (Introd., p. lv)

Elsewhere he writes: 

"The circumstances attending the collection of the Holy Qur'an in the time of Abu Bakr also show that every verse of the revelation had been written down in the presence of the Holy Prophet." (Introd., p. xxviii)

If this were so, then everyone has admittedly been copying mistakes which Muhammad sanctioned! One cannot ignore the presence of such textual problems in a 'Divinely Preserved' text, especially when it is admitted that at least some come from Muhammad as copied by his scribes and the theology says that the prophet's oversight on the scribes 'guarantees' the perfection of the revelation! 

We can understand why others would rather blame the errors on 'Uthman's scribes than on Muhammad's scribes and his oversight! 

Further, as to the general presence of these textual problems in the existing texts, we note the variation in their numbers in the printed texts which are purported to be Hafs (Kufan based) texts: Iranian - 1; 1924 Egyptian & Turkish - 13 (different from Iranian 1) ;Taj #119 - 2; Pakistani 

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Taj (as Hamidullah) - 4; Surty's text - other 4; Deedat (IPCI) - (Old versions - 5) / (New versions - 1); M. Ali [Taj?] as in the Swahili and M. Pickthall, Indian - 6; M. Ali as in Notes - 7!! [See chart depicting all this.]. This indicates that the regional manuscript traditions of the Qur'an vary considerably in the number of 'problems' they contain. 

But which of these number represents the truth as to how many of these extra alifs (and in the appropriate places, the 'NO's) the Qur'an is purported to have contained 'originally', let alone the purported Kufan Quran? Was it the one with "4 or 5" as Hamidullah stated it, or the one with 7 which M. Ali has been referring to [or the one with 6 that he published]? And, finally, we note that the texts with the same number of 'extras' do not place them all in the same spots! Which is 'original'! 

And too, which of these Qur'ans did ibn Khaldun accept as representing the 'original'? It certainly had more 'problems' than the Egyptian EDITION for it had the problem in Q9:47 also. 

Speaking of the Egyptian EDITION, it is necessary to consider it as an adulteration on other grounds also, not just in the matter of Q9:47 which the Saudis admit was transmitted by ad-Dani. This is because Otto Pretzl noted that the Egyptians had ignored four alifs which ad-Dani had documented in the 'Oral Tradition' (Studies..., Ph.D., Brockett, p. 10). Perhaps they represent several of the 'NO'/ 'YES's. 

Naturally, Islam must maintain a general silence on such varying numbers of errors, for the admission that Muhammad's scribes made errors in his presence or while copying what he authorised is to negate the religion. To admit that later scribes made errors is to admit bad bid'ah (innovation), 'post-revelational' corruption! And in those circumstances also, no-one could be certain that much else has not also happened to the text! 

Of course, if we thought the Qur'an was a true revelation, then we would have to examine the distinct possibility that Islam, which is constantly accusing others of abandoning their 'original' teachings as purported to have been 'in their Books', did this very thing and thus had to falsify the Arabic text as it is doing. 

It is in order to avoid all such suspicions that Islam claims it possesses 'originals' - something else it doesn't have. In this case the illusion of an 'original' cannot calm anyone's mind for to possess one would only tell people exactly how many problems of this type there were to start with! 

If the Gospel records were like this Islam would cry that this was 'Proof' of a need to reject them. In Islam's case the need is plain - "Allah" failed. 

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1/ Hamidullah's article was published in Pakistan and is mainly a reflection of the condition of the Hafs texts of Pakistan and India. It also makes reference to the Egyptian Edition and certain features found there. 

Yet, upon examination of the entire article, and the "second list" [LIST B] just mentioned, one is unable to find a single case of where the Qur'an says 'yes' when it should say 'no', let alone "four or five" of them! However, one does find, among many other things, four cases which are of the same type as Q27:21, where the Qur'an says "no" when it should say "yes"! Of course it is understandable that Hamidullah would want to hide things like this! 

The fact that he mentioned "four or five cases" is not indicative that he doesn't know. 

2/ The text received (see text of card at right), 

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differs from our other Iranian one, and in fact is an Indian text. 

Their texts compare as follows - the Iranian text is shown first: 

Q3:158(7) Click to ViewClick to View);

Q3:159(8) Click to View(Click to View);

Q3:166Click to View(Click to View ) ;

Q9:47Click to View(Click to View) ;

Q27:21Click to ViewClick to View);

Q37:68Click to View(Click to View). 


They both decided to 'correct' Q27:21 from 'NO' to 'YES'. They also disagree in several places where the scribes made mistakes. 

3/ Since the Turkish text has only a very light graphic alif in Q27:21, it seems obvious that it was a last minute insertion, as Brockett noted in one such case. As there is no evidence of any of the other 'NO' / 'YES' problem texts and since the Iranian text overall is extremely close to the Turkish text and has omitted 5 out of the 6 alifs, this is an indication that only at the last minute did they decide not to eliminate all of them in the Turkish text too. 

4/ In point of fact all of Islam is doing this 'outwitting' with the Yusuf Ali translation. The latest production is with the so-called Mushaf Al-Madinah in which the translation agrees more than the Arabic text. 

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- Grammar Book Proof For One 'YES'/'NO' Occurrence - Q3:158

  In W.Wright's A Grammar of the Arabic Language (Vol. II, Sec. 20, pg. 41) under the heading Click to View
we find the presentation of Q3:158 in a "Rem." (see at right).  Click to View
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  This grammatical construction leaves no alternative but that Q3:158 with the extra alif be translated "and certainly if you die or are slain, to God you shall NOT be gathered".

  Thus we find in an accepted book of Arabic grammar, 'Proof' in this 'YES'/ 'No' area.

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