The Myth of Perfect Preservation: Examining a Variant

Muslims often claim that a sign that the Qur’an is from God is that today’s copy is perfectly preserved (16:8) from the eternal tablets (85:22). They see this as an irrefutable sign that it is from Allah. As has been previously demonstrated in an earlier post – there are a number of variant readings in the Koran that change the meaning significantly.  In this brief post I will put aside the evidence from the hadith mentioning lost and variant surahs and ayas as well as the plethora of variant vowelisations and take one example from the physical evidence.

The Uthman Quran or Today’s Quran

Brief history:

The Uthman Quran, also known as Tashkent Qur’an, Osman’s Koran and Samarkand Codex, is believed by many Muslims to be one of Uthman’s original editions which is testified by the blood stains found on the Quran from Uthman’s assassination. Then we have today’s common Qur’an – a 1924 Egyptian version mass produced early last century.

One Page Examined:

(Click to see full sized)

Take note of the textual variants marked in line 2 (37:103), line 4 (37:105), line 6, line 7 (37:106) and line 8 of the Uthman Quran.

One Variant Examined:

At the start of line two we see a variant – this variant occurs in Surah 37 aya 103.

(Uthman Quran variant from line 2, page 652)

Transliteration: wa ma ‘aslamA
Translation: And they did not submit (i.e. become Muslims)

(Current 1924 Standard Quran Edition)

Transliteration: falammAslamA
Translation: When they too submitted (i.e. became Muslims)


We see that the old Uthman Quran shows a stark contradiction to the Quran in use today in surah 37 aya 103. Similarly, in that single page of 8 lines there were 5 variants to the Quran used today.

If we hold the Muslim view that a text cannot be considered inspired in light of textual variants (as they charge against the Bible), they cannot consider their own text to be inspired as it is evidently ‘corrupted’ and contains numerous textual variants. However, unlike with New Testament scholarship the study of textual variants in Islam is a subject of taboo as they hold onto the claim that the Quran is unchanged through transmission.

This is a dilemma for the Muslims that must be addressed.

5 Responses

  1. […] The Myth of Perfect Preservation: Examining a Variant […]

  2. […] The Myth of Perfect Preservation: Examining a Variant […]

  3. Personally, I believe both the Bible and the Quran were oral traditions that were written down at some point later than they were received.

    As such, there will inevitably be some changes as oral tradition is generally not fully reliable..
    The act of compilation of Mohammed’s recitations, I believe, was primarily carried out by Zaid at the direction of Abu Bakr.
    (Bukhari 6:59).
    According to Bukhari, Zaid said he collected it from palm stalks, thin white stones, and from men who knew various parts by heart.
    Zaid further states that the last verse Surat At-Tauba (Repentance) was remembered by only with one man (Abi Al Ansari) and no one else. In other words corroboration of that verse rested with only 1 man and there was no one else to verify its accuracy.
    In additon, palm stalks and stones (and I believe camel bones also were used) implies a somewhat haphazard process of documentation. One can see that the whole pocess of compilation depended a lot on Zaid’s memory and judgement about which men’s memory was reliable as well as trying to make sure all the written verses preserved on palm stalks, etc, were gathered together .
    Zaid himself recognized this as a very difficult task and likened it to shifting a mountain (again, Bukhari 6:59)
    To believe that the Quran is unaltered from the original and complete recitations by Mohammed means that one must believe that the intermediate step of compilation by Zaid was also thoroughly under God’s direct control. That intervention on God’s part would have to be considered almost as siginificant as the revelation themselves.
    Needless to say the claim that the present version of the Quran as documented by Zaid is unaltered from the original revelations, is going to be increasingly difficult to defend in an age of free and open inquiry where scholars have more access to info unknown to past generations.

  4. Why did you remove my comments? Another dirty act of another filthy christian pig. In dept refutation found here

  5. Your comments were not removed. This site actually links to your refutation and has provided a response to you. It seems the best you can do Ibn Anwar is call Christians filthy pigs.

    You do everything but deal with this post in your constant lies, atttacks and hate.

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