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Qur’an Discovery: I am neither excited nor bothered

All praise be to Allāh and may our salāh and salām be upon the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam).

When I first read the news about the findings of what may be considered the world’s oldest manuscript of the Glorious Qur’ān in Birmingham University Library, I was not so excited nor was I bothered very much. For me, the infamous talk by David Cameron that was delivered less than 24 hours was more important news. [1]

Also read, Plotting of Cameron, of al-Rahman & the discovery of a Qur’an by Z A Rahman.

I had a casual conversation with one of the young boys about it and I said to him, what does it mean? It does not mean very much for me. He was very surprised. In this article, I will disclose my thoughts about it as I found myself compelled to do so after the wide coverage of this finding and the excitement of so many Muslims and non-Muslims about it.

Why do many Muslims feel excited about this discovery? If it is because of the prospect of having something written potentially by a beloved companion of the Messenger of Allah (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), then that is a good thing out of their love for the companions, which is a sign of Īmān. If, however, people are feeling excitement for other reasons then we need to be careful.

The key question being asked is: is it authentic or not? But no one has asked why we need to be concerned about its authenticity. Is it because they are viewing these findings solely from an archaeological perspective? Or is it from an ideological perspective? Does it add value to the authenticity of the Qur’ān? Does it raise questions or doubts about the authenticity of Quranic script? Does it have some words that are different to the Qur’ān as was the case with some of the archaic Yemeni manuscripts that that were found in 1972? Should Muslims be happy as yet another proof for the authenticity of the Qur’ān has been found?

In all honesty, such findings should not have any value for Muslims from any Islamic perspective. It should not increase their belief in the authenticity of the Qur’ān, nor should it decrease it irrespective of its contents. In fact, one who believes such “news” increased his belief should feel a certain sadness as this is likely a sign of weak belief in Islām and in the Qur’ān. Furthermore, the “Islamic excitements” of so many Muslims about the “news” raises more important questions for me. Does this mean that many Muslims are so inferior about their faith to a degree that they are looking for any “proof concerning the authenticity of the essence of their faith; al-Quran?” This should not be the case.

The fundamental question for me is: what is the methodology we as Muslims should follow to verify anything related to our religion? There are many reasons why I consider this the central question. Imagine if this copy, after it has proven that it is authentic from a scientific perspective, included some different words to the Qur’ān. What will be our position? A similar phenomenon occurred when German and other western scholars studied the Yemeni scripts. I remember discussing the analysis of the Yemeni manuscripts with an academic Muslim brother. He argued that we as Muslims need a sophisticated methodology to respond to these findings that lead to either the possibility that there were different “Qurans” or that there were some mistakes in writing the Qur’ān. I was shocked, emphatically assuring him we already have a very sophisticated methodology to respond to these allegations. He asked what it was; and my answer was: ‘Whoever wrote the Yemeni ones, provided that it was proven they were genuine and authentic, might have made a mistake when he wrote it or instead, he might have deliberately forged it as is mentioned in the following story.’

In his tafsīr of 15:9 “Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian,” Imām Al-Qurṭubī has reported an event from the court of the ‘Abbāsī Khalīfah, al- Ma’mūn. He, the Khalīfah, was used to hosting occasional debates on intellectual issues at his court where all scholars were welcome. It so happened that a Jew came to attend one of these debates. By his looks, dress and manners, he seemed to be an elegant person. Then, his address during the debate was eloquent and intellectually bright. When the meeting was over, al-Ma’mūn called for him and asked him if he was an Israelite, which he confirmed. Al-Ma’mūn asked him to become a Muslim in which case he could hope to have the best possible treatment from him.

He said that he was not willing to leave the religion of his forefathers which was his religion too. The matter ended there. That person went away. Then, after a year, the same person returned as a Muslim and made a very distinct contribution in the court meeting on the subject of Islamic jurisprudence. After the session was over al-Ma’mūn called for him and asked him if he was the same person who had come last year. He said: “Yes, I am.” Al-Ma’mūn asked: “At that time you had refused to accept Islām. Tell me what made you accept Islām now.” He said:

“When I went back from here, I decided to do some research on contemporary religions. I am a scribe. I write books and sell them. They bring a good price. This time I wanted to perform an experiment. First, I wrote three manuscripts of the Torah in which I made some additions and deletions of my own. I took these manuscripts to the Synagogue. The Jews found them interesting and bought them. Then, I did the same thing with the Injīl. I wrote three manuscripts, complete with my additions and deletions, and took them to the Church where the Christians were pleased with these manuscripts and bought them from me. After that, I tried the same thing with the Qur’ān. I wrote three good-looking manuscripts of the Qur’ān, of course with the usual additions and deletions of my own. When I went out to sell them, I faced a problem. Every buyer I went to would take the manuscript, look into it to determine if it was correct or not, and when he would notice additions or deletions made into it, he would throw it back at me. From this episode, I learnt my lesson that this Book is protected, and protected by Allāh Ta‘ālā Himself; therefore, I embraced Islām.”

In conclusion, we need to tighten our methodology and process of verifying anything attributed to our Islām. If we do not tighten this methodology, which is a branch of what might be called epistemology, then we will always search for answers to any doubt about Islām and whenever we give an answer, a new doubt will continue. We will be constantly firefighting and, more dangerously, be in a defensive position which leads to an inferiority complex. Our faith and Dīn will be always be at stake. Surveying the Qur’ān confirms that Allāh does not like this attitude whatsoever.

In fact, the first few verses of the first chapter after the opening of the Qur’ān confirm that true believers will have a firm belief that does not accept doubts in their faith.

“This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allāh – Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them, and who believe in what has been revealed to you, [O Muḥammad], and what was revealed before you, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith]. Those are upon [right] guidance from their Lord, and it is those who are the successful.” [2]

Allāh also said,

“The believers are only the ones who have believed in Allāh and His Messenger and then doubt not but strive with their properties and their lives in the cause of Allāh. It is those who are the truthful.” [3]

What is the methodology/process to confirm any matter related to Islām?

It is amazing that Islām can be explained in one minute, and yet, despite this, it is the religion with the largest number of books that explain its details. Such is the case with the process or methodology applied to confirm whether something is part of it or not. This process can be so sophisticated, yet it can be explained in a few lines. It is the concept of the unanimous agreement of the Muslim Ummah throughout history that makes things Islamic. In other words, mainstream Islām is what Islām is. Mainstream Islām is what the vast majority of Muslims accepted since the time of the Prophet until now. The Prophet said “My Ummah would never agree on errors.” [4]

Allāh commanded us in Sūrah Fātihah, which is the most repeated Sūrah in the Qur’ān, to follow the straight path which was defined as “The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favour, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger nor of those who are astray.” It is impossible that Allāh will allow millions of sincere, righteous people to practice something that is wrong or not pleasing to Him.

If there is any dispute about what was accepted, then we should check the mainstream position of the best of all Muslims, the Muslims of the first three generations. They are the companions, their students and the generation after them which end with the four Imāms; Abū Hanīfah, Mālik, Shāfiʿī and Imām Aḥmad. Imagine, Allāh said that He would not allow His beloved Prophet to change anything from Qur’ān, then how would He allow people to change it. Let us read these strong verses:

“[That] indeed, the Qur’ān is the word of a noble Messenger. And it is not the word of a poet; little do you believe. Nor the word of a soothsayer; little do you remember. And if Muḥammad had made up about Us some [false] sayings, We would have seized him by the right hand; Then We would have cut from him the aorta. And there is no one of you who could prevent [Us] from him.” [5]

If we apply this to the Qur’ān, then we find that the entire ummah has accepted the Qur’ān that we know of; nothing less, nothing more and nothing different. Will any sane person accept that Allāh, the all-Seeing, all-Hearer, all-Wise, would be unable to preserve His final revelation, allowing billions of people to read other than His words while attributing them to Him?

Therefore, if hypothetically speaking we found a copy of the Qur’ān and all scientific methods confirmed that it was a copy that was written by the Prophet’s scribe of revelation, Zayd ibn Thābit, and it was found that it includes words or statements that are different to the Qur’ān we know, then we will reject that and we will throw it away. We should not be in the slightest bit concerned with analysing what it says and finding answer for the “discrepancies” that might arise from it. It is simply not Qur’ān. On the other hand, if it includes the words of Allāh that we know of accurately, then it should not add to our faith in the authenticity of the book of Allāh. Feeling spiritual upliftment due to these findings is one thing, but an increase in the belief in the authenticity of the Qur’ān should not be influenced as seems currently to be the case.

“Indeed, those who disbelieve in the message after it has come to them… And indeed, it is a mighty Book. Falsehood cannot approach it from before it or from behind it; [it is] a revelation from a [Lord who is] Wise and Praiseworthy.” [6]

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes:

[1] https://www.islam21c.com/politics/responses-to-david-camerons-disappointing-speech/

[2] Al-Qur’ān, 2:2-5

[3] Al-Qur’ān, 49:15

[4] Tirmidhi

[5] Al-Qur’ān, 69:40-7

[6] Al-Qur’ān, 41:41-42

 

About Shaikh (Dr) Haitham Al-Haddad

Dr. Haitham al-Haddad is a jurist and serves as a judge for the Islamic Council of Europe. He has studied the Islamic sciences for over 20 years under the tutelage of renowned scholars such as the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia as well as the retired Head of the Kingdom's Higher Judiciary Council. He specialises in many of the Islamic sciences and submitted his doctoral thesis on Islamic jurisprudence concerning Muslim minorities. Shaikh Haitham is highly respected having specialised knowledge in the field of fiqh, usul al-fiqh, maqasid al-shari'ah, ulum al-Qur’an, tafsir, aqidah, and fiqh al-hadith. He provides complex theories which address the role of Islamic jurisprudence within a western environment whilst also critically re-analysing the approach of Islamic jurists in forming legal rulings (ifta’) within a western socio-political context. He has many well known students most of whom are active in dawah and teaching in the West. The shaikh is an Islamic jurist (faqih) and as such is qualified to deliver verdicts as a judge under Islamic law, a role he undertakes at the Islamic Council of Europe as Islamic judge and treasurer. Dr Haitham al-Haddad also sits on various the boards of advisors for Islamic organisations, mainly in the United Kingdom but also around the world.

18 comments

  1. yusuf muritala akorede

    السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
    We Muslim need not to argue on that. Allah, subuana watahaala is the one who give out evidences for those who can think. As a Muslim also, we need to rejoice that this is another evidence for us that Allah love us to be in righteous religion. Having being a Muslim is a blessing from Almighty Allah. الحمدلله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسل. .ججزاك الله خيرا

  2. This seems to be an arrogant view, when seen within a Muslim exclusion view, and an ignorant one when viewed in a larger context (the very Notes and citations show that it is a looping assertion; the only non-Qur’anic source is Tirmidhi, which itself demonstrates the flaws of solely relying upon oral tradition to affirm narratives in full text and accurate context).

    The outcome from this article adds no value to either Muslims or non-Muslims: it adds to a bloated and false self-esteem and closed-minded denial for Muslims; and for anyone genuinely studying Islam and the many legitimate questions that do have academic relevance, credence and substance, will simply be pushed away (a simple nuanced question about the more obscure Qira’at – not the popular ones – and their validity, reliability and authenticity is a good example).

    The very fact that non-Muslims are studying Muslim history and manuscripts is telling about the grasp and handling (or lack thereof) for today’s challenges and reality in many of the preachers and apologetics.

    MI

  3. Slave of ALLAAH

    ASALAAM ualaikum
    With all my respects sheikh, but I feel you may have missed the point/ some important points, in your
    concern which is focused, admirably, on certain points.
    These pages came from a copy of the mus-haf that’s been at B’ham uni for several years – thus given it’s been there for several years & that it is B’ham uni, not peking uni for eg., I feel it would be reasonable to assume it’s a genuine authentic copy.
    Secondly let me share with you why I feel excited, if I may
    i)for someone involved in dawa, to me this presented a potentially excellent opportunity/means to disprove those who dicredit the quran, using ‘scientific’ evidence – this does not necessarily mean I need such evidence
    ii)in that light I was excited & my imaan was re-energised because now potentially we have one more means to defend the cause of islam, the cause of the quran & the credibility of our beloved prophet salah ALLAAHU alaihi waslam infront of non-muslims who genuinely are seeking the truth
    iii)you may call me a dreamer, but in the last few days of ramadan, evening of 27th if I’m not mistaken, not being content of killing thousands of muslims, bashar al (f)asad boldly announced the completion of a new copy of al-quran/al mus-haf which according to him “was free from the deviations of whom he like to call wahabis”…a few days later this news comes along & I find myself thinking maybe this is a sign from ALLAAH azza wajjal..& I remembered ” ala inna nasra ALLAAHI qareeb”
    iv) as you put it, the idea that potentially this may be a copy written by a sahabi brings tears to the eyes..and reiterates the question of it possibly being a sign from ALLAAH

    at no point did the issue of it strengthening of my imaan in islam or the quran even cross my mind..this is bigger than that it is not about ‘me’..

    i don’t know if you’re aware of the incident of some very capable dawa brothers giving a disasterous answer to dawkins at a certain conference in relation to the flood of Noah alaihi ASALAAM..i feel for dawa we need to be prepared for what might be thrown at us before it actually is…this preparation is from the sahaba like khaled ibn al-waleed may ALLAAH be pleased with him described as ” he doesn’t sleep..nor does he allow his enemies to sleep” & this is how I feel dawa should be prepared for

    finally regarding your analysis for those whom may feel their imaan is dependent on such findings, I agree it is sad but some peole are like that, so what is the harm in making their ‘first steps’ towards beter imaan in this manner??
    & as muslims should we turn around and say “these pages/saha-if must be thrown away?? or preserved??”..if the latter then should it not be muslims who preserve it??
    WALLAAH min wara el-qasd
    WASALAAM ualaikum

  4. My beloved sheikh, i would like to differ to some extent. As you have mentioned that as a muslim i should not rely on archaeological manuscripts to believe that Qur’an is the unchanged word of GOD. I do not. As a muslim i do not rely on those things and Qur’an as i have it is enough for me and its verses satisfy me enough to believe that it is the unchanged word of GOD. But i am still happy about this finding and i am happy because those non-muslims who do not believe what we do about Qur’an, they will really rethink about their stance of not believing that Qur’an is the unchanged word of GOD. For that reason i am happy. I hope that is not a problem.

  5. I agree with many comments who find the news exciting, because the Deen e Islam is slowly and gradually promoted by Allah (swt), nobody can stop it. Even Muslims are not playing their due role, but they are part of it because of their agreement to the basic commitment in which many excel and many lag behind. However Allah’s will will be be completed as stated:

    We will show them Our signs in the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. But is it not sufficient concerning your Lord that He is, over all things, a Witness?/41:53

    It is a great moment for the British to capture and get their share in the Great Plan of Allah(swt.)

    • “Its a great moment for the British to capture….”
      More like IF it is authentic, where did the British steal it from and do they intend on returning it to it’s rightful owners?!

  6. Wasiu Bankole

    Assallam Alaykum ya Sheikh,
    Firstly I beseech Allah to bless and guide your family, your knowledge and endeavours .
    On this article I am wholly in support of your reasons for the Ummah to be careful, the timing of the findings calls for a careful approach.

  7. ameela momoniat

    السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
    My thoughts exactly, and how convienent these fragments turn up at a time when Muslims are being attacked and demonised in the UK. And of course lets not forget Cameron’s speech!

    The Shaykh is right, it is not the way of a Muslim to blindly accept anything relating to Islam or Muslims. We do need to verify, this is our manhaj. The ayah below is relating to verifying what speech we hear, but it is a general principle in Islam. We are not sheep nor are we foolish!

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَأٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَى مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ

    And even if it is genuine, what difference does it make? As far as I can see none, exactly like Shaykh Haitham has explained.

  8. The sheikh writes a valid point to a great extent but missing the point why we Muslims are so happy with this finding. Not all of us are very highly educated in Islamic knowledge (yes oneself to blame) but when comes a time when we are speechless when asked about the Quran being in its original form, then Allah subhanawatala with His Mercy protected the copy in the land of the kuffar in the heart of UK to answer for us. Would this not be enough to shut up the critics.
    If it was being protected in not in the hands of the Muslims but in the hands of those who believed not then there surely was a great Hikmah behind it. Should we still not be happy with joy.
    Thank you Allah All praises to Him

  9. Yes infeed such fondings should not increase or decrease the faith of a Muslim, i agree but sheikh has missed one important aspect that perhaps Muslims are overjoyed not because it has increased their faith but because this finding might bring non-believers towards Islam by contemplating on the aithenticity and preservation of Quran.

      • That actually made me LOL…

        Such a desperate attempt at spinning the ahruf and qir’ā’āt—something well known that even the most basic ‘ulūm al-Qur’ān text book mentions on the first few pages—into some secret ‘different Qur’ans’ conspiracy, as usual with these ignoramuses who sell their integrity for a quick buck to substitute academic justness with ideological propaganda. To enjoy the laugh is easy, all we have to do is seek basic knowledge – like this summary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TS79sOhoyXM – and here lies the difference between Islam and superstitious, ignorance-based ideologies and religions. One is a philosophy of learning, the other is a philosophy praising ignorance, propaganda and blind “faith”…

  10. The Shaikh has truly given a different insight to the event of the disvobery of the copy in Birmingham University. Well If that copy consist of no discrepancy with the true copy it is a great reminder for non Believers. For Believers no doubt as Shaikh said they don’t need any proof to confirm their faith that the Quran is preserved

  11. Muhammaddin Hajisamman

    Dear Sheikh,

    Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu!

    Most of the time I appreciate your thoughts. May Allah reward you in better for what you are serving us. In addition, how do you think opening you fb page? If you have one, sorry not to find it – would you send me the link? The other thing is the ‘add gif’ part is disturbing during reading. Please try to correct it.

  12. I agree with most of the article but completely disagree with the premise. Jazak Allah Khayr, Shaykh, but on this occasion we agree to disagree. I find your pessimism and suspicion troublesome. Those whom are experts in the field are excited of this news and prospect. It sends shivers down the spine of Muslims to think that this could be the Qur’an scribed by a Companion in the lifetime of the Prophet (s). It saddens me that you have decided to attempt a balanced view on this matter but quite the contrary.

  13. The Jews, Christians, Hindus etc. simply don’t have their scriptures in the original languages or forms. They have lost the originals over the passage of time, by the will of Allah (swt).

    Allah (swt) however has promised the Muslims that the Quran will be protected and preserved. Seeing such an old copy of the Quran, and witnessing the fact that the Quran has indeed been protected and preserved is a fulfilment of that promise and thus strengthen’s one’s iman. It is prophecy coming true, which has always been a source of strength, even for the sahabah. That is why those with iman are excited.

    However if the text of this manuscript is different, it is clear that this manuscript is not Quran.

  14. Muhammad Tahir

    Fair point

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