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Are all Arabic versions of the Quran the same?

Introduction

For centuries the Muslim scholars have been teaching the Muslim masses by verse 15:9 that God will protect the Mus-haf from any distortion or changes. This resulted in one of the famous misinformation spread by them is that all the Qurans in the world are identical, and that it is free from any variations. In fact, this is not true and has nothing to do with God’s promise in the verse 15:9: “Absolutely, we have revealed the reminder, and absolutely, we will preserve it.” What it means in the broader sense is the correct Qur’an, the complete Qur’an continues to exist without missing any single message from it but precisely what it means is a guarantee from God that He has provided us with tool in the Quran to have a pure Quran revealed to Prophet Muhammad detecting and eliminating any distortions or any changes that occur through its writings and readings transmission that we know now. If we understand that there is no indication in the promise or any other verses in the Quran that God will control paper, pen and ink (for manuscripts) or printing press (for printed versions) so there is no impossibility to have variations in writings of it. However, the Christian critics of the Quran often attack the Quran for such variations and are especially fond of bringing up the issue of the Hafs and Warsh versions of the Arabic Quran to show as proof about the claim of the many Muslim scholars that all the Qurans in the world are identical to be a lie.

Origin of Variations

It is well known that the kufic script in which the Quran was originally written contained no indication of vowels or diacritical points. This resulted in variant readings of the Quran. The way in which the Quran was recited by each of the readers was formerly recorded in textual form. This resulted in the presence of many transmissions, and accordingly the Quran (Mus-haf) was written differently in different areas. There are seven major recitation (qira’at) that are considered perfectly valid methods of reading the Qur’an while the prevailing readings are the Asim in the transmission of Hafs, the Nafi in the transmission of Wash and Qalun, and the Abu Amr in the transmission of Al-Duri. We know, however that the Quran given to Muhammad was in one form, which means all the various transmissions only represent the different readers and do not necessarily represent the Quran revealed to prophet Muhammed and preserved in a Master Tablet at God stated in the verses 85:21-22: Indeed, it is a glorious Quran. Preserved in a Master Tablet.

The Hafs-an-Asim reading of the Qur’an is used by the vast majority of Muslims, even some sources claim that this is the case for up to 95% of the Muslim world, with the Warsh-an-Nafi reading holding second place with a whopping 3%. When all the prevailing readings are considered perfectly valid methods of reading the Qur’an, then, why did the Hafs reading gain such predominance? Is it somehow more “correct” than the others? Was it promulgated (and the others restricted) via political decree? Is there actually no rational explanation, and it’s just one of those things?

The predominant reading today, spread by Egyptian Quran readers, is that of Asim in the transmission of Hafs (d. 190/805). In Morocco, the reading is that of Nafi` in the transmission of Warsh (d. 197/812) and the Moroccan Qurans are written accordingly. In Sudan, Nigeria and Central Africa, the prevailing reading is that of Abu `Amr in the transmission of al-Duri. The transmissions of Hafs, Warsh, Qalun and Al-Duri are still in print today. Is it not enough proof for all of us that all Arabic versions of Quran are not identical, and how human errors were allowed in the writing and collection in the transmission of the Quran? However, the following table is only examples of some to show how the Hafs Mus-haf differs from the Warsh Mus-haf. However, the Mus-haf is the Arabic name for the book in which the Quran is collected while many Muslims refer to the Mus-haf as the Quran for short and both words have been used interchangeably.

The writing of the Quran according to Hafs
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The writing of the Quran according to Warsh
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Verse 5:54 (yartadda)
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Verse 5:54 (yartadid)
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Verse 91:15 (wa la yakhaafu)
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Verse 91:15 (fa la yakhaafu)
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Verse 3:133 (wasaari’uu)
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Verse 3:133 (saari’uu)
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Verse 2:132 (wawassaa)
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Verse 2:132 (wa’awsaa)
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Verse 2:140 (taquluna)
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Verse 2:140 (yaquluna)
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Verse 2:259 (nunshizuhaa)
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Verse 2:259 (nunshiruhaa)
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Verse 3:81 (ataytukum)
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Verse 3:81 (ataynakum)
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Verse 2:132 (himu)
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Verse 2:132 (hiimu)
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Verse 2:214 (yaquula)
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Verse 2:214 (yaquulu)

It is noted that we all agree with the fact that none of the differences, whether vocal (vowel and diacritical points) or graphic (basic letter), between the transmission of Hafs and the transmission of Warsh has any great effect on the meaning. However, the mathematical system of the Quran supports only one transmission, the Hafs transmission which is the most commonly used version of transmission. The orthography (Rasm) of Hafs follows the pattern of the mathematical system of the Quran and the mathematical structure (numbering of the suras and verses). Hence, it shows how the mathematical system of the Quran is working to confirm the preserved Quran as promised by God.

Conclusion

The source of transmission of the revealed Quran is Prophet Mohammad’s own hand writings and its memorization by many contemporary people. The first writings of Quran after Mohammad that still present today were simple Kufic writing. However, the event of insertion of two false verses into the first writing and their presence in the Quran until removing them with application of Quran’s mathematical system, the burning of the copy of Quran written by prophet’s own hand followed by a 50-year infamous war between two Muslim groups, the development of the first script around tenth century including diacritic marks (Tashkeel) to the letters for facilitating easy reading, the predominance of Hafs reading over other readings, writing a standardized edition of the Quran adding numbers to the suras and verses of the Quran in 1918 (published in 1924) and the unveiling of 19-based mathematical system in the Quran in 1974 indicate that Quran in all its stages has been part of a bigger plan that has culminated with the discovery of built-in mathematical system in the version of Hafs transmission of Quran. The mathematical system confirmed that all the stages of the Quran were totally under control of God Almighty and is also the answer of the question why the Hafs transmission has predominated over any other readings. However, the mathematical system will be with us to the end of time as an effective tool in distinguishing a correctly written Quran from one with human errors and will make it possible to have a one standardized edition of the Quran for all.

The version of Hafs transmission is the most commonly used and widespread transmission was proven by the mathematical system of the Quran to be the version taken after the prophet Muhammed, as it meets all the criteria according to the Quran’s built-in mathematical system and mathematical structure added to it as God promised in 15:9, 41:42 and 85:21-22, and 74:30-35. This includes the orthography (Rasm) of the Quran as well as the numbering, naming and division of the suras and verses. All the other versions deviated from the criteria of the mathematical structure of the Quran and therefore can be rejected.

Another claim by Muslim scholars in connection to the Quran that prophet Muhammad was illiterate to prove that he produced a miraculous book, the Quran. Such claim was made despite the repeated assertion in the Quran that the word “Ummy” does not mean illiterate and several Quranic verses prove the prophet being a literate man (25:5, 68:1, 96:4). They figured that this would make the Quran’s extraordinary literary excellence truly miraculous. The word they relied on to bestow illiteracy upon the Prophet was “Ummy” while this word clearly means “Gentile,” the one who does not know any scripture (Torah, Injeel) can be found in the Quran (2:78, 3:75, 62:2); it does not mean “illiterate.” These scholars were unaware of the true miracle of the Quran and therefore made up lies about the prophet and even claimed him miracles that he never performed.

The Prophet was a successful merchant. The “Muslim scholars” who fabricated the illiteracy lie forgot that there were no numbers during the Prophet’s time; the letters of the alphabet were used as numbers. As a merchant dealing with numbers every day, the Prophet had to know the alphabet, from one to one-thousand. The Quran tells us that Muhammad wrote down the Quran – Muhammad’s contemporaries saying as quoted in the verse 25:5: And they said, “Tales from the past that he (Muhammad) wrote down while these were dictated to him morning and evening.” and God teaches by means of the pen in the verses 68:1: “(I swear by) NuN and the pen, and what they write.” and 96:4: “The One who taught by the pen.” Thus, there is 3-fold proof that Prophet Muhammad was not an illiterate person while the Quran provides us with 2-fold proof. Still many Muslims might say that Prophet Muhammad was an illiterate person to follow their ignorant scholars.

There are various versions of the Arabic Quran that are still in print. They differ in many aspects although they convey the same meaning. God has provided us with the tool to verify the correct version and confirm His preservation of the Quran. The mathematical system of the Quran has proved that the Hafs transmission maintained the built-in mathematical structure of the Quran. In reality, it shows how the mathematical system of the Quran is working to confirm the preserved Quran as promised by God. Thus, these variations in the writing (or reading) of the Quran was positive occurrences being the predominance of Hafsa transmission over other readings in recognizing the significance of the mathematical system of the Quran and its applications. In reality, the divine preservation does not only mean that the correct Qur’an, the complete Qur’an, continues to exist without missing any single message from it when it undergoes a series of changes that occurs through oral and written transmission but it also means that God has provided us with the tool to have a pure Quran until the end of the world but no way it means that God will send down the invisible force to protect it from any distortions or changes. However, some people will believe it while the majority will not, which is the case with respect to God’s guidance, was sent down to humanity from the past. Now we know the truth; it is our part whether we will go with the majority or do the right thing for ourselves that navigates us to the right destination.
Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless.
Tafazzal (12/16/2016).