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The Sana’ Manuscripts
Most human beings, including 99.99% of Muslims have never heard about the Sana’ Manuscripts although they are the most devastating proof that the Quran that humanity has today is most definitely not the same as the original collection.
I have found researching the subject of the Sana’ Manuscripts extremely thought-provoking, leading to very damaging proof regarding the alleged immutability and in-viability of Muhammad’s Quran
These manuscripts utterly challenge the unsubstantiated assertions by Muslims, that the Quran that we have today is EXACTLY the same as was allegedly revealed to Muhammad 1400 years ago.
As our readers already know, these Muslim FANTASY assertions are CONTRADICTED by the very records of Islam as we have repeatedly proven beyond a reasonable or even a shadow of a doubt in our articles.
The Sana’ manuscripts actually put the final nail in the COFFIN of their deception as we shall now demonstrate.
Ladies and gentlemen, we might like to think that history is something completely objective, that we can simply go out to discover. The ideal situation is when our opinion of what had happened conforms fully to what really did happen. Unfortunately, in reality, we are hampered by several factors such as:
Sparse information often gives us a partial understanding.
Or our sources may be biased, mistaken or misinterpreted.
Or the depth of our own historical knowledge may help or hinder in interpreting the evidence.
Most relevant of all is the fact that our preconceptions are hard to shake off and it is easy to read into sources whatever we want to be there.
Often, we have a vested interest in a particular conclusion and this is rarely seen so acutely as in religious beliefs – it simply isn’t acceptable to have anyone disprove one’s own beliefs.
Unless we look at Muhammad’s Quran allowing that it may be correct to start with, we may as well not bother. Humans have a furtive ability to ‘prove’ in their own minds that which they want to be true.
There are three main categories of historical sources that should be taken in consideration-
The first is documentary support. This helps us to see if the available records accurately reflect their original texts.
The second is other written sources. These may take the form of inscriptions or documents that give us insight into the period concerned.
The third is archaeological data confirming that a particular city for example, was in existence at the time claimed, or the approximate date of its construction or destruction in battle.
We have so far shown in our articles, based entirely upon the Islamic sources themselves, the falsehood of their common assertion that widespread memorization of the Quran proves its authenticity.
In reality, this proves very little, except that virtually all of today’s Muslims read the same text. This reveals nothing to us of the actual events of 7th century Arabia.
We are informed by the Hadiths, that Abu Bakr (first caliph) was the first to collate the texts of the Quran into one codex two years after Muhammad’s death. This is said to have been passed on down to Umar ibn al Khattab (second caliph), then to Hafsa daughter of Umar and wife of Muhammad.
At the time of Uthman bin Affan (third caliph), we are told that the Muslims of Sha’m (modern Syria) and Iraq had DIVERGENT recitations of the Quran.
These differences were so serious that the Muslim commander in charge Hudayfah ibn al Yaman (governor of Kufa) became appalled by their different recitation, so he appealed to Uthman for help. Uthman got the codex from Hafsa and directed that perfect copies be made. Then we are told:
Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Quranic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt.
This tells us that there already were variants in the recitations, memorization and writings of Muhammad’s Quran even before and after it was first collected by Abu Bakr. We shall never know exactly what they were or how many as the evidence had been willfully and deliberately DESTROYED by Uthman.
Muslims invariably make up the unsubstantiated excuse that the differences were simply those of vowels not the consonantal text.
This is their unfounded conjecture to close the subject especially since the earliest manuscripts make it clear that vowels were NOT included and there was even a lack of the markings to distinguish between different consonants. Therefore, these differences must have been important enough to show up even in a primitive consonant text.
The next question to ask is whether we have any of Uthman’s original and perfect copies. Muslims often brazenly declare that there are two: one in the Topkapi museum in Istanbul and the second in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. However, most scholars disagree since they date them to the 9th century not the 7th.
Indeed, non-Muslim scholars in general hold that the oldest complete Quran is the Ma’il copy in the British Library, dated to 790 AD.
In 1972, one of the most important finds of Quranic manuscripts was discovered in the ancient Great Mosque of Sana’, the capital of Yemen, while the building was being restored after heavy rainfall. They were hidden in the loft in a bundle of old parchment and paper documents.
They were nearly thrown away by the builders, but were luckily spotted by Qadhi Isma’il al-Akwa, then president of the Yemeni Antiquities Authority, who saw their importance and sought international assistance to preserve and examine them.
Al-Akwa managed to interest Dr Gerd R Puin, one of the foremost Islamists at Saarland University, Germany who was visiting Yemen for research purposes in 1979. He is also a Semitic philologist, who specializes in Arabic calligraphy and Quranic paleography. Puin in turn, persuaded the German government to organize and fund a restoration project.
The restoration revealed that some of the parchment pages dated from the seventh and eighth centuries, the crucial first two centuries of Islam, from which very few manuscripts have survived.
Dr Puin asserts that this is not one single work that has survived unchanged through fourteen centuries. It includes stories that were written before Muhammad began his ministry and which have subsequently been rewritten.
He says they shed new light on the early development of the Quran as a book with a “textual history”, which contradicts the fundamental Muslim doctrine that it is the unchanging Word of Allah.
Puin’s conclusions have sparked the usual angry, malicious and threatening reactions from orthodox Muslims who would never allow anyone disprove their unsubstantiated dogma that the present Quran is exactly the same as revealed to Muhammad 1400 years ago. “They’ve said I’m not really the scholar to make any remarks on these manuscripts,” he said.
So controversial are his findings that the Yemeni authorities – typical of Muslims’ reactions in such matters – have denied him further access to the manuscripts.
The Sana’ manuscripts are considered to be the oldest surviving copies of the Quran. Moreover, the Sana’ manuscripts are written in a script that originated in the Hijaz – the region of Arabia where Muhammad lived, which makes them not only the oldest to have survived, but among the earliest copies of the Quran ever.
Puin noticed minor textual variations, unconventional ordering of the chapters (surahs), as well as rare styles of orthography. He also noticed that the sheets were reworked – that is some of the manuscripts had versions written even earlier, that had been washed off or erased and then re-scripted.
This obviously indicates that there was still considerable textual modification since the time of Uthman. They also show significant variations from the text used today. Whole sections are missing and added to with a much later hand.
Passages that today read ‘Say/ Qul…’ (a divine command to Muhammad) are seen to have once been ‘he said…’ or ‘they said…’, indicating a possible attributing of the words of humans to Allah. Over 1,000 variants have been found within the first 83 suras alone.
These findings led Dr Puin to assert that the Quran had undergone a TEXTUAL EVOLUTION. In other words, the copy of the Quran that we have today is most certainly NOT the same as the one believed to have been revealed to Muhammad.
This is something that Muslims obviously find offensive since they have evolved the idea that they turned into a DOGMA, which is crucial to their beliefs, that the Quran is considered to be the literal Word of Allah, unchanging and permanent.
The traditional Muhammadan view holds that the Quran was revealed to Muhammad by Allah in segments between 610 and 632 AD.
The revealed verses were “recorded on palm leaves and flat stones and in the hearts of men [meaning memorized],”and remained in this state during Muhammad’s lifetime.
About 29 years after Muhammad’s death, during the rule of the third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, a standard copy of the Quran in a book form, was made, because already divergent readings and copies were circulating in the growing Islamic empire. This Uthmanic recension, according to the Muslims’ view was produced with meticulous care, based on earlier copies of the Quran made according to the instructions of Muhammad.
Orthodox Muslims insist that no changes have occurred to the Quran since the Uthmanic recension. But this view is challenged by many of their own records – as we have shown in several of our articles – as well as by the Sana’ manuscripts, which date from shortly after the Uthmanic recension.
“There are dialectal and phonetical variations that don’t make any sense in the text”, says Puin. “The Arabic script is very defective – even more so in the early stages of its literature.”
Like other early Arabic literature, the Sana’ Quran was written without any diacritical marks, vowel symbols or any guide as to how it should be read.
Puin adds “The text was written so defectively that it can be read in a perfect way only if you have a strong oral tradition.” The Sana’ text, just like other early Qurans, was a guide to those who knew it already by memory, he says. Those that were unfamiliar with the oral Quran would read it differently because there were no diacritical and vowel symbols.
As years went by, the correct reading of the Quran became less clear, he says. People made changes to make sense of the text. Puin gives as example Al Hajjaj bin Yusuf al Thaqafi, governor of Iraq from 694-714 AD, who “was proud of inserting more than 1,000 alifs [first letter of the Arabic alphabet] in the Quranic text”.
Professor Allen Jones, lecturer in Quranic Studies at Oxford University, agrees.
“Hajjaj is also responsible for putting the diacritical marks in the Quran. His changes are a defining moment in the history of the Quran “.
After Hajjaj’s changes in around the 700s, “the Quranic text became pretty stable”, he says.
Puin accepts this up to a point, but says that certain words and pronunciations were standardized in the NINTH CENTURY. He says the Uthmanic text was the skeleton upon which “many layers of interpretations were added” – causing the text to change”
This is of course sacrilege to orthodox Muhammadans, and is not entirely accepted by some other academics.
Puin’s other radical theory is that pre-Islamic sources have entered the Quran. He argues that two tribes it mentions, As-Sahab-ar-Rass (Companions of the Well) and the As- Sahab-al-Aiqa (Companions of the Thorny Bushes) are not part of the Arab tradition, and the people of Muhammad’s time certainly did not know about them.
“These are very unspecific names, whereas other tribes are specifically mentioned,” said Dr Puin.
His researches have shown that the ar-Rass lived in pre-Islamic Lebanon and the al-Aiqa in the Aswan region of Egypt around 150AD, according to the Atlas of Ptolemy. He argues that pre-Islamic sources entered the Quran, presumably when the growing Islamic empire came into contact with those regions and sources.
Puin also questions another sacred belief that Muslims hold about the Quran, that it was written in the purest Arabic. He has found many words of foreign origin (about 118 from Aramaic, Hebrew, Persian, Greek, Indian) in the text, including the word “Quran” itself. Muslim scholars explain the “Quran” to mean recitation, but Puin argues that it is actually derived from an Aramaic word, qariyun, meaning a lectionary of scripture portions appointed to be read at divine service.
He says the Quran contains most of the biblical stories but in a shorter and very much altered form and is like “a summary of the Bible to be read in service”.
Orthodox Muslims have always held – although without a single thread of evidence – that the Quran is a scripture in its own right, and never a shortened version of the Bible, even if both texts contain the same prophetic tradition.
Muslims, for obvious religious reasons, are always accusing any and all those who question anything about the Quran as being anti Islam. They are weary of constant attempts by western Islamists to analyze the Quran in a parallel way to the Bible.
Not all Muslim reaction to him has been hostile. Salim Abdullah, director of the German Islamic Archives, affiliated to the powerful pan-Islamic Muslim World League, has given him a positive response.
“He asked me if I could give him the permission to publish one of my articles on the Sana’ manuscripts”, said Puin. Warned of the possible controversy it could raise, Salim replied: “I am longing for this kind of discussion on this topic.”
Any questioning of the authenticity of the Quranic text as the Word of Allah can expect a hostile reaction. A death sentence, was issued against Salman Rushdie for hinting in Satanic Verses that the Quran includes verses from other sources – chiefly Satan.
Academics offering radical interpretations of the Quran put their lives at risk. In 1990, Dr Nasr Abu Zaid, formerly a lecturer in Quranic Studies at Cairo University, provoked a national outcry in Egypt over his book ‘The Concept of the Text’. There were death threats from Muslim fundamentalists, general public harassment, and in 1995 he was branded an apostate by Egypt’s highest court. The court forced him to divorce his wife because under Sharia’ law, marriage between an apostate and a Muslim is forbidden.
Zaid’s proposal was arguably less radical than Puin’s. Zaid’s book only argued that “the Quran is a literary text, and the only way to understand, explain, and analyze it, is through a literary approach”. A Muslim himself, Zaid remained in Egypt for a time to refute the apostasy charges, but fled with his wife to Holland in the face of increasing death threats.
Puin believes that he will not receive the same reaction, because unlike Zaid or Rushdie he does not have a Muslim name.
His claim that the Quran has changed since its supposed standardization, and that pre-Islamic texts have crept in, would nonetheless be regarded as highly blasphemous by Muslims. He has not yet written a book on his radical findings, but says it is “a goal to achieve” in the near future.
Dr Tarif Khalidi, lecturer in Islamic Studies at Cambridge University, warns that the book may generate a controversy similar to Satanic Verses. “If Dr Puin’s views are taken up and trumpeted in the media, and if you don’t have many Muslims being rational about it, then all hell may break loose.”
Khalidi fears Muslims will not accept Puin’s work on the Sana’ manuscripts as having been done with academic objectivity, but see it as a deliberate “attack on the integrity of the Quranic text”.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are sick and tired of hearing about ‘Muslim’ anger whenever some scholar questions anything about Muhammad’s Quran.
As we have demonstrated before, the Fundamentalist followers of Muhammad exhibit obscene degrees of hypocrisy, mendacity and duplicity since they never cease or shrink from attacking and insulting the beliefs of the Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Sikhs, Bahais, Atheists etc. They do so INCESSANTLY in all forms of news media and their school curriculum, without FEAR of retribution.
Muslims are always angry because of their inordinate degree of FEAR; fear that the world would get to know how INAUTHENTIC and UNGODLY their Cult Belief System is.
They are also emulating their mentor Muhammad’s Sunna (practices) since he had any and all those who questioned or disagreed with him ASSASSINATED as we have shown in our previous articles.
They are doing their worst at terrorizing and silencing all investigations of Muhammad’s Quran. The internet, as a medium of education, is turning out to be their worst nightmare. We shall continue to ENLIGHTEN humanity no matter what their threats may be and we need your support in spreading the WORD.
In conclusion, we would like to remind our readers, that even the best authority on the subjects of the Quran, Hadiths and the Arabic language, is deemed incompetent and incapable by the Muslims because he conclusively reveals the unacceptable FACTS about the corruptions and alteration made to Muhammad’s original mythical ‘revelations’.
Their dogmatic mind set is a continuance of Muhammad’s obviously necessary instruction NEVER to question the veracity of his Quran.
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