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Authenticity of the Qur'an

Munir Munshey
3/4/2009
1997 views

  

The Prophet (peace be upon him) and hundreds of his companions committed the Qur'an to memory right at the time of its revelation. Its melodious quality makes it easy to memorize. The process went on uninterrupted and still goes on. The passage of time did not alter its impact. Reposed in the hearts of men, it has traveled through time.

 


 

 

Those who commit the entire Qur’an to memory are called the ‘Huffadh’ or the ‘Preservers’. They are not monks or priests who shun the world and devote themselves to the study and practice of religion. Rather, they are ordinary men and come from all walks of life. Some of them are doctors, engineers, lawyers, businessmen, artisans and farmers. Very few, if any have ever memorized any other book in the world, religious or secular, scientific or spiritual. There is such a stark and striking difference between it and the rest of the books of the world. There is absolutely no book in the history of humankind that has been committed to memory in its entirety as has the Qur'an.  Today there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people who can recite the entire Qur’an by memory in its original order. It can never become extinct, even if all of its written copies are destroyed. The ‘Huffadh’ would be able to reproduce the entire text from memory.  The Qur’an is immortalized in this manner, and preserved for posterity. Such an extraordinary phenomenon is nothing short of a miracle!

 

“Indeed, it is Our responsibility to have it collected (compiled) and read (as a book).”  (Qur’an 75:17)

 

Books did not withstand the pressures of time. They were easy targets during periods of persecution. Scribes copied them one at a time, and the process was painstaking and slow.  It took weeks, if not months to produce a single copy, but only minutes to burn an entire roomful of books to ashes. Throughout history, libraries have been ransacked and razed and books have been banned, burnt and banished. Countless number of books have become extinct over the years. They have been lost during forced migrations and exodus due to war, famine, and disease. Written texts do not preclude the possibility of adulteration, and scriptures that relied upon them have all been corrupted.

 

The history of the Bible demonstrates the inadequacy of the written records. Since scribes had to make copies by hand, inadvertent errors often slipped by into the Bible. Subsequent scribes then copied the errors of oversight as the word of God. Often, alterations made in the text were calculated and deliberate. The defenders of faith interpolated verses to make it more defendable and palatable. Sectarian and internecine struggle muddied the field. All sects fiddled with the text to foster their own beliefs. 

 

Counterfeit and corrupted copies of the text crept into circulation, and threw doubt on the validity of all versions. Several attempts to rid the texts of errors corrupted it still further. Each such attempt introduced the world to yet another version of the Bible. Under the pretext of standardizing the text, kings appointed councils to alter and edit portions of it. With the awesome and absolute power of the state at their disposal, they canonized their own concoction of verses and issued edicts banning all other versions.

 

The Catholic, the Protestant, and the Mormon Bibles are substantially different, and are merely the versions canonized at different times. All non-canonized versions are not extinct and some differ drastically from the canonized Bibles. Thousands of old manuscripts of the Bible are said to exist, but no two of them are alike. Memorized text, however, is far less susceptible to corruption. The text engraved on stone can be wiped clean, but not the text etched on the hearts of men. Fire readily swallows words inscribed on paper, but not those committed to memory. A man can be imprisoned or killed, but he cannot be robbed of his memory. Neither the sword, nor the dungeon can distort the memorized text. That which lies shielded within the ribcage can neither be killed nor caged. Written records support, sustain and supplement the memorized text. Together, they confer immunity against corruption, and grant the seal of sanctity to the scriptures.

 

The purity of the Qur’an has been assured by not just one, nor even two, but rather by three distinct methods. It was committed to memory during the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him), right at the time of its revelation, and the institution of preservers transmitted the memorized text to each succeeding generation. Soon after the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him), an official written text was prepared, and the earliest available copy dates back to the time of the third Caliph of Islam, whose reign began about twelve years after the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

 

In addition to the above two methods, the uninterrupted practice of the annual public recital of the Qur’an maintained its purity. It rendered the text immune to corruption. Each night during the holy month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Islamic calendar), a hafidh leads the prayers, reciting a portion of the Qur’an from memory. Within three or four weeks, the recitation of the entire text is completed. The congregation stands in prayer listening attentively. Any mistake of the hafidh is promptly corrected. Neither a word nor the order of the words may be altered. Not even a dot can be changed. Neither by accident, nor by design can a word be added to or deleted from the text. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) started this practice a year before his death, and it has continued uninterrupted till the present.

 

The annual public reading, called the ‘Taraweeh’ prayer, is held in every city of the Muslim world and in most cities of the non-Muslim world. The miracle goes on displayed every year, and every generation can witness the wonder of the Qur’an first hand. The constitution of the Kingdom of God, the document of the utmost importance to humankind, is recited from memory every year in front of a large audience, at thousands of places around the world.  This miracle of the Qur'an is as undeniable as the midday sun on a clear day.

 

If the author of the Qur’an was not the Almighty God, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would have to be a literary genius, the like of which this world has never seen before or since. Writing a book of that stature requires a treasure of knowledge spread over many diverse fields of study. Such an author would have to study and master scores of books on many subjects.  In the seventh century AD, the town of Makkah had only a handful of people who could read and write, and Muhammad (peace be upon him), was not one of them.

 

And you did not recite before it any scripture, nor did you inscribe one with your right hand. Otherwise the falsifiers would have had [cause for] doubt. (Qur’an 29: 48)

 

And thus We have revealed to you an inspiration of Our command. You did not know what is the Book or [what is] faith, but We have made it a light by which We guide whom We will of Our servants. And indeed, [O Muhammad], you guide to a straight path -. (Qur’an 42: 52)

 

The fact that these verses were revealed to a man who could neither read nor write makes the miracle of the Qur'an far more amazing and irrefutable, and too profound to ignore. A human creation could not be that exquisite, excellent and consistent.  The evidence of its divine source exists within the text.  It contains rhythm and rhyme, and a unique style. The clear, consistent and concise verses are themselves the living evidence of its divine origin. It is the pinnacle of perfection and the epitome of excellence. A flame runs through its words and melts away doubt. Vibrating and pulsating with life, its words head straight for the heart. The melody of its recital incites the heart to hearken the mood to mellow. Even those believers who do not understand a word of the Qur'an are distinctly moved and affected.  It produces a quasi-hypnotic effect on the believer. Its impassioned appeal impacts the heart, and the delight of its diction stirs the soul. The persistent, passionate and poignant appeal produces a profound effect. It invites and impacts the heart and seeks to evoke a response. It invites the reader to think, ponder and reason. Hearts feel convinced that the acceptance of the Qur'an confer peace and solace to life.







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