"The Origin of Quran. Its transmission, compilation, corruption/preservation and current status". 


The debate will be hosted jointly by Exploring Faiths Organization (THIS BLOG) and the group "Religion, philosophy, let us talk about it" (http://www.facebook.com/groups/181024738596591/) and Islamic Perimeter (www.islamicperimeter.com). The debate will be published on http://www.exploringfo.blogspot.com and in the group mentioned above and also on the website http://www.islamicperimeter.com

Mr. Saaib Ahmed: is a 20 year old medical student. An experienced debater, debating in diverse fields, he has debated many Christian apologists and critiques of Islam. Saaib Ahmed is the founder of Exploring Faiths Organization. Writer of several articles on Islam and Comparative religion and known to his audience for his criticism of Christianity, "Textual Criticism of Quran" is his favorite topic.

Mr. Saaib's Rebuttal.
“Kya poochtey ho haal merey kaar-o-baar ka,
Aayeney bechta hoon mein andhoon ke shehar mey.”

(You ask me about my business. It is as if I have been selling mirrors in the city of blind people.)

I read the opening statements and I read the “responses” to our opening statements and I am really upset to see the level to which the debate has dropped to. People come out to debate not knowing what they are talking about and Kurein is a boss in this category. Ninad Gaikawad is so confident about the sources he uses that they seem to be infallible. And don’t tell me about the “spiritual corruption” of Quranic text which Dave Mark Rowlands talks about.

Ninad Gaikwad says that the traditions about compilation are contradictory and I chose an account which I am comfortable with. Ninad cites nothing to prove this claim. Moreover I used a Historian’s approach in building up the history of the text. If I was wrong, all Ninad had to do was making a case which was contradictory to mine. He simply doesn’t do it. What he does is making hollow claims.

In my opening statement I had laid down the conditions if someone wants to use Islamic traditions to point fingers at the authenticity of Quranic text. If someone uses Islamic traditions he should have known how Muslims interpret them and how the authenticity of traditions is checked. Take for example Ninad’s extensive use of Suyuti’s “itqan”. I can ridicule all such citations saying they are not authentic, Ninad will be answerless (I won’t say it though). What I mean by this is that you should know how to use a source. Take for example Ninad’s quotation from As-Suyuti’s, Al-itqan fil Ulumil Quran (Ninad just copy pasted from some website while I have actually read the book), "Let no one of you say that he has acquired the entire Quran, for how does he know that it is all? Much of the Quran has been lost, thus let him say, ‘I have acquired of it what is available’" (As-Suyuti, Itqan, part 3, page 72). Ninad quoting this narration as a proof shows that Ninad has not read the book. Suyuti has cited the narration in the section where he discusses abrogation in the Quran. He talks about how many verses were abrogated and were not in the Quran and that is why Umar says “Let no one of you say that he has acquired the entire Quran….” This is what Suyuti wanted to prove by this narration (I need not agree with whatever Suyuti says). Ninad without knowing what Suyuti wanted to say copies from some biased anti-Islamic source. The more correct explanation is that Umar was talking about knowledge of Quran and a more correct translation of the Hadith is “None of you should say that he has full knowledge of the Quran; how could he know what full knowledge is! So much of the (Quranic knowledge) has passed him by! Let him say instead: I have taken of the Qura’nic knowledge that which was present.” The translation which Ninad used actually proves that he hasn’t read the Book. If Ninad actually read the Book he had to choose a translation and the translation which I used is how the translators translated the narration. All other narrations used by Ninad come from the same section of Suyuti’s Al-itqan fi ulumil Quran. Thus Ninad just made a fool out of himself. 

By not reading the actual text Ninad missed a very nice info which Suyuti gives. Suyuti himself says that all these Hadith are “ahad” [1] and a few paragraphs later he adds that, “an ahad tradition is not enough to establish the authenticity of any part of the Quran.” [1]

Ninad continued making a fool out of himself by quoting from same source a narration about stoning. Because Ninad didn’t read the book himself he missed what Suyuti says later, Suyuti tells us that they were not part of Quran and were never supposed to be a part of Quran. He actually cites a Hadith, Zaid said: I heard the Prophet (s) say: “If a married man or woman fornicates, stone them without hesitation” Umar then said: “When it was revealed I went to the Prophet and asked may I write it? He disliked it” This proves that it was not supposed to be written. A few paragraph later Suyuti provides another narration where one more sentence is added, “the Prophet said, “you can’t do it.” [1] 

Ninad also tried to deceive us by changing the wording of Aisha’s hadith as quoted by Suyuti. Aisha didn’t use the word “edited”. Anyways the hadith is again about abrogation, and Suyuti tries to show us how a part of the recitation was abrogated. (I don’t agree with whatever Suyuti says. The narration is ahad after all) 

Same is the story with all of the narrations. Let me summarize:

1. Not all narrations in Suyuti’s itqan are authentic. If Ninad quotes from Islamic sources he should know how they are to be used. This means that I need not respond to them.
2. All of the narrations cited are “ahad” (narrated through one or two chains) and Suyuti himself says that these narrations can’t be used to question the authenticity of the Quran.
3. Suyuti cites these narrations to describe how abrogation works.
4. Suyuti himself describes these narrations.

After making fool out of himself Ninad Gaikwad reaches the conclusion that “the Muslim scholars of the early years of Islam were far more flexible, realizing that parts of the Quran were lost, perverted, and that there were many thousand variants which made it impossible to talk of the Quran.” And we can now laugh at this after reading the above paragraphs. Moreover, a simple question needs to be asked, if this is true did they (the scholars) remain Muslims after their research when they knew that God had promised to protect the Quran. The thing to be noted here is that if a Muslim knows that Quran is corrupted he can’t stay Muslim because the situation is not compatible with the Quranic claim that it will be preserved. 

Almost without exceptions Muslims consider that the Quran we now possess goes back in its text and in the number and order of the chapters to Muhammad (saw), contrary to what Ninad said and I have made a strong case for this in my opening statement which the non-Muslim side is yet to respond to. 

After massacring scholarship Ninad Gaikward started playing havoc by citing Arthur Jeffery. I had already laid conditions for this in my opening statement. Again Ninad Gaikwad has not read any of Jeffery’s books and alhamdullillah I have read most of them. Here is what Jeffery says, “Practically all the early Codices and fragments that have so far been carefully examined, show the same type of text, such variants as occur being almost always explainable as scribal errors" [2]. Ninad didn’t even read the book from which he was quoting. Had he read it he would have understood why I wrote in my opening statement, “If they talk about variants described by Arthur Jeffery then they will have to tell us the source from where he got them.” Whenever Jeffery cites a source and we check it we find that none of his sources talks about “Mushaf”. A simple question arises how does Jeffery conclude that there are differences in Mushafs when neither he nor the ones who he cites actually saw the Mushaf’s? Moreover, the vast majority of Jeffery's references contain no isnad whatsoever, making them inadmissible because they offer nothing but empty gossip. Moreover copying Arthur Jeffery (or Goldzheir) is futile because they neglect oral transmission as a whole. 

Arthur Jeffery as well as Ninad Gaikwad both lack knowledge of Textual Criticism. It is unfair to compare two texts with two different levels of authenticity. And I had already talked about it in my opening statement (see footnote [9] of my opening statement, also reproduced below as number [3]). Thus we see that comparing a Mushaf attributed to any scholar with 'Uthman's Mushaf is utterly meaningless unless we can show that both are of equal status, proving the authenticity of the former to the same degree of certainty that we have for the latter. In the course of collating manuscripts 'equal status' becomes a vital concept. If we uncover a document penned in the original author's hand, then the scholarly value of duplicate copies belonging to his most famous students (let alone a mysterious student) plummets to nil. To do otherwise and confer equal value to both the original and the duplicate is completely unscientific. With this in mind if we approach Jeffery's allegations, we see that they fall on their face and with it fall Ninad’s allegations on their face. I could have talked more about Jeffery (he is my favorite food) but I need not. His countless academic mistakes, errors he made in Arabic, his biased conclusions etc, let us leave them for dinner.

Ninad committed suicide by copying a narration from Sahih-Bukhari narrated by Ibn Mas'ud: I heard a person reciting a (Quranic) Verse in a certain way, and I had heard the Prophet reciting the same Verse in a different way. So I took him to the Prophet and informed him of that but I noticed the sign of disapproval on his face, and then he said, "Both of you are correct, so don't differ, for the nations before you differed, so they were destroyed." Having cited this hadith Ninad reached a conclusion which is not supported by the Hadith he cited, “This breaks down Saaib’s argument that since there were multiple followers who had learnt these revelations by heart what they dictated was the same as what Muhammad had told them.” 

Ninad should know what Original Text means. Whatever Muhammad approved is original text. If Muhammad (saw) allowed a variation in recital that variation would be authentic. And we know that such variations were given to some people who could not pronounce some words properly and this is well established in Islamic literature. Ninad hasn’t even read Sahih Bukhari, the book from which he quoted, because it itself gives us many narrations which talk about these concessions. It was because of these concessions that later some people started claiming that their recital is better and with the maturing of Ummah these concessions needed not be given and Uthman brought us back to Quraish dialect by removing all others. Moreover Ibn Mascud himself narrates: The Messenger of God said: "The Qur'an was sent down in seven ahruf. Each of these ahruf has an outward aspect (zahr) and an inward aspect (batn); each of the ahruf has a border, and each border has a lookout." And in another hadîth he says: “The Messenger of God(P) said: "The first Book came down from one gate according to one harf, but the Qur'an came down from seven gates according to seven ahruf……”[4]

Next comes the narration about Battle of Yamama. The narration is cited by all of the three debaters. I don’t know why is it that important. The only thing it proves is that Muhammad (saw) never put the entire Quran under a cover i.e. Muhammad (saw) never bound the Quran in one master volume. Ninad did not need to tell us this very thing, I had already written it in my opening statement.

Ninad also shows lack of knowledge when he says he needs not explain the origins of faith. The reality is that this is the argument where whole of the Luxemberg theory fails. I wanted Ninad to tell us how faith in Quran emerged if it indeed were a developing text. If the earliest Muslims knew that it was not the word of God, how could have they been Muslims? What kind of Muslims where they? What were their beliefs? What did they believe about the text which they had? Who developed the text of Quran? Did these developments remain hidden from masses? These are tight slaps on the faces of those people who talk such rubbish. Here also when Ninad Gaikwad was using Luxemberg he didn’t know what Luxenberg actually said. Luxenberg’s whole arguments rest upon assumptions which are totally wrong. He then uses these false assumptions adding some magi masala to it, puts it in a pan, cooks it with faulty usage of Arabic and then serves it in his book “The Syro-Armaic reading of Quran”. People like Ninad who are there to hate anything Islamic love the taste and just lap it up.

Then Ninad insulted himself with a paragraph dedicated to the inimitable nature of Quranic Arabic. The Quran’s literary miracle is there and the challenge to produce works like it has been standing for 1500 years and we are yet to see something to match the level. And yes there are people who tried to produce something like it and yes dear Ninad Gaikwad THEY HAVE THEIR HEADS ON THEIR SHOULDERS. The website “suralikeit” is an example or Anis Shurosh’s “The True Furqaan”, both making fun of themselves. The people best suited to make something like it where the early Arabs who would always ridicule the Prophet but they failed, ALL OF THEM. Interesting is the fact that there is hardly any report that anyone of the Arabs ever accused Muhammad (saw) of being the author of the Book. They knew that it was miraculous. The very faith of earliest Muslims in the Quran is a proof that they acknowledged the fact that it was something miraculous. The famous Arabs who took The Challenge Of The Qur'an only to fail include Ibn al-Mukaffa', Musaylimah, Abu'l-cAla al-Marri, Yahya b. al-Hakam al-Ghazal, Sayyid Ali Muhammad (Also known as Bab), Ibn al-Rawandi, Bassar bin Burd, Sahib Ibn 'Abbad & Abu'l- 'Atahiya. 

After this Ninad Gaikwad started replying to Jamal Badawi’s questions. (I am sorry I had to use the word “replying” because I didn’t have any other word)

1. Quran is a book which has many things in it which are not found in Judaism and Christianity. Moreover Muhammad (saw) started passing on the verses of Quran after the end of his Business Carrier. To say Muhammad had learnt whatever we have in Quran from his experience will serve the least in explaining what we see in his prophetic career of 23 years.
2. Why weren’t the contemporaries of Muhammad (saw) able to find that someone who was teaching Muhammad (saw) Quranic verses? If they found this person they would have disproved Muhammad’s claims.
3. No answer.
4. No answer.
5. If Muhammad (saw) was copying the earlier scriptures and learning from their priests how could they have become Muslim? If someone could have found a teacher who taught Joseph Smith what he taught we would have no Mormonism today. Joseph was copying from earlier scripture but in case of Muhammad (saw) we are in the search of that mysterious teacher.
6. Not answered.

Later Ninad cites Edward Gibbon who said the Quran is an “incoherent rhapsody of fable”. The topic here is about the “text” not what the “text says” or what style the text is in. Moreover Edward Gibbon was never eligible to make such a comment because he was not a scholar of Arabic (he hardly knew it). The above comment can be accepted only if he was an authority on the subject and then we would have to see why he reached the conclusion. Yes, he can be cited if he talked about preservation and corruption of text. But Ninad doesn’t do it because he won’t like it. Here is what Edward Gibbon said about preservation of Quranic Text,
“It is not the propagation but the permanency of his religion that deserves our wonder, the same pure and perfect impression which he engraved at Mecca and Medina is preserved, after the revolutions of twelve centuries by the Indian, the African and the Turkish proselytes of the Koran...”[5]

Next comes Ninad’s quote from Carlyle who calls Quran “insupportable stupidity”. Again, Is Carlyle an authority in the field? The conclusions to which Thomas Carlyle reached (if only we consider them worth responding to) are a result of his use of Sale’s translation which is known to be a highly biased translation. Carlyle contradicts himself a few pages later, where he quotes extensively from Quran to show the beauty of Muhammad’s religion – An “insupportable stupidity” indeed. The problem actually is that the people I am debating have not done any homework because of presence of Sheikh Google.

In the same tome I reject Salomon Reinach’s thought. (Ninad have you read Ibn Warak’s “The Origins of Quran” or you copied this paragraph from its summary available everywhere on internet.) By the way the quotation from your scholar is answered nicely by A NON-MUSLIM scholar of eminence. Here is what Dr. Steingass says:

“The above observation makes the hypothesis advanced by those who see Muhammad as the author of the Qur'an untenable. How could a man, from being illiterate, become the most important author, in terms of literary merits, in the whole of Arabic literature?........... In making the present attempt to improve on the performance of my predecessors, and to produce something which might be accepted as echoing however faintly the sublime rhetoric of the Arabic Koran, I have been at pains to study the intricate and richly varied rhythms which - apart from the message itself - constitute the Koran's undeniable claim to rank amongst the greatest literary masterpieces of mankind... This very characteristic feature - 'that inimitable symphony,' as the believing Pickthall described his Holy Book, 'the very sounds of which move men to tears and ecstasy' - has been almost totally ignored by previous translators; it is therefore not surprising that what they have wrought sounds dull and flat indeed in comparison with the splendidly decorated original.” [6]

Rest of Ninad Gaikward’s comments on Shakoor’s papers are a proof of his frustration on the challenge of Quran to produce a “Sura like it”. Instead of showing us that he has indeed something equal or better or comparable to Quran he just nods his head. He doesn’t even understand Beethoven’s fans claiming something for him and Beethoven himself claiming something for himself are two different things. Ninad never refutes or responds to any of the argument raised. Only the art of using words to impress audience has been presented to us.

[1] As Suyuti, Al-Itqan translation, page 10-20
[2] Arthur Jeffery, TheMoslem World, vol. 30 (1940), p. 191.
[3] in establishing any text, it is academically unacceptable to compare between different grades of manuscripts. See Bergstrasser, usul Naqd an-Nashr al-Kutub and R. Blachere et J. Sauvaget, Regles pour editions et traductions de texts arabes for more details about rules for grading manuscripts.
[4] Abû Jacfar Muhammad bin Jarîr al-Tabarî (Translated & Abridged by J Cooper, W F Madelung and A Jones), Jamic al-Bayân 'an Tâ'wil ay al-Qur'an, 1987, Volume 1, Oxford University Press & Hakim Investment Holdings (M.E.) Limited, p. 16-31.
[5] History of the Saracen Empire, London, 1870, p. 54.
[6] Dr. Steingass, quoted in T.P. Hughes' DICTIONARY OF ISLAM, pp. 526-527.

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