Is the Qur'an Pure?
Why did Muhammad's close companions write unique versions of the Qur'an?

Why were these unique versions
of the Qur'an later destroyed by fire?

When Muhammad died in 632 CE, the Qur’an had not been recorded and collected into a book. Instead, Muslims memorized large portions of the Qur'an. This was especially true of people who knew Muhammad in person. The Qur’an means to recite. It is possible that some of the verses had been recorded on bones, rocks, or hides before Muhammad died. Regardless, it didn’t take long for the early Muslims to decide that they needed to have the Qur’an collected into a book.

The original Qur’an was completed by 634 CE. It is important to understand that a political process is what produced the Qur’an. In 633 CE, a military battle caused 700 Muslims to be killed. A close friend of Muhammad (named Salim) that could recite a large portion of the Qur’an was killed. What would happen if all the close followers of Muhammad were killed? Early Muslims wanted to maintain the purity of the Qur’an as Muhammad had spoken it.

So the original Qur’an of 634 CE was created during the political reign of Abu Bakr. This original Qur’an came to be known as the Hafsah codex (about 10 years later when Hafsah began to maintain it). However, this most important original manuscript of the Qur’an was destroyed by Muslim leaders in 667 CE. (Hafsah was one of Muhammad's wives. She maintained the original Qur'an until her death in 667 CE. Muslim leaders wanted to destroy the original Qur'an before Hafsah died. But she refused to hand over the codex for burning. She was successful until her death [Refer to Al-Masahif 24] It is most important to ask, "Why did Hafsah not wish to have this most important original manuscript of the Qur'an to be burnt?").

Based on Muslim sources alone, it appears that the Hafsah codex was one of the last Qur’ans to be willingly destroyed by Muslims. Since the original Qur’an was not accepted, what happened to cause such a drastic change that required the original Qur’an to be destroyed? Why wasn’t the Hafsah codex maintained since it was created (in 634 CE) within two years after Muhammad died (in 632 CE)?

To begin, an excellent procedure was in place during the collection of the original Qur’an. Abu Bakr ordered that the Qur’an could only include words that were vouched for by the testimony of two men. The earliest version of the Qur'an would have been most fresh in the minds of Muhammad's followers in 634 CE. Is it any wonder why Hafsah refused to release the original manuscript?

The history of how the Qur’an came to be recorded comes from reliable Muslim source materials. These are called the Hadith. Problems for the Qur’an began to occur during the reign of the 3rd political leader of Islam, whose name is Uthman (644 TO 656 CE). It appears that as the Islamic faith spread with military conquest across a large area, the soldiers were reading different versions of the Qur’an. These men wondered, "Is the Qur’an truly as pure as those close to Muhammad believed and taught?"

The 2nd most trusted Hadith is called Sahih Bukhari. In Volume 6, Book 61, Number 510, the story about Muslim soldiers arguing about different versions of the Qur’an reads as follows: [Search on the referenced site to find the number "510" if you want to verify the written literature].

"Hudhaifa was afraid of the different recitations of the Qur'an, so he asked 'Uthman, "O chief of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Qur’an as Jews and the Christians did before."

In response to the request, the Caliph Uthman sent a message to Hafsah since she had the most important original manuscript sheets collected about 634 CE. We find written:

"Send us the manuscripts of the Qur'an so that we may compile the Qur'anic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you." Hafsah sent copies to Uthman.

Caliph Uthman had men who knew the Qur’an to assemble it again. We find written:

Uthman then ordered four men to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies. After this had been done, the Hafsah codex was returned to her. "Uthman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsah."

Having obtained this new version, Uthman ordered all other Qur’ans to be destroyed by fire. We find written:

Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur'anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt.

This means that drastic changes occurred. After all, "Why were the other copies and fragments ordered to be burnt?" The answer is found in the original statement: "Hudhaifa was afraid of the different recitations of the Qur'an"

Hudhaifa did not want different versions of the Qur'an. To Hudhaifa, unity of the Qur'an meant unity of all Muslims. If Muslims troops were not united, Islam would crumble.

Since all other copies of the Qur’an were ordered to be burned, what was wrong with them? Is the Qur’an pure as believed by modern day Muslims? Since the decision to burn all other Qur’ans was politically motivated, the Qur’an of today reflects the political whims of early Muslim political leaders, not the prophet Muhammad. Questions like this will never be answered. But it is certain that the Qur’an of today is not the original Qur’an recorded only 2 years after Muhammad died. It is certain that the Hafsah codex would have been the most accurate and original Qur’an of all time. But Muslim political leaders made sure that it was destroyed. So what actually happened in the early years of Islam?

Evidence of Multiple Qur'anic Versions

Muslim source materials report that at least four different versions of the Qur’an existed before the political order was given to have them burned. (Refer to "Al-Tamhid 2, 247).

The four versions were written by people who knew Muhammad in person. Each person created their unique version of the Qur’an. Based on Muslims sources, the differences were serious enough to cause Muslims to be divided. The Islamic source "K. al Masahif" reports differences so serious as to cause one Muslim group to call another group heretics:

During the reign of `Uthman, teachers were teaching this or that reading to their students. When the students met and disagreed about the reading, they reported the differences to their teachings. They would defend their readings, condemning the others as heretical.'[Abu Bakr `Abdullah b. abi Da'ud, "K. al Masahif]

So a political decision was made to have only one Qur’an. This did not go over well with the original people who created their unique version of the Qur’an. Who were these chosen people?

Muslim source materials reveal some of these select people who are known to have created their unique version of the Qur'an. (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 150). [Search on the referenced site to find the number "150" if you want to verify the written literature].

I heard the Prophet saying, "Learn the recitation of Qur'an from four persons: (1)Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud, (2)Salim (who was killed in the 633 CE battle), the freed slave of Abu Hudhaifa, (3)Ubayy B. Ka'ab and (4)Muadh bin Jabal."

So a few select people close to Muhammad thought they knew the Qur’an and collected their personal version. These versions of the Qur’an became widely distributed and used. This is why Muslim soldiers were arguing and calling one another heretics.

After the "official" Qur’an was released and the order was given to burn all other versions, some very bad feelings came out. The following information from Muslim sources is probably the most important information you can learn about people who actually knew Muhammad in person. Let’s begin with Mas’ud, who was asked to burn his personal version of the Qur’an.

"How can you order me to recite the reading of Zaid, when I recited from the very mouth of the Prophet some seventy Surahs?" "Am I," asks Abdullah, "to abandon what I acquired from the very lips of the Prophet?" (Masahif" by Ibn abi Dawood, 824-897 AD, pp. 12, 14).

Would Mas’ud accept the Qur’an of today as being pure since he refused to destroy his unique version? Since Mas’ud did not want to have his unique version of the Qur’an destroyed, it is doubtful that Mas’ud would honestly answer that the Qur’an is pure. It is important to ask, "Why did Mas’ud refuse to give in and destroy his version of the Qur’an?"

Mas'ud was a close companion and personal servant of Muhammad. The prophet Muhammad taught the Qur'an to Mas’ud in person. Due to his close relationship with Muhammad, Mas'ud would have had confidence that he was qualified to create his unique version of the Qur'an.

Mas'ud, moved to Kufa, Iraq where he completed his unique version of the Qur’an (commonly called the Kufan Codex). The unique Qur’an created by Mas’ud was completed years after the most important original manuscript (634 CE) that Hafsah kept until she died in 667 CE. In addition, the Qur'an version created by Mas'ud did not have chapters 1, 113, and 114 that are in the "official" Qur'an of today. Is the Qur’an truly pure as believed by Muslims today?

Another unique Qur’an was created by Ubayy B. Ka'ab. He was a close companion of Muhammad and served as a secretary to Muhammad. Ubayy could recite much of the Qur’an, which he had learned from the prophet Muhammad. Scholars have found that Ubayy's version differed from the "official" Qur'an with two additional chapters (entitled: Surat Al-Khal and Surat Al-Afd). Since Ubayy was taught the Qur'an by the prophet Muhammad, why doesn't the "official" Qur'an contain the two additional chapters?

Ubayy died during the reign of Umar, which was before the "official" Qur'an was created by Uthman. Therefore, Ubayy did not have to witness that his version of the Qur'an was burned by Uthman's order. Since Ubayy created a unique version of the Qur'an and had learned from the mouth of the prophet Muhammad, would he have agreed with Mas’ud by refusing to give in and destroy his version of the Qur’an?"

Due to Uthman’s decision to create an "official" version of the Qur'an, Ubayy's version of the Qur’an was destroyed. It is important to ask, "Is the Qur'an pure?"

Now consider the original Qur’an called the Hafsah Codex. It was destroyed by Muslims leaders immediately after Hafsah died. It is most important to ask, "Why did Hafsah not wish to have this most important original manuscript of the Qur'an to be burnt?"

The "official" Qur’an version of today comes from Zaid ibn Thabit, who was the youngest writing member. Zaid, being very young, outlived the older people who had spent more time with Muhammad. However, in the end it was Zaid's version of the Qur'an that was selected by Uthman for the "official" Qur'an version.

Muslims who had been close to Muhammad became righteously angry when Uthman insisted that only one version of the Qur’an be used. Islamic sources show that the purity of the Qur’an from the days of Muhammad appears to have been compromised. If no variants existed, then no burning party would have been held.

Muslims believe that seven versions of the Qur'an exist but that only Uthman’s Qur’an is correct. So Muslims disregard the "official" book burning party cited in Muslim source materials. However, it takes "blind faith" to believe and accept this viewpoint.

If Muhammad could consistently foretell the future, then the Qur’an could be regarded as coming from God. However, this has not been demonstrated. The politically motivated book burning party of early Muslim leaders confirms the Qur’an is from a false Gabriel.

The Dead Sea Scrolls confirm that the book of Daniel has not been changed. Let's move forward to address other Muslim misgivings about the Christian faith. Muslims believe that the Bible foretold of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.

Go to Next Page Does the Bible foretell of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam?

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Based on the book:
"Gabriel's Faces: voice of the Archangel"
ISBN 0-9640404-2-5