Why did Uthman need to burn the many original manuscripts of the Quran?
Because the many different manuscripts contained many discrepancies.
These different Qur’ans were a subject of study for early Islamic scholars. The Arabic librarian, Ibn Abi Ya’qub al-Nadim, made a famous catalog of all the books in Arabic in the year 375 A.H./987 A.D that dealt with the topic of discrepancies in the different versions of the Quran existing then. He records seven books that dealt with this subject.
Books Composed about Discrepancies of the [Qur’anic] Manuscripts
- “The Discrepancies between the Manuscripts of the People of al-Madinah, al-Kufah, and al-Basrah” according to al-Kisa’i.
- Book of Khalaf, “Discrepancies of the Manuscripts”.
- “Discrepancies of the People of al-Kufah, al-Basrah, and Syria concerning the Manuscripts”, by al-Farra.
- “Discrepancies between the Manuscripts” by Abu Da’ud al-Sijistani.
- Book of al-Mada’ini about the discrepancies between the manuscripts and the compiling of the Qur’an.
- “Discrepancies between the Manuscripts of Syria, al-Hijaz, and al-Iraq”, by Ibn `Amir al-Yahsubi.
- Book of Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Rahman al-Isbahani about discrepancies of the manuscripts.
(Al-Nadim, The Fihrist of al-Nadim – A Tenth Century survey of Muslim Culture, p. 79)
These books detail hundreds of discrepancies; for example different numbers of surahs, surahs were arranged differently, different words for the same verse, etc.
Here are some specific references:
“Concerning the arrangement of the Qur’an in the manuscript of Abd Allah ibn Mas’ud, Al-Fadl ibn Shadhan said, “I found in a manuscript of `Abd Allah ibn Mas’ud the surahs of the Qur’an in accordance with the following (different) sequence … These are one hundred and ten surahs.” (Al-Nadim, p. 53)
This is saying that ibn Mas’ud’s Quran had 110 surahs!
Who is Ibn Mas’ud? He was one of the teachers that Muhammad had commanded Muslims to learn the Quran from.
Here is another one.
One of our reliable friends has informed us, saying that the composition of the surahs according to the reading of Ubayy ibn Ka’b is in a village called Qariyat al-Ansar, two parasangs from al-Basrah, where in his home Muhammad ibn Abd al-Malik al-Ansari showed us a Qur’anic manuscript, saying, “This is the copy of Ubayy which we have, handed down from our fathers.” I looked into it and ascertained the headings of the surahs, the endings of the revelations, and the numbers of verses. … one hundred and sixteen surahs. (Al-Nadim, pp. 58-61)”
This is saying that Ubayy ibn Ka’b’s Quran had 116 surahs!
Who is Ubayy ibn Ka’b? the hadiths tell us he was the best reciter of the Quran.
There were Qurans with 110 surahs. And there were Qurans with 116 surahs. And there were Qurans with 114 surahs? What are these additional surahs? Which ones should be in the Quran and which ones should not be in the Quran?
Who should make the decision?
Muhammad? He was dead. Allah had been silent since Muhammad died.
Although Muhammad left behind the great teachers of the Quran like Ibn Mas’ud and Ubayy ibn Ka’b, the caliph, Uthman, chose to reject the Qurans of these teachers by burning them. Muhammad was no longer around to approve or disapprove of what he did.
No one knows if the genuine Quran was burnt by Uthman.
“Narrated Anas bin Malik: Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman came to Uthman at the time when the people (Muslims) of Syria and the people of Iraq were waging war to conquer Armenia and Azerbaijan. Hudhaifa was afraid of their (the people of Syria and Iraq) differences in the recitation of the Qur’an, so he said to ‘Uthman, “O chief of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Book (Quran) as Jews and the Christians did before.” So ‘Uthman sent a message to Hafsa saying, “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.” Hafsa sent it to ‘Uthman. ‘Uthman then ordered Zaid bin Thabit, ‘Abdullah bin Az-Zubair, Said bin Al-As and ‘AbdurRahman bin Harith bin Hisham to REWRITE the manuscripts in perfect copies. ‘Uthman said to the three Quraishi men, “In case you DISAGREE (on discrepancies) with Zaid bin Thabit on any point in the Qur’an, then write it in the dialect of Quraish, the Qur’an was revealed in their tongue.” They did so, and when they had written many copies, ‘Uthman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsa. ‘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.” (Sahih al-Bukhari: vol. 6, bk. 61, no. 510)
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8 thoughts on “Why Did Uthman Burn Early Manuscripts?”
With such discrepancies, one can see why scholars conclude that Surah 37 describes Ishmael on the mountain with Abraham. Only Isaac is mentioned by name in that Surah and the bible goes into great length discussing how Ishmael was rejected by the Lord God and Isaac was the child of promise, the heir to Abraham. Quranic scholars unfamiliar with the bible or rejecting it might easily confuse the story narrative.
That is true. The fact remains that the koran does not even name Ishmael as the one with Abraham on the mountain.
The Bible clearly says it was Isaac. This was written in 1400 BC.
Even if you assume that the Bible was wrong about the identity of the son of Abraham, and the koran was supposedly correcting the biblical narrative, then why would allah not even make it clear in the koran by specifically mentioning Ishmael’s name?
Not only did allah wait 2000 years but even then he fails to address it!
The bible has been changed but the Quran will remain UNCHANGED TILL THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT.
KEEP THESE WORDS IN YOUR MIND!
In the Quran, there are many stories about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ (called ‘Isa in Arabic). The Quran recalls his miraculous birth, his teachings, the miracles he performed by God’s permission, and his life as a respected prophet of God. The Quran also repeatedly reminds us that Jesus was a human prophet sent by God, not part of God Himself.
He Was a Humble Servant of God!
“And behold! ALLAH will say [ on the Day of Judgment]: ‘Oh Jesus, the son of Mary! Did you say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of God?’ He will say: ‘Glory to Thee! Never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, You would indeed have known it. You know what is in my heart, though I know not what is in Yours. For You know in full all that is hidden. Never did I say to them anything except what You commanded me to say: ‘Worship ALLAH, my Lord, and your Lord.’ And I was a witness over them while I lived among them. When You took me up, You were the Watcher over them, and You are a witness to all things” (5:116-117).
REMEMBER THESE WORDS WHICH WILL BE SAID BY JESUS ON THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT.
HE HIMSELF WILL SAY THAT I’M NOT A GOD!
SO MY DEAR BROTHER/SISTER SAY:-
“ALLAH IS THE ONE, THE ONLY AND PROPHET(SAW) IS INDEED HIS SERVANT AND MESSENGER!”
MAY ALLAH HAVE MERCY IN YOU ON THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT AND I HOPE THAT YOU OPEN UP YOUR EYES TO SEE THE REAL GOD, (which is always) ALLAH!
All you have said is nothing but empty claims. Do you have even one proof that the quran is true?
Th proof that the quran is true is that Muhammad said so.
And the proof that Muhammad is true is the quran said so.
Is that it?
You wrote that, in the quran there are many stories about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
Does that mean these stories are true?
There are stories of Jesus in the Book of Mormons too.
The Bahais have stories about Jesus too. So do hundreds of false cults!
Are all these stories true?
You see, anyone can fabricate stories and claim that they have stories of Jesus.
I can write a book about Muhammad and claim it has stories of Muhammad!
The koran has no authority or credibility to tell us anything about Jesus.
The existence of silly verses like Sura 5:116 where Jesus supposedly denies that allah, mariam and himself are three gods is sufficient evidence that the author of the quran was unaware of the beliefs of Christians and who Jesus is.
whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt.” (Sahih al-Bukhari: vol. 6, bk. 61, no. 510)