Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 21

Thread: Was the Qru'aan really a book written in Aramaik?

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    Default Was the Qru'aan really a book written in Aramaik?

    Luxenberg's work has been rejected by a near unanimity of scholarship.You will find a number of those statements of rejection from various Orientalist scholars on the Islamic Awareness website.

    Luxenberg's grasp of the languages he analyzes is not suitable for the task he has undertaken. His Arabic and Aramaic are both extremely weak. The biggest error in his methodology is that he does not understand etymons and cognates. An etymon is the direct parent to a loan-word from another language, whereas, a cognate is a word sharing a similar triliteral root with another Semitic language, both inheriting the respective words from the same cognate. Arabic does, without any doubt have etymons in Aramaic and this is something scholars of Tafsir have been discussing in the various Tafasir of the Qur'an for over a thousand years. What Luxenberg has done is taken a word from the Qur'an, thumbed through an Aramaic lexicon, found a word that was similar, completely ignored any research into whether the
    words were cognates or true etymons and declared: "Aha! I have found the source of the Qur'an". There are very few exceptions to the scholars who will not laugh at this presumptuousness.

    The task Luxenberg has undertaken is one that even the Sahaba engaged in. The only difference is that he's done a very poor job.

    Now in regards to to the word "Qur'an", the Syriac COGNATE is
    "Qaryanaa" not "Qiryan". The Arabic and the Syriac are COGNATES, and they BOTH share a proto-Semitic etymon, along with Aramaic and Hebrew.

    Predating Arabic and Syriac, both Hebrew and Aramaic (not to be mixed up with Syriac, which Luxenberg fallaciously does often) have the root Qara' meaning to read. In Jewish Babylonion Aramaic a "Qarra'a" is a reciter of the scripture as documented by Marcus Jastrow in his Dictionary of the Targumim on page 1409

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    Default Re: Was the Qru'aan really a book written in Aramaik?

    Quote Originally Posted by theman09 View Post
    In soc.religion.islam Denis Giron <> wrote in < >:

    > "M.S.M. Saifullah" <> wrote in message


    > >

    > > [...]

    > >

    > Both these reviews were interesting, but I wanted to make a brief
    > comment on the second one (by de Blois). Particularly of interest was
    > the following:

    > "But in the eyes of our author, the Aramaic suffixes -â and -ê are
    > 'represented' in the Qur'an not only by alif, but also by ha'. Thus
    > [p. 34] Arabic (xalîfatun) is 'the phonetic transcription' of Syriac
    > hlyp' (hlîfâ). Unfortunately, no reasonis given for why, in this

    the required dot underneath the h was ommitted in the web page.

    > 'phonetic transcription', the Aramaic laryngeal h is not 'transcribed'
    > by the phonetically identical Arabic laryngeal h, but by x."

    > Mr. de Blois writes such with a tone that is meant to mock Luxenberg,

    because he has good reason to.

    > but here (unlike in other instances), I am at a loss for exactly where
    > the problem is. It seems that de Blois' comments are to be taken as
    > insinuating that if khaleefa was really taken from the Aramaic
    > Hleefaa, the Qur'anic term would employ a Haa (Xaa) rather than a


    > khaa. Of course, aside from the pronunciation difference, the only
    > difference between these respective sixth and seventh letters of the
    > alif-baa is a single dot. The distinction between these two letters
    > does not exist in Syriac (or Hebrew for that matter, which has
    > essentially the exact same alphabet as Syriac/Aramaic).

    orthography aside, they have merged into one phoneme in syriac.

    for the 1st millenium at least, it was [H], as evidenced from
    known syriac words in arabic from that period.

    > If this is what is intended in de Blois' comments, it would imply that
    > he wishes to argue that if one has an Arabic word that employs a khaa
    > as one of the radicals of the trilateral root from which it is
    > derived, a corresponding word in another Semitic language (such as
    > Syriac or Hebrew) would not employ a Haa (Xaa), or its rough
    > equivalent, in its root. So in other words, you have a word in Arabic,
    > and a corresponding word in Syriac (or some other Semitic language,
    > like Hebrew) - then de Blois seems to wish to argue that if the Arabic
    > word employs a khaa, and the other word employs its language's
    > equivalent of the Arabic Haa, then this serves as a defeator for one
    > being the same as the other (or being borrowed from the other
    > language).

    de Blois is correct.

    both semitic */H/ and */x/ appear as /H/ (pronounced [H]) in
    1st millenium masoretic hebrew and syriac, while arabic
    preserves that distinction.
    arabic /H/ for proto-semitic */x/
    in a word or name usually indicates a borrowing from these
    languages in that period.

    the biblical name Ham (rendered in greek as Kham), masoretic HAm
    appears in arabic as Ha:m, because it is a 1st millenium loan.
    if it was a cognate word (such as some you listed) or a much
    earlier borrowing one would have expected *xa:m in arabic

    this is why I find your transcriptions of hebrew, which is based
    on modern spoken israeli hebrew rather confusing for work in
    comparing arabic and hebrew. "vav" should be /w/ not /v/,
    "chet" should be /H/ nor /x/ ("ch") etc.

    > I doubt that this is what de Blois wishes to argue if he is in fact
    > familiar with "the methodology of comparative Semitic linguistics."
    > For example, the word for "brother" in Arabic is "akh," while the

    if the word were borrowed into arabic in the 1st. millenium from
    masoretic hebrew 'AH or from syriac 'aH-a: / 'aH-o: woudl have *'aH
    (or if from hebrew possibly *'a:H).

    arabic 'ax shows that it is a cognate, not a borrowing.

    > corresponding word in Hebrew is "ach". The Hebrew employs the chet,
    > which corresponds with the Arabic Haa, but the Arabic word employs a
    > khaa, not a Haa. The Arabic word for sister is "ukht," and the Hebrew
    > word for sister is "achot". If you take the way "achot" is spelled in
    > the Bible, it is alef-chet-tav, which corresponds with the Arabic
    > letters alif-Haa-taa (i.e. the eact same spelling as ukht if ukht had
    > a Haa instead of a khaa). Obviously these words are the same (either

    careful about what you mean by "same"

    > one language took it from the other, or they both draw it from a
    > common source, such as an earlier Semitic language). Are we to believe
    > that the Hebrew ach/achot is not the same as the Arabic akh/ukht
    > because the Hebrew employs the language's equivalent of a Haa?

    > It would be a silly argument, as of course the Hebrew alphabet

    it's not a silly argument, as the alphabet reflects the phonemic
    structure in this case as well
    . Hebrew did have the distiction
    (at least in some dialects) at the time the septaugint was written,
    as is known from transcritions in greek of proper names. but they
    had merged to /H/ in the first millenium, as was the case in aramaic.

    when writting in the nabatean alphabet, arabs chose the aramaic
    letter for /H/ to represent both sounds. thus, when arabic names
    were writtten in an aramaic text they looked less outlandish.

    when the arabic alphabet took its present form, the letter with
    hte sound as in aramaic was left dotless, while the phoneme once
    also represented by that letter but with a different sound had a
    dot added on to it inthe reformed script.

    > (alef-bet) does not have an equivalent of the khaa, and the same is
    > the case with the Syriac alphabet! Think of the khaa-baa-alif root in
    > Arabic, which is for "to hide, conceal" - the same root exists in
    > Hebrew and Aramaic, only with the Haa (chet/khet - eighth letter of
    > both the Hebrew and Syriac alphabets) in place of the khaa. There's
    > also the khaa-baa-sad root in Arabic, for "churn, mix," which exists
    > in Hebrew and Aramaic with the Haa instead. The same for the
    > khaa-raa-baa root, for "destroy." Another example might be the Arabic
    > "khidr" (bridal room, tent), which corresponds exactly with the Hebrew
    > "cheder," even though the Hebrew employs its equivalent of the Haa.

    this would be a cognate, not a borrowing.

    > As was already stated, the difference between the khaa and the Haa
    > that one finds in Arabic does not exist in Syriac (or Hebrew for that
    > matter - though maybe one could argue that in modern Hebrew a kaf
    > without a dagesh is the same as the Arabic khaa, but I would reply
    > "not exactly..."). Mr. de Blois wants to know why, if Luxenberg wishes
    > to connect these words, the Arabic one employs a khaa while the Syriac

    Luxenberg inteprets nearly every "similarity" between arabic and
    syriac as syriac borrowings in arabic. going further, just plain
    syriac "misunderstood" as arabic.

    > employs the language's equivalent of the Haa in place of the khaa.

    because in the case of a borrowing one would expect *Hali:f (or
    according to Luxenberg, with allegation that the emphatic state
    appears as -a(t) *Hali:fa(t) ).

    > Even if Luxenberg never gives an answer, this does not negate the
    > connection. We can cite literally hundreds (if not thousands) of words
    > that correspond to one another in Arabic and Syriac, yet the Arabic
    > counterpart employs a khaa, while the Syriac employs its equivalent of
    > the Haa.

    because they are cognates (from a common ancestor),

    > By whatever method these words reached both languages (either one
    > language borrowed from the other, or ultimately it goes back to a
    > common source), it is nonetheless the case that at one point the word
    > originally employed either a khaa or a Haa, but then that changed when
    > it entered the language that diverges from whatever the original may
    > have been. In other words, this shift is perfectly natural, as it has
    > apparently happened numerous times.

    fine. but that is the point de Blois is making, while Luxenberg
    has insisted on unidirectional (syriac to arabic) borrowing
    as the only mechanism (or the only mechanism when it suits him),
    while ignoring cases when one can show common origin as the cause.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    Default Re: Was the Qru'aan really a book written in Aramaik?

    it is a common feature in languages and certainly does not warrant a conclusive case of a mixed language. Take the triad case of English and Latin/Greek in philosophical jargon (e.g. episteme, a priori, ad hoc, ad hominem et cetera, et cetera). As a philosopher myself, I admit philosophy would be pretty difficult without the Greek/Latin expressions. Albeit highly influential, the employment of these expressions does not entail a mixed language. What they do, however, admit is that Greek and Latin
    operate as analytic expression that, perhaps, the English language
    lacks (at least in its formative years). And when English and Latin
    phrases and expressions are adopted the grammar of both are employed as well.

    Could the Qur'an function this way in "religious" jargon?
    Perhaps. For instance, if we assume the word, say, "Qur'an" is
    derived via Syriac (Qeryena) I do not see reason to infer that the
    Qur'an should be emended to fit a Christian Syriac text. What could be a case, on the contrary, is that Syriac is a highly theological language and that Arabic uses (or "borrows") Syriac terms and phrases to express complex theological points that Arabic might lack.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    Default Re: Was the Qru'aan really a book written in Aramaik?

    1) Let it be known that Syriac did NOT beget Arabic, but Arabic came
    from Nabataean (called "an-NabaTîyyah" in Arabic) which is an entirely
    different language. This is testified to thoroughly in competent
    scholarship and in the Arabic lexica both classical and modern. The
    similarities between Arabic, Syriac are matters of COGNATES and not
    Syriac parental etymons which trickled into the Qur'ân. An example of
    a cognate is the English "petrify" which comes from the Greek "petros"
    for stone, but NOT from the French "petrifier"! The French did not get
    it from Anglo-Saxony, nor did the Anglo-Saxons get it from the French.
    They both got it from Greek. What if I were to postulate that the King
    James AV 1611 Bible was originally a French romance due to these
    COGNATES? What if I said Shakespeare was actually a French
    revolutionary writing perverted stories to destroy the rival England?
    It would be utterly preposterous. The difference between cognates and
    etymons MUST be understand or else you fall victim to a fancy
    imagination. Luxenberg remains absolutely clueless in this issue.

    2) Refute Luxenberg ANYWAYS using his OWN methodology. This is
    achieved by proving that his usage of Syriac words is absolutely
    erroneous. The words he claims have a different meaning in Syriac than
    as used in the Qur'ân mean the SAME THING in both Syriac and in the
    Qur'ân. I've done this above by showing that the Qur'ânic "qaswarah".
    So even though the entire foundation of his theory is linguistically
    and historically absurd, for the sake of argument I can destroy his
    theories regarding the vocabulary of teh Qur'ân ANYWAYS using Syriac
    (even though it's erroneous to use it). Had Luxenberg known Syriac
    beyond a layman's level none of this would even be necessary to begin

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    Default Re: Was the Qru'aan really a book written in Aramaik?

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    Default Re: Was the Qru'aan really a book written in Aramaik?

    Quote Originally Posted by ali View Post
    one of them by the name of christipher heger assumed that "samad" was refering to a trinitarian diety, in reply a poster by the name of Ghali wrote:

    "where it was used to
    express the binding of grape-vines, the harnessing of horses and
    similar acts. It has survived in later Syriac and even in some more
    less vernacular Arabic expressions, in which the basic meaning of
    "binding" still is recognizable. In Arabic literature it occurs only
    once or twice, namely in the interior inscription of the Dome of the
    Rock in Jerusalem and in surah 112:2. "

    Only someone like Heger can come up with something like this! Listen
    to his logic. The term in Ugarit refers to the binding of grape vines.
    What is the term in Ugarit? Christopher Heger has NOTHING to show!
    Then it survives in later Syriac? Does it Mr Heger? What term is it in
    later Syriac? When was this term introduced in Syriac? Isn't Syriac an
    evolving language? Have you an proof that even IF your understanding
    of this "evolutionary model is correct, that it was pre-islamic? Does
    it survive in the less vernacular arabic expressions? How do you know?
    Cant you apply the same "cantorian slash" to it? How do you know that
    it was arabic? Any early inscriptions etc?

    The fact that this term is all over the place on Ummayad coins makes
    you think that the term was well known by the Arabic community early
    on. It would be very easy to say that the same term was used by
    Muhammad. It just baffles me how Muhammad got the term from the Ugarit
    using a "later" Syriac form ( I would love to see the proof for

    Now listen to this wonderful logic! It means binding, the Trinity is a
    sort of binding, therefore it was an ancient attribute of a
    trinitarian God that our prophet mistakenly took!! Which trinitarian
    church used this term in the Trinitarian sense? Did the Syraic Church
    use it? I mean the literal word Samad? I mean ok we have clear proof
    of the notion of "substance" in the Chrisitian tradition but this
    term? I am in fits here Heger!


    I mean you are really a joker! loool!

    Obviously this is a total AHISTORICAL explaination, but hey as always
    with this nutter Heger we have mass conspiracies.

    Interesingly Gorden Newby has gone thru the traditions in details and
    has shown that there is almost an unanimity regarding the term. Most
    of the terms use the notion of being"relied upon". I mean, even I as
    the basic arabic speaker myself routinely use the word. Easmadu Ghali
    Ala Al Hajr. Ghali is being SUPPORTED by the rock. We can easily use a
    Motzki like analysis to show that this meaning (even though others can
    be traced) was so common that it would be on the authorities crying
    conspiracy to provide proof.

    Please Heger entertain us again with wild fantasies. I do need the
    occasional laugh.


  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2010

    Default Re: Was the Qru'aan really a book written in Aramaik?

    3. Spencer starts off his assessment with a false assumption, namely that the Arab-Muslims who conquered the vast territories of the Byzantine and Persian Empires would have instantly made a top-down A-Z transformation of the whole Near & Middle East. Spencer wants us to assume a picture that the Arab-Muslims would have instantly started minting their own coins, constructing architectural monuments, transforming administrative practises, altering trade patterns, modify agricultural norms, etc. In doing so, they would have left ample archaeological and numismatic evidence for this. It is only by constructing a kind of "this is what we would expect if..." assumption that he can then justify his en-silencio thesis. Rather mainstream scholarship tells us that at least until the time of Abdul' Malik ibn Marwan (685CE), the Arab-Muslims conquerors had a rather small footprint. The early Arab-Muslims where Bedouin Arabs that lived simple lives in the Hijazi desert. Within a very short space of time, they conquered two sophisticated empires. There was a vast difference between running a small oasis town of Medina and now running the whole of North-African and Near & Middle Eastern. They had no expertise in anything so they allowed things to run as they previously were. They didn't even want to live amongst the people, instead living in Garrison towns on the outskirts of the cities (e.g. Homs in modern day Syria and Kufa in Iraq). As long as the people paid their taxes, the ruling Arab-Muslims had little interest in there affairs. It was only gradually, that they started to learn the tricks of the trade. When we look at the coinage for instance, the earliest Islamic coins were cheap Byzantine imitations. Then, after a little while, they started inscribing `bismillah' on it while still keeping the main features. After some time, the coins where being slowly de-Christianised or de-Byzantines-ized (i.e. the picture of a man holding the cross was replaced by a man holding a staff). This process continued until at the time of Abdul Malik when the Arab-Muslims were able to mint quality coins of their own. This was a gradual process. Spencer wants us to assume the Arab-Muslims would have burst into the scene "shouting `Allahu Akbar, invoking Muhammad, and quoting the Qur'an" (p 63) and instantly transform the whole Near & Middle East. This is one of the many false assumptions that provide the premises for some of his arguments.

    4. Spencer appears quite inconsistent in his methodology. He takes the Muslim literary sources as historical when they facilitate his argument and unreliable when they contradict it. Let's take his treatment of Doctrina Jacobi on page 20-21 as an example. One of his main objections to this source being a reference to Muhammad is that "this unnamed prophet is still alive, travelling with his armies, whereas Muhammad is supposed to have died in 632" (p 21). Now, how does Spencer know that "Muhammad is supposed to have died in 632"? Well, because the Muslim literary sources say he died in 632. If Spencer rejects the Muslim literary sources, how can he use that as an argument? Furthermore, the "supposed" is just a cleaver insertion not to commit totally. Note that while on page 21 Spencer says "Muhammad is SUPPOSED to have died in 632", later on page 87 he is not so uncertain Muhammad died in 632 when he says "But Ibn Ishaq was not remotely a contemporary of his prophet, who died in 632". So although on page 21 is does not want to commit, when on page 87 he wants to emphasise the gap between Muhammad and Ibn Ishaq, he is sure Muhammad died in 632. Moreover, and quite funnily, if Spencer knows Muhammad at 632CE, then we have a DEAD Muhammad at 632CE. How did someone who never existed die at 632CE?

    5. Spencer's handling of Non-Muslim testimony is contrived. There are 10 non-Muslim references to Muhammad within 100 years of his death, 5 of which date within 30 years of Muhammad's death. Spencer only mentions a few of these important sources. With those he mentioned, Spencer seems to spare no effort to rubbish them. He picks away at every little nitty-gritty detail they get wrong, comments on every part that contradicts Islamic traditions, challenges scholarly translations even though he doesn't know the language himself, and hypothesizes that some of these references could be referring to other than Muhammad without, of course, telling us who exactly these other people are (p 22). Rather than see it as outside accounts by outside people recording what they could gather from people and then interpreted them how ever they wanted, Spencer treats them as straightforward historical documents (when he wants of course). The way he treats the Armenian History of Sebeos is illustrative of this point. Sebeos, writing only 30 years after Muhammad death, writes that he received his information from Arab-Muslim prisoners of War (Spencer didn't tell you this bit!). Sebeos thus got his information from believing Muslims, most probably eye-witnesses of Muhammad's life. Thus Sebeos, writing in Armenia 1,200-1,300 miles away from Mecca or Madina, is able to give us a fairly recognizable account of Muhammad as a merchant who travelled to Palestine, who preached monotheism with Abrahamic roots, that he legislated laws such a forbidding alcohol (Qur'an 2:219), fornication (Qur'an 24:2,17:32), lying (Qur'an 16:116,33:24,39:3), and eating carrion (Qur'an 5:3). Sebeos's historical narrative then starts interpreting the rise of Islam adducing biblical illusions. Spencer ignored the historical bit, but focuses on Sebeos's biblical interpretation. Another way Spencer tries to rubbish the historical value of these texts is by constantly stressing what they don't tell us as opposed to what they do. So when the text mentions Muhammad, either says it does not tell us enough by stressing that it does not mention other things. When it mentions other things, he stresses that it does not mention Muhammad. When it mentions some aspects of his life, he stresses that it failed to mention other aspects. When the source is interpretational, he takes it as historical. When it's being historical, he takes it as interpretational. An example of this is his treatment of the explicit reference to Muhammad by a Christian priest Thomas the presbyter written 640CE. Spencer on page p 23: "even if `Arabs of Muhammad' is a reasonable translation of tayyaye d-Mhmt, we are still a long way from the prophet of Islam". Does it matter that we are still a long way from the prophet of Islam? Isn't all that matters, as far as historicity is concerned, is a reference to Muhammad however brief? It seems Spencer wants Thomas to write a complete biography of Muhammad before he would accept it as a source for Muhammad. This is clearly ridiculous. Lastly, Spencer does not consider the cumulative weight of these texts. Written by several different authors in several different languages who were hundreds of miles apart, could they all have coincidently forged the same lie? Could they all have coincidently mentioned Muhammad and some recognizable aspects of his life by fluke? His treatment of these texts obviously has one motive; to find any reason, however ridiculous, to rubbish these important sources.

    6. His handling of the Documentary material is no better. Spencer presents this image that early Islam is an archaeologically void. However, to my knowledge, there exist at least 25 pieces of documentary data from the first fifty years of Islam, all of which sit comfortably within the traditional account. Admittedly, documentary data mentioning Muhammad only occur 50 years after Muhammad. However, between 50-100 years after Muhammad, there exist at least 25 pieces of extant documentary data that mention Muhammad. The first clear reference to Muhammad occurs in the drahma of `Abdul al-Malik ibn `Abdullah ibn Amir, dated 685 CE, 53 years after Muhammad, and contains on the obverse margin the legend Muhammad rasul Allah ("Muhammad is the Messenger of God"). How does Spencer deal with this and other documentary data? Quite astonishingly, he argues that `Muhammad' in these inscriptions does not refer to the prophet Muhammad, but refers to Jesus? Since "Muhammad" linguistically means `praised one', these inscriptions could be referring to Jesus. Nowhere does Spencer provide any corroborating evidence for this argument. If Spencer were to produce a single instance where Arab Christians ever referred to Jesus as "Muhammad", then on this basis, his argument would have some weight. Unfortunately he does not, and this raises the obvious question: Why now? And why did they stop? In other words, Spencer wants us to believe that all of a sudden in the seventh century, the Christians started referring to Jesus as "Muhammad" and then all of a sudden in the eighth century, they stopped. Beside the absurdity of this argument, Spencer failed to mention let alone deal with the disconfirming evidence against this argument. Spencer failed to engage with the first century bilingual Greek-Arabic administrative papyri that clearly translate "Muhammad" as "Muhammad" in Greek. Further still, he failed to mention the first century Arab-Sasanian coins of Kirman which translate "Muhammad" as "Muhammad" in Middle Persian. So the Greeks translated "Muhammad" as proper name, the Persians translated "Muhammad" as a proper name, the Arab held "Muhammad" as a proper name, but Spencer wants us to believe it was not a proper name but "could have been" an epithet referring to Jesus. Furthermore, Spencer fails to note the absurd consequence of this argument. If "Muhammad" meant Jesus, who was that "Muhammad" referred to by earlier and contemporaneous Christian texts? That "Muhammad" was clearly an Arab, while Jesus was a Jew. Were seventh century Christians so stupid that they didn't know that Jesus was a Jew and not an Arab? Much worse, was Jesus alive in the seventh century according to these Christians? Worst Still, why are these Christians referring to Jesus so negatively? Is he not their Lord and Savour? Thus is trying to rubbish the documentary data, Spencer forgot about the contemporaneous Christian texts. So much for explanatory scope!

    7. There are a number of convenient omissions in Spencer's book. Most significantly, Spencer makes no mention of the tombstone inscription of `Abassa ibnat Guraig, dated 691CE. This important inscription bears the inscription: "In the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate. The greatest calamity of the people of Islam is that which has befallen them on the death of Muhammad the prophet... confessing that there is no God but Allah alone without partner and that Muhammad is his servant and messenger". For any sensible person, an inscription bearing the words "Islam", "Allah" twice, "Muhammad" twice, and bears the Muslim testification of faith, is unquestionably an Islamic. The inscription furthermore suggests that the Muslims were a distinct group ("the people of Islam") and not free-floating monotheists. Why did Spencer omit this inscription? Could it be because this sole inscription is a KNOCK-DOWN refutation of his thesis?

    8. His argument against the authenticity Muslim literary sources is quite superficial. Firstly, everything he said was already noted by Muslim scholars in the past. Lateness, fabrication, manipulation, factionalism, and other blemishes were discussed by Muslim scholars for centuries. In fact, every example he cited has already been rejected by Muslims. It's not a western discovery. However, Muslim scholars developed a sophisticated science to decipher the true from the false. Although its very complex, it boils down to three steps: (1) demand a source, (2) scrutinise the source, and (3) search for corroboration. Can anyone find a fault in this? If someone comes with information, the first thing you do is demand a source. If he does not give it to you, you reject it. If he does, you scrutinize the source. You look at geography, chronology, stylistic features, biases, trustworthiness, reliability, scholarship, etc. If you determine that he did not meet these criteria, you reject it. If he does, you now look for corroboration. Did anyone else report what he report. If no, then you start to suspect. If there exist other corroborating report, then there must be a common source. If the common source is alive, you start that process again for him. If the common source is a companion (or even a student of a companion) of Muhammad, then it's most certainly genuine. Furthermore western scholars try to corroborate the traditional narrative using non-Muslims texts and documentary data. I believe that this is an impeccable method, and most modern historians employ pretty much the same kind of reasoning. Let take the Four Canonical Gospels Spencer believes so wholeheartedly. None is attested in manuscript form until P52 of 130 and the whole New Treatment is not attested in manuscript form until the fourth century. Furthermore the Gospels are known to contain interpolation (e.g. ending of Mark), redaction (e.g. synoptic problem), contradictions (e.g. crucifixion & resurrection narratives) as well as other blemishes. No New Treatment historian would throw his hand in the air and languish in despair. New Treatment historians have developed certain principles such as multiple attestation, embarrassment, dissimilarity and coherence. Using these principles, NT historians can, with a fair degree of confidence, decipher the historical kernel from Kerygma. If historians can do it here and for many other historical texts, why not with the sirah texts of Muhammad. In fact, Scholars like Sheoler and Gorke have argued that the Sirah text of Urwah, the first biography of Muhammad written in the 660s can be safely reconstructed. Spencer treatment of Scheoler is quite dismissive, perhaps because he cannot handle its detail and sophistication.

    9. This is not a solid reason but an interesting point, for me at least. Any reader would have noticed the sheer number of times Spencer says "it might be", "it possible that", "it may be", "it could be", "it's likely that", etc. Spencer seems to have an answer for absolutely everything. But its quite sad that nearly every answer is preceded by these words of conjecture. Nearly every time Spencer says this, you can bet that what follows is simply a logical possibility. Everything is a could be, maybe, or possibly. The same possibility that all of a sudden Muhammad became a reference to Jesus.

    Much more can be said about the book, but by now your eyes are probably tired. Suffice it is to say that Spencer has failed miserably to prove his central thesis (the title of the book). His started off the book with unrealistic criteria of historicity that would make much history beyond the Early Modern Period virtually impossible. He also started off with the false assumption that the Arab-Muslims would conquer and instantaneously transform the North-Africa and the Near & Middle East in some Blitzkrieg like scenario when scholarship informs us that they had a small footprint despite their enormous reach. His handling of the non-Muslim sources is selective and clearly contrived. So is his handling of documentary material. His treatment of the Muslim literary texts is superficial and one-sided. Finally the book is so full of suppositions and guesswork that no point is every evidentially based enough to be demonstrated. This book clearly started from the conclusion but even then, the book is weak!


    Let me reiterate just a few actually well-known points about Jesus and the New Testament. The books of the New Testament were composed at different times and contain glaring discrepancies both in their narrative content and in their theological content. …

    In the narrative parts of the four canonic Gospels, Jesus is depicted
    almost exclusively as a doer of miracles and consequently they cannot be regarded as historical or biographical documents in any meaningful sense of these words, while the teachings that these Gospels put into the mouth of Jesus are, at least in part, theologically dependant on Pauline doctrine. They cannot therefore be seen as records of the actual teachings of Jesus, but reflect certain defined positions in the history of Christian doctrine.

    Now let us take a look at Muhammad and the Quran. In contrast to the New Testament, the Qur’an is, on the whole, a book of consistent style and consistent theological content. Although the surviving Muslim sects (the Shi’ites, Kharijites, and those who eventually came to be known as Sunnites) separated from each other within a decade of the death of Muhammad, they all agree on the content of the Quranic canon. By contrast, the surviving Christian sects, all of which split off from Roman imperial Christianity at a very late date, not earlier than the fourth century, have different versions of the
    biblical canon;

    Muhammad would appear, at least in theory, to be a far more apposite subject for historical inquiry than the founder of Christianity. The most abiding and forbidding obstacle to approaching the historical Jesus is undoubtedly the fact that our principal sources, the documents included in the New Testament, were all written on the hither side of Easter; that is, their authors viewed their subject across the absolute conviction that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of God, a conviction later rendered explicit in Christian dogma. There is, however, no Resurrection in the career of Muhammad, no Paschal sunrise to cast its divinizing light on the Prophet of Islam. Muhammad is thus a perfectly appropriate subject of history: a man born of woman (and a man), who lived in a known place in a roughly calculable time, who in the end died the death that is the lot of all mortals, and whose career was reported by authorities who share the contemporary historian’s own conviction that the Prophet was nothing more than a man.

    Christianity is hard to define, as there are many sects and interpretations.I would say the Qur’an has more to say on the betterment of the Earthly position of Mankind in this world, while Christianity, as defined by the NT, leaves it up to the Hereafter.

    In contrast to the miracle stories that make up virtually the whole of the narrative strand of the Christian gospels, the sirah, the traditional biography of Muhammad, is realistic in the sense that it contains virtually no public miracles, that is, miracles supposedly witnessed by
    large groups of people. The sirah does, of course, record the private miracle of Muhammad receiving the Quran from an angel. But from a positivist, sceptical point of view it is possible to accept that highly imaginative people in pre-modern times sincerely believed that they
    received their knowledge through divine inspiration.

    My conclusion is thus that Jesus is a biographically intangible figure located in a very well documented historical milieu, whereas Muhammad is a biographically at least plausible figure located in a historical vacuum.

    the title of the article is “New documentary texts and the early Islamic state” and the idea is that wecould gleen a lot more from the graffito and texts in Arabic that have come to light in recent decades. also there is de Blois’ point that there are radical differences betrween the body of knowledge about early Islam and the body of knowledge about early Christianity. in the case of Islam, one is confronted with a very believable (from the secular point of view) narartivve in a place where historical historical knowledge is scarce, but in the case of Christianity, one is confronted with a very incredilous story in a place where historical knowledge is abundant. so different methods of critcism must be used.

    I have already suggested elsewhere that the virtual absence of real
    textual variants in the Qur’an is the result of a biographically
    intangible figure located in a very well documented historical milieu,
    whereas Muhammad is a biographically at least plausible figure located in
    a historical vacuum.

    There remains an inherent human tendency to idolize great leaders (e.g Rama, Buddha, Jesus etc.), and the emergent Muslim community of Muhammad took a painstakingly preemptive approach to suppress excessive praise for the Prophet. The Islamic shahada [testimony] serves as a perpetual reminder that Muhammad was indeed a human being devoid of divine embodiment: "There is no god but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God".


    You engaged in a discussion with me after reading my review of Spencer's work. You didn't find my review convincing. That's fine. However, if you want to refute the points raised, you have to give reasons and evidence. You can't just be convinced. How would the world be if everyone was just convinced of whatever they were convinced about? I criticized Spencer's unrealistic criteria of historicity which would certainly be rejected by almost all academic historians. How much of our knowledge of the ancient and medieval world would be rendered obsolete if we demanded such an idealistic criterion for historicity. How much can we know of Spencer's lord and Saviour, Jesus Chris, if we adopted such criteria? Furthermore, it does not matter if a source is late. Lateness is not a problem, as long as that late source can furnish reliable information.

    Secondly, I said that Spencer's handling of the Non-Muslim texts is contrived. When a source mentions Muhammad, Spencer says it does not mention anything else. For example, on page 23, when dealing with the Thomas the presbyter reference to Muhammad (dated 640 CE), Spencer writes:

    ""Even if `Arabs of Muhammad' is a perfectly reasonable translation of tayyaye d-mhmt, we are still a long way from the prophet of islam..."

    It doesn't matter if we are still a long way from a complete depiction of Muhammad. All that matters, for his historicity at least, is that he is mentioned. That's all. On page 33, when dealing with the chronicle of subeos (dated 660s CE,) which mentions quite a bit about Muhammad, Spencer writes:

    "Nonetheless, the mention of Muhammad is one of the earliest on record, and it corresponds with Islamic tradition both in depicting Muhammad as a merchant and in recording that, at least at one point in his career, he fostered an alliance with the Jews".

    After saying that, Spencer continues on the same page:

    "Yet from Sebeos's account, one gets the impression that as late as the 660s, the Muslims and the Jews were spiritual kin and political allies. This doesn't correspond to anything in Islamic tradition or the conventional account"

    Does it matter if Sebeos got a few things wrong? What matters is that Sebeos mentioned Muhammad and mentioned a few details that do in fact correspond with Islamic tradition. As far as historicity is concerned, that all we need. That's it! It doesn't need to be a complete biography. After saying that Sebeos's writing on Muhammad provides us with "one of the earliest on record", Spencer still goes on to deny the historicity of Muhammad. What kind of logic is that?

    Furthermore, how could all of these people writing in several different languages, hundreds of miles apart concoct the same Muhammad. Do you see why I believe his handing of Non-Muslim texts is contrived?

    If you are a Christian, let me illustrate Spencer's method using one of the extra biblical references to Jesus. The Roman historian Tacitus writing around 116 AD, writes in his Annales:

    "....consequently to get rid of the reports, Nero fastened the guilty and inflicted the most excruciating torture on the class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populous. Christus, from whom the name had its origins, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hand of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate..."

    I could rubbish this source by saying that the only thing it tell us is that some vague form of Christianity existed. As for Chritus, this could be anyone. It doesn't necessarily have to refer to Jesus. I could also say that it does not mention the gospels or the trinity or the resurrection or the kingdom of God, etc, etc. This is what Spencer is doing to the non-Muslim sources. If you don't accept such nit-picking of Tacitus, why accept such nit-picking of Sebeos who, by the way, was 55 years closer to the historical figure.

    Thirdly, I said Spencer handling of the documentary data is fallacious. He argues that Muhammad mean "praised one" and is thus a reference to Jesus. Have you found any evidence in Spencer book to justify this or are you just convinced by it because Spencer said it. Has he given us any instance when Arab Christians referred to Jesus as Muhammad? No! Has he dealt with the evidence against such a suggestion (such as the bilingual Greek-Arabic papyri and the Middle Persian coin which both translate Muhammad as proper name of a person)? No! How about Tombstone of abassa ibn Juriaj mentions Allah, Islam and Muhammad? Does "Islam" here mean "Christianity" and "Muhammad" mean "Jesus"? Or does "Islam" mean "Islam" and "Muhammad" mean "Muhammad"?

    I dealt with Spencer's "this is what we would expect if" assumption that provides the premise of his argument en-silencio. It is plainly a false assumption. It like me saying "if Christianity existed in the first century we would expect there to be churches or coins, etc from the first century". It's a false assumption because Christianity was a small and persecuted minority religion in its earliest period. They didn't have the power or authority to be building churches or minting coins. So to argue from this absence that Christianity did exist is plainly false. If you are convinced by Spencer's argument en-silencio, why not accept my argument en-silencio about early Christianity.

    Anyway, if you are still convinced by Spencer's work, then that is entirely your prerogative. You can believe whatever you want! But I for one find the work hopelessly fallacious. When I gave my reasons, you have failed to response cogently. When you came with a response, it was reduced to rubble. Throughout our discussion I quoted academic scholars in the field, even revisionists Patricia Crone and Michael Cook, whereas your authorities have been anti-Islamic polemicist Robert Spencer, ex-Muslim Blogger Hasan Radwan and novelist playwriter & amateur historian Tom Holland.
    Last edited by theman09; 18th September 2012 at 19:29.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010

    Default Re: Was the Qru'aan really a book written in Aramaik?

    Spencer tries to argue that `Muhammad did not exist', but his arguments are clearly contrived. The way he handles non Muslims testimony proves this. Take for example his handling of the Armenian History of Seboes, written in the 660's, just 30 years after Muhammad, and which gives us our first narrative account of Muhammad. If you look at his work, Sebeos says that he got his information from Arab prisoners of war. This means that he got his information from either eyewitnesses or those who knew eye-witnesses. This is a really remarkable source. Spencer, however, spares no effort in trying to rubbish this source by nit-picking at every small detail Sebeos got wrong or by pointing out what Sebeos did not mention. For any sensible student of history, this is no doubt a reference to Muhammad, despite the minor errors.
    The way he handles the documentary material is also contrived. The only Spencer can rubbish the vast number of documentary references to Muhammad is by arguing, quite comically, that Muhammad does not mean Muhammad. In all of these inscriptions, Muhammad means Jesus. What corroborating evidence does he bring? Not a dot. Spencer also conveniently failed to mention the only inscription which would be a KNOCK-DOWN REFUTATION of his thesis. The Tombstone of Abassa ibn Guraig dated 691, 59 years after the Prophet Muhammad, is an inscription contains the words ALLAH, ISLAM, and MUHAMMAD THE PROPHET. Again, to any sensible student of history, this inscription is undoubtedly Islamic and provides us with indisputable documentary evidence that there was a religion called Islam and that Muhammad was the prophet. Spencer conveniently side stepped this crucial inscription because it would singularly destroy his thesis.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2010

    Default Re: Was the Qru'aan really a book written in Aramaik?

    The Qur'an does contain words that are not etymologically Arabic. However, it's still Arabic. It does not follow from this fact that the origin of the Qur'an is not Arabic. You have to realise that languages are fluid and there are many exchanges of words. How many Greek, Arabic, and Latin words are there is English? The English word 'doctor' derives from the Greek word `doctori' which mean 'to teach'. If I were to say "I am a doctor", does that mean I'm not speaking clear English? Does it mean I'm speaking Greek? Does it give someone else the right to change my English sense of the word to its Greek derivative and render it "I am a to teach". Please! Languages are fluid and organic, Arabic included. They borrow from each other and this is a well known phenomena. To place such arguments on a few words here and there is silly. Furthermore, the idea that a word makes more sense in its etymological language is absurd for two reasons. Firstly, who decides what `makes sense'? What makes sense to you might not make sense for me. Secondly, the idea that Arabic had no dialectic marks until the mid-end of the first century is absurd and is proven my a number of pre-Islamic inscriptions and earl Islamic papyri. Furthmore, Luxemburg and lulling cannot provide a single documentary proof. Can they produce a single Qur'anic manuscript that would substantial any of their arguments? I cannot say words better than that of Gerhard Bowering, Professor of Islamic Studies at Yale University. He writes: "Reviewing these recent studies on the Qur'an mainly published during the last decade, it is clear that, despite the clamor in the press, no major breakthrough in constructing the Qur'an has been achieved. The ambitious projects of Lüling and Luxenberg lack decisive evidence and can reach no further than the realm of possibility and plausibility." (`Recent Research on the Construction of the Qur'an' P 81, in The Qur'an in its Historical Context)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2010

    Default Re: Was the Qru'aan really a book written in Aramaik?

    With regard to the Tombstone of Abassa ibn Guraig dated 59 years after Muhammad's death, I mentioned this inscription for two reasons. Firstly, it is missing in his works. For good reason, of course. This inscription is unambiguously Islamic and therefore refutes any suggestion that any mention of Muhammad before it or after it (Dome of the Rock for instance) is not a reference to Muhammad the prophet of Islam? This also means that the drama of Abdul Malik, dated 53 years after Muhammad, is indeed a reference to the prophet Muhammad. That also means that all those non-Muslim texts mentioning Muhammad are most certainly references to Muhammad, so it does not "tie in with what he says".

    Your response of this inscription is to say that "its quite plausible that someone could have replaced a tombstone or add further inscriptions and nobody would be non the wiser". How is one supposed to reply to that? Now Even Dated Documentary Evidence is not good enough. This comment of yours perfectly encapsulates Spencer's work; to rebut every documentary and near contemporary material with pure conjecture (it could be, its may be, is possible that, etc).

    How about the false premises? Spencer wants us to believe that the Arab-Muslim would burst into the scene and instantly transform the entire Near & Middle East. This is a false premise. If you were familiar with scholarship, you would know that they had a small footprint and left things running as they were. They also lived separate from the people in garrison town on the outskirts of cities (like Homs in modern day Syria). It was only until the time of Abdul Malik ibn Marwan (or perhaps Mu'awiyya as Oxford Archaeologist Jeremy John and Georgetown Numismatist Clive Foss, argue) that the Arab Muslims started to transform the North Africa and Near & Middle East. It was a slow and gradual process. Spencer, on the other hand, wants us to assume a funny picture of conquering Arabs as "Muslim warriors shouting `Allahu Akbar', invoking Muhammad, and quoting the Qur'an" (p63).

    With regard to the non-Muslim texts, Spencer just wanted to rubbish them, pouncing on every little dot of error or omission. Why didn't Spencer consider the bigger picture, the cumulative weight of these texts? Written by several different authors, in the several different languages, hundreds of miles apart, could they all have coincidently forged the same lie? Could they have all by accident mentioned that a prophet has arisen among the Arabs, who name is Muhammad, who preached Abrahamic monotheism, who was merchant, who legislated laws, etc. Of course for you it "COULD BE" an astonishing coincidence (the monkeys on the keyboard analogy springs to mind). I, however, will believe like most historians who have worked with these texts, that what they are genuine historical accounts that refer to Muhammad. I'm sure you have a "COULD BE" response to this one as well.

    As for `praised on', could you or Spencer please give us any instance where the Christian Arabs have ever referred to Jesus as "Muhammad". If you can, then on this basis, your argument could have some credibility. You bring no evidence. Instead you want us to believe that all of a sudden in the 7th century, the Christians started referring to Jesus as "Muhammad", and then all of a sudden, in the 8th century, they stopped. As evidence against this, I mentioned the first century bilingual Greek-Arabic papyri which translate "Muhammad" as "Muhammad", demonstring that it was a proper name and not an epithet. Furthermore, I could have also mentioned the Arab-Sasianian coin of Kirman, dated 689, translating "Muhammad" as "Muhammad" in Middle Persian. So the Greeks were translating "Muhammad" as a proper name, the Persians were translating "Muhammad" as a proper name, the Arab held "Muhammad" as a proper name, but you and Spencer say that it "COULD BE" an epithet referring to Jesus. I mean, "WHO KNOWS" right?

    With regard to `"appealing to an authority", this is entirely valid and is part of Scholarship. You probably don't understand that if Spencer is you source of Early Islamic History. If every noted scholar working at Oxford (Hoyland , Johnson, and Johnson), Cambridge (Benison & Montgomery), Yale (Bowering), Princeton (Crone and Cook), Chicago (Donner), California (Humphreys), Edinburgh (Gorke), SOAS (Kennedy, Hawting, & Konrad), believe that the evidence precludes any doubt that Muhammad was a historical figure, then why should anyone ignore them and take the words of a few revisionists. If you choose to believe a couple of revisionists whose works are abandoned, not published by a University Printing Press, or who have never contributed to a single academic encyclopaedia entrance, or an edited academic volume, then that is your prerogative. You would probably take the words of Gary Wells and Richard Carrier over virtually every academic scholars of Christian History. You might also take the works of revisionist historians on the Holocaust as well. If you do, then we have two separate minds. I take the words of academic scholars working at the highest institutions of learning, but this, of course, is only CLOUDING MY TAKE ON THINGS.

    And why do I have to convert to anything. I accept Bowering's judgement when he says that Luxemburg and Lulling projects "lack decisive evidence and can reach no further than the realms of possibility and plausibility", because it's true. Luxemburg and Lulling cannot produce a single piece of evidence to support there arguments. They cannot produce a single manuscript of this `Ur-Qur'an. There works are pure linguistic gymnastics. As Fred Donner, professor of Near Eastern Hisotry at Chicago writes: "Lüling method consisted in part of making small (and sometimes no so small) changes in the textus receptus of the Qur'an to `restore' the `Ur-Qur'anic' passage to their supposedly original Christian content. But to many, this method seems capricious and guided by a desire to prove the hypothesis he is asserting" (Donner, Qur'an in Historical Context, p 33). Chase F Robinson, Distinguished Professor of Hisotry at University of New York writes that "the argument is occasionally forced and it's reading often arbitrary" (The New Cambridge History of Islam, p 182). What do all these non-Muslim scholars have invested in the Qur'an? If luxenberg and Luling were to bring a single piece of documentary evidence for this Ur-Qur'an, would there works be so widely rejected? It rejected precisely because it "lacks decisive evidence".

    As for the clear and unclear part to the Qur'an, the Qur'an recognises this when it reads: "It is He who sent down to you the Book. In it are verses that are entirely clear, they are the foundations of the Book, and others not entirely clear. So as for those in whose heart is depravation, they follow that which is not entirely clear thereof seeking tribulation, and seeking for it hidden meaning, none knows it's hidden but Allah. And those firmly grounded in knowledge say `we believe in it, the whole of it is from our Lord" (Quran 3:7). It is entirely God's prerogative what he wants to reveal, but as He states, it is those clear verses that `are the foundations of the Book" and the foundations of the religion of Islam. As for what those two-letter or three-letter words beginning some Surah's mean, its knowledge lies with God. It may not be good enough explanation for you, but then again nothing (even dated documentary data) seems good enough for you.

    As for Luxenberg and lulling theses, Stefan Wild, Professor Emeritus for Semitic Philology and Islamic Studies at the University of Bonn, summarizes: "Theses like those of Bell, Luling, and Luxenberg display an evident charm. Their common feature is that they seem to give a new shape and a new sense to an old text, which emerges as having never been really understood. This is, of course, a bold and noble undertaking. It also puts the philologist into a very enviable position, one which most philologists dream of. He has a magic wand. Some dots are changed here and there-and a whole mythology, and with it a holy book, collapses" (The Qur'an in Context; Historical and Literary investigations into the Qur'anic Millieu, p 643-5). No Evidence. Nothing more than a magic wand!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2010

    Default Re: Was the Qru'aan really a book written in Aramaik?

    Regarding your two questions:

    (1) Will I admit that there a re non-Arabic words in the Qur'an?, I will let the ninth century Muslims scholar Abo Ubayd al-Qaasim ibn sallam (d 224/834) answer. He writes "The correct opinion with me is that both of the above opinions are correct [that the words are both foreign and Arab]. This is because the origin of these words is foreign, like the scholars said. However, these words entered into the Arabic language, and were transformed to Arabic words, and the foreign letters were exchanges for Arabic ones, until they became a part of Arabic. Then the Qur'an was revealed, and by this time these words had mixed in with the Arabic language. Therefore, he who says that the Qur'an is only in Arabic is correct, and he who says that there are some foreign words is also correct." (Muhammad az-Zarkashe, Al-Burhan fi Ulum al-Qur'an, vol 1, p 290).

    (2) Will I "admit that that it is POSSIBLE that particular verses of the Qur'an have been mistranslated into Arabic from PERHAPS a heretical Christian lectionary originally written in Syriac?" Certainly I will admit that it is POSSIBLE. But possibilities come cheap. It POSSIBLE what pigs fly when we're all asleep and it's POSSIBLE that donkeys secretly speak French. These are all certainly possible. But these mere POSSIBILITIES are unlikely to convince anyone of anything. If saying "its possible" is enough, then I can say that "its possible" that the Qur'an is from God and, hey presto, I have shown the Qur'an to be the word of God. But that is not going to convince anyone. To convince, you need a little ingredient called EVIDENCE. Then the POSSIBILITY can because a PLAUSIBILITY or even a CERTAINTY.

    I am currently in the very early stages of writing a detailed (over 100 page) response to Spencer book. When I finish I will attached a thread here. I am a bit busy at the moment with uni work, but I hope to finish it by end of September so you are interested, come back here in end of September.

    In the mean time, instead of buying Spencer's books or "debating Muslims", I recommend you buy "Introduction to Logic" by Harry Gensler (2010, Rutledge: New York). It's quite good! If that becomes too hard for you, I recommend "Logic for Dummies" by Mark Zagarelli (2006, John Wiley & Sons: Indiana)

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2010

    Default Re: Was the Qru'aan really a book written in Aramaik?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2010

    Default Re: Was the Qru'aan really a book written in Aramaik?

    Palimpsests and the Qur’an:

    A palimpsest can be defined as, “a parchment or the like from which writing has been partially or completely erased to make room for another text. – [2]“, usually this is the missionary’s main argument when using the historicity of the Sana’a codex. They assert that because the manuscripts show that there was a ‘previous text’ before which was removed and then the current text written, the conclusion has to be that errors were made, and then emendations (alterations to text for improvement) were made, hence the current version of the Qur’an is an update from the imperfect older version as is seen in the Answering Islam article, “The End of the Qur’an as Muslims Know It“, and Faith Freedom’s, ”Ancient Qur’anic Manuscripts of Sana’a and Divine Downfall“.

    However, this argument can only be blamed on abject desperation and a severe lack of education in the field of textual criticism. The world, for a vast amount of its history relied upon liturgical (oral – speaking and aural – listening) transmission of data and information. The use of texts as a primary form of transmitting data, that is, textual transmission did not become standard in the late 15th century with the advent of the printing press:

    Printing with movable type had existed in East Asia at least since 1377 when the Jikji, an abbreviated title of a Korean Buddhist document was printed in Korea during the Goryeo Dynasty, however, the invention had not spread to Europe where everything people read still had to be copied by hand or printed from wood blocks carved by hand. In about 1440, the German goldsmith, Johannes Gutenberg, developed a movable type. Gutenberg made separate pieces of metal type for each character to be printed. With movable type, a printer could quickly make many copies of a book. The same pieces of type could be used again and again, to print many different books.

    Printing soon became the first means of mass communication. It put more knowledge in the hands of more people faster and more cheaply than ever before. As a result, reading and writing spread widely and rapidly. – [3]

    Similarly, this author goes into a bit more detail as to the development of texts (books) as a primary form of communication and mass media:

    Nonetheless, books were hardly considered a mass medium because very few copies existed. Until the middle of the fifteenth century, most books were hand-copied, often times my monks. Such books were expensive and very few people could read or write. As a result, only religious orders, the ruling elite, and some wealthy merchants ever saw or owned one.

    Probably the most important milestone in the development of mass communication came in 1456 with the invention of the printing press and movable type. In Mainz, Germany, Johannes Gutenberg paved the way for the reproduction of books for the masses … – [4]

    Thus the use and reuse of manuscripts was common, as Dr. Bruce Metzger and Dr. Bart Ehrman indicate with this following excerpt:

    In times of economic depression, when the cost of vellum increased, the parchment of an older manuscript would be used over again. The original writing was scraped and washed off, the surface resmoothed, and the new literary material written on the salvaged material. Such a book was called a palimpsest (which means “rescraped,”). One of the half-dozen or so most important parchment manuscripts of the New Testament is such a palimpsest; its name is Codex Ephraemi rescriptus. Written in the fifth century, it was erased in the twelfth century and many of the sheets rewritten with the text of a Greek translation of treatises or sermons by St. Ephraem, a Syrian Church father of the fourth century. By applying certain chemical reagents and using an ultraviolet-ray lamp, scholars have been able to read much of the almost obliterated underwriting, although the task of deciphering it is most trying to the eyes. In A.D. 692, the Council of Trullo (also called the Quinisext Council) issued a canon (no. 68) condemning the practice of using parchment from manuscripts of the Scriptures for other purposes. Despite the canon and the penalty of excommunication for one year, the practice must have continued, for of the 310 majuscule manuscripts of the New Testament known today, 68 are palimpsests. – [5]

    As I stated previously, only someone ignorant of manuscripts and their study can assert the claim that palimpsests means that a text is invalid, corrupted and emendated. While this can be the case, and I’m not saying it can’t, it is more likely that due to the cost and availability of fresh writing material, many opted to wash over and rewrite on the same manuscripts. If we take the missionary argument that the existence of a palimpsest proves the corruption of the Qur’an, then the Bible must be overwhelmingly corrupted as one major manuscript and 68 others (as documented above) fall pray to this practise. Clearly the beat the missionary is marching to will come to an abrupt halt with such information.


    Some may question why there was a rewriting of the text, and this is a fair but common question. Texts are usually rewritten to reflect the standardization of a language, as is testament also in the Greek language (orthographical development, i.e liturgical transcribing):

    Ancient scribes, when writing Greek, ordinarily left no spaces between words or sentences (this kind of writing is called scriptio continua), and until about the eighth century punctuation was used only sporadically. At times, of course, the meaning of a sentence would be ambiguous because the division into words was uncertain. In English, for example, GODISNOWHERE will be read with totally different meanings by an atheist and by a theist (“God is nowhere” and “God is now here”).

    Furthermore, it should not be supposed that scriptio continua presented exceptional difficulties in reading, for apparently it was customary in antiquity to read aloud, even when one was alone. Thus, despite the absence of spaces between words, by pronouncing to oneself what was read, syllable by syllable, one soon became used to reading scriptio continua. - [8]

    Similarly in the Arabic language it was common for one tribe or city to speak one way, but write another, yet both having the same pronunciation:

    Some tribes would pronounce the word حتی (hatta) as عتی (‘atta), and صراط (sirat) as سراط (sirat), etc., and this was the root cause of many of the known variants in recitation. Similarly the letters ا, و, ي have the dual function of consonant and vowel, as in Latin. The question of how early Arab writers and copyists used these three letters requires special attention. Their methods, though puzzling to us now, were straightforward enough to them. – [9]

    No one would dare say that rewriting certaine as certain is a corruption of the text, nor would rewriting divell as devil be considered corruption. These however are attempts at preserving a text as the language itself becomes standardized. As it would seem, the Sana’a manuscripts record the orthographical standardization of the transcribing of the Arabic language. In other words, the Qur’an has not been altered or corrupted, but preserved in its original tongue and to do so would have been to preserve the text by transcribing it accurately. This understanding can also be found in the hadith of Anas bin Malik (may Allaah be pleased with him) who has narrated, “‘Uthman [ra] then ordered Zaid bin Thabit, ‘Abdullah bin AzZubair, Said bin Al-As and ‘AbdurRahman bin Harith bin Hisham [raa] to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies. ‘Uthman said to the three Quraishi men, “In case you disagree 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.” [11]

    The Qur’an (literally: The Recitation) when being transcribed was transcribed according to the vernacular of some scribes from throughout Arabia, therefore Uthman [ra], ordered the scribes to write the Qur’an by transcribing it, according to the tongue (liturgical transmission) of its original revelation: the Qurayshi Dialect. Therefore any such palimpsest of the Qur’an which demonstrates orthographical variants or textual variants is due to the Arabic of the Qur’an being transcribed from its mother dialect. This can be seen in other places where the use of alif as a vowel is absent yet pronounced, see the following example:

    Spelling in Uthman’s [ra] Mushaf (2:9):


    Actual Pronounciation:


    It might seem odd that there is a text and you pronounce it differently as to how you read it, but this is the nature of Semitic languages, for referencing, here’s a screenshot of the Al Jazeera News Website (Arabic version, 23 – 09 – 2012), here you will see no vowels, yet when Arabs read the text, they’re able to comprehend and understand it, they’re able speak aloud what the text says even if there are no vowels present:

    If it still seems odd, or highly suspicious, here’s a quote from JewFAQ on the matter, “Like most early Semitic alphabetic writing systems, the alefbet has no vowels. People who are fluent in the language do not need vowels to read Hebrew, and most things written in Hebrew in Israel are written without vowels. – [12]“. Therefore to put this particular claim of ‘textual variants/ orthographical differences’ to rest, it is extremely normal to see this in almost all languages (as shown: Greek, Hebrew, Arabic and English all share this) as they are developing from liturgical transmission to textual transmission and this process is deemed, ‘transcribing‘.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2010

    Default Re: Was the Qru'aan really a book written in Aramaik?

    The genius preservation of the 7+3 recites within the five (5) Othman’s Quran copies

    Khaliff Othman five (5) copies of Quran was designed to compile the 7+3 recites in a genius fashion. To have an idea of how it was achieved, the differences among recites shall be explained at the first place. Differences among recites – are only in the pronunciation(s) and never in the meaning – are categorized as follows:

    A) Words of Quran that has only one single recite:

    Majority of Quran words fall under such category. Majority of Quran’s words are recited/pronounced in a single fashion. These words were typically written at all of the Othman’s five (5) copies.

    B) Words of Quran that has more than one recite:

    This divides into two sub-categories:

    1) Quran words that have different recites but when they (the recites) are written in DOT-LESS state the writing will appear the same … Then they will be written DOT-LESS in all of the Othman’s five (5) copies:


    Quran (49:6) “if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate”
    (إن جاءكم فاسق بنبأ فتبينوا)

    The word (فتبينوا = Fatabayyano = Investigate) has another recite as (فتثبتوا = Fatathabbato = Ascertain).

    The two Arabic words “Fatabayyano” or “Fatathabbato” would look similar if written DOT-LESS, (فىىىىوا), So all Othman’s five copies showed the word in a DOT-LESS state to give the freedom to the reader to recite it either “Fatabayyano” or “Fatathabbato”. Notice that both recites wouldn’t change the meaning of the verse.

    Writing the word in its DOT-LESS form typically in all of the five (5) books, achieved the following goals:

    a) The DOT-LESS state signals to the reader that “this word” has multiple recites.

    b) To give all different recites equal weight of authenticity. No recite is “preferred” above the other.

    c) To give the reader the freedom to read the DOT-LESS word using any one of the “known official recites” he likes/chooses.

    2) Quran words that have different recites and when they (the recites) are written they will appear different, even at their
    DOT-LESS state … Then each different recite is written in a different book of the five (5).

    Such cases appear when:

    a) One recite incorporates an additional (or less) letter than other recite(s).

    b) One recite incorporates an additional (or less) word than other recite(s).

    Example of an additional (or less) letter:

    Quran (2:132) “And Abraham instructed his sons …”
    “ووصى بها إبراهيم …” … The First word is (ووصى = Wa-Wassa) has another recite as (وأوصى = Wa-Awsa).

    Visit this link for more information:

    Notice the additional letter (أ) between the two different recites (ووصى) and (وأوصى) … “Wa-Wassa” and “Wa-Awsa”, which even if written DOT-LESS they would still look different. So, the first recite (ووصى = Wa-Wassa) was shown in one of the Othman’s five (5) books … and the other recite (وأوصى = Wa-Awsa) with the additional letter (أ) was shown in another book. Notice that both recites mean the same (instructed), thus the meaning of the verse is the same using any of the recites.

    Example of an additional (or less) word:

    Quran (9:100) ” … gardens beneath which rivers flow” can be recited ” … gardens from beneath which rivers flow”. Notice the additional word “from” in the latter recite.

    In Arabic: ” جنات تجري تحتها الأنهار” can be recited with additional word “من = from” as:
    “جنات تجري من تحتها الأنهار”

    Visit this link for more information:

    The additional word “من” makes the two recites differ in writing even DOT-LESS. So, the first recite (without “from”) was shown in four of the Othman’s five (5) books .. and the other recite (with the additional word “من = from”) was shown in the fifth book (specifically; the copy that was sent to Mecca). Notice that both recites (gardens beneath) and (gardens from beneath) still mean the same even an extra word existed in one of the recites.

    Writing different recites that whether written dotted or dot less they would still look different in completely different books, achieved the following goals:

    a) If different recites were written consecutive to each other, at the same line, at the same book, then they might look as if they were divinely inspired in a repeated form which needs to be read in a “repeated manner” every time a Muslim reads such verse! In other words, to avoid reading with recite (A) AND recite (B) every time a Muslim reads the verse.

    b) If one of the recites was written in the body of the page and the other recite was written in the foot/side note, at the same page, at the same book, this might give the false impression that:
    > The foot/side note was a “correction” to what’s written in the body!
    > Or, The body recite was more preferable than the foot/side noted recite!

    c) Writing different recites in different books makes it clear that a Muslim can read with recite (A) OR recite (B) at equal weight of authenticity with no preference of a recite above another.

    It worth to mention that the Quran writing committee was made of four famous Sahabah (disciples) of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), (1) Zaid bin Thabit (one of the Quran writers from the Prophet’s days), (2) Abdullah Bin Al-Zubair, (3) Sa’eed Bin Al-As. (4) Abdul Rahman Bin Al-Harith Bin Hisham.

    May Allah bless them all with his mercy along with Khaliff Othman who ordered such genius work to be achieved in the way of preservation of Allah’s Revelations, the Quran, the Final Testament to mankind.

    Quran 15:9 “Indeed, it is We [Allah] who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian.”

    For all different Quran recites, verse by verse, with audible recites, pls. visit:

    Translated by this article author from the book: “مناهل العرفان في علوم القرآن” “Manahil Al-Irfan Fi Oloum Al-Quran” (Fountains of Knowledge on Quran Sciences) – Authored by: Mohammed Abdul Azeem Al-Zarqani – Approved by Al-Azhar Al-Shareef University – Cairo – To download the original book:

Similar Threads

  1. Have you read this Book?
    By Ahmed Waheed in forum Book Reviews
    Replies: 27
    Last Post: 25th May 2013, 05:18
  2. Replies: 3
    Last Post: 15th December 2009, 16:36
  3. That is the book?
    By Sadiq_b in forum Islamic Discussions
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 20th October 2009, 18:20
  4. (Written) by the hands of scribes -
    By sumuque in forum Islamic Discussions
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 15th May 2009, 15:19

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts