"What we do for ourselves alone dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal". - Albert Pike
In the course of reading the posts of 1683 AD, most will come to the correct conclusion that we do not particularly cotton to the Islamic Supremacist agenda. Please understand while reading the following that our opinion has not changed one bit in this regard, nor will it.
1683 AD has decided to take a page from the "peace loving" Iman Feisal Abdul Rauf (proponent of Ground Zero Mosque) and put forth a "Bridge Building" proposal of our own; one which would, quite surprisingly, actually benefit both Islamic Supremacists and those on our side. Regarding the nature of such benefits, Islamic Supremacists would stand to gain a greater "purity" in the practice of their beliefs. Of particular interest is the fact that their pursuit of specific "purity" measures, fueled by the irrefutable supporting evidence we will provide, would require a subsequent promotion by Islamic Supremacists of compliance among their peers with certain firm dictates from Islam's early years (not too long after Mohammed's death). Such measures which would actually have a delightful side effect of greatly inhibiting the spread of Islamic Supremacism (thus the benefit for our side, and in fact, for the future of humanity). Such dictates as well as certain historical realities, to be discussed later, had later been "conveniently" forgotten or minimized by Islamic Supremacist leaders of later times.
With respect to the efforts of our side in this bridge building effort, we must emphasize at the outset that we will not be critical of what is written in the Qur'an, as this would be deemed an "insult to Islam" and automatically sabotage communication (likely indirect) with Islamic Supremacists and thus the building of our bridge. In fact, we will actually reference many Islamic texts and sources in this posting to bolster our case.
Briefly stated, the focus in this endeavor is with encouraging Islamic Supremacists to restore the use of the original, "pure" written Qur'an (or "Mushaf" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mus'haf ) and abandon the use of current written Qur'an / Mushaf. We submit that the modern written Qur'an / Mushaf is not presented in the same, exact manner as the original (hard to read) written Qur'an / Mushaf which was authorized by the Caliph Uthman and in use during the subsequent period of Ikhtiyar (see later text), which lasted from Uthman's authorization (650 AD) onward to at least 934 AD. Since gradual, deliberate changes in the official Uthman text to enable easier reading can be clearly demonstrated (details later), some may logically conclude that the modern, written Qur'an / Mushaf is actually an insult to the Qur'an as it exists in its "pure" recited form and as preserved on a "tablet in heaven". The full extent of changes to the written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf and/or their lack of any sufficient justification does not appear, from what we can see, to be common knowledge among Islamic Supremacists.
Regarding the term "Mushaf" a further explanation of the term ( http://www.quranicstudies.com/louay-fatoohi/quran/the-difference-between-quran-and-mushaf.html ) reads: "So, the literal meaning of “mushaf” is 'collection of pages'. Its technical meaning is, therefore, the 'compiled, written pages of the Qur’an'. In other words, the term 'Qur’an' refers to the specific 'revelation that was read to Prophet Muhammad' whereas the term 'mushaf' denotes the 'written form' of that revelation".
Should our findings on specific changes be verified by others (including Islamic Supremacists) and found to violate various Islamic commands regarding text integrity, one would think that Islamic Supremacists, if intellectually honest, would enthusiastically join in an effort to encourage all Muslims to return to the use of the "pure", unchanged, original written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf, no matter what secondary consequences, such as difficulty in reading, may arise. Our side's intent in this endeavor should be irrelevant to them; only the truth regarding an element of their beliefs, no matter how painful it may be, should be of concern to them. If, on the other hand, they brush away the irrefutable and obvious evidence, they will show to the world that they are hypocrites and view their beliefs in a selective manner, twisting them to meet the needs of the moment. That would open the door to all sorts of accusations as to the validity of any and all dictates they promulgate. In the case of our issues, the predominant "need of the moment" for them would appear to be convenience. Thus, convenience trumps the truth.
Of course, critics will decry our motives in this effort. But they cannot deny that we have the ultimate bridge building endeavor, since both sides would see benefits. Furthermore, when the Islamic Supremacists see there is no circumventing the historic fact of textual changes, they will, if actually true to their beliefs, have no recourse but to follow the original dictates for respecting the written Qur'an / Mushaf. Even if they are "uncomfortable" with the inhibiting effects on the spread of Islamic Supremacism which they would bring.
Later text reveals that none of our arguments rely on conflicting interpretations of Qur'anic verses. In fact, we have strived to avoid getting into such a thicket, as we want this concept to be as simple as possible. Although there are mentions of some Islamic-friendly verses in our references, they are actually supportive of the premise we present. An example would be those which prohibit changing the Qur'an / Mushaf. Overall, our argument is built on a foundation of undeniable, historic fact. We see little room for intellectual disagreement arising when it comes to history; particularly the history that Islamic Supremacists have themselves taught. It is just a matter of bringing certain obscure facts into the light and having Islamic Supremacists acknowledge they have no valid counter-arguments.
One caveat. 1683 AD does not have an expertise in Islamic history or Islamic interpretations. We have secured all of the information for this post through basic searches on the internet. With this in mind, we acknowledge that our premise and understanding of the matters to be discussed might actually be completely wrong. There might be some verse from the Qur'an which actually absolves those who made changes to the written Qur'an / Mushaf. We might have missed some relevant historical fact. We just don't know at this stage. Therefore, we must emphasize that this posting is more of a "trial balloon" of sorts; something which others with greater expertise and knowledge might be able to build upon, polish and develop. We cannot say with full authority that our findings as of the date of this posting are definitive and complete. At the minimum, we believe that the approach has "potential". If our premise is clearly indefensible, then we can at least view this as a learning exercise. These disclaimers aside, at this point in time, we believe we have found something which can be boiled down to one extremely simple and uncomplicated "catch phrase" which can be spread throughout multiple forums of discussion, eventually causing a major change which would benefit all concerned. Thus, bridge building in its highest form.
The organization of this posting.
Much of this posting is composed of excerpts taken from various links. Due to the excessive length of these excerpts, we have shuffled them to the latter portion of this post, under the heading "Supporting information / Appendix". They are provided so that the reader can confirm the various assertions which we make under the immediately following "Background information" heading, which is composed primarily of narrative from 1683 AD. Of course, simple links might have sufficed in the "Supporting information / Appendix" section, but we wanted to display with each link the pertinent areas of interest from them and help save some time. The above-mentioned narrative from 1683 AD is duplicated in the "Supporting information / Appendix" section and is matched with the appropriate links and excerpts. The part of this post which explains our findings is the "Background information" section. This, in turn, is followed by the "Strategy for Building Bridges" section. This is where we suggest a plan of action.
Brief description of the creation of the "accepted" written Qur'an / Mushaf.
Various links on the internet present a complicated picture regarding the initial (650 AD) compilation of the written Qur'an / Mushaf. Although many seriously question the validity and completeness of the final, authorized, initial (650 AD) Qur'an / Mushaf we have chosen to not delve into such concerns. We perceive that the counter-arguments lined up against them, even though they are weak, would easily sway the average Islamic Supremacist who is already pre-disposed to accepting the sanctity of what they see as the authorized Qur'an / Mushaf. More importantly, such discussions would only serve to divert us from our main goal: proving that the fully authorized and universally accepted written Qur'an / Mushaf of 650 AD was "illegally" altered in later years. Therefore, for the sake of our argument, let us agree to not introduce other concerns into the mix and let us also "concede" that the initial written Qur'an / Mushaf of 650 AD is legitimate.
We will now explore the creation of the written Qur'an / Mushaf of 650 AD. First, we know that Mohammed died on June 8th, 632 AD. As stated here ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quoran ), the basis for the Qur'an / Mushaf that we know today was initially established by the first Caliph, Abu Bakr. The use of a specific text was finalized by the third Caliph, Uthman ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uthman_ibn_Affan ). The reader should be aware that later text in this narrative, under a separate heading, discusses the existence of seven distinct "readings" of the Qur'an which were said to exist prior to the completion of the written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf. These readings existed in oral recitations (by memory) and in writing (as is our understanding). It appears that Uthman eliminated all but one of these readings (oral and written) in his effort to create the definitive Qur'an / Mushaf. However, as also addressed in later text, these readings (oral and written) were "officially" brought back and "authorized" in 934 AD (1683 AD note: we deem the efforts in 934 AD regarding additions to text to be an insult to the "sanctity" of the written Qur'an / Mushaf of Uthman).
The following link ( http://sa.promo.web.id/when-was-the-quran-compiled-and-made-into-a-book.com/comment-page-5/ ) describes events leading up to the Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf as follows: "The Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) via the angel Gabriel, and the Prophet subsequently memorized the whole scripture. Thousands of the Companions of the Prophet learned the Qur’an directly from the Prophet (pbuh). They memorized it and were known in Islamic history as huffaadh (the memorizers and preservers of the Qur’an). Moreover, a number of Companions wrote it down during the lifetime of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and it was compiled in its entirety immediately after his death. The entire Qur’an was written down during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad, and trusting the fact that many scholars knew it by heart, it was not collected in one volume. It was personally arranged by him, and the Muslims memorized it in the same order. During the rule of the first Caliph Abu Bakr, there was a rebellion among some distant Arab tribes that resulted in a series of fierce battles. In one particular battle, a number Companions who had memorized the Qur’an were killed. The Companion Omar worried that the knowledge of the Qur’an was in danger, thus he convinced Abu Bakr that the Qur’an should be compiled into book form as a means of preserving it once and for all. Zayd bin Thabit was entrusted with this important task. Zayd followed strict methods in his compilation and had dozens of other huffaadh recheck his work to ensure its accuracy. Abu Bakr, who had also committed the entire Qur’an to memory, approved of the final product. After Abu Bakr passed away, the copy was passed to the Caliph ‘Omar, and then Uthman. However as the Muslim world expanded into lands where the people spoke Arabic as a second language, the new Muslims had a difficult time learning the correct pronunciation of the text. The Caliph Uthman consulted other Companions, and they agreed that official copies of the Qur’an should be inscribed using only the pronunciation of the Quraysh tribe, the Arabic dialect that the Prophet spoke. Zayd bin Thabit was again given this assignment, and three other huffaadh were assigned to help him in the task. Together, the four scribes borrowed the original, complete copy of the Qur’an, duplicated it manually many times over, and then distributed them to all of the major Muslim cities within the empire".
The written Qur'an / Mushaf was distributed for use by Uthman to the provinces in 646 - AD - 650 AD. Each Qur'an / Mushaf was accompanied by a reciter who reflected a specific reading. Simultaneous with this distribution, all "incomplete" versions of the Qur'an / Mushaf were ordered to be destroyed. Thus, use of the written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf was commanded throughout the Islamic world to the exclusion of any other versions.
Reciting and memorization.
Although the focus in our "Bridge building" is with the written Qur'an / Mushaf, we should emphasize to readers that according to Islamic Supremacists, the true Qur'an is what exists in their "chests" and through what is conveyed through oral recitations. The written Qur'an / Mushaf, at least as originally intended, is perceived as more of an aid for recitation.
Acceptance by all Muslims of the written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf at the time of its completion.
We have thus far established the manner in which the written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf came into existence. It is important to note that there was considerable support from Islamic leadership at the time (around 650 AD) for both Uthman's overall effort and, most importantly, its end result. Furthermore, since Islamic Supremacists assert that the accuracy of the written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf has been confirmed over the centuries by those who could recite the Qur'an which they "hold it in their chest", it is only logical to expect them to acknowledge the fact that those who would have the ultimate, unparalleled accuracy in their recitations and how they should be conveyed in writing, namely the companions of Mohammed (and others from the same time period), enthusiastically endorsed precisely what Uthman brought forth - and issued no requests for the addition of anything else. More specifically, they did not make any demands whatsoever for changes or adaptations of any type to Uthman's written Qur'an / Mushaf. If none of these leaders saw any deficiencies, then it is difficult to see how anyone in later years could (as they did in 934 AD) arbitrarily claim a deficiency existed and subsequently "correct" it without being accused of insulting the Qur'an / Mushaf. None of these early Companions / leaders claimed that anything was missing or lacking. Thus, only a Qur'an / Mushaf which is written in the precise manner as Uthman's, without any "improvements" can be deemed as authentic. We should note that s some Islamic Supremacist apologists have claimed that an existing ancient written Uthman-approved written Quran / Mushaf may be deemed inaccurate due to "scribal error" (they will deny errors in recitations). If this refers to a handful of scattered inaccuracies in a text, it is not worth our effort in this bridge building endeavor to contest such a position. However, it must be acknowledged that "scribal error" cannot be reasonably expected to cover such broad elements such as language choice, the absence of diacritical points, numbering and other topics which will be elaborated upon below. These specific elements will soon be revealed as being integral to our argument.
Composition and structure of the written Uthman Quran / Mushaf when it was created.
It is extremely important in the presentation of our case to examine the composition and structure of the finalized Qura'n /Mushaf as written under the directives of Uthman, with the approval of other leaders of early Islam. With the prohibitions against changes in any aspect of the written Quran / Mushaf in mind (see the next sub-section for an elaboration on this point), reason and logic clearly dictates that the exact, written Qur'an / Mushaf which Uthman ordered to be spread throughout the world around 650 AD should be the only one in use today, without any variation whatsoever. Any change in what was originally written can be considered an insult to Islam.
The key points to remember regarding the written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf are as follows: (1) It was written in a specific Arabic dialect in a specific script, either Kufic, Quarysh or Hijazi. We could not come to a unanimous answer on this point and will therefore leave it for others to finalize. (2) It was written in Arabic (in a specific dialect, see the preceding) as the Arabic language existed at the time (650 AD); not in an Arabic as it evolved and has existed in recent centuries. (3) It did not include any vowels, diacritical points or other reading aids and it was limited to seventeen consonants. (4) It did not include any numbering, headings, separations or any other kind of division; not even any formal indication of the ending of verses. (5) It was handwritten, not printed; printing was banned via fatwa (by Islamic scholars) for a considerable period of time after the invention of the printing press (nor was it obviously authorized for use on the internet or any other electronic media). And finally: (6) With respect to #3 in the preceding, the written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf was essentially seen an aid for use by those who have already memorized the Quran in recitation. Furthermore, due to its lack of reading aids, it was almost indecipherable to anyone at the time who had not already memorized the Qur'an.
This list of qualities of the original written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf refers to many things which were actually absent from it. Later text discusses how and when they were eventually added despite explicit prohibitions to changing the Qur'an / Mushaf.
Altering the written Qur'an / Mushaf is forbidden.
We will now briefly touch upon the firmly held and substantiated belief among Islamic Supremacists that it has always been forbidden to make any changes to the written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf. The commitment of Islamic Supremacists to this belief would appear to be unshakeable, at least if we take into consideration all of their comments on the issue. However, evidence indicates that their proclaimed beliefs have not translated into practice through much of the history of the written Qur'an / Mushaf after Uthman finalized it. Let it suffice for now us to simply establish the fact that under "pure" Islam, changes to the written Qur'an / Mushaf, no matter how well intentioned, are considered to be insults to Islam. Various verses from the written Qur'an Mushaf support us with this assertion. If the Islamic Supremacists claim that they were only referring to the recited Qur'an, then they will have to concede that they have no defense against anyone choosing to arbitrarily make other changes to it. They can't have it both ways.
Translations of the Qur'an not eligible for the title of being "Allah's Word"
Translations of the written Qur'an / Mushaf are not deemed by Islamic Supremacists to be authentic. When a written translation of the Qur'an / Mushaf is spoken of in a general manner, we have traditionally seen as referring to a presentation which enables a person who cannot read Arabic to attain a grasp of the Qur'an's meaning in their own language (i.e., English, Spanish, etc.). We submit that the term "translation" should not simply refer to the use of a different language. It should also incorporate, when speaking of Arabic, the application of aids (diacritical points, dialects, modern script, etc.) which have enabled the drastically transformed the Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf and allowed it to be fully comprehended by a person who only converses in Modern Arabic. The following link ( http://www.thefreedictionary.com/translate ) supports our claim in that it clearly indicates that the term "translation" does not apply solely to a different language as it is generally understood; it works within a language among its different stages of development. As a comparison, it seems reasonable to assert that the average current speaker of English would need a "translation" of Old English http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_English to understand what was written. The preceding link testifies to such a need.
Our side needs to further research the Islamic angle on "translation". Should the historic definition within Islam and or Islamic linguists concur with what we have just described as the proper use for the word "translation" (i.e., including situations and circumstances within the same language, such as Modern Arabic and Ancient Arabic [Kufic, Quarysh, Hijazi]), then we would have further information which we can apply in our argument against any post-934 AD written Qur'an / Mushaf. They would have to admit that the 934 AD (or perhaps earlier) changes of different types created a written Qur'an / Mushaf which was not authentic when compared to the Uthman written Qur'an / Mushaf, since it essentially effected a "translation" to a more modern tongue.
The eventual adding of vowels, diacritical marks and other changes to the written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf. The eventual use of the printing press. A change in one's relationship with the written Qur'an / Mushaf.
Here is where all of the preceding comes to a head: the presentation of evidence of obvious additions and changes to the written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf; behavior which Islamic law, as mentioned previously, would SEEM to expressly prohibit. The post-Uthman changes, to be elaborated upon below, are an established historical fact, easily seen in black and white and readily confirmable through casual research on the internet. This does not involve any endless battle of interpretations. As you will recall, the original written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf, bearing specific characteristics, was hailed by all, including the remaining Companions of Mohammed, at the time it was prepared in approximately 650 AD. No Islamic Supremacist will dare impune its position as the written "Word of Allah" or otherwise minimize its importance to their beliefs. Even though they may claim that the true Qur'an resides in the "chests" of the believers and has been kept alive through recitation from generation to generation, they will agree that the written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf is supposed to be afforded great respect and honor.
One aspect of their showing respect to the written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf was supposed to be in vehemently fighting against any attempted additions, deletions or changes to it, no matter how small or "insignificant" they may appear. They claim great success in their protective efforts by pointing to what they "say" is a fact that there have been no changes to the Qur'an / Mushaf since Uthman. However, as alluded to in prior text and discussed below, there seems to be considerable evidence that significant and obvious changes of certain types to the written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf have indeed been adopted; usually (as it appears) out of the interest of convenience and nothing more. We are not saying that there were any changes in "meaning" or the addition / deletion of verses (even though many claim that there were such changes). Instead, the changes we are concerned with are more "structure" oriented.
Primary among the eventual changes to the written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf were the addition of diacritical points, vowels and similar textual aids. These made the text easier to understand and eliminated a lot of confusion. Without these specific devices, the text would be almost impossible to read by a person who had not already memorized the Qur'an. It should also be pointed out that the text eventually received formal indications for the end of verses, along with headings and numbering. Right from the start we can see in these measures a concession to convenience. Research reveals that some of these alterations were evident in specific written Qur'ans / Mushafs within a few decades after the approved written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf.
The so-called "official" approval for most of the changes along these lines was not granted until around 934 AD, under Ibn Majahid. It is with Ibn Majahid and his associates that we take issue. Islamic Supremacists may assert that since these individuals had some esteemed scholastic abilities and their judgments were sound (in their opinion), that was sufficient to justify the changes. Yet they fail to realize that in taking such a position they open the door to some other group or individual making changes of their own and pointing to the same reasons for attaining acceptance. The broad degree of acceptance by Islamic Supremacists of the 934 AD changes does not negate the fact that Ibn Majahid and his associates took the original written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf, with all its approval by Islam's early founders, and blatantly changed it. Case closed. They had no way of stating with 100% confidence that Uthman would have approved of their act. It should be noted that the time between the Uthman Qur'an (650 AD) and the finalized version which we have today (created in 934 AD) is called the Period of Ikhtiyar (or "choice").
We will also find that the original script, dialect and /or language, lilely Kufic / Quraysh / Hijazi, as written in 650 AD is either no longer used or is far behind the language as it evolved over the centuries. If the exact, original script, dialect or language as used by Uthman is not being used today, then a change along these lines has indeed taken place. We feel certain that at least Hijazi is no longer in use. We cannot give any specific dates for changes in script, dialect and/or language, but we are reasonably confident that some took place within the first few centuries of Islam. Research by others should clarify our understanding in this area.
Now we move onto how the Qur'an / Mushaf is actually created. We see that when one acquires a Qur'an / Mushaf today, it will likely be the product of a printing press and is not handwritten. The Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf was handwritten, as this is what was mandated by Uthman and the other early leaders. If they wanted it to be printed, Allah would have said so. Even when printing became available many centuries later, religious justifications had been found for a long time to prohibit use in its producing Qur'ans / Mushaf; mainly out of concerns regarding respect. We should ponder on this. Apparently, the religious authorities in the early post-printing press era, with all of their expertise and knowledge, discerned a universal truth from the Qur'an / Mushaf or other Islamic texts which lead them to conclude that printing would be disrespectful of the Qur'an / Mushaf. They made such a decision even in the face of knowledge that the printing press would facilitate a greater spread of Islam. These specific scholars held firm to their convictions. Most of us would agree that if we have the acknowledgement of a universal truth at one point in time, it would be applicable in all later time periods without exception. This is apparently not the case with Islamic Supremacists. Somehow, many years later, the apparently explicit and clear prohibitions against printing were found to be in "error" and printing was then allowed. It sounds like convenience to us. This area is obviously calling for further research. At this point we could at least appeal to the early prohibitions as evidence that current printing of the Qur'an / Mushaf (along with electronic applications) violate the sanctity of the text.
We have seen that the use of mass produced written (actually printed) Qur'ans / Mushafs with all of the above mentioned clarifying and assistive tools which had been added over the centuries has become the prominent component in teaching recitation. In other words, students now memorize the Qur'an through reading instead of through the direct, one-on-one verbal exchanges which would appear to have been dominant in Islam's early years. Since recitation is supposed to be at the heart of Islam, we might be able to conclude that reading the modern written Qur'an / Mushaf (which we believe is invalid) with the intent of recitation violates a core tenent of Islam. Naturally, this point needs clarification.
Related to the preceding, it seems that prior to at least 934 AD, the authority of a Qur'an reciter and the authority of his oral transmission were mandatory compliments to the written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf. Since we now have Qur'ans / Mushafs which anyone can read on their own, it suggests a change in this relationship Should this assumption of a major change in the relationship of reciter, transmitter and Qur'an / Mushaf in 934 AD be confirmed, it might be worthwhile to highlight this point. We essentially have the emphasis being moved from recitation to reading, which seems to violate the "spirit" of Islam.
Apparently, all of the proclaimed prohibitions against change have, throughout history, either been forgotten, ignored, exempted, excused or explained away in each instance. If we were to press Islamic Supremacists on the reality of these changes in a public venue and emphasize that these changes are a matter of historical reality and not a difference in opinion on the meaning of various verses, then there might be a chance of making headway. From the perspective of 1683 AD, it is hard to see how they can keep a straight face before the general public and deny these realities and the prohibitions against changes.
The facts are simple: Uthman and the early leaders of Islam ordained a precise rendition of the Qur'an / Mushaf as being authoritative and official. If they, the ones who actually knew Mohammed directly perceived it was Allah's intent to include all of the later-placed additions and modes of creation (printing, internet, etc.), they would have been compelled to include them. New "revealations" were impossible, as Mohammed apparently took care of that. Obviously, those in later years did not have such an understanding. As time progressed, individuals arbitrarily decided to make changes and violate both the commands of the Qur'an and the final decision made by Uthman and Mohammed's Companions. They neglected to realize that after Uthman, who at one time was the only person who had access to all source documentation (which he eventually destroyed) and input from the Companions of Mohammed, no one else had the true credibility or resources on hand to "authorize" any changes.
We anticipate that Islamic Supremacists will proffer some type of "authoritative" justification for these changes. Since they realize they cannot get away with acknowledging "changes", which are forbidden, they will likely use other terminology, such as "aids" or "clarifiers". They will claim the "measures" corresponded with Uthman's "intent". But when brought back to the reality that Uthman and the early leaders authorized only one, specific, precise written Qur'an / Mushaf, they will not be able to deny that a current Qur'an / Mushaf will not correspond with it.
Later text will address how we can apply these findings.
Seven versions of aruf (Seven Readings)
Admittedly, 1683 AD does not possess any great expertise in Islamic history or Islamic beliefs. That is why we have made it a point to emphasize the need for outside confirmation of the understandings which are being put forth in this narrative before anyone considers launching a corresponding "bridge building" effort. Please bear that in mind particularly when reading the following.
We have already established that changes have indeed been made to the written Qur'an / Mushaf which was finalized by Uthman in 650 AD. The most significant changes involved the "authorized" addition (which we challenge) in 934 AD of diacritical points, vowels, etc. The result of the additions was the ability to derive a more precise meaning from reading the written Qur'an / Mushaf. No longer would one have to draw from what they had already memorized to deduce the meaning of what had been written. Thus, in 934 AD, the written Qur'an / Mushaf moved from being an aid or "prod" to the recitation of what had already been memorized to becoming an item which had the exact, same content, without any variation whatsoever (excluding "scribal error"), of what was supposedly learned through a specific chain of oral transmissions which reportedly began in the time of Mohammed. In essence, it eliminated any "need' for the practice of strict oral transmission, a cornerstone of Islam, as the sole way of preserving the Qur'an without error. But there is more to this matter.
At the time of the above-mentioned changes, which were finalized in 934 AD, at least seven oral recitations or readings were "authorized", including seven corresponding written Qur'ans / Mushafs. Please understand that the whole subject of deriving multiple meanings from a single source is a bit confusing. Nevertheless, Mohammed was said to have confirmed their existence in oral form. He made no mention of acknowledging the Seven Readings in written forms. Although some may argue for incorporating the issue of the existence of the Seven (oral) Readings in our bridge building effort, it would draw us into the quicksand of the interpretations of text and essentially just waste a lot of time and energy. Arguing one way or another on the issue of the Seven Readings will not benefit our overall efforts.
The Seven Readings are being brought up because we anticipate that Islamic Supremacists will argue that each "officially" approved oral reading (which we will not challenge) merits a corresponding written Qur'an / Mushaf (which we will challenge) with all of its accompanying textual aids. In order for a corresponding written Qur'an / Mushaf to represent a specific reading to the exclusion of all others (a property absent in the written Uthman Qur'an Mushaf), it would need to be distinctive from all the remaining six written Qur'ans / Mushafs. It could only acquire this distinctiveness through the addition of textual aids unique to its corresponding reading. As a result, the previously-stated 934 AD reading-unique changes for a written Qur'an / Mushaf of any reading are, in the opinion of Islamic Supremacists, justified. We disagree.
Uthman had sent out the final, authorized Qur'an / Mustaf to each province in the company of a reciter who was well-versed in the content of one reading or understanding of the authorized written Qur'an / Mushaf. He had, with the approval of other early Muslim leaders, intentionally abolished all other readings. Yes, this decision by Uthman may go against Mohammed's assertion of the existence of Seven Readings, but all Islamic Supremacists will also assert that Uthman and the early leaders of Islam acted appropriately. Neither the Islamic Supremacists or us wish to denounce Uthman's action on banning six oral readings. Neither of our two sides deny the existence of Seven (oral) Readings (since Mohammed spoke of them). And we all agree that Uthman authorized only one written Qur'an / Mushaf. We will likely agree that there is no mention of any provisions having been made at the time (650 AD) for these reciters to convey any of the remaining six readings which were said to have been approved by Mohammed. If our understanding of all of this is correct, then both sides can assert that the written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf, with its lack of sufficient reading aids to convey a specific reading by itself (without an accompanying reciter), would have been sufficient for both its intended use (conveying a lone, Uthman-approved reading with the assistance of an approved reader) and also its unintended use (conveying all other readings). Thus, the written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf as initially prepared will actually satisfy the basic expectations of any who claim there is just one reading and those (in the dominant school) who claim there are Seven Readings.
We now come to 934 AD, the time where seven written Qur'ans / Mustafs were "authorized'. We maintain that since the written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf had already accommodated the Seven readings, as a recitation aid, meeting the intent of the written Qur'an / Mushaf (whether you favor Seven Readings or not), there was no real need for the written Qur'an / Mushaf to be divided into seven written types with all of their distinctive, added on reading aids. More important than not being needed, they were not authorized by the only one(s) who would be in a valid position of authority: Uthman an/or the Companions of Mohammed.
Uthman brought together the Qur'an / Mushaf with the approval of believers who knew Mohammed. If anyone was in a position to accurately create at least seven written Qur'ans / Mushafs with diacritical points and other aids, it would have been them. They chose not to do so. Even with this action, the Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf accommodated the varied readings (including his official reading) in oral form. In light of this, it is difficult to understand how later Muslims assumed the authority in 934 AD to make such changes in the written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf to accommodate the Seven Readings. The only justification is "convenience".
The claim that the written Quran / Mushaf has remained "unchanged", or that a any proven change is permissible.
We will now briefly touch upon a few issues regarding the Islamic Supremacist response to our allegations. First, they can be expected to deny that the written Qur'an / Mushaf which we have today is unchanged from the very beginning (Uthman's time). It should be evident from all of the preceding text that there is substantial historical evidence that the written Quran / Mushaf as established by Uthman has indeed changed over the centuries through the insertion of various reading aids, changes in script, etc.. Even the use of printing would constitute a change. However, all of our research to date reveals that these specific realities are either glossed over or ignored by Islamic Supremacists and even many people on our side. It appears that the issue has never before been thrust into public consciousness with an intensity that cannot be ignored, even among just Islamic Supremacists.
In the rare situations where Islamic Supremacists are challenged regarding their claim of a static, unchanged written Qur'an / Mushaf since the time of Uthman and they feel compelled to reply, they often deflect it by interpreting it as meaning a reference to the orally transmitted recitation. They can then be expected to follow this with an assertion that nothing has been changed in terms of its " message" or the "meaning". Such a counter-claim is irrelevant from our perspective, as it evades the issue of the written Qur'an / Mushaf. We should remember that any discussions on our part concerning oral transmission and recitation will only confuse things.
Should a change in the written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf as previously addressed actually be acknowledged, we expect they will claim the change as a necessity for the benefit of those who cannot understand the original Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf. In other words, convenience. They will likely conjure up some obscure "scholarly" decision or fatwa in which justification is provided through some circuitous reasoning. In such situations we need to press them on the reality that irrespective of the "benefits" of a change, it is a change nonetheless. As such, it insults the Qur'an / Mushaf and cannot be tolerated. Furthermore, it second-guesses the wisdom of Uthman and the Companions of Mohammed. Simply stated, there is no evidence of exceptions being granted for "good changes". Also, if they permit one change, there is nothing to prohibit some scholars in the future falling prey to pressure being placed for even more changes.
As a matter of fact, if they claim a change (such as the reading aids) is good and therefore necessary, we could turn it around and say that it actually has a negative effect, namely, in that it draws people away from the oral transmission of the Qur'an. Oral transmission was specifically supported by Mohammed. There is nothing to attest for his support of a reliance on written transmission. Thus, these "conveniences" undermine an esteemed tradition.
They may also claim that the changes of 934 AD, which enabled clearly written text in line with any of seven approved readings, required the addition of the reading aids. In this case, they should be reminded that although Mohammed addressed the existence of Seven Readings (oral transmissions), he does not seem to have said anything about having seven different written Qur'ans / Mushafs. Furthermore, the acts of 934 AD completely contradicted the position which Uthman and the Companions of Mohammed had on this exact issue. These early leaders were actually attempting to eliminate all other Qur'ans /Mushafs. Yes, the measures of 934 AD were "official", but if the reasons for allowing them are placed before the public in a focused campaign where the Islamic Supremacists are shamed into addressing them (see later text), people will see the blatant defiance by Ibn Mujahid and associates of the intentions of Uthman and the Companions of Mohammed (and perhaps Mohammed himself). We will subsequently expose the acts of 934 AD as a farce and an act of opportunism. In fact, one wonders if any arguments in support of the changes or even still in existence.
Our discussion in this section is rather brief. The point we want to get across is that the claim of the written Qur'an / Mushaf not having been changed since the time of Uthman is false and that Islamic Supremacist responses to our evidence are insufficient.
Excuse put forth for any errors in written, historical Qur'ans / Mushafs.
It is stated by some Islamic Supremacists that the claim by Allah to protect the Qur'an was limited solely to the Recitation and did not extend to the actual written Qur'an / Mushaf, as the latter is prone to human error. The case presented in support of this argument seems credible from a theological perspective. However, the lack of diacritical points and other aids in the Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf cannot be construed as "mistakes". The Uthman Qur'an was accepted by those who knew Mohammed and they gave it their full blessing. Furthermore, the reading aids, which were finally mandated in 934 AD, were either non-existent at the time of Uthman or rarely used in early Arabic writings. They were intentionally, not accidentally, employed with the measures of 934 AD.
The earliest Qur'ans / Mushafs which still exist.
We have hopefully provided sufficient evidence that shows the written Qur'an / Mushaf of Uthman has changed significantly over time; particularly by 934 AD. Of course, printing came much later than that. Further support for our case of change having taken place would seem to be available in an inspection of the oldest Qur'ans / Mushafs which exist in museums and mosques throughout the world. Such evaluations reveal that the oldest ones are devoid of the changes which were added later on. Although some claim that one or two are Uthman originals, there are conflicting reports on these claims.
Strategy for "Building Bridges".
We are confident that a strong case has been established in the preceding. With the assistance of our readers, we should now act upon these findings. The first step has been alluded to in prior text, in that we should seek out those with greater expertise to evaluate what has been written here to determine if the information is indeed valid. In doing such, they should evaluate all anticipated arguments against our stated positions. Although we expect that that counter-arguments will be within the realm of what we have already discussed, there is always the possibility that new angles will be presented. Should we find that the case challenging the modern Qur'an's / Mushaf's legitimacy when compared to the original Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf is so strong that the average Islamic Supremacist is rendered speechless when confronted with the facts, then we can conclude that we have a winner with this revealation.
In order to secure such an honest critical review by our expert allies of the premise as outlined in the post, we would encourage all readers to bring it to the attention of those of like mind who have suitable expertise. Muslim Apostates would be particularly helpful in this regard.
Assuming we have favorable findings from such reviews, our next step would be to create a much more concise message and presentation than what has been presented here. The message should be directed towards an Islamic Supremacist audience and couched in "Bridge Building" terms. In other words, it should explain in a respectful tone how our findings indicate that the modern written Qur'an / Mushaf with all of the changes and additions it has accumulated is actually an affront to true Islam and that a return to the exact original written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf will restore purity, sanctity and integrity to their beloved text. Such entreaties must be devoid of any adversarial commentary. We would expect that the bearers of such a message would be an organization(s) which has greater influence and capabilities than 1683 AD.
As for how this message would stand out from all others in this information overloaded environment get their attention, different avenues are available. The most obvious would include posts on Islamic Supremacist forums and FaceBook groups. But it must go beyond that. Ideally, this message (when refined) must eventually be put before major media outlets. But since they are resistant to all messages which originate from our side, this may pose some difficulties. One way we could break through is to simply develop a "catch phrase" which puts forth our position; something which thousands of allied websites could post as a banner or demonstrators could place on signs. Perhaps: "Restore the Ikhtiyar"; "Only the true Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf is Valid", etc.. We need something "catchy". Should this attract the attention of the general media (along with a more concise presentation than what you are reading), one expects that prospects would be high for the issue to eventually be publicly placed before the Islamic Supremacist community for a public response. Hopefully, the Islamic Supremacist community would be pressed hard, without cessation, for an answer to charges that the modern Qur'an / Mushaf has been tainted and that their continued use of it, in the face of explicit restrictions against adding to it, constitutes both blatant hypocrisy and sacrilege. The hypocrisy charge could then segue into countless other areas where they seem to have picked and chosen how to deal with certain commandments and requirements. At that point, they would find it difficult to defend the status quo with the existing written Qur'an / Mushaf. They would essentially be shamed before the entire world. And so would begin our bridge building.
If Islamic Supremacists are forced to concede under consistent pressure and questioning that only the original written Uthman Qur'an / Mushaf is valid, then the following can logically be expected to occur. First, all current written (modern) Qur'ans / Mushafs would be removed from use by Islamic Supremacists themselves in whatever manner they deem appropriate. Also, anyone who promotes or facilitates their use could be punished under Islamic law (that would sure clean house!). Next, all new versions would be written in the exact, same manner as what Uthman had produced. As prior text has shown, this would mean none of the following would be used: headings, numbers, diacritical points, vowels, modern Arabic and so forth. Furthermore, if we have a strong case which shows that the printing of the Qur'an / Mushaf or placing of it on the internet and other electronic media is an insult to Islam, we would expect that appropriate action be taken in that regard. In other words, all future versions would need to be handwritten. Finally, we would expect that Islamic Supremacists learn the Qur'an in the manner it was originally intended: through orally transmitted recitation, not reading. Therefore, all the madrassas in Pakistan where Islamic Supremacists are "educated" would have to change their lesson plans and those poor kids could stop rocking back and forth while seated on the floor with their Qur'ans / Hushafs. Then, once accomplished, both sides could celebrate this bridge building effort! If Islamic Supremacists want to return to the Seventh Century, let us give them a helping hand!