Will the Ancient Quranic Manuscripts of Sana’a Spell the Downfall of Islam?The 1972 discovery of the earliest surviving Quranic manuscripts in the Great Mosque of Sana'a conclusively shows that the present Quran is different from the early manuscripts. It proves the Islamic claim---that the Quran is infallability, that it is Allah's original revelation word by word, and that it is copy of the version kept in a tablet in heaven---outright false. Will this shocking find unravel the dawnfall of Islam?
“Respect for the faith of sincere believers cannot be allowed either to block or deflect the investigation of the historians... One must defend the rights of elementary historical methodology”. --- Maxime Rodhinson, 1981, p. 57
Muslims generally believe, thanks to Quranic assertions, that both the Old and New Testaments are corrupted and seriously changed. They say, for a Holy Scripture to be authoritative, it has to be preserved without any changes at all, and point to the Quran, which, they claim, has been preserved word by word and letter by letter, as was revealed to Muhammad by Allah. The Quran itself claims: 'no change there can be in the words of God' (10:64) and, 'there is none that can alter the words (and decrees) of God' (6:34).
But then how ridiculous the 'doctrine of abrogation' is, by which later revelations cancel previous ones, as Quran (2:106) confirms, 'revelations… We abrogate or cause to be forgotten'. Also, a Hadith (6:558) from Sahih Bukhari confirms that Muhammad forgot many verses. Again Sunaan ibn Majah (3:1944) records that, after Muhammad’s death, some revelations were eaten up by a goat.
How divine words can be eaten, changed, cancelled or abolished, in spite of Allah’s specific claim in 10:64 and 6:34?
Are not all these claims of Allah self-contradictory?
Amazingly, these plain truths do not bother the Muslims at all. Probably, if we can present another “authentic” Quran, which is different from existing standard form, Muslims may give way to logical thinking.
The devastating truth is that a large number of ancient Quranic manuscripts, dating from first century of Hijra were discovered in the Great Mosque of Sana’a (Yemen), which significantly differs from the present standard one. Carbon dating system confirmed that these Qurans are not forged one by religious rivalries. Moreover, these Qurans were discovered by Muslims, not infidels.
This is, probably, the most embarrassing event to Muslims in the 1,400-year history of Islam.
The Great Mosque of Sana’a is one of the oldest Mosques in Islamic history. The date of building goes back to 6th year of Hijrah when Muhammad entrusted one of his companions to build a Mosque at Yemen, which was extended and enlarged by Islamic rulers from time to time.In 1972, during the restoration of this Great Mosque (heavy rain had caused the west wall of the Mosque to collapse), laborers, while working in a crown space between the structure’s inner and outer roofs, stumbled upon an amazing grave-site, which they did not realize at that time. Mosques do not accommodate graves, and this site contained no gravestone, no human remains and no funeral relics. It contained an unappealing mountain of old parchment and paper documents, damaged books and individual pages of Arabic text, fused together by rain and dampness for over a thousand years.
The ignorant laborers gathered up the manuscripts, pressed them carelessly into some 20 potato sacks, and set them aside on the staircase of one of the Mosque’s minarets, where they were locked away. The manuscripts would have been forgotten once again, were it not for Qadhi Isma’il al-Akwa, then the President of Yemeni Antiquities Authority, who realized the potential importance of the find. Al-Akwa sought international assistance in examining and preserving the fragments, because no scholar in his country was capable of working on this rich find. In 1977, he managed to interest a visiting non-Muslim German scholar, who in turn persuaded the German government to organize and find a restoration project.
Soon after the project began, it became clear that the “paper grave” is a resting place for, among other things, tens of thousands of fragments from close to a thousand different codices of the Quran. Muslim authorities during early days cherished the belief that worn out and damaged copies of the Quran must be removed from circulation leaving only the unblemished editions of the scripture for use. Also such a safe place was required to protect the books from looting or destruction if invaders come and hence the idea of a grave in the Great Mosque in Sana’a, which was a place of learning and dissemination of the Quran and was in existence from the first century of the Hijrah.
Restoration of the manuscript has been organized and supervised by Gerd R. Puin of Saarland University, Germany. Puin is a renowned specialist on Arabic calligraphy (the study of fine and artistic handwriting) and Quranic paleography (the study of ancient writing and documents). For ten years he extensively examined those precious parchment fragments. In 1985, his colleague H. C. Graf V. Bothmer joined him.
Carbon-dating puts the origin of some of the parchments to 645–690 CE, while calligraphic dating has pointed to their origin in 710–715 AD. Some of the parchment pages seemed to date back to the seventh and eighth centuries, i.e. Islam’s first two centuries, perhaps the oldest Quran in existence.
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