THE QURAN IN ISLAM 6

THE TESTIMONY OP KAZI BAIZAWI CONCERNING THE VARIOUS READINGS OP THE QURAN

Those who have read the commentaries of the famous Muhammadan scholar Kazi Baizawi well know that he, also, has pointed out many variations in the different copies of the Quran. We give below a few examples from the writings of this well-known commentator.

It is a matter for surprise that in the very first chapter of the Quran, a chapter the excellences of which Muslim writers are never tired of relating, and which every good Muhammadan should repeat in his daily prayers, a number of various readings exist, and have caused no little perplexity to Muhammadan scholars. Thus we learn from the Kazi that in verse 5 in some copies we have whilst in others the word is spelt . Yet it is perfectly certain that both readings cannot be correct.

Again, in verse 6 of the same Sura, Baizawi tells us that the words (Sirat allazina anamta alaihim) have in some copies of the Quran been changed to (Sirat man anamta alaihim). What, then, becomes of the supposed freedom of the Quran from corruption, in view of such facts; and where, we ask, is the much vaunted Divine protection of the Quran? Is it not perfectly clear that in some copies the word (allazina) has either been changed to (man); or else in other copies the original word (man) has been corrupted into .

Again, Baizawi tells us, in the eighth verse of the same Sura a serious variation of reading occurs. According to Baizawi the current reading (la azzalina) has been, in some copies, changed to (ghair azzalina). Granting that in these examples the meaning has not been altered to any extent, the fact still remains that certain words have been substituted for others in this important Bura of the Quran. Both were not in the original copies.

In the twenty-first verse of Sura Bakr, Kazi Baizawi points out another important corruption of the text. The received reading is (abdena) “our servant;” but Baizawi tells us that in some copies the word appears in the plural as, (abadena), “our servants.” In the latter case, the whole verse would read thus: “If ye be in doubt concerning that (revelation) which we have sent down unto our servants,” thus making others besides Muhammad the recipients of the Quranic revelation.

In the fifth verse of Sura Nisa another important corruption of the Quranic text is to be seen. Baizawi tells us that in this verse the words (fan anastum) “If you see,” have in some copies been altered to (fan ahastum) “If you know.” Such corruptions of the Quranic text are numerous, and prove beyond question that the text of the Quran is far from perfect. Indeed, as we shall after-wards prove, it has been so corrupted and mutilated that the present edition is absolutely untrustworthy as a complete copy of that Quran which the prophet of Arabia taught his followers. In the fifteenth verse of Sura Nisa, Baizawi points out another grave variation in the different copies of the Quran,which is worthy of notice. It is there written “and he has a brother or a sister.” But the Kazi informs us that, according to the readings of Ubi and Zaid-ibn-Malik two other words should be added to those quoted, viz., “from a mother.” In his comment upon the passage Baizawi himself explains it as having this meaning. Thus the illustration before us affords an interesting example of the way in which various readings sometimes come into existence through the insertion of marginal explanatory words into the text itself for the purpose of rendering the meaning more lucid.

The ninety-first verse of Sura Maida furnishes another example of the corruption of the text of the Quran. It is there written that the expiation of an oath should be the feeding of ten poor men, but if the offender has not wherewith to carry out this demand of the law, he may fast three days instead. Thus in the current copy of the Quran we read, “three days’ fast.” But the famous legist Abu Hanifa reads an additional word here, so that the offender should be made to fast “three days together.” Thus Abu Hanifa reads, This variation in the reading is a most serious one, for it touches, and alters, the very laws of Islam. Thus Abu Hanifa and all his followers teach a three-days’ continuous fast; whilst Baizawi and others look upon this teaching as false, and opposed to the Quran. Who is to say, after this lapse of time, which reading represents that of the original Quran?

In the 154th verse of Sura Anam the current Quran reads, “Truly this is my way”; but Baizawi here quotes two readings which differ from this text. In the first we read, “This is your Lord’s way,” and in the second, “This is thy Lord’s way.” The reader will observe that in the second and third readings here quoted by Baizawi, one word is missing altogether, whilst two other words  and have been added. Little wonder is it that ‘Usman, shocked at the many discrepancies, which, as early as his time, appeared in the reading of the Quran, should seek to reduce them all to one uniform text ; it is as little a matter for surprise that the Khalif failed so ignominiously to effect his purpose. Many of these corruptions of the Quranic text bear upon their face the evidence of the clumsy hand of the forger; and reveal, by their very nature, the reason for their existence. Thus in Sura T. H. we read, “He (Aaron) said, O my mother’s son.” But in Sura Araf, verse 149, we find only “He said, my mother’s son.” A close examination of these passages shows that in the first the usual interjection of address which accompanies the vocative, viz., is properly present, but is absent from the second. Thus it becomes clear that, in order to preserve the elegance and beauty of the language of the Quran, the usual interjection of address should be added to the second passage also. Now Baizawi makes it clear that this has actually taken place, and that some good Muslims, in order to remove this reproach from the Quran, have actually added the necessary word in their copies of the Quran. Thus Baizawi tells us that Ibn-Amar, Hamza, Kisai and Abu-Bakr read in this place “O, my mother’s son.” Either our inference is correct, or else we must assume that the word ‘O’ is correctly found in the copies of the scholars mentioned, but has, like many other words, been lost from the current copy of the Quran; in either case we have here a striking example of the uncertainty which surrounds the present text of that book.

Again in Sura Jonas, verse 92, we have a striking example of ‘tahrif lafzi’ or corruption of the text of the Quran. It is there written that the death of Pharoah in the Red Sea remained as a ‘sign’ for the warning and instruction of all who should come after him. Thus in the current Quran we read, “A sign for those who come after thee.” But Baizawi tells us that some copies of the Quran read, “A sign for Him who created thee.” Here the meaning of the Quran is entirely altered; and the perplexed Muslim must ever remain in ignorance as to which of these rival readings represents the original Quran.

Yet another extraordinary variation of reading is found in verse 36 of Sura Kahaf. In current copies of the Quran the passage reads,

“But God is my Lord, and I will not associate any with my Lord.” But the Kazi tells us in his commentary that in some copies the passage reads thus,

“But God is my Lord; but we are not God; He only is our Lord.” Comment on this extraordinary corruption of the Quranic text would be superfluous. The reader may judge for himself.

Another serious wilful corruption of the Quran is made evident by Kazi Baizawi’s comment on verse 38 of Sura Y.S. The passage alluded to runs thus, “And the sun hasteneth to his place of rest.” No educated Muslim believes that the sun moves by day, and rests during the time we call night; but a liberal view of this passage would suggest that it simply speaks in popular language, and does not attempt to impart scientific truth. But some zealous followers of the prophet, not content with this explanation and seeking to remove a fancied imperfection from the pages of the Quran, have adopted the drastic expedient of adding a word to the passage. Thus Baizawi informs us that in some copies of the Quran the word “No” is added in this place, so that the meaning becomes: the sun has no place of rest!

Before we conclude this chapter we shull give yet one more example of the corruption of the text of the Quran as furnished by Kazi Baizawi. In the first verse of Bura Kamar the current Quran reads,

“The hour approacheth ; and the moon hath been split in sunder.” It is well known that controversy long and bitter has taken place between different sections of Muslims over the meaning of this passage. Some affirm that we have here clear testimony to a wonderful miracle performed by Muhammad in the splitting of the moon. Others, instead, contend that the whole passage has a future signification, and that all that the passage teaches is that at the judgment day the moon will be split asunder. What was needed to make the passage undoubtedly refer to a past event was the addition of some word having that meaning. Now, strange to relate, Baizawi tells us that precisely this has taken place and in some copies the word “now” or “just now” appears; so that the passage reads “the moon has now been split asunder.” Is it not clear as the day that some Muhammadan controversialists, in order to fortify their own opinion, and at the same time glorify the prophet, have here inserted in their copies of the Quran this word ? If this inference, to which we are surely shut up, he correct, does not the whole incident throw a lurid light on the treatment to which the scriptures of Islam have been subjected in the past; and does it not show the baselessness of the extravagant claims which are sometimes made by Muslims regarding the integrity of the Quranic text? Examples similar to those given above could be multiplied. Space, however, will not permit of further illustration here. We have shown enough to prove to every unprejudiced and open-minded reader that the Quran has been greatly corrupted, and that Sunni and Shiah alike agree in affirming that numerous differences exist in different copies. Many reliable scholars even admit that in many cases the text of the Quran has been wilfully corrupted by unscrupulous Muslims. Thus Baizawi, Malam and Abul Fida all refer to one such person Abdulla-ibn-Zaid-ibn Sarih by name. He was, they tell us, an amanuensis of the prophet, and used to maliciously alter various passages of the Quran. But not only is the text of the Quran, as it exists to-day, open to serious doubt; and not only do innumerable varieties of reading exist with respect to the present text; but we shall now proceed to prove from reliable Muhammadan sources that large portions of the original Quran are missing altogether from the present copies; that, in fact, the present Quran only represents a portion – and that corrupted – of the original book which was delivered by Muhammad to his followers.

To Be Continued …

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