The “Miracle” of the Qur’an — The Christian Response
1. Preservation of the Qur’an?
Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, in The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, tells us that at the time of Muhammad’s death the surahs (or chapters) of the Qur’an had not yet been collated. This was accomplished during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr.9
The second Caliph, Omar, “subsequently made a single volume (mushaf) that he preserved and gave on his death to his daughter Hafsa, the Prophet’s widow.”10 Finally, under the Caliphate of Uthman all copies of the Qur’an were ordered to be brought in and any that deviated from Uthman’s text were burned.
We have no quarrel with the Islamic position that since the Recension of Uthman the Qur’an has remained intact. However, because of the destruction of all deviant copies no one can know with any certainty if the present Qur’an is exactly the same as what Muhammad gave them.
Islam teaches that the only reason Uthman had all the other collections of the Qur’an burned except his was that there were slight dialectical variations in the different texts. However, there is some evidence which tends to refute this.
First of all, it is very significant that the Qurra, the Muslims who had memorized the entire Qur’an, were vehemently opposed to the Recension. And second, the Shi’ites, who are the second-largest Islamic sect in the world, claim that the Caliph Uthman intentionally eliminated many passages from the Qur’an which related to Ali and the succession of leadership which was to occur after Muhammad’s death.
L. Bevan Jones, in his work The People Of the Mosque, succinctly answers the Muslim argument for the alleged miraculous preservation of the Qur’an: “But while it may be true that no other work has remained for twelve centuries with so pure a text, it is probably equally true that no other has suffered so drastic a purging.”11
Bro Keith, it would really be good if you can present your own argument instead of posting a who piece which a discussion board will never be able to justify. However, I will try to cut your (actually it is from Christian Research Institute) presentation up so that I can respond to it separately. Anyone who knows anything about the origins of the Qur'an will acknowledge that it was an oral revelation to Muhammad over a span of 23 years. As he received them, he would dictate them to his companions some of them entrusted with writing it down. Since it was an oral revelation, emphasis was placed on memorizing it even more than compiling it into a book. Nonetheless, some people used to record passages more applicable to them rather than following a uniform approach to compiling a book. However, the select few who were charged with the proper preservation of the Qur'an put together the one that Umar gave to his daughter, Hafzah. Actually that was only one of three copies that were compiled under the supervision of Umar who was the second leader after the Prophet. Those three copies still exist today. During the Caliphate of Uthman, people were compiling their own records that were not done as meticulously as those three copies. Under his direction, those were all destroyed so as not to create the kind of confusion that exist today with the Bible. Umar was very wise to do so. I don't know why any Christian would make a deal out of this in light of the role of the Council of Nicea in the canonization of the Bible.
Secondly, there was no Shiite at the time of any of the Caliph. Not even when Ali (who the Shiite revere) was Caliph was there any Shiite. So CRI making that argument is baseless.
Lastly, the Qur'an has no direction for any succession. If the Shiite are making this claim which I suspect they are not and it is actually CRI seeking to present a controversy, Uthman would have never been able to remove all references to any succession. The Bible is obsessed with lineage. The Qur'an is more focused on being a guide to mankind.
And yes, L. Bevan Jones only halfway correct. The Qur'an in circulation today is the same one compiled by Umar, not Uthman. And Uthman never burned any Qur'an. He destroyed those documents which while still being correct passages of the established Qur'an, they were not compiled in a uniform manner and had the potential of missing bits and pieces.