David Wood and Nabeel Qureshi work together in promoting the gospel over at the Answering Muslims blog. Both men are to be commended for their dedication to a difficult task. They are also to be commended because they have put up with me more than once in various situations! They are good brothers.
Recently David Wood noted two important hadith on their blog that I wanted to mention. I waited for a while to note them for only one reason: I wanted to verify my sources! Well, I have now added Jami At-Tirmidhi to my Islamic resources collection, so I can now note these hadith, drawn from that source.
The first is another reference substantiating the early conflict over the Musahif of the Qur’an, specifically, the conflict between Ibn Mas’ud and Zaid Bin Thabit (whose recension of the Qur’an formed the basis of the current standardized “Uthmanic” text). We need to realize that according to Muslim sources, Ibn Mas’ud was the top of the four reciters of the Qur’an, and that according to Muhammad himself. We read in Sahih Al-Bukhari 3758:
Narrated Masruq: Abdullah (bin Mas’ud) was mentioned before Abdullah bin Amr. The latter said, “That is a man I continue to love because I heard Allah’s Messenger () saying, ‘Learn the recitation of the Qur’an from four: from Abdullah bin Mas’ud – he started with him – Salim, the freed slave of Abu Hudhaifa, Mu’adh bin Jabal and Ubai bin Ka’b”.
This hadith does not seem to be saying Ibn Mas’ud is just one amongst four equals, but the first in the list. Yet, Ibn Mas’ud’s rejection of the Uthmanic revision is well known. Hence the background to this interesting hadith:
Az-Zuhri said: “Ubaidullah bin Abdullah bin Utbah informed me that Abdullah bin Mas’ud disliked Zaid bin Thabit copying the Musahif, and he said: ‘O you Muslim people! Avoid copying the Mushaf and recitation of this man. By Allah! When I accepted Islam he was but in the loins of a disbelieving man’–meaning Zaid bin Thabit–and it was regarding this that Abdullah bin Mas’ud said: ‘O people of Al-Iraq! Keep the Musahif that are with you, and conceal them. For indeed Allah said: And whoever conceals something, he shall come with what he concealed on the Day of Judgement. So meet Allah with the Musahif.'” (Jami At-Tirmidhi 3104)
Now one item that I find fascinating is that in this particular collection of hadith (Jami At-Tirmidhi), this story is appended to the same story found in Al-Bukhari (6:509-510), the classic story of the Uthmanic Revision. [I note with some level of humor in passing, this is the same story dismissed as “inauthentic” by Osama Abdullah in our debates last year, to the chagrin of any and all well-read Muslims in the audience]. In any case, it is, I believe, very important to note this key conflict regarding the early transmission of the text of the Qur’an.
Another interesting hadith from the same collection is likewise relevant to the issue of the transmission of the Qur’an:
Abu Yunus, the freed slave of Aishah, said: “Aisha ordered me to write a Mushaf for her, and she said: ‘When you get to this Ayah then tell me: Guard strictly (the five obligatory) prayers, and the middle Salat.’ So when I reached it, I told her and she dictated to me: ‘Guard strictly (the five obligatory) prayers, and the middle Salat, and Salat Al-Asr. And stand before Allah with obedience.’ She said: ‘I heard that from the Messenger of Allah.'” (Jami At-Tirmidhi 2982)
This is in reference to Surah 2:238, where Aisha’s narration indicates that the current version is missing key phrases and commands.
Both of these quotes once again force us to consider the fundamental contrast between the NT and the Qur’an: controlled, edited redaction. Once Uthman struck the match to the materials he used to created his redacted copy of the Qur’an, he set it on a completely different path of transmission than that of the New Testament, and that, I argue, to its detriment.