Daniel Wallace’s Misunderstanding of the Qur’an’s Presevation Refuted

In this​ 15 minute video, I respond to some common missionary claims made about the presevation of the Qur’an. More specifically, I respond to comments made by Dr. Daniel Wallace.

and Allah knows best.

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Categories: Biblical scholarship, Quran, Scholarship

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45 replies

  1. Christians are more than ignorance when it comes to Quran and its studies.
    We don’t rely on manuscripts for preservation. Muslims rely on Isnad and Sama'(hearing).The history of Quran and bible are ((completely)) different. Christians cannot just igonre this factor.
    For example, it’s from the beginning muslims have had a complete idea what the Quran is. It’s the words of Allah revealed to the prophet pbuh. The nature of that Quran is to be recited in our prayer, to be taught to our famalies and children.This has not been the case for NT.
    In contrast, christians rely on manuscripts, so if we found a manuscript differing completely than what they have today in NT, christians ( have) to go with that manuscript because they don’t have method for transmission except by manuscripts.
    On the other hand, if we found a manuscript differing than what we have in Quran, we easily reject that manuscript that we don’t know who wrote it since Quran that we have is transmitted generation after generation. We know the source of Quran that we have, but we don’t know the source of that different manuscript. Manuscripts are something secondary for us, and if they conflict with Isnad, then the priority is for Isnad.
    Also, manuscrpits of Sana are palimpsest. This kind of material were used for teaching. To write and delete. As I know the upper text is dated by the same date of the inner text. Even you can read ( don’t write Bismillah) in Surat Al toubah (surah 9). It’s not a big deal for us that a teacher in past was correcting his student.
    Finally, I leave you with video. Please watch this little girl correcting her father in Quran grammatically which is something very difficult

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oral transmission suffers from corruption as much or possible more than other traditions. So it’s not a defence or argument with much merit tbh.

      The isnaad is circular reasoning, which is why we reject it.

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    • Not at all! The nature of Quran doesn’t give you this approach. This door is sealed firmly. Imagine a poem written to be taught in each school and each house. It’s like a national anthem. The culture of reciting Quran and memorizing it have been dominant in Islamic world that no one could have put/delete a letter in Quran.
      Your bible doesn’t have this nature since christian community didn’t have any idea what the bible is in the first place.

      “This Isnaad is circular”
      ??
      So it’s a problem for christians that we say that we’ve got this Quran from the companions of the prophet pbuh,but it’s ok for them to call books as the ( words of God) though they have no idea who wrote them?
      After all, 3=1 in your brains as any crazy person.

      Liked by 4 people

    • Christians can’t even recite their scripture in church without looking at their book, whereas Muslims have been praying without the Mushaf since the beginning.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Abdullah.

      You are welcome to think that, but scholars who specialize in oral transmission don’t come to that conclusion.

      Again, the isnaad is a later development, and is circular in approach, which is why it is not of much merit as evidence.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Paulus: Oral transmission suffers from corruption as much or possible more than other traditions.

      Not when you’re dealing with something that can be memorized even by 6 year olds. Given the emphasis on memorizing the Quran since the beginning of Islamic hsitory, and the ease with which it can be memorized as demonstrated by the ability of kids to memorize it, and the theological motivation to preserve the scripture so as to not suffer the same fate as Jews and Christians, intuitively we have no reason for believing the Quran has undergone corruption.

      Liked by 2 people

    • “Who specialize in oral transmission”
      Give me a break!
      Who are those scholars?
      We don’t talk about “oral transmission” just like that. We are talking about a (systematic) oral transmiision done by thousands of scholars /qualified men in Islam which is intended to be done from the beginning to serve Quran and Islamic nation. Add to this point that the nature of Quran makes it easy to recite and easy to memorize. Also, the nature of dealing with Quran as something that muslims have to recite everyday and complete in each Ramadan or more. These factors make it impossible for anyone to mess up with Quran even by one letter. Those “scholars” can examine this method by themselves.
      Regarding Isnad, I don’t think that you have point there. You just repeat yourself. Then it’s very amazing how christians suddenly try to be rational when it comes to Islam while they believe in (x) book as the word of God despite that they have no fu**ing idea who wrote it, they have no manuscript backs it, and there’s a good evidence that it’s forgery.
      I’m telling you, Paulus. When it comes to the preservation of Quran, you have no case whatsoever. Try to drink the sea water. It’s much easer!

      I leave you with this amazing recitation by this child, may Allah open your heart to the truth

      Liked by 4 people

    • @Paulus,
      “You are welcome to think that, but scholars who specialize in oral transmission don’t come to that conclusion”

      This would be true if few people heard a lecture and paraphrased it.

      But if a community of people memorize a text en-masse and repeat it over and over again in public such as during prayers in mosques etc it is a different matter.

      You are confusing different types of oral transmission and applying the problems of the “paraphrase” type transmission with the transmission that involves large-scale memorization.

      Liked by 2 people

    • You believe in isnaad because of the hadith tells you to. But the hadith are only considered reliable if one accepts isnaad. It’s circular, and thus unpersuasive.

      You *think* that what you recite is the same as the companions, but you really have no idea, because the only way one can accept this is to accept isnaad, and as I showed, that would be to put ones entire hopes in fallacious reasoning.

      You have a historical gap of several centuries. We can only hope and assume, not be certain, that recitation remained the same.

      Like

    • “You believe in isnaad because of the hadith tells you to”
      Whaaat???

      “You have a historical gap of several centuries.”
      At this point I think you have no idea what you’re talking about.
      Please find any church and start being the typical christian again. Sherlock Holmes role is not for you.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Just to confirm, you are saying that there are scribal errors in the Koranic manuscripts?

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    • This is directed at Ijaz

      Like

    • Well, I’ve waited for days for you to answer, so instead I have just quoted you directly from the opening audio.

      “we do have manuscripts that do have errors” Ijaz @ 3.36

      I’m glad that you admit this. However, I find it odd that you chastise Dr Wallace when most Muslims would disagree with you that there are koranic scribal errors. Dr Wallace is only saying what the majority of muslims say themselves, apologists included.

      “In short, the claim of so-called scribal errors in the Qur’ân is not only ridiculous but also a fanciful imagination of an extremely ignorant person.”- Islamic Awareness.

      Notice that Islamic Awareness would call you an “extremely ignorant person” for saying that there are scribal errors in the Koran.

      So why did you act as if Dr Wallace was somehow out of touch with common muslim understanding when he rightfully represented the majority view?

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  3. Too bad we don’t have to rely on manuscript evidence like the poor Christians. Oh well! 😂

    If you bring me a manuscript that conflicts with the recitation I learned from my teacher who has a chain of narration leading back to Muhammad himself ﷺ, then your manuscript can take a flying leap for all I care; whereas Christians are fumbling in the dark with all their “evidence.” I feel bad for them until they try to drag us down into the mud they’re sinking themselves into.

    And Paulus… “you believe in isnaad because of the hadith” just… isn’t true. I’d love to know where you pulled that gem of stupidity from.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Except there were multiple or more competing recitations after the death of Muhammad and before uthmans rescension. After all, the reason uthman did what he did was because Muslims were infighting over which recitation was correct.

      There is no way you can be certain that the recitation you follow goes back any further than uthman. Had he not decided to destroy all the evidence, we might actually have an idea.

      I’ve also provided evidence that demonstrates a meaningful and viable variant reading in the Koran. There are many more. So you may reject this evidence because you follow uthmanic, but you run the risk of reciting the Koran incorrectly. Do you want to take that risk?

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    • Paulus, can you provide evidence for ”Muslims were infighting over which recitation was CORRECT”.

      All recitations are/were correct as long as the chain went back to the prophet(pbuh), but i’d still like to see the evidence for your claim.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sure

      “The Syrians,” we are told, “contended with the `Iraqis, the former following the reading of Ubayy ibn Ka`b, the latter that of `Abd Allah ibn Mas’ud, each accusing the other of unbelief.” (Labib as-Said, The Recited Koran: A History of the First Recorded Version, tr. B. Weis, et al., Princeton, New Jersey: The Darwin Press, 1975, p. 23)

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    • Paulus: There is no way you can be certain that the recitation you follow goes back any further than uthman. Had he not decided to destroy all the evidence, we might actually have an idea.

      The Quran has always been considered the Word of God by Muslims. If Uthman tried to alter the Quran with his attempts at standardization, he would have been opposed by other Companions on account of trying to change the Word of God. If the Muslims could break up into sects on the issue of who should succeed the Prophet, they sure as hell would have formed sects based on who had the real Quran. They went to war with each other, killed each other over politics but they won’t kill to protect the Word of God? Come on!

      Given the complete absence of Quran sects, and the support Uthman had from other Companions despite political differences, there’s no reason to believe that Uthman’s standardization of the Quran involved anything more than simply unifying the mode of recitation.

      Liked by 1 person

    • The guy just doesn’t get how tawātur works. Let them fumble about with their manuscripts.

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    • Can you let me know the reference for the statement, from any authentic source?
      It’s probably in the footnotes.

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    • “If Uthman tried to alter the Quran with his attempts at standardization, he would have been opposed by other Companions on account of trying to change the Word of God.”

      He was opposed. What are you talking about?

      “Abdullah (b. Mas’ud) reported that he said to his companions to conceal their copies of the Qur’an” bukhari

      Az-Zuhri also narrated that Abdullah Ibn Mas’oud became upset because he was not chosen to copy the Qur’an. He said, “Oh you Muslims, how can I not be chosen …” Ibn Mas’oud also said, “Oh people of Iraq! Hide your Qurans in your homes (from Uthman).” (Sunan Al-Tirmithi, Dar Al-Kotob Al-ilmiyah, 2008, vol. 4, no. 3105, p. 134; also Ibn Sa’d, Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, vol. 2 p. 444)

      We also know that the companions disputed over which recitation should be followed.

      “Narrated Ibrahim: The companions of ‘Abdullah (bin Mas’ud) came to Abu Darda’, (and before they arrived at his home), he looked for them and found them. Then he asked them: “Who among you can recite (Qur’an) as ‘Abdullah recites it?” They replied, “All of us.” He asked, “Who among you knows it by heart?” They pointed at ‘Alqama. Then he asked Alqama. “How did you hear ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud reciting Surat Al-Lail (The Night)?“ Alqama recited:
      “By the male and the female.” (Qur’an 92:3)
      Abu Darda said, “I testify that I heard the Prophet reciting it likewise, but these people want me to recite it:
      “And by Him Who created male and female.” (Qur’an 92:3)
      But by Allah, I will not follow them.” (Sahih al-Bukhari: vol. 6, bk. 60, no. 468; also Sahih Muslim: bk. 4, no. 1799-1802)

      When we combine this with the meaningful and viable variant readings found in the sana’a palimpsest, which does show these types of differences, it is quite clear that Muslims cannot be certain that their recitation traces back to Muhammad. You should blame uthman for destroying all the evidence

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    • Just examine, if you can, the mutawātir chains of transmission of all the qira’āt of the Qur’ān, and watch as all these stupid arguments of yours evaporate.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Paulus: He was opposed. What are you talking about?

      Sure. But the Companions didn’t think it significant enough to militarily oppose Uthman. That’s the point. If early Muslims could fight over who should succeed the Prophet, they surely would have gone to war to preserve the Word of God. There would have been sects based on different Qurans. Of course none of these things happened which is why there’s no good reason for believing that what we recite today is a corruption. Try again Paulus.

      Liked by 1 person

    • How does the idea of multiple chains of narration solve any of these problems Abu? Care to demonstrate what you mean? The variants I am discussing are not qira’at, issues of dialect. They are meaningful changes to the recitation and text.

      Besides, the idea behind mutawatir transmissions is problematic when assessed critically and applied to transmissions outside of the Koran.

      “As stated earlier, criticizing the chains of transmission would render almost all mutawatir ahadith invalid.” Narratives of Islamic Legal Thought, pg. 80.

      Even more problematic for you is that the criteria for mutawatir ahadith ends up falsifying Islam.

      “If being Muslim was not a prerequisite for having one’s transmissions accepted, then, theoretically, other widespread, competing non muslims narratives could be considered mutawatir…this presented a problem because, based on Dabusi and Sarakhsi’s methodology, the claims of Jews and Christians that Jesus was tortured and killed were enscapulated in reports so wide spread that they reached the level of mutawatir.”

      The only way to deny this, was for Muslim jurists to discredit the original eyewitness accounts;

      “In essence, then, in safeguarding their theory of mutawatir, Dubasi and Sarakhsi argued that God knowingly misled two nations, namely, the Jews and he Christians.”

      But that hardly makes Allah the type of god one wished to worship.

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    • Wow. So putting things between quotation marks makes them true now? Or logical? None of what you quoted actually makes sense, but I’m not going to waste my time explaining it; the level of ignorance evinced by the fact that you don’t even seem to know what a qirā’ah is demonstrates what a fruitless enterprise it would be.

      Suffice it to say that it’s very stupid to accept as real the hallucination that scattered and strange ahad reports should be accepted which conflict with what has been transmitted by tawātur.

      Can’t be asked with this silliness anymore, honestly.

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    • No, it just demonstrates how scholars understand the issues, and how simply making grandiouse dismissive statements like you do isn’t helpful or true.

      If you want to assert that mutawatir narrations somehow “solve” all your textual problems, but then refuse to a) demonstrate how, or b) respond to the internal problems with the Islamic process, it really only demonstrates that your committed to your view without much desire or perhaps ability to defend it.

      When did I say you need to accept them? Being post uthman, of course you will accept the transmission of the ummah. But we sufficient evidence now to demonstrate that the other pre uthmanic readings that existed were substantially different in different parts. We now know that it is almost certain that parts of the Koran you recite today were not the same as all the companions.

      “As a result, the readings that were attributed to these Readers were safely classified as “Quranic”, while any other reading outside the system of the seven or the ten readings was deemed shadhdhah: it might have been quranic at some point prior to Uthman’s codification of the Quran; however, it was abrogated by the ummah’s concensus.” ~ Shady Nasser

      Notice what he says carefully: these variant readings might have been Quranic, by which I assume part of the recitation and codices, profit to uthmans abrogation and 🔥

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    • Mere speculation and assertion with a few ahad reports on one hand; mutawātir and certainty on the other.

      Silly rabbit. Since when are feverish rantings about “could” and “maybe” enough to overturn what’s been established?

      You Christians… all you want is company for your misery of doubt regarding your own scriptures.

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  4. Textual criticism has been applied to the Bible for the past 150 years. After all this time, the bible we have in our hands today is what it would have looked like in the 4th century, during the time of Constantine; meaning that we still have a gap of 200 years between the original NT writings and the complete codices used in the critical editions. TWO HUNDRED YEARS. And the Xtians have the audacity to compare it to the Quran.

    Whereas the Quran, both in oral and text form, has been preserved. The presence of inauthentic non-canonical readings of the Quran is no new info. This was first noticed by the companion Huzaifa and this is why Uthman codified the canonical text of the Quran, to preserve the original readings. The Recited Quran is transmitted from generation to generation by numbers beyond count. We were taught the Quran by our teachers and parents, and they likewise to the time of the Prophet. This is “Mutawatir”. Professional Reciters of the Quran have chains of transmission going back to the Prophet.
    Also, there are various manuscripts of the Quran from the 1st century of Islam, compared to only 2 fragmentary manuscripts of the NT from its 1st century.

    If xtians got a problem with Isnad, then they got a problem with a valid historical method which is the envy of mankind. They themselves have nothing to show for it, except books written by anonymous writers, transmitted by anonymous people, in manuscripts where no two are the same, to their shame (if they have any).

    Therefore, the Quran is proven to be preserved whether by Isnad, Mutawatir transmission, or manuscript form. The Bible is a hodgepodge in its content and transmission.

    “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 11:15

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Anytime Daniel Wallace pontificates about anything related to Islam, you can be sure you are getting nothing more than evangelical polemics based on his very biased opinions. There is no real scholarship worthy of note from him on Islam, mostly just a lot his own misunderstandings and wishful thinking.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. “manuscripts that have errors in them, although this has not been admitted by Muslims”- Dr Wallace.

    Ijaz chastises saying, “to begin with, this is completely incorrect”

    Problem: except it is not. It is completely accurate.

    ““In short, the claim of so-called scribal errors in the Qur’ân is not only ridiculous but also a fanciful imagination of an extremely ignorant person.”- Islamic Awareness.

    Proof by contradiction.

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    • That isn’t proof by contradiction to begin with. Personally I think this is funny, but I’m glad to correct you.

      Dr. Saifullah, Dr. Ghali, Br. Mansur, all of whom are my colleagues, acknowledge lapsus calami, on the other hand, to suggest that lapsus calami are in the Qur’an is completely ignorant.

      So we agree!

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    • I love your logic Ijaz- the manuscripts have errors but the Koran doesn’t. Problem is that some of the scribal errors, the variant readings, are meaningful and viable, e.g Q. 2.196 in the sana’a palimpsest reads different to the common Koran. Ergo, the Koranic tradition does have errors. You can’t seperate the two. Proof by contradiction

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    • That’s not proof by contradiction….as indicated before.

      Muslims do not consider aberrant writings to be part of scripture, hence we can reject shadhdh, ahad readings.

      When we speak of the Qur’an, we speak of the normative tradition of the Qur’an. You recite an aberrant reading to a Muslim and they will say that’s not the Qur’an.

      Islam is not Christianity, each and every aberrant manuscript, or mistake in recitation (aliyah) is not considered to be scripture, as it is in Christianity. Don’t confuse the two.

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    • “When we speak of the Qur’an, we speak of the normative tradition of the Qur’an.”

      I assume you mean the uthmanic rescension?

      The error I cited predates the uthmanic Koran. That is a problem for you, because you don’t know which reading is the *original*.

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    • We do know which readings are original, the stemmata are well known and well documented. There is no history of the aberrant readings in Sana’aa from anyone. It’s a shadhdh, ahad reading.

      Whether it predates ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) or not, does not matter. For it to be considered the Qur’an, it must be part of the normative tradition. Since it’s aberrant, then by definition it’s not.

      There is no problem. Nice fantasy though.

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    • Before I respond further, can you please elaborate on this point you made

      “We do know which readings are original, the stemmata are well known and well documented.”

      What are you referring to here? Please provide the sources.

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    • And can you confirm that by “normative tradition” you are referring to the uthmanic rescension?

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    • Still waiting Ijaz…

      Hoping you can show me this stemmata that is well documented?

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    • Ijaz…?

      Why so quiet?

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    • I’m waiting for a sensible comment to reply to. I try not to waste my time. Asking me about stemmatics of the Qur’an, when I’ve published about it, done videos about it, heck even mentioned it in this video itself, you have got to be trolling.

      Unless you’re paying me to do research, I ain’t going to do your homework for you, if you don’t know, that’s on you. Everyone else here seems to know though.

      Good luck.

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    • Riiiight.

      So, you make a claim, and it’s up to me to prove it for you?

      If you “published” about it, then please post an article I can read to understand your position, and hence discuss further re this topic.

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  7. “each and every aberrant manuscript, or mistake in recitation (aliyah) is not considered to be scripture, as it is in Christianity. Don’t confuse the two.”

    Who is speaking for which “Christianity” here?

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  8. “There is no history of the aberrant readings in Sana’aa from anyone.”

    Except the sana’a palimpsest of course. And why would there be, considering Uthmanic tried to destroy all the competing codices? The lack of history on this is not a positive for you Ijaz, it’s a negetive repercussion of what your caliph did.

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  9. “Muslims do not consider aberrant writings to be part of scripture” ~ Ijaz

    Of course you don’t, not now. But these “ahad” readings you now dismiss because of the ummah could very well have been quranic pre uthman.

    “As a result, the readings that were attributed to these Readers were safely classified as “Quranic”, while any other reading outside the system of the seven or the ten readings was deemed shadhdhah: it might have been quranic at some point prior to Uthman’s codification of the Quran; however, it was abrogated by the ummah’s concensus.” ~ Shady Nasser

    Like

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