Material on the Authenticity of the Qur’an & Allah
No Doubt About It!
So what is this evidence that Islam claims to present that is so convincing? The first issue is authenticity. Purity of text is quite vital to the whole spirit of “fund”. This is because once a text has shown to have been corrupted and altered in order to make it comply with doctrinal or political expediencies, and if there is no reliable means to distinguish the corrupt from the pure, then there is not one passage of that text that cannot be called into question. This is not so easy with a pure and preserved text. This is well understood by the Christian fundamentalists. If it is not the “Word of God”, then what real value does it posses as guidance, except as a collection of wisdom? Few serious scholars, even from Islam’s opponents, have tried to dispute the Qur’an’s historical authenticity . Indeed it would be a pointless exercise, since anyone who cares to take a trip to Tashkent (in the former Soviet Union) will find there a complete copy of the Qur’an written by one of the Prophet’s scribes, Zayed ibn Thabit, upon the order of the first Caliph Abu Bakr within two years of the Prophet’s death. The manuscript in Tashkent is a copy of that first manuscript, also written by the hand of the same Zayed, but some twelve years later under the order of ‘Uthman bin Affan, the third Caliph, with the consensus of over fifty companions of the Prophet who also had written portions of the Qur’an, and also others who had memorised it in total. This "Uthmanic" Qur’an, as it later came to known, was accepted without exception by the surviving companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, as being one and the same that was revealed by Allah to his Final Messenger Muhammad, peace be upon him,. One can take any copy of any Qur’an, from any mosque anywhere in the word and compare it with the mushaf of Zayed, and find it exactly the same - word for word. It is even recited in the same accent in which the Prophet, peace be upon him, recited it. Furthermore Arabic, the language of the Qur’an, is a living language, and the Book has always been in the hands of the people - not merely the domain of a few priests.
Thus anyone reading the Qur’an can be certain beyond reasonable doubt that they are reading the same words revealed to Muhammad, peace be upon him, over one thousand four hundred years ago. "Verily! It is We Who have sent down the Qur’an and surely, We will guard it" (Surah al-Hijr 15:9). The reality of the fruition of this statement is a clear sign to mankind, and one of the manifest miracles of the Qur’an. Moreover this preservation is not limited to only the Qur’an, but also its explanation, the Sunnah, i.e. the actions, sayings and tacit approvals of the Prophet, peace be upon him,. These were meticulously memorised and written down by his wives and companions, and passed down until they were collected in the more famous books of hadeeth some two to three hundred years after the Hijra.. The body of hadeeth literature has not enjoyed, quite unjustly, the same general acceptance of authenticity as the Qur’an. This is simply because the means by which the hadeeth became preserved was a longer and more complicated affair than that of the Qur’an, and therefore became a relatively easier target of attack by Islam’s enemies. Some Orientalists have even claimed that Hadith authenticity rates the same as the Biblical texts . This is, however a very superficial comparison, even if there are some apparent similarities. For example the major books of hadeeth such Saheeh al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim and the Sunan of Abu Dawood, did not appear until just over two hundred years the Hijra. Those who compiled the books were not themselves eye witnesses. Many hadeeth within the entire body of hadeeth literature are clearly fabricated and of dubious authenticity, and ,as a whole, contain contradictions.
These statements are true in general, but a more detailed study of the history of the preservation of the hadeeth makes it immediately clear that the reality is quite different. Firstly, as we mentioned concerning the Qur’an, the language of the Prophet, peace be upon him, is preserved. Secondly the major hadeeth books we mentioned were not so much new works as compilations of earlier, smaller ones. There was also a good deal of oral transmission, but the collectors of Prophetic sayings were extremely weary of ensuring that any given narration attributed to the Prophet, peace be upon him, could be effectively proven as such. The method by which this was accomplished was through the ‘isnad’, or chain of narrators. From the earliest days of Islam after the death of the Prophet, peace be upon him, various groups arose deviating from the teachings of Islam that had been given to the Prophet’s Companions. These sects began to invent sayings which they attributed to the Prophet, peace be upon him,. So in response the Companions of the Prophet began to demand that anyone transmitting a narration must name which companion they had received it from, and thus the truth of narrator ascertained. The students of the Companions continued this policy, and further safe guards were added as not only the Companions name was needed, but also the next narrator in the chain of transmission . Conditions were laid down for these narrators to be accepted. The scholars differed over some of the conditions, some being stricter than others, but three basic requirements were agreed by all. First the transmitter must be a pious Muslim, secondly they must be known not to forget, thirdly they must not be liars. The next generation of hadeeth transmitters began to write the names of all those who attended their lectures. No one was allowed to narrate a hadeeth on that lecturers authority unless he attended the lecture in which that hadeeth was narrated and its meaning explained. From this developed the books of "Rijal" in which was listed the character, quality of memory, place of habitation, travels, teachers and students, and opinion of other scholars, concerning all the narrators of the hadeeth. Thus every available method was used to ensure that when the scholars of the sciences of hadeeth declared a narration of the Prophet, peace be upon him, as being authentic it was, beyond any reasonable doubt said by him. This methodology is not only used for the Prophetic traditions, but also the sayings of the Companions and the early scholars. Indeed any true scholar must be able to produce the isnad of his teachers back to the Prophet himself!
Along with this textual and contextual authenticity, the Qur’an itself lays down claims to prove its veracity as God’s revealed Words. Of course, "proof" is a big word, especially when it comes to God or religion, especially for the “Western mind”, programmed by two thousand years of Christianity, which seems to think that religion is supposed to be “mysterious” and “incomprehensible”. The idea that God and revelation are not only compatible with reason, but also can be proven, is often met with incredulity. After all, what’s the point? If you can prove it where does faith come in? This is because the Christian world has been taught that "faith" means believing the unbelievable without any proof. This is manifest in the that nonsense called the Trinity, and all the theological contortions surrounding it. Christians are expected to believe that black is white and yet still black, or in their terms, that the Invisible, Self-Sufficient, Un-Changing, Omnipotent and Omniscient Creator became a visible, needy, mortal, fallible creature who was killed on a cross, and this man was still the Invisible, Self-Sufficient, Un-Changing, Omnipotent and Omniscient Creator - completely God and completely man. Of course anyone with a mind will understand that one by necessity precludes the other. Something completely God cannot possibly be, or contain the qualities of, a man, for this would immediately exclude such a being from being truly God. Furthermore, any man that had the qualities of God would no longer be a man. In an attempt to “explain the unexplainable” the Doctrine of the Trinity was invented: One God made of three entities, each one completely God, (and therefore completely the same, yet somehow different) not making three Gods but only One! Moreover the Christian has been asked to believe that mankind’s salvation lies in believing God killed Himself (or His son, or an innocent man, or all three at the same time) as a ransom for a burden of sin - that He placed on all human beings for the sin of Adam and Eve eating from the forbidden tree! The inevitable refuge of the Christian when assaulted with a barrage questions over this muddle is that its all “a mystery”, and if you want to be saved from Hell you should stop asking so many questions and accept it as an act of faith. Yet it seems rather absurd that the Just Creator would punish anyone for refusing to believe things which are unacceptable and incomprehensible to the very faculties of reason and common sense that He has provided for the human to make their decisions, without providing some strong proof that they should do so!
The Qur’an, however, chastises mankind for not using their common sense and reasoning powers, and states that their failure to do so is itself a cause of their destruction: "And for those who disbelieve in their Lord is the torment of Hell, and worst indeed is that destination. When they are cast therein, they will hear the terrible drawing in of its breath as it blazes forth. It almost bursts with fury. Every time a group is cast therein, its keeper will ask: ‘Did no warner come to you?’ They will say: ‘Yes indeed; a warner did come to us, but we belied him and said: ‘Allah never sent down anything, you are only in great error.’ And they will say: ‘Had we but listened or used our intelligence, we would not have been among the dwellers of the Fire!’" (Surah al-Mulk 67:6-9) Indeed there is nothing in the theology of Islam that cannot be understood by sound reasoning. In fact it is possible for anyone, anywhere to reach an understanding of the essence of Islam without ever having heard of Muhammad or the Qur’an. This is because the Creator’s existence can be readily understood by anyone observing the patterns and intricate mechanisms of the world and universe around us, and that ultimate power and control rests with this Being, and thus is alone truly worthy of worship, and that to worship this Creator one can only rely on Divine guidance. To attempt to do this is “Islam”, which means “sincerity and submission to Allah”. This very universality and simplicity is one of the strong arguments in favour of Islam’s Divine origin. For the Muslim, faith is not a blind leap in the dark against proof and reason, but rather a step taken as a consequence of contemplation, experience, instinct and evidence. Ultimately it does mean a complete acceptance of a single truth, but this is no more blind than the faith of a scientist in a particular theory, or a doctor in form of treatment that has proven itself valid clinically and operationally. It might be compared to the situation in a court, with a jury. Ideally what is supposed to happen is that the jury is presented with a series of evidences concerning a case. When the weight of evidence is so conclusive the jury makes its decision. It is not sufficient for it to say: "Well, we found the evidence really convincing!" In the end it must make a decision, "Guilty!" or "Not guilty!", based on the facts. Similarly in Islam, the Creator presents the human being with a series of conclusive evidences, upon the basis of which the human should declare their faith, and act accordingly.