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M Tovey: The canonization of the Qur'an

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Submitted by dhimmi no more (United States), Sep 12, 2020 at 07:02

You wrote:

> So does the recent agreement with the UAE comport with the Ancients understanding, or otherwise?

Good question. The Qur'an is supposed to be the words of Allah and it is "uncreated" and therefore good for all times, today or 1400 years ago.

The real problem of the Qur'an is that al-mufasereen do not fully understand what the authors (I'm using plural here) of the Qur'an are really saying. Why? Because the Qur'an is a literary disaster. It is full of mistakes in grammar, syntax, spelling of perfect Arabic words, strange words that have no clear meaning, many foreign words, mistakes in history, science etc..

There are two issues to consider:

1. Historians would want eye witnesses or a Mufasir (singular of al-Mufasereen) that wrote an extant book about what the Qur'an is really saying.

We have two choices here: Ibn 'Abbas' exegesis of the Qur'an and he was the cousin of Muhammad and Muhammad called him حبر الامة Hibr al-Umma where the word Hibr means: The Rabbi/Teacher of the nation (The Muslim nation). However, the real problem with Tafsir Ibn 'Abbas is that it is not extant. What we have is an "ascription" dated to 11th century AD which is very late and most likely the tafsir would reflect the Islam of the 11th century and not the Islam of the 7th century.

Enter Tafsir al-Tabari. It is the earliest extant tafsir of the Qur'an and it is dated to the late second and early 3rd century of Islam. And this is the tafsir that I usually quote.

2. When was the Qur'an canonized? Well, why is canonization of a "holy" text so important? Because the Islamic community will grant the text the authority it deserves if Muslims understand and agree about what the text is really saying. The Islamic literary tradition tells us that the Qur'an was canonized at the time of al-Khalifa Othman. However, this is far from the truth and the stories provided by the Islamic tradition are full of holes.

In-order to have a text canonized, this text should go through a "Masoretic exegesis" and in the case of the Qur'an it was al-Tabari the one to be credited for this activity. His tafsir is very much masoretic. He is for sure Allah's Editor in-Chief. This is what Wansbrough believes that the Qur'an was indeed canonized in the late second and early third century

However, in the early 1900 the teachers at al-Azhar university in Cairo Egypt noticed that their students were using different reading of the Qur'an. And this is why the university decided to have only one reading of the Qur'an and this was the one chosen and it is the reading called حفص عن عاصم or Hafs from 'Asem and this is what became the 1924 Cairo Qur'an and later on the Saudis accepted it as the only canonized copy of the Qur'an. This really means that the Qur'an has been canonized less than 100 years ago.

More? There is another reading of the Qur'an that is mostly used in Tunisia, Algiers and Morocco and it is the reading ورش عن نافع or Warsh from Nafi' and it is the Tunisian 1979 Qur'an which has many differences from the Hafs Qur'an so we seem to have 2 versions of the canonized Qur'an

So what does this have to do with your question? It really means that in-order to understand what the Qur'an is really saying we have to rely on what al-Tabari or even Ibn 'Abbas and discard the rest

This means that in-order to understand a Hudna and a 'Ahd one have to read Surat Muhammad, verse 35 and its tafsir and one more time: The words of Allah are good for all times and places

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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