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"Burn a Qur'an day, the original"

Reader comment on item: "You can't fight Islamism with ideas coming out of Europe"
in response to reader comment: Contra Islam

Submitted by Lactantius Jr (United Kingdom), Dec 7, 2010 at 18:41

William East correctly points out that for a successful peaceful reformation of Islamic practice, an editing of the Qur'an is necessary, recognising that the huge redactions necessary "will not happen in a dozen lifetimes," to which I aver, it will not happen period. Can Islam change its "unchangeable Qur'an? Can a leopard change its spots?

A notable Muslim Qur'anic teacher in Sudan who wanted to "modernise" Islam, was Al-Ustaz ("revered teacher") Mahmud Muhammad Taha, who wanted 20th.century Islam to be the "nice, peaceful, peace-loving, tolerant Meccan Islam," rather than the "harsh, violent, warlike, warmongering, flogging and stoning Medinian Islam," and see what happened to him.

In 1985, Sudanese President Ja'far Mohammed al-Nimeri, misused both the Sudanese legal system and Islamic Shariah ("the law of Allah"), to have Muhammad Taha sentenced to death for apostasy, for which he was executed by public hanging on 18th.January 1985, despite the Sudanese penal code of 1983 having no mention of such a "crime."

Around 3,000 people gathered to "enjoy" seeing his execution, many chanting that Taha's execution "was a victory for Islam."

For a report of what happened to Muhammad Taha, see,


William East also writes about the first burning of copies of the Qur'an being "to correct the clear contradictions and omissions in the originals," prompting me to present what the Sahi Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim say about their burning, the original "burn a Qur'an day".

About 19 years after the death of Muhammad in 632 AD, disputes arose between Muslim troops from Syria and Iraq about the correct reading of the Qur'an. The leader of the Muslim community at that time was Uthman Ibn Affan, the third of the so-called "rightly-guided caliphs," and who supposedly standardised the Qur'an during his reign. Here is how Bukhari describes it,

Narrated Anas bin Malik:

Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman came to Uthman at the time when the people of Sham and the people of Iraq were Waging war to conquer Arminya and Adharbijan. Hudhaifa was afraid of their (the people of Sham and Iraq) differences in the recitation of the Qur'an, so he said to 'Uthman, "O chief of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Book (Quran) .................." So 'Uthman sent a message to Hafsa saying, "Send us the manuscripts of the Qur'an so that we may compile the Qur'anic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you." Hafsa sent it to 'Uthman. 'Uthman then ordered Zaid bin Thabit, 'Abdullah bin AzZubair, Said bin Al-As and 'AbdurRahman bin Harith bin Hisham to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies. 'Uthman said to the three Quraishi men, "In case you disagree with Zaid bin Thabit on any point in the Qur'an, then write it in the dialect of Quraish, the Qur'an was revealed in their tongue." They did so, and when they had written many copies, 'Uthman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsa. 'Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur'anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt. ..."

Sahi Bukhari: vol. 6, hadith 510, pp. 478-479; book 61

Uthman's action was drastic to say the least, and here is what happened in response to his decree.

After the compilation of 'Uthman, all the Qurra' ("readers of the Qur'an") were asked to read only according to the 'Uthmanic masahif. ("manuscript") For this reason the personal codices were collected and destroyed. Eventually, the 'Uthmanic masahif dominated all the cities (amsar), but with some "slight resistance," (sic) for instance, as in the case of Ibn Mas'ud and Ibn Shunbudh. (Ahmad 'Ali al Imam, Variant Readings of the Qur'an, Virginia: IIIT, 1998, p. 120)

Uthman's decree caused much opposition to him, the complaint being made by those opposing his decree, who didn't refer to the destruction of the masahif (manuscripts), but to emphasise their profound opposition, they referred to his order to destroy the kitabullah, the "scripture of Allah," and it is extremely informative to detail the reaction of Abdullah Ibn Masud to Uthman's decree to consign hand-written codices of kitabullah to the flames.

Ibn Masud was one of the most prominent of Muhammad's companions, one of his earliest disciples, someone who was "the first man to speak the Qur'an loudly in Mecca after the apostle." (Ibn Ishaq Sirat Rasulullah p.141) and there is much evidence showing that Muhammad regarded Ibn Masud as one of the, if not the foremost authority on the Qur'an, as is evident in these quotations from the hadith of Bukhari and Mulim, these being the most authoritative.

Narrated Masruq: Abdullah bin Masud before Abdullah bin Amr who said, "That is a man I still love, as I heard the Prophet (saw) saying, 'Learn the recitation of the Qur'an from four: from Abdullah bin Masud – he started with him – Salim – the freed slave of Abu Hudhaifa, Mu'adh bin Jabal and Ubai bin Ka'b'"

Sahi Al-Bukhari Vol.5. p.96

... I heard the Prophet saying, "Take (learn) the Qur'an from four (men): 'Abdullah bin Masud, Salim, Mu'adh and Ubai bin Ka'b."

Sahi Al-Bukhari: vol. 6, hadith 521, pp. 487-488; book 61

This is also documented by Muslim, the other great collector of Hadith, who also specifically mentions that Muhammad "started from him" Sahi Muslim Vol.4. p.1312 indicating that by Muhammad mentioning Abdullah Ibn Masud first, he regarded him as the foremost authority on the Qur'an, and further evidence of Ibn Masud's prominence concerning his pre-eminent standing in Qur'anic knowledge is recorded by Bukhari,

Narrated Abdullah (bin Masud) (ra): By Allah other than Whom none has the right to be worshiped! There is no Sura revealed in Allah's Book but I know at what place it was revealed; and there is no verse revealed in Allah's book but I know about whom it was revealed. And if I know that there is somebody who knows Allah's book better than I, and he is at a place that camels can reach, I would go to him.

Sahi Al-Bukhari: vol 6. p.488

In his hadith collection, Muslim records that Ibn Masud had recited more than 70 Qur'anic surah in Muhammad's presence, alleging that all of Muhammad's companions realised that nobody knew the Qur'an better than he did, to which Shaqiq who was sitting there, added, "I sat in the company of the companions of Muhammad (may peace be upon him) but I did not hear anyone having rejected that (that is, his recitation) or finding fault with it."

Sahi Muslim Vol.4.p.1312.

Quite obviously, Abdullah Ibn Masud had an exceptional knowledge of the Qur'an, and the fact that he was singled out by Muhammad, as being the first person to whom anyone wishing to learn the Qur'an should go, indicates his pre-eminence in Qur'anic knowledge. Abdullah Ibn Masud's reaction to Uthman's decree to hand over his codex to be burned is extremely telling. He was angry and refused to hand his codex over, and here is what happened to him for his refusal. He was publically whipped and died from his injuries soon afterwards!!

Ibn Mas'ud refused to deliver his copy to the committee whose president, although one of the readers of the word of God, had earned much less trust and authority than he. This refusal incited such a level of indignation from the Khalif that he publicly whipped the "old saint". One notes that the old companion of the prophet had two ribs broken from the violence of the strikes and that he died after three days. This cruelty, that drew upon Othman the hatred of his contemporaries, is today regarded by the "schutes" as an atrocious crime. (T. J. Newbold, Journal Asiatique, December 1843, p. 385)

The Muslims closest to Muhammad were arguably the greatest and best Muslims of all time, they were foundational to Islam, if anybody knew Muhammad and his commands - it was them. How did they live and die? Of the first 4 leaders of the Muslim community following Muhammad ("the rightly-guided caliphs"), Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali, three of them, Umar, Uthman and Ali were assassinated by fellow Muslims.

Umar was stabbed to death by a slave who claimed Umar had cheated him, Uthman was stabbed to death by fellow Muslims whilst reading the Qur'an! and what an irony this was!! Having had Abdullah Ibn Masud flogged so violently it broke two of the old mans ribs, and caused his death just 3 days later, and remember, Ibn Masud the foremost authority on the Qur'an, was unwilling to obey Uthman's edict to hand over his Qur'an for burning, allowing Zaid Ibn Thabit's codex to be imposed as the sole Qur'anic codex, the one no doubt that Uthman was reading, when he was stabbed to death!! Ali was killed by fellow Muslims with the sword as he left the mosque

Present day Muslims who predictably responded with threats of violence to the recent "Burn a Qur'an day," need to ponder and consider Uthman's decree to burn hand-written Qur'anic codices written out by the most prominent of Muhammad's closest companions. What value would be placed on these codices if they existed today, and what violence and death would occur, should someone film a recreation of what Uthman commanded?

The recent "Burn a Qur'an day" was a bad idea, period, the counter to "bad ideas" is not to burn them, but to replace them with something better, and I suggest that followers of the Lord Jesus Christ read the Qur'an rather than burning it, it is online at www.quranbrowser.com in 10 English translations, and reading it rather than burning it, will enable Jesus' followers to compare/contrast the utter emptiness of its "message" with the glorious gospel of grace presented in the Bible.

A very useful online Bible site is www.biblegateway.com which has 24 English translations, many foreign language translations, and keyword and passage searches, together with a very useful topical index.

I warmly commend the Bible to you, suggesting that before reading, you pray to the God Who inspired its words, that as you read its printed words, you will encounter the living, loving Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

With kind regards and best wishes

Lactantius Jr.


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