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Burning the Qur'an: Burn the Qur'an day, the original

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Submitted by Lactantius Jr (United Kingdom), Apr 14, 2011 at 14:06

Dhimmi no more mentioned the burning of Qur'anic manuscripts by the Caliph Uthman, and I think it well worthwhile commenting at some length on that original "burn the 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 Surah 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 Allah, 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)

John Gilchrist's JAM' AL-QUR'AN contains much information about Uthman's order to burn all the Qur'ans except the Qur'an he had instructed Zaid ibn Thabit to compile. See pages 42 – 51, 58, 62 – 67 It is online at http://tinyurl.com/68u6c2z

Ironically, 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 causing 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!!

Present day Muslims who have responded with much violence and killing to the recent burning of a Qur'an in America, 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?

Burning the Qur'an is a bad idea, period, the counter is not burning it, but to replace it with something infinitely better, and I suggest that followers of the Lord Jesus Christ buy a Qur'an and read it rather than burning it, or to read it online at http:www.quranbrowser.com where it is available in 10 English translations, and reading it rather than burning it will enable Jesus' followers to compare/contrast the utter emptiness of the Qur'an's "message" with the glorious gospel of grace, and to be very much better equipped to "contend for the faith once for all time entrusted to the saints." Jude 3

To any Muslims who may be reading this 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.

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

With kind regards and best wishes

Lactantius Jr.


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