What do you call a book that’s missing hundreds of verses? Perfectly preserved. At least that’s the answer I get from my Muslim friends. Yesterday we read a passage where Ibn Umar, one of Muhammad’s companions, admitted that much of the Quran has been lost. Ibn Umar declared to Muslims
Let none of you say “I have learned the whole of the Quran”. For how does he know what the whole of it is when much of it has disappeared? Let him rather say “I have learned what is extant thereof.” (i.e. I’ve only learned what has survived.)
Abu Ubaid then goes on to give a bunch of examples of missing verses, missing passages and missing chapters. Let’s read what the first generation of Muslims said about the perfect preservation of Surah 33 of the Quran.
Ibn Abi Maryam related to us from Ibn Luhai’a from Abu’l-Aswad from Urwa b. az-Zubair from Aisha who said, “Surat al-Ahzab (33) used to be recited in the time of the Prophet with 200 verses but when Uthman wrote out the codices, he was unable to procure more of it than there is in it today.
So according to Muhammad’s wife Aisha, the mother of the faithful, Surah 33 used to be recited with 200 verses but when the caliph Uthman decided to distribute some written copies of the Quran, Muslims could only find what’s in the chapter today. Surah 33 of the Quran we have today contains 73 verses. Now Surah 33 originally contained 200 verses but in today’s Quran, it only contains 73 verses. How many verses are missing from Surah 33 according to Aisha? 127. 127 verses are missing from Surah 33 of the perfect and miraculously preserved Quran. But it gets worse. Because Aisha was apparently rounding down when she said that Sarah 33 used to contain two hundred verses.
Ismail b. Ibrahim and Ismaib b. Jafar related to us from Al Mubarak b. Fadala from Asim b Abin-Nujud from Zirr b Hubaish who said – Ubai b Kab said to me, “O Zirr, how many verses did you count (or how many verses did you read) in Surat al-Ahzab? “72 or 73” I answered. Said he “Yet it used to be equal to Surah al-baqarah (Surah 2) and we used to read in it the verse of stoning.” Said I “And what is the verse of stoning?” He said “If a grown man and woman commits adultery, stone them without hesitation as a warning from Allah for Allah is mighty, wise.”
According to Ubai b Kab, Surah 33 used to be as long as Surah 2 but who was Ubai b Kab that we should listen to him? He is master of the Quran and Ubai b Kab said that Surah 33 used to be as long as Surah 2. Surah 2 of the Quran has 286 verses long. Now Surah 33 used to contain somewhere around 286 verses but now it contains only 73 verses. We can say that according to Ubai b Kab, called The Master, more than 200 verses were lost from a single chapter of the Quran. How will our Muslim friends respond? “Oh well those 200 plus verses were all abrogated.” Have you noticed that the Quran has all of the features of a book that’s been changed and corrupted but Muslims make up reasons for all of the changes and corruptions and then say that it’s been perfectly preserved? The Quran we have today is missing entire chapters and hundreds of verses? Why is that? Oh, because the missing chapters and verses were abrogated. What if the Quran we have today contains things that were missing in earlier Quran? For instance, Muhammad’s companion Ibn Masood only had 111 chapters in his Quran. He said 3 chapters that are in today’s Quran aren’t supposed to be in there. So what happens when things get added? Oh whoever left out something that’s in today’s Quran simply made a mistake. Ibn Masood was wrong. What if we put two of today’s Quran side by side and we see that there are different Arabic words with different Arabic meanings? Oh that’s because the Quran was revealed in a bunch of different ways but these different readings complement one another. All of the different versions are from Allah. Notice what Muslims are saying? They’re saying that the Quran has all of the features of a book that’s been changed and corrupted and yet it’s been miraculously preserved by the great God Allah. But this raises an obvious question. If the preservation of the Quran is a miracle and yet the Quran has all of the features of a book that’s been changed and corrupted, how are we supposed to identify the miracle? What’s the miracle here?