“Despite the text’s extraordinary significance, the origins of the Koran are obscure in the extreme. Much like earlier compilations edited by Ibn Warraq, Which Koran? brings together a wealth of important European scholarship, much of which is translated into English for the first time. It will be of great interest not only to specialists in early Arabic and Koranic studies but also to students of early Islam and those interested in scripture more generally.”
—CHASE ROBINSON, formerly professor of Islamic history at the University of Oxford, now Distinguished Professor of History and provost of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and author of Abd al-Malik, Islamic Historiography, and Empire and Elites after the Muslim Conquest
For many millions of Muslims there is one and only one true Koran that offers the word of Allah to the faithful. Few Muslims realize, however, that there are several Korans in circulation in the Islamic world, with textual variations whose significance, extent, and meaning have never been properly examined. Ibn Warraq, author of Virgins? What Virgins? and Why I Am Not a Muslim, has here assembled important scholarly articles that address the history, linguistics, and religious implications of these significant variants in Islam’s sacred book, which call into question the claim of its status as the divinely revealed and inerrant word of the Muslim god.
In a lengthy introduction, Warraq notes that historical and linguistic evidence suggests that there was considerable confusion regarding what should be included in the Koran in the early years of Muslim history. Although the caliph ’Uthman canonized a specific text some fifteen years after the death of Muhammad, variant readings of certain passages have persisted to the present. This can be seen in discrepancies between the two main printed versions of the Koran available today (the Warsh transmission found in West and Northwest Africa and the Hafs transmission, stemming from Kufa—an important center of Koranic scholarship located in Iraq—and widely available through the standard Egyptian edition of 1924). In addition, the Hadith, a revered collection of Muslim secondary literature on the life of Muhammad, discusses missing Koranic verses and even Muhammad’s sometimes-faulty memory. Such evidence strongly indicates that the Koran cannot be considered an inerrant revelation.
This work also includes valuable charts that list the many textual variants found in Korans available in the Islamic world, along with remarks on their significance.
According to Maududi (Mawdudi, 1903–1979), the very influential Indo-Pakistani Islamist, “The Qur’ån . . . exists exactly as it had been revealed to the Prophet; not a word—nay, not a dot of it—has been changed.” He then challenged anyone to buy Korans in different parts of the Islamic world and compare them. If any person found a single dot that was different between them, then he or she should inform the whole world of this great discovery. Ibn Warraq has taken up that challenge and has definitively refuted Maududi’s absurd claim by revealing variants in Korans bought in Cairo, Casablanca, Tehran, Tunis, and Istanbul; he has shown that the Koran, like all holy texts, has a long history and is far from being inerrant.
Pages: 631 pages
Shipping Weight: 2lbs
Ibn Warraq is the highly acclaimed author of Why I Am Not a Muslim, Virgins? What Virgins?, and Defending the West. He is also the editor of The Origins of the Koran, What the Koran Really Says, Leaving Islam, The Quest for the Historical Muhammad, and Which Koran?.