Have any deviant Qur’anic texts existed?


Christianity in the West held it’s breath when in 1972 a manuscript of Qur’an al Kerim was found in Yemen, Sana’a’s main mosque. German scholars Gerhard Puin and H.C. Graf von Bothmer, working for Saarland University, Universität des Saarlandes, were assigned to cleanse and conserve the paper. Would at last a deviant copy of Islam’s Holy Book have been found, the book that is forbidden to question according to orthodoxy, so many Westerners say?

For decades both men did their job as low key as possible with the aid of several other experts and only in 1999 Gerhard Puin first displayed some openness on the contends of the texts found via magazine The Atlantic.com. However, Mr Puin doesn’t go beyond minor textual variations, different spelling and text categorization: ‘some of these fragments revealed small but intriguing aberrations from the standard Koranic text. Such aberrations, though not surprising to textual historians, are troublingly at odds with the orthodox Muslim belief that the Koran as it has reached us today is quite simply the perfect, timeless, and unchanging Word of God’. No differences, however, that would keep a Muslim awake at night; The Atlantic.com has presented the differences more important than they truly are, which Gerhard Puin admitted too. Unesco apparently sells a cd of this Yemenite manuscript.

By the way, Yemeni history has known a ‘false prophet’ in the era when Islam reach Yemen, a certain Al Aswad al ‘Anzi. He claimed to have received a revelation, but he was discarded by Yemenite Muslims. As far as we know no truly deviant qur’anic texts have been found and it seems unlikely that this will happen. Nevertheless, one must keep an open mind to anything at all.

What is the Koran? the Atlantic.com

Yemen The Sana’a Manuscripts, Unesco.org


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Filed under Established heritage of Islam

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