Protection of The Qur'an
How is the
Qur'an protected from alteration?
As we previously mentioned, the Qur'an is the Word of God Who has preserved it from any manipulation or alternation.
God Almighty said:
“Verily We: It is We Who have sent down the Reminder (i.e. the Qur’an) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption)” [Qur'an 15:9]
“The revelation of the Book (this Qur'an) is from Allaah, the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.”[Qur'an 46:2]
“Verily, those who disbelieved in the Reminder (i.e. the Qur’an) when it came to them (shall receive the punishment). And verily, it is an honourable well-fortified respected Book (because it is Allaah's Speech, and He has protected it from corruption). (Falsehood cannot come to it from before it or behind it (it is) sent down by the All-Wise, Worthy of all praise.”[Qur'an 41:41-42]
Many verses in the Qur'an emphasize the matter of the protection of the Qur'an, either by direct references, such the above verses, or indirect.
The Qur'an was written down immediately after its episodic revelation, anytime and anywhere the verses were revealed. For instance, when the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) migrated from Mecca to Medina, he was accompanied with his best friend, Abu Bakr Sidiq (who later became the Calif (successor) of the Islamic state after the death of the prophet (peace be upon him). Abu Bakr was carrying with him his pens, ink and pieces of leather (used as paper to write on), so that when the revelation came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) Abu Bakr transcribed the verse. This process was followed during 23 years of the Prophet's mission. Furthermore, God Almighty empowered the Prophet (peace be upon him) to easily memorize the Qur'an.
God Almighty said:
“Move not your tongue concerning (the Qur’an, O Muhammad, peace be upon him) to make haste therewith. It is for Us to collect it and to give you (O Muhammad, peace be upon him) the ability to recite it (the Qur’an), And when We have recited it to you [O Muhammad, peace be upon him] through Gabriel, then follow you its (the Qur’an) recital. Then it is for Us (Allaah) to make it clear (to you).”[Qur'an 75:16-19]
Also God Almighty made the Qur'an easy to memorize, remember and understand for anyone who will take His message seriously.
God Almighty said:
“And We have indeed made the Qur’an easy to understand and remember, then is there anyone who will remember (or receive admonition)?”[Qur'an 54:17]
Thousands of people throughout all times of Islamic history, memorized the whole Qur'an with different dialectal styles of recitation by following one consistent strict process. The students who intend to memorize the Qur'an must attend special circles with a certified teacher who has undergone the same process. The process implies that the students must attend daily circles with their writing means (pens & leather or paper) to listen to the teacher, then write and read verses to the teacher to make sure the student masters the recitation in properly with no single mistake.
This standardization indicates how the Qur'an was entrusted to memory under rigorous scholastic traditions, and it would be impossible to alter, manipulate, change or replace a single letter. Imagine the pervasive use of this process in all parts of the world where Islam flourishes.
Therefore, the Qur'an was protected in two ways by human effort; one was letter by letter transcription of verses in the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him), the second is memorization of the complete Qur’an as a scholastic tradition inherited generation after generation.
Contemporary scholarship in the Arabic language supports and confirms the integrity of the Qur’an. The Arabic language is still viably used in diverse parts of the world. Mecca, where the Prophet's mission started, is still a center of education for both Arabic and Islamic teachings. Medina, the city where the Prophet had migrated also serves as a hub for Arabic and Islamic teaching. Hundreds of other cities around the world provide pure teachings of Islam based on the Qur'an and the traditions (sayings and actions) of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet's traditions have also undergone a very tough process of scrutiny to eliminate all narrations which have no evidence based relation to him. There are very clear distinctions between the Qur'an and the sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and there is no confusion whatsoever for Muslims to distinguish between the Qur'an and Prophet's traditions. The Prophet's traditions can also be easily distinguished from the traditions of his companions or others from that era.
This evidence based method of verifying prophetic narrations is known to the Islamic scholars as ‘transmission through chain of narrators’. This chain of transmission carries knowledge of the Qur'an & the Prophet's traditions from the first generation to the later generations, assuring no flaw in the text or interpretation of the meaning of the text. The evidence based method of transmission of meaning down through the generations clearly prevents any erroneous or false interpretation.
This is how Almighty God preserved His message to people, so they will never have an excuse to object that His message was altered, changed or lost.
Since the original message of God Almighty received in the form of the Qur'an and Prophet's traditions remain intact, there is no justification to the meaning based on previous scriptures which are not verifiable primary sources. Scholarly evaluation of previous scriptures reveal fundamental inconsistencies with secular and sacred historical accounts.
Many Judaeo/Christian scholars reached the conclusion that early teachings of the Old Testament Prophets (peace be upon them all) had been altered and changed and new teachings, doctrines, beliefs and actions invented after the original message somehow disappeared.
Let's consider an example to support the above statements.
Early Christians differed about the mortality of Jesus, claiming competing doctrines that contested whether he had a divine nature or not. The Roman Emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea (AD 325) to settle this issue and unite the Christian world on one doctrine. The council was hosted by the Emperor himself who attended the sessions and debates between both parties. One side of the debate were those who believed in Jesus Christ as part of a trinity begotten of the ‘Father’, in a literal meaning, an incarnate Divinity and a co-existing resurrected spirit. On the other side of the debate were believers who rejected this Hellenistic influenced interpretation.
Arius, who was a main opponent to the Trinitarian creed held a different belief of Jesus Christ. Arius believed that Jesus never pre-existed his material birth; he was begotten like other human beings; and he was a mortal creation, different from God (the creator of the heavens and earth and that all exist, seen or unseen).
During the heated discussion a vote had been conducted to see who was in favour each position. The majority of the council voted to support the creed that would consolidate the pagan polytheistic beliefs which Romans practised. The non-Trinitarians were exiled, persecuted and called heretic as they believed differently. The foundations of Trinitarian creed had been built on popular vote, rather than consensus of opinion based on scholastic evidence.
If the council of Nicaea had used the Islamic approach of authentication of evidence, the Trinitarian creed would never have withstood the same process of criticism and scrutiny which was later applied against the Prophet Muhammad’s traditions. The council of Nicaea presented no sound reports or chains of narration to support the early writings, included both Old Testament and New Testament. In Islamic scholarship, any statements about God Almighty and the unseen mystical claims must be factual evidences taken directly from God Almighty and His messengers. Such articles of faith, cohesive in a creed supported by evidence can only be found in the last message that is still intact with no change cause to doubt. That evidence is The Qur’an. God Almighty said:
“This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah.”[Qur'an 2:2]
In terms of the creedal disagreements between Christians which arose from a failure to protect original scriptural evidence, God Almighty said:
“And from those who call themselves Christians, We took their covenant, but they have abandoned a good part of the Message that was sent to them. So We planted amongst them enmity and hatred till the Day of Resurrection (when they discarded Allaah's Book, disobeyed Allaah's Messengers and His Orders and transgressed beyond bounds in Allaah's disobedience), and Allaah will inform them of what they used to do. O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Now has come to you Our Messenger (Muhammad, peace be upon him) explaining to you much of that which you used to hide from the Scripture and pass over (i.e. leaving out without explaining) much. Indeed, there has come to you from Allaah a light (Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) and a plain Book (this Qur’an). Wherewith Allaah guides all those who seek His Good Pleasure to ways of peace, and He brings them out of darkness by His Will unto light and guides them to a Straight Way (Islamic Monotheism)”[Qur'an 5:14-16]
“Say (O Muhammad, peace be upon him): "O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Exceed not the limits in your religion (by believing in something) other than the truth, and do not follow the vain desires of people who went astray before, and who misled many, and strayed (themselves) from the Right Path."”[Qur'an 5:77]