We are told that the Qur’an is the holy book of Islam and that it is their scriptures. In fact, the Qur’an is only a part of what they consider to be scripture. There is another part of what they consider scripture that most of us in the West have never heard of. It is called the Sunnah. The Sunnah has two parts, the first are the Hadith, which are the traditions and saying of the Prophet, Muhammad. The second is the biography of Muhammad, known as the Sirah. There have been a number of biographies written, but the most accepted is by Ibn Ishaq.
The easiest way to understand this is that the Qur’an is the revelation, word for word, from Allah, and the Sunnah are the acts and teachings of Muhammad. You must understand that both of these are used to form the doctrines of Islam. There is more to Islam than just the Qur’an.
The Qur’an Is A Sinking Ship
A study of how the Qur’an came into existence and it authenticity leads to all kinds of problems.
People have been trying to destroy the Bible. They say it is a book of fiction and that it is not reliable. It has been examined by many critics, and the Bible has survived every test designed to discredit it. The attempts to prove the Bible wrong always make the Bible stronger. There are some things that people think are contradictions, but if you study the whole Bible and keep things in context, you will find that what may at first appear to be a contradiction, is not.
When we put the Qur’an to the same tests we find that it is quite different. Let me make some comparisons between the Bible and the Qur’an.
The Bible The Qur’an
Written over 1,500 to 2,000 years Written over a period of about 20 years
Forty different men were used to write it down Received by one man, Muhammad
There is perfect harmony between all parts Has many contradictions and errors
It is like comparing an orchestra with many instruments playing in harmony and a one stringed banjo. There is no comparison.
We need to understand that the Qur’an wasn’t written by Muhammad and he never ordered for it to be written. It was to be recited. Muhammad could not read or write. He was called the “unlettered” prophet. He married a rich widow, which allowed him to hire a scribe. Even Muhammad’s scribe didn’t write down the Qur’an.
After the death of Muhammad there were some arguments over whether the Qur’an should be written down. The first Caliph resisted efforts to write it down. The second Caliph, Umar, also resisted attempts to write down the Qur’an. Under the third Caliph, Uthman, there was a war and they lost 40 of their reciters. It was feared that they might loose the Qur’an so he commanded that it be written down.
They brought in a team of 5 people to decide which recitings were correct. There were 7 oral versions that had developed. In the end, the Uthman Qur’an became the official Qur’an. Four copies were made and sent to the 4 regions of the Islamic empire.
There are, supposedly, two of these copies in existence today. Because of the script used in these copies it is clear that these were written at least 150 after Uthman’s time. In Uthman’s time the Arabic alphabet was still being formed. If these copies dated to the time of Uthman, they would have been written in the Nabatian script. Both of them are written in the Kuffic script, which has vowels. Like early Hebrew, the Nabatian script did not have vowels.