The Causes of Doubt
There is no doubt that the irresistible fascinating force and challenging power of the Holy Qur'an were the main means of conversion ever since the start of the Holy Prophet's mission. Opponents did everything they could to prevent the Holy Prophet and his disciples from reciting the Qur'an to the public, and to obstruct people, the young in particular, from listening to it. There is abundant historical evidence for this. Opponents also tried to overcome the force and effect of the recital of the Holy Qur'an by trying to disturb its recital by interjections:
And those who disbelieve say: "Listen ye not to this Qur'an and make noise therein." (41:26) One of the consequences of this is the story that, when the Holy Prophet while reciting Sura 53 (Wan-Najm - The Star) reached verse 20, one of the infidels among the audience uttered this passage of his own in continuation of the verse,
thus adulterating the lines and disturbing the sequence of the succeeding verses. Whereupon the infidels prostrated themselves as a sign of their approval and satisfaction. This shows that they had a pre- arranged plan to disturb the recital of the Qur'an by the Holy Prophet, which is condemned by the Qur'an as a satanic ploy need against all preceding prophets when they used to deliver God's message:
And We sent not before thee any apostle or prophet but when he recited (Our message), reading of the devil made his (interrupting) desire in (between) the recital; but God annulleth that which the devil casteth; then God doth establish His signs and God is All-Knowing, All- Wise. (22:52)
So that He may make what the devil casteth a trial for those in whose hearts is disease and those whose hearts are hard, and verily the unjust are in a great opposition. (22:53)
And that those who have been given the knowledge may know that it is the truth from thy Lord, so they may believe in it and their hearts may be lowly before it; and verily God is the Guide, of those who believe, towards the right path. (22:54)
It is surprising that some critics and some ignorant commentators of the Holy Qur'an attribute the satanic addition to the Holy Prophet himself, but the internal evidence of Sura 53 itself (ie. the verses preceding and succeeding verse 20) make the utterance by the Holy Prophet himself impossible. The opponents, during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet and afterwards, did not hesitate to use every means to divert the attention of Muslims from the Qur'an and weaken its influence upon the minds of the people.
An unauthorised attempt was made by the immediate ruling Party to make their own collection of the Qur'an, separate from the collection already prepared under the supervision and instruction of the Holy Prophet by the scribes who were put in charge of recording the Qur'an in writing as it was revealed, together with a commentary by the Holy Prophet.
The First Caliph, on the advice of the Second, entrusted Zaid ibne Sabit with the task, a youth of no experience or standing when compared with the official scribes appointed by the Holy Prophet, namely Abdullah ibne Mas'ood and Obai ibne Kaab, besides Ali ibne Taleb who was foremost in the knowledge of every letter and of the significance and implications of the Holy Qur'an The incompetency of Zaid ibne Sabit concerning the Qur'an is evident from the remarks of Obai ibne Kaab when a dispute arose between the two about the recital of a certain passage of the Qur'an:
Thou teacheth me Qur'an? while I was reading the Qur'an with the Holy Prophet while thou wert yet a child playing in the streets. A similar remark was passed by the same Obai ibne Kaab against the Second Caliph in a dispute about another point. Obai told the Second Caliph:
I used to read Qur'an with the Holy Prophet while you were yet busy in your transactions in the Bazaar.
Neither Zaid nor Omar dared to refute the claim of Obai. Zaid ibne Sabit had to refer to the ordinary people who possessed some scattered portions of the Qur'an, either in writing or in memory, rather than the acknowledged authorities mentioned above. Unfortunately, neither the First nor the Second Caliph was an authority on the Qur'an and there are authentic evidences of their ignorance of it in matters of State adminstration Not only did Zaid lack academic qualifications to compile the Qur'an, but the dispute between himself and the Second Caliph during his reign are proof of the lack of regard both had for the revelation In this dispute, the Second Caliph wanted something from Zaid, who declined to comply The Second Caliph said:
Look! It is my command and not the revelation with which you could play.
This shows that playing with the revelation meant nothing to either of them as long as their desires were served. However, as history shows, they attempted the collection of the Qur'an in this manner and something was collected; but it was not published and remained under the bees of Ayesha or Hafsa. The Muslims had no access to it, and it is also said that a goat devoured a portion of the collection. This anecdote is further testimony to the lack of regard for their collection.
The reign of the first two Caliphs passed away and the collection remained where it has been left years ago. But the Qur'an was being written, taught, learnt, memorised, recited, discussed and applied in the daily lives of Muslims throughout the fast- expanding Muslim Empire.
The Second Caliph is said to have claimed that even the ladies had a greater knowledge of the Qur'an than had those at the helm of the administration. No one complained of lack of access to the collection by Zaid, and no one asked the State to publish it The teachers of the Qur'an continued to perform their duties directly and through their disciples throughout the Muslim world quite independently of the collection in the possession of the State.
The first half of the reign of the Third Caliph had also passed when a variation in the recital of the Qur'an was noticed among Muslim soldiers who were fighting the infidels on the remote borders of the Empire. This worried Hozaifa-Yamani, one of the most trusted confidants and a prominent disciple of the Holy Prophet. He advised the Third Caliph as a precaution to unify Muslims and prevent diversity in recitals. The Third Caliph again entrusted the work to Zaid.
Zaid did what Hozaifa had suggested and it was adopted as the official version to which the Third Caliph gave his assent. Several copies of that official version were made and despatched to various parts of the Empire so that people could revise their versions accordingly. There was no complaint of any omissions, additions or alterations to the Caliph or his party. Even the opponent parry who were making charge after charge against the Caliph about deviation from the right path made no complaint The Third Caliph was blamed for ordering that other variations from the official version be burnt or destroyed.
But no one charged him with adulteration of the text of the Qur'an. However, in spite of the utmost care taken by the ruling party over the publication of the official version and the destruction of other versions, they did not succeed; all the other current recitations have come down to us in the form of the seven or ten recitations. The Omayyid rulers could not stop the publication of the other recitations.
The presence of the seven or the ten variations of the recitation, and the absence of any copy or record of a different version of the Holy Qur'an after the publication of the received version, is the best proof of the genuineness of the received version. However, unwarranted remarks attributed to members of the ruling party, before official assent was given to the received version, provided an opportunity for Muslims and others who could not otherwise disturb the miraculous force of the Qur'an, to spread rumours about the incompleteness and incorrect arrangement of the received version.
These rumours gained currency alongside other religious and political diversifies. And, in spite of the efforts of the Holy lmams of the House of the Holy Prophet, these rumours found their way into the books of traditions, first among the Sunni School and even Shia books of traditions were not untouched by them. As a result, some of the scholars of both schools who failed to make a proper examination of the external and internal evidence concerning the traditions accepted these rumours in the face of the indisputable genuineness of the Holy Qur'an.
Another reason for the rise of doubts was the traditions which assert that the collection of the Qur'an by Ali was in one form and those by Abdullah ibne Mas'ood and Obai ibne Kaab were in different forms. There are traditions about the collection of Ali: whether he refused to place his collection at the disposal of the ruling party and the public, or whether the ruling party refused to accept it when it was offered, and whether this happened in the reign of the First Caliph (as Majlisi maintains) or of the Second Caliph.
The collection remained with Ali and his successors in the office of Imamat out of the reach of the public, and no one has claimed to have seen it or copied it, except for a few traditionalists who maintained that the Sixth Holy Imam, Jafar ibne Muhammad, showed the collection to them and allowed them to glimpse it, and that in one small Sura they found the names of seventy Munafiqa. This is, however, contrary to Ali's declaration that no one must see the collection before the Last Imam appears. According t6 the tradition, the Sixth 'main gave the collection to the traditionalist and ordered him not to look at it, but he disobeyed him. The story seems absurd.
Why would the Imam entrust the collection to some one who would disobey him? In spite of all these contradictory traditions, there is no doubt that the collection in question was a fully detailed commentary on the Qur'an containing the revelations with their interpretations alongside. This was not the only miraculous text presented to mankind. The collections of Abdullah ibne Mas'ood and Obai ibne kaab and other acknowledged early students of the Qur'an surely had notes and interpretations for their own guidance, and may have had a different arrangement of the verses and chapters for commentary purposes (chronologically and subjectwise). These collections would be different from the current received version within the reach of people today.
The commentary nature of the collection of the close companions of the Holy Prophet is obvious from such traditions as the following: Abdullah ibne Mas'ood would recite with the verse of Muta (temporary marriage) the phrase ila ajalin (until a term) after 8 Famastamta tumbihi minhunna (when you commit Muta with them). It is obvious that this phrase was used by him as an explanatory note of guidance and of protest when the Muta was prohibited by the Second Caliph.
Then there is the account that ibne Abaas used to recite Fi Aliyin (about Ali) after Maonzila ilaik (that which has already been sent unto thee) in verse 5:67 as a reference to the significance of the revelation when the people were neglecting it Or, in the verse Innallahastafa Aadama wa Noohan, there is a tradition that .ibne Abbas added Aala Muhammad (the descendants of Muhammad) After Aala Imran,
or replaced Aala Imran by Aala Muhammad. if this tradition is true, Abdullah ibne Abbas might have said that Aala Muhammad was meant, but not in the words of the Qur'an; if the words of the Qur'an were Zorriyatun Ba-zahu min Ba'z, Ali could not be included in Aale Muhammad and if Zorriyatun Ba'zuhu is omitted, people other than the House of the Holy Prophet would be included in the Aal (descendants) in the same way as all the followers of Pharaoh are included in AaIe Firaun.
In short, the existence of the different collections of the Qur'an by different companions of the Holy Prophet, which were never published and which never gained currency among the Muslims (in part or in whole), can have value only as a commentary to the text. And this is why no student of the Holy Book ever raised objection to the received version, even though they voiced other complaints and grievances of religious importance against the ruling party, and did complain against the Third Caliph for committing an act of desecration by burning some copies of the Qur'an.
In summary, causes of doubts were:
1 The unwarranted, unauthorised and unnecessary attempt of the First Caliph and his party to make their own collections of the Qur'an
2 The unwarranted and irresponsible utterances of some members of the ruling party about the incompleteness their own collection 3 The Claimed existence of a special collection of the Qur'an by Ali, complete in all aspects and respects
4 The unsuccessful attempt of the Third Caliph to stop the other seven or ten recitations of the Qur'an except for the official version by burning and destroying some copies of the Qur'an with the other recitations
5 The system of dotting and the introduction of the vowel signs and the other pronunciation marks by Hajjaj bin Yousuf about the end of the first century A.H., the purpose of which was to guard the recitation of the Qur'an from mispronunciation by non-Arabs
6 The above gave opportunities to the enemies of Islam, external and internal, to criticise the authenticity of the Qur'an, to resist its miraculous force by adulterating the text by making insertions, and to make false claims about the omission and alteration of certain verses of the Qur'an.