THE READING OF IBN MAS’UD
Amongst the many proofs of the corruption of ‘Uthman’s Qur’an may be mentioned the facts connected with the edition of Ibn Mas’ud. In the 20th Chapter of the 24th portion of the Mishkatu'l Masabih a tradition of the prophet is recorded, in which he named ten of his most prominent and faithful followers, and assured his hearers that the salvation of these ten was assured. These ten names are famous in history as, ‘Asharah Mubashsharah,’ ‘the ten who received glad tidings.’ Of these ten Abdulla-ibn-Mas’ud was one. 19 In the Mishkat a tradition of Muhammad is recorded to this effect,
«عن عبد الله بن عمر أن رسول الله صلعم قال: استقرئوا القرآن من أربعة، من: عبد الله بن مسعود، سالم مولى أبي حذيفة، وأبي بن كعب، ومعاذ بن جبل».
“Abdullah-ibn-’Umar related that the prophet (upon whom be blessing and peace) said, Learn the Qur’an from these four, Abdulla-ibn-Mas’ud, Salim-mula-ibn-Hazifa, Ubi-ibn-Kab, and M’aj-ibn-Jabal’.” 20 From this tradition, which could be supplemented by others to the same effect, it is clear that Ibn Mas’ud was a faithful disciple of the prophet, and had carefully and perfectly learned the Qur’an from his master. There is a tradition in the collection of Muslim to the effect that Ibn-Mas’ud once said, “I swear by the name of the one God that there is no Surah in the book of God which I do not know, and concerning the revelation of which I am ignorant; nor is there a single verse which I do not know.” 21
In another tradition Ibn-Mas’ud is reported as saying, “The companions of the prophet well know that I know the Qur’an better than they all.” There is also a tradition recorded by ‘Umar to this effect,
«رسول الله صلعم قال: مَنْ أَحَبَّ أَنْ يَقْرَأَ الْقُرْآنَ غَضًّا كَمَا أُنْزِلَ، فَلْيَقْرَأْهُ عَلَى قِرَاءَةِ ابْنِ أُمِّ عَبْدٍ».
“The prophet of God (on whom be blessing and peace) said, ‘Let him who wishes to read the Qur’an as it was sent down, read according to the reading of the son of the mother of Abd (i.e., Abdullah-ibn-Mas’ud)’.”
From the cumulative evidence of these different traditions it is clear that the Qur’an reading of Ibn-Mas’ud was the correct one, and that, at that time at least, it was free from additions or corruptions. Yet the astounding fact confronts us that Ibn-Mas’ud was a bitter opponent of ‘Uthman’s recension of the Qur’an; that he, in fact, not only refused to have anything to do with it but consistently refused to hand over his own copy to the Khalif. Not only so, but when the latter gave orders for the collection and destruction of all copies of the Qur’an except his own, Ibn-Mas’ud immediately advised his own disciples, the people of Iraq, to hide their copies of the Qur’an, and not to give them over to destruction, in these words,
«يَا أَهْلَ الْعِرَاقِ اكْتُمُوا الْمَصَاحِفَ الَّتِي عِنْدَكُمْ وَغُلُّوهَا»
“O people of Iraq, hide your Qur’ans, and shut them up under lock and key.” 22
It is recorded that the Khalif forcibly seized and burnt Ibn-Mas’u-d’s Qur’an, and so unmercifully chastised the companion of the prophet that he died a few days later from the beating he received. But the significant fact remains that Ibn-Mas’ud not only refused to give up his perfect copy of the Qur’an in favour of an arbitrary compilation made by ‘Uthman, but also urged his disciples to continue reading his own edition. The whole narrative makes it clear that ‘Uthman’s Qur’an differed very considerably from the reading which Ibn-Mas’ud had learnt from the prophet; for on no other hypothesis can the former’s unmerciful treatment of this great theologian be explained. We shall have occasion, later on in this little book, to point out some of the grave differences between the readings of Ibn-Mas’ud and ‘Uthman; it must suffice here to remind the reader that Ibn-Mas’ud’s Qur’an contained neither Surah Fatihah (1), nor Surahs at-Talaq (65) and an-Nas (114). One cannot but wonder at the temerity of the Khalif in thus destroying the very Qur’an which the apostle himself had taught men to follow, and in substituting another which differed seriously from it.
In spite of the drastic measures adopted by ‘Uthman for the suppression of all other copies of the Qur’an except his own, the reading of Ibn-Mas’ud continued for many years to be preserved amongst his followers, the people of Iraq. Thus in the year 378 of the Hegira a copy of Ibn-Mas’ud’s Qur’an was discovered at Bagdad, which proved, on examination, to differ materially from the editions then current. It was at once burnt midst the acclamations of the deluded people.
Not only, however, did ‘Uthman’s Qur’an differ from the accurate copy of Ibn-Mas’ud, but it differed also from the previous recension which had been made by Abu-Bakr. In the traditions it is related that Abu-Bakr’s Qur’an remained, at his death, in the custody of Hafsa, his daughter, but upon the death of the latter, Marwan the Governor of Medina, demanded the copy from her brother, Ibn ’Umar, and immediately burnt it, saying, “If it be published abroad, people finding differences will again begin to doubt.” Thus we see that the Qur’an current all over the Muhammadan world to-day agrees neither with that of Abu-Bakr, nor with that of Ibn-Mas’ud, nor with that, now unfortunately lost, which was collected by ‘Ali. The current Qur’an is, in fact, mutilated and corrupted to such an extent, as we shall further prove in subsequent pages, that it is no longer worthy of faith and acceptance as the complete Qur’an taught in the beginning by Muhammad himself.
19. The statement that Ibn Mas'ud was one of the ‘Asharah Mubashsharah’ is not correct. The Mishkatu'l Masabih does not list his name, and his name does not appear in other lists of the ‘the ten who received glad tidings.’ For example, see, Al-Hadis, An English Translation and Commentary of Mishkat-Ul-Masabih With Arabic Text, Al-Haj Maulana Fazul Karim, Vol 4, Chapter 46, Sec 4, No 74, The Virtues of the Ten, page 538. See also, Hadith of the Ten Promised Paradise.
22. ‘Abdullah bin Mas'ud said: ‘O people of Al-'Iraq! Keep the Musahif (i.e., pages of the Qur’an) that are with you, and conceal them. For indeed Allah said: And whoever conceals something, he shall come with what he concealed on the Day of Judgement (3:161). So meet Allah with the Musahif.’ , Jamiya Tirmidhi, Hadith 3104, Jami` at-Tirmidhi, Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3104.