THE TESTIMONY OP KAZI BAIZAWI CONCERNING
THE VARIOUS READINGS OP THE QUR’AN
Those who have read the commentaries of the famous Muhammadan scholar Kazi Baizawi well know that he, also, has pointed out many variations in the different copies of the Qur’an. We give below a few examples from the writings of this well-known commentator.
It is a matter for surprise that in the very first chapter of the Qur’an, a chapter the excellences of which Muslim writers are never tired of relating, and which every good Muhammadan should repeat in his daily prayers, a number of various readings exist, and have caused no little perplexity to Muhammadan scholars. Thus we learn from the Kazi that in verse 6 in some copies we have صراط whilst in others the word is spelt سراط . Yet it is perfectly certain that both readings cannot be correct.
Again, in verse 7 of the same Surah, Baizawi tells us that the words صراط الذين أنعمت عليهم (Sirat allazina anamta alaihim) have in some copies of the Qur’an been changed to صراط من أنعمت عليهم (Sirat man anamta alaihim). What, then, becomes of the supposed freedom of the Qur’an from corruption, in view of such facts; and where, we ask, is the much vaunted Divine protection of the Qur’an? Is it not perfectly clear that in some copies the word الذين (allazina) has either been changed to من (man); or else in other copies the original word من (man) has been corrupted into الذين (allazina)?
Again, Baizawi tells us, in the eighth verse of the same Surah, a serious variation of reading occurs. According to Baizawi the current reading لا الضالين (la azzalina) has been, in some copies, changed to غير الضالين (ghair azzalina). Granting that in these examples the meaning has not been altered to any extent, the fact still remains that certain words have been substituted for others in this important Surah of the Qur’an. Both were not in the original copies.
In the twenty-third verse of Surah Al-Baqarah 2:23, Kazi Baizawi points out another important corruption of the text. The received reading is عبدنا (abdina) “our servant;” but Baizawi tells us that in some copies the word appears in the plural as, عبادنا (abadina), “our servants.” In the latter case, the whole verse would read thus: “If ye be in doubt concerning that (revelation) which we have sent down unto our servants,” thus making others besides Muhammad the recipients of the Qur’anic revelation.
In the sixth verse of Surah an-Nisa’ (4:6) another important corruption of the Qur’anic text is to be seen. Baizawi tells us that in this verse the words “ فَإِنْ آنَسْتُم ” (fan anastum 25 ) “If you find,” have in some copies been altered to فَإِنْ أَحَسْتُمْ (fan ahastum) “If you know.” Such corruptions of the Qur’anic text are numerous, and prove beyond question that the text of the Qur’an is far from perfect. Indeed, as we shall afterwards prove, it has been so corrupted and mutilated that the present edition is absolutely untrustworthy as a complete copy of that Qur’an which the prophet of Arabia taught his followers. In the twelfth verse of Surah an-Nisa’ (4:12), Baizawi points out another grave variation in the different copies of the Qur’an, which is worthy of notice. It is there written “وَلَهُ أَخٌ أَوْ أُخْتٌ” “and he has a brother or a sister.” But the Kazi informs us that, according to the readings of Ubi and Zaid-ibn-Malik two other words should be added to those quoted, viz., من الأم “from a mother.” In his comment upon the passage Baizawi himself explains it as having this meaning. Thus the illustration before us affords an interesting example of the way in which various readings sometimes come into existence through the insertion of marginal explanatory words into the text itself for the purpose of rendering the meaning more lucid.
The eighty-ninth verse of Surah al-Maidah (5:89) furnishes another example of the corruption of the text of the Qur’an. It is there written that the expiation of an oath should be the feeding of ten poor men, but if the offender has not wherewith to carry out this demand of the law, he may fast three days instead. Thus in the current copy of the Qur’an we read, “فَصِيَامُ ثَلاَثَةِ أَيَّامٍ ” “three days’ fast.” But the famous legist Abu Hanifa reads an additional word here, so that the offender should be made to fast “three days together.” Thus Abu Hanifa reads, ثلاثة أيام متتابعات . This variation in the reading is a most serious one, for it touches, and alters, the very laws of Islam. Thus Abu Hanifa and all his followers teach a three-days’ continuous fast; whilst Baizawi and others look upon this teaching as false, and opposed to the Qur’an. Who is to say, after this lapse of time, which reading represents that of the original Qur’an?
In the 153rd verse of Surah al-An’am (6:153) the current Qur’an reads, “أَنَّ هَـذَا صِرَاطِي” “Truly this is my way”; but Baizawi here quotes two readings which differ from this text. In the first we read, هذا صراط ربكم “This is your Lord’s way,” and in the second, هذا صراط ربك “This is thy Lord’s way.” The reader will observe that in the second and third readings here quoted by Baizawi, one word أن is missing altogether, whilst two other words ربكم and ربك have been added. Little wonder is it that ‘Uthman, shocked at the many discrepancies, which, as early as his time, appeared in the reading of the Qur’an, should seek to reduce them all to one uniform text; it is as little a matter for surprise that the Khalif failed so ignominiously to effect his purpose. Many of these corruptions of the Qur’anic text bear upon their face the evidence of the clumsy hand of the forger; and reveal, by their very nature, the reason for their existence. Thus in Surah Ta-Ha (20:94) we read, “قَالَ يَا ابْنَ أُمَّ ” “He (Aaron) said, O my mother’s son.” But in Surah al-A’raf (7:150), we find only “ قَالَ ابْنَ أُمَّ ” “He said, my mother’s son.” A close examination of these passages shows that in the first the usual interjection of address which accompanies the vocative, viz., يا is properly present, but is absent from the second. Thus it becomes clear that, in order to preserve the elegance and beauty of the language of the Qur’an, the usual interjection of address should be added to the second passage also. Now Baizawi makes it clear that this has actually taken place, and that some good Muslims, in order to remove this reproach from the Qur’an, have actually added the necessary word in their copies of the Qur’an. Thus Baizawi tells us that Ibn-Amar, Hamza, Kisai and Abu-Bakr read in this place يا ابن أم “O, my mother’s son.” Either our inference is correct, or else we must assume that the word يا ‘O’ is correctly found in the copies of the scholars mentioned, but has, like many other words, been lost from the current copy of the Qur’an; in either case we have here a striking example of the uncertainty which surrounds the present text of that book.
Again in Surah Yunas (10:92), we have a striking example of ‘tahrif-i-lafzi’ or corruption of the text of the Qur’an. It is there written that the death of Pharaoh in the Red Sea remained as a ‘sign’ for the warning and instruction of all who should come after him. Thus in the current Qur’an we read, “ لِمَنْ خَلْفَكَ آيَةً ” “A sign for those who come after thee.” But Baizawi tells us that some copies of the Qur’an read, لِمَنْ خَلْقكَ آيَةً “A sign for Him who created thee.” Here the meaning of the Qur’an is entirely altered; and the perplexed Muslim must ever remain in ignorance as to which of these rival readings represents the original Qur’an.
Yet another extraordinary variation of reading is found in Al-Kahf 18:38. In current copies of the Qur’an the passage reads,
«لَّكِنَّا هُوَ اللَّهُ رَبِّي وَلاَ أُشْرِكُ بِرَبِّي أَحَداً».
“But God is my Lord, and I will not associate any with my Lord.” But the Kazi tells us in his commentary that in some copies the passage reads thus,
«ولكن هو الله ربي ولكن أنا لا إله إلا هو ربي».
“But God is my Lord; but we are not God; He only is our Lord.” Comment on this extraordinary corruption of the Qur’anic text would be superfluous. The reader may judge for himself.
Another serious wilful corruption of the Qur’an is made evident by Kazi Baizawi’s comment on Surah Ya-Sin 36:38 The passage alluded to runs thus, “وَالشَّمْسُ تَجْرِي لِمُسْتَقَرٍّ لَّهَا ” “And the sun hasteneth to his place of rest.” No educated Muslim believes that the sun moves by day, and rests during the time we call night; but a liberal view of this passage would suggest that it simply speaks in popular language, and does not attempt to impart scientific truth. But some zealous followers of the prophet, not content with this explanation and seeking to remove a fancied imperfection from the pages of the Qur’an, have adopted the drastic expedient of adding a word to the passage. Thus Baizawi informs us that in some copies of the Qur’an the word لا “No” is added in this place, so that the meaning becomes: the sun has no place of rest!
Before we conclude this chapter we shall give yet one more example of the corruption of the text of the Qur’an as furnished by Kazi Baizawi. In the first verse of Surah Al-Qamar 54:1 the current Qur’an reads,
«اقْتَرَبَتِ السَّاعَةُ وَانشَقَّ الْقَمَرُ».
“The hour approacheth; and the moon hath been split in sunder.” It is well known that controversy long and bitter has taken place between different sections of Muslims over the meaning of this passage. Some affirm that we have here clear testimony to a wonderful miracle performed by Muhammad in the splitting of the moon. Others, instead, contend that the whole passage has a future signification, and that all that the passage teaches is that at the judgment day the moon will be split asunder. What was needed to make the passage undoubtedly refer to a past event was the addition of some word having that meaning. Now, strange to relate, Baizawi tells us that precisely this has taken place and in some copies the word قد “now” or “just now” appears; so that the passage reads “the moon has now been split asunder.” Is it not clear as the day that some Muhammadan controversialists, in order to fortify their own opinion, and at the same time glorify the prophet, have here inserted in their copies of the Qur’an this word قد? If this inference, to which we are surely shut up, be correct, does not the whole incident throw a lurid light on the treatment to which the scriptures of Islam have been subjected in the past; and does it not show the baselessness of the extravagant claims which are sometimes made by Muslims regarding the integrity of the Qur’anic text? Examples similar to those given above could be multiplied. Space, however, will not permit of further illustration here. We have shown enough to prove to every unprejudiced and open-minded reader that the Qur’an has been greatly corrupted, and that Sunni and Shiah alike agree in affirming that numerous differences exist in different copies. Many reliable scholars even admit that in many cases the text of the Qur’an has been wilfully corrupted by unscrupulous Muslims. Thus Baizawi, Malam and Abul Fida all refer to one such person Abdullah-ibn-Zaid-ibn-Sarih 26 by name. He was, they tell us, an amanuensis of the prophet, and used to maliciously alter various passages of the Qur’an. But not only is the text of the Qur’an, as it exists to-day, open to serious doubt; and not only do innumerable varieties of reading exist with respect to the present text; but we shall now proceed to prove from reliable Muhammadan sources that large portions of the original Qur’an are missing altogether from the present copies; that, in fact, the present Qur’an only represents a portion — and that corrupted — of the original book which was delivered by Muhammad to his followers.
25. fa in aanastum
26. See also, 'Abdullah Ibn AbuSarh or Abdallah ibn Sa'd. See also, Sunan Abi Dawud, Prescribed Punishments (Kitab al-Hudud), Book 40, Hadith no 4358, “Abdullah ibn AbuSarh used to write (the revelation) for the Messenger of Allah. Satan made him slip, and he joined the infidels. The Messenger of Allah commanded to kill him on the day of Conquest (of Mecca). Uthman ibn Affan sought protection for him. The Messenger of Allah gave him protection.”