Explanation: Qurans that contain less or more Surahs

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Ijaz Ahmad 

Many Christian polemicists argue that certain companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him) had varying amount of Surahs in their copies of the Qur’aan. Some had 112, others had 111, etc. Br. Waqar has refuted those claims in detail here. While I won’t go into explicit detail, I will provide the Muslim with the tools to respond to such claims in a simple and concise manner.

The Argument:

Sahabi X only had Y number of Surahs in his copy of the Qur’aan, therefore he didn’t believe in the Surahs not included in his copy.

Responses:

  • The question must be asked to the Christian, where does the Sahabi (companion) say that he doesn’t believe in the excluded Surahs? The truth is, nowhere is that said. Therefore, the onus (responsibility) is on the Christian to provide evidence for such a claim.
  • Codex is a collection, Canon is an established list, so the canonical codex of the Qur’aan is a Qur’aan consisting of all the Surahs from al-Fatihah to an-Nas, all 114 of them. Many of us have booklets at home that contain the last 10 Surahs, or Surah ar-Rahman with Surah al-Baqarah. Do we consider the excluded Surahs from these booklets to not be Qur’aanic? Of course not! Therefore, not every codex is a canon of the Qur’aan. A codex with 2 Surahs does not mean that Uncle Khan or Aunty Summayah believes the Qur’aan only has 2 Surahs or 10 Surahs.
  • So we must ask the Christian, since every codex is not indicative of a canon, why do you apply this belief to the Qur’aan?
  • We can also turn their own reasoning back onto them. Since Paul wrote 10 of his 13 epistles, then the New Testament according to Paul is only his epistles and not the four Gospels, where does he say he believes in the 4 Gospels? Since the Christian says every collection (codex) is a canon, then Paul’s canon of the New Testament, excludes the Gospels. If the Christian says this is wrong reasoning, shake their hands and congratulate them on using such reasoning in the first place.
  • We can further this by saying, since none of the 4 Gospels refer to Paul’s letters and we have no evidence that any of the Gospel authors knew of Paul’s letters, then the canon of the New Testament for the Gospel authors is their Gospel and their Gospel only. So the New Testament to the anonymous author of the Gospel of John, was just the Gospel of John, to the anonymous author of Matthew, the only canonical New Testament book was his own book.

Closing the Argument

We can make things worse for the Christian – yes, worse, much worse. If we go to the earliest codices of the Bible, namely Codices Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus and Ehpraemi Rescriptus, they all contain extra books, and some even have missing books. Therefore we must ask the Christian, does he take those codices to be canons, and if not, why does he apply such a reasoning to the Qur’aan?

Conclusion

One of the more popular proponents who propagate such an argument is that of Pastor Samuel Green. He’s fond of repeating it, but is unable to see the backward, and illogical reasoning he employs in formulating such an uneducated argument. If you see anyone quoting Pastor Green’s article, send them this link, or use the arguments within – for just like the Pastor, when faced with these responses they will either go silent, try as best as they can to ignore you or simply keep repeating it without attempting to understand what they are saying. If the Christian chooses to be honest, then he would drop this argument and apologize for using it in the first place.

and Allaah knows best.

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1 Response »

  1. Like with all archiving and presenting works together some way has to be found to include or exclude certain works. Having a Canon of Holy Scriptures, be it the Torah, the Bible or the Koran (Qu’ran) the choice made by a select group of people does not always confer or would be agreed with by some others, but there has to be made a consensus. Also for the order of books, which is why you can find three different placings and two different amounts of books included in the Christian Holy Scriptures, the Bible. As such you might speak of a Catholic and a Protestant Bible, which have additional or less books in it (depending from which point of view you are looking at it).

    In Christianism it is the same as in Islam, like you say: Therefore, not every codex is a canon of the Qur’aan. A codex with 2 Surahs does not mean that Uncle Khan or Aunty Summayah believes the Qur’aan only has 2 Surahs or 10 Surahs.

    For certain Christians, like when we do read the Quran, we also use different translations of it, by which some also may have an other numbering or two numbers by the verses. But that does not take anything away of the value of the work. Christians and Muslims should recognise it as an element of time and choices by people, but the words are saying the same.

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