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  • Date :
  • 9/27/2003

Did Al-Hajjaj Change The Qur'an?

M S M Saifullah, Muhammad Ghoniem & Abu Ammar Yasir Qadhi

1. Introduction

It had been claimed that al-Hajjaj was responsible for changing the some contents of the Qur'an. The scandal surrounding al-Hajjaj is apparently based on two different traditions, one Muslim and the other Christian. The Islamic source isKitab al-Masahif of Ibn Abi Dawud where a report mentions that al-Hajjaj made eleven changes in `Uthman'smushaf. As for the Christian source, the prominent one is of exchange of letters between Ummayad Caliph `Umar II and the Byzantine Emperor Leo III. A less prominent writing is that of an apology attributed to `Abd al-Masîh al-Kindî.

2. The Report in Kitab al-Masahif of Ibn Abi Dawud

The report inKitab al-Masahif of Ibn Abi Dawud says:

Section: What al-Hajjaj had changed in `Uthman's Mushâf?

Abû Bakr said that it was there in the book of my father that a man told; I asked my father, "Who was that man?" He said, "Abbâd ibnSuhayb told us from Awf ibn Abî Jamîla that al-Hajjaj bin Yûsuf changed in `Uthman's mushâf 11 letters". He said in:

al-Baqarah (2:259)lam yatasanna wanzur withoutha tolam yatasannah withha.

and in al-Ma'idah (5:48)sharî`atan wa minhâjan was changed toshir`atan wa minhâjan

and in Yûnus (10:22)huwal-ladhî yunash-shirukum was changed toyusay-yirukum

and in Yûsuf (12:45)anâ-âtîkum bita'wilihi was changed toanâ onabbio'kum bita'wilihi

and in Mu'minûn (23:85-89) sayaqûlûna lillâh....lillâh....lillâh he made the two last occurrencesallâh....allâh

and in al-Shu`ara in the story of Nûh (26:116) it wasminal mukhrajîna and in the story of Lût (26:167) it wasminal marjumîna. It was changed in the story of Nuh tominal marjumîna and in the story of Lût tominal mukhrajîna

and in al-Zukhrûf (43:32) it wasnahnu qasamnâ baynahum mâ` ishahum and he changed it toma`îshatahum

and in al-ladhîna kafarû (47:15)min mâ`inn ghayri yasin was changed to min mâ`inn ghayri âsin

and in al-Hadîd (57:7) he changedfal-ladhîna âmanu minkum wat-taqaw lahum ajrun kabîr tominkum wa anfaqu.

and in "When the Sun is folded up" (81:24)wa mâ huwa `ala-l-ghaybi bidhanîn tobidanîn[1]

In other words, the report says that al-Hajjaj made eleven changes in `Uthman'smushaf and these changes are documented.

Instead of reading carefully what has been mentioned in the report, the Orientalists and missionaries have involved themselves in myth-making and taking it to almost delirious levels. Based on this report al-Hajjaj has been accused of "undertaking a completely new recension" or a "minor recension" or even changing the `Uthmanic recension of the Qur'an. Let us list them one by one.

According to Arthur Jeffery, the action of al-Hajjaj resulted in an "entirely new recension of the Qur'an" and that al-Hajjaj ordered the "new copies of his text sent to the great metropolitan centres."

When we come to examine the accounts of the activity of al-Hajjaj in this matter, however, we discover to our own surprise that the evidence points strongly to the fact that his work was not confined to fixing more precisely the text of the Qur'an by a set of points showing how it was to be read, buthe seems to have made an entirely new recension of the Qur'an, having copies of his new text sent to the great metropolitan centres and ordering the destruction of earlier copies in existence there, much as `Uthman had done earlier. Moreover, this new text promulgated by al-Hajjaj seems to have undergone more or less extensive alterations. [2]

Obviously the report inKitab al-Masahif does not say any such thing as what has been claimed by Jeffery. Taking a clue from Arthur Jeffery, a Christian apologist called Chad VanDixhoornstates:

Others yet hold that the final form was not finally settled until the recension of al-Hajjaj b. Yusuf.

The author of the article "The Qur'an" in the bookArabic Literature to the End of the Ummayad Period prefers "a minor recension" instead of an "entirely new recension of the Qur'an". He conjectures:

On the other hand we have the tradition in Ibn Abi-Da'ud that al-Hajjaj was responsible for eleven changes in the consonantal text. If this is so, he is responsible for a minor recension at least.[3]

According to theclaim of missionary John Gilchrist

During the caliphate of Abd al-Malik in the first century of Islam the governor of Iraq, al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, took steps to correct Uthman's text. He is said to have made eleven direct changes to the Qur'an text as it stood in its consonantal form, all of which are reflected in the Qur'an as it stands today.... The whole section continues to name each one of the amendments made by al-Hajjaj so that the Qur'an text as we have it today is not only the Uthmanic text but also a subsequent minor recension of it by the Iraqi governor.

A Gilchrist claim that the alleged changes made by al-Hajjaj, as seen in Kitab al-Masahif, were made to the "`Uthmanic text" and that it was a "minor recension". The Qur'an that we have today is a combination of "`Uthmanic text" and the" minor recension".

That the "Qur'an of Uthman" has been altered is alsochampioned by "Brother Mark". He says:

The insistence that this was ÔmerelyÕ altering the QurÕan of Uthman from one set of Ôaccepted readingsÕ to another is little comfort to people who have been taught that NO CHANGES have ever occurred to the QurÕanic text.

Similarly, the missionary Jochen Katz hasfantasized the following about the changes that al-Hajjaj made to "Uthman's Koran":

he gave himself the liberty to change several words of Caliph Uthman's Koran, which is an indication that he did not believe that the Koran was verbally inspired or was inscribed in a "tablet preserved".

The next in the category are those missionaries whose statements can be called demented. According to Steven Masood, al-Hajjaj was "accused" of making eleven changes in the text (sorry, who accused whom!):

Al-Hajjaj Ibn Yusaf (694-714), the viceroy of Iraq, is said to have directed the work. He was also accused of making changes in the text. Ibn Abi Dawood lists these amendments in considerable detail in the chapter Ma Ghaira al-Hajjaj fi Mushaf Usman - 'What was altered by al-Hajjaj in the Uthmanic text'.[4]

Another missionary in this category is Joseph Smith. Heclaims that the eleven "distinct" amendments that al-Hajjaj made were reduced to "seven readings"!

We also know from Muslim tradition that the Uthmanic Qur'an had to be reviewed and amended to meet the Caliph's standard for a single approved text even after Uthman's death. This was carried out by al-Hajjaj, the governor of Kufa, who made eleven distinct amendments and corrections to the text, which were later reduced to seven readings.

Summarizing, the report says that al-Hajjaj made eleven changes in `Uthman'smushaf.This has been mysteriously and mythically transformed as if al-Hajjaj "undertook a completely new recension" or a made "minor recension" or even completely changed the `Uthmanic recension of the Qur'an! Apart from such absurdities, neither the Orientalists nor the missionaries checked the authenticity of the report; a method frequently employed to supress the information and to attack the Qur'an. Let us now check the authenticity of this report mentioned in Ibn Abi Dawud'sKitab al-Masahif.

3.Hadith Criticism of the Report: The Study of Isnad

Hadîth critics at first look at theisnad and if it is defective, they call thehadîth defective, without scrutinizing the subject matter; because ahadîth, according to their criteria, cannot be authnetic unless both its parts are correct.[5] Using this criteria let us first study theisnad.

Theisnad of this report is Awf bin Abî Jamila`Abbâd IbnSuhaybAbî Abu BakrAbu Bakr. Study of reliability of narrators in thisisnad shows that `Abbâd IbnSuhayb is the one who had been declared weak and hishadîth is rejected.

Al-Bukhari says in hisDu`afa al-Saghir:

411) `Abbâd IbnSuhayb al-Basrî: Hishadîth is rejected (matrûk al-hadîth).[6]

Ibn Abi Hâtim comments in his Kitab al-Jarh Wa al-Ta`dil:

417 - `Abbâd IbnSuhayb al-Basrî narrated from Ismâ`îl Ibn Abî Khâlid and Hishâm Ibn `Urwah and the two Hijâzis. Narrated from him people who did not understand the science. `Abd al-Rahmân told us that `Abdullâh Ibn Ahmad Ibn Muhammad IbnHanbal wrote to us: "I asked my father about `Abbâd IbnSuhayb." He said: "I saw him in Basra several times. Theqadariyyah used to claim him." It was read to al-`Abbâs Ibn Muhammad al-Dûrî from Yahyâ Ibn Ma`în that he mentioned `Abbâd IbnSuhayb and said that it was narrated from Abû Bakr Ibn Nâfi` - and Abû Bakr Ibn Nâfi` is a senior from whom Mâlik Ibn Anas narrated - that `Abd al-Rahmân told us: My father told me: "`Alî Ibn al-Madînî said: 'Thehadîth of `Abbâd IbnSuhayb is gone.'" `Abd al-Rahmân told us, Hab Ibn Ismâ`îl [al-Kirmânî] wrote to me: "I heard Abû Bakr Ibn Abî Shaybah say: 'We forsook thehadîth of `Abbâd IbnSuhayb twenty years before he demised.'" `Abd al-Rahmân told us: "I asked my father about `Abbâd IbnSuhayb. He said: 'Hishadîth is weak (da`îf). Hishadîth is disavowed (munkar). Hishadîth is forsaken.'"[7]

Similarly IbnHibbân says inKitab al-Majruhin Min al-Muhaddithin Wa al-Du`afa' Wa al-Matrukin:

Abbâd IbnSuhayb: FromBasra. He narrated from Hishâm Ibn `Urwah and al-A`mash. The Iraqis narrated from him. He belonged to theqadariyyah and called to it. On the top of that, he narrated disavowed narrations from famous people, such narrations, if heard by a beginner in this field, he would deem them forged.

It was narrated from Hishâm Ibn `Urwah from his father from `Â'ishah that the Prophet - peace be upon him - said: "Blue eyes are a blessing." Ibn `Ar`arah informed me of this narration in Nasîbîn saying: "Muhammad ibn Mûsâ said on the authority of `Abbâd IbnSuhayb."

It was narrated fromHumayd al-Tawîl that Anas said: "I entered at the Messenger of Allâh - peace be upon him. There was a recipient full of water before him. He told me: 'Anas, come close to me so that I teach you how to performwudû'.' I went close to him - peace be upon him. When he washed his hands, he said: 'In the name of Allâh, praise to Allâh, there is neither power nor strength except in Allâh'. Then when he performed the istinjâ', he said: 'O Allâh, preserve my chastity and ease my affairs.' When he washed his mouth and nose, he said: 'O Allâh, teach me my argument and do not deprive me from the scent ofParadise.' When he washed his face, he said: 'O Allâh, make my face white on the day when the faces become white.' When he washed his arms, he said: 'O Allâh, give me my book in the right hand.' When he wiped his head, he said: 'O Allâh, overwhelm us with Your mercy and protect us from your punishment.' When he washed his feet, he said: 'O Allâh, make my feet unshakable upon the day when the feet falter.' Then, the Prophet - peace be upon him - said: 'By the One Who sent me with the truth, Anas, whoever says the same in hiswudû', from each drop that falls from his fingers, Allâh creates an angel that praises him in seventy tongues, the reward of which lasts until the day of resurrection.'" This was narrated to us by Ya`qûb Ibn Ishâq al-Qadî on the authority of Ahmad Ibn Hishâm al-Khawârizmî, from him.[8]

Al-Dhahabi says in hisMizan al-I`tidal fi Naqd al-Rijal:

4122 - `Abbâd IbnSuhayb, one of the abandoned. He narrated from Hishâm Ibn `Urwah and al-A`mash. Ibn al-Madînî said: "Hishadîth is gone." Al-Bukhârî, al-Nasâ'î and others said: "Abandoned." IbnHibbân said: "He belonged toqadariyyah and called to it. On the top of that, he narrated disavowed narrations from famous people, such narrations, if heard by a beginner in this field, he would deem them forged."

Muhammad Ibn Mûsâ said, `Abbâd IbnSuhayb informed us on the authority of Hishâm from his father from `Â'ishah that the Prophet - peace be upon him - said: "Blue eyes are a blessing."

A lengthy but fabricated hadith was narrated fromHumayd on the authority of Anas concerning thewudû'from which we quote: "When he washed his face, he said: 'O Allâh, make my face white...'" until he said: "'Anas, whoever says the same in hiswudû', from each drop that falls from his fingers, Allâh creates an angel that praises him in seventy tongues, the reward of which lasts until the day of resurrection.'" Narrated by IbnHibbân on the authority of Ya`qûb Ibn Ishâq [3/30] al-Qâdî, from Ahmad Ibn Hishâm al-Khawârizmî, from him.

Al-Bukhârî said inKitab al-Du`afa' al-Kabir: `Abbâd IbnSuhayb died after year 200. He was forsaken, hishadîth is abundant.

Abû Dâwûd said: "He is truthful (sadûq) andqadarî". Ahmad said: "He was not a liar and had plenty ofhadîth. He heard from al-A`mash." Al-Kudaymî said: "I heard `Alî say: 'I forsook 100 thousandhadîths of mine, half of which come from `Abbâd IbnSuhayb'."

Ahmad Ibn Rawh narrated from `Abbâd 100,000hadîths. Ibn `Adiyy said: "`Abbâd IbnSuhayb has many writings, and although he is weak, hishadîth is written by Ibn Abî Dâwûd."

Yahyâ Ibn `Abd al-Rahmân told us: "I heard Yahyâ Ibn Ma`în say: '`Abbâd IbnSuhayb is more reliable than Abû `Âsim al-Nabîl.'" Abû Ishâq al-Sa`dî said: "`Abbâd IbnSuhayb exaggerated in his innovation and disputed for his falsehoods."[9]

Similar statements are made by Ibn Hajar in hisLisan al-Mizan.[10] The bottomline here is that `Abbâd IbnSuhayb has been abandoned and his reports are rejected. The terms used to describe `Abbâd IbnSuhayb are the most severe possible [matrûk al-hadîth]. It is not correct to describe his narrations as 'weak', which is an understatement. Rather, his narrations are fabricated, pure and simple. He has reached the lowest levels ofJarh in the sciences dealing withal-Jarh wa 'l-Ta`dîl ("The disparaging and declaring trustworthy") of the narrators.

It is also clear that Ibn Abi Dawud wrote thehadîth from `Abbâd IbnSuhayb even though thehadîth scholars before and after Ibn Abi Dawud have considered thehadîth from `Abbâd IbnSuhayb to be rejected. It is not that the Orientalists and the missionaries are unaware of this fact. Jeffery, whose bookMaterials For The History Of The Text Of The Qur'an: The Old Codices is often used by the Christian missionaries for polemical purposes to attack the Qur'an, clearly says:

Much of the material given by Ibn Abi Dawud regarding the history of the text of the Qur'an, though extremely unorthodox, yet agrees so closely with the conclusions one had reached from quite other directions that one feels confident in making use of it, however weak orthodoxy may consider its isnads to be.[11]

Jeffery gives no reasons for is new found confidence. Commenting on Jeffery's attainment of "confidence" from "quite other directions" Yasir Qadhi says:

This clear double standard on Jeffery's part is not suprising; whenever an Orientalist finds some information that he feels can be used to discredit Islam and cast doubts on it, no matter what the context, authenticity or actual implications of the text may be.... Therefore the reason that these narrations are authentic, according to Jeffery, is because they agree with preconceived conclusions that were arrived from 'quite other directions'; unnamed and unknown directions, it should be pointed out![12]

In the absence of Jeffery's unknown and unnamed directions for his confidence in the material of Ibn Abi Dawud, we go for something that is known, that is, the rejection of thehadîth from `Abbâd IbnSuhayb. The case on the issue of the changes made by al-Hajjaj in `Uthman'smushafcan be considered null and void. It is worth reminding that there exists no parallel reports similar to the one discussed in order to authenticate theisnad andmatn.

4.Hadith Criticism Of The Report: The Study of Matn

This report does not provide any clue of the nature of alleged changes that were made by al-Hajjaj in `Uthman'smushaf. An in-depth study shows that they are the differences in theQiraa'aat. Dr. `Umar Ibn Ibrahim Radwan did research on the issue alleged changes that al-Hajjaj made for his Ph.D thesis at theUniversity of Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud. His thesis was published as a book from Riyadh in two volumes. The book is calledAara' al-Mustashriqin Hawl al-Qur'an al-Karim wa Tafsir:Dirasah Wa Naqd ("The Views Of The Orientalists About The Holy Qur'an & Its Interpretation: Study and Criticism").

After quoting the report of Ibn Abi Dawud, Dr. Radwan mentions in the footnotes about theQiraa'aat which the changes are associated with.

al-Baqarah (2:259)lam yatasanna wanzur without ha tolam yatasannah withha.[13]

Comments: Both readings are among The Seven as it is mentioned by Ibn Zanjalah inHujjat al-Qiraa'aat, page 142/143, where he says that Hamzah and al-Kisa'i readlam yatasanna without the letterha inwasl [i.e., in case they didn't stop at the wordyatasanna while reading] and the five other readings readyatasannah keeping theha even when they didn't stop.[14]

and in al-Ma'idah (5:48)sharî`atan wa minhâjan was changed toshir`atan wa minhâjan.[15]

Comments: al-Nakh'i and Ibn Waththâb read with afathah on the lettershîn (i.eshar`atan) and the whole community of readers readshir`atan and I found nobody mentioningsharî`atan.[16]

and in Yûnus (10:22)huwal-ladhî yunash-shirukum was changed toyusay-yirukum[17]

Comments: Both readings are among The Seven. They were mentioned by Ibn Zanjalah in his book Hujjat al-Qiraa'aat, page 329, where he says that Ibn `Âmir readyunash-shirukum and the other readers read yusay-yirukum. [18]

and in Yûsuf (12:45)anâ-âtîkum bita'wilihi was changed toanâ onabbio'kum bita'wilihi[19]

Comments: al-Hasan readanâ-âtikum with a longhamzah having afathah followed by the lettertâ having akasrah and a silentyâ. And inwasl [i.e., when not stopping on the word], Nâfî` and Abû Ja`far readanâ onabbio'kum as it is mentioned by Ahmad `Abdul Ghani al-Dumyâtî in his bookIthafu Fudala' ilbashar Fil Qiraa'aat Ilarba'a 'Ashar, page 265.[20]

and in Mu'minûn (23:85-89)sayaqûlûna lillâh....lillâh....lillâh he made the two last occurrancesallâh....allâh[21]

Comments: All these readings are among The Seven as mentioned by Ibn Zanjalah inHujjat al-Qiraa'aat, page 490, where he says that Abû 'Âmir readallâh...allâh with analif and the others read lillâh...lillâh and all readings agreed on the first occurrence [i.e.,lillâh].[22]

and in as-Shu`ara in the story of Nûh (26:116) it wasminal mukhrajîna and in the story of Lût (26:167) it wasminal marjumîna. It was changed in the story of Nûh tominal marjumîna and in the story of Lût tominal mukhrajîna[23]

Comment: I didn't find anybody who mentioned what the author has said.[24]

and in az-Zukhruf (43:32) it wasnahnu qasamnâ baynahum mâ` ishahum and he changed it toma`îshatahum.[25]

Comments: The reading of the community [jumhoor] of readers is ma`ishatahum in singular. Al-'Amash and `Abdullâh and Ibn `Abbâs and Sufyân readmâ`ishahum in plural as mentioned by Abû Hayyân in Al-Bahr al-Muhît, VIII - page 13.[26]

and in al-ladhîna kafarû (47:15)min mâ`inn ghayri yasin was changed to min mâ`inn ghayri âsin.[27]

Comments: The Seven except Ibn Kathîr readghayri âsin with a madd [a long vowel], as for the readingyâsinin it is shâdhdh and was mentioned by Abû Hayyân who reported it using the words it was said that .... Refer toHujjat al-Qirâ'ât in page 667 by Ibn Zanjalah and the interpretation ofAl-Bahr al-Muhît, VIII - page 79. [28]

and in al-Hadîd (57:7) he changedfal-ladhîna âmanu minkum wat-taqaw lahum 'ajrun kabîr tominkum wa anfaqu.[29]

Comment: I could not find the one who mentioned this reading. [30]

and in "When the Sun is folded up" (81:24)wa mâ huwa `alal-ghaybi bidhanîn tobidanîn.[31]

Comment: Ibn Kathîr and Abû `Amr and al-Kisâ'i and Rees and Ibn Mahrân from Rawh read with the letterdhâ and the others read with the letterdâd, and so it is in all the Codices (the books). Refer toAl-Nashr fil Qirâ'ât il'ashr, II - page 398/399.[32]

Dr. Radwan went on to say:

These readings as I have just highlighted are among the correct (Sahîh),Mutawâtir and well established that we can read in any form it has been drawn into and among them are ones I could not verifywhich make us doubt about their being attributed to al-Hajjaj, especially because he was not isolated from the Ummah. Much more, in his time, no Muslim would let him change or replace anything traced back to the Prophet (P) whether it concerned Qur'an or hadith.

All these arguments rebut the claims of the Orientalists. And the following points confirm the validity of my opinion:

·        Al-Hajjaj being loyal to `Uthman [or from his court] and since he wouldn't forgive those who let `Uthman down on the day of al-Dâr [or the house], how could he question `Uthman and his codex and make changes in it.

·        The codex of `Uthman was spread everywhere and its copies in the time of `Uthman were countless. How about their number in the Umayyads time? Undoubtedly, their number has increased. Moreover, al-Hajjaj was the mere governor of one county of the huge Islamic land. Supposing that he was able to change the copies of his county how could he reach the ones in the other districts while there were thousands of copies! Much more, history did not mention contradictions between the Codices of Iraq and the other Codices. It is well known that the Great Book is saved in the chests of Muslims as much as it is saved in written form. If al-Hajjaj managed to change the lines how could he reach what is inside the chests of thousands of Muslims?

·        It is known as well that the Abbassid dynasty was established on the ruins of the Umayyads and that they changed many of the policies of Banî Umayyah in the administration of the lands. They didn't spare any effort in showing the negative aspects of Banî Umayyah and in getting close to the people by spreading justice and defending it. If the Abbassids had found any changes in the Holy Book, it would have been the greatest opportunity for them to show how misleading Banî Umayyah were and, thus, give their own rule some additional legitimacy.[33]

These observation speak of themselves. Even if we assume that this incident is authentic, the question that arises is: so what? Al-Hajjaj supposedly made changes in 11 places, and even these places are documented to the last detail. Orientalists and missionaries, as usual, take some trivial piece of information (forgetting the fact that it is fabricated!) and make, not just a mountain, but an entire planet, out of an anthole.

Let us now move to the Christian polemical sources such the letter of Byzantine Emperor Leo III to `Umar II and the apology of `Abd al-Masîh al-Kindî on the claim that al-Hajjaj was responsible for present day Qur'anic text.

5. The Christian Polemical Sources: Letter Of Leo III & `Abd al-Masih al-Kindi

There is a persistent tradition in the eastern Christian churches, often referred to by oriental Christians even in the present day, to the effect that early during the 8th century, there had been an exchange of letters on the question of the respective merits of Christianity and Islam, between the Ummayad Caliph `Umar II and the Byzantine Emperor Leo III. In the letter to `Umar II, the Byzantine Emperor Leo III writes:

In brief you admit that we say that it [i.e., the Qur'an] was written by God, and brought down from the heavens, as you pretend for yourfurqan, although we know that it was `Umar, Abu Turab and Salman the Persian, who composed that, even though the rumour has got around among you that God sent it down from the heavens. [34]

This is a rather peculiar statement from Leo III, as Jeffery comments in the footnotes. By Abu Turab, Leo III meant `Ali, son-in-law of the Prophet (P). Continuing the letter to `Umar II, Leo III writes:

As for your (book), you have already given us examples of such falsifications, and one knows, among others, of a certainHajjaj, named by you as the governor of Persia, who had men gathered up your ancient books, which he replaced by others composed by himself, according to his taste, and which he propagated everywhere in your nation, because it was easier by far to undertake such a task among the people speaking a single language. from this destruction, nevertheless, there escaped a few works of Abu Turab, forHajjaj could not make them disappear completely.[35]

Commenting on the issue, Jeffery states:

It would thus seem that some revision of the text, as well as clarification by division and pointing, was undertaken by al-Hajjaj, and that this was known to the Christians of that day, and naturally exagerrated by them for polemical purposes. [36]

It becomes quite obvious as to whether the document between `Umar II and Leo III is authentic. Jeffery says:

The question remains as to the genuineness of this correspondence, and that is a matter for the historians to argue on the basis of the material itself.[37]

Now that the authenticity of this document has fallen on the grounds of suspicion, we would like to push the question even further and consider the ramifications. Patricia Crone and Michael Cook in their book, Hagarism: the Making of the Islamic World, used the aforementioned Christian polemic to reconstruct Islamic history before even verifying the facts.

Now both Christian and Muslim sources attribute some kind of role toHajjaj in the history of Muslim scripture. In the account attributed to Leo by Levond,Hajjaj is said to have collected and destroyed the old Hagarene writings and replaced them with others composed according to his own tastes.[38]

John Wansbrough, reviewingHagarism: the Making of the Islamic World, makes a mockery of the poor scholarship of Crone and Cook and says:

The material is upon occasion misleadingly presented, e.g., Ephrem certainly did not prophesy an exodus of Hagarenes from the desert,nor did Levond report Leo's description ofHajjaj destroying old Hagarene writings.[39]

In other words, the account attributed to Leo by Levond (or Ghevond) is a forgery that was constructed to scandalize the question of al-Hajjaj by some later Christian writer. This possibility was also echoed by Neal Robinson in his book,Discovering the Qur'an: a Contemporary Approach to a Veiled Text, where he states:

The letter ascribed to Pope Leo may simply be a convenient literary device used by a Christian polemicist living at a later date. Even if it is authentic, and the allegations which it contains have some substance, the activity ofHajjaj may have been limited to destroying the sectarian writings, and early codices of the Qur'an which preserved the surahs in a different order. [40]

Now that the issue of Leo has been closed, let us now move over to the other Christian polemic associated with al-Hajjaj; the apology attributed to `Abd al-Masîh al-Kindî. The composition of the apology has seen some serious disagreement among the Western scholars. TheEncyclopaedia Of Islam says:

Taking as evidence the historical data supplied by the text, mention of caliph al-Ma'mûn (198-218/813-33), of the sack of Mecca by Abu 'l-Sarâyâ (199/815) and the revolt of Bâbak al-Khurrami (204/819), W. Muir believes that the date of the composition of the letter can be fixed at 215/830. But L. Massignon believes the composition to be later than the year 300/912, seeing that the author borrowed from al-Tabari (d. 310/923) his criticism of an opinion of the Hanbali al-Barbahari (d. 329/940). Similarly, observing a parallelism between certain criticisms contained in the letter and in the work of a Muslim heretic Ibn al-Rawandi (d. 298/910), P. Kraus concludes that the Christian author borrowed these criticisms from the latter and therefore the letter can only have been composed at the beginning of the 4th/10th century.[41]

It appears that the most authentic view is that the letter was composed in the beginning of the 4th/10th century. The letter of al-Kindî played a very important role in the East as well as in the West in the polemic between Christians and Muslims. It was translated in Latin in 1141 by Peter of Toledo and revised by Peter of Poitiers. Its English translation was done by William Muir.[42] The claim of al-Kindî is that al-Hajjaj gathered together every copy that he could lay hold of and caused to omit from the text a great many passages. Among these were the verses revealed concerning the Bani Umayyah with names of certain persons and concerning the Bani `Abbas also with certain names. Al-Hajjaj then sent six copies of his version of the Qur'an toEgypt, Syria, Makkah, Madinah, Kufah andBasra. After that he called in and destroyed all the preceding copies, just as `Uthman had done before. Al-Kindî then says that he has drawn this account from the Muslim authorities.[43]

To begin with, no such Muslim authorities mention what has been claimed by al-Kindî. Hence is it nothing but a polemical exagerration. Jeffery says:

The Christian writer al-Kindi in his polemical work known as theApology of al-Kindi, makes a controversial point out of the alterations he claimed that al-Hajjaj, as everyone knew, had made in the text of Qur'an, but this was regarded by scholars as just a polemical exagerration such as one might expect in a controversial writing.[44]

Similarly, polemical nature of al-Kindi's apology rather than its factual basis is also echoed by Beestenet al.

It is difficult to assess the role of al-Hajjaj. We may ignore the arguments of the Christian `Abd al-Masîh al-Kindî that al-Hajjaj was very much responsible for our text, as these have a polemical rather than factual basis. The account most widely found has him ordering Nasr bin `Asim to introduce the markings to safeguard the protection of the text. This is a plausible reason for the innovation, and the story is unchallenged, despite strong hostility of the sources towards al-Hajjaj. [45]

From a historical point of view, al-Kindi's claim is based upon conjecture rather than "Muslim authorities" and smacks of delirium. For al-Hajjaj was merely one of the generals in the Ummayad regime, with little influence and almost no ability to do the Qur'an any harm. In fact, he was utterly incapable of effecting any change in the most elementary laws of Islam, not to speak of the Qur'an, which is the foundation of Islamic faith, and pillar of Islamic laws. One wonders how he could influence any change in the Qur'an after it had gained currency in the vast Muslim empire. Not a single historian or commentator has chronicled this change, the importance of which should not have escaped their notice. No contemporary Muslim ever objected to this, and even after his rule, the Muslims seem to have condoned this abominable fact. Moreover, if it is all believed that he managed to withdraw all the copies of the Qur'an, and replacing it with his new codex, how could he eradicate it from the hearts of great numbers of Muslims who had committed it to memory? Had there been anything in the Qur'an which was uncomplimentary to the Ummayads, Mu'âwiyah would have been the first to see it omitted because, compared to al-Hajjaj, he was more influential and powerful. Of course, if Mu'âwiyah had done this, the companions of `Alî would have argued with him, the way they did on many occasions, as recorded in the books of history,hadith and theology. An example would be of the battle of Siffîn (AH 37), 27 years after the death of the Prophet (P), and five years after `Uthman's copies were distributed.

Mu'âwiyah's troops fixed sheets from the Qur'an on their spears to interrupt the battle. However, nobody accused anyone else of using a 'partisan' version of the text, which would have made a splendid accusation against the enemy. [46]

The pretence that the Qur'an has been tampered with has no substance whatsoever.

Al-Hajjaj was one of the most, if not the most, notorious figures in Islamic history and is well-known for his brutality against Ibn al-Zubayr as well as restive population ofIraq. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that lots of spurious accounts are found regarding him, in both Islamic and Christian literature, which try to show him as being even more evil than he was. The report inKitab al-Masahif of Ibn Abi Dawud and polemics of Leo III and al-Kindî are obvious over-exagerrations and spurious.

6. Conclusions

To conclude the issue of al-Hajjaj and the changes he made in the Qur'an, it has been shown that the report inKitab al-Masahif of Ibn Abi Dawud is false. This is because the reporter `Abbâd Ibn Suhayb is theisnad has been declared abandoned inhadîth and all hishadîth are rejected. Analysis ofmatn of thehadîth shows that the alleged changes that were made related to theQiraa'aat that aremutawâtir. Muslims have accepted variousQiraa'aat as authentic provided they satisfy certain conditions. Furthermore, the hadîth inKitab al-Masahifis only known to us through one chain. There exist no parallel chains to authenticate thematn or text of the report.

It is clear that there was no new recension after `Uthman united Muslims on the basis of single text. Muslims have a complete agreement over it. Al-Hajjaj's role is rather well documented in the literature dealing with Sciences of the Qur'an.

Summarizing the Christian sources: We see that the Christian sources of Leo III and `Abd al-Masîh al-Kindî have a purely polemical purpose and exaggerate the events that took place during al-Hajjaj's time. The sources lack factual basis and their historicity itself is doubtful. This view is solidified by modern scholarship. As pointed out earlier, how could al-Hajjaj, who was governor of Iraq, a small part of Muslim land, able to change the Qur'anic text completely. The complete change of Qur'an is not documented in the Islamic history at all. And above all how could he change what was commited in the memory of Muslims in the vast Islamic empire.

References

[1] ForKitab al-Masahif see Arthur Jeffery's,Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur'an: the Old Codices, 1937, E. J. Brill,Leiden, pp. 117-118.
[2] A. Jeffery,the Qur'an as Scripture, 1952, Russell F. Moore Company Inc.,New York, p. 99.
[3] A. F. L. Beeston, T. M. Johnstone, R. B. Serjeant and G. R. Smith (Ed.),Arabic Literature To The End Of The Ummayad Period, 1983, Cambridge University Press, p. 243.
[4] S. Masood,The Bible And The Qur'an: A Question Of Integrity, 2001, OM Publishing: Carlisle, p. 36.
[5] M. M. Azami,Studies In Early Hadith Literature, 1992, American Trust Publications: Indianapolis, p. 305; Also J. Robson, "Tradition: Investigation And Classification",Muslim World, 1951, Volume XLI, pp. 102-104; See also "Al-Djarh Wa'l Ta`dil",Encyclopaedia Of Islam, New Edition, 1965, Volume II, p. 462 for judging the reliability of a narrator.
[6] Abi `Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Isma`il al-Bukhari,Kitab Du`afa al-Saghir, 1976 [1396 AH], Dar al-Wa`y: Halab, p. 75.
[7] Abi Muhammad `Abd al-Rahmân Ibn Abi Hâtim Muhammad Ibn Idrîs Ibn al-Mundhir al-Tamîmî al-Hanzalî al-Râzî,Kitab al-Jarh Wa al-Ta`dil, 1941-53, Volume III, Matba`at Majlis Da'irat al-Ma`arif al-`Uthmaniyah: Hyderabad al-Dakkan, p. 81-82.
[8] Muhammad IbnHibbân Ibn Ahmad Abi Hâtim al-Tamîmî al-Bustî,Kitab al-Majruhin Min al-Muhaddithin Wa al-Du`afa' Wa al-Matrukin, 1975 [1395], Volume II, Dar al-Wa`y: Halab, pp. 164-165.
[9] Abi `Abdallah Muhammad b. Ahmad b. `Uthman al-Dhahabi (d. 748 AH),Mizan al-I`tidal fi Naqd al-Rijal, 1963, Volume II, Isa al-Babi al-Halabi:Cairo, p. 367.
[10] Shihab al-Dîn Abi al-Fadl Ahmad Ibn `Ali ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani,Kitab Lisan al-Mizan, 1911-13 [1329-31], Volume III, Matba`at Majlis Da'irat al-Ma`arif: Hyderabad al-Dakkan, pp. 230-23.
[11] A. Jeffery,Materials For The History Of The Text Of The Qur'an: The Old Codices,Op Cit., p. viii.
[12] Abu Ammar Yasir Qadhi,An Introduction To The Sciences Of The Qur'aan, 1999, Al-Hidaayah Publishing And Distribution: Birmingham (UK), pp. 386-387.
[13] A. Jeffery,Materials For The History Of The Text Of The Qur'an: The Old Codices,Op Cit., p. 117.
[14] Dr. `Umar Ibn Ibrahim Radwan,Aara' al-Mustashriqin Hawl al-Qur'an al-Karim wa Tafsir:Dirasah Wa Naqd, Volume I, 1992, aâr Tîbah,Riyadh, p. 430.
[15] A. Jeffery,Materials For The History Of The Text Of The Qur'an: The Old Codices,Op. Cit., p. 117.
[16] `Umar Ibn Ibrahim Radwan,Aara' al-Mustashriqin Hawl al-Qur'an al-Karim wa Tafsir:Dirasah Wa Naqd,Op. Cit., p. 430.
[17] A. Jeffery,Materials For The History Of The Text Of The Qur'an: The Old Codices,Op. Cit., p. 117.
[18] `Umar Ibn Ibrahim Radwan,Aara' al-Mustashriqin Hawl al-Qur'an al-Karim wa Tafsir:Dirasah Wa Naqd,Op. Cit., p. 430.
[19] A. Jeffery,Materials For The History Of The Text Of The Qur'an: The Old Codices,Op. Cit., p. 117.
[20] `Umar Ibn Ibrahim Radwan,Aara' al-Mustashriqin Hawl al-Qur'an al-Karim wa Tafsir:Dirasah Wa Naqd,Op. Cit., p. 431.
[21] A. Jeffery,Materials For The History Of The Text Of The Qur'an: The Old Codices,Op. Cit., p. 118.
[22] `Umar Ibn Ibrahim Radwan,Aara' al-Mustashriqin Hawl al-Qur'an al-Karim wa Tafsir:Dirasah Wa Naqd,Op. Cit., p. 431.
[23] A. Jeffery,Materials For The History Of The Text Of The Qur'an: The Old Codices,Op. Cit., p. 118.
[24] `Umar Ibn Ibrahim Radwan,Aara' al-Mustashriqin Hawl al-Qur'an al-Karim wa Tafsir:Dirasah Wa Naqd,Op. Cit., p. 431.
[25] A. Jeffery,Materials For The History Of The Text Of The Qur'an: The Old Codices,Op. Cit., p. 118.
[26] `Umar Ibn Ibrahim Radwan,Aara' al-Mustashriqin Hawl al-Qur'an al-Karim wa Tafsir:Dirasah Wa Naqd,Op. Cit., p. 431.
[27] A. Jeffery,Materials For The History Of The Text Of The Qur'an: The Old Codices,Op. Cit., p. 118.
[28] `Umar Ibn Ibrahim Radwan,Aara' al-Mustashriqin Hawl al-Qur'an al-Karim wa Tafsir:Dirasah Wa Naqd,Op. Cit., p. 431.
[29] A. Jeffery,Materials For The History Of The Text Of The Qur'an: The Old Codices,Op. Cit., p. 118.
[30] `Umar Ibn Ibrahim Radwan,Aara' al-Mustashriqin Hawl al-Qur'an al-Karim wa Tafsir:Dirasah Wa Naqd,Op. Cit., p. 431.
[31] A. Jeffery,Materials For The History Of The Text Of The Qur'an: The Old Codices,Op. Cit., p. 118.
[32] `Umar Ibn Ibrahim Radwan,Aara' al-Mustashriqin Hawl al-Qur'an al-Karim wa Tafsir:Dirasah Wa Naqd,Op. Cit., p. 431.
[33]Ibid., pp. 430-431.
[34] A. Jeffery, "Ghevond's Text Of The Correspondence BetweencUmar II and Leo III", 1944,Harvard Theological Review, p. 292.
[35]Ibid., p. 298.
[36]Ibid.
[37]Ibid., pp. 330-331.
[38] P. Crone & M. Cook,Hagarism: The Making Of The Islamic World, 1977,Cambridge University Press, p. 18.
[39] J. Wansbrough, "Review ofHagarism: The Making Of The Islamic World",Bulletin Of TheSchool Of Oriental And African Studies, 1978, Volume 41, p. 156.
[40] N. Robinson,Discovering The Qur'an: A Contemporary Approach To a Veiled Text, 1996, SCM Press Ltd, p. 56.
[41] "Al-Kindî, `Abd al-Masîh",Encyclopaedia Of Islam, New Edition, 1986, Volume V, p. 120.
[42] W. Muir,The Apology Of Al-Kindy, 1882, London. Also published inEgypt in the "Nile Mission Press" whose chairman was Dr. S. M. Zwemer.
[43] Also see Alphonse Mingana's discussion on the apology of al-Kindî in "The Transmission of the Qur'an",Journal of The Manchester Egyptian and Oriental Society, 1916, pp. 41-42.
[44] A. Jeffery,The Qur'an As Scripture,Op. Cit, p. 99.
[45] A. F. L. Beeston, T. M. Johnstone, R. B. Serjeant and G. R. Smith (Ed.),Arabic Literature To The End Of The Ummayad Period,Op. Cit, p. 243.
[46] Ahmad von Denffer,`Ulum al-Qur'an, 1994, The Islamic Foundation, p. 56.

Taken from:
http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/hajjaj.html

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