Christian scholar and apologists say the Qur’an has been preserved

The Qur’an has been well preserved says conservative Christian scholar

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

Dr. Norman Geisler, who is a highly respected Christian evangelist and notable systematic theologian known for his sought after works in apologetics, says that the Qur’an that Muslims have today has been reliably preserved:
“The fact that the Qur’an has been kept from any textual corruption is another evidence often given by Muslims for the miraculous nature of the Qur’an’s marvelous preservation.” [1]
Notwithstanding Geisler’s view concerning the Qur’an prior to the so called Uthmanic recension, he admits that the Qur’an that Muslims have today is “almost a perfect copy of the original”:
“While it is true that the present Qur’an is a nearly perfect copy of its original, it is not true that this is exactly the way it came from Muhammad.” [2]
As a matter of fact, in the conservative Christian camp, Geisler is not alone in his view that the Qur’an has come down to us unaltered from Uthman’s recension. Echoing Geisler’s sentiment, alleged former Muslim Dr. Abraham Sarker, whose book has been praised by many conservative Christian quarters, states that the Qur’an Muslims refer to today has been faithfully preserved from the original:
“While the Qur’anic version that stands today is a faithful copy of the revision by Uthman, this remaining copy does not exactly reflect Mohammed’s original.” [3]

Likewise, celebrated Christian apologist and president of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries Dr. Ron Rhodes writes:
“It is true to say that the Qur’an of today is a nearly perfect copy of its seventh-century counterpart (the seventh century authorized version produced under Uthman’s supervision).” [4]
We need not be perturbed by presumptuous musings concerning what may or may not have been the structure of the Qur’anic material prior to the enterprise of Zayd bin Thabit r.a. under the auspices of the third caliph of Islam, that is, Uthman bin Affan r.a. They were both indisputably close companions of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and unless one can produce evidence of their untrustworthy nature, then one must agree with traditional Sunnis that both Uthman r.a. and Zayd r.a. along with the rest of the companions were honest and sincere followers of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. keen on preserving the sacred text of their faith as given to them directly by their master for which they were willing to defend with their very lives as proven in the Battle of Yamama. The reliability and sincerity with which Uthman’s Qur’anic project was carried out is affirmed by premiere Orientalists Richard Bell and William Montgommery Watt:
“On general grounds then, it may be concluded that the ‘Uthmanic revision was honestly carried out, and reproduced, as closely as was possible to the men in charge of it, what Muhammad had delivered.” [5]
If the Qur’anic material has truly been faithfully preserved from the time of Uthman r.a. to this very moment– a period of more than a thousand years –as pointed out by Geisler, Sarker and Rhodes, then there is no reason to doubt that it was equally preserved in a much shorter span of time between the Prophet’s s.a.w. demise and Uthman’s tenure as caliph, which was only about twelve years. It would have been inconceivable for the leader of the believers at the time together with other major companions to somehow conspire to fib or alter the Speech of God, i.e., the Qur’an, without reprisals from the rest of the believing community. The Qur’anic compilation project under the Caliph Uthman r.a. was not a private enterprise hidden from the public eye. As Bell and Watt explicitly recognise, the whole enterprise was carefully conducted with utmost integrity. The finished product was openly presented to the rest of the companions of the Prophet s.a.w. for verification and they all attested to its validity. This important fact has been related by Ibn Kathir in his ‘Fada’il’:
ثم قرئت على الصحابة بين يدي عثمان
“[The Qur’an] was read to the companions in the presence of Uthman r.a.” [6]
Unlike the Christian gospels, the Qur’an that we have now, which Geisler, Sarker and Rhodes accede is the veritable Qur’an that the Muslims had in the time of Uthman r.a., received the confirmation, attestation and verification of the immediate and direct disciples of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. In this regard, the biblical gospels fall short of the Qur’an. In classical times before the rise of lower criticism, one might have believed that the gospels had the stamp of approval of Jesus’ disciples, but today, it is universally agreed among Christian and non-Christian scholars of the Bible that all four canonical gospels were the works of non-disciples and they remain completely anonymous to this day with little to no traceable connection to Jesus. Had the gospels been put together by the actual and reliable disciples of Jesus as the Qur’an was put together by the actual and reliable disciples of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w., Muslims would have been more readily receptive of the biblical material.
Indeed Muslims stand comfortably in concert with one another in confidently affirming the historical reality of the bedrock of their faith that the Qur’an has been meticulously preserved.
[1] Geisler, N. L. & Abdul Saleeb (2002). Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books. p. 106
[2] Geisler, N. L. (2012). The Big Book of Christian Apologetics: An A to Z Guide. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books.
[3] Sarker, A. (2004). Understand My Muslim People. Oregon: Barclay Press. p. 150
[4] Rhodes, R. (2002). Reasoning from the Scriptures with Muslims. Oregon: Harvest House Publishers. p. 79
[5] Watt, W. M. (1970). Bell’s Introduction to the Qur’an. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. p.51
[6] Muhammad Mustafa al-A’zami (2011). The History of the Qur’anic Text from Revelation to Compilation: A Comparative Study with the Old and New Testaments. Petaling Jaya, Selangor: Islamic Boook Trust. p. 102
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